"So mention my name in Sheboygan,/And if you ever get in a jam,/Just mention my name, I said mention my name,/But please don't tell 'em where I am." Those lines, you may be old enough to remember, are from one of 1947's big hit songs; and Richard Rhodes, author of this month's Sex and Sin in Sheboygan, was amazed to discover their aptness today. This small Wisconsin city actually enforces its antediluvian sex laws, and Rhodes's article painstakingly re-creates the tragedy of a man busted there for cohabitation. Rhodes is now in Kansas, where he's writing a film-script about the Osage River and researching a Time-Life book on the Missouri Ozarks.
Playboy, August, 1972, Volume 19, Number 8. 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.
In terms of reader participation, no feature in Playboy is more popular than our Party Jokes page. Submissions recently passed the 20,000-a-month mark, a rate that--naturally enough--involves considerable duplication. Just for the hell of it, and to get an insight into what's currently tickling the nation's fancy, we asked our Party Jokes Editor to compile a list of the most frequently submitted gags. He complied, with a vengeance, starting with a cross section of 250,000 jokes, which he categorized by punch line and arranged in order of popularity.
It's been almost ten years since Frank Capra made a movie, but Fletcher Knebel's new novel, Dark Horse (Double-day), may be just the sort of thing he needs to bring him out of retirement. After all, Capra was the man who got Mr. Smith to Washington, which is what Knebel strains mightily to do with his Eddie Quinn. When the duly nominated Presidential candidate of an unnamed (but vaguely Republican) party drops dead a few weeks before Election Day, the national committee, through a fluke, gives Quinn, the New Jersey highway commissioner, the nod. No one believes he can win, but the party leaders figure he won't do anything too outrageous in the few weeks before the polls open. But Eddie, like a good Capra hero, is full of surprises. He starts midnight walking tours through black ghettos; he advocates setting the minimum draft age at 50; he calls for a human-depletion allowance that would benefit everyone but those who have oil-depletion allowances; he singlehandedly stops a race riot; and he even makes off with the wife of one of his opponent's biggest financial backers. Eddie is first regarded as an eccentric joker, but soon the tide of public favor begins to switch in his direction. And then: crash! Mr. Smith Goes to Chappaquiddick. There is a fatal smashup on the Jersey Turnpike involving Eddie with some cronies and a Vietnam veteran. Knebel is an old hand at these Washington yarns. In fact, as co-author of Seven Days in May, he did much to reactivate the genre a few years ago. But this time around, when all the signs indicate that the novel should have been a comedy, everyone is just as deadly serious as those generals back during those grim days in May.
A late, lavish Sunday brunch at one of Manhattan's better open-early restaurants is a great way to get together--for a couple or a crowd. The mood is relaxed, the conversation is convivial and the tab is easy to take. (Expect it to run about half of what dinner would cost at the same establishment.) The atmosphere at Charley O's (33 West 48th Street) is clubby and quite informal: green walls, lots of dark-brown wood paneling and beams; lots of bare midriffs, too. Regulars pore over the Sunday Times while sipping Irish Milk Punches or Champagne Oranges. A brunch consisting of appetizer, main course, coffee and barm-brack (Irish coffeecake) will set you back about 55, depending on your entree. Smashing raisin biscuits, called scones here, and salt-crust bread are included in the largess. Among the interesting main dishes are Fish and Chips, Glazed Apple Pancake and three kinds of hash--corned-beef, roast-beef and chicken. The last is exceptional, more an émincé in cream sauce. And Charley O's eggs are almost epicurean. Skip the Shrimp, Clam and Scallop Pie, however, unless you're addicted to glutinous, fishy agglomerations. But don't leave without at least one Irish coffee. Sundays noon to 3:30 P.M. (212-JU 2-7141).
The teaming of Steve McQueen and Sam Peckinpah (subject of this month's Playboy Interview) looks inevitable in retrospect, for both are prototypically male, American, direct, attracted to other men of action and the dreams or delusions that move them. Junior Bonner confirms their natural kinship. (Obviously sharing that opinion, Sam and Steve have begun their second film together, The Getaway.) Under Peckinpah--who understands that the leathery and laconic surface manner is by no means the whole man--McQueen gives the most affecting performance of his career as a washed-up rodeo star yearning to win big just one more time at a contest in his home town. The theme is hardly new and has been spelled out in almost identical terms in two recent films (The Honkers, with James Coburn, and J. W. Coop, Cliff Robertson's intelligent ode to an aging cowboy). Junior Bonner outclasses its competition partly because of a fine, spare screenplay by Jeb Rose-brook, but mostly because Peckinpah happens to be a vital home-grown director with a very special sensitivity to the American scene. After the flamboyant violence of The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs, even Peckinpah's ardent admirers are apt to overlook his lyrical, shamefully neglected Western The Ballad of Cable Hogue, which is much closer to the mood of Junior Bonner. Here, Peckinpah etches a gentle, rueful and poetic character study of a dying breed of man. Actual locations in Prescott, Arizona--birthplace of the rodeo--are linked so securely to a day in the life of Junior Bonner that the film's folksy color and action sequences never lapse into mere sight-seeing, a virtue for which ace cinematographer Lucien Ballard deserves substantial credit. Among the performers, Ben Johnson, Joe Don Baker (as Junior's success-oriented brother, a big dealer in real estate) and provocative Barbara Leigh (as the kind of girl who has her pick of the day's winners) are right with it, though somewhat overshadowed by Ida Lupino and Robert Preston, whose earthy portrayals of Ma and Dad Bonner steal whole chunks of the picture from McQueen. Winning and losing are what it's all about, of course, and Peckinpah takes off his hat to the losers every time. Watching bulldozers flatten a memory-filled family shack to make room for mobile-home sites pointedly sums up one side of Junior Bonner's story. Elsewhere, in a hilarious barroom brawl that can't be stopped until a cowboy band strikes up The Star-Spangled Banner, Peckinpah catches an image of America that few moviemakers would be able to match in five reels of labored liberal preachment.
Imagine, if you will, a little world combining the Tivoli Gardens of Copenhagen, the impacted medieval streets of portside France and Italy, plus a touch of the sooks of North Africa; or, better yet, spend a day--and perhaps an evening--at The Cannery and Ghirardelli Square near San Francisco's waterfront. Just hop the Hyde Street cable car--a kind of permanent party on wheels--downtown and ride it to the end of the line. Bring appetite, thirst and credit cards, for you will be tempted by shops, a wine cellar, cafés, restaurants. Bring change for the street musicians (baroque, folk-rock, romantic), street actors, street mimes. Bring a tolerant eye, ready with praise, for proof that a carnival neighborhood can be created by men of taste, good will and, uh, money.
Marian McPartland plays a piano and a half. A Delicate Balance (Halcyon) has the lady splitting her time between a concert-grand Wurlitzer and a plugged-in version. In each case, she's nothing short of splendid--whether it's on her own material, Eddie Harris' exuberant Freedom Jazz Dance, the pastel-shaded El Condor Pasa of Simon and Garfunkel, Alec Wilder's lovely contribution, Jazz Waltz for a Friend, or John Lennon's now-classic Something (which also has fine bass work by Jay Leonhart, who shares the album's rhythm chores with drummer Jimmy Madison). The LP is available only through the mail: Send $5.98 to Halcyon Records, Box 4255, Grand Central Station, New York, New York 10017.
In Aint Supposed to Die a Natural Death, Melvin Van Peebles showed urban blacks confined in a ghetto athrob with passion and life. His people were down and fighting to get up. The play was resonant with the feel of the city, splendidly staged by Gilbert Moses and acted and sung by a resolutely expressive cast. Van Peebles' second musical of the season, Dont Play Us Cheap!, is the other, sunnier side of the urban street. These people, joyfully imbibing and joshing one another at a Harlem party, are a generation removed from the blacks in Aint Supposed to Die. Their roots are in the South, their humor down-home. Unlike the earlier show, however, Dont Play Us Cheap! has a story--first mistake--about two imps, emissaries from the Devil, who try to break up that party. This time Van Peebles--second mistake--has elected to do the staging himself. The book, which is quaint and self-conscious, needs drastic cutting and the action needs regrouping. What the show does have going for it is Van Peebles' enormous musical gift. The score, while not on a level with Aint Supposed to Die, is still striking; so are two sensational singers, Joshie Jo Armstead and George ("Ooppee") McCurn. The characters are written and cast largely to stereotype, but Esther Rolle in the pivotal role of the Harlem hostess is droll--with some of the wry casualness of Pearl Bailey. At the Ethel Barrymore, 243 West 47th Street.
My girl and I have a splendid thing going in bed, with one exception. From the beginning to the end of foreplay, she loves to talk and wants me to do the same. I find it difficult to think of what to say, and sometimes I get so uptight about my inability that I lose my sexual concentration. What's the solution?--D. M., Providence, Rhode Island.
In a scene from Sam Peckinpah's movie "The Wild Bunch," the bunch--a ruthless gang of misfits--is gathered around a campfire after a busy day. They've robbed a bank and killed most of a town while escaping, only to discover that the blood bath had been committed not for the gold they thought they'd stolen but for a worthless bag of washers. Passing a bottle around, they talk about what's to become of them. William Holden, the leader, says to Ernest Borgnine, "This was going to be my last. I was going to pull back after this one." Borgnine replies, "Pull back to what?" This is the theme of Peckinpah's classic film: desperate men with a worn-out way of living locked in a doomed and brutal struggle against a new order.
We were out front on our porch, the Kuliks, my wife, Angela, and I, when Sarah Standish returned that Saturday morning. Angela had just put the baby in to nap, we were all having an early drink, Joe Kulik was telling a joke. In the middle of the joke, we saw something across the street catch Jeannie Kulik's eye.
Harvard. Brick sidewalks. Old cemeteries. Black picket fences. Traffic jams. Granite. Money. Umbrellas. Two Halloween pumpkins on a Victorian porch. John Kenneth Galbraith reading the paper while getting a shoe shine at the valeteria. Paul Revere. Longfellow. Freaks with beards in country overalls. Professors with ties and raincoats, hair short and gray. Political posters. Student centers. Memorial plaques. Bicyclists wearing safety vests of Day-Glo orange. A lighted window. A face bent over a book.
If you got the idea from Bonnie and Clyde that the life of an outlaw in the Thirties was a rip-roaring game of cops and robbers, the just-released film Boxcar Bertha, starring Barbara Hershey and David Carradine, should set you straight. The story of a legendary woman train heister who terrorized the South Central United States, Bertha depicts the bitter struggle between labor organizers and the railroad companies that oppressed employees with threats of lockouts and withheld wages. "I think the movie's more real than Bonnie and Clyde," says Carradine, who portrays Bertha's cohort and lover, Big Bill Shelley. "The people aren't romantic; they're just lowly workers fighting a corporate tyrant."
No, that's not Dick Butkus; it's artist Roy Carruthers' fanciful rendering of a rather substantial fellow in a black brushed-cotton single-breasted two-button jacket with notched lapels and patch pockets, $125, that's worn with a multicolor striped silk shirt with long-pointed collar and two-button cuffs, $65, both by Jackie Rogers; and a pair of natural-color brushed-cotton jeans with Western pockets and straight legs, by New Man for Jackie Rogers, $25. Real tough!
Television has been made manageable in the past ten years or so. What we're fed from the box are rarely live events, only yards of tape with all the true, imperfect moments clinically eliminated. But before TV was given over to marketers and technicians, it aroused in us a sense of wonder. It was this sense that fed the imagination of the first, and still the only, comic genius of the medium, Ernie Kovacs. His recognition of television's limitless potential to fool, compel--even unnerve--an audience was the key to his humor. Kovacs' competition performed club acts before a camera or, like Red Skelton, Lucille Ball and Sid Caesar, merchandised continuing characterizations. Henny Youngman brayed, "Take my wife, young man," while George Burns and Groucho Marx leaned on cigars, straight ladies and even used a drop-down duck for their punch lines.
In the Community of Girls and the Commerce of Culture
In 1956 I wrote a novel, The Man Who Was Not With It, destined, of course, to change the world and put my picture on the five-cent stamp. I had made the real unreal and the unreal real. Amid the Eisenhower doldrums and the new beatnik mongering of self, I committed an act of magic--drawing the meaning of life out of the jabber of those carnival wildballs I loved in my adolescence and still love. Well, it got some good reviews and some bad ones. First I suffered the paranoia of I Wrote a Book disease, and then the thought: Is this all? Is this what it's about? I wrote a book and it was published and it speaks to some and not to others. Is that all there is?
For the first time in years, I met a man I shall here call Morris Rich aboard a yacht that I am afraid I must call the Happy Ness moored in Hudson Harbor off 79th Street in New York. The boat was one of those fat floating fiberglass apartments that somehow make me feel both envious and contemptuous at the same time. Her name, the like of which is dismally common around marinas these days, did not increase my admiration for her owner, a man whom I shall call Carl Ness to conform with the change I have had to make in his boat's name. He was a guy with an ugly but luxurious $200,000 vessel cutely named after himself and for business reasons I had to go to a party he was giving aboard. The boat basin is beautiful from a distance when many handsome craft are moored there, but ordinarily I do not like to go near it. The Hudson River is, to put it most mildly, unclean there. Perhaps because of indecision about plans for marinas in the city, the place has not been improved much over the decades and somehow retains most of the inconveniences with few of the charms that it had 40 years ago. The wash from large ships often sets yachts rolling against wharves in an unnerving way. Electrical connections and water supplies are uncertain. The outraged complaints of yachtsmen are turned comic by the rows of ragged black children and ancient paupers of all colors who stand at the rail of the adjacent park and solemnly stare at the 100-ton toys gleaming in the sun. The atmosphere of the place never cheers me up much.
It's the last half of the ninth in a crucial Mets-Cubs game, with the Mets leading three to two. Don Kessinger is on second and Billy Williams is set at the plate. Suddenly, as Mets pitcher Gary Gentry releases a change-up, Kessinger is streaking for third. In the stands, other camera buffs are desperately juggling lenses and camera bodies in a vain effort to get a close-up of the play. You, however, have already rotated your zoom to bring in a crisp telephoto image of the action and, just as Kessinger dives into third, you snap the shutter. It's a close call. The umpire says Kessinger is out and the Cub fans howl. Among the loudest are those fellow photographers who neither saw the play nor got the shot. But you did; and when you see the photo a few days later, you find you have a perfectly composed, in-focus telephoto close-up of the play and, sure enough, the umpire called it right. But zoom lenses are for the pros, you say. They're too complicated. They cost a small fortune--and don't you need a tripod to use one? Not so. First, the manufacturing of a precision zoom is very complex, but operating the lens couldn't be simpler. All you do is attach (concluded on page 179) Zoom!(continued from page 101) the zoom to your single-lens reflex camera, sight through the view finder, rotate the zoom's knurled ring (on some models you slide the zoom's barrel as you would a trombone) to the desired degree of closeup and press the shutter button.
Five o'clock on a late-summer afternoon, a warm hazy day with only a faint cloud line at the distant horizon hovering over the low Tennessee mountains sloping toward flatness to the west, and the plane--a 727 tri-jet--at 28,000 feet approaching the Tennessee River Valley on a south-southwestern heading from Kennedy in New York to New Orleans, with the sun quartering in on the copilot, sinking fast.
An Elderly Woman with a lined face asks where she can find "some nuts without salt in 'em." A middle-aged lady wonders about organic beef. "It's not raised with hormones," explains the girl at the counter, "like stilbestrol, which is used to fatten up beef for economic reasons and is really a bummer. It throws your body chemistry out of whack and it's known to cause cancer." A couple of young kids are waiting to buy some licorice, and one says, "You sound just like my aunt; she used to run a health-food store." After they leave, the girl remarks that it's been a slow afternoon: "At least there haven't been any of the usual daily tragedies. Have you ever tried to clean up after somebody drops a jar of honey?"
The secretary had spent her vacation camping with her boyfriend on the shore of an isolated lake. As she stepped out of the shower on the morning after her return, her roommate said, "My goodness, you're tan all over! Whatever have you been doing?"
Sid Gillman, one of pro football's great offensive tacticians, stood in the cool sunlight of a February morning on Los Angeles' Sunset Boulevard and reflected upon the current state of the art. Gillman, a man of mercurial emotions, only some weeks before had walked away in disgust from his job as head coach of the San Diego Chargers after a heated dispute with owner Eugene Klein. Now he was working for a television station, spending his spare time listening to classical music, tending a lush arboretum in his back yard and insisting he was through with football forever.
It had already happened in a few other places; but when it happened in Los Angeles, Larry cried for joy. First Michael Bloomfield, wearing a crushed-velvet bowling shirt and jeans, made his way out to the Troubadour mike.
An Early Christian Sect, the Neoplatonists, believed that the universe was a musically harmonious system, symbolized and made visible by light, which came directly from God. Architecturally applied, this concept gave their cathedrals an ethereal quality; the walls, instead of sealing off interior space, appeared to link it with infinity. A welcome throwback to Neoplatonism is this Long Island beach house designed and built by architect Earl Combs for Steve Ostrow, the 39-year-old proprietor of a chain of luxury health spas (one of which, the Continental--nicknamed The Tubs--has lately become one of Manhattan's most "in" night clubs). Don't be misled by the somewhat cloistered entrance (above); that's the boardwalk side. The other facade, facing the sea, is so open as to create a seemingly symbiotic relationship between the dwelling and its setting. That side of the house is almost entirely glass, in the form of tall panels and large sliding doors that enable Ostrow to open his place to the elements, and it embraces an outdoor dining area shaded by a sun screen. During the day, light streams in that side of the house, and through slits in the bedroom walls and portholes in the bathrooms and kitchen. The sea, reflected by mirrored doors in the kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms, is ever-present. And, just as the sea provides a sense of unlimited dimension, so does the interior of the house--which, like Oriental boxes carved one within the other, is an ingenious exercise in spatial economics. Reflectors, such as mirrors placed between study and dining room, subdivide and circulate the space. Each area seems to flow into the next, and the guest's eye is never trapped. When the bedroom blinds upstairs are open, you can see clear across the house, including the skylighted, coffered ceiling that overhangs the two-story living room, which is reflected below in the geometrics of the dining table, coffee table and built-in furniture. The general feeling of weightlessness is countered by the 14 square columns, which, in addition to providing support, house such essentials as wiring, plumbing and a four-speaker hi-fi system--thereby combining structural, aesthetic and utilitarian roles. Completed in August 1970 at a cost of $60,000, the house admirably fulfills the objectives of architect Combs: "On a fine site directly facing the beach and the ocean, to create an enclosed space that would look to and reflect the views of the beach and sea; to handle the very strong light and glare without losing the view and a sense of openness; to provide a plan that would balance and organize the interior space, while maintaining visual privacy and sound separation when desired; to utilize low-maintenance materials." A rather tall order; but the musicality of Combs's ingenious design transformed a relatively confined area into a piece of architectural wizardry--and one hell of a place to spend a weekend.
Few knew who Dwight Macdonald was. Along the winding road to Stevenson College at the University of California in Santa Cruz, a VW stops to pick up a bearded hitchhiker, his woman and a dog. The girl sits in the back with the dog. The boy sits up front, offers, "Hi, man," and the rest of a joint to the driver, who takes a toke and passes it over his head to the girl.
Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The name of the town is borrowed from the name of the river that winds through it. Sheboygan, an Algonquian word, means a passage connecting two bodies of water. It also means a hollow bone. When Sheboygan was a village, its inhabitants called it "the mouth." The Sheboygan River rises in the hills only a short portage away from Lake Winnebago and flows north and then bends eastward, and on the shore of Lake Michigan halfway up the Wisconsin coast at the river's mouth lies the city of Sheboygan. It is not a picturesque city, but it is located in a picturesque place. Kettle moraines, hills with kettle-shaped holes ground out between them by the Lake Michigan glacier, mark the land westward, and in the winter the river freezes like a miniature glacier to break at the shore line jaggedly into the huge unfrozen lake. Indians fished here and steamboats docked pioneers to settle the wilderness West. Yankees came to girdle the trees and grow corn. Germans came to escape religious and political persecution and settled and started dairy farming and built exercise halls. Serbs and Croats came to work in furniture factories and mills. Yugoslavs came, and Lithuanians and Luxemburgers and Russian Jews. Fourierist utopians such as those who founded New England's Brook Farm came and established a short-lived socialist colony, a phalanx, but their crops failed and reluctantly they moved on.
Beautiful women are heading for Munich today much as they journeyed to Hollywood during its golden era. Unlike their California predecessors, however, the girls of Munich aren't seeking fame or wealth; they simply want to be part of the action. Contemplating this state of affairs, a city official recently observed, with a mixture of pride and exasperation: "Every venturesome girl, once she's sampled Katmandu, New York, Tangier, Rome and Hong Kong, now decides to try Munich--at least for a while."
If You Had Happened to be a muscular, headstrong young Provençal nobleman in the year 1248, nothing would have appealed to you more than the thought of cutting off Saracen heads in Egypt. Thus, if your name had been Vicomte Jean de Puysaurin, you would have been preparing eagerly to sail with King Louis IX. on his crusade. Among the happy visions of battle against the infidels, only one small, persistent idea would remain to trouble your mind.
One of the civil rights outrages of our century is the way the rich have been systematically--one almost believes deliberately--excluded from public institutions called prisons. Prisons are social necessities. They are built at taxpayer expense with the affluent sometimes contributing the larger share toward their construction and maintenance. Yet white-collar criminals are rarely allowed admittance and then only for the briefest of intervals.
In 1962, Life magazine published a list of the 100 most important young men in America. They were mostly scientists--prodigies with computer minds whose genius would lift our technology and maintain it at a reassuringly advanced level. One of them was Pat Flanagan, a 17-year-old Texan who'd just invented something he called a "neurophone," which, he claimed, "transmits electrical messages--identical to those sounds generate--directly to the brain," allowing totally deaf people to hear. Ten years after this publicity, Flanagan's elfin face has aged almost imperceptibly and there remains a vestige of Texas in his voice, although he's lived in California for the past few years. Otherwise, much has changed. During the decade he's gotten married, picked up a Ph.D., patented his neurophone, established a deaf children's clinic, founded Laser Sound Systems, his manufacturing outlet, and, working in his cluttered office lab, has been issued 200 more patents. One went for a device he calls the Stereo Conference Recording System, a machine "that can separate sounds in a room full of people so that, if more than one person talks at once, a stenographer can replay the tape and transcribe every voice, one at a time." He's also invented another sound system that allows the human voice to be recorded at a speed 200 times faster than normal with absolute clarity; and he was retained by the Navy as a consultant in the field of communication between humans and dolphins. Flanagan is currently developing a theory that "the pyramid shape generates a peculiar kind of energy because it has five corners. I call it biocosmic energy and I believe it delays organic decomposition. This means that our bodies would age more slowly inside a pyramid." He isn't disturbed that all this sounds slightly incredible: "Lots of inventors have been scoffed at"--many, of course, with good reason. But Flanagan's impressive track record suggests that the wisest attitude should be one of patience rather than skepticism.
When those Vietnam veterans, many maimed and crippled, threw their medals onto the Capitol steps in April 1971, they struck a responsive chord in a lot of Americans who'd been unmoved by previous protests. Veteran David Rabe didn't march in Washington, because that wasn't his way of raising the public consciousness. But the next month, at Joe Papp's Public Theater, he gave New Yorkers and equally gut-wrenching view of the war in his play The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, about a green kid who learns some bitter lessons in Vietnam. Five months later, Rabe stirred them again when Sticks and Bones also came to Papp's stage. The poignant drama of a blind vet's homecoming, it won him a Tony Award as best play of the 1971 season. Completing what he calls this "thematic trilogy" is a "more metaphysical" war play, The Orphan, which Papp will produce early next year. It would be easy to label Rabe's work antiwar--too easy; for, unlike most message plays, his convey deeply felt emotions, mostly pain. The 32-year-old dramatist, who served with a hospital support unit at Long Binh in 1966, doesn't know where that pain comes from, but, he says, "It can't be just the war." Yet nothing in his background would seem a source of suffering. Home to Rabe was Dubuque, Iowa, where his schooling was Catholic. He wanted to play pro football but settled for playwrighting at Loras College in Dubuque and later at Villanova in Philadelphia, where he now teaches. While in Vietnam, however, he found writing impossible. "I tried, but it resulted in a double vision that made everything too intense. If I hadn't been there, though, I wouldn't have written the plays later." Nor would he be writing now a novel on Vietnam, "Maybe the war's all I can write well about," Rabe says. But he's starting to concentrate on other things, such as the production of his "leaving-home" play called Burning. Though he'll never be able to leave Vietnam completely behind, he says, "Finally, I'm more here than there."
Early One Spring morning in 1971, John Prine's music was discovered by a couple of guys who could really help him. Prine had finished his weekend set at Chicago's Earl of Old Town and was napping under a table when his friend and fellow musician Steve Goodman arrived with Kris Kristofferson and Paul Anka. Wake up and sing, Goodman told Prine. And a star was born. Anka is now his manager and Kristofferson sings his songs. Not bad for someone who's been singing professionally only since 1970; until last summer, he was also a mailman. Prine, who is 25 and married, grew up in Maywood, Illinois, but his family roots are in Kentucky and country music has always been a part of his life. The songs he's been writing since he was 14 are stories, laced with humor, about people trying to make it. There's no moralizing, though. Prine explains, "I want to give the audience a feeling more than a message, by trying to look through someone else's eyes." It works. Among his characters are Donald, a lonely Pfc, and Lydia, who "hid her thoughts like a cat behind her small eyes sunk deep in her fat." Donald and Lydia make love--in their dreams--and the song, according to Prine, is "a little bit about masturbation--but not a lot." Another number is ironically dedicated to the Reverend Carl McIntire; Your Flag Decal Won't Get You into Heaven Anymore, he writes, because it's "already overcrowded from your dirty little war." His best-known song, Sam Stone, is about a Vietnam vet who comes home "with a Purple Heart and a monkey on his back.... There's a hole in Daddy's arm where all the money goes." Songs about illegitimate babies, old people and marijuana fill out Prine's first album. This summer brought another record and some prestigious club dates and festivals. Although recognition has come quickly, Prine's lyrics remain simple: "Blow up your TV, throw away your paper, go to the country, build you a home, plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches, try and find Jesus, on your own." Now go find Prine on your own.