Death and Madness at Diamond Mountain (March) is an enlightening read. I never cease to be amazed by the eagerness with which supposedly rational and intelligent people, long on time and money but short on happiness, will subjugate themselves to religious teachers only to find the leaders are more screwed up than the followers. In spirituality, as in business, it's best to eliminate the middleman.
I appreciate many of the choices Rob Tannenbaum makes for The 38 Best Songs About Sex (April), but the best song about a blow-up sex doll has to be "Ms. Pinky" by Frank Zappa. The second-best song in this category is "Polly Urethane" by Unknown Hinson.
I'm surprised The Birth of Redneck Cinema (March) doesn't mention Walking Tall (1973), the obvious precursor to the unexpected box-office success of Smokey and the Bandit. Its success was spurred by a marketing campaign that likened it to the countercultural hit Billy Jack, yet most commentators assumed Southern working-class viewers would fail to appreciate Walking Tail's antiestablishment politics. This might explain why studio bosses also failed to predict how Smokey's rebellious, populist heroes would resonate. Derek Nystrom Montreal, Quebec
Nicolas Pelham highlights a real crisis in the Middle East after the upheavals of the past two years (The Cold Arab Spring, March). Attacks against women in Egypt are on the rise. Restrictions on social freedoms are driving religious minorities and secularists to consider emigration. Tourism is shrinking. It's not a sustainable model.
I admire Clive Davis, but he's behind the times. In his Pluyboy Interview (April), he never mentions what record companies need to do to secure money for artists online, such as when their songs are placed with ads on YouTube. Instead he simply dismisses piracy as a crime. Magazines suffer from the same problem, but at least Hcf and others have the creativity to push forward. Davis should be listening to their advice instead of the current Top 40, which is terrible.
Nothing is more of a turnoff than some manly man like Joel Stein who thinks he can impress women by eating bacon everything, fermented shark, salted tuna sperm and other cruelly produced foods ("You Are What You Eat," Men, April): I'll take someone like Joaquin Phoenix, Mac Danzig or Woody I Iarrelson any day. They're all vegetarians.
Your list of the best barbershops ("Shorn Again," Fade In, March) ignores the entire middle of the country. I nominate Haney's Barber Shop in downtown Ogallala, Nebraska. Everybody leaves happy, and my dad's cuts are 10 bucks. Shawn Haney Sacramento, California
After years of telling friends 1 read playboy for the articles, I can now tell them honestly that I read it for the recipes. Your food page in After Hours is great. Ed D'Alessandro North Olmsted, Ohio
• GOOD AND EVIL battle it out in the body of British actress Jessica Clark, who plays virulent vampire deity Lilith on True Blood. "She's the essence of power, and it's insanely fun to play someone who behaves so badly," Jessica says. "But everything is gray. She might be misunderstood." Jessica can relate. "People think I'm a good girl, even though I'm naked and covered in blood on TV," she says. "Maybe it's my accent?"
• A wave of talented artists stretching from London to Bogota has transformed vintage playboy covers into original artworks. Although we consider every playboy cover a true work of art, we certainly appreciate these inspired remixes.
• Twenty-six years after Christopher Reeve's fourth and final Superman movie and seven years after director Bryan Singer's abortive Superman Returns, director Zack Snyder attempts liftoff with Man of Steel. The brooding, Christopher Nolan-produced 3-D epic stars Henry Cavill as Clark Kent-Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White and Michael Shannon as General Zod. "We pretended the Superman mythology and comic book existed but that none of the movies did," says Snyder. "We've respected the Superman canon but made a modern movie in which Superman is still an alien, an outsider, but he's like the best and worst of all of us—on steroids.
• Aaron Sorkin mixes drama and romance in this sociopolitical HBO series about the Atlantis Cable News network's News Night program, whose journalists strive for honesty over ratings in their coverage of real-life events such as the BP oil spill. Sorkin's trademark snappy dialogue, team of skilled directors and exceptional cast sell it, including Jeff Daniels as vaguely Republican tell-it-like-it-is anchor Will McAvoy, Emily Mortimer as his ex and News Night executive producer, and scene stealer Olivia Munn as a socially awkward economist with a show on the network. No matter how you feel about the show's left-leaning politics, it's ultimately about lovingyour country while acknowledging its faults. (BD) Best extra: Sorkin's commentary reveals some intriguing details about season two, which premieres in June. ¥¥¥
• There are other ways to wipe out humanity than the living dead. A pandemic, not zombies, causes the destruction of civilization in The Last of Us (PS3), a stellar new game from the creators of the Uncharted series. Twenty years after a virus turns the bulk of humanity into deformed and violent creatures, roughneck Joel is hired to smuggle Ellie, a teenage girl, out of a quarantine zone and across the ruins of the country. Quiet moments scampering through rubble explode into action when the pair is swarmed by the infected, including the semi-human Runners and the Clickers, mutated humans blinded by fungus who use clicking sounds to locate prey. Weapons and ammunition are hard to come by, so use listen mode, which turns the world black-and-white while highlighting nearby enemies, then decide whether to engage or navigate around them. One tip: The infected are savage, but the other survivors aren't exactly friendly either. VVVV
• Before Lady Gaga and Elton John, there was Liberace. "I Ie was way ahead of his time and did many of the things they do now," says Jerry Weintraub, the producer behind HBO's moving film about the iconic pianist. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (in what might be his last movie) and starring Michael Douglas as the man born Wladziu Valentino Liberace, Behind the Candelabra is not a strict biography. It's more a
• What would it sound like if witches started a band? Something akin to Silence Yourself, the first full-length record from Savages, a quartet of black-clad women from London. Their acidic, disorienting blare seems to be brewed from a tincture of feedback and S&M: "I took a beating today, and that was the best I ever had," Jehnny Beth cackles excitedly over Gemma Thompson's grinding guitar in "Hit Me'; the singer has also declared enthusiasm for songs about "violent things." Their music is as Gothic as a Bronte convention at Westminster Abbey, and it's likely to leave you with purple bruises on your torso. Savages recall the circa-1978 glory of Bauhaus, Magazine, the Gun Club and other postpunk illuminati. But the 11-song, 38-minute Silence Yourself 'is no rehash; as much as the music sometimes sounds like Siouxsic and the Banshees, it also evokes the gorgeous anguish of Francis Bacon's Head paintings. One last reason we love them: Their producer is named Johnny Hostile. VWV
More than half a century ago Bernardo Bertolucci began making his name as an Italian film director. With sush classics as The Conformist, The Last Emperor and Last Tango in Paris under his belt, he was awarded an honorary Palme d'Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival for his life's work. Bertolucci's latest film, Me and You, is his first in nearly a decade, pi^wboy Contributing Editor James Franco spoke with the director about the controversial Last Tango, his start in filmmaking and how he creates his striking work.
When my wife and I met at the age of 16, her mother said I wasn't good enough—and she still says that, even though we've been married 18 years. I have a good job, don't abuse drugs or alcohol and have always taken care of her daughter. I'm not sure what triggered it, but the day I turned 44 I told my wife I'd had enough and her parents weren't welcome in our house unless her mother could be civil to me. Everything was fine until yesterday, when a holiday card came from my mother-in-law addressed only to my wife and our sons. 1b me that is a disrespectful jab. My wife's response was that since I don't want anything to do with her mother, what's the difference? Am I being oversensitive?—C.G., Elizabeth, New Jersey
I have no argument with anyone who prefers medical marijuana over pharmaceutical-grade alternatives. However, it's safe to say people who consume weed for medicinal purposes amount to a small percentage of users, and if these sufferers were offered a free, nonaddictive, noneuphoric pill with no side effects, you'd have to wonder how many would switch. Let's cut the pious bullshit—weed is a recreational drug and the rest is a farcical sideshow. Filthy lies aboul marijuana led to unconstitutional legislation that snowballed into the monolithic war on drugs. Crushing the
Although the First Amendment fully protects your editorial discretion, the drumbeat of condemnation for those of us who choose to exercise our rights under the Second Amendment is beginning to grate. I belong
What happened to your magazine? On the first page of the March Dear Playboy you print a smear of Lee Atwater (admittedly, by an authority on the subject), a letter suggesting we brought the Cuban Missile Crisis on ourselves, two defenses of Richard Dawkins that slam organized religion and a flippant response to a soldier who wonders why you chose a Canadian to represent Uncle Sam. When I read your response ("She's North American—close enough"), I threw the issue in the trash. Liberal spin is fine, but at least make an attempt to represent a more encompassing political and social viewpoint.
A reader complains in April about taxes going to "pay the medical bills of the physically irresponsible." I have been a tobacco user since the age of five (in my day that was possible) but have also paid cigarette taxes ranging from a simple 10 percent in 1970 to 600 percent in 1995 to (in some places) 1,200 percent today. The way I see it, the government should pay for my medical care for life because it swore that would be the sole purpose of the taxes it collected. Instead it squandered the money on pet projects and warmongering. Health care should be treated like a public utility. Stop blaming those of us who choose to live like Americans for the fact that politicians side with medical and insurance companies, which
In the ongoing discussion in Reader Response about Keynesian economics, it is interesting how the far-right Tea Party group pushes the concept that government can do no good for the economy. Conservatives may not like the way FDR
WE TOOK HOTSHOT PRO SKATEDOARDERS STEVIE WILLIAMS, TONY ALMA, ARTO SAARI AND BRANDON BIEBEL TO A I SUN-BLEACHED POOL IN ' SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, DRESSED THEM UP IN THE FRESHEST SUMMER SUITS AND TURNED THEM LOOSE. FASHION HAS NEVER LOOKED SO NATTY OR SO GNARLY
THE RIGHT STUFF-IS SEAN HANNITY AN OUTRAGED CONSERVATIVE, OR IS IT A $100 MILLION ACT? IN THE PLAYBOY INTERVIEW DAVID HOCHMAN SPARS WITH THE FOX NEWS HOST OVER "RADICAL" OBAMA, GUN CONTROL AND THE CLIMATE CHANGE "CROCK." LIBERAL TOLERANCE WILL BE SORELY TESTED.