Perception and reality, truth and falsehood, black and white; nowadays the salivating chattering classes don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground, as they used to say in Brooklyn before the yuppies moved in. Take, for example, the latest kerfuffle about the moon landing 49 years ago. I remember it well because it was summer, I had just acquired my first sailing boat—thanks to good old Dad, naturally—and the Americans under the great president Richard Nixon were going to land and walk on the moon. As everyone but a few doubters knows, Neil Armstrong was the first to take a step on the cheesy-looking planet, and I have bad news for you loyal Takimag readers.
But first, the movie: First Man stars Ryan Gosling, a very good actor whom the British Spectator critic Deborah Ross once described as unable to play Taki as well as Taki can. Hear, hear! Gosling, Alec Baldwin, and I starred in the greatest movie ever made, Seduced and Abandoned, shown in Cannes back in 2013 and brilliantly reviewed by Debbie Ross. (But she failed to advise our readers that if they glanced down at their bag of popcorn, they’d miss yours truly, but never mind.) In this new flick about the moon landing there is some controversy because Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are not shown saluting Old Glory, which they had raised on the moon. Again, never mind. A much bigger lie—one that only I know—is the one that has Neil Armstrong announcing “a giant step for mankind.”
He never uttered those words, and it’s been confirmed to me by his cousin Nigel Armstrong, a tennis coach—who does not signal, incidentally—who lives up in Yorkshire. What Neil Armstrong actually said was “a giant step for Manny Klein.” Who the hell is Manny Klein? you may well ask. Well, although some in Houston had already begun to doubt the “mankind” version, Nigel Armstrong knew the reason for Manny Klein.
Here’s Neil Armstrong talking to Nigel Armstrong: “I had been to high school with a guy called Manny Klein whom I hardly knew, but once I went to the Air Force Academy and became an astronaut I began to receive holiday and good-wishes cards from him. He then asked me to be best man at his wedding, something that surprised me, as I didn’t know him that well. He nevertheless sent a driver and a car to ferry me over to the country club where the Jewish ceremony took place and where he had kept a large suite for me to spend the night.”
“The next morning I waited for him to show up so I could thank him, but found him in the bar looking the worse for wear. Things had obviously not worked out, so I asked him if there was anything I could do. ‘Nah, thanks for standing up for me, but nah. All I did was ask her for a blow job, and she threw me out of bed and told me not until a man walks on the moon.’ So as I was about to take the first step I thought of Manny Klein and said so to myself. It was an inside joke and Houston changed it, but that’s what I said.” End of story.
See what I mean about perception and reality? The next true story has to do with me, and I hope no one is offended, especially anyone Catholic, the religion I love and worship more than any other Christian belief. I walked into the first-class cabin of a European airline that will remain nameless and to my great thrill and amazement the Holy Father was already seated in the front row. I bowed my head and offered to give up my seat in order to make his Holiness more comfortable, but he insisted I do no such thing and to sit back and relax. His assistants and a couple of cardinals were also seated around me, and once the plane was airborne I did begin to relax. Flying with the Holy Father has to be the safest way to fly, so soon I began hitting the drinks rather hard. The hostesses were very polite, but I sensed worry lines were beginning to appear. I also noticed his Holiness had put the papal papers aside and was doing a crossword puzzle. He was using a pencil, and from what I could detect he had no difficulty completing the puzzle.
Then suddenly the Holy Father turned—I was a row behind—and addressed me: “My child, do you know a word that ends with UNT?” My blood froze and I remained speechless. The word that first came into my disgusting brain would ensure me spending an eternity in boiling hell. What to do, what to do; I started to sweat and by now the booze had begun to cloud everything. I begged the Almighty for some inspiration, and—BINGO—it hit me like a ton of bricks. “Aunt, Aunt, your Holiness,” I fairly shouted. He beamed a beatific smile and thanked me. He then turned again and asked: “Do you by any chance have an eraser?”