Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Coat, a Hat and a Gun

“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.”

from Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

Still Life by James Perceval, courtesy of LP.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Does a Haircut Suggest Your Destiny?

As I've pointed out before... a commonplace question is: Does your name determine your destiny?

Meanwhile, I frequently wonder, and do again this month, if your haircut determines your destiny.   Let's hope not.

Below right see Kim Jong Un, current leader of "The Hermit Kingdom," North Korea.  At left, his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, communist North Korea's first leader, who as a young man invaded South Korea and thus led his country into a bloody war with a United Nations-approved coalition.

Meanwhile, from China comes a statement yesterday from China that they had NOT increased troop strength at their border with North Korea... a statement that could be read in a number of ways, including that they HAD, or that they're considering it.  In any case they are concerned certainly about the recent apparent murder of Kim's half brother.   Excerpt and link follow separately.


Reuters reports:

China denied on Thursday that it had increased its troop presence on the border with North Korea after the murder of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Malaysia.
Reports routinely circulate at times of heightened tension on the Korean peninsula of China sending troops to the border, which China always denies.
South Korean and U.S. officials say the North Korean leader's half brother, Kim Jong Nam, was assassinated by North Korean agents. North Korea has not acknowledged his death.

Some Hong Kong media last week reported that China had sent more soldiers to the border after Kim was attacked at Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13. 
"As for the reports you mentioned of the People's Liberation Army increasing troops on the Chinese-North Korean border, they are totally baseless and completely fabricated," defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang told a monthly news briefing.
He did not elaborate.

Elizabeth Wurtzel, a sometime contributor to The Main Point, earlier weighed in with this observation:
Actually, dictators tend to have crazy hair. In Hitler's case, weird mustache. The Kim's: insane hair, and funny glasses. Look at Qaddafi. Look at Castro's beard. Evita's severe bun. Maggie's bouffant--though she was a dictatress manqué. President Lincoln threw members of the opposing party in jail, suspended Habeas Corpus, and had the US Army occupy the half of the country that was in rebellion--sounds kind of kingly,yes?--and he had a shock of panther-black hair. (In fact the only US President that has been bald that I can think of got his job through a series of amazing mishaps and was not elected at all: Gerald Ford.) And I am without portfolio, but I have the most amazing extremely long bottled blonde hair. Someday I will be queen of the whole wide world.

And of course, there is Medusa: Need I say more?

Yes: hairstyle is destiny. 

Read the whole Reuters story HERE.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cuba, Che Guevara, and a Point of History Secondhand

Castro’s death has renewed an open, vibrant, and sometimes heated debate about his regime and its treatment of Cuban citizens. Twenty years ago, in the aftermath of the Cold War, much less was known in the U.S.—these were not things the American media dwelled upon. An incident while working at The Paris Review with George Plimpton in the early nineties opened my eyes, especially to Che Guevara’s supervision of the detention of political prisoners at La Cabana prison in Havana.

One day, at the office on East Seventy-Second Street, perusing the catalog of Grove Press’s forthcoming books, I spotted a title about which I’d heard nothing—The Motorcycle Diaries, by Che Guevara, which had been published in Cuba in the sixties but had never appeared in English. It seemed a long shot, but from the description of it as a travelogue with an unusual provenance, I thought a piece from it might be something for the Review.

The manuscript arrived a good six months before publication. The writing was fine, somewhat conventional but well observed...

Continued at The Paris Review Daily, who have just offered to publish this item as a post.  Please read the whole thing HERE.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Why Filmmakers Love Morocco

Last month I wrote a travel story for The Spectator Life's summer issue about why filmmakers love Morocco, and where they like to stay when in Marrakech.  Also in that article I elaborate the spark that lit my interest in film-making:

Morocco shares many of the advantages that first drew filmmakers to California: year-round sunshine, diverse landscapes, great old architecture and abundant available extras. Just recently Morocco and Britain signed a treaty giving each other reciprocal tax subsidies for film and television production. And since the UK and Morocco are in the same time zone, they keep the same business hours.

My fascination with film was kindled in the New York editorial offices of a literary magazine, the Paris Review. My then boss, George Plimpton, recounted over lunch one day an adventure he had had long before — one of his stunts in participatory journalism — when he shipped off to Morocco to play a Bedouin extra on the set of David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia.

He described Lean as a figure in the far distance, a speck at the end of a vast gorge, standing beside a camera and orchestrating the spectacle of a massive Bedouin army on horseback. ‘I’m on screen there somewhere,’ George insisted, ‘though I didn’t get a horse to ride on; mostly I stood around and ululated. Lucky that I was so far out of camera range because beneath those Bedouin robes I was wearing my own brown Bass Weejun loafers.’

The Spectator is the oldest continuously published magazine in the English language, and I was delighted to be included in that special issue.  Read the whole thing HERE.

Top image courtesy of La Mamounia Hotel.

The Courageous Choice of a Suit

Polite Notice to regular readers of TMP:

Some months back I wrote for Conde Nast's "M" Magazine a survey of the Future of Men's Fashion, interviewing sundry figures, including one novelist friend who discoursed on the utility of the right T-shirt.  In the end I learned what a courageous choice a suit can be:

You would think that after time away, the hardest part of visiting New York would be braving passport control, baggage reclaim, and then finding a taxi from JFK. Instead, I find it the dilemma of what to wear.

The director Whit Stillman once advised me, regarding an upcoming film-development meeting, “Wear a suit, a blue suit. In truth, it’s worked out terribly for my career, with people mistakenly thinking I might be on the business side rather than creative, but it does still create an impression!”

For writers, every day is casual Friday, and we rarely pay close attention to fashion trends. 

Read the whole thing HERE.