AS YOU may have noted, this month’s Esquire has a new table-of-contents format, in which the articles are divided into categories—Profile, Documentary, First Person, Literary Life, and so forth. The reason for this new format is to bring to readers’ attention the types of articles that Esquire regularly publishes.
A MAN AND HIS HUMOR I JUST read Robert Sam Anson’s piece on Doug Kenney (“The Life and Death of a Comic Genius,” October) and cannot let it pass without comment. When said writer called our home to set up an interview with my husband, Matty Simmons, for this story, I was delighted that Esquire would be doing a well-deserved article on Doug, a truly brilliant humorist.
A student of the arms race asks if bigger has ever been better
<p>THE DEFENSE budget is going up. We must meet the Russian buildup, it is said, and we are now over our Vietnam trauma, during which we neglected our armed forces. But the defense budget is a subject of debate because it is going up, and the last sharp increase in defense spending kicked off our current inflation.</p>
Tales of a nation's writers, in The Oxford Book of American Literary Anecdotes
<p>VANITY AND mischief and spiteful distemper are on flying display in The Oxford Book of American Literary Anecdotes (Oxford University Press, $15.95), surely the funniest gift book of the Christmas season. Edited by critic and poet Donald Hall, The Oxford Book of American Literary Anecdotes is a companion volume to the 1975 collection of anecdotes edited by James Sutherland, which was devoted exclusively to the foibles of English writers.</p>
Some journalists lie awake at night thinking about the most astonishing things
WHEN AMERICANS think of the national news media, we generally have in mind the network television newscasts, and the masscirculation newsmagazines, and the prestigious metropolitan newspapers. There is a separate category of publications, however, that serves millions upon millions of avid readers and yet rarely gets mentioned.
With so much deception in the air, how do you keep alive the capacity for outrage?
THIS PIECE was going to be about something else. Indeed, I was halfway through a first draft of that other column when, early on a muggy August evening, I stood on a New York subway platform flipping through the Daily News and came upon a feature entitled THE TRAUMA OF WRITING “STILL MISSING.”
Years of misuse have thrown your muscles out of balance. There’s still time to undo the damage
THOMAS J. DE CARLO
WHEN I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, I played football every Sunday morning with the gang from the neighborhood. We got to the playing field, warmed up with some loose talk, then picked sides. The thrown football set us in motion; down the field we chased the floating spiral in anticipation of a couple of hours of hard and serious fun.
<p>IN SAILOR’S COVES AND HERITAGE Villages across the land, Americans are being sold a bill of goods: the illusion of a shared past and housing units that have more in common with movie sets than with livable, durable homes. The result is a sales and marketing dream and a culture’s nightmare YOU CAN TELL AS YOU COME THROUGH THE CAPTAIN’S ROW ENTRANCE OF MARIner’s Village in Marina del Rey that you’re slated for high adventure.</p>
<p>The old South versus the new South in a battle about words and their interpretation. With God on both their sides, the debate rages hot and holy. WHEN I WAS a little boy, I woke up on summer Sundays to the sound of a bell ringing in the steeple of the Baptist church on the hill above our farm in East Tennessee.</p>
This year, the book that changed the lives of generations of young rebels reaches maturity; on its thirtieth birthday, its own life passes before it, ready for reappraisal.
IF YOU REALLY WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT, The Catcher in the Rye was a literary event even before it rolled off the press that summer of ’51. A small but sophisticated sect had already begun to honor its shy thirty-two-year-old author—and on no more evidence than a couple of dozen short stories, mostly published in The New Yorker.
IT IS SAID THAT LITTLE, Brown was not the first publisher to see the book, that Salinger brought it to another house first but withdrew it because his editor there thought Holden was "crazy." We do know that the manuscript eventually found its way into editor Ray Everett’s hands at Little, Brown, which set the book’s publication for the spring of 1951.
Jerome David Salinger was bom on the first day of the year 1919 to a Scotch-Irish woman named Miriam, who had changed her name from Marie when she married his father, Sol, a Jewish importer of hams. His grandfather was a rabbi. He has an IQ of 111.
July 1951: The Catcher in the Rye is published by Little, Brown and Company of Boston, Massachusetts. November 1953: J.D. Salinger grants his first interview—to a sixteen-year-old high school student named Shirlie Blaney. "He is a tall and foreign-looking man," writes Blaney of Salinger in the Claremont, New Hampshire, Daily Eagle.
HOLDEN CAULFIELD FIRST SURFACED in a 1944 Saturday Evening Post story called "Last Day of the Last Furlough," about two young soldiers on the eve of their assignment overseas. One of the soldiers is Vincent Caulfield, who "has a kid brother in the Army who flunked out of a lot of schools."
On life: If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then [life is] a game, all right.... But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? On religion: I like Jesus and all, but I don’t care too much for most of the other stuff in the Bible.
THE FIRST TIME I HEARD of The Catcher in the Rye was from my roommate at Harvard around 1952. He read passages aloud with great animation. I didn’t read the book myself until 1955; maybe I was already too old. I found it admirable—funny, poignant, vivid, actual—yet somehow less useful to my burgeoning sense of what writing was about than Salinger’s short stories, which I had read in college.
Grand evenings call for grand clothes, be they traditional or contemporary. But sometimes even the most innovative evening clothes involve only subtle changes. In this case, the classic dinner jacket is abbreviated, to fall just to the hip.
THE WORLD OF DISTILLED SPIRITS IS A WIDE WORLD: THE PANOPLY of liquors is almost beyond imagination, certainly beyond the scope of this booklet. Our purpose here is to provide an entry for the man who wants to explore this world but doesn’t know where to start—to give him a few of the rudiments of mixology, history, and propriety, things a respectable drinker should know.
JACK KEROUAC, OF ON THE ROAD FAME, drank Scotch, presumably not because of the image it has always had as the drink of the aristocrat, the snob, the stuffed shirt. Kerouac knew what all of us should know, that Scotch is not necessarily the drink of the man of means; rather, it’s suited to the man of experience.
THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO GET RAMBUNCTIOUS, nostalgic, and maudlin, but bourbon with beer chasers is one of the best. This image of bourbon as the liquor of boors, however, maligns the southern gentlemen and the polite legions of grandmothers and great-aunts who drink bourbon—straight.
EVER SINCE PROHIBITION MADE SCOTCH the word for quality whiskey, the Irish have had to play catch-up, but we might be well advised to take a lesson from the Irish themselves. It’s a rare event when an Irishman of Ireland drinks a whiskey other than his own native product.
IF YOU SWAGGER UP TO THE ONLY BAR IN a dusty western town with your friends and growl to the nervous barkeeper, "Whiskey for my boys," inevitably he slides over a bottle of rye. Rye has always been the frontier drink, Its popularity dates back to the Revolutionary War, up to which time the United States had been a land of rum drinkers.
O CANADA! WHETHER IT’S THE COSMOpolitan nature of a bilingual society or just a desire to do things differently than we do, the Canadians have developed a particularly light and silken-smooth spirit. Their whiskey is lighter in body, crisper, and less assertive than U.S. whiskeys.
GIN, THAT MOST IDENTIFIABLY ENGLISH OF spirits, was originated, surprisingly enough, by the Dutch. In the mid-1500s a chemist at the University of Leyden, Franciscus de la Boe, turned from steeping juniper berries in wine, as the French did, to redistilling a neutral spirit with the berries.
VODKA, A WORD THAT IRONICALLY MEANS "LITtle water," is believed to have been developed as the ultrapure distilled spirit it is because only the purest alcohol could resist freezing in the extreme conditions during the bitter Russian winters.
THE STORY OF RUM RANGES FROM THE SWASHBUCKling to the sophisticated, and the range of character in the rum itself is just as extraordinary, from almost tasteless and colorless to as rich as unblended Scotch and as dark as mahogany. Rum is produced in one of two ways: either it can be distilled directly from the fermented juice of crushed sugarcane, or the sugar can first be extracted from the cane and the rum made from the remaining molasses.
THERE ISN’T A NATION IN THE WORLD THAT doesn’t have a favorite tipple that can fire national pride and kindle patriotic passion. There is no country so effete that it hasn’t a spirit meant to turn its boys into men, even if it more often makes its men into boys.
FROM STATE DINNERS TO AN EVENING’S END for two, no style of liquor holds greater preeminence than brandy. Clear eaux-de-vie, amber cognacs, dark armagnacs—in the brandy spectrum there is a spirit to satisfy any palate, to serve any situation.
SIMPLY SAID, A LIQUEUR OR CORDIAL IS AN alcoholic beverage prepared by combining a spirit, usually brandy, with flavorings and then adding sugar syrup in excess of 2.5 percent of the total volume. (Bitters are considered cordials as well.
IN THE LIFE OF EVERY YOUNG MAN THERE COMES A TIME WHEN HE grows bored with the commonplace and the habitual. Suddenly he finds himself intrigued by a different standard of behavior and style, one based on knowledgeability and selectivity. That’s called sophistication.
HAVING PEOPLE OVER FOR COCKTAILS, WHETHER before or, as is increasingly common, after dinner, has become the archetypal American social gathering. A roomful of adults milling and drinking provides entertainment that can be on the one hand simple and self-evident and on the other, intricate and arcane.
THOUGH BRUNCHES CAN BE PLANNED IN ADVANCE, particularly for a holiday weekend, spontaneity is more in line with the nature of the occasion. At a late-night party, for instance, it is in the most sociable of traditions to suggest to your friends that they drop by the following morning for some group rejuvenation.
THE FLASK, A CONVENIENT AND HANDSOME CONtainer made of metal or leather-protected glass that can slip easily into a pocket, may be carried and used where other sources of liquor aren’t readily available. Drinking from a flask at an elegant cocktail party, for example, is not recommended behavior.
THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF DRINKS FOR HOT WEATHER, and they’re both great. There are the marvelous blender-bred concoctions made with crushed ice and fruit, and there are the tart and clean effervescent mixed drinks such as the classic Gin and Tonic.
THOUGH IT MUST BE SAID THAT ALCOHOL DOESN’T actually warm the body, a Hot Rum Toddy or an Irish Coffee can perform miraculous thaws on the iciest hearts. There’s a special romance that surrounds hot drinks, evoking scenes of deep woods, snug cabins, fires crackling in hearths.
THERE ARE FEW PLACES MORE PLEASANT THAN A BAR whose decor is agreeable, whose employees are deft and deferential, whose ambience is affable, and in whose domain you feel at ease. Of course, all bars differ in what they look like and in who goes to them, so it’s up to you to choose your surroundings and your company.
HERE ARE RECIPES FOR SEVERAL USEFUL AND POPULAR DRINKS that every home bartender should know. Their range of taste and ingredients makes them fine examples of the versatility of the cocktail. Bartending is a complex skill, though, that requires mastery of a significant body of knowledge.
No cocktail has spawned more legends or inspired more debates than the Dry Martini. John Doxat, who wrote a book on the subject, claimed that the drink was invented around 1910 for John D. Rockefeller at the Knickerbocker Hotel by a barman named Martini.
The harsh, crude liquors that were the results of prohibition inspired the creation of innumerable concoctions designed to smooth and sweeten the sometimes too-fiery spirits. One of the all-time classics is the Manhattan. The recipe below is standard, but there are many variations.
Despite rumors to the contrary, the Oak Room Bar in New York’s Plaza Hotel is not the only place left that serves the Old-Fashioned. This drink has held its ground as a perennial favorite, indicating that a good drink will survive. Perhaps the survival of the Old-Fashioned has something to do with the infinite variety of its recipes.
The Gimlet is a venerable and popular libation, and still there is debate over the proportions of its ingredients. It is a sophisticated summer cooler and an elegant before-dinner cocktail. And it’s also the foundation for such concoctions as the Gin Rickey and the Ramos Fizz.
This is the original Sour, a stylish mixture that has since made every kind of spirit welcome and has become a particularly popular cocktail by virtue of its suitability to so many occasions, from brunch to before dinner. The key to making this drink is to use fresh lemons.
The Margarita is a cool and biting thirst quencher with a wallop lying in wait, a marvelous way to serve tequila. Its taste is as palatable and refined as a Sour’s and its preparation as pleasing as the old saloon ritual of tossing back a jigger of tequila with a lick of salt beforehand and a squeeze of lemon afterward.
The pleasures of brandy are not confined to those we can glean from a warmed snifter. Brandy is a versatile spirit that can serve as the base for before-dinner cocktails or sweet after-dinner drinks. The Stinger, for example, can be made with any spirit, but it is with brandy as a base that it merits our special attention.
The Bloody Mary is the queen of pick-me-ups, and everyone’s favorite first drink of the day. There are as many recipes as there are amateur mixologists, and though we firmly believe that everyone has a right to his own mysteries, we feel honor-bound to tell you that virtually everyone’s secret ingredient turns out to be horseradish.
The Daiquiri, with its blend of tart and sweet, is as welcome as a first kiss—it makes you pucker and then smile. It was made famous by Constante Ribalagua of La Florida restaurant in Havana. He had five recipes himself, and there are numerous others.
Here’s a carefree summer day in a glass. We can’t think of anything that goes better with the hard work of getting the perfect tan than a Piña Colada (literal translation: strained pineapple). How’s this for a vacation scenario? Mix up a pitcher first thing in the morning, and spend your day sunning, swimming, and sipping.
<p>THE HISTORY OF JAZZ is replete with woeful tales of neglected genius. But the case of Ornette Coleman is the most baffling of them all. He is one of the three or four most important innovators in jazz. His musical experiments of the Fifties, highly controversial at the time, have come to permeate the music today.</p>
XANADU RECORDS TOOK five of its jazz musicians to Africa early this year, and the result is the recently released Xanadu in Africa. Produced by Don Schlittin, it is one of few live recordings made by American jazz musicians in Africa. The participating musicians were Al Cohn and Billy Mitchell on tenor sax, Dolo Coker on piano, Frank Butler on drums, and Leroy Vinnegar on bass.
Arthur Blythe’s music refutes several prejudices held against the jazz modernists—that they reject the standard repertoire, embrace chaos, and solo self-indulgently. His seventh album in four years proves once again that he’s not only a gifted alto saxophonist with an immediately recognizable style but also a meticulous craftsman whose every recording is a deliberated statement.
THE EVER-EMBATTLED Colonel Tom Parker has been hit with what the IRS likes to call "adjustments." A mere twenty of these adjustments have been applied to taxes against the estate of Elvis Presley, but they add up to $14,618,406. AFTER TEN YEARS without writing a song, Loretta Lynn planned to sing two new ones, probably autobiographical as usual, on her NBC special, Somethin’ Special.
So much slick crap comes out of Nashville, you would think mineral oil was the drug of choice. But now from Washington comes the Smithsonian collection of country music, picked and annotated by eminent C&W historian Bill Malone. And folks, it is worth the $54.95.
<p>"THE NUT’S A genius," said conductor George Szell of Glenn Gould back in the Fifties. Szell thereby succinctly defined the two poles of critical thought that would attach to the Canadian pianist during the whole of his quirky and sometimes baffling career—a career that would give rise to some of the best-loved and most-hated recordings in recent history, that would feature a rocketing to prominence and an abrupt retirement from the concert stage, and that would defy the strictures of the ultraspecialized musician’s role and encompass everything from composing to transcribing to music criticism.</p>
COLUMBIA ARTISTS Management, Inc. just opened a new television division. Headed by new vice-president Peter Gelb, the division will conceive and develop projects involving CAMI artists, and sometimes finance them through the sale of the rights to various television outlets, including U.S. cable or European television companies.
Of all the so-called forgotten masters of music, no one’s reputation has undergone as sweeping a revival as that of Antonio Vivaldi. When he died in 1741, his bones were consigned to a pauper’s grave and his music seemed to have died with him.
<p>BY 1977 THE CLASH, along with the Sex Pistols, had become the pivotal band in the now-legendary British pure-punk explosion. You can get a sense of what it all looked like way back then in 1977, of what a really local scene it was, from a movie called <em>Rude Boy</em>.</p>
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO the Beach Boys. It is twenty years since they had their first hit, "Surfin’." Carl Wilson, fourteen at the time, said it took "maybe twelve" minutes to record, with nineteen-year-old Brian Wilson on drums, nineteen-year-old Al Jardine on stand-up bass, and Carl on guitar.
One of the by-products of the punk/New Wave movement has been the attempted resurrection of rockabilly, the wild Fifties genre that helped build the foundation of rock ’n’ roll, but there’s always been more to rockabilly than mere greased ducktails, pegged pants, and the occasional lip snarl.
LET'S START WITH THE necessary background, a Rothian fantasy to some. She wears a crisp white dress with a crinoline underneath—and that's something you don’t see every day. The lingerie is no affectation: she was bom and raised in crinoline country.
You meet her and the earth nearly moves. In a flash you are sure that she is almost everything you've ever dreamed of
BRUCE JAY FRIEDMAN
<p>SHOT DOWN TWICE IN MARRIAGE, LOSER AFTER A MULTItude of affairs, Pellegrino, in his forties, was about to pack it in romantically, when a fresh and delightful young woman suddenly bobbed up before him at a party like an apple in a barrel. Her eyes were wide, her movements graceful.</p>
OUR FIRST YEAR in the country, we went out and paid for a Christmas tree, just as we had done in the city. The difference was that we paid five dollars for a tree that was almost more than our little living room could handle. And this was the most expensive tree in the pile outside the small store.
Early warnings, inner soundings, offhand comments, gratuitous advice
YES, WELL, I, er, you know, it's kind of, well, no. I mean, it's more, more, how shall I say, more or less like, like, well, it’s hard to say. I mean, it’s, you know, kind of, kind of, oh, what’s the word, it’s on the tip of my tongue, bear with me. I mean, I’m not trying to be mysterious, no, not that, but I mean, I don’t want to mislead anyone.
IN MY neighborhood, war began at an early age. At four I packed pistols, two pearl-handled six-shooters, in black holsters with plastic-opal gewgaws on the sides. The bad guys were Indians, bank robbers, horse thieves, and girls. Swift justice ruled.
RECEIVED FROM a friend in Iowa City, Iowa: Here is a list of stories I would be willing to write for Esquire: 1. Jamaica on a Thousand Dollars a Day 2. Bar Life in Troubled El Salvador 3. Bar Life in Troubled St.Tropez 4. Europe—What Is It Like?
SOMETIMES FRIENDS invite you to share a meal and you know, from experience, that they aren’t Serious Eaters. In fact, you know they dine badly— the sort of people who put cottage cheese in a ring of canned pineapple, top it with a bottled cherry, and expect applause.
In which three rebels try to live a life of total freedom
HENRI-PIERRE ROCHÉ has two claims to fame: he introduced Gertrude Stein to Picasso and he wrote the novel that François Truffaut used as a basis for Jules and Jim (1961). The film tells of a bohemian ménage à trois in Paris before the First World War.