THREE things about our past December issue are on our mind as this goes to press. One, the resounding critical success of Vanessa in its world première at the Metropolitan Opera House on January 15, making us feel better than ever about having brought it to you, in the December Esquire, a full two months in advance of that glamorous event.
Only once in a blue moon does the chance come to a man to righteously correct his old English or journalism professor. . . . But Stanford professor Wallace Stegner in his short story He Who Spits At the Sky (March 1958) shows he knows considerably more about writing than he does about diving (which was just the reverse of myself when I was there), but I do remember he would have eaten out a student with great wrath for not checking facts like he has ignored in his story, to wit: “I could imagine him in bis younger years taking perfect back dives with a one-and-a-half gainer at the Coral Casino. . . .”
<p>THINGS are beginning to get out of hand. The other day Ralph Gleason, the jazz critic, said to me that he expected any day to see ads in the trade papers: “JAZZ POET: blues, ballad, upbeat, free verse or rhyme. Have tux. Will travel.” And T.S. Eliot touring the kerosene circuit with Little Richard and the Harlem Globetrotters.</p>
ZINO FRANCESCATTI, the round-faced, businesslike French violinist with the Italian name, has been making recordings about as long as anyone still active in the musical scene. He began in 1919 as a teen-age prodigy, quite literally playing the role of the poor man’s Fritz Kreisler.
LAST winter we went to hear Jack Kerouac give a reading of his prose in what was surely New York’s most improbable night-club act. Steve Allen played the piano while the leading apologist of the Beat Generation braved it out under a Village Vanguard spotlight which had incubated such stars as Judy Holliday and Wally Cox, obviously unsure whether the joke was on the audience or on himself, but giving it all he had —which in Kerouac’s case means pretending to give it nothing at all.
IT seems to be an unfortunate truism of the modern jazz school that its most talented musicians don’t reap their due measure of public acclaim till long after they’ve passed their musical prime. Miles Davis, who is currently enjoying the adoration of the jazz public, is a perfect example.
BACK in February we let loose a blast in these columns against the self-conscious tourist who goes to great trouble and spares no expense just not to be a tourist, passing up much of the best of the countries he visits, simply to avoid seeing and being seen with other tourists.
FAVORITE escape hatch of New Yorkers, Philadelphians, Washingtonians and Baltimore Orioles whenever they get real harried is Atlantic City, with its splendid hotels, fine restaurants, salt-water taffy, hot dogs, boardwalk and bingo.
THE late Robert Benchley, rest his soul, could scarcely bear to go into a bookshop. His was not a case of so widely shared an affliction as claustrophobia; his trouble came from a great and grueling compassion. It was no joy to him to see the lines and tiers of shining volumes, for as he looked there would crash over him, like a mighty wave, a vision of every one of the authors of every one of those books saying to himself as he finished his opus, "There—I’ve done it! I have written the book. Now it and I are famous forever."
Rise of Risë Stevens: the world’s highest-paid singer
IT must be understood that the name was Steenbjorg and the family was Norwegian; without that understanding nobody could even start to explain the amazing career of Risë Stevens. Only a Scandinavian background could account for those cool, blonde good looks, that solid, professional temperament at the top of a notoriously volatile trade, that ability to plug along humorously on an uncongenial assignment and then blow off steam in the reckless manner of a coal heaver.
Afterthoughts on the committing of the Dodgers into the wild world of L.A.
CALIFORNIA, Los Angeles in particular, is inhabited by what was once described in this magazine as “loonies in an orange bin.” Consequently, the announcement that the Dodgers were leaving Brooklyn for L.A. was received by Californians with an air of righteous complacency.
Prior to the eighteenth century, civilized man was content to pluck, gouge, scrape, burn or ream away facial hair with crude devices. But the Industrial Revolution brought new concepts for easing man’s daily chore of shaving. On these pages are prints from the Remington Rand Shaver Museum illustrating machines built in the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries.
The modernists regard him as an anomaly between a pariah and a clown
<p>RUBY BRAFF, a short, ferociously candid jazz trumpet player of thirty-one, is one of those troublesome rarities of each jazz generation—an uncategorizable individualist. While it is true that nearly every jazzman envisions himself as a hip Horatius defending the bridge of self-expression in a dangerous land where Lawrence Welk, not Thelonious Monk, makes the cover of TV Guide, the majority of the young in jazz are an anxious set of conformists in many of their in-group mores.</p>
At the beginning of this century America stood on the threshold of aircraft flight. Today we are moving into the era of space. Tomorrow ... global space operations and interplanetary flights will be possible. The arts and sciences which have advanced piloted aircraft from the Wright Brothers’ original plane to the supersonic aircraft of 1958 are the same arts and sciences which today are moving the United States Air Force into the era of missiles and piloted spacecraft.
Though battered and aging, Errol once again is in like Flynn
<p>Once upon a time there was a flashing dashing Irishman whose main ambition seemed to be to go through life having a barrel of fun. So he did. That, in capsule form, could well be the biography of Errol Leslie Thompson Flynn, an exasperating refutation of the theory that those who dance must pay the piper.</p>
The calligraphy says Kanpai, meaning dry cup. The accompanying ceremony, at geisha parties or any other occasion of sake-for-two, is to turn cups upside down to signal a refill. At home, simply pour more straight, hot sake from a jug heated in boiling water.
Watch for modifications in the cut of your suits—the Latin look is here to stay: jacket waist is slightly indented, following natural body lines; the three buttons are set fairly close together; front is cut away farther than usual; the jacket may be worn short to exaggerate the long-legged look of very narrow trousers.
The longer, thinner, stovepipe shorts give you a slimmer look than conventional Bermudas, cover your knees and come close enough to being full-length trousers to rate a matching jacket of their own. These are made of Belgian linen—soft, shaggy, elegantly textured; the jacket is lined with silk.
At right, proof you no longer need settle for anything short of perfect grooming in the city summer. Here is Dacron’s magic, wrinkle-free wear, blended with the handsome texture of forty-five per cent worsted and weighing only five-and-one-half ounces to the yard—which makes it about as light as a handkerchief.
Underscoring the dressier side of sportswear—a study in black, white and halftones, with big pearl buttons studding the blazer. The hopsacking is a soft shade of grey, neither dark nor light, but subtle, clean and cool. Striped slacks have a crisp look against the raw weave of the jacket, but stay within the smooth range of monotone with alternate grey and white.
If loafing’s what you have in mind, you can thank Italian designers who made the ever-comfortable sweater shirt a pleasure to behold as well as wear. The domestic polo shirt (here in silk-spun Orion) takes on colorful trim; and far right, a cotton over-shirt has several kinds of knit—firm at the edges, loose elsewhere to let in the breeze.
Under the straw cap stands the golfer of the future who knows (along with beach boys, Southern colonels and certain horses) that straw is the coolest thing you can put on your head—deflects the sunshine, lets in the fresh air.
The lure of velour is that it looks one way—immensely rich, velvety and deep—but it feels another: so lightweight, cool and airy you hardly know you have it on. It is knitted cotton, as soft as anything you can put on your back.
Fresh French face of Mylene Demongeot saves Sagan's silly movie
Within the past year U.S. movie audiences have developed a taste for fresh French faces and figures in preference to struggling American stars and starlets. Esquire readers who were given some of the first American views of Brigitte Bardot (September, 1957) and Etchika Choureau (October, 1957) have since seen these girls soar to success in several movies.
Celebrating, in the clichés of ritual, one of the rites of spring
DURING infield practice the Chryslers are out on the field in their golden-yellow uniforms and the warm-up pitcher is little Theo K. Vance, bespectacled and scholarly, testing out his blazing fireball at catcher Babe Blagden, the veteran of more years in the league than he’d care to admit to any babe he tried to pick up last night in the Loop—it’s a spring night in Chicago, the occasion a crucial game between the Chicago Chryslers (tied for the league lead with St. Louis at 21-11 all) and the Pittsburgh Plymouths, the usual door mats of the league now rejuvenated not only with a new manager, old Pie Tibbs an all-time all-star great center-fielder and slugger, but with new additions like the kid outfielder Oboy Roy Turner, the steady rookie Leo Sawyer at short (son of veteran Vic Sawyer) and their new star pitcher Ronnie Melaney just up from the minors with a dazzling record and rumors of a blazing fast ball.
It entered into their still lives like a worm entering an apple
ON retiring from the service, the Captain rented a studio near the river, overlooking the harbor, and took up the subject of painting in water colors. He arose at seven, put on the water for coffee, prepared the still life of fruit he would paint that day, then called his wife for a leisurely breakfast.
THE BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN WITH FLIES ON IT... IN THE WORDS OF MILLS COLLEGE PRESIDENT...
LYNN WHITE JR.
THE census of 1960 will doubtless show another westward jump in the center of population, industry and wealth comparable to that in any decade since the first census of 1790. People are pouring into California in particular at a rate which constantly threatens to swamp the capacity of our roads, schools, parks, hospitals, water and sewage systems, fire and police departments, prisons and every other social facility.
A distinguished architect designs one specially for the Esquire man
THE editors of Esquire Magazine asked distinguished designer-architect Andrew M. Geller, of the Raymond Loewy Corporation, to design a basic week-end house that could be constructed for the Esquire man for a fast $3,000. On these pages are his plans.
Esquire's Side Trip No. 1: Bordeaux, Biarritz, St. Jean-de-luz, Lourdes and Pau
To the knowing traveler, life is frequently at its best as soon as he gets away from the capitals of Europe and into the villages and the countryside. Prices are lower, generally, the pace is leisurely, and the visitor is more of a rarity, to be treated as an honored guest.
Putting cheerfully across the American countryside, in ever increasing numbers, is a new hybrid in automobiles, a cross between the foreign sports car and the American sedan. So far, the generic term for this phenomenon has been limited to “those small foreign cars.”
MANY years ago a man in the hardware business, becoming fed up with the way things were going, decided to chuck it all and go fishing. Angling will prove to be so pleasant, he thought, that it will prove to be, like virtue, a reward to itself. Finding the peace he sought by the side of a stream, he remarked that “God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation.”
A theology professor at the Yale Divinity School reminds the godly that they are the greatest sinners of all
SURELY, here is the most striking irony of the twentieth century: that the church of Jesus Christ has become the primary instrument for the perpetuation of segregated life. This is more dramatically (though not exclusively) seen in the South where the Christian church openly represents the greatest bulwark of segregated power. The church will undoubtedly be the last bastion to fall—if, indeed, it will ever fall.
<p>“THOSE goddam Chinese!” They were in traffic now, the traffic they had been breasting and cleaving for two days, and the traffic was at its midmorning peak. Up ahead, the lead jeep was slowing down, edging to the side of the road to get by two Chinese trucks. Both Chinese trucks had stopped, one of them with its engine still running, the other resting on two tireless front rims as several Chinese worked on the jacked-up rear, stripping the tires.</p>
I saw him for the first time during the purser’s get-together reception. He came a little late. The evacuating Americans (it was 1940, after the outbreak of the war) had already segregated themselves by the scenic porthole. The others, to whom Herr Mondschein, my father (and therefore I) belonged, stood vaguely around the drinks table.
SORIAN is the only man in town who can insult you by calling you “sir.” After he called Johnny Pembroke “sir” we decided to try to make him sweat. I had a notion that Sorian would wilt like a wet paper hag if only we could start him sweating. Brad and Nolan, just out from New York, were willing to help me try an idea that wouldn’t work anywhere but here.
THE front-page headline on the Saturday, August 16, 1924, edition of that staid old Republican lady, the New York Herald Tribune, was considerably more garish than usual. Spread across four columns in big, bold, black type, it read: NEW YORKERS DRINK SUMPTUOUSLY ON 17,000-TON FLOATING CAFÉ AT ANCHOR 15 MILES OFF FIRE ISLAND “Fifteen miles off Fire Island, beyond the pale of the law,” began the story under the headline, “is anchored a floating bar and cabaret that is the playground of the rich and the ‘fast.’ ”
around the earth and into space with a lot of interesting people, beginning with some noted Americans (alphabetically from Ralph J. Bunche to Frank Lloyd Wright) who look back mainly in fondness to THE SUMMER JOB I HAD AS A BOY
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