The story rocking my little town of Briarcliff is that of a senior at our high school’s graduation ceremony who marked the occasion by mooning the audience. This act would have been news enough, but then the principal–Jim Kashien, a fine and dedicated public servant known to me–revoked the young man’s diploma and summoned the police, who arrested the lunar exhibitionist and charged him with disorderly conduct and exposure to a person. (more…)
Regular readers of this blog (and Ken Smith, you know who you are), will recognize the name of my friend, the writer Duane Swierczynski. Duane has just published his latest novel Severance Package, a funny and exciting tale of mayhem that updates the Ten Little Indians idea, subtracting some of the whodunit, adding several vats of plasma, and, most interestingly, adding in lots of anxieties about modern office culture. It was a fun read, perfect for the pool, a tad less perfect for your cubicle, and I’m delighted to recommend it. Duane took some questions from me for playboy.com:
PLAYBOY: You’ve written an excellent crime novel (The Wheelman) and an excellent, uh, mad scientist mass murderer novel (The Blonde), both of which took place on the scenic beaches and mountains of Philadelphia. Severance Package also takes place in Philly, but almost entirely within the confines of a single office building. Where did you get the idea for this novel? Is there a part for Steve Carrell?
DUANE: You’ve just pinpointed why I love setting novels in Philly—all of the beaches and mountains! Actually, this bastard child has many fathers. One was the Valerie Plame case. I wondered what it would be like to work for a company that was a front for a spy ring… and you had no idea. (Because that would be me. Totally.) Also, I’ve had the unfortunately experience of having to fire someone, and it struck me how much it was like a professional hit—you pick the time, the place, the method, then BLAM. A person’s life is changed forever. So I thought, gee, what if this whole thing were a bit more literal? And… okay, I admit it. It’s a naked plea for Steve Carrell’s attention. (Steve. Call me.) (more…)
I had a splendid adventure Monday night journeying into the heart of Republican Manhattan for a book party at Patsy’s on West 56th Street in honor of my friend James Rosen and The Strong Man, his new biography of John Mitchell (which received a strong recommendation last Sunday in the Times from William Safire.) Along with being a contributing editor to Playboy, James is a correspondent for Fox News, and the room was full of handsome people with strong white teeth and well-thatched heads, including Fox’s Roger Ailes, Eric Shawn and Bill Hemmer, the immortal Tom Wolfe, novelist Warren Adler, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, and a group of well-fed gentlemen who looked as if they mutter darkly whenever the name John Dean is uttered within earshot. The food was great, James gave a warm and amusing speech, and my sole regret is that after spending much of Sunday rummaging in the attic, I still couldn’t find my Humphrey-Muskie button. Congratulations, James!
Left, James with radio producer Lee Mason; right, Fox’s Bill Hemmer, Lee Mason, and Warren Adler, author of War of the Roses and former head of Jews for Nixon.
Last week, the good folks from Orvis had a group of magazine editors up to their Sandanona hunting preserve in Milbrook. Among the group were my colleague Chip Rowe and myself, and–brace yourself, pun ahead–we had a blast. Sandanona is a terrific facility, now entering its second century as a preserve, set on 400 beautifully maintained acres, and like Orvis’s sporting goods, clothing, and other products, it’s first class. We went up to shoot clays, and after receiving a lesson on how to handle a shotgun, we moved among the 20-odd shooting stations, each of which provided a different presentation of the targets. Some of them were flung away from us, some diverge in the distance, some go directly over your head, some skitter across the ground. Hitting them is hard work and righteously tiring–and fun. Thanks to our host Perk Perkins, our maestro James Hathaway, our guru Mike Quartararo, our wrangler Margaret Jackson, and everyone else who provided us with such a wonderful day.
Above, two shots of Team Playboy: Mike Q., Chip, me. Boy, did Chip and I get tired of carrying Mike through the competition.
Above left, some suspiciously accurate editors from Field & Stream.
Avove right, Margaret Jackson and her friend Alex Rodriquez.
The Seattle bullpen at Shea Stadium, Tuesday June 24, around 8 PM
Ah, the smell of horsehide and fresh-mown grass—and that was just on the bus! Yes, it was Tuesday night at the ballpark, as about forty or so Playboy staffers headed off to Shea Stadium on an office outing to see the hapless Seattle Mariners play the even haplessier New York Mets in an inter-league struggle for the ages. Lucky for the group, the game was over practically before it started—the Mariners pounded the Mets 11-0—freeing the Playboy boys and girls to discuss such topics as hot dogs, nachos, cracker jacks, and shrimping.
Exciting news: “Sex in Iran”, an article by Pari Esfandiari and Richard Buskin that I edited for the May 2007 issue of Playboy, has won the first Sexie Award for sex positive journalism. This award is given by the the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and the Center for Sex & Culture, and “Sex in Iran” won for Playboy in the “sex-themed publications” category. In seeking submissions, the presenters said they were looking for “stories that treat sexuality as something other than a problem or prurient curiosity”; they received more than a hundred entries. The judges were lavish in their praise of “Sex In Iran”, which was earlier selected to be included in the anthology Best Sex Writing 2008: “What an achievement this article is. Serious, attentive reporting and terrific scene-setting, with profound attention to the social and political context of sexual mores. A window onto a world of contradictions most Americans know nothing about. The best piece of sex reporting I have read in some time—and the best reporting on Iran as well. This is amazing journalism.” Two other Playboy articles, “The Redclouds Revolution” by John H. Richardson (September 2007) and “The Girlfriend Experience” by Erik Hedegaard (July 2007) took second and third places. Congratulations to the winners! The awards will be presented in New York in October. (For a complete list of all winners in all categories, click here.)
Henri Bendel’s on Fifth Avenue, Monday, June 16th, arund 9:30 AM.
I had the happy Father’s Day treat of seeing a performance of the Croton Teen Chorus, featuring my brilliant daughter Cara Malanowski. I had heard Cara sing at any length in more than a year, and it was lovely to hear her high, clear voice in ensemble, and in a solo rendition of I Got Rhythm . Well done, Cara! If only there was a photographer on hand who was worthy of your talents!
I received a nice letter from Lewis Burke Frumkes, the Director of the Writing Center at Marymount Manhattan College: “I thought your talk was terrific and highly informative. . . .Mr. Stupid may have gone to Washington, but in my book, Mr. Smart came to our conference in New York.” Lewis, I’m blushing!