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M A N AT H I S B E S T FEBRUARY’17

27

EXCLUSIVE

TRUMP BUMP

OF THE SICKEST THINGS TO SEE AND EAT IN 2017

WHY JAMES COMEY GAMBLED HIS FUTURE (AND OURS) THE TALE OF THE $140 MILLION SEX TAPE

SILICON VALLEY’S NEW PERFORMANCE DRUG?

LSD!

THE W E L L- D R E S S E D

REBEL

PHARRELL A N E W P R OJ E C T TA K E S H IM W H E R E N O M A N H A S G O N E B E FO R E


ESQUIRE

Man at

His Best

Feb 2017

Key Questions in Pursuit of the Ideal Life

Overheard

“Listen. Because we don’t. We don’t even listen to ourselves.”

Get into Gear

—Pharrell Williams PAG E 60

4 ESQUIRE / FEBRUARY 2017

Step 1: Screw your New Year’s resolutions BY DAV E E VA N S

There are many things wrong with New Year’s resolutions, but the most glaring fault is that they’re totally backward. They start with the answer to your new year before that year has even begun. Resolutions are just a list of objectives. End points. Outcomes. Example: If I accomplish the following, 2017 will have been a good year: • losing 12 pounds; • receiving a promotion that entails at least an 11 percent raise; • learning conversational Spanish before my trip to Cabo; • journaling regularly (again). And there you are: The year is all wrapped up and ready to go. No questions. No mystery. Just stark, non-negotiable answers. It’s like a sales quota: Hit the numbers and you’re a star. Miss and you’re a loser. How in the world does it make sense to celebrate

P H OTO G R A P H BY M AT T H E W P O R T E R


the wonder of 365 sunrises full of untold possibilities with a list of four goals (three of which are doovers from last year)? It doesn’t work. Life is not a list of outcomes. Life is about living. Living means growing and learning and discovering and engaging. Who wants to settle for just being “better” when you could be more alive? The best part of the new year is all that opportunity to pursue interesting questions and discover ideas, people, and possibilities you knew nothing about on New Year’s Eve. My colleague Bill Burnett and I teach a popular elective at Stanford University called Designing Your Life. Designers don’t move forward by hitting quotas or strategizing to achieve prematurely determined goals. Designers build their way forward creatively. They come up with ideas for what the future could be and then make prototypes to learn more about what that future actually could become. No one knows the future—as recent events have shown so very clearly—so you can’t think your way there. You have to build your way there. And you do it by answering thoughtful questions through prototyping or pursuing conversations and experiences that explore your curiosity about life.

ANGELINA JOLIE “She’s going to step out with somebody sooner than people would expect,” says psychic Thomas John. “I feel like she’ll start dating again this year.”

Beckon yourself forward with tantalizing invitations to discover cool new stuff. What if you swapped your resolutions list for design questions like these: • Why am I so attracted to the phrase “Think global, act local”? And what are different ways I could actually live it? • How did those two superstar managers at work become such effective mentors? What do they know and do that I could learn this year? • How can I explore different cuisines to find one that actually motivates me to invest the time in learning to cook? • Why is everyone so jazzed about meditation, and what might be in it for me? Make a list rooted in your own curiosity. Let your questions lead you to design a more alive and interesting version of you. Beckon yourself forward with tantalizing invitations to discover cool new stuff through experiments, test drives, trial and error. Make a list that demands design prototyping. Think like a designer. Get curious. Talk to people. Try stuff. Don’t squander the amazing raw material of a brand-new, unspoiled year on a handful of better stats. Use it to design a life you love. ≥ I L L U ST R AT I O N BY L I SA R YA N

WHAT’S IN THE CARDS FOR ’17? Okay, so he was wrong about the election. But psychic sensation Thomas John, author of Never Argue with a Dead Person, has a knack for predicting celebrity breakups and other career moves. Remember, you heard it here first. S C I E N TO LO GY I feel like Elisabeth Moss is going to part ways with the Church of Scientology.

L A DY GAGA I see her performing at the Super Bowl with very few clothes.

T H E STO C K M A R K E T I feel like there’s going to be a great deal of financial catastrophe around February.

OSCARS Best Picture: Fences; Best Actor: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea); and Best Actress: Ruth Negga (Loving).

ADELE I see Adele getting pregnant and winning the Grammy for Album of the Year over Beyoncé.

J U ST I N B I E B E R I see him leaving music entirely. He might get into film or something.

L I N D SAY LO H A N I see more mental-health issues with her.

BARRON TRUMP As he gets older, he’s going to be very wild and into alcohol.

D E P T. O F P S E U D O N Y M O U S S I D E H U S T L E S

I CONTAIN MULTITUDES—AND SO CAN YOU! According to recent research, Walt Whitman wrote a series of columns on “manly health” for the defunct New York Atlas under the name Mose Velsor. “To you, clerk, literary man, sedentary person, man of fortune, idler,” Whitman writes. “Up!” 5


OUR WORLD REVOLVES AROUND YOU WELCOME TO OUR BUSINESS CLASS

AIRFRANCE.US


F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 7 / VO LU M E 1 67 / N O. 1

T H E TA B L E O F

CONTENTS MIX MASTER Finn Wittrock makes the case for bold printed shirts for spring. pg. 88

Make America Happy Again On the heels of a new album, a movie, and a sea change in politics, Pharrell is ready to question everything. BY JEFF GORDINIER pg. 60 The Impossible List 27 things you need to try before you die. p g . 70 Collar Them Bad Choosing a shirt collar begins with finding your inner rebel. pg. 78 Down and Dirty Being labeled an “aspiring child pornographer,” blowing the Gawker trial, and owing Hulk Hogan $115 million are the least of A. J. Daulerio’s problems. BY MAXIMILLIAN POTTER pg. 82 Vision Quest Esquire editors on the trends that inspire them, and what you need to look stylish this spring. pg. 96 The Big Bust FBI Director James Comey has long been renowned for his integrity and independence. So why did he upend the 2016 election? BY TIM WEINER pg. 102

Suit by Brunello Cucinelli; shirt by Issey Miyake Men; shoes by Giorgio Armani.

ON THE COVER: PHARRELL WILLIAMS PHOTOGRAPHED EXCLUSIVELY FOR ESQUIRE BY MARIO SORRENTI. JACKET BY GUCCI; SHIRT BY PRADA. COAT BY DRIES VAN NOTEN; SHIRT BY GOSHA RUBCHINSKIY; TROUSERS BY G-STAR; BOOTS BY TIMBERLAND. PRODUCED BY TOMMY ROMERSA FOR JOY ASBURY PRODUCTIONS. STYLING BY MATTHEW MARDEN. ASSISTANT STYLING BY JAKE SAMMIS. SET DESIGN BY PHILIPP HAEMMERLE. THIS PAGE: PHOTOGRAPH BY ALEXEI HAY.

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F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 7 / VO LU M E 1 67 / N O. 1

T H E TA B L E O F

CONTENTS

A SEDAN WITH SPREZZATURA

The speediest, most stylish four-door ever to do a burnout. BY KEVIN SINTUMUANG pg. 22

Unconventional Wisdom How do we create a new home for ourselves? BY DWIGHT GARNER pg. 52 The Trump Bump His victory is just one more win for a global movement. BY MICHAEL IDOV & ADAM WEINSTEIN pg. 54

Man at His Best Key questions in pursuit of the ideal life. pg. 4

Maverick of the Month Esquire nominates George Saunders. BY ERIC SULLIVAN pg. 58

Editor’s Letter pg. 10 Contributors pg. 12

My Favorite Thing Remo Ruffini on his Piombo blazer. pg. 112

Music Sampha makes a stunning, original debut. BY BEN RATLIFF pg. 18 Books Paul Auster’s mind-bending new novel is also his most ambitious. BY CHRISTOPHER BEHA pg. 20 Food It’s time to rethink the four-hour $300 meal. BY JEFF GORDINIER pg. 26

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Self-Improvement LSD has become the new Adderall. BY AMANDA FORTINI pg. 28 The Code A graffitied leather jacket; the McQueen sneaker; Robert Rabensteiner’s style; the hot label Kith; a gym fit for Victoria’s Secret Angels. pg. 31

FILM

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8 ESQUIRE / FEBRUARY 2017

The 18th Annual Alternative Oscars. pg. 15


JAY F I E L D E N E D I TO R I N C H I E F

MICHAEL HAINEY ALEX WIEDERIN HELENE F. RUBINSTEIN ANTON IOUKHNOVETS LISA HINTELMANN NICK SULLIVAN MATTHEW MARDEN JOHN KENNEY KEVIN SINTUMUANG ROBERT P. BAIRD MAXIMILLIAN POTTER ASH CARTER, ERIC SULLIVAN ADRIENNE WESTENFELD JULIA BLACK TYLER CONFOY, NATASHA ZARINSKY JEFF GORDINIER

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PHOTOGRAPHY MICHAEL NORSENG Photo Director STACEY PITTMAN Photo Editor LARISA KLINE Assistant Photo Editor FASHION MICHAEL STEFANOV Market Editor ALFONSO FERNÁNDEZ NAVAS Fashion Assistant COPY ALISA COHEN BARNEY Senior Copy Editor CHRISTINE A. LEDDY Associate Copy Editor RESEARCH ROBERT SCHEFFLER Research Editor KEVIN MCDONNELL Associate Research Editor MAZIE BRYANT Assistant Research Editor WRITERS AT LARGE CAL FUSSMAN, CHARLES P. PIERCE, JOHN H. RICHARDSON, MIKE SAGER CONTRIBUTING EDITORS ALEX BELTH, LEA CARPENTER, ANDREW CHAIKIVSKY, LUKE DITTRICH, DWIGHT GARNER, A. J. JACOBS, STEPHEN MARCHE, COLUM MCCANN, BENJAMIN PERCY, BEN RATLIFF, SAM SMITH, DAVID HIRSHEY AND MICHAEL SOLOMON (Dubious Achievements Desk) DIGITAL MICHAEL MRAZ JOHN HENDRICKSON MEGAN GREENWELL JONATHAN EVANS RENATA SELLITTI BEN BOSKOVICH TYLER COATES MATT MILLER JACK HOLMES, SARAH RENSE ELENA HILTON KEVIN PERALTA SAMMY NICKALLS, PETER WADE DAVE HOLMES LUKE O’NEIL

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Group Marketing Director SAMANTHA IRWIN General Manager, Hearst Men’s Group DEIRDRE DALY-MARKOWSKI Executive Director, Digital,

Hearst Men’s Group CARYN KESLER Executive Director of Luxury Goods JOHN WATTIKER Executive Director of Fashion MARCUS REYNAGA American Fashion, DAVID COKER MARK FIKANY JUSTIN HARRIS ANTHONY P. IMPERATO SANDY ADAMSKI BRYCE A. VREDEVOOGD BRIAN KANTOR JOHN V. CIPOLLA BRETT FICKLER MIA S. KLEIN NINA FROST

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A NOTE FROM

THE EDITOR I am hardly the only projected-on exile who calls this island capital of the world home. In this issue, Esquire columnist and New York Times book critic Dwight Garner, who ponders the meaning of his West Virginia roots, writes: “There’s a dismal narrative right now, after the election of Donald J. Trump, that posits that there are two opposing Americas, red and blue, brawling like tattooed UFC fighters. There’s a small spark of truth to that narrative. But most of us sense, correctly, that we live somewhere in the middle.” The middle is, nevertheless, a hard place to live these days, whether it’s a personal choice or a professional obligation. Tim Weiner’s report this month from inside Washington’s corridors of power on what might have led FBI director James B. Comey to risk his own reputation and that of the agency’s with a fivesentence letter eleven days before the election is a case in point. Even some of Comey’s strongest critics recognize him as a man of integrity who was faced with an impossible decision. “He was handed a shit sandwich,” one source vividly observes. Living in an area of Fairfield County where Comey himself lived before becoming FBI director, I heard a number of stories through reliable sources when he first took the job. All of them had a common theme—this was indeed a man of character who could still H A P P Y H U N G E R GA M E S dunk a basketball and had a disarming sense of humor. In one memorable anecdote, Comey, just before a competition among friends, S I WRITE THIS ON A PLANE headed to Los showed off some tween cred by quoting Effie Trinket from The Angeles for one last piece of business before Hunger Games: “May the odds be ever in your favor.” the holidays, outside my window I can see Having never had the odds in his favor to be elected president, that part of the country that has, postelection, Trump, to many, is the lucky recipient of an unlikely victory that regressed in the collective mind of the coastal wouldn’t have been his without an assist from Comey’s FBI. establishment to what it once was—a wilder- But now, on this snowy mid-December weekend, that narrative has ness of the unenlightened. Having been born officially expanded to include a new secret helper whose personal about a thousand miles from our port side, in interest in meddling with American political affairs no one Texas, I’ve had a hard time squaring such a disputes: Vladimir Putin. According to new information from simplistic conclusion with the place and peo- the CIA, operatives tied to Russia’s intelligence apparatus were ple I know. There were times growing up in responsible for passing along hacked emails from the accounts the Lone Star State when I encountered a reverse snobbery—that of John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee. (In of the proud lumpenprole, ready to attack anyone who pricks last month’s issue, Thomas Rid first reported a similarly alarmhis insecurity. An outsider on the inside, I have spent the past ing finding—that these hacks were carried out by two Russian twenty-five years under suspicion by both camps: To my friends espionage teams known as Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear.) in Manhattan, I must secretly beThe possibility that we may have long to the NRA; to those in Texas, elected a Muscovite Manchurian I must be a card-carrying member candidate, even an unwitting one, …AND ONE FOR ALL of the People’s Republic of New allows me to extend the trope that How Esquire covered the FBI in 1972: Roy Cohn York. At a moment when some reality has become stranger than (far left)—Red-baiting Senate advisor, mob lawyer, and Donald Trump’s mentor—penned a magazines have made their polityoung-adult dystopian fiction. As remembrance of J. Edgar Hoover’s time as director. ical affiliation known, Esquire’s the many factions of our nation’s long-standing mission has been to capital answer a call to ideological go where the story is, to poke and battle stations in preparation for to prod with equal opportunity. a president-elect who has so far refused to relinquish his ties to a sprawling global business and has expressed admiration for a despot who violated a sovereign U. S. election, the man who might end up coming in handy, as Weiner writes, is the one everyone loves to hate right now. —JAY F I E L D E N

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TO P : P H OTO G R A P H BY S U SA N P I T TA R D

A


AG ADRIANO GOLDSCHMIED

AGJE ANS.COM


CONTRIBUTORS F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 7   /   VO LU M E 1 67   /   N O. 1

Mario Sorrenti PHOTOGRAPHER OF “MAKE AMERICA HAPPY AGAIN,” PAGE 60

His take on his subject, Pharrell: “Supercool and humble, with an incredible sense of style.” Credentials: His work has appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vanity Fair, among other publications, and has been featured in the Museum of Modern Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Not to mention: The 2012 Pirelli Calendar, the famed pinup calendar shot by the likes of Steven Meisel, Richard Avedon, and Bruce Weber. Full circle, considering: He modeled for all three photographers in his youth.

Jeff Gordinier AUTHOR OF “MAKE AMERICA HAPPY AGAIN,” PAGE 60

Amanda Fortini

Credentials: Former staff writer at The New York Times; author of X Saves the World and the forthcoming Hunger, about chef René Redzepi. On his Impossible List: “Finding the most secretive, revered, delicious spot in Japan and somehow getting a seat at it.” Greatest virtue: Emailing poems to friends. Greatest vice: Loving Wang Chung’s “Dance Hall Days.”

AUTHOR OF “BUSINESS TRIP,” PAGE 28

Credentials: Contributing editor at Elle; her work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Wired, and more. On her Impossible List: Getting back into ballet. Greatest virtue: Listening to people without judgment. Greatest vice: “I have fifteen pairs of cowboy boots, which is more than anybody needs. But I have no plans of stopping.”

AUTHOR OF “THE BIG BUST,” PAGE 102

Credentials: Former national-security correspondent at The New York Times; winner of a National Book Award; author of Enemies: A History of the FBI. On his Impossible List: “To return to countries destroyed by war and see them as they were before their destruction.” Greatest virtue: Knowing what he wanted to be from the time he was eighteen. Greatest vice: “Smoking. I’m down to three a day, but I need them to write. One cigarette is good for at least a thousand words.”

12 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

Dave Evans AUTHOR OF “GET INTO GEAR,” PAGE 4

Credentials: Cofounder of the Stanford University Life Design Lab; coauthor of Designing Your Life. On his Impossible List: “To be totally engaged in the world but utterly free of it at the same time.” Greatest virtue: “Applied empathy. It’s not hard for me to see others’ points of view.” Greatest vice: “Helping people when they don’t want or need help.”

I L LU ST R AT I O N S BY J O E M c K E N D R Y

Tim Weiner


STARRING

GIOVANNI RIBISI

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

GRAHAM YOST

STREAM JAN 13

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

BRYAN CRANSTON


FEBRUARY 2017

A Cultural Guide to Just Enough of Everything

FILM

PHOTOGRAPH BY HARRI PECCINOTTI; IMAGING BY JUSTIN METZ

The 18th Annual Alternative Oscars

WE LAUGHED, we cried, we cried again. And somehow we also found time to watch a bunch of movies. Hollywood, ahead of the culture as always, took bold stands against slavery and the bombing of sporting events and for interracial marriage and successful emergency landings while proving the trolls wrong once and for all: Women, we now know, are just as capable of making mediocre reboots as men. There were disaster epics and epic disasters, Angry Birds and Bad Moms, superheroes throwing citydestroying tantrums and white people dancing in the streets. Here we honor the best—and the most—from the year in cinema, such as it was. CONTINUED 15


BIG BITE

CONTINUED

FILM Best Movie That SOUNDS LIKE IT’S ABOUT SURFING BUT ISN’T The Wave Worst Movie That SOUNDS LIKE IT’S ABOUT SURFING AND IS Point Break

Best-Case Scenario for A MAN SNATCHING A CHILD FROM HER BED The BFG

FRANCHISE THIS! Six of the following are currently being made into feature films. The others—at this writing, anyway— are not. If you can tell which is which, you just might have what it takes to run a Hollywood studio! 1. EMOJI 2. SEA-MONKEYS 3. FURBY

Pussy Even DONALD TRUMP WOULDN’T GRAB Kevin Spacey, Nine Lives

Best Supporting GARMENT Harley Quinn’s hot pants, Suicide Squad Best QUESTION, PERIOD “Why have you let me film this?” Filmmaker Josh Kriegman, Weiner

The Cecil B. DeMille Award for EPIC DISASTER OF THE YEAR Ben-Hur Title That Sounds MOST LIKE A HOLLYWOOD PITCH MEETING Kevin Hart: What Now?

Best Performance by ANNA WINTOUR’S HAIR Julia Roberts, Mother’s Day

Most DETERMINED LOST CHILD Dev Patel, Lion Runner-up: Dory, Finding Dory

Professions That Are MORE EXCITING IN THE MOVIES THAN IN REAL LIFE Accountant, The Accountant Art-history professor, Inferno

16 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

5. FRUIT

7. LINCOLN

Best ANIMATED ROCK The alien spaceship, Arrival Runner-up: Dwayne Johnson, Moana

LOGS

8. PLAY-DOH 9. THE

The PC Merit Badge for FEMINIST SOLIDARITY Anyone who boycotted The Birth of a Nation in theaters A Sequel 2 Far Alice Through the Looking Glass Independence Day: Resurgence Ice Age: Collision Course Zoolander 2

OREGON TRAIL

10. TETRIS

WITH FRIENDS

12.

Title Most Similar to A NEW YORK POST HEADLINE Pee-wee’s Big Holiday Runner-up: Dirty Grandpa

NINJA

6. GIF s

11. WORDS

Best MAKESHIFT WATERCRAFT The Airbus A320, Sully Runner-up: Daniel Radcliffe, Swiss Army Man

Most Effective BINGE-DRINKING PSA The Shallows Runner-up: The Girl on the Train

4. PEEPS

The PC Merit Badge for RACIAL SENSITIVITY Anyone who saw The Birth of a Nation at Sundance

PEZ

Wicked-Best BOSTON ACCENT Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best Reason to HULU AND CHILL Netflix’s The Do-Over The Year in UNEXPECTEDLY PRESCIENT FILM TITLES London Has Fallen Captain America: Civil War Denial Why Him? Hail, Caesar!

A N S W E R K E Y F I L M S : E M O J I , F U R B Y, F R U I T N I N J A , P L A Y- D O H , T E T R I S , A N D P E Z . R I G H T S A R E S T I L L A V A I L A B L E F O R T H E R E S T.

THE


The Roman Polanski INHUMANITARIAN AWARD 2016 Bernardo Bertolucci

The Domhnall Gleeson Award for ANONYMOUS UBIQUITY Michael Shannon

In Memoriam Brangelina Hiddleswift Nice Johnny Depp Jacob Tremblay’s childhood Jared Leto’s sanity

Most Creative Use of AN R RATING Sausage Party Runner-up: Deadpool

Lindsay Lohan’s American accent The Original Screenplay Abe Vigoda (take two)

The Valentine’s Day Wine Survival Guide IF A CERTAIN second Tuesday in February rolls around and you find yourself in one of the following situations, two sommeliers from Esquire Network’s Uncorked (stream it at tv.esquire.com) offer some notes on which bottles to buy.

GOING ON A BLIND DATE

Jean-Claude Lapalu 2015 Brouilly Vieilles Vignes, $28 “The most versatile wine— with both food and people—is a light-bodied red wine.” —Jane Lopes, Eleven Madison Park, New York

—T Y L E R C O N F OY

IN PRAISE OF “DUMP MONTH” The beginning of the year is, historically, the time when most movie studios release films that didn’t quite make the cut as summer-blockbuster material. (Art is hard, you know?) I like to think of them as . . . misunderstood. Because over time, successful franchises have emerged from what is known in the industry as “dump month.” Like the fun-if-you-give-it-a-chance Taken series. Liam Neeson would just be a semifamous fancy thespian instead of a really famous, bankable action star if it weren’t for dump month. This year’s dump month sees many sequels to flicks proven to cure the winter blues. (Oscar-nominated movies in vitamin-D-starved parts of America are purely for sadomasochists.) There is XXX 3, Vin Diesel’s James Bondesque vehicle that’s ten times more fun, plus Underworld: Blood Wars—who doesn’t want to see Kate Beckinsale (above) play a vampire assassin in leather? And don’t forget about John Wick: Chapter 2. In the first one, Keanu Reeves goes revenge-crazy after international thugs kill his dog. (Seriously.) What will set him loose this time? Who knows? All I know is, with each punch and stab, it’s like he’s putting the sad and strange year that was 2016 to rest. —KEVIN  SINTUMUANG

HANGING OUT WITH YOUR EX TRYING TO MAKE AN IMPRESSION

Passopisciaro 2014 Passorosso Terre Siciliane, $40 “You could talk about how it comes from super-old vineyards on a volcano and goes with a wide variety of foods.” —Jack Mason, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Houston STAYING IN WITH YOUR WEIRD ROOMMATE

Turley 2014 Juvenile California Zinfandel, $23 “California zins are among the highest-alcohol wines. This one’s 15.5 percent ABV, so that will help.” —J. M.

Renardat-Fâche 2015 Cerdon du Bugey, $23 “It’s an off-dry sparkling rosé that clocks in at under 8 percent alcohol. You need something with low alcohol so that no mistakes are made. ” —J. L. WATCHING NETFLIX ALONE

Castello della Paneretta 2012 Chianti Classico Riserva, $25 “It acts as your date in that it’s intellectually stimulating and has a comforting, warm presence.” —J. L.

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THE

BIG BITE

MUSIC

T H E M AG I C G E N I E DJ First World problem: having to type a musician’s name into your phone so that it will play on a stereo instead of just shouting “Okay Google,

Enter Sampha A PROTÉGÉ OF DRAKE AND KANYE MAKES A STUNNING AND ORIGINAL DEBUT

By BEN RATLIFF SAMPHA’S MUSIC often boils down to the sound of his voice: a big and tremulous exhaling, often sliding up into a falsetto, over rich keyboard chords. Born to a Sierra Leonean family in London, he has served as a producer, a guest singer, and a kind of moral compass in songs by Kanye West, Drake, and Solange, and he has put out a couple EPs of his own. But until now he’s avoided making a grand statement, clearly by design. During a recent conversation at a café in Brooklyn, a few nights after his first gig in New York, Sampha told me that he’s had to work to think of himself as a singer and as a collaborator; in his head, he’s still a keyboardist and a producer making tracks alone. “No one knows me like the piano / In my mother’s home,” he sings in a new 18 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

song. “You would show me I had something / Some people call a soul.” The challenge for any outsider, especially one nuzzled by Drake and Kanye, is to stay outside even in his big moment. And this is what Sampha manages to achieve in Process, his strange and gorgeous first album.

play the new Beck.” Sure, the pint-sized connected device Google Home can answer your questions and will soon book restaurant reservations when you ask, but its game-changing ability to play a radio station, a song, or a genre of music at your request whenever inspiration strikes justifies the $129 price tag. madeby.google.com

FEAR OF A WHITE PLANET

—KEVIN SINTUMUANG

On Run the Jewels 3, the rappers Killer Mike and El-P—both over 40, veterans of the major festivals, freewheelingly political—set about amplifying their position. For half the record, they’re chest-beating, with guests including Danny Brown and Kamasi Washington. For the other half, they’re warning us to stay vigilant, sampling Martin Luther King Jr., and invoking riots as karmic retribution. “Ghosts are walking / Ghosts are talking,” raps Mike in “Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost).” The highs stay wild and clanky, but the lows are moody and mordant. —B. R.


As usual, you saw that coming. There are a lot of things that are easy to see coming, like man buns and homemade kombucha going out of style, but some things are a little harder to detect. Like that pedestrian unexpectedly jaywalking. That’s why Toyota Safety Sense™ P,1 including a Pre-Collision System2 with Pedestrian Detection,3 comes standard on the new 2017 Corolla.

Toyota Safety Sense™ Standard

Prototype shown with options. Production model may vary. 1. Drivers should always be responsible for their own safe driving. Please always pay attention to your surroundings and drive safely. Depending on the conditions of roads, vehicles, weather, etc., the system(s) may not work as intended. See Owner’s Manual for details. 2. The TSS Pre-Collision System is designed to help avoid or reduce the crash speed and damage in certain frontal collisions only. It is not a substitute for safe and attentive driving. System effectiveness depends on many factors, such as speed, driver input and road conditions. See Owner’s Manual for details. 3. The Pedestrian Detection system is designed to detect a pedestrian ahead of the vehicle, determine if impact is imminent and help reduce impact speed. It is not a substitute for safe and attentive driving. System effectiveness depends on many factors, such as speed, size and position of pedestrians, driver input and weather, light and road conditions. See Owner’s Manual for details. ©2016 Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.


THE

BIG BITE

BOOKS

Quadruple Vision

PAUL AUSTER’S MIND-BENDING NEW NOVEL IS ALSO HIS MOST AMBITIOUS— BY A FACTOR OF FOUR

IN THE LAST decades of the 20th century, Paul Auster was the coolest American novelist around. His books— slim metafictional puzzlers and existentialist meditations on the absurdity of the human condition— were philosophically rich in a European style but also quintessentially American, with countless references to Hawthorne, Melville, and Poe (not to mention lots and lots of baseball). These days, the literary roost is ruled by the social realism of Jonathan Franzen and Zadie Smith on one hand and the “autofiction” of Karl Ove Knausgaard and Elena Ferrante on the other, but if you spend any time on a New York subway south of 14th Street, you will see plenty of well-thumbed copies of Auster’s The New York Trilogy and The Music of Chance. Auster turns 70 this year, and although he has the Voice of God baritone of a lifelong tobacco connoisseur, he stuck to e-cigarettes while we talked on the second floor of the Brooklyn townhouse he shares with his wife, Siri Hustvedt. (An accomplished novelist herself, Hustvedt was on the first floor, being interviewed about her new essay collection.) That vape stick may be the most sophisticated piece of technology Auster owns: He 20 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

ON ESQUIRE’S BOOKSHELF

FOUR MUST-READS OF THE MONTH

True South, by Jon Else (Viking, $30).

Universal Harvester, by John Darnielle (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25).

doesn’t use email, and he still writes all his books longhand; this must have been a particularly arduous process for his latest novel, 4 3 2 1 (Henry Holt & Co., $33), since it clocks in at 860 pages—more than twice the length of anything he’s written before. He wrote the book in a “great rush,” he told me, working seven days a week for three years, finishing each day too exhausted to do anything but collapse in front of the television. “It was an improvisation,” he said. “It felt like a kind of dance.” It’s a remarkable statement to make about a novel that’s not just very long but also very intricate. Auster has always been interested in life’s inflection points, those chance events—a wrong number dialed, a wager on the flip of a card—that


ON ESQUIRE’S MORE BOOKS BOOKSHELF TK

send a person whose life was running smoothly on one track careening off in some unexpected direction. With 4 3 2 1, he has hit upon his most ingenious expression of that theme: Archie Ferguson is born in suburban New Jersey in 1947, and over the course of the book he lives four parallel lives, told in alternating order. In one, Ferguson’s father dies in a store fire; in another, he merely grows distant and inscrutable. One Ferguson attends Columbia University during the student uprisings of 1968 (as Auster himself did); another forgoes college entirely to bum around Paris (Auster waited until after graduation to do that). Each Ferguson feels the literary calling that has been the defining feature of Auster’s own life, but it takes different forms—one works as a journalist and a translator, another is a film critic, a third writes fiction. Minor occurrences in early chapters turn into the difference between life and death by the end of the book, when the four Fergusons are finally brought back together in a stroke that is at once structurally inventive and surprisingly moving. The parallel-lives conceit allows Auster to cover huge swaths of postwar American culture, making 4 3 2 1 read like one of those big social dramas— with reflections on race, sexuality, and political awakening—while also offering the philosophical exploration of one man’s fate that Auster’s fans have come to expect. Longtime readers will appreciate walk-on roles by about half a dozen characters from previous Auster novels. These callbacks add to the general sense that 4 3 2 1 is the culmination of a long career. “Maybe,” he said, when I asked if it read that way to him. He took another drag on that smokeless cigarette. “But I hope I’m not finished yet.”

Borio quo quas im harchic renissit et Theiendam Refugees, by Viet odit liquiNguyen reicilla sandam, Thanh (Grove volora verum ipiendi. Press, $25).

Borio quo quas im harchic iendam renissit Audacity, by et odit liqui reicilla sandam. Jonathan Chait (Custom Consendite nonsequodi House, $28). ommod magnihitame ma

Being Salinger

THE BAD BOY OF FRENCH LIT REVISITS AN INFAMOUS LOVE TRIANGLE BEFORE HE became America’s best-known recluse, J. D. Salinger was a Stork Club habitué in love with Oona O’Neill, the debutante daughter of the Nobelprize-winning playwright Eugene O’Neill. That is, until Oona, who

early Playboy. For his 2007 documentary Catching Salinger, he dragged a film crew to his idol’s New Hampshire home, only to discover that he was “a coward who did not want to disturb the old man,” Beigbeder says.

was 18, married Charlie Chaplin, who was 54, while Salinger was training to fight in World War II—an episode that inspired the illustrated novel Manhattan’s Babe (Assouline, $35), by France’s favorite postmodern man-child, Frédéric Beigbeder. Beigbeder (below) is the author of 13 books— including A French Novel, about a certain enfant terrible in jail for possession of cocaine—as well as the editorial director of Lui, a magazine in the mold of

He chose to channel the old man instead, capturing café society as masterfully as he does the awkwardness of fledgling love in this elegant mash note to 1940s New York. But he was troubled by ominous parallels to the present. “The Stork Club was the Titanic in New York, a sinking ship with glamorous people not knowing war was coming,” he says. “It’s not that different from our situation.”

—CHRISTOPHER BEHA

WILL THE REAL EDWARD SNOWDEN PLEASE STAND UP? Depending on whom you ask, Edward Snowden should be either awarded a Nobel prize or hanged for treason. But how much do we really know about what he liberated from the NSA, how he was able to escape detection, and who else may have gotten their hands on what was known as the “Keys to the Kingdom”? In How America Lost Its Secrets (Knopf, $28), Edward Jay Epstein travels from Wheeler Army Airfield in Oahu to the office of Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s counsel in Moscow, looking for answers. Whichever side of the Snowden divide you’re on, Epstein’s thorough investigation will have you thinking twice. —ASH CARTER

—KRISTIANO ANG

21


1965

THE

BIG BITE

The Giulia Sprint.

DRIVING

2017

The Giulia Quadrifoglio.

A Sedan with Sprezzatura LEAVE IT TO THE ITALIANS TO CREATE THE SPEEDIEST, MOST STYLISH FOUR-DOOR EVER TO DO A BURNOUT

BRAPP! BRAPP! A bystander jumped when he heard the exhaust note. Bwarrrrrr! The brassy purr of a Ferrari-derived V-6 filled the brisk Napa air. La dolce OMG. A symphony of displacement and I was instantly smitten with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, the marque’s fresh attempt at bringing Italian luxury to the masses. The car devoured curves with the impossible grace of a defensive end returning an interception for a touchdown, which made me long to grip the alcantaraenhanced wheel, hit the big red start button, and paddle-shift my way through the RPMs long after our test drive was over. The steering has an uncanny lightness that belies the car’s 3,800-pound heft. And there is torque for days: The 505-hp, 443-lb-ft

F R O M T H E A L P S TO M I L E S TO B O N D, TO R AG & B O N E A N D YO U Talk about a diverse pedigree. The original Vuarnet Glaciers, from 1974, were used by mountain climbers. Then Miles Davis donned them, and we saw them more recently on James Bond in Spectre. This new, more urban version is a collaboration with Rag & Bone—the leather shields can be removed if it’s not blindingly bright outside or you just want to tone down your style a notch. $600; rag-bone.com — K .   S . 22 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

twin-turbo blew over Napa’s rolling hills as if they were holograms on a salt flat. Going from 0 to 60 takes 3.8 seconds, producing the kind of g-forces that will test your core strength. Was that my solar plexus in the rearview mirror? Possibly: The Giulia holds the Nürburgring lap record for a production four-door at a swift 7:32. From the outside, its beaklike grill, like that of a hawk about to attack, flows into wide fenders and a sensually curved body—the vehicle, inside and out, is bellissima, as they say. CEO Sergio Marchionne reportedly hit the reset button on the Giulia after a less-than-stellar prototype was delivered. Although it took longer for the model to land at dealerships thanks to this move, it was worth the wait. The result is a soulful car imbued with a much more playful spirit than those of its German rivals, which have long had a stranglehold on the steroidal-sedan market. The $70,000 question, though: Are there enough iconoclasts out there to choose a Giulia Quadrifoglio over the more established competition? As with the beautiful noise it leaves in its wake, you can’t —KEVIN SINTUMUANG help but pay attention.


The future belongs to those who change it.

STREAM NEW SEASON NOW ON PRIME VIDEO


THE

BIG BITE

FOOD

86 the Tasting Menu? IT’S TIME TO RETHINK THE FOURHOUR $300 MEAL (WINE NOT INCLUDED)

By JEFF GORDINIER

THE OTHER DAY, I sent a couple texts to help a friend of mine land a last-minute table at one of the best restaurants in New York. He thanked me. But moments later, he apologized. He was backing out. He just—well, he hadn’t been aware that a repast at this particular restaurant would involve the all-or-nothing proposition of a four-hour tasting menu, and he didn’t have the patience, the appetite, or the attention span to endure something like that. (The stratospheric price tag was not a problem.) He just wanted to sit down and order a dish or two without being schooled on which finishing school the carrots had gone to. I was not surprised; I hear it all the time. Expensive marathon tasting menus have become the bloated rock operas of the culinary realm. Both 26 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

Somewhere along the way, tasting menus became the pinnacle of fine dining. But are they pleasing the chefs more than the diners?

diners and chefs (even some of the chefs who serve tasting menus) have described them to me with the kinds of eye rolls and heaving sighs that are usually reserved for wrist-slitting holiday dinners with relatives who still cling to the belief that Barack Obama is a gay Muslim. If it seems absurd to whine about a meal that’s supposed to maximize pleasure by tantrically stretching it beyond the running time of Lawrence of Arabia, you’ve probably never experienced the dread that arises when you feel like you’ve just


ingested the caloric equivalent of a herd of creamfed hogs—yet the dude standing at the edge of your table is telling you there are three more savory dishes to go before the cheese course, which will be followed by the “dessert movements” and a tackle box full of mignardises. In spite of the ill will that’s been floating around for a few years now, chefs are in fact doubling down on tasting menus. New ones crop up regularly in New York and San Francisco and Washington, D. C.—expensive enough to appeal to ballers and long enough to require the discipline of a Buddhist monk in the lotus position. But there’s a catch, and it’s one that renders all the degustation dissing moot: It depends. In the hands of the right chef, a tasting menu can leave you feeling not bored and boulder-heavy but energized, alert, fired up, even light on your feet. When you walk out of Le Bernardin in New York, it’s not just the wine that’s making you feel as though you might actually levitate. The same goes for Le Comptoir and Providence in Los Angeles, Alinea in Chicago, and Benu in San Francisco, not to mention Noma in Copenhagen, Pujol in Mexico City, and Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. A rock opera is ridiculous except when it happens to be Quadrophenia, and the very best of the world’s tasting menus are like the very best double (or triple) albums—the ones from which you wouldn’t want to lose a single track: London Calling by the Clash and Sign o’ the Times by Prince, 69 Love Songs by the Magnetic Fields and Exile on Main St. by the Rolling Stones, a group of gentlemen who know a thing or two about prolonged debauchery. There are ways to keep a tasting menu from turning into a gastronomic remake of No Exit. Great restaurateurs and chefs know this (sushi chefs in particular—a true omakase experience is invariably a high-speed ecstatic blur). At Amass in

1 0 TA S T I N G M E N U S YO U WO N ’ T R E G R E T 1. Le Comptoir, Los Angeles 2. Contra, New York 3. Blanca, Brooklyn 4. Benu, San Francisco 5. Addison, San Diego 6. Alinea, Chicago 7. Momofuku Ko, New York 8. Pineapple and Pearls, Washington, D. C. 9. The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Virginia 10. Le Bernardin, New York

Pisco Sour (above) and Carmen Miranda (below) from Barmini.

Refresco de Ensalada (above) and We Came for the Gold (below) from Columbia Room.

Osmosis (above) and Primary Color (below) from the Walker Inn.

COCKTAIL TASTING MENUS ARE A THING . . . AND YOU SHOULD DIVE RIGHT IN The idea of a tasting menu at a bar seems to contradict the factors that draw you to a bar. You go to unwind, to linger or bolt based on the moment. A bartender choreographing each sip? What’s next, finger bowls? But omakase cocktailing has become state-of-the-art at

spots like the Walker Inn in Los Angeles, Roka Akor in San Francisco, and Barmini in Washington, D. C. At D. C. ’s Columbia Room, Derek Brown’s team applies so much creativity to each course that it’s foolish not to take the ride. You may get a drink served in a flask that’s carved

into a book. It has roots in Armagnac and touches of eucalyptus and porcini mushrooms, and it tastes like an old paperback you can’t put down. Ultimately, the cocktail tasting menu may be an even better way to decompress: Just sit back and let the story unfold. —J.   G.

Copenhagen, you can get up from your table to ramble around the garden and sip beer by a bonfire; at Blanca in Brooklyn, you’re welcome to wander away from the counter to spin vinyl albums on a turntable; at Le Comptoir in L. A.’s Koreatown, chef Gary Menes has a passion for vegetables that keeps the meal from veering into the wrong kind of gluttony. It’s worth pointing out that the friend I mentioned earlier wound up falling in love with Contra, on New York’s Lower East Side, where the tasting menu from chefs Jeremiah Stone and Fabián von Hauske Valtierra tends to be fast, cheap, and out of control— provided you let wine director Jorge Riera put together your own private bender of natural wines. America’s tasting menus will become more fun, more delicious, and more enticing across the board as soon as more restaurants accept the show-business wisdom that spots like Contra and Above: Chef Matt Orlando of Copenhagen’s Le Comptoir have already put Amass; a lobster-potatointo practice: Always leave mussel dish at Momofuku Ko in New York. them wanting more. ≥ 27


BIG BITE

SELF-IMPROVEMENT

Business Trip

SILICON VALLEY GEEKS HAVE TURNED LSD INTO THE NEW ADDERALL. ARE YOU READY TO TAKE THE DROP?

By AMANDA FORTINI

28 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

THE LAST TIME I heard this much about LSD, it was the spring of my sophomore year in high school and my then boyfriend, a longhaired Deadhead who went everywhere barefoot, had procured a stash for us. We took it at the Indiana Dunes, where I counted every glittering grain of sand, and again in my wood-paneled basement a few days later, where I stood before a mirror observing my face as it flickered and changed shape like flames. I didn’t try it again after that, affected as I’d been by years of antidrug propaganda. If you took LSD more than seven times, you would end up legally insane. (Who came up with that number?) Or you could have a bad trip and imagine that you’re crawling with worms, Go Ask Alice–style. (That book, catnip for inquisitive teens, was written not by an anonymous 15-year-old drug addict but by a Mormon youth counselor.) In the following decades, I came to view LSD as a fringe thing—not the substance of choice for anyone I knew. Suddenly, though, it seems that everyone, from software engineers to “power women,” is dabbling in it, according to a spate of recent articles. Not in large, consciousness-altering amounts but rather in infinitesimal “microdoses” said to have an array of desirable effects: balancing moods, increasing focus, enhancing creativity and problem-solving abilities, even heightening empathy. After reading the breezy, well-researched new book A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life (Knopf ), by Ayelet Waldman—best-selling author, former public defender, mother of four, and wife of the novelist Michael Chabon—I knew the practice had officially entered the mainstream. Then, at a party in Montana, not far from where I live, I ran into a clothing designer I know from the Bay Area. When I mentioned the book to her, she smiled: “I take a pinch of magic mushrooms every morning!” “People report that it’s like Adderall but with none of the bad effects,” says James

I L LU ST R AT I O N BY M AT T H I E U B O U R E L

THE


Fadiman, the Menlo Park, California, psychologist who popularized the term microdose with his 2011 underground book, The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide. In fact, true believers make it sound like it’s Adderall, Prozac, a venti Starbucks coffee, and a weeklong meditation retreat combined into a single ingestible substance. A microdose is roughly a tenth of a normal dose: typically 10 micrograms of LSD, or .2 to .5 grams of dried psilocybin mushrooms. The effects of this amount are “subperceptual,” according to Fadiman. In other words, no psychedelic fireworks. “The rocks don’t glisten, not even a little,” he says. Instead, the LSD, which works on the brain’s serotonin receptors in ways that are not entirely understood (to “rearrange neural furniture,” according to a Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide case study), functions more like an antidepressant or a cognitive-enhancing drug. Fadiman, who has been researching psychedelics since the 1960s and appears in Waldman’s book, as he does in nearly all the microdosing literature, has created a protocol that consists of one day on, two days off—or, a tiny dose every fourth day. (The second day, the effects carry over, and the third provides a baseline of normal functioning.) He suggests that self-study subjects

Once, LSD was the province of freaks and hippies like Jack Nicholson, Steve Jobs, Hunter S. Thompson, Jim Morrison, and Dennis Hopper who were looking to “Turn on, tune in, drop out,” as Timothy Leary advised. Now it’s being taken by programmers and moms seeking maximal efficiency.

True BELIEVERS say it’s ADDERALL, PROZAC, a venti STARBUCKS COFFEE, and a weeklong MEDITATION RETREAT combined into a SINGLE ingestible SUBSTANCE.

keep “journal entries on [their] experience” and email him and his researchers the results. “In your report, we are asking you to expand our horizons, question our assumptions, and help us discover new facets of these fascinating and often misunderstood substances.” Fadiman gets close to 75 inquiries a month and has received more than 200 self-reports. The curious tend to fall into one of two camps, Fadiman says: those who turn to microdosing “for reasons of mental health” and “the Silicon Valley biohacker types.” The former category includes people hoping to treat depression and anxiety that haven’t responded to antidepressants. Waldman, who suffers from a hormonally induced mood disorder, belonged to this group. “It pulled me out of my death spiral,” she says. The biohackers, meanwhile, are looking for a mental edge. “The closer you go to tech start-ups, the closer you’ll be to performance-enhancing drugs,” says Steve Dean, 28, an online-dating consultant who ran a job-search start-up and estimates he has microdosed five to ten times. “There’s a lot of competition, there’s a lot of intensely strenuous mental work, and so whatever can keep people’s minds whirring and keep them creative and flexible—all of those things are critical, and there’s only so much personal-development work you can do.” Such users, some of whom have experimented with “smart” drugs or nootropics, welcome the productivity boost while leaving the mystical wonderment aside. As with so much else in our culture—yoga, meditation, even taking snapshots—an experience that was once an end in itself has become a means to a quantifiable end. Microdosing has not yet been extensively studied. (After a decades-long hiatus, psychedelic studies have been conducted at Johns Hopkins University, NYU, Harbor–UCLA Medical Center, and Imperial College London, but these examined the effects of full doses.) Still, the anecdotal evidence persuaded me to try it. I’ve tried numerous methods to outsmart my melancholy, perfectionism, and chronic disorganization, from fasting to supplements to nootropics, and I regularly consume obscene quantities of caffeine to boost energy. What’s one more substance? Plus, Fadiman tells me, Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD, microdosed in the final decades of his life— and he lived to be 102. I read online that it’s actually quite easy to buy LSD from the dark web, but the mere thought of bitcoin feels daunting, so I ask a painter friend if he knows where to get some. He does. I dilute a tab in water by following instructions I find online. I don’t feel much, but I do get my work done without fighting the usual undertow. It’s a relief. A microvictory. ≥ 29


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|

Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 7

THE CODE

B E C A U S E S T Y L E I S A LWAY S P E R S O N A L

Physical Graffiti

PHOTOGRAPH BY BEN GOLDSTEIN

A t C o a c h , d e s i g n e r S t u a r t Ve v e r s redefines luxury

Esquire’s own Alfonso Fernández Navas wears a leather biker jacket ($3,000) hand-painted by Gary Baseman for Coach 1941.

STUART VEVERS HAS worked for some of Europe’s poshest outfits—Bottega Veneta, Mulberry, Givenchy. So when Coach, the venerable 76-year-old New York brand, brought him in to rethink the line, we were curious to see where he’d take it. Fear not: The Coach that defined a quiet, traditional luxury still exists. But Vevers has injected a boldness that has made the brand an example of how to reimagine a house with a strong heritage without losing its soul. Vevers oversees all of Coach’s production and merchandising, including its legendary leather goods, but it’s in clothing

31


T HE C O D E

VISIONARIES

W H AT W E WA N T

Strip It Down that he is really shifting the company into a higher gear. Coach 1941 has a decidedly youthful feel. “The new codes of luxury are being defined by the next generation, which Stuart Vevers: wants to spend its money “Words like on a sneaker, a T-shirt, or a classic are not so relevant fun handbag,” he says. “And today.” I think a lot of this has been driven by the taste and boldness of Asian style. This new generation doesn’t see status in a stiff attaché case, a classic court shoe, or tailoring. They want something that reflects their lives and personalities.” For his Spring ’17 collection, Vevers tapped legendary Los Angeles artist Gary Baseman to graffiti a broad range of products—including leather jackets, totes, and T-shirts—just hours before the garments hit the runway. Baseman’s designs sold as original art and will continue to sell in print form on Tshirts. Motifs riff on American ideals gleaned

Esquire style director MATTHEW MARDEN on the McQueen sneaker

I LOVE A SIMPLE WHITE SNEAKER.

My usual go-tos are a Stan Smith and a Converse low-top, mostly because I’m not a fan of a “fashion” sneaker—even from brands I love— since designer sneakers are usually too tricky and also cost more than I’m willing to spend. Then I saw these McQueens. What struck me is that they are elevated and simple at the same time.

Plus, the leopard-embossed sole is cool but hidden from view, which plays into what for me McQueen is all about: impeccable construction and tailoring peppered with subtle design notes, whether through proportions or fabric prints and patterns. And here’s one more thing that’s great about this sneaker: Because it is so minimal, you can pair it with just about anything in your wardrobe.

Sneakers ($560) by Alexander McQueen.

A few looks from Coach’s Spring/Summer ’17 collection.

from realms as diverse as surf culture and the American West, and Vevers also played with Americana, subverting preppy loafers with studs. It’s classic but not as we know it. “Words like classic are not so relevant today,” says Vevers. “I’ve used them before in my career, but after the last recession I felt like people hung on to these ideals as a kind of reassurance that didn’t mean much in the end. The best brands today are making great fashion that is strengthened by its heritage but not dictated by it.” — N I C K S U L L I VA N 32 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

HOW TO CARRY A TUNE The classiest way to assert your musical taste at a party? Show up with the Berluti Cocoon, a luxe leather case from the Parisian shoemaker. It’s custom-made to tote the powerful, space-agestylish Devialet Phantom speaker, which can connect wirelessly to your phone. Case ($2,300) by Berluti; speaker ($2,990) by Devialet. I L L U ST R AT I O N BY J O E M c K E N D R Y


Loco.

Nuts. 13 FLAVORED TORTILLA CHIPS 160 calories

49 PISTACHIOS 160 calories

It’s shocking when you compare a bowl of naturally trans fat and cholesterolfree W∑nderful nderful Pistachios to a meager helping of fried, flavored tortilla chips. With three times the protein and fiber for the same calories, you’d be crazy not to crack open some delicious, heart-healthy W∑nderful Pistachios. Get Crackin’ Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. See nutrition information for fat content. ©2016 Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds LLC. WONDERFUL, GET CRACKIN’, the Package Design and accompanying logos are registered trademarks of Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds LLC or its affiliates. WP16444


T HE C O D E

THE PROBLEM

THE NICK

THE FIX

TOO MUCH MUSCLE AT T H E SHOULDER CORRECT SLEEVE

A roomier sleeve gives you a clean drop from the shoulder.

STRAINING BUTTONS

Is Your Suit Too Tight? CORRECT FIT

Go up a size.

Why do so many men look like weenies, not winners? BY N I C K S U L L I VA N

ACRE S OF SHIRT CUFF MEAN THE SLEEVE IS T O O S H O R T.

CORRECT CUFF

A sliver of cuff is plenty.

THIGHS TOO TIGHT

CORRECT FIT

Give yourself room to move.

34 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

IN THE ESQUIRE OFFICES, we refer to an alltoo-common and unsightly style-fail among men as “sausage skin”—it’s what happens when a well-toned man falls for the fallacy that he should squeeze into a suit sized for a 125-pound boy. Sleeves and pants appear ready to burst, as if inflated with a bicycle pump. Under the intolerable pressure, jacket buttons look set to ping across the room and take someone’s eye out. From actors to singers to quarterbacks—and, increasingly, average Joes—no one these days seems immune to this style scourge. We know how it came about. Ten years ago, Hollywood stylists and certain style magazines took Thom Browne’s groundbreaking, sophisticated silhouette and corrupted it, twisting it into a high-and-tight aesthetic that rendered breathing optional. It’s a look that supposedly showed you were a man of the moment. Trouble is that moment has become cartoonish. It’s time you took back the fit of your suit. Just remember: When a man wears a suit that’s too tight, he ends up looking small. And relief is literally in sight. That slow pendulum swing of male style has begun to head back the other way. If this coming spring is anything to go by, a more relaxed attitude toward cuts is on the way, promising a bright and breathable tomorrow.


Geezer Chic: The Bible Rediscovering a classic of taste and attitude

H O W YO U R S U I T SHOULD FIT

Trim but not tight. Enough to flatter your physique, not constrict it.

Suit ($3,395) by Ermenegildo Zegna; shirt ($145) and tie ($85) by Reiss; shoes ($600) by Fratelli Rossetti.

LE LABO VETIVER 46 Fragrance buffs are divided on Le Labo’s Vetiver 46. “Hello, Clark Gable,” says one. Others pepper their prose with descriptions such as “hamster cage.” These do not deter me. I like hamsters. Honestly, I don’t know why I like 46, but it could be that it’s available in a dark, rich oil that allows for a targeted delivery and a scent that lasts without assaulting passersby. —N. S.

WHEN IT WAS PUBLISHED in 1985, The Young Fogey Handbook was one of the most radical and entertaining books about taste and style ever written—a friendly thumb in the eye to trends and fads. Young Fogey was a polite “thank you but no” to progress in all matters of culture and lifestyle, but especially in the case of clothes, based on the conviction that nothing much of interest had happened—in any area—since 1937. Wine was claret. Jeans were anathema. Nouvelle cuisine was silly. Tweed was everything. For a short time, you saw YFs everywhere in London and most university towns, usually pedaling bicycles of ancient manufacture. Being a YF signified a refusal to wear new clothes just for the sake of The original it. Its adherents preferred Slow Wear: a iconic things that were Young Fogey in London trusty, sometimes handcirca 1985. me-down old, and often threadbare but always the very, very best—stuff that identified you to other insiders as one of them. Then fashion got hold of the Young Fogey aesthetic, exploiting and twisting it beyond recognition and ultimately ruining it for three decades. Still, great examples of YF endure. Walk into many authenticity-minded men’s-wear stores—think Paul Stuart, Miller’s Oath, and J. Crew, for heaven’s sake—and there they are, ghost-stitched into every seam, without the lingering aroma of gravy. Copies of the out-of-print but not out-oftouch book can occasionally be found on eBay. Or go Young Fogey–style and search your secondhand bookstore. —N. S.

35


STYLE CAN’T BE

BORROWED BUT IT CAN BE GIVEN

THIS VALENTINE’S, SHOW HER YOUR STYLE.

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T HE C O D E

C O M P L I C AT I O N S

THERE WILL BE OIL . . . “WHEN YOU GET A SYNERGY BETWEEN MECHANICS, ERGONOMICS, AND TRADITION,” SAYS RESSENCE FOUNDER BENOÎT MINTIENS, “YOU END UP WITH A NEW REALITY.”

A Well-Oiled Machine T h e r e ’s n o t h i n g c r u d e a b o u t R e s s e n c e ’s l a t e s t b e a u t y

Watch ($42,200) by Ressence; cardigan ($895) by Drake’s; gloves ($125) by Hestra; bag ($695) by Burberry; bracelet ($400) by Esquire Men’s Jewelry.

38 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

TIMEPIECE INNOVATIONS are often the result of tweaking decades-old mechanical inventions, so when a watch comes on the scene that completely reinvents the game—check out the oil-filled dome!—we notice. Why oil? It provides the watch’s best special effect: a sleek display that appears to float against the curved crystal. For this 46mm titanium Type 5BB Black Black diver, the oil also ensures unparalleled legibility underwater (to 10 atmospheres/100 meters): The dial may be clearly viewed from any angle without the slightest glare or reflection. Underneath the dial, a series of magnets keeps the display linked to the mechanical movement, making for one slick wristwatch. — S T E P H E N W A T S O N

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T HE C O D E

MY STYLE

How I Got My Style ROB E RT RABE N STE I NE R M e n ’s - f a s h i o n s t y l i s t a n d art director

To me, taste is always a more important thing to aim for than fashion.

WHAT’S THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR STYLE?

“I was born in Südtirol, the mountainous area of northern Italy. To get to the house, you have to get a funicular railway and then a chairlift. The area makes me like traditional clothes—not just from there but from wherever, from India, from Russia. I like to put traditional pieces together in a modern way.” WHAT IS YOUR FIRST FASHION MEMORY?

“I was 15, 16. I desperately needed to get a particular leather jacket from Armani. It was a leather blouson with graphic black-and-white stripes. It was the ’80s.” GROWING UP, WHO INSPIRED YOUR STYLE?

“What inspires me is the style of my own family and certain aristocratic intellectuals—like Tolstoy and Visconti. It wasn’t about emulating their clothes but their taste. To me, taste is always a more important thing to aim for than fashion.” WHAT DO YOU NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT?

“A scarf. In summer or winter, mostly they are Charvet silk. A scarf is a great way to elevate whatever you’re wearing.” WHERE DO YOU GET A KICK OUT OF SHOPPING?

“I love to go to unexpected stores, like places you might buy lederhosen and my shirts. If I go to India, I will find a traditional tailor’s shop and see what they can make for me.” WHAT DO YOU HAVE TOO MUCH OF?

“Shoes. Sometimes I put suits and sneakers away almost new and then get them out years after and wear them again.” DOES YOUR STYLE CHANGE?

“My style doesn’t really change, but I’m always adding something new. I have a Piombo jacket to match with Dries Van Noten pants; they’re classic pieces that you mix together unexpectedly to make something new. I can’t understand people who change their look every five minutes. I mean, I know it’s a modern thing, but I just prefer consistency.”

“If you throw on a scarf, it instantly adds style.”

41


T HE C O D E

SOLE SEARCHING

LESS IS MORE

Minimal padding creates a sartorial look with the ease of a cardigan.

RING JACKET’S OBJECTIVE is simple: to make lightweight, extremely elegant clothes. With minimal structure—a natural shoulder, a gentle midsection—a Ring Jacket garment looks and feels very Italian, especially when you slip it on. Yes, its spiritual home is Naples, but curiously enough, the line was founded 63 years ago in Osaka by Jhoichi Fukushima, who wanted to create a more bespoke version of the Ivy-style tailoring that was then gripping Americana-obsessed Japan. In the intervening years, Italian style brought a new ease and lightness to the tailoring favored by Japanese and American men, and Ring created its unique style through pieces like the Balloon Jacket (a name that, to us, suggests it’s lighter than air). But you don’t need to go to Tokyo to get a Ring—they’re now available in New York at the Armoury, one of the new-generation brick-and-mortar stores that is cannily making classic clothes mod—N. S. ern again.

Jacket ($1,950) by Ring Jacket; bracelet ($6,800) by Cartier.

Italian Styling, Japanese Engineering Looks great, weighs nothing. Perfection.

CLOTH IS EVERY THING

Texture—a bit of crunch—means you can dress it up or down.

NOTHING TO HIDE

Next-to-no lining shows off the finishing and gives you all-around comfort.

42 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

PHOTOGRAPH BY BEN GOLDSTEIN


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T HE C O D E

MASTER CLASS

IS IT THE SHOES? RONNIE FIEG (BELOW), THE MAN BEHIND THE SHADES—AND NEW YORK’S HOTTEST STYLE STORE. “PRODUCT COMES AND GOES, BUT EXPERIENCE LIVES FOREVER.”

A New Mecca of Cool

Fo r f a s h i o n - h e a d s , t h e r e ’s C o l e t t e i n Paris and 10 Corso Como in Milan. N o w t h e r e ’ s K I T H I N N . Y. C . R o n n i e F i e g e x p l a i n s h i s b r a n d ’s s u c c e s s . IN JUST FIVE YEARS, Ronnie Fieg has built his brand, Kith (a name he took from the old English “kith and kin,” or friends and family), into not only New York’s go-to source for the hottest sneakers and streetwear labels but also a formidable name in the larger universe. His highly anticipated debut fashion show this past September, Kithland, comprised a whopping 90 looks, collaborations with 25 brands, and performances by New York artists Fabolous, Ma$e, and the Lox. The label’s blockbuster 2016 also entailed the opening of an outpost in Bergdorf Goodman, a pop-up-shop venture in Aspen, and a pop-up with Nike in New York. As he prepares to open a new store in Miami, Fieg tells us how he achieved his business vision. TIMING IS EVERYTHING: “I started as a stock person at David Z. and worked my way up to general buyer/manager of ten stores. Working as a buyer makes you really understand what people want and when you should offer it to them. That’s what retail is all about—if you’re a month late or a season late or a year late, the same product won’t move.” KNOW YOUR TARGET: “I have friends in completely different businesses that get into our sneakers. Kith is Candy Land for those who love footwear.”

44 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

P H OTO G R A P H S BY K R I STA S C H L U E T E R


USE YOUR LIFE AS RESEARCH: “Kith has always been about what’s missing in my closet, and my emotional connection to the ’90s plays a strong part in my designs. In 1996, the most influential year of my life, I was 14 and going back and forth from home in Queens to work in the West Village, seeing things for the first time. That culture shock shaped my vision for what I wanted to see out of the product; it was the greatest era.” G I V E P E O P L E S O M E T H I N G TO R E M E M B E R :

SERVE CHILLED

“When we built the store, we wanted it to be more about enjoying an experience—product comes and goes, but experiences live forever.”

“MIXING PASSIONS,” SAYS FIEG, “IS MY FAVORITE THING IN LIFE. I ONCE WANTED TO OPEN A DESSERT BAR. NOW I SERVE ICE CREAM AT KITH.”

GREAT WORK COMES FROM COLLABORATION:

“The most important part of working with anyone is achieving something together that you can’t achieve on your own. Transcending markets is one of the most amazing things any brand can do. I’m most proud of creating something that’s not fickle and of working with iconic brands to try to become an iconic brand ourselves. My mentality is always ‘If we stop today, what was our impact on the market and on the world?’ I want to live in people’s closets.”

Hoodie ($120) by Kith.

I’m most proud of creating something that’s not fickle.

REACH FOR IT RIGHT: THESE MITTENS AND BOOTS ARE PART OF THE STORE’S BEACH/ CITY/MOUNTAIN AESTHETIC. LEFT: ONE OF THE SWEATSHIRTS FROM HIS COLLABORATION WITH BERGDORF GOODMAN.

GO BIG. GO WIDE: “For me, it’s about being respected and desired from Harlem to the Hamptons. When we build product, we don’t have a specific customer in mind; instead, we’re thinking of the brand identity, which stands for a lot more than one customer.” BA L AN C I NG ACT: “My passion is split between footwear, apparel, music, movies, and cereal, and for as long as I am CEO and creative director of Kith, I don’t think that will change for the brand.” HOW TO GET IT ALL DONE: “The trick is to build an amazing team around you. Execution is a talent, and having a team that can execute is the most I can ever ask for. When you know everyone is taking care of their business, it makes it easier to think outside the box.” —REN MCKNIGHT

45


T HE C O D E

GROOMING

The Art of Shaving preshave oil, $25.

Philips Norelco OneBlade, $35.

Beard Be Gone

Spring cleaning starts now Q: WHAT DO BROOKLYN BARTENDERS and Paul Bunyan have in common? A: Beards. Like all formerly cool, counterintuitive trends, beards have become proverbial. A bold change of direction for the new year might be in order for you. If your face has not seen sunlight in several months or years, here is a guide to reacquaint you with facial grooming. 1: You can’t chop all that fuzz with a razor blade. First, use an electric razor to remove the greater part of your beard. Our favorite at the moment is the small yet surprisingly powerful Philips Norelco OneBlade, which comes equipped with three switchable guides. It can tackle the first few centimeters with ease and take you right down to a threeday stubble. Best part: It funcLab Series Razor Burn tions as a daily shaver. Relief Ultra, 2: Next, try the Art of Shaving’s $38. preshave oil, which will soften the rest of your beard and prepare the follicles for shaving. 3: Since any old shaving cream simply will not do, try Malin + Goetz’s, which uses both vitamin E and shea butter to soften

Malin + Goetz vitamin E shaving cream, $22.

your skin. 4: Shave with a conventional wet-shave razor, such as the Schick Hydro, or an old-fashioned one-blade safety razor of the new breed (right). 5: Follow with Lab Series Razor Burn Relief Ultra to instantly soothe irritation and redness. 6: And don’t forget to moisturize. Aesop’s lightly scented postshave lotion absorbs rapidly to rehydrate the skin. — M I C H A E L ST E FA N OV

46 E S Q U I R E

Aēsop postshave lotion, $49.

SHE’LL FEEL IT The simple safety razor is making a comeback, and not just because it’s a smart investment—it offers a closer shave. But you can’t just plow through your beard. Apply patience, not pressure. The key is to let the blade do the work for you—use a consistent 30 degree angle and always go in the direction of growth. Safety razor blades (pack of five, $6) by Gillette.


AN INCREDIBLE PERFORMANCE ” BY MICHAEL KEATON.

-SCOTT FEINBERG, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

RISK TAKER. RULE BREAKER. GAME CHANGER.

B A S E D

O N

T H E

T R U E

IN THEATERS JANUARY 20

TH

S T O R Y


T HE C O D E

FITNESS

Dogpound owner Kirk Myers with Camille Rowe (above); Josephine Skriver, Taylor Hill, and Romee Strijd (left).

A Gym of Angels

THE 15-MINUTE DOGPOUND QUICKIE

V i c t o r i a ’s S e c r e t m o d e l s h a v e m a d e N e w Yo r k ’ s D o g p o u n d t h e i r fitness home. Maybe you should, too.

Clockwise from above right: Lais Ribeiro, Josephine Skriver, Hailey Baldwin and Marianne Fonseca, Skriver.

48 E S Q U I R E

BURPEES

Reps: 15. Why: Offers a full-body workout—legs, core, and upper body. Tip: Land softly on your feet to protect your knees.

Myers’s exceptional training skills are certainly one reason so many models have sought him out. And then there’s Hugh Jackman, who became his client in 2014. Helping Jackman achieve his Wolverine body led to press, which led to more clients. That still doesn’t fully explain the models’ presence, however. Turns out they started coming not because of Jackman’s jacked physique but because of a hairstylist who trained with Myers and recommended him to Angel Jasmine Tookes. She loved it and she returned with more Angels. It snowballed from there. “The Dogpound is a perfect combination of energetic music, positive people, and amazing body transformations,” says Josephine Skriver. We must say: Platitudes are much easier to swallow when served by an Angel. — E R I C S U L L I VA N

JUMP ROPE

Reps: 3 (60 seconds, 20-second rest). Why: Increases heart rate. Tip: Remember to breathe.

PLANK-UPS

Reps: 15 per arm. Why: Builds core strength. Tip: Pause for a two-count at the top to help maintain form.

I L L U ST R AT I O N S BY R E M I E G E O F F R O I

FO R STO R E I N FO R M AT I O N S E E PAG E 1 09.

ASK KIRK MYERS, owner/trainer of the Dogpound, why so many Victoria’s Secret models—eleven of the fourteen current Angels— are members and he responds with fitness platitudes: “Everyone here has a positive energy.” “We’ve built a strong community.” “The girls are seeing results.” Uh-huh. Working out at the gym doesn’t elucidate the mystery, either. The space, though stocked with brand-new high-quality equipment, is stamp-sized. There are no showers. The changing room is a bathroom stall. But look around the steel-and-black interior as you train one-on-one or in a group boxing class and there they are in the flesh: the type of women you wish would grab the StairMaster next to you but never actually materialize.

Repeat 3 times. Reference YouTube for proper form.


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GREATNESS STARTS HERE

TUESDAYS JAN 17 9|8c To find Esquire Network, go to EsquireTV.com/channelfinder


IN THE SHADOWS OF LEGENDS

TUESDAYS JAN 31 10|9c ©2017 Esquire Network


T H E

ROAD T A K E N

How do we create a new home for ourselves without forgetting the place that will always be home? THERE’S A FUNNY AND PARTICULARLY

American moment in Bruce Springsteen’s recent memoir, Born to Run, in which he describes how his parents and younger sister moved from New Jersey to California in 1969, leaving him behind, at nineteen, to tend to his fledgling music career. Like East 52 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

Coast Okies, Springsteen writes, they pointed their 1960s Rambler west and ended up in Sausalito. It was an arty and expensive town near San Francisco and clearly not for them. So they pulled into a gas station, and Springsteen’s mother asked the attendant, “Where do people like us live?”

Where do people like us live? It’s a paradigmatic American question, alongside the one that the former New York City mayor Ed Koch used to ask every day: “How’m I doin’?” The answer depends on how you define the word us. There’s a dismal narrative right now, after the election of Donald J. Trump, that posits that there are two opposing Americas, red and blue, brawling like tattooed UFC fighters. There’s a small spark of truth to that narrative. But most of us sense, correctly, that we live somewhere in the middle. We’re uncertain where we stand economically, politically, and socially. The last may prompt the most confusion. When Mrs. Springsteen got out of her car to ask “Where do people like us live?” she was talking about social class. And talking about social class is something that America has failed to do. We’ve long preferred to believe that class doesn’t exist here—and certainly it doesn’t in the way it does in England, with its hereditary titles and telltale cut-glass accents. But there’s no doubt that Tom Wolfe was attending to reality when he wrote, “I think every living moment of a human being’s life, unless the person is starving or in immediate danger of death in some other way, is PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM EGGLESTON

U N T I T L E D, F R O M C H R O M E S , C . 1 97 1 , © E G G L E S TO N A R T I S T I C T R U S T. C O U R T E SY DAV I D Z W I R N E R , N E W YO R K / L O N D O N .

UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM By Dwight Garner


controlled by a concern for status.” Wolfe has long been one of our great class observers. In The Bonfire of the Vanities, he wrote a sentence that encapsulated my shock at first meeting elitelevel preppies during my freshman year at college: “Somehow he knew, based on very little experience, that this faux-casual shit spelled money.” When the historian Paul Fussell began work on his inestimable book Class: A Guide Through the American Status System (1983), he quickly learned how uncomfortable even mentioning the subject made people. Fussell wrote: “When, recently, asked what I am writing, I have answered, ‘A book about social class in America,’ people tend first to straighten their ties and sneak a glance at their cuffs to see how far fraying has advanced there. Then, a few minutes later, they silently get up and walk away. It is not just that I am feared a class spy. It is as if I had said, ‘I am working on a book urging the beating to death of baby whales using the dead bodies of baby seals.’ ” At the time Fussell’s book was published, I was eighteen and working at a chain bookstore in a Naples, Florida, shopping mall. I opened the book, read the sentences above (they are from its first paragraph), and consumed the rest at home in one sitting. Class was impossible to put down because its sentences were so crisp, honest, and witty. It was more impossible to put down because it addressed a topic that I sensed had a moonlike pull over human affairs in general and my life in particular, but that no one spoke about. Like you, perhaps, I’ve long felt I exist in a no-man’s-land as regards class. I was born in West Virginia, a state I love but a state that has an inferiority complex a mile wide. West Virginia ranks low in life expectancy, in emotional health, in median household income, and in percentage of citizens enrolled in college. It ranks high, on the other hand, in obesity rates. Not a lot of people make it out of West Virginia. In the past, this was because of the stubborn density of the Appalachian Mountains, the country’s oldest and I think most beautiful on earth. Today it’s because the state’s public-education system is appalling. But get out we sometimes do. For several years I’ve been part of a group of West Vir-

ginia natives living in and around New York City that meets every few months for cocktails. We feel like both survivors and traitors. We’ve tried to make new homes for ourselves without forgetting the place that will always be home. I am reminded of one of my favorite metaphors in recent American literature; it comes from the photographer Sally Mann’s profoundly observant memoir Hold Still. Mann quotes one of her father’s diary entries. It reads: “Do you know how a boatman faces one direction, while rowing in another?” I am always looking at West Virginia, even as I row away. My grandfather Archie was a coal miner and a hard man when he needed to be. When he collected rent on the properties he accumulated later in his life, scattered in the hollers of Marion County, he carried brass knuckles in his pocket. But I have no true working-class bona fides. My father attended West Virginia University law school and did well. My siblings and I had tennis lessons and orthodontia. What I do retain is something that the Australian writer A. A. Phillips called the “Cultural Cringe.” The essence of that cringe, the art critic Robert Hughes, also Australian, wrote, “is the assumption that whatever you do in the field of writing, painting, sculpture, architecture, film, dance, or theater is of unknown value until it is judged by people outside your own society.” The cringe does not go away once you move someplace else. While it never improves an argument to usher Don Henley into it, you can say of West Virginia what was said about the Hotel California: You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Every eight months or so, I’ll feel the subcellular pull West Virginia still has on me. I’ll climb into my car and, with maybe an hour’s advance planning, drive alone toward Mannington, the small mining town where my grandparents had a house. It’s an eight-hour trip from where I live, in western New Jersey, and it’s a route I know well. The last part of this drive, on Interstate 79, which cuts across the grain of the Appalachians in the practical and no-nonsense manner of all West Virginians, means the most to me. The land’s beauty opens up and then the road begins to lead you down into a place that resembles no other. This is what I do instead of therapy. The people we admire in American life tend to be those who don’t forget where they came from. Conversely, those who seem to forget or deny their roots, as has President

Trump, are not to be so trusted. There is a recent book, J.D. Vance’s memoir Hillbilly Elegy, that speaks to social class and sense of place as well as any volume I can remember. Vance grew up lower middle class in Appalachia and went on to attend Yale Law School. To read him is to draw closer to the status issues that fed America’s recent election. From the perspective of Appalachia, this sensitive observer writes: “Barack Obama strikes at the heart of our deepest insecurities. He is a good father while many of us aren’t. He wears suits to his job while we wear overalls, if we’re lucky enough to have a job at all. His wife tells us that we shouldn’t be feeding our children certain foods, and we hate her for it—not because we think she’s wrong but because we know she’s right.” Vance rarely puts a foot wrong in Hillbilly Elegy, a book that will be a guide for many through the psychology of the Trump years. “One way our upper class can promote upward mobility,” he writes, “is not only by pushing wise public policies but by opening their hearts and minds to the newcomers who don’t quite belong.” Readers in an angrier mood might turn this year to the gifted historian Nancy Isenberg’s recent book White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. Isenberg writes with an almost evangelical sense of outrage about how the American economy, from today’s bank and tax policies back to slavery, has put the working poor at

The people we admire in American life tend to be those who don’t forget where they came from. a disadvantage. “We have to wonder,” she writes, “how such people exist amid plenty.” She finds part of her answer in the “backlash that occurs when attempts are made to improve the conditions of the poor,” whether the New Deal or Obamacare. “Government assistance is said to undermine the American dream,” she says, before asking: “Wait. Undermine whose American dream?” Where do people like us live? We live here, in America, all of us, together. And if things get hairy these next four years, we can keep in mind Lorrie Moore’s dictum in Bark, her 2014 short-story collection: “Where affection fell on its ass, politeness could step up.” ≥ 53


POLITICS By M i c h a e l I d ov & Ad a m We i n s te i n One small consolation of last year’s

T H E

TRUMP B U M P

Donald Trump’s victory isn’t a fluke. It’s one more win for a global movement—disparate but growing—of anti-immigrant populist politicians who’ve strong-armed their way to power. Who are they? What do they believe? And how the hell did we get here to begin with? Illustrations by Joe Darrow

They’re like the X-Men, if the X-Men fought the tyranny of globalization and equality for all: From left, Kim Jong-un, Rodrigo Duterte, Vladimir Putin, Marine Le Pen, and Geert Wilders.

space-slug attack of a presidential election was the debate sketches aired by Saturday Night Live. Alec Baldwin’s impression of Donald Trump often sounded more like a transcript from the campaign trail than a joke. “All of the blacks live on one street in Chicago,” fake Trump says in one episode. “It’s called Hell Street. And they’re on Hell Street and they’re all just killing each other.” Hillary, played by Kate McKinnon, responds, “Can America vote right now?” How easily parody slides into reality: As U. S. voters proved in November, fearmongering works—and not just for Donald Trump. Across the globe, autocrats are on the rise. Strongman populism, usually served with a steaming pile of xenophobia, has claimed Greece and Hungary; it’s also mangled Turkey. Italy, too, is at risk: The resignation of prime minister Matteo Renzi in December gave new hope to the immigrantand central-government-hating Lega Nord. Right-wing populism is even lapping at the steps of the European Parliament: In 2014, the institution welcomed its first neoNazi, courtesy of Germany’s NPD. And then, of course, there was Brexit, which looks to be a superlative case study of what happens when gravelly rabble-rousers actually get hold of the steering wheel. These regressions have followed a remarkably similar path from country to


country. It begins with widespread fear of the future. Globalization gave rise to an international class of wealthy urban technocrats who look utterly out of touch with the rest of their respective populations. (Before November’s election, America’s brightest minds seemed to be more concerned with robots gaining consciousness than with income inequality, which has grown for thirty consecutive years.) The populist pushback takes aim at anything that feels elite. Institutional experience becomes a liability. Qualifications take a backseat to passion. Skill itself becomes suspect. Next, bad information floods the void. Social media has laid waste to the informational monopoly that, even in the most democratic societies, had always—for better or worse—been held by the ruling classes. Hundred-year-old news orgs and anonymous Twitter eggs are now locked in a codependent death embrace. The patronizing drone of the professional media drives people to the fringe, at which point the mainstream co-opts the fringe in order to get the eyeballs back. Facts are replaced by an irrational but basic fear of the Other—be it gays or immigrants or a global Jewish conspiracy. They thrill to the baroque dangers of swarthy job-stealers and banker cabals. And then the inevitable. Once the population’s thinking is sufficiently suffused with paranoia, a man (or Marine Le Pen) struts onto this richly salted soil. He tells it like it is—which is to say, how you suspect “it” to be. He says the unsayable—calls Mexicans “rapists,” for instance—and you feel a surge of gratitude for finally having your most embarrassing fears acknowledged out loud. You don’t have to be embarrassed anymore! And then he promises to smash this corrupt system, to make it work for you. And you go along. This time, you will not be ignored. You will get your cozy Anglosphere, your Great Russia, your Beautiful Wall. And by the time you realize what it has cost you, it is too late. —MICHAEL IDOV

NIGEL FARAGE Leader of the UK Independence Party, G R E AT B R I TA I N Understatement of the year: “I THI NK THAT P O LITI CS N EE DS A BI T OF SPIC ING UP.” Misdeeds:

British conservatives had long mused

about yanking their country out of the European Union, but only Farage, leader of the once-fringe UK Independence Party, was crazy enough to become the poster boy for Brexit. The effete pol helped “Leave” squeeze out a surprise national victory last June by lying and blaming foreigners. Farage’s bitches’ brew of economic populism and race-baiting worked. He’s a celebrity on RT, Putin’s TV station, and was a popular act at Trump campaign stops. Brexit has turned staid British politics into a dystopian YA-novel plot. “When I came here seventeen years ago and I said that I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union, you all laughed at me,” he gloated last year after the vote. “Well, I have to say, you’re not laughing —ADAM WEINSTEIN now, are you?”

MARINE LE PEN Leader of the National Front, FRANCE

Enemy of the free press

Dark-money ties

Hitler comparisons

Extrajudicial killing

Land grabber

Election tampering

Loves telling big lies

NARENDRA MODI Prime minister, INDIA When asked if he regretted a massacre of thousands of Muslims that happened on his watch: “I F A PUPPY COME S UNDE R THE W HEE L OF YOUR CA R, WI LL I T B E PAI NFU L OR NOT ? OF COURSE I T I S.”

Considers Trump’s victory part of: “A GRE AT MOV EMENT AC ROSS THE WORL D.”

Misdeeds:

Misdeeds:

Talk about an image makeover: Ten

KEY TO MISDEEDS Anti-immigrant/ anti-Muslim

ter, Marine, and it’s experienced a rebirth as a mainstream political force. On her watch, the authoritarian nationalist party has played down its racially checkered past, trading overt anti-Semitism for big-government welfare—as long as its recipients aren’t immigrants, dual citizens, or practicing Muslims. And the party weathered bad news last April, when the Panama Papers exposed a “sophisticated offshore system” by Le Pen’s aides to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars. Le Pen has refocused on local races, a bet that’s showing signs of paying off in populist cred. But France’s staggering unemployment, terrorist attacks, and endless problems integrating immigrants have given Le Pen major mojo as a grande dame of the antiIslamic right—and made her a serious contender in May’s presidential contest. She makes her hard-right opponent, François Fillon, look like a Bernie Bro. “With the designation of Trump in the U.S.,” Le Pen brags, “there’s a global awakening.” —A.W .

Few p eo p l e ex p e c te d a future for

France’s right-wing National Front after its first leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, lost the 2002 presidential race by a historic 64 percent margin. But the elder Le Pen—who infamously shrugged off Nazi gas chambers as a mere “detail” of history—passed control of the party to his media-savvy daugh-

years ago, the tunic-bedecked showman was barred from traveling to the U.S. and EU for his suspected role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, in which Hindu vigilantes murdered 1,169 people—mostly Muslims, many women and children. Today, he’s the vegetarian prime minister of nuclear-armed India, a CEO type hyping manufacturing jobs who now enjoys an approval rating in the low 80s. But he’s never abandoned his roots, troll55


P O L I T I C S By M i c h a e l I d ov & Ad a m We i n s te i n ing his “weak” opponents; denouncing camps for displaced Muslims as a “breeding ground to produce children”; and calling for Muslim-targeting powers to combat terrorism. An opposition leader called Modi a merchant “of religion and death.” Maybe so, but he has the most Twitter followers of any world leader. On the campaign trail, he regularly used a 3-D hologram of himself to simultaneously speechify at hundreds of political rallies across India. Modi’s flickering likeness mystified many of his rally attendees, a spokeswoman acknowledged at the time, but that just added to his futuristic cachet: “The Gandhis are decades behind.” —A.W .

VLADIMIR PUTIN

NORBERT HOFER Member, Freedom Party, AUSTRIA

as many as a thousand suspected petty criminals and vowing to kill a hundred thousand more in his first six months in office. (He reportedly managed only seventeen hundred.) His declarations are piped up directly from his id. When the UN criticized his regime, he told reporters, “I don’t give a shit to them.” When told Barack Obama would press him on human rights in an upcoming summit, Duterte called the U. S. president a “son of a whore.” Late last year, Duterte promised to curtail his cussing, saying the voice of God had commanded him to quit using swear words. The extrajudicial killings, however, con—A.W . tinue apace.

Sticking it to the establishment: “ T HE MORE THEY FIGHT M E, T HE STRO NG ER I BECOME .” Misdeeds:

President, R U S S I A Could guest on Westworld:

“I AM TH E W EA LT H I E ST MAN NOT

JUST I N EU ROP E BUT IN THE WH O LE WOR LD. I C OL L ECT E MOTI ON S.” Misdeeds:

Putin is seventeen years and counting

into an unchallenged rule that could stretch all the way to 2024—and, if he pulls off one more Medvedev Maneuver (i.e., gaming the constitution by temporarily replacing himself with a pliable yes-man), way beyond. Putin came into power, as strongmen often do, on the wave of disaster—Chechen separatist attacks on Moscow housing blocks—and a tough-guy vow to punish the guilty. “We’ll find them and we’ll waste them,” he said. Instead, he proceeded to take out his destructive energies on most of Russia’s civil liberties. He bought off the actual Chechen separatists, just as he did most of the opposition. Putin’s big secret is that he’s not a strategist. He’s a brilliant tactician who gets lucky. His idea of “restoring Russia to greatness” is to act as a global spoiler as soon as anything important happens anywhere; his evertoughening domestic policy is designed to paper over a weak economy. Now that Trump is in the White House—in no small part because of Russian hackers’ attacks on Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party—Putin is expected to ease off the antiAmerican rhetoric. Then again, it’s possible these two unchecked demagogues will find out the world’s not big enough for both of their yuuuuge egos. —M.I . 56 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

Hofer—who served as a copresident of Austria for six months after crashing last May’s runoff election—has used his youthful polish to bring respectability to the archright Freedom Party of Austria, which was founded by an ex-SS officer in the ’50s. Hofer proudly carried a Glock on the campaign trail, a “natural consequence” of his country’s immigration influx. He’s said that “Islam has no place in Austria” and vowed that as president, he’d dissolve the government if it didn’t take a tougher stance on Austria’s nearly hundred thousand refugees. Though he lost December’s final presidential election, he received 43 percent of the vote and remains a figurehead of his far-right party, which is leading the polls for the next parliamentary election. The burka-banning Hofer, it seems, is the canary in Europe’s extremist coal mine. —A.W .

RODRIGO DUTERTE President, PHILIPPINES Possesses airtight logic: “MY GOD, I HATE DRUGS. AND I HAV E TO KI LL P EOP LE BECAUSE I HATE DRUGS.” Misdeeds:

The potty-mouthed provincial mayor won the Philippines’ presidency last May after encouraging vigilante death squads to execute

AS H I N W I R AT H U Religious militant, BURMA Thoughts on a fellow Buddhist: “I DO NOT RE S PECT THE DAL AI L AMA .” Misdeeds:

This unchill monk leads a coalition of militant Buddhists—yes, Buddhists!— called 969 that’s made life hell for Burma’s Muslim minority. The berobed Wirathu— leader of a political movement that seeks to ban religious intermarriage and deport all Muslims—reportedly exults in being called “the Buddhist bin Laden.” Wirathu sees Islamophobia as an urgent prescription for “nationalism and the security of the country,” even though about one hundred thousand Burmese Muslims are already starving in internment camps and hundreds more have been lynched by Buddhist mobs. Comrades in his movement have pointed to Trump’s rhetoric against Muslims and migrants as evidence of a rising global consciousness. As the 969ers’ anthem puts it: “We will build a fence with —A.W . our bones if necessary.”


VIKTOR ORBÁN Prime minister, H U N G A R Y Thinks immigration is: “N OT M ED I C IN E BUT A P OI S ON . WE D ON’ T N EED IT AN D WO N’ T SWAL LOW IT.” Misdeeds:

al following as Islamophobia’s main man. He rallies for free speech globally but wants to ban the Koran; his chief twentyfirst-century concern is “the Islamification of our society.” For all its contradictions, Wilders’s nativist, low-tax, pro-Brexit drumbeat has appealed to enough voters to make his party one of Holland’s largest opposition parties. That’s despite the fact that he’s currently on trial in the Netherlands for inciting hatred of Moroccan immigrants. Wilders’s growing legacy rests on his broad spiritual leadership of Islam-bashers, Breitbarters, and self-styled “shitlords” of the alt-right. But he distances himself from fawning neo-Nazis, always pointing out his support for Israel against Muslims. “I’m very afraid of being linked with the wrong rightist fascist groups,” he said. Fortunately, he’s managed to find plenty of right ones. —A.W .

GEERT WILDERS Founder of the Party of Freedom, NETHERLANDS Really, actually said: “I DO N’ T HAT E M US LIM S. I H AT E T HE IR B OO K AND ID EO LOGY.” Misdeeds:

A lifelong crusader against creeping

sharia and nonwhite immigrants, the former MP known as “Captain Peroxide” for his severe blond coif has built a glob-

KIM JONG-UN Supreme leader, D E M O C R A T I C P E O P L E’S R E P U B L I C O F KO R E A His clear-eyed view of the U. S.: “ THEY ARE CANNIBALS AND HOMIC IDE S [ SIC ] S EEK ING PLE ASURE IN SL AUGH TER.”

Hungary took the plunge into right-wing

nationalist governance when Orbán first became prime minister in 1998, and again in 2010. The Oxford dropout bragged that he would engineer “an illiberal state.” Orbán was the first head of an EU nation to endorse Donald Trump. Which makes sense, since Orbán literally built a wall during the migrant crisis in 2015 to slow the stream of border crossers from Serbia. Also because Orbán, along with his friend Vladimir Putin, is widely considered one of the most financially corrupt heads of state in the world. He’s stacked election laws, painted opponents as “socialists,” and put the kibosh on media freedom, maintaining government lists of all journalists and threatening them with fines and suspensions. He’s even tried to tax the Internet. “We have to abandon liberal methods and principles of organizing a society,” he told a crowd in 2014. He means what he said. —A.W .

for Erdog˘an to take the presidency in 2014. The cantankerous technocrat immediately moved into a new $615 million, thousand-room presidential mansion on a hill outside Ankara. In the meantime, he’s still locking up dissidents—like the thirteen-year-old interrogated in 2015 for criticizing him on Facebook—and transforming Turkey’s presidency from a ceremonial post into a unitary executive. Reporters asked him in January 2016 exactly how that would work. “There are already examples in the world,” he replied. “You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany.” —A.W .

Misdeeds:

Did North Korea’s portly dynastic dicta-

R E C E P TAY Y I P E R D O ĞA N President, T U R K E Y A message for all the haters:

“I DON’T CAR E IF THEY CALL ME A DICTATO R.” Misdeeds:

Make no mistake: Erdog˘an is definitely a dictator. The former semipro soccer player’s ISIS-appeasing, coup-crushing, U.S.-harassing regime came as a shock to many Western observers, who’d assumed he’d steer Turkey toward closer cooperation with Europe when he became prime minister in 2003. A former Islamist who rebranded himself as a secular conservative, Erdog˘an began consolidating power after military leaders challenged his party’s attitude in 2007. Erdog˘an spent several years filling the Turkish “deep state” with loyalists, using trumped-up trials to root out challengers. All the while, his party, the AKP, executed hostile takeovers of the courts and the independent media, paving the way

tor really feed his uncle to 120 hungry dogs, kill an ex-girlfriend for making a porno to be sold on the black market, and use flamethrowers, mortars, and antiaircraft guns to execute government officials? Maybe not, but it’s not insignificant that you totally believe he could. As chief beneficiary and protector of the world’s most secretive and impoverished communist police state, Kim cultivates a reputation for the horrible and the mighty that Marvel-universe fans would dismiss as over-the-top. Kim was schooled in Switzerland. Rather than giving North Korea’s heir apparent the space to contemplate the epically nutty nature of his family’s tyranny, his time in the West reportedly just bestowed on Kim a lifelong fondness for pro basketball. Kim took over the country’s dry, cracked reins in 2011 after his father’s death, purging the government of anyone with wavering loyalty. Not much has changed on Kim’s watch. He threatens the U. S. with nuclear attacks and now claims to have a hydrogen bomb (as well as cures for AIDS, Ebola, and cancer). Does it play well with the DPRK’s, um, captive audience? He was up for reelection on a 2014 ballot. Voters’ choices were “yes” and “no.” According to government officials, the turnout was immense, and there wasn’t a single “no” vote. —A.W . 57


THE DOSSIER

In 1990, Saunders was in his early thirties with a wife Born: December 2, 1958 and two young children. He’d Which makes him: 58 Saunders’s debut novel, wanted to become a full-time Lives in: Oneonta, Lincoln in the Bardo, is about the New York writer for years. The life of an ghosts inhabiting the cemetery Words of wisdom: unemployed starving artist in which Abraham Lincoln’s son “Try to remain wasn’t an option—“Once we Willie was buried in 1862. permanently had our daughters, I didn’t confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, have affinity for the eatingforever, so open it hurts, cat-food model,” Saunders and then open up some says—so he got a day job as a more, until the day technical writer for an engiyou die, world without end, amen.” —From neering company. He didn’t 2007’s The Braindead want to sacrifice the precious Megaphone hours he had with his family each day, nor did he want to steal time from his employer. So he wrote late at night, and the results were, in his words, “no good.” His chance at a writer’s life, it seemed, was slipping away. Then a memory of a decade-old conversation bubbled up in his consciousness. It was the spring of 1985, and Saunders was twenty-six years old and living in his aunt’s basement in Oak Forest, Illinois. He stopped by a childhood friend’s place and got to talking with his friend’s father—let’s call him Dan. “What are you doing these days?” Dan asked. “I want to be a writer,” Saunders said. “Is that your dream?” Dan asked. “Yeah, it is.” “If you don’t, you know who you’ll blame?” “Myself.” “Bullshit!” Dan said. “You’ll blame your wife and kids.” Cut back to 1990. Saunders hadn’t seen Dan since. But in this moment of artistic frustration, Dan’s voice buzzed around his brain: If you piss away the next five years, your resentments will solidify and they’ll need to identify a source. And it won’t be ESQUIRE’S MAVERICK OF THE MONTH yourself. It will be your family. We Nominate Whenever the road is blocked, Saunders realized, we’re tempted to blame our circumstances rather than take responsibility. To turn on his wife and kids was illogical—a misattribution of blame—but entirely plausible. And the possibility of growing bitter toward those closest to him was enough motivation for him to give evBecause the brilliant writer teaches us that the best way to take care of erything he could to writing. He started stealing time at his job. Six years later, his your family is to put yourself first B y E r i c S u l l i v a n first book was released. Saunders makes clear to me that the adGEORGE SAUNDERS IS WITH ME in a pated first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo (Ran- vice is not an invitation to act like a solipsis2-degrees-too-clubby hotel lobby on the dom House)—struggled to find his voice. tic prick—obligations to family and friends Upper West Side to prove that greatness is “As a former Catholic, I’d internalized the take precedence. But personal psychologiearned, not ingrained. For years, the Great sense that if I wanted to pursue something, cal hygiene is an essential component of doAmerican Writer—winner of a MacArthur it must be sinful or wasteful or self-indul- ing just that. As he says, “The first off-ramp Fellowship, author of dozens of short sto- gent,” he says. A piece of advice from an of the highway of being a good dad is never servicing your own needs.” ≥ ries and, as of this month, a highly antici- unlikely source changed everything.

GEORGE SAUNDERS

58 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7


JANUARY 27


MAKE AMERICA BY

JEFF GORDINIER

P P A Y A G

I

N

H

A

PHOTOGRAPHS BY

MARIO SORRENTI

P H A R R E L L I S O N E O F O U R M O S T M U LT I D I M E N S I O N A L A R T I S T S — AND THE GUY WHO GAVE US ONE OF THE PEPPIEST POP SONGS OF THE PAST DECADE. BUT ON THE HEELS OF A NEW ALBUM, A MOVIE, AND A SEA CHANGE IN POLITICS, HE’S READY TO QUESTION EVERYTHING.


Coat by Dries Van Noten; shirt by Gosha Rubchinskiy, Pharrell’s own; trousers by G-Star, Pharrell’s own; boots by Timberland, Pharrell’s own.

61


HE

D O E S N ’ T R E A L LY W R I T E T H E

songs. You understand that, right? Of course. Pharrell has written so many songs that it may, at this stage, be impossible to track and tag them all. But he’d like to dispute the whole concept. Pharrell listens. He listens for signals. He receives the songs. “I think everything is given to us,” he says. “Everything is. We didn’t create it. It’s being given to us in one shape or form. It is a deep delusion to think otherwise. I’m not the juice. I’m not the ice that makes it cool. And I’m certainly not the glass. I’m just the straw.” Which is not to say that being the straw is easy. To get the songs, you have to pay attention. “The greatest gift is self-awareness. That’s when you realize the beauty of life. If you’re not self-aware, then you’re lost.”

A

GOLDEN SPHERE OF SUNSHINE IS

rising over L. A. ’s San Fernando Valley. We are about to fly into the open arms of history. Or at least we think we are. We feel a surge of possibility as Pharrell— the “Williams” strikes you as a pointless formality at this point—pulls up to an airport in Van Nuys and boards a Gulfstream IV that will carry him and members of his team to Raleigh. There, as the golden sphere of sunshine sinks on the opposite coast, he will stand on a dais with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders five days before the United States of America then appeared (as the tracking polls morphine-dripishly tell us) poised to elect its first female commander in chief. He will give a speech. He will rally the troops. He will raise the roof. Pharrell has been summoned, and there’s a certain kind of logic behind his command performance on the campaign trail. He is forty-three, with an eight-year-old son, Rocket, and a wife, Helen Lasichanh, who is pregnant with their second child. But he could pass for twenty-three, and those who know him through the filter of his signature earworm, “Happy,” see him as a vaguely extraterrestrial ambassador of just that—happiness. One might say that happiness itself is being summoned to Raleigh, with Pharrell serving as its most recognizable and proficient vessel, and not a moment too soon. For decades now, one of the defining theories of American politics has been that of the Happy Warrior. This is the belief that it is always the more joyful of the candidates (Reagan, Dubya, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama) who winds up occupying the White House. But such a divining rod seems useless in these waning days of the weirdest election in American history. Neither candidate 62 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7


PHARRELL ON HIS HIT “HAPPY”: “I NOTICED THAT THERE WAS A LOT OF PA I N G O I N G O N A R O U N D T H E WO R L D. THEN YOU START THINKING ABOUT WHY PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE NEEDED THAT S O N G , A N D I T B E C O M E S V E R Y H E A V Y. ”

Jumpsuit by Lou is Vu itton. 63


64 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

this nation. If women wanted to, they could save the world.” Pharrell expresses so much reverence toward women that it’s not hard to imagine that he was praying to one when he placed his palms together during takeoff. (Hey, he doesn’t receive those songs from just anywhere. Pharrell grew up Christian and makes no bones about his belief in a higher power.) “Women have a lot to carry, right?” he says. “Including the entire human species. That’s deep. And still they don’t have an equal say on this planet. That’s insane. Meanwhile, their feelings are suppressed, their spirits are oppressed, and their ambitions are repressed.” Pharrell’s feminist inclinations fueled his latest endeavor, Hidden Figures, a film he worked on as a producer and wrote original music for. The movie tells one of those stories from the course of American history that you can’t believe has gone unheard for so long. Directed by Theodore Melfi and starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, it raises a toast to three African-American women (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson) who worked at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, where they played pivotal roles in America’s space race against Mother Russia in the early 1960s. Without

P H A R R E L L’S STYLE PROGRESSION The maestro of ex u b e r a n t ex p r e s s i o n a n d nonchalant confidence

Vintage Pharrell Bold move with the oversized collar.

son, has to totter frantically in high heels to a building far away from the main Langley war room because no one thought, in those last days of segregation, to provide a nearby restroom for black women. “That’s how rigged the matrix was,” Pharrell says. “One of the great things about Pharrell is he is open to knowledge all the time,” says Hans Zimmer, the prolific Hollywood com-

.”

“ I D O N ’ T K N OW W H AT I C O U L D D O, B U T I K N OW I F WO M E N WA N T E D TO, T H E Y C O U L D FW D S AV E T H I S N AT I O N . OM RL O EN W

I

seems remotely happy. Nobody is happy. So as Pharrell, outfitted in a gray Human Made hoodie and floral G-Star trousers, arrives at the Van Nuys airport with his retinue, and as a Fox News promo clip in the waiting area barks, “We’re five days away and the race is tighter than ever,” it’s all too easy to lay this out as some kind of superhero narrative: Dr. Happy is coming to save the day, armed with a vial of the magic elixir that sweetens and deepens every piece of groove candy he has ever touched. (And, er, maybe he’ll help with black voters, too. Beyoncé and Jay Z will climb aboard the HRC train the following day.) Pharrell’s presence in songs, and over four seasons on The Voice, might lead you to think there is something ethereal and detached about the guy; like George Harrison, he gives off an aura of having logged serious hours in the spirit realm. But he is, in person (as was said of Harrison), tougher than you’d expect, a lot funnier, and surprisingly talkative. He says he is tired, but he doesn’t seem tired; he says he doesn’t exercise much beyond some sun salutations in the morning, but his frame and his posture suggest a built-in athleticism. His creativity is all about making connections, seeing what happens when you mix A with B and X with Z. He’s omnivorous about music. He says he’s been listening to a lot of ’80s punk; he mentions offhand that he might someday collaborate with Donald Fagen of Steely Dan. If we’re talking about building walls versus building bridges, Pharrell is way over on the Golden Gate side of the spectrum. Here on the plane, at least, he is not some sphinxlike mystic, and frankly he makes for a pretty ambivalent politico. “I’m not a huge trust guy when it comes to politicians.” He cites his early work with N.E.R.D, back in the dawning years of this century, when his lyrics were more caustic and questioning than his mainstream fans may realize or remember. He has had his disagreements with Team Hillary about the direction of the campaign. He’s not altogether cool with being called a “supporter”; he’s “a supporter with opinions,” he corrects me. As the Gulfstream starts to gain velocity on the runway, Pharrell says, “Hold on a second,” places his hands together with his fingers pointed upward in a gesture of prayer to God, and closes his eyes. When we’re in the air, crossing the dry gullies of the American West, we mostly talk about women. It turns out that what energized Pharrell—what got him to cancel studio time and fly to North Carolina—is his belief that it is high time for women to take the lead. “Let us experience that,” he says. “I don’t know what I could do, but I know if women wanted to, they could save

WAN

THE E TED TO V A S , THEY COULD

their breakthroughs in mathematical formulas, computer programming (then in its infancy), and engineering, astronaut John Glenn may never have made it into orbit— nor would he and his capsule have splashed down successfully near Grand Turk island. For decades, their story wasn’t merely marginalized; it was unknown, not even a blip on the radar. No one was listening. “The female contribution to anything significant has always been historically dismissed or discounted, or often erased,” Pharrell says. To a degree, the women were unseen and unheard within the white management structure of NASA, even while they were in the midst of making the calculations that would eventually send American astronauts to the moon. The movie has a series of scenes in which Henson, playing John-

poser, who has worked with him for years. “He’s a great listener.” When the two were collaborating on the score for Hidden Figures, they wanted the music to sound different from the Coplandesque Americana that usually powers through astronaut flicks like The Right Stuff and Apollo 13. Whereas the trumpets in those films tend to come across as patriotic and triumphal, “we needed to infiltrate this music with an African-American sound,” Zimmer says. They wanted more of a muted echo of Miles Davis. “Pharrell took this whole thing a stage further, as he always does,” Zimmer says. Pharrell decided that the orchestra performing the movie’s score should include as many female and African-American musicians as possible. “We flew people in from all over. It was the right thing to do.”


2004 An early fur fan: rocking a statement coat.

2006 Casual cool: graphic sweatshirt, statement jewelry, and Vulcan salute.

2012 Formalwear twist: camo-printed shorts suit with green-and-gold derbies.

With the original songs he contributed, Pharrell manages to inhabit a lost era: Imagine him slipping into the skin of early Smokey Robinson and you have a sense of what the album feels like—they’re nuggets of R&B from some collective lingering dream of the sixties. Yet, as with one of the first singles, “Runnin’,” they’re full of that instantly recognizable Pharrell DNA. The music lives in both the present and the past. A number of factors drew Pharrell to Hidden Figures—not just a plotline celebrating the unsung accomplishments of women of color. The story takes place in a part of Virginia that’s about twenty miles from where he grew up—Pharrell readily identifies as a southerner, and he advised Melfi on how a scene at a church barbecue should look, sound, and smell. Plus, the movie features a personal obsession of his: outer space. He’s a Star Trek nerd, and one of the fashion brands he’s associated with, Billionaire Boys Club, uses the helmeted head of an astronaut as its logo. When we get to Raleigh, where Pharrell will pump up the crowd as the opening act for Clinton and Sanders, a photograph of Carl Sagan will be taped to the snack table in his dressing room. Yes, this is a man who has “photograph of Carl Sagan” in his contract rider. When he says he got involved with Hidden Figures because “I guess the universe was just leading me in that direction,” you get the impression that he means it literally. Is the universe beckoning him to North Carolina? It’s hard to say. Remember, when all this is happening, we’re still in a big, shiny bubble—we’re days away from the stark realization that Clinton was not a shoo-in. Pharrell’s on this plane, heeding this call, because what choice did he have, really? “I did it so I could sleep,” he says. “So whatever hap-

2014 His iconic Vivienne Westwood hat, Adidas track jacket, and doodled-on sneaks.

2016 High-fashion edge: sporting Chanel, a label he’s collaborated with.

pens, I know I tried. This has kept me up at night. The kind of divisions that this nation is seeing—it hasn’t been this way since the sixties.” He thinks it’s time for men in particular to wake up and hear what women are saying. “Listen,” he says. “Because we don’t. We don’t even listen to ourselves.” He stretches his arms upwards. He’s tired. “That Japanese jet lag, man,” he says. Just a few days ago, he got back from one of his many trips to Japan. (“Japan is like a creative power pellet,” he says.) Before the plane lands at the Raleigh–Durham airport, Pharrell will lie down on a couch and take a nap. But in the meantime, he has more work to do. “You got the speech?” he asks his team. “I wanna go check that out.” He huddles at a table with Caron Veazey, his most trusted advisor, and they fine-tune the music of the stemwinder that he’s set to deliver to voters in a matter of hours. A map on the wall tells us that we are flying over Paducah, Kentucky. Were Pharrell to peek out the window, he might be able to see all of the states, even on the horizon, that are on the brink of handing their Electoral College sum to Donald J. Trump.

W

HEREVER THE HELL WE ARE, IT

feels eons away from 2013. That was the year when Pharrell’s presence in the universe was so dominant that it seemed as though scientists were going to need to add a new chemical compound to the periodic table of elements: Pharrellogen. In 2013, we got not one but two juicy songs of the summer: Daft Punk’s dance-floor magnet “Get Lucky” and Robin Thicke’s controversy magnet “Blurred Lines,” both of which had the properties of Pharrellogen woven into their DNA. Later that same year, we heard the Pharrellogenic

falsetto animating “Happy,” a song of such childlike, hand-clapping, hat-wearing bliss that resisting it would have been like resisting french fries and puppies. So ubiquitous was “Happy” that its association with the kiddie film Despicable Me 2 would come to feel like a Wikipedia footnote. Three years later, we’re slogging through the age of Deplorable Them. Disenfranchisement and frustration will, on Election Day, play a major role in propelling Trump into the White House. As will become clear in retrospect, it’s not just that the Clinton camp failed to spread happiness; it’s that the Clintonites were too Beltway-coddled to recognize all the unhappiness. Strangely enough, when I bring up “Happy” and its origin to Pharrell, he wants to talk about unhappiness instead. “I started thinking about other people,” he says of 2013. “I noticed that there was a lot of pain going on around the world.” When that song became as widespread as a golden sphere of sunshine in southern California, people would come up to Pharrell and thank him for it, but they would do so with an undertone of melancholy, even desperation. He was taken aback. “Then you start thinking about why they might have needed that song, and it becomes very heavy,” he goes on. “And so it was an awkward time.”

THE

PLANE LANDS IN NORTH

Carolina around 5:00 p.m. We sit on the tarmac for a while. There is a strict Secret Service protocol regarding movement, so we stay put. We are joined by Michelle Kwan, the former Olympic figure skater, who has been working as a liaison between the Clinton campaign and celebrities. Kwan serves as our guide; we all pile into a van. Pharrell sits silently, right behind the driver. Someone in the van murmurs something about “cynicism,” but Pharrell mishears the word as “synesthesia,” which is perfect. “I have that,” he says. When his ears hear music, it manifests itself visually as well— he sees colors and images. We are told that a scrum of photographers will be waiting and that only Pharrell will be able to go inside the Stronger Together plane. Pharrell turns around and looks as though he is about to say something profound, something that will illuminate this experience of preparing to hang with someone who might be our future president. He places his palm out. “Tic Tac,” he says. He’s given a mint. The van pulls over to a different area of the tarmac, next to a cluster of Raleigh police officers with buzz cuts and sunburns. A Secret Service agent pops his head into the van. 65


" T H E G R E AT E S T G I F T I S S E L F - A W A R E N E S S. T H A T ' S WHEN YOU REALIZE THE BEAUTY OF L I F E . I F Y O U ' R E N O T S E L F -A W A R E , T H E N Y O U ' R E L O S T."

LoTewe; 66 E S Q U I R E Coat / Mby ON H 2 0shirt 1 6 and trousers by Ju nya Wat a na be Man; boots by Ti mbe rl a nd, Pharrell’s own; socks by Riche r Poore r.


Jacket by B l a c k Co m m e de s Ga rço ns, Pharrell’s own; shirt by Junya Wa t a na be Ma n.


He gives us lapel pins that signify security clearance and stresses that we really do not want to lose them—if we were to do so, things could get messy. We should be careful. “These things are flimsy,” he jokes. “The government bought ’em, so . . .” Pharrell steps out. We watch him climb the staircase leading into the Stronger Together plane. We wait. Eventually, he comes back out with Clinton and photographs are taken of them chatting at the top of the staircase. It all looks very happy and breezy, but when Pharrell gets back into the van and Kwan takes the front passenger seat, it’s clear that he did not view this meet-and-greet with the former secretary of state as some routine photo op. Pharrell did not come all this way just to smile for the crowds. He has something to say. He is hoping someone will listen. Pay attention to his cadence and you can tell that he is not sure this whole thing is going to work out. “This has been my problem with the campaign,” he tells Kwan. “We’re not being realistic. We’re being idealistic. We’ve got to be realistic.” As the van starts pulling away from the Stronger Together plane and moving across the airfield, you could say that Pharrell is not being cynical but rather synesthetic— he’s hearing things, which means he’s seeing things, and he’s wondering whether there is still enough time for the Clinton campaign to see these things, too. “Most Americans?” he says. “It’s a tight race. It’s not ‘most Americans.’ ” He goes on, referring to Trump as “him.” “Logic does not

We look to the right and see the Trump– Pence press plane. It is parked here at the same airport, with the candidate’s famous slogan painted on the side. There is a muted charge of frustration in Pharrell’s voice, and a noticeable undercurrent of sadness, as he says, turning his gaze away from the plane: “Make America hate again.” Looking back now, it cannot be said that the rest of the evening on the campaign trail felt like a carnival. It cannot be said, no, that the inevitability of victory hovered in the air. At Raleigh’s awkwardly named Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek amphitheater, we go backstage. Clinton is there. “So, we’re just waiting for Senator Sanders,” she says. If you happen to be blessed with a kind of synesthesia that allows your brain to translate sentences into emotions, her words sound like this: I have been on the campaign trail for eight hundred years. Along comes Bernie, with his Vermont snowdrift of hair and a suit so rumpled it looks cubist. He walks into Pharrell’s dressing room, the one with the picture of Carl Sagan taped to the snack table, and gives him a sort of avuncular half-hug. “Hello, how are you doing?” Sanders says. “Is there a bathroom around here?” Then he is gone. Clinton hovers in the hallway for a few seconds. For a moment, Pharrell looks uncharacteristically hesitant. He leans in toward the Democratic candidate and asks her whether she’d be open to posing for a selfie with him. “Yeah, whatever you want,” she says. They squeeze close together and make

“THE OLD DEFINITION OF L E A D E R S H I P I S ‘ LO O K AT M E , I ’ M A L E A D E R .’ B U T T H E ‘ N O N E W D E F I N I T I O N S H O U L D B E G .’ ” ,A IN CTUA

L L Y, L O O K A T Y O U — I ’ M L I S T E N

work against him. Scandal does not work against him. Every time you talk about him, you are keeping him in the press.” Kwan nods politely, diplomatically, neither agreeing nor disagreeing. You can’t help but get the sense that Pharrell wants to break through all this grip-and-grin Beltway formality and shout, “Wake up! Listen! The darkness is winning!” But regardless of how astute his political analysis may be— and, as we will learn a few days later, his realism was spot-on—it may be too late for anyone to listen. Pretty soon the van goes silent. 68 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

goofy faces. Posing for selfies is, of course, one of the most common reflexes of our era, yet for someone as thoughtful as Pharrell, the practice is slightly cringe-inducing. “I’m so embarrassed I just asked for that picture,” he says afterward. “I would never do that.” Later, Pharrell will refrain from posting the selfie on his Instagram account. Clinton and Sanders briefly retire to their dressing rooms. A Clinton operative materializes in Pharrell’s zone. “Who is Pharrell’s person to talk to?” she asks. “Can we have him come out to ‘Happy’? Can we have him

come out to ‘Happy’ onstage?” If you happen to be blessed with a kind of synesthesia that allows your brain to translate silences into interior thoughts, the silence in the dressing room sounds like this: Oh, wow, you guys are really thinking outside the box, aren’t you? But ever the diplomat, Veazey nods yes. “Happy” will be just fine.

“TO

ME, THE OLD DEFINITION OF

leadership is ‘Look at me, I’m a leader,’ ” Pharrell is telling the crowd of more than four thousand from the stage in Raleigh. “But the new definition should be ‘No, actually, look at you—I’m listening.’ ” These words will come to seem prophetic, but not in the way that he would have wanted them to. By the time the election is over, Trump’s victory will make it all too apparent that a whole lot of people—campaign aides, pollsters, pundits, reporters, your friends on Facebook—were not listening to much of anything outside the gleaming silo of their own echo chamber. It will turn out, as it always does, that political campaigning and musical hit-making have a great deal of overlap. Both enterprises ultimately depend on being open to the signals—on receiving what’s floating around in the air. Pharrell’s understanding of this verity is evident in the showmanlike way he milks the audience. He gets to a line about “a country where all men and women were created equal,” but he leaves a perfect wait-for-it beat in between “men” and “women.” And then he says “women” again and the crowd doubles its whooping, and then he says “women” one . . . more . . . time and the power of hearing “women” in triplicate works the crowd into a happy victory-lap frenzy. Before long, though, he’s back on the tarmac at the airport, wandering alone in the darkness as he takes a business call prior to his flight home to Los Angeles. Tomorrow he’ll wake up at home with his son and his pregnant wife. On the plane, I notice that his wedding ring is curiously loose—instead of being secure around his finger, it wobbles. He occasionally even places the gold ring between his teeth. I ask him about it. Pharrell tells me that Helen has a similar band, and that the rings are meant to communicate that “what we have is much more than they can see.” The rings are hollow. Inside each one, invisible to the eye, their respective birthstones jingle and tumble: diamonds for Pharrell, rubies for Helen. The rings, you see, make a kind of music. Pharrell holds his ring right up next to my left ear. “The stones are on the inside,” he says. “Listen.” ≥


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T H E

IM

P O S S IBLE LIST

PHOTOGRAPHS BY

SET DESIGN BY

GRANT

ANGHARAD

CORNETT

BAILEY

27 THINGS YOU NEED TO TRY BEFORE YOU DIE (AND HERE’S HOW)

A few words on achieving the impossible . . . Be nice. Ask your friends. Know what you’re looking for. Be patient. You’re going to hear this a lot in the following pages. If it sounds like advice for living, maybe that’s because landing that coveted hotel room or acquiring that rare dram is less about short, quick bursts of energy (and money) than the willingness to enjoy the pursuit, no matter what you get (or don’t). The finer things in life just tend to come to those who can roll with anything and get a little help. So to that end, allow us to provide some assistance . . . 

1

THE IMPOSSIBLE WATCH

Watch collectors invariably split into two camps—beauty and function. The Double Red is the quintessence of the tool watch; it was developed by Rolex for pro scuba divers to use in real lifeand-death situations and featured a helium escape valve capable of equalizing pressure on deeper dives. They are scarce, so prices rarely dip below $40K; this one s o l d n e w i n 1 97 7 f o r $ 4 3 6 — o n e h u n d r e d t h of its asking price on Atlanta-based deale r C r o w n a n d c a l i b e r. c o m . D o u b l e R e d s are often beat-up, but for diving-watch aficionados, such abuse only adds to their charm.

—Nick Sullivan

Double Red Sea Dweller watch by Rolex; suit ($1,645) by Z Zegna; shirt ($335) by Turnbull & Asser.

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Nikka Yoichi 12

Japanese whisky has become so coveted that the Nikkas bearing age designations are all but gone from shelves worldwide. Yoichi 12 is a favorite for its peaty yet uncannily delicate character. Savor it, because it could be another twelve years before you get your hands on a bottle again.

2

THE IMPOSSIBLE WHISKIES PART ONE

Bruichladdich Blac k Ar t 5

3,200 bottles filled. The only Islay Scotch producer with the daring to experiment shows off just how experimental it can get with an unpeated single-malt old enough to drink itself.


3 THE IMPOSSIBLE

AIRBNB

AVAILABILITY THROUGH THE END OF 2017*

0 percent

AVERAGE RESERVATION

457 days in advance of check-in date

FURTHEST IN ADVANCE

720 days

THE MOST-LAST-MINUTE BOOKING

198 days in advance

*Reservation records available between November 2016 and March 2018.

• • • Fifteen years ago, this was just a typical swamp island with giant old red mangroves. And then a hurricane came in 2001 and literally wiped out the mangroves, forming a sand spit. About six

miles out to sea, it’s inside an atoll, so the interior current kind of died and let land form. A few trees were left—canopy trees that grow very tall and big. I’ve been in the fly-fishing industry for twenty-odd years. So my original interest in Bird Island was fishing; I thought it would be well-suited for a fly-fishing camp because you can wade all over, looking for permit fish. It’s the second-best spot in this entire area to see them. So that was its initial identity. But then a couple years ago, I put it on Airbnb and it kind of morphed. It’s not really for flyfishermen anymore. In today’s world, you don’t get an opportunity to be truly on your own—physically separated. You can be in the woods, but then there is a road, and you know

how sound travels. On Bird Island, it’s so quiet. You go out six miles from the mainland, from humanity. It’s an extremely strong bonding experience. I think what’s happening is that there’s a sense there that, boy, it is us against the sea. Because it’s all around you. Now, it’s extremely shallow and pristine and beautiful and so forth, so it’s not omnipresent in a dangerous sense. However, it’s definitely very introspective. Boy, we are all on our own. —Fred Arbona, host of Bird Island

Other Impossible Hotel Rooms (You’ll Want to Sleep In)

Pantrepant Farm, Jamaica The guesthouse of GoldenEye’s owner is technically available only if you’re staying at his other properties. Coral Beach & Tennis Club, Bermuda Outsiders need a member’s referral to stay. The reward is some of the best rooms in the Caribbean. Candlewood Cabins, Wisconsin They get booked a year in advance—because an isolated glasswalled oasis is sometimes what’s needed.

4 buted Tock, his restaurant-ticketing startup, a select number of tables in the Office became available, for the first time, to the less well-connected. That doesn’t mean they’re easy to score—Friday and Saturday nights are almost always booked as soon as they become available, and nearly every night sells out a month in advance. At this point, your best bet is still the oldfashioned way: Go to the Aviary and chat up your waiter. Make sure to mention you love vintage Chartreuse; the collection downstairs is one of the best in the U. S. —Mark Byrne

THE IMPOSSIBLE

BAR

• • • Years ago, as we marveled at the unmarked door we’d just walked through in search of a drink, an astute friend of mine remarked, “This is not a speakeasy; they have a liquor license.” She was right, of course, but simple logic didn’t stop the trend from fully consuming the world of uncreative bar owners. These days, the most interesting and exclusive bars are not the ones behind telephone booths. The best bars are those within other establishments—crown-jewel drinking experiences crafted by chefs and their collaborators. And the best among that set is the Office, the dark twenty-one-seat room in the basement under the Aviary, Grant Achatz’s experimental cocktail haven in Chicago. For years, the Office was an invitation-only room, meaning only a recommendation from an employee could get you in the door. It was worth it: personalized service, great vibes, and an impressively curated case of old booze. In 2015, when Achatz’s business partner de72

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5

THE IMPOSSIBLE SHOE

Among the many whom George Cleverley shod during his career as the best shoemaker in London, there were

few

more

forward-

thinking than Sir Winston Churchill. The PM requested a “lazy m a n ’s s h o e ” — a s t y l e t h a t s l i p p e d o n w i t h m i n i m a l e f f o r t b u t s t i l l l o o k e d p r o p e r. Cleverley devised a sharp wing-tip style with elasticated sides ingeniously conc e a l e d b y b r o g u e d p a n e l s a n d p e r m a n e n t b l i n d l a c i n g . F u l l y b e s p o k e “C h u r c h i l l s ,” a s t h e y a r e n o w k n o w n , s t a r t a t $ 3,6 0 0, a l t h o u g h h a n d m a d e r e a d y- t o -w e a r s h o e s c a n b e f o u n d a t M r. P o r t e r f o r $ 1 , 6 0 0 .

—N. S.

Trousers (part of suit, $1,645) by Z Zegna; shoes ($1,600) by George Cleverley; socks ($29) by Pantherella.


6

THE IMPOSSIBLE WINES NOT-SO-PRECIOUS EDITION

W e a s k e d C h a d W a l s h , w u n d e r k i n d s o m m e l i e r a t N e w Yo r k ’s A g e r n , about the ones that got away

Ultramarine 2011 Heint z Vineyard S onoma C oast Blanc de Blanc s

“Michael Cruse is the golden boy of the NorCal wine scene. Ultramarine was his first label, and the 2010 Blanc de Blancs was a stunner, whispered about by somms and other winemakers like it was the Second Coming. His 2011’s were delicious, but he had tiny yields.”

Sandlands 2012 Amador C ount y Chenin Blanc

“Like Cruse, Teagan Passalacqua is another ‘cool kid’ in California, and has been the longtime vineyard manager at Turley, where he is now the winemaker as well. Sandlands is his own label. The chenin is textural and acid-driven, and it sells out immediately. The few people I know that have older bottlings are treasuring them like a grand cru.”

Bollinger 20 09 La C ôte aux Enfant s C oteaux Cham penois

“This derives from a single parcel of pinot noir in the village of Aÿ that is so steep they used to make children pick the grapes (according to legend), and it’s used to color Bollinger’s rosés. Made like a Burgundy, the ’09 is a beauty, with a nose that tickles your brain. Although they made more in recent vintages, I would gladly trade some far more expensive wine for one more bottle of ’09.”

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7 THE IMPOSSIBLE

CRUSTACEAN Wild-caught off the coast of Scotland near the Faroe Islands, these sea jewels are among the world’s rarest crustaceans to end up on a plate. But the clock is always ticking. Pulled out of the water alive, these fragile delicacies must be in a chef’s hands within forty-eight hours. Once they spoil, they’re inedible. And treacherous weather and conditions mean that sometimes the fisherman’s haul is small or nil. Extra-large Scottish langoustines are like small lobsters but more refined. They’re so sweet and tender that you boil them for only sixty to ninety seconds or do a flash-grill, removing them while they’re still almost rare. Perhaps you’ve seen them on the menu at Milos, Per Se, or Brooklyn Fare. They all come from the same place—Solex Fine Foods, the only company in North America daring enough to import them live. —Jason Tesauro 74

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Blouse ($85) by & Other Stories; choker ($375) and necklace ($250) by Eddie Borgo; earrings ($230) by Agmes; T Two ring ($1,600) and T Wire ring ($750) by Tiffany & Co.


8

9 dustrial park in Portland, Maine, I tried Allagash’s wild-fermented Coolship, which is made in the woods out back. In the shadow of New Belgium’s giant tanks of Fat Tire, I slurped a trial batch of sour, dry-hopped Le Terroir from a home-brew jug. In a St. Louis factory, I drank single-batch experimental releases from Budweiser’s Research Pilot Brewery. In a shaman’s shack in a rural Sonoma County redwood grove, I had a mind-altering beer from Moonlight, foraged from the very trees above me. And yes, I recall the tastes—the dusty bloom of Coolship, the electric kick of Le Terroir. But more so, I remember the moments. We believe that sometimes great food and drink transcend their setting—think of the scene in Sideways in which Miles surreptitiously sips his prized ’61 Cheval Blanc from a Styrofoam cup while in a burger joint—but I say the opposite is true. As trophy beers go, Russian River’s IPA Pliny the Younger is near the top of the display case, and I’ve had it. I waited in line in a convention hall, cheek-by-booze-reddened-jowl with other beer nerds. I glumly drained my two-ounce pour. It tasted good. But did I like it? At the packed festival, all I really wanted was a cold PBR and some peace. Beer can solve a lot of problems, but it can’t make a moment magic. So hunt on, thirsty Ahabs. Chase your white-whale beers—just take care where you catch them, and at least use proper glassware. —William Bostwick

THE IMPOSSIBLE

BEER EXPERIENCE THE IMPOSSIBLE

SEASON TICKETS Season tickets to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field have been sold o u t s i n c e 1 9 6 0. To d a y, t h e w a i t l i s t i s a b o u t 1 2 8,0 0 0 n a m e s l o n g . L oy a l W i s c o n s i n i t e s t e n d t o a d d t h e i r c h i l d r e n ’s names to the list at birth, lengthening it by five or six thousand names every y e a r. O n l y a b o u t 1 2 5 t i c k e t s t u r n o v e r a n n u a l l y . A d d y o u r k i d ’s n a m e n o w a n d y o u ’r e l o o k i n g a t a t h o u s a n d -y e a r w a i t .

• • • “There’s no such thing as a perfect beer,” brewer Ron Jeffries told me as he squeaked open the spout of a battered wooden barrel, filled a glass, and handed it to me. But surely, I thought, this is close. I was in Jolly Pumpkin’s brewery, located in Dexter, Michigan. Even Jeffries’s flagship beers are uncommon sights at most bars, but in this barrel room that’s packed like a ship’s hull lurked far rarer creatures: test batches, trials, and one-offs—a menagerie of trophy beasts. I was lucky, I thought, eyeing my hazy sample pour. This was glory in a glass. Not so, said Jeffries. “There’s no such thing—only the beer that’s best for that moment in time.” If there is indeed a perfect beer, I’ve done my share of hunting for it. In an in-

10 THE IMPOSSIBLE

CARS TO COVET

1 9 6 9 Chevrolet C O R V E T T E Stingray L88 • Developed for the racetrack and never advertised by GM, this is surely the most badass Corvette ever made. A powerhouse at Sebring and Le Mans, the L88 is a secret no more—it’s a holy-grail car to collectors. Chevy built only 116 of the 1969 model.

11

THE IMPOSSIBLE ART PILGRIMAGE The saga of James Turrell’s Roden Crater could be a Charlie Kaufman film: Ob-

1 9 6 8 D E TO M AS O M A N G U STA • This is the Italian answer to the Shelby Cobra. Just 400 of the hand-built cars were produced between 1967 and 1971, of which probably fewer than 200 are still on the road.

1 9 7 4 P O R S C H E 9 1 1 Carrera RS 3.0 • Fewer than 60 of these were made for the street. Arguably the high point in the 911’s oeuvre, the track version won every major race on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s a piece of history that will set you back $1 million or more. —Mally Anderson

sessed artist buys extinct volcano, dreams of molding it into a magnum opus, spends half his life doing so. What has he been creating? An immersive meditation on light an hour northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona. To enter, you descend a staircase and then you lie down and look up. Turrell carved the rim into an oculus that vaults the sky. Every inch echoes heaven—and it’s just about as hard to get into. For a brief period, guests could observe his progress; tickets were $6,500. When it’s opened to the public (donors will get the initial headsup), mayhem will ensue. Throw a hundred bucks his way now to increase your odds of securing a ticket. —Andrew Richdale The Roden Crater is so exclusive that the only image of it we were able to obtain is from outer space. ILLUSTRATIONS BY J E A N - M I C H E L T I X I E R


12

13

14

THE IMPOSSIBLE

THE IMPOSSIBLE

HONEYMOON

FLYER STATUS

THE IMPOSSIBLE

TABLES

N A R I S A W A / Tokyo • Since this spiritual, mind-bendingly great restaurant appeared as Asia’s top entry in the most recent World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, reservations have become even more difficult to obtain. You can try booking through the website two months in advance, but, as is the case with many restaurants in Japan, your best bet at landing a seat may be your high-end hotel’s concierge.

Lifetime status is supposed to make business travel worth it. Which is why airlines make it so hard to attain. On American, you’d need twenty years of Platinum-level travel for fifty thousand miles each year. Your reward? Gold lifetime status. . . that’s lower than Platinum. Oof. Delta doesn’t even guarantee lifetime status. Our advice? If you’re young, start logging with United. At four million miles, you qualify for its very top tier, Global Services, which has so many perks that the airline won’t even disclose them all. Think of it this way—it’s just twenty crosscountry flights a year. For forty years.

• • • I set my mind on Bhutan when I found out that the country didn’t have a single traffic light. Eight years of living in Manhattan was turning my husband and me into Woody Allen characters. Whatever that city had broken in us, Bhutan— the world’s last remaining Buddhist kingdom, nestled in a stretch of the Himalayas eight thousand miles from the nearest SoulCycle—sounded like the fix. Bhutan is sometimes referred to as “the last Shangri-la,” in part because of the obstacles that thwart visiting. The country draws about as many tourists a week as a single Broadway matinee of Jersey Boys. Obtaining a visa requires advance planning with a Bhutanese sponsor and a hefty financial commitment ($200 per person per day as a bare minimum; if you want luxury, it’s not hard for a couple to blow $25,000 on a ten-day trip). Then

F Ä V I K E N / Järpen, Sweden • Getting there is the hard part. Fly to Stockholm, hop on another plane, and then drive into the wilderness. Chef Magnus Nilsson’s restaurant, which features produce and game from the otherworldly landscape, is considered the most isolated fine-dining establishment in the world. Book one of the five rustic rooms upstairs at the same time as your reservation. B O H E M I A N / New York • Unlike many secret dining clubs, this place, located behind a butcher shop, isn’t about exclusivity—it’s really about the food. So find a pal with the unlisted number who can serve as your reference, make a reservation, settle into the apartment-like space, and order a Japanese cut of beef. And don’t skip the uni croquettes. —Kevin Sintumuang

Traveler’s Pro Tip:

The Handwritten Note to the Chef

15 THE IMPOSSIBLE QUESTION:

CAN YOU STAY AT THE VATICAN?

Mere

mortals

Sanctae

can

Marthae,

stay

at

the

residence/

Domus

hotel where the pope lives. This is where Bernie Sanders engineered his “a u d i e n c e ” ( r e a d : a m b u s h ) w h e n h e Go to the restaurant you failed to book for

your

vacation.

Check

a v a i l a b i l i t y.

made his trip to Rome. But academics (Jeffrey Sachs, etc.)

None? Leave a note. Be sincere. Express

attending

h o w m u c h y o u ’d l o v e i t i f y o u c o u l d d i n e

sometimes put up there, too. So may-

there should there be a cancellation. The

be it just takes a degree, an invite,

charm of it just may get you bumped to

and a little luck or guile to bump into

the top of the wait list.

t h e b i g g u y.

76

ESQUIRE

FEBRUARY 2017

Vatican

conferences

are

there’s getting there, on one of a handful of not-cheap flights from cities such as Kathmandu and Delhi. And the approach into Paro airport is immersion therapy for the anxious flyer, as the plane weaves between some of the world’s highest mountain peaks before coasting to safety in a lush valley with a forgotten-by-time vibe. That’s when the deprogramming begins. First, we retreated to Como’s Uma Paro resort, slipped between the highthread-count sheets, and stared into the thin mountain air. We teetered up yakherder paths to lonely temples and monasteries. We spun prayer wheels and prostrated before altars lavishly decorated with murals and golden statuary. The true national treasure is the people, who exude a spiritual quietude that could be possible only in a place that measures progress not according to the GDP but to the “Gross National Happiness.” Two weeks on all those groovy, tranquil vibes took me to a place that I may never find again, even with all the right pharmaceuticals. —Elizabeth G. Dunn


16

THE IMPOSSIBLE WHISKIES PART TWO

St. G eorge Baller Single Malt

Roughly 3,000 bottles filled. From a cult distillery on Alameda Island, this Japanese-style whisky was originally produced for Oakland’s Ramen Shop. Remnant bottles are now scattered throughout a handful of bars and restaurants in California. Very few made it to liquor-store shelves.

C ompass Box The General

1,698 bottles filled. Though Scottish liquor laws prohibit blender-genius John Glaser from revealing everything that went into the General, at least one piece of the blend was thirty-three years old. The remaining components must have been damn good, too, because the whisky disappeared from shelves nearly immediately. Unopened bottles show up on booze-auction sites . . . sometimes. Shoes ($675) by Paul Andrew; stockings by Wolford.

77


THERE ARE TWO THINGS I R E A L LY LIKE TO DO, AND THAT’S WHOOP ASS AND LOOK GOOD.

—Conor McGregor

C O L L A R T H E M B A D 

BUTTON-DOWN? SPREAD? POINTED? F I N D I N G T H E S H I R T C O L L A R T H AT W O R K S B E S T B E G I N S W I T H K N O W I N G YO U R I N N E R R E B E L .

SHORT POINT Angles are attitudes: The more sensible the collar, the more out there the tie. S U I T ($1,950), S H I R T ($350), and T I E ($190) by Salvatore Ferragamo.

78 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

FOR YOU


MY MOTTO IS ‘MORE GOOD T I M E S .’

—Ja c k N i c h o l so n

ROUNDED TAB

SWEPT BACK

Advertise your inner creative with a collar-and-tie combination that is anything but corporate. S H I R T ($145) by Boss; T I E ($180) by Hermès.

To match the rakish angle of a swept-back collar, add a strong, ample pattern. S H I R T ($228) by Paul Stuart; T I E ($245) by Ermenegildo Zegna.

THAT’S W HAT KEEPS YO U GOING—NOT THE FEAR O F FAILING BUT THE F EA R OF NOT TAKI NG RISKS .

—Bryan Cranston

ENGLISH SPREAD

BUTTON-DOWN

A big old spread collar calls for a big knot to fill the gap—like a full Windsor—and a tie that can hold its own.

An old-school collar and a tight four-in-hand-knot repp silk tie says “establishment”—unless you’re a rebel.

S H I R T ($395) by Ralph Lauren; T I E ($125) by Polo Ralph Lauren.

S H I R T ($380) by Jil Sander; T I E ($150) by Paul Smith.

79


I’M NOT INTO BEING T R E N D Y. I’M INTO DRESSING C O R R E C T LY F O R THE TIME AND PLACE .

—Samuel L. Jackson

CLASSIC PIN

SOFT BUTTON-DOWN

You don’t wear a pin-collar shirt by accident. Match it with strong, contrasting patterns to make a bold statement of intent.

A tie with texture—like a knitted silk—needs an equally casual collar.

S H I R T ($250) by Eton; T I E ($70) by Tommy Hilfiger.

S H I R T ($520) by Dsquared2; T I E ($135) by Thomas Pink.

GENIUSES ARE A LWAYS BRANDED AS C R A Z Y.

—Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar

CL ASSIC TAB A richly textured tie worn high and tight under a pristine tab collar says you are all about business. S H I R T ($880) and T I E ($250) by Tom Ford.

80 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

ITALIAN SPREAD The tall look of an Italian collar demands a thick tie and the heft of a Windsor knot. S H I R T ($343) by Ascot Chang; T I E ($160) by Alexander Olch.


DON’T THINK A B O U T M A K I N G A R T— JUST GET IT DONE. LET EVERYONE ELSE DECIDE IF IT’S GOOD OR BAD, WHETHER THEY LOVE I T O R H A T E I T. WHILE THEY ARE D E C I D I N G, M A K E E V E N M O R E A R T.

—Andy Warhol

FULL CLUB A club collar, a narrow repp silk tie . . . this man clearly does not work in a bank. J A C K E T ($2,720), S H I R T ($355), and T I E ($200) by Gucci.

For store information see page 109.

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A. J. Daulerio photographed in Los Angeles, November 2016.

82 E S Q U I R E / M O N T H 2 0 1 6


DOWN DIRTY AND

Hulk Hogan’s multimilliondollar lawsuit against Gawker.com, funded by Trump confidant Peter Thiel, captivated Silicon Valley, New York, the media, and Hollywood. In the end, the suit killed the site and left the First Amendment vulnerable. But A. J. Daulerio, the guy who decided to post the Hogan sex tape, hasn’t told the story behind his story. Until now. M a x i m i l l i a n P o t t e r hears his side. Photograph by

Michael Schmelling

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“I’ve been thinking a lot about a photo of me from the trial that ran in The New York Times ,” A. J. Daulerio tells me one Sunday this past September. We are on the concrete porch of an apartment he’s renting in a dismal section of Singer Island, Florida. He’s wearing a T-shirt, baggy basketball shorts, sweat socks to midcalf, and shower shoes— a look he describes as “homeless chic.” He rolls a cigarette and a lighter around in his palm like they’re Chinese therapy balls. Not all that long ago, as the editor in chief of Gawker.com, Daulerio was among the most influential and feared figures in media. Now the forty-two-year-old is unemployed, his bank has frozen his life savings of $1,500, and a $1,200-per-month one-bedroom is all he can afford. He’s renting here, he says, to be near the counselors and support network he has come to rely on lately. Six months earlier, Daulerio was in a Florida courtroom two hundred miles away, a defendant in a high-profile invasion-of-privacy lawsuit filed by former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan and secretly funded by Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist and Donald Trump supporter. Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, had sued Daulerio; Daulerio’s former employer, Gawker Media; and Nick Denton, Daulerio’s former boss and the founding CEO of Gawker Media, for more than $100 million. The suit stemmed from a 101-second video Daulerio posted on Gawker.com that showed Hogan having sex with Heather Clem, then the wife of Florida radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge. Throughout the two-week trial, there were many strange moments. Like when Clem testified that her husband had encouraged her to have sex with his friend Hogan. Or when Denton read aloud the column Daulerio had posted with the video. (The post, which was viewed more than five million times, was titled “Even for a Minute, Watching Hulk Hogan Have Sex in a Canopy Bed Is Not Safe for Work but Watch It Anyway.”) Or when Hogan, who rose to fame during the 1980s in World Wrestling Entertainment, took the stand to explain how Hogan (the character) and Bollea (the man) had different penises.   This bizarre distinction was germane to the potentially far-reaching First Amendment issues at stake. Gawker’s lawyers 84 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

claimed the video was newsworthy, and protected by the First Amendment, because Hogan was a public figure who had written about and discussed his sex life publicly, once describing his penis as “the Loch Ness Monster.” The crux of Hogan’s case, meanwhile, was that the man in the video was not the public figure Hogan but the private citizen Bollea, whose privacy Gawker had invaded.   The moment that perhaps most stunned the jury, however, belonged to Daulerio. Hogan’s lawyers played video of a deposition in which an attorney asks Daulerio, “Can you imagine a situation where a celebrity sex tape would not be newsworthy?” “If they were a child,” Daulerio says. “Under what age?” the attorney asks. “Four,” Daulerio says. As The New York Times reported, “A palpable sense of shock rippled through a courtroom here.”

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aulerio spit out that response, he says, as a weary “fuck-off” to the lawyer who hadsubjectedhimtoanine-hourdeposition. Yet as he watched the jury’s reaction, DauleriobecameconvincedthatGawkerMediaand his career were over. He anticipated countless people whom he had eviscerated—as the top editor of Gawker Media’s sports site, Deadspin, and then at Gawker.com—would beoverjoyed,viewingthecompany’sruinand his own professional demise as their comeuppance. On the former count, at least, he was right. The jury not only awarded Hogan $115 million in compensatory damages, it also tacked on $15 million in punitive damagesagainstGawkerMedia,$10millionagainst Denton, and $100,000 against Daulerio. In the Times photo Daulerio tells me about, he is seated on a courtroom bench, looking over his shoulder. “I’m staring into a corner of the ceiling,” Daulerio says as he lights his cigarette. “I was just trying to refocus on everything that was happening in the courtroom, which was horrible, but it was still ten times better than anything going on in my head at that point.” What was going on in his head was his struggletostaysober—andhisstruggletounderstandamemoryofbeingmolestedasaboy.

O

n the Sunday Daulerio and I meet, we join his parents at a sports bar to watch their hometown team, the Philadelphia Eagles, play the Cleveland Browns. Mr. Daulerio is tall, with eyeglasses, a mustache, and a kind face. Mrs. Daulerio is in a wheelchair, wrappedinawindbreaker.Innotime,Daulerio’s dad is talking like a proud father. “A. J. was writing even as a kid. When he was in fifthgrade, hewrotestories. . . .” Daulerio lovingly rolls his eyes, as if to say, “Here we go.” The A. J. stands for Albert James. He was raised in Churchville, Pennsylvania, a working-class suburb of Philadelphia. His father, Al, worked as a manager for the Ford Motor Company. His mom, Pat, was a secretary. The couple recently moved to Florida because Al thought a change of scenery would be good for Pat, who had fought ovarian cancer. Plus, Al says, some friends have stopped talking to them since the trial. As a child, Daulerio had trouble sleeping and would bang on his parents’ bedroom door each night. “I don’t know if he felt lonely or scared,” Al says. “But it was bad.” His parents took him to a therapist, who advised them to lock their bedroom door to keep A. J. out—tough love to help the kid get over what was thought to be a phase. After a few sessions with the therapist, Daulerio begged his parents not to make him go any longer; they ended the treatment. Daulerio’s insomnia was no phase. It was part of what enabled him to become his best and worst self. After graduating from La Salle University in 1996, he landed a reporting gig at a suburban Philly newspaper. During the three years he covered pie-  eating contests and zoning-board hearings, he discovered that getting scoops gave him a rush. The more writing he did, the more scoops he got, and the more he was hooked. In 1999, he quit and, without a job lined up, moved to the place where he thought real writers go: New York.

I

first called Daulerio last July to see if he would participate in a profile. It was during our initial meeting, which was off the record, that he revealed he was trying to kick a


drug and booze addiction and was confront- Jalopnik, and Lifehacker. Leitch approached ing a recovered memory. Gawker with an idea for a sports site. LockDaulerio said he would cooperate if I hart Steele, Gawker’s managing editor, told would omit the rehab and the memory. I said Leitch they weren’t interested but were lookI didn’t think it was right to tell his story with- ing for someone to edit a gambling site. Leitch out those facts. In the days that followed, he hated gambling; he recommended Daulerio. agreed to talk on the record about everything. Daulerio didn’t know a thing about betting, Between this past summer and November, but he bluffed Steele into hiring him. The site, we had many long conversations in which it Oddjack, folded within six months. seemed like he was thinking out loud, dealIn the meantime, Leitch had persuaded ing—and in many ways not dealing—with a Denton to do the sports site. “Independent cat’s cradle of issues. During one conversa- sports blogs are everywhere,” he wrote in a tion, he said, “If you woke up tomorrow and memo, “but they don’t have any passion.” you owed Hulk Hogan $115 million dollars— Deadspin premiered in September 2005, just imagine that. Say it out loud a couple of with Daulerio as an occasional contributor. times. No person can conceptualize how I The pay was nothing, so he took a job with would get into that situation.” Philadelphia magazine’s website. Daulerio Maybe. But Daulerio didn’t simply wake quickly tired of the magazine’s owners bitchup one day in that “situation.” If you consid- ing about what he wrote on the blog and the er the choices he’s made throughout his ca- print writers’ condescension. “It all felt so reer, it’s not only easy to see how he ended self-important and wrong,” he says. up on trial; in some ways it seems inevitable. Leitch rescued Daulerio in March 2008, Once Daulerio got to New York, he took hiring him at Deadspin as a writer. That year, whatever reporting jobs he could get: a year the Financial Times reported Deadspin was at Law.com, and then three years at The Bond the world’s most-visited sports blog, with Buyer. “I was willing to write about boring 116 million visitors. Still, Denton pushed for shit,” Daulerio says. He spent his sleep- more traffic. Leitch didn’t like having to manless nights hanging with aspiring-writer age a site fixated on web metrics, so he quit friends, including Will Leitch and Daulerio’s roommate, Eric Daulerio during his trial. Gillin, cooking up a website. “There was a lot of weed and a lot of drinking,” Leitch says. “Frankly, we were a bunch of losers and could party like that because we didn’t have anything to lose.” In January 2003, they launched BlackTable.com. It was a boom time for digital media. Sites like Digg, Dooce, and The Huffington Post were just a few of the biggies to launch in the early 2000s. In late 2002, Nick Denton’s Gawker.com entered the mix. A former journalist for the UK’s Financial Times, Denton wanted Gawker to do the stories journalists gossiped about but never wrote, either because they didn’t want to burn a source or because the subject matter was too risqué to write for New York magazine. In a farefor traditional print. well column, Leitch introduced Daulerio The vision Daulerio and company had for as the new EIC, writing, “We can’t wait to Black Table was similar to Denton’s. Some see where he takes this place.” of BT’s best ideas emerged when they were stoned, Leitch says. New York had just debuted 311, its city-services information line. “We got the idea,” Leitch says, “to call and ask eitch’s Deadspin had a hair-tussling questions like ‘Can you tell me how to get a playfulness, but Daulerio had a different vilicense to shoot a porn?’” sion. “He wanted to get to the seedy underbelly By early 2005, Gawker Media was thriv- of shit,” Steele says. In addition to snarky ing and had launched the spin-offs Wonkette, commentary on the news of the day, Daule-

L

rio demanded well-written original pieces. “I didn’t want to just follow the news,” he says. “I wanted Deadspin to break news.” He pegged Tommy Craggs as the reporter for the job. Craggs had been freelancing for the site while fact-checking for ESPN’s magazine. The two met at the Chinese restaurant near Gawker Media’s Manhattan offices; the place had a bar few people besides Daulerio ever frequented. He dubbed the joint Chinese Fantastico. It became his office. Over drinks, Daulerio convinced Craggs to take the job. “I liked his fearlessness,” Craggs says. At Deadspin, Craggs wrote stories like the one about the Vancouver scorekeeper juicing stats to earn media coverage for the Grizzlies. He scored an advance copy of a tell-all book written by a former NBA ref about alleged gambling corruption in the league. By traditional journalism standards, these were solid stories, scoops of dogged reporting. Yet these pieces were not what pulled traffic—and Daulerio was all about the traffic. He once told a Deadspin staffer, “If less than three thousand people click on what you write, you fucked up. You might have fucked up the title. You might have fucked up the picture. You might have picked a story that no one cares about, but you fucked up.” During Daulerio’s first few months, the posts that drove traffic included one about a Washington Redskin who’d mistakenly blogged a photo showing his penis, a pic of a New England Patriots cheerleader drawing a penis on a passedout partygoer, and a screen grab of a TV news broadcast in the Minnesota Vikings’ locker room that had inadvertently revealed a player’s penis. In short, Daulerio’s Deadspin was all about dongs. And disgrace. In the spring of 2009, he was given a tip about Texas Rangers star Josh Hamilton, who had recently gotten sober. Daulerio posted photos of Hamilton partying in a bar in Tempe, Arizona. “The Devil Is Still in Josh Hamilton” drew two million hits, making it one of the most-viewed pieces in Deadspin history. Before Daulerio posted it, he called Leitch. “We strategized about how can we make the point and keep the journalists with the capital J happy? A.J. even had the Rangers take a look at the photos to confirm it was Josh before posting. It was a solid story.” Daulerio’s Erin Andrews story, Leitch says, was another matter. In July 2009, 85


Daulerio linked to a now-notorious video “When I went to open the bag, I Woody liance at aggregating pop-cult potpourri of the ESPN reporter undressing in a hotel Allened it; the coke went everywhere,” primed for viral sharing. Almost immeroom; it was footage some perv had filmed Daulerio says. “I didn’t want anyone to think diately, Zimmerman’s efforts attracted through the keyhole of her room. “There Joe or Troy was doing blow, so I cleaned it more than thirty million page views per was no reason to do that story,” Leitch says. up by snorting as much as I could. There had month to Gawker.com, seven million over “It’s gross and nasty. A.J. was like, ‘Why does to be coke all over my beard and jacket. Joe the monthly average. This liberated the that have anything to do with it?’ ” Leitch asked if I wanted to meet Troy, and I was like, rest of the editorial staff, including John tells me that was “the kind of thinking that ‘No thanks.’ And I got out of there.” Cook, from having to worry about traffic. fundamentally led to the Hogan thing.” More and more, Daulerio came into the “A. J.’s view,” says Cook, “was you just buy The following year, a New York Jets side- Deadspin office later and later—that is, if he enough space with traffic success to let line reporter, Jenn Sterger, told Daulerio off came in at all. “He would disappear,” Craggs your writers devote time and energy to the record that Brett Favre had been texting says. “There were times when we really the stories that they want to do.” her pictures of his penis. As the story broke, needed a decision and he wasn’t around.” Daulerio made two other personnel Daulerio learned Favre had sent lewd texts But Daulerio was around enough to ensure changes. During his month of observation, to two other women. He paid a source that Deadspin drew monster traffic. When he he noticed that twenty-four-year-old Leah $12,000 for pictures that Favre had alleged- took over the site in July 2008, it had 700,000 Beckmann, then the assistant to the editor, ly texted to Sterger. Describing how he got readers per month. By late 2011, it had 2.6 held the staff together; he promoted her. Denton to give him the money, he told a million. Even Denton, who was no sports He also lured Emma Carmichael away from reporter that he’d said, “I’d like to reach fan, was impressed. “A.J.’s breaking stories Deadspin and made her managing editor. into the sack of scuzz money and pay for that keep ending up on the front page of the As Daulerio puts it, “When Emma’s around, pictures of Brett Favre’s dick, please.” New York Post,” Steele says. “Nick was like, everyone works harder and better.” After failing to get Sterger to go on the re- ‘What’s going on over there at Deadspin?’ At These moves allowed the staff to gel cord, Daulerio decided to break the Favre that point, A.J. and Nick formed their bond.” and traffic to soar, but they also enabled scandal with the dick pics and voicemails, Daulerio started to get job offers; Den- Daulerio to unravel. His former colleagues and use Sterger’s off-the-record informa- ton asked his star EIC what he could do to give the impression that they were too tion—a clear breach of journalindebted to him to say anything Daulerio at his going-away party, with Gawker Media founder Nick Denton. istic ethics. “A. J. posted that about his behavior, so they story while I was out of the ofwent along for the ride. Cook fice,” Craggs says. “He knew I recalls a hazy, boozy midday would have objected. The Faouting to Belmont Park. Beckvre story was a good story. I just mann had many nights out think we could have gotten it with her boss that didn’t end without torching the source.” until 4:00 a.m. One time, at a Journalists may have debated sex-toy party, she says, “A. J. Daulerio’s decision to use offwas like, ‘Do you want to eat the-record material, but there acid?’ And so we ate acid.” And was no denying that if true, a then in the late fall of 2012, married future NFL Hall of Daulerio began a volatile fiveFamer sexually harassing wommonth relationship with Cat en was a legitimate story. DeadMarnell, who wrote about her spin was becoming a must-read. life as a drug-addled New York “Hamilton, Favre—these were party girl in a Vice column. stories that sent shock waves,” She was a kindred nightcrawlFox Sports commentator Joe er spirit. “We started our dates Buck says. “As much as I want at 5:00 a.m. and wrapped at to question or roll my eyes at 10:00 a.m.,” he says, “and then stuff that was in there, they also have val- keep him. Daulerio said he wanted Gawker I went to work.” ue and proved their worth many times over. .com, Denton’s flagship. In November 2011, Because Daulerio was “often completely Daulerio was a force to be reckoned with.” Denton said goodbye to editor in chief MIA,” Carmichael says—sometimes for The Favre story pushed Deadspin and Remy Stern and installed Daulerio. days—she was essentially the EIC of Gawker. Daulerio into the spotlight—giving DauleWhen the envelope with the Hogan DVD rio reason to celebrate. He had never hidden showed up at the Gawker.com offices that his vices. Daulerio had talked about drugging October, Daulerio was on vacation. and boozing in interviews. Now, however, hen Daulerio took over Gawker he made his addiction the centerpiece of a .com, staff morale was abysmal—Stern had story—his story. In the summer of 2011, he not been popular—and Denton’s desire for dropped acid and tried to pitch a no-hitter on web traffic had not abated. “For the first t all started with an email to Daulerio Xbox baseball. Naturally, he posted a video of month I was there, I basically didn’t do from someone who admired Deadspin. A the stunt. The same year, he went to MetLife anything,” Daulerio says. “I watched how few days later, a thirty-minute video of HoStadium to visit his new friend Buck, who was the place ran.” But then he made his moves. gan having sex with Heather Clem arrived. calling a Packers–Giants game with Troy AikHe poached Neetzan Zimmerman from From the road, Daulerio told Carmichael to man. In the booth, Daulerio ducked into the the little-known site TheDailyWhat. In have a look. “Thanks for making me watch bathroom with an eight ball of coke. Zimmerman, Daulerio saw signs of bril- that,” she texted him.

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86 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

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“Nick saw in A. J. a glibness and coolness that Nick lacks,” says a former Gawker editor. When he returned to the office, Daulerio directed an editor to cut the video down to one minute and forty-one seconds, with approximately nine seconds of sex footage. Then he got clearance from Gawker’s attorneys. “I felt we had to show some sex to confirm the rumors,” Daulerio says. “There really is a Hulk Hogan sex video.” He decided it was newsworthy because it was the latest in a string of celebrity sex videos the public couldn’t seem to get enough of. In a blog post embedded with links to the Tommy Lee–Pamela Anderson and Kim Kardashian sex videos, he wrote: “Because the Internet has made it easier for all of us to be shameless voyeurs and deviants, we love to watch famous people have sex. . . . We come away satisfied that when famous people have sex, it’s closer to the sex we as civilians have from time to time. . . . Up top, you’ll see . . . footage taken of 59-year-old Hulk Hogan, professional wrestler, Real Life American Hero to many, fucking a woman rumored to be the ex-wife of his best friend, a famous radio DJ named Bubba the Love Sponge. This footage was stealthily circulated last April. TMZ reported its existence, The Dirty showed some screen shots, and Hulk lawyered up because he claims he was ‘secretly filmed.’ Last week, a burned DVD copy of Hulk having sex with the woman rumored to be Heather Clem (Bubba’s exwife) was delivered to us through an anonymous source. They wanted no payment. They wanted no credit.” Within days, Hogan’s attorneys insisted Gawker remove the video. Gawker refused. In October 2012, Hogan filed his lawsuit. Three months later, Daulerio left Gawker. To hear him and many staffers tell it, his departure had nothing to do with the lawsuit; in fact, no one at the site took the suit seriously at first. Daulerio says he simply figured he should leave the company while his market value was at its peak. Denton hosted a farewell bender at his SoHo apartment. “Nick really loved him,” Cook says. “I think Nick saw in A. J. a glibness and sociability and coolness that Nick lacks.” During the party, as a goodbye prank, Daulerio had a graffiti artist tag “A. J. Daulerio” on a wall of the private stairwell leading to Denton’s loft. Denton

found the vandalism so amusing, he posed with Daulerio in front of the tag and said he would just pay to have it removed.

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aulerio maintained a consulting contract with Gawker and signed on as director of editorial for SpinMedia. The contracts put him on track to earn $475,000 annually. Within three months, however, new leadership at Spin terminated his lucrative deal. It was both the best and the worst thing for Daulerio, as it left him with six months of severance. “I had a cigar box that was basically a pharmacy,” he says. “It was like my rainy-day box, and it was always raining.” In September 2013, Hogan’s attorneys deposed Daulerio. He is certain he was not high at the time but can’t say for sure whether he was hungover. Using some of his severance as seed money, he conceived a website of his own, Ratter .com, which he envisioned as a regional version of Gawker. In the midst of getting Ratter off the ground, Daulerio woke up one morning and looked at his coffee table. Bong, booze bottles, cocaine. He thought, I’m taking one drug to get high, another drug to go sideways, another to go up again, and another to go sideways again. He called his friend Maer Roshan to help him, and that August Daulerio went to a detox facility in New Jersey. Ten days later, he returned to New York and got wasted. Daulerio was back on the coke and the pills, and he was scared: “There were a lot of nights where I would lie there and ask myself, ‘Did I cross the line this time? Is this the moment where everything shuts down on me?’ ” In October, Daulerio arranged to go to Harp Rehab in West Palm Beach, near Singer Island. The day he was scheduled to fly to Florida, he got cold feet, so he called his pal Lockhart Steele, now the editorial director of Vox Media. Steele invited him to his apartment, where they watched baseball. The next morning, Steele walked with Daulerio into JetBlue’s terminal at JFK. “I’m not going to push you through security,” Steele told him. “You need to make that choice for yourself.” The next time he heard from Daulerio was a couple weeks later. “He said it was hard but he was glad he was there.”

H

arp Rehab is a holistic program, and it was during an acupuncture treatment, feeling the specialist’s hands on him, that Daulerio started to remember the therapy he’d had as a nine-year-old boy. He recalled being in a darkened room while the therapist took off his shirt and put his hands on him. He couldn’t remember what had happened next, but, he says, “I felt I knew something terrible had happened.” After forty-five days at Harp, Daulerio left to visit his parents in Florida. He told them about the memory. His mother said that after they discontinued the therapy, they took Daulerio to see his physician, who told her he believed Daulerio might have been molested. (When I contacted the doctor, he said he had no memory of discussing molestation with the family.) Daulerio was furious. “Why didn’t anyone tell me this?” he shouted. “Why didn’t you do anything about it?” The room was quiet, tense. Al Daulerio told his son that until that moment he never knew the doctor had suggested Daulerio might have been molested. “It was classic sweep-everything-underthe-rug,” Daulerio says. The next morning, he and his father continued the conversation and ended up yelling at each other. Al insisted they had taken him to the therapist when he was younger than nine. Daulerio was adamant his timing was correct, though in light of what his mother had said, his age at the time wasn’t the most important detail. Further frustrating him was the fact that his parents could not remember the therapist’s name. Al tried to calm his son. “I don’t want to upset your mother,” he said. It wasn’t what Daulerio wanted to hear. Al asked him, “Do you want to hit me?” Again: “Do you want to hit me?” Daulerio knocked his dad to the ground and left the room. “He had never done anything like that before,” Al tells me. “Later, he told me it was an accident. He thought I’d stepped toward him.”

W

hile Daulerio and I are on his front porch that Sunday in September, he gets a text from Denton. “He’s asking how I’m doing,” Daulerio says. “I haven’t heard from him in weeks.” In therapy, Daulerio began to write down things that made him angry and then toss the paper in the trash. Seeing Denton’s text, Daulerio says, “I [continued on page 109] 87


Suit ($5,495) and tie ($185) by Ralph Lauren; shirt ($550) by Dries Van Noten; shoes ($825) by Esquivel; Oyster Perpetual Submariner watch ($8,550) by Rolex.

M I X MASTER PHOTOGRAPHS BY

ALEXEI H AY

STYLING BY

MATTHEW M A R D E N

YO U M AY T H I N K ST RO N G S H I RTS L I K E T H E S E D O N ’ T G O W I T H YO U R S U I T. L ET R I S I N G H O L LY WO O D F I N N W I T T RO C K M A K E T H E CAS E W I T H T H E

S E AS O N’S B E ST A N D B O L D E ST.

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STA R


The key to wearing a printed shirt with a patterned tie? Make sure your suit is in the same palette. Suit ($1,995) by Emporio Armani; shirt ($845) and tie ($275) 89 by Giorgio Armani.


A printed shirt—perfect for the man who marches to his own beat. Suit ($2,895), shirt ($695), and tie ($225) by Dolce & Gabbana.

W I T T RO C K H AS A K N AC K FO R

SHAPE-SHIFTING B ET W E E N P SYC H O PAT H A N D G O L D E N B OY.

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Jacket ($2,295), shirt ($345), and trousers ($445) by Ermenegildo Zegna; watch ($325) by Seiko. Jacket ($2,980), turtleneck ($980), and jeans ($370) by Prada; boots ($925) by Paul Andrew; Divers Sixty-Five watch ($1,990) by Oris; scarf ($325) by Drake’s.

There’s no quicker way to, uh, spark some life into a gray suit than to pair it with a printed shirt. Suit ($980), PS by Paul Smith; shirt ($285) and tie ($150) by Paul Smith.

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This page: Suit ($3,000) and shirt ($410) by Louis Vuitton. Opposite: Jacket ($1,595) and trousers ($575) by Canali; shirt ($695) by Marni; tie ($165) by Drake’s.

I T ’ S 1 1 : 0 0 A . M . and Finn Wittrock has good reason to be hungry. He’s fresh off his first performance of Othello, in which he wrestles and bench-presses and does one very convincing keg stand onstage. So when we meet at a bustling Ukrainian diner on New York’s Second Avenue—where he’s enough of a regular that a waiter gives a small salute as we pass by— who am I to tell him it’s a little early for kielbasa SPEAKS and pierogi? It took me a moment UP to recognize the 32-yearold actor, who’s traded his usual swoop of hair for a high-and-tight cut in order to play Cassio opposite Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo in the modern, Marines-themed production. Wittrock has been chipping away at mainstream fame for years, with supporting roles in The Big Short, Noah, and Unbroken, but has so far resisted any efforts to pigeonhole him. He earned a sizable fan base (and an Emmy nomination), for example, for his role as American Horror Story: Freak Show’s Dandy Mott, a bloodthirsty man-child who drinks cognac from a baby bottle and makes puppets from the corpses of his victims. “I enjoy the athleticism of jumping from one very different thing to another,” he says of his knack for shape-shifting between psychopath and golden boy. He hopes to screen a few films on the festival circuit in 2017—most notably Landline, alongside John Turturro and Jenny Slate—but the immediacy of live performance keeps luring him back to the theater. That’s why he decided to do back-toback productions of Othello and The Glass Menagerie. It all reminds him of something “Phil Hoffman”—as he calls him, dropping the “Seymour”—told him during their acclaimed 2012 run of Death of a Salesman: “Once the play’s done, it becomes myth.” The deaths of Hoffman and, shortly thereafter, the show’s director, Mike Nichols, provided a haunting affirmation of those words. “That’s the beautiful tragedy of theater,” says Wittrock. “It’s the most amazing experience, but then it’s freed and gone.” But that doesn’t mean that the actor believes the power of art is fleeting. More than ever, he feels that it has an important role to play in today’s culture, as voices like Shakespeare’s “can be instructive” and

FINN WITTROCK

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theater can help you “heal and elucidate what you’re feeling.” He was disappointed with Donald Trump’s decision to chastise the cast of Hamilton for reading a political statement to audience member Mike Pence. “It was such an opportunity to say, ‘How great that we live in a country where you can express yourself.’ [But] he just made it another fight. He can’t help getting in the ring.”

When I find Wittrock by the stage door after Othello’s Sunday matinee, his eyes widen with guilt. “I thought you were coming tonight!” he says, apologizing for his tight schedule. But his performance has already given me plenty to think about, so I send him off to go restock on calories before the evening show two hours from now, when he’ll begin to rebuild the myth from the ground up. —J U L I A B L AC K


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“ T H AT’S T H E B E AU T I F U L

T R AG E DY O F T H E AT E R— I T’S T H E M O ST A M A Z I N G E X P E R I E N C E , B U T T H E N I T’S

F R E E D A N D G O N E .”

Jacket ($2,600), sweater ($1,250), shirt ($950), and trousers ($950) by Bottega Veneta. 94 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7


Start with smaller patterns, and then work up to more graphic motifs. Jacket ($2,340) and shirt ($920) by Prada; Aquanaut Travel Time watch ($18,940) by Patek Philippe. For store information see page 109. Produced by Elizabeth Rundlett for A+ Productions. Grooming by Colleen Creighton for Kramer + Kramer. Tailoring by Joseph Ting.

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VISION QUEST A F T E R LO O K I N G AT T H E M E N’S C O L L ECT I O N S I N

MILAN,

PARIS,

N E W Y O R K , E S Q U I R E ’ S E D I T O R S B U I LT T H E I R M O O D B OA R D S — W H AT T R E N D S A N D P I E C E S I N S P I R E D T H E M, A N D W H AT A SMART MAN NEEDS TO KNOW TO LOOK STYLISH THIS SPRING

AND

THE LOOK Bryan Ferry is my spirit animal right now. I love his less-is-more nonchalance and simple, looser clothes, as here in 1980. Part of the season’s wanderlust vibe means slippers like these from Artemis Design Co., made from genuine Turkish flatweave rugs (below).

N I CK SULLI VAN FAS H I O N D I R E C TO R

For me, the looser, freer feel to fashion this spring is a major shift; the shape and fit--and the attitude--of clothing is more relaxed. And I love the simple sense of wanderlust many designers have brought to their collections.

Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with Jake & Dinos Chapman (below left) puts collectible art in your pocket.

T H E G ETAWAY Analog is a great way to escape— so I’ll dive back into Patrick Leigh Fermor’s Mani, about the Southern Peloponnese in Greece, where he lived. Nothing says adventure like a big-ass pilot watch, like this Zenith Type 20.

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ON TREND Bottega Veneta’s chino is noticeably wider in the leg and cut to sit higher on the waist, too.

IN THE D E T A I L S . . .

HEAD TO TOE David de Rothschild’s Lost Explorer line is the sort of feel-good authentic brand one can easily fall for. I’m hell-bent on this three-piece dustypink suit, made from Japanese cotton. The India-inspired Etro scarf (above) could be my new go-to airplane scarf. Tod’s new Affresco loafers are handfinished in the same way as age-old Italian frescoes, so they are pleasingly dirty before you even slip your feet into them. Neat.

I’m feeling a fullon double-breasted navy blazer for summer. I haven’t found the right one yet, but at least I’ve found the buttons; they’re solid gold and cost a fortune from Holland & Sherry.

ADD TEXTURE Massimo Alba’s supple, studded suede belts seem straight out of a Moroccan souk; perfect for every summer look.

TAKE NOTE I love a fountain pen and never go away without one . . .   and a Smythson notebook. I love this new coral-red Montblanc Rouge et Noir pen.

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MATTHEW MARDEN

STYLE DIRECTOR

Spring/summer is all about being casual--which means it’s the perfect season to stretch your style.

HOW TO LOOK CHILL THIS SEASON? Alexander Wang sweatshirt, Louis Vuitton shorts, and Valentino sneakers. ’Nuff said.

WHAT I’M WAITING FOR Raf Simons, named chief creative officer at Calvin Klein last year, will be showing his collection at NYFW: Men’s for the first time.

CASH IN Comme des Garçons puts some pop in your wallet. Just remember: A little bit of pocket jazz goes a long way.

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HIT THE ROAD This Prada backpack is perfect for the wanderer in all of us.

THE FACE OF THE SEASON Myles Dominique was discovered buying milk at his local corner shop in London. Expect big things from this 18-year-old, whose debut season had him walking no fewer than 20 shows.

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT Stella McCartney’s debut men’swear collection is a standout— especially this trench. And then there’s this bad-cat Gucci baseball jacket.

THE INSPIRATION Check out the David Hockney show at the Tate (February 9 through May 29).

STAY F R E S H I don’t wear cologne that often (i.e., hardly ever), but when I do, I always opt for Acqua di Parma.

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ELECTRIC BLUE The suit is still the most rebellious piece in your closet—especially when you wear it like Officine Générale showed it in Paris: in heightened shades of blue on blue, and cut slightly fuller. You can’t go wrong. Just ask Jimi.

MICHAEL H A I N EY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF EDITORIAL

Knowing the trends are key to being in step, but remember: Great style means sophistication without the snobbiness. Confidence without cockiness. 100 E S Q U I R E / M O N T H 2 0 1 6


BROWN OUT Suede might feel like something for fall, but it gives a spring jacket swagger. Pair it with this Hermès watch. Pocket square by Charvet. What can brown do for you? A lot. It’s the smart man’s must-have secret style move— especially in a tobacco color, as in this DB suit from Boglioli, or in linen. I like it with a pink shirt. (Or Jane Birkin in a pink sweater.) Mod style, from the Who’s Quadrophenia, has always inspired me—tailored suits combined with fullercut coats. And this season, in looks like this from Boglioli (right) or AMI (lower left), it’s updated in a new way.

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FBI Director James Comey has long been renowned for his integrity and independence.

THE BI 102 E S Q U I R E / M O N T H 2 0 1 6


G BUST So why did he upend the 2016 election? An exclusive report from inside the FBI. By TI M W E IN ER

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AS THE United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, James B. Comey gave a speech to every new prosecutor he hired. Founded in 1789, the Southern District is the most prestigious post in the Justice Department outside Washington. Wall Street titans and crooked politicians go down to the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, they go on trial, and they go to prison. The power of a prosecutor is awesome, as Comey well knew. (There’s a reason that the statue of Justice holds a sword along with a scale.) He told the young hotshot lawyers who were joining his team that when they stood up in court and proclaimed, “ ‘I represent the United States of America,’ people believe the next thing you say.” He said this trust flowed from a reservoir filled by their predecessors over the ages. It imposed on them a duty to use their power with wisdom—to “do the right thing” in the name of the law and the Constitution. When Comey took command of the Southern District in early 2002, Ground Zero was a war zone ten blocks away. For two years he served as a point man in George W. Bush’s counterterrorism campaign, and in late 2003 the president appointed him deputy attorney general of the United States. Comey recited the essence of the speech he gave his new prosecutors at his Senate confirmation hearings. Three months later, the strength of his principles was tested severely. In an epic confrontation over the National Security Agency’s program of warrantless wiretapping, Comey stared down the president inside the White House. He said no to his commander in chief. Comey’s reputation for integrity and independence led Barack Obama to make him the seventh FBI director in the nation’s history. He was sworn in on September 4, 2013. Three years later, the man known as the straightest of straight shooters shot himself in the foot. The ricocheting bullet scarred his reputation, wounded the American body politic, and lodged in the heart of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. On July 5, 2016, Comey sent an email from the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington to every FBI agent in the world. “I am about to walk downstairs to deliver a statement to the media about our 104 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

investigation of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email server during her time as Secretary of State,” he said. He was going to “provide more detail about our process” than was usual, and he was doing so to satisfy the public’s interest. “The confidence of the American people in the FBI is a precious thing,” Comey said. “Folks outside the FBI may disagree about the result, but I don’t want there to be any doubt that this was done in an apolitical and professional way and that our conclusion is honestly held, carefully considered, and ours alone.” Comey told the press that Clinton’s handling of classified information was no crime. She had been “extremely careless,” he said, but “no reasonable prosecutor” could bring a case against her. The decision to close the case did not sit well with Republicans in Congress, who summoned Comey to Capitol Hill for several hearings. On September 7, he wrote his agents again and said that “the case itself was not a cliff-hanger.” The hard part had been deciding that “the best way to protect the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the American people’s sense of justice was to announce it the way we did—with extraordinary transparency.” He decried the idea that the Bureau was being “political.” But on October 28, eleven days before the election, Comey lifted the lid off a box of dynamite. He sent a letter to the Hillary hunters in Congress explaining that a separate probe had uncovered a new batch of emails that might be relevant to the closed Clinton case. “We don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations,” Comey told his agents in an email later that day. Nevertheless, he said, “I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.” The consequences were immediate and, for Clinton, devastating. Her poll numbers fell. Donald Trump, who had been pushing the “Crooked Hillary” trope for months, proclaimed that his opponent was on the verge of indictment. The warning was mindlessly repeated by an army of Twitter bots, a prominent Fox News personality, and even Rudy Giuliani, who had, like

Comey, once been the U. S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. The letter had nothing to back it up: There was no new evidence against Clinton. At the time Comey sent it, the FBI didn’t even have a warrant to open the new cache of emails. He recognized immediately that the letter was open to misinterpretation, but it didn’t matter. Nor did it matter when, about thirty-six hours before the election, he sent a letter reconfirming what he’d said in July: There was no crime, no reason to continue the investigation. In the post-fact world, everyone looked up for a second and then went back to their tweeting. Donald Trump won the presidency by about a hundred thousand votes spread across three states. According to Trump’s own pollster, just five counties in Florida and Michigan could have flipped the Electoral College. Hillary Clinton is not the only person who thinks Comey tipped the balance. In the black lagoon of Washington politicos, there is something close to a consensus that she might be right. Even Corey Lewandowski, who shilled for Trump on CNN after being fired as his campaign manager, said that the FBI director’s “amazing” intervention was a pivotal event. Comey and his wife had six children; one died nine days after birth. He has taught Sunday school, and in college he wrote a senior thesis about Jerry Falwell and Reinhold Niebuhr’s shared belief that Christians have a moral duty to participate in public life. Most people who know him see him as a stand-up guy who has spent his career trying to live up to that ideal, as well as to the obligation he impressed upon his new hires in the Southern District: to do the right thing always, no matter the cost. He knew that the FBI director has a special responsibility to keep himself above politics, to work in the interests of no party but his office, his institution, and his country. Recently I spoke to Comey’s predecessor, Robert S. Mueller III. He declined to discuss Comey, but he did say unequivocally that an FBI director must be nonpartisan. Without question, Comey’s prior conduct in office held to this principle in times of great danger. And yet Comey opened up the hood of American politics and tinkered with the engine on the eve of a most consequential election. “He made a terrible, terrible mistake,” a senior member of the Washington establishment told me. “He assumed a prosecutorial function. He didn’t have to do it, and he shouldn’t have.” Clearly Comey’s remark about Clinton being “extremely careless” was a blunder—


FOUR DECADES OF SAYING NO TO THE WHITE HOUSE.

1. John F. Kennedy and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. 2. Hoover and Harry Truman. 3. Acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray. 4. Richard Nixon. 5. Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus. 6. FBI Director William Sessions and George H. W. Bush.

2

3

4

1 9

5

8

7

6

7. FBI Director Louis Freeh and Bill Clinton. 8. George W. Bush and FBI Director Robert Mueller. 9. Mueller, Barack Obama, and James Comey.

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carelessness is a sin of omission, not a federal crime—but the awful truth is that he thought he had no choice, or at least no good choice. When he sent the October 28 letter, Comey broke a long-standing Justice Department rule against meddling in presidential politics on the eve of an election. But if, as seems likely, Comey believed with everyone else that Clinton was on track to become the next commander in chief, he may have felt compelled by a custom of equally potent provenance. For decades the FBI has checked and confronted the power of the president. This tradition runs from our own time of political torment back through Bill Clinton’s presidency all the way to the days of J. Edgar Hoover.

hen an FBI director damages a reputation, it’s usually someone else’s. Comey makes sure that every rookie agent knows the shameful story of Hoover’s remorseless attempts to destroy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hoover ran the FBI for forty-eight years, starting in 1924. He began saying no to presidents at the dawn of the cold war, when he openly broke with Harry Truman, testifying before the House Committee on Un-American Activities that the government was soft on communism. Hoover was also contemptuous of John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby, the attorney general, whose youth and arrogance he despised. In the end he even defied Richard Nixon. Their clash took place in 1970, after Nixon approved a plan to lift almost every legal restriction on intelligence gathering within the United States. The plan gave the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA the power to eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls, to intercept their mail, and to break into their homes and offices without a warrant. Nixon believed that the only way to stop “revolutionary terrorism” committed by “those who are determined to destroy our society” was to spy on Americans deemed enemies of the state. Hoover, ever on the watch for what he called “Red fascism,” saw the same threat. But he also recognized that the balance between security and liberty, a permanent tension in our democracy, was beginning to tilt toward liberty at the Supreme Court. When Hoover learned that Nixon had only verbally approved the plan and would not sign his name to it, he “went through the ceiling,” as his deputy later recalled. Hoover insisted that he was “not going to accept the re106 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

sponsibility myself anymore, even though I’ve done it for many years.” Hoover’s standoff with Nixon wasn’t about defending the Constitution. He was afraid he’d be left holding the bag— a black bag containing bugging equipment and burglars’ tools. The falling-out over Nixon’s warrantless wiretapping plan proved fatal to the longtime alliance between the two men and led directly to political disaster. It also laid the template for four decades of confrontation between the White House and the FBI. After Hoover said no to Nixon, scuttling his plan to spy on Americans, the president instructed his closest White House aides to create a secret group of wiretappers and burglars—the Plumbers. They conducted espionage and sabotage against Nixon’s opponents. The campaign lasted nine months, until the night of June 17, 1972, when the Plumbers were arrested during a black-bag job at the Watergate hotel, where the Democratic party had its headquarters. The next morning, FBI headquarters was under the watch of Dan Bledsoe, a supervisory special agent in charge of the majorcrimes desk. Hoover was six weeks in the grave, and the man running the Bureau day-to-day was Mark Felt—better known as Deep Throat. Bledsoe told his story for an FBI oral-history project years later: He flipped through the overnight report on the Watergate break-in and saw that the burglars had been in possession of eavesdropping equipment. He immediately opened a criminal case file under the federal wiretapping statutes. At four in the afternoon, Bledsoe took a call from the White House. He picked up the phone and said, “This is Agent Supervisor Dan Bledsoe. Who am I speaking with?” “You are speaking with John Ehrlichman. Do you know who I am?” Ehrlichman was the president’s right-hand man and had been Hoover’s liaison to the Nixon White House. “I have a mandate from the president of the United States,” he said. “The FBI is to terminate the investigation of the break-in.” Bledsoe went silent.

AN OFFICIAL W H O W O R K S C L O S E LY WITH THE DIRECTOR SAID,

“Did you hear what I said?” Ehrlichman thundered. “Are you going to terminate the investigation?” “No,” Bledsoe replied. “Under the Constitution, the FBI is obligated to initiate an investigation to determine whether there has been a violation of the illegal-interception-of-communications statute.” “Do you realize that you are saying no to the president of the United States?” “Yes.” “Bledsoe, your career is doomed.” The FBI investigation initiated that day led to the political destruction of Richard Nixon and just about everyone else who obstructed justice in his name. The modern era of the FBI’s antagonism toward the White House began on January 19, 1993, in the final hours of George H. W. Bush’s presidency. The day before Bill Clinton was sworn into office, the Bureau’s director, William Sessions, was hit by a Justice Department report that accused him of petty corruption, including using nearly $10,000 of government money to build a fence at his house. Bush 41 left Sessions as a malevolent parting gift to his successor. Janet Reno, Clinton’s new attorney general, found the FBI in deep disarray. “Quickly, when I came into office, I learned that the FBI didn’t know what it had,” she later testified. “The right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing.” Agents at the dawn of the Internet age lived in a sixty-four-kilobyte world: The Bureau could not put its case files into computers, and agents had no way to connect with one another. On elite terrorist task forces, paper files stacked up on floors and patterns went unseen. Bill Clinton had many political talents, but the command and control of the Bureau was not among them. The FBI’s disastrous 1993 confrontation with the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, left some eighty members of the millenarian Christian sect dead, including twenty-five children. It also gave Reno the will to tell the president to dismiss Sessions for his “serious deficiency in judgment.” Clinton finally fired him. The president, to his eternal regret, chose

“J I M C O M E Y T H I N K S H E WA S HANDED A S H I T S A N D W I C H.”


In 2013, nine years after Comey stared down George W. Bush in the White House, Barack Obama appointed him director of the FBI.

Louis J. Freeh as the new director. A former FBI agent who had joined the Bureau in 1975, a year after Nixon’s resignation, Freeh had been a prosecutor and a federal judge in the Southern District of New York. But as Clinton would soon learn, Freeh did not see the president as his boss’s boss; he viewed him as a subject of criminal investigations. After Freeh was sworn in, on September 1, 1993, he turned in his White House pass. He spoke with Clinton no more than six times over the seven-plus years he spent in office. John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s longtime aide—and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager—said that the president always referred to his FBI director as “fucking Freeh.” Freeh himself wrote in a memoir that Clinton “came to believe that I was trying to undo his presidency.” But a president under investigation by the FBI could not, as a matter of politics, fire its director. Freeh’s assault on Clinton started with Whitewater, a labyrinth of innuendo suggesting that Bill and Hillary had been bought off by crooks and swindlers in shady dealings that went back to the beginning of Bill’s career in Arkansas. The investigation went on until the end of Clinton’s presidency, spawned a special committee in the Senate, and led to the appointment of an independent counsel in 1994. While Whitewater resulted in convictions against several power brokers with roots in Little Rock, it never directly implicated the Clintons in political corruption. Bill Clinton said that the whole investigation was a sham. But by the time Clinton was sworn in

for his second term, in 1997, the president and the FBI were in open war. Freeh and his agents had been investigating the Clintons to no avail, probing for something, anything, to prosecute. Four years and more than $30 million produced nothing of significance until a twenty-four-year-old former White House intern named Monica Lewinsky was interrogated by the FBI. What followed had to be lived through to be believed. The FBI actually drew blood from a sitting president, executing a court order to extract a DNA sample from Clinton’s veins. When it matched the DNA in a telltale semen stain on Lewinsky’s famous blue dress, Republicans had the proof they needed that Clinton had lied under oath about sex. The House proceeded to impeachment. A hung verdict in the Senate saved Clinton’s presidency. In later years, Lew Merletti, the director of the Secret Service, noted that while the FBI was spending thousands of hours “investigating the foibles of the president and Monica, a number of senior Al Qaeda operatives were traveling the United States.” Whitewater first brought James Comey into public conflict with Hillary Clinton. He joined the Senate Whitewater Committee as a deputy special counsel. The committee dug dry holes regarding Hillary, but Comey and his colleagues had harsh words for her in 1996. They said that she had mishandled sensitive documents and concluded that while her behavior constituted misconduct, no charges against her could be proved.

That was two decades ago. Sound familiar? Comey’s time on the Whitewater Committee coincided with the start of the case that made his name as a prosecutor. On June 25, 1996, nineteen American military personnel were killed—372 were wounded—when a tanker truck packed with explosives destroyed the eight-story Khobar Towers housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The dead were members of the U. S. Air Force’s 4404th Wing (Provisional), which enforced the no-fly zone over Iraq that was set up after the first Gulf War. Freeh was justly obsessed with the case, but the FBI’s investigation dragged on for five years without resolution. He later spoke about FBI agents sifting through tons of debris in the blazing heat, “sick and dehydrated, working until they literally dropped,” digging with their fingers in the desert to find flesh and bone. The evidence pointed in two directions: homegrown Saudi terrorists and the government of Iran. Freeh tried to persuade Saudi princes to hand over suspects in the case. When his charm offensive failed, he lashed out—first at the royal family, then at the Clinton administration, which he accused of mishandling the case. After federal prosecutors in Washington could not bring the indictment Freeh sought, he concluded that “Khobar represented a national-security threat far beyond the capability or authority of the FBI.” By the time George W. Bush was inaugurated in 2001 and the fiveyear deadline for filing charges drew near, Freeh was preparing to resign. Then the Khobar case was handed over to James Comey, who was, at the time, a fortyyear-old federal prosecutor in Virginia. On June 21, 2001, four days before the deadline, he brought indictments against Saudi and Lebanese suspects. That earned Comey his job leading the Southern District of New York. It was a homecoming. Comey had grown up in Yonkers, just outside the city, where his grandfather had worked his way up from street cop to commissioner. As the chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Comey would work closely with the head of the FBI: Robert Mueller, a decorated Marine veteran of aristocratic mien. Mueller had been sworn in on September 4, 2001. A week after claiming his new office, he was thrown into the biggest investigation in the history of the United States. Within twenty-four hours of the airplanes hitting the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 107


The Big Bust more than half of Mueller’s 11,500 FBI agents suddenly found themselves on the terrorism beat. Though the FBI committed some serious abuses against innocent suspects in the days after 9/11, Mueller did not want future historians to write that Americans had won the war on terror but lost their freedom. And yet every day and every hour, the fear of another Al Qaeda attack consumed the Bush White House. The tension between national security and civil liberties ultimately became unbearable. Comey took another leap up the chain of command after just two years in New York. In December 2003, after reciting his “do the right thing” speech before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he became the numbertwo man in the Justice Department—and thus Mueller’s superior. Three months after Comey came to Washington as deputy attorney general, he and Mueller went head-to-head with the White House over the National Security Agency’s super-secret data-mining programs, collectively code-named Stellar Wind. Stellar Wind allowed the NSA to eavesdrop on nearly anyone in the United States by assaying the metadata from millions of telephone conversations and emails. It produced an immense torrent of leads—names, telephone numbers, and email addresses— that the NSA passed along to the FBI. Michael Hayden, the NSA chief at the time, said later that the program “turned on the spigot of NSA reporting to FBI in, frankly, an unprecedented way.” The Bureau found that digesting all that raw data was like trying to drink from a fire hose. The number of people who knew about Stellar Wind was vanishingly small at the start, but by early 2004 it was growing. Comey was read into the program’s secret protocols. He became convinced that Stellar Wind was unworkable—and, worse, unconstitutional. (As the Supreme Court would later rule in a pivotal case, a state of war does not make a president king.) In turn, Comey converted Mueller. They agreed that the FBI could not continue to go along with the program. The scope of the searches had to be constrained to protect Americans’ rights. Bush disagreed, of course. So did his White House lawyers. The NSA was a military agency, and therefore, they said, Congress’s authorization of military force gave the president the right to electronically eavesdrop on anyone, anywhere in America—free from the constraints of the Fourth Amendment’s protections against warrantless searches and seizures. Comey and Mueller were caught between the president’s command and the law of the land. Neither man had seen evidence that the surveillance program had saved a life, stopped an imminent attack, or unveiled an Al Qaeda member in the United States. They also thought it foolhardy that Bush was flouting the Foreign Intelligence Sur108 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

veillance Court, which had been created after Watergate to oversee national-security wiretapping. The court had been led by an irascible Texan named Royce Lamberth, whose trust Mueller had worked hard to win. FISA judges had approved hundreds of surveillances on the director’s word, but Mueller knew that the arrangement was precarious. Lamberth had once destroyed the career of a senior FBI counterintelligence agent who had deceived him. (“We sent a message to the FBI: You’ve got to tell the truth,” the judge said later.) Stellar Wind had to be reauthorized by the signatures of Bush and John Ashcroft, the attorney general, every forty-five days. Together they had acted on the basis of scary memos from the CIA warning of incessant incoming existential threats. But on March 4, 2004, Comey made the case to Ashcroft that he should not reauthorize Stellar Wind. He was persuasive. That night, the attorney general was felled by a potentially fatal case of gallstone pancreatitis. When Ashcroft was sedated for emergency surgery, Comey became the acting attorney general of the United States. On the evening of March 10, the day before the next authorization of Stellar Wind was due, Bush ordered his chief of staff, Andy Card, and the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, to go to the intensive-care unit at George Washington University Hospital so Ashcroft could sign the reauthorization. But Ashcroft had come out of surgery the day before and was in no condition to sign secret presidential orders. When Bush called the hospital, at 6:45 in the evening, Ashcroft’s wife intercepted the call. The president said it was a matter of national security. She refused to hand over the phone. The FBI agents who were guarding Ashcroft’s room alerted Comey and Mueller that a showdown was imminent. The two men raced to the intensive-care unit in their black cars, sirens blaring. Comey, who is six foot eight, leaped up the stairs two steps at a time and got there first. Ashcroft was fading in and fading out. “I immediately began speaking to him,” Comey later testified, “to see if he could focus on what was happening. And it wasn’t clear to me that he could. He seemed pretty bad off.” Mueller ordered the FBI agents to make sure that the president’s men did not throw Comey out of the hospital room when they arrived. Card and Gonzales entered at 7:35. Gonzales stood at the head of the bed holding a manila envelope with the presidential authorization inside. He told Ashcroft he wanted his signature. Ashcroft lifted his head off his pillow and said no. He did it “in very strong terms,” Comey later testified, in an argument “rich in both substance and fact—which stunned me.” Then Ashcroft laid down his head and said: “I’m not the attorney general. There is the attorney general.” He pointed at Comey. The president signed the authorization in the White House on the morning of March 11.

The next day, Comey and Mueller confronted him. They had resolved to resign in protest, and they planned to take Ashcroft with them. When Bush realized that his Justice Department and FBI director were rebelling, he recalled the Saturday Night Massacre— the resignations of Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus, Richard Nixon’s attorney general and deputy attorney general, on a single day in October 1973, after they each refused the president’s order to fire the Watergate special prosecutor. Bush foresaw a political calamity. The headlines would read f b i d i r e c t o r a n d at t o r n ey general resign in protest: can’t s ay w h y . “I had to make a big decision, and fast,” he wrote in his memoir. His reelection was coming up. Bush promised Comey and Mueller in secret that he would step back from the dark side and put Stellar Wind on a legal footing. That would take years. Comey resigned in 2005, a few months before The New York Times revealed the secret programs. Before he left the Justice Department to become general counsel of Lockheed Martin, the nation’s largest military contractor, he told a select audience at the National Security Agency the sort of thing he and Mueller had heard in the White House: “If we don’t do this, people will die.” Comey told his audience that “it takes far more than a sharp legal mind to say no when it matters most. It takes moral character. It takes an ability to see the future. It takes an appreciation of the damage that will flow from an unjustified yes.” Upon this rock Comey’s reputation stands—or it did until this past July. In November, I put a question to Comey through the FBI’s chain of command: Why did he feel obliged to tell Congress about the cache of unopened emails at the end of October, before his agents had a warrant to look at them? Comey declined to respond directly, but an FBI official familiar with his thinking explained the gist of the dilemma: The director stood at the fork of two bad roads. Route one: Comey sends the letter to Capitol Hill. A congressman hell-bent on harming Hillary Clinton leaks it. The evidence reveals no crime. Clinton is defeated. Route two: Comey doesn’t send the letter. The existence of the emails leaks. Comey is doomed. Another official who works closely with the director put the conundrum in a pithy phrase: “Jim Comey thinks he was handed a shit sandwich.” I also called Ali Soufan, the former FBI supervisory special agent who blew the whistle on the Bush administration’s practice of torturing suspected terrorists in secret prisons. He’s a highly regarded security-intelligence consultant, and he stays posted on what happens at the highest echelons of the FBI. Soufan told me that he believes Comey was right to go to Congress with what he’d learned. “He had to tell them what happened. But I don’t think


he paid a lot of attention as to how his statement would be interpreted politically.” Soufan said that the reaction to Comey’s letter did “collateral damage” to the Bureau. “All these stories that there was a revolt in the FBI over the Clinton investigation, agents threatening to resign, that Comey was facing a mutiny for failing to recommend charges against Clinton and trying to sway the election for Trump—all false. The cynicism was breathtaking. People did not care about the truth. The entirely fictitious story of an impending indictment on Fox News did political damage. It didn’t matter whether it was true or not.” The lesson, Soufan said, was that “the FBI needs to be more politically savvy in order to be more apolitical. Comey cannot work as if Washington is the Washington of old. This is not the twentieth century anymore.” Soufan said Comey is “a great guy who operates under the principle that everyone is as principled as him. He is an honorable man operating in a country in which politicians don’t operate honorably.” He concluded that some of Comey’s harshest critics should take stock of the situation in which they, and the country, find themselves: “All these people attacking him don’t know how much they are going to need him in the next few years.” Soon after Comey took power at the FBI in September 2013, he stood before President Obama and said that he was under two oaths: “First, the FBI must be independent of all political forces or interests in this country. In a real sense, it must stand apart from other institutions in American life. But second, at the same time, it must be part of the United States Department of Justice, and constrained by the rule of law and the checks and balances built into our brilliant design by our nation’s founders.” Comey is caught between those conflicting oaths and obligations, at once standing apart from and being a part of a government whose new leaders may besmirch the design of its creators. For the next seven years, if he serves through the end of his statutory term, Comey will rise before dawn, read through overnight reports about threats to the United States, ride a black car to the White House, and brief the president, if the president will listen. He will report to congressional committees on life-and-death issues of national security. The FBI is fighting battles across the nation and the world, surrounded by real and imagined enemies everywhere you look, and in places you can’t see. There are terrorists and cyberwarriors. There are crooks and thieves. There are two houses of Congress. And then there’s the White House. Our new president has a history of bending the law nearly to the breaking point. Trump might not like the cut of Jim Comey’s jib. But the FBI director must stand up and say no to a president when the Constitution requires it. It’s the law, and it’s a tradition. We could do worse than having Comey in charge. ≥

A. J. Daulerio [continued from page 87] can’t tell you how many times I’ve written ‘Nick Denton’ on a piece of paper and crumpled it up and thrown it away.” The tension began in the summer of 2015, nine months before the trial, when Denton contracted a public-relations firm to tell Gawker’s side of the story. Daulerio emailed Denton: “You’ve got enough talented people on staff who know . . . why I believe I had the right to publish it, and why they should want to preserve the right to publish stories like that in the future. The only person I’ve had any lack of confidence in has been you.” That summer, the National Enquirer obtained a transcript of another Hogan video, most of which was a conversation between Hogan and Clem. The transcript, which had been under seal in the Florida court, revealed that Hogan had referred to African-Americans as “niggers” several times. World Wrestling Entertainment severed all ties with Hogan. The story would soon cause Daulerio problems he could not foresee. His relationship with Denton further eroded during the preparations for trial. Daulerio felt Denton and the Gawker lawyers were cutting him out. “The first time I really got any witness preparation,” Daulerio says, “was when I arrived in Florida for the trial.” After the jury viewed Daulerio’s deposition, Daulerio and Denton went for a walk outside the courthouse. Daulerio told Denton about the unlocked memory and suggested it might be worth discussing on the stand to counter the implication that he would actually post a sex video of a child. Daulerio noted that Denton didn’t express concern for him; the gist of his

Credits Store Information

For the items featured in Esquire, please consult the website or call the number provided. The Code, p: 31: Gary Baseman for Coach 1941 jacket, coach.com. P. 32: Alexander McQueen sneakers, alexandermcqueen.com. Berluti case, 212-439-6400. Devialet speakers, devialet.com. P. 35: Ermenegildo Zegna suit, zegna.com. Reiss shirt and tie, reiss. com. Fratelli Rossetti shoes, fratellirossetti.com. Le Labo fragrance, lelabofragrances.com. P. 38: Ressence watch, manfredijewels.com. Drake’s cardigan, drakes.com. Hestra gloves, hestragloves. com. Burberry bag, us.burberry.com. Esquire Men’s Jewelry bracelet, macys.com. P. 42: Ring Jacket jacket, ringjacket.com. Cartier bracelet, cartier.com. P. 45: Kith hoodie, kithnyc.com. P. 46: Products: Philips Norelco, amazon.com. The Art of Shaving, Gillette, theartofshaving.com. Lab Series, labseries.com. Malin + Goetz, malinandgoetz.com. Aesop, aesop.com. The Impossible List, p. 71: Rolex watch, crownandcaliber.com. Z Zegna suit, zegna.com. Turnbull & Asser shirt, turnbullandasser.com. P. 73: Z Zegna trousers, zegna.com. George Cleverley shoes, mrporter.com. Pantherella socks, pantherella.com. P. 74: & Other Stories blouse, stories.com. Eddie Borgo choker and necklace, eddieborgo.com. Agmes earrings, agmesnyc.com. Tiffany & Co. rings, tiffany.com. P. 77: Paul Andrew shoes, paulandrew.com. Wolford stockings, wolfordshop.com. Collar Them Bad, p. 78: Salvatore Ferragamo suit, shirt, and tie, 866-337-7242. P. 79: Shirts: Boss, hugoboss.com. Paul Stuart, paulstuart.com. Ralph Lauren, ralphlauren.com. Jil Sander, 212-838-6100. Ties: Hermès, hermes.com. Ermenegildo Zegna,

response was that he didn’t see how sharing that information would help Gawker. “That’s Nick,” Daulerio says. What little was left of their relationship was shredded in the verdict’s aftermath. The Florida court didn’t care which of the three defendants—Daulerio, Denton, or Gawker Media—paid the $115 million in compensatory damages. But none of them had that kind of money. This past summer, months after the verdict, while Gawker’s attorneys worked on an appeal, Denton and Gawker Media each filed for bankruptcy. All of their debts to Hogan—$140 million—transferred to a New York bankruptcy court, thus protecting their assets from the former wrestler. Hogan was forced to get in line with all of Denton’s and Gawker Media’s outstanding creditors, and to negotiate a settlement with the Gawker estate. In August, Denton sold Gawker Media to Univision for $135 million. Univision acquired Deadspin, Gawker.com, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Jalopnik, and Jezebel. In November, Gawker agreed to pay Hogan a $31 million settlement, and dropped its appeal. (As of press time, it appeared imminent that a bankruptcy judge would approve the deal.) “Nick told me part of the reason he was settling was he didn’t want to be the cause of me overdosing,” Daulerio says. “I mean, if that’s the way he felt, if he really cared about me, why didn’t he reach out to me and try to get me help while I worked for him?” Gawker’s bankruptcy, however, had excluded Daulerio—and left him on the hook for $115.1 million. Hogan’s attorneys pursued Daulerio’s “assets” as if they were going after the full nut, deposing him over his finances and persuading the bank to freeze his account.

zegna.com. Polo Ralph Lauren, ralphlauren.com. Paul Smith, paulsmith.co.uk. P. 80: Shirts: Eton, etonshirts. com. Dsquared2, dsquared2.com. Tom Ford, tomford. com. Ascot Chang, ascotchang.com. Ties: Tommy Hilfiger, tommy.com. Thomas Pink, thomaspink.com. Tom Ford, tomford.com. Alexander Olch, olch.com. P. 81: Gucci jacket, shirt, and tie, gucci.com. Mix Master, p. 88: Ralph Lauren suit and tie, ralphlauren.com. Dries Van Noten shirt, bergdorfgoodman.com. Esquivel shoes, 323-651-5445. Rolex watch, rolex.com. P. 89: Emporio Armani suit, Giorgio Armani shirt and tie, armani.com. P. 90: Dolce & Gabbana suit, shirt, and tie, dolcegabbana.it. P. 91: PS by Paul Smith suit, Paul Smith shirt and tie, paulsmith.co.uk. P. 92: Louis Vuitton suit and shirt, louisvuitton.com. P. 93: Canali jacket and trousers, canali. com. Marni shirt, marni.com. Drake’s tie, drakes.com. P. 94: Bottega Veneta jacket, sweater, shirt, and trousers, 800-845-6790. P. 95: Prada jacket and shirt, prada.com. Patek Philippe watch, 212-218-1240.

Photographs & Illustrations

Man at His Best, p. 4: Pharrell: NBC; p. 5: Whitman: Buyenlarge; body: Jack Mitchell. Contributors, p. 12: Record: Joe Kovacs; boots: Geoff Brightling; pin: Raja Islam; book: Philip Friedman/Studio D. The Big Bite, p. 15: Harri Peccinotti; p. 16: Suicide Squad: Clay Enos/Warner Bros./Everett Collection; Wintour: Andrew Toth; Mother’s Day: Ron Batzdorff/ Open Road Films/Everett Collection; The Shallows: Vince Valitutti/Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection; The BFG: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/ Everett Collection; Nine Lives: Takashi Seida/EuropaCorp USA/Everett Collection; Ben-Hur: Philippe Antonello/Paramount Pictures/Everett Collection; Pee-wee’s Big Holiday: Glen Wilson/Netflix/Everett Collection; strawberry: Hermes Mereghetti/Alamy; Furby: Yvonne Hemsey; Tetris: photo_stella/Alamy;

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A. J. Daulerio It was a brutal, strategic move, and Daulerio felt it was legal extortion. “They were leaning on me to give them information about the transcript that got leaked to the National Enquirer,” Daulerio says. “I have no idea how that transcript got out.” A Cleveland-based attorney, David Marburger, outraged by what he saw as legal harassment, called Daulerio and offered to represent him. Though he won’t disclose specifics of his settlement proposal, which in large part depends on Gawker’s deal being approved, Marburger says he’s trying to strike a deal that would resolve Daulerio’s damages. But these days, Daulerio isn’t sure of anything. If Hogan insists on owning the copyright to anything related to the trial, Daulerio says he would reject the deal. (Such a prohibition could keep Daulerio from, say, writing a memoir that addresses the case.) Also, Daulerio doesn’t want to give up his right to appeal or to pursue legal action against Peter Thiel, the billionaire who funded Hogan’s lawsuit. According to what the judge in the case said in court statements, the plaintiff and the defense each spent approximately $10 million. Almost a decade earlier, a Gawker site called Valleywag had outed Thiel, one of PayPal’s cofounders. In the Hogan case, he saw a chance to pursue his vendetta against Gawker Media. Within days of acquiring Gawker Media, Univision shuttered Gawker.com, claiming the brand was too damaged. In October, speaking at the National Press Club, Thiel addressed his role in Gawker’s demise, saying he was proud to have supported the Hogan action and was pleased with

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110 E S Q U I R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7

the outcome. He referred to Daulerio as an “aspiring child pornographer.” The Gawker verdict left many legal pundits scratching their heads, especially since a federal court had ruled not long before the state trial began that the video was protected and newsworthy, as it was part of an ongoing conversation in the media. As he talked with Marburger, Daulerio found the idea of filing his own appeal of the Florida verdict, and possibly suing Thiel, especially intriguing in light of the presidential election. At a campaign rally last February, Trump said, “If I win . . . I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely neg-

“Peter Thiel now has a playbook to obliterate the media,” Daulerio says. “We have Trump in office, and this person who is very close to him has this playbook.” ative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, recently filed a defamation lawsuit against a Maryland blogger and the UK tabloid the Daily Mail for reporting that she once worked as an escort. Her attorney is Charles Harder—the same lawyer Thiel paid to represent Hogan. “Thiel now has a playbook to obliterate the media,” Daulerio says. “We have Trump in office, and this person who is very close

Factory Downtown; p. 71: Glass, decanter: Courtesy Moser; p. 72: Pantrepant Farm: Nikolas Koenig; Coral Beach & Tennis Club: Christine Amorose; Candlewood Cabins: Peter Godshall; p. 73: Glassware: Courtesy Moser; tray: Courtesy Alessi; p. 74: Platter: Courtesy RabLabs; p. 75: De Tomaso: Hardy Mutschler/Alamy; Roden Crater: NASA; p. 76: Table: Gentl & Hyers; Bhutan: Peter Adams Photography/ Stocksy. Collar Them Bad, pp. 78–81: Shirt collars: Ben Goldstein/Studio D; p. 78: McGregor: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC; p. 79: Nicholson: Ron Galella; Rock: Monica Schipper; Cranston: Ben Leuner/AMC; Jagger: Michael Ochs Archive; p. 80: Jackson: Gregg DeGuire; Caine: Terry O’Neill; Moura: Daniel Daza; Reedus: Jason LaVeris; p. 81: Warhol: Waring Abbott. Down and Dirty, p. 83: Hogan: Pool; Thiel: Kim Kulish; p. 85: Steve Nesius/Redux. Mix Master, pp. 88–95: Grooming by Colleen Creighton for Kramer + Kramer. Vision Quest, p. 96: Ferry: Rob Verhorst; Sullivan: GWD; p. 98: Simons: Willy Vanderperre; p. 99: Hockney: Photoshot; p. 100: Hendrix: Petra Niemeier/ K&K; Hainey: Neilson Barnard; p. 101: Quadrophenia: Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection; Birkin: Giancarlo Botti. The Big Bust, pp. 102–103: The White House: Alex Wong; Comey: Win McNamee; p. 105: Collage: Philip Friedman/Studio D; Kennedy and Hoover, Gray: Bettman; Truman and Hoover: Associated Press; Nixon: Keystone; Ruckelshaus, H.W. Bush and Sessions: Associated Press; Clinton and Freeh, Bush and Mueller: Life Images Collection; Mueller, Obama, and Comey: Pete Souza; p. 107: Pete Souza/Studio D. (ISSN 0194-9535) is published monthly (except combined issues in December/January and June/July), 10 times a year, by Hearst Communications, Inc., 300 West 57th St., NY, NY 10019 USA. Steven R. Swartz, President and Chief Executive Officer; William R. Hearst III, Chairman; Frank A. Bennack,

to him has this playbook.” When I ask him if Thiel was right to call Gawker “sociopathic,” Daulerio goes off on a long rant. “Maybe you need that sociopathic bully to fight back against a sociopathic bully. And the thing is, Nick is out. I’m not out.” While in rehab, Daulerio began to write down the names of the people he thinks he should make amends with. “The list is pretty long,” Daulerio tells me one night over the phone. As he talks through that long list, however, thinking aloud about the pieces he did at Deadspin and Gawker, recalling the people he wrote about and the stories he revealed—as well as their impact, both real and moral—he seems to find a just cause for every one of his decisions. “I mean, where was I doing my job and where was I doing something I need to apologize for?” he says. For a few long seconds, a hollow silence lingers between us. The only post Daulerio appears to regret is the one about Josh Hamilton’s struggle to stay sober. “That’s one I would still do,” he says. “But I would do it differently. I would have more empathy. I have a different perspective on that one because I know how challenging it is.” He tells me how fragile a person is during the first year of sobriety; he tells me, as he has told me many times, how fragile he is. He says that he “could be Josh Hamilton in a second.” Or worse. He pauses. It’s getting late. We’re both tired. At least I am. I want to get off the phone, but Daulerio, he doesn’t want to go to sleep. He wants to keep talking. He wants to keep making his case. ≥

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