Sunday, December 2, 2012

Tom Wolfe struggles to complete a sentence in interview at the NY Public Library

On Wednesday, I drove into the city and parked a couple of blocks from the NY Library where Tom Wolfe was scheduled for an interview and book signing.  I had tickets to see Henry Rollins there earlier in November, but I avoided the trip into the city since we were hit with a Nor’easter.  I asked the good folks at the library if I can exchange the tickets.  No problem,  Mr.  Wolfe is an American icon in the letters and arts.  Instead of writing about this life and his works I will focus on the night.  The event started a little late, but for me this was fine since I was running late.  Last Wednesday, the Christmas tree lights were turned on a Rockefeller Center with performances by Tony Bennett and Rod Stewart as well as others, so there a gridlock warning in effect.  Midtown was jammed.  While driving downtown on Second Avenue, trying to avert racing firetrucks, I went down a side street and they followed after me.  I couldn't escape the madness. Parking on the road is a risk,  the cow can be towed or broken into, but I had little time and parked it and walked briskly up to the library, passing Bryant Park which was lit up for Christmas, Shoppers holding hefty  bags and weary workers with their haggard faces waltzed on the sidewalk and stepped out of my way. All of then had an air of gracious class of course; since we were in midtown. Reality, " Yeah, get the fuck outta my way."  I found the entrance and the venue and took a seat in the last row and waited…a young woman apologized for the slight delay. Some in the crowd were clapping and carrying on since he was late.  She said Mr. Wolfe was delayed in traffic.  No, the truth we later learned was that he was distracted reading original works by Dickens and his works in the libraries archives,  You pathetic bastard, some minds from the unruly crowd must have thought, you had us waiting for seventeen minutes.  The man came out and we quickly forgot that he was late.  The room where the Library holds these events is large and expansive it must be pushing more than a hundred years old with classical motif like you would find in a botanical garden with a high circular cathedral ceiling.  I assume there were a few hundred in the room.  Eventually as the interview was being conducted with banal questions and with Mr. Wolfe's constant annoying ramblings, the audience began to escape the room.  The next day I read many of the references Wolfe made, for instance his view on the art world, there are only three thousand serious collectors in the world and more of them live in the city.  He has his opinions.  He is an intellectual who has the habit of stopping mid sentence to finds the words he was searching for in that majestic mind.   I was bored to death, but had to get my books signed, his new acclaimed novel Back to Blood and a rough first edition of Kool Aid...That was the reason I went in and waited for the interview to end.  I loved Bonfire of Vanities and remember the sensation it caused when it was serialized in Rolling Stone.  I also loved The Right Stuff – which is one of my favorites.   I didn’t have to wait too long to meet him and got a chance to say, and I meant it, it was an honor to meet him.  He seemed startled and I reached out to shake his hand.   His hand has touched so many hands in our history; the same one holds the pen that creates indelible stories.  

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