A great deal has been made about the new alliance between two perpetual presidential candidates, Lenora Fulani and Patrick J. Buchanan. Ms. Fulani, as many readers will recall, has been a poisonous, albeit deservedly obscure, presence in New York politics for years. Mr. Buchanan, of course, is known for his work on behalf of Richard Nixon, his venomous discharges on the Cable News Network and his quadrennial pursuit of the nation’s highest office.
As for their individual political creeds, Ms. Fulani clings to the charming belief that what the world needs now is a healthy dose of old-fashioned Marxism. Mr. Buchanan, on the other hand, made a name for himself as one of the hottest heads in the legions of Cold Warriors. So when Ms. Fulani threw her support behind Mr. Buchanan in the absurd race to win the Reform Party’s Presidential nomination, many baffled commentators found themselves wondering what these two oddballs could possibly have in common.
It’s really not all that hard to figure out: Both Ms. Fulani and Mr. Buchanan have a problem with Jewish people. Ms. Fulani is enamored of the anti-Semitic bigot Louis Farrakhan and Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who would be delighted to see Israel wiped from the face of the earth. Mr. Buchanan’s ravings about international bankers and his reference to Israel’s supporters as an “Amen corner” willing to sell out U.S. interests are not particularly subtle. How did these two come together? Easily. They probably sat down and had an amiable chat about what they have in common. Which is a lot more than most political observers seem to realize.
New York’s Finest Root Out Their Worst
As statistics continue to quantify one of the decade’s most astonishing stories-the record-setting declines in crime-many people are ready to accept the laurels of battle. And, in truth, many people deserve them. In our city, the men and women of the New York Police Department are, without a doubt, the true heroes of the war on crime.
That said, there can be little doubt that police corruption, misconduct and overreaction have tarnished a few of those well-earned battle stars. Now, however, Police Commissioner Howard Safir has stepped in forcefully in an attempt to discipline and perhaps weed out rogue or misbehaving officers. Reports indicate that an increasing number of officers are being charged with misconduct and that a greater number are being punished. From fewer than 100 officers brought up on misconduct charges annually in the first half of the decade, the number is now about 150. That’s good news, because the department’s credibility suffers when citizens have reason to believe that law enforcers are above the law.
It has never been easy to patrol a beat in New York. The temptations are numerous; so are the opportunities to play the part of some tough-guy television cop. But the best officers often flourish despite the challenges.
“Creativity,” Alexander Liberman wrote, “is the exteriorization of the life instinct.” It’s fair to say that few in this city’s cultural life have exteriorized more than the life-loving Russian émigré who died on Nov. 19. He inspired Condé Nast as its editorial director, and was a painter, photographer, art historian and sculptor who filled the American landscape with his giant pieces. It’s been almost 40 years since Liberman published his classic piercing and opulent picture book The Artist in His Studio . Reporting and photographing it himself, he found Chagall, Derain, Léger, Dufy, Matisse and Picasso at home in their studios, smiling or glowering at their paints, their tools and their spaces, an indispensable collection of men creating the images that set the standards for a civilized world in their places of work.
Alexander Liberman had his own workshops: One of them, as anyone who has studied the history of the magazine knows, was at Condé Nast, where he helped create the look that would define fashion, photography and the modern magazine page for 30 years. At Vogue , and throughout the Condé Nast fleet, with partners who ranged from Irving Penn to Diana Vreeland, from Richard Avedon to Grace Mirabella, Liberman’s brilliance created the very quintessence of the postwar American sense of style. Anyone who passed by a Condé Nast art department from 1962 to 1994 would have seen an impossibly dapper, impeccably dressed man with an Old World mustache making minimal gestures that instructed in that exquisite combination of taste and vitality that epitomized the product known as the Condé Nast magazine.
But Liberman had his most important gallery far from the pages of Condé Nast magazines, and it was the great outdoors. There, on green fields and in cities around the world, he created the mammoth, sometimes majestic welded sculpture that consumed him in the crescendo years of his life, and combined power, lyricism and mathematics, making Liberman one of the most important sculptors in the discipline. Huge abstracts, in steel and occasionally blindingly bright paint-pieces like his giant red Iliad -almost threatened to take on a life of their own and tromp off into the landscapes on which they were set. “The vitality of the artist,” Liberman wrote, “is transmitted to his creation, which ignites a dormant spark of life in whomever is exposed to its radiation.” It is that vitality, an assertion of the place of beauty and vibrancy on the human landscape, that Alexander Liberman still transmits in his final and most permanent galleries on the earth.