Playboy Firmly Believes in the right man for the right job -- when we did our piece on hi-fi, we chose John M. Conly, editor of High Fidelity magazine, to write it; when sports cars are our subject, we turn to Ken Purdy, acknowledged authority and author of The Encyclopedia of Sports Cars; and so on. This month, the line-up of experts is, perhaps, even more impressive than usual:
Anybody remember Coué? Dianetics? Mah Jong? Pyramid Clubs? Ouija? Fine; attend, please, while we give you in a mere few words the whole story, complete in this issue, of Zen, the new West-Coast-Cool kick which is rivaling green stamps in interest. First off, Buddhism got exported from India to China in the Sixth Century; one form of Chinese Buddhism is known as Ch'an; when the Chinese form got took up in Japan in the 12th Century it got dubbed Zen. It also sparked the flowering of some superb literature, painting and sculpture. Cool jazzmen, Fred Katz and Chico Hamilton among them, took it up very seriously a couple of years ago; since then, a lot of string-alongers have treated it more like a fad than a spiritual discipline. Here's a Zen saying, somewhat capsuled: "To a man who knows nothing, mountains are mountains. When he's studied and knows a little, mountains are no longer mountains. But when he has thoroughly understood, mountains are again mountains." Clear?
The Playboy Jazz All-Stars Album (PB #1957) is, in our modest estimation, a shoo-in as one of the most important jazz releases of this or any other year. We say this because the winners of the first annual Playboy Jazz Poll who appear in this double-LP package actually constitute a living history of jazz. All the top innovators from every important school are on deck, from turn-of-the-century traditional on up to cool.
Hollywood doesn't have to look, far for good story material: the lives and careers of some of its own fabulous personalities. Unfortunately, the several timid attempts in this direction (the screen bios of Valentino, Buster Keaton, Jeanne Eagels, etc.) have so compromised the truth as to be grotesque. Not so the filming of Lon Chaney's life, Man of a Thousand Faces, with Jimmy Cagney as the mordant master of make-up. It is an engrossing saga that encompasses everything from Chaney's long and variegated pre-screen career in vaudeville right up to his throat-cancer death at 47; between these poles came a notable succession of triumphs as Hollywood's foremost exponent of macabre characterizations. The son of deaf-mute parents, Chaney was also harried by marital woes with his first wife; he exploited his own physical "un-handsomeness" by pushing it to extremes in the bitter roles of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the paralytic in The Miracle Man and the memorable title role in The Phantom of the Opera, among so many well-remembered others. Cagney is so sympathetic in the Chaney part that one must mark it as a success.
The New York Times once described Richard Maney as "perhaps the most articulate and best-known living theatrical press agent." As usual, the Times was not exaggerating: Maney's Fanfare (Harper, $4.95) is a joyfully prodigious barrage of recollections by the undisputed king of what jokesters have labeled the second oldest profession -- pressagentry. Manhattan show biz is tipped on its ear as Maney draws on 33 years of experience during which he has hymned the praises of 250 shows, some of which had runs as long as three years, some as short as three hours. One of Maney's favorite pastimes is tripping up the critics. During opening night of a turkey called The Squall, the ingenue had this line to read: "Nubi good girl. Nubi stay?" Reviewer Robert Benchley reported the play to his readers with: "Benchley bad boy. Benchley go." Capitalizing on the mot, Maney sparked his advertising with, "The play that made a streetwalker of Robert Benchley." The smell of grease paint is on every page of Fanfare, often coupled with the odor of strong waters. After a description of a wet weekend in Mexico with Lee Tracy, the author blithely observes: "It must not be inferred from the alcoholic scent of this canto that all theatre folk find surcease in the sauce. It's just that I find the company of tipplers less trying. Tallulah makes better copy than Katharine Cornell." When Maney, in a syndicated article, quoted the question which ended Sherman Billingsley's TV chat with Admiral "Bull" Halsey ("Admiral, tell me. What year did you graduate from West Point?"), he promptly joined the roster of notables barred for life from the Stork Club. No matter, says Maney, who magnificently recalls and applies Bernard Shaw's admonition: "Always take your work seriously, never yourself." A must-read book.
In a low, one-story building in the heart of San Francisco's Tenderloin district, a nightly amalgam of goateed hipsters, Montgomery Street junior execs and University of California undergrads alike, dig the cool and carefully calibrated sounds of modern jazz at the Blackhawk (200 Hyde Street). For a solid decade, this dim-lit hipster's hutch has throbbed to the West Coast's most avant sounds, those disseminated by the likes of Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan. The atmosphere is casual, the customers don't mind the door charges (which range from 50¢ to $1 a head, and are a not-so-subtle rating of a performer's popularity), the booze is drinkable, and the waitresses don't push too hard. Dave Brubeck, who got his start there, makes it his GHQ on the Coast, and blows weekends at the club on and off throughout the year. Among the innovators expected this fall are Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Max Roach, Brubeck and the Modern Jazz Quartet. The Blackhawk is open from nine P.M. to two A.M. Tuesday through Saturday, with a Sunday afternoon bash, starting at four P.M., that offers a look at the local cats.
He had been Driving for 11 hours and he was hungry and hot and tired, but he couldn't stop, he couldn't pull over to the side of the road and stop under one of those giant pines and rest a little while; no. Because, he thought, if you do that, you'll fall asleep. And you'll sleep all night, you know that, Buck, and you'll get into town late, maybe too late to race, and then what will you do?
Poker is a Game played by men for blood. There are variations, of course, because anything so democratic and universal is bound to take many forms. But the basic game is the blood game. And by this I mean that the stakes must be high enough to cause pain to a heavy loser. This may sound cruel, but it is absolutely essential if the game is to supply the tension and excitement which poker alone can provide. If you can't afford the stakes, don't play, because the knowledge that you can't stand to lose is sure to affect your play unfavorably.
Top row: Schiaparelli Snuff toiletries including after-shave, talc, hair groomer, shave cream and deodorant, in leather traveling case, $12.50; and the Cyma travel alarm in saddle-stitched pigskin frame, $32.50.
Smorgasbord, as the menu of just about every Swedish restaurant is eager to point out, literally means "bread-and-butter-table" -- which is like calling Conrad Hilton an innkeeper. Bread and butter are, indeed, standard items of the groaning bord, but since the time of Eric the Red and all those other fellows with the horns on their hats, these noble staples have been supplemented by an infinite cornucopia of tummy-tempters. In days of old, to celebrate the return of daylight after months of darkness, a doughty Norseman would throw open his hall and invite his fellows to come bearing whatever food they might garner -- fish from the icy lakes, elk from the forests, wild leeks from the rocky hills -- until the mighty tables were packed solid with a vast variety of food. So it's hard to see just how or when or why this classic food fest was saddled with the strange misnomer it now bears.
Today's World of Jazz is fat and sassy. So great is the embarrassment of riches served up in night spots, at concerts, on LPs, that the good performance is rejected as commonplace, the exceptional as merely acceptable. Rarely, then, does an event take place that can boost the pulse-beat of the jaded jazzophile. But such an event is the current release of Verve's "Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book," a four-platter package that brings together -- for the first time -- two of jazzdom's greatest talents.
Green of Eye, flaxen of hair and few of years is the Callahan colleen, Marlene, who resides far from the madding crowd in one of America's typical small towns. There, wholesome and healthy, aglow with vitamins and brimming with bucolic bounce, five-foot-two Marlene pursues happiness in her own unhurried way -- a set of tennis with Tom, a seat at a basketball game with Dick, an evening at the phonograph with Harry, spinning Sinatra and Stravinsky, Nat Cole and Nathan Milstein. She's even been known to imbibe one-half of an ice cream soda via the two-straw method, a fine old rustic device for getting two people together. This is all very well, but we can't help but be reminded of those lines of Thomas Gray's: "Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air." Though Marlene is not exactly unseen or wasted, we did feel her blushes deserved a somewhat larger circle of admirers, so we asked her (as our brows bumped over the soda) if she would please be our Playmate for November. Aren't you kind of happy that we did?
Fables, traditionally, are little moral tales; but time changes all things, and in our own time, among the complex denizens of urban communities, a new kind of fable has been going the rounds: a kind of amoral -- or even immoral -- tale, usually involving infidelity. You have undoubtedly heard, and told, some of them yourself; others may have escaped your attention. Here are three of the best, collected and retold by Mr. Hoke Norris, newspaperman, author of the book "All the Kingdoms of Earth," and recipient of a 1957 "best creative writing" citation from the Society of Midland Authors. Says Norris: "I got the fables from men who swore they were true. Not that they personally knew the principal actors, you understand, but the fellow who told them said the fellow who told him ..." Thus are all fables, moral or otherwise, born and propagated.
The crowd began a spine-tingling chant--"to-re-ro, to-re-ro, to-re-ro," the greatest tribute they can pay a matador, and the presidente signaled for one ear, and as the chant kept up, another ear, and finally the tail of the dead animal. Then the crowd spilled down into the arena and hoisted the exhausted man onto their shoulders. As they swept out of the main gate the look in the man's glazed eyes was one of fulfillment and ecstasy ...
In Order for you to understand this tale it is necessary to know that there is to this day within the walls of Rome at the foot of the Aventine Hill a strange stone. It has the dimensions of a millstone and on it appears the ferocious face of a creature half-man and half-lion, with the mouth open. It is known even now as The Stone of Truth and for the following reason: in olden days when people needed to swear a solemn oath to satisfy their accusers, they thrust their hands into the open mouth; if they lied, the stone jaws would close, and the guilty one's hand would not be freed until he had made full confession; but if there was no guilt, the jaws stayed open and the accused was absolved.
Don't Stop Us if you've heard this before: we've heard it, too--the old "feud" bit between the European screen siren and the home-grown Hollywood honey is at least as old as the Lollobrigida-Monroe fracas of a few years back, and probably a good deal older. But there's a slightly different twist to this newest version of the story, so stick around.
Sports car buffs chafing for a zippy old time won't want to miss the 2000-mile competitive run to the Monaco Auto Rally in early January. Good sport for non-drivers, too: the Concours d'Elegance lures lovelies from all over the world to sit in the sun, make witty small talk and look enchanting. Stay on in Monaco for absinthe and skindiving, and skiing just a few hours away in the Alpes Maritimes. Chic, untouristed Beui1 up in the mountains is one of our favorite retreats.