26 September 2012

My Time Machine: The Peacock Caffe'

The Peacock Caffe, NYC, 1958,  Nick DeWolf photographs used with permission

Esquire's post Saturday featured a photograph taken at The Peacock Caffe' (1946-2000) in Greenwich Village. A reader commented that the owner kept that same Esquire photo at the cash register.  I did some research and discover the Peacock closed in 2000. 

I don't know what I'm looking for, but I know why I came.  I hope to connect to a place. To these people in the photographs.  Usually, what was, is now; TD bank, Starbucks, Duane Reade. You wish the walls could talk.  But just to see the place is amazing.  I'm in the greatest city in the world with every sort of museum, store, restaurant, park, you name it....but I go to places that aren't there anymore.

I stand at 24 Greenwich Street.  Where these people stood 54 years ago.  To join them or, at least be close to them, and to know they were here. NYC movie locations are about famous people pretending.  The Peacock, that night back in 1958, was about ordinary people living.

25 September 2012

Philip Weiss: The New M & The Old Observer

New York Observer, February 3, 2001 (click image to read)

Peter Kaplan cobbled together the new M mostly with existing staff from Fairchild.  I offered my services in a Starbucks near his office, "Pay me spit and I'll do anything you tell me to do.  I'll attack machine gun nests for you.  Only condition -- I report to you and not some hump who works for you." Maybe I came on a little strong.  Actually, I would work for one  hump who writes for Kaplan.  Philip Weiss.

Back in 2001, Kaplan was the editor of the NY Observer (Best Of NYO is in the sales bin here) back when that paper meant something more than real estate ads.  Kaplan not only hired Candace Bushnell but he came up with the title for her column, "Sex and the City."  I bet the NY Observer made a fortune off that.

Kaplan rounded out the new M crew with a few cronies from the Observer. One Observer alumni,  Philip Weiss, cranks out a gutsy interview with a difficult subject matter for any straight man... pretty boy model, Sean O'Pry (To Editors at GQ:  Worried about living down the, "Gay men's life style publication." Drop the cheese cake beards and hire Weiss).

I follow Weiss on Twitter  but back in the day, Weiss did an Observer interview with balls-so-big-I-don't-know-how-he-walks writer, Jim Harrison.  The premise for the interview was a discussion between Weiss and Harrison about older women. Harrison was always a hero of mine but Weiss became one too with this beautiful and honest piece about what it's like to be a man growing old and how it's possible to wake up and wise up.

If you're getting up there in the years - read this - you'll love it.  If you're a 25 year old Jr Mint -- I'm working on a Tumbler to explain this to you.  -30-

24 September 2012

Peter Kaplan & The New M

It starts with a Peter Kaplan email that looks like a loft in Soho. Lots of white space. Several cancellations and loftmails later we get together for lunch.  Kaplan's wearing khakis, a blue button down oxford and a foulard tie. We sit across from each other in a restaurant booth of an empty Irish pub.

Kaplan (picking up a menu): You hungry?

Me: I've already had lunch.

Kaplan: Of course you have.  It's three o'clock..

Me: I'll just have a club soda.

Kaplan asks the waitress a question.  In a meter not unlike my Russian cleaning lady.  Halting.  The waitress answers.  He interrupts her.  She stops.  He stops.  She replies and he interrupts her again. It's exhausting if you cringe easily...which I do.

Kaplan: So here's what I want you to do.

I write notes on a napkin.  And another napkin.  Kaplan eats lunch and I drink three club sodas. I have to pee like a race horse but I don't want to interrupt him because he's throwing gold at me. We'll see each other two more times.  Each time he'll be wearing the same tie, a blue button down and khakis.

M Magazine debuts today on newsstands. If you have a hard time finding it, you can meet Kaplan and the magazine he's editing through his letter from the editor. There's some good stuff here. Gold.  You may wanna grab a club soda. [Click images to read]

22 September 2012

"Someone Make a Time Machine Already" 1961 Fall Weekend In New York

Friday Night with a Debutante: "Skim the roofs in a helicopter and a suede-cloth suit"

Friday Night with a Poetess: "She's in the clouds anyway, so take her for a walk in an all-weather coat"

Saturday Before Dark: "A pull-over for a ferry ride --"

"A suit of tweed takes you to a twilight concert"

Saturday Night: "For an elegant evening (and Barbara Bel Geddes backstage), a vested blue serge --"

"For a casual one, a sweater, but dressier"

Sunday- The Week End's End: A Donegal tweed jacket..."

...or a wool sport coat will see the day out." The Peacock Caffe'

Esquire Magazine, September, 1961  (click on image to enlarge)

Nicely written & shot without credit to writer or photographer.  A contrast to today's fashion spreads of actors and rappers with half naked women, extruded  by LA,  holding their crotch or flipping the bird while credits go to every strap hanger and coke-pourer in the room.

The old Esquire was a big mamma-jamma.  It's hard to describe what reading one was like when I was 10 years old.  Not only because I didn't understand a whole helluva lot of it  -- It was almost taller than I was.  But like reading Shakespeare, you don't always need to understand every word to get the gist of what's happening in the play.

It's good to be a man.

21 September 2012

The Friday Belt: Corked on Mezcal

Vida Mezcal ($36) from Del Maguey

El Bebida:
There wasn't a worm in the bottle and I didn't get stinking drunk and wind up with a dead donkey in a ditch. Although, it could've happened. Vida ($36) is considered entry level Mezcal.  I consider it a huge value. Firstly, I like that Mezcal is smokey. If you like Islay single malt or back bacon or smoked almonds or Lapsang Souchong tea, this, my friend, is the stuff for you... and most certainly for me. It's like drinking a Cuban cigar.

Two - I discovered Mescal only recently -- It was about the time I started pissing everyone off. Kidding.  I've been pissing off folks for years. I saw John Huston's 'Under the Volcano' and was both terrified and awed  (Awed is such a better word than awesome) by the main character, a complete pile of whale shit played by Albert Finney. As we used to say in the Airborne, "Nothing's lower than whale shit."

Three- Because of the single malt smokiness, I tried Mezcal as a Rob Roy.  Didn't work. I also tried it with  Campari, sweet and dry vermouth and too many tequlla recepies to mention.  I think it's best sipped straight with a big plate of Puerco Pibil and a couple beers as a chaser. Keep your consumption to that and you'll be awarded with increased clarity of vision.  Drink too much and you'll wind up in a ditch with a donkey.

"A dish so good, you might get wacked just for making it." Robert Rodriguez

Cork belt ($40) from Cork Design

El Cinturón:

As a kid living in El Paso, my family would go into Juarez all the time. This was long before it turned into a war zone. I remember eating tacos from street vendors.  Hand made corn tortillas, beef, cilantro, diced raw onion and a squeeze of lime juice.  That was it and it still is.

I remember the Mexican men wearing belts that were cowboy in origin and the leather was always a light tan. These belts were a real contrast against blue jeans. Many miles from Juarez, a couple ladies in Fernandina Beach, FL are making belts and lots of other stuff outta cork.  I love the color of cork and this belt takes me back to those days in Juarez.  I'm gonna suggest they look at making a belt with a detachable buckle.  That would open up all kinds of possibilities.

It's nice to know cork is fire resistant 'cause if you drink enough Vida Mezcal your belt might catch on fire...

20 September 2012

In the Moment at Monroe & LaSalle

 "We can have in life but one great experience at best,
and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience
as often as possible."
 Oscar Wilde

She walked out of Northern Trust - on the Monroe side - just as I rounded the corner from LaSalle.  Walking behind, I watched her bobbed hair as it shimmied back and forth across her long neck to the rhythm of her walk.  A sleeveless black linen dress hugged her hips and between them a tiny bottom shimmied in synch with her hair. 

She wore flat black sandals and her toe nails were lacquered brandy-cherry red. A glint of sun struck her large toe and a flash of white light cracked off the rounded nail and, with it, I was aware of everything.

The EL's banging and rattling going north on the tracks scored the scene of a Chicago Spring afternoon where, in the moment, it all stopped and life came together.  The bob and bottom froze as the toe nail flashed in the fore ground of a subway train cutting my picture in half with an aluminum streak. 

It lasted 10 seconds. Intense, crisp and bright turned to muddled and dull. Like going from 70mm Cinerama to a nine inch B&W TV.   The bob disappeared. The EL faded.  I walked into the Madison street entrance of the Northwestern, bought an Old Style in a brown paper bag and headed to the 5:07.