In the News 10.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 10.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 10.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 10.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Nicolas Cage: ‘If I Don’t Have A Job To Do, I Can Be Very Self-Destructive’

Nicolas Cage is the greatest American actor working today, full stop. Not very long ago, such a claim would have got you laughed out of the room. Only Cage superfans said such things; in the eyes of the rest of the world, well, sure, he could act – he did win the 1996 Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, after all – but he was too eccentric, too laughably over the top, just too damn Cage-y to be taken seriously.

Ever since I saw him in his 1980s comedies – Peggy Sue Got Married, Moonstruck and Raising Arizona – in which he played, respectively, a nasal-voiced teddy boy, an opera-loving baker and a cartoonish ex-con – I have been a Cage superfan. I had never seen anyone act like him before – wildly mannered but always heartfelt – and there was something about his fearless lurch towards the ridiculous to achieve something unique, and maybe even glorious, that struck me as inspiring. If actors were pop songs, Cage would be Bohemian Rhapsody. As a shy 10-year-old, I would practise his grandiose speeches and even more grandiose gestures from Moonstruck in front of the mirror: “I ain’t no freaking monument to justice!” I would shout, lifting my arm to the sky. It felt exciting. But thanks to the endless schlocky horror movies he makes these days, coupled with all those internet supercuts compiling his notorious “Cage Rage” freak-outs from various movies (“Nicolas Cage’s Cagiest Moments!”), he is too often regarded as, if not exactly a guilty pleasure, then at least an ironic one. And it is hard to argue the genius of a man who fills his CV with movies such as Season of the Witch and Ghost Rider.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

In the News 10.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Long Shots

In the News 10.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

John McGrath was hunting a ghost: a man more than two decades his junior who seemed to melt into thin air. Every few days in the spring of 2013, McGrath, a 46-year-old native of Ireland, climbed into his black Jeep and drove ten miles from his home in the city of Paarl, South Africa, to Mbekweni, a predominately black township. He guided the thick tires of his vehicle around the potholes and puddles dotting Mbekweni’s narrow streets. He drove past small shops and roadside kiosks selling apples, potatoes, cigarettes, snuff, and gum. McGrath kept his window rolled down so that he could ask passersby if they had seen the phantom he was looking for: Luvo Manyonga, a young man full of possibility.

McGrath knew a thing or two about possibility. A strength coach for competitive athletes, he’d recently spent 18 months training the South African women’s tug-of-war team for the 2013 World Games, an event held every four years featuring sports that aren’t part of the Olympics. The women weren’t expected to do well—other countries had far better teams—but McGrath cared little for odds, records, and other supposed predictors of athletic success. He believed in hard work, hope, and surprises. Six-foot-six, with a chiseled torso and sculpted arms, he embodied the principles of his training methods. He’d weathered personal obstacles to become a rower and, later, an old-fashioned strongman, bending steel bars and other unlikely objects in front of stunned audiences. With his guidance, South Africa’s tug-of-war team won the bronze medal at the World Games.

The games were the reason McGrath had first heard about Luvo Manyonga. As part of his preparation, he’d attended a two-day symposium of coaches, trainers, and members of the South Africa Sports Commission and Olympic Committee (Sascoc). The meeting was held at a hotel in Johannesburg, in a conference room where the walls were lined with life-size posters of South African athletes in action. One of the images showed Manyonga in midstride, as if running on air. He was long and lithe, his legs extended and arms spread wide, as if every muscle in his body were pushing, propelling, willing him forward. He was jumping because that’s what he did best: Manyonga was one of the most promising long jumpers the world had ever seen.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atavist

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Dennis Hopper’s Mad Vision

Henry Fonda wasn’t holding back. Not even a little.

It was October 1970, and the 65-year old Hollywood legend had recently watched his son Peter on The David Frost Show.

Peter wasn’t the problem. Fonda’s son had come out, shaken Frost’s hand, and taken his seat—like a goddamn normal person. No, the thing raising Fonda’s blood pressure was what happened next, when Peter’s friend, Dennis Hopper came on stage.

“Dennis came out floating,” Fonda later told a New York Times reporter. He demonstrated what he meant by flouncing about the living room of his Manhattan apartment with arms spread wide and head tossed backwards. “And every time Frost asked him a question, he began giggling… Dennis is stoned out of his mind. He’d have to be to act that way.”

“Put that in your story,” Fonda told the reporter. ‘This is not off the record. Dennis Hopper is an idiot. Spell that name right D-e-n-n-i-s H-o-p-p-e-r!”

Reached at his home in Taos, New Mexico, Hopper laughed when told about Fonda’s rant. “Henry Fonda said I was an idiot?” Hopper said. “Well, I guess it goes to show you what the establishment view of me is.”

Hopper could afford to be amused. After years of being regarded by much of the old guard as an ill-mannered, drug-addled lunatic, he was now possibly the hottest filmmaker in Hollywood. Easy Rider, which Hopper had made for less than half a million dollars, was the surprise smash of 1969, grossing $60 million and seemingly striking a death blow to the studio system that nourished the elder Fonda.

Hopper’s overnight transformation from unemployable fuckup to Wellesian genius was made exponentially more aggravating when Universal gave him total control over his next picture, on which he was currently in post-production: The Last Movie, which Hopper wrote, directed, starred in, and edited. He declared it “the first American art film.”

Hopper was keenly aware that the project would determine the course of his future, as he told the endless stream of reporters who visited him on the film’s set. “The Last Movie is the big one,” he told one writer. “If I foul up now, they’ll say Easy Rider was a fluke. But, I’ve got to take chances to do what I want.”

Read the rest of this article at: Esquire

In the News 10.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

‘This Guy Doesn’t Know Anything’: The Inside Story Of Trump’s Shambolic Transition Team

In the News 10.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Chris Christie noticed a piece in the New York Times – that’s how it all started. The New Jersey governor had dropped out of the presidential race in February 2016 and thrown what support he had behind Donald Trump. In late April, he saw the article. It described meetings between representatives of the remaining candidates still in the race – Trump, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – and the Obama White House. Anyone who still had any kind of shot at becoming president of the United States apparently needed to start preparing to run the federal government. The guy Trump sent to the meeting was, in Christie’s estimation, comically underqualified. Christie called up Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to ask why this critical job had not been handed to someone who actually knew something about government. “We don’t have anyone,” said Lewandowski.

Christie volunteered himself for the job: head of the Donald Trump presidential transition team. “It’s the next best thing to being president,” he told friends. “You get to plan the presidency.” He went to see Trump about it. Trump said he didn’t want a presidential transition team. Why did anyone need to plan anything before he actually became president? It’s legally required, said Christie. Trump asked where the money was going to come from to pay for the transition team. Christie explained that Trump could either pay for it himself or take it out of campaign funds. Trump didn’t want to pay for it himself. He didn’t want to take it out of campaign funds, either, but he agreed, grudgingly, that Christie should go ahead and raise a separate fund to pay for his transition team. “But not too much!” he said.

And so Christie set out to prepare for the unlikely event that Donald Trump would one day be elected president of the United States. Not everyone in Trump’s campaign was happy to see him on the job. In June, Christie received a call from Trump adviser Paul Manafort. “The kid is paranoid about you,” Manafort said. The kid was Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. Back in 2005, when he was US attorney for New Jersey, Christie had prosecuted and jailed Kushner’s father, Charles, for tax fraud. Christie’s investigation revealed, in the bargain, that Charles Kushner had hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, whom he suspected of cooperating with Christie, videotaped the sexual encounter and sent the tape to his sister. The Kushners apparently took their grudges seriously, and Christie sensed that Jared still harboured one against him. On the other hand, Trump, whom Christie considered almost a friend, could not have cared less.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

He Won $19 Million In The Lottery—And Became A Bank Robber

In the News 10.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The first time Jim Hayes robbed a bank, at age 55, he gave himself a pep talk.

The former security guard—a clean-cut guy with silver hair and a doughy physique—stood frozen next to the entrance of Montecito Bank & Trust at a strip mall in Carpinteria, a mellow beach town about 12 miles southeast of Santa Barbara. Hayes had stuffed a pillow in his shirt and pulled a Zoo York cap low over his face. It was 5:15 p.m. on April 27, 2017 and he’d spent weeks researching how to pull off the heist. Now, he told himself, “You just need the cojones.”

“It felt like I had a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other,” Hayes told me a year after the crime. “The angel was saying, ‘Don’t do it. You could go to prison for 20 years.’ And the devil was saying, ‘It’s Friday. You’re broke. Are you really gonna go the whole weekend without drugs, you loser?’”

So Hayes walked inside and handed a female teller a note demanding cash. “Sorry,” he said before bolting. “Family emergency.”

All told, he was out the door and into his Volkswagen Jetta with $3,300 in less than three minutes.

Over the next five months, the heroin addict struck 10 more banks in the Los Angeles and Santa Barbara areas. Dubbed the “PT Cruiser Bandit” by local media for the champagne-colored getaway car he bought with stolen cash, he swiped nearly $40,000 before FBI agents stormed his driveway with guns blazing.

Truth be told, there was a time when 40 grand would have been chump change for Hayes. Nearly 20 years before his robbery spree, he won a $19 million lottery. He spent big—Lamborghinis, Porsches and Harleys, million-dollar oceanfront condos, extravagant gambling trips to Vegas.

On the day he was busted, Hayes was a penniless junkie living in a garage.

“Having money enabled me to live my wildest dreams,” he said. “But there’s a flip side. It’s the lottery curse.”

James Allen Hayes grew up 20 minutes from the beach in the middle-class city of Camarillo, California. As a kid, he had a knack for violin and became the youngest member of the county orchestra, he said. At age 13, his mentally-ill mom physically abused him and child protective services sent him to live with his grandma, Melba, according to court documents. He never knew his dad.

The next year, he quit violin. “I got interested in girls and they wouldn’t talk to me if I was holding a violin case! LOL!” Hayes wrote in a typically upbeat letter from Terminal Island federal prison in San Pedro, where he’s serving a nearly three-year robbery sentence. “So I got into cars!”

As an 18-year-old, he spent time surfing and tooling around the beach in a convertible Baja Bug. “He was cute; he had wild hair and freckles. He looked like a let’s-go-have-fun type of guy,” recalls his former longtime girlfriend Candace Walker, 53. “He had a funny sense of humor and was usually in a good mood.”

When she got pregnant at age 17, the couple put the baby boy up for adoption. “He didn’t want to be a father, so I ended up finding a family who took our son,” she said. They stayed together for 15 years until Hayes left her for a younger woman in 1997, she said. “I got the boot and got kicked out of the house.”

The next year, at age 35, Hayes hit the jackpot. He was working the graveyard shift guarding commercial and residential buildings for Dial Security, when he bought a Quick Pick lottery ticket at a USA Gas Station on January 7, 1998.

His grandma, whom he’d been living with and caring for, checked the ticket during her morning routine and woke him up with the news. The odds of winning were 1 in 18,009,460. He was ecstatic.

“I know I’ll change but only for the better,” he told the Los Angeles Times the next day. “Mainly what I want to do is help out my family and friends in need.”

He added, “I’m not going to blow the money.”

Read the rest of this article at: Daily Beast

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