Re: Remembering the Light And Dark Sides Of The American Aristocracy

1

Top 5 greatest moments in television? Probably.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 5:30 AM
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PS: I learned Vidal had died by checking my Twitter feed and seeing that someone had RT'd J/o/h/n P/o/dh/o/retz noting Vidal's death thusly: "One more dead anti-Semite." Nice.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 5:33 AM
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Also, everyone should watch his bit in The Celluloid Closet where he discusses sneakily adding gay subtext to his Ben Hur soundtrack, which the actor playing against Heston knew about, but Heston didn't. It is *hilarious* to watch.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 5:37 AM
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Er screenplay.

My thread. Mine.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 5:37 AM
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Perhaps my favorite thing about the clip is that Vidal gets personally insulting first: it's not a noble liberal rising above unwarranted attacks from a mean conservative, it's a sane person treating a crypto-Nazi with appropriate contempt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 5:38 AM
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everyone should watch his bit in The Celluloid Closet where he discusses sneakily adding gay subtext to his Ben Hur soundtrack screenplay


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 5:41 AM
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6: Oh, hooray!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 5:44 AM
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2. How the fuck does that work?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 5:46 AM
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Man, some of his siblings had truly profoundly WASPy names: "Nina Gore Auchincloss Steers Straight"!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 5:46 AM
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Nina Gore Auchincloss Steers Straight

Does she?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 5:47 AM
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11

I hope I'm not the only one who's surprised he was alive.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 5:48 AM
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12

The way you did that I can't even click through which is frustrating me, because I am looking at this on my iPhone.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 5:53 AM
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A guy I knew in grad school dropped out to hang around Cinecitta PAing. Studios would sometimes rent Vidal's house in Ravello (after Vidal's partner died and he had to move away) -- it was insanely, insanely gorgeous. Holy crap. (Friend took pix of himself in every room.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 6:02 AM
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11: Nope.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 6:06 AM
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I hope I'm not the only one who's surprised he was alive.

Last year and this I predicted he would go in the annual prediction thread. 1 out of 2 ain't bad.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 6:06 AM
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How the fuck does that work?

Vidal has long been accused of being an anti-semite. Not sure what if anything this was based on. Certainly he was no great friend of Israel not that there is anything wrong with that.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 6:14 AM
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I met him once, a few years ago, and he seemed very very old but was super gracious. My Dad interviewed him for his high school paper in 1959 and claims that GV explained to him off the record about his homosexuality, which was shocking to 50s high school version of my Dad. RIP.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 6:14 AM
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The obits mostly aren't mentioning Creation, his high concept novel about a man of letters who met Zoroaster, Confucius, Buddha, and Socrates and various others of the era. It's outside of Vidal's usual interest in the U.S., but a really fun read and an inspiration to a few proto-philosophy majors.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 6:30 AM
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Vidal has long been accused of being an anti-semite. Not sure what if anything this was based on.

Mostly by Norman Podhoretz, who never met anybody he wouldn't call an anti-Semite.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 6:31 AM
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18. One of my favourites among his novels. Also Messiah and Julian as Bob identified. I suppose there's a generation which sort of thinks he started with Burr and ended with Empire, and don't notice that he'd already done more than two normal people before he started on that sequence.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 6:35 AM
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21

Life is simpler if you have a theme that you can apply broadly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 6:36 AM
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21 to 19.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 6:36 AM
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||
Few things illustrate the utter bad faith at the heart of the Romney campaign more than this ad, which attacks the Obama administration's auto bailout on the grounds that it... hurt car dealers. Starting with the obvious: sure, the rescue of GM included a rationalization of the dealer network that hurt the weaker dealers. But the alternative to the restructuring plan was *all* of the dealers going out of business (or at least losing their GM franchises; some have franchises from other manufacturers to fall back on). More importantly, though, *everyone* in the auto business knew that the dealer network was a drag on the company and had to be pruned back (some would say "eliminated in favor of a direct distribution model"). If Romney and Bain Capital had taken over the company, there is zero doubt he would have done something similar -- probably more ruthlessly.

What really irks me about the ad is that it doesn't even pretend to be consistent with the commitment to free enterprise that his campaign purports to champion. It appeals purely and simply to class solidarity -- on the part of small businesspeople. "Oh poor me, the Invisible Hand has revoked the comfortable sinecure* I've enjoyed for 40 years. The Kenyan socialist in the White House is to blame!" And don't get me started on the difference between the UAW agreeing to concessions to save some of their members (unconscionable crony capitalism!) and the dealers doing the same.

I'm waiting for Chait or someone to give this the demolition it deserves.

*As an auto dealer, in all probability, his returns were goosed by leverage from Small Business Administration loans, but that's another story

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Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 6:44 AM
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They closed my Chrysler dealership, which was a pain in the ass. Of course, I probably don't know much about the car industry as shown by the fact that I drive Chrysler products.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 6:53 AM
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23: I interacted with a number of dealerships going under at the time, and they were a mixture of kind of sad and enragingly entitled. I particularly recall one woman who owned a dealership that had been in her family since before she was born; she was in her fifties, had only worked running the dealership, and was now in the process of losing everything. And while she'd had a very easy life compared to most people, you have to sympathize with someone in late middle age with no savings and very little transferable work experience, trying to figure out what to do next. Then she lost all my sympathy trying to work out a favorable settlement with my client on the grounds that she needed to be able to hold on to enough money to set her thirty-something son up in a business of his own. No, no you don't. Lots of young men survive without family capital to start off with.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:07 AM
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This is topical because Chrysler makes (made?) a car called the New Yorker.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:09 AM
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Lots of young men survive without family capital to start off with.

True, but it isn't very aristocratic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:10 AM
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The American aristocracy always falls butter side down.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:13 AM
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Maybe John Courgar Mellencamp could write a song about the decline of the family car dealership.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:16 AM
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she lost all my sympathy trying to work out a favorable settlement with my client

Did you get to say "well, I'll have to go back and talk to my manager..."?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:19 AM
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Yeah, Creation is the one I lent to a few friends. I've got a couple of the historical ones that I've not read yet. Laziness. I'm not a massive massive fan of his prose style in those, tbh.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:21 AM
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32


you have to sympathize with someone in late middle age with no savings and very little transferable work experience, trying to figure out what to do next

I know we're not really disagreeing here, but that's kind of my point. The Romney campaign is perfectly happy to tug at heartstrings on behalf of a class of people their target voters find sympathetic, even if it means ignoring the whole ostensible rationale of his candidacy. But he resolutely refuses to extend the same sympathy to the rest of the country, who must be ever prepared to be sacrificed on the altar of free market efficiency. The fact that he uses the particular case of the auto bailout (an intervention in the market that saved the livelihoods of millions) as an example of Obama being insufficiently sympathetic to victims of the free market is galling in about 50 different ways.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:21 AM
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I didn't know people in general find car dealers sympathetic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:22 AM
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The fact that he uses the particular case of the auto bailout (an intervention in the market that saved the livelihoods of millions) as an example of Obama being insufficiently sympathetic to victims of the free market is galling in about 50 different ways.
It's the standard Rove tactic of going after the opponents strengths. As long as you can provide some reason to doubt your opponent's accomplishments, your supporters will adopt it wholeheartedly. Similarily, get ready for a new round of Swiftboating, with the Republicans digging up some Navy Seals to criticize Obama over supposed leaks around the Bin Laden raid. Congressional hearings incoming, with support from centrists like Feinstein.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:25 AM
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33: I meant small businesspeople more generally. But you know, you might be right. The ad might backfire for that very reason.

Also, 30 made me chuckle.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:26 AM
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his bit in The Celluloid Closet where he discusses sneakily adding gay subtext to his Ben Hur [screenplay]

That's my new favorite thing in the world.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:33 AM
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I sort of want to go buy a car now. I've always wanted a Subaru.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:33 AM
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12: The way you did that I can't even click through

This should work for you.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:39 AM
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To the OP: more discussion of that exchange at EotW.

in The Celluloid Closet

I recently looked up the scene from Red River which was shown in The Celluloid Closet and it was funnier than I'd remembered. Montgomery Clift's gesture and look at :09-12 are really perfect.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 7:45 AM
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W/r/t LB's comment 5 on Vidal's smile in the clip, I must pass along something from one of the commenters at the Awl: "His little grin when William F. Buckley calls him a queer is my power animal."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 9:18 AM
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USA Today Obit

She recalled what Vidal said when he became the godfather of Woodward's and Paul Newman's first child

I can honestly imagine no greater honor.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 9:30 AM
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This is quite extraordinary.

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Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 10:04 AM
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Seeing Warhol in Tehran.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 10:14 AM
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I'm about a mile from Warhol's childhood home. Somebody told me once, but I forget exactly where.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 10:21 AM
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"Andy Warhol is the only genius I've ever known with an IQ of 60." - Gore Vidal


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 10:41 AM
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28: you crack me up when you're not holding angry vigils for my foreskin.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 11:29 AM
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I hate to say it, but Buckley was better than our contemporary conservatives. Here he is expressing genteel but thoroughgoing contempt for Ayn Rand (with a side slam at Alan Greenspan).

I've never been particularly impressed by that exchange between Buckley and Vidal. Vidal is obviously right on Vietnam, but Buckley is right to be insulted by Vidal's violation of Godwin's law. And Vidal's grin on being called a queer strikes me as more shit-eating than superior.

The view Buckley expresses is unfortunately the bipartisan view of the U.S. foreign policy / defense establishment since WWII, including the Democrats today. To his great credit Vidal was one of the few public figures who has been rock-solid consistent in opposing that view through all changes of administration, war, etc.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 11:37 AM
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Buckley doesn't get any points for contempt for Ayn Rand - there are enough horrible political theories out there that despising one of the bad ones doesn't have any necessary connection with being decent yourself. He openly opposed the civil rights movement, was wrong on any disputed political issue with a moral component where I'm aware of his position, and was a ghastly and dishonest bully. What I like about the clip is that Vidal treats him with exactly the contempt he deserves, including calling him a Nazi, rather than with the respect Buckley managed to con people into giving him on the basis of a large vocabulary and an authoritative manner.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 11:44 AM
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48: He did come out against the Drug War, so that was good.

46: Oh! Mr. Smearcase! That's my knee!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 11:48 AM
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6: I am very glad for this! Thank you!


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 9:50 PM
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"As gorgeously junky as Ben Hur" is kind of great (see link at 6).

And LB is right about the demise of the American WASP aristocracy. Some of those old f**kers were richer than God, but, whether for reasons of theology or for motives of vainglory, they had a sense of duty to the public, or at least a desire to make a public mark. They built public libraries and railway stations, they made large endowments to schools and charities and such.

Nowadays, it's just tax cuts and tax havens all the way done.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 10:47 PM
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"Done" s/b "down."


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08- 1-12 10:53 PM
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Although "done" almost works better.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 2-12 9:38 AM
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After two days of Vidal surfing:

1) The Villa in Italy is amazing, but God I'm scared of heights. There is something interesting about living on the side of a cliff over the sea. Vidal called it a fine place to watch the apocalypse.

2) Almost no photos of Howard Russell Austen available online.

3) Vidal's raises questions about novels as art, and what kind of subject matter we admire in art-novels. Etc. Thomas Mann thought Vidal would be his successor, I think as a writer of sublimated alienation.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 2-12 11:08 AM
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16. The mystery of Vidal's anti-Semitism is solved! GV quoted by Podhoretz quoted by JTA:

In order to get Treasury money for Israel (last year $3 billion), pro-Israel lobbyists must see to it that America's "the Russians are coming" squads are in place so that they can continue to frighten the American people into spending enormous sums for "defense," which also means the support of Israel in its never-ending wars against just about everyone.

That is apparently "the worst of it". On the strength of which I stand convicted of anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, self-hating Britishism (a new one on me), Francophobia, Sinophobia... Fuck, I hate everybody.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 2-12 11:43 AM
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55:A case might be made and may have been, but not by me, that a strong aversion to an exclusivist anti-ecumenical monotheism (or perhaps even any anti-syncretic monism) is a form of repressed or sublimated anti-Semitism, which in this case would include Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus and others.

Or anti-Something.

this abhorrence of the senses, of reason itself, this fear of happiness and beauty, this longing for the beyond away from all appearance, change, becoming, death, desire, even longing itself--all this means, let's have the courage to understand this, a will to nothingness, an aversion to life, a revolt against the most fundamental preconditions of life--but it is and remains a will! . . . And to finish up by repeating what I said at the beginning: man will sooner will nothingness than not will . . .

Vidal almost gleefully ended the human race at least twice in novels...

I have thought about what the attachment to form over substance meant since Doktor Faustus and his 12-tonal destruction. And Enniscorthy Sweeny.

And analytic propositions, those ethereal Powers and Principalities of algebra and logic.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 2-12 12:16 PM
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