A decaying Italian city, now blighted by modern architectural ugliness and beset by snarling traffic, would hardly seem the place for self-renewal. But in Thanksgiving in Florence, educator-essayist John Clellon Holmes evocatively describes how Michelangelo's art reaffirmed for him the invincibility of the human spirit. Thanksgiving, along with Holmes's June 1970 Playboy essay, See Naples and Live, will be included in a collection of memoirs about an extended tour of Europe in the late Sixties.
Playboy, November, 1971, Volume 18, Number 11. Published monthly by Playboy, Playboy Building, 919 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Subscriptions: In the United States, its possessions and Canada, $24 for three years, $18 for two years, $10 for one year. Elsewhere add $2 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 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611, and allow 30 days for change. Marketing: Victor Lownes, Director of Creative Development; Nelson Futch, Promotion Director; Lee Gottlieb, Director of Public Relations. Advertising: Howard W. Lederer, Advertising Director; Jules Kase, Joseph Guenther, Associate Advertising Managers, 405 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10022; Sherman Keats, Chicago Manager, 919 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611; Detroit, William F. Moore, Manager, 818 Fisher Building; Los Angeles, Stanley L. Perkins, Manager, 8721 Beverly Boulevard; San Francisco, Robert E. Stephens, Manager, 110 Sutter Street; Southeastern Representative, Pirnie & Brown, 3108 Piedmont Road, N. E., Atlanta, Georgia 30305.
One of the more dubious honors we've received is a lifetime membership in the John Dillinger Died for You Society--our reward for having published some letters from readers debating the supposed sexual prowess of that late, great bank robber. The J.D.D.F.Y.S. is, of course, mostly a put-on, founded about five years ago by a mysterious and no-doubt-pseudonymous Dr. Horace Naismith. But the society has supplied us with enough lore and literature to arouse our interest in the subject; so when we learned that a TV crew was in Chicago to film a documentary on Dillinger for CBS, we donned our best shiny double-breasted blue-serge suit, snapped down the brim of our spiffy gray fedora and sidled over to the old Biograph Theater, where the action was. For right outside the Biograph, on the sweltering Chicago night of July 22, 1934, Dillinger had been betrayed by Anna Sage (the "Woman in Red") and bushwhacked by lurking G men.
Washington columnists Rowland Evans, Jr., and Robert D. Novak, themselves moderate conservatives, have probed Nixon in the White House (Random House) and found that moderate conservative largely wanting. The indictments are familiar--a lonely, insecure President isolated from all but a few advisors and functionaries; a lack of direction by an Administration that, when it does have a clear sense of where it's going, pretends for political reasons that it's moving in the opposite direction; and a stunning lack of political astuteness on the part of those in the Administration whose only goals are political. From many interviews with necessarily unidentified sources, Evans and Novak show the methods of operation of such wielders of power as John Mitchell, Bob Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Henry Kissinger. They are less successful at clarifying the nature of the man who presides in the White House--but then, so is Richard Nixon himself. There are, however, a number of remarkable vignettes. The President, listening to the educational goals being listed by James Allen, his new commissioner of education, responds: "I hope, Dr. Allen, that you can do something to improve discipline in the schools." At another meeting, with the presidents of 15 predominantly black colleges, Nixon is shown a series of photographs of the killings at Jackson State College by Mississippi state police. "Nixon leafed through the photos, then suddenly sat bolt upright and said: 'Look, what are we going to do to get more respect for the police from our young people?'" Evans and Novak venture no firm predictions as to the incumbent's fate in 1972, but they readily acknowledge that Nixon had gotten a leg up as a dove willing to fly to China and as the President who had come up with what he himself modestly described in his August 15 speech as "the most comprehensive new economic policy to be undertaken in this nation in four decades."
Shandygaff, at Polk and Washington streets in San Francisco, is an impeccable example of a new culinary phenomenon--gourmet natural-food dining. To protect his friends against smog, tension, high blood pressure, cholesterol and chemical contamination, Rubin Glickman, the young lawyer who is the Honored Founder of Shandygaff, realized that great cooking, spring water, organic veggies and freshly baked breads are not enough. His secret added ingredient for a happy, healthy life--beautiful girls. The delicious creatures of Shandygaff rival those of the Trident in Sausalito for groovy smiles, shining macrobiotic teeth and braless deportment under their ballast of yoghurt, omelets with mushrooms cultured by pure hearts, and even--Shandygaff is not autocratically vegetarian--clam, fish and shrimp dishes. If tie-dyeing and whole-grain cereals can do it for these ladies, they also seem to do it for the tennis players, dope lawyers, hip bohemians, dealers, entertainers, artists, rolling stones and greedy gurus who in ever-larger numbers have discovered the lunch-and-dinner happenings at Shandygaff. This is no franchise operation ("Have decorator, will travel"). The banners of imaginary nations that hang from the ceiling, the verbal-pun mural in the men's room, the colors and lettering and menu are all the result of earnest, inspired tinkering. But those seeking a bastion of hip dogmatism should seek elsewhere. Squares are not turned away: A regular clientele of Little Old Ladies, chortling with vigor, gobbles Raw Fresh Vegetables in Season seated next to rockband strays. (Of course, no ashtrays are offered. But you can smoke behind the green door that says Rooms and nobody will object.) Shandygaff believes in wine, however, plus loafing, relaxing and herbal teas. Unfiltered honey, soy delights, fertile eggs, raw milk and the omnipresent yoghurt--oh, how to explain the hedonism of it all? Here, the name Shandygaff refers to a wine-and-orange-juice combination: juice squeezed on the spot; Chablis, alas, unstamped by the healthy, loving feet of the attendant ladies. The place has become a treat and a temple to the glory of eggs, fruit, vegetables and girls, bringing it all together for a better world. Its habitués like it as it is; so, though we can't resist telling you, please don't tell your friends. Shandygaff is open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to midnight; Sunday, 4 P.M. to 10 P.M.; closed Monday. Reservations are not necessary--yet. No credit cards accepted.
Columnist Pete Hamill wrote the scenario for Doc, a myth-debunking Western shot in Spain by director Frank Perry as if he wanted to make sure the myth were dead. Characters named Doc Holliday, Kate Elder and Wyatt Earp are played, respectively, by Stacy Keach, Faye Dunaway and Harris Yulin--all speaking a brand of dialog that sounds like a New York newshound's parody of John Wayne on the Late Show. "Beans make ya fart" is a fair sample of Faye's contribution to gracious living in the American West, as interpreted by Hamill and Perry, whose theme seems to be that all our mythic heroes were sick, dirty, violent, decadent and otherwise far-from-perfect creatures. So that's why the nation's values are screwed up. Though Faye struggles valiantly to simulate normal human behavior, director Perry overwhelms her with his determination to make everyone act a legend come to life as a waxwork. He succeeds in spades with Keach and Yulin, who utter each line in measured cadences, sotto voce, their eyes fixed in the middle distance, where a man can see Destiny, seems like, if he remembers not to blink. Somehow they even manage to walk in slow motion, which is plumb crazy. Made crazier by a strained "modern" view of Holliday as a consumptive opium addict, probably the object of Earp's latent homosexual desires. John Wayne won't like any of this, nor do we. Too goddamn boring.
Because she possesses an abundance of talent, Joni Mitchell has always tried to respond to new musical challenges. Blue (Reprise) is her most ambitious undertaking so far, and it includes everything from pop folk ballads to what used to be called art songs. Not all of it works; Joni seems unable to resist cute whimsical images, and My Old Man, for instance, contains some pretty bad musical clichés. Yet there are great songs here, such as Carey, splendid accompaniments by Stephen Stills, James Taylor and Sneaky Pete, and Joni's capricious, beautifully expressive voice--full of a kind of hip sadness, telling of traveling and loving.
If there's anything more pretentious than relevant opera, it's rock opera. And if there's anything that shares the worst of both worlds, it's Jesus Christ Superstar. Expecting the worst, we caught the authorized Robert Stigwood production in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb, and were only slightly disappointed. Not long ago, some underassistant West Coast promo man discovered that a rock band could string together half a dozen isolated songs by theme, segue them neatly with background musique concrète or tamboura drone and present them as an electric-wrapped nickel bag for the stoned listener. Ever since, most of the intelligence and professionalism in rock music have been thoroughly hyped and windbagged, until, finally, the inevitable Jesus Christ Superstar. And, regardless of what your sideburned clergyman says. J. C. S. is neither rock nor relevant. Skimming off the style of other artists' more original substance, Superstar's writers, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, "sear your senses" (in the publicist's words) with a little derivative Hendrix here, a pinch of early Motown and Gospel there, some Paul McCartney neoragtime and, of course, just a tokenful of ad-agency soul with the obligatory screaming Negroes. There are few bars in the whole production, ambitious though it is, that bear any resemblance to good gut-funky, churnin', bubblin', git-down rock. To feel how sexless, middlebrow and masscult this stuff is, just turn on the Stones--full volume--for comparison. Part of the problem is that rock has no business associating with opera; onstage, in concert or on record. Opera embraces themes somewhat larger than life, with a score, and counts on vocal power beyond the range of ordinary men. Rock at its best celebrates the spontaneous in musical interaction and exults in the free play of natural, common emotions. Given the overwrought frippery of which they are prisoners, the Stigwood Superstar troupe--featuring a cast of 20 singers, a 32-piece orchestra, six-man rock band, plus musical and lighting directors--puts on an impressive, if not quite unparalleled, show. By theatrical standards, the production is well engineered and musical director Marc Pressel keeps orchestra, band, chorus and soloists together, nicely mixed and moving. Bass Bob Bingham (Caiaphus) and tenors Alan Martin (Herod) and Lyle Countryman (Pilate) not only have fine voices but, because they have some sense of dramatic craft, they steal the show. Jeff Fenholt, as Jesus, is so Christlike that we were tempted to mount him on our dashboard. As an actor, he's almost as plastic, although he sings well enough. Carl Anderson, a black Judas, brings to his role as the agonized betrayer exactly what the script calls for--unbridled hamminess--and Yvonne Elliman (Mary Magdalene), as the archetypal "hooker with a heart," re-creates her cast-album hit I Don't Know How to Love Him with all the spirituality of a night-club chantootsie. It's doubtful, however, that we've seen the last of Jesus Christ Superstar nor of the hordes of lesser imitators currently being mounted by cashbox carnivores who delight in the quick buck, the big sell and the cheap shot. Jesus was no Jumpin' Jack Flash, he was the Prince of Peace. And though the Stones might dubiously claim that rock holds out its greatest sympathy for the Devil, we hope that the form will eventually do better by the gentle prophet than this.
Not long ago, John Lennon and Yoko Ono decided that the walls in Allen Klein's new offices needed decorating. The view out the windows was fine, even beautiful, 41 stories down to the Hudson River, and the floor plan of Abkco's offices was interesting enough: labyrinthine hallways, through which a visitor literally needs a guide. But the shiny-yellow papered walls were boring. So John and Yoko began hanging golden records (over 100 of them, mostly albums) that the groups Klein has managed have picked up over the years. Down the first hallway are "Beggar's Banquet," "Let It Bleed" and "Out of Our Heads"--all 1,000,000 sellers by the Rolling Stones--and on a post at the end is "All Things Must Pass," by George Harrison. "Let It Be" is just to the right, along with "Plastic Ono Band" and "McCartney" and "Ram," and farther on are walls filled with shiny platters by The Animals, The Kinks, Herman's Hermits, The Dave Clark Five, Donovan and Bobby Vinton. On and on, until it's possible for a visitor without sunglasses to go nearly blind from the glare by the time he's led through a door into the corner suite that Allen Klein, rock 'n' roll's only supermanager, occupies with a curious sort of magnificence.
However successfully we dodge the misfortunes of life, however cautious, heroic or lucky we may be, the mere passage of time kills us. And before doing so, it impairs us, which is worse. Our chief defense against the awareness of death is that it can be put forward in time--it will happen, but not yet. Set a time limit and the defenses crumble--which is why cancer, the best-known terminal disease, inspires such horror in modern man. It is the most recognizable counterpart of that unpleasant skeleton that taps king, merchant and reveler on the shoulder in medieval paintings of the dance of death. The rarity of untimely death, thanks to modern medicine, sharpens our awareness of our other enemy, aging.
The first children who saw the dark and slinky bulge approaching through the sea let themselves think it was an enemy ship. Then they saw it had no flags nor masts and they thought it was a whale. But when it washed up on the beach, they removed the clumps of seaweed, the jellyfish tentacles and the remains of fish and flotsam and only then did they see that it was a drowned man. And so they made a toy of him.
Our probe of women's sleeping positions finds that a body at rest tends to communicate. In his seminal study The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud forever linked sleep with libido, those energetic instincts that, he said, have to do with all that may be found in the word love. By moving beyond this pleasure principle, we've discovered that even in repose, the nature of the female remains true to form. Show us a lady snuggled in the arms of Morpheus, then, and we'll predict her predilections.
And Now, Direct From Fairy Godmother Headquarters ...
Scene: The central control booth of National Network News. Anchor man Walter Brinkhunt is leaning forward, holding an earphone to one ear. Across the table from Brinkhunt, chisel-featured Derek Everside is leaning back, finger tips touching beneath his chin.
Since Playboy's last appraisal of audiovisual componentry and suggestions for domesticating it (see Playboy Plans a Duplex Penthouse, January 1970), the electronics revolution has proceeded at a frantic pace, with concepts being introduced that weren't even dreamed of a few years ago; at the same time, those units considered the heart of any home-entertainment system have been steadily improved and redesigned.
Trwin clark, a slow but painstaking reader of the crime news for many years, tried to analyze the case as if he were a district attorney. Cui bono?--he was proud of being able to apply such a professional term. Who benefited when the old bastard vanished from the face of the earth? Well, the answer was mildly discouraging: Irwin did. Not very much, though, just to the extent of half interest in an old-fashioned hardware store that cleared, at best, about $8000 or $9000 a year. And, furthermore, Irwin would have to wait seven years to get that, the statutory seven before a missing person is declared legally dead. The ones who get caught, Irwin had observed, are the ones who work fast for a big profit. Irwin had been fitting his plan together for the past five years. It was almost finished. It had to be soon, or else Irwin would blow right through the top of his skull one of these days.
In a few hours, Americans all over Europe--even the most resolutely expatriated of them--would be getting together over makeshift banquets to experience, many for the first time, the meaning of that first Thanksgiving: strangers celebrating their survival in a strange land. But we knew no one in Florence, and so we had arranged to have our little feast that evening in a quiet restaurant a block from Dante's house.
Years ago, alfresco fall and winter gamesmen would cheer on the home team while bundled up to the eyebrows in bulky outercoats that resembled sleeping bags. But today, lightweight fabrics and trimmer tailoring have helped make the great outdoors a great place to be--even when the temperature takes a nose dive. From the opening kickoff to the last downhill run, onlookers at this year's open-air events will find that for chill weather, leather is still king. Body-hugging rib-knit turtlenecks also provide excellent insulation and there are numerous foot-warming boot and shoe styles, including mid-calf lace-ups and crepe-soled suedes. Finally, for those après-game hours by the fireside, there's a plenitude of colorful and comfortable acrylic-knit lounging suits available that add to the pleasure of coming in from the cold.
If Danielle De Vabre ever becomes an author, as she hopes to eventually, it's a good bet that she'll write about a young French-Canadian girl who spends a perfect winter as a ski instructor in the Colorado Rockies. Not only is the sport a favorite subject of hers but the plot happens to be autobiographical. "The idea of skiing in the Rockies grew in my mind while I was in high school," explains the slope-minded native of Montreal. "I'd skied the Laurentians in Canada for years and often heard people discuss the high elevation and deep powder of the Colorado ranges." So, a year and a half ago, after her graduation from high school, Danielle's parents agreed that, before beginning her English-literature studies at a Montreal college, she should have her dream adventure in the Western U.S. "My parents knew that if I started school right away, I would resent being there and, consequently, my concentration would suffer." There was one condition in their agreement, however: Danielle was to finance the trip herself. "I was counting on finding a job as a ski instructor and figured I'd need just enough cash to get me there, plus a little nest egg in case I had a hard time getting work." The problem of how to earn some money was solved after an interview at the local Playboy Club: For the next few months, Danielle worked as a Bunny while waiting to hear from the Colorado resorts to which she'd applied. Finally, she received a positive reply from the Steamboat Springs ski school's Skeeter Werner, sister of the late Olympic skier Bud Werner. "I was elated. I'd already saved enough to pay for my transportation, so I started packing immediately." Danielle confesses to fearing that Colorado would fail to match her high expectations, but that apprehension was forgotten as soon as she saw Steamboat Springs and met Skeeter and the staff. "Steamboat's scenery alone would make the spot charming. But the combination of gorgeous surroundings plus the friendliness of all the people told me instantly that I was going to have a fantastic stay." Danielle showed her zeal by spending most of her free time on the slopes by herself. "I couldn't get enough skiing and I really hated it when the time came to leave, but I'd promised my folks I would stay just four months." Back in Montreal, Danielle soon discovered that her sojourn in Steamboat Springs hadn't quenched her wanderlust. "Some friends I met in Steamboat are spending this season in Norway and they're urging me to come. If I go--and I'd sure love to--I'll send home long letters filled with personal impressions and descriptions of the people I meet and the places I visit. And I'll make sure my parents save them. I did that last year and found that it's a great way to gather material for the scene of a possible story." We're sure readers will agree that any scene including delightful Danielle is certainly worth writing home about.
The hip young couple were making passionate love on their brand-new water bed when the mattress suddenly sprang a leak, flooding the apartment. Lying on her back, thoroughly soaked, the girl sighed, "Harold, when are you going to do something about your lousy aim?"
Each spring, Pittsburgh's Dapper Dan Roundball Classic, the most prestigious high school all-star basketball game in the nation, matches the ten best players from Pennsylvania against a team made up of the number-one competitors from ten other states. College coaches from every region of the country jet in for the game, where they either recruit players still undecided on which college to attend or keep rival coaches away from prospects committed to their own universities. Occasionally they have to do both, for the event, founded seven years ago by Pittsburgh's charity-minded Dapper Dan Club, annually showcases at least eight of the top ten high school players in the nation. Coaches call such talented prospects "blue chippers"--players who, in their estimation, are good enough to be three-year starters for any college team in America. Although nearly 100 high school seniors qualify as blue chippers each year, the number of lads who can conceivably become superstars is much lower. In 1970, basketball's insiders felt that only 25 prospects possessed such skills. One of these was Tom McMillen, a 17-year-old from Mansfield, Pennsylvania, who was the most recruited high school player in history--and the main reason coaches from more than 275 schools had come to watch the Dapper Dan: McMillen had not yet announced the college of his choice.
Although the handsome bachelor dwelling, below, of interior designer Arthur Elrod is just a six-minute drive from his downtown Palm Springs office, its location--a craggy ridge overlooking the city--provides the seclusion and panoramic setting of an eagle's nest. In creating his five-room, 5700-square-foot, air-conditioned digs, Elrod and architect John Lautner showed their aesthetic respect for the rugged site by utilizing natural rock formations, so that house and mountainside often mingle, with boulder clusters occasionally serving as walls. Elrod also used glass extensively--an understandable indulgence, considering the surrounding view. Consequently, there's more than 100 feet of frameless floor-to-ceiling windows in the circular living room and the master bedroom-study-office wing (with nearby bath--dressing room)--plus two pie-shaped skylights set into the living room's massive concrete ceiling. (The pad's other rooms--a kitchen and a guest suite--are just off the living room next to a walled, sculpture-filled garden.) The result is a masculine home-office where Elrod can entertain, work or relax within (text concluded on page 208) Playboy Pad(continued from page 151) the same dramatically designed premises.
One year ago, in Playboy's November 1970 issue, we wrote, "The pendulum has already begun its reverse swing--and it's bound to hit somebody." The pendulum referred to was the degree of permissiveness granted to films shown in the United States, and the allusion was to those who believed that movies had gone too far in their depiction of sexual activities. In May of 1971, that pendulum made its first strike. Jack Valenti's Motion Picture Association of America, the industry's own appointed guardian of movie morality, lost the support of both the National Council of Churches (Protestant) and the National Catholic Office for Motion Pictures. In a rare joint statement, they affirmed that "the pressures from motion-picture companies are too great, and the specter of Governmental regulation is too remote, for the industry as a whole to take seriously its task of self-regulation at present." The churches weren't urging national censorship--far from it. But they were arguing that, simply for their own good, the film companies should "develop a workable, dependable and credible system of self-regulation as an alternative to Governmental censorship."
This happened way back yonder, when the railroad first come to these mountains and there sprung up along the right of way lots of little mining-company towns like Cokeboro. So new you could smell the raw lumber a mile off. Folks so new that the men still had straw on their boots and the women went down every day to ooh and aah when the train come in.
Marie Antoinette did not say, "Let them eat cake." Her exact words, according to Rousseau, were, "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche." Modern man obviously does not live by brioche alone. From the vast panorama of the baker's art, he can choose pitas as made in Baghdad, Sicilian round sesame loaves and Swedish limpa, to mention only a few. What's more important is that he uses them not just as filler for his breadbasket but as a means of brightening his party tables.
The Indian said, "I take hand of woman and I squeeze and look in eyes, and if she return look and do not take hand away, I know I can make intercourse. If also she squeeze my hand back, it is most certain I can do it that very day. Only thing is, husband must be elsewhere."
To Literary Critics, fans and censors alike, Henry Miller has long been an enigmatic figure. But here--and in his forthcoming autobiography, My Life and Times, edited and designed by Bradley Smith and scheduled for November 15 publication by Playboy Press--the 79-year-old author of Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Nexus, Plexus and Sexus expresses his views on everything from pornography to ping-pong.
Sorry, but no one really knows what makes a successful executive. Good managers spring from such differing backgrounds and succeed (or fail) with such a startling array of personalities and approaches that any generalization about executive potential is fraught with exceptions. Batteries of psychological questionnaires are widely used in the hiring process and management heeds at least some of the results in making its selection. But once a man is hired, most executives are greatly disturbed when psychological testers suggest (as they frequently do) that testing be (continued on page 278) Playboy's Executive Quiz (continued from page 187) expanded to play a role in promoting him as well. Promotions, top management insists, should be based on something more solid than test scores.
You turn at the fruit stand on Route 7. The country road curls slowly downward through wooded east Virginia hills to the Shenandoah River. Ridges of rock poke their backs through thin topsoil in the scattered fields, and to be knee high by the Fourth of July, the corn crop will have to double its size in two days.
"I haven't a sophisticated bone in my body about success--I adore it and wallow in it, and I hope it lasts." Although Frank Langella had progressed from a New Jersey high school drama club through sceneshifting to seven years of steady effort honing his skills off-Broadway and in regional theater--winning three Obie awards and a solid professional reputation en route--he remained unknown until last year, except to a handful of critics. Then came his film role as Carrie Snodgress' unscrupulous lover in Diary of a Mad Housewife, and Frank Langella was an instant sex symbol. American female moviegoers--accustomed of late to craggily unhandsome leading men--hadn't been subjected to such an overtly sensual cinematic presence in years. The 31-year-old bachelor was suddenly besieged by teenage groupies and button-snatching matrons, an experience he assesses with wry detachment as "a blissful agony." Just after Diary came the release of The Twelve Chairs, in which Langella played a lovable rogue; then it was off to France to co-star with Faye Dunaway in René Clement's The House Under the Trees. Despite the fact that movies have brought him fame, Frank considers himself primarily a stage actor. "I love making the camera my mistress," he admits, "but nothing can touch a live audience." So as soon as House was completed, he hied himself back to summer stock, where his performance as Cyrano de Bergerac in Williamstown, Massachusetts, broke all records--and helped Frank shed a bit of the pretty-boy image that has lost him some choice casting plums. "We had waiting lists of 250 for every performance," he says. "It goes to show that there's an enormous audience in this country for serious drama." That judgment may be tested this month, when Langella makes his Broadway debut in an adaptation of Thomas Wolfe's autobiographical The Web and the Rock. In our view, it's more probable that there is an enormous audience in this country for Frank Langella.
The relaxed, intelligent, unpretentious music he writes and sings seemed out of place and time when acid rock was really booming. But today Harry Nilsson's sounds--fine blends of jazz, soul, folk and good old-time pop--couldn't be more on target. A singer and songwriter with impressive recording, film- and television-scoring credits, Nilsson began his career quietly, ghosting demonstration records, singing TV-commercial jingles and doing recording stints with Mercury Records as "Johnny Niles" when names like Bobby Vinton were in vogue. Finally switching to RCA, he recorded Pandemonium Shadow Show, which won the acclaim of John Lennon. But it was his second LP, Aerial Ballet--titled after his grandparents' touring circus act--that really took off on the charts; this was followed by Harry and Nilsson Sings Newman, a tribute to friend and fellow composer Randy Newman. (The Newman album sounds as if it were recorded with a chorus of 100, but actually Nilsson turned in 98 separate vocal performances, an accomplishment that may reflect his four post-high school years as a computer supervisor for a Van Nuys, California, bank.) Meanwhile, he formed Nilsson House Productions and worked on music for two films--Skidoo, which he scored, and Midnight Cowboy, for which he sang fred Neil's Everybody's Talkin' and captured a Grammy. One of his more recent and unusual movie efforts was an ABC-TV "Movie of the Week" last February, a musical fantasy called The Point, based on his story about a roundheaded boy living in a land where everything is pointed. For the production, 30-year-old Nilsson composed seven songs that are included in the sound-track recording now nearing Gold Record status. As for Nilsson's future: It may include more scores and albums (his latest, While the Cat Is Away, was just released) or, he says, "It might take me back to computer work at that bank in Van Nuys." For music's sake, we hope it's not the latter.
When he first Accepted Mayor Lindsay's appointment as head of New York City's Environmental Protection Agency 22 months ago, a number of political observers questioned Jerome Kretchmer's judgment. A four-term state assemblyman from a Manhattan district who had built a following of young and radical voters, Kretchmer seemed to be risking a bright political future. He would obviously be vulnerable if things didn't get cleaner--just about the last thing anybody in New York expected. But while the city hasn't become extravagantly clean, Kretchmer--37, married, a graduate of NYU and Columbia Law School--is now being seriously considered as a successor to Lindsay. Tackling first those problems that seemed to require only a little vigorous leadership, Kretchmer would show up at six A.M.--dressed in a splendid Mod suit--to see the garbage men off on their rounds. Unlike most smiling pols who arrive with photographers, shake a few hands, accept a ceremonial hard hat and leave hastily for the next stop, Kretchmer had done his homework. He talked seriously to the men about their work and their equipment, and they responded by bringing in the trash--enough, at least, to make New Yorkers take notice. Then--mindful of Lindsay's near crucifixion after the city was immobilized by a 1969 snowfall--Kretchmer marshaled his forces and directed last winter's snow clearings like a general repelling an invasion. That worked, too, and while it was partly because the snows of 1971 weren't as severe as those of 1969, Kretchmer's stock rose again. He's had some setbacks, particularly in his fight against a new Con Ed power plant. "We haven't won any of the really big battles," he says, "but we've made a beginning." His goals include efficient rapid transit, realistic limits on power consumption and penalty taxes against polluters. And the mayor's job? "It's much too early to tell about that yet. Too many things--especially the mayor's plans--aren't clear." Including the air; but Kretchmer is working on that.