Tag Archives: Esquire

This Week’s Best Profile – Polygamy

Polygamy sounds great, unless you’re a woman. It’s not all peaches for the guys, either:

It’s not a normal day if Bill doesn’t get himself completely confounded in one way or another. When Bill raises his head from the pillow after a night of sleep, he sometimes has to ask himself a couple of questions well-known to any man who’s ever picked up a woman in a bar: “Where am I?” and “Who is this person next to me?” Every once in a while, he’ll get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and, not really sure which house he’s in, will bumble around in the dark, clutching at walls, until he finally ends up trying to locate the toilet in a walk-in closet.

When you live in four separate houses, it’s tough to keep track of your stuff. You’ve misplaced your favorite golf shirt? Start looking, buddy, because you’ve got four houses, each ten to fifteen miles apart from the next, to choose from. Many times, Bill has awakened on the morning of an important business meeting to find that he’s missing his dress shoes or a suit jacket and has to race around town like a crazed cabbie to track down the lost article and get to work on time.

This is from Brady Udall’s 1998 Esquire profile of “Bill,” a polygamist. Bill’s not in it for the sex:

Bill doesn’t have sex for fun. He says that he and his wives believe that sex should happen for one reason and one reason only: procreation. It’s written in the Bible–don’t spill your seed unnecessarily; keep it for when you need it. It’s hard to imagine a man in a regular marriage coming right out and admitting to a boring sex life. And women’s cycles being what they are, it is the woman who makes decisions about the goings-on in the marriage bed. “It’s the girls who are in charge of all that,” Bill says. Bill is a man of God.

That’s right. He does it for God. Explanation to be found in the article. Aspiring polygamists beware.

This Week’s Best Profile

From the DFW archive, Michael Joyce, tennis prodigy:

Michael Joyce will later say that Brakus “had a big serve, but the guy didn’t belong on a pro court.” Joyce didn’t mean this in an unkind way. Nor did he mean it in a kind way. It turns out what Michael Joyce says rarely has any kind of spin or slant on it; he mostly just reports what he sees, rather like a camera. You couldn’t even call him sincere, because it’s not like it seems ever to occur to him to try to be sincere or nonsincere. For a while, I thought that Joyce’s rather bland candor was a function of his not being very bright. This judgment was partly informed by the fact that Joyce didn’t go to college and was only marginally involved in his high school academics (stuff I know because he told me right away). What I discovered as the tournament wore on was that I can be kind of a snob and an asshole and that Michael Joyce’s affectless openness is not a sign of stupidity but of something else.

Esquire titled this “The String Theory.” DFW himself, in a later collection, titled it “Tennis Player Michael Joyce’s Professional Artistry as a Paradigm of Certain Stuff about Choice, Freedom, Discipline, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness.”

Read the abridged Esquire text here. Buy this to get the full version.

George Lois Explains It All

Some weeklies still attempt to make art out of their covers, but it’s a shame that most monthly magazine’s have resolved to splash celebrities in largely uninteresting poses. Not like the days of George Lois at Esquire, who has laid out the story behind 12 of his famous covers:

“It was 1968, and Ali was waiting for an appeal for draft evasion to reach the Supreme Court. I said to Hayes, ‘I want to do a cover with Ali, I want to depict him as the famous martyr Saint Sebastian.’ And I called up Ali, told him I needed him and his pretty white trunks and shoes. I showed him a postcard of a painting by Castagno, with Sebastian’s body relaxed, but his head back in agony. And he says, ‘Hey, George, this cat’s a Christian? I can’t pose as a Christian, I’m a Muslim.’ I tried to explain that it’s symbology, but he said no, and I asked if I could talk to Elijah Muhammad, who was the head of the Muslim community at the time. He calls him up, puts me on the phone, and there I am talking to Elijah Muhammad about religion, imagery, symobolgy, etc., and finally he said, ‘Okay, sounds good to me.’ And Ali did it. It really became a rallying cry, the anti-war poster at that time. It was a combo of race, religion, and war in one image.”

See Ali as Saint Sebastian, and 11 others, here.

This Week’s Best Profile

It’s a been a busy time here, so we’re going to be lazy and point you to the profile that everyone else on the Internet has probably pointed you to: Chris Jones’ profile of Roger Ebert, in Esquire. The good news is, it’s just as wonderful as they say!

We’ll add our favorite of Ebert’s recent blog epics:

Like many old farts my age, I don’t know what to make of the sexual habits of younger generations. I hear about Hooking Up. The term is widely in use, and refers to the exchange of physical pleasure, not necessarily intercourse, between two people who may not be going together or in fact may not have been introduced and indeed may not be strictly sober. Let me assure you that Hooking Up was discovered long before it was named.

The Mighty Fall

In the past week, Esquire.com has published 31 articles. Over a third of those – 12, to be exact – have been about Tiger Woods. A representative sampling:

“How many women can one man actually sleep with?”

“17 gifts for athletes who like to cheat…on the playing field?”

“The Tiger Woods Mistress Quiz: How many do you know?”

“Ask a Porn Star: Could Tiger really have slept with Holly Sampson and Joslyn James?”

I don’t know who Ms. Sampson or Ms. James are. But I do know Esquire is the magazine that once published Gay Talese, Michael Herr, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The magazine’s gone markedly downhill for about a year, ever since publishing the greatest single issue of a magazine – any magazine – that I’ve ever read.

It’s obviously hard for a magazine to do good work these days. For now, they’ve lost one RSS subscriber, and have eight months until my print subscription runs out.


The award for best Berlin Wall package this week goes to the New York Times, with its series of before and after photos:

Picture 1

It’s cooler than that screenshot makes it look. If you must read and look at more, I’d recommend Esquire on the art of the wall; George Packer on the wall’s replacement (gay clubs, among other things); Magnum Photos on East Germany well before the wall’s fall.

27 Sentences

Esquire picked 27 sentences from Philip Roth’s “The Human Stain” that it says can’t help but make you happy (some profanities included):

“You’re not up to fucking somebody who can’t read,” she said. “You’re going to drop me because I’m not a worthy, legitimate person who reads. You’re going to say to me, ‘Learn to read or go.’ ” “No,” I told her, “I’m going to fuck you all the harder because you can’t read.” “Good,” she said, “we understand each other. I don’t do it like those literate girls and I don’t want to be done to like them.” “I’m going to fuck you,” I said, “for just what you are.” “That’s the ticket,” she says. We were both laughing by then. Faunia’s got the laugh of a barmaid who keeps a baseball bat at her feet in case of trouble, and so she was laughing that laugh of hers, that scrappy, I’ve-seen-it-all laugh — you know, the coarse, easy laugh of the woman with a past — and by then she’s unzipping my fly. But she was right on the money about my having decided to give her up. All the way back from Vermont I was thinking exactly what she said I was thinking. But I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to impose my wonderful virtue on her. Or on myself. That’s over. I know these things don’t come without a cost. I know that there’s no insurance you can buy on this. I know how the thing that’s restoring you can wind up killing you. I know that every mistake that a man can make usually has a sexual accelerator. But right now I happen not to care. I wake up in the morning, there’s a towel on the floor, there’s baby oil on the bedside table. How did all that get there? Then I remember. Got there because I’m alive again. Because I’m back in the tornado. Because this is what it is with a capital isness.

Well, thanks Esquire. Have a lovely weekend, all.

This much they know

The Guardian has an ongoing series – apparently it’s been going on for years – that boils down to asking celebrities questions about life. It’s not particularly unique (Esquire has a similar series), but most of the people are British, so if you close your eyes, you can almost hear how wise their accented pearls sound.

Some samples:

I was born quite a pessimistic person. When I’m driving I constantly visualise the person in the other car doing something really stupid and killing me. I keep as safe a distance as I can.

First thing in the morning, at seven, I wash my face. I have my breakfast – an egg and Kellogg’s cornflakes with skimmed milk and Sweet’N’Low – and I try to get on with it.

If you’re comfortable you’re doing no good for anyone. I wrote to the News of the World and asked to write for them. If I wrote for this mag, I’d be preaching to the converted.

My father had a style based on Bing Crosby. He liked the sports jackets and trousers, and that thing with the one hand in the trouser pocket. He used to smoke, so the other hand was busy.

I thought a lot about revealing that I had threesomes.

Can you guess which one is Niall Ferguson? Bill Nighy? Jane FondaBrian Wilson? Jamie Oliver?

This Week’s Best Profile

This story is certainly in my hall of fame. And this, from Susan Orlean’s “The American Male at Age 10,” may be among my five favorite opening paragraphs. Ever:

If Colin Duffy and I were to get married, we would have matching superhero notebooks. We would ‘ wear shorts, big sneakers, and long, baggy T-shirts depicting famous athletes every single day, even in the winter. We would sleep in our clothes. We would both be good at Nintendo Street Fighter II, but Colin would be better than me. We would have some homework, but it would not be too hard and we would always have just finished it. We would eat pizza and candy for all of our meals. We wouldn’t have sex, but we would have crushes on each other and, magically, babies would appear in our home. We would win the lottery and then buy land in Wyoming, where we would have one of every kind of cute animal. All the while, Colin would be working in law enforcement – probably the FBI. Our favorite movie star, Morgan Freeman, would visit us occasionally. We would listen to the same Eurythmics song (“Here Comes the Rain Again”) over and over again and watch two hours of television every Friday night. We would both be good at football, have best friends, and know how to drive; we would cure AIDS and the garbage problem and everything that hurts animals. We would hang out a lot with Colin’s dad. For fun, we would load a slingshot with dog food and shoot it at my butt. We would have a very good life.

Read the whole thing here, thanks to an enterprising English professor at VCU. It was in Esquire, first.

The Falling Man

Meanderings would prefer to leave the 9/11 tributes to the many people with important things to say. But we will offer this, a worthy 7,000 words from Tom Junod on the day’s iconic image.

Update: And 800 words from John Hodgman.