Best Video Ever?

My esteemed colleague and close personal friend Jean-Baptiste Mondino, the world famous photographer and video artist, e-mailed me the following message:

Best video EVER!!!

He included this link:

I say to you, judge for yourself.

Meanwhile, apropos of nothing, here is another picture from Peter Gunn. Volume 2 arrived yesterday. Notice how only Pete's left thumb grazes Edie's neck.


The Perfect Button-Down Shirt

When I was a lad I was a devotee of the style of clothing known as Ivy League. I liked Brooks Brothers, but when it came to button-down collar shirts I preferred those made by Gant. Gant was founded in New Haven in 1941 and used to manufacture shirts for Brooks Brothers and J.Press, during which time they became masters of the oxford cloth button-down.

They had a breast pocket, unlike the Brooks shirt, which supposedly didn't because you were supposed to wear a vest or a jacket with it, and they had three collar buttons instead of two, and a handy locker loop in the back. Anti-preppies sometimes called these "fruit loops" or "fag tags," and they were sometimes attacked by vicious girls. The Gant shirt also had what I considered to be almost the perfect amount of collar roll; that is, when the collar was buttoned it didn't lay flat but arced out in an appealing way. There was also, briefly, a button-down brand called Wren which I considered to have perfect roll, but these were almost impossible to find and there are no traces of them on eBay. I also preferred Gant's colors to those of Brooks, and when it came to making Indian madras short-sleeved shirts, they had no rival. Unfortunately the Gant family sold the business in the late sixties and, for my money, the product went down not long after that.


Yesterday I dropped into Jeffrey, the "meatpacking district" high-fashion emporium (449 West 14th Street) and there, next to the Thom Browne preppie waif shirts, was a rack of beautiful button-downs that looked gloriously familiar. They turned out to be Gant shirts, replicas of the classic sixties model, complete with three-button collars and locker loops and that lovely roll. I would have recognized that pink shirt anywhere. I bought a couple of them. A bit more expensive than in the old days, but kudos to Jeffrey. This is the perfect button-down, slimmer than Brooks or J.Press (which is an inch slimmer than Brooks). For some reason many "trad" guys like their shirts muu-muu-like in their expansiveness. These are slim and chic. Unfortunately Jeffrey didn't have this shirt in white, but they had some nice colors and patterns. And no external logos!

Please, Jeffrey and Gant, whoever you are now, don't stop! Finally, somebody got it right. Again.


How to Buy a Picasso Cheap

Las Vegas magnate Steve Wynn was just about to sell his Picasso, "Le Rêve," to financier Steven Cohen for $139 million, when he accidentally poked his elbow through it. These things happen. A cleaning woman in my employ once used a lot of elbow grease and Windex to get the signature off a Pruitt and Early that belonged to me. But at least in my case Nora Ephron wasn't there to write about it—scotching a megabucks art deal. I still have the work, and once I get Rob and Jack in the same place I'm getting it resigned, in case it ever gets up to nine figures.

But it's too bad about that wild elbow. I think Steve was right to sell that Picasso. He's just too active to own a painting that valuable and fragile. And now poor Steve is suing poor insurer Lloyd's of London over what he says is $54 million dollars damage to the painting, which is now worth a paltry $85 mil.


I've decided that until my kid is grown up I'm not buying any more Picassos or ceramics. But there are plenty of alternatives. Hotelier Ian Schrager has lots of Picasso-type paintings in his swank Gramercy Park Hotel, and unlike the Warhols and the Twombly they aren't behind plexi, because they were painted by Julian Schnabel.

If you can find a Picasso by Schnabel, I guarantee it will run you a lot less than a penny on the dollar Mr. Cohen was ready to fork over for "The Dream." In fact, if you act fast and head on over to Sotheby's on February 26th for the Contemporary Art sale, you can bid on Mike Bidlo's "The Dream," which is estimated at only $20,000 to $30,000. A steal! Here is Bidlo's painting:


Mike Bidlo's version, which I guarantee you looks a lot better than the above photo, is dated 1932 and 1987 (two dates for the price of one), and according to Sotheby's it's in good overall condition. Mike's work is really excellent. When he was doing Pollocks he really got into character and re-enacted the maestro pissing in Peggy Guggenheim's fireplace. And he did his Warhol oxidation paintings with real urine. When you're going for appropriation you want an appropriate appropriator, and Mr. Bidlo is the best of them. If I had the kind of money Mr. Cohen is throwing around I'd pick up the more recent "dream," and spend the leftover $138,970,000 on young artists and some signed first editions of Nora Ephron. What with terrorism and cocktail parties I'd pretty much rather have a Bidlo. If Wynn had the Bidlo and the Picasso, he could have poked his elbow through the Bidlo and avoided all that financial agony.

I used to be very jealous of the large Jackson Pollock by Mike Bidlo that Richard Marshall used to have in his office. It was stunning, a good enough painting to fool all but the most expert viewers, and if somebody started shooting you wouldn't be tempted to throw yourself in front of it.

Among My Role Models


I think I figured out what puberty was all about while watching the network TV series Peter Gunn. The hero, Peter Gunn, would be lying on the sofa, drinking a cold martini while nuzzling his girlfriend's ear very carefully, when the phone would ring—meaning that somewhere in the big town there was a murder, and it was time for Pete to go to work. It was the coolest show on TV as the sixties kicked in.


Gunn, played by the Clooneyesque Craig Stevens, was a private detective in a big city. He wore cool clothes and listened to cool jazz and hung out a club called Mother's where his hot girlfriend Edie, played by the impeccable Lola Albright, sang cool jazz most coolly. The show was the creation of Blake Edwards, shortly before he created the Pink Panther films, and it was scored by the great Henry Mancini. The urgent Peter Gunn theme remains one of the most covered tunes of all time, and set the standard by which action themes would be judged. (Actually I think Mancini got royalties from the B-52's for the similarity between their hit "Planet Claire" and the Gunn theme.) The soundtracks for Peter Gunn and the popular Blake Edwards sequel series, Mr. Lucky, were huge influences on me, and were often heard on my cable show TV Party. I opened one show by kissing six girls, one after another, to the track "Dreamsville" from The Music from Peter Gunn (available on 2 CDs).


Craig Stevens played Pete as a very, very Cary Grant kind of private eye. He wasn't a tough guy as much as he was a serene, sardonic sophisticate of few words who generally beat the bad guys by being more relaxed than they were. He wore narrow-lapelled sharkskin suits with one or two buttons, flat-front pants, white shirts with French cuffs, plain black-knit ties, button-down or pinned club collars. A quarter-inch of squared-off handkerchief showed in his breast pocket. The suits were probably bespoke because Pete wore neither belts nor suspenders. His pants fit. The one thing that separates his tailoring from what's fashionable today is that the waist of his flat-front pants is actually at his waist. I believe this is why his shirt never comes untucked when he is being beaten up by thugs. His tailor was a genius because you could never see the bulge of his snub-nose .38.

Pete lives in a world of jazz played by cool cats, and his adventures are accompanied by the greatest soundtrack in the history of television. Sometimes jazz features in the plot and sometimes a famous jazz cat shows up to sit in at Mother's, like when Edie says, "Pete, do you know Shorty Rogers?" Sometimes there is so much cigarette smoke in Mother's that you think it's fog.


The entire Peter Gunn series, all three seasons, is now available on DVD in two volumes. It's my current alternative to crime-scene investigations and reality TV. Peter Gunn is perhaps the coolest show in the history of TV, with its closest rival probably Blake Edwards's other sixties series, Mr. Lucky. Even Pete's cop friend Lieutenant Jacoby, played by Herschel Bernardi, is way cool. Other TV cops have tried to emulate Gunn's cool, but few have approached his jaded "we are not a cult, Lieutentant Jocoby, we are a cosmic one-ness."

Peter Gunn exists in the same sort of jazzy, nutty world as Dragnet, but Pete is a part of it, not looking down on the freaks like the reactionary Sergeant Joe Friday of the LAPD, played by the uptight Jack Webb. Peter Gunn is no narc, and he accepts all oddballs as part of the infinite scheme of the universe.

Bolshevik Luxury


I get up every morning at 6:30 to get Oscar O'Brien ready for school, and then I take him down to catch the yellow bus. Sometimes I put my jeans on right over my jammies. The one consistent element in my morning outfit is my footwear. Every morning I wear my traditional Russian wool boots, or "valenki." They have been made this way from 100% boiled wool for 300 years, except that now, in the modern era, they come with detachable galoshes for when it snows. Boy are they cozy. And you don't even really need socks. (Well, maybe if it goes below zero.) Yesterday it was nippy and I wore them out on the town with my jeans tucked in, and got compliments from my agent, my publisher, and my dentist. They're hipper than Uggs and can be had for only $80 from

Bald Ego Makes Magazine History


Here's the third issue of Bald Ego, the literary and arts magazine that I publish and edit with my partner Max Blagg. I said that yesterday to a guy from England and he looked at me like he wasn't quite sure what I said.

My friend Lisa, who was standing there, then said, "You said your partner…"

I keep forgetting about that. Oh. "My boyfriend Max Blagg," I said. "I hate this 'partner' stuff. 'Boyfriend' was good enough for my dad, and it's good enough for me."

In fact, Max and I are hopeless heteros and business partners in this little magazine. (My dad was a hopeless womanizer.) With George Plimpton dead we thought it was a good time to do a literary magazine for our time. Actually, we started it before George died. Even though it's supposed to come out twice a year, or that was the original idea, we just put out the third since the end of 2002.

That's why we don't call it a periodical, we call it an occasional. Actually we had an issue #3 all ready to go a year ago but then our ad salesman quit, and we were short on ads. Had we published I would have been broke. So we held off until the lack of Bald Ego forced the business community's hand. My friend Andy Spade had a proposition. Over drinks he explained his concept of the commercial readymade, inspired by Marcel Duchamp. There was a barbershop that Andy liked and he paid the shop to put the logo of his company, Jack Spade, the men's bag and accessories maker, on the shop. If we would put Jack Spade on Bald Ego he would get involved.

This story is recounted more amusingly in the Editor's Encyclical in Bald Ego, which I urge you all to purchase and read, but to make a long story medium, Bald Ego came out with "Jack Spade" where "Bald Ego" would usually be. Maybe we'll sell even more. But I think we have made history as the first magazine to sell the cover as an ad. Correct me if I'm wrong.

The new issue is the best yet, 64 pages longer than the last, with a great group of contributors. We decided that the literary magazine for an illiterate age should have a lot of pictures in it, so this one features pictures from Dike Blair, Phillip Taaffe, Don Van Vliet, Richard Prince, Jeremy Blake, John Lurie, Duncan Hannah, Elizabeth Peyton, Jane Dickson, Jimmy Gilroy, Fred Tomaselli, Charlene von Heyl, Keith Sonnier, Jack Pierson, Steven Mueller, Mel Kendrick, and Tom Sachs, and photographs, many of them sexy, from the likes of Santé D'Orazio, Stephen Frailey, Lloyd Ziff, Andrew Brucker, Jahmani Perry, Justen Ladda, Sam Matamoros, McDermott & McGough, and Todd Eberle, among others. The writers include Gary Indiana, James Salter, Elias Khoury, Linda St.John, Julie King, Gerard Malanga, John Stravinsky, Theresa Duncan, Adrian Dannatt, August Kleinzahler, Hooman Majd, and Davitt Sigerson, who gave us a piece of his new novel. Not to mention the editors, who selflessly included their own work. The writing is all fiction and poetry—our motto is, "No journalism or criticism since 2002."

Anyway, I highly recommend this historic journal. You can pick it up in better bookstores and magazine stores everywhere. That would include, in New York, St. Mark's Bookshop, Hudson News at Grand Central, and the Union Square Magazine Shop; in Boston, Trident Bookseller; in Chicago, City Newstand and Quimby's Books; in Washington, Newsroom; in Hollywood, Daily Planet Books; and in Berkeley, Cody's Books. Plus many more distinguished locations and, of course,