High life

Why truth gets you nowhere

20 October 2018

9:00 AM

20 October 2018

9:00 AM

New York

There is fear and loathing in this city, with men looking over their shoulders for the thought police and hard-eyed women roaming the television studios with lists of sexual predators. There is also dread over the latest exports from the city’s youth detention centres, thanks to Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy and ex-wife of Governor Cuomo, who is now busy bailing out criminals who cannot afford bail through the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights foundation, of which she is president.

This is one hell of a city. While the criminals are being released, the innocent (presumed) are losing their jobs, having been accused of sexual harassment. The 500lb gorilla in the room, of course, is the R-word. An accusation of racism in New York or California is a death sentence for one’s career — even worse than being accused of grabbing someone’s breasts. Shock horror.

Ron Darling was a famous major-league baseball pitcher for the New York Mets and is now a broadcaster. He looks western but is of Chinese descent. He used the term ‘a chink in the armour’ to describe a Yankee pitcher’s wild performance. The player in question is Japanese. Shock horror all over again. Darling was threatened with career-ending penalties unless he grovelled, which he did. A commonly used metaphor almost cost him his career. See what I mean about fear and loathing? Imagine what would happen to you if you inadvertently brushed against a Chinese woman’s breasts. Twenty-five to life most likely.

And it gets worse. Some time ago, Doug Adler, a broadcaster for ESPN, described Venus Williams’s forays to the net during a tennis match as ‘putting the guerilla effect on’. He was accused, by know-nothings on Twitter, of likening her to a gorilla, and fired. What he had actually done was compliment Williams for suddenly going to the net. Adler was out of a job and now works on a different network after a hiatus of almost two years.

But the best is yet to come: a veteran TV commentator Brian Davis was recently suspended, then dumped for good, for complimenting a basketball player’s moves by saying on the air: ‘Westbrook’s out of his cotton-pickin’ mind.’ And there is even more to fear if your name is Lee, as in Robert E. Lee, the greatest American that has ever lived as far as I’m concerned. ESPN removed an Asian-American announcer by the name of Robert Lee, on account of his name, because he was covering a football game at the University of Virginia (my alma mater), Charlottesville. This makes Nineteen Eighty-Four and Big Brother look like an Abbott and Costello movie. What will they come up with next against the hated white man?

In the meantime, rappers with strange names that make no sense use the N-word and women-denigrating lyrics to their heart’s content, and no one dares say a word. Insiders now use the name Ebony Fair because of the magazine’s extensive use of black models and of black entertainers. (Meanwhile, the circulation has dramatically dropped, and advertisers are next.)

So where will all this lead? I for one no longer go to nightclubs because there are no clubs left for normal people. The Boom Boom Room is still OK, but anywhere else is a bad joke. Freaks, drag queens, street hustlers, parasites and pretty boys for sale are the norm. The last time a lady went to a nightclub was during the late 1960s.

Last Saturday night, Michael Mailer gave a dinner for me at his place in Brooklyn Heights overlooking the Statue of Liberty and the waters that Washington crossed when he escaped General Howe’s encirclement back in 1777. All the men were friends: a screenwriter, an artist, a fund manager, Michael and little ol’ me. The girls were beautiful and young. Two of them in particular were to die for. We played a game where everyone said who they would love to have had dinner with, and who was the person they most admired who they actually have dined with. It was a lot of fun and the men were a bit more interesting than the women. One beauty said she’d love to have dined with her grandmother.

Afterwards a couple of the ladies left. We were surprised but the booze kept us jolly and the conversation flowed. Then the prettiest of them all, who had stayed behind, told us why: ‘You boys are all good friends, make jokes with each other and enjoy each other’s company. You not once addressed us and our needs.’ Gee whizz, I never actually thought they had any needs, but then I’m a selfish son-of-a-bitch. The one who stayed behind was sitting next to me so I addressed her: ‘The truth is that throughout the evening all I did was think of you, and how much I wanted to bed you. But of course I would never dare say anything of the kind. This is the truth and nothing but.’ She gave me a wan smile, but the men did not look best pleased. Truth will get you nowhere nowadays.

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