How to Get a Table

In some circles, being "connected" means being able to get someone killed, as my dear friend Ronnie Cooke Newhouse puts it, "for a roast beef sandwich and a Quaalude." In other circles, being connected means that you can get a table at the Waverly Inn. I am connected in this way, although I often wish I could trade it for the other kind of connected. But I'm probably better off. Anyway, I am no longer assisting even friends in getting tables at the restaurant with the $50 truffled macaroni and cheese, mainly because it's a pain in the ass, but also on principle. I have always gotten myself into restaurants. And so, while I am forwarding all reservation requests to the Outback Steakhouse on Sixth Avenue, I will offer a couple of tips on how to get into a good, difficult restaurant.

Be warned. Maître d's are a tricky lot. Here is the famously dapper Emile Warda of the Waverly, utterly incognito:


During my residence in the East End of Long Island I frequented the restaurant at the American Hotel, which is very pleasant, serves excellent food, and has a spectacular wine list. While I was a loyal, free-spending customer during those bleak, underpopulated winters, I still found it occasionally difficult to get a table during the "height" (I considered it depth) of the season. One day I was returning from a round of golf in the North Fork and called the American Hotel for a reservation for our foursome, which included at least one famous painter. I gave my name, and the Euro-accented girl on the line informed me, after a minute or two wait, that there was nothing. Hearing this, my friend Diego Cortez took the phone and called the restaurant back, perhaps two minutes later. Putting on his best fey WASP lockjaw accent he said, "I'd like a table for four at eight, please. The name is Auchinchloss. That's A-U-C-H-I-N-C-H-L-O-S-S. Thank you!" We had our four at eight. I was furious.

Then once in St. Barth's, similarly at the depth of the season, I was vacationing with the artist, musician, actor, and sportsman John Lurie, the singer Kazu Makino, and the painter and director James Nares. Every night John used the same strategy to secure us a good table at an in-demand spot: "I'm calling to make a reservation for Congressman Nares." Now James was and is an imposing figure, about six-five, handsome, distinguished. I'm sure he could have gotten away with Senator Nares. What they made of his distinctly British accent I never knew, but I still call the great artist Congressman Nares. Here he is in his studio:


That thing you see in the movies, slipping the maître d' a bill. I guess it might work sometimes if the bill is a Ben or bigger, but I believe in long-term relationships. Next holiday season when you're gifting the doorman and the super, don't forget the loyal maître d'.

Great Cause, Great Deals

Free Arts is a wonderful charity that helps kids with problems by giving them a chance to make art. Artists are always being asked to donate to this cause and that cause, and they give again and again, sometimes grumbling about why non-artists don't do more to make it a better world. But Free Arts is particularly beloved by the artists who give to it. Maybe they identify with troubled kids.

Anyway, Free Arts supports itself in part with an annual auction. In the last few years much of the art auctioned has been in the form of large-format (20 x 24 inch) Polaroid photographs. Since Polaroid is likely to discontinue the film for their giant camera, not only are these unique works, but they're also probably the end of an era. The format will soon be as extinct as the Louisiana Vole or the Wooly Mammoth and thus these works are bound to appreciate significantly, not to mention that the lineup of contributing artists is particularly stellar, featuring Chris Burden, Chuck Close, Adam Fuss, Alex Katz, Barbara Kruger, John Lurie, Catherine Opie, and Tom Sachs, among others.

This year's auction is April 23rd from 6PM to 9PM at Milk Studios (450 W. 15th Street). For tickets visit or call 212-974-9092. The work will be great and, if this year is anything like years past, there will be some amazing bargains, all, of course, for a super cause.

Here's a Christopher Wool piece.


And John Lurie's piece, called "Lion Juggling Fish."


And Chris Burden's.


More Beard & Moustache Lore

Pursuant to the post below this one, my hirsute amigo Mr. Majd has supplied me with photographs of the traditional Persian moustache he may grow.


Those British sailors can thank their lucky stars it wasn't Mozafar o-Din Shah who captured them off the Persian coast, although, had they survived, he certainly would have provided them with a better tailor. The Persians were very fond of moustaches. In Olearius's Travels it is reported that the King of Persia ordered his steward beheaded. When the head was brought to him he said, "What a pity that a man with such fine mustachios should have to be executed."


I have told Hooman that if he grows a moustache like the one above I will wear a monocle. My wife, however, is trying to talk him out of growing a shah-handle moustache in favor of this look"



Ah, but Sharif—the great actor, bridge player, and anger management student himself—has gone for the full facial fescue.


As for what Islam says about beards, there is nothing in the Koran itself on the matter, but various hadiths or traditions regarding the words of Muhammed refer to them.

One says: "Act against (contrary) to the polytheists, trim closely the moustache and grow the beard." Of course the Greek polytheists were often bearded. Elsewhere believers are advised to trim of the beard that exceeds a handful. To wear a beard shorter than this handful is apparently the sign of a Western infidel or a hermaphrodite.

The Torah also weighs in on beards, apparently, in the dictate, "Do not round the corner of your head." The Rastafarians, who consider themselves the real nation of Zion, interpret the same verses to grow their dreadlocks and wear beards. Crazy baldheads will of course be driven out of town.

The fashion for shaving was probably initiated by Alexander the Great, who ordered his men to shave because the beard could serve as a handle for the enemy in close fighting. The shave was adopted by the great Roman general Scipio Africanus, who defeated Hannibal, and remained the fashion in Rome (although slaves were forbidden the shave, perhaps because the handle was convenient for their masters) until the emperor Hadrian grew a fine Greek philosopher's beard in the second century after Jesus, or Augustus, whoever you prefer.

I consider my fuzz philosophical and in no way divinely ordained, unless Mother Nature is so considered, but an enemy would be hard pressed to get a grip on it.

The Fine Art of Facial Hair

Since to the immediate left of this entry there is a menu of Topics, I thought I might add a little to the "Grooming" category, to beef it up a bit. Beards are back in style. I had a dinner party last night, and all the men present had beards. And it was not a theme party. We've been seeing scruff in the art world for quite a while, but lately I've been seeing bearded fashion designers, bearded musicians, bearded photographers, even bearded doctors and executives. It wasn't so long ago that Al Gore was sporting one. Wouldn't you love to have a plump, bearded Gore as President? I would.

Anyway, as you may have noticed I've been wearing a beard for a while and getting away with it. My wife no longer mentions Ernest Hemingway or Kenny Rogers in attempts to get me to shave. She acts resigned to the beard, and in fact I suspect she sort of likes it. This is possible because I have gotten quite good at keeping it under control.

I have achieved control over the beard through use of this handy little device, the Conair Trimmer. It comes with a lot of little attachments and, after trying to read the directions, I managed to stumble upon one that seemed like it would leave me with the length I desired. What I was aiming for was a setting that would leave my beard short enough that the magnificent outline of my chin would be visible. Anyway, a few minutes a week and my beard has a permanently perfect shape. (The blue button says "Turbo." I'm afraid to push it.)


My very good friend Hooman Majd (a fine writer and sometime bon vivant) was among the bearded diners last night, and after a lengthy discussion about whether he was an atheist or a bad Muslim, we turned to the beard habits of his native Persia. It was my contention that a handsome man owes it to the world (or God if he's so inclined, or pretends to be) to keep his beard short enough that the contours of his face can be discerned.

Mr. Majd, whose beard is somewhat redolent of unfiltered Camel Turkish-blend cigarettes, argued for more length, throwing up Prince Michael of Kent as an example. We examined photos of HRH on Google Images, and indeed this superbly dressed, regal gentleman, who is cousin to Queen Elizabeth, has a rather longer beard that does not follow the chin line. But it does suggest the chin line, and is perhaps longest at the chin itself. (If Prince Charles dressed as a prince should, Prince Michael dresses like a king. Note the size of his knot, the bold shirt collar, the cut and texture of his suit, and the beautiful boutonniere. Dressed like this he could rule Britain, and Italy, too.)


Mr. Majd said he would contemplate trimming closer in the jowl zone, while retaining a Kent-like point at the chin. Then we discussed the possibility of his growing a moustache in the traditional Persian manner, in which the points extend beyond the width of the head. This style was popular among the military, and I believe it was the impressive moustaches of dandyish Persian cavalry that spread that style to Brits. Here is Sir Claude Maxwell MacDonald in such a 'stache.


I am all for it. There have been few courageous moustache wearers in the public eye since the great Hall of Fame pitcher Rollie Fingers retired from the Major Leagues. He was a warrior.


Fine Art at Sporting Prices

A while back I alerted readers of this ephemeral space that Supreme, the superlative haberdasher for youth and the likeminded, was continuing its series of artists' skateboard decks with several offerings from Jeff Koons. I have them hanging in my son Oscar's room. They are the only Koons work we can readily afford, and they are very good.


The latest Supreme boards are the work of my amigo Richard Prince. There's a classic bunny-skull board that resembles his bunny-skull surfboard, and there's a "hippie punk" board similar to the drawings in his recent book Hippie Punk, and to the shirts Marni showed this season for guys and gals. They're so cheap I hesitate to list the prices here, and they're going fast.