Summer is smartly signalized in this July issue of America's foremost livin'-is-easy magazine: cartoonist Gahan Wilson proffers a set of sandy sketches which we've titled, appropriately enough, On the Beach with Gahan Wilson; our various editorial service departments suggest electronic gadgetry for beach fun, clue us in on the latest fashion news in seersucker, and provide recipes for a trio of frosty summer drinks; lenslady Bunny Yeager offers a new and appealing idea in cool female fashion, done up by stage/dress-designer Jack Hakman for this month's photo feature, The Nude Look.
Inflation, a clear and present danger on the economic level, is quickly becoming more and more of a devaluating influence on our everyday language as well. We refer specifically to the growing trend toward making jobs seem what they are not by giving them pompous titles. Thus, janitors have become "superintendents" and "maintenance engineers"; cab drivers are officially known as "public chauffeurs" and truck drivers want to be known as "van operators"; buyers have become "purchasing agents" or even "procurement specialists"; official title of the man who picks up papers in the park is "landscape engineer"; garbage collectors are "sanitation engineers" and garbage cans are "refuse disposal containers." The Wisconsin Restaurant Association feels that the term "beverage host" should replace "bartender" because the former title "has more dignity." If the trend continues, where will it all end? Will elevator operators become Ascendant and Descendant Pilots? Will tailors shortly be known as Stitch Engineers? Are house painters to be called Exterior Decorators? Will you get your haircut from a Tress Sculptor? Will you have your mail delivered by a Communications Expediter, your windows washed by an Aperture Renovator, your laundry picked up by a Clothing Immaculator, your doors opened by an Entrance Traffic Coordinator? Just as the dollar is losing more and more of its value, so are our titles becoming more and more meaningless, which is especially ironic when we remember that the holder of the really top position has always had to be satisfied with the shortest job title: God.
It's our notion, in this new department, to apprise you from time to time of those acts and entertainments we think you should look for – or look out for – when they're on tap at your favorite night spot. Bob Newhart – the new comic who broke up audiences during his stay at Mister Kelly's in Chicago – strikes us as a happy nominee for inaugural honors. He's a thirty-year-old satirist who dodged show biz as a full-time venture until early this year, when glowing response to his appearance on Playboy's Penthouse inspired him to hit the night club circuit. Newhart, who writes all his own stuff, may remind some of Shelley Berman, who also got his start at Kelly's less than three years ago and is now the most successful of all the new hip school of comics. Coming on as captain of the atomic sub U.S.S. Codfish, Newhart lectures his crew on their arrival home after two years of underwater endurance: "Men, we hold the record for the most Japanese tonnage sunk ... unfortunately, they were sunk in 1954." As a television director putting the Khrushchev landing rehearsal through its paces, an anxious Newhart shrieks, "Somebody cue Ike. Have somebody take the putter from Ike." But it is as a PR man, holding a phone conversation with Abe Lincoln just before Gettysburg, that Newhart broke us into the smallest of pieces:
The big comedy news for most of the summer is I'm All Right, Jack. This British film itself is that rare thing, a comedy with real content and profound morality; so it is all the more thrilling to report that it is hilariously funny. Ian Carmichael plays a pleasant, wealthy, well-educated but none too bright joker whose main trouble in life is that he sincerely wants to perform meaningful work. In his quest for this he encounters a lot of shrewdies for whom the concept of a decent day's work is something to fight against (Labor), and fewer but filthier types for whom even the peace of the world doesn't stand a chance against the hope of turning a fast buck (Management). Alone, in the middle, is our dim-witted hero, working away for perhaps the ultimate agency of social welfare and doom, something called Missiles, Ltd. Through an excess of energy and good will, Carmichael demonstrates to a snooping time-study monster how fast he can work; this results in a strike called by steward Peter Sellers, this time out a glassy-eyed, pathetic-absurd Cockney who loves all things Russian. The strike spreads, finally endangering a big arms deal cooked up by Missiles' elegant board chairman, Dennis Price, and a shifty-eyed Arab – all in the interest of "keeping the peace in the Middle East." With a big assist from the conservative press, Carmichael becomes a national hero. But since no one wants the strike to continue, or to look very long or hard at the moral bankruptcy its opposing forces represent, a deal between them is engineered and it's business as usual again. The grim but very amusing ending has Carmichael finding sanctuary in a nudist colony well-stocked with girls well-stacked.
Sterling C. Quinlan, TV exec who last year produced a book titled The Merger – a behind-the-scenes business novel – now comes along with a completely different, and considerably better, effort: a robustious, sometimes rowdy, always lusty and yeasty story centering about an applejack-swigging picaroaptly named Jugger (McDowell, Obolensky, $3.95). Jugger is the town drunk of Crater Village, a bucolic community not too far from New York City and pretty clearly modeled on Greenwood Lake, a lovely-to-look-upon resort community which was the mis en scène of the most famous fictional murder in American literature, Dreiser's An American Tragedy. Quinlan's tale is something very different: his concern is with the raucus fun he extracts from the antics of the natives in their effort to commit Jugger to the poor farm (so he won't freeze to death over the winter, they say, but actually to put a stop to his cheerful and remorseless pilferage of whatever he needs to keep his tattered body and wild free soul together). All Jugger wants is to be left alone – which is exactly what the town characters (and they are, indeed, characters) don't want to do – including his mentor, Carrot Woman, who fancies her sexy self as Jugger's one-man war on respectability, he rises (in his own outrageous way) to the needs of a pair of twin waifs even more outcasts than he, and achieves a kind of cockeyed heroism after all. It's a shrewd guess that underneath his ebullient excursion is the author's profound conviction that irreverent iconoclasm is exactly what the world needs more of – his comedic, roundabout rural route to the statement notwithstanding.
We wager it was a wild night in Hollywood when Warner's recording crew turned on the trusty Ampex to capture The Mary Kaye Trio on the Sunset Strip (Warner Bros.). It's a ball. Mary Kaye, her brother Norman and anchor man Frank Ross cavort madly, turning such standards as How Did He Look? and You've Changed into the sort of bluish stuff the airwaves aren't made for. There are hard-charging excursions, too, as the trio wallops its way through Toreador and Circus. Whether it wanders insanely or plays it straight, this is an attention-holding group. And Mary Kaye can effortlessly shame most of today's sugary pop shouters. Buddy Greco, who leads his hip trio on the supperclub and lounge circuit, is one of the better singer-pianists on the jazz fringe. In My Buddy (Epic), recorded at Chicago's Le Bistro, he sighs and surges his way through eleven tunes, from a pulsating Like Young to a tender Misty to a rousing Cheek to Cheek. The audience digs. You will, too. The clerk at your record shop might have trouble finding The Gasser (World Pacific) because of the variety of monickers it goes under. On the front cover: A Singer – Annie Ross/ A Swinger – Zoot Sims/ A Gasser! On the back cover: A Gasser/ Annie Ross/ Featuring Zoot Sims and Runs Freeman. On the spine: A Gasser. No matter. Make him stick to his task. Annie (sans Lambert & Hendricks) has never sounded better to our ears, wisely chooses a raft of not-often-heard goodies like I Didn't Know About You and Invitation to the Blues. In the background wail the gassers and swingers, and the result is sheer ear balm.
Bye Bye Birdie is a wild and kookie musical about rock-'n'-rolling teenagers, but it has their elders dancing in the aisles. The titular hero of this joyous whoopdedo is Conrad Birdie, a hulking, hip-grinding crooner played by Dick Gautier with pelvic apologies to Elvis. When Birdie, like Presley, is drafted into the armed forces, his manager, Dick Van Dyke, plans a final publicity campaign to be staged in the town of Sweet Apple, Ohio. What happens to the sleepy town of Sweet Apple when the idolized sexpot steps off the train was made to order for the talents of Gower Champion. Doubling as the show's director and choreographer, Champion is at his best when he crowds his stage with an army of screaming. flipping Birdie-watchers, or matches the teenage tumult with a series of whirlwind comic ballets for the indefatigable Chita Rivera. Book is by Michael Stewart, the Charles Strouse – Lee Adams score sings nicely along the way, and Paul Lynde and Kay Medford have never been as funny before in their talented lives. Gower, however, is the real champion of the enlivening evening. At the Martin Beck, West 45th Street, NYC.
A Guide for Guys on the Steering Committee on when to Wave, Wave Back or Waver
Richard G. Gould
In 1939 there were probably not a hundred sports cars in the United States, so the problem was a simple one: when two drivers chanced to meet on the road, they exchanged brisk waves, perhaps accompanied by dignified bows (from the neck only). Even ten years later, with the sports-car count in the thousands and rising fast, one would not, except in Westchester County, Westport, Evanston and Greater Los Angeles, expect to meet so many sports-car brethren that greeting them would be much of an effort. But even then it was clear that some kind of pecking order was needed. Every once in a while an ugly little impasse was noted: the driver of a Stutz Bearcat waiting just too long before waving to a chap in an Alfa-Romeo 1750, for example.
Jazz and Symphony Titan Leonard Bernstein flipped over the sounds coming from the strange-looking plastic instrument, leaped onto the bandstand of New York's Five Spot to better dig them, then invited their creator to Carnegie Hall. That creator was Ornette Coleman, thirty, gentle and retiring as a Trappist, who has but one seemingly simple goal: to successfully emulate the warmth and fluidity of the human voice on his alto sax. Shelly Manne says Coleman's already achieved it: "Sounds like someone crying or laughing when he plays." Others have said: "Coleman is making a unique and valuable contribution to 'tomorrow's' music" (Nat Hentoff); "the only really new thing in jazz since the innovations [of Bird and Diz] in the mid-Forties" (pianist John Lewis); "wild sounds that Adolphe Sax never dreamed of" (Whitney Balliett); and – representing the opposition – "structureless, meandering" (John S. Wilson). Coleman's recent success comes after several shapeless years in L.A., was precipitated by a couple of far-out, talked-about LPs (Tomorrow Is the Question, The Shape of Jazz to Come). Why, ask some, is Coleman preoccupied with this human voice kick? Shyly, haltingly, he tries to tell you: "Music is – is for our feelings." Controversial Coleman has had his plastic sax smashed by a New Orleans audience that didn't cotton to his sounds. Of that odd sax, he explains: "I needed a new horn and couldn't afford a brass one. Better a cheap horn than an old horn that leaks, y'know? But after living with this plastic one here, it's begun to take on my emotions. The tone seems breathier than brass, but I like it. More human."
What's brigitte bardot's home address? This burning question can be answered by leafing to page 52 of the new 864-page, five-pound, $26 Celebrity Register, a brisk though bulky book that provides lively biographies, photos and inside information on 2240 famous and infamous, national and international figures – from Hank Aaron to Vera Zorina. The key force in conceiving and assembling Celebrity Register (upper-crust expert Cleveland Amory served as editor-in-chief) was publisher Earl Black-well, a dapper forty-seven-year-old bachelor who has constructed a formidable $500,000-a-year empire – Celebrity Service – out of an energetic interest in the doings of the well-to-do and do-it-wells. With the aid of a harried staff, packed file cabinets and a battery of phones in New York, Hollywood, London, Paris and Rome, Blackwell keeps his subscription-only clients (radio-TV execs, columnists and the like) posted on the doings of more than 100,000 big names. He does so in his Celebrity Bulletin, a collection of one-liners on big-doers issued five days a week; his Social Calendar, a monthly listing of important openings and parties; his Theatrical Calendar, a weekly dopesheet on New York stage happenings, and his annual Contact Book, which is just that. Black-well spends much of his time meeting, escorting, dining with and informally interviewing members of the news-making set, loves every minute of it, hopes to revise and issue Celebrity Register each year "if everybody is as celebrity struck as I am." It looks like they are.
Fall – Like, for Instance, September – is when a lot of sensible chaps take their vacations. The pressure's off most everywhere – trains, planes, restaurants and hotels – and fewer rubbernecks spell better service for you no matter where you head. Kiddies are out of sight, too, back in schools where they belong. Prices plummet to near normal and fall foliage, if you're in a part of the world with four seasons, adds its special zest to the countryside.