WHO DO YOU WANT TO HAVE A BEER WITH?

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It’s not exactly an iron law, but for the last quarter century, it’s been a pretty good rule of thumb: when the American people go into the voting booth, they vote for the candidate with whom they would most like to have a beer.In 1980 and 1984, they picked breezy Ronald Reagan over pious Jimmy Carter and dour Walter Mondale. In 1988, they picked affable George H. W. Bush over stuffy Michael Dukakis. In 1992 and 1996, Elvis-emulating Bill Clinton beat the now wimpy Bush and the sour Bob Dole. And in 2000, frat boy George W. Bush beat the sighing Al Gore and the stiff John Kerry.

But for as reliable an indicator as the beer-drinking question has proven to be, Democrats have not had a history of considering it very much. Remember, in the intra-party contests, pious Jimmy Carter defeated the raucous Teddy Kennedy, Mondale trumped the cool Gary Hart, Dukakis topped the flashy Jesse Jackson, and Gore beat Bill Bradley, who seemed a bit of an intellectual but who had had a lot of champagne poured on his egghead during his days as a professional athlete. For a party long considered the more liberal on social issues, the Democrats have a long history of picking a standard-bearer with very conservative habits. Among recent Democratic candidates, only Bill Clinton seemed to get any fun out of life. Continue reading “WHO DO YOU WANT TO HAVE A BEER WITH?”

FEELING A DRAFT?

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In a rather alarming article in last week’s issue of The New Yorker, Steve Coll reports on an appearance by General Richard Cody, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before the Senate Armed Service Committee. “The current demand for our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeds the sustainable supply, and limits our ability to provide ready forces for other contingencies. . . .Overall, our readiness is being consumed as fast as we build it. If unaddressed, this lack of balance poses a significant risk to the all-volunteer force, and degrades the Army’s ability to make a timely response to other contingencies.’’ Continue reading “FEELING A DRAFT?”

THE PENNSYLVANIA POKINESS

December seems like an eon ago, but it’s really been less than six months since everyone was feeling misgivings about the front-loaded primary season we were about to enter. You remember what was being said—that things were going to happen with lightening speed, that the front-runners possessed overwhelming advantages in name recognition and money and organization, that an early win or two would end the whole game.

Guess what? It didn’t happen. The GOP nominated John McCain, who began the year politically DOA, and the Democrats have all but nominated Barack Obama, whose sure-footed insurgency won early but more importantly won steadily in defeating a Hillary Clinton campaign that in most years would have been good enough to have chugged to victory.

But amid all the predictions about the problems with front-loading, no one pointed out the problems with having a six week gap squatting in the middle of the campaign season. More than a month has elapsed between next week’s primary in Pennsylvania and March’s contests in Ohio and Texas, and during that time, the real campaign—that is to say, the campaign about issues like the war and the economy–has been on hold. Instead, we’ve had these silly arguments about Clinton lying about snipers and Obama saying small town people are bitter. With no primaries—and no results—to keep the candidates (and the journalistic pack) focused on issues, everyone has wasted huge amounts of time on insignifica.

Remember how Florida rushed to push its primary to an earlier, more influential date in the process? And how they violated party by-laws in the process, and as a result, lost their votes at the convention? Just think how useful, how helpful, how influential it would have been to have had a Florida primary on April 8th or April 15th.

BriCA BREAKS OUT

Last Sunday, at the beautiful Mansion at Rosecliff in Briacliff Manor, BriCA–the Briarcliff Council for the Arts–had its inaugural program. Not only am I happy to be one of the members of the committee, but I am very pleased to say that I was part of the event. An impressive audience of about sixty friends and neighbors showed up, and there was a little something for everyone. Musically, we were first entertained first by the Lubin Singers, a group of high school singers from Briarcliff, and then during the program, by the most impressive Steven Santiago, also known as Opera Steve, who employs his powerful voice in an operatic style backed by hip hop beats. He sang two of the all-time can’t-miss hits, O Solo Mio and Santa Lucia, beautifully accompanied on guitar by Uly Millan. For devotees of the visual arts, local artists Paula Blum, Bob Fine, Diane Avra Kahn, Wendy Kessler-Effron, Gene Levine, Phyllis Neider, Don Penny, Bill Sharman and Roberta Socolof showed their paintings, sculptures and photographs. And for the literary minded, my friend Ben Cheever read from his book Strides, and I read from The Coup. It was a lovely event, and people seemed to really enjoy themselves. To my fellow committee members–Laura Mogil, Elsa Rubenstein, Paula Blum, Zen Eidel, Sharon Hussey, Wendy Kessler-Effron, Phyllis Neider, Elsie Smith, Roberta Socolof and Sara Vescio, who all worked so hard to get this organization and this event off the ground–I say thanks, congratulations and hurrah! Let’s do it again next week!

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Pictured: Opera Steve, me, Ben and Uly. For more pictures of the event taken by Bob Rubenstein, click here.

SPEAKING OF ENGLISHMEN. . .

Millions of Women Are Waiting to Meet You: A Story of Life, Love, and Internet Dating

Although I have never met Sean Thomas, I have exchanged a lot of email messages with him over the last year, and I now think of him as a friend, or at least a professional friend of the sort that I would happily brag about knowing on Facebook. Sean is the author of Millions of Women Are Waiting to Meet You: A Story of Life, Love, and Internet Dating, which is his account of the year he spent dating women, and only those women, that he met on line. It’s a hilarious and brave book that’s now available in the U.S. in paperback, and I recommend it. If you want to know more, here is an interview I did with Sean on playboy.com last year when his book was published in hardcover.

HAPPY NEWS FROM ENGLAND

On April 1st, The Coup was published in the United Kingdom by Old Street, and today we received our first review. Writing in Telegraph.co.uk, Susanna Yager says “With the American presidential primaries in full swing, The Coup, Jamie Malanowski’s satirical look behind the scenes at the White House, is timely. Vice-President Godwin Pope is fed up with the incompetence of President Mahone, the man who beat him to the nomination. As the President’s reputation sinks lower and lower in the polls, Godwin decides to take action.

“A successful businessman who made billions when he sold his software company, Godwin has all the skills required to get rid of Mahone, and the arrival on the scene of a beautiful, sexy reporter looking for a scoop is just what he needs to set his plan in motion. Malanowski’s sardonic humour produces some neat one-liners, and makes Pope’s masterly manipulation of his fellow politicians seem disturbingly believable.”

There you have it, British people–satirical, sardonic, disturbingly believable. After all the Shakespeare plays and Bond movies and costume dramas about the Tudors that I’ve supported, isn’t it time to send back a little love?

A PRESIDENT WEIGHS IN

This morning I received this nice note from Kyler Baldwin Nerison, who is the president of the Mu Sigma Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta at the University of Minnesota: “Dear Mr. Malanowski, I just read the “State of the Union” [a shortened version of the first chapter of The Coup] from the July ’07 Playboy that was in the bathroom at my fraternity house and wanted you to know I thought it was one of the best short stories I have ever read. I’m looking forward to picking up The Coup.”

Well, they certainly grow them perceptive out there in Minnesota, don’t they?

Kyler brings up one of the best reasons to write for Playboy: longevity. People talk about articles and stories living forever on the internet, but it’s in the pages of Playboy, preserved in the bathrooms of frat houses and the cellars and attics of other dedicated collectors, where an article remains as fresh and new as the eternally nubile centerfold with whom it shares a contents page.

THE VAST LEFT-WING CONSPIRACY

Congratulations to Eric Alterman on the publication of his new book, Why We Are Liberals. I was delighted to be invited to a party held yesterday yesterday in honor of Eric thrown by Victor Navasky, E.L. Doctorow and Bill Moyers. It was a kick to meet people I have so long admired.

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Why are we liberals? To get hugs from Roseanne Cash.

The peerless Bud Trillin with the editor of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel.

THE MOST ADMEYERABLE BOB I KNOW

Many of us at the company were proud to join Playboy CEO Christie Hefner at the UJA-Federation of New York’s celebration in honor of Bob Meyers, Playboy’s most amiable honor of President of Media, at a dinner on Tuesday night at the Chelsea Piers in Manhattan. Bob began volunteering for the UJA as a teenager, and is now a member of the board. Congratulations to Bob and his family on this well-deserved honor.

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1.) Man of the Hour Bob Meyers with Playboy CEO Christie Hefner.

2.) Christie with Playboy publisher Lou Mohn.

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3.) Ad Sales, Marketing, Editorial: Ron Stern, Lisa Natale and AJ Baime

4.) AJ to the left, Chris Napolitano to the right, beautiful UJA-Federation loyalists in the center

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5.) Melissa Pordy, the Director of Media Investment Solutions of Cheil USA, and Lauren Melone, Playboy‘s Empress of Publicity

6.) Playmates Colleen Marie, Lindsey Vuolo and Nicole Wood

FEELING ENRAPTURED

I had a great time at a party that Playboy co-hosted last week in honor of my friend and former colleague at Spy, Daniel Radosh. Daniel has just published an amusing and insightful new book called Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture, several chapters of which first saw light of day as articles in Playboy. The party was held at the Hotel QT in Manhattan in a room adjacent to the pool. A couple of times, bare-chested men wrapped in towels subtly insinuated themselves into the crowd and helped themselves to drinks. Clever! Here’s a cheeky article about the party that ran in The New York Observer.

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1.) Daniel Radosh (center) seems appalled that Playboy intern Seth Fiegerman would speak to him, as a mostly photogenic Chip Rowe looms into view

2.) Daniel appears to be entertained by the antics of Gina Duclayan, the lovely Mrs. Radosh (right foreground), as a mostly photogenic Chip Rowe looms into the rear

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3.) Were it not for the indispensible Joanne (that’s with an e, idiot!) Gruber, the mostly photogenic Chip Rowe would stil be editor-in-chief of the amusing but barely monetized ‘zine, Chip’s Closet Cleaner.

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4.) As Alice K. Turner and Conor Hogan beam, Rocky Rakovic eclipses Seth Fiegerman, and Playboy intern Ben (not Ray) Conniff scans the crowd in the hope of spotting more interesting conversation partners.

5.) Original Spys Joanne Gruber and Nell Scovell.

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6.) Playboys After Dark: Editors AJ Baime, Scott Alexander and the mostly photogenic Chip Rowe

7.) Swap out AJ, insert me.

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8.) The party boy joins the party boys.