Last night, at the 2nd annual Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony gala, Tom Wolfe gave a warm and witty introduction for Rolling Stone founder and publisher Jann Wenner, who was receiving a Lifetime Achievement in Magazine Publishing award. It was held at Cipriani 42nd, where the tree-trunked corinthian columns rose breathtakingly toward the ceiling’s massive canopy of marble.
Before Wolfe took the podium, Master of Ceremonies Gay Talese had a few words to say about him.
“He’s Richmond’s gift to New York,” Talese beamed, looking down at his old friend.
Gay Talese was referring to the dapper writer’s Virginia homestead, where he was raised. When choosing schools, Wolfe turned down Princeton to stay in state at Washington and Lee, where he acquired his life-long fondness for Southern Gentleman accoutrements—the dandyish white suit—that of course he had donned for the gala.
His daughter, however, chose to attend to Duke University, which served as a major inspiration for Wolfe’s last novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons. The book delved into the sexual habits of college kids in work hard/play hard academic settings, so when The Observer approached the legendary novelist we couldn’t help but ask about that university’s most recent claim to notoriety.
Have you heard about a certain Power Point presentation associated with Duke University that’s come out recently, we asked?
At first, he denied any knowledge of the scandalous list, but as we started to roll off some details, Wolfe perked up.
“Oh, wait a minute! You’re not talking about the girl who… Ha, ha! I’ve never seen it. Is it on YouTube?”
We told him it was everywhere online.
“I don’t know about it really,” he said when we asked for his take on the whole scandal that erupted after Deadspin posted the Duke girl’s “thesis” that she “researched” by sleeping with athletes. “But it’s another sign that sex is getting out of hand. When girls started volunteering their identity as Tiger Woods’ girlfriends—they’re still popping up. On the cover of the New York Post today there was another one!”
And with that another man in a suit pulled at the wisp-haired white-suited writer, and Tom Wolfe went back into the crowd.