I recently picked up the May issue and was impressed and surprised. I realize that Esquire is marketed toward a male audience. However, from a woman’s point of view, I found it fascinating. I appreciated its unbiased and straightforward approach.
LIKE MOST EDITORS, I’ve got something of a stump speech about the nature of magazines. Mine has to do with the fact that magazines are unique among media forms in that they have the dual capacity to change over time and yet remain essentially true to their original spirit.
If there were a TV show called Great Moments in Men's Fashion, one of the episodes would have to be about the day, roughly fifteen years ago, when Giorgio Armani turned the clothing industry on its ear. (If your memory needs refreshing, rent American Gigolo and take a good look at what Richard Gere is wearing.)
THE $500 SUIT Is ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN NEW YORK
Clothing manufacturers respond to a market void
The $500 (retail) suit is alive and well and living in New York for fall/winter 1989. We’re not talking about the molded, mostly polyester varieties, pervasive in discount chains, where the so-called names on the labels often bear little resemblance to any working designer.
Two of the savviest retailers in men's wear open their closets for Trade Talk
I don't believe in sticking stuff in closets necessarily," says Derrill Osborn. "My clothes are a part of me and my home." Indeed, the only part of Osborn's extensive, somewhat eccentric wardrobe housed in a closet are his nearly one hundred custom-made suits, all with double-breasted waistcoats, a signature of his dandyish style.
In the heyday of the studio system, stars pretty much sold their souls when they signed the industry’s seven-year contractplayer agreements. Among their offscreen duties was a contractual obligation to set a public example of clean living; another was setting a public example of stylish, well-tailored living—studio designers to supply the clothes.
If less is truly more, Jeffrey Pancer and Michael Rosenberg intend to make the most of it. In launching Fitzgerald Shirtmakers Inc., this youthful pair of entrepreneurs has pursued a strategy that seems remarkably focused, even in the new age of niche marketing: their company sells white shirts and nothing but white shirts or, as their line sheet boasts, precisely “12 variations of the classic white shirt.”
Joan Vass didn’t start out as a designer. Her business began as “a sort of charity idea” back in 1976. “I was talking with a friend about the untapped labor pool,” says Vass, who was a freelance art historian and columnist. “There were people—the elderly, students, and homemakers—who couldn’t work nine-to-five jobs but could use some extra money.
In launching his new line of neckwear, dress shirts, and evening accessories, Brian Bubb has gone from one of the most prominent positions in American men’s wear to a starting-from-scratch, practically singlehanded operation. And he couldn’t be happier.
IT IS TWILIGHT on a sheep station in the outback. The implacably cruel sun has relented at last, disclosing nuances of brown in a long landscape of kangaroos, boxtrees, and the umbrella grass that wisps over the earth during droughts. There is a drought.
WINE MAKING in Oregon got off to an enterprising but peculiar start. More than a century ago, a farmer by the name of W. L. Adams noticed, among the many fruits and berries of the Willamette Valley, something called the Oregon grape. He described it as “very sour, but the juice makes nice vinegar, and by adding sugar and water I have made most excellent wine of it.”
IT'S NEVER GOING to be 1962 again, thank God. If the old days were really as good as everybody says, modern technology would have found a way of repli cating them. We'd be living in 1962 forever. But 1962 had something that’s missing from the ’80s, something that added zing to a guy’s life and a jauntiness to his image, something that kicked my own personal spirits into allegro every time I saw one.
MY FAMILY spends summer vacations in a town on the coast whose prime attraction for my wife and sons is the beach, and for me is the commercial fishing operation down at the docks. In the morning, when the boats come in, there are always a few strays like me hanging around, and the fishermen can be induced to take a break from packing boxes for shipment to the Fulton Fish Market to sell us creatures that were swimming less than an hour earlier.
IT WAS IN the thirteenth century—the age of Marco Polo, Genghis Khan, Dante, and Saint Thomas Aquinas—that an anonymous individual invented one of the simplest but most useful devices of all time: the buttonhole. The surprising thing is that no one thought of it sooner, because buttons had existed for thousands of years.
LIKE SOME blacklisted leftist, Scandinavian modern is still trying to live down its reputation of the 1950s. Even as tail fins and boomerang tables return to big screen and small, Scandi-mod can’t get work in Hollywood to save its life. This is unfair: Scandinavian design is more than all those Danish teak chairs and coffee tables, earnestly up-to-date, earnestly clean of line, but with a certain self-satisfied and vaguely leftist rhetoric, reminiscent of speeches at a convention of the Minnesota Farmer-Labor party.
THE WOMAN CAME around the corner into Lander Street and you could see right away that she was in trouble. She was big and brown and solid, but she kept looking behind her, down toward Broadway. Then came the man, thin as a razor, walking quickly along the wall of Woolworth’s.
<p>SULLIVAN STADIUM is empty of just about everything, especially the college cheers Doug Flutie once heard here. Raymond Berry, the head coach of the New England Patriots, sits in the stands. Out on the field, a special-teams coach works with some free-agent place-kicker, in for an audition.</p>
<p>WHENEVER AMERICA’S most influential financial columnist, as he’s invariably described these days, makes one of his regular appearances on CNN’s Moneyline, I always look forward to that moment when Moneyline host Lou Dobbs turns to ask him a few questions.</p>
WHY SHOULD anybody get worked up about inflation? In Argentina, violence, hunger, and the sudden impoverishment of much of the working class is the result of a 12,000-percent annual inflation rate. In Germany, they still strenuously subdue inflation because of the tragic scenario that followed their bout of hyperinflation a half century ago.
Now that the fears about another 1929 Depression have subsided, it’s all right to begin worrying about the return of late-’70s inflation. This time, you can buy an Inflation Edge CD, marketed by Real Rate Financial Corporation (800-8882908) and issued through Franklin Savings Association of Ottawa, Kansas.
HOW ARE YOU at memorizing numerals? Know your nine-digit zip code? Pi to the thirteenth place? Good. You may have what it takes to call long-distance in the era of public-telephone deregulation. This year the seemingly neverending breakup of the Bell system entered yet another phase, requiring more vigilance on the part of consumers—particularly those who make lots of calls from places like airports and hotels.
American Express now offers Worldwide Refund Delivery to buyers of its traveler's checks. A customer who wants his refund hand-delivered simply calls a number on his Refund Information Form; the delivery is free. AmEx set up a network of twentyfour courier companies worldwide to provide the service.
WE ALWAYS WANT our fair share, but a problem arises when other people don’t agree with our estimation of that share. This being America, what we do then is sue, particularly the insurance companies of the people who run into us with their cars or the owners of the icy steps we tumble down in winter.
You can’t be an electronically wired man for the ’90s if you have to call the home office every hour. That’s why we have a national paging industry, led by National Satellite Paging of Washington, D.C., Metrocast of Anaheim, California, and CUE Paging of Irvine.
The Place: Pasadena, California. Nine miles north of downtown Los Angeles. The Architecture: The bungalow craze lasted from about 1900 to the onset of the Great Depression. The idea: a man of modest means could build his family a “simple but artistic” refuge from an increasingly industrial world of work.
THE 747 WAS HALFWAY from Los Angeles to Honolulu, and on the flight deck the captain looked back and forth between his aircraft altimeter and a portable one that a passenger had just handed him. The little Swiss Thommen, designed to register up to fifteen thousand feet in twenty-foot increments, was right on the mark.
BY THE TIME he reaches seventy, the average American man will have spent more than 126,700 hours eating—some of us consecutively. Yet so few of us do it right! We eat too much of one thing, not enough of another, and before we know it we’re out of shape, out of equilibrium.
<p>AS A CHILD, he read nothing but comic books. He did no homework. He liked what was easy. He was eleven when he showed his eight-year-old sister how to smoke. “All you’ve got to do,” he told her, “is breathe in.” He dropped out of school in the tenth grade.</p>
<p>You work in a city. You live in a suburb. And the nearest you’ve been to a cow lately is the rib-eye steak you threw on the grill last Sunday evening. But if you’re an American male, buried somewhere deep in your soul is a little bit of cowboy. Long after the last frontier was turned into a shopping mall, the Ponderosa remains our Camelot.</p>
<p>YOU MAY already know James Spader. You may remember his sneer from any number of trashy films. He was always the bad guy, always memorable: the yuppie scum in Baby Boom, the corporatoid lawyer in Wall Street, the dissolute preppy in Pretty in Pink, and the drug dealer Rip, a linenclad Mephistopheles, in Less Than Zero.</p>
<p>IT WAS SEPTEMBER in the Texas hill country and time again for eighteen-year-old boys to prove their manhood. As always, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant seemed to be squinting beyond the scene at hand: the A&M Aggies heaving themselves into blocking sleds and each other with Sunday-school dutifulness.</p>
<p>SOME YEARS AGO I HAD A JOB, at Vogue, which involved going to photographers’ studios and watching women being photographed. These were photographs meant not for the fashion but for the “feature” pages of Vogue, portraits of women celebrated for one reason or another, known (usually) because they were starring in a movie or appearing in a play or known (less often) because they had pioneered a vaccine or known (more often than we pretended) just because they were known.</p>
Mandarin. Flagship of the Mandarin Oriental chain, and smackdab in the middle of Central. Check out the quiet, first-floor bar named after the nineteenthcentury artist George Chinnery, whose pen-and-ink sketches adorn the walls. Understated elegance makes it the businessman’s favorite.
Am I dreaming, or does my brain have a mind of its own?
<p>WHEN I THINK OF THE THOUSANDS I’ve spent on the shrinking of my head, I think that I really ought by now to have for a head only something like a clove pushed point-down into the meat of my neck—something irreducible, juiceless, with room in it, at most, for two very fine thoughts and perhaps one impulse.</p>
And other true stories from a great second act in American letters
<p>RAYMOND CARVER WAS my dear friend, and I still feel his presence in my life. I hope and trust I always will. It was Ray who gave me the news that my first son was born, and Ray and Tess Gallagher who sat up all night with that boy while the second was coming into the world.</p>
When God looked down on this family farm, He got an Eyeful
<p>MY COUSIN, KAY, thirteen and flirting, lets us look into her shirtfront while we hoe our rows of corn. Kay leans, pretending she is innocent, and bobs across from me; she weaves and wades through the flood of green on our weedy ground. On up the field our furrowed cullises of corn begin to merge, as if the knee-high rows of corn had zipped apart about her hoeing—blending overgrown in green again, ahead.</p>
On page 181: Calvin Klein jacket ($105) at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York; Woodward & Lothrop, Washington, D.C. For information contact: Calvin Klein Sport, 205 West Thirty-ninth Street, New York, New York 10018. On page 182: Robert Comstock coat ($3,100) at Bergdorf Goodman, New York; Louis, Boston, New York and Boston.