Having never had the rare and distinct opportunity to sit in the same aisle at a Eurythmics concert as Jack Nicholson, I would not presume to understand the man as well as Steve Erickson does (“The Myth That Jack Built,” September). You may call me misguided, but the myth that I have created around Nicholson is that he is a complicated and intelligent actor with an impressive résumé who loves the Lakers, never misses the Academy Awards, collects priceless works of art, and wears sunglasses indoors.
IT WAS WITH SADNESS and regret that I read your August column. I am left with the deepest feelings of dismay about whether gays and straights will ever understand one another if someone s committed and intelligent as you still cannot come to terms with the gay movement.
For the past two weeks everyone around the office has been telling me — thanks a lot—how difficult it will be for me to write this column. Well, it has and it hasn’t been. ■ Let me start with the simple fact of the matter: This Backstage is my last (at least in the American language) as the editor in chief of Esquire.
In Liberia this fall, the rumors are staggering: soldiers in wedding gowns and wigs, impervious to bullets, able to turn into snakes and elephants. But it's the truth that truly defies belief
<p>It’s late September and the Liberian civil war has been stalled, at its very climax, for nearly three weeks. The various factions simmer under heavy West African clouds. Charles Taylor and his rebels are over here; they control most of the country and the northern part of the capital, Monrovia—the part where the radio station is, and many nights Taylor harangues his corner of the universe with speeches about whom he’s killed and whom he’s going to kill, expectorating figures with a casual generosity that gets him known as a liar, referring to himself as “the President of this nation” and to his archrival as “the late Prince Johnson.”</p>
When C. Wright Mills coined the term "power elite" in 1956, he envisioned an invisible ruling matrix of influence and money. What would he have made of a chain letter that is now circulating among media muckety-mucks? "The one who breaks the chain will have bad luck," it reads.
How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously,” a song from Behavior, the new Pet Shop Boys album, is an overdue response to the conviction among pop stars that they’ve been chosen to save humanity. “You’re an intellectual giant, an authority, to preach and teach the whole world about ecology,” Neil Tennant sings of an unnamed star (Sting? Sinéad O’Connor?).
WELFARE CLIENT: I got no respect. POLICEMAN: Well, that’s you. CLIENT: No respect. POLICEMAN: I got enough for both of us. CLIENT: Hope. POLICEMAN: I got enough for both of us. CLIENT: I hope it will keep us alive. POLICEMAN: I know it will keep me alive.
Once, before Jesse Helms roamed the earth, art was controversial for reasons other than morality. How quaint, then, to come across simple intellectual perversity, as in "Design 1935—1965: What Modern Was," opening in February at the IBM Gallery in New York.
All successful rock ’n’ roll acts follow the Law of Elvis. They begin by imitating someone else, and they end up imitating themselves. First they distress their fans’ parents; many years later, they come back to distress their original fans.
Once a young man discovers sex, money, toil, and woe, he is ruined for heroes. Which is why the athletes captured in the ’5os and ’6os by photographer Ozzie Sweet—the great Paul Hornung among them— are the only ones whose images really move us.
For me, all hope for New York died on the day I read about the arrest of a young man out in the borough of Queens. A special kind of murder. DAD HELD IN KILLING, said the page-three headline in the Daily News. Another neat summary of a familiar New York story, reported in the matter-of-fact tone of an aging war correspondent.
HE’S UNFIT, POORLY RESTED, AND READY TO FIRE SOMEBODY
It will really hit during the first big series of the year, say when the Athletics come to play the Yankees. The phone will ring in Bobby Nederlander’s office just as Sarah Brightman is by the piano reaching for a high C. ■ “Bobby, it’s George,” a voice will trumpet from the other end of the line.
The following events took place in 199—, in a city that I will not name. It was natural that such things should have happened there. In American cities like this one, people have abandoned many of the distractions that lend dimension to human existence elsewhere.
It must take a special innocence to be as shocked as I was in my youth by an idea in Plato’s Republic—that it’s okay for the rulers of the State to lie to their own citizens “for the public good.” An impeccable precedent, this “royal lie” as Plato called it, for our rulers today—including, it seems, the leaders of an important wing of our public-health establishment.
WHY BUSH CAN’T STOP SLAVERING OVER THE NEW GERMANY
Most Washingtonians have Saddam Hussein jokes; the more egregiously hip have Helmut Kohl ones. A current D.C. thigh-slapper revolves around this December 2, the day of the first all-German elections since the Weimar Republic. Our lumpenbourgeois Helmut wins the elections and, amid jubilant scenes reminiscent of the annexation of Austria, steals back to the remains of Hitler’s bunker and summons up the ghost of the late genocidal megalomaniac.
The history of the condom reflects a four-hundred-year struggle between pleasure and protection. For most of that time, the condom has spoiled the first without giving any real assurance of the second. No one has ever sung the praises of condoms; everyone complains about them.
It’s taken years of mind-addling research, but I’m pleased at last to reveal that I’ve discovered the secret of a good holiday punch: Alcohol, by God! And lots of it! I should have realized this long ago, but I grew up in the South, where zealous blue-haired Matriarchs of the Punch Bowl ladled out their family’s special blend while loudly proclaiming the crucial importance of some odd ingredient like Spanish moss.
The kids’ room is where high styles go for syndication, the cable-channel repository of onetime prime time: My Three Sons on Nickelodeon. Once, the nursery was filled with pastel spool-runged antiquities; now it is the last refuge of pop and modern in the post-postmodernist world—of the ideal we will never quite give up on:
Hog jowl, lightly smoked, peppered, and salted, is part of the well-known antique gastronomic insurance policy southerners subscribe to on New Year’s Day. It comes to the table with black-eyed peas (for plenty of change) and collards (for folding green).
The compact disc has now been around so long we can at last be honest: Great sound is the least of its virtues. Take, for example, the fact that you don’t have to get up every twenty minutes to turn it over. And better than that, the CD has given record companies the excuse to do what they do best—namely, goose sales by repackaging old material.
The Place: Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho. Snow, sun, and skiing complimentary. The Architecture: The full western ski-town array: hunting lodge and faux hunting lodge; genuine ranch and multimillion-dollar ranch; A-frame and multiple A-frame
IT TEACHES US, NOT THE LESSONS OF SCHOOL BUT HOW TO ENDURE, HOW TO HAVE LEISURE, LOVE, FOOD, AND CONVERSATION, HOW TO LOOK UPON NAKEDNESS
In Paris that first time, we went straight to the hotel, from the windows of which there was nothing to be seen but the bleakness of buildings about forty feet away across the street. It was a wintry afternoon. Later we drove up to Montmartre to change some money on the black market.
The first meeting, in Manhattan, took place as she was about to leave for Moscow to make The Russia House with Sean Connery, and the conversation, it would be fair to say, was intense. On the verge of being tortured, to be more accurate. Remember, during the preceding year she had emerged at the very pinnacle of her profession.
<p>One of my least favorite students was trying to draw George Smiley out on the amoral nature of our work. He was wanting Smiley to admit that anything goes, as long as you got away with it. I suspect he was actually wanting to hear this maxim applied to the whole of life, for he was ruthless as well as mannerless, and wished to see in our work some kind of license to throw aside his few remaining scruples.</p>
Why NBC’s Steve Friedman wants twenty-three minutes and forty-five seconds of your time
It is a slow news day, and the NBC Nightly News staff is talking about 970-PEEE, a New York telephone number you can call to fulfill your golden-shower fantasies. National correspondent Bob Kur is researching a piece about “Shock Theater”—the idea is that obscenity now permeates and poisons our lives—and those in the small conference room are trying to best one another with vile and kinky anecdotes.
A true tale starring the CIA, Southeast Asian drug lords, Mel Gibson, the unchecked power of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, a mysteriously altered book, charges, countercharges, and me
I think maybe you never make movie—yes?” We were in a small restaurant in northern Thailand, and the owner was drunk. But as he leaned over our table, dropping ash from his Malaysian cigarette onto the noodles and fish, he sounded oddly confident that our movie, Air America, which had already been shooting for six weeks, would never be completed.
ONCE, THEY STOLE HUBCAPS AND SHOT OUT STREET-LIGHTS. NOW THEY’RE STEALING YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER AND SHOOTING OUT YOUR CREDIT RATING. A LAYMAN' S GUIDE TO COMPUTER HIGH JINKS
On a muggy Friday night, we putter about the entrance to the Chelsea Hotel in New York City, nervously chatting about nothing in particular, pacing, thumping a dead coffee cup, waiting. A massive sun—garishly orange, unnaturally close—tries to wash this skeezy neighborhood with its maudlin rays, but this is Manhattan, the Chelsea, where Nancy Spungen asked Sid Vicious to stab her to death; no way.
THE MARLIN KNIFED THROUGH THE OCEAN, 700 POUNDS OF BLUE-GREEN TORQUE ON A 70-MPH CARIBBEAN RUN. FOR THE NEXT FEW HOURS,OUR HUNG-OVER AND BLOODIED AUTHOR JUST TRIED TO HANG ON. AND SO BEGINS A TALE OF...
We are perched on stools in the Poor Man’s Bar in Red Hook, St. Thomas, telling fish stories. Remar Sutton, who has invited me here for the U.S. Virgin Islands Eighteenth Annual Open Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament, is actually the one telling the whoppers.
A GUIDE TO JOURNEYS THAT ARE MEASURED IN DAYS, NOT WEEKS
The Melrose. If money is no object, this palatial bed-and-breakfast is the place to blow it. From the free limo pickup at the airport to the open bar, this immaculately renovated mansion— eight rooms, four with whirlpools—gives new meaning to the Big Easy.
You already know about the crisis in U.S. airport capacity—that is, that there’s none left. If I told you I could wave a wand and create seventy-eight new airfields to ease that crisis, would you appoint me head of the FAA? Don’t bother; it’s the FAA’s idea in the first place.
I’ll always think Brillat-Savarin’s remark that the discovery of a new dish is more beneficial to humanity than the discovery of a new star is a ridiculous conceit, but I will say this: The fellow who first baked mozzarella, tomato, and basil onto a flat round of dough has given more people more pleasure than a roomful of Renoirs.
On page 140: Tiffany & Co. flask ($275), Swiss army knife ($90), and chain ($1,600) at Tiffany & Co. nationwide. For information contact: Tiffany & Co., 727 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10022. Parker pen ($250) at fine department stores and specialty shops nationwide.