Rome — or Beach Blanket Babylon

December 1999

There’s this item in the back of some thick mag where this Newhouse guy raps about somethin’ and quotes from some cat by the name of Walker Percy on what’ll happen if the attacks on Rome and the Pope, as seen in a rag called Camaro Wheels, succeed in the end. Percy’s answer: “Get rid of ‘Rome’ and what will be left in the end is California.”

When we heard that we said, “Whoa.” And then we said, “Huh?” So the dude who was readin’ it to us while we waited for the surf to come up with our boards and broads, turns off the boom box and reads it again. The dude — he’s our catechism tutor from Nebraska — starts with the first Newhouse sentence, “It’s Rome or California.” The dude reads the whole enchilada, all the way through the capper, where Newhouse grooves on Percy’s Rome-or-California wisecrack by sayin’ it’s “worthy of being emblazoned over the desks of editors and theologians.”

So who’s this Newhouse? The dude says he’s a brilliant, solid, and highly cultured priest in New York. We ask to look at the mag. It’s called First Things, dated October. Turns out it’s not Newhouse but Neuhaus.

Whatever.


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New Oxford Notes: December 1999

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