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Enough about me, what do you think about my new book?

Gore Vidal died.  I read Lincoln a long time ago.  It was pretty good, as historical fiction goes.  Might have even happened like that.

Other than Lincoln, and the fact that he and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy were steprelatives of some sort, I don’t really know much about him.  There are a couple other novels that he wrote that sound interesting to me.  Julian is about the Roman emperor who tried to deconvert the empire from Christianity to paganism, which must have been a rewarding endeavor. Or not.

Anyway, I’m interested in defining moments.  Vidal went seriously off his crackers in the last couple of decades, trying to get into the head of Tim McVeigh.  Good luck with that.  I don’t think Vidal could pull off a Lincolnesque mind meld with McVeigh in any way that I would find compelling enough to read.

However, here’s a juicy encounter Vidal had with Norman Mailer on the Dick Cavett show.  I don’t know who the lady is in this video but I adore her gloves, as if anyone needs to wear gloves on a TV set.  Come to think of it, maybe she was on to something.  Vidal and Mailer exchange insults in a way one doesn’t see on TV anymore as Mailer’s train starts to derail.  And Cavett keeps his cool and composure and then delivers a devastating coup de grace.  He makes Bill Maher look like an amateur.


Diving into a Necker Island pool

And if you have an extra $34,000 sitting around not doing anything useful, you could spend it on a single night on Necker Island, Richard Branson’s private island in the British Virgin Islands.  The Great House burned to a cinder last year after it was struck by lightening during Hurricane Irene.  Not to worry, there are 6 Bali style pavilions and Richard’s private house that he lets out when he’s doing some other fantastic thing billionaires do.  And if your house party spills over, there’s a luxury catamaran called the Necker Belle that can handle the extras.  He also has a 3 seat open sea sub.  Passengers wear SCUBA gear while they glide over the reefs.  It’s an additional $2500 and you must book in advance.

Of course, if you are a personal friend of Richard’s, you can stay for free.  Kate Winslet was there when the house burned down and carried Branson’s 90 year old mother to safety so I’m assuming she’s got her own key now.  The rule is: the more famous you are, the more likely Richard will lend you the island free of charge.  It is now my goal to be the most famous blogger in the world.  I’m sure that I would appreciate the island more than any fee paying rich persons.  *They* only have money.  I have that certain je ne sais quoi and can hold my own at any torch lit dinner party at the beach pavilion.

20 Responses

  1. I believe that he wrote a play called The Best Man but, I can’t remember when I first read it. It seems like I always knew about him but, my first memory of seeing him is this from the 1968 Democratic convention debating William Buckley:

    • I’m sorry that he’s gone.

      • Yes, when will we ever hear people talking like that again with their vocal tones pinched in their noses and held in place as they stare down at us from their half closed eyes?

        You know, Vidal look sexually aroused at the end of that clip.

    • I dimly remember when I was young that my parents would semi-often watch Buckley on that PBS show of his . . . Firing Line I think it was called. I think my parents were hoping that the liberal-of-the-episode would win one just once. I think the liberals were all intimidated by Buckley because he knew how to sound like a reel innalekshul ayy-leet person who could tawk so purty with all them bigg wurds. That kind of verbaliferous pretentionization ditt’n scare Vidal none, and that’s what got Buckley upset, or so it seems to me from watching that clip.

      On the other hand, Kurt Vonnegut must have done something sometime to get Vidal’s goat because Vidal wrote real mean about Vonnegut a time or two. I remember reading where Vonnegut wrote about that in hindsight in one of his essays-about-many-things and the few sentences I remember were . . . ” Actually, writers drag themselves around in society like gut-shot bears. Well, the good ones do. I personally think Gore Vidal expects an awful lot of credit for wearing a three piece suit.”

      I remember an American History class in college where Burr was assigned reading. I remember it being difficult and unpleasant for me to grind my way through. That could be all my fault. I may just simply not be good enough to appreciate Vidal. I certainly enjoyed some of his writing . . as writing . . where he was slapping Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter around some after they kicked him for some reason or other. And I realize I ought to go and read some of his political essays in general.

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Flanner

    The woman is Janet Flanner who appears to have had a more interesting life than either Gore Vidal or Norman Mailer.

    I recently saw the Broadway revival of Vidal’s political play “The Best Man”. It takes place at the fictional1960 Republican convention where the two main candidates threaten to expose one another as having received treatment for depression or engaging in gay sex while confined to a military base in the Aleutian Islands. Oh, the shame!

    Dick Cavett is beyond cool. I had a crush on him when I was in high school. I spent my senior year in a fog because I stayed up late to watch his show.When I went to NYC after my high school graduation, I looked up his phone number which was listed under his wife’s initials (C.N. Cavett). The woman who answered the phone repeated the last five numbers of the phone number instead of the “hello” used in my world. Not understanding her response, I got so flustered that I hung up without asking to speak to Dick which was probably for the best. I have no idea what I would’ve said. I think that he would have probably said something pithy, though.

    • thanks for tracking that down. I’ll look her up.

    • I agree: Dick Cavett is beyond cool. And an excellent writer too. Here’s his homage to Nora Ephron after learning about her death.

      And apropos of nothing, he mentions how he and Nora Ephron ‘talked about Hellman’s “Julia,” a tale apparently bogus from tip to toe’, which still doesn’t prevent me from loving the movie … or remembering with sadness how disappointed it made me that Jane Fonda – allegedly – stopped her brilliant carreer because “If you’re married to Ted Turner, you don’t go on location”. 😦

      But then, from what I know, even she always took second place to the men in her life. Starting with Dad?

  3. Gore Vidal….one of my favorite authors, TV commenter, pithy bon vivant, brilliant political mind, witty beyond witty. What a loss! No one to take his place. What a life he had. His mother was married to step father of Jackie Kennedy. His father founded TWA. Gore learned to fly as a young boy. He was related to Al Gore. His take on politics was spot on and delightful. He wrote the most wonderful essays in magazines like The Nation and Vanity Fair. And his book reviews were amazing. It makes me sad to think of this world without the likes of Gore Vidal. All the rest pale by comparison. I will miss him. I often read something and wondered what Gore Vidal would have said, written or thought about on that item. Now, we will never know.

  4. My glasses broke not long after my last comment and I’m not capable of thinking clearly without them. Much less driving someplace to replace them. Confusion reigns.

    • Arggggh! Is the lenses or the frame? The sky looks nasty outside.

      • Frame snapped very needly in half right at the nose piece. It’s a goner. I have an old pair of glasses but I’m trying to just keep my eye’s closed as much as I can so I don’t trigger another headache.

        • How frustrating. I hope you don’t have to go without too long.
          In the meantime, it’s raining cats, dogs and elephants here.

  5. I think Vidal was a very good writer, but he was also a young America Firster who opposed US entry into WWII. This was a stance he never really changed-as an adult he pushed the nonsense conspiracy theory that FDR intetionally allowed the Japanese to surprise us at Pearl Harbor. So he’ll never be one of my political role models.

  6. Back to glasses. I hate looking for new glasses. The selection is always so narrow. I’m looking for rounded glasses and they’re all to severely angled.

  7. “The Best Man” is a terrific play. Still holds up extremely well.

    Riverdaughter, the Timothy McVeigh thing was understandable, even predictable, to those who were more familiar with Vidal’s work. He (Vidal) was obsessed with the legend of Billy the Kidd — specifically, with Billy’s relationship with Mr. Tunstall, the ranch owner who took Billy under his wing and taught him civilized ways. Tunstall’s death was what set Billy off into his life of crime.

    I think that story appealed to Vidal on a sexual level, although he never talked about it in those terms. At any rater, everything he wrote about McVeigh always carried a “Billy and his mentor” vibe. Perhaps Vidal fantasized that he was the mentor that McVeigh SHOULD have had.

    I was never an uncritical admirer of Gore Vidal. He was a classic example of a snob who wanted to represent the working classes. A friend who worked on the 1982 senatorial campaign recounted an occasion when Vidal walked into a meeting and announced: “I have just campaigned in…WHITTIER!” He delivered the line with a wince and a shiver, as though he had just stepped in cow poop. Everyone in the room laughed, of course. But when I heard the story, I thought: “This guy went to Whittier because he hopes that the people in that town will vote for him. How can he be their senator if he holds them in contempt?”

    Nevertheless, he was undoubtedly America’s finest political essayist. The novels are good, but “Homage to Daniel Shays” is better.

    Incidentally, I appear in “Gore Vidal: The Man Who Said No,” a video about the 1982 campaign. Toward the end, as the returns are coming in, I show up in campaign headquarters wearing a white sweater and looking very much like Vidal’s catamite. Actually, I was studying his face for some crack in the patrician facade. In the face of an expensive defeat, was he capable of showing emotion? Apparently not.

    (In truth, I was there to mooch. Free beer. BAD beer, but free.)

  8. I hope you don’t have that methicillin-resistant strain of je ne sais quoi. 😈

  9. Spammy is being difficult again. 😛

  10. Between my pretty-good-but-not-quite-good-enough hearing and the semi-poor sound quality on that Cavett clip, I didn’t hear exactly everything that Mailer said. I still don’t understand what the fingerbowls deal was supposed to be about.

    I have enjoyed some of Mailer’s writing but other of Mailer’s writing reads like it’s written by a man who’s pretty full of himself and whose writing is pretty full of itself. Mailer was soooooo earrrrr-nest about so many things. He also adopted some positions which can only be called ethically and intellectually depraved in the extreme. I wish I would have been famous enough to have been one of the guests on one of the TV shows he was a guest on . . . the one where I read he talked about women wrongfully expecting to be “cossetted” by having legal access to safe sterile surgical abortions. I would have said I admired Mailer’s tough-mindedness and I looked forward to the day when Mailer could walk his talk by getting a coat hanger angioplasty.
    Or so I like to think now.

    I did once send Mailer a letter wishing him a Happy New Year and asking if he ever sent Christmas Cards to Richard Adan’s family. I don’t know if he ever actually saw the letter.

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