May 25, 2012
Two days after Taki-cum-Onassis was caught on camera, it was time for Graydon Carter’s annual Vanity Fair extravaganza for those of us who bring so much joy to the great masses of unwashed filmgoers. To say that I was mobbed on the way to the dinner might be an exaggeration. Still, I felt as if I had been mugged after I fell while getting back into the dinghy. In my defense, it was after four hours of rather hard drinking. “You look like an upturned turtle,” said my rude son J. T., who managed to pull me upright with my dignity intact before the crew could see me. VF is a hell of a publication and they pull out all the stops come Cannes. The food and drinks are the best on the Riviera.
The south of France reminds me of a beautiful woman who has used too much Botox and wears too much makeup and false eyelashes and goes out with a much too short and much too fat producer. This was once the magic place of F. Scott Fitzgerald and of Picasso and of Gerald Murphy—even of Taki—but it is now inhabited by rich gangsters, criminals, and elderly retirees who believe they are escaping from Vichy France. The nicest parts are toward the mountains in Grasse and St. Paul de Vence where the writers and painters live. The great houses of the Agnellis and Normans and Dubonnets are now in the hands of the new rich, vulgarized beyond recognition, and apparently even the greatest of them all, La Fiorentina, has been “improved” and modernized. Oy vey!
Mind you, I’m seeing all this from afar. I rarely leave the boat to go onshore. When I first visited Cannes with my parents in 1952, the three great hotels—the Carlton, the Majestic, and the Martinez—lorded it over a long stretch of beach and green. Now the whole Croisette is lined with yellow-white art deco apartment buildings. It’s not a disaster, but the tennis courts and gardens and small cafés are gone forever. At least the future holds an Oscar for Taki.