November 08, 2014
To Newport, Rhode Island: smallest state in the Union but one of the most beautiful. Driving northeast from the Bagel there’s Long Island Sound on one’s right, and beautifully foliaged farms and towns on the left. The colors are spectacular, golden browns, brick reds, and lemon greens. New England is the most beautiful area of America, except for parts of Virginia, where they build warships rather than sailing boats. The reason for the trip is to find the new Bushido, as difficult a task as living one’s life under the Bushido code, and then some.
Just before crossing into Rhode Island I stop at Mystic, Connecticut, where twenty-five years ago a charming motion picture called Mystic Pizza was shot, starring an unknown Julia Roberts. Mystic is a fishing village inhabited by mostly Portuguese Americans, and the reason I liked the movie was that it had the right message: All three girls working in the pizza joint end up with their man, sort of. The one who moonlights as a nanny is seduced by the father; he stays with his wife but gives the girl a healthy check so she can go to Yale. The rich men are nice, while the third gal ends up with a fisherman, which is as good as it gets. If a gal can’t land a rich guy, why not a fisherman, as noble a profession as there is?
The reason I mention this is because my stop was just after New Haven, where Yale University, once a great institution, is now hounding the former head cardiologist for sending a love letter to an Italian researcher—a woman, as it happens—who now accuses him of sexual harassment. (As I’ve written countless of these things, perhaps I should turn myself in.) The newspaper that prints only what fits its politically correct agenda devoted a front page to this matter last Sunday. The doc was suspended for 18 months but the women want him out for good; now he has reportedly stepped out again and “decided not to return” to his post. Imagine if Rochdale or Rotherham had happened at Yale. I wonder whether they would be covered by the paper—as it would present race and ethnicity versus feminism.
Once at Newport, a friend and I visit two shipyards, both squeaky clean and well run. One boat is a marvel, with enormous overhangs and a flush deck of impeccable teak. The trouble is beneath. The interior is Spartan and I’m a spoiled old man. The other is brilliant below decks, perfect in fact, her deck not as classic as the first one, with no overhang, but she was sold the week before. After a long chat with the broker we decide his job will be to find the exterior of the first with an interior of the second. Easier said than done, but after a charming lunch with two gentlemen of the New England school, and the wine, my mood is one of that of children on Christmas Eve.
Lying next to the first sailboat we inspected, I notice a beautiful cruiser-sailer, hardly a pure sailing boat but with a capital c for classy. I inquire and she’s not for sale. She was built by the president of IBM, one Tom Watson, obviously a gent of the old school. Her present owner is also a gent, I am told. Which brings me to the point I wish to make. These boats are proof for a later generation to look at and marvel at a time when the rich really were different, and not just the ghastly, bloated slobs with blonde arm candy that own today’s hideous super refrigerators. It has always been said that one judges a man by his boat and his woman. Today’s superrich have horrible gin palaces for boats and super-stretched tarts for their women. There is nothing that I can think of that I’d like to do less—except for catching Ebola—than to go on a yachting outing with such people. It is, however, a sign of the times we’re living in.
And one doesn’t have to look further than what happened to the America’s Cup. I saw a couple of those oldies being dry-docked in Newport, and being lovingly restored. Even after the great J-Class beauties were mothballed for the war, in 1958 the 12-Metre-Class ones were just as graceful and wonderful to behold—until Larry Ellison, one of the most disgusting and richest men on the planet, decided he was a sportsman. He bent the rules and won first in a court of law, then by creating a racing machine that looks like a creepy-crawly straight out of a Hollywood horror film. If the thing that is the present Cup holder is a boat, I am definitely Monica Lewinsky.
And speaking of that lady, which she is not, she came up and offered her hand to the mother of my children at the Norman Mailer gala last week, and TMOMC shook it. “What was all that about?” I asked her. Well, I didn’t wish to be rude, said you know who. At least she didn’t kiss you, said yours truly, or offer you a cigar. But I am being bitchy. Ms. Lewinsky is making the rounds and she’s now an honest to goodness celebrity because she has claimed victimhood. I suppose she is a victim of sorts; having to blow Bill Clinton takes the act out of the human realm and into science fiction. That’s why I don’t go to the movies any more. Too much science fiction and the monsters all look like Clinton.