IN 1961, ESQUIRE editors Robert Ben ton and David New man were asked to think about what was dubious in the world around them They turned to Richard Nixon.
A picture had surfaced, showing Nixon pitching forward and bleating out a huge, bellicose laugh. Nixon was postCheckers and seemed to be doing very well at the time, but the picture raised a troubling question: What possibly could have occurred in Richard Nixon’s life to merit such uninhibited, raucous jocularity? It was a mystery then.
CHARLES GAINES’S ARTICLE “Robert Bly, Wild Thing” (October) made me realize what’s been bothering me about “the” men’s movement: It is largely (and maybe unwittingly) a fake. It may not glorify violence or savagery, but its exclusionary, do-what-Itell-you masculinity owes too much to the traditional male institutions it purports to be better than.
POPULAR WISDOM HOLDS that having two little girls is like having two little girls, while having two little boys is like having a dozen. Politically incorrect, perhaps, but true. Ask the mothers. The mark of parenthood in the 1990s is a surprisingly incredulous conversation that starts something like this: “I really didn’t believe it until I had children of my own, but little Taylor and little Kate really are different.”
UNLESS YOU, too, have eaten peyote, you may not know what poet Michael McClure means when he writes, “The pain in my stomach is warm and tender. I am smiling.” With The Portable Beat Reader,edited by Ann Charters (Viking), you may come to understand his message by context, and without threat of prosecution in the state where you live.
BY THE END of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, she decided that she could go steady with a boy without having to sleep with him. That’s about the last time Jennifer Jason Leigh has played good. In Miami Blues, she’s a small-town hooker who just wants to be loved—by homicidal psycho Alec Baldwin.
THE FRAME is the quintessential device of postmodernism, which is about renewing meaning through allusion and homage, which loves framing devices such as pediments and arches and oculi. So it’s no surprise that designing picture frames is a congenial assignment for architect Michael Graves.
LIKE ANY PIECE of completely functional and completely mythic gear, the western saddle has become invisible. When most of us get a glimpse of that familiar shape—the saddle horn, the heavy stirrups, perhaps a rope tied on the fork—what we really see is a Hollywood vision, a cigarette scene of the cowboy West.
THE NATIONAL Association for Female Executives found that 53 percent of 1,300 members polled had been, or knew someone who was, sexually harassed by someone “in a position to control or influence” their career Of those, 64 percent did not report the incident.
IT’S THE 1990s and the smart money, what’s left of it, is on dark dress shirts. New shirt, new look—raffishness doesn’t come easier than that. Of course, gangsters have exploited this dark-on-dark principle for years, but they overdo it. (That’s why they’re called gangsters and not well-dressed criminals.)
ONCE, A POWERFUL congressman who sat on a committee funding the space program and used the phrases "high frontier" and "spacefaring nation" was asked how he came by his fascination with space. Why, from Col lier's magazine, he replied, when he was a boy.
RAY CHARLES: The Birth of Soul, 1952-1959 (Atlantic): Since this column will probably be reaching you shortly before December’s holiday zero hour, it should be noted that music is the perfect quick fix for any last-minute gift-giving impasse.
VARIOUS ARTISTS (World Circuit): Then there are seasonal strategies. For someone who’s deeply into winter, pick up a copy of Gula Gula, by Mari Boine Persen (Real World), a collection of songs based in the folk traditions of the Sámi people, who inhabit the Arctic extremities of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the USSR (they don’t like being called Laplanders).
WHEN A MAN spends a good deal of time wondering if the next one will be the Big One, his appreciation for anything rock solid helps maintain his equilibrium. Which is why, more than most Californians, San Franciscans cherish a food culture based on the tried and true, and the reason no-nonsense, nineteenth-century grills like Jack’s, Sam’s, and Tadich’s are still going strong.
THE FINEST piece of modern Italian furniture designed by a Japanese is the Wink chair, done by Toshiyuki Kita for Cassina in Milan. Wink has a wonderfully articulated skeleton that lets it sit up or stretch out, but what Wink winks at is its own American pop joke: two foldable Mickey Mouse “ears” at its top.
TOMES LIKE The Oxford Dictionary of New Words ($19.95) are nice reminders that we are defined as much as anything by our language. Clearly, any schmo who spent the last decade in solitary would find himself lost in an alien world of jargon-riddled (to coin a neologism) “linguage."
THE PLACE: Miami Beach. Specifically, in or close by the oh-so-happening photo-fashion wintering ground of South Beach. THE ARCHITECTURE: South Beach (SoBe, if you must) has the highest concentration of art deco buildings in the world.
<p>LAST AUTUMN A BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT
arrived in the mail—a card with a light-blue ribbon attached above the name:
Cooper Bradford Hefner. The infant is the son of Hugh Hefner, the second son he
has had since his marriage more than two years ago to Kimberley Conrad—a
somewhat solid indication that he has given up almost forty years of a
freewheeling life for something quite different. </p>
IN THE FALL I returned to Bismarck, North Dakota, for yet another reverberation in the most significant murder trial in this country since Sacco and Vanzetti. For fifteen years the American Indian leader Leonard Peltier has been serving two consecutive life sentences for the killing of two FBI agents in the June 26,1975, shoot-out at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
I GOT MY FIRST CHAIR WHEN RONALD Reagan was a crisp young beaver of seventy and both of us had a full head of hair. The real estate market was a huge gasbag that had nowhere to go but up. Debt was a good thing you couldn’t get too much of. So was sex. Goat cheese had yet to be invented. Iraq was our valued ally.
THE INTERNATIONAL ARMS-AND-DRUG TRADE HAD ENTIRELY MISSED THE TINY CARIBBEAN ISLAND NATION OF ANTIGUA. THEN ISRAEL’S OWN OLIVER NORTH ARRIVED. WE TAKE UP THE TALE SEVERAL DEAD BODIES LATER
THE FOUL ODORS FROM THE BUICK REGAL parked at Miami International Airport started attracting attention in late January 1990. To homicide cops, the decomposing corpse of Arik Afek in the trunk looked like a professional hit. But why? Afek was an Israeli citizen residing near Miami, to all intents peacefully engaged in importing flowers from Colombia.
IF YOU THINK PRO FOOTBALL IS ALL BROKEN NOSES AND SHATTERED KNEES, YOU’RE WRONG. IT’S WORSE.
<p>Observe, please, the human skeleton, 208 bones perfectly wrought and arranged; the feet built on blocks, the shinbones like a Doric column. Imagine an engineer being told to come up with the vertebral column from scratch. After years, he might produce a primitive facsimile, only to hear the utterly mad suggestion: Okay, now lay a nerve cord of a million wires through the column, immune to injury from any movement.</p>
“IF YOU MUST GET INTO trouble,” Harry Cohn warned Glenn Ford and William Holden in 1939, when they were young Hollywood studs newly signed to contracts, “do it at the Marmont.” It was always that kind of hotel, a place that provided sufficient privacy, laxity, eccentricity, and thickness of wall to allow you to enjoy your trouble away from prying ears and eyes.
Rocket Launchers, Lust, Croquet, and the Fall of the West
BURIED SAFELY UNDER THE GULF SANDS, LOBBING EXPLOSIVES AT A RELIGIOUS AND PASSIONATE ENEMY, THE AMERICAN SOLDIERS DISCOVER THAT EVEN MOLES NEED A WHIFF OF GLORY
HEY, THANKS, THAT ONE GOT US RIGHT IN THE MORALE, ho boys. Viciously imagined. Woodoo the Arab couldn’t have done it better. That one, again! very close and nasty, old friend. We had you in the scope very early. Oh, Vicksburg, Vicksburg! I am, personally, the Fall of the West.
GIORGIO ARMANI’S NEW LINE IS STYLISH AND SEXY. UNFORTUNATELY, IT’S NOT EXPENSIVE
THE CONCEPT IS STAGGERING. Giorgio Armani for less than $100? Maybe if it fell off a truck. Or if somebody left off a zero. Or a sleeve. But it’s true. Last month, Armani launched his first A/X: Armani Exchange store in New York, a retail shop that features clothing under $100.
GOOD NEWS,MUSCLEHEADS. After all those hours on the Gravitron, all those brutal Nautilus reps, after all the sweating and grunting and misery, at last, you can show it off—and with your clothes on. THIS SPRING, a new wave of men’s wear that accentuates the body is coming.
Just when we thought that sex was finished—too dangerous, too incorrect, too much fun—it was back! In fact, it's everywhere. Tawdry, foolish—even illegal and horrifying—but we'll take it. And we're certain so will Alex Comfort in his no doubt forthcoming volume, The Joy of Really Perverted Stuff Complimentary copies will be rushed to Clarence Thomas (whose alleged come-ons wouldn't get him laid if he were starring in a porn film) and to the other memorable sex maniacs—lusty yeasty, bulging heroes and heroines one and all!
THIS ONE’S FOR YOU, LITTLE GUY. WAKE UP AND SPILL THE COFFEE!
BELIEVE IT OR NOT, WILLIAM HALL DRILLED SEVEN HOLES IN HIS HEAD WITH A POWER DRILL . . . AND LIVED! William G. Hall of Shrewsbury, England, killed himself by drilling eight holes in his head with a power drill. (1971) UNCLE HESHIE WENT OFF AT 6 TO 5 Several employees at a hospital in Nevada were suspended when it was discovered that they had made bets on how long critically ill patients would live.
How times change. We weren't always the paragons of enlightenment we are today. During the last thirty years, we've committed an unenviable string of racist, sexist, and homophobic gaffes and made a number of just plain dumbheaded calls.
A SALUTE TO THE BOLD, BRASH, UNCOMPROMISING VISIONARIES WHO NEVER LET HUMANITY GET IN THE WAY OF A GOOD TIME
A SCATHING, SELF SERVING CRITIQUE IN THE TEHRAN REVIEW OF BOOKS WOULD HAVE SUFFICED Ayatollah Khomeini called for the death of Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses. (1989) STILL, YOU COULD ALWAYS COUNT ON THAT SLIGHTLY RUNNY CHOCOLATE MINT ON YOUR PILLOW Real estate tycoons Leona and Harry Helmsley were charged with 235 felony counts of tax evasion and falsifying business records.
CELEBRATING THE MANY LIFETIME ACHIEVERS TO WHOM WE OWE SO LITTLE
<p>A FEW FRACTURED PELVISES WOULD HAVE MADE THE POINT JUST AS WELL Vice-President Agnew says the National Guardsmen "overreacted" by killing four Kent State students. (1970) WHERE WAS HE WHEN THEY NEEDED HIM AT KENT STATE? Spiro Agnew strikes three spectators with his first two shots during a guest appearance at the Bob Hope Desert Classic.</p>
Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan have done more than any other individuals to give body, indeed, even a spiritual penumbra to the term "Dubious Achievement." But quién es más Dubious? To answer the question, we asked both to take part in this untelevised debate.
FOR THIRTY agonizing years, we have sought the reason for that grotesque and inexplicable Nixon laugh. Finally we realized that the answer was most likely to come from the ranks of Nixon’s peers, his fellow Dubious Achievers. We polled them and what follows are their responses.
With his inauguration only two days away, Presidentelect Cuomo said that he was still undecided about whether to go to Washington, take the oath of office, and make a speech. (1993) HOLD THE RUSSIAN Lenin’s body was removed from its tomb and eaten by starving Muscovites.
On pages 86and 87: All Armani Jeans clothing at Armani A/X: Exchange store, New York. For information contact Armani A/X: Exchange, 114 Fifth -enue, New York, New York 10011. On page 89: 2(x)ist leggings ($65) at Bergdorf Goodman, Charivari, and Amalgamated, New York.
A MONTHLY NEWSLETTER KEEPING YOU UP TO THE SECOND ON ALL CULTURAL AND SOCIAL FRONTS.
HOLLYWOOD BIGS are not immune to U.S.A.’s new megatrend: hate. With race-baiting, sexual harassment, and gay bashing all over the news, producers looking to cash in on new hostility with topical (and low-cost!) “reality-based” programming.