noted but is simply the lensnthrough which our societynperceives itself and thenmold through which it increasinglynshapes itself.nThis is not a revelation.nWriters such as Cervantes andnFlaubert emphasized the overwhelming—andnoften disastrous—effectnthe fashionablenideas of their time had on DonnQuixote and Emma Bo vary. Butnit is worth repeating when one isnconfronted with serious phenomenanwhich affect our lives:nthe banality of feminist artnA Scholar’s BlindersnLewis A. Erenberg: Steppin’nOut: New York Nightlife andnthe Transformation of AmericannCulture, 1890-1930; GreenwoodnPress; Westport. Connecticut.nMr. Erenberg has attemptednto marry history to social commentarynon the American culturenat large. But this professornof history at Loyola University innChicago seems to be afflictednwith the East Coast tunnel-visionnview of New York City. Asnhe examines the developmentnand changes that occurred innGotham’s night life during thenperiod 1890-1930, he remarksnseveral times that there is littlenneed to look at the rest of thencountry because it simply followednNew York’s lead. True,nhe does admit that jazz and Dixielandnand ragtime didn’t exactlynoriginate in New York, butnthat, apparently, is inconsequential.nAlthough he notesnthat many, if not most, of thenthen-novel dance steps andnstyles originated in the Negronculture, he fails to examine anythingnabout it other than itsnadaptation for the white folks’nnightclub use.nSteppin’ Out is informative,nthough: Mr. Erenberg success-n(Chicago’s “The DinnernParty”), the romance of thencriminal {vide Mailer), the cinematicnglamor of the Russiannrevolution (Reds), the chic ofnterrorism (the hit tune “Sandinistas”).nHowever, it may consolena troubled observer of the contemporarynscene to keep in mindnthat since the same mechanismnoperates both for hemlines andnideas, the vagaries of fashion willneventually bring about the demisenof just those intellectualnand cultural trends that one considersnobnoxious. •nfiiUy evokes the grandeur of thenearly “lobster palaces” and thengrace and charm of professionalndancers. He details the beginningsnof restaurants like Delmonico’s,nwhich for the firstntime became refined enough tonallow the presence of ladies. Henproceeds to the birth of thencabarets which evolved from thenrestaurants, then on to thenProhibition-era speakeasies.nWe can learn about the personalitiesnof the day: Vernonnand Irene Castle, MauricenMouvet and Florence Walton,nSophie Tucker, Gilda Gray, FlonZiegfeld, Jimmy Durante. Asnone would expect from a professornof history, the book isnmeticulous and well documented,nwith copious footnotesnand an extensive bibliography.nBut Mr. Erenberg claims to benwriting more than a history—indeed,nhe has assigned himselfnthe ambitious task of explicatingn”the transformation of Americannculture.” His approach tonthis portion of his project is, atnbest, superficial. He gives his remarksnand explanations a scholarlyntone, but actually he saysnnothing new. Somehow, thesenthings just happened—at thenturn of the century, people werensimply “ready” to shift fromnhome-centered to public entertainment.nLater, people (fornwhatever reason) began to looknMerchandising Humanity’snImaginationnBudd Schulberg: Moving Pictures;nMemoirs of a HollywoodnPrtnce; Stein and Day Publishers; NewnYork.nBudd Schulberg, a notednAmerican writer (What MakesnSammy Run? and On thenWaterfront), is the son of B.P.nSchulberg, an authentic, trueblue,nlegendary movie mogul, andriving force behind the earlynMGM and Paramount empires.nBy dint of this circumstance, thenyounger Mr. Schulberg grew upnknowing Hollywood as a place, antown, a notion, a symbol, an artifact.nHe thus has a story to tell.nUnfortunately, he tells it withnlittle flair, style or originality. Henemerges from his own pages asnan affable, decent man and angraceful writer; thus we must assume—asnis often the case—thatnhis very proximity to the subjectnsomehow prevented him fromnexpressing any profound insightnor classy irony. He is a skillfulncollector of bygone moods, yetnhe is unable to overcome somennnto Vernon and Irene Castle “fornclues on new relationships betweennmen and women.” And,naccording to Mr. Erenberg, thencabaret audience was “graspingnfor clues on how to lead the lifenof leisure and expressivenessn…” Why would a people whonhad always looked to the family,nreligious and civic leaders fornprescriptions for how to live suddenlyntransfer these functions tonmere entertainers? Mr. Erenbergndoes not tell us. His historicalndelineations of facts and personalitiesnare excellent, but if onenreally wants to delve into the humanncomponents of the “transformationnof American culture”nhe might be better served bynreading Dreiser or Whartonnthan Erenberg. (BK) Dnfaiblesse in handling anecdote asna medium, as if he were unawarenof how a genuine writer shouldnttanscend a raconteur.nThus, the most interesting aspectnof the book is its potential toninspire musings about the rise ofnthe Hollywood movie industrynas a powerful cultural kingdomn—a purely American phenomenon.nFrom its beginnings, itnwas a Jewish industry, and itsnethnic trademark was used asnboth an anti-Semitic epithet andnan economic qualification.nEverything that was perceived asnthe motion-picture industry’sncynicism, greed, shoddiness andnvulgarity was ascribed to its Jewishness.nWhat was less visiblenthen, and still is seldom discussed,nis another aspect of that Jewishnhegemony in that era ofnAmerican mass culture. Thosensons of penniless peddlers—nmany of whom were first-generationnimmigrants—who spentntheir early youth as apprenticesnto furriers, glove-makers andnjunk dealers on the sidewalks ofnmmmm^^nMay/June 198Sn