Esquire published its first summer reading issue five years ago, so this is an anniversary of sorts. The whole business started because Irwin Shaw threw down a challenge in the summer of ’83. Shaw was then seventy years old, and had arrived from his home in Klosters, Switzerland, to spend a couple of months on Long Island. Rust Hills and I took him to lunch.
<p>"Refrigerators are just boxes with motors,” said General Motors boss Billy Durant in 1918, justifying his decision to plunge the car maker into the appliance business, “and that’s what we already make.” No wonder, then, that <em>Frigidaires</em> soon looked like cars: swollen bulks of sheet metal appliquéd with strips and bulges of chrome, and equipped with control panels that looked like dashboards.</p>
<p>Having been reared in a litter of seven, in one of those old-fashioned Catholic families, I always thought I knew beans. My mother seemed to find something miraculous about multiplying the lowly legume to feed the masses. There was always one bag of beans being sorted and soaked while a second was being boiled into submission in her noisy pressure cooker.</p>
<p>I, for one, am inclined to trust Lou Reed on the contents of his underlip. “When it comes to pleasuring the major senses,” says Lou, “no motorcycle on earth can compare to a Harley. That’s why I’ve tattooed my Harley’s name on the inside of my mouth.”</p>
<p>People in the belt business tell me that the best-selling size in men’s belts is thirty-six inches. This means that American men wear approximately fifty thousand miles of belt, which is enough to wrap around the world twice. Clearly, the American belt is a sizable entity. Qualitatively, however, belts have seen better days.</p>
<p>Frank Morgan is a time machine, a cautionary presence, and a laboratory animal. He also plays an alto sax better than any man alive. But if not for the first three things, we probably wouldn’t even know who he is.</p>
<p>Lately a far-flung group of friends and I have taken to comparing notes on genuine American roadhouses—roadhouses that still exude not just beer, tobacco, and Pine-Sol, but also a singular spirit of place.</p>
On the morning of his bar mitzvah, Herman Gollob awakened at 4:30 A.M. He was understandably nervous, and he knew that he would be unable to fall asleep again. So he went into the bathroom and began to shave.
<p>We were having lunch near the pool at the LaJolla Beach and Tennis Club on one of those southern California afternoons right out of the travel brochures. We were talking about Steve Garvey. Not long ago, Garvey was, for most people anyway, the all-American boy, age forty.</p>
I got a fright the other day. My son came out of his sister’s room. He was, at that time, 2.6 years old, 2.6 feet tall. On his feet was an old pair of patent-leather pumps, size 8. On his bottom half, a diaper. Puffing around his neck, an ersatz ostrich boa, electric pink.
I've gotten along all right with doctors without ever demanding much from them. For a sore throat or cracked vertebra, it seems enough to have a skilled mechanic, and I mean no disrespect by that. For longer-range issues, though, you want someone whose skills extend into inspiration and leadership.
I once knew an old rich guy whose endless hallways were so densely papered with Impressionist canvases that he kept a Van Eyck in the powder room. He would drag visitors down his halls from Pissarro to Monet, cataloging his profit margin, canvas after canvas, until he was plainly giddy at discovering so late in life that he could actually grow money on a Park Avenue wall.
Variable annuities are clever things. You have a choice of different investments, your money compounds tax-free, and if you can wait until retirement to start collecting, you’ll probably pay the deferred taxes at a lower rate. In the past, though, the theory was often more impressive than the company managers who were managing the funds.
Do you like visiting new places? New, out-of-the-way places? New, <em>really</em> out-of-the-way places? Good. Then you’ll like way-ports. <em>Wayport</em> is the latest buzz word among those trying to do something about the nation’s overcrowded airports.
The insurance industry’s new “managed-care” approach (HMOs, PPOs, and the like) has revolutionized the health-insurance business, but it hasn’t changed health care all that much. If your gallbladder needs to come out, it comes out the same old way, only now you are likely to have less say about which doctor does the removing and how long you get to stay in the hospital afterward.
Not everyone cares for the mouse, the little plastic box that you have to push around your desk to move the cursor on your Macintosh. Several years ago the Kensington Company came up with the Turbomouse, which was really just a mouse on its back, its “trackball” exposed.
<p>Sven Birkerts, Essayist: Young man of letters, teacher of freshman expository writing at Harvard, master of the literary essay—a form as rare today as the personal letter. “For me, satisfaction lies in taking on a problem and worrying it into some sort of solution. The essay is the perfect form.”</p>
<p>In my hand is a blue square of paper, the blue of Gauloises, and slowly I unfold it once more. I feel the excitement, still. The creases have acquired a memory; opening, they reveal the invitation: Can you meet me for a drink Relais bar Hotel Plaza Athenée Saturday evening seven p.m.?</p>
<p>When he came to my house months ago to measure my walls for bookcases, Jim Sears didn’t look like a man who’d lose his only child to the high waters of the Elwha River. He was bushy-haired, confident, cracking his knuckles, alive with energy, as we discussed tiers, and brackets, and this oak stain compared to that.</p>
Okay, okay, they may not be Stendhal or Virginia Woolf. But hey, we’re not The Paris Review, either. Which isn’t to say they don’t worry about plot and characters, or lose sleep over, er, narrative momentum. They do-just like writers who don't make any money
<p>Okay, okay, they may not be Stendhal or Virginia Woolf. But hey, we’re not <em>The Paris Review,</em> either. Which isn’t to say they don’t worry about plot and characters, or lose sleep over, er, narrative momentum. They do—just like writers who <em>don't</em> make any money</p>
<p>Once every so often a thing so appallingly <em>ugly</em> appears that one is forced to turn and face it, for evil takes strength in concealment. Rumors of the existence of the despicable object shown here first circulated throughout California, where it was said that the New York publishing establishment used the shameful fame tree to determine authors’ advances, advertising and publicity budgets, and the recipients of grants and prizes.</p>
Sometimes a girl has to choose between marriage and a nice little jungle war
<p>Vietnam was full of strange stories, some improbable, some well beyond that, but the stories that will last forever are those that swirl back and forth across the border between bedlam and trivia, the mad and the mundane. This one keeps returning to me.</p>
<p>You'd think they would be embarrassed after a while, these guardians of the culture, these anglophiles in their tweed gatekeeper’s outfits, flailing their canes in the dark, whacking the shit out of a laurel bush where they thought they spotted a suspicious character—some snot-nosed kid in black leather or Italian linen trying to climb over the wall surrounding the American Literature Campus.</p>
<p>Elder Johannsen became our bishop when Elder Rivers, our old bishop, left. For weeks and weeks, no one knew where Elder Rivers had gone, or why he’d gone. He’d simply disappeared. Soon, nasty rumors began to spread, and finally they got so bad that my father, the ward treasurer, had to stand up at a Testimony Sunday and calm down the congregation.</p>
<p>In the spring, I always made my way down the stairway to the dark cellar of my father’s empty house, and turned on the naked bulb above the workbench where Dad’s tools hung gathering dust on the pegboard. It was very dim in the cellar even during the daytime, because there were no windows in the rock foundation of the old place.</p>
<p>I finally lost my patience and shrieked: Get out, get out all of you! My little bedroom was filled with pilgrims, militants, hostages, clerics, extremists, dissidents, mediators, ideologues, pragmatists, and militiamen. If you’re all not out of here in ten minutes, I’ll have a light-infantry unit equipped with armored personnel carriers and artillery in here so fast it’ll make your heads spin.</p>
<p>Edward Dyjak, twenty and in a brothel in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, faces Anna Ontoveras, who has been given the title of Matron of the Keys, although she is fourteen and a virgin, the daughter of one of the prostitutes. She slouches behind a little wooden counter, chewing gum, pocket radio pressed to her ear.</p>