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What is cool 1992: Pop Culture

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Cool Commentator
Cokie Roberts asks the kinds of questions regular, unelected, unofficial people ask — people who pay their taxes and get involved in the PTA and want to know what (the hell) their elected representatives in Washington are doing — and how whatever (the hell) they’re doing will affect the lives of regular people.

Clear and personable in her reporting, smart and sensitive in her commentary, Roberts is refreshing because she is sensible — sensible in her understanding of the virtues, as well as the vices, inherent in government, and sensible enough to continue her association with National Public Radio (where she began in 1978, reporting on lifestyle issues) even after being lured to the more glamorous, big-budget medium of network TV by ABC five years ago.

These days Roberts is ABC’s Capitol Hill correspondent and a panelist on This Week With David Brinkley. But she’s still a regular commentator on NPR. And she still regularly travels around the country for both NPR and ABC, going to shopping malls to find out ”what’s bothering people and what makes people happy.” (She confides, ”I love reading polls.”) The daughter of the late Rep. Hale Boggs (D-La.), who was House Majority Leader, and former Rep. Lindy Boggs (D-La.) and married to Steven V. Roberts, a senior writer for U.S. News & World Report, the former Corinne Claiborne Boggs certainly knows her way around the Hill. But while Spy magazine once charted her as the center of the universe (at least the galactic intersection of politics and journalism), the 48-year-old Roberts calls herself a ”suburban housewife” who was indeed active in the PTA when her children (Lee, 23, and Rebecca, 21) were growing up.

”People accord me more weight, they treat me more seriously,” she says of her ABC gig. But Roberts also knows that the drawbacks of TV journalism include rampant ”soundbite-itis,” particularly from newer members of Congress. And that’s when Cokie Roberts remembers why she loves her low-tech roots. ”I tell them, ‘This is public radio — talk longer,”’ she says sensibly.
Lisa Schwarzbaum

Cool Celebrity Trend
Forget about lunching with Michael Ovitz — the latest celeb status activity is making kids’ books and albums. Just out from Disney is Country Music for Kids, with Glen Campbell and Mary-Chapin Carpenter. Rosanne Cash’s lullaby collection, ‘Til Their Eyes Shine, features Dionne Warwick and Gloria Estefan. And bookstores are preparing for a dazzling array of kid lit: Amy Tan’s The Moon Lady, spun from a chapter of her The Joy Luck Club; Whoopi Goldberg’s Alice, the story of a girl whose winning sweepstakes ticket brings her to big, bad New York City; Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now, about caterpillars growing into butterflies; and Dom DeLuise’s Goldilocks (he substitutes pasta e fagioli for the usual porridge).

Clearly these are not your average fairy tales, but the strangest may be The Adventures of Ralphie the Roach by Paulina Porizkova, left. Cowritten with Joanne Russell and illustrated by Paulina’s stepson Adam Otcasek, Ralphie is about a town of roaches living in a New York cupboard. We don’t even want to think about the sequel.
Suelain Moy

Cool Gross-Out
Birds do it. Bees do it. Folks who get down on their knees do it. President Bush did it at a state dinner in Japan in January, and Wayne and Garth leapt into pop culture’s vanguard by threatening to do it all over the big screen. You know what we’re talking about, so don’t make us put it into words — although if we wanted to, we could use any one of the hundreds currently available. ”Hurling” (that’s what Wayne calls it). ”Spewing” (that’s what Garth calls it). ”Fainting” (that’s what the ever-delicate State Department calls it). Yep, we’re talking about the yawn that spawns, and it’s 1992’s unlikeliest entertainment trend. Don’t believe us? We suggest a visit to your local toy emporium, where the gotta-have new product is a two-piece squeeze toy (several of which are shown at right) melodiously titled the Blurp Ball. One pinch, and a shark coughs up a diver’s head, a vampire expels a human heart, or a pig sends a rotten apple spinning into orbit. Look for it in — where else? — the gag section.
Mark Harris

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