One of America's leading men of letters, John Updike writes about discovering different cultures--and oneself--in German Lessons. "The story and characters originated in a mixture of memory and imagination," he says. "I suppose it was an image of the green feet of young women sitting on the grass in the 1970s. Flower children were just losing their petals." The piece tracks a man's midlife crisis in the fallout from the counterculture movement and its celebration of personal freedom. "Freedom can be an embarrassment as well as a triumph," Updike says. "If somehow you can't fulfill it, you encounter emptiness." Along with meeting a girl, the main character uses his freedom to learn German. "It's wonderful to learn languages, and English itself is amazing. In English there are endless nuances. There is always a better word, a right word--which makes it fun to write."
"I've always been very bendy," Paige Peterson announces over lunch at a hipster coffee shop a few blocks from her home in Studio City. She's touting her physical elasticity as a byproduct of a career path that went from kiddie gymnastics to dance lessons and eventually to acting. But still, "bendy"--the mind races. Tanned, toned and stuffed into a skimpy sugar baby tube top, she hardly seems deserving of the Dorothy-and-Toto jokes people crack when they learn she's from Lawrence, Kansas. "I finally just accepted it and went as Dorothy to a Halloween party," she says. "But I was the sexy Dorothy. I was Whore-othy in ruby stilettos. It was hot." At 25, there's not much Paige hasn't done--a sitcom (Scrubs), soap opera (The Young and the Restless), late-night talk show (Jimmy Kimmel Live) and film (The Hot Chick)--nor are there many fetishes left for her to realize. "I'm always a stripper, nurse or cheerleader," she sighs. "I'm probably being typecast, but it pays the bills, right?" Next up: sorority girl from hell, in House of the Dead 2. "My name is Tracy, and I get injected with zombie blood," she explains. "Then I go on a rampage and hunt down the guy who cheated on me. Of course I'm a scantily clad zombie--is there any other kind?" As she leaves the coffee shop, she flashes us a sheepish grin. "Don't make me sound slutty, okay?" Slutty? Never. Bendy's good enough for us.
On a new co-worker's computer I came across a chat room she visits while at work. I suspected that if she knew I was in the room, she wouldn't be herself, so I signed in using an alias. During the first session she offered me a blow job and told me she liked to masturbate at work. That's when the administrator of the room revealed that she and I had the same network address, so she knew it was somebody at work. She freaked out and signed off. I e-mailed her later, explaining that I had just been trying to see the real her. Needless to say she seems embarrassed and a little creeped out. Of course I was turned on by her dirty talk and want to make a move. How can I unleash her sexual side?--C.J., Louisville, Kentucky
Back in the summer, while the electricity and water and everything else were out in Hattiesburg in observance of Hurricane Katrina, I watched the news on a battery-powered two-inch Casio I bought at pawn a decade ago for $50. When a lucky few of us had power restored, I turned on the real TV and started scanning the news channels. That may have been a mistake.
<p>UCLA professor Jared Diamond takes the long view--what he calls "the 13,000-year perspective"--on the big questions, having drawn on physiology, evolutionary biology and biogeography over the course of his career. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Guns, Germs and Steel, and in his most recent book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, he argues that large-scale decline almost always has to do with resource management. For instance, the Easter Islanders destroyed the trees they needed to make canoes, and the Greenland Norse favored unsustainable farming over living from the sea. Not all of Diamond's examples are drawn from history; he claims the genocide in Rwanda could be interpreted as a conflict over dwindling resources. Nor are they physically remote. "Globalization means that societal declines are interlinked," he says. "Troubles in one country will be troubles in another country." We asked Diamond about where he thinks we stand today.</p>
From a Letter written in 1954 by then-president Dwight Eisenhower to his brother: "I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions. But to attain any success it is quite clear that the federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon moderation in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security and unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L. Hunt and a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible, and they are stupid."
Reality: While Parks's refusal to give her seat to a white rider in December 1955 sparked the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, two teenage girls had been arrested earlier that year for violating the same bus segregation law. However, because of the girls' youth and circumstances, local black leaders felt neither would withstand the scrutiny of an extended legal challenge. The first, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin, had been arrested on March 2. She caught the bus at the same place Parks would board nine months later, near Martin Luther King's church, on Dexter Avenue. When four whites boarded, the driver ordered Colvin and three other blacks to move back. Colvin didn't respond and kept looking out the window. She was convicted of both violating segregation laws and assault (she kicked and screamed as police removed her), but the state dropped the segregation charges on appeal. Colvin also became pregnant out of wedlock that year. The second teenager, 18-year-old Mary Louise Smith, had been arrested on October 21. Again, black leaders decided to wait, in part because of concerns that Smith's father was an alcoholic (the family denies he drank) but also because they had no courtroom verdict to appeal (her father had quietly paid the fine). In Parks, who said she did not plan to be arrested, activists found an upstanding and stoic defendant--she was older (42), had been married for 23 years, worked as a seamstress and served as secretary of the local NAACP. The next year Colvin and Smith were among four plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court decision that banned bus segregation. Ironically, the racist practice brought down by Parks et al. had been legitimized by an 1896 Court ruling involving another freedom rider, Homer Plessy. Police in New Orleans had arrested the shoemaker after he refused to leave a whites-only train car. The Court ruled against him in Plessy V. Ferguson, which was used to justify segregation for the next 60 years.
In His 72 Years As A Screen Idol, Cinema's Best-Known Beast has Co-starred with A Mere Handful Of Leading Ladies. In her Last Interview, The Original Beauty, Fay Wray, and his Latest Obsession, Naomi Watts, Reveal What It's Like to be Counted Among
Of all the lessons Lisa Guerrero has learned in her career as a sports reporter, undoubtedly the most valuable is how to handle being a gorgeous woman in a locker room full of sweaty, half-naked pro ballplayers.
He was everywhere. With shiny head and bushy beard and wry grin, he came at you from all directions. His cartoons appeared regularly in the early issues of Playboy. Perhaps, if you've been a reader long enough, you remember his days as the magazine's designated world traveler, armed only with his passport, expense account and sketch pad in Tokyo, London and Nairobi. If you're younger, you may have come aboard with his children's books, shots of delightfully twisted cynicism in a market awash in fey fantasy. Maybe you've heard his songs or seen his plays. Maybe you just remember him as one of the most extraordinary men you've ever encountered.
Boston had a patchy, disconsolate feel in those years, the mid-Seventies. Girls with long hair and long skirts still walked along Charles Street in bare feet, but the Sixties bloom was off; you found yourself worrying that these flower children would step on broken glass or that parasites would penetrate the dirty soles of their naked feet, which were stained green from wandering on the Common. The cultural revolution had become saturated in uncleanness. Ed Trimble felt unclean and guilty. He had moved to the city alone, having left a family behind in New Hampshire. His wife and he ran a small real estate firm in Peterborough, and Arlene made most of the sales. She had more gusto and social grace; she didn't let her real feelings about a property sour her pitch. He resented her superior success; he knew she could hold things together if he pulled out for a time. He needed space; things were up in the air. In this interim, with the begrimed conveniences of a city all about him, he saw a chance to fill some of his gaps. Guided by the yellow pages, he enlisted in German lessons at a so-called Language Institute in Cambridge.
Robert Lutz is vice chairman, product development, of General Motors. He is a former president and chief operating officer of Chrysler and previously worked at BMW and Ford. He's known as a visionary car guy with an eye on performance and pizzazz. The Dodge Viper was Lutz's baby at Chrysler. His personal car collection includes a 1952 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage, "beautifully restored"; a 1934 Riley aluminum-bodied sports car built to compete at Le Mans; a Steyr-Pinzgauer Swiss military vehicle, "maybe the world's most competent all-wheel-drive vehicle"; and an aluminum-bodied Cobra. He sat down with us and talked not only about the turmoil at GM but also about MapQuest, health care and women.
Athena Lundberg is named after the Greek goddess of war, but it's instantly apparent that this 19-year-old California native is a lover, not a fighter. Take, for example, her thoughts on New Year's resolutions: "I don't like making them, because no one ever sticks to them," she says. "I don't know. Maybe I'll make a resolution to hold up on the sex a bit. I'm like a nympho or something. I try to get it every day when I'm with someone." Or her love of nudity: "I'm always naked around the house, or just in a bra." Or her youthful joie de vivre: "I'm not scared to do anything. Roller coasters, skydiving, eating worms--bring it on! I love riding fast on horses and would do it every day if I could. I think I'd win on Fear Factor." We wouldn't bet against her. Miss January's winning spirit and confidence in her sex appeal made her a shoo-in on Playboy TV's Sexy Girls Next Door contest. The competition was tight, but Athena's stunning blue eyes and disarming smile blew our judges away. Her winning secret? Whenever you see paparazzi jockeying for a shot, start taking off your clothes. Get your cameras ready, boys! But don't worry; Athena's success hasn't spoiled her yet. "I don't want people to think that being a Playmate has gone to my head," she says. "When I look at an issue, I think, I don't even compare with those beautiful girls. I still don't believe it. When I see my picture in the magazine, then I'll be happy." That's one holiday wish we're pleased to grant.
Once again the Playboy driving team redlined dozens upon dozens of great models on challenging roads, from Tuscan autostradas to California coastal highways to Virginia's twisty Blue Ridge Parkway, so we could select the best of the bunch. This year, high tech rules. The class of 2006 offers sophisticated new electronics such as throttle and brakes by wire, multiple displacement systems for better fuel economy, road-sensing suspensions for optimal ride and handling, and seven-speed electrohydraulic gearboxes for slick, quick shifting. If it's speed you crave, three of our winners offer more than 500 horsepower, and a couple of others are close. Because the subject is the best new cars of the year, we refuse to compromise on performance, which means no hybrids make the list--this year. (We already have our eyes on a couple of hybrids for the 2007 lineup.) Our picks are fast, sexy and great looking--some of the most remarkable achievements in automotive design ever. Rev'em up and get ready for a spin.
Sasha was one of those celebrated beauties--women for whom the drape of a garment and the shape of the eyebrow were subjects of advanced study, who submitted themselves not only to trainers, hairdressers and stylists but even unto surgeons' scalpels in pursuit of a feminine ideal that they, in turn, took their modest part in shaping after their pictures appeared in the party pages of Town & Country and W. She was, in one sense, a professional beauty. In fact Luke was still proud of her on that purely superficial level, of making an entrance with Sasha on his arm.
By now you're well acquainted with the 12 genetically gifted women you see here. One is about to get a lot more exposure--as the Playmate of the Year. Will it be the Italian restaurateur? One of the curvy college coeds? America's sexiest (former) bartender? Or perhaps Miss March, the Playmate chosen by Howard Stern? These women have diverse backgrounds, but they have one thing in common: They need your support to win. Go to playboy.com and choose your favorite for PMOY.
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 32, 35-36, 48, 84-89 and 178-179, check the listings below to find the stones nearest you.
Hard to believe, but in the inevitable race to be tagged the female Eminem, pole position belongs to Lady Sovereign, a pint-size British MC whose inventive spitfire delivery is as striking and original as Shady's. "When I was growing up, U.K. hip-hop was unheard of," says the 19-year-old Wembley native. Artists such as Ms. Dynamite, M.I.A. and the Streets changed that a bit, but here in the cradle of hip-hop, British MCs are still cult acts. Not for long: Jay-Z has taken Lady Sovereign under his wing, signing her to a contract. "He sent down a few people to a show I did in New York," she says, "and they gave him good feedback. It's so weird to hear that Jay-Z is after you." Though her rhymes translate across the Atlantic, Lady Sovereign's sound is still British, with touches of dancehall and electronica. She says it won't change even as she begins to collaborate with American producers. "I'm open to ideas, but I know what I want. And if I don't get it, I will kick up a fuss. If a track doesn't suit me, fuck it. I won't use it. I prefer the more quirky, weird, twisted sort of beats rather than your standard hip-hop beats." And when she's not holding a mike? You're likely to find Lady Sovereign on a Soccer pitch. (She even earned a tryout with Arsenal Ladies.) With the World Cup on the horizon, she's fussing about the coach of the English national team: "That guy needs a kick up the arse. He's rubbish."
The Contemporary art world teems with video installations, collages and sharks floating in tanks of formaldehyde. But representative painting? Isn't that a bit 18th century? Not according to multimillionaire adman Charles Saatchi, arguably the world's most prominent collector. In a two-year-long exhibit titled the Triumph of Painting at his London gallery, Saatchi showcases more than 40 emerging and established artists. These include Dexter Dalwood, who paints rooms in which infamous events took place; his Room 100, Chelsea Hotel, pictured left, depicts the one where Sid Vicious stabbed his girlfriend. The new exhibit is a far cry from Saatchi's last touring collection, Sensation, with its big dead shark. But as the elusive collector told The Art Newspaper, "For people with good eyes who actually enjoy looking at art, nothing is as uplifting as standing before a great painting, whether it was painted in 1505 or last Tuesday." For more info, log on to saatchi-gallery. co.uk.
Playboy (ISSN 0032-1478), January 2006, volume 53, number 1. Published monthly by Playboy in national and regional editions, Playboy, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, Illinois and at additional mailing offices. Canada Post Canadian Publications Mail Sales Product Agreement No. 40035534. Subscriptions: in the U.S., $29.97 for 12 issues. Postmaster: Send address change to Playboy, P.O. Box 2007, Harlan, Iowa 51537-4007. For subscription-related questions, call 800-999-4438, or e-mail email@example.com.