Radical Wolfe (2023) Movie Script

How did you
discover Tom Wolfe?
Um, I was, uh,
maybe 12 or 13 years old.
That age.
Um, living in
New Orleans, Louisiana.
Not a particularly
literary place.
Didn't really know anybody
who wrote books.
Didn't know anybody who knew
anybody who wrote books.
Barely knew people
who read books.
But my father
was a big exception.
And, uh, he had
a shelf of books,
and some of the books
were by Tom Wolfe.
And I just--I don't know why,
I'll tell you why,
I grabbed the books
off the shelf
'cause there might be
something dirty in them.
I pulled down Radical Chic,
and I--you know, I really--
I was not a worldly kid.
I didn't know who
Leonard Bernstein was,
I did not know what
the Black Panthers were,
I really didn't have
much sense of anything.
And nevertheless, I was
rolling around on the floor
laughing with this thing.
And I do remember--
I had this--this sensation.
Someone wrote this book.
Up to that point,
all the books I read,
I paid no attention
to who had written them
or that they had been
written by anybody.
Uh, I didn't think--
the Hardy Boys series,
I went through all 38 volumes.
It didn't occur to me
that there was an author,
because the author
really wasn't in your face
as a--as a personality.
And even though Tom
wasn't really talking
about himself very much,
there was this, boom,
this personality
comin' off the page.
And I remember wondering,
"Who--who wrote this?"
You know, and I--you know,
"Who's Tom Wolfe?"
The book's cover indicates
that the author is, in fact,
a bigger event than the book.
I don't find anything
objectionable about that.
Is anyone likely
to be bitterly upset
- at you over this...
- ...controversial...
- ...cynical...
- ...devastating...
- ...outlandish...
- ...mean...
I don't know about that.
His book has been
called a masterpiece.
-Very revealing.
It was absolutely fascinating.
If you
wanna be a writer,
you've gotta stand
in the middle of the track
to see how fast the train goes.
It's just amazing
the way life will open up
if you're just forced to go
into somebody else's world.
Tom Wolfe is probably
the most skillful writer
in America.
I mean by that that he can do
more things with words
than anyone else.
Nobody is
writing like Tom Wolfe today.
And nobody really has
written like Tom Wolfe.
Every 43-year-old
Cablevision linesman's out
on the disco floor
with his red eyes beaming
through his
walnut-shell eyelids,
dancing with his third wife
or his new cookie
till the onset of dawn,
a saline depletion.
And in this century,
the robust, full-blooded
American century,
what do we have in the way
of architecture?
There's like this reality
that everybody's missing
that's a very persuasive
version of reality
that's his reality.
Up against a love like this,
that first night
on the disco floor.
She wore a pair
of boxing trunks,
while leather punks
and sado-zulus,
African queens,
and painted lulus
paid her court.
I grow old the 1970s way.
His books
captured the moment
better than anything else.
Wolfe's writing fundamentally
changed American literature.
It's really only
Eng lit intellectuals
and Krishna groovies
who try to despise
the machine in America.
The idea that
we're trapped by machines
is a piece
of 19th century romanticism
invented by
marvelous old frauds
like Thoreau
and William Morris.
He was
a contradictory character.
You would never know from
being with Tom Wolfe in person,
that same guy
could write that way.
Such a polite person.
Such a well-mannered person.
With a pen in his hand,
he could be a terrorist.
Tom Wolfe has written another
book and mocked another icon.
To go after Leonard Bernstein
and modern art in one lifetime
is to stretch the bounds
of the First Amendment
beyond the point intended.
Why was that writing allowed
to be so out there?
I wouldn't have the guts
to write about people that way.
You know, I look
at him as a role model,
but as an imperfect role model.
But I don't think
that anybody else
took the chances
that Tom Wolfe took,
not just stylistically
but also morally.
Is it
correct to conclude
that you show
a lack of compassion?
I don't--I really
don't care whether--
I mean, it's not so much having
or not having compassion.
I really see my role
in anything of the sort,
and, in fact, I always have,
as--as to discover in some way.
The truth is
always revolutionary.
Wolfe had
been a reporter,
first in Springfield and then
with the Washington Post.
And came to New York
to the Herald Tribune.
Up to that point,
the newspaper does not
encourage a distinctive voice
to sound unlike anybody else.
Here's today's front page story.
The Northeast District
of Barbershop Quartets
is holding
its annual convention
in Providence this weekend.
Welcome aboard once again,
let's see what kind of weather,
and we're really having
the weather these days,
I'll tell you.
There was
no sense of style.
Uh, everything had to be
in the first paragraph.
Who, what, when, where, why.
And that was a constant
in news stories.
Wolfe wanted
to break out of that.
There was a neutral
so-called objective voice
that journalists were expected
to assume at that time.
And I had, frankly,
found it absolutely boring.
I did have a kind of
a involuntary epiphanal moment
Late in '62,
a newspaper strike began.
I was by now working for
the New York Herald Tribune.
And I suddenly found myself
out of a job.
I needed to make some money,
so I went over
to Esquire Magazine
and sold them on the idea
of a story on customized cars,
which at that time
were being made
in very fanciful forms
by teenagers in Los Angeles.
So they said, "Okay,
go on out to California
and do this story."
I remember checking into
the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel,
and over the course
of four weeks
running up this enormous bill.
And suddenly I found myself
in this incredible world
of automobile expression
that I didn't know existed,
and I really didn't feel
capable to deal with.
I--I couldn't get
the concepts straight
that I could use for it.
It was just something
completely new.
I came back and I was
gonna write this thing,
and Esquire had
this big double-page
of color photography locked
into the presses by this time,
and I simply couldn't write it.
And in those days, you had
to print color in advance.
So we literally
printed those pages.
I came
back to New York
and found myself
utterly blocked.
I could not write this story.
And I said, "Byron, I'm sorry,
I just have to drop
the assignment."
And he says,
"You can't do that."
We have to justify
the color picture.
We need something
to go up against that page.
He said
it cost his father $10,000
to pull this thing
off the presses,
we've gotta have a story,
and if you can't write it,
you give us your notes
and we'll get
some competent writer
to put them together.
So I sat down
one night about 8:00,
and I started typing up--
I started typing up
these notes.
The notes
in the form of a memorandum...
"Dear Byron,
the first place I saw..."
The first thing I saw...
Very flat, straight out...
As fast as I could do it...
Presentation of what I...
And the first thing I knew,
is I started just
recounting in sequence,
the thing began taking on
a pattern in my mind.
It began falling into place,
and I began to see
exactly what I had
been studying out there.
We were in
the buried netherworld
of teenage California.
It was a hell of a show.
Sex, power, motion.
The main thing
you notice is the color.
Loud varoom, varoom motors.
semi-precious tangerine.
I ended up
typing at top speed
for about eight or nine hours.
I wrote all night,
and by 6:30 in the morning,
I had a 49-page memorandum...
50 typewritten pages...
And I was about dead
by that time.
I took this over to Esquire.
I just picked it all up
and went to the Esquire office.
Turned it in about 9:00
in the morning,
went home to sleep.
And I got a call
about 4:00 that afternoon
from Byron Dobell.
It's a masterpiece.
This is unbelievable.
We'd never seen
anything like this.
And I struck out
the "Dear Byron"
and I struck out
the parting words.
And we ran it.
There Goes
That Kandy-Kolored
Streamline Baby.
And that made him famous.
18 months.
It takes 18 months
between the time
Tom Wolfe is actually
worried about having money
to being a cult figure
in New York City.
All of a sudden,
he's famous.
And it was the result
of a single magazine article.
There are letters
in the archives
from people writing in
to the editors of Esquire
saying, "Who is this fellow?
Everybody's talking about him."
I think if you started
to get a little famous
as a writer in the late '60s,
early '70s in the United States,
you had some obligation
to be a character.
You could be outrageous
like Hunter Thompson.
You could be pseudo Englishman
- like William F. Buckley.
- I don't deny it.
You could stab your wife
- like Norman Mailer.
- That's true.
And the white suit
enabled people
to think of him as this
great, unusual character.
What is the basic
religious reason
for your always wearing
that light-colored white suit?
Tom Wolfe
may be considered by some
to be every inch a dandy.
He stalks his East Side
New York neighborhood
like an immaculate
white Persian cat.
But he's neither Persian
nor a New Yorker.
He's a transplanted Virginian.
What you wear
in Richmond, Virginia,
in the summer is a white suit.
And he realized it made him
interesting to people.
About seven years ago
when I first came to New York,
I went into a tailor shop
and I saw some
white silk tweed material
I thought was terrific,
so I figured I had
to have a suit made.
So I had it made, and I was
gonna wear it in the summer.
When I put it on,
white silk tweed,
even if it's white,
silk tweed is very hot,
so I--and I couldn't stand it.
So I started wearing it
the next January.
Then I discovered
an incredible thing,
which was that clothes
are an intensely powerful
form of communication.
You can create a kind of
other life in a uniform.
Growing up,
I started to realize
that he wasn't like
the other dads,
like he wore
a big cape to school,
he wore a top hat,
he had a pocket watch.
Everything was sort of that
Southern sort of polite charm,
in a way.
He was raised
in Richmond, Virginia,
in the 1930s and '40s and '50s.
He was probably the pride
and joy of his parents
right from the beginning.
He would have been
raised a stoic.
He would have been raised
someone who admired
athletes and war heroes.
When I was very young,
I decided that I wanted to be
either a writer or an artist.
My mother encouraged me
a lot in art.
And my father was a scientist,
He was editing a magazine
called The Southern Planter.
And every week he would write
an editorial or something
for the magazine.
And I thought
that was quite magical.
He had a kind
of quiet confidence.
And I think it's
because he was rooted
in a way that
very few writers are.
His desire to protect
the reputation of that world
is a powerful thing.
The legend
of Junior Johnson.
In this legend, here is
a country boy, Junior Johnson,
who learns to drive by
running whiskey for his father,
up in Ingle Hollow,
near North Wilkesboro,
in northwestern North Carolina,
and grows up to be a famous
stock-car racing driver.
As the motor thunder begins to
lift up through him like a sigh
and his eyeballs glaze over
and his hands
reach up and there,
riding the rim of the bowl,
forever rousing
the good old boys,
Up with the automobile
into their America,
and to hell with
arteriosclerotic old boys
trying to hold
onto the whole pot
with arms of cotton seersucker.
One of the mysteries
of Tom Wolfe, to me,
is how he persuades
all these people
who aren't
particularly interested
in letting anyone
into their lives,
much less some journalist,
into letting him
into their lives.
I thought
he was a crank,
to tell you the honest truth.
Wool suit on,
and it was
101 temperature here.
It was just funny.
Not only did he capture
this little subculture
that had not been exposed
to a national audience,
he was also describing this
sort of great folklore hero.
Junior Johnson was
the son of a bootlegger.
That's how he learned to drive.
He was driving moonshine around
and getting chased by cops.
What Wolfe does
is he gets you feeling that
when you're watching Junior
Johnson in a NASCAR race,
the cops are right behind you.
Wolfe does this over and again.
He takes something
that's just a--
just a person, a character,
and he makes that character
stand for something
much bigger.
He traces the origins
of this sport
that is gripping
America's imagination.
He tracks it to this man.
He's expressing
between the lines
his deepest admiration
for a character
that journalists
don't normally admire.
Junior Johnson
said that that story
that Wolfe wrote about him
helped change his life.
You can't look
at stock cars to this day
without thinking
of Junior Johnson
and Tom Wolfe's take
on that world.
He's drawing the attention
of Blue America to Red America.
He's saying,
"This is who we are."
It isn't just this thing
that's going on
down in the South.
This is part of my culture.
It's American.
And I'm gonna show you
what's great about it.
He has that sort
of wonderful combination
of being a terrific,
intrepid reporter
and then just this
outrageous stylist.
He had a voice
and was able to express it.
And I think he found
his voice as a writer,
telling his parents
about himself in letters.
I ended up
doing, really,
what a lot of us do
in letters,
particularly when
you're writing a letter
to somebody you feel
very comfortable with,
someone you can
unburden your soul to,
and you don't censor out
all of the random remarks
that are running
through your head.
You don't censor out the slang,
you don't censor out
the exclamations.
Like you don't censor out
the abrupt changes of thought.
He's enjoying
himself as he writes,
and I think he wants his reader
to enjoy themselves too.
The reader's
expecting some excitement
from a page of Tom Wolfe,
expecting some experimentation.
He created a style
that was completely
his own and unique.
You read a story in Esquire,
and it opens with
the word hernia 57 times.
Hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia,
hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia,
hernia, hernia,
hernia, hernia, hernia.
He tried to represent the
sounds of what he was hearing.
And all kinds of weird things
that he's doing.
And the ellipses
and the double colons.
I never figured out
what that meant.
He called his use of punctuation
a process of violating
the Geneva Conventions
of the mind.
He wanted to approximate
what it felt like
to be thinking.
Just the way
Tom put words together,
they seemed to glow.
It was as if
it was another language.
The titles of things that
were always being picked up,
like Radical Chic.
Good Ole' Boy.
The "Me" Decade.
Masters of the Universe.
The Right Stuff.
I mean, he could come up
with these terms
which then just became common--
a common part of our language.
It showed
nonfiction writers
how much was possible
in the form.
You know, in the '60s,
culture's being sort of
shaken on its head.
Journalists are
rebelling against
what everyone else
was rebelling against.
Wolfe, and that generation,
they're trying
to capture a world
that seems to be going
faster and faster.
You felt that
nothing was in your way
if you really wanted to do
something big, courageous,
risk-taking, you could do it.
Frank Sinatra,
holding a glass of bourbon
in one hand,
a cigarette in another,
stood in a dark corner
of the bar
between two attractive
but fading blondes
who sat waiting for him
to say something.
They were
all trying to create
an excitement on the page,
and all the things
that are changing in America,
it's reflected
in kind of the way
the prose looks and sounds.
You had
Hunter S. Thompson
going to the Kentucky Derby.
Joan Didion going
to San Francisco in 1968.
In this life,
all narrative was sentimental.
In this life,
all connections
were equally meaningful
and equally senseless.
The events of the world
were inspiring
these young journalists.
It's like, you know what,
there's probably
a different way to cover this.
Wolfe creates this
sort of pseudo movement.
New Journalism.
What is it and to what degree
are you responsible for it?
In my mind, the New Journalism
is the use
of every effective technique
known to prose in nonfiction.
I was gonna write
a five or six page introduction
to a textbook on the subject
of the New Journalism,
that's all it was gonna be.
And I found out
when I wrote that thing
that plenty of my confreres
in the field of nonfiction
were really upset.
I mean, Hunter Thompson
writes him a note to say,
"Don't include me.
You've created this category
for your own purposes,
but I'm not one of them,"
kind of thing.
Sometimes it's
interesting to go back
and see which one
of these writers are friends,
who are enemies,
who are competitive
with each other.
And one of
the strangest pairings
is Wolfe and Hunter Thompson.
They seem on the surface
to be so different,
and yet at the same time they
were both dogged reporters,
they had the Southern thing
in common...
They admired
each other's writing.
They both could see
that the other one
was really good at what he did.
What is
the speed limit here? 70.
No, oh my God, it's 75.
Every time
I saw him was unforgettable.
There's a passage in--
in his archives
where Wolfe is describing
taking Hunter Thompson
to some trendy
Manhattan restaurant.
Hunter Thompson gets there
with like a paper sack
and says,
"I can clear this restaurant
out in 20 seconds."
And it turns out to be
like a marine alarm horn
that you send--that you push
if your ship is going down.
It can be heard
20 nautical miles away.
And Hunter Thompson
takes it out and hits it,
and the whole restaurant
clears out.
To this day, louder
than any sound I have heard.
And then I realized
that whenever I saw Hunter...
...it was going to be
not so much a meeting
or conversation as an event.
What are you doing, man?
When Wolfe set out
to write about Ken Kesey,
at some point he got in
touch with Hunter Thompson
because he had admired
Hunter Thompson's book
about the Hells Angels.
Hunter Thompson didn't feel like
he could really write
about something
until he reported
the shit out of it,
and that's exactly what he had
in common with Tom Wolfe.
The commencement
exercises for LSDU
will be held at Winterland
on Monday night.
That's Halloween.
And, of course, the man who
is going to be passing out
the diplomas is Ken Kesey.
Ken, what, um,
what's the theme of this
commencement exercise?
Trip or treat.
When I wrote The
Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,
one thing I worried about
was what my role was gonna be.
And if you're gonna
continue to be a writer,
you can't become
totally involved
'cause you rob yourself
of all perspective
at that point.
That means in the case
of the Merry Prankster Bus,
you were not dropping acid
all the time.
No, I never did
while I was with them.
Later on I did take LSD to--
just to write the book,
just to see what would happen,
which is really not
the way to do it.
But I found out
through doing it
that the LSD experience
is not a light show.
That's, by far, the least of it.
But occasionally I'll even sit
in front of the typewriter
and close my eyes
and go into what I thought of
as a kind of controlled trance
and try to actually feel
in my nervous system
what they have gone through,
what I had seen them do,
or what I had been told about,
and then write it.
And I've never been an actor,
but I'm convinced
this must be the process
that a method actor or
almost any actor goes through.
The world was
simply and sheerly divided
into "the aware,"
those who had the experience
of being vessels of the divine,
and a great mass
of "the unaware,"
"the unmusical,"
"the unattuned."
The aware were never
snobbish toward the unaware,
but, in fact, most of that
great jellyfish blob
of straight souls
looked like hopeless cases.
Tom migrated
into writing books
from feature writing,
and he found out that
that's a whole other way
to unmask a phenomenon.
He found himself
involved with Ken Kesey,
Neal Cassady, and the Beats,
the beginning
of the hippie culture.
In some ways
he's very much progressive
in that he's very focused on
those overlooked in society.
We're talking now
about the rise
of the California hip life,
which is a life
really based on what I call
the politics of pleasure.
As a result, you see some
curious things happening.
They do what they feel like,
and a lot of people
feel like taking--
taking these drugs.
He's creating
a mythology of the country
as he's writing,
and one that really endures.
It's this really
all-encompassing vision
of the 1960s
that was so perfect,
and LSD culture was still new
and people didn't know
what to make of it.
And yet, he set the standard
for how we think about it.
What struck me
was the delight he takes
in these characters.
Not the approval,
that's something very different,
but the fact that he just
enjoys how crazy they are
without falling in
and becoming one of them.
People just
wouldn't have done that.
There would have been a sense
that you had
to be behind a wall
and you had to describe
these things through glass,
whereas Tom was just
out there with them,
listening to them,
experiencing them,
and letting us see
what he was feeling
as he experienced it.
He had a best-seller
from his first book,
so he was launched.
The book itself reads
like you're on some--
some crazy LSD trip
that ends very badly.
To me, that's his--
his greatest book.
He helped bring
the new world into being.
The key
to understanding Tom Wolfe
is to imagine this
Southern, studious young man
leaving the South for Yale.
He'd never
really gotten out
of his little Southern bubble.
And he gets to Yale
and all of a sudden
he realizes
there are all these people
who kind of look down
on the world he came from.
But he had such a deep love
of where he was from
that he started
to develop a mild contempt
for the people
around him at Yale
who had a mild contempt
of the world he came from.
He wrote a PhD thesis,
in very Tom Wolfe-ian style,
in which he, from a vaguely
right-wing perspective,
attacks a lot
of famous left-wing writers.
And the professors, who are
much more left-leaning,
are shocked.
They basically say
this thesis is not suitable.
It's opinionated,
the facts can't be checked.
You put yourself
back in the mind frame
of somebody who spent
five years at Yale
working on this paper.
I think he hated
every moment of it.
And he says
I'm gonna tidy up this stuff
for these stupid fucks
and get my PhD
and get out of here.
That is a kind
of searing experience.
And I think it helps
explain the vendetta
that Wolfe pursued against
the intellectual left.
And so Tom
flees Yale as fast he can,
and he lands this job
as a daily journalist
for the Springfield,
Massachusetts, newspaper.
Before the New Journalism
era in New York,
Wolfe's a straight reporter.
He ended up getting
into newspaper work
the old-fashioned way,
he started from the bottom.
Covering fires
and City Hall meetings,
and doing all
of the routine things
that young reporters do
as they work their way up.
I never knew from day to day
what kind of story
I was gonna be put on.
It made you realize that you
can go up to total strangers
and ask them questions
that they--
you have no right
to expect them to answer.
There's a
wonderful picture, 1958,
you and John F. Kennedy,
a politician on the make,
and a newspaper reporter
from The Springfield Union
on the make.
when I interviewed him,
was Senator Kennedy.
He had been asked
to come to Springfield
to see if he could do something
to keep the government
from getting rid of the armory.
The armory had become
kind of redundant by now.
So he met with a group
of Springfield business men
and the Springfield mayor.
And he was saying to them,
"Look, we've gotta be just like
these Southern politicians,
these Southern senators
and congressmen.
They just grab
whatever they feel like,
and they'll make a gym
for a university
and name it after themselves,
but that's the way
you have to play the game
and that's what we have to do
to save the armory."
At which point
one of his aides said,
"Senator, uh, did you realize
that there's a reporter
in the room?"
And that was me.
And he turned to me
and he said,
"This is all off the record."
"Well, there's 25 Springfield
business leaders here
and the mayor,
I don't see how I can
keep it off the record."
And he says,
"It's off the record."
Afterwards he came up
to me and took me outside.
He said, "Look,
I know your publisher,
I know your editor very well,
and I know
they would never want
anything like this
to appear in their paper
and jeopardize
the future of the armory."
So I said--I said,
"My hands are tied, I'm sorry.
It's--this is something
that just happened
in front of a lot
of influential people
in Springfield."
So I went ahead
and wrote the story.
And about a week later,
he complained to the editor
that I had violated
an off-the-record embargo
and, in effect,
kind of tried to get me fired.
But, fortunately,
my editor was a Republican,
and he seemed
to rather like me,
and so it didn't cost me.
But that's what
we were talking about
in that picture.
One thing
that's important to remember
about Wolfe as he's trying
to make a name for himself
is that he must have felt
very much the outsider.
People on
the outside looking in
have some sort of
chip on their shoulder
that drives them.
So, Wolfe was not afraid
to piss people off.
I write for The New Yorker,
but I read Tiny Mummies!
with some satisfaction,
which I'm a little
embarrassed to admit.
He presents
the magazine as this place
where it's so driven
by its own legacy
and its nepotism
and its elitism
that, how do I put it,
yeah, it's a mummy.
He was
basically saying, you know,
it was a not a--
a place of the living
but rather a place of the dead.
The after-effect of what
he's written is anger.
He was
roundly attacked,
and he was attacked
by The New Yorker
for the rest of his career.
I mean, they got
fuckin' J. D. Salinger
to write a complaint piece.
You know,
The New York establishment
never forgave him,
really, for that.
I always think
of Balzac's statement
when people were
trying to find out
his political stance
in his novels.
He would always say,
"I belong to the party
of the opposition."
And so I can put that
in his mouth,
it would sound pompous
to say it today,
but it's really the way I feel.
He went after sacred cows.
He thought these were things
and people and theories
that really needed to be
taken down a peg or two.
This book called
The Painted Word
is a mustache painted
in broad daylight
on the Mona Lisa.
And some people are not
going to forgive him ever.
Now he's written another book
about architecture
that could be subtitled
The Wrong Stuff.
And a lot of people,
architectural critics,
hate it.
When he got
bad reviews, I would say,
you know, "Dad, did you read
that review? Are you upset?"
He was like,
"No, of course I'm not upset."
And I'd say, "Why? That was--"
You know, "They were so nasty."
He said, "Well, you're nobody
until somebody hates you."
You know, he sort of--
he just sort of brushed
everything off like that.
He really made a lot of enemies,
but it didn't bother him.
He wasn't looking for approval.
Here is Mr. Bernstein.
One day I was
at Harper's Magazine
waiting for my wife-to-be,
who was the art director
at Harper's,
to take her to lunch.
And to kill the time,
I kept wandering around.
I went into the office
of David Halberstam.
He wasn't there.
So I was looking at
everything on his desk.
And, uh&
And here was an invitation by
Leonard and Felicia Bernstein
to a party at 895 Park Avenue
for the Black Panthers.
So, I couldn't resist it.
I had to get
into that party somehow.
There was a number
to call if you accepted.
So I called up and I said,
"I'm Tom Wolfe and I accept."
By the time Tom Wolfe
is in Leonard Bernstein's
he is America's
leading satirist,
so he is the most dangerous
writer in America.
He's exactly who you don't
invite to your dinner party.
A few years ago,
Wolfe attended a party,
as you recall, at the apartment
of Leonard Bernstein,
where the result
was a 20,000-word piece
called Radical Chic.
Which is about
the famous party
that Leonard Bernstein
gave to raise money
for the Black Panthers
who had been indicted
for conspiring to bomb
a few racist department stores
at Easter time.
Ten or twelve members
of the Black Panther Party
in New York have
already been arrested,
and others are being arrested,
all by surprise.
The Black Panther Party
is informing and calling on
all the peoples of the
communities across the country
to scorn and denounce the action
of this capitalistic
government's attempts
to try to destroy
the Black Panther Party,
which has chapters
and branches across the nation.
I should like
to begin by asking Mr. Wolfe
whether he thinks,
on second thought,
that he behaved insouciantly
toward the plight
of the Panthers.
Mm, these are nice.
Little Roquefort cheese morsels
rolled in crushed nuts.
Very tasty, very subtle.
It's the way the dry sackiness
of the nuts
tiptoes up against
the dour savor of the cheese
that is so nice, so subtle.
Wonder what
the Black Panthers eat here
on the hors d'oeuvres trail?
Do the Panthers like little
Roquefort cheese morsels
wrapped in crushed nuts
this way,
and asparagus tips
in mayonnaise dabs,
and meatballs petites
au Coq Hardi?
For example,
does that huge Black Panther
there in the hallway,
the one shaking hands with
Felicia Bernstein herself,
the one with the black leather
coat and the dark glasses
and the absolutely
unbelievable Afro,
Fuzzy Wuzzy-scale, in fact,
is he, a Black Panther,
going on to pick up
a Roquefort cheese morsel
rolled in crushed nuts
from off the tray,
and just pop it down the gullet
without so much
as missing a beat
of Felicia's
perfect Mary Astor voice.
You cannot
say that the Bernsteins
or the other people who
have given parties like this
are insincere.
They do care
about the great work,
they do care
about the Black Panthers,
and they even care
about the ocelots, uh,
and the Somali leopards,
although they tend
to lump them all together.
In January 1970,
when the party at
Leonard Bernstein happened,
I was in prison.
I was part
of the Panther 21 case.
Our bail was set at $100,000.
We always maintained
that that wasn't a bail,
it was a ransom.
And in February of 1970,
I was released as
a result of that fundraiser.
And then I saw
this article came out
kind of labeling
what was going on
as "radical chic,"
as kind of, like,
this pretentious fad.
The broad reaction
in the Panther Party was that,
you know,
"This dude is trippin'."
It kinda put a derisive label
on good work
that was happening,
and it wasn't
good work just because
people were contributing money.
It was good work because
consciousness was
being raised
around injustices that were
happening in our society.
And I think that that article
was trivializing
what we were doing,
and the Bernstein family
felt this betrayal.
He could write about people.
That was so searing
and so unsettling, I'm sure,
for those
who were written about.
Old Tom Wolfe would pick them
like you'd pick a balloon
with his little
sharp pointed pen.
And the question is
is whether he crossed
the line in that story
into, you know, into cruelty.
As more than one
person in this room knows,
Lenny treasures
the art of conversation.
He treasures it,
monopolizes it,
conglomerates it
like a Jay Gould,
an Onassis.
A cornfield of conversation.
The Great Interrupter,
the Village Explainer,
the champion of Mental Jotto,
the Free Analyst,
Mr. Let's Find Out.
No breathers allowed
until every human brain
is reduced finely
to a clump of dried seaweed
inside a burnt-out husk
and collapses,
implodes in one last crunch
of terminal boredom.
He didn't give us a thought
to how his words
might be hurtful
to the people
he was making fun of.
And I just feel
like you have to remember,
if you're a journalist,
how your words
can affect people.
Tom Wolfe makes
the Bernsteins look ridiculous
in that particular piece,
and I think that probably
stuck with him forever.
I'm a consumer of that story.
I love that story.
I can see where
it would have been painful
to be in a different
position with that story.
I think
you can't afford to be
wringing your hands
over the impact
of what you're doing,
whether you're
talking about the impact
on the individuals
that you're writing about
or the impact on the issues
that are involved--
in this case,
support for radical groups
in the late 1960s.
I was heavily
criticized after that
for drying up fundraising
for these radical groups
among wealthy
socialites in New York.
Well, whether
I did or I didn't,
I don't think
you can worry about that.
I think if you start
worrying about that,
you're no longer writing;
you're involved
in public relations.
If you read Tom Wolfe,
and you--in my case,
not only read Tom Wolfe
but know Tom Wolfe,
they're different people,
totally different people.
As much as
Tom Wolfe is a public figure,
the private man is an enigma.
Home is New York,
where he is married
with two kids.
A lot of readers
wouldn't think of Tom Wolfe
necessarily as
a soft-hearted man.
He was also a man
who could cut a man in pieces
with a single sentence.
But with those he cared about,
he was one of the most
thoughtful people I know.
Tom was a very quiet,
very courteous
Southern gentleman
in private.
He was a real family man.
I delivered
some piece at Esquire.
We're talking about it
when the doors cracked open,
and I look out the door
and I said, "Who's that
girl in a snakeskin dress?"
And they said,
"Oh, that's Sheila Berger
who works in
our Art Department."
And, well, we've been
married to this day.
Isn't that a romantic story?
Thank you, thank you.
He never looked
at another woman
besides his wife.
She was basically
a nice Jewish girl
from Long Island.
A very serious woman,
a very bright woman.
She was sort of
his in-house editor.
Sheila's the perfect wife.
I have
a son named Tommy,
and, uh, my daughter,
He was--his--he was always
so close to his parents.
I mean, he really
believed in family.
My sense was
he never dragged his family
into his professional life.
And I get a sense
he didn't drag
his professional life
into his family.
He was private.
You know, I think
that white suit,
that white suit
was this suit of armor.
He didn't really want
the world to know him.
He wanted to know the world.
It was a one-way relationship.
I was sent
by Rolling Stone magazine
down to Cape Canaveral
to do a story on
the launch of Apollo 17,
it was the last
mission to the Moon.
Just do a story
on the scene there
and all the crazy things
that were going on.
And suddenly,
I just began asking myself,
"What is the makeup
of these people who are
willing to sit
on top of a rocket
and let somebody
light the candle?
- The fuse, yeah.
- The fuse, yeah.
Thirty seconds and counting.
Astronauts report
it feels good.
Two minutes,
twenty-five seconds.
Twenty seconds and counting.
All engines running.
We have a liftoff.
Thirty-two minutes
past the hour.
One of
the most exciting parts
of the little voyage
of discovery that I was on
was to find out the truth.
I was gonna spend
two months writing it
and bring a book out
in the fall of 1973.
I then began to find out
how little I knew
about any of it.
For most of the '70s,
that's the book
that he worked on.
And he really struggled
and labored with
getting the story together.
As a matter of fact,
he was at a loss.
Wolfe, when he wrote,
was a bundle of anxiety.
He was capable of thinking,
"I'll never write
another good word again,"
and just suffering
all by himself.
The process of writing,
which some people
describe as a joy...
-...has never been a joy to me.
It's agony,
and it is like having arthritis.
It hurts a little every day,
and every day,
when you wake up,
it's in the back of your mind
that you've gotta put
your feet in the stocks...
-...and make yourself sit there
and turn out something.
I mean,
Tom was in distress.
How do you write a story
for three years and then,
you haven't gotten
the right stuff,
and go on for
another four years,
and also feed your family,
and, you know, have a life?
The way he carried himself.
It goes back
to his Southern roots.
I am protective
of my Southern upbringing,
and this leads to a kind
of irrational attachment
to certain figures.
Somehow, that person,
in your mind,
is a champion
of what you believe in.
The Right Stuff
was straight up,
"I love these people.
I know these people,
these people are me.
They're small-town boys
from the South."
That's the way
he kind of thought of them
in the first place, I think.
And, uh, he drops all that.
Wolfe goes back
and really starts to focus
on the idea of status
really being at the heart of
what The Right Stuff is about.
What ends up
being special about the story
is this disconnect between
what the public perceived
the astronauts' job as
and what was
actually going on there.
It's about the upheaval
in the status structure
of fighter pilots
when all of a sudden
they're in this capsule
that's controlled
by technocrats
and they don't
actually fly anything.
Uh, where you plannin'
on puttin' a window?
There's no window!
The Right Stuff
was not bravery
in the simple sense
of being willing
to risk your life.
You were a lab animal
sealed in a pod.
Is anyone, um, likely
to be bitterly upset at you
over this book?
You've had a way of making
a few enemies along the way.
You let the
air out of these heroes.
You brought 'em back
down to earth, so to speak,
the astronauts.
Was there any
resentment about that?
I have
two stereotypes:
They're either flying saints
or else they were robots.
And in fact, nothing could
be further from the truth.
The girls had
been turning up at Pancho's
in amazing numbers.
They were moist labial
piping little birds
who had somehow learned
that at this strange place
in the Mojave Desert
lived the hottest
young pilots in the world.
It completed the picture
of pilot Heaven:
flying and drinking,
drinking and driving,
driving and balling.
The pilots began calling
the old Fly-Inn Dude Ranch
Pancho's Happy Bottom
Riding Club.
And there you have it.
It completely changed
the way people
saw the astronauts.
You find, no; actually,
this other
thing is going on
that is the story.
And the movie
delivers that message
in a different way.
The world premiere of
the movie The Right Stuff
in Washington today
had just about everything except
Charles Lindbergh
and Betsy Ross.
Famed test pilot Chuck Yeager
and 11 other pilots
staged a fly-by of old,
military, and antique planes.
What did Yeager
think of the movie?
Story's real good
and it pretty well tells
what happened,
and the comradeship
of the guys, and so on.
The winner is&
Bill Conti,
for The Right Stuff.
Jay Boekelheide
for The Right Stuff.
The Right Stuff.
Glenn Farr, Lisa Fruchtman,
Stephen A. Rotter,
Douglas Stewart, Tom Roff
for The Right Stuff.
Very briefly,
what's the next
subject for Tom Wolfe?
I'm thinking of a kind of
a Vanity Fair book
about New York.
There's a girl
that's been on my mind
All the time, Sussudio
These trading
rooms are wild,
and you hear this ungodly roar.
And so, I follow the sound
and I reach this enormous room,
and here are
200 to 300 young men,
sweating profusely
at 8:30 in the morning
with half-moons
under their armpits,
gesturing like maniacs,
swearing in a language,
I think it was Army Creole.
This was the sound
of young white men
baying for money
on the bond market.
Before he published fiction,
he wrote essays
critical of fiction.
In writing this novel,
I am a novelist
but also a journalist.
That was one
of the important points
I wanted to prove,
which was that
the approach to the novel today
should be journalistic.
I had been spouting off
about how great
we non-fiction writers were
and how mediocre
the novelists were,
so I did a rather rash thing
and I decided to try
a whole new genre.
No one else
made that transition
from journalism to fiction
as dramatically as he did.
Wolfe is being
accused of everything
from ignorance to arrogance.
He wants to make himself look
like the smartest guy
in the room.
It looks as if Tom Wolfe said
to the other male
American novelists,
"Mine is bigger than yours."
I thought, "Boy,
they're gonna kill him.
They're gonna say his novel--
I don't care if it's better
than War and Peace--
they're gonna say
it's terrible."
I wanted to show
that we are in a period
in which a great many people
are driven by, really,
this carnival of prosperity.
Let's go, let's go!
Calm down, Rawlie.
Let's not get overexcited.
-Yes, Sherman, I'm sorry.
-Calm, cool, collated.
Let's not lose our composure
over a few hundred
million dollars.
Jesus Christ, Sherman,
you must be made of ice.
through the crowd, he saw her."
Excuse me.
"He followed her
through the room,
past the grinning faces
full of boiling teeth,
past the conversational
past the impeccably emaciated
ladies of society,
the social x-ray women."
He seemed to be
describing exactly
New York as it was,
and it wasn't
any fiction at all.
When I was writing that book,
it was with
a spirit of wonderment.
I was saying,
"Look at these people!
Look at what they're doing!
Look at that one!
Look at that one!"
And it was only after
I'd finished and read it over
that I see that there is
a cumulative effect
that leads to
a novel without a hero.
Large cities in the U.S.,
and I daresay
anywhere in the world,
you look around
and you don't see
lots of heroes,
lots of giants of principle.
That is the nature
of the metropolis.
Vanity operating
on all sides.
And I've seen it in the '80s
go right from Wall Street
to the South Bronx,
where I did
a lot of my research.
What he wants us to see is that
cities are big, complex things.
They're not just
what you experience
on your level.
You get a sense
of this great ladder
of American culture
that we're all on,
moving up and down
all the time.
He'd already taken
the fiction writer's tools
and, you know,
twisted them out.
He was now taking journalism
and torqueing it
back into fiction.
It's an exaggerated
version of New York City
but that somehow captures
the essence more accurately
than a--than
an accurate version would.
Not only did he go
into writing novels,
he wrote
a very controversial novel.
You have no idea
how controversial it was
because of the way
it portrayed African Americans.
Unlike most writers
from the United States,
Wolfe was unafraid to confront
the great taboo of race.
"All at once,
Sherman was aware of the figure
approaching him
on the sidewalk.
In the wet, black shadows
of the townhouses
and the trees,
even from 50 feet away
in the darkness,
he could tell.
It was that deep worry that
lives in the base of the skull
of every resident
south of 96th Street:
the Black youth,
tall, rangy,
wearing white sneakers."
I have problems
with the portrayals,
especially of stuff
that was going on
in the Black community
and the interaction between,
you know, Black and white
communities in that time.
Some narrative
and character problems
for me in that writing.
"Despite his
devastating portrait
of the city and its people,
many New Yorkers say his novel
has defined their city
as no other has."
When it came out,
it was kind of like
front-page news.
It felt like
everybody was reading it.
I can remember it myself.
Special segment tonight:
Tom Wolfe,
the dandy with the sharp eye
and the unerring feel
for the phrase.
America's pre-eminent
writer of nonfiction
has just taken his first plunge
into the world of the novel.
His first novel,
right here, entitled...
"The Bonfire of the Vanities."
"The novel's
highly favorable reviews
match its staggering
sales figures.
His publisher says
Wolfe will make
$3 million,
maybe $4 million."
Now, you sold the rights
of this thing off
for huge sums of money,
I'm guessing, big dough.
Was this your biggest
film sale to date?
-Yeah, I would think so.
-By a long ways.
-Good for you.
People are always saying,
"Aren't you afraid
they're going to ruin
your book?"
A worse thing can happen,
and that is
if the movie is better.
Yeah, well, I don't know.
I have a feeling
about this one.
I don't know,
I think it would take
a great deal of effort
on their part
to make it better
than this book, you know?
I don't think
that's gonna happen.
Thank you.
Just drive! Just drive!
Damn! Open the door!
Get away, get away,
get away, get away!
What the hell happened
with Bonfire of the Vanities?
Well, it's almost
the classic Hollywood story
in that I had a movie
that had a kind of
a large budget.
So I thought, "Well,
how am I gonna make this
big, kind of expansive
Bonfire of the Vanities?"
I completely violated
the text of the book.
It was so bad, that, uh...
...I think it's lost about
$97 million, $98 million.
Tom Wolfe,
probably the best-known
writer in the country,
is drawing standing room
only audiences these days.
With his super-eclectic
writing style
and that wardrobe of
custom-tailored white suits,
who is this--this dandy?
By that point in time,
everybody knew who he was.
Found in
a 1970 Tom Wolfe book title,
"What is a radical?"
And that is
the correct response.
It's Tom Wolfe!
He uses more exclamation points
than any other
major American writer.
It's true!
Given the amazing
success that he had,
I think that it
impacted him negatively.
You've, uh,
spent much of your career
looking at the personal lives
of other people.
I was wondering
if you've had a chance
to have any personal life,
or if it's--your life
has been your work.
When I look at my personal life,
sometimes, I feel
very, very sad.
Working, or making believe
that I'm working,
or finding ways
to avoid working,
and that's really
about the only thing
that I tend to do.
Tom was such
a unique individual.
I wondered how fame shaped him.
Wolfe gets trapped
by this persona
that he created.
The obligation
to be a character
as well as just a writer
is a bad business.
He was such a performer.
He was not just Tom Wolfe.
He was playing Tom Wolfe.
He said this:
"When I walk in a room,
I want to be noticed."
All of that was
the facade of being Tom Wolfe.
He must have felt it
as an obligation
to be a personality.
When he wasn't
really a personality.
It created certain pressures
in his existence
he never fully resolved.
Now let's welcome...
...one of the most talked-about
and one of the most brilliant...
...American writers
of his generation.
Here now is Tom Wolfe.
Tom Wolfe,
ladies and gentlemen.
Well, I remember
being stunned to hear
that he had had a heart attack.
His father
had a heart attack
and died at the same age.
A quintuple bypass event
is a reminder of mortality.
I had a, shall I say,
soul-jolting experience
having a heart attack
and having a quintuple bypass
and all of the emotional
trauma that can follow
that sort of operation.
He did, as many people
who have open-heart surgery do,
he did go into
a depression for a while.
You sank into a depression.
- I did.
- A depression!
After the bypass operation,
you're thinking sort of,
"My God,
I'm so mortal,
it's not funny any longer."
I felt so bad.
I'd never had
a depression before.
Uh, I called up
a friend of mine,
Paul McHugh, who's the head
of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins.
Tom was very concerned
about how the depression
and the coronary disease
might deprive him
of the very things
that made him
the writer he was.
He would call me
at least once a day,
and many times,
five and six times a day,
according to how
I seemed to be doing.
I wanted
to help him become
the kind of person he was.
He himself wondered
whether he could make it back.
Count how many days
you think you have left.
It's grimly small
that--that number.
It's quite humbling, um,
to know that despite
all of your aspirations,
and all of your dreams,
and all of the talents
you think you have,
uh, you're made of clay.
No matter what
you're confronted with,
including death,
you are going to be affected.
I've experienced
some rather nice changes.
A Man in Full became
the bestselling book in America
only two days
after it went on sale.
Wolfe's new book places Atlanta
and the new
Southern aristocracy
under his microscope.
It took 11 years
to write this book.
-I'm afraid so.
-And now, 742 pages later...
I figured
I'd better make it long.
There were lines
around the block
at bookstores in Atlanta.
There were stories
in The New York Times
about the lines
around the block
in the bookstores in Atlanta,
'cause no one had
ever seen one before.
A Man in Full was
the biggest novel
of my life at that time.
Remember, it's a finalist
for the National Book Award
even before it's published.
It was on the bestseller
list for weeks.
Tom was the most famous writer
in the United States,
'cause he got
all this publicity.
A new Wolfe book
is both a cultural
and social event.
"It was Friday evening,
and the Master of Turpentine,
Charlie Croker,
was presiding over dinner
at the burled
Tupelo maple table
that Ronald Vine,
the decorator,
had devised for the gun room.
He was only 44
but already running to fat.
His head popped up
out of his blazer
and his polo shirt
like a bubble.
His skin was pallid and pasty.
A few strands of hair
the color of orange juice stains
skimmed back across
his otherwise-bald pate."
We're heading towards
a total eclipse of all values.
Now, don't get me wrong.
As a writer,
I'm perfectly delighted
for things to remain
the way they are.
I mean, the human comedy
has never been richer.
I thought A Man in Full
was magnificent.
I mean, there are
scenes in that
where they're just spectacular.
Very complex,
very funny, very moving.
Huge characters, huge scenes.
There is no way
to understand individuals
without understanding
the society around them.
So it sold a gazillion copies,
but it got trashed
by all kinds of famous writers.
Talk about creating a furor.
You--you've been in
a bit of a catfight
with John Irving,
Norman Mailer, and John Updike.
It has gotten nasty
with you guys.
This, actually,
from my point of view,
it's kind of been fun.
Wolfe's novel had
a kind of whipped-up,
overblown quality.
I guess if I resent anything,
I kind of resented
the time it took me to read
A Man in Full.
Tom Wolfe called John Irving,
John Updike, and myself
"the Three Stooges."
If we had a copy
of any Tom Wolfe book here,
I could read you a sentence
that would make me gag.
I don't know
what it would do to you,
but it would make me gag.
If I were teaching
fucking freshman English,
I couldn't read that sentence
and not just carve it all up.
They just didn't
like the fact
that this book, A Man in Full,
had sold 1.4 million
copies in hardcover.
You know,
that couldn't be literature
if it--if it sold that much.
But I tell you,
literary spats are fun.
It makes you realize
you're alive in the morning.
He just kept going.
No one turns out
masterpiece after masterpiece,
and I think that's probably
a sad realization
for great writers.
But what's noble about it
is that they go on,
they are writers to the end.
I think there was
bound to be a problem
with big, long books
after a certain point
in the age of
weapons of mass distraction.
And the books
became less impactful
with each novel.
Whatever's taking place
is taking place,
and America's
paying attention to it
how America pays
attention to it.
And nobody was
reading Tom Wolfe.
His last two novels,
one was on sexual harassment
on a college campus.
I cannot believe I'm seeing
the sophisticated Tom Wolfe.
It's like, "There are
children living in sin!"
Well, I'm afraid--
I'm afraid I was.
He thought he could
make up for the 50 years
between him and the people
he was writing about
with a lot of anthropology
and a lot of
research and journalism.
But it felt really phony.
You know, he clearly
was just so excited
to be able to use these words
like "dormcest" and "sexiled."
With every new novel,
it became a little bit
less successful,
a little bit less esteemed.
But, you know, he was
still a writer who said things
that people had not yet said.
Very few other people
wrote about the academic world,
or indeed, more generally
about American society,
with that kind of
clarity of vision.
Charlotte Simmons
and Back to Blood,
I don't think
they're his best works.
But they say
that a genius hits a target
no one else can see.
And I think Back to Blood,
which is on
the subject of immigration,
it speaks to Tom's, you know,
fundamental prescience.
He had his finger
on the nation's pulse.
At 85, the white-suited
Tom Wolfe is still
stalking big game,
but this book
is a bit different,
a history lesson
mixed with a return
to his roots in journalism.
In his latest book,
Wolfe argues speech,
not evolution,
is responsible for humanity's
highest achievements.
He skewers the man
who introduced evolution
to the masses, Charles Darwin,
along with famed linguist
Noam Chomsky.
If you look at everything
he's written,
every book bothered somebody,
and that's what's good about it.
He wasn't afraid
of the controversy.
He said, "If that's
the way the facts are,
that's the way
I'm gonna tell the story."
It is bold and, I think,
some would say very dangerous
to say that Darwinism
and evolution is a myth.
Well, I think a lot of people
are gonna agree with me!
He sat in a very
uncomfortable intersection
between red America,
blue America, left and right.
He avoided being
too closely identified
with any kind of
political ideology.
I've never
backed the Democratic Party
or the Republican Party.
Sure, I'm...
There are certain things
I do care about politically.
I care tremendously
about freedom of expression.
I will always be willing
to do what I can
to preserve that,
which I think, fortunately,
there is still great
freedom of expression
in the United States.
I think
it would be a lot harder
for Tom Wolfe to do
what he did now.
It's almost impossible
for someone to do
what Tom Wolfe did
in our society today.
It's been impossible,
I would say,
for probably close to 40 years.
Any of the places
that Tom Wolfe published for
in his heyday
would not be able to publish
pieces by him today,
because he would just
piss too many people off.
Is this the last book?
To be honest,
I have only five more planned.
One is coming up,
it's on political correctness.
Which I think is
the funniest subject
in a long time.
The strange thing
in is his life
is that while,
every now and then,
someone would challenge him
in a review
on political grounds,
most of the New York
literary establishment
just loved him.
They loved him personally,
they loved what he wrote,
and they kind of thought
whatever his
political views were
as beside the point,
and I kinda think they were.
I'm 86,
and you lose your friends.
They die,
or they're unable to come out.
They're confined
because of their illness.
And I remember when Tom
was not moving very well.
This elegant man
would later on,
because of
the curvature of his spine,
the illness that he had
in the last few years
of his life,
it never seemed
to make an impression on him
in a negative way.
Junior Johnson!
As I live and breathe.
Tom Wolfe!
How you been gettin' along?
Well, not badly, not badly.
-I'm still vertical.
-That's half the battle.
-That's true, that's true.
He was one tough motherfucker.
Whatever he had to do,
he would do it.
Great sense of self.
He was Tom Wolfe.
Author and journalist Tom Wolfe
has died at a hospital
here in New York.
We just don't have
figures like that anymore.
There are no journalists
that huge anymore.
What he did was just
fundamentally different
because of how grandiose he was.
I think that
he should be remembered
not only for his work
and the books that he wrote
but for his courage.
I think Tom Wolfe's
novels will last
and will be rediscovered
at some point.
They'll go through
a phase of neglect.
But because they're so good
and because
they actually capture
American society so well,
future generations
will come back to them
and find them
much more illuminating.
Not only did he inspire me
before I even thought
I wanted to be a writer,
um, once I became a writer,
uh...he was a touchstone for me.
I think your soul
is your relationships
with other people.
And that's the part of you
that really doesn't--
doesn't die,
and you suddenly begin
to treasure those things
in a way you never did before.
-Come--come have a seat.
And this is, I think these--
How you doin' over there?
Well, no;
it's very interesting.
He was kinder to me
than he had to be,
and kinda sweet-natured.
Easy to be with.
In all the years
I represented him,
we never had an unkind word.
He was a real gentleman.
I watched him over,
oh, almost 60 years.
And I watched him as a fan,
I watched him as a friend,
and I always watched him
with a sense of wonder
and amazement
that he could be
all these things.
Thank you very much.