[Note: This is the very first article from the very first Holiday.]
THE WIND RACED from a bank of surly clouds and poured through the slot in the sea that forms the North End inlet at Atlantic City, New Jersey. It tossed spindrift at a group of huddled gulls which stood, back to the surf, plotting a long trip elsewhere. It fingered hair and ruffled skirts and gobbled up noise to whirl it away across bay and salt meadow. Now and then it blew a sprinkling of rain over the crowd gathered in Clam Stadium.
Mr. Israel Weintraub, 300 pounds of jitney driver, leaned back in his contest chair, dabbed at his mouth with something less than Chesterfieldian grace, and explained his success in the clam derby.
“I am prob’ly the best clam eater in the world,” he said, “an’ t’ be honest, I hate ’em. I win because I am such a good chili sauce and horse-radish man. If they ever limit them items, I quit winnin’ eatin’ contests here. My record is one hun’erd and forty-six clams in twenty minutes. This year it’s good I ain’t hungry because I only need one hun’erd and twenty to win.”
Mr. Weintraub posed with a hot dog and a bottle of pop, carefully ate away their property value, and blandly reflected on the joys of fame.
“I hear a threat about some guy from New York,” he remarked. “Comes from Fulton Fish Market, and is supposed to eat three hun’erd today. He don’t worry me none. He don’t show up. Them threats never do.”
When I was a boy of ten in Decatur, Illinois, my mother gave me twenty cents every morning—half of it for carfare to school, the remaining dime for my lunch. I could have spent that dime on candy or ice cream, but I can’t recall that I ever did, because it was at this magic and benign moment in time that I discovered chili.
Day after day I went to Chili Bill’s joint a couple of blocks from the school, sat at a scrubbed wooden counter, and for ten cents got a bowl of steaming chili, six soda crackers and a glass of milk. That was livin’!
I have been a chili man ever since those days. Nay, I have been the chili man. Without chili I believe I would wither and die. I stand without a peer as a maker of chili, and as a judge of chili made by other people. No living man, and let us not even think of woman in this connection, no living man, I repeat, can put together a pot of chili as ambrosial, as delicately and zestfully flavorful, as the chili I make. This fact is so stern, so granitic, that it belongs in the encyclopedias, as well as in all standard histories of civilization.
From my diary: Gritti Palace Hotel, Venice, October 26, 1948: “Lettuce leaves jostling in the wakes of boats on the Grand Canal…. The two bells of the Campanile are an octave apart … We lunched at Harry’s Bar, chic people and a triumphant fish soup.”
March 18, 1949: “Met Papa at Harry’s and many friends there—Count Carlo di Robilant and his wife Caroline, the Tripcovitches, Princess Aspasia of Greece with whom, Papa said, he’s had an afternoon of good, solid drink and talk while I was away, Baron Nanyuki Franchetti, Prince Tassilo Fürstenberg, a couple of Windisch-Graetzes and other once-Austrians, Howard, the Duke of Norfolk’s younger brother and his pretty wife, Countess Lili Volpi and that enduring, endearing old Countess Amelia de Reali. We lunched in a haze of affection and felicity with the di Robilants, the green tagliarini divine; paused on the way home as usual to inspect the jewelry in Codognato’s window.”
December 5, 1967: “Lunched with Cipriani and his lovely and elegant dark-eyed Giulia (wife) and his sister, Gabriella, my old friend, in the peace and sunshine of the upstairs room at Harry’s. He was in his usual fine spirits, with his cool, clear blue eyes unchanged, observing everything. I had scampi, fresh and sweet with a whisper of garlic. He had garnished hamburger, maybe not quite as good as my Wild West Hamburger, I surmised.”
DEAR BRUCE, IS NOT IN OUR STARS,
BUT IN OURSELVES
IS CALIFORNIA’S CANONIZATION OF LENNY BRUCE A SYMPTOM OF OUR NEW SELF-CRITICISM?
“He used to say he was being crucified, and . . . I’d say, ‘Hey, man, but don’t forget the resurrection.'” — Mort Sahl, 1966.
Two years after the death of Leonard Alfred Schneider, naked and alone on a bathroom floor in Hollywood, a hypodermic needle in his right arm, the Lenny Bruce cult continues to flourish, especially among the young who never saw the prophet, never heard his voice or touched the hem of his garment. They know only his records and his writings, neither of which do justice to the man or his message.
In tribute here is the poignant conclusion to Ray Bradbury’s 1965 “Machine-Tooled Happyland“:
No beatniks here. No Cool people with Cool faces pretending not to care, thus swindling themselves out of life or any chance for life.
Disneyland causes you to care all over again. You feel it is that first day in the spring of that special year when you discovered you were really alive. You return to those morns in childhood when you woke and lay in bed and thought, eyes shut, “Yes, sir, the guys will be here any sec. A pebble will tap the window, a dirt clod will horse-thump the roof, a yell will shake the treehouse slats.”
And then you woke fully and the rock did bang the roof and the yell shook the sky and your tennis shoes picked you up and ran you out of the house into living.
Disneyland is all that. I’m heading there now. Race you?
Nearly half a century later Bradbury remembered his joyous Holiday piece with matched enthusiasm. The following recently appeared on the Ray Bradbury forum:
I discovered this a few weeks ago…and read it to Mr B as part of my regular readings to him. He was so excited to hear it, and laughed at several parts of the essay, nodding his head and saying, “yes – I remember!”
Quinn’s Bar, on the waterfront in Papeete, Tahiti, is said by those having authority in such fields to be the worst bar in the world, and I think this is very likely true. There may be worse bars in certain respects elsewhere, but for overall lack of refinement Quinn’s has a distinction that is pretty nearly unique. I’ve met travelers who have ventured into dives on the waterfront of Marseilles, in the Wanchai district of Hong Kong and on the back streets of Juarez, but who acknowledge that they had never tasted the full extravagance of descent until they entered Quinn’s.
Anyone who has the great good fortune to live in Cornwall, beside the sea, has no reason to go on vacation at all. This I tell myself, with guilt, when I begin to feel restive, generally in winter, after too many rainy days. Soon the sou’westerly winds will cease, I can discard oilskins and sea boots, the sun will shine again, the straggling wallflowers bloom, and I can cross the ploughed fields down to the beach without being blown backward by a gale. And yet, a nagging sense of discontent remains. Hailstorms gather and April has not yet come. I glance at the weather reports of distant capitals and see that Athens is fair, with a temperature of 68 degrees.
I begin to dream of holidays long past, when, stouter of heart and stronger of limb, I set out, bound for Athens and a vacation to be spent hiking in the Pindus Mountains in northwest Greece.
[Note: If it can be proven that the following editor’s note isn’t the greatest editor’s note of all time I will gladly eat not just my own hat but any additional hat presented to me.]
ONE DAY not long ago, an arrow sped through an open window of the HOLIDAY editorial rooms, bedded itself in a desk top, and stood there quivering before the startled eyes of the editor. Attached to it was a letter, a letter born of a Brooklynite’s bitter hurt at the story Manhattan Holiday, in the October issue of HOLIDAY, and the snubbing it contained of the writer’s beloved borough. We had of course known all our lives of the feud that existed between Brooklyn and Manhattan, warmest rivals among the five sister boroughs of Greater New York. We know how Manhattanites tend to ignore Brooklyn, and snub it, and how Brooklynites grow sullen and hurt under such cavalier treatment. Knowing this, we have made it a firm part of HOLIDAY editorial policy never to say anything against Brooklyn, just as we never say anything against MOTHER, or FREE ENTERPRISE. We do not believe our article insulted Brooklyn, but perhaps we did somewhat neglect her. In fairness, therefore, we are printing hurt Brooklyn Citizen Goodwin’s letter. Further, we have even made the courageous editorial decision to show actual pictures of Brooklyn.
[Note: The two women profiled here are now in their 80’s—and still modeling, half a century after this article was written. Presumably they now make more than $60 an hour.]
How true is the popular picture of the model as skinny, conceited, overpaid and undersexed? Two of the top come clean about the glamour profession
You are in the giant studio of one of the world’s foremost fashion photographers. It is eleven in the morning, and since nine the studio has been preparing one fashion photograph. The model has arrived in make-up, done her hair and submitted to a complete blue-white body wash because this will be a color shot. She has been walking around for an hour, wearing nothing but a balloon chemise, drying herself in the air.
Now the sitting begins. The model puts on a high-fashion dress and takes her position on the set. The photographer stacks records on the hi-fi and driving jazz blasts through the studio. A giant electric fan is turned on, and its gale whips the model’s dress. Its roar is added to the clamor of music, and everybody has to shout.
Plate after plate is slammed into the camera. At each exposure, the strobe lights explode with a shattering WHAM! The model melts smoothly from pose to pose, experimenting with arms, hands, legs, feet, body, head—always careful to adjust the dress and display it at its best.
The photographer never stops directing, praising, singing with the music: “Arm a little higher, darling. That’s it! Beautiful! Hold it!” WHAM! “You look lovely. One more.” WHAM ! “Perfect!” WHAM! Left leg back. Hold the hem higher. Lovely!” WHAM! “One more!” WHAM! “What’d you just do with your head? No, the other way. That’s it! Beautiful!” WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!