Las Vegas, probably the world's least deserted desert, is the object of our scrutiny this month. We pan lovingly over Mr. Minsky's new extravaganza there and, to make assurance double sure, we also dolly in on a specific Vegas showgirl, Felicia Atkins, our Playmate for April. The total Vegas coverage comes to a hefty, handsome 12 pages which, we trust, will please you (as well as the Nevada Chamber of Commerce) no end.
A far-out musician friend, currently working Chicago's Blue Note, informed us that he had just moved into new digs on the Near North Side. "You are invited, man," said the cat, "to attend my housecooling party tomorrow night."
William Gibson's Two for the Seesaw is a trick play for two characters, and, aside from an occasional assist from the telephone, he needs no more than two to delightfully dramatize the tiny tragedies and husky humor of a life-sized love story. Jerry, a Nebraska lawyer played by Henry Fonda, is resting his brief case in New York after taking a powder on his too-possessive wife. Keeping his spirits up is Gittel Mosca (played by Anne Bancroft), a bounteous, ballet-struck, Bronx-born bohemian who knows the right way to play house with a lonely guy. Inevitably, the affair is doomed from the start, but while it survives, the romance is a warm and witty interlude. New playwright Gibson displays a neat knack for deft characterization and diabolically accurate dialog that is at once both flippant and deeply affectionate. In one scene Gittel, recovering from a bout at the hospital, hops into bed, determined to become an invalid. After a few days of this nonsense, Jerry pops: "If you don't get up off your rear end soon, I'll advertise in Playboy for one that works." The threat is effective. Henry Fonda is at his mature best throughout, and Miss Bancroft is glowing in her first Broadway stint. The show gets a further boost from clever scenery, sensitive lighting and Arthur Penn's delicate direction. At the Booth, 222 West 45th, NYC.
We won't keep you guessing: the plaza in the title of Peter DeVries' third novel, The Mackerel Plaza (Little, Brown, $3.75), is a grateful township's projected memorial to the late lamented wife of Reverend Andrew ("Holy") Mackerel, youngish pastor of People's Liberal, a split-level exurbanite church with "a small worship area at one end." Being a widower of sensual bent, minister Mackerel is amorously entangled as early as Chapter One with a Molly Calico ("finely tapered calves and well-molded flanks"). This leads him to a clandestine but unconsummated assignation in a fleabag hotel, a parlous tendency to crack Party Jokes in the pulpit, and, ultimately, confinement in a mental clinic ("This place is a madhouse!") If that's not enough, there's some talk he did away with the dear departed Mrs. Mackerel. DeVries addicts need not be told that everything works out and Mackerel finally reels in the girl, though not the one he originally cast his line for. Witty words abound and double entendre raises both its heads ("Balls," says a mother who has been speaking of her daughter, "that's all she wants to play with all the livelong day is balls," and it is a moment before one realizes she has suddenly shifted the subject to her cat's obsession with knitting yarn). Among the characters we hear about but never actually meet are an artist who paints unicorns "with flies on them for realism" and a college boy who takes as his thesis Some Notes Toward an Examination of Possible Elements of Homosexuality in Mutt and Jeff. Though the yoks are sparser than in the author's earlier, funnier novels (The Tunnel of Love and Comfort Me with Apples), Plaza is easy-reading proof that Mr. DeVries is no respecter of parsons.
San Francisco's newest jazz rookery, Easy Street (2215 Powell), is the first of a series of similar across-the-country clubs operated by a corporation that boasts Mr. Turk Murphy as an exec. Turk, of course, also blows tailgate trombone and leads his own S. F. Jazz Band, which merrily revives blues, ballads and bawdy songs culled from the bordellos of New Orleans and the cribs of the Yukon. Street's atmosphere is red plush carpet and cut-glass baroque; there's no grub to be had but plenty of good whiskey and rollicking jazz; also lacking is the usual west coast cover charge, but in its place is the more sensible minimum ($2.50 per). Hard by Fisherman's Wharf and the North Beach area, it's become a favorite after-dinner haunt that stays open from nine P.M. to two A.M. every night save Monday. When Murphy's boys pull out at the end of April, Kid Ory and his saints go marching in.
Chalk up another for Sinatra. A jaunty, jazzy Frank scores solidly on Come Fly with Me (Capitol W920), a mostly up-tempo kit of terrific tunes. Doing right by the lovely likes of Autumn in New York, April in Paris and Moonlight in Vermont, Frank's greatest gassers are a peppy It's Nice to Go Traveling and that wizened acorn On the Road to Mandalay, a ditty we doubted could ever sound gone. Billy May and his ork make swinging traveling companions and the whole package is near perfect.
The Brothers Karamazov is a colorful, gusty account of some wild shenanigans in czarist Russia that unhappily comes to a clanking halt about two-thirds of the way along. When Yul Brynner, as Lt. Dmitri K., is scorning or taming wenches, throwing Russian-type orgies (with a drunken bear yet), socking strangers or arguing with his lecherous father (Lee J. Cobb), the movie is magnificent make-believe. Claire Bloom, as the lovesick and slightly twitchy Katya, and Maria Schell, as the luscious, volatile Grushenka, are fine foils for Brynner's somber, aggrieved love-making. And Albert Salmi, as the old man's illegitimate, epileptic son, and Richard Base-hart, as his agnostic one, are properly mixed up. But when Dmitri is dragged to trial for the alleged murder of his father and the entire yarn is rehashed for the benefit of the jury, or maybe for the people who came in late, it becomes a howling bore. Director-scripter Richard Brooks has wisely pruned most of Dostoievsky's minor characters, but it's too bad the film cutter didn't do the same for the courtroom scenes and much of Brooks' static, gratuitous moralizing that pops up now and again. Our advice: come early, but be ready to duck out for a vodka when the trial starts.
Before Marshall Jenkins made his home in the Weird Show, he had found other things. Sometimes the nasal small-town newspaper people would touch their pencils against their tongues and ask, "But what? What other things? What did you do before, Mr. Jenkins?"
When T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) was living quietly in England after World War I, Lowell Thomas asked him what he would choose if he could have any material thing in the world. Without hesitation, Lawrence said: "I should like to have a Rolls-Royce motorcar, and tires and petrol to last my lifetime."
From the upper reaches of Snav Tower, a corporate monolith in Mason City, Iowa, a veritable fury of executive decisions is issued daily by the President of Orville K. Snav & Associates. His company today is the unrivaled giant in its field, an organization of 1500 top-echelon executives deployed around the world, each holding the rank of Assistant to the President. The major Snav product is the Improved #7 BunaB, which consists of two pieces of insulated wire, each an inch and three quarters long, one red, the other blue, held together at the ends by yellow plastic tape.
By and large, the day of the split-level personality is over: we're getting divided into thirds now, as becomes our more mathematical age, and this trichotomy has a number of far-reaching effects on how we live.
It was pretty drafty in the cave in the middle of the afternoon. There wasn't any fire -- the last spark had gone out six months ago and the family wouldn't have any more fire until lightning struck another tree.
Gone are the drear, dread days beyond recall when we were led to believe that showgirls had a pretty bad time of it in the sunshine-and-health department -- late hours, smoke-filled rooms, nightclub pallor, and other offenses to God and man. Today, tongue-clucking do-gooders would find it a tough task convincing us that the life of a showgirl (in Las Vegas, anyway) is anything but Reilly. Look at Felicia Atkins, if you haven't already. She spends her nights in the chorus line of the sumptuous Hotel Tropicana, gladdening the eyes of all beholders with her finely fashioned five-feet-seven-and-a-half-inches. By day, she sleeps late in a swank suite of the same hostelry, eats a mountainous breakfast, then squeezes into a bikini and slips out to soak up a skinful of Vitamin C and splash about in a cool pool until it's time to dry off the corpore sano and get ready for the evening's extravaganza. For this, mind you, she gets paid. Another nice thing that's happened to felicitous Felicia is her appearance as our Playmate for the month of April. It's nice for us, too.
His way with paint is unmistakably of this decade," says The New Republic of fashionable fine artist LeRoy Neiman, who has chosen as his forte the kaleidoscopic dazzle of the city scene. Bars, gambling casinos and race courses are his raw material, and considerable fame and acclaim are accruing to him as a perceptive portrayer of the sophisticated life. "This artist picked a smart specialty," wrote Meyer Levin (art savant and author of Compulsion), "and he's really good."
Old hat? Not at all. Caps, jauntier than ever, are bully for men who know how to use their heads. The new numbers, brief of brim and trim of cut, are worn straight away on the noggin, with no tilt in sight. And you can have your cap in almost any kind of fabric under the sun. Reading the cleverly covered craniums of the sports car buffs above, from west to east, you'll spy a flannel affair with its peak built right into its crown; a neat check in corduroy, with leather piping on brim and leather back strap; an elegant, imported vicuna job followed by a glove-soft leather cap with the solid feel and look so necessary for piloting a Porsche; ditto the rust-brown suede with strap in the back; the cap that cheers is of striped corduroy, while the last in line is a lightweight number of silk and cotton done up in tartan stripes. Prices start at a lofty $45 for the vicuna (a disagreeable ruminent whose wondrous wool has to be shipped up from the Andes), hover around $12 for the leather and suede models, then dip dextrously to about $5-$6 for the balance.
The Smallest Country in the world is half as large as a football field, approximately, and is located in downtown Rome two or three blocks from American Express, and next door to Cucci's, the haberdasher. Its flag is red and white, like Denmark's, and its name is rather immoderate, I think: the Sovereign and Military Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta, which is abbreviated, at all but the most ceremonious of state occasions, to the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta, or the S.M.O.M. That the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta, or S.M.O.M., is truly sovereign is shown by its being recognized by Italy, the Vatican, San Marino, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, El Salvador, Argentina, Colombia, Panama, Chile, Haiti, Peru and Lebanon, and that it is truly military is shown by an air force bigger than that of half these places--120 planes, of which three, at the very least, are said to be in sufficient repair to permit them to leave the ground. The S.M.O.M. has an ambassador, or some sort of man, in each of the 19 countries that recognize it, and vice versa, and while it would be nonsense for me to suggest that these people have anything to do, I can suggest how they sometime might. Put the case that Signor Cucci, the haberdasher, is murdered today by a disgruntled client, who flees across the border into the S.M.O.M.; then, the only recourse for the Italian police and the Carabinieri is to extradite the man, something that would be done, of necessity, through the Italian Minister to the S.M.O.M., and the S.M.O.M.ian Minister to Italy.
Out of fabulous, high-flying Las Vegas last year came a new and mournful melody--the Silver Dollar Blues. Hustling hotel poobahs along the Strip and sweating craps-palace proprietors downtown--long used to watching some eight million spenders drop close to $162 million annually--began to feel the pinch of a tightening economy as well as some stiff competition from the big, bustling, wide-open casinos running full blast in Cuba. 'Round-the-clock gambling and big-name entertainers were no longer enough to draw the monied to Vegas in the droves of yesteryear. Something spectacular, fresh and titillating was needed.
We'd like you to meet a personal friend of ours. We've been closely associated with him for more than four years, and in that time we've learned a good deal about his tastes, attitudes and interests, but just recently we discovered a number of new facts about him that we never knew before. If our friend seems familiar, it is because he is a composite of you, yourself, and all the other readers of this magazine.
In the Fourth Dynasty, there was a fine King of Egypt named Cheops. Under his rule the country prospered, and he won important wars. But while he was away fighting battles, the government back home always became inefficient and ineffective, and one of his daughters, an unusually intelligent and beautiful young woman, was upset by this situation. One day she went to her father.
For the kind of whirl you'll be talking about a good while after you're home, try a train cruise through northern Sweden and Norway to escape the heat. It is one of the smart activities for summering Europeans, especially in late June for the high jinks of Midsummer Night, which include dancing around a Maypole with rural sweeties in colorful national costumes and picnics on cloudberries and whipped cream. The luxury trains, loaded with private rooms and public lounges (there is even a shower car) make frequent stops to change the pace -- here for a look at an old Viking mound, there for a visit in an ancient Lapp village, elsewhere for a round of golf at the world's most northerly golf course, or fishing in an icy mountain stream above the Arctic Circle, and everywhere for abounding Swedish gourmet smorgasbord at charming inns. You'll run through massive cliffs, past blue lakes feathered along the edges with reindeer moss and heather, along a vivid green fiord stretching to the sea; and among your companions will be many of Europe's most charming, single-standard maidens. An eight-day excursion, leaving from Stockholm, runs to $325 inclusive.