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Courtney Love, punk rocker, headline grabber and widow of grunge poet Kurt Cobain, stands astride a cultural fault line--between rage and insight, youthful energy and thirtysomething fatigue, between the starry-eyed lust for fame and the alternative-rock aesthetic of rejecting careerism in all its forms. Love and her raucous band Hole have released only two major albums; the first, Pretty on the Inside, was choked with aural distortion and sold only mildly. But the second, Live Through This, was a breakthrough, marrying viciousness and vulnerability, all delivered with sharp guitar hooks and bruisingly cerebral lyrics. "Like a liar at a witch trial," Love sings on a song called Plump, "you look good for your age." Love, 31, has also perfected her public persona--a hard-living, chain-smoking, punch-throwing dangerous-woman type who draws you to her even though you know she's trouble.
She's protective of her image, reclusive one day, chatty the next; she's fond of E-mailing fans and detractors, and of placing unexpected phone calls to fume. After the "not guilty" O.J. verdict, she called TIME to declare: "I want to go out and find a riot."
Hole's success helped clear the way for a wave of rageful women rockers, from Alanis Morissette to Tracy Bonham to Garbage's Shirley Manson. Love is not the first female to strap on a guitar and wail. Patti Smith, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, Tracy Chapman and others were pioneers. But Love is the one to watch right now as she leads her coed quartet through concerts and controversy, venting her soul about sin and society, baby milk and high school, sex and death. She is the dysfunctional but still beating heart of a tragic, tabloid time. She looks good for her age.
AL GORE Vice President of the U.S.
The old saw holds that the Vice Presidency isn't worth a pitcher of warm spit, and Al Gore jokes that the former Veep credited with the phrase "actually mentioned another bodily fluid." But as Clinton has soared in the polls by emphasizing moderation, Gore's standing with the President, says a senior presidential adviser, "is unparalleled. He has access, trust, respect, continued influence in the campaign and on every major issue."
In his job, Gore needs to influence only one man, the one with all the power. He and Clinton meet every week for a private lunch, josh about who has better press clips, swap wonk talk and wax philosophical about the future of government. And Gore can admonish the President in front of others. In his 1994 book The Agenda, Bob Woodward recounts an Oval Office meeting at which Clinton was fretting about how he could get his legislation passed. As aides looked on in amazement, Gore finally let loose: "You can get with the goddamn program!" Stunned silence. After a long pause, Clinton laughed and said, "O.K."