IT IS WITH A SPECIAL PRIDE THIS MONTH that we offer our fourth annual Ultimate Fitness section (page 113), conceived by Contributing Editor George Leonard and produced with the help of Senior Editor Lisa Bain. What has us so pumped up is Leonard’s theme: that only through the mastery of an activity can we really find its full meaning and benefit, be it a sport or some other activity.
RE: "CITIZEN UEBERROTH,” BY RICHARD BEN CRAMER, February. Who appointed Peter Ueberroth God? Baseball commissioners are hired to deal with owners, players, fans, hot dogs, and, unfortunately, drug problems. However, the job isn’t a ticket to become the President’s adviser on drug abuse.
A poor craftsman blames his tools, the old saying goes. And if you don’t believe it, just spend ten minutes with a golfer. Not just any golfer, to be sure, but one who plays at least twenty-five rounds a year, thereby earning official designation by the National Golf Foundation as "Avid."
Until there were sneakers, which means until about 1917, a person’s footsteps always made a click or a clomp or a tap or a squeak. Before sneakers, the quietest shoes you could wear were Indian moccasins or Eskimo mukluks, but even they produced a muted thud on impact.
Of the hundreds of plots we devise each summer to get out of mowing the lawn, none is as permanent or as satisfying as the idea of building a pond. Sure, it’ll take some initial time and money. But consider the payoffs: you’ll give local wildlife a good excuse to drop by, and provide refuge for ducks and geese that are passing through town.
The perfect moment happens late the second afternoon. The first day was license buying, company sorting, gear rigging, antelope sighting, and mosquito swatting at the put-in. Then an easy glide along the upper-meadow stretches of Montana’s Smith River, where the flow still doubles back on itself and never lets on about the canyon coming.
As a good dinner winds to its close, two challenges present themselves: one is paying the check; the other is choosing an after-dinner drink. The check, however inflated, at least has the merit of being unambiguous. Not so the parting shot.
May is the month when trout fishing gets off to a proper start in our northern hemisphere—the time of lush mayfly hatches that bring fish to the surface with reckless abandon. Assuming that it doesn’t snow or the river rise in flood, and your waders don’t leak, that annual ritual of true ichthyophiles is at hand.
FRANK LENGER IS FIFTY-NINE NOW, A machine setter for the Allen-Bradley electronics-manufacturing firm in Milwaukee. He has spent his entire life in Milwaukee, and that is where, at the age of fourteen, he first heard the Dinning Sisters.
SOME FRIENDS WERE OVER THE OTHER day. We were in the middle of chatting when our four-year-old kid, wearing a pink tutu, flung herself into the living room. It was another ploy in her never-ending struggle to seize all the attention in the world and keep it for herself.
<p>A FEW YEARS AGO—CHRISTMAS 1979, to be exact—The Chicago Tribune’s Book World asked me and a number of other worthies (Nelson Algren and Truman Capote, for openers) what books we would give for Christmas presents. Now I don’t give Christmas presents; my wife and I have been married for more years than I care to remember, and we have never exchanged presents, not for Christmas, not for birthdays, not for anniversaries—no organized holiday giving.</p>
On most evenings I’d rather listen to two bankers discuss the relative elasticity of the money supply than hear two wine collectors talk of their fermented passion, going on, as they do, as if wine had body, personality, and a mortal soul. But on a recent evening I had occasion to think about fine wine, when, in celebration of a particularly lucrative year, a friend uncorked two magnums of deeply affecting Château Lafite-Rothschild 1961, and did so without the usual pretentious commentary and in good cheer.
Look, I could come up with all sorts of arguments about how appearing successful makes you feel successful, or how vital it is to impress clients and intimidate rivals, or how any little added comfort helps relieve the lonely tedium of business travel, or the psychological importance of rewarding oneself for a hard job well done.
One reason you don’t see too many new row houses being built is that there is nowhere to put them. Suitable land in a desirable neighborhood is not easy to find. A local physician and his wife managed to secure this lot in Presidio Heights, but it was five feet wider than the standard San Francisco lot.
Just because a guy is issued the proper equipment doesn’t mean he knows what to do with it. That’s why I’ve always been in awe of Brewster, my counterpart at the Great and Terrible Parent. He’s nothing much in person, but with a deft gray touch, he works a telephone the way the Ayatollah worked Ollie North.
A homeowners policy is a dandy package of protection. In fact, so many of life’s most common misfortunes are potentially covered that it’s possible to be lulled into a sense of false security. But as good as the standard homeowners policy may be—and unless you’re a hobo, you can’t afford to be without one—and as extensive as the coverage may appear, there are limits to the protection it offers.
You have just filled out your ’86 tax return, and you don’t like the look of the numbers looking back at you. If you own an IBM (or IBM-compatible) or Apple II personal computer, consider the new Analyzer software from Intuit that allows you to project your taxes for 1987 and 1988, so that history doesn’t have to repeat itself.
When George Heublein was starting out in the flower business, he spent two years visiting the Netherlands. He read books on growing flowers and tramped around fields looking for bulb rot. Finally, he hit upon an easier strategy for building a flower empire: steal their best people.
ILAN REICH WAS STANDING BEFORE JUDGE ROBERT Sweet in a Manhattan courtroom. Reich was, even at the young age of thirty-two, a superstar lawyer. He was paid $500,000 a year by Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, one of the major New York firms involved in mergers and takeovers.
The Trials and Jubilations of Governor Edwin Edwards
An education in Louisiana politics
THE CAPITOL IS FOUND AMONG PALMETTO GROVES AND SWELTERING LAWNS IN Baton Rouge, across a bayou from the Governor’s mansion. There is some West Indian and Congo architecture, with columns and banana trees, in the neighborhood known as Spanish Town, next to that known as Beauregard Town, near the capitol.
She’s a woman with a past—the beads, the silly name, the kung-fu boyfriend—but we won’t go into all that again. Whatever she did, or was, it’s okay with us—just look at her now
It wasn’t until last year that we really saw Barbara Hershey. Why did she suddenly seem grown up? Maybe it was the sense of satisfaction we got in seeing an old friend come into her own. Maybe it was the promise of mature abandon she offered in that mohair sweater, the one that touched a match to Michael Caine’s midlife crisis.
<p>AS THE DUTIFUL ONLY SON OF AN exacting tailor who presumed to possess the precise measure of my body and soul, it was my unavoidable birthright to wear the customized clothes that reflected my father’s taste, advertised his trade, and reaffirmed his art with a needle and thread. </p>
SOME ACTS OF CREATION GO ON LONGER than acts of Eugene O’Neill. Artists, though they may like to think of themselves as gods, can’t always adhere to the divine time schedule: six days to crank it out, then Sunday with the feet up. So there are in the land of the Muses perpetual “works in progress,” stretching from inspiration to infinity—or from “Let there be light” to some sort of brownout, whether it’s artistic, logistic, or financial.
<p>DREW LIKED TO THINK THAT THE TIDE had begun to turn in the Philippines the day he personally turned against President Marcos. This happened only a few weeks before the Philippine election, when Drew noticed that a delegation of editors from The New York Times had gone to Manila and become disgruntled with the Marcos regime.</p>
It resists definition, yet can be instantly recognized. It comes in many varieties, yet follows certain unchanging laws. It makes us, in the words of the Olympic motto, “Faster, higher, and stronger,” yet is not really a goal or a destination but rather a process, a journey.
It may seem mysterious and unattainable, but knowing the basic principles of mastery can bring it within your reach
The closer you are to a sport, the more you value a good coach. Take running, for example. This most natural of all exercises would seem to require little skill beyond the ability to pull on shorts and shoes and start off. A semiserious runner, going for conditioning with no attempt to play any sort of edge, can get away with reading up on the basics of scheduling, stretching, and equipment—and then watch out for himself.
It’s not just technique that makes these athletes extraordinary—it’s the attitude and commitment they bring to their performance
What is the secret of mastery? Ask someone who knows. We sought out twelve athletes who would be considered supreme masters of their craft by their peers. We talked to everyone from cyclists and golfers to gymnasts and triathletes. What they had to say about mastery was at first glance surprising for its consistency.
It’s easier to get on the path of mastery than to stay on it. The most dedicated traveler will find pitfalls as well as rewards along the way. You might not be able to avoid all of but it helps to know they’re there
Conflicting life-style: The professional athlete can major in mastery, but most of us have to weigh sports participation against a paying job and other obligations, especially those involving the immediate family. The trick here is to be realistic. If you can’t do your sport at least three times a week—two as an absolute minimum—you shouldn’t take it up.
“C’MON! C’MON! C’MON! Move it, Jack! C’mon, you lazy piece of crap, get those legs up! Up! Up! Up!” It is 7:45 on a cold, steel-gray winter morning midway between the last out of the World Series and the first crack of the bat in spring training, and Michael Jack Schmidt, thirty-seven, three times the National League’s Most Valuable Player, one of the preeminent home-run hitters in baseball history, ten times a Gold Glove third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, a virtual deity in the City of Brotherly Love, is sweating like a pig.
Its principles can be applied to anything in life that involves learning—even love
Sports clarify things. Within the magic circle of time and place where the game is played, we can see what works and what doesn’t. Neither smooth talk nor charm, nor a rich father, will get you a 2:10 marathon or a round of sub-par golf. There are many ways to move toward mastery in a sport, but all of them, it turns out, involve certain principles.
Page 105: From left: Tiffany Patek Philippe watch at Tiffany & Co., New York. For information contact: Tiffany & Co..727 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10022. Patek Philippe watch at Aaron Faber Gallery, New York. For information contact: Aaron Faber Gallery. 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10019.
Most familiar rules of men’s dressing fall by the wayside when sports are involved: form gives way to function. The clothes on these pages, chosen for the rigorous events of a triathlon, happen to look pretty snappy. But what’s far more important is how they feel and how they can help you perform
What Does a Sixty-year-old Man See When He Looks in the Mirror?
A lifetime ahead of him
THOMAS B. MORGAN
TIME BROUGHT AGE SIXTY TO ME ON JULY 24, 1986, in New York City, where I have lived most of my life. I was expecting it; indeed, faster and faster as I left my mid-fifties, time seemed to be rushing toward me with proof of my nativity, the only credential you need to join the senior class.
From the start, their goal was to escape the bop in bebop, the crutch of pop music, the safety of the solo riff. Their sound was filled with the audacity of classical themes and the danger of shared improvisations. Their sound was heard and understood even though it spoke in a language it had to teach.