DEAR BRUCE: Your letter arrived the other day, and in the minute or two it took me to read it, I was reminded how nice it is to get lost in someone’s unsolicited rantings. So what I’m thinking is: Let’s go with it. My idea is to run it on the magazine’s last page under the department heading “A Letter at Last.”
The image of woman has varied a great deal during the Eighties. We have exalted the bleached and moussed, applauded the pumped and aerobicized, and lauded the corporate barracuda. Perhaps we have all forgotten the true essence of woman. For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, she’s on the cover of September’s Esquire.
DROP DOWN through Pennsylvania, along empty blacktops splashed with moonlight, past covered bridges and barns hung with darkened hex signs, through a nightscape speckled with Victorian hamlets of these southern Alleghenies—to Route 30, and the village of Breezewood.
WHAT YOU HEAR on Joe Williams’s In Good Company (Verve) is the sound of history. For fifty years, Williams has been spreading the butter of the blues and the jelly of jazz on the accommodating bread of American popular music. The man who recorded “Every Day” with Count Basie in the mid-1950s came up from the streets of Chicago with Ethel Waters in his ears, Bessie Smith on his mind, Nat Cole up ahead in his sights.
I HATE TO BE the bearer of bad news, but you know all that time you’ve spent figuring out the clout-ranking for cars: Which Mercedes models trump the big Cadillac? Which BMWs outrank Saab and Volvo but are obliged to genuflect in the presence of Jaguars? Well, sorry, but the game just changed.
FOCACCIA is nothing like a Bellini. Or angel-hair pasta or white truffles from Piedmont or any of those mordantly chic tidbits that bespeak Italian cuisine these days. Instead, this rugged peasant bread makes you believe, yup, somewhere there are still eateries with red-checked tablecloths and marinara sauce that runs thick and free, where couples who act a lot like Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray in The Apartment are stealing hot glances over the grated Parmesan.
IN SPIKE LEE’S film Do the Right Thing, there is a boom-box duel as formal as one with flintlocks. A single dude bearing a box big enough to go on the road with Def Leppard bests a group of guys hanging out on the street through simple excess of bass and volume.
LYNDON JOHNSON may or may not have been the most macho president we ever had, but he took pains to make us think he was. It was he who hoisted his dogs by their ears to make them yelp, who pulled up his pajama top to show us the scar from his gallbladder operation, who conducted briefings with members of his Cabinet while seated on the toilet.
<p>THE VEHICLES OF the Great Migration were trains and buses and old jalopies. The war was over, and every day, every hour, black folks gave up on the South. Farms emptied. The abandoned dwellings of the sharecroppers, silvery with weather and wind, collapsed into the earth of Mississippi and Alabama and the other states of the lost Confederacy.</p>
<p>THEY ARE ALL black-and-white memories for me now—those Sundays in Yankee Stadium when the New York Giants, the New York football Giants, as we knew them, were the only game in town. The best Sundays were when they played the Cleveland Browns.</p>
<p>I DREAM SOMETIMES of grandchildren at my feet, stifling boredom valiantly as I blather on about the golden past. “We drank coffee with caffeine in it,” I reminisce, “and we smoked cigarettes, and we”—my voice breaks; my yellowed eyes grow moist—“we had newspapers then.”</p>
Smart lenders are currently working some flexibility into their fixed-rate products, now that the demand for the real crapshoot-—the adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)—is on the wane. National lenders like Citicorp and GMAC have reinvented the graduated-payment mortgage (GPM), which requires a low initial payment, with subsequent payments increasing overtime acconfiig to a set schedule.
WHAT happens if you get sick on a flight? Well, in all probability, you won’t. A recent survey at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport recorded one emergency call for every 19,000 passengers—and that included emergencies on the ground, where medical help is relatively easy to come by.
American Express, through the magic of a 900 number (magic for its bottom line, that is), is providing worldwide weather reports via telephone. You dial 900-WEATHER and get a threeday forecast for any of six hundred locations by punching in the requested city’s area code or name.
The Place: New York, New York. Two bedrooms with a view. Choose your side: Fifth Avenue or Central Park West. In between is the best reason for living on either: the Park. The Architecture: Two bedrooms usually means roughly 1,200 square feet spread over four and a half rooms.
<p>IT WAS THE last autumn of innocence, I think. Boston was green and gold and all kinds of bright orange, vermilion, and paisley, the air so crisp and fresh, and all things were possible. The Sox had just won the sixth game of the best World Series ever.</p>
The most influential graphic designer of the ’80s; certainly the most imitated. With British style magazines The Face and now Arena, thirty-two-yearold Neville Brody changed the face of magazines in Europe. Urban, raw, tribal, his work— from record jackets to advertisements—is dynamic and startling.
<p>THERE WAS no symbol more evocative of Irving Berlin’s songwriting career than his transposing piano, which could shift keys at the touch of a lever. For more than five decades, Berlin, who had no formal training in music theory or composition, had used the upright, tinny-sounding, cigarette-scarred instrument to pick out his tunes.</p>
<p>IF BAUHAUS EVER DID make it to your house, chances are good that Dieter Rams had something to do with it. Rams, designer of Braun appliances and personal-care products for nearly thirty-five years, has more than anyone else turned the avant-garde art of the first half of the twentieth century into the toasters, coffee grinders, and alarm clocks of the second half.</p>
What a year! Big mamas in the Big House! HUD in the mud! Rich mammals on camels! So long, you wacky revelers, yo Take two Thorazines and call us in the Nineties!
<p>Okay, so we weren’t invited. Couldn’t have gone, anyway. Who’d feed Budgie? We had shirts at the laundry. Our sister-in-law was in town. So, sure, while it would have been nice to have been asked, we’re happy for Malcolm. So a belated Happy Birthday, Mal. Maybe we can make it to the Big Eight-Oh....</p>
There's something refined about a vest, but there's something untamed about suede. The same could be said of actor Ed Harris: good guy, bad guy-soon to be truly lethal guy in State of Grace, his latest film. That's Harris: Ed, no tweed.
You can buy a new car and a watch that runs: on modern quartz technology. Or you can take the same money and buy one of these timepieces-known as the skeleton watch. These are Swiss, of course, made completly by hand, and are 100 percent merchanical and proud of it. They will run long after your car, your high-tech watch, and you yourself have ceased to operate.
THINK OF HER as a happy ending. Think of her as the woman who, after all the toil and trouble and heartache and pain, comes to your emotional rescue; the woman who holds you close until all the world fades away like mere effluvium and life becomes one long bebop-enhanced movie montage.
<p>IT WAS MAY 30, 1986,a bright, warm day in the Arkansas Delta, and Billy Joe Chambers was coming home in a Cadillac. Not just one Cadillac actually, but a great, shining caravan of Cadillacs, five of them, each one snow-white, the color of cocaine, rolling along the dusty, crop-lined roads of Lee County.</p>
<p>THIS LAST TIME THE CARNIVAL CAME to our town we had the contortionist in the inlet. Not exactly all of the contortionist. Somehow she had been sucked into the dredge boom that sweeps back and forth chewing sand underwater to keep the inlet open.</p>
watch. Stash the Amex in a money belt. Carry the Nikon in a plastic shopping bag—the one from the Pão de AçÚcar supermarket looks appropriately downscale. Take a bare minimum to the beach, including only enough cash for a snack. After dark, use taxis with abandon. Now, relax and have a good time.
Copacabana Palace. This is what comes to mind when you think of all those Good Neighbor Policy movies about flying down to Rio. When it was built in 1923, it put its neighborhood, Copacabana, on the tourist map and on the tongues of lounge lizards everywhere.
The decade of glitz and greed may have ended, but the maladies linger on.
<p>AT LAST, THIS TEDIOUS DECADE of glitz and big-dollar deals, with its cadre of white-collar criminals and gush of conspicuous consumers, comes stumbling to an end. For the most part it has been a reactionary decade best characterized by its lack of original ideas.</p>
As you begin to notice the minute you deplane at the international-arrivals terminal at JFK, where a 3iz-pound Immigration and Naturalization Services blimp is the first American you see, all the fat people in the world reside on the left side of the globe, and any day now the mounting weight imbalance is going to start heaving Planet Earth over into a lopsided orbit that will slip it out from under the Greenhouse Effect and ensure the survival of us all.