The year is 2013. I prefer to live in 1965. “Mad Men” allowed you to do that once a week or you could gorge on a marathon. But that show is a simulation that allows the viewer to dream of a more glamourous era while holding judgement on some of the more quaint inequities and stupidities of the era.
If you really want to live mid-century, you need more than an Eames chair, a martini, and some Rothko posters. You need Lenny. For me, Leonard Bernstein is the apogee of mid-century America, a guy who wasn’t afraid to be mid-brow because he could make it marvelous. He loved all forms of music, regardless of their social status or origins. Lenny didn’t condescend. He engaged the public and full expected them to engage with him. He loved life and wanted to share that love. For decades, he lived in the closet and then when the time was right, he came out and lived free in the Big Apple. He never sold out. Here he is in 1990 revisiting West Side Story, all his oomph and charm in tact. He wants the best possible result for the project and brings everyone up a notch to achieve that goal. This is what an artist can be and should be. Lenny embodies the best of the American Century and reminds us that vulgarity and chaos are dead-ends for the soul of the individual and of society.