Go Long!

Wednesday  August 20, 2008

Has there ever been an NFL rookie more primed for the spotlight than Chris Long, son of Hall of Famer and Fox chatterbox Howie Long? Here he shows off his less brutal side, trying on the kind of thick, chunky shawl-collar sweaters that will carry him through to season's end

photographs by ben watts

Long_1
Cardigan, $750; shirt, $125; and jeans, $125: all by Polo by Ralph Lauren. Tie, $120, by D&G. Sneakers, $85, by Nike Sportswear. Belt by Tommy Hilfiger.

After the 2007–08 college-football season, pigskin pundits called senior Chris Long of Virginia a “can’t miss” prospect. And he didn’t. Amid comparisons to Lawrence Taylor, the defensive end won the Hendricks Award as the nation’s top player at his position, blew up the NFL Scouting Combine and the Wonderlic test, and was drafted second overall by the St. Louis Rams. Coaches and sportswriters fell all over themselves in praising his intensity and unrelenting energy—what they called his “motor.” Here, they seemed to say, was the NFL’s new Great White Hope. “I don’t think race factors into it, but I definitely feel like I get overrated,” says Long. “Sometimes the media finds something attractive about a player, and suddenly he can do no wrong.”

It helps that Long is NFL royalty, the son of Hall of Famer and flattop enthusiast Howie Long. (“Oh, no way, dude!” he says when asked if he plans to follow in his father’s tonsorial footsteps. “That’s the old man’s look. It’s gonna stay that way.”) But what runs the motor? Haters, for one. Long seeks them out on Internet fan sites, looking for motivation. “I’ve done that a lot,” the 23-year-old says. When a disparaging quote from one site, ArmchairGM.com, is read to him, his hackles go up instantly. “Armchair,” he says disdainfully. “There’s your key word.”—nate penn

Long_2
Sweater, $145, by Gant. T-shirt, $35, by Nike Sportswear. Chinos, $52, by Dockers.

Long_3
Cardigan, $155, by A|X Armani Exchange. Shirt, $80, by Brooks Brothers. Tie, $125, by Dunhill. Jeans, $395, by Versace Collection. Watch by Concord.

Long_4
Cardigan, $3,530, by Tom Ford. Tank top, $30 (pack of three), by Calvin Klein Underwear.


Click here for 30 essential style secrets, directly from GQ's editors.


The Mess We Made

Tuesday  August 12, 2008

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The Mess We Made: An Oral History of the '68 Convention

01

In August 1968, a party divided over race and political tactics and a hugely unpopular war (sound familiar?) erupted in rage at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. America has never been the same

GQ interviewed more than seventy-five people who were there in ’68, from former presidential candidates to activists of all stripes to retired Chicago cops, and asked them to re-create what took place over the days of August 22 to 30. Among the participants: Dan Rather, then a floor reporter for CBS News; John Berendt, who long before he went on to write Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil worked as an associate editor for Esquire and was charged with making sure the magazine’s reporters (William S. Burroughs, Terry Southern, and Jean Genet) didn’t get lost among the chaos in Chicago; Donald Rumsfeld, then a young congressman from Illinois who was there as part of a Republican “listening post” organized by Pat Buchanan, who also takes part in the oral history. The list also includes George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Gore Vidal, Harold Ickes, Julian Bond, Tom Hayden, Dick Gregory, and Shirley MacLaine, among many others.

This excerpted highlight describes the events of the third day of the convention, Wednesday, August 28, when the violence in Chicago reached a climax, in what is now referred to as the Battle of Michigan Avenue. The excerpt begins in the early morning of the 28th, as protesters gather outside the Conrad Hilton, where convention delegates are staying. It continues throughout the next 24 hours, taking in the events at the convention hall, where the peace plank (a commitment to pulling troops out of Vietnam that divided the party) is defeated, and then the violence that explodes in the city as police and National Guard troops clash with protesters on the streets.

Reported by Hilary Elkins, Sarah Goldstein, Laurence Lowe, Trent MacNamara, Maxandra Short, and Christopher Swetala

Compiled by David Gargill

wednesday, august 28, 1968

1:00 a.m. Police and National Guard set up perimeter around Conrad Hilton.

George Hitzman (National Guardsman): When we were called up, the hippies were really going wild. We pulled up our transports in the park across from the Hilton. Oh, they were really giving us a good mouth job, all kinds of insults. They were calling us the baby killers and all that. They would come walking down the line and stick little daisies in the rifles. Once we got into formation, though, all of a sudden they weren’t so brave. Then we shut them up.

3:30 a.m. An army vet in crowd at Grant Park grabs microphone and asks delegates in their hotel to blink their lights in support of the protesters outside.

03

Protesters in Grant Park, across from the Conrad Hilton Hotel.

Peter Yarrow (folksinger, Peter, Paul and Mary): I put on my three-piece suit and went into the convention hall and started buttonholing people. I went to Birch Bayh, who I had worked with before, and I said to him, “You can’t expect me to support you from here on out unless you support this peace plank.” And from the look on his face, I knew my ability to use Peter, Paul and Mary’s history of campaigning was going to be very minimal. I went back to the Hilton that night feeling very discouraged. I went up to my room, which overlooked Grant Park, and I heard someone down below saying into a microphone, “Delegates, if you are with us, flash your lights!” So I went over and started flipping the light switch up and down, and then I heard a huge cheer come up from the crowd. I realized that the wall of this hotel looked like a Christmas tree.

So I went downstairs with my guitar in hand, and at that exact same moment, Mary [Travers] made the same decision. We went down together, and in front of the hotel were two lines—the Chicago police and the National Guard, their guns in a ready position.

Someone thrust these two microphones in front of us, and Mary looked at me, and I said, “Sing, Mary!” So we started singing “If I Had a Hammer,” and then they said, “Sing ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon.’ ” Underneath a helmet was a 19-year-old kid who had grown up on “Puff, the Magic Dragon.” It was absurdity.

12:02 p.m. Session reconvenes. Mahalia Jackson sings national anthem, then “Ain’t Gonna Study War No More,” and receives loudest applause of convention to date.

Marty Oberman (Staffer for McGovern campaign): A lot of us young people really believed in this. We were there to stop the war, and it failed. And sort of spontaneously on the convention floor, delegates started forming a huge circle. I mean, across the whole convention floor was a circle. Many, many delegates, and I remember getting in the circle, all of us holding on to our neighbor, and we started singing “We Shall Overcome” and swaying. I think this went on for an hour. After the vote was taken, we just took over the floor and, in defeat, stood there and sang this protest song. And it wasn’t just young people. There were lots of older people, establishment people, who were really upset. To me, it was probably the most moving moment of the convention.

George McGovern: It’s just a tragedy that it wasn’t adopted. I think if we had passed that peace plank, Hubert Humphrey would have been elected president.

5:40 p.m. McGovern announces he can’t support majority Vietnam plank and therefore can’t run as vice presidential candidate with Humphrey.

6:05 p.m. Police use tear gas to halt attempt of protesters to march from Grant Park toward the amphitheater. Gas drifts into rooms at Hilton, where Humphrey is reportedly affected.

Donald Rumsfeld (Congressman, Illinois): Governor John Love of Colorado and I went down into Grant Park. No one knew who we were, and we just moved around and tried to get a sense of what people were saying and thinking. When the violence started, we went back to our hotel room and stayed out of it. When you’re in a hotel, and the hotel fills with gas, and there’s that smell, that odor, and there are police around—it creates an unpleasant environment.

Pat Buchanan (Aide to Richard Nixon): I was coming back to my hotel, because there was tear gas all over the place. The hotels along Michigan Avenue were all sealing their doors. You couldn’t get out.

Tom Hayden (Activist, National Mobilization Committee to End the War): We were in the park, and a young man named Angus MacKenzie climbed a flagpole, intent on bringing the American flag down halfway and turning it upside down, which of course is an international symbol of distress. Well, this aroused the police, who were all lined up on the Michigan Avenue side of the park, and they charged into the crowd. It was madness.

I urged people to head back toward the Hilton by any means. If there was gonna be blood or gas, let it be all over the city. So people started up the long, narrow park along Lake Michigan. There are small bridges along the way that get you to the Grant Park area adjacent to the hotel, but all these bridges were occupied by troops with bayonets. And there were submachine guns mounted on tripods pointed at the protesters as we went from bridge to bridge.

Finally, though, like the Red Sea parting, we came upon a bridge that was open. And there was this cheering, and this large crowd of people rushed across the bridge as if they had been liberated, and they arrived on Michigan Avenue. We simply had to turn left and march towards the Hilton, which was a mile or a mile and a half away.

Before he was murdered, Martin Luther King had agreed to send people from his proposed Poor People’s March to march with us against the war. And suddenly here they were, too, this mule train from the South, with sharecroppers in blue Levi’s shirts, overalls, and horses—clop, clop, clop—joining us and marching forward. It was kind of a joyous, delirious half an hour. There were no police in front of us. But as we arrived at Michigan and Balbo, with the Hilton on the right and the park on the left, suddenly the line was blocked.

James P. Turner (Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice): I was there to investigate police abuse. The idea was that the attorney general needed a lawyer’s eye on the ground, because everyone else had an ax to grind. So I went down there to look around. The police had cleared out Grant Park, on the east side of Michigan Avenue, so that gave you just kind of a dead end where the marchers and the demonstrators and the mules and the wagons and everybody just kept pounding in. Didn’t just stop; they just kept packing tighter and tighter. It was pretty solid humanity.

Rumsfeld: The police had the difficulty of trying to determine what their response should be. They responded against people who were instigators and also noninstigators, and I suspect the latter was much larger than the former. All I know is, when things are that hostile, there’s no way any one individual can tell you what took place and whose fault it was.

Hayden: At the sight of the police, people expected to be beaten and gassed again. And so they just sat down. They sat down in the street and on the sidewalk at the corner of Michigan and Balbo. The street was completely occupied by police vans and police cars and police officers and I’m not sure what other military forces. And there were lights from media cameras, I guess. People sat down. And then somebody invented the chant “The whole world is watching.”

Turner: The protesters were singing songs—“This Land Is Your Land”—and they had cheers—“The whole world is watching”—and everybody was pretty rowdy but behaving all right. At some point, a platoon of police officers came east on Balbo Street, and they just marched right into the crowd, knocking people around. Of course, the crowd then backed off, away from the cops, but if you push one side of a balloon the other side goes out. And so over on the Grant Park side, they began pushing into the cops, and the cops over there thought they were being assaulted by the crowd, so they start in. And first thing you know, it just… Everything hit the fan.

Buchanan: I was in my room, and who walks in but Norman Mailer. José Torres, the boxer, was with him. We watched from the nineteenth floor. Mailer and I were hanging out the window with Torres. We were up there drinking. It was late afternoon, as I recall, spilling into evening. The cops were marching down there like a military unit, and then all of a sudden they took off after these demonstrators. From nineteen floors up, they all looked very tiny. Torres was cursing out the cops, and I was rooting for the cops—though I didn’t say anything out loud. José Torres is a pretty tough guy. It was just a big battle, and what I thought at that point was that the Democratic Party was a horribly divided institution. And I knew that the American people’s perception of the Democratic Party as a party in chaos would be of enormous benefit to Richard Nixon. And there’s no doubt it was.

Hayden: I found myself in a crowd of people against the glass window of the Haymarket Lounge at the hotel on the corner. The police walked into us, spraying Mace on everyone and clubbing people. I remember somebody shouting that a woman was having a heart attack. This was a big mass of humanity being crushed. And as the mass fell backwards, my back was to the window, and I could hear this glass breaking. And all of a sudden the whole window collapsed, and everybody fell into the bar, where delegates were sitting there drinking and talking as if this was routine for a political convention. The police came charging in after us, and there were people all over the place, bleeding, cut. They were just arresting anybody who looked like they didn’t belong in the hotel. I don’t know what happened, but I walked out. I don’t even know where I went.

Buchanan: After the battle on Michigan, I was wakened by Nixon’s call. He said, “What’s going on?” So I said, “You want to know what’s going on, sir?” And I held the phone to the window, where nineteen floors below they were yelling, “F—— you, Daley! F—— you, Daley!”

Turner: The signature shot of the whole convention was these four cops, each with an arm or a leg of this demonstrator, dragging him to a paddy wagon, while a fifth cop walked alongside. The fifth cop kept whacking the victim with his stick the whole way over, every step. I followed him around, and I wrote down his name off of his nametag, and I have the name of the meanest cop in Chicago. But I never could put together a case, because I couldn’t find the victim. I just saved his name for Judgment Day. He’s got one coming.

To read the complete oral history, pick up the August issue of GQ.

Why Does Aaron Sorkin Feel So Guilty?

Tuesday  August 12, 2008

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Why Does Aaron Sorkin—the Emmy-Winning, Former Crack-Addict Boy Genius—Feel So Guilty?

Sorkin

A GQ.com Q&A

by mickey rapkin

Aaron Sorkin is one of the most brilliant minds in Hollywood. He wrote A Few Good Men. Created The West Wing. Punched up more scripts than he can remember. And of course, saw it all threatened in 2001 when he was arrested trying to sneak ’shrooms and a crack pipe through security at a Burbank, California, airport.

When he returned to television in 2006 with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, expectations couldn’t have been higher. Before a single episode had aired, The Wall Street Journal ran the headline: can studio 60 save nbc? It couldn’t.

On the tenth anniversary of his first series—the criminally short-lived Sports Night, rereleased on DVD in September—Sorkin, the onetime wunderkind, sat down to talk about a life in television.

Sports Night ran for just two years. I gotta say, It always seemed like a weird fit for ABC.
Yeah. Sports Night was on right between The Drew Carey Show and Spin City. ABC would tell me, “You’re losing 20 percent of Drew Carey’s audience.” I would tell them, “I don’t think so. I think I’m losing 100 percent of Drew Carey’s audience.”

Sports Night ends with a classic line: “Anybody who can’t make money off of Sports Night should get out of the moneymaking business.” Zing!
I’m not crazy about stepping outside the show and winking at the audience. But it felt good to write it. And the crew liked listening to it.

So much of Sports Night was about fathers. I remember watching one scene in which a dad rejects his son’s ringside seats to a boxing match because he thinks his kid is showing off, and thinking that had to have come from real life.
Oh yeah. My father was an intellectual-property lawyer. He was born in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, fought in World War II on the GI Bill. The greasier side of this business turns him off. And ought to. My father is the reason why I tend to write as idealistically and romantically as I do. He is a guy who has one foot in the last century. He’s out to civilize people—but with great wit and humor.

How are you doing as a father?
I have a 7-year-old daughter. I don’t think I’ve screwed her up all that much.

Let’s talk politics, West Wing guy. Do you think Hillary got a raw deal?
I never understood the polarizing nature of Hillary Clinton. She never knocked me out nor struck me as being the kind of horror show her enemies say she is. I had a long relationship with Maureen Dowd, who would jump up and down on her twice a week because of the color dress she wore at the State of the Union. I never understood why.

Have you met Obama? What do you make of him?
The first time I met Barack Obama—I should say the only time I’ve met Barack Obama—was a year ago, when he was doing fifty-person-cocktail-party fund-raisers. He flattered me by saying, “My intention is to steal a lot of your lines.” My prediction is he’s just going to blow the doors off the place in Denver. This is a man who—the Jeremiah Wright of it all aside—was clearly paying attention in church. I don’t need to tell you that I’m a big fan of oratory. A big part of leadership is the goose-bump experience. We’ve been missing that.

Why didn’t Studio 60 work?
I made too many mistakes. I would give anything to go back and get another bite of that apple. Basically, to use a sports analogy, you can have the best team in football playing the worst team in football. But if the best team in football throws four interceptions, they’re not going to win.

That sounds a little arrogant.
I’m helped by a staff of people who have great ideas, but the scripts aren’t written by committee. I was too angry when I wrote Studio 60. The show became like the cover of Abbey Road. Everybody was trying to figure out who this character was in real life or what that incident was trying to be. But the anger—it was a post-9/11 anger. We were going through a time when the television networks were so sensitive toward appearing patriotic. And patriotism was just being questioned all over the place. It just seemed like the wheels had come off our national culture.

The Janet Jackson–FCC incident could easily be lumped in with that.
There was hysteria everywhere. Exactly. And the Internet [doesn’t help]—it’s a bronchial infection on the First Amendment. Nothing has done more to make us dumber or meaner than the anonymity of the Internet.

Do you feel guilty about Studio 60’s failure?
I felt like I had let so many people down—from Warner Bros. and NBC to the cast and crew. You live and die with these things. It is a feeling that you can’t look these people in the eye anymore. Someone like Matt Perry.

It’s tough to feel bad for Matthew Perry.
Exactly. Yet you do.

Does it bother you that Tina Fey is still taking shots at you on 30 Rock?
I shook hands with her once. I know she’s had some fun at my expense, and that’s what she does for a living. If I’m going to take shots at whoever I want on my show, she gets to take shots at whoever she wants on her show. I have nothing but admiration for Tina Fey.

What did you do during the Hollywood writers’ strike? Guilt-free vacation?
I had a play in previews on Broadway.

Right, The Farnsworth Invention.
For three and a half weeks I was in the unique position of being on strike and being struck against at the same time.

Yes, the Broadway stagehands went on strike.
This was about three weeks before Charlie Wilson’s War was opening. I thought, If the projectionists go on strike, that’ll fill out my bingo card. I’ll have to ask my parents for my allowance again. Anyway, I spent most of the time during the writers’ strike in New York with the play. Once that was over and I’d come back to L.A., I did participate in something that should have happened months earlier. Paul Attanasio—

The guy who produces House?
Yes—invited about seven or eight or nine of us over to his house for dinner. All screenwriters you would know. We all agreed that we had been irresponsible and that, in an effort not to seem elitist, we had remained quiet during this strike. We hadn’t voiced our objections. We hadn’t put pressure on Patric Verrone and the other heads of the union to end this thing. It wasn’t a strike we were passionate about. The fact of the matter is that people we all work with every day—and I’m talking about the 120 or so people on a movie set or a TV set, who are all the principal wage earners for their families—don’t have the kind of bank accounts that can weather a strike like this. We’d been wrong.

What was the dinner like?
The Directors Guild had reached an agreement the day before. We, that night, called the leadership of the Writers Guild. I know it sounds like a bunch of revolutionaries getting together to do the right thing, but you should know the dinner was catered. It’s not like the old days. This isn’t a Clifford Odets Waiting for Lefty thing, okay? Everybody showed up in a German car. And this is exactly why we didn’t want to voice our objections to the strike. We thought, We’re going to get killed. However, here’s what we told our leadership at the Guild: that we feel strongly that the DGA deal is fair, That we should accept from the studios and networks what they’ve given to the DGA. We named who we were in the room and said that if we didn’t see fast action over the next forty-eight hours, that we would have to make our feelings public.

And?
I have no idea if it worked or not. I know that the strike ended. It could have been for entirely different reasons.

You’ve been writing movies lately. Does that mean you’re done with TV?
I just sat down and had a great meeting with Sue Naegle, who’s the head of HBO. So if you have an idea for a series, let me know.

Life of Brian

Monday  August 11, 2008

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Brian Wilson—troubled Beach Boy, genius musician, monosyllabic talker—is back with a new album, 'That Lucky Old Sun'

interview by will welch

Brian Wilson’s new album, That Lucky Old Sun, is packed with bright harmonies, orchestrations, and vibrations. It’s like a lost California rock ’n’ roll musical unearthed from the seaside flotsam by a sun-dazed old beachcomber. Here, recovering addict, experimental-therapy casualty, and father entertains the enquiring minds at GQ.

On your new album, there’s a song called “Live Let Live”—
That’s a good one!

Yes, it is! It has the lyric I’ve got a notion we came from the ocean, and God Almighty has his hands on the water. What’s your relationship with God like?
I don’t have a personal relationship with God. I don’t even know what God is.

Okay. What conversations did you have with your second wife, Melinda, when you decided to adopt?
Oh, I can’t remember. I just know we decided to adopt.

Your first daughters are all grown up. How is it being a father again?
It’s sort of a nice experience. Kids can be very pleasant.

Mellow. You’ve struggled with depression. What have you been doing these days to stave it off?
I use medication every day, which helps me out a lot, and I see a therapist in L.A. once a week. But I still struggle with it.

I’ve heard that you don’t listen to Pet Sounds anymore—or even like it. Is that true?
I got sick and tired of Pet Sounds. I’ve played it onstage a billion times, you know? And it was just a very emotional experience to listen to it.

In 1967 you started work on Smile, the follow-up to Pet Sounds—but left it alone until 2004. What made you abort the original sessions in ’67?
I thought we were too ahead of our time, you know? And we were taking drugs: marijuana and uppers—amphetamines. So we shelved those songs for thirty-eight years.

You’re in London right now, home of your most fanatical audience. Does your reception there have to do with the rainy weather?
No, I just think they like to see me. It never rains when I’m here.