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Temps Perdu

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If Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle’s tragic crash into an Upper East Side apartment building had New Yorkers flashing back to 9/11 and Thurman Munson, it may have been because last week triggered an overwhelming number of memories. Repressed Cold War nightmares resurfaced when North Korea detonated what it said was a nuclear bomb, though scientists drew a blank trying to recall such a puny atomic blast. President Bush harked back to his original “Axis of Evil” speech to justify invading Iraq but employing diplomacy—up to and including a cognac blockade—to rein in Kim Jong Il. Connecticut GOP congressman Christopher Shays desperately attempted to put the Foley follies in proper context by evoking Teddy Kennedy’s misadventures at Chappaquiddick in 1969. (“Dennis Hastert didn’t kill anybody,” he noted.) The Army told troops in Iraq they were committed to a Groundhog Day of occupation until at least 2010. Spectators who’d paid through the nose to hear Barbra Streisand sing about “misty watercolored memories” were shocked by a Bush impersonator added to her act; Babs instructed a displeased fan to “shut the fuck up if you can’t take a joke.” Joe Lieberman picked up an eight-point lead over Ned Lamont as well as word from the Democratic leadership that they’d remember his seniority in the Senate even as an independent. At Christie’s, Ellen Barkin sold $20 million in jewel-encrusted mementos of her marriage to Revlon chief Ronald Perelman. (“She was very, very pleased,” said a forward-thinking auction spokesperson, perhaps with an eye on the next ex–Mrs. Perelman.) Mel Gibson blocked out the ugliest details of his DUI arrest but remembered to use the third person in telling Diane Sawyer that his anti-Semitic slurs had been “the stupid rambling of a drunkard.” George Steinbrenner offered an explicit aide-mémoire to the once again pennantless Joe Torre that baseball’s highest payroll should buy championships. And the mnemonically potent Gore Vidal’s new memoir rewound to another doomed aviator, Amelia Earhart, who, he writes, was the uncomfortable recipient of the “Sapphic passion” of Eleanor Roosevelt.


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