As a columnist for the US News & World Report in the late 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Leo played a major role in the turbulent cultural wars of that era, marked by controversial debates about race, gender, and inequality that may seem remarkably similar to today’s. battles on the same issues.
He was not a reactionary – for example, he supported gay rights at a time when many conservatives were still trading open homophobia. He preferred to strive for excess, especially in the humanities departments of the college, where the dismantling of the Western canon and the spread of “educational” programs – the study of the disabled, cultural studies – seemed absurd and dangerous.
With one eye he looked at the campus, with the other he looked at popular culture and what he saw as its humiliation at the service of corporate greed. Along with other conservatives such as former Education Minister William J. Bennett, in the mid-1990s he called on Time Warner for possession of Interscope Records, a major gangsta rap producer. Mostly as a result of their pressure, Time Warner sold its stake in Interscope in 1995.
But, unlike some of his comrades-in-arms, Mr. Leo was too funny a writer to look full blue. He mocked himself, and kept his erudition easy. He insisted that his favorite artist was Sherwin Williams. His first book, published in 1989, he called “How the Russians Invented Baseball and Other Essays on the Enlightenment.”
“The lion is funny in that Frank McCourt, the actor-writer, is funny,” said the journalist. Dennis Duggan wrote in 1990 in Newsday. “When they’re turned on, which happens almost always, you could also lean your chin on your elbow and enjoy it, because everything you say will play like chocolate sauce on pasta.”
John Patrick Leo was born on June 16, 1935 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Flowering day, he loved to celebrate – and grew up in a nearby Teanek. His father Maurice Leo designed kitchen and hospital equipment, and his mother Mary (Trincelita) Leo was a housewife.