Measuring Up YOUR MARCH MALE-VANITY cover “firmed up” an opinion I have “long” had: Esquire rules! -BENJAMIN BERNSTEIN Edmond, Okla. Still on the Ball LIKE RICK TELANDER, I have defined myself for years by the level of my athletic ability (“Over the Hill, My Ass!” March).
A new design and a recast editorial mix propel Esquire toward the millennium
THE ISSUE YOU HOLD in your hands reflects Esquire’s latest updating—a bold and elegant new design to showcase a recast editorial mix that emphasizes both compelling journalism and comprehensive service, including the most sophisticated fashion in men’s magazines.
<p>EVEN THOUGH he’s a former agent, Michael Ovitz knows a little something about sentiment in Hollywood. When Ovitz attended the funeral of Disney president Frank Wells in April 1994, he wasn’t overly impressed by the turnout of five thousand mourners, according to Robert Slater’s biography of Ovitz, published by McGraw-Hill.</p>
ENGLISH DIRECTOR PETER GREENAWAY, our own movie columnist David Thomson has written, “is a test case in the question as to whether cinema can really be as solitary as art or literature.” With Greenaway’s latest, The Pillow Book, which opens this month, the question remains— which means that he’s made another breathtakingly gorgeous and completely absorbing but still coldly odd and opaque film (not unlike its predecessors The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover; Prospero’s Books; Drowning by Numbers).
“GODDAMMIT, Hills, I don’t think there’s an excuse in the world for you people holding onto my manuscript this long....” In The Proud Highway: The Fear and Loathing Letters, Volume I (Villard), this 1959 rocket, sent by Hunter S. Thompson to an innocent Esquire editor, is but part of an intimate look at the formation of a dangerous mind in an extravagant time.
THANKS TO CHINATOWN, we know in a vaguely cinematic way that Los Angeles exists only because enough water was stolen to keep the parched desert metropolis alive. But in the four-part documentary Cadillac Desert: Water and the Transformation of Nature, the actual heist—of an entire river, and that’s just for starters—is shown in all its clever, manifestdestiny-charged detail.
LA GUERRE EST FINIE. The telephone war, at least. I (the parent) have lost to them (the children). They’ll get their own line. La guerre apropos le CD player rages on. Not that they don’t already have their own machines. This is a battle of taste.
Just as consumer pressure is pushing the price of compact discs downward, along comes Hollywood-based Classic Compact Discs (800-457-2577) trying to make them elitist (read: expensive) again. But audiophiles aren’t complaining, since the company is concentrating only on reissuing rare sonic gems of the LP era— bargains at twenty-five dollars a pop.
“DUDE-YOU DON’T even know," says twenty-one-year-old Milla Jovovich about her approach to acting. “It’s all about making mistakes. It’s not like I’m Jodie Foster or Meryl Streep. I’m just Milla. To be able to make a mistake is the most wonderful thing in the world.
WE MAY TELL the nastiest jokes about lawyers, but America, the most litigious society in history, can barely turn a doorknob without consulting an attorney—which suggests at least some (fatal) attraction to the beast. This love-hate dependency is at the heart of Lawrence Joseph’s gripping Lawyerland (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
If you’ve ever searched the annals of art history to find out who painted those rec-room masterpieces of dogs playing poker, you can now turn to Todd and Brant von Hoffmann’s Big Damn Book of Sheer Manliness. Just out from the General Publishing Group, this testosteronic tome is an encyclopedia of all masculine interests, from Weber grills to Mack trucks to the Baja 500, including the story of Cassius “Cash” Coolidge, a nineteenth-century carnival-poster painter and the Picasso of poker-playing dogs.
“THERE’S NOT A LOT of guys around playing and singing standards with drumless trios,” deadpans John Pizzarelli over an early-morning coffee at New York’s Broadway Diner. True enough—his career choice was probably equal parts nature and nurture.
WHAT A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE CULTURAL FIGURES ARE UP TO
MICHAEL J. AGOVINO
Alexis Rockman: The artist’s latest gallery exhibit, which includes The Eco-tourist (detail above), will be on display in New York’s Jay Gorney Modern Art through the end of June. He’s also working on three books with paleontologists and is shopping around a treatment he’s written for a science-fiction movie.
OUTED: Shock jock Howard Stern, by his wife of nineteen years, Alison, who admitted that her husband is a transsexual. Describing herself as “Howie’s longtime beard,” Mrs. Stern said the success of Private Parts has made the announcement inevitable.
After jumping ship from the Pirates, Jim Leyland is swimming in success with the Marlins
IT WAS LATE, and the clubhouse door had been shut for a long time. This was the time of night, especially given newspaper deadlines, when you kept waiting for the sportswriters in this dark corner of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium to kick that door in.
Trade aliens for angels and the thirty-nine suicide cultists could be mistaken for Christian saints
RANCHO SANTA FE, the Reverend Paul Nelson joked on Easter morning, is such an earthly paradise that when one of the town’s citizens went to heaven after dying, he looked around and said, “This is nice, but can I go home on weekends?” It was a gentle, soothing, even mildly self-congratulatory joke, but on this Sunday morning, four days after the bodies of the Heaven’s Gate cultists had been found a scant three miles away—a period of unending macabre discoveries and embarrassing media invasion—the people attending the reverend’s service in Rancho Santa Fe’s Presbyterian church were in need of some comic relief.
<p>FOR MORE THAN FORTY YEARS, J. D. Salinger has lived in self-exile behind a Wall of Silence, an enigma in a celebrity culture. Now, by allowing the reissue of his 1965 short story, “Hapworth 16, 1924,” is the last private person in America trying to tell us something?</p>
Dante's Peak fizzled. The stock price is stalled. But two years after the Seagram heir spent $5.7 billion for MCA Inc., Hollywood's top power brokers are betting he's not a third-generation bimbo.
THE CRACKLE of walkietalkies reverberated through the amphitheater. “Mr. Bronfman has taken his seat.” “Mr. Bronfman is ready now.” It was February 1997, and hundreds of people—agents, producers, executives, stars— were gathered on the hill at Universal City, a former chicken ranch turned Hollywood theme park, for the premiere of Dante’s Peak, the first movie from Universal Pictures’ new management.
Anyone can be a star. (Hiyo!) I mean, if Jenny McCarthy can host. (Hey, now!) Selfless, that's me. (That is funny stuff!) Regis, Ed, Andy—those are real heroes. (Ha-ha-ha-ha!) The couch is my domain. (You are correct, sir!) It's 11:30—time to unleash...
<p>EVEN I HAVE HOSTED. The Kinnear boy had a movie to make, and they were letting anyone substitute-host, so they called me, and I hosted Later on NBC. The day after I hosted, I met the King, who knew what I had done. That is why he is King, even in retirement.</p>
Travelgate and Troopergate were the work of Bill Clinton’s enemies, right? And Whitewater and Filegate, too. And Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones, draft dodging and not inhaling, Webster Hubbell, John Huang, and Indogate. Is Clinton the most disreputable president ever? It seems that way to one historian.
The scandals that have emerged since the beginning of President Clinton’s second term threaten him with personal tragedy. The question now is whether the mess will develop into a national tragedy, too. What do Bill Clinton’s vivid ethical failings tell us about the state of the presidency and the moral condition of America?
Fifty years ago, a Soviet soldier named Kalashnikov gave the world the assault rifle. Now, fifty-five million AK-47's later, the Soviet Union is gone, guerrilla warfare rules, and that soldier is an old man who hasn't been paid in three months. A dispatch, from Russia with blood.
<p>The way men kill, both on and off the field of battle, changed fundamentally a half century ago, when the Central Artillery Administration of the USSR adopted the automat Kalashnikova 1947, or the AK-47, as the standard-issue weapon for the Soviet army.</p>
Thery're back, but they're better. Designer-jean collections today are less glitzy, more honest, and based on the idea of what a pair of jeans should be: durable, utilitarian, basic. They're also, on this group of aspiring L. A. actors, very hip.
AN ICON OF MASCULINE STYLE, THE POLO SHIRT HAS BEEN REVISED, REWORKED, AND MADE CHIC—OVER AND OVER AGAIN
VERY FEW OF US canter about verdant meadows trying to strike a wooden ball with a mallet. But nearly everyone has a polo shirt—or five or ten. Of all the sports that have influenced men’s wear, the one played by the fewest people seems to have had the greatest impact.
Many a former two-planker has retired his skis in favor of the board
WET. At sun’s first light, that’s not such an appealing prospect, even if you’re swathed in a wet suit and neon life vest like a seal in a flak jacket, beholding the still, glassy perfection of California’s Donner Lake. A perfection decisively shattered by DoubleUP’s brand-new Sport Nautique as it cleaves lustily through the water, ruining all adjacent fishing thanks to the presence on board of “fat chicks”—the politically incorrect term for the cement-filled paint buckets that weigh down the boat’s bow to create a bigger wake.
<p>ONLY ONE OUT of four runners has a normal gait. The rest of us have ankles that wobble either in or out with every step. Add this biomechanical flaw to a pounding force equal to two to four times your body weight, then multiply it by the four thousand strides in an average three-mile jaunt.</p>
BANGING HEADS in a rugby scrum is sure to leave you with a sore skull—but jogging? According to a report in The Physician and Sportsmedicine, headaches induced by aerobic exercise or weight training are nearly three times more common than those caused by a bonk on the bean.
A SQUIRMY HYPOTHETICAL: Suppose you had to choose between being happy and having sex? It's a reality for people who rely on Prozac or its chemical cousins to treat depression. The true dimensions of the problem are only now emerging, says Dr. Richard A. Friedman, director of Cornell Medical Center's psychopharmacology clinic.
AMERICAN MEDICAL science has just weighed in with the latest word on the relationship between diet and disease, but you heard it from your mother first. Drink your (low-fat) milk and eat your fruits and vegetables. In the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) study published in April in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that people with mildly elevated blood pressure significantly reduced it within two weeks of starting an otherwise unremarkable diet packed with fruits and vegetables—in total, eight to ten servings a day A group that added a heavy dose of low-fat dairy foods to this regimen saw roughly twice as much improvement.
LAST WINTER, AFTER a twenty-year absence, I returned to the scene of my youthful glory—the hockey rink—and discovered the deeply satisfying rewards of coaching. There’s nothing quite so gratifying as showing a ten-year-old kid how to fake wide, put the puck between the defender’s legs, and jet by him during a Saturday practice, then watching the boy execute the deke brilliantly in a game on Sunday—even if it is just past sunup.
THAT SCALY LITTLE PATCH of skin by your temple turned out to have the dire appellation of basal-cell carcinoma. It’s gone; you’re cured. Whew! You got to bond with your doctor and have a genuine Life Experience. End of story. Probably—but a study of thirty-seven thousand basal-cell patients by researchers at the Danish Epidemiology Science Centre suggests that the malady may be a marker for other, vastly more serious cancers.
Getting Older Will Leave a Bad Taste in Your Mouth
30S GUMS Your thirty-two teeth are hugged tightly by your gums—soft tissue that regenerates every one to two weeks. In your thirties, you'll notice your bright smile beginning to fade: Nerves running through the center of each tooth are shrinking, causing your teeth to become denser and, in turn, darker.
A testosterone-free office may not be a worthy goal for society
“SLIDE ON OVER HERE,” purred the man who had invited her to lunch. “I want to show you something.” She was an attractive, ambitious junior staffer in his Washington office; he was older, powerful, and close to the White House chief of staff at the time.
ONE DAY IN the spring, a level-headed male friend turned to me with a post-second-divorce sigh and announced he was ready to explore the more relaxed, Eastern notion of sex: something that’s slow, easy, and not about completion, per se. “Sex shouldn’t be about the destination but the journey.”
THE OFFICE SAGE comes to work at the crack of 10:00 A.M. More often than not, he skips the Big Meetings. He's good on the big ideas, worthless on execution. Once, maybe twenty-five years ago, he was a go-getter, fresh out of a college more prestigious than the sorry school you attended.
<p>A DECADE AGO, the defining gimmick on Wall Street was the leveraging of corporate balance sheets and the looting of the bondholders. This time around, it’s the hijacking of the shareholders instead. To give it proper historic resonance, we’ll call this the Era of Junk Equity.</p>
The World Wide Web is a vast, chaotic entity. Yet just like the vast real world, cyberspace can often seem quite small. John Guare's six degrees of separation applies: Any person or thing is only six Web sites away from any other. To prove this, we connected Guare, the suave playwright, with the phonetically similar but culturally opposing punk-metal band GWAR.
IT’S BEEN EXACTLY thirty years since the young Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate was taken aside to hear the whispered mantra: plastics. Long the material that dared not speak its name, agile imitator of ivory and leather, wood and metal, plastic can now speak for itself.
ONE OF THE loveliest buildings in New York City is Grace Church, a landmark on lower Broadway that dates to 1846. But hundreds of times, I’ve wished that graceful neo-Gothic edifice smashed to dust and its little green yard paved over. That’s because, even after two decades of driving in Manhattan, I always forget that Grace Church takes the place of a block of Eleventh Street—making that byway a phantom Northwest Passage out of the East Village.
FOR AN AMERICAN, every moment in Havana is charged with furtive pleasures that others can only guess at. The rest of the world’s turistas might enjoy the shock of recognition when they first set eyes on Old Havana, with its dreamy, decrepit beauty, its rotting rococo terraces in candy-bar pastels, and its talismanic 1950s Chevys and Buicks rattling along the streets.
NOODLES are—what?—fifty cents’ worth of egg, flour, and water—maybe less. Add two tablespoons of butter at about a nickel a throw. Toss on a pharmaceutical-size gram or two of a gnarled fungus called tartufi bianchi that grows under a tree and you’re up to...fifty bucks!
"I HAVE THIS flipped-out idea that rosés may actually be the greatest, most subtle, most noble wines in the world—only we don't know it," says Randall Grahm, proprietor of California's premier rosé maker, Bonny Doon Vineyards. Pardon us for being confused.
Fashion Made in the Shade, p. 78: Costume Homme shirt ($280) and trousers ($355) at Barneys New York select stores; Riccardi, Boston; Traffic, Los Angeles. Granello sandals ($285) at Neiman Marcus select stores; Scott Hill, Los Angeles; Louis Boston, Boston.
A children's bedtime story with ambulatory surgery and lots of bile
I’M IN THE MIDST of reciting the first section of T. S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding,” the fourth of his Four Quartets—y’know, “the communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living”—and my four-year-old daughter, Gaby, is already, like, gone.