George and … Hillary
Hillary Clinton spent the second weekend of August in the Hamptons and left with a half-million bucks, $100 of which was mine.
Nobody from the press, no photographers, were invited to the various fund-raisers.
But duty called. First, I needed some appropriate shoes. At the Ralph Lauren store, I scored some $145 dressy white bucks. I called my therapist, Dr. Selman, for a pep talk. He happened to be in East Hampton, doing some shopping on Main Street. He said: “No drinking and driving!”
I smoked some “Vermont Green” marijuana and got behind the wheel of my grandmother’s baby-blue 1986 Mercedes and set off for Huntting Lane.
I realized I had no idea where Huntting Lane was.
I drove around Lily Pond asking for directions. An old man with a walking stick ignored me. Jerry Della Femina and wife passed me in a convertible. His face looked like a giant pink balloon. Boy, was I stoned.
There’s Egypt Lane and … there! … Huntting Lane. A line of cars on the grass.
I parked. The walk past the cops on the driveway brought on a mild attack of paranoia.
My body started moving left, toward the neighbor’s driveway, but righted itself, and immediately eyeballs were on me. I told the three young lady gatekeepers that I wasn’t on the list.
“No problem,” one of them chirped. All I had to do was fork over the suggested donation of $500.
“But whatever you can give will work!”
“How about a hundred?”
“Oh. Kay. Can’t you maybe do 200?”
“Wellllll, not exactly. I’ve given money before, but—”
“No problem. I just need you to fill this out.”
I gave her my debit card and started filling the clipboarded paper thing out (for occupation I wrote “investor” and “N/A” for employer) and handed it back. Pretty sure it was the new shoes that got me in.
At the bar I met the handsome and tanned hosts, Randy Kempner and Tony Ingrao, two lovers who run an antique gallery on the Upper East Side. They were wearing tight pants. In the garden I met a nice aging gay couple, “Francis” and “Larry.” Been together three decades. They said they were Eisenhower Republicans who’d done business with Barbara Bush and voted for Bush 1 and 2.
Francis said he didn’t know how keen he was on Mrs. Clinton: “Ambivalent.”
All of a sudden, Senator Clinton was walking straight toward me!
She was trailed by two Secret Service guys talking to their wrists. She had an easygoing stride: queen of the rich soccer moms. Wearing sunglasses, diamond earrings, a turquoise Indian-like shirt, white pants, no socks and white Gucci-looking shoes.
“Hello!” she said. “How are you?”
“Hi!” I replied, holding out my hand.
She eyeballed my nametag from behind her dark glasses.
“Hi, George. Nice to see you.”
My new friends told her a quick story about when they met in 1999.
“That’s so cute!” Mrs. Clinton said. “I love that. It’s so exciting for kids, too. I hear that all the time—some kid will say to me, ‘Do you remember me? I came to meet you at the airport,’ among this huge crowd of people. I say, ‘Wow, I’m so glad to see you again!’ So sweet.”
Francis joked about her running for President.
“Oh, well, gotta get through November first! Ha ha ha!” she replied.
I wanted to ask her if it’s O.K. to be celebrating five years without a terrorist act in this country, not to mention Bush and Blair’s foiling of the London bomb plot—but I went with “Are you gonna be able to relax this weekend at all?”
“This is like a little mini-vacation,” she said. “To be able to come here, even though I’m sort of working—it’s just so relaxing.”
I nodded. Mrs. Clinton turned to her two hosts.
“Now tell me, what’s the perspective here? This way?” she asked, and off she went.
The two Secret Service guys were still looking my way.
“They can probably hear everything we’re saying,” Francis said.
By now, a good 50 people had arrived.
A man whom I took to be a gay spy approached me at the bar.
“Hey, George. How are you? So how do you know the group here?”
“I actually don’t.”
“Are you from the area?”
“Oh, I’m from Colorado—we’re neighbors! Where in Kansas?”
“Oh! Well, I practice medicine in Boulder.”
I managed to slip away. I found Francis and Larry, who were checking out the cute European-style pool with a water-spewing alligator. We raved about the steak tartare appetizers and cantaloupe gazpacho. Then we noticed five Chinese businessmen, three of whom were talking on cell phones. Francis chatted with one of them, who said they were with an “organization” and were there to show support.
I needed a breather, took a seat—then the gay spy appeared.
“Hello again,” said the gay spy. “You should get up and mingle.”
“Just taking a break.”
“Too much socializing? Where’s your mother’s house?”
Nearby, Ms. Clinton was schmoozing.
“Now tell me, how did you get into making chocolates,” she asked someone. A few minutes later, she was going on about how pleased she was to be “chatting, you know, out of uniform. I mean, how much more fun could it be?”
Soon it was speech time. Mr. Kemper introduced her.
Whoo! Yay! Clap clap.
“It really means a lot to me,” she said, “because I am running for re-election and—thank you—I feel so strongly about what’s happening in our country and around the world, and we are, in my view, heading in the wrong direction at an unfortunately rapid rate.”
She talked about the national deficit, the increase in the national debt, the country’s dependence on foreign oil, climate change, long-term weather projections, health-care problems.
She looked sturdy, like a tank.
“And on a beautiful summer afternoon in the Hamptons,” she said, “it may be something of a downer to say, ‘We’ve got to figure out how to fight and win against a new and very determined enemy that uses all of the advances in technology and the benefits of globalization—cell phones, the Internet, you name it, global-positioning devices and night-vision goggles you can buy at Radio Shack—and we have got to have the world united against this new enemy.’ And unfortunately, our current administration, our President and our Vice President, are more interested in drawing lines than drawing circles.”
Not a stammer. She finished up on a note about getting the country back on track.
“I saw some people coming late, and I saw some people with cameras,” she said. “So I would happy to stand here and take some pictures with those of you who haven’t had your picture taken yet.”
I got back into my car and drove to a party at yoga instructor Lienette Crafoord’s waterfront house in Sag Harbor. She looked good: a buxom redhead. She told me she stays away from politics.
“Because I have to have a flow of energy to teach yoga, my policy is to stay away from anything that’s going to change that, anything that’s controversial or might cause anxiety,” Ms. Crafoord said. “I take a little news off the Internet; I don’t really read newspapers or periodicals. I’m just very selective about what I take in, because I have to be able to put out. And I don’t want to be jaded in that effort to get people to heal their bodies.”
I spoke to a guest, one of her yoga students, Harry Hurt, the New York Times “Executive Pursuits” columnist.
“I think one of the things you should know about Hillary,” he said, “is that she supported the war in Iraq: She bends with the political wind. In that sense, she’s the yogi of American politics. She can twist herself up into a half-moon position, a tree position, awkward poses, eagle pose; she can be a camel, she can be a rabbit, she can be a tortoise, she can be an up dog, a down dog!
“Also, she’s got really, really thick legs and calves—and that just is not appealing,” Mr. Hurt added.
We went to hedge-fund manager John Paulson’s house on Tuckahoe Lane. It was his 50th birthday, and 200 or so friends, many European, were dressed in white and having cocktails before a dinner dance under a big white tent. In the living room, I sat down by movie producer Charles Evans with a beautiful blonde. In line for the bathroom, I met a gorgeous blond Italian woman in a white silk dress. She said she was Paola Bacchini-Rosenshein, a real-estate agent. “Personally, I think Hillary was a big disappointment to women, because she didn’t stand up for her rights,” she said. “She was humiliated publicly by her husband. I would not have tried to cover him up. So I lost faith in her. Totally. And I just think she’s doing all of this because she likes the power. I have given money to Hillary in the past, and I won’t do it again.”
It was close to midnight. Mr. Hurt and I made a pit stop at nightclub owner Noah Tepperberg’s spread in Water Mill, where I met two Russian sisters—models!—by the bonfire.
“I think she’s a strong woman,” said the younger one of Hillary. “It’s because she’s so much in love with her husband that she can forget and forgive.”
“I say Hillary Clinton, beautiful woman,” said the older sister. “Except she has fat legs.”
The sisters agreed to accompany us to the nightclub Boutique. At 2 a.m., Mr. Hurt leaned over to me and said, “What I’m thinking is, Hillary is rushing to be President, and you and I are just looking for Russian girls. And we found that. I’m not sure she’s going to be able to rush her way to the Presidency. As for us, I think it would be a mistake to be rushing a Russian girl. You gotta let every girl take her time, you know? We’re gonna take our time tonight, George, our good sweet time.”
Sermon in the Hills
“I wish to invite you to come and speak in order that you might directly express to the Jewish community your remorse. I feel that Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement, would be an appropriate time.”
–Letter from Rabbi David Baron of the Temple of the Arts, Beverly Hills, to Mel Gibson, Aug. 1, 2006
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost–Shalom.
First of all, I want to thank Rabbi Baron for giving me this opportunity to address his flock. Do you say “flock”? We say flock. Flocking Jews–I like the way that sounds.
Thank you, Rabbi, for giving me this chance to express my remorse, from the bottom of my heart, for anything hurtful I may have thought or uttered, Jew-wise. And, like you said, Rabbi, it’s appropriate that I do so on the Day of Atonement, which is when those who spurn Jesus Christ believe they’ll be granted forgiveness for their sins–even though, as Jesus said, it is easier to stick a needle in a camel’s eye than for a Fishman to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Can everybody hear me? Am I talking too fast? I am?
One of you wanna pull me over?
My text today comes from the Torah. Well, not technically the Torah, but the sequel. Which blew the first one out of the water–just in terms of box office; I’m not making any claims about quality. The Passion grossed $370 million, U.S., first year. The Ten Commandments–anyone wanna guess? You, sir, you look like a fat, greasy, cigar-chomping Hollywood mogul–you know the numbers? Close: actually, $80 million. In 50 years. And that’s with bankable stars: Heston, Brynner. Vincent Christ, for Pricesakes. And it’s in English.
So, like, eat my dust, Moses.
Before I get to my sex, my sect, my text, I just want to give you a heads-up. You probably know that, as a Christian, I believe the Law has been rendered dull and void by Jesus. Like it says in Torah II, the death of Sting is a sin. And the strength of sin is Jude Law–I’m quoting from memory, but it’s something like that.
Even so, I thought that if I was gonna speak here on this holiest day of the Jewish year, except for when you get your tax refunds–hey, come on, folks, flocks, I’m dying up here–if I was gonna speak on the Day of Atonement, I should at least observe the law as far as, you know, fasting goes. Which means I’ve been drinking on an empty stomach, so you have to cut me some slack on that. That, and I’m a bit distracted, because I keep thinking about food. Like, you know, shish kabob, which is the Aramaic word for Frank Rich’s intestines on a stick. Or the intestines of Frank Rich’s dog on a stick. But I guess that’s not kosher, so forget I said that.
But wait, correct me if I’m wrong, the blood of Christian babies is kosher, right, as long as it’s in matzo? What’s up with that? Is it, like, baking versus grilling, or what?
O.K., O.K., Rabbi, never mind, we can talk about that later. By the way, Rabbi Baron told me this is a fast day, but my friend who’s a repo man says it’s a slow day …. Come on, people–slow day? Because the bankers he works for all have the day off?
O.K., my hex, my tax, my text is from Matthew, chapter 27, curse 25: “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” As you know if you’ve seen my last film and you speak Aramaic, that’s what the Jewish mob–meaning the usual mix of shopkeepers, money-lenders, publicans, Democrats, Pharisees, journalists, columnists, agents, directors, screenwriters–did I say columnists?–columnists, producers, distributors, and so forth–what they say to the Roman procurer, Pontius Pilate, when he asks if they’re absolutely sure they want him to crucify our Lord. My Lord, I mean, sorry.
Let me tell you why I chose this text. I chose this text because, when I said in my statement that I was trying to figure out where those vicious words were coming from, during this graceful, that graceful display, some of my Jewish friends–and I have a lot of Jewish friends, both male and female and, you know, in between–some of them said that text might be a good place to start. But, with all due respect to my Jewish friends and their wisdom, especially about financial matters–though, come to think of it, I doubt any of them netted what I did in ’04 and ’05–
What was I saying?
Oh yeah–with all due respect, I don’t agree that this text expresses hatred of the Jews.
On the contrary, I think it expresses love. Fuck yeah, love.
What it means is, God so loves the Jews that even though they killed his Son, his only forgotten Son, he still lets them–I mean you–control the banks, the media, the studios, the theaters, the military-industrial complex, the Federal Reserve, the Trilateral Commission, the Catholic Church, the U.N., the W.T.O., A.I.D., A.A.A., A.A., the Academy, the studios. Even the copping flocks. Cops. In the words of the late, great Zero Mostel–a personal hero of mine, by the way–“If that’s not love, what is?”
Sure, you’re all going to hell. But so is my wife, and she’s a fucking saint. And a Christian, sort of. Apostrophe, Epistrophe–Church of England. So I wouldn’t take it personally.
What I’m saying is, what goes for God, goes for me–right down the line. I love my wife. I may give her a little hell when I’ve had a few too many, you know, San Pellegrinos at Moonshadow, but she’s down with that. She knows it doesn’t reflect my true feelings about her.
You can dig that, right–you, sugar tits, in the front pew?
My Jewish brethren and, and slytherin, it’s the same with you. I love you. I mean that. As I love all God’s children, no matter how repulsive. I may let a few harsh words slip out when I’m in my cups, my cops, whatever, but in my heart I love you. Sure, I may feel some resentment when you all gang up on me like the fucking Elders of Viacom–when you scourge me, and beat me, and flay me with thongs studded with nails, and pluck out my hair, and give me vinegar to drink, and try to block distribution. When you vilify me, and crucify me, and even criticize me. But deep down, I realize that you know not what the fuck you do. And I forgive you.
Christ, confession is good for the soul. I feel better already.
Hey, you’ve been a great flock. As we say in Mayan: L’shanah tovah tikateivu v’teichateimu. May you be inscribed for a good year, and sealed in the Book of Life. And I hope they throw away the fucking key.
Let us pray.