Cops running around in the buff. As thenhero is an “elevator music” composer,nthe score has been duly provided by Mr.nHenry Mancini, the ultimate giant in thenMuzak department.nYanks is an aborted exercise in sentimentalitynon a singularly attractive andnprolific theme: American troops in England,nduring World War II, preparing fornD-day. One would assume that one of thenmost selfless war efforts in mankind’snhistory, still largely unexplored in postwarnliterature both in its moral andnemotional dimensions, would givenanimus to some exchanges of viewsnpregnant with meaningful evaluations.nNo one pretends that animosities, jealousies,nand abrasiveness, as well asninclinations and affinities, do not characterizenthe relations between commonnpeople fighting for a common cause andnafflicted by the commonness of theirnhuman condition. Nothing of the sortncomes out from the trudging of the director,nMr. Schlesinger. All we get isna differentiation of mores of a Baedekerninsight and sensibility; American tablenmanners, as opposed to those of thenBritish, a different sense of space, routinendifferences in racial matters andnattitudes toward the “coloured” people.nIt’s uninspiring, often correctly observed,nand amounts to nothing.nhe Cage aux Folles is a simplisticnboulevard comedy made digestible bynthe oldest tradition of French farce. ThenFrench worked out this genre longnbefore Moliere: they knew how to entertainnby quid pro quo—virtue is humiliatednin the end, for it is actually bigotry,nwhile vice reveals itself as bonhomie. Innthis case vice is two aging homosexuals.n’They are disgusting, pathetic, and vulnerable,nbut they do not pretend to beneither an oppressed social minority or ansocial problem. They are faggots andnqueers and old drag queens; they thinknabout themselves this way and addressnone another exactly in these terms. Theyndo not ask for any special rights or fightnfor an alternate lifestyle. They do not asknfor anything, in fact, and they apologizenfor their own aberration. They use everynstereotype against themselves, which resultsnin sophomoric romps and histrionics,nand finally makes us like them andnMusicnsee them as warm, generous, beseigednhumans like anyone else. This approachnto farce—no social message, no consciousness-raising,njust the crude magicnof things human caught in flagrantendelicto —s called by many the lightnFrench touch. It still works, even on thenmost worn-out merchandise. DnBuilding Inspectors and Criticism of MusicnAndrew Porter: Music of Three Seasons:n1974-1977; Farrar, Straus &nGiroux; Nevs’ York.nby Tom Bethel!nAt first glance, the publication ofnthese arcane pieces of music criticismnbetween hard covers might seem puzzling.nTwenty dollars is rather a lot tonpay for a collection of columns whichnoriginally appeared in The New Yorker;nthey seemed pointless enough when theyncame out, and they strike one now asnlacking even antiquarian interest. EventuallynI concluded, however, that Farrar,nStraus had experimented with an interestingnvariation on the Vanity Pressntheme. I estimate that a couple of thousandnnames (of performers, etc.) arenlisted in the index, and I suppose a goodnmany of these can be expected to payntheir $20. As one might expect, AndrewnPorter is suitably deferential and politenabout the music scene in and aroundnNew York.nBefore coming to New York Porternwas the music critic of the London FinancialnTimes. He is immensely pleasednwith himself in everything that henwrites. He seems to have never noticednthat he has practically nothing at all tonsay about music. He disguises this, however,nwith a good deal of scholarly andnTom Bethell, Washington editor fornHarper’s and the American Spectator,nis the author of George Lewis: A Jazzmannfrom New Orleans.nnnhistorical reference, a smokescreen ofntrivia, proper names and textual allusions.nThus, he is forever telling us thatn(e.g.) when this work was last performedn(in Prague) the soprano used a corruptntext in the adagio. But today at TullynHall she used a properly amended score.nIt thus gives him “rare pleasure.”nOne of the things that Porter lovesnto say at some point in a review is whatna pity it was that the lights were turnedndown, thus preventing him (and othersnof the listening elite who perchance werenpresent) from following the score ornlibretto.nThis places, him in the Building InspectornSchool of music listeners. Thenbuilding inspector is the man whontrudges around the cathedral with hisncharts and his blueprints under his arm,nmaking sure that the physical reality ofnthe building conforms in minute detailnto the specifications of the blueprint,nworrying about the possibility of a warpnhere, a hairline crack there.nOne thus imagines Porter marchingninto Carnegie Hall with the score undernhis arm. Throughout the performance,nthe score is monitored for possible discrepanciesnbetween blueprint and auralnreality; such hairline cracks are triumphantlynnoted and conveyed the followingnweek to New Yorker readers.nThe effect, of course, is to remind us,nwith a sharp nudge in the ribs, thatnAndrew Porter is a Grade A buildingninspector. In the end. Porter merelynpraises Porter.nJanuary/February 1980n