IT IS with great pleasure that we welcome an old friend, John Gregory Dunne, back to Esquire. This month he begins a new column, On Writing (page 205). Dunne knows plenty about his subject, having done a lot of it in virtually every possible genre: novels, reporting, essays, criticism, and screenplays.
I MUST commend you on your excellent issue “The American Man” (June). To be honest, I devoured each and every article with a glee I haven’t felt in some time. To say that I laughed, cried, choked, sighed, and dreamt through the readings might not be enough.
The highways in those days were all but clogged with pilgrims and wayfaring saints, and the air was alive with visions. California drew the wanderers spiraling in, as if it were some great sink drain whose pipe led down to baptismal Truth.
It’s hard to imagine now, but well into the 1920s men played tennis in full-length trousers and long-sleeved shirts. During warm-up practice they also wore blazers. Before 1900, they even wore ties. Tennis was a rather sedate game in its early days, but by the 1920s a good many players wanted to loosen it up a bit.
Live in the country long enough and sooner or later you’re going to need a chain saw. Trees get old and need to come down. There’s land to clear and firewood to be cut. Now, you can either hire someone with a chain saw to do the work for you, or you can buy a saw.
Once defiantly unreconstructed, the sovereign state of Alabama has, grudgingly but irrevocably, accepted membership in both the New South and the Sunbelt. In fact, says Esquire contributing editor Geoffrey Norman in Alabama Showdown (Henry Holt, $18.95), it looks today like a lot of other places: “People do aerobics, drive German cars, and own condominiums at the beach.
There are times when it’s a relief to know that the rules are wrong. You can split an infinitive. You can wear white in winter. And you can eat oysters in other than the R months. At one time, there was a reason for rule number three: before the days of refrigeration, shellfish could go bad in the warmer months.
Publishing’s haunted house isn’t much to look at: a brown,wood rectangle framed in front by a limp clothesline strung between two oak trees that have the girth of turn-of-the-century burghers. Then again, Arkham House Publishers Inc., of Sauk City, Wisconsin, isn’t a company to put on airs.
In the democracy of drink, one-party rule is regarded with suspicion, and rightly so. A harmonious pluralism, marked by ever-expanding diversity, remains the Platonic ideal in this version of The Republic. The imperial pretensions of Cognac, therefore, must be resisted: for all its magnificence, it is not the only French brandy.
Some men hit a tiny rubber ball against a wall. Others don shoulder pads and slam into each other’s torsos, or trudge over hot asphalt that splints their shins and springs their knees. Through the sweat, the pounding of our hearts, we ache to meet and beat our limitations.
After twenty years, a phone call leads to a weekend of bliss
AT 1:30 A.M. in a Dallas nightclub called Ravels, I danced with five gorgeous college co-eds to the old Monkees song “Last Train to Clarksville.” Normally I do not dance at all—it feels vaguely uncomfortable— but the five co-eds had insisted, and besides, how many times in your life do you get the opportunity to dance with five women at the same time? The song ended and we sat down.
Newfound pain scales and “pain centers” now help athletes answer the question more safely
WHILE RUNNING the 1978 Grand Valley Marathon near Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dennis Rainear was shot in the head. He was cruising at a six-and-a-half-minute-mile pace, hoping to better three hours and qualify for the Boston Marathon, when—at the ten-mile mark—he was knocked off his feet by a terrific blow to the top of his skull.
Few financial relationships are as burdened by emotional complexities as those between children and their aging parents. The powerful psychological commitment of parents to provide for very young children can pale before the experience of seeing those who sustained you as a youth pass into a state in which they themselves are in need of sustenance.
The people who place those ads in the Sunday business section offering to buy frequent-flier mileage awards are the same ones who place those ads in the travel section offering to sell first-class tickets at a discount. They’re called ticket brokers, and they’re one of the more interesting mutations in the evolution of the airline industry.
With more and more people working out of their homes each year, the home office is no longer an oxymoron. For those willing to sacrifice the mutual asylums afforded by separate areas of work and play, it can be a rather efficient and convenient alternative.
Frankly, I don’t know what to think. On the one hand, there was Annette, my very first boss, a fireplug of a woman who smoked like a chimney, drank fellow executives into aphasia, and was not above biting off heads bigger than her own, let alone smaller.
Do you suffer from hypertension or have a chronic bad back? Or is your profession— race-car driving or snake-milking—considered a risky one? If so, you may be one of the millions of Americans of all ages who have trouble obtaining standard individual health, disability, or life insurance.
If you’ve heard one too many celebrities tell you their long-distance company is the best way to phone home, turn off your television. The best way to start saving is to write or call the Telecommunications Research and Action Center or the Center for the Study of Services, two nonprofit groups that are aiding consumers to select the lowest-cost long-distance phone company for their needs.
Eight years of business-school courses never taught Dennis McGurk how to sell rags. Known as the ragmen of Chelsea, Massachusetts, on the outskirts of Boston, McGurk and another Irishman named Ed Callahan run Industrial Wiper Supply, a business that turns tons of old shirts, sheets, and undies into $2 million worth of rags a year.
Within the next year, a lot of men are going to be talking about hair. We are on the cusp of a revolution that, in crude, dollar terms, is going to rank somewhere between the Pill and the hair-coloring revolution for women. I am talking about minoxidil, the drug that cures baldness—or, more conservatively put, promotes hair growth.
In 1960 Nissan banished a rebellious executive to California. Once in the driver’s seat, Yutaka Katayama took off like nobody’s business
<p>Yutaka Katayama was sent to America in 1960 to handle Nissan’s first exports to that distant and pervasively rich land, not because he was a rising star but because he was in disgrace in Tokyo, and this assignment was a form of exile. What better place for a Japanese auto executive in disgrace than the world’s greatest center of automobile manufacturing, where success was dubious and failure highly likely? Katayama was a conservative man of upperclass origins, and his privileged childhood had made him somewhat different from other Japanese.</p>
After 14,860 yards, how much longer can Walter Payton run?
<p>One worries for Walter Payton. It’s February. Another football season has ended. It seems, on the surface at least, to have been his most rewarding year—a Super Bowl ring to complement another, by now routine, one-thousand-plus yards of rushing.</p>
Jane: When Dick left me, I got depressed. I mean really depressed. But now I’m going to a therapist and it’s been incredible. In my first session he said, “What do you want?” It was so brilliant, because you know what I realized? I didn’t know! I mean it was always Dick and Jane, Dick and Jane, never just Jane.
On the brink of greatness, William Hurt struggles to get free of his web
<p>“Look, I’m not a talented man,” says William Hurt. “You know it and I know it. ” “I don’t know it, ” I say. “Well, you should know it, ” says Hurt. “You’re not a talented man?” I press him. “Well, I’m not that talented a man,” he says. “Well then, what are you?” I ask.</p>
The adventure king stalks legitimacy in the wilds of Belize
<p>Harrison Ford stands in a cow pasture with the cockiness of a jock who hasn’t yet gone to seed: butt out, gut out, swaybacked, predatory in manner, bursting with health. He’s costumed with a certain perverse wit in baggy black chinos, old white sneakers, and a faded Hawaiian shirt sporting bucolic scenes of tropical life: outriggers pounding through the surf, hula girls rampant, huts on the beach.</p>
<p>In Paris and New York, the sidewalk is sovereign—in London, the house. From the meanest public housing to the Queen’s palace, London is constantly teasing you with glimpses, real or imagined, into someone’s living room. It is the most private of the world’s capitals and the most public about its privacy.</p>
Carmel is picture perfect: storybook cottages, cypress trees, and a glorious wide-angle view of the Pacific. All Hollywood added was the mayor
Well, yeah,of course there’s a new mood here, just like you’d expect there would be. Folks eating the Calnouvelle down at the Rio Grill—there’s that little atavism now, the way they go tearing into those deftly arranged baby vegetables.
<p>SKIING THE JAPANESE ALPS An ancient Japanese proverb suggests that tasting something new grants the taster an extra seventy-five days of life. If new experiences count as much as new foods, then the life expectancy of those who partake of the Japan Ski Safari should extend at least an extra nine months.</p>
If you took Britain, kicked out the snobs, brought in a ton of sand and sunshine, and threw in a kangaroo, you’d have Australia, mate
<p>“In the pursuit of happiness for ordinary people Australians believe they are already ahead of America. ” —Donald Home, The Lucky Country Before they let you into Australia, they decontaminate you. The plane lands, the engines shut off, everyone is ordered not to move.</p>
Classy and comfortable, rugged and warm — clothes for those quiet, unpressured country weekends when there’s nothing but fish on the line
A. J. McClane
Arnold Gingrich’s dedication to angling was awesome. The former editor in chief of Esquire had a daily routine that delivered him to the New York office at 7:30 A.M. via bus and subway from New Jersey. I often had dinner with him at his home in Ridgewood.
<p>“Upscale economy”—that’s what business travelers demand these days: the pampering you’re used to at a price your company will pay. The travel industry is busting its budgets to make it seem as if you’re getting more for less. But are you? We’ll help you find the real deals and avoid the raw ones— and pick up some bonus miles in the process.</p>
Below the Brooklyn Bridge, tugs chum the East River. Directly underfoot, cars rumble to and from Brooklyn, and the exposed beams and bolts of the pedestrian trestle vibrate against your fingertips at the frequency of lower Manhattan. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the few monuments that you look through—through the tower arches shaped like bishops’ miters, and the web-of-steel cables that lend a spider’s point of view to the Wall Street skyscrapers.
They were women left behind by their village husbands, men who sought work and fortune in America. They were widows with no one to mourn, whose aloneness brought them a new independence
<p>My mother had a cousin in Brooklyn who was a member of the Mafia, or so I always assumed because, though he never held a job, he invariably arrived at the Brooklyn home of my mother’s parents for holiday dinners driving a big new car and wearing silk suits and shirts adorned with diamond cuff links and stickpins—and tilted forward on his head was a black bulletproof hat, a bowler, that was lined with steel. </p>
<p>Snipe drove along through a ravine of mournful hemlocks, gravel snapping against the underside of the Peugeot. He had been driving for an hour, past trailers and shacks on the back roads, the yards littered with country junk—rusty oil drums, collapsed stacks of rotten boards, plastic toys smeared with mud, worn tires cut into petal shapes and filled with weeds.</p>
On June 6,1982, The New York Times Book Review asked a number of writers to describe their work in progress. I did not have a work in progress, only a contract for a work in progress, but no matter: if a writer is asked to describe a work in progress, perhaps the work in progress might actually progress.