Trump Tower sits between Gucci and Tiffany on Fifth Avenue in New York City. It looks like infant Lego, the Duplo brand, but black — porn Duplo, then. It is militarised; by the door are the fattest police officers I have ever seen. They look like they have been dragged out of Overeaters Anonymous and given automatic weapons; and I wonder how much the NYPD really want to keep him alive.
He is in the penthouse. The obvious comparison is with Al Pacino’s penthouse in The Devil’s Advocate, in which Pacino played a devil in a penthouse in New York City, but Trump Tower is less subtle than that, and I cannot decide whether it is more or less sinister. It is certainly luxe for the masses, but since it is neither luxe nor for the masses it inhabits a sort of dreamlike netherworld, which I suppose is Trump’s head.
The media are in a pen in the lobby, waiting for real or fake news. Tourists buy Trump T-shirts, Trump pens, Trump mugs and, most horribly, Trump body lotion. (I await the Trump misery memoir You’re Fired Dad and its sequel Mum: Why Didn’t You Protect Me?) There is a Trump jewellery shop and a Trump clothing line so you can dress like Donald Trump, which means Hugh Hefner impersonating Farrah Fawcett in 1985. I have always thought that Trump looks slightly like the women he claims to want, but I have also heard all kinds of other speculation about his personal life, and I don’t know what to think.
I accost a police officer in the gold toilet inside. Everything is gold in Trump Tower. Gold means: you’re rich. And: I’m possibly a Bond villain. When is he leaving for Washington? ‘I don’t know,’ she says.
Downstairs there is an ice-cream parlour, a sandwich joint and the Trump Grill, which melts out into the atrium, screened by palm trees. There is a waterfall cascading down the marble, or maybe it is just a leak. I sit near an ancient man wearing a T-shirt that says ‘American Patriot’.
The Grill is a fake English country house with wood panelling and a dirty florid carpet partially covered with a dirty black mat. There is a painting of Trump’s father over the bar — he looks shocked — near signs saying: ‘Drinking alcoholic beverages during pregnancy can cause birth defects’ and ‘Basic Life Support — Unconscious Victim — do 30 chest compressions’.
Do people die here often? They might do. It is the restaurant of a man who started to think about creating a restaurant and got distracted but opened it anyway because he thought he’d get away with it and — guess what? — he did.
The menu is French/American/Italian/Mexican. My companion orders a beef salad — a slab of tongue, tasting of charcoal and soap — and a Bloody Mary which, here, is called You’re Fired; a cocktail as a random act of aggression; of power. I order the taco bowl, because during the campaign, he ordered a taco bowl and tweeted a photograph of himself beside it captioned: ‘The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!’ Is ripping off Mexican cuisine to rip off your voter-customers an act of love? Maybe, for him, it is. There is evidence he stuck a fork in the taco bowl. There is no evidence he ate it.
The guacamole is greyish, the ‘cheese’ bright orange, the beef, I suspect, three days old. It lives in a tortilla basket. It tastes exactly like a fortune cookie, and it is the only edible thing on my plate. It is the kind of food that makes you question whether you actually like food, or just eat it because you’re bored.
It was $90 for two, and we paid it. He’s winning.
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