Category Archives: people

Remembering Tab Hunter and What He Represented

I was a bit too young to have a clear memory of the actor,Tab Hunter. But during the 1960’s I was aware of his film personae.  He played the clean cut, handsome boy next door whom the girls were crazy about. Hunter sold this as part of the American brand. And he sold it well.

Here he is, looking the part.

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That character type found its way into many a Hollywood movie. And it reflected mainstream values of those days.  It was tempting to believe that the characters were real, rather than manufactured. Indeed, nurturing the belief that it was more than just acting was a key part of maintaining the popularity of the brand.

It was much later that we learned that actors like Tab Hunter and Rock Hudson were not at all like those characters. They were instead, real people who had their own sense of propriety and sexuality that they kept secret, The world didn’t learn that Hunter was gay until 2005 when he came out.  The truth about Hudson might not have come out if he had not contracted HIV back in 1984.

My how the world has changed.  Back in the early 60’s I don’t think the phrase “coming out” meant anything more than a party where a young girl was introduced to society. A much older tradition that is largely forgotten.

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I bring all this up in part to say so long to Hunter who passed on the other day at the ripe old age of 86,  I also pose this question — thinking back on those days, we all were expected to conform. Did that make life simpler? Some might like to remember it that way, but I think not.

What do you think?


The Lifestyle of Philppe de Baleine

Philippe de Baleine was a French journalist, and that tells you nothing of the man or his approach to life.

He was born to a well to do family in Paris, and grew up in the fashionable 16th. In 1946, he  became editor in chief of a daily newspaper named France Soir.  After that, he was connected to Paris Match and became editor in chief there as well. He also published over 50 books and won two literary prizes.

Still not much to grab hold of. The truth of the matter is that Philippe longed to travel and explore the world. And so he took on long assignments to Africa and Asia. And on these trips, according to his daughter, he was endlessly curious.

“Where could I find better comic scenes, sometimes tragic ones, than on those colorful convoys, those traveling circuses?” Mr. de Baleine wrote in “Le Petit Train des Cacahuètes” (“The Little Train That Carried Peanuts”), about a trip from the port city of Dakar, the capital of Senegal, to Bamako, the capital of Mali, about 850 miles inland.

How to explain it?

Mr. Pédron, his friend and former colleague, said of Mr. de Baleine, with a touch of drollery: “What he loved the most was long-form reporting, because those stories would send him far away for a pretty long time. He would have peace for two months, and he was happy with that.”

I would say that he gave his mind freedom to wander.

Tony Bourdain Moves On

Tony Bourdain became a celebrity later on in his life. And it was not something that you might have predicted. Before he became a celebrity, he was just a chef. He was known in the New York restaurant scene, which is pretty good. But he was not a celebrity chef like Ramsay or Batali. Nor did he aspire to that. He was a line chef. A hard working dude. So how could he become a celeb?

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The answer can be found in one word — snarkiness. Tony was snarky.  This is defined as “snide and sharply critical”.  I would add — funny. Tony wrote a book called “Kitchen Confidential” where he sort of “exposed” what went on behind the scenes in New York restaurants. In fact, what came out was not all that shocking. But it was funny. And so Tony parlayed that success into a TV gig – a travel and food gig.

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He even sat down with president Obama and had a beer in Vietnam

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In other words, Tony was able to portray the kind of guy that a lot of us would like to be. A very cool, outsider who was really an insider. Here is my favorite Tony Bourdain take – one how to make a negroni (a drink that would later become very popular)

Tony was on a roll. I loved it because I like Tony’s style. I envy his life style. And his writing style. The dude could scribble! Here is a link to a New Yorker article that lays out his values.

And suddenly, Tony took his own life at age 61.


This is how life works, I suppose. People don’t just ride off into the sunset. Errol Flynn, for example, died at age 50 – not from his adventures, but from a combination of a heart attack and liver failure. Hemingway didn’t die happy, but by a self-inflicted shot gun blast. People who create public images for themselves may find that realities that contradict those images are unbearable. That is one of Kundera’s preoccupations.

A quick story — One day, at the peak of his fame, Cary Grant walked down the street, and a fan shouted out “I wish I were Cary Grant!!!!” Grant reportedly turned and answered “I do too.”

That does not make Tony’s self-inflicted passing less sad for me. I thought that Tony was smarter. That he was tougher. That he would have fun up to his 80’s or 90’s.

It was not to be, and we need to soldier on!

So long Tony and thanks for what you gave us!

For more on Tony’s rather blunt way of speaking and his values, check this out.

For some thoughts about travel from Tony, here you go.

And for Tony’s New York favs

A nice tribute from Josh Barro – valuing connection

Remembering Philip Roth, who lived big!

Philip Roth was one of the great American novelists of the 20th century.- His genius was peculiarly American, in its reaching out and testing limits and its complaining.

I can think of no better tribute to the man than what he wrote himself – at the end of his famous Portnoy’s Complaint

This is the police speaking “You’re surrounded Portnoy. You better come out and pay your debt to society.” “Up society’s ass, Copper!” “Three to come out with those hands our yours up in the air, Mad Dog, or else we come in after you with guns blazing. One.” “Blaze you bastard cop, what do I give a shit? I tore the tag off my mattress —” “Two.” “But at least while I lived, I lived big!”



So (said the doctor) Now vee may please to begin? Yes?

So long Roth! You lived big, alright!

Remembering Tom Wolfe

The great writer has died, and with that passing, so too an era.  I remember when Tom Wolfe, the brash young writer burst onto the scene as part of the “New Journalism” movement. In reality “new journalism” was not all that new. It was instead a manifesto of sorts that writing should be readable. It should matter to people, rather than just aspire to transmit information in a supposedly neutral way.

And Tom Wolfe was very, very good at that. He never pretended to be neutral. He never pretended to be objective. He dedicated himself instead, to be entertaining. And he was very entertaining.

You might think of him as the American version of the British satirist. But unlike  the English satirist Evelyn Waugh, Wolfe liked people. He enjoyed the give and take of social events. He liked being in the lime light. And he wrote in ways that made him the center of attention.

What a character! In his earlier incarnation he looked like this

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That image was refined

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You can see it from the photos. Wolfe knew very well that his success as a writer was tied to his success as an entertainer. It is a tradition handed down to us from Mark Twain.

I feel that we are all richer for the fun that Tom Wolfe created. And I am very grateful that he had the spunk, or as my dear grandmother might have said the “piss and vinegar” to pull it off!



A Wedding Cake Laced with Sex Dust?

From BA

Violet Bakery’s royal wedding cake might be grabbing all the attention these days, but we’re particularly fascinated by what Amanda Chantal Bacon, America’s glowiest wellness entrepreneur fed to her new husband at their March wedding.

I am totally out of it, but Amanda Bacon?  Here is  a bit more on Ms Bacon

Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon is indisputably one of the most fascinating women in wellness. When she launched her brand with a tiny Venice shop in 2011, Bacon was one of the first in Los Angeles to give the concept of cold-pressed juice a modern spin; since then, the former fine-dining chef has garnered a near-religious following for her decadent medicinal drinks, superfood snacks, and adaptogenic Moon Dusts. (The libido-boosting Sex Dust and complexion-enhancing Beauty Dust are particularly sought-after.)

The New Potato gushes

It’s not every day you get health and beauty tips from the founder of Moon Juice – L.A.’s juicing heaven. Amanda Chantal Bacon was the perfect subject for Woman Crush Wednesday; we wasted no time in getting every tidbit we could from her on all things wellness. The only sensible next step would be for her to bring Moon Juice to New York City; yes Amanda, we’re waiting.’

And clearly, this is a young lady who likes being photographed

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another look

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The celebs I know nothing about! Have you heard of Amanda?

A Tribute to Drue Heinz

Drue Heinz married into a wealthy American family, and led a charmed life. That would be nice but not worthy of much comment. Drue also had a passion for literature and she spent a lot of time and money promoting literary causes and working with authors. She did so over many, many years.

She co-founded the Ecco Press. I truly loved Ecco for its work in bringing back out of print works.  More recently it offers a “line of books” that well known figures like Tony Bourdain can bring out. I like that idea!

Drue just passed on at the ripe old age of 103.