November 17, 2011

Keith Richards

Keith Richards

NEW YORK—I had a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious week—so good, it took a weekend in Connecticut to recover from it.

Let’s begin with the Norman Mailer benefit gala. The Mailer Center is an extraordinary achievement only four years following the great man’s death. Larry Schiller, the human battery behind it, has turned Mailer’s Cape Cod house into a young writers’ colony, handing out scholarships and shelter and giving out prizes and 16-month-long fellowships to keep their literary ambitions alive. (Thirty-two Mailer fellowships and 225 writers have received scholarships to date.) Dylan Jones of GQ magazine is also a big sponsor, Taki being a tiny one.

This year they had Bill Clinton handing out a prize for distinguished biography to Cliff Richard, who looked awful upon getting up onstage to receive it. I saw him not too long ago at Wimbledon trying a sing-along, and never have I seen a man deteriorate more rapidly.

Well, stupid old me. It was Keith Richards up there being brown-nosed by Bill Clinton for a book he didn’t actually write, but such are the joys of alcohol past seventy. It had been like this all night. The mother of my children thought me silly when I yelled out hello to Woody Allen—“We’ll always have Paris, Woody”—but it turned out to be the lugubrious Elie Wiesel with yet another painted-up tart lookalike, Mort Zuckerman, awarding the goodies. Wiesel should lighten up. You’d think the Nazis were in Paris and Göring on a state visit to Washington. The war’s over, Wiesel. Relax, and while you’re at it, tell Zuckerman to put less blond stuff on his 80-year-old hair; it makes him look like Barbara Cartland.

“When high and low life get together, the mix is great. Then comes disaster, followed by oblivion.”

Arundhati Roy—now there’s a writer, and she’s also pretty. Roy won the Distinguished Writing Prize and when she got up to speak in her soft, tiny voice the boisterous grand room went awfully quiet. She writes about injustice in India—a very rich subject, if you get my drift. I love India and Indians, but a system that requires a bribe at every government level—even to take a newborn home from the hospital—can never eliminate the horrendous poverty in the world’s greatest democracy. Some democracy, when Indian billionaires live in vulgar palaces, stepping gingerly over rat-infested, disease-ridden, unspeakable sewers to fly west and show off in St. Moritz and London. If India eliminated corruption she could eventually eliminate the Dickensian poverty, but that’s not the way the masters of the universe think nowadays.

I filled my table with swells and other such birds and creatures. I had my son and his constant sweetheart Saskia de Rothschild at my table, Michael Mailer with a blonde that could convert Boy George overnight, that wonderful actress Lois Chiles (who played Jordan in 1974’s The Great Gatsby and who is as ladylike as Jordan was without the superficiality), and Hungarian hotel tycoon Andre Balazs with a German Fräulein of Aryan looks and mien. What else can I say but Wunderbar?


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