Peaceable Kingdom: Memoir of a Playboy Bunny: My Spiritual Journey
I was caught up by the story too in my childhood. Not sure about the transporters, but it does have the UV light because it rains all the time. Loved it. My daughter moved to Juneau, Alaska and it reminded her of the story since it is raining there alot. Great list. I got here looking for a book I read some years ago about a dystopian world were people were obligated to live under a dome because everyone thought outside the air was toxic and radioactive.
If it sounds familiar tell me please! We by Yevgeny Zamyatin? The world outside is considered toxic and dangeours. And they were living under something like a glass dome. The best in literature and in prophecies. Great list, thank you! Too much more to read, just need to find the time! Great list and worthwhile comments and suggestions. Thanks all around for any help….
Looking for a short story from the late 60s or early 70s. May have been published in Playboy. Body modification has become wildly popular and stylish…the more extreme the better. A plastic surgeon falls in love with one of his patients-an actress? She had been one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. He reminds her there is no going back once she reaches a certain point but her fame grows with each surgery. The style suddenly changes and conventional beauty again reins.
Any thoughts on the author or story? The storyline included a man and his friend that awoke the morning after hearing disturbing and thunderous sounds which continued throughout the night before, only to find that much of the population from some unknown worldly attack had turned people in the lower levels of buildings and in the streets to solid metals such as bronze and iron. They soon discovered those people remained frozen as statues, whereas the more affluent people whom afforded high-rise living or were in the upper floors during the attack, were not turned to bronze or iron, such as the so called street people beneath them, and instead had been transformed into a silicone or crystal like being with rubber like joints and pads on their hands and feet and with cravings for oils and smaller metal bits.
They traveled about and eventually discovered a cure or reversal of the effects which had converted them to their current state. Sounds like Invaders From Rigel by Fletcher Pratt, where many people have been either turned into either metal statues or if they were higher up robots with rubber fingertips that drink oil and absorb electricity. War ensues. Looking for a book I read in high school but lacking on details.
Futuristic for the time it was written , gangs, rather short paperback novel. Must have been pretty popular since I read it in English class. The main character ends up driving north to Canada to see if he could get away from it. In time, he decided to go back to the states to check up on family etc. In the meantime, there was a coup in the USSR because of this.
At the end of the book, the Soviet Union collapsed. On top of my head some very important works missed in this list: Greybeard by Aldiss. Looking backward by Bellami who forecasted the internet, amazon, credit cards in this book. The Long Walk by Stephen King. Walden Two by Skinner. Ecotopia by Callenbach.
I would beg you to consider Mockingbird Walter Trevis I was totally enthralled with not only the society created for the story but the secret reasons behind it. Or burning in Paris! The only thing I can remember is that the ending implies the main character was in a dream. Love this list. Given me many more books to seek out. I am plagued by memories of reading a book and cannot remember the title. Seem to recall a peaceful family travelling to an alien world on a spaceship. The family had been misread and the aliens saw them as peaceful, intelligent etc.
However, a lot of bad, bad prisoners had also been put aboard and they start to murder the hosts. I seem to recall the hosts took two forms, one of which was a big white bird? Looking for a book, post-apocalyptic? Wild fire around the world? He barely makes it back inside to tell her that the sky was blue. She got thinking why would the sky be blue if the world is constantly at such a high temperature. Than she tries to figure out if the world outside the dome is really as bad as their government says it is or if it was the government burning people the moment they left.
Looking for a book. But I just remember a group of kids maybe 3 or 4 somehow being ripped from their everyday lives and into this other universe where it is a completely white room, there are some stairs. And I think at one end there is a toilet. But all I remember is them suddenly being ripped out of this white filled universe and a scientist telling them it was all an experiment that used them.
And the cover of the book was all white and there may have been a rabbit on it. I read this book when I was in middle school. It was such a shocking book to me at the time and I really would like to read it again. Sounds like House of Stairs by William Sleator. Is that right? So that film was my first notice of his story. It was dystopian as the whole world was suffering from pervasive wide unemployment and slow crumbling of economic status.
Numbers of cops increasing both as a Gov Job program and to control social mayhem is part of it, and a weird aspect from then was the presence of a generation of big headed super-smart young adults in authority all over the world. An unemployed drifter in the area is the hero; he gets involved in a revolutionary movement that spends lots of time camping and practising martial arts. This ring any bells for anybody? Husband is looking for a book. He thinks it was published in the 70s. He comes back one time to find that another clone has space traveled to earth to kill him for something he made the clone do.
Nebula Award Finalist: A prophetic look at the potential consequences of the escalating destruction of the Earth. In a near future, the air pollution is so bad that everyone wears gas masks. The infant mortality rate is soaring, and birth defects, new diseases, and physical ailments of all kinds abound. Large corporations fighting over profits from gas masks, drinking water, and clean food tower over an ineffectual, corrupt government.
- Aphanasian Stories.
- Fun and Unique Wedding Program or Invitation.
- Inspirational Women Campaign | Jeanne Chavany.
Very prophetic. Read it when I was a teen back in the early 60s. Brings back a lot of good memories! They are living like their ancestors did with no way to defend themselves against modern technology but a neighboring planet full of some kind of radicalized Christians who are technologically advanced come to help them. Does anyone recognize this series of books?
Hija, memories of a novel, early 80s, about US city that is protected by a wall, to keep the unwanted out. A bit like Europe today, millions trying to get in. Or did I dream it? Be grateful for any leads! I read a book a couple of years ago where all the kids in the community, including unborn infants started acting weird and then they all died…. I remember the main characters being the husband who was a garbage man and drank lots of beers, the kids being a boy around 7 and a girl around 4. The mom was a house wife and I think they had a dog too.
Please help! I am desperately trying to find a book from the 80s or 90s i think. I was surprised to see there was very few Japanese works on this list. Earth Abides by George Stewart. Written in the s. Post Apocolyptic, though not ultimately dystopian if you favor starting over as a culture. Im looking for a book about a group of 3 friends who hack code and try to bring down a corporation. In the end it turns out that one of the kids cant remeber his past or anything, because he is a program. Its a relativily new book, I read it years ago. Im looking for a book about a school that trains kids to learn talents such as pick pocketing and credit card fruad.
Its a cutthroat school where the alphas tend to kill thier rivals. It was such a cool story and nobody has ever read a story like that. It was about school age kids, I believe high school but it could have been college, who had to maintain a grade level of above a C or their name would be entered into a lottery.
It was meant as a motivator to do your schoolwork but also as a means of population control of the less motivated in society. Ring any bells, anyone? Her goose was a hoot too. Then he rose to be the richest man on earth and even ownes his own planet and fell in love with a police woman..
Plus there was also something there about advanced virtual reality. I am also looking for a book from the 80s late 70s. Characters are teens living in London during the Blitz. In the end, they discover everything is fake and that they are clones being raised by robots and everyone else is dead. I think it was called the Unicorn in the Sky but that title does not come up with anything. So if you could please help me find this book that would be great. I related a lot to the main character Sumner Kagen in Radix. Have also been looking for a book which I forget the name and author, about a dystopian near future where the US government is, unbeknownst to the public if I remember correctly , actually taken over by the mafia.
Looking for a book…probably young adult. Teens live in a city in the Pacific Northwest that has been quarantined or shut off from the world. Really strange stuff is happening like people are stuck half in and half out of the walls. The kids escape but the military takes them back in.
MBR: Small Press Bookwatch, October
A lot of strange stuff…lights and sounds are coming from the downtown hospital. There is a strange hole in the sky that is getting bigger and in the end you realize it will suck the whole world in. Some allusions to time warps, black holes and alternate universes. I think it would belong in the Dystopian Future genre. There are these little creatures robots? I need HELP. The old pharmacist is moved by the woman bcuz he lost his family to something horrible.
Adventures ensue containing age reversing hypersleep, chimera creatures with no rights, and the like. I really want to read this as an adult. Great book. Or did they ever exist in the first place? Dakota to Florida. He walks this group, barefoot, to DC. The he walks to an old fort on the coast and hangs himself. Believing he was Jesus…. Your email address will not be published. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Dystopian art by Alex Andreev.
A Better World. A Canticle for Leibowitz. So there. A Clockwork Orange. Infuriating novelists everywhere, Burgess claims he wrote this book in only three weeks.
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Across the Universe. Someone tried to murder her. After The Event. Indie i. Reviews either love or hate the characters, but everyone agrees After The Event paints a bleak, realistic picture of a dystopian world. Alongside Night. Altered Carbon. Not since Isaac Asimov has anyone combined SF and mystery so well. A very rich man dies unexpectedly, and when his backup copy is animated, he hires Takeshi Kovacs to find out why.
An expedition of four women is sent into an unknown region called Area X, beyond the borders of humanity: a psychologist, a surveyor, an anthropologist, and our narrator, a biologist. The purpose of the mission is to collect data about Area X and report back to the government, the Southern Reach, but circumstances begin to change when the group discovers a tower or tunnel that was previously unmarked on the map. Inside the structure, strange writing is scrawled across the walls, and a spiral staircase descends downward, beckoning the members to follow.
Ape and Essence. Atlas Shrugged. Bend Sinister. Brave New World. Both Brave New World and saw dystopian futures, but Huxley seems to have gotten much of it right though Orwell did nail the surveillance state. City of Bohane. A postmodern visionary who is also a master of styles of genres, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian love of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco and Philip K. Facial Justice. Censorship for Adults Sex in English Puritanism The Group Religion and Morality Nocturnal Emissions We have come a long way since then, in editorial scope and polish as well as in circulation, and we are mightily pleased whenever we are complimented on this fact.
But when well-wishers sometimes praise us for the way in which our magazine has changed, we must shake our head in disagreement. The fact is that in its basic concepts and its editorial attitude, in its view of itself and its view of life, its feelings about its readers and - we believe -- their feelings toward it, the magazine called Playboy is the same today as it was nine years ago.
Improved -- yes, we like to think. Altered in its aims and outlook -- definitely no. Recently, and increasingly in the past year, Playboy's aims and outlook have been given considerable comment in the press, particularly in the journals of social, philosophical and religious opinion, and have become a popular topic of conversation at cocktail parties around the country. While we've been conscious of the virtues in seeing ourselves as others see us, we've also felt the image is occasionally distorted; having listened patiently for so long a time to what others have decided Playboy represents and stands for, we've decided -- on this ninth anniversary -- to state our own editorial credo here, and offer a few personal observations on our present-day society and Playboy's part in it -- an effort we hope to make interesting to friends and critics alike.
Opinion on Playboy When Professor Archibald Henderson titled his definitive biography of George Bernard Shaw Playboy and Prophet, he probably came closer to using the word Playboy as we conceive it than is common today. Certainly, he did not mean that the highly prolific playwright-critic was an all-play-no-work sybarite. He certainly did not mean to suggest that Shaw led a pleasure-seeking life of indolent ease, nor that the platonically inclined vegetarian was leading a secret life of the seraglio.
He did mean -- and he told us so when he visited our offices on the occasion of the founding of the Shaw Society in Chicago -that Shaw was a man who approached life with immense gusto and relish. As a word, playboy has suffered semantic abuse: Its most frequent usage in the press is to characterize those functionless strivers after pleasure whom Federico Fellini, in La Dolce Vita, showed to be so joylessly diligent in their pursuit of self-pleasuring as to be more deserving of sympathy than righteous condemnation. Playboy, the magazine, has been sometimes tarred with the same brush -- usually by those who are more zealous in their criticism than in their reading of it.
We have been accused of leadership in a cult of irresponsibility and of aiding in the decline of the Western world. We deny it. With Playboy's ever-increasing popularity, it would be foolish for us to pretend that the publication doesn't exert a considerable influence upon our society. But what kind of influence? Opinions vary. We first became aware that Playboy was developing into something more than a magazine when readers began purchasing Playboy products in considerable quantities: everything from cufflinks, ties, sport shirts, tuxedoes and bar accessories to playing cards, personalized matches and stickers for their car windows - all with the Playboy Rabbit as the principal design and principal motivation for the purchase.
Readers were soon buying Playboy earrings, necklaces, ankle bracelets, sweaters and Playmate perfume for their own particular playmates, and we wondered at the unusual degree of identification that the men who purchase Playboy each month obviously feel for the magazine and its editorial point of view. They sought, and we gladly supplied, a mark of identity in common with the publication -- the sort of honor a man usually reserved for his fraternity, or a special business or social association.
By the time we were ready to open the first Playboy Club in , we fully appreciated the impact that Playboy, in its many forms, was having upon the urban community for by then we'd witnessed the success of the Playboy Jazz. Festival, Playboy records, Playboy Tours and our nationally syndicated television show, Playboy's Penthouse. The professional critics and commentators on the contemporary scene could not too long resist supplying a personal analysis of the Playboy phenomenon.
In Commentary -- "A journal of significant thought and opinion on Jewish affairs and contemporary issues," Benjamin DeMott, professor of English at Amherst, wrote an article on the subject, "The Anatomy of 'Playboy,'" which he sums up as "the whole man reduced to his private parts. The Playboy philosophy has become Certainly -- God knows -there's nothing in the mainstream of the Christian tradition which justifies this canonization of mediocrity.
There have actually been more major magazine stories on Playboy in Europe during the last year than in the United States, and they have all been extremely favorable; both the greater number and the kinder editorial disposition can be explained in part, we suspect, by our not being in competition with foreign publications for either circulation or advertising dollars; but considering that we are competitors and doing a bit better than the rest , and not forgetting the general moral climate of middle-class America at whom most mass media are aimed , the magazines and newspapers around the country that have written about Playboy have been, by and large, quite fair.
Though occasionally a prejudice does creep in, as when a Playboy Club story in Life turned into a general key club story, because, as the editors reportedly decided, "We don't want to give all that free publicity to Playboy, do we? A West Coast newspaper column also reported recently that American airmen stationed in the Arctic have discovered that Playboy is their most valuable item of barter when they pay a visit to the Russian airfield nearby.
We haven't heard about any editorializing on the broader implications of the Playboy view of life in any of the official Russian press, but I think we can safely assume that if they've formed any opinion on the subject, it's negative. The Canadian Broadcasting Company has done an hour-long network radio documentary Playboy of the Modern World and a half-hour network television program The Most on Playboy this year -- the Canadians came to Chicago for more than a week for each show, used thousands of feet of tape and film in the Playboy Building, the Club and the Playboy Mansion.
Both have been nominated for awards and are far and away the most accurate and best coverage the world of Playboy has been given to date in any medium. Yet a small-circulation Canadian magazine, Saturday Night, published an article at just about the same time, titled "Dream World of the Sex Magazines," that claims the recurring theme in Playboy and its imitators is "the brutalization of women.
Comment about Playboy keeps popping up everywhere these days -- in movies, on TV, in nightclub acts: In Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three, Berlin Coca-Cola boss Jimmy Cagney's male assistant got himself delayed while on an unusual errand into East Berlin, dressed as a girl, because the border guards spent a half an hour trying to talk him into letting them shoot some pictures of him for Playboy.
Mort Sahl expressed concern about an entire new generation of guys growing up convinced that girls fold in three parts. And have staples in their navels. Art Buchwald kidded about Playboy's impact on the country in his internationally syndicated column: "Some people are afraid that Hefner may try to take over the United States, if not by force, at least by sex. He has , Playboy Club keyholders now who have pledged to follow Hefner in whatever direction he wishes to go. They all have keys and if Hefner can change the locks on some of the government buildings in Washington, including the White House, there is no reason why he couldn't take over the country.
Many people think Bobby Kennedy's recent trip around the world was a secret mission for Mr. Hefner to find new locations for Playboy Clubs. The slogan of the Playboy is, of course, 'Today girls, tomorrow the world. Crane, in Santa Barbara, California, devoted an entire sermon to the subject, "Philosophy and Fantasy in Playboy Magazine and What This Suggests About Us": "Playboy comes close now to qualifying as a movement, as well as a magazine," he said. What I mean is that the magazine tells its readers how to get into heaven. It tells them what is important in life, delineates an ethics for them, tells them how to relate to others, tells them what to lavish their attention and energy upon, gives them a model of a kind of person to be.
It expresses a consistent world view, a system of values, a philosophical outlook. It's a light and jolly kind of universe, a world in which a man can be forever carefree, where a man can remain, like Peter Pan, a boy forever and ever. There are no nagging demands and responsibilities, no complexities or complications.
It amuses its readers by creating a delightful imaginary world for them, a world that they find it fun to live in; and everybody needs a little fun now and then. The only real harm that it does, I think, is negative: It does nothing important for its readers, doesn't lead them anywhere, does nothing to enlarge or deepen their awareness of themselves and their lives, does nothing to encourage the growth of insight or understanding.
- Nunc Dimittis.
- Le fiancé dun jour - Le bonheur dêtre maman (Horizon) (French Edition).
- Small Press Bookwatch.
- Sexy Professor - Erotic story;
- Full text of "Playboy USA - November "?
- Granta 117: Horror (Granta: The Magazine of New Writing).
- All the Signs of Brain Damage: The Relationship Chronicles: The Getting to Know Process.
Devoting an entire column, on the editorial page of the Daily Commercial News, the West Coast's oldest business newspaper, to Playboy in general and the then current issue March in particular, he wrote: "One of the most intellectual magazines in America. For a magazine that is devoted to 'Entertainment for Men,' it is strangely concerned with two things few men, and even fewer women, have any real interest in: namely, truth and beauty.
Fraser goes on to extol the literary and intellectual virtues of the March issue, which he says "comes close to being a sheer work of art. Fraser expresses himself enthusiastically on the subject of March Playmate Pamela Gordon, and then says: "Having drunk deep of this rare and costly wine, let us glance over the other pages. Here J.
Paul Getty, the billionaire tactfully the magazine does not remind us of the fact has a thought-provoking indictment of The Vanishing Americans. He holds that 'in the restless voice of dissent lies the key to a nation's vitality and greatness. Indeed, it has almost disappeared. The role that it has played in Christian dogma, as he analyzes it, is especially impressive and is alone worth the price of the magazine. Clarke's article on The Hazards of Prophecy.
Here is an analysis of the short-sightedness of men of science in the last half-century, the first of a series of amazing insights into the 'expected' and 'unexpected' in science. There are other articles of equally rich intellectual fare. But I do not have the space here. However, a new planet has swung into our universe of superior magazines A toast, therefore, gentlemen, to America's newest star in the intellectual firmament -- Playboy!
They are, because life is so subjective that what one person can view as "the whole man reduced to his private parts," another may see as a concern for "truth and beauty. In our Introduction, in Volume 1, Number 1, we tried to spell it out: "We want to make clear from the very start, we aren't a 'family magazine. What is this "particular point of view," then, that Playboy shares with its readers?
We wrote about it in a subscription message in the April issue, under the question, What is a Playboy? Far from it: He can be a sharp-minded young business executive, a worker in the arts, a university professor, an architect or engineer. He can be many things, providing he possesses a certain point of view. He must see life not as a vale of tears but as a happy time; he must take joy in his work, without regarding it as the end and all of living; he must be an alert man, an aware man, a man of taste, a man sensitive to pleasure, a man who -- without acquiring the stigma of the voluptuary or dilettante -- can live life to the hilt.
This is the sort of man we mean when we use the word playboy. The Criticism of Content There are actually two aspects of Playboy that prompt comment today, where previously there was only one. There have always been those who criticized the magazine for its content -- certain specific features to which they take exception. There is another, newer area for comment now: the philosophical pros and cons of Playboy's concept -- the overall editorial viewpoint expressed in the magazine.
The critics of content are rather easily disposed of. No one who bothers to seriously consider several issues of the magazine can reasonably question the overall excellence of the editorial content. Playboy published some of the finest, most thought-provoking fiction, satire, articles, cartoons, service features, art and photography appearing in any magazine in America today; Playboy pays the highest rates, for both fiction and nonfiction, of any magazine in the men's field; and Playboy has received more awards for its art, design, photography, typography and printing over the last half-dozen years than almost any other publication in all the United States.
A questioning of the lack of serious "think" pieces in the magazine, as the Unitarian minister did, can only be the result of a superficial scanning of Playboy, as the Hugh Russell Fraser critique of the March issue makes clear. But lest the occasional reader consider that March may have been an uncommon issue, in addition to the Arthur C. Clarke science series and the J. Paul Getty series on men, money and values in society today, Playboy has published Nat Hentoff's Through the Racial Looking Glass, "a perceptive report on the American Negro and his new militancy for uncompromising equality" July ; The Prodigal Powers of Pot, an unemotional look at marijuana, "the most misunderstood drug of all time" August ; Status-ticians in Limbo, a biting article on the sociologists and motivational research experts in advertising and the communication industry September ; The Great American Divide, Herb Gold's incisive probing of "Reno, the biggest little pity in the world" June ; Hypnosis, the most comprehensive article on the subject ever to appear in a magazine, analyzing hypnotism's implications for surgery, psychoanalysis, persuasion, advertising, crime, war and world politics, by Ken W.
Purdy February ; plus such now near-classic pieces as The Pious Pornographers, on sex in the women's magazines October ; The Cult of the Aged Leader, expressing the need for younger men in our government before any of us had heard of a John or Robert Kennedy August ; Eros and Unreason in Detroit, decrying the ever-increasing size, and emphasis on chrome and fins, in U.
This small sampling of Playboy's thought-provoking nonfiction is impressive, we think, for a publication that is primarily concerned with entertainment and service features for the urban man, for Playboy has never attempted to cover every aspect of man's existence, or pretended that it does, though some of the criticism aimed at us clearly suggests that we do. And that, it seems to us, is rather like criticizing a good book of poetry, because it includes no prose.
Playboy has always dealt with the lighter side of contemporary life, but it has also -- tacitly and continuously -- tried to see modern life in its totality. We hope that Playboy has avoided taking itself too seriously. We know that we have always stressed -- in our own way -- our conviction of the importance of the individual in an increasingly standardized society, the privilege of all to think differently from one another and to promote new ideas, and the right to hoot irreverently at herders of sacred cows and keepers of stultifying tradition and taboo.
We at Playboy think there is a depressing tendency to confuse seriousness with earnestness and dullness. We believe in the Western tradition of satire and polemic and it is our feeling that some of the mass media could do with a little sharpening of their senses of humor , and we aren't above poking fun at ourselves once in a while either. Some seem to feel that a happy, even frisky and romantic attitude toward life, and a savoring of its material pleasures, preclude seriousness, work, sensibility, a viable aesthetic.
In our book literally and in the slang sense this position is untenable. It belongs with such other evidences of semantic dysfunction as the unreasoning suspicion that medicine can't be good for you if it doesn't taste bad; that robust profanity bespeaks a limited vocabulary rather than one equipped with condiments as well as nutrients ; that dullness is the ordained handmaiden of seriousness; that the well-dressed man is an.
A Matter of Sex At the heart of most of the criticism of Playboy's contents, we find that ol' devil sex. We'll consider the fuller implications of this when we discuss the concept, but we must confess at the outset that we do not consider sex either sacred or profane. And as a normal, and not uninteresting, aspect of the urban scene, we think it perfectly permissible to treat the subject either seriously or with satire and good humor, as suits the particular situation.
For some, it is the pictures that offend -- the full-color, full-bosomed Playmates and their photographic sisters, who apparently show off too much bare skin to please a part of the public. That another sizable portion of the citizenry, numbering in the several million, is obviously pleased as punch by this display of photogenic pulchritude is -- for the moment -- besides the point.
We'd like to make our case on merits other than mathematical ones. It was disconcerting when we first discovered that many of those who consider nudity and obscenity nearly synonymous often drag God's name into the act -- this struck us, and strikes us still, as a particularly blatant bit of blasphemy. The logic that permits a person to call down God's wrath on anyone for displaying a bit of God's own handiwork does, we must admit, escape us. If the human body -- far and away the most remarkable, the most complicated, the most perfect and the most beautiful creation on this earth -- can become objectionable, obscene or abhorrent, when purposely posed and photographed to capture that remarkable perfection and beauty, then the world is a far more cockeyed place than we are willing to admit.
That there may be some people in this world with rather cockeyed ideas on subjects of this sort -- well, that's something else again. And, yes, it's possible for an entire society -- or a goodly portion of it -- to get cockeyed on a particular subject, for a while at least. Just how the U. But it is worth noting here that a remarkable schism exists between the two present generations, as regards sex and several other quite vital subjects, and the gap -- in attitude and viewpoint -- between the younger and the older generations of our time is far greater that the customary 20 years. This is one of the little recognized, but most significant reasons for a number of well-established magazines finding themselves in serious difficulties over the last decade.
With most key editorial decisions still in the hands of older staff members, the publications have become uneasily aware that they are somehow losing editorial contact with an increasing number of their readers or more specifically, their potential readers, as the oldsters die off and too few young ones are drawn in to take their place , without really understanding why or what to do about it. Similarly, a major part of Playboy's spectacular success is directly attributable to our being a part of the new generation, understanding it, and publishing a magazine with an editorial point of view that our own generation can relate to.
We'll try to trace the causes of this remarkable gap in the two present generations, and just what the differences may mean to all of us, a bit later, in discussing Playboy's concept. The marked disagreement in the comment on Playboy, in the pieces quoted at the beginning of this editorial and most of them from well-qualified, literate sources , is more easily understandable when we realize what a marked disagreement exists between the two present generations on a wide variety of subjects.
A portion of a generally quite friendly article on Playboy that appeared in Newsweek in offers a good example of the distinct lack of understanding that an older-generation editor brings to the task of explaining our editorial concept and the reasons for our success: "In efforts to maintain Playboy's sophisticated patina, Hefner and Associate Publisher A. Spectorsky author of The Exurbanites have given the magazine a split personality. On the other hand its daring nudes 'Playmate of the Month' have catered to the peep-show tastes.
For Playboy's editor, a good men's magazine should include both fine fiction and pictures of beautiful girls with "plunging necklines or no necklines at all" to lift another phrase from the Newsweek article , because most normal men will enjoy both, and both fit into the concept of a sophisticated urban men's magazine. For Newsweek's editor, however, a good men's magazine should include fine fiction, but no pretty girls, or at least no pretty girls without clothes on -- no matter how much the magazine's readership might appreciate them -- because Newsweek's editor is projecting the uneasy and quite hypocritical and unhealthy attitude, held by much of our society for, lo, these many years, that sex is best hidden away somewhere, and the less said about it the better.
Of course, we all enjoy it sexual activity in all of its infinite varieties, was just as popular a generation ago as it is today -- actions haven't changed that much, only the publicly expressed attitudes toward them have , but it's a rather distasteful business at best, appealing to the weaker, baser, animalistic side of man which includes, as we understand it, any need or function of the body and is diametrically opposed to the virtuous, better side: the intellectual and the spiritual. This nonsense about the body of man being evil, while the mind and spirit are good, seems quite preposterous to most of us today.
After all, the same Creator was responsible for all three and we confess we're not willing to believe that He goofed when He got around to the body of man and certainly not when He got to the body of woman. Body, mind and spirit all have a unique way of complementing one another, if we let them, and if excesses of the body are negative, it is the excesses that are improper rather than the body, as excesses of the mind and spirit would also be.
The great majority will agree with what we've just stated, and yet the almost subconscious, guilty feeling persists that there is something evil in the flesh of man -- a carryover from a Puritanism of our forefathers that included such delights as the torturing of those who didn't abide by the strict ethical and moral code of the community and the occasional burning of witches which we have rejected intellectually, but which still motivates us on subtler, emotional levels.
Thus a men's magazine is appealing to "peep-show tastes" when it includes in its contents the photographs of sparsely clad women -- a conclusion the Newsweek writer could almost certainly never justify intellectually, but a conclusion that he managed to put to paper just the same.
Last year we had one of the editors of another national newsmagazine visiting us and we were showing him the Playboy Mansion. We took him down into the underwater bar beside the pool he declined politely our invitation to slide down the fireman's pole and used the stairs instead and we fixed him a drink. The light in the underwater bar is quite low and across one wall we have illuminated color transparencies of some of Playboy's most popular Playmates -- very similar to the wall decoration in the Playmate Bar of the Playboy Clubs.
Now it should be explained that this editor is not appreciably older than we are -- in years. But in outlook, at least a generation separates us. He is what you could safely call a stuffed shirt. It became immediately clear that the Playmate pictures embarrassed and yet intrigued him. He studied them, shaking his head slowly from side to side. They're actually a very nice group of girls.
That's how sick our society has become in just one area: sex. And the magazines, the newspapers, movies and radio -- all reflected this attitude throughout the past generation -- to say nothing of what we managed to project as a national philosophy of life over those 20 years -- the Thirties and Forties -- with an overemphasis on security, conformity, a downgrading of education and intellect, and a near deification of the Common Man and a great many all-too-common concepts and ideas.
No wonder, then, that with the troubled stirrings and awakening that came with the new generation, after World War II,. Naturally, Playboy includes sex as one of the ingredients in its total entertainment and service package for the young urban male. And far from proving that we suffer from a split editorial personality, it shows that we understand our reader and the things that interest him.
When the older magazines offer sex to their readers, it is usually in association with sickness, sin or sensationalism. In Playboy, sex is offered in the form of pretty girls and humor. One approach emphasizes the negative side of sex and the other, the positive. It seems obvious to us which approach is the healthy, the natural and the right one.
If Playboy's approach to sex is sound, then perhaps we are guilty of simply placing too much emphasis on it. We don't think so, however. Most of the other major magazines in America are produced with the same point of view as the typical television program -- they're aimed at an entire household, at everyone and no one. Playboy, by contrast, is edited solely for the young urban male, who naturally has a little more interest in sex and pretty girls than does a general or family audience.
We try to edit Playboy with the adult directness of a good foreign film, the spice and fun of a Broadway show. Actually, the monthly "conversation" that we hold with our readers is similar to one men have always had among themselves -- in both content and emphasis -- and have not been noticeably corrupted by. In fact, if the secret psyche of the typical young adult male could be probed, we suspect that we probably err in the direction of less emphasis on sex than the average, rather than more.
What the very existence of Playboy means is that there is a publication in which young men's attitudes towards life and love can be publicly aired. And a perusal of any average issue will assure the concerned, we think, that there isn't nearly the preoccupation with sex in Playboy that one might assume by listening to the typical critic. The critic can find nothing in the magazine but the Playmate, the Party Jokes and cartoons; our readers, on the other hand, manage to also find the stories, articles, service features, reviews and all the rest of the total package that make Playboy so popular.
One gets the feeling, in fact, that some of Playboy's critics are far more fascinated with the subject of sex, and spend far more time discussing it, than Playboy. If sex were the principal reason for Playboy's popularity, of course, then the magazine's several dozen imitators -- almost all of which are far sexier than we -- would be the ones with the larger circulations. But not one of them has a sale of more than three or four hundred thousand; Playboy has a larger circulation than the top half-dozen imitators combined.
Incidentally, the feature that produces the greatest reader response in Playboy each issue -- month in, month out -- isn't the Playmate, it's our articles on male fashion. In truth, the vociferous critic of Playboy is apt to reveal more about himself than about our magazine. There is something wrong with an adult who is embarrassed by pictures of pretty girls and who becomes extremely agitated when sex is treated with anything but solemnity.
They are frequently people who have more than their share of morbid curiosity about the reams of newsprint devoted in the daily press to stories in which there is a close association between sex and sin, vice, crime, violence and the expos. During our first year of publication, we had a Chicago police censor point to a full color illustration of a story by Erskine Caldwell and inform us that it was objectionable, because the man in the loose fitting overalls, sprawled out on the front steps of a wooden shack, had an erection.
It was an erection that existed entirely in the mind of the police censor. The artist had drawn wrinkles in the overalls, but the diligent had found an erection there. Here's a more recent example of the same sort of subjective criticism of content: Most of the comment quoted at the beginning of this editorial was concerned with concept and we will get to that in the second half of this statement of Playboy's philosophy. The most critical of the group was Professor Benjamin DeMott, however, and he concerned himself with both concept and content in his article, "The.
Anatomy of Playboy," accusing us in his final paragraph -- along with other "girlie books" -- of having been born of "stinking seed. Now let's see how accurate he is. Our Party Jokes page is enlivened each month with whimsical sketches of a tiny female nymph we affectionately call Femlin. In the May issue, the first sketch shows the little imp watching a man shave with an electric razor; in the second sketch, the Femlin playfully tugs at the razor's cord, trying to pull free from the wall socket; in the last drawing, the razor has stopped running and the man is scowling down at his Femlin, while she hides the plug behind her back and smiles impudently over her shoulder at us.
Now let Professor DeMott describe this very same scene, as he did in his Commentary article: "The white space on a page of a recent Playboy was dressed with three sketches of a man shaving with an electric razor, in the company of Miss Buxom clad in black stockings and gloves. In the first panel the girl studies the wall plug to which the razor is attached; the second shows her pulling the plug from the wall -- the man still shaves, owing to the current she generates; in the third, the girl holds the razor cord in her hands and smiles down approvingly as the man touches the buzzing machine to her pleased nipple.
He was able to supply an entire secondary story line of his own to the illustrations, even though the drawings themselves made his conclusions impossible. In the second sketch, where he has decided the Femlin is generating electric current to run the razor, the razor is still running, because the plug clearly shown in the drawing is not yet fully removed from the wall socket; in the last sketch, where the professor describes the Femlin smiling down approvingly "as the man touches the buzzing machine to her pleased nipple," the plug is now out of the wall and the razor is no longer running.
In none of the sketches is the Femlin touching the exposed end of the plug she is always holding the insulated cord , permitting not the slightest possibility for the professor's interpretation. And lastly, the head of the razor is not pointed in the direction of the Femlin and is not even touching the Femlin's breast. Professor DeMott used this descriptive scene to help prove the extreme sexual nature of Playboy and the illusion he says we try to create, that all women are oversexed or, as he rather crudely puts it, "wild wild wild to be snatch.
It may be reasonable to suggest that the "stinking seeds" the good professor finds in Playboy are actually growing in his mind rather than on our pages. CHAPTER 2 Introduction Playboy has become an increasingly popular topic of conversation over the last year or two, and comment on our success has often included discussion and debate on our doctrine and our editorial point of view -- in the popular press and various journals of opinion, as well as around the office water cooler, at fraternity bull sessions, at cocktail parties, club gatherings and wherever else urban men and women exchange ideas.
Having heard so many others explain what Playboy is all about, we've decided it's time to speak out ourself on what we believe in, and what we feel Playboy represents in present-day society, permitting ourself a few personal asides on society itself along the way. Last month we offered some opening observations on Playboy's critics and pointed out that negative comment on the magazine actually takes two very different forms: There are some who criticize Playboy for its content -- certain specific features of which they do not approve; while others object to the publication's concept -- the overall editorial viewpoint expressed in the magazine each month.
The critics of content are the easiest to answer. Few would quarrel with the overall excellence of the magazine's fiction and articles a list of writers like the ones contributing to this issue speaks for itself and Playboy has received more honors, awards and certificates of merit for its art, photography, printing and design, during the last half-dozen years, than almost any other magazine in America.
The criticism of content is soon seen to be largely a matter of sex, and primarily pictorial sex, at that. For some few, a photograph of the female figure -- no matter how attractively posed -- is embarrassing, objectionable and even downright sinful. In fact, one sometimes gets the feeling that the more attractively posed -- and therefore appealing -- the female is, the more objectionable and sinful she becomes to the critical.
In order to react in this way, of course, one must believe that sex itself is objectionable and sinful -especially as typified by a beautiful woman. Fortunately only a twisted few are able to fully accept such a negative view of God's handiwork, but the witch-burning Puritanism, which associated the Devil with all things of the flesh, and which formed a part of our early religious heritage in America, has left its mark on many more.
And so the prude, the prig, the censor and the bluenose have a ready band of followers willing to bowdlerize the world's greatest literature; destroy the too-suggestive art and sculpture; clip, cut and mutilate the cinema; determine -- not just for themselves, but for their neighbors as well -- what can and cannot be shown on television, what magazines and newspapers can and cannot print, what plays the theater can and cannot present; burning, destroying, defacing, purging, purifying -- all in the name of Him who was the Creator of all these things in the beginning.
And if they could find some means or manner by which they might burn from the memory of man every sensual delight, every yearning of the flesh, every God-given pleasure of the body, we have no doubt that some would seize the opportunity with much zeal and joy. This, we suggest, is man at his most masochistic -- man at his self-destructive ultimate. For here man tries to destroy not simply the body, but the very mind of all humankind.
If a person can look at the picture of a beautiful woman and find ugliness there, and obscenity, then it can only be that he carries that ugliness and obscenity within himself. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is its opposite. The Criticism of Concept The critics of Playboy's editorial concept are not so easily answered.
Sex plays a part in their attitudes, too, of course, but it is a more sophisticated and complex criticism, as when Harvey Cox, in writing Playboy's Doctrine of Male for the "Christian Journal of Opinion," Christianity and Crisis, describes Playboy as "basically antisexual. According to John A. He is a man of discriminating taste, style and polish. He knows how to spend money with flair.
He is a skilled and sophisticated lover, who knows how to avoid anything resembling a permanent attachment with his paramours. It is a universe for rather elegant and refined consumers, and girls are the grandest of all consumer goods. A girl is something, like a sports car or a bottle of scotch or an Ivy League suit, that is meant to be used and enjoyed by men. But always with flair, with polish. There need be no entangling, no stifling alliances or obligations. Girls are playthings, and once enjoyed will have to be set aside and replaced with others new and fresh.
She is the symbol par excellence of recreational sex. When playtime is over, the playmate's function ceases, so she must be made to understand the rules of the game. As the crewcut young man in a Playboy cartoon says to the rumpled and disarrayed girl he is passionately embracing, 'Why speak of love at a time like this? Thus any theological critique of Playboy that focuses on its 'lewdness' will misfire completely. Playboy and its less successful imitators are not 'sex magazines' at all.
We obediently followed though not quite sure why and certainly not so smartly. One of the guys whispered that this bossy porter was in fact a United States Marine in dress uniform. Hey wait a minute. We joined the U. The marine hustled us over to the edge of the arrivals curb. We scooted our toes up to the yellow line, like he said. It was a little disconcerting not to mention embarrassing being spoken to in that manner, especially in front of all the people meeting loved ones or waiting nearby for cabs, strangers now who had for the past few hours been our fellow travelers.
Now they to paid us no mind at all; they simply went about their business, indifferently. It was nothing to them Still, it seemed to me, somewhat presumptuous of the marine to assume that we did at this point. No one had ever called me a maggot before. I twitched. The marine's jugular veins suddenly swelled up like somebody had shoved a tire pump up his ass and at that instant the last vestige of civilian life vanished like the flavor of the stale wad of chewing gum stuck between the teeth of my big mouth.
He screamed two inches from my face. I spat my last piece of Beemans out into the arrival zone, as far as I could possibly get it. So there we waited The marine stood off to the side, distancing himself from us maggots. With his legs spread slightly apart and his hands locked behind his back, he stared blankly out toward the cars arriving to pick up those who were going about their enviable lives. Every so often the marine clicked his heels together and saluted another military guy--some sergeant or admiral.
I didn't know one from the other. I started to think about Christine.
Should not have let this happen. Should have been paying better attention, been more on top of things. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Oh well, too late to think about that now. That would sure complicate things. No, it was better to let Harry take care of it for me. That way it will be ready to drive soon as I get back home.
I was getting a little hungry. I also wondered if we were impressing the United States Marine with how long we were able to stand at attention--us rugged Oregonian outdoorsmen. Before it was warm, now it was getting chilly. We wouldn't need it where we were going--just a shaving kit and tooth brush, not even a comb. I wondered about the future, about how different life would be in the military. It was going to take some getting used to, I guessed.
It was well-past midnight when the marine, whose head was shaped like a three-pound coffee tin, returned our Manila envelopes and herded us onto the bus, which was packed with more tired, anxious fellows just like ourselves. Some of us had to stand. Now we were on an interminable bus ride. For several hours the bus crawled along the empty streets of San Diego, passing the same places over and over, aimlessly it seemed, on what was actually a fifteen-minute drive to the naval station.
I wondered if the driver was lost. None of us felt like saying anything. A man wearing a white sailor suit with a pistol on his web belt stiffly waved us through. All of the buildings were ochre colored and all the occupants sleeping. By this time we were all as dead tired as corpses hauled to a cemetery in a donkey cart. A duty seaman took us to an empty barracks and told us to turn-in on the bunk-beds lined-up along the walls.
Everyone collapsed fully dressed on the bare bunks and immediately fell into a deep slumber My first thought was that someone had mistakenly awakened the wrong barracks. Didn't he know we were the new guys for crying out loud? We hadn't even started our training yet, had barely fallen asleep. Hell, it was still dark outside. He wore a perfectly adjusted two fingers above the eyebrow regulation white hat on top of his perfectly trimmed head. Around his neck was a perfectly rolled black silk scarf which was tied in a precise square knot that rested exactly where it should rest--neatly at the notch of the collar of his crisp, white jumper, so that if you placed your finger in the notch it would touch both the top of the knot and the bottom of the notch at the same time.
If you could see his brass belt buckle which was hidden by his jumper, you would be stuck by its mirror polish, and if you knew to look, you would also see that the brass tab on the end of the Cheer-white web belt was protruding from the buckle just far enough so that you could see all of the polished tab but not a trace of the white web belt that held up his wrinkle-free pure white cotton trousers.
His name was Cisco--Mister Cisco to us. As shiny as burnished onyx, they were objects of art, which we, at first, naively mistook for brand new patent leather. What skill it took to bring out that shine would, in the coming weeks, be imparted to us through a process as tried and true and as old as the Navy itself. Mister Cisco was to be our roll model, guide and mentor. We believed that he knew as much about the Navy as any person alive. A model sailor, he was clean, neat and as bright and shiny as his shoes.
Mister Cisco demonstrated the proper way to stow our uniforms in our sea bags and in our lockers, neatly stacked with the outer folds on the right, "pussy to the left. That was easy to remember. He showed us how to make up our racks bunks so taught that a dime would bounce off the "fartsack" mattress cover.
A wool blanket, squarely folded, was laid ever so precisely at the foot of the rack, pussy to the left of course. He showed us how to use a broom and a swab and scrub brushes to keep our barracks white-glove spic and span at all times. A speck of dust in an obscure corner discovered by an astute inspector was not only a punishable offense; it was an absolute outrage. Mister Cisco showed us how to polish our Springfield rifles so they would glint in the sunlight when we marched across the Admiral Chester A. We were to call them pieces, not rifles and definitely not guns. This is for fightin'.
This is for fun. The barrels were plugged, in case we found a bullet somewhere and wanted to shoot Mister Cisco. Every minute of the day was crammed with the minutia of navy life. Any thoughts of home or girlfriends, and it was nearly impossible to keep them from popping up, had to be snitched on the sly like a tasty crumb, often at the risk of miss-stepping in a marching drill or not noticing, during a deck seamanship class, how the end of a piece of rope it was to be called line bends around itself and then dives through a loop to form a bowline.
Every waking minute was dedicated to a specific task in the relentless pursuit of total navy-regulation perfection. Each of us was destined to look exactly like Seaman Apprentice Mister Cisco and as it was required that we achieve each step toward that goal at prescribed increments, otherwise there would be blistering hell to pay.
By the end of the day we were too tired to lay awake and think of home. But I'm getting way ahead of myself. One at a time those who couldn't were ordered by the acutely observant Mister Cisco to drop-down and give him an equally impossible number of push-ups on the spot and then expect to spend the better part of the evening doing penance at a "marching party. Sure hoped Christine, who had not yet reached that blessed age of consent, wasn't pregnant. Sounded to me like we had pretty much relinquished what remained of our constitutional rights; hell, I wasn't even sure we were citizens anymore.
In a large room were several rows of small sinks mounted in little cabinets, one for each of the 80 or so men in our company. At each sink was a paper cup containing a gray glob of paste and a throwaway toothbrush. And no spitting. No swallowing. No gagging. Then as always there was the routine that accompanied everything we did. One by one, with mouths brimming with gum-burning foam we sputtered out the Ten General Orders. My first general order is Sir! To take charge of this post and all government property in view, Sir! That dentist was the kind if given the opportunity, would have relished pulling our teeth out, sans Novocain.
What can be more appalling than a sadistic dentist? All across the room guys were throwing up in the sinks. Unauthorized vomiting earned the offenders several dozen push-ups on the spot. The method worked too. Thirty-five years later I can still remember many of the Ten General Orders and And I still have all of my teeth. Boot camp was populated with the kind of bullies every boy grows up trying to avoid--the one's whose credo is "Never turn down a chance to screw somebody up. Navy sailors. The ones who enjoy the training environment and choose to remain after grunting their way through it are like those little floaters that don't go down with the first flush.
Whenever we marched past another company that had already been issued uniforms, they whispered "Squirrels. Now, on top of the ripening BO, they itched of the cut hair that worked its way down our sweaty necks all the way to our crotches. And that was the genius of military training, to turn us against all the last remnants of civilian life, and we were totally oblivious to it. The pig iron began to melt; the mold was waiting to be poured. Uniforms were issued at the end of the first week. Dungarees, blue chambray shirts and a blue baseball cap constituted the recruit uniform. We also got our dress whites, like the ones Mister Cisco wore working whites, blue wool work uniforms, the Navy dress blue uniform with white piping on the collar and the thirteen button trouser flap representing the thirteen colonies , also two web belts white and blue , one black silk scarf, one black knit watch cap, several pairs of black sox and two pairs of black dress shoes just like Mr.
But, unlike Mister Cisco's, ours were still stiff and dull. Also we got one pair of black "boondocker" marching boots, two pairs of parade leggings--one brown and one white, a blue jacket and a pea coat, three or four white sailor's hats, underwear skivvies and a dark blue knit bathing suit and some towels and washcloths.
Sometime soon thereafter we were each issued a vintage Springfield rifle Boy, were we ever proud the first time we marched in formation, wearing our stiff new dungarees just like everyone else, with rifles on our shoulders, pounding the grinder in hard-heeled boondockers, real recruits at last. Just reeking of mothballs, our company marched past a fresh-shaved company of awkward newcomers still clothed in civvies. Then we breezed past another company in dungarees that didn't still smell of mothballs.
The distinctions between companies faded as we washed the newness out of our clothes, and it was as much for the purpose of pecking our way up the boot camp ladder as to get them clean that we scrubbed so hard. Eventually the only way to distinguish one company from another was by the large gold numbers emblazoned on the blue company guidon and it was that number more than anything else signified each company's standing in an endless chain running through the Recruit Training Command.
We were Company Company was a mangy bunch of squirrels. We were nipping at the heels of Company The shortest man in the company was given the honor and title of, "Guidon Barer. Having an man company following his lead soon went to his head and so we started referring to him as "Napoleon Bonerpart"--Little Boner for short.
The company was lined-up tall men in the front of each squad tapering down in size to the rear. This created the illusion of uniform height plus the foreshortening effect made the company appear longer than it actually was. A further enhancement of the illusion was created by the difference in height between the squad leaders and Little Boner. He made us look great and he knew it. Natural selection placed me at the lead of Second Squad, no matter that I wasn't born with the leadership gene as well, and couldn't get my squad to do anything without first taking a vote on it.
Squad leaders were excused by reason of superior rank from certain duties, like cleaning behind the head toilet with a special toothbrush when your squad had "head" duty. I did have to choose the guy to do it though, employing my usual method, a drawing of broom straws. One Sunday afternoon I peered longingly out a window at some water skiers on Mission Bay. They were less than half a mile but a whole universe away--men and women together enjoying the afternoon.
What a lousy way this was to spend the summer when you're nineteen--It'd be just as bad at fifty-four I suppose--No, worse, much worse. I missed Christine. I missed my old carefree life and freedom. I felt like a fool for letting this happen to me. And I had four years of this life to look forward to--putting up with endless bullshit from a bunch of assholes. I felt I could handle anything on the boot camp agenda, but there was one thing that had been gnawing an anxious pit in my guts: actually something that had haunted me since childhood.
My father told me once, several times in fact, like it was the worst experience of his life, about the sixty-foot tower he had to jump from when he went through Navy boot camp in Norman, Oklahoma during WW II. It was the only thing that he ever admitted to being afraid of, besides snakes--and he was a combat veteran aboard a ship that had been attacked by Kamikazes!
That one thing had been my only aversion to joining the Navy over any other branch of the service. If it scared my Dad, the thought of it petrified me. I asked around if anyone else had heard about the tower, which began a scuttlebutt that eventually got back to me with the tower having grown an additional twenty feet. We had to be prepared to jump off the flight deck of a modern aircraft carrier Holy Shit! A collective shudder swept through the barracks on the day Mister Cisco ordered us to get our swimming trunks and a towel.
I remembered a bit of fatherly advice. Not expecting any breaks at this point in our training we expected to surely face the higher one on another day. To a few guys, however, this jump may as well have been a two hundred foot suicide dive into shark-infested waters. Several recruits, mostly Midwesterners, couldn't swim at all--not a stroke, but that didn't excuse them from the swim test. It was, after all, a test. The so-called lifeguards lined up the entire company of 80 or so recruits at the deep end and marched us over the side like Walt Disney driving the lemmings over the cliff, swimmers and non-swimmers alike.
In the ensuing chaos, some of the terrified non-swimmers tried to climb onto the backs of us swimmers who were simply trying to get out of their way and swim out around the buoys that defined a U-shaped course out into the middle of the Olympic-sized pool and back. Some of us tried to help those in peril and were adamantly whistled away by a lifeguard.
On completion of the test, Mister Cisco directed those crawling out of the pool to some bleachers at poolside. A handful of recruits continued to thrash about in the pool, all of them clearly in trouble, including one I had tried to help. The sadistic lifeguards casually watched as one-by-one the boys went under. Only at the last possible second did they extended a pole to the drowning man, pulling him over to the side coughing and hacking and puking like a half-drowned rat. The last sinker they toyed with like a catch-and-release fish played to exhaustion. When he grabbed hold of the pole, the sadistic lifeguard let it slide trough his fingers as the panic-stricken recruit pulled it toward himself, futilely, hand over hand as he sank thrashing all the way to the bottom of the pool, still frantically clutching the aluminum shaft.
The lifeguards performed this cruel stunt with such finesse that it was obviously a common highlight of their daily routine. Finally one of the lifeguards blithely dived in and hauled the waterlogged boy out by his neck. He threw-up up a lot of water and was bit shaken by the experience but otherwise okay--by outward appearances anyway. The fattest man in the company swam like seal but he was as big as a walrus and was having a difficult time hauling himself out over the side of the pool, and he wasn't getting any help either; the lifeguards refused to let him use the ladder while they belittled his obesity, once they even shoved him back in after a considerable effort to pull himself halfway out.
Eventually he stopped trying and casually drifted out to the middle of the pool to collect himself and gather strength. That infuriated the lifeguards. He could have floated forever, and for a few defiant minutes that appeared to be his intention. Eventually seaman recruit Moon drifted over to the side of the pool and with one tremendous heave, hauled himself up out of the pool and then to a standing ovation he triumphantly rejoined his mates waiting in the bleachers.
It was a win of sorts for us, but for our unauthorized outburst of cheer, Mister Cisco awarded the entire company with the regular punishment of a tortuous number of pushups followed by marching at double-time for the rest of the day. Nobody in my company believed it was anything but murder.
But we felt powerless to say anything. Who would listen? We had no proof. I got all of your first letters today and I just got through reading them. I got the little one that you mailed the 25th. Everything happened all at once. Prunes are plums, raisins are seedless grapes, and erasers are rubber and silicone so are balloons. They just shut off the lights so I waited until everyone was settled and asleep and I snuck down to the other end of the barracks behind a bunk where a yard light shines through the window and here I am keeping an eye out for the guard.
I have more love for you than most people could imagine. About Hiroshima, all wars are ugly but some are closer to evil. There is no glory in any act of war, maybe courage and bravery, but killing is always followed by remorse and sorrow. Goodnight, Chuck Several weeks into boot camp, one recruit came down with a case of the measles and had to be quarantined over at the base infirmary for a few days.
He wasn't all that sick, but measles could sweep through a battalion at the speed of light. The patient returned three days later, rested and revivified and that evening he regaled us with intriguing tales of the good life over at the measles ward. The rest of us gathered around and listened enviously. And no five o'clock reveille neither. It got three of us Oregonians to thinking, thinking about getting some measles of our own: by rubbing our hands over the chest and back of the next man to develop the telltale spots.
Fortunately no one snitched on us; in fact there was even considerable admiration for our daring do. Hell, it may as well have been leprosy or Bubonic Plague; whoever heard of Rubella? It was exactly as the first guy had described. He forgot, however, to mention the fact that we had to swab and wax the floor twice a day. That was not a problem. We managed to suffer the indignity despite our "grave" condition. Actually we enjoyed using a big power buffer for a change instead of doing all the work on our hands and knees. It was fun feeling a bit like a regular human being again for a change, at least for a few days.
Floor waxing is a Navy obsessive compulsion, except on ships where slippery pitching decks are hazardous. Polishing brass is another obsession. Even a lowly brass bolt on the head is treated with Never-Dull reverence. It is intended to reflect the same kind of reverence metaphorically upward onto "The Big Brass.
Meals in the infirmary were served buffet-style three times a day at a location a couple doors down from the Rubella ward. Hungry patients started lining up early for the next meal, which the mess cooks rolled down the hall from the galley in a stainless steel steam cart. The approaching clatter of the metal steam-cart signaled to us RUBELLA patients that it was time to burst through the ward doors and plod zombie-like down the corridor toward the horrified recruits waiting patiently in line for their chow.
We shamelessly loaded up our trays, all the while feigning terrible agony and then zombied back to our ward. The shine had worn off our caper as well and wind of it must have blown Mister Cisco's way because I now found myself demoted to second place in my squad, behind a fellow named Langford. I was glad that I had treated him well because he returned the favor and even apologized for the coup, which he wasn't too keen on anyway--not wanting the responsibility. It was dumb luck on his part for being another tall guy, only slightly shorter than myself, and Karma on mine.
We hand-washed our laundry with plain soap and scrub brushes on two long concrete tables on the patio behind the barracks, and then hung it in neat rows attached to clotheslines with short lengths of thin white rope called clothes-stops, which we tied in perfect little square knots. One granny knot that day and the smudges totaled enough demerits to knock us out of the lead in the "Company of the Week" competition--which was a huge disappointment to one Master Chief Signalman, H.
He was our Company Commander--adjutant Mister Cisco's own boss and mentor. Now there was going to be hell to pay. Though none of us recruits was able to find the offending smudges we even doubted their existence it was quite easy to identify the filthy slob who had left them there. A soft-spoken fellow named White was the only black man in the man company. His skin wasn't really very dark at all; in fact he was a shade lighter than the company's only Mexican It was and American wouldn't be tagged onto Mexican for two more decades.
He was even whiter than some of the white boys. Most of us didn't even realize that White was black until one of the Texans pointed it out. Not that White was trying to conceal the fact by not announcing on day one, "Hey guys, guess what, I'm a Negro," but Tex hated him anyway for his perceived deceit and angled for a way to get even. Tex was absolutely convinced that White was the dirty-fingered culprit--claimed he had noticed White that morning running his "dirty nigger fingers" along the shirts; he even had a witness.
And that was proof enough for the vigilante group that formed to carry out the punishment. They carried White, who offered no resistance whatsoever out to the patio and shoved him into the Dempster dumpster and then latched the door. One of the vigilantes who had often bragged that before joining the navy he had been a professional boxer almost certainly a total fabrication planted himself in front of the dumpster and defied any of the dissenting "nigger lovers" to free the unfortunate White, who hadn't let out a peep throughout the entire ordeal.
The tense standoff lasted several minutes until an indignant Langford big-butted his way through the crowd and stormed right past Joe Palooka who did nothing but stand his ground with his chin out and his hands on his hips.
Langford unlatched the door and invited recruit White to come out. He refused to come out. He was too afraid, maybe too ashamed, or perhaps too angry. We were all ashamed for allowing it happen, even some of the ones who put him in there. Langford stayed by the dumpster after everyone else had dispersed, then he and White had a long talk.
Finally Langford helped White climb out of the dumpster and accompanied him back into the barracks. Nothing more was said of it. In the end it was White who won for our company its one and only honor when he received the top academic award for the entire battalion and with it our one gold star for the guidon. Looked real nifty at the graduation parade—even to the Texans who regarded it as simply another lone star. A good portion of our day-to-day training was dedicated to that final event on Prebble Field, the battalion graduation ceremony and parade, and we drilled for it incessantly.
Forward, houh! Left turn, houh! Right turn, houh! Dig those heels in! Right oblique, houh! To the rear, houh! Present arms. Left shoulder arms! Right shoulder arms! Sixteen count manual, houh! Sometimes thoughts drifted to girlfriends back home or to the airplanes taking off from nearby San Diego airport. Oh to be on one of those babies, going home, leaving this US Navy shit far behind.
It was the one thing that seemed to be of particular importance in the boot-camp experience, and we were forced to practice it over and over and over, fine-tuning even the subtlest moves. Our first attempts were Three Stooges slap-stick as Springfield rifles clattered to the pavement. Marching parties were always held at night, in small groups.
Recruits were forced to march in place, for hours sometimes, with the piece held out at arms length. It didn't take long before your arms felt like they were on fire, and then it was you whole body. Some men who broke down and cried and were berated until they got up and continued. No mercy. None whatsoever. The Company was in fact only two men runners they were called and one prisoner.
The first time we saw them was on the footbridge going over to the chow hall. The two runners, wearing shore patrol uniforms, ran on alongside a miserable soul who trotted along with a bucket in one hand and a shovel in the other. These he used to transfer a pile of sand from one location to another all day long. He wore only skivvies and boots with white sox stained pink from blood wicking up from his ravaged feet.
When they passed, Mister Cisco barked the command, "eyes front," forbidding us to look directly at the prisoner. One time in the chow hall they came through with the same prisoner and made him gobble his food while sitting at attention as they screamed in his face the whole time. They didn't give him more than a minute to eat, before running him back out the door. Mister Cisco warned us that if anyone looked, they would be joining him.
The next day we passed the same prisoner with different runners. He still carried the bucket, but this time it was filled with sand and tied with a piece of rope that sawed into the back of his sunburned neck. We lived in absolute terror of the Company. Any thought of stepping out of line was quickly weighed against the certainty of going straight to that hell on earth. Our days of primary training at Camp Nimitz eventually came to a welcome end early one morning when we packed our sea-bags and marched over to the advanced training side.
The ten general orders were now as easy for us to recite as the alphabet is to a seven-year old, and we could throw our pieces through the sixteen-count-manual like we had been born with them. Our boondockers sparkled, as did our dress shoes. Recruit Moon had lost so much Twinkie fat that his trousers bunched-up in the back and he was exceedingly proud of the fact that he no longer jiggled like a bowl of Jell-O when he pounded his left foot hard into the pavement. All of us had turned brown in the California sun. Most importantly we were given some independence and personal responsibility.
Now we could march without Mister Cisco leading us. Stayton had arrived at boot camp with the longest hair and the biggest mouth--talked a lot about surfing and cars. Supposedly he'd gone to a military prep school, which was probably the reason he got the prestigious job. He tended to be somewhat dictatorial but he also had to earn our respect, which we gave him sparingly, and so the company became a bit more democratic. We wanted to be the sharpest marching company of all and he thought he could best accomplish that by simply screaming his lungs out.
Well, the same thing that happened to Janice Joplin happened to him--after while his vocal cords broke down and he started quacking like a duck. We couldn't march anywhere without somebody mocking him. We could have stopped on our own I suppose, if we'd wanted to, but instead we just followed his command and plowed right into them.
Soon everybody was steering clear of the dick brains. Mister Cisco, having returned to camp Nimitz to start a brand new company, stopped by one morning to pay us a visit. We gathered around him like he was a favorite teacher from grade school. He seemed proud of us--told us we were his first company and so forth. He would always remember us--that sort of thing. Fact was he said, he had gone through boot camp himself only a few months ago and then went directly to adjutant training. Look how far he'd come.
Hell, he was the same age as us. Suddenly he didn't look so important. He even looked smaller than he had a minute before. Why the little prick, he would rue the day he met any of us out in the fleet, if in fact he ever got there. But hell, maybe he made a career of it. Could be he had what it takes—officer material: Rear Admiral Cisco. Just think. Our new home looked exactly like the last one--except for the creepy neighbors; we had moved next door to a mysteriously vacant barracks. With the windows painted over, it stood amidst the other teaming barracks like an empty haunted house.
The only occupants were a tormented young man and his harpies. It was the Company. Day and night, the harassing shouts of the guards and the pitiful cries of their tortured prisoner emanated from an open second story window of the barracks. All night long, the runners, who worked in shifts, woke up their prisoner on the half hour and ordered him to re-stow his locker after they had just scattered his clothing all over the place, while he briefly slept. We caught glimpses of the poor lad re-folding and stowing his clothes over and over and over and over throughout the terrible interminable night.
The whole time he screamed the Ten General Orders at the top up his lungs. We figured the other one must have gone insane and they had kicked him out of the navy. Or maybe he died and a letter was sent to his parents regretting that he had suffered a fatal heat stroke or a heart attack or something in training, but he died serving his country, and soon they would be receiving a check for ten thousand dollars in the mail.
What had this young man done? Strike an adjutant? Refuse to swim when he thought he might drown? Did he get too many demerits? Suddenly we heard a dreadful scream and all eyes shot up toward second story window of the Company barracks. But unlike Superman, this man fell fast and hard to the ground with a dull sickening thud. Dropping our wet shirts and trousers we dashed over to the brick wall separating the patio from the off-limits front yard, and pulled ourselves up to see over it. The recruit was lying convulsing in the grass next to the sidewalk when the two runners ran up and started kicking him in the ribs.
Feeling like a bunch of cowards, we were unable to look each other in the eyes for our shame. As civilians not one of us would have hesitated helping that poor man; that was our first impulse. But now we were too afraid to go to the aid of another, more fearful of bucking the system and paying the consequences than getting hurt in a fray. I have often fantasized about us saving that poor fellow from those goons. Sure there would have been some nightstick bruises and other repercussions, but bruises heal. At the very least it would have made a more interesting story--a better one.
And it just might have shed some light on a darker side of boot camp training taking place at the time. Our former senses of self had melted away and we were now being cast into a fresh batch of uniformly obedient young men. I had forgotten some details of the incident until I read this account in one of my letters to Christine from boot camp. It was dated , Thursday night. He dove out the second story window headfirst and landed on the ground on his back—just missing the concrete. Anyway he was lying on the ground unconscious when those damned guards came down and started kicking him in the ribs and hollering at him to get up.
All he did was punch a Master at Arms a Recruit in the mouth. That was worth 30 days. The three hundreds were already dispersed throughout the fleet. We now marched with confidence and precision--never-mind Donald Duck quacking cadence and Little Boner goose-stepping out front. Like high school seniors our company was cock of the walk.
To call anyone a squirrel at this point would itself be squirrelish. We continued to spend enormous amounts of time honing our marching skills, especially the Sixteen-Count-Manual of Arms spiffing-up our uniforms, competitively spit-shining our shoes, and fussing with our pieces until the polished steel glinted like chrome in the late summer sun.
Our singular goal at this point, and we were goaded into it by Master Chief Signalman H. Webb, was to dazzle the spectators and blow away the competition on graduation day. Finally the day arrived and the long anticipated ceremony was about to begin. It had that particular air about it that all graduation days have, a mixture of prideful feelings of accomplishment tinged with a trace of something, not quite sadness, more a graveness, like a wake almost, where the survivors of some intangible loss rejoice in the bonding created by their shared experience, that and the thrill of moving on as a stronger and, in some way perhaps, better person.