October 18, 2013

James Toback

James Toback

A long time ago at Elaine’s during a push-up contest—these were tough guys’ drunken challenges where clients such as myself would bet on themselves and Elaine would wager a fifty on her favorite—Toback’s opponent had done something like two hundred in two minutes flat and Jimmy was struggling when Elaine yelled, “Stick some broad under Toback—it will speed him up.”

James Toback is the director of Seduced & Abandoned, the movie Alec Baldwin and I are featured in which premiers next week on HBO—don’t blink and miss me—and we’ve had fantastic reviews. Toback wrote the script for Bugsy in which he inserted that wonderful nightclub scene featuring Countess Di Frasso—a lady who taught Gary Cooper how to dress, making him the most elegant man in Hollywood, and some other things better left unsaid—along with a nightclub singer crooning “Long Ago (and Far Away),” a nostalgic tune that makes one hate the modern world more than ever.

Last week I went to 50 E. 79th St. for a wonderful dinner party given by writer and adventurer Bartle Bull, Jr. and his wife Claudia. There were Sidewinders and Moscow Mules before dinner, lotsa wine during, and more cocktails afterward.

Later I sat on the terrace with Bartle and Michael Mailer looking over Manhattan. It was an amazing sight, both real and imagined because of the booze. We smoked and drank and then came down to join the ladies, and there was James Toback, now quite heavier than before, with very bad knees and quite diabetic, and also suffering from shortitis (a sudden lack of ready cash), but as brilliant as ever. He was holding court and dressed like Tony Montana or one of Fulgencio Batista’s henchmen. He had on a porkpie hat, dark glasses, a black T-shirt, and a white dinner jacket thrown over it. And trainers that were blue with pink laces. Bartle, who has been in Iraq for a long time and whose opinions we eagerly sought, had to take second place. The beautiful girls were all ears. It was a typical Toback evening.



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