With election time upon us, it's pertinent to point out that the U. S. Bureau of Census estimates there are approximately 120,000,000 Americans of voting age. Along with another 80,000,000, they are represented in the Congress by 535 men and women who are more often than not, it sometimes seems, bogged down by our oft-cumbersome legislative process. Would it be more efficient, and responsive to the public interest—as some have suggested—if each voter were equipped with a push button to let the Government know immediately what he wanted done? Author Robert Sherrill says emphatically no—and tells us why—in Instant Electorate, an astute appraisal of the prohibitive problems involved in direct voting by citizens on political and social issues. Sherrill, whose most recent book is The Drugstore Liberal, has been a distinguished Washington reporter for The Nation since 1964.
Playboy, November, 1963, Vol. 15, No. 11. Published monthly by HMH Publishing Co. Inc., Playboy Building, 919 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60611. Subscriptions: In the U. S., its possessions, the Pan-American Union and Canada, $20 for three years, $15 for two years, $8 for one year. Elsewhere add $4.60 per year for foreign postage allow 30 days for new subscriptions and renewals. Change of Address: Send both old and new addresses to playboy, playboy building, 919 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60611, and allow 30 days for change. Advertising: Howard W. Lederer, Advertising Director: Jules Kase, Joseph Guenther, Associate Advertising Managers, 405 Park Ave., New York, New York 10022, MU 8-3030; Sherman Keats, Chicago Manager, 919 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60611, MI 2-1000; Detroit, Robert A. Mc Kenzie, Manager, 2990 West Grand Boulevard, TR 5-7250; Los Angeles, Stanley L. Perkins, Manager, 8721 Beverly Boulevard, OL-2-8790; San Francisco, Robert E. Stephens, Manager, 110 Sutter Street, YU 2-7994; Southeastern representative, Pirnie & Brown, 3108 Piedmont Rd., N.E., Atlanta, GA, 30305, 233-6729.
We've always been inordinately fond of figures—both the statistical and the female varieties. Large numbers put us off in grammar school, as did girls; but in the intervening years, we've managed to reach a happy accord with both. We don't intend to detail here the intricacies of our introduction to the wonderful world of women, but how we won the battle of large numbers may prove instructive. The basic fact about large numbers is that they are large—too large to comprehend. The road to understanding is to reduce them to smaller, more comprehensible units. For instance: The U. S. is spending about 30 billion dollars a year in Vietnam. Thirty billion is too large a number for most of us to grasp, which may be one reason so many Americans are perplexed about the war. An easier way to look at it is to think that the war is costing each American taxpayer $422.53 per year. An equally enlightening—and less painful—approach is to think that if the 30 billion dollars were divided equally among the 16,000,000 South Vietnamese whose freedom we claim we're defending, these unfortunate folks would have the highest per-capita income in the world.
"First, it's neither a collection nor a selection, but a series," states John Barth in an author's note in Lost in the Funhouse (Doubleday). Further prefatory material defines the book as "fiction for print, tape, live voice." An author is entitled to his own baptismal notions, and if Barth seems larky, he can well afford the attitude. He's leading from strength, and he knows it. Call this book what one will, there are 14 titles in all, varying in length from less than a dozen words to the near-novella-size Menelaiad, a rambling, free-associational version of the world's most famous tale of cuckoldry and abduction. These are pretty wine-dark waters for the reader who doesn't happen to have Stesichorus' theory about Helen as dramatized by Euripides right at his finger tips. When he isn't inundating us with his classical learning, though, Barth is impressive—with a real style of his own, real imagination and the nerve to use them both. In Night-Sea Journey, he endows a spermatozoon with poetic consciousness. Petition is a masterpiece of grotesquerie in the form of a letter addressed to His Most Gracious Majesty Prajadhipok, Descendent of Buddha, etc., etc., King of Siam. The writer of the letter is one twin of a joined pair, and he implores his Majesty to prevail upon American surgeons to perform the dangerous operation of severance. The style is fastidious; the contents are ghastly; the whole is a symbol of that other self we all bear. Barth's "Ambrose" stories, of which there are several in this book, could be read as typical boyhood tales, except for his ironic reach. Yet, one can see a genuine tear behind the incredible array of masks he is capable of assuming: "He wishes he had never entered the funhouse. But he has. Then he wishes he were dead. But he's not. Therefore he will construct funhouses for others and be their secret operator—though he would rather be among the lovers for whom funhouses are designed." Not only the heartfelt cry of the character in the story but a possible announcement of Barth's artistic philosophy. Yet he escapes definition, for behind each conceit is a profundity; behind each profundity, a snicker. And sometimes he indulges himself in tiresome trickery, then suddenly admits his own tiresomeness. Lost in the Funhouse, therefore, isn't all pure enjoyment; the reader has to dig. But the digging produces ore from one of the richest veins in American literature.
Dining at Manhattan's Salum Sanctorum (1110 Third Avenue) is a total experience. While the food is excellent, it is the atmosphere, the milieu, that sets the Salum apart from other restaurants. The personal projection of Dr. Joseph B. Santo, who also owns the abutting Sign of the Dove (Playboy After Hours, October 1964), its outward appearance is deceptively unprepossessing; but beyond its 19th Century gate is the world of the Castilian grandee, replete with roughly finished white-plaster walls, dark beams and Oriental rugs on dark oak floors. Each party of diners has two tables at its disposal—one on the informal, enclosed patio, bounded at one end by a huge fireplace, where aperitifs are served, and the other in the intimate (it seats 35), elegant dining room. Jean Pierre, the maître de, brings you the evening's menu, which is inscribed on parchment. Typical fare includes a cold soup du jour: Seafood Sanctorum, an excellent blend of shellfish in an exotic sauce: Civab-Cici, an original lamb kebab; and Filet Sanctorum, made with chestnuts, baked in a pastry crust and served with truffle sauce. The wine list includes only choice vintages (typical is Château Mouton-Rothschild, 1955). The service, which matches the atmosphere and the viands, is unobtrusively attentive but considerately unhurried. After the entree and salad, you may return to your table on the terrace for dessert, coffee and cordials. It is a full and romantic evening. Dining at Salum Sanctorum is by reservation only. The phone number is UN 1-9492. Closed Sunday.
In Paris, a sheltered young girl whose aunt is dying of a stroke goes out on the town to forget. Her flight from death unexpectedly leads to a deeper involvement in life, for she comes of age during a long evening that starts at a basketball game and ends in the bed of a lanky jazz musician. Before the bass fiddler seduces her with a serenade at dawn on a hilltop overlooking Paris—a fitting climax to the most charmingly wacky romantic interlude to brighten a movie screen in years—the girl tells off a handsome Negro Marxist, is detained by gendarmes, battles a gang of hoodlums and helps an agricultural student pursue his prize ram through a maze of winding streets. If a summary could do it justice, that would be the whole story of Zita. But this superlative French film by director and co-author Robert Enrico (previously known here for Incident at Owl Creek Bridge, a brilliant short based on the Civil War take by Ambrose Bierce) blends its plot, a haunting musical score and evocative nighttime color photography into a cinematic revelation of character. As the matriarchal Aunt Zita of the title, a woman whose family snapshots commemorate her grievous losses during the Spanish Revolution, Greek tragedienne Katina Paxinou is an imposing symbol of the secure world the heroine ruefully leaves behind; and the nubile niece, played by Canadian-born Joanna Shimkus, qualifies on every count as a girl to remember. Director Enrico makes getting to know her surprisingly easy, for the entire film moves with a quick sense of discovery and a natural inner rhythm. Zita is like a first date with a lovely ingénue who looks, at nine P.M., like any of a hundred others. By dawn, the camera has awakened responses between actress and audience that make a love affair inevitable.
The Midnight Mover (Atlantic; also available on stereo tape) is, of course, Wilson Pickett, who won't disappoint anybody as he rocks through the undulating title tune and the pounding I Found a True Love; the ballads, such as It's a Groove, also strike home with basic directness, and Pickett's phrasing is out of sight on Trust Me. Otis Redding's near-mythical stature can only be enhanced by The Immortal Otis Redding (Atco; also available on stereo tape). Otis updates Ray Charles' A Fool for You and Sam Cooke's Amen; does some personal testifying on A Waste of Time; gets down to the nitty-gritty on Nobody's Fault but Mine and Hard to Handle; and puts everything together on the monumental Think About It. Aretha Franklin's LPs are beginning to suffer a bit from sameness, but there's no faulting the soul or the savoir-faire of Aretha Now (Atlantic; also available on stereo tape). I Take What I Want and A Change are stomping soul-rockers, while Night Time Is the Right Time and You Send Me never sounded so mellow.
Two fragmentary plays by Brian Friel (the Irish author of Philadelphia, Here I Come) are united by a common title, Lovers, and an uncommon actor, Art Carney. In the first piece, a curtain raiser called Winners, Friel's pellucid style makes up for the fact that Carney has little to do. He merely exudes humanity as a sort of Our Town commentator whose words provide touching counterpoint to a tragic, altogether persuasive love idyl between a betrothed lad and lass on a hilltop overlooking their native Irish village. This is the last afternoon of their lives, the narrator confides—the day both drown in the lake below. And that unhappy revelation lends a bittersweet relevance to everything they say and feel as they laugh, or quarrel, or mock their neighbors—two innocents dancing toward oblivion, dreaming sadly predictable little dreams about a future that will never be. The evening's main event, Losers, would be much less satisfactory, except for the opportunity it affords Carney to loosen his suspenders and clear the way for liberating laughter. Slipping in and out of the antics on stage without damage to his brogue, he monologizes about the courtship and marriage of a salty rogue who enjoys his last devil-may-care hours of lust before old age, religion and womenfolk subdue him. Though the play itself is penny-ante improvising. Carney's performance has the glimmer of gold. If his blarney doesn't captivate you, his timing will, especially when he goes to call upon his flabby fiancée, whose invalid old mum lies upstairs worshiping her saints and ringing a large bell the moment those long spans of silence hint of hanky-panky in the parlor. To stay the bell whene'er his ladylove flattens him on her sofa, Carney begins loudly reciting Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard; seldom has low comedy reached so high an estate. Following a limited engagement at Lincoln Center, Lovers has moved to The Music Box, 239 West 45th Street.
I'm about to become engaged and I'd like to avoid that corny moment when the guy hands his girl the ring and, instead, slip it to her in a superclever way. For example, one friend froze the ring in an ice cube and put it in an on-the-rocks martini he made for her. When the ice melted, the ring was left. Have you any ideas?—G. B., Kenosha, Wisconsin.
With the following probe into the poisonous psyche of comedian Don Rickles, the checkered career of our interviewer this month, the intrepid Sol Weinstein, hits an all-time low. Undaunted by the hate mail in response to his demented "Playboy Interview" with Woody Allen (May 1967), the cockamamie creator of that one-man blintzkrieg Israel Bond (whose superspy misadventures premiered in Playboy) foolishly accepted our assignment—he was the only one who'd take it—to confront "The Merchant of Venom" in his lair at Las Vegas' Sahara Hotel. When his wounds had healed, Sol sent us this report—C. O. D.—scrawled in body paint on the torso of a topless waitress:
Sunday this mild mellow week in Dublin. The light morning skies holding a stillness over Trinity College rooftops. Buds crashing out sappy green on the trees. Crocuses exploding yellow across suburban gardens. Balthazar B went down the granite steps from college rooms past the flat green velvet grasses and out the front gate. Through Ballsbridge on the Dalkey tram. To tug the bell chain hanging against the cold cut stone.
It's New Year's eve, 1999, and a cheerful contingent of merrymakers has gathered together to wish one another a happy new century. The scene is rich with the familiar and the traditional—the drinks, the noisemakers, the paper hats, the laughter, the strains of Auld Lang Syne—only the locale is new. It's not an urban night club, not a private home, not a resort in Sun Valley or the Bahamas. It's not even on this planet.
The theater, in case you haven't noticed, has stripped for action. The nude revolution is under way. It comes long after the movies discovered the naked body, long after high fashion gave the see through go-ahead and long after topless restaurants became historical curiosities. And it comes just when the theater seemed to be dead, killed by its own stuffiness. But at least—and at last—it's here. The taboos about bare breasts, bare buttocks and even exposed genitals have been broken. Skin can now be employed as a costume—and that's healthy.
Aspen, the silver town, 1893. It had ten churches, three banks, three schools, a hospital, a courthouse, a hotel with electricity and a population of nearly 12,000. They wrenched the silver out of the mountain by the ton and the mines had names like Smuggler and the Mollie Gibson. One day in 1894, they found a single nugget that was so big it had to be chopped down to 1840 pounds before it could be dragged up the mine shaft. They said at the assay office it was 93 percent pure; but by then, nobody was interested in big nuggets and the news caused hardly a ripple. By 1895, the silver bonanza was all over.
The metal tank containing Reinhart's fish occasioned no excitement when it arrived. Why should it have? From the same truck appeared a crate containing a magnificent puma, somewhat gaunt, rendered languid by the tranquilizers the shipper had injected, and a plywood box full of air holes, holding six pungent skunks. Such shipments were routine and the lab helpers—morose, giggling men from the university maintenance department—were used to handling them.
As anyone can plainly see, this is one of mankind's strangest eras. On the one hand, all is pessimism: The world is plagued by violence, starvation, overpopulation and alienation. Yet never have so many well-informed men been so rosily optimistic: There is a strong school of thought holding that all our problems are basically chemical and will soon yield to solution as readily as the question of what happens when two atoms of hydrogen join with an atom of oxygen. (In case you have forgotten, H2+O=H2O; namely, water. As simple as all that.)
Bold and Brawny fur greatcoats, with a look that's right out of F.Scott Fitzgerald, are this season's smartest trappings. Available in a variety of sumptuous skins— seal, bear, beaver and marmot, among others—greatcoats bring a new warming trend to the frostiest of football stadia. And their calf length, thick pelts and full lapels help the urbanite weather the fiercest blizzard in great style. The stalwart sportsman standing here—accompanied by a jazzy cheering section aboard a vintage Packard touring car—is fashionably furred for the day's big game in a windowpane-plaid six-button doublebreasted Chinese marmot great greatcoat featuring a high, wide collar and deep slash pockets, by Georges Kaplan, $795.
At four o'clock on Thursday afternoon, Peter Finney rushed past the beautiful receptionist in the waiting room and burst into Dr. Eyck's teak-paneled Hollywood office. There, seated behind his free-form, polished desk, beneath the Picasso sketch, to the right of the Giacometti sculpture, was Dr. Eyck.
"All Good Things are Wild and Free," observed Henry David Thoreau about a century ago, there by providing Paige Young—who counts the New England iconoclast among her favorite authors— with a perfect capsule summary of her outlook on the world. Avoiding the hemmed-in routine that leads to what she likes to call "the nine-to-five doldrums," Miss November has created for herself an untrammeled life style as a free-lance artist. "Painting for a living is a struggle," she says. "I have to work at it, but at least my time is my own and I'm working for myself—not for some impersonal corporation." Brought up in Los Angeles and currently based in a beachside Malibu studio, Paige is an enthusiastic eclectic in matters artistic—painting (and selling) everything from portraits and neoimpressionist seascapes to bold abstractions. About the only trend that leaves her cold is pop: "It's real and it says something about today's culture—but I wouldn't waste my paint on it. I can do without the pop scene in general; it gives me a headache." No fan of the far-out fads and plastic pleasures that abound in California, Miss November prefers such traditional alfresco activities as invigorating romps along the shore and peaceful strolls through the woods. Paige also boasts a creative culinary flair and likes nothing better than orchestrating an exotic dinner for a deserving date—followed by a fireside dessert and plenty of good conversation. "If people would just sit down and really talk to, instead of at, each other, I'm sure they'd be a lot happier," says Paige—who, we're sure you'll agree, is something worth talking about.
The only thing I ever wanted to accomplish in life was to write a good novel. I wanted this so much that I came to think of myself as a novelist, even though I had never written one. Despite this little failing. I was quite convinced that were I to die right then, my obituary would read "Crichton, Novelist, Writes Last Chapter," because everyone would know how much it meant to me. And it would only be fair; I had the novels in my head. All that was lacking was the technical formality of transferring them to paper.
Hal Demeter, a mild, pleasant young man, with the kind of pleasant-seeming American face you pass in the street without noticing, lived in a good apartment on East 68th Street without child or wife, cat or dog—no companionship, in fact, except for a recurring bad dream. To the married, family-surrounded man, dreams come as a kind of trap door through which he can vanish into a land of his own endless luck or endless misery; but to the solitary man, they are a kind of society. Hal's dream was perfectly realistic without being real.
Back in September of 1962, faithful readers will recall, this magazine proffered Playboy Salutes Madison Avenue, a baker's-half-dozen advertising classics of the day revamped to suit our splendid notion that the only thing more attractive than a pretty girl is a pretty girl outfitted in nature's own. We felt we had uncovered a fresh nude approach to the conventional marketing bag that the minions of Mad Ave had overlooked. In the ensuing years, of course, the ad biz has come up with different campaigns in keeping with the tempo of the times, but again we feel that agency men have missed the boat, baggagewise. We therefore have come up with these new take-it-offs on well known advertisements. Our versions may not move products, but we think they're well calculated to move the reader.
If you stay around the west part of Robertson County very long, you're bound to hear tell a lot of stories about the Bell witch, some of 'em true and some of 'em plain damn lies. Now, it all started before the War between the States, when John Bell owned a fair-sized plantation back in old North Carolina—a dozen or more field-hand slaves to work it, mules, cows and hogs aplenty. Mr. Bell had a wife, a young daughter name of Betsy, and how many other young'uns I don't rightly remember. Betsy was the one, though. She was just about 16 then and pretty as a spotted puppy.
The host who's interested in dining Japanese style will benefit from the fact that the Oriental criterion of line art—which holds that less is more—reigns supreme. His needs are minimal: He can eschew chairs and conventional legged tables; his soup bowls function sans spoons; napery is almost nonexistent; and he is often able to do away with the kitchen completely. There is a basic Japanese seafood stock called dashi that he can dash off in a snappy five minutes, and many of the dishes take no preparation at all—from wafer-thin slices of tuna fish to fresh strawberries the size of plums. In short, the host has a good thing going when he decides to prepare a Japanese repast. But his guests benefit equally from this ancient art.
The idea that some electronic means might be found to take over Congress' job has been around for some time. Ten years ago, writing in a scholarly political-science journal, Congressman Emanuel Celler of Brooklyn, who already had been on the public's payroll for 35 years and made no secret of wanting to stay there for many years to come, worried that "science-fiction writers, undoubtedly, will soon envision an automatic legislator that will supplant the Congress, just as the automatic translator seems to be about to supplant human linguists." He tried to brush aside the threat as a bit of make-believe, but it clearly made him uneasy to see computers translating English into Russian, and he warned that the next step might be an automatic evaluator that could read, even translate, the letters that come into Washington from the voters. "When that time comes, will Senators and Representatives no longer be required to perform ... the arduous task of ascribing the proper weight and significance to the thousands of messages which come to them annually from the people?"
"Two of the qualities that give Edwin Newman's commentaries their special distinction are his wit and depth of understanding, both conspicuous rarities to be cherished and honored," says the Peabody Award citation that NBC's versatile critic at large received last year. Anyone who's turned him on and tuned him in is familiar with Newman's perceptive combination of common-sense reporting and sardonic wisecracking—a happy blend that suggests Huntley and Brinkley rolled into one. Whether anchoring a special news report or subhosting the Today show, he's equally capable of well-informed comment and expert ad-libbing. Newman once extemporized a speech about TV's men behind the scenes—the "unsung heroes"—saying that he'd never heard a word about a "sung hero"; he finally concluded it must be "a Chinese restaurant that sells Italian sandwiches." Newman's exhausting schedule makes him, at 49, about the most ubiquitous broadcaster around; his agenda includes narrating documentaries, conducting a weekly interview series titled Speaking Freely, doing his own early-afternoon newscast, reporting the evening news, occasionally moderating Meet the Press, acting as trenchant drama critic on the late news and as a freewheeling observer on NBC's radio series Emphasis. He's also called upon to cover marathon crises such as the United Nations debates on the Israeli War, during which he wryly observed, "Some of the 'distinguished representatives' of the UN are, as it happens, strikingly undistinguished." But he's at his best when tackling the grueling assignment of floor reporter at the national political conventions. Taking a swipe at the use of computers to project the outcome of an election, he says, "As a journalist, I find that the use of all these machines destroys the mystique; I rather regret that, because I think it takes away something from those of us in the business. The machines are replacing us." In Newman's case, that's not likely.
The antic wit of Flip Wilson is at its best when the 35-year-old comic deals with interracial subjects: In one of his routines, Wilson tells of a pollster who enters a suburban home to ask the parents if they'd object if their daughter married a Negro. The husband shouts to his wife upstairs, "Ethel, would you mind if our daughter married a Negro?" Comes the high-pitched, Butterfly McQueen reply, "Honey, she kin marry anybody she want!" Although such stories take just seconds to tell, they're usually several years in the making. Says Wilson, "I've been compiling a book on the laws of humor ever since I started out in show business." Flip remembers deciding to be a comic when he was eight, after seeing a comedy revue in his home town of Jersey City, New Jersey. The tenth of 24 children, Wilson was raised in—and ran away from—a succession of foster homes and, at 16, lied about his age to enlist in the Air Force. "When I got out," he recalls, "I gave myself 15 years to become a success. I figured that doctors and lawyers have to put in time going to school and getting established, so why should comedians be different?" For the next decade, Flip hitchhiked across America, playing tiny clubs and passing the hat for food money. "I never had anything to call my own, anyway," he says, "so being broke didn't bother me. And I knew I was making progress." The lean years ended abruptly in 1965, when Flip broke up the host—and his audience—on The Tonight Show. Since then, he's worked the Playboy Club circuit, has been a frequent guest star on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In and is much in demand for night-club dates and college concerts. In January, Flip takes another major step: His first TV special, a pilot he's done for NBC, will be shown in prime time—and could lead to a series of his own. If sales of his two recent comedy LPs are any measure of his popularity, it's safe to say that much of America is now turning to the Flip side.
"I had something in common with the beatniks and more with the hippies," says Leonard Cohen. "The next thing may be even closer to where I am"—a prediction unlikely of fulfillment, unless the post-hippie era finds us in a full-blown renaissance, the only climate in which the 34-year-old Canadian poet-novelist-composer-singer would be at home. Scion of a Montreal clothing family, Cohen briefly tried his hand at the family business after graduation from McGill University, but soon decided that poetry would have to take precedence over haberdashery. He wrote three volumes of tough-tender verse before turning 30, and his first novel, The Favorite Game, a staccato reconsideration of his childhood, his Jewishness and his girls. Especially his girls. In the last chapter, Cohen's hero praises "all the bodies in and out of bathing suits ...growing in mirrors, felt like treasure, slobbered over, cheated for, all of them, the great ballet line...." Beautiful Losers, a second novel, followed in 1966, the year Cohen started setting his poems to music—and singing them. By the end of that year, the haunting Suzanne was an underground sensation in the repertory of Judy Collins; it is now the featured number on Columbia's Songs of Leonard Cohen, the writer's own first album. His second album, as well as a series of concerts and readings and several appearances on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour are all scheduled for the next few months, in the wake of one of Cohen's periodic forays from the Greek island of Hydra, where he lives with his wife and son. "A kite is a victim you are sure of," one of his poems begins. "You love it because it pulls/gentle enough to call you master/strong enough to call you fool." Though kite-flyer Cohen seems to regard himself more as a fool than as master of his many gifts, it's clear that the gentleness and strength of those gifts have established him as both poet laureate and minstrel to a new generation.