From my article in yesterday’s USA Today:
“Whether you adore him or abhor him, the next time Donald Trump trudges across your TV screen, make your children watch. “Gaze upon him,” you should insist. “Yonder walks one of the last great examples of ’80s Man.” Nonsense, you say; the world is crawling with people who remember the 1980s. But remembering is not the same as embodying. Not only was Trump among the outstanding icons of that decade, but perhaps he alone continues to express himself with all that decade’s overweening narcissism. When you hear him call people “losers,” deride war heroes, stigmatize whole swaths of humanity or shower contempt on his critics, you could be hearing utterances that are freshly minted but whose origins date to the heady, haughty heyday of the ’80s.
To read the rest, go to http://tinyurl.com/qa2hard.
The best part of my trip to Austin was that it set me up for a visit to my brother Matt and his smart, pretty daughters Michelle and Megan. Matt has lived in Arizona for almost two decades, but I have never
visited him. I had a great time catching up with him and his girls. I also got to meet Elska, whom he has been seeing for several months. A lovely woman. I’m very glad I got a chance to visit. Photos: top, Elska, Matt, Megan and Michelle; First row: Matt, Megan, Michelle, and me; Michelle, Megan, Matt and Elska; Matt and Elska; Second row: authentic, airport-suitable cactus; huge Phelps Dodge mining pit in Bisbee; Whetstone Mountains, where Howard Cushing died fighting the Apache; Below: Megan and Michelle at a Mexican restaurant in Tucson
Many thanks to the Civil War Roundtable of Austin, Texas, for inviting me to talk about Will Cushing at their meeting last Thursday. I had a great time: the talk went well, the crowd was large and friendly, and they bought a lot of books. In addition, the group was very hospitable. They bought me dinner at one of the oldest and best Tex-Mex restaurants in town, Mel’s, with its marvelous fifties-era signage, and then put me up at the Hotel Ella, a swanky joint converted from a 1910 mansion owned by Goodall and Ella Wooten, which featured splendid columns and some very cool student art recovered from the art department of the University of Texas. Thanks David, Fred, Martha, and everyone else who helped show me a good time.
Elaine’s was certainly in its heyday in the early eighties when I worked for John Scanlon, but, odd to say, he was never part of that scene. I wonder why–everyone who hung there was someone with whom he would have aspired to associate. Over the years, I made a couple of appearances there–one or two Esquire parties; an amazing post-Loose Lips dinner with Kurt Andersen, Lisa Birnbach, Harvey Weinstein, and most amazingly, Sharon Stone; and the book party Chris Napolitano threw for me and The Coup. A very special occasion. Beyond that, the place existed as a heaven on earth for a writerly New York that no longer really exists. Anyway, Drew Friedman has been filling a Facebook page with mementoes of the career of his father, the great Bruce Jay Friedman. The other day he posted this photo of Elaine’s A-listers that Irving Penn took for Vogue in 1971. Front row: Arthur Kopit, Jack Gelber, George Plimpton and Gay Talese; second row, seated: Willie Morris, Jack Richardson, Elaine Kaufman, Christopher Cerf, David Halberstam; third row: Nicholas Pileggi, Robert Brown, Jean-Pierre Rassam (center), and Bernard “Buzz” Farber (far right); back row: John Barry Ryan III, Lewis H. Lapham, Bobby Short, William Styron, and Bruce Jay Friedman