09 December 2013
As promised, here's Peter Kaplan's cover story for the last issue of M Magazine. Kaplan thought late night talk shows not only spoke to America but spoke for us as well. Kaplan's daughter sang Irving Berlin's, "What I'll Do" at his funeral. It seems fitting to include Bernadette Peter's rendition that aired on one of the last Johnny Carson shows back in April -- Oddly, the same year of M's demise.
08 December 2013
Marty Feldman & Spike Milligan in The Undertakers from Marty Feldman's Comedy Machine
I've always been a dreamer. One of the earliest dreams I remember having was when I was 16 and having sex with Angie Dickinson on a bumper pool table. Lots of excitement and wonder but with plenty of anxiety and frustration. Ever have sex on a bumper pool table? It's not easy.
I've been thinking of death a lot lately. I had a dream where Dad and I are sitting at this rustic table on a hard scrabble hill overlooking an Italian village. We're sharing a bottle of white wine and Dad's eating pasta. In front of us is Death. He's 10' or so and in the black hooded robe but instead of a sickle, he's got a hoe and he's chipping away at the hard dry dirt and digging up skulls. Each time he uncovers one, he picks it up and tucks it into his robe.
I hear a cell phone ringing and look at Dad who's slurping up pasta and ignoring Death. 'Is that you ?' I ask. Dad shakes his head without looking up from his bowl. I look at Death and he reaches into his sleeve and pulls out a flip phone.
"Hello,"Death says. "Hello?...Hello?...Hello?"
Death shrugs and returns the phone to his sleeve. Death's mobile rings again.
"Hello? ... Hello?... Hello?..."
I turn to my father, "Death sure is a pain in the ass," I say. Dad puts his fork down and looks at me, "No shit. "
04 December 2013
Peter Kaplan, who told me he had no idea, wrote the cover story for the last issue of M, or as it was known by 1992, 'M Inc.' Clay Felker, Kaplan's friend, mentor & editor of M Inc., praised the TV obsessed Kaplan for the piece he did on David Letterman.
In describing Letterman and his gritty honesty, I always thought Felker was describing Kaplan as well -- Like Warren Oates doing Sam Peckinpah in, 'Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.'
01 December 2013
Peter Kaplan died of cancer Friday. He was 59. A couple months ago, I called him on his cell since he never answered his office phone. He answered with a curious, "Hello?" I'm guessing because of the mysterious area code.
"Mr. Kaplan, this is John Tinseth and I don't mean to sand bag you on your cell, but I just wanted to let you know what was going on with the M book, and we're gonna make it an E book 'cause it was impossible to get in everything we wanted hard copy, and the proofs from the printer in China sucked, and we'd like to insert filmed interviews in the E book with folks who knew and worked on M, and since you wrote the last cover story, would you be interested in doing an interview?"
This was said at roughly the same speed and pentameter as Ralphie asking Santa for a Red Ryder BB gun. "Sure," Kaplan said, "I'd be happy to help in any way that I can. Just let me know when you wanna do it." Getting the firm order, I thanked him and said goodbye before he could change his mind and kick me down the slide. The second I hung up, that monumental exuberance, like a parachute opening, would change to paranoid dread as I wondered how I'd ever get Kaplan on the phone again, or, if he even meant it. This was New York City after all and people like Peter Kaplan had bigger fish to fry -- Little did I know what was going on...
From the NY Times obit, he had been diagnosed last Summer. When I found out this morning, all I could think of, being the selfish asshole that I am, was what a gyp. My first meeting with Kaplan was for a 3PM lunch in an Irish pub in April of 2012.
Peter Kaplan Mar 28, 2012
Dear John Tinseth,
Hi. We haven’t met—but I am a great fan of The Trad.
I would very much like to speak to you about M magazine and your new book—a topic of plenty of importance around here. Do you have time for a drink in the next couple of weeks?
Fairchild Fashion Media
We were meeting in his building lobby and at the last minute I grabbed an Observer from a news stand and spread it out in front me while crossing my legs on a Barcelona ottoman while trying to look relaxed.
"John?" he said. I lowered the paper and saw him smiling. I stood up and offered my hand -- Just to shake, but from what I knew about Kaplan, it was a proposal as well. He wanted to talk about M Magazine and the book. I wanted to work for the mother fucker. I folded the Observer and tossed it on the ottoman. Kaplan frowned and pointed at the pink paper, "You're leaving the paper?" "That's not a paper anymore…" I whined, "it's classified ads for real estate." Kaplan didn't laugh but I saw a small grin.
On May 23, 2012, at 3:50 PM, "Kaplan, Peter"
It's the only card I have.
On Nov 13, 2012, at 8:43 AM, "Kaplan, Peter" wrote:Dear John I am so sorry. I have been out of the office a lot lately. Let us schedule a phone call. Peter
We talked a handful of times afterwards but I never saw Kaplan again. I wanted to. Anytime I found myself close by his office and Starbucks, I'd hope to bump into him on the street. It never happened but I could feel his presence walking that avenue ever alert for his tortoise shell glasses, khakis, blue oxford button-down and dusty foulard tie.
The Trad, never a financial success, has given me rich access to some of the most interesting people. It's funny, but I think of the Army the same way. I didn't make any money but I met men I will never forget. I don't think it's too far off the mark for Peter Kaplan to be my favorite general. Like the generals I worked for, our relationship was not intimate, but it was about love and that's why some people can lead and most of us can't.
27 November 2013
With sisters, Chapel Hill, 1966
"Great" is in grateful. "Titled" is in, "entitled." It's all about contrast. A chunky wool tweed against end on end shirting and a silk tie. A potato knish for breakfast and later lunch at the Four Seasons. Then there's the contrast of words: Grateful and entitled.
We're coming up on the day we're all supposed to be thankful. I didn't want to spend that day in Chapel Hill with my family in 1966. Dad was in Vietnam and a friend of mine invited me to spend Thanksgiving with his family. He had a lot to be thankful for. His father owned a number of Esso stations and they were rich.
The ranch house was the length of a football field with a pond in the front and a go kart track around it. The go-kart had a blue and white surrey top and a white vinyl bench seat. And as things go with boys -- his stuff was mine and my stuff was his.
We tore around the pond, lap after lap, stopping only once to refill with gas. I assumed it was free. Speaking of words, I just noticed how beautiful the word 'go kart' is. Anyway, the day had the faintest hint of chill and absolutely no humidity. Not an everyday occurrence in the humid swamp that was Chapel Hill most days.
Outside was better than inside.
A formal dining room with one window seemed dark as death and brown as a coffin. Brown was in the turkey, the iced tea, the Queen Anne dining set and death was in the grandmother who sat at the head of the table. No one talked except the grandmother and I never wanted to hear her again.
After dinner everyone wandered into the living room where the color TV was turned on with a remote the size of a Montecristo No. 4 box. I don't remember what they watched. I only remember it was time to go. The go kart wasn't worth it.
I walked into my tiny house where neighbors and their children were crammed in every corner. It was loud and bright with light. Color slides of French gardens from a neighbors recent holiday flashed on a bare white wall and wine bottles littered our Scandinavian dinner table.
I still see it and I still remember knowing it meant something special. I wanted to be in the light and not the dark. I still do and for that I'm grateful.
Originally posted 23 November 2010
24 November 2013
Peter Bogdanovich published a bio of Orson Welles in the early '90s. I was married and living in Lake Bluff when the Echo Xray gave me the book for Christmas in 1992 or '93. The bio came with four hours of recorded interviews at numerous locations to include the set of Catch 22 and a NYC taxi where Welles offers the driver a gold doubloon if he'll step on it.
Last year I unsuccessfully looked for the interviews on line since my own tapes have resided in a storage locker somewhere in Northeast Florida for the last seven years. But the internet finally caught up and here they finally are with the first half hour above.
I remember hearing these the first time and being overwhelmed...Not just by the technical insight and gossip...but just hearing Orson fire up another Partagas, hearing ice being swirled in a drink and feeling like I was in the room with him.
Welles, who was from Kenosha, was all over the the north shore of Chicago. Acting as a 13 year old at Ravinia and attending the Todd School for Boys in Woodstock, IL -- I'd drive around listening to these tapes and couldn't stop thinking what a great film they'd inspire. For me, they were so visual -- Maybe they'll be for you as well.
21 November 2013
One of the strangest conversations I ever had with Dad, and there were some strange ones, concerned my being killed in Panama. Dad was informed by my mother, who, according to Dad, seemed to be on another planet. She approached him in our backyard where he had set up a radial arm saw and spent as much time as he possibly could cutting wood and avoiding people.
"John's dead." she said. "What?" he said, turning off the saw. "John's dead. It happened early this morning." He was stunned. How could it have happened? And then he remembered I was in Panama. He knew it could have happened any number of ways and plenty ran through his head.
He looked at her and said, "Our son's not supposed to die before us." She cocked her head, "What are you talking about?" "John," he said. "You said he was dead." "No," she said. "My uncle -- John -- he died this morning." "Oh," he said. She turned and walked back into the house. He switched the saw on and grabbed another piece of plywood.
20 November 2013
A day late and a dollar short goes my story... Men of the Cloth (covered here) premieres tonight and I can't make it but I can't wait to see it. I understand tickets were especially difficult to secure but if you're in town tomorrow night -- that's this Thursday -- You might well be in luck. According to producer/director, Vicki Vasilopoulos, a Fairchild alum and an amazingly sweet person despite her tenure at Fairchild, there are openings for tomorrow night. Are you impulsive?.. and in NYC tomorrow night?..Then by all means... jump on it.
November 21st, 2013 at 5:00 PM
IFC Center, 323 6th Ave at West 3rd St
Info and tickets here.
19 November 2013
By the time I arrived in NYC in '84, New Order's, 'Temptation' had been out but not for long. I wound up with a bunch of the French guys who were rebuilding the Statue of Liberty torch in the same repousse way the original was constructed.
We wound up in a bar in midtown and lady luck and, I think, Lady Liberty, were looking down on us -- Not that it doesn't hurt to have 13 Frenchmen who make a living banging copper against wood. Girls were everywhere and so were the French. Me? I was lucky to be along for the ride.
I think it was an Irish bar - A massive place and we were on a balcony over looking the bar. 'Temptation' came on and the French started dancing by themselves. In no time, and I mean, NO. TIME. They were joined by women from every direction. I joined the human car wash and I remember it as a pure miracle I was lucky enough to join. The song seemed to just go on an on...
The French slowly paired up and left the balcony with their new American friends but I didn't wanna go anywhere. I just wanted to dance forever -- No Joke.
11 November 2013
I planned this going away party for RM on the infamous Hay Street in Fayettville. RM was on his way from being a clerk & jerk in JAG to OCS and eventually a 2nd LT in the Infantry. He was a good friend who made a messy situation with the Army and Dad's auto insurance company disappear when I loaned Dad's '68 Dodge Charger to a stoned Johnnie Walters for a McDonald's run and who instead ran into the back of a parked Army duece and a half. I have no idea where RM is but I wish them both a Happy Veteran's Day.
07 November 2013
My old man was very proud of his Cutty Sark. His painting...not the Scotch. He was a gin martini man through and through and Beefeater gin was his go to. I don't ever remember him drinking anything else except beer, of which he gave no brand his loyalty, or the occasional glass of wine, which, if he knew anything, he learned from me.
His Cutty Sark painting was about an image - he knew - was instantly recognizable...at least by himself and his peers in the officer's clubs he frequented. My connection to Cutty Sark is through Berry Brothers and Rudd. A wine merchant in the Pall Mall area of London, I was first introduced to the 300 year old merchant via their catalogs a London friend, Vodka Ronnie, kept by his toilet. Not the most glorious of beginnings but Vodka Ronnie had very good taste in wine.
Barry & Rudd, as it's more commonly known, came up with the idea for a light blended Scotch as they were wine merchants and I assume didn't want to blow their customer's palettes outta the water with a double barrel Islay. Their target customer were Septics (Septic Tank- Yank) who were about to get back into Rub a Dubs (Rub a Dub- Pub) as Prohibition was coming to an end. With the Septic in mind, a 20 single malt blend was used with mostly Big Girl's Blouse Speyside (Glenrothes) being the predominant malt.
"Whis-KAY" as it's pronounced over there also sounds a lot like "Cut-TAY." When I hear one, I think of the other. I'm not sure why. It's a Lemmon-NAY Whis-KAY. Light and dry and being that it's not too dear, I think it's best to be mixed, which I did, with a $20 bottle. I tried it with Polar Bitter Lemon (find it - far better than Canada Dry) and it wasn't bad. I mixed it with lemon flavored seltzer and thought it completely changed the Cutty with the soda giving it a rounder and fuller taste of a scotch double the price. Impressive for those like me who are mean when it comes to their Whis-KAY.
I used it to make a Side Car replacing the brandy with Cutty -- A favorite of the tasting and something I look forward to ordering in a Rub a Dub, "Make mine a Cut-TAY side car, To-NAY." If you're thinking a Manhattan -- I wouldn't -- Although I did. There's just not enough backbone to the Cutty. Having said that, if you're a beginning Scotch drinker, this is the tricycle for you, in much the way Barry & Rudd always intended it to be, even if you are a big girl's blouse; I wear a 14.
05 November 2013
Special thanks to the Main Line Sportsman for the invitation & inspiration of the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup