To Mark Steyn’s Health

We here offer our best wishes and a sincere prayer for good health to Mark Steyn, the one-of-a-kind writer and commentator, who suffered a couple(!) of heart attacks a couple of weeks ago. He revealed this grim news in his uniquely jaunty/jaundiced fashion during his weekly audio Q&A on his own website, after having been missing for a week from his usual TV gig on Britain’s GBNews.

Steyn has long been like one of the family in the Cinch household, as he no doubt is in quite a few others, so this news arrived as much more than just an ordinary lump of coal.

In particular, although Mrs. C. and I live in the U.S., his weekday show on GBNews had become our sole bit of must-watch television, and just about our only source of TV news and commentary. That’s not just because virtually all U.S. television news is deeply dishonest and vile—though it most certainly is—but also because the news here is so unrelentingly bad that it is effectively unbearable to sit and take it in (no matter how they try to get us to swallow it). The beauty of Steyn’s show, for us, is that the issues he focuses on—although very closely related on a macro level to things going on in the U.S—are at least one step removed from our own daily reality. The players’ names are different, although the games they are playing are essentially the same.

So, we can enjoy Steyn’s side-splitting skewering, day by day, of the likes of Klaus Schwab, Rishi Sunak, and Ursula von der Leyen (or, as he would have it: the sinister Teutonic megalomaniac hiding in plain sight as a sinister Teutonic megalomaniac; Rishi Rich; and Cruella von der Leyen, respectively). He pays little or no attention to the daily ticker of distracting stories tossed up like Milk Bones to mutts by the corporate media, and instead zooms in on the underlying rot, and the players who are pursuing an agenda of civilizational destruction, whether through outright malignancy or abject obliviousness to reality. And he perfectly frames them and their plans as the objects of mockery that they ought to be to any people who value what freedom they still retain.

We need a lot more of that.

Instead, with Mark Steyn no doubt facing a long period of recovery, we will have less of it. Nevertheless, we’ll continue checking in on GBNews, which has proved itself a spunky and worthy media start-up, and one that seems to be moving the needle in the direction of free debate in Great Britain on previously undiscussable topics.

For Mark’s own sake, we hope that he places his health first, even if that means a very long break from the stresses of a near-daily live television show, and indeed even if it should mean a permanent break from such. His voice is one of the most special and irreplaceable out there. Even if he were to break from topical commentary entirely and limit himself to writing about music and such—which he does so very well—we would be much happier continuing to hear that voice, rather than mourning its premature passing.

Above all, here’s to his health and increasing strength.

UPDATE: In a bizarre turn of events, the executive leadership of GBNEWS chose to jettison Mark Steyn after his heart attacks, by requiring him to sign a contract no rational person would sign. In essence, they gave in without a fight to the state regulators of speech and thought at Britain’s “Ofcom” agency. Steyn continues to post his inimical content at his own website, so follow him there.

A Merry Little Christmas with Hugh Martin and Mark Steyn

The Cinch Review

Hugh Martin Mark Steyn Christmas

I’m cognizant that it could be considered a little odd to pen an appreciation of an appreciation, but here I do so anyway (just in case, I suppose, someone might appreciate it).

The multifaceted writer Mark Steyn recently reposted on his website an audio tribute he made to the late songwriter Hugh Martin (who died in 2011). Martin is the composer of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” surely one of the most poignant popular songs of Christmas. That was written for the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis, starring Judy Garland, and for which Martin also wrote “The Boy Next Door” and “The Trolley Song.” Continue reading “A Merry Little Christmas with Hugh Martin and Mark Steyn”

Paul Simon & Mark Steyn (and “Born at the Right Time”)

The Cinch Review

Paul Simon with Mark Steyn

Recently contributed by someone to YouTube is a one-hour TV interview with Paul Simon, conducted by Mark Steyn in the 1980s (embedded below). [UPDATE: The video has since been deleted from YouTube. An audio recording of the show can be found at Mark Steyn’s website: Part One and Part Two.] Some of us who are fans of Mark Steyn’s sharp-witted topical commentary are amused by the references he occasionally makes to his apparently glamorous former life as a globe-trotting hob-knobber with musical luminati. “As Paul Simon once said to me,” he’ll insert as an aside in some piece on how utterly depraved and beyond-hope the Western world has become; on other occasions it might be: “as I once said to Frank Sinatra …”

Well, there’s now at least video evidence of his proximity to Paul Simon at one particular time, and an extended time at that, talking to him at his home on Long Island and driving around Queens with him visiting Simon’s childhood haunts. And there is Steyn, the same hairy bearded guy with a very-hard-to-place accent who we know very well, except at this point he is still in possession of (quite a bit of) baby fat, so he somewhat resembles a hirsute cherub. The decline of Western civilization has clearly caused him to lose weight, and I guess that must be one of the silver linings of that particular cloud.

But you don’t see very much of Mark Steyn, because the show is actually focused on Paul Simon, who, judging by the conversation, had most recently released the Graceland album. Although about twenty-five years have passed since this interview, it is a superbly intimate portrait of Simon the artist. Steyn knows music and the art of song in particular, and he is a perceptive and sensitive interviewer. I especially appreciate the time spent on songs from the Hearts & Bones album as I harbor a special love for that record and believe that “Rene And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War” likely still stands as Simon’s most perfect song and recording. And I say that as a serious fan who believes that every Paul Simon album (post-Simon & Garfunkel) contains multiple doozies. Continue reading “Paul Simon & Mark Steyn (and “Born at the Right Time”)”

Steyn Does ABBA; Agnetha Tries a Comeback

The Cinch Review

Steyn does Abba and Agnetha tries comeback

Mark Steyn’s paean to Swedish supergroup Abba, and their great song “Waterloo,” is his typically hilarious combination of global politics, knowing-puns and kitschy references, and shouldn’t be missed. It is also in its way a sincere appreciation of the real talent they possessed. As he points out, “[F]rom the rubble of their marriages, they produced the aching harmonies of ‘One Of Us,’ as near as pop gets to the cry of pure pain. Underneath those sequinned leotards, Benny and Björn are two of the best pop writers of the last four decades.” Indeed.

Watch out for the special effects in the video embedded below; they are far more advanced than anything you see on TV these days, and might leave you in a state of mental disarray.

I must point out that Mark Steyn errs somewhat, however, in his characterization of what the beautiful blonde former singer of Abba is up to these days: “Agnetha,” says Steyn, “is riddled with insecurity and now lives as a recluse on a remote Swedish island riddled with in-house security.” I don’t know what her living situation is like, but recluses don’t do interviews and release new records, and Agnetha has done both recently. Below via YouTube is an interview she did last week for the BBC with none other than Welsh-wonder Cerys Matthews, which affords an entertaining glance back over her career.

I’m not persuaded that the new material she’s singing is even a patch on those old Benny/Björn songs, but then really, these days, what is?


Mark Steyn on Saving Both Jerome Kern and the World

The Cinch Review

I was watching this talk with the always-interesting writer Mark Steyn, which took place at UC Berkeley in 2007, and I was struck by one particular thing Steyn said and thought I would note it down here. Steyn started out as an arts critic and journalist, but he’s far better known now as a commentator on world events and politics. His book America Alone: The End of the World As We Know Itwas a bestseller (and that, indeed, provides a large part of the grist for the 55-minute conversation you can watch via the YouTube clip below). The quote that I thought worth capturing conveys some of the motivation behind his transition from arts criticism to what you might call pan-global-societal criticism.

I love writing about music, I love writing about film and theater, and I would do that if this was an ideal world. But I think at some point, if there are great things going on in the world, and you want to say something about them, and you don’t — it’s not going to be any consolation to me to have a great CD collection as Western civilization falls apart. In a sense you’ve got to — if you value the freedom to stroll into some piano bar in a hotel somewhere on the planet and hear a great singer singing “The Way You Look Tonight” or whatever — you’ve got to understand that even that little miniature experience is at the apex of a whole cultural foundation, and that you can’t just sort of sheer off the small pleasures of a 32-bar song from all the big geo-political issues. They are explicitly connected in that sense.

Ronald Reagan on the big screen

The Cinch Review

Do yourself a favor during the current orgy of debate and discussion regarding Ronald Reagan, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth, and read Mark Steyn’s appreciation of Reagan the movie actor. Any article that has the following as the opening paragraph qualifies as absolutely golden almost regardless of what follows (if you ask me):

If I understand correctly the Left’s dismissal of Ronald Reagan back in the Eighties, it’s that he was a third-rate B-movie ham of no consequence and simultaneously such an accomplished actor he was able to fool the American people into believing he was a real president rather than a mere cue-card reader for the military-industrial complex. These would appear at first glance to be somewhat inconsistent characterisations, but they can be reconciled if you have as exquisitely condescending a view of the American people as, say, Gore Vidal.