We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. These are nice. Little Roquefort cheese morsels rolled in crushed nuts. Very tasty. Very subtle. It’s the way the dry sackiness of the nuts tiptoes up against the dour savor of the cheese that is so nice, so subtle. Wonder what the Black Panthers eat here on the hors d’oeuvre trail? Do the Panthers like little Roquefort cheese morsels wrapped in crushed nuts this way, and asparagus tips in mayonnaise dabs, and meatballs petites au Coq Hardi, all of which are at this very moment being offered to them on gadrooned silver platters by maids in black uniforms with hand-ironed white aprons . . . The butler will bring them their drinks . . . Deny it if you wish to, but such are the pensées métaphysiques that rush through one’s head on these Radical Chic evenings just now in New York. For example, does that huge Black Panther there in the hallway, the one shaking hands with Felicia Bernstein herself, the one with the black leather coat and the dark glasses and the absolutely unbelievable Afro, Fuzzy Wuzzy-scale in fact—is he, a Black Panther, going on to pick up a Roquefort cheese morsel rolled in crushed nuts from off the tray, from a maid in uniform, and just pop it down the gullet without so much as missing a beat of Felicia’s perfect Mary Astor voice. . . .
The whole thing is hilarious. A socio-cultural history of American cosmopolitan wealth.
Tom Wolfe and I met twice, in his Upper East Side home, and to answer the inevitable question, no: He never wore a white suit. Dark blazer, dark pants, no hat.
We talked for four hours over two days about “Radical Chic,” his New York account of a January 1970 party that Leonard Bernstein held, at his Park Avenue duplex, for the Black Panthers. (The New York Times, whose Charlotte Curtis was in attendance, ran an account the next day.) It’s a delightfully scathing story, which pissed off more than a few New Yorkers. (Bernstein’s wife “fled” a party rather than be in a room with Wolfe’s publisher.) At 25,000 words, “Radical Chic” filled a chunk of the magazine. Wolfe envisioned it as a chapter in a “non-fiction novel,” but his “journalistic instinct overcame any literary instinct,” he told me. My questions and comments are in blue, Wolfe’s responses in red.
Storyboard: How did you get the idea for “Radical Chic”?
Tom Wolfe: It was December of ’69, it must have been, that I learned about this party for the Black Panthers, in the following manner: I was at Harper’s magazine, waiting for my wife-to-be — who was the art director — to get a break so we could go to lunch. And I just started wandering around — everybody was at lunch — poking my nose into other people’s business. And I was in David Halberstam’s office. There, on his desk, was an invitation to this party. And I said, “My God! 895 Park Avenue! That’s one of the greatest Park Avenue buildings.” And I said, “Somehow I have got to go to this thing.” So I copied down the phone number that was on the invitation to call to respond, and took a chance on it being a committee of some kind — which, in fact, in must have been, because there was a security check outside the door to Leonard Bernstein’s apartment. I mean, they put some big desks out there, so you couldn’t get by. There was no way you could sneak by. And my name was on the list, so no problem! And I immediately introduced myself to Felicia Bernstein and to Leonard Bernstein. I didn’t know them. I told them that I was from New York magazine.
Did they know who you were?
I don’t know. They didn’t fall all over themselves, if they did. Well, they might have known. I had done The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
Didn’t they wonder why Halberstam didn’t show up?
They may have. But they really wondered why Homer Bigart hadn’t shown up. They expected Homer Bigart, the No. 1 foreign correspondent for the New York Times — he was the big shot of their political coverage — to come. Instead, they sent Charlotte Curtis, who was a good writer and everything, but she was the social editrix. They assumed if you were there, you were there for the Panthers.
Countercite, opening Women at random (p.247). Does it seem the same only cleaner? ...'s in original.
"It's strange how, when a woman stops being a woman, she can squash the man she happens to be with at the time ..."
And what strikes me is that she didn't ask what he meant by "when a woman stops being a woman..." As if there was no need to ask ... As if anyone knew what it means when a woman starts being a woman ... Although she's one already ... I'm not talking, of course, about her reaching puberty or losing her virginity ... Nor of the thransition from girl to woman, or from woman to old woman after the formidable journey through menopause ... Nor of the red sea episode ... No, I'm talking about a more profound change ... Might a woman be a woman only from time to time? For a while? Not during pregnancy ... Oh no .. . A strange interlude ... Unforeseen ...
Wolfe wrote the line "the dark night of fascism is always descending on the United States and yet lands only in Europe," though the sentiment was not entirely his. https://assistantvillageidiot.blogspot.com/2013/01/revel-to-wolfe-to-volokh.html
I have recently seen this updated that fascism is forever descending in red states, yet somehow lands only in blue ones.
Assistant Village Idiot