Sixteen Years Ago Albert Brooks was dubbed "the funniest white man in America." He lived. In fact, he got funnier. His most recent film, Mother (co-starring Debbie Reynolds), broadened a fan base spoiled by such sharply turned gems as Defending Your Life and Lost in America. This month the world is treated to an unprecedented stream of Brooksian humor: a new movie, The Muse (the sixth film he's directed in 20 years), and a feature-length Playboy Interview by Bill Zehme. What a wealth of nest eggs! Brooks on love: "A woman is like a diving board. You'll only find her at one end of the pool." He even remembers what he would have said had he been named best supporting actor for Broadcast News--and we have it.
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Playboy (ISSN 0032-1478), August 1999, Volume 46, Number 8, Published monthly by Playboy, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Subscriptions: U.S., $29.97 for 12 issues Canada, $43.97 for 12 issues. All other foreign, $45 U.S. currency only, for new and renewal orders and change of address, send to Playboy subscriptions, P.O. Box 2007, Harlan, Iowa 51537-4007. Please allow 6-8 weeks for processing. For change of address, send new and old addresses and allow 45 days for change. Postmaster: send form 3579 to Playboy, P.O. Box 2007, Harlan, Iowa 51537-4007. Advertising: New York: 730 Fifth Avenue. New York 10019 (212-261-5000); Chicago: 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago 60611 (312-751-8000); West Coast: SD Media, 2001 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 200, Santa Monica, CA 90403 (310-264-7575); Southeast: Coleman & Bentz, Inc., 4651 Roswell Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30342 (404-256-3800); Boston: Northeast Media Sales, 8 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston 02109 (617-973-5050). For Subscription Inquiries, Call 800-999-4438.
As alternative country goes, both Wilco's Summer Teeth (Reprise) and Old 97's Fight Songs (Elektra) will be sure to elicit howls of outrage from steel-guitar loyalists. Both are long enough on tune to satisfy a rock-and-roller's need to hum along. Old 97's guitar-hooked lyrics are a surer means to good songs than the piano-dominated pop that Wilco's Jeff Tweedy uses so skillfully. Try Oppenheimer, the name of the street where the 97's Rhett Miller falls in love, or 19, about being too young to know just how good you're getting it.
During the nineties country music conquered the world but almost lost its soul. Like the blues, country used to be emotionally raw music that reflected the real lives of working class and rural people. But when Nashville adopted the worst aspects of corporate rock (including overpolished production and sentimentality), it bleached the honk out of America's roots music. Surprisingly, it was Nashville outsider Dwight Yoakam who most successfully updated country's sound over the past decade while remaining true to its populist ideals. A disciple of the Bakersfield school of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, Yoakam was one of the few original voices to achieve mainstream success without compromising his individuality. Last Chance for a Thousand Years: Dwight Yoakam's Greatest Hits From the Nineties (Reprise) reveals an artist who balances tradition with innovation. He rocked his ass off with a little help from guitarist Pete Anderson on Fast as You and put the twang back into Queen's Crazy Little Thing Called Love--one of three new tracks in this collection. And with A Thousand Miles From Nowhere, Yoakam writes one of the most exhilarating hooks to hit country radio in decades. If Nashville's moguls want to reverse country's sagging sales and bland musical output, this collection is the place to start.
Every Saturday night in the southwestern Virginia town of Hiltons, the Carter Family Fold takes place. Electric instruments are not allowed. Profanity is prohibited and the past is acknowledged. That's the spirit that drives Press On (Risk), a homespun June Carter Cash autobiography through song. Cash is the daughter of country icon Mother Maybelle Carter. And her first solo project in 25 years features sidemen such as husband Johnny Cash and former sons-in-law Rodney Crowell and Marty Stuart. Press On includes a deliberate gospel cover of the Carter Family classic Will the Circle Be Unbroken, while Johnny and June duet on the calling-me-home ballad Far Side Banks of Jordan. Mother Maybelle would be proud.
By neither getting too famous nor giving up for a quarter century, low-life chronicler Tom Waits has evolved into a role model for young alt-rockers who hope someday to be old alt-rockers. So after checkered careers on two major labels--the second summed up nicely on last year's Beautiful Maladies--Waits took the logical step: He signed on with the punk indie label Epitaph. Yet Mule Variations, his first new music in six years, is the least confrontational album he's released since his 1973 debut. It's surprisingly tender, adding more blues to the clanging cabaret-rock he invented in the Eighties. Waits is as sardonic as ever on Big in Japan, Eyeball Kid and What's He Building? But elsewhere it's as if his love for his wife and collaborator Kathleen Brennan has taken over his music. This adds a welcome dimension to his weirdness. Here's hoping young alt-rockers get the point.
Motörhead's Everything Louder Than Everyone Else (BMG), a live double album, captures the essence of the band about as well as anything they've recorded in their 24-year existence. Funny, humane and absolutely terrifying, this is death metal at its most invigorating.
Social Distortion made a transition from punk to roots rock more skillfully and naturally than any other band I can think of. The key was leader Mike Ness' whispered growl and his fearless lyrics. Ness' debut solo album, Cheating at Solitaire (Time Bomb), doesn't alter the format much. The rhythms still range from controlled punk slams to Johnny Cash shuffles. Even the jazz influence that shows up on Misery Loves Company and Crime Don't Pay comes from the Peter Gunn school. What makes the album different is the degree to which Ness exposes himself. Some of his greatest songs allude to his struggles with drugs, which he sings about without a pinch of self-pity. He sings You Win Again, with the Hank Williams line "Just trustin' you was my great sin." Dope Fiend Blues is an honest and unflinching portrait of what it means to struggle with addiction. "I sold my soul to the devil and then I stole it back," Ness says. You might think that means Cheating is about survival, but that's not right. It's about living as an honorable person.
Eric Benét finds himself caught between two approaches to R&B at the millennium. He's not a sample-driven, hip-hop influenced new jack man like R. Kelly, nor is he a retro soul brother like D'Angelo or Maxwell. On his second album, A Day in the Life (Warner Bros.), Benét works hard to polish his neo-soul credentials. There's a duet with the gifted Me'Shell Ndegéocello, Ghetto Girl. There's an effective, though unlikely, cover of Dust in the Wind, a Seventies soft-rock standard by Kansas. On these and a few other songs, Benét positions himself as an artist outside the mainstream. But despite that, Benét still makes many concessions to the middle-of-the-road soul music he's trying to avoid. Although he has a warm, comfortable voice and heartthrob looks, he rarely lights a fire under the material.
Because everything is a hybrid these days, I can't make any revolutionary claims for the cowboy rumba on Cowboy Rumba (Palm Pictures) by Ned Sublette. But he's highly entertaining and original. A native of Lubbock, Texas, Sublette thinks the point of music is joy, as did fellow Lubbock native Buddy Holly. Sublette also has a promiscuous love of many musical forms, confining himself here to a variety of Caribbean (especially Cuban) and South American rhythms. He tells stories about drinking and cheating, in the country tradition. Imagine George Jones singing over the Desi Arnaz band. The album opens with an inspired joke, a merengue rendition of Ghost Riders in the Sky that also works as a startling reinterpretation of a familiar melody. Sublette has also breathed new life into that Buddy Holly warhorse Not Fade Away.
Ex--Police guitarist Andy Summers is one of the few rock musicians with the taste and balls to attempt an entire album of jazz legend Thelonious Monk's tunes. And he's probably the only one with the skill to pull it off. On Green Chimneys (BMG) Summers' tart playing captures the essence of Monk's knotty sophistication and humor. The album's obvious highlight is Summers' first collaboration in over a decade with fellow Monk devotee and Police front man Sting. Sting's exquisite vocals on Round Midnight will only intensify demands for a Police reunion.
The latest CD from veteran trumpeter Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy is titled The Odyssey of Funk and Popular Music (Atlantic). And he means it. This is avant jazz that has a strip club sense of fun, and a sense of humor that might crack up George Clinton. Do you know of another serious musician with the nerve to cover the Spice Girls and Marilyn Manson, or to turn The Birth of the Blues into a surreal burlesque house exercise? You certainly don't know one who also has the compassion for Notorious Thugs, a tribute to the Notorious B.I.G. Bowie is such a serious jazz artist that he doesn't need to deny his humanity.
James Keelaghan writes narrative lyrics and fuses folk and pop as well as anybody around, and his big folkie voice is a sweet successor to fellow Canadians Ian Tyson and Neil Young. Road (High Tone) has two great story songs, Number 37 and My Old Man, and two terrific meditations on mortality, Message to the Future and Who Dies?
Without a lot of hype until Lauryn Hill won all those Grammys, Ruffhouse Records has been one of the decade's best labels. Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, it's home to a variety of talents from hip-hop to pop. On Ruffhouse's Greatest Hits (Columbia), musicians such as Kriss Kross, Cypress Hill, the Fugees and Wyclef Jean have kept this inventive indie from being swallowed by the giants.
You just spent $4000 on a fully loaded notebook computer. Instead of carrying it in a boring bag like every other corporate drone, consider lugging your laptop in one of these multipurpose carriers. Traveler's Briefcase ($750 to $1050): This is the closest thing we've found to a bespoke bag. Made of lightweight, hand-finished cowhide in textured walnut or milled black, the oversize (22-inch) Litigation model is an all-in-one briefcase, computer carrier and overnight bag. Dividers help organize a suit, shirts, laptop, back-up drive and power supplies. LapDog ($140): Leave it to an architect to design a sleek carrying case that unfolds into a mobile workstation. Made of coated ballistic nylon, the LapDog has two zippered saddlebags that drape across your legs or an airline tray. Tumi Safecase ($250--$575): Roomy enough to hold a computer, a cell phone, files and even lunch, this computer case is made of ballistic nylon or leather and features a bonus: a patented sling suspension that protects your computer by preventing it from touching the bottom of the bag. Kipling Provider ($74): Guys who prefer to go casual should check out Kipling's Hacker line of backpacks. Our favorite model, the Provider, comes in yellow, brown or black and is spacious enough to go from home to office to the gym. It even has a pocket to hold your CD-ROMs.
It's a couch spud's dream come true: a television picture so clear you can sit with your nose pressed to the screen and still not detect flaws in the image. That's the promise of high-definition television. The reality: The digital sets now on sale in the U.S. are useful only in the 30 cities where HD programming is available. While we wait for broadcasters to get their acts together, a company called Loewe is offering an excellent option: TVs optimized for satellite and DVD movies that also work magic with standard broadcasts. Never heard of Loewe? That's because the European television maker just recently entered the States with an impressive line of digital TVs. At a time when most U.S. television makers are just introducing their first digital sets, Loewe is hitting specialty electronics stores with its sixth-generation models. As with many early digital TVs, Loewes make use of standard-definition technology, which means the picture is twice as good as what you get now but still isn't true high definition. It also means the 30- to 36-inch direct-view sets are a fraction of the cost of an HDTV (between $3800 and $5000, compared with a starting price of about $10,000 for HDTV). To achieve the enhanced picture quality, the digital circuitry in Loewes processes images at double the standard speed. That eliminates the black scanning lines you ordinarily see at close range and gives even conventional broadcasts filmlike purity. The TVs also digitize audio tracks in order to enhance channel separation and create surround-sound effects from stereo sources. Loewe's sets feature both component and S-video jacks for high-end video sources (including a high-definition converter box), as well as inputs for connecting a computer. And because they are optimized for movie viewing, the sets perform a convenient function: They recognize letterboxed DVDs and adjust the image to fill the screen. Our pick: the Loewe Planus, a 30-inch wide-screen TV with a platinum finish. The price: $4400.
Hunting and pecking on the tiny keyboards of Windows CE computers is irritating, to say the least. But a recent entry, Sharp's Mobilon TriPad, is a lot more user-friendly--on several fronts. The TriPad's keyboard is roomier than most. And, thanks to a color display that's bigger (just under ten inches), it's easier to read what's on the screen. As you can see from the photo, the TriPad also looks sharp. Suspended on futuristic-looking arms, the color display can be adjusted three ways (hence, the name). You can position it like a conventional notebook when you're working, at an easel angle for presentations or flat over the keyboard for tablet-style computing. It incorporates touchscreen technology, allowing you to launch software with a pen tap. Tech specs include 16 megabytes of RAM, a 33.6 kbps modem, cable connections for synchronizing files with a desktop computer and a Type II PC Card slot. the price: about $1000.
Any Clark Kent with a game controller can leap tall buildings in a single bound in Superman, a video game based on the popular animated cartoon series. In classic Superman fashion, the game allows aspiring men of steel to soar through the city and save Metropolis locals Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen from the villainous Lex Luthor and his legion of robots. Of course, you possess all of the superhero's special powers, including his famous freezing breath, heat vision and X-ray vision. Unfortunately, the last won't work on Lois Lane's clothes. We tried. (By Titus Software, for Nintendo 64 and PlayStation, later this year.)
George Lucas made fans wait 16 years to see the new episode of his Star Wars saga. But the films that inspired Star Wars kept their fans in suspense for only a week at a time. Those Saturday matinee serials from the Thirties, Forties and Fifties not only fueled Star Wars but also Lucas' and Steven Spielberg's other enduring creation, Indiana Jones.
Writer Hanif Kureishi has created a uniquely personal body of work, in print and on-screen (My Beautiful Laundrette, 'Sammy and Rosie Get Laid). The latest adaptation of his work, My Son the Fanatic (Miramax), is cut from the same cloth. Om Puri plays a hearty Pakistani taxi driver who has convinced himself that he lives a good life in England. So why is his wife so morose and his son turning against him? Puri finds escape and a kind of fulfillment in his relationship with a young prostitute (Rachel Griffiths), toward whom he feels both open and protective. His own conflicted feelings emerge as he goes about the details of setting up a sex party for visiting businessman Stellan Skarsgård. Kureishi describes this as "a romantic film with ideological edges." That's as good a description as any, but points should also go to director Udayan Prasad for bringing it to life so realistically. [rating]3 bunnies[/rating]
James Cromwell had to work 35 years to become an overnight sensation, but playing Farmer Hoggett in Babe turned everything around for this dedicated actor. He hasn't stopped working since, appearing in such films as Star Trek: First Contact, The People vs. Larry Flynt, LA Confidential and The General's Daughter.
"My favorite movie of the year was Life Is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni," says Emmy winner Camryn Manheim of ABC's The Practice. "It made me appreciate my life more, every bit of it. And I like Happiness because it shows a kind of humanity we've never seen before. While I prefer to perform in dramas, I like to watch both dramas and comedies. Harold and Maude, for example, is an amazing film. Unfortunately, Cat Stevens has joined the ranks of some strange people, but I remember his music in that movie as being really good."
"Sweet Baby" James Taylor and Beach Boy Dennis Wilson cruise the country in a 1955 Chevy, racing all comers in Two-Lane Blacktop (1971). The film, which is destined for cult status, is coming to video for the first time this fall. Mom always said stick to what you do best; some singers never learn.
It's fantastic, but you may want to wait. That sums up the DVD release of The Last Emperor (Artisan, $30), Bernardo Bertolucci's 1987 Oscar-hoarding biography of Pu Yi (John Lone). The 160-minute American cut of the film took home nine statuettes, including ones for best picture and director, plus cinematography (by Vittorio Storaro), art direction and costume design. In the 218-minute director's cut DVD, all these facets of the film shine brighter--enhanced considerably by context. In addition to fleshing out Lone's role and that of Peter O'Toole as Pu Yi's English tutor, the longer version flows better, illuminating both the intricate politics and the fascinating personalities. (Who would believe a two-hour-and-40-minute movie could actually be improved by an additional 58 minutes?) Still, for this version, Bertolucci and Storaro darkened some scenes from the American release to better mirror Pu Yi's troubled spirits. That means either (a) lights out in the viewing room, especially if your monitor is anything less than superb, or (b) wait for the unannounced bur inevitable special edition, with digital remastering that will likely improve contrast in those scenes.
This summer, Hollywood transported millions of theatergoers to another galaxy with the latest Star Wars blockbuster. But a flight of fancy never can compare to the real thing. Full Moon (Knopf) by Michael Light takes you to the moon and back in 129 mesmerizing NASA photographs. This coffee-table book commemorates the monumental journeys as seen through the eyes of the Apollo astronauts who made the voyages 30 years ago. You'll experience liftoff, a walk in space, the lunar landing and splashdown. And the best part is that you feel as though you are there.
Vacation. The Go-Go's sang about it. Chevy Chase staked his career on it. These days, even the Rugrats get one. If you're one of millions of Americans who will partake this summer, you should raise a glass to National Cash Register president John Patterson. He was the first corporate honcho to recognize the value of time off, granting a week's paid leave in 1913 to employees who had 20 years of service. This is the sort of thing you'll learn if you ditch that beach novel in favor of Cindy Aron's Working at Play: A History of Vacations in the United States (Oxford). Quoting from travel diaries and news accounts, Aron chronicles the evolution of the vacation from the exclusive privilege of the 19th century leisured class to the entitlement of the 20th century middle class. For many people, she says, earning a vacation was not just an economic struggle, but a struggle of conscience. With their work ethic shaped by Puritan doctrine, many Americans associated leisure with idleness. Aron suggests that for those who go on vacation armed with laptops and fax machines, this conflict may still be at work. It's curious, thoughtful stuff, but Aron is guilty of working a bit too hard herself.
You Can Get What You Want: Two incredible books recently arrived at our offices. Rolling Stone Ron Wood's Wood on Canvas (Genesis) is an autographed limited edition of his master portrait prints. His commentary and reminiscences accompany drawings of Mick, Keith and Charlie--as well as Dylan, Hendrix, Lennon and Keith Moon, among others. The beautifully bound book comes with a four-track CD on which Ronnie is joined by Dylan, the Edge, Bobby Womack and Ian McLagan. It's not cheap ($325). Call the Govinda Gallery at 800-775-1111 for more information. Hiro came to New York in the Fifties to work with Richard Avedon and as a staff photographer for Harper's Bazaar. Now Avedon has edited Hiro (Bulfinch), a retrospective of Hiro's 40-year career. When Hiro shot the Stones in the Seventies, Ron Wood was a newcomer. Hiro was already a pro.
Jan Harold Brunvand's Too Good to Be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends (Norton) ought to be required reading for anyone who thought Kurt Vonnegut's MIT graduation speech was authentic. That infamous ode to sunscreen has since been correctly attributed--and is now a hit pop song. It's also a sinning example of an urban legend--something writer Calvin Trillin defined as "modern folktales that usually carry the sniff of the apocryphal and the embellished." Heard the one about the baby alligators that were flushed into the New York City sewer system? How about the woman who tried to dry her pet in the microwave? Surely everyone has heard of Richard Gere's gerbils. These stories and others are exposed as fiction. Brunvand, a University of Utah folklorist, has collected hundreds of such tales in five previous volumes. In this one, he traces more with a collector's attention to detail. He also has a sharp eye for the kind of inconsistencies that prove a story bogus. Rest assured that there is no ring of New Orleans thieves that preys on drunks and steals their kidneys. Nor is there a $250 cookie recipe from Neiman Marcus. Brunvand's investigations are often as interesting as the stories. He traces the infamous Kentucky Fried Rat legend to a biblical parable. A baby-eating dog story, circulating on the Net, evolved from medieval legend. Occasionally, Brunvand discovers that a story is true--there really was a sick boy in England named Craig Shergold who hoped to break the world's record for the most get-well cards received (he did, and subsequently recovered). Before e-mail became the vehicle of choice, many urban legends were printed as letters to Ann Landers and in Reader's Digest. Even today, they are regularly incorporated into movies, books and sitcoms. Urban legends persist, argues Brunvand, because people can't resist a good story. Read this book and you'll agree.
If you're like a lot of men, you do what you can to stay in decent physical shape, but feel powerless when it comes to improving your mental fitness. Either your synapses are firing, or they're not. Here's some news: Mental health experts believe you have a lot more control over your gray matter than you think. "We used to assume that the brain was hardwired, like a computer, and that over time it would deteriorate," says Dr. Robert Goldman, author of Brain Fitness: Anti-Aging Strategies for Achieving Super Mind Power. "What we know today is that you can actually make the brain stronger with training." Dr. Goldman and others don't promise miracles. If you're mathematically challenged now, you're not likely to become a rocket scientist any time soon. And as you age, you still may find it more difficult to recall names and places. But if you eat properly, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and push yourself to think in new and different ways, you can markedly boost your brain power from one day to the next as well as over the long haul.
Forget Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (and any other shooters). They may be the young men who shot and mortally wounded Columbine High School's teacher and basketball coach David Sanders (as well as 12 students). But hundreds of other students unwittingly--and through no fault of their own--contributed to Sanders' death. How? By having no idea what to do under fire and running around like the innocent and untrained civilians they were, instead of hitting the deck and getting out of the line of fire. Coach Sanders behaved heroically that day, running through the school yelling at students to get down on the ground so they would be less of a target.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." That's the First Amendment. Simple, right? Not always. Consider each of the following free speech cases. After you cast your vote, we'll tell you what the courts decided.
Most Americans are surprised to find out that vibrators have a history. Others may be dismayed when they learn that vibrators are making history. Rachel Maines, author of The Technology of Orgasm: Hysteria, the Vibrator and Women's Sexual Satisfaction, chronicles this history and history-in-the-making in her witty and vivid book about America's most prevalent sex toy.
Albert Brooks, it has been said, is the funniest white man in America. Actually, someone said that right here, in this magazine, 16 years ago--back when Richard Pryor was working more. Two years ago, Entertainment Weekly called Albert Brooks the fifth funniest living person--after Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne and Jim Carrey, all of whom are white and would certainly have voted Albert Brooks ahead of them. Comedians, in fact, revere him in outsize fashion. David Letterman has said: "He's above all of us." Steve Martin has said: "He is someone you respect and fear at the same time, because of his brilliance." Such fear is justified. Carrie Fisher was once trapped for a weekend on a boat with Brooks and reported: "He never slept and he was never not funny, and I was scared that he'd follow me everywhere and keep me laughing until I got physically ill and died." Brooks himself has admitted, "My biggest fear is of being too funny and murdering people by making them cough and then winding up in a lawsuit."
In the throes of the most destructive love affair of her life, with the composer Gregor Wodicki in the summer of 1975, Adriana Kaplan frequently wanted to die, washing down prescription Benzedrines with vodka in some desolate beautiful place (the Catskills, possibly), yet Adriana was never so distraught as to wish to be dead in any permanent way.
Naturally, we're as addicted to Tomb Raider as anyone, and were eager to get to know this real-life incarnation of the game's heroine. Lara Croft. Meet British model Nell McAndrew, who has been Croft's stand-in at trade shows and fan gatherings. Nell and Lara share a taste for action, champagne and hot chocolate. But at home with Mum and Dad, Nell hankers after a "proper Sunday beef roast with Yorkshire pudding." We suppose you can take the girl out of Yorkshire, but you can't--oh, never mind.
Early in 1990, in my cottage in a little English village 60 miles north of London, the phone rang. The man on the phone, Tony Frewin, introduced himself as Stanley Kubrick's assistant and said that Stanley wished to talk to me. Why me? It transpired that Tony had phoned various science fiction book dealers to ask who they rated as a writer with lots of bright ideas. Knbrick, I was to discover, had a project for a science fiction movie to be called Al (for Artificial Intelligence). The inspiration was a brief story by British author Brian Aldiss, first published in a special issue of Harper's Bazaar in 1969, shortly after I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey in a cramped Tokyo cinema, much envying the sheer spaciousness of Kubrick's vision of the future.
This is the scenario the labels hate. First you install a free MP3 (MPEG 1 Layer 3, if you really want to know) ripper, encoder and player. Then you pop the new Jamiroquai CD, Synkronized, into your CD-ROM player, copy a tune to your hard drive and e-mail it to your friend in the next cubicle. She uses a CDR unit to burn it onto a CD. Or she shoots it through a short cable into a Diamond Multimedia Rio PMP300 (we call it the pimp 300) and walks on down the hall. The Walkman-like Rio PMP300 lets her play up to 60 minutes' worth of downloads in a portable machine the size of a deck of cards. She can also get free song files from anyone, anonymously, in the space of about 30 minutes. Illegal? Perhaps. But what if you made her a tape, or loaned her the CD for a week until she was sick of it?
His rule had always been simple," wrote biographer Carlos Baker: "To study what interested him and to have a damned good time doing it." Ernest Hemingway lived up to his legend. He wrote daring books. He tracked danger, whether it meant reporting in the thick of war or big-game hunting in Africa. There was something primal about him, yet he was so humane and genuine that he was comfortable anywhere, as at home in Idaho or the south of France as he was in Madrid or Venice. The lairs in which he lived and wrote became shrines: the Left Bank apartment in Paris, the homes in Key West and Cuba. Because he thrust himself with such fervor and brio into his writing, it's hard for us to separate his life from his work. We forget which fishing trips were his and which were Nick Adams' in Big Two-Hearted River, which fights were his and which were Harry Morgan's in To Have and Have Not and which affair was his and which was Frederic Henry's in A Farewell to Arms. His loyalties were as outsize as the man; his sacraments as particular. He wrote about the grand things in life but loved life's smaller essentials: a papa doble at El Floridita in Havana, the right fly on the right line, the typewriter he toted from capital to capital, the Montgomery martinis at Harry's Bar in Venice, the Pilar--his beloved fishing boat--rigged for marlin off Key West. In honor of the centenary of Papa's birth we've collected some emblems of his life and literature. A namesake fountain pen, safari jacket, cigar and even a line of new furniture are hallmarks of his immortality. He devoured life and left us with a legend and a body of work that helped define our times. It's no surprise that the man has come back into style as his century ends.
Originally, The Man Show was supposed to boost ABC's short list of bright, hip shows, joining Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect. Unfortunately, the executives at the Disney-owned network were appalled by the pilot--scantily clad women bouncing on trampolines, endless fart jokes--as well as by the gross and obscene language and visuals. ABC passed.
Rebecca Scott has the greatest laugh. It's a deep, rumbling guffaw that she generously serves up during most conversations--even when she's explaining, in all seriousness, that she's going to become a rock star. Amps, guitars, the whole nine yards. Just you wait. Listening to her, you begin to think it's not such a far-fetched notion that this Anna Nicole Smith look-alike in a black motorcycle jacket may someday headline Madison Square Garden. "I want to go onstage wearing leather pants, a little leather top and leather boots, with explosions and crazy lights behind me," she tells us with infectious conviction. "I want to rock!"
Do You Want to Make Money or Would You Rather Fool Around?
John D. Spooner
In the early Sixties I was being trained on Wall Street to be a stockbroker. Only Merrill Lynch had a formal training program in those days; everyone else seemed to believe in on-the-job training. Boardrooms were where all the brokers sat surrounded by customers, many of whom were regulars. The customers spent part of every day watching the ticker tape parade by on the wall and trading stocks and stories. Brokerage offices were like social clubs. Broker and client knew each other. A stockbroker was often a family counselor and friend. The clients would come into the boardrooms as they would a neighborhood bar like Cheers: a place to be social, a place to keep warm, a place where everybody knows your name.
Two British physicists recently discovered that it is mathematically possible to knot a tie 85 different ways. Nearly all are unwieldy and, most important, the four best ways had already been invented. But when it comes to patterns, the more choices the better. Here are your full-color options from the four corners of tieland. Print ties have a modern edge because the patterns are stamped onto the fabric. Stick with traditional designs but feel free to go wild with colors. The labels on the flavorful prints above are, from left to right, Ermenegildo Zegna ($120), Calvin Klein ($80), Donna Karan ($95), Valentino Cravatte ($105), Donna Karan ($95), Ermenegildo Zegna ($120) and Calvin Klein ($80). Wool ties are the neckwear equivalent of the sports coat. Cashmere ties are the most stylish of the breed, while plaids breathe country, and tweedy knits are beefy. Moving from left to right below we have a knitted tie by Donna Karan ($95), a cashmere herringbone by Joseph Abboud ($110), a wool houndstooth from Ralph Lauren ($65), a cashmere plaid by Ralph Lauren ($85), a tweed by Alfred Dunhill ($130), a knit by Robert Talbott ($105) and a herringbone by Mondo di Marco ($55). Woven ties are lush in feel and color. The pattern is actually woven into the fabric so the visual texture is complemented by the physical texture. The ties above make a bold four-in-hand knot. From left to right, the purple tie and the gold tie are both by Audrey Buckner ($95 each). Then comes a light gray by Robert Talbott ($105), a polka dot by Ralph Lauren ($50) and two designs in blue--the first is by Lanvin ($110), the second is by Mondo di Marco ($55). Striped ties abound at prep schools and university clubs, but the ties below are nothing like your dad's reps. When the traditional rep tie angle is used, the colors are brassy and up-to-date. Some designers have decided to play with the form even further by taking a chance with horizontal and vertical stripes. From left, the ties bear the labels of Robert Talbott ($85), Valentino Cravatte ($105), Mondo di Marco ($55), Donna Karan ($95), Paul Smith ($80), Audrey Buckner ($120) and Burberry ($85).
Golf is a game of converts, thousands of them. Nearly all resisted the game for one reason or another. It has too many rules, it has too many traditions, it's for old guys, it takes too long to play. All true. However. It takes just one shot at the right moment--a drive that carries a lake, an approach that backs up to within six feet of the cup--and then those who resisted, like the rest of us, are hooked. Ask golfers why they are so passionate and they'll say it is the competition. But golf is not about competing against someone else. Despite what Ken Venturi or Johnny Miller say on television, it's not about playing the course, either. The game reaches into the soul because it's about playing against personal expectations. It's about playing against our minds. How close a shot comes to fulfilling our needs and our desires determines how we feel about it. And the gap between our desires and reality is wide--even for the best golfer. We play on because for one surprising moment everything can be done right. Conditions are surveyed, the proper club is pulled and all the mechanics of the swing--learned in part from personal lessons and instructional videos and topped off with a tip from someone named Kirby--fall into place. It keeps us alive.
What is the most common mistake average golfers make? You may believe you think too much, swing too fast, grip too tight or follow no preshot routine. Or perhaps you think it's a poor setup, or you just try too damn hard. These may be valid to one degree or another, but these aren't the most common mistakes. The average golfer's most common error is that he fails to "swing the club head."
With few exceptions, the clubs we see in pro golf tournaments are available to the public. "We try to keep the Tour products pretty similar to the products we sell because a lot of customers want the same clubs," says Taylor Made's Tom Olsavsky, who minds the needs of PGA Tour pros. The only set is the irons, because consistency is essential. The others are selected individually. Tiger Woods uses a 7.5-degree Titleist Titanium 975D driver, but his 15-degree steel Titleist PT three wood doesn't match. Woods loves its feel. It's his favorite club. His forged irons are prototypes that aren't available to the public because they do not fit in with Titleist's cavity-back DCI design. But the wedges--56-degree and 60-degree Vokey design models--and the Scotty Cameron Newport by Titleist putter are for sale. Ernie Els, in turn, often uses three woods: an 8.5-degree Taylor Made FireSole titanium driver, a 12-degree Taylor Made Ti Bubble 2 and a 16-degree Ti Bubble 2 fairway metal that plays like a four wood. Els uses the Taylor Made Burner Tour irons along with Cleveland wedges and a Ping Anser putter. All are available to the public. During practice rounds players will assess the course and tweak their clubs accordingly. Els will take out a three iron but then weaken the loft of a two iron to compensate. He even changes the loft of his driver depending on how he is swinging.
Forget about the pop song from which the movie draws its title: American Pie is not a lament for lost innocence but the latest entry in a time-honored genre of audience-pleasing films--the coming-of-age comedy. Four randy high schoolers embark on a quest to lose their virginity, whereupon high jinks, foul-ups and a good dose of bedroom shenanigans ensue. Thinks Animal House meets Porky's meets Fast Times at Ridgemont High. These are but three predecessors whose characters rallied around a motto memorably voiced by Sean Penn's character in Ridgemont High : "Hey, bud, let's party."
The latest trend in science and medicine is to create lifestyle enhancement drugs that help reverse the aging process. Wanda homefree, always on the cutting edge, takes Annie to her newest job at Riser. The world renowned maker of ViaGrow, where they are trying to prove what goes down... Must come up?
One of our favorite marketing entrepreneurs, Charles Mandel, has gone golf crazy. After successfully founding and selling two magazines, he decided the equipment-obsessed golf business needed him. Charlie created an independent golf clubtesting service called Rankmark Inc. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Below is a list of retailers and manufacturers you can contact for information on where to find this month's merchandise. To buy the apparel and equipment shown on pages 25, 39--40, 92--95, 114--115, 120--121, 124--127 and 171, check the listings below to find the stores nearest you.
Audiophiles have been touting the warmer, more human sound of LPs since the onset of the cassette tape. And now, despite the mainstream acceptance of digital CDs and DVDs, audio aficionados are being converted to the church of literal groove--some spending tens of thousands of dollars for the perfect analog fix. Fortunately, there are turntables priced to fit almost every budget. If you simply have a nostalgic need to hear those old Run-DMC 12-inch singles, or are planning some romantic moments with a collection of Barry Whites, a turntable in the $300 to $600 range is ideal. Most of these models, including Music Hall's MMF line. Technics' SL-1200MK2 and Rotel's RP955, are standard dual speed (33-1/2 and 45 rpm) and come with everything you need to start spinning--an integrated stylus and cartridge, an adjustable tone arm and antiskating (a weighted mechanism that keeps your needle from skipping). Beyond the $600 mark, you're in with golden-ear guys who want to mix and match components to get the perfect sound from vinyl. Tables in this category include the Rega Planar 25, the Thorens TD 295 MKII and the Oracle Delphi MK V (all pictured). When choosing a turntable and its extras, beauty is in the ear of the listener. You can spend as little as $25 on a stylus and cartridge, or as much as $12,500. The goal of companies that make the expensive stuff is to create a sound so transparent you'll mistake your living room for a concert hall. Of course, if all you have to spin is Journey's Greatest Hits, you first need to bolster your vinyl collection. Our recommendation? Don't waste your time on national record chains. Most have turned their backs on vinyl. Instead, look to small music shops, or go online. Try Dustygroove.com or Mobility Fidelity, which offers reissues at its website (mofi.com) by artists ranging from U2 and Jethro Tull to Tony Bennett and John Coltrane. There are also new, used and rare recordings at Vinyl Vendors (vinylvendors.com) and the Analog Room (theanalogroom.com).