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July 1974


Playboy Interview: Barry Commoner


Playboy's History of Organized Crime Presents Part XII: The American Nightmare


Nothing but the Truth... and Other Lies



Playboy Interview: Barry Commoner

"Oil Crisis Abates," read the headline in The New York Times. In the adjacent column, a dispatch from Dallas reported news of a scientific gathering at which expert after expert had warned of some ecological doomsday to come. Said one: "I believe that unless we begin to match our technological power with a deeper understanding of the environment, we run the risk of destroying this planet as a suitable place for human habitation." It all sounds like a typical front page from the early months of 1974--but the date line was December 29, 1968; the oil crisis cited was caused by a truck drivers' strike rather than an Arab embargo; and its juxtaposition with the environmental story was fortuitous. Not many Americans in 1968 considered the possibility of either an energy crisis or an environmental crisis--let alone the fact that the two might be interrelated. One American who did was the scientist quoted above: Barry Commoner, director of the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems at Washington University in St. Louis.



Playboy's History of Organized Crime Presents Part XII: The American Nightmare

With considerable justification, Italian-Americans were seething by the beginning of the Seventies. In the previous 20 years--since the Kefauver hearings and on through the McClellan investigation and the disclosures of Joe Valachi--Italians and gangsters had become almost synonymous. The American public was devouring Mario Puzo's The Godfather, first as a book and then as a movie, and was generally agreed that this must be the real inside story of the strange world inhabited by the sons of Italy, that everyone must be a Don Vito Corleone, his son Michael or someone owing allegiance to them. These suspicions were only reinforced by Gay Talese's Honor Thy Father, the tale of the family of Joe Bonanno and his son Bill.



Nothing but the Truth... and Other Lies

It is January 3, 1973, and 400 registered voters from northern Illinois have been asked to the Everett Dirksen Federal Building, in the middle of Chicago's clangorous, soot-gray Loop, to listen to truths and lies. They are the year's first citizens to be called for jury duty in Federal Court. They live not only in Chicago but in its flat suburban trim and in surrounding small towns that take much of their commerce from the land, and whose people resist any meeting with the rude whines and vulgar geometry of the city. Of the 400 called, the Government knows from experience that half of them have suddenly become the victims of domestic chaos or fresh occupational responsibilities demanding their full and constant energies. Others simply know someone who knows someone. So on January third, those without clout or excuse, 194 good citizens in all, have come to the building's ceremonial courtroom on the 25th floor.



Saint Gloria & The Troll

My second book, Pages from a Cold Island, didn't work because it was so unrelievedly desolate that, despite its humor, I was sure the reader couldn't turn back the final page (allowing he got that far) without wondering whence I'd mustered the will to put together its 480 pages of typescript. And in Ms. Gloria Steinem--and I'd all but leapt from my bed in exaltation when the possibility began to form itself in my mind--I'd seen the metaphor to lift the pages from the gloom in which they wallowed. The book was a reminiscence; and the cold of the title, applied to Singer Island off Palm Beach, Florida, where 90-degree-plus temperatures are not uncommon, apostrophized my being, not the weather. In those pages I'd put down one American's journey through the Sixties and especially his reaction to what historians call "the great events." If I had entered the Sixties more given to dark derogation than to joyous celebration, I'd at least been an articulate, relatively hopeful creature. But I had crawled out of the period on my knees, a simpering, stuttering, drunken and mute mess. The obscene decade had begun with President John F. Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you" and in the late summer and fall of 1969 had ended at Chappaquiddick. At that numbing moment succeeding the assassinations of the brothers Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., when I'd at last come to accept that there existed no desecration left capable of unmanning me, Senator Edward M. "Teddy" Kennedy had fooled me and for nine hours had left the body of Miss Mary Jo Kopechne to float about the back seat of a car among the currents beneath the now famous wooden span at Martha's Vineyard. I'd then gone back to bed, had pulled the sheet above my head, now and again had sneaked out to drink vodka and to put down bleak words and had come at last to lie there with swollen balls and cracked ribs, the results of a stomping I'd received in Nassau, reading about Gloria Steinem in the glossy magazines.




I have so far released for publication only one episode from Uncle Oswald's diaries. It concerned, as some of you may remember, a carnal encounter between my uncle and a Syrian female leper in the Sinai Desert. Six years have gone by since its publication and nobody has yet come forward to make trouble. I am therefore encouraged to release a second episode from these curious pages. My lawyer has advised against it. He points out that some of the people concerned are still living and are easily recognizable. He says I will be sued mercilessly. Well, let them sue I am proud of my uncle. He knew how life should be lived. In a preface to the first episode I said that Casanova's Memoirs read like a parish magazine beside Uncle Oswald's diaries and that the great lover himself, when compared with my uncle appears positively undersexed. I stand by that and, given time. I shall prove it to the world. Here, then, is a little episode from volume XXIII, precisely as Uncle Oswald wrote it.



Witches' Brew

Everybody, except for the nefarious Eli, was going to be there. The astral jet setters. Riders incomparable of the inner planes. In a word, the flower of American witchery. Say, Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits, a reconstructionist Druid with a B.A. in magic from the University of California, endorsed by no less than Ronnie Reagan. Bonewits, a mere 22-year-old, his hair worn in a pigtail, his beard wispy, sucking on a calabash pipe and adorned in Moroccan robes, his leather belt slung low, an athame (a black-handled knife made or inherited by a witch) riding one hip and a hammer of Thor, the other. P. E. I. Bone-wits is the sole begetter of Real Magic. "Learn how to cast spells or heal a friend. Discover clairsentience [vibes], clairvoyance, telepathy, astral projection, as magic leaves the Dark Ages and enters the age of reason." Gavin of Boskednan and Yvonne were also going. They are codirectors of the Church and School of Wicca (Route 2, Salem, Missouri), the craft's first mail-order college. "Introduction: Some people would call me a wizard. They would call my mate a witch. We call ourselves flamens of the Wicca faith. Wicca is the old word meaning 'wise' or 'wisdom,' which is now pronounced 'witch.' To our believers, Wicca is the oldest religion."



Diary of a Customs Inspector

does this group have anything to declare--that is, aside from the grass in the bra, the skinned monkey, the 141 mangoes and the deceased's ashes?



King Zamp

Zamp is coming. Fat and frantic. Pushing and shoving, jiggling and yelling, running foulmouthed with his aluminum cane, here comes Zamp.


Reader Discussion

The Playboy Forum

Demon-Haunted Objects


Letters to the Editor

Dear Playboy

Address Playboy Magazine • Playboy Building, 919 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60611

June1974 August1974
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