My new Think Again: Thoughts on Milton Friedman and Gore Vidal.
Believe it or not, I watched “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion” this morning on Blu-ray as I typed this. It’s a perfect movie to watch if you’re my age and you are hardly paying attention, and the most perfect role my friend Janeane Garofalo ever had, given who she is and what she thinks. (Though I watched "Jimmy Plays Berkeley" to get the sugar out of my system, afterward.) I got it because the studio released a bunch of "anniversary editions" on Blu-ray, but the one I really wanted, I didn’t get, which was "High Fidelity". They also released “Gross Pointe Blank” which is also pretty great, together with “Adventures in Babysitting" and "The Preacher’s Wife” which you will have to judge for yourselves.
My friends at Concord put out four single “best of” CDs by Miles, Sonny Rollins, Wes Montgomery and Chet Baker. I find it hard to believe that anyone cool enough to be reading me here needs an introduction—except perhaps to Wes, but if you do, you can get ‘em now, cheap. Legacy also has a new collection called I Am An Elvis Fan, a 21-song collection of Elvis songs voted on by fans in May 2012 via a campaign hosted at www.iamanelvisfan.com. Same deal.
Now here’s Reed.
August and Everything After
by Reed Richardson
It was in the fall of 2004 that I found myself taking the F train uptown toward Central Park to meet Gore Vidal. I was an intern at the Nation and had been assigned by its editor, Victor Navasky, to conduct research for a speech Vidal was to give on the frightening sequel to the Patriot Act being debated at the time. Vidal had already been corresponding with me via phone from his home in Rafello, Italy, and during those few calls, two things had struck me. First, Vidal was not someone who deferred to others’ expertise on the American national security state, since most of his documentary requests of me involved compiling what he himself had already said and written elsewhere on the topic. The second, more quotidian, and rather poignant detail was that he was a man who loved his cats, since an unmistakable feline mewling—emanating from what, based on the volume, sounded like a perch on Vidal’s lap—often drowned out his voice and made our phone conversations difficult.
Upon arriving at the Ritz-Carlton, another Nation employee and I were met by Navasky who escorted us up to Vidal’s room. There was an unspoken air of anxiety accompanying us on the elevator ride up I recall, what I imagine going to have an audience with the Pope must be like. Strangers don’t just walk into a room alone to meet his eminence, in other words. With his old friend among our party, though, Vidal seemed in good spirits, although it was much more apparent in person that he was well into his lion-in-winter phase. So much so that the meeting, which was supposed to be a work session for us to prepare for his speech, turned out to be something of a hash because he just wanted to sit around and bullshit rather than talk about something as depressing as George Bush’s next assault on due process and the Fourth Amendment. In fact, we had barely sat down when he launched into a well-delivered joke about a Texan and his wife on their honeymoon (a geographical variation of this old saw). One emptied champagne flute of his later, the three of us were politely bidding Vidal adieu. Leaving with me were all the research files I had brought. The speech, like the specific legislation it targeted, never came to pass. But as we learned recently, the abuses of executive power he would have warned against still continue today.