The GQ Punch List

Friday  July 31, 2009

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Go mad for old ads. The crisp starched shirts and afternoon Scotch breaks are only part of Mad Men's appeal. It's the glimpses inside the ruthless minds of Sixties-era pitchmen (It's toasted!) that make the show so entertaining. It also helps explain why we've been wasting so much time lately on Duke University's new digitized library of vintage commercials, now available for free download on iTunes. Best are the ads that wouldn't fly today, like the one for Post's brand-new Sugar Coated Corn Flakes. If the name's too subtle, check the sugar-wielding corn cob on the box. Sweet!

Fight the frizz. As we head into August, keep your humidity-rattled hair under control without resorting to shiny, crunchy gels. We like clay-based pomades like Baxter of California's, which gives your hair a nice hold, texture, and matte finish without looking overdone. Just rub a small amount into wet or dry hair, style, and go.

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Meet Randy. No recent Judd Apatow movie has done without its own viral video companion, and Funny People is no different. Meet Randy, the potty-mouthed stand-up character drummed up by Apatow and comedian Aziz Ansari for the film. Ansari performed their Randy shtick on the road, and the results can be seen in this two-part documentary. If it's anything to go by, expect a few slightly uncomfortable hot-tub jokes.

Join in as the foodies invade AC. This weekend, Harrah's hosts the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival, where you can learn to taste wine like a sommelier with Tom Colicchio or head to a clambake with Guy Fieri. For once, an opportunity to do something in AC that doesn't involve emptying your wallet. For more info, check out: harrahs.com.

Gates-Gate

Thursday  July 30, 2009

Obama Gates Crowley Beer

Depending on who you ask, the Henry Louis Gates Jr. controversy is either the most ridiculous dust-up of the Obama administration… or final proof that our president hates whitey. Either way, it (hopefully) comes to an end today, when Barack Obama has Gates Jr. and Officer Jim Crowley to the White House for a beer to discuss race relations, home security, and the virtues of ducking questions at a press conference. GQ’s Jason Gay anticipates how the conversation will go.

Obama: So.............................

Crowley: Let me start. I want to apol—

Gates: No, let me apologize.

Crowley: It's really not necessary. What we did was wrong. You did nothing wrong.

Gates: I know. You messed up. But I've already had half of this Duvel. I'm feeling forgiving.

Obama [looking down]: Duvel?! Great. I'm going to get blasted on Drudge. Gibbs!

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: Is there a problem, Mr. President?

Obama: WTF with the Duvel?

Gibbs: It's the finest beer in Belgium, Mr. President.

Obama: Are we in Brussels, Gibbs?

Gibbs: No, Mr. President.

Obama: Well get this Jean-Claude Van Damme beer out of here. Why don't we just uncork a '61 La Tour? Can we get some Bud Light?

Gibbs: Absolutely.

Obama: Would it kill you to improve my approval rating?

Gibbs: Right away, Mr. President.

[Gibbs races off]

Gates: Bud Light? Gibbs told the press yesterday that I wanted Red Stripe, and Crowley over here wanted a Red Moon.

Crowley: Blue Moon.

Obama: Oh, give it up. You're lucky you're not drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Crowley: What's with this picnic table anyway?

Gates: I was just about to ask the same thing.

Crowley: Seems a little contrived. Too forced.

Gates: I mean, why don't we just have some apple pie?

Obama [flustered]: Will both of you give me a break? You're the reason I'm in this mess.

Crowley: Oh, what? Now we're the reason health care is struggling?

Gates: I know! As if! You can thank the Blue Moon Democrats for that bill's problems.

Crowley: Blue Dog Democrats. Not to mention the financial hardships on small employers. Seriously, payrolls of $250,000?

Obama: What is this, a roast? I thought I was here to bring the two of you together.

Gates: Ah, we squashed our thing on the way down, on the Acela.

Crowley: Yeah. And what a waste of money. When you going to fix Amtrak? What a disgrace.

Gates: Disgusting! Slow, too! And the bathrooms.....

Obama: Did Rahm put you guys up to this? [Looks around] Is Ashton Kutcher going to pop out from behind a tree?

Crowley: Mr. President, why did you accuse the police of "stupidity"?

Gates: It did seem a little rash. Very un-Obama. Bidenesque.

Obama: [flustered] Where the hell is Gibbs with that Bud Light? Look, I'm sorry I called you guys stupid. That was wrong. But I have a question for you, Skip.

Gates: What's my favorite line from The Hangover?

Crowley: Oh, oh, oh! Ask me! "Tigers love pepper! They hate cinnamon!"

Gates: Oh that was a classic!

Obama: That wasn't the question. Jeez. Here's the question: From now on, why don't you just put a key under a rock?

Gates: I don't like to do that.

Crowley: He's right—they're not exactly safe.

Obama: Then put it, I don't know, under a flower pot.

Crowley: Too obvious

Gates: Flower pot! Why not just stick it in the door!?

Obama: Well then, what do you recommend?

Crowley: Honestly, Mr. President, we recommend digging a thirty-foot-deep steel reinforced trench, with a titanium lid, with another key to open that lid and recover the lost key.

Obama: And where do you put the other key, to open the steel reinforced trench?

Gates: Flower pot.

Crowley [nodding]: Definitely flower pot.

Obama: I feel like I'm on Abbott and Costello. Where the hell is Gibbs? Do either of you two smoke?

[Hillary Clinton approaches, holding two six packs under her arms.]

Clinton: Good evening, fellas! Just passing through, thought you might want a cold one. Got a sixer of Red Stripe and Blue Moon right here.

Gates: Perfect!

Crowley: How did you know?

Obama: For the love of God.....Don't we want to sort this whole thing out and take a step forward for America?

[Gibbs returns, sweating]

Gibbs: Mr. President, I tried to get in the kitchen door, but the lock seems like it's busted...I spent a half hour trying to wiggle the door....you'll never guess who showed up....

Crowley: Washington PD?

Gibbs: Huh? No, Dick Cheney. He was passing through and he told me exactly where to look for the spare key.

Obama: Flower pot?

Gibbs: No, a thirty-foot-deep steel reinforced trench with a titanium lid. You know he's still living down there?

GQ Test Drive: Chevy Camaro

Monday  July 27, 2009

Camaro

It’s kind of fitting that I took my first drive of Chevy’s new Camaro the weekend that GM emerged from bankruptcy and announced its new corporate strategy for not sucking as bad as they used to—apparently it’s something about customers, cars, and culture. But whatever that means, what I know is this: When guys speed up to you on the New Jersey Turnpike just to give you the thumbs-up, that’s a good thing. I’ve never been greeted with more red-blooded "Whoas" and "Holy Shits" in a car before. Sure, when you’re driving anything new, people will look and comment, but in this Camaro people actually ran out of their backyard BBQs to talk to me.

While people are naturally drawn to its bold exterior—really, unless you have girly tastes in cars, there’s nothing not to like about it—Chevy did an awesome job on the interior as well, a place where they’ve fallen short in the past. (Tupperware-esque is an adjective that comes to mind.) You have to love how narrow the windshield is—it’s like looking through a mail slot. See the picture below. I’ve placed a can of Coke on the dash as a height reference. Sure, it limits visibility a bit, but it really makes you feel like you’re driving a muscle car as opposed to a family-mobile. If you want to see over the hood, get a Nissan Cube.

Another interior detail I love: the analog gauges in front of the shifter. It’s an awkward placement, but when was the last time you needed to know your oil temperature right away? I normally frown on things that are unabashedly retro, but it works here because it keeps the instrument cluster behind the wheel clean and simple.

So great work, GM! Keep on not sucking and we'll keep on rooting for you.—kevin sintumuang

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The Grandaddy of Flea Markets

Friday  July 24, 2009

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On the second Sunday of every month thousands of people flock to Pasadena, California, to the Rose Bowl flea market to stock up on vintage clothing, antiques, and other oddities. The event attracts folks from all walks of life, and it's become known as one of the best flea markets in the U.S. Like any good flea, everything kicks off promptly (especially by L.A. standards), with the most serious buyers showing up as early as 4:30 a.m. to get a crack at the best stuff. One Southern California designer I spoke to joked that it's best to arrive at 5:00 a.m. sharp and just jump the fence to avoid the people lined up. On second thought, part of me felt like he wasn't kidding. The folks that run the Rose Bowl seem to be in on the game as well, with pricing getting less expensive as it gets later in the morning. So if you show up at 5:00 a.m. in hopes of scoring some primo vintage denim, expect to drop a Hamilton for VIP admission. (Keep in mind we're talking about a flea market!)

Rose_Bowl_2

Want to know who's getting up so early on a Sunday to buy used clothes? I'll tell you: Designers from your favorite clothing lines. I wouldn't be surprised if RRL had its own entrance. Another well-represented group of buyers: the Japanese. In my opinion, the American vintage market in Japan is better than what remains in the U.S. In fact, when I was in Tokyo last October I rescued a suitcase full of American-made vintage goods. Nothing is stranger than flying to Asia to buy a 1960s Woolrich hunting jacket to bring back to New York. To quote Carl Fox (Martin Sheen) from Wall Street, "The whole world is off its rocker." Japanese buyers arrive in Pasadena in swarms, with pockets full of cash and huge duffel bags for their acquisitions. As if to illustrate this point further, the Japanese shipping company Kuroneko Yamato has its own booth at the show. That way, buyers can easily get the goods back to Japan—where they'll undoubtedly soon be on sale in that nation's many vintage stores. So don't fret—if your alarm clock fails, you can always just fly to Tokyo.—michael williams

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A professional Japanese buyer at work with his massive duffel.

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One easy way to get your vintage treasures back to Japan: the Kuroneko Yamato stand.

The GQ Punch List

Friday  July 24, 2009

See what the director cut from the Director's Cut. (It's the best part. Really.) Whether or not you loved the stubbornly faithful Watchmen adaptation, the extra footage in Zack Snyder's new Director's Cut won't do much to change your mind. That's why we suggest The Tales of the Black Freighter, Watchmen's tale-within-a-tale, which never made the original (or the director's version), but is now available on iTunes. Voiced by Gerard Butler, the half-hour animated short of a mariner sailing to his village to warn of an invasion offers up a brilliant, if macabre, counterpoint to the comic's main plot.

JimDenevanWanderingChefGQ

Eat locally. If you want to truly understand what the farm-to-table movement is all about, book a seat at one of the Outstanding in the Field dinners taking place across the country this summer. Since 1999, Jim Denevan (click here to read "The Wandering Chef," Howie Kahn's James Beard Award-winning profile) has been setting up tables on actual farms, where diners enjoy the bounty of the very earth they're standing on, as prepared by some extraordinary local chef. The tables seat upwards of 100, and the food is paired with local wines where available, and just plain awesome wines the rest of the time. We'll be heading to Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrenceville, NJ, on September 1st, and you can click here to see when they'll be coming to a field near you.

Go toe-to-toe with Wolverine. Sometimes, all you really want is a classic beat-'em-up. And there's probably nothing more satisfying than Marvel vs. Capcom 2, a 2-D, three-on-three, tag-team fighting game re-released on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3's online networks. Select from a roster of 50-plus Marvel and Capcom characters (Wolverine, Iron Man, Ken, Ryu), duke it out against online opponents, and swap your fighters in and out of the match with the press of a button.

Enjoy the final stage of a Lance-less Tour. This Sunday, riders will cruise into Paris for the conclusion of the Tour de France, and for the first time in recent history, Lance Armstrong will be riding in a shirt that isn't yellow. We're not saying it's going to be a sprint to the finish—Alberto Contador looks more than likely to win—but it's still worth watching them cycle up the Champs Élysées. You can see streaming live video over the course of the weekend: letour.fr, or Sunday starting at 9:30am on ET Versus.

Put your beer on ice. Make a Michelada. It's hot enough.

Buy (Or At Least Look At) This Book

Thursday  July 23, 2009

Moonfire

If you happen to have $1,000 in your budget right now for a coffee-table book—well, lucky you. Most of us don't. But, thanks to the savvy marketers over at Taschen, that won't stop us from enjoying their latest collector's-edition opus, Moonfire, a mammoth compilation of NASA archival images and a Norman Mailer essay on the Apollo 11 moon landing that happened forty years ago this week.

Taschen's website has a page-by-page preview of the book which is comprehensive and well-designed enough that, with a few easy mouse clicks, you can get practically the same experience as holding the 345-page tome on your lap. The experience is well worth it. First off: The classic photos, many of them previously unpublished, offer an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the human drama of the moon landing. (The shot of Joan Aldrin's agonized face, turning away from the television as her husband's spacecraft touches down on the lunar surface, is just piercing.). And then there's Mailer's writing, which today seems as much a vestige of the age as the men in short-sleeve shirts and thin ties and the women in bright patterned dresses and tortoise-shell sunglasses. On the website, you can zoom in to read Mailer's text—it originally appeared in Life magazine as a three-part series and became the book Of A Fire On the Moon, which Sean Wilsey discussed in his July GQ feature on NASA—and marvel at the notion that, in 1969, a writer for a national magazine could begin a story by adopting the identity of Aquarius as narrator ("Norman on this occasion wonders whether he may call himself Aquarius") and not be laughed out of the profession. (Yes, it was Mailer and yes, such was the Age, but: Wow. Just wow.)

It's a worthy way to spend an afternoon procrastinating, especially during this historic week.—mark kirby

A World Without Gordon

Tuesday  July 21, 2009

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Sad news today. The passing of Gordon Waller, the non-spectacled half of Peter and Gordon (Peter Asher being the other half), the British duo that were part of the British Invasion.

As a kid, I loved these guys. Their harmonies were nothing short of transporting. You might even say they were Beatle-esque. And you’d be right.

At the time Peter and Gordon were signed to their first recording deal (1963), Peter’s sister, Jane, was dating a young man from Liverpool by the name of Paul McCartney. So they asked him if they had a song he could spare.

Always sounded to me like a scene straight out of A Hard Day’s Night:

Scene: Interior of a train car as it click-clacks through the English countryside.

paul: Well, is it a song you need then?
peter and gordon: ‘Tis, Paul. Would you have any then?
paul: I think I got one in me pocket here, lads.

(Paul reaches into his suit jacket, produces a folded up piece of paper and proceeds to play and sing. Peter and Gordon soon catch up and harmonize along.)

The song, “A World Without Love” went to the top 10 and knocked the Beatles “Can’t Buy Me Love” off of the charts.

McCartney went on to pen three other songs for them: “Nobody I Know,” “I Don’t Want to See You Again,” and, writing under the pseud Bernard Webb (in order to see if he could score a hit anonymously), “Woman.”

Which is not to say they couldn’t write their own hits: (see: "Knight in Rusty Armour" and "Lady Godiva").

Anyway, enough from me. Enjoy some of his work.—michael hainey

Secrets of Mad Men Revealed (Sort Of)

Tuesday  July 21, 2009

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Mad Men returns on August 16, so we called up creator Matthew Weiner and asked him to explain what season three will look like. He refused. We cajoled. Then he coughed up these tidbits on Don, Roger, and why the hell AMC tried to cut two minutes from every episode.—dan fierman

•"Roger's love for Jane put the company in play, and Roger used Don as an excuse to get out of his marriage. Don thought the whole thing was a betrayal. So they have issues to work out."

•"Time has passed. I won't say how much, but the guys are definitely at different points in their lives."*

*Our guess: two years, bringing us to 1964.

•"I fought AMC cutting two minutes of the show. I love advertising. I write about advertising. I am an advocate of AMC making money. But an extra ad is a very limited financial reward for altering a show that put AMC on the map. Also, you are fighting the TiVo! Why give people less show?"

•"The Cuban Missile Crisis created a situation where the characters could die tomorrow. Of course, some of them—like Betty—don't even notice and just want to deal with their own problems."

•"This season will be thematically different than what we've done before, but it's the same people in the same world. Pete is there. Peggy is there. I want people who love the show to say, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm so glad to be back with these people. What's going to happen?' "

The Music You Should Be Moving To

Monday  July 20, 2009

Esau & Ezra

It was clear from the first chords of "Chalo," The Very Best's opener at Le Poisson Rouge last Saturday night, that hipster world music had found its next act. Since releasing their mixtape Are the Very Best late last year, this border-crossing collaboration between London-based Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and Euro DJ pair Radioclit has been hyped by the anointers at Pitchfork and the Fader, building serious—and deserved—buzz for their debut album, Warm Heart of Africa, which comes out this fall.


"Chalo"

Like Gang Gang Dance, MIA, and Vampire Weekend (the last two are both featured on the new album), TVB is making accessible, danceable music culled from '80s pop, indie rock, American hip hop, and that catch-all known as "world music." But unlike those other acts, which sample tribal beats and vocals here and there, TVB is less African-infused than African, period. This is partly because Mwamwaya sings in the Malawian language of Chichewa, but also because Radioclit's rhythms and arrangements sound straight out of Southern Africa.

Take, for instance, "Tengazako"—the best cover of M.I.A's anthem "Paper Planes" we've heard in a year full of them. TVB's take is more playful—the iconic gunshots are largely deleted—and shows off the force of the song's rhythm, instead of its rhyme. (Seriously, I know this song has been played to death, but that beat is still out of control.)

Or take TVB's live cover of “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.” In a weird, meta, transcontinental twist, TVB didn’t imitate "Cape Cod" so much as expose the mimicry in Vampire Weekend's original. Still, one of the highlights of the evening was Vampire singer Ezra Koenig's surprise appearance, joining Mwamwaya on "Warm Heart of Africa," and ably shifting from croon to falsetto as he hopped side to side on stage. After the show Koenig said, "I knew Esau would be moving so I was trying to dance. I was a little nervous. I haven't sung with him since we recorded the song a year ago."


"Warm Heart"

Mwamwaya is a light-footed, joyful performer who actually looks like he's having fun up there. Unlike shimmying, shoulder-shaking American MCs, Mwamwaya dances with his arms in front of him while keeping his chest and torso upright, a graceful pose that makes it seem like he's gliding around the stage. He was joined by an animated, crowd-pleasing dancer who, except for the kente-cloth hair wrap, could've stepped out of Spank Rock's posse with her pink lycra leotard and high tops.

TVB dance

Toward the end of the show a second dancer, who sat out most of the set with a broken leg, joined the action, impressively getting down with her cast. This one-legged dance seemed to capture the scrappy and spirited feeling of the whole night. We're curious to see if the folks who swoon for Vampire Weekend's Graceland-y rock and M.I.A's revolution party beats will be ready to follow the music to its logical next step. We are.—sarah goldstein

The Hungry Eye

Monday  July 20, 2009

What's On Your Grill?

We've made this point in the magazine in the past, but I'll say it again: If money's not an object—and your cholesterol is relatively in check—you're nuts to buy anything other than a ribeye steak. You simply won't find a more flavorful cut. Spent this past weekend in Upstate New York, and on Saturday night grilled these prime-aged ones from Florence Meat Market in the West Village (about $22 a pop). Salt, pepper, and a scorchingly hot charcoal fire. No marinades, no garlic rubs. It's all that fat you see marbled throughout the steaks that provides everything you need. Did 'em for about five minutes a side; let them rest another five minutes; and then sliced and served them tagliata style, on a bed of olive-oil-dressed arugula, with shaved parmigiano and lemon wedges. The ultimate summer meal, in my book.—adam rapoport

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Not Much to Look At

Monday  July 20, 2009

It should’ve been obvious on Monday when David Beckham described his fitness for the press (he said he’d been riding a bike 10 miles a day—a workout that takes about half an hour—for 10 days; not exactly the kind of training required to whip oneself into peak aerobic shape) that he’d be a little slower than the rest of his Galaxy teammates in his ’09 MLS debut. But even though he was a step off the pace, and didn’t really make any flashy or notable plays, his impact on the game was unmistakable. Here’s how:

I’d missed the first half hour of the match due to some typical New Jersey-transit related delays (which only made me more eager for the opening of the easier to get to—for me, at least—Red Bulls Arena next year), but was really psyched for the second half: The Galaxy had been dominating the attacking play (it was already 2-0 when I arrived) and, since I’d be sitting behind the Red Bulls net for the second, I was looking forward to the onslaught coming straight on. Alas, it did not. Beckham trailed the play for the 25 minutes he remained in the game, and once he was out, the wheels pretty much came off. The Red Bulls had had nothing resembling a midfield for most of the match, and without Beckham directing traffic, the Galaxy’s shape also suffered. Call him a pretty boy all you like, but it must be said that he’s the kind of player—good at collecting, holding, and passing; accustomed to the European style of ball movement—that the MLS needs to make their game beautiful. There’s only one word for the Beckham-less final twenty minutes of last week's match: ugly.

And so, while I’d hoped to capture some video of a terrific Galaxy free kick, or corner, all I got was the Red Bulls fans, giving Beckham a not-so-friendly (F-U, Beck-ham) cheer as he left the pitch:

Welcome back, David!—mark kirby

The GQ Punch List

Thursday  July 16, 2009

What you need to buy, do, drink, watch, and listen to in the next 72 hours

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Find your inner poster boy. Remember that amazing coffee-table book about indie-rock concert posters we reviewed last month? The one that collected over 700 examples of arrestingly inspired gig art? Well, if you liked that, you're gonna love this: Died Young, Stayed Pretty, a feature documentary about the industry's revival—in large part sparked by Gigposters.com, which happens to be the content spring for the book, too—is screening at the IFC Center in New York, July 17-23.

Complain about the hours. Today and Friday only, Jack White's Third Man Records will be operating a pop-up store in the East Village. There, you can buy the Dead Weather's Horehound, the debut album from White's other side project, or records and various special merch by Third Man artists like the Raconteurs, White's first side project. Of course, if you're lucky enough to live in Nashville, the homestead of both White and his label, you can just waltz in to the permanent store whenever you like. The rest of us will have to act fast.

NYC: 131 Chrystie Street, 10am-6pm
Nashville: 623 7th Avenue S., 12pm-4pm (M-F)

Use the squeeze play. Because there are few things simpler and more refreshing in the summer than a generous splash of lime—on fish, watermelon, and all those citrusy drinks (like the one below) you rely on to get you through the July heat. Oh, and you'll want a squeezer, which will yield far more juice while leaving the seeds and pulp behind.

The Southside cocktail:
In a shaker, muddle a few mint leaves (don't pulverize them). Then add ice, two shots of gin, three-quarters of an ounce of simple syrup, three-quarters of an ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice, and a few drops of Angostura bitters. Shake hard for a good ten seconds and strain into a glass, either up or on the rocks.

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Laugh your ass off, again. After 15 years, MTV's '90s cult-classic sketch show The State is finally getting the DVD treatment. Sure, we realize hilariously absurd sketches of fake movie musicals starring porcupines, romantic odes to bacon, and a guy with a compulsive catchphrase ("I wanna dip my BALLS in it!") may not be for everyone. But even Leno fans can find humor in an Amish gang fight remake of MJ's "Beat It." And for proof the gang is still funny, check out Comedy Central's new show (which premiered last night), Michael and Michael Have Issues—the latest from State co-stars Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter.

Click here for our behind-the-scenes interview with Michael and Michael.

Watch what you eat. This weekend, Chipotle, the Mexican fast food chain known for burritos that double as doorstops, is putting on free screenings of the documentary Food, Inc., which takes a scolding look at the complicated, commodified, and downright unsavory state of our nation's food culture. Now that they're liberated from corporate overlord McDonald's, we guess Chipotle can flaunt their slow-food cred in earnest, using the doc to remind everyone that it serves more meat from animals raised without antibiotics or added hormones than any restaurant in the world. Think they'll serve free tacos? Find a theater at Chipotle.com

Kick back. Rock out. Every summer for the past four years, the music nerds at Pitchfork who decide what the rest of us should listen to celebrate the bands they've anointed in a three-day, Sparks-infused festival. Can't make it to Chicago this weekend? No problem. You can watch the performances from their live webcast. And if watching a concert on your computer on a summer afternoon depresses you, then take heart that some of the best acts, including Grizzly Bear, Vivian Girls, and The Walkmen, will be touring through early fall.

Read This Book: 'The Beckham Experiment,' by Grant Wahl

Wednesday  July 15, 2009

The Beckham Experiment - 978-0-307-40787-0[1]

Starting today, I'll be blogging about the beautiful game here on The Q. I'll cover the US National Team, the Premier League, Champions League, MLS, World Cup qualifying, and—now that all the talent in the world is headed for La Liga—some Spanish soccer, too. The basic idea behind the blog is this: That there's never been a better time to be a soccer admirer in America. I say that as someone who grew up playing soccer in the '80s, not long after the NASL folded, and who's rediscovered the game as an adult—both as a player and, thanks to the fact that ESPN, FSC, and GolTV are now airing more matches than ever, a fan. For this first post, I'm reviewing Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl's new book, The Beckham Experiment, which hits shelves this week. Tomorrow, I'll blog Beckham's appearance in the Galaxy-Red Bulls match.—mark kirby

David Beckham was finally back for an MLS practice this week, his first appearance at the LA Galaxy training grounds since last October, and if there's one word to describe his return, it's got to be: Awkward. The last few weeks have seen a flurry of press about the bad blood between Beckham and his teammate Landon Donovan, who laid into Beckham in an interview with Grant Wahl, a veteran reporter for Sports Illustrated and one of few American sports reporters for a major national publication to have consistently followed soccer over the years.

Donovan's comments were published at the end of June in an SI excerpt of Wahl's excellent new book, The Beckham Experiment (which chronicles Beckham's tumultuous first two years as a Galaxy player), and they've thus far been the focus of most of the media attention Wahl's book has received. Interviewed last fall just a few days after Beckham had announced his departure for AC Milan (at a time when it seemed conceivable that Beckham would never set foot in the Galaxy locker room again), Donovan did not have kind things to say: He'd found the British superstar lazy, unprofessional, self-centered, and worst of all, cheap.

That's precisely the kind of stuff that'll set off a follow-blown transatlantic media shitstorm; ironically, Donovan received more publicity from those comments than he received for his stellar goal against Brazil in the Confederations Cup final. But the real news out of Wahl's book—and I've been surprised at the scarce attention it's gotten—is how Beckham's management company essentially took over the team.

Take this incident, from the book, concerning the introduction of former Chelsea manager Ruud Gullit as the Galaxy's new coach at the beginning of last season:

"In an introduction he had orchestrated for maximum effect, [Galaxy GM Alexis] Lalas brought Gullit in front of all the Galaxy players, held out his right arm, and announced to the team: "Guys, this is your new coach, Ruud Gullit." Gullit said a few words, and then, out of nowhere, another man suddenly stepped forward and took over the proceedings, stealing Lalas's thunder and speaking to the team as if he was in charge. Most of the players were confused. Who was this British guy who looked like the comedian Ricky Gervais? Who was that person whom nobody had bothered to introduce? When Landon Donovan asked a question—about whether the players would need to change their Thanksgiving plans—it was this guy, not Lalas or Gullit, who answered him. "That was weird for me," said Chris Klein. "Alexei Lalas is the general manager of this team, and then here's this other guy presenting our new coach… I was like, What is going on here?"

The mysterious figure was Terry Byrne, David Beckham's best friend and personal manager—and a business associate of Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment… Nobody would ever bother explaining to the players what had happened: that [Tim] Leiweke [President of Galaxy owners AEG] had hired Byrne as a paid consultant to the Galaxy, that Byrne (not Lalas) had conducted the coaching search, recommended Gullit, and made the first phone calls in the negotiating process, and that Byrne would now be a regular member of the Galaxy's management team.

This is astonishing. Imagine the scandal if it came out that A-Rod's agent had been working behind the scenes, pulling the Steinbrenners' strings (and even having final say) to select Joe Girardi as the Yankee's coach. Yes, the MLS is not MLB, but that's precisely the point. Wahl's book is at its most compelling when it shows how a high-stakes deal like the Beckham one can come to completely overwhelm a modest, but generally stable, professional sports organization.

Beckham's management did not cooperate with The Beckham Experiment (Wahl says that they wanted to be paid for involvement—a not uncommon request from agents accustomed to the pay-to-play European tabloid media), which, to my mind, was a mistake on their part. The result is that Wahl's primary sources are those (Lalas, Donovan) who feel burned by Beckham and his managers, and the story can feel one-sided at times. (I, for one, would've loved to hear the Brits describe what they thought of Lalas's clownish antics.) Ultimately—and here I'll disagree with Steven and Kenny's view on Monday's World Soccer Daily podcast (they're interviewing Wahl all week this week)—I find it hard to fault the intentions of Beckham's management. Their responsibility is to their client—a client who likely made more money last year than the entire MLS. Of course they're going to exert as much influence as they possibly can to do whatever they think is best for him—even if they have very little actual football management experience.

The question becomes: Did they know what's best?

Without their side of the story explicitly in the book, it's hard to know the exact reasoning behind their soccer and media strategies. But judging from the results—dismal seasons for both Beckham and the Galaxy, the high prospect of him being booed when he takes the pitch in the Home Depot Center—the answer has to be no. It seems that Team Beckham fundamentally misunderstood the kind of media exposure it would take to win over the American soccer fan. From his first appearance, Beckham was rammed down our throats. In glossy ads, hagiographic, 19-Entertainment produced TV segments, and tabloid spreads of Posh and the kids, we were meant to reckon with The Fact: This man is one of the biggest stars in world sports. Except for America—where fans value merit over aristocracy, where the greatest heroes in sport generally earn their recognition. Whether Beckham can salvage any success from the wreckage depends on his management team understanding that it is different here—and changing tactics accordingly.

Some advice: Feeding Beckham statements like this one—given over the weekend to an AP reporter who asked about Wahl's book—is not the way to go.

"This is an unofficial book that I have not participated in. I haven't sat down one to one or spoken about the book, so there is not comment where I have sat down with the journalist and gone through. There are many unofficial books that have been published about me, so this is just another one on the shelf."

It's hard to be convincingly "above it all" when it looks like you were never really in it in the first place.

The Other Michaels

Tuesday  July 14, 2009

A Q&A with Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter

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Thanks to cult hits like Wet Hot American Summer and '90s MTV sketch comedy series The State (out on DVD—finally—today), comedians Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter have won over a slew of devoted fans. These days, they're keeping up their childish-meets-cerebral shtick—and, we're pleased to report, it's still damn funny. Check out Comedy Central’s Michael and Michael Have Issues, premiering tomorrow night, for the proof. We went behind the scenes of the new show to catch up with the duo. There, in between moments of serious filming and staged confrontations (“God, I hate Michael Black…That’s off the record,” Showalter told me), we talked butterfly flatulence, gay-for-pay acting, and what it takes to win a cyberwar with LeVar Burton (stamina, for starters).—andrew richdale

On Michael and Michael Have Issues you two frequently bicker back and forth. Is this art imitating life?
MIB: It's art exaggerating life. We definitely have fights like anybody does. Our conflicts are dealt with more maturely than our characters deal with them on the show—not that much more.

How would you describe your off-camera relationship?
MIB: Cordial, at best.
MS: I would say cordial. I would take away the "at best." I don't think it's less than cordial. It's cordial.

The writing process of a comedy show—the idea behind Michael and Michael Have Issues—seems eerily familiar to another series on air right now, 30 Rock.
MIB: I don't know that I would say eerily familiar. It's familiar. I don't know that it's "eerie."
MS: It's a little eerie.
MIB: Well, different [beat]…primarily the difference is there are no differences.
MS: Tracy Morgan is guest starring?
MIB: Ok, there are similarities. It's an extension of the organic nature of writing what you know. [On 30 Rock] Tina Fey is sort of the calm center around which everything whirls. In our show, we're distorted. At its heart, it's not really about the premise. It's about this relationship—this 20-year plus relationship.

Which is cordial, at best?
MIB: Which is cordial, at best.

The Farting Butterfly sketch from the pilot has been flying around the Internet for some time. Generally in the past, a lot of the humor you guys have been drawn to has been less obvious, more subtle.
MIB: We wanted to contrast ourselves with something so utterly stupid. Hopefully our humor is broad and subtle and everything in between. A lot of people are drawn to one or the other.

Michael Black—you're married to a woman, you have kids. You also repeatedly portray gay characters in projects like Wet Hot American Summer, Reaper, and a sketch in Michael and Michael's pilot. Why the affinity for gay roles?
MIB: I'm only employable as a gay man. I don't want to be cast as a gay guy. But it's all anybody sees me as. It's the only way people want to hire me! I'm sort of squishy. I'm squishy…and I'm attracted to men.

A few months back, you declared a Twitter war with LeVar Burton. What's the latest on that?
MIB: I keep hoping one day to overtake him in terms of followers. I can't beat him! He's beloved.
MS: He has more followers than you? LeVar Burton does?
MIB: Oh yeah. I am the Al'Qaeda to his United States of America. One day I will declare victory though. Right now it's guerilla warfare. In my mind, it's not over until I surpass him.

It's been 15 years since you guys started The State. Skits like "Mr. Magina," "Porcupine Racetrack," "Louie and the Last Supper"—they're cult classics. What stands out most in your mind from those years?
MS: The camaraderie. The sense of community. The joy of an 11-person collaboration. Eleven people all working together toward a common goal…I was kidding, by the way.

Right. A lot changed since then?
MIB: What's changed is that Sho and I are more interested in playing characters closer to ourselves than we were back then.
MS: And now there's only two [of us]. If you multiply two until it becomes 11, then you have the difference—so five and a half. A multiple of five and a half.
MIB: Right. Which is the same thing as multiplying times five and a half. But in a lot of ways it hasn't changed. We still do sketches and release silly, new characters. The answer is it hasn't changed. What would you multiply that by? I mean, a million?
MS: Anything times zero.
MIB: Well, you get a different answer every time!
MS: Do you?
MIB: No. That was a joke. But I didn't know what anything times zero is.
MS: That's when I stopped learning math. What were we talking about? "Mr. Magina"? Funny sketch.
MIB: I was almost sure you were going to say "Oh, that's a sketch I wrote" knowing that you didn't. If anything is complimented, he will say "I wrote that."

Lazy Boy

Tuesday  July 14, 2009

Josh-dorfman

Go ahead and add "Saving the Planet" to the list of shit we won't be getting to this Saturday. (What do you want from us? The game's on.)

Not so fast, says Josh Dorfman, known to eco-friendly companies the world over as The Lazy Environmentalist. Josh, who wrote two aptly-titled books (The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget: Save Money. Save Time, Save the Planet, and The Lazy Environmentalist: Your Guide to Easy, Stylish Green Living) and founded a sustainable furniture company called Vivavi before landing his own show on the Sundance Channel (Tuesdays, 9 p.m.), contends that he's actually a really lazy guy. And he remains convinced that slobs like him (and us) can be part of the solution to climate change without any sacrifice at all. Even on weekends.

So check out the show. Or, if that's too much effort, browse his website, linked here. Come on, you can do it. We typed this whole thing ourselves. [Ed. note: The interview that follows was transcribed by an intern.]luke zaleski

GQ: People are afraid of changing their lifestyle because they're afraid of giving things up. Is that the theme of the show: Getting people to re-conceive of environmentalism as a personal project?
Josh Dorfman: I'm doing the show because what I personally believe is that making, let's call them, 'green' choices—the kind of choices that reduce your environmental impact—what I'm trying to show is that not only is it better for the planet, it will improve your quality of life. My major plan, what drives me, is to find the choices that are not just in the planet's interest but are also in people's self-interest.

What do you say to people who would argue that, "Oh, this stuff's all small potatoes, and until airline companies stop burning jet fuel…"?
I think some of those things are excuses. You know, I'm not a scientist; that's not my role. But what I am saying is: You might be right. I don't think you're right, but you might be right. Regardless of that, if you could put solar panels on your house for zero money down, right now, and save money on your bills tomorrow, why wouldn't you? You get your solar panels and you lease them for zero money down, your lease payment is lower than your energy bill, so you save money instantly. It's not about saving the planet, it's about saying: Do you want to save money?

The show to me, at its core, always comes back to this: it's not just in the planet's self-interest; It's in your self-interest, too.

So did you bring the idea for the show to Sundance or did they come to you?
I had a radio show on Sirius for a couple years, starting in 2006; I was asked because I had a blog and had written this blog entry called "Lazy Environmentalist," which I wrote essentially because one of my employees called me out for being a really lame environmentalist.

The story was essentially that when I started Vivavi down in D.C. in 2003, we were a small start-up working in my apartment. I hired one woman to be my office manager, my bookkeeper. She worked for me for about a year and a half and then I was like, "Well, I have to move the company to New York because there's a lot of great sustainable design happening in Brooklyn and I want to be around those guys." And the day of the move she's like, "Joshua, I have to ask you something. I have to get this off my chest—I couldn't ask you when you were my boss, you're not my boss anymore and it's just really on my mind." I immediately thought, "Oh my God, this is awesome, she's attracted to me. I'm not her boss anymore…" I get a little nervous; I'm thinking about the logistics of my new apartment, how the night's going to work out. And I'm like, "Yeah, let's talk about it." So she says, "Alright, well, I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but: Are you really an environmentalist?" So she was not at all attracted to me; she was actually quite infuriated with me. She's like, "You're always in the shower, you don't recycle," on and on and on. "I know you're selling this green stuff, but you're just… an asshole." And two days later I actually wrote a specific blog entry called "Lazy Environmentalist" that was essentially saying, "Look, I get it."

To make a long story short, when I got the radio show on Sirius in 2006, I thought, "Well, I actually know a lot about this stuff, maybe I should write a book." So that's when I came up with the idea for the first Lazy Environmentalist book, sold it six months later. Fast forward to 2007—my book comes out in the spring—I'm getting a fair amount of press, Sundance saw that press, so in the fall of 2007 they brought me in for a meeting.

Has Robert Redford given you any feedback on the show?
The head of Sundance called me and was like, "Hey, I know you're probably planning on skiing tomorrow, but do you think you could come have lunch with Robert Redford?" I was like, "Yeah, I think I could probably change my plans." The one thing he said to me was, "I'm really pleased that we're now injecting humor into the environmental content that we've developed, because it's just so important that we don't take ourselves as seriously and that we open this dialogue up to more people." That's my only insight into his involvement.

Do you see Obama as a green president? Have you seen any particular instances of responsible policy-making or steps in the right direction?
Yeah, absolutely. To me, I think—just from an environmental point of view—I think the fact that they have actually raised the fuel efficiency standards is tremendous. …But what I think is missing is this enlightened self-interest part of the equation for individuals right now, because there already is so much innovation in business and technology happening. Where I plug in is, I'm a storyteller, I'm a good marketer, I'm a good brander. I don't know if you're familiar with LEED, the green building standard, from the U.S. Green Building Council—you know, schools that are being built to very high green standards. When I talk to people, I say to them, "Look, if you want to get this kind of school in your community, what are you going to do? Are you going to send out an email to parents saying, 'Hey, come on out to the town board meeting to support the eco-friendly school,' or are you going to send out something that says 'Come on out to get your kid into a great school'? It's still the same school, it's still an eco-friendly school, but studies show that schools that are built green, that eliminate the non-toxic materials, that have better daylight—because that's a great strategy for energy efficiency—in those kinds of environments, kids perform better.

To me, it's like, you can do this across the board with almost every area of our lifestyle. You can start to say, "Hey, do you want this thing that makes your kids healthier, do you want the thing that gives your kid the best chance to get into a good college, do you want to work in a factory where you're not going to get sick and you're going to feel good, and you're going to be more productive if you own that factory? Wouldn't you like to have that?"

What's the one thing you're still doing that you want to change about your own personal behavior?
I'm still prone to taking long showers.

Do you shut off the water while you're brushing your teeth?
I do not.

Do you shut off the water while you're shaving?
No.

You're the Honest Environmentalist, I'll give you that. Do you know what your carbon footprint is? Have you ever done that?
I have no idea.

Yeah, me neither. You have to get on a computer to do it, though, which is obviously burning energy.
I know those tools are valuable for some people, but they just don't really work for me. But here's what I believe: There's something called the AQUS water system. This is a tank that goes inside your bathroom sink vanity, so when the water comes down the drain when you're brushing your teeth or shaving or washing your face, the dirty particles get filtered but the water gets captured in this tank. And then there's a little tube that runs to your toilet, so when you flush the toilet, you actually pull the gray water—you're recycling the water from your sink.

Wow.
That, to me, is what Lazy Environmentalism is all about. I'm going to forget to turn the water off, but let's just capture it and use it to flush the toilet. Let's put motion sensors in our homes, so when we forget to turn the lights off when we're running out the door, the lights go off because no one's in the room. Why can't we just have smarter stuff that makes it easier for us? Not because it's laudable in any way to forget to turn the lights off, but because we do. So let's just put these things in that will save us money because they'll cut our energy costs and they'll reduce our impact on the planet.

[Tune in tomorrow for more on AQUS and five more tips from the Lazy, for the lazy.]

The GQ Punch List

Friday  July 10, 2009

What you need to buy, watch, do, and check out in the next 72 hours

PUMA 917 low

Own a pair. Simple, affordable, and lightweight canvas sneakers like Puma's 917 Lo ($40) are the perfect summer shoe. Take a cue from our style editor, Adam Rapoport, and pair them with jeans, khakis, or even a suit to give your business attire a distinctly casual edge.

Feed your bliss. Still high on Brüno? Saw Borat five times? Go ahead and devote your weekend to the side-splitting, tea-bagging, kugelsacking genius of Sacha Baron Cohen. As of this week, the full twelve episodes of Da Ali G Show are on iTunes.

East-river-park

Get over the pool. This Sunday marks the start of the fourth season of Pool Parties, a stellar—and free—concert series in Brooklyn that has been moved down the street from McCarren Pool to the East River State Park, on Williamsburg's waterfront. Eight weeks of shows will feature indie acts like Dan Deacon, Girl Talk, and Grizzly Bear. And while this year's parties won't have a pool (not even an empty one), there'll still be dodgeball, beer, and burgers.

Find your inner Dude. Lebowski Fest, a full-blown touring celebration of the Coen brothers classic The Big Lebowski, kicks off tomorrow in Louisville, the first of fourteen cities in North America. Forty bucks gets you access to unlimited 10-pin bowling, Lebowski-themed contests—like the Marmot Fling and Ringer Toss—and an outdoor screening of the movie. Toss back a few Caucasians and soon you'll be dancing to German techno-pop before John Goodman beats the crap out of a Corvette.

Read This Book: 'Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It,' by Maile Meloy

Thursday  July 09, 2009

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There are some writers whose stories are inseparable from the place the author is from. Tom Perotta's New Jersey is one; Faulkner's Mississippi is a big one. Add Maile Meloy's Montana to that list. In her new collection of short stories, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It (out today), she gets at the strange character of the American West—vast, isolating, lonely—better than anyone since Annie Proulx. In “Travis, B.,” a woman putting herself through school reluctantly takes a part-time teaching job that is a near 10-hour commute. She spends most of her off-duty time recovering from the draining cross-state trek. But that hardship pales next to the tedium one of her students must bear waiting for her to return. “That weekend was the longest one he’d had. He fed the cows and cleaned the tack for the team. He curried the horses until they gleamed and stamped, watching him, suspicious of what he intended.” Here, as in previous works like Half in Love, Meloy has a gift for portraying the tedium of waiting for things to happen in a place where they rarely do—and the shock that comes when something finally occurs. And if the mark of a good summer read is adultery and violence…well, it has that too.—sarah goldstein

A Day at the Derby

Tuesday  July 07, 2009

Some things you just have to learn the hard way. Take, for instance, the importance of hubcaps on a Pinewood Derby car. Without those little plastic holders, the wheels will jettison from the body of your handmade vehicle, reducing your father/son labor-of-love to a heap of embarrassment-coated kindling. That's exactly what happened to me back in my Scouting days, so when the Los Angeles men's store Secret Service and the west coast blog A Time to Get announced their own Pinewood Derby, I knew it was my chance to reclaim my lost racing dignity.

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Being a little crazy, and someone more than a little obsessed with a certain Milwaukee brew, I knew exactly how my car should be designed. While technically being outside the rules, the judges couldn't help but approve an entrant bearing what I referred to as a "built-in celebratory device."

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The competition proved to be fierce, with some participants clearly paying for wind-tunnel testing time and black-market, friction-fighting lubricants from government defense contractors. The west coast folks at Steven Alan even made a little branded Mini Cooper for the event.

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In the end, races were run, trophies were handed out, and, in one gentleman's case (thankfully not mine), hubcaps were forgotten. But like the beers (maybe that's what the Boy Scouts are missing?), the good times flowed, and there's always a chance for redemption at next year's Pinewood Derby.—michael williams

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GQ Test Drive: The Porsche Panamera

Monday  July 06, 2009

Panamera

You'll be able to read my story about the Porsche Panamera in GQ's September issue, but I had to share something with you now about my test drive in Germany over the weekend because it's changed my automotive worldview.

Like anyone who loves cars, I was looking forward to driving on the Autobahn for the first time—the no-speed-limit stretch of German highway that's the envy of any American with a car that's meant to plow ahead with speed in the triple digits. I beat my previous public-road record of 120mph by easing the Panamera to a smooth 150, but only after I felt comfortable traveling fast enough to get me a jail cell instead of a ticket back home. (Even in a purpose-built speed machine like this Panamera, Autobahn speeds can be a little scary to newbies.) Still, I felt pretty damn proud of getting it up there without, you know, dying. But then I saw a Mercedes E-Wagon trailing and subsequently passing another journalist in a Panamera who I later found out was traveling at 160mph. Apparently, my 150 is only considered kind of, sort of fast here in Bavaria. I was a little crushed on the inside.

And then, during a particularly curvy, mountainous, non-Autobahn section of this drive, I found myself barely keeping up with a tiny 2.0 liter VW Polo (it's smaller than our VW Golf.) "Is Mario Andretti driving that thing?" I thought. Nope. When I finally caught up—at a stop sign—I saw the long brown hair. It was just your average female German driver.

The old saying is true: It's not the car, it's the driver. Germans, lucky for them, have the best of both.—kevin sintumuang

The GQ Punch List

Thursday  July 02, 2009

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What you need to see, do, buy, and make in the next 72 hours

Throw a killer barbecue. All you need is the food, the friends, and the right summery drink to stoke their rebellious spirit. Here's your (red, white, and…) blueprint.

The marinade: Perfect for skirt or flank steak.
The slaw: Because it isn't a barbecue if you don't have to sweep some slaw off your deck the next day.
The drink: See rebellious spirit, stoking of, above.

Get the music for free. Instead of buying Mos Def's new The Ecstatic on CD or downloading it from iTunes, buy this cool Mos Def T-shirt and get a download code for MP3s of the album along with it. The shirt is emblazoned with the album's cover art and is available via LnA Clothing starting July 7th, and, unlike Mos's last few "efforts" (they all sounded like he didn't care), The Ecstatic is actually damn good. Don't believe us? Check out the deep, soulful funk of first single "Casa Bey."

Again, get the music for free. Independence Day is all about outdoor concerts that don't cost a thing. This year, you can drag your stingy self to New York's Battery Park to celebrate with two indie-Americana idols: Conor Oberst and Jenny Lewis. The show starts at 3:30, but get there early—after all, it is free.

Or, pay a fortune. There are still tickets—tickets which will run you between $129 to $229, by the way—to see Jay-Z and special guest Ciara at the Pearl Concert Theater at the Palms in Vegas. You may still have 99 problems, but Fourth of July plans won't be one.

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Take the high road to Atlantic City. To properly celebrate our nation's independence, a man needs ready access to the freedoms we enjoy: high-stakes poker; dry-aged ribeye; plentiful cocktails. And if you reside between our nation's capitol and the colonial villages of New England, your best bet is Atlantic City. Spend the weekend at The Chelsea—a non-gaming boutique hotel on the water, where the amenities include an impeccable retro steakhouse and a velvet-walled living room with an amply stocked bar—the kind of place Ol' Blue Eyes would feel right at home. And The Chelsea recently added The Cabana Club—15,000 square feet of outdoor, ocean-view roof deck—because we need a Champagne-soaked spot to enjoy the summer weather, now that it's finally here. Check out the rest of our AC picks under the Extra Mile tab of our Philadelphia City Guide.