ALMOST TEN YEARS AGO, Cal Fussman walked into the office I was occupying at the time. It was a fantastic office—just enough room for a desk and a chair and a little black love seat. The outside wall was shared by a small window and the door to the fire escape.
Back in October, Esquire wondered what it would be like to send someone on the ultimate fishing trip, have him choose any place in the world, and let luck play its course. Every angler's dream, right? So when we pitched the idea to frequent contributor Scott Carrier, an avid fisherman, it took him just one day to choose the mountainous Yunnan Province of China, where four major rivers nearly converge.
Every January brings our annual installment of Dubious Achievements, which is followed almost immediately by howls and bellows, often from those whose toes have been stepped on. This year, the toe-stepping task was taken up by the elusive and irreverent Shalom Auslander, who sent up some tough targets—AOL and Time Warner, God and children, Absolut's famous ads, and Charles Schulz's Peanuts strip, to name a few.
I need to tell you how much I enjoyed your existential interpretation of the Peanuts gang in Dubious Achievements. What struck me most about “Man’s Search for Schulz” was the clever characterization of Charles Schulz as God—both hilarious and intriguing.
TAKE NOTE: This third month of the year is National Frozen Food Month, Women’s History Month, and National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month. So have a Hungry-Man turkey dinner and think of Elizabeth Cady Stanton while lying on the couch.
Alaska's Iditarod dog racers start bellowing at their huskies on March 3. Among the dozens of sponsors for this year's race: Moose Pass Inn and Exceed dog food. Is nothing free from big-bucks commercialism these days? In warmer entertainment, try The Mexican, with Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt, opening March 2. Or pop down to spring training at such scandalously named towns as Kissimmee, Florida, and see the chunky outfielders before they work off their winter bellies.
'TIS THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN. Time for green pants and Aer Lingus jokes and god-awful Irish accents from coworkers wishing you "top o' the morning." If your colleagues want to learn a good Irish accent for Saint Patrick's Day, tell them to watch in the Name of the Father or The Dead.
Rule No. 202: The comma and the colon are acceptable punctuation in movie titles. Rule No. 203: The exclamation point, the question mark, and the semicolon are unacceptable. Rule No. 204: No jokes about the colon and its relation to the anus. Rule NO. 317: No straws.
—An image from "Out of Time: Designs for the Twentieth-Century Future," a current show by the Smithsonian institution Traveling Exhibition Service [Shockingly Amateurish Fiction] “‘It’s my body,’ she said, a woman ahead of her time. He wondered if inside every conventional housewife there was such a sexual radical. She took mercy on him: ‘Don’t worry—I’m about to have my period. You’re safe.’ She laughed then, a brief tough snicker, as if her voice had been lowered by momentary empathy with a man’s point of view.”
EUROPEAN FASHION HOUSES—WHICH HAVE DABBLED IN EASY RIDER STYLE lately with leather biker jackets and padded leather pants—are offering Hell's Angels another crossover item with their new motorcycle helmets. With their froufrou patterns, these finely crafted domes are for status seekers and are more likely to be seen perched atop one of the new Vespas parked on Ocean Drive than at a Harley rally.
SIMPLE TASK: Go to the local electronics store and try to find a black-and-white TV. Can’t, can you? Soon, mobile phones will be the same way. Sanyo’s SCP-5000 can display 256 colors on its LCD screen. Totally unnecessary, right? Perhaps, until you find the bright screen easier to read, and you start showing it off to your friends, and suddenly all those green-and-black displays seem so pedestrian.
There has always been something appealingly simple about poking a round thingy and making something happen, whether it's a doorbell, an elevator button, or a rocket launcher. You can now add automobile controls to that list. Big round buttons—like the red one on Honda's S2000 that says ENGINE START—have started appearing on dashboards recently.
I REMEMBER THE DAY my dad’s best friend, Rex, got a rattlesnake fang stuck in his leg and he just laughed. His wife begged him to go to the hospital, but Rex just plucked it out, drank a beer, and went to bed. Rex sold ceiling fans for a living, but on the side he was a daredevil snake handler at the Rattlesnake Roundup in Big Spring, Texas, where we lived when I was a kid.
You know who you are. While others are checking which Greg Kinnear movie will be playing after takeoff, you're actually paying attention to the stewardesses' preflight pantomime. Well, now you can indulge your paranoia before you even leave the house with amigoingdown.com.
Rule No. 143: If someone begins an opinion by saying, "Now, I'm not [fill in the blank]," then that person is [fill in the blank]. Rule No. 264: The only time it's acceptable for a man to shut one eye is when he's taking a picture. Rule No. 265: Unless he's Popeye.
WALDY MALOUF CAN'T COOK LAMB in his house. A couple years back, his teenage daughter raised two sheep—Gypsy and Rose-in the backyard of their rural New York home, and she has since banned any and all ovine consumption under the Malouf roof.
Dirt-Cheap prices. That’s what first put Chilean wines on the radar screens of American drinkers in the ’80s. And Chile still produces some of the only bottles under $10 that don’t taste like grape-tinged air-conditioning fluid. But in the past few years, it’s also begun to produce some worthy upscale wines, thanks to the increasing number of South American vineyards operated by the world’s wine-making elite.
LIEUTENANT MICHAEL ALBANESE, officer in charge of the LAPD SWAT team and cadre leader of crisis negotiation, knows a thing or two about talking to people. After all, his average day includes saying things like "How about releasing the children and senior citizens?"
SOME CARD CHEATS ARE ENTERPRISING: marked decks, complex devices up the sleeve, secret codes of earlobe tugging known only to a partner in crime. But if you’re like most people, you’re that glorious combination of slightly crooked and a little lazy.
THE ONLY PROBLEM IS that little red tube. The “straw,” they call it in the trade, gets you to the tight spots inside clock mechanisms, venetian-blind housings, space-shuttle hydraulics. You lose the straw, you diminish the magnificence of the aerosolized light oil that is WD-40.
So I'm driving along with my boy Art. The sun is shining, we've just put 36 holes behind us, and now we're heading... nowhere. Got two more hours of daylight, an old American car, and six beers in the cooler in back. There is no greater inducement to the free exchange of ideas than a car, some open road, and all the time in the world—unless it's a car, some open road, all the time in the world, and a couple of beers apiece.
Recall those innocent days when you thought a Tic Tac in the mouth gave a bang to your life? Or remember even your first Altoid, when you couldn't believe so much peppermint could be harnessed into one small tablet? Good times, good times. Now we've entered a dark era, mintwise.
YOU'RE PAYING WHAT for a tube of toothpaste? Three bucks? Ha! Chump change. We could spend that on a single brushing. Practically on a lone bicuspid. Esquire scoured the nation for the single most expensive tube of toothpaste, and we are proud to present Herbal Brite, which’ll sock you for an impressive $39.99.
TRY DESPERATELY NOT TO GLOAT. We know you want to. We want to, too. Just last year, those smug bastards were bursting with their the-paradigm-is-changing and you’re-missing-the-gold-rush bombast. But gloating is just not gentlemanly.
Who the hell was General Tso, and did he ever make chicken? Tso Tsung-t'ang (or Zuo Zongtang) was born in 1812 in Hunan, China. Like our Colonel Sanders, Tso was both statesman and warrior, although his battles actually involved something more than wrestling a pullet intoa bubbling vat of oil.
SERVICES LIKE PAYPAL ARE GOING TO CHANGE WHAT WE MEAN BY CASH
Ted C. Fishman
I get ornery when I learn that a friend hasn’t yet signed up for PayPal, the Internet-based service that lets you e-mail money to someone. I take PayPal abstention personally. It’s antisocial, anathema to making human commerce work smoothly.
O, MAYTAG—POOR, SQUEEZED, FORGOTTEN—THY NAME IS VALUE!
<p>Let's talk about the meaning of earnings for a second. On December 14, the quiet appliance maker Maytag pulled a stunt more typical of Silicon Valley than of Newton, Iowa. Shocking the little old ladies who rely on the company’s 70-cent dividend and infuriating the institutions that own half its stock, the company (which carries the Maytag brand as well as Hoover, Jenn-Air, Admiral, and Magic Chef) announced that its fourth-quarter profits would be "approximately 50 percent lower than fourth quarter 1999."</p>
It's not funny anymore. In just two months, Amazon fell through my $20 target and kept sinking. Juniper touched my target before rebounding; Nortel held up a little better. Dude, I set lowball targets to demonstrate my utter lack of confidence in those three names, but even I didn't expect them to hit the floor so quickly.
She’s the most beautiful, most talented actress Hollywood has not made a star. Hannibal probably won’t help her out.
EVEN THE PEOPLE WHO WILL FLOCK to see Hannibal probably expect it to be trash, but why should Anthony Hopkins care? He already has his knighthood and his Oscar, two prizes that eluded Richard Burton, his fellow Welshman and early exemplar.
STILL THE BEST REASON TO SHELL OUT FOR PREMIUM CABLE The third season of The Sopranos begins on March 4. Due to omertà-like levels of security at HBO, all we know for sure is that Tony will be dealing with his daughter Meadow's departure for college.
Everything’s frozen. Cards are what we do instead.
IT’S A FRIDAY IN MIDWINTER, and we’re one hour into our regular poker game, going once around the table with a goofy game called anaconda. Someone has insisted that we listen to Surrealistic Pillow, by Jefferson Airplane, and I can’t stand that shit, so I’m just trying to block it out while I try to decide whether to commit high or low.
THE WORD ON WEDGES We're officially entering the age of the wedge. It's both the new fetish object in golf bags and the new revenue stream for beleaguered golf-equipment manufacturers. The skillful use of it will also save more strokes than any club other than the putter.
With candy pop and gangsta rap numbing our senses, who can carry on the greatest of our musical traditions? The answer is right under our noses.
HAS THIS HAPPENED to you? You’re driving. The windows are down, and it’s a sunny day. You’re in heavy scan mode, desperately searching for something even halfway interesting to elevate the moment. And the radio isn’t cooperating. First there’s Britney Spears.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS When browsing through the Chili Peppers section at your local record store, go directly to the band's fifth album, 1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik. It stands just above the latest, Californication, as the indispensable Chili Pepper CD.
THE CLOTH ARRIVED in a black leather case with a certificate of authenticity. It had originated on Australian sheep so meticulously reared that protective jackets were snapped over their coats before they were allowed to lay a single hoof outside.
The thinking-man's A-to-Z guide to the coming popular culture: who to watch, what to wear, when to move, and where to be in the next six months
Bungalow 8 First she drew crowds of celebs to a former Manhattan garage called Lot 61. Now club queen Amy Sacco is giving the superfabulous a private key to her new Gotham lounge, called Bungalow 8. With a design inspired by the shacks at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Sacco has decided to focus on convenience: minibars at every table and a concierge who will call for takeout at any hour of the night.
Esquire explains how to wear the trends without looking tragic
Have you heard about this new Ben Stiller film. Zoolander? Big spoof of the fashion industry, male models, et cetera. It's not a bad idea; there's some serious ridiculousness that prances down the runway. But it isn't all just hypertrendy frocks glorified by the girlier men's fashion magazines.
Here’s what life is like for us one year into the new millennium. Ten profiles, in words and photos, of the stages of a man’s life. It’s a hell of a thing to behold.
My teacher’s name is Mrs. Utsumi. She has yellowish skin. My mom has brown skin. My dad has white skin. I’ve thought about it. It’s like this: Everybody is different on top; we all have different color skin. But underneath, all people are the same.
<p>Dear David, When I was growing up pretentious in Bozeman, Montana, I got all my ideas about going to the movies in New York City from the Woody Allen oeuvre. That’s the word I would have used, too— oeuvre. Because I was a teen cinéaste. These days, I’d describe myself as a movie buff, but back then I was gaga for the accent aigu.</p>
Esquire heads to the Frey Flouse, where, with the help of a few of today's most interesting young actors, we re-create scenes from Godard's stylish 1963 classic, Contempt. What better way to demonstrate the timeless elegance of the latest look in men's fashion: the crisp silhouette of midcentury suits and sport coats in graphic black and white
The remote Yunnan Province of southwest China A land of twenty-thousand-foot peaks and endless rivers cut through bottomless gorges, of jagged glaciers and cold mountain lakes. A fly fisherman's paradise. Or so we thought.
<p>I WAS IN MY OFFICE, staring at the wall, when my editor called to say the magazine wanted to send me on the fishing trip of my dreams. I knew right away it was a trick question, perhaps dangerous, an offer too good to turn down. “Can I go anywhere?”</p>
If you don't recognize Jeffrey Wright, star of HBO's new film Boycott, well, it's only because he's such a brilliant actor
Jeffirey Wright is an astonishment. At a time when even Robert De Niro no longer seems to aspire to be Robert De Niro, Wright jumps off the movie screen as an actor who transforms himself into each new character from the inside out. Want proof?
<p>I REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME my child ever saw his breath on a cold winter day. We’d just gone out the back door onto our deck, heading for the car. It’d been one of those mornings—he didn’t want to put on his boots, we were running late (again), I still had to drop him off at daycare before I could get to an early meeting—and the last thing I needed was for him to stop in his tracks on our porch.</p>
Two brothers had an idea for a story. One brother turned it into the most original movie of the spring, Memento. The other wrote this short story.
<p>Your wife always used to say you’d be late for your own funeral. Remember that? Her little joke because you were such a slob—always late, always forgetting stuff, even before the incident. Right about now you’re probably wondering if you were late for hers.</p>
Table of Contents, p. 36: Hermès suit, shirt, and tie at Hermès nationwide. The Guide, p. 117: Brioni sport coat at Franco’s, Richmond, VA; Sam Cavato, St. Louis. Loro Piana sweater at Loro Piana nationwide; Wilkes Bashford, San Francisco. Robert Talbott shirt at Robert Talbott nationwide; Saks Fifth Avenue nationwide; Mitchells Westport, Westport, CT.
In a hollowed-out stump near an ice-covered pool Lived the wee lonely leprechaun Morris O’Toole. As custom would have it, he wore a green suit Bought from a troll years ago while en route From Shannon to Schaumburg by way of Manhattan. (The pants were velour, but the jacket was satin.)