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New York Magazine - April 30, 2018

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God Save Meghan Markle
Craig Brown on
the (doomed?)
royal marriage. p.8
Sheila Heti Debates Babies / Paranormal Zachary Quinto / Cy Vance vs. The Poor
The Last Slave Zora Neale Hurston’s Long-Lost Manuscript
April 30–May 13, 2018
Lick this
The Worst Human
Roy Cohn, Donald Trump,
and the New York Establishment
cesspool that created them.
By Frank Rich
be unruly
be relentless
be family
be home.
Algorithms can’t connect
the dots the way I can.
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They want the transformative
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Imagine a university that offers students unique ways to develop the
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opportunities to become critical thinkers, learn how to collaborate
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Learn more at
a p r i l 3 0 m ay 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
The Original
Donald Trump
New York society will ignore
unscrupulous, vicious acts
to serve its interests—just look
at the case of Roy Cohn.
By Frank Rich
Stacey vs. Stacey
Georgia’s Democratic governor
primary comes down to
race, Hope, and first names.
By Lisa Chase
The Last Slave
Nine decades after Zora
Neale Hurston wrote
Barracoon, about the final
slave-ship survivor,
the book will be released.
Autumn, 14
months, in a
Dolce &
onesie. See
“The Cut,”
p. 40.
Photograph by Bobby Doherty
a p r i l 3 0 – m ay 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
Modern royal marriage
is an oxymoron
By Craig Brown
The City
Does Cy Vance go too
easy on the rich and
too hard on the poor?
By Tom Robbins
the cut
the culture pages
The Closet, Revisited
Don’t Spill!
The consequences
of dressing a child in
designer apparel
Photographs by
Bobby Doherty
Zachary Quinto
leads an all-queer
cast in the Boys in the
Band revival
By Amy Larocca
Should Sheila Heti
Have a Baby?
In life and in fiction,
the author struggles to
find the answer
By Molly Fischer
Best Bets
Gifts for grads; Nolita’s
menswear district
Look Book
The retiree aging
gracefully in Gucci
More and more people
are using minuscule
amounts of LSD
(and ketamine, and pot,
and others)
By Simone Kitchens
Platt on Ferris;
Neapolitan pizza is out,
Roman style is in
She’s the Seagull
Saoirse Ronan
considers her
place in Chekhov’s
by Sara Holdren
Shows to see, and avoid,
as Broadway’s
spring season ends
Party Lines
90 New York Crossword,
by Matt Gaffney
92 The Approval Matrix
To Do
25 picks for the
next two weeks
on the cover: Roy Cohn
on Madison Avenue, 1963.
this page: Micropot.
Photograph by Bobby Doherty.
4 n e w y o r k |
For customer service, call 800-678-0900.
We’re Sorry! Love, the Internet
Architects of our dig tal
hellscape on where
they went wrong p 26
The A-List of Z-Listers / Can a Man Still Paint a Female Nude? / Chait on the Never-Democrats
Undress ng 2015
jansson stegner
April 16 29 2018
PA I N T I N G S O F N A K E D W O M E N , U S UA L L Y B Y C L O T H E D M E N ,
By Wendy
Running for
May Seem
Like a
Parody of a
New York
Cover Story
Yet she is a
serious candidate—
and could win.
by jessica pressler
New York’s latest cover featured
Jessica Pressler’s profile of Cynthia
Nixon, whose insurgent run for governor
has pushed Andrew Cuomo to the left
(“Cynthia Nixon Has Already Won,” April
16–29). Politico’s Albany-bureau chief,
Jimmy Vielkind, wrote of it, “If you needed
any evidence of how @ CynthiaNixon’s run
for #nygov has more heft than @ ZephyrTeachout’s in 2014, look at the cover of
New York Magazine this week … probably
the most comprehensive dive on Nixon’s
political biography done so far.” Versha
Sharma responded, “The only thing miss1
ing in this excellent Cynthia Nixon profile … is an explanation of New York’s
crazy closed primary rules, and unreasonable voter registration deadlines,
which work in Cuomo’s … favor.” Jennifer
Keishin Armstrong, author of the forthcoming Sex and the City and Us, was, for
one, thrilled by Nixon’s run: “My book
documents the ways male-driven Hollywood refused to take the show seriously
and repeatedly underestimated its significance. The same is happening when it
comes to Nixon’s run, even though activism
has been a major part of her life for nearly
20 years.” But not all readers were convinced of Nixon’s viability as a candidate.
Dion Rabouin tweeted, “Anyone who
thinks Cynthia Nixon can become governor of New York state by running on a
platform to improve [the] MTA has literally never been north of Westchester.”
ler’s story highlights how, in just a month,
Cynthia’s bold progressive stances have
6 new york | april 30–may 13, 2018
Salad Lover 2016
robin f williams
forced Cuomo to quickly take action on
issues he’s resisted for two terms: unifying
Democrats in the State Senate, restoring
voting rights to paroled felons, banning
plastic bags, investing more in renewable
energy, and shifting his formerly hard-line
position on marijuana.” Her campaign, he
added, “is changing the debate about what
is acceptable in our progressive New York.”
Michael Slenske asked whether it is
artistically justifiable for a man to
paint a naked woman in the age of #MeToo
(“Who’s Afraid of the Female Nude?”
April 16–29). British artist Cathy Read
responded, “I don’t have a problem with
a man painting a female nude, as long as
there is a sense of a person, identity, and
respect. It’s objectification, degradation, disembodied torsos, and the like
that make me cringe.” And Columbia
University psychiatry professor David V.
Forrest, who interviewed nude models for
his study Beyond Eden: The Other Lives of
Fine Arts Models and the Meaning of
Medical Disrobing, responded: “The article touches upon many sensitivities, but to
add another perspective, my interviews
with nude models revealed that they only
partly pose for the money, and that they
feel proud, appreciated, and not exploited.
They agree it enhances their self-esteem
and body image, despite being physically
demanding. They insist it is not sexual.”
clearly gone wrong
et, and in interviews
h Ku
ome architects of our
digital world reflected on how we ended
up here (“The Internet Apologizes,”
April 16–29). @briecode tweeted, “This
series of critiques of the internet by internet creators is really well put together.
I suggest reading them all, and starting to
think of how things could be different.”
And @jimaley added, “Simultaneously
horrifying and exhilarating. Brilliant
work.” Anthony Citrano wrote, “There’s
some very very thoughtful discussion here.
But I am duty-bound to point out that
none of these people (with the possible
exception of Stallman, but even that’s a
stretch) are even remotely ‘architects who
built’ the Internet.” Leah Pearlman, the
creator of Facebook’s like button,
observed, “We haven’t always had Like
counts, but we’ve always found ways to
gauge our likability. Social media may be
simplifying the process, or amplifying
the experience, but it’s not creating it …
I’ve been dodging the ‘What do you think
about social media?’ question for years,
perhaps because I’ve been conflicted. Now
I realize, it’s okay to be conflicted. There
are many sides to this story, all valid, all
personal, and all changing all the time.”
Jerry Saltz, New York’s art critic since
2007, received this year’s Pulitzer
Prize in criticism for, in the committee’s
words, “a canny and often daring perspective on visual art in America, encompassing the personal, the political, the
pure and the profane.” Although Jerry has
been a finalist for the award twice in the
past, this is his first win (and New York’s
as well). We are delighted and congratulate him.
L Send correspondence to
Or go to to respond to individual stories.
Time is a dangerous toy in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the enthralling two-part play about the later
life of its title wizard. This inspired team bends time to its will with an imagination and discipline that
production knows exactly how, and how hard, to push the tenderest spots of most people’s emotional
makeups. By that I mean the ever-fraught relationships between parents and children, connections
that persist, often unresolved, beyond death. If you give yourself over to this show’s hypnotic powers,
It is, at once, a feast of epic theatricality in
celebration of the imagination; an immersive coda to
the most powerful literary brand of a generation;
and a must-see, totally enveloping, thoroughly thrilling
chance to experience the global power of shared
A theatrical marvel that dares you to challenge
your expectations of what’s possible to be done
in the theatre. It’s an experience as singular,
extraordinary, and unforgettable as, say,
seeing a boy with a lightning-shaped scar.
Eyes will pop and jaws will drop at the theatrical wizardry. But it’s the play’s emotions that wallop
you with the tender magic of simple human connection. It’s not only heaven for Potterheads,
( B OX O F F I C E O N 43 R D S T R E E T )
TM & © HPTP. Harry Potter ™ WBEI
Craig Brown
Can This Marriage
Be Saved?
A real actor joins the
soap opera in history.
ow long do you give it? ¶ Conversations
about Harry and Meghan are among the most
popular in the U.K., jostling for the numberone slot with conversations about (a) Trump
and (b) Brexit. There is talk of Trump, but no
debate. He is a unifying subject, like the
weather. A right-wing Conservative MP told me recently
that he could think of no British politician, in any party, who
would have voted for Trump. So, in Britain, if you want to
feel the warm glow of solidarity, you have only to say the
word Trump and everyone starts singing from the same song
sheet. ¶ But Meghan Markle, like Brexit, seems to divide
8 new york | april 30–may 13, 2018
people. Some argue that she will have a
rejuvenating influence on the House of
Windsor, dragging it into the easygoing,
classless, color-blind world of the 21st
century. When the engagement was
announced, a friend of mine, a veteran
royal biographer, was dubious. But he has
since been won over. “I got my first
glimpse of the bride at the Royal Albert
Hall on Saturday night,” he emailed me,
having seen her at a concert to mark the
queen’s 92nd birthday. “Wow—the surge
of excitement from the entire audience
when Harry and Meghan came in. I was
amazed … The whole hall erupted with
one of those loud ripples of approval, with
a few cheers … I haven’t met her but those
who have say she is delightful—and she is
very lithe and beautiful. And bright.”
Others, like Germaine Greer, adopt a
more skeptical line. “Why would a girl
born in poverty marry a man worth 53
million quid?” she asked on Australian
television in April. She went on to make a
prediction. Referring to the royal life’s creating “vistas of boredom that are unbelievable,” she added, “I think she will bolt.” Of
course, in recent years Greer has become
Photo-illustration by Joe Darrow
P H OTO G R A P H S : C H R I S B OT T F O R DA I LY M A I L . CO M / S O LO S Y N D I C AT I O N ( M A R K L E ) ; S A M I R H U S S E I N / W I R E I M AG E / G E T T Y I M AG E D ( P R I N C E H A R RY ) ; D I M I TA R D I L KO F F / A F P / G E T T Y I M AG E S (C A R R I AG E )
inside: Cy Vance’s war on the poor
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
a sort of human jukebox of random opinions, whether on Proust (“Time wasted”)
or cuddly toys (“Truly hideous, beyond
kitsch”). But there are many who share
her suspicions about Meghan Markle.
Jan Moir, a columnist at the Daily
Mail, thinks that she should learn
restraint. “It seems far, far too early for
Meghan to go into full Diana mode and
unfurl any fondly imagined royal superpowers. Or to start believing that she can
change the lives of troubled citizens
merely by bequeathing a megawatt smile
and a consolation hug around their luckless shoulders … Perhaps she doesn’t
mean to, but in public she frequently slips
into glutinous actress mode, as if she were
rather hammily playing herself in some
future episode of TV’s The Crown … Too
many layers of the custard of compassion
on this particular royal trifle is going to
make us all feel a little bit sick.”
Will their cynicism prove justified?
There are, it must be said, clear cultural
differences between the Markles and the
Windsors. “I was born and raised in Los
Angeles,” Markle once blogged, “a California girl who lives by the ethos that most
things can be cured with either yoga, the
beach or a few avocados.” This is a long
way from the worldview of Her Majesty
the Queen, who would probably treat an
avocado with deep suspicion, prefers
tramping in the wind and the rain
through the gorse of the Scottish Highlands to basking on a beach, and has
never been spotted in a yoga leotard.
Many of the royal family only really come
alive in the company of horses. “If it
doesn’t fart or eat hay, she’s not interested,” Prince Philip once said of their
only daughter, Princess Anne.
Her Majesty has never confused being
famous with being interesting. In 92
years, she has never appeared on a chat
show or talked about herself to an interviewer. Some time ago, she was speaking
to two members of the public when the
woman’s mobile phone began to ring.
“You’d better answer that,” the queen said.
“It might be someone important.” The
charm of this story lies in the fact that she
probably wasn’t joking.
There is an almost Andy Warhol–style
blankness about her. Her age, energy, and
position in life probably mean that she has
been introduced to a greater number of
people than anyone else who ever lived, but
few can remember a single word she has
ever said. It is almost as though her conversation was written in disappearing ink. She
tends to ask questions (“Do you live nearby?”
“Have you been involved for long?”) and
then reply “Really?” before moving on.
10 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
How strange, then, that this most outwardly unremarkable of women should
have such an electrifying effect on those
with whom she comes into contact. It has
been said of her that she must think that
the world smells of new paint, because
redecoration so often precedes her arrival.
But the people she meets are altered, too:
“Before the royal arrival, there is a heightened sense of expectation: nervous laughter
from those due to be presented, repeated
checking of watches, self- conscious
straightening of ties, last-minute visits to
the loo,” writes Gyles Brandreth. “When the
royal party appears, a sudden hush
descends, the atmosphere a mixture of
excitement and awkwardness, interrupted
by sudden bursts of laughter. When the
queen says to a hospital orderly, ‘You work
here full-time? Really?,’ for no good reason
we all fall about with merriment. In the
presence of Her Majesty, nobody behaves
naturally. And the moment the royal visit is
over, the relief is intense.” Brandreth goes
on to quote one royal observer who noted,
“When royalty leaves the room, it’s like getting a seed out of your tooth.”
This is the world that Meghan Markle
is joining. Even though Prince Harry is a
member of a more relaxed and open generation, he retains a strong sense of the
Her Majesty
has never
famous with
royal family as a team, dedicated, above
all, to its own survival. It is interesting to
compare the vocabulary used by Harry
and Meghan in the BBC television interview to mark their engagement.
Meghan uses the soft language of Californian mindfulness: She speaks of a
“learning curve,” and “nurturing our relationship,” and being “focused on who we
are as a couple.” Describing their first
meeting, she says, “So for both of us, it
was just a really authentic and organic
way to get to know each other.” Later,
“when we realized we were going to commit to each other … we knew we had to
invest in the time and the energy and
whatever it took to make that happen.”
Harry, on the other hand, speaks of
Meghan’s entrance into his family almost
as though it were some sort of military
operation, a successful call for reinforcements. “For me, it’s an added member of
the family,” says Harry. “It’s another team
player as part of the bigger team, and you
know for all of us, what we want to do is
to be able to carry out the right engagements, carry out our work, and try and
encourage others in the younger generation to be able to see the world in the correct sense.”
But the world is moving Meghan-ward.
While countless other royal families—
French, Russian, Iranian, Italian, etc.—
have fossilized and then fallen, the British
royal family has survived by constantly
adapting to the demands of the modern
age. Back in 2002, the queen’s Golden Jubilee was marked by a so-called Party at the
Palace, which kicked off with Brian May of
Queen playing “God Save the Queen” on his
electric guitar on the roof, and continued
with Her Majesty enjoying—or at least
enduring—performances by, among many
others, Brian Wilson, Elton John, Eric
Clapton, Joe Cocker, Paul McCartney, and
Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
This is one reason why the royal family
has welcomed Markle with such enthusiasm. From her blog and her tweets and
her interviews, it is clear that Thoroughly
Modern Meghan makes no distinction
between networking and philanthropy,
humanitarianism and self-promotion,
each skill shading into the other. This is
the way the world is going, and the royals
are, as ever, anxious to remain onboard.
She is media-savvy, maneuvering deftly
between old and new, between the professional and the private. In June 2016, she
spent an afternoon at Wimbledon, watching her friend Serena Williams playing
tennis. During that trip (she was still living in Toronto at the time), she had contacted the media blabbermouth Piers
Morgan, with whom she had corresponded
on Twitter, and arranged to have a drink
with him at a bar in Kensington. He recalls
that they spoke of Suits, gun control, and
women’s rights. She was, he concluded,
“fabulous, warm, funny, intelligent and
highly entertaining.”
And, he failed to add, discreet: As they
said good-bye, Meghan neglected to tell
him that she’d also be visiting a smart private members club for her first meeting
with Prince Harry.
here has recently been a lot
of talk in Britain about the Uninvited. Every day, it seems that new
members of the Markle family
pop up to complain that they haven’t had
an invitation to the Wedding. Meghan’s
uncle Michael and her uncle Fred have
both been left off the guest list, and so has
her uncle Joseph. “We as a family are very
saddened that we won’t be there to witness her beautiful celebration,” said her
first cousin Trish Gallop.
Meghan’s half-brother Tom Markle Jr.
is furious not to have been invited. “She’s
torn our entire family apart. She’s clearly
forgotten her roots … Meg likes to portray
herself as a humanitarian, a people’s person and a charitable person, but she is
none of those things to her family.” Meanwhile, Meghan’s half-sister Samantha
produces fresh grievances on Twitter
regularly, calling her “selfish” and a “social
climber.” She is currently touting an autobiographical book to publishers. Its title
is The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister. (It
should be noted that Samantha has also
fallen out with her mother, her brother,
and her former husband.)
Far from being put off by such feuding,
it is likely that the royal family will treat it
as valuable experience. After all, at any
one time half of them are on non-speaks
with the others. Writing my new biography of the queen’s difficult sister, Princess
Margaret, I discovered that the princess
never once addressed a word to her cousin’s wife, Princess Michael, even though
they lived in the same building.
In most important respects, the royal
family is a branch of show business, covered by the media as such. “You could
equate it to a soap opera, really,” said Princess Diana, in her controversial secret
interview with the BBC. “It goes on and
on and on, and the story never changes.”
All members of the royal family are
playing a part. They are actors in a pageant, a sort of historical re-creation, in
which they are expected to submerge
their own characters beneath traditional
roles. Like an actor, the queen mother
12 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
knew that, in public, she was playing a
role. “Her engagements, whether private
or public, were like performances,”
observed her biographer Hugo Vickers.
“Privately, there was less going on, since
between these performances she rested.”
Problems begin to arise when they confuse their private and their public lives
and start to think that the public is interested in them for who they really are,
rather than what they represent. Then
things go really haywire when they go offscript and start to perform the lead role in
their own psychodramas. The most obvious example is Princess Diana. Originally
cast as Mary Poppins, after a few years
she instead took on the role of a free-form
Hedda Gabler. Others of her generation
of royal brides have also come a cropper,
not least the Duchess of York. Six years
after her “fairy tale” wedding to the
queen’s second son, Sarah Ferguson was
staying at Balmoral when a newspaper
carried photographs of her having her
toes sucked by her “financial adviser.”
Oddly enough, her subsequent fall from
grace has served only to boost her selfabsorption. Her books of wisdom include
What I Know Now, Reinventing Yourself
With the Duchess of York, Dining With the
Duchess, and Dieting With the Duchess.
Things go
haywire when
they go offscript and
perform the
lead role
in their own
Latest among a stream of autobiographies is Finding Sarah: A Duchess’s Journey to Find Herself, which includes a
checklist of pieces of “Wisdom From the
Duchess.” One of them is “Listen to Your
Heart,” another “Free Your Mind and
Your Bottom Will Follow.”
he queen was the last member of the royal family to marry
another royal: She and her husband, Prince Philip, are cousins,
both being great-great-grandchildren of
Queen Victoria. The next generation
spread their nets a little wider, but both
Diana Spencer and Sarah Ferguson had
definite royal connections: Diana’s grandmother Ruth, Lady Fermoy, was a close
friend of the queen mother and, for over
30 years, a Woman of the Bedchamber;
Sarah’s father, Major Ron, was the Prince
of Wales’s polo manager.
Both marriages ended in tears. Small
wonder that today’s generation has
decided to ditch royal tradition and look
further afield. Meghan Markle’s biographer Andrew Morton describes her as “the
first divorced biracial American to take her
place in the House of Windsor,” which is
true as far as it goes, though few Britons
seem to regard any of these characteristics
as a hindrance. After all, in 2004, Prince
Harry’s cousin Lady Davina Windsor,
daughter of the Duke and Duchess of
Gloucester, married a Maori former sheepshearer called Gary, who had an 11-yearold son from a previous relationship, and
no one batted an eyelid.
People seem much more suspicious of
Markle’s success as an actual actor, worrying that it calls her authenticity into
question. When she looks so lovingly at
Harry on television, how can we tell she
isn’t acting? On television, hasn’t she just
walked down the aisle with another man,
looking every bit as adoring?
In the early ’80s, Harry’s uncle Andrew
courted another actress, Koo Stark, and
may well have been allowed to marry her
had she not made the mistake of appearing topless in a shower scene in the lowbudget film Emily.
Markle has certainly taken on some
sexy roles—she appeared in 90210 as a
girl who had just given a young man oral
sex in a car, and she snogged Russell
Brand in Get Him to the Greek. She also
played a serial killer in a crime show and
pretended to snort coke in a TV comedy.
YouTube carries a handy medley of her
sexiest moments on Suits. In one, she is
straddled between filing shelves, abandoning herself to an eager colleague. But,
miraculously, she keeps her bra on. Her
caution paid off: Actresses hoping to follow in her footsteps should remember to
keep their tops on at all times.
t ’s i m p o r ta n t t o note that
Meghan Markle is not the first
actress to turn royal. On the day of
her wedding to Prince Rainier in
April 1956, Grace Kelly turned, as if by
magic, into the most titled woman in the
world: twice a princess, four times a
duchess, eight times a countess, and nine
times a baroness. But she was soon to find
that, for all its pomp, her new role had its
limitations, not least its insufferable dullness. At only 500 acres, the entire country
of Monaco would fit comfortably into
Central Park. Moreover, her stocky, mustachioed husband lacked a certain sparkle: When he proposed to her over a pudding of pears poached in wine, he passed
her a pictorial history of his family with
the words “If you are to be at my side, then
you may need this.”
Stifled by the clammy, claustrophobic
atmosphere of the court of Monaco,
Grace had begun to pine for her Hollywood days. So when Alfred Hitchcock—
who had directed her in To Catch a
Thief—suggested she should return to
acting, offering her the title role in Marnie, she was tempted.
“Princess Grace has accepted an offer to
appear during her summer vacation in a
motion picture for Mister Alfred Hitchcock, to be made in the United States,” ran
a palace announcement issued on March
18, 1962. “It is understood that Prince Rainier will most likely be present during part of
the filmmaking depending on his schedule
and that Princess Grace will return to
Monaco with her family in November.”
Five years from now, will Meghan Markle feel the same sort of tug? Or will life as
the Duchess of Somewhere-or-Other hold
sufficient appeal? Will she be content
unveiling commemorative plaques at
schools and hospitals, smiling through
welcoming pageants in national costume
offered by C-list countries, engaging in
polite conversation with foreign dignitaries
of a similar status at Buckingham Palace?
Or will she yearn for something less dogged
and dutiful, something with more zip?
“A princely marriage,” said Walter
Bagehot, the Victorian constitutional historian, “is the brilliant edition of a universal fact, and, as such, it rivets mankind.”
He wrote this in 1863, the same year the
future King Edward VII wed Princess
Alexandra of Denmark at St George’s
Chapel, Windsor Castle, where Prince
Harry and Meghan Markle are also due to
be married.
14 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
If mankind remains riveted by a
princely marriage, it is as much for its
jeopardy as for its brilliance. In the old
days, it was only royal insiders who were
party to the possible pitfalls in a royal
engagement, and they would dutifully
keep the information to themselves. For
instance, the royal expert Hugo Vickers
concluded the Charles-and-Diana tie-in
Debrett’s Book of the Royal Wedding
(1981) with the judgment that Prince
Charles was “indeed fortunate to have
found in Lady Diana Spencer somebody
who is, in his words, ‘pretty special.’ ” Yet
nearly a quarter of a century on, in his
2005 biography of the queen mother, he
revealed that he had recorded his misgivings about their compatibility in his private diary. “The Royal Wedding,” he
wrote, “is no more romantic than a picnic
amid the wasps.”
Recent history has taught the queen’s
subjects to be more savvy. After all, the
queen’s younger sister, Princess Margaret,
married Antony Armstrong-Jones in
1960; they divorced in 1978. The queen’s
daughter, Princess Anne, married Captain Mark Phillips in 1973; they divorced
in 1992. The queen’s eldest son, the Prince
of Wales, married Lady Diana Spencer in
1981; they divorced in 1996. The queen’s
Markle may
look back on
her wedding
day as
the high point
of her life
as a royal.
second son, Prince Andrew, married
Sarah Ferguson in 1986; they, too,
divorced in 1996. And so today’s royalwedding conversations keep returning to
that question: How long do you give it?
In years to come, Markle may look back
on her wedding day as the high point of her
life as a royal. At the moment, she imagines
that she will then be in a position to espouse
causes close to her heart. Interviewed by
the BBC, she said that one of the first things
she and Harry ever talked about “was just
the different things that we wanted to do in
the world and how passionate we were
about seeing change.” But the royal family
maintains its position by keeping well away
from politics or anything remotely radical.
This is not the life for someone who dreams
of changing the world.
Furthermore, as the years roll by, Harry
and Meghan will become increasingly
marginalized. With the birth of Prince
Louis at the end of April, Harry dropped
from fifth to sixth in the royal succession.
If Prince William’s three babies all have
three babies of their own, he will drop a
further nine places. For younger siblings
and their spouses, the royal progress
tends to be downhill all the way.
oon after the announcement
that Princess Grace was to be starring in Marnie, Alfred Hitchcock
was asked by a reporter if there
would be any love scenes. “Passionate and
unusual love scenes,” he replied. He added
that the sex appeal of the princess was
“the finest in the world.”
Monaco went into meltdown. The
Monégasques did not like the idea of their
princess being filmed kissing another
man—little did they know that Hitchcock
also had plans for him to rape her. Grace’s
mother-in law led the outcry, scoffing,
disdainfully, “C’est une américaine!”
Princess Grace stopped eating and had
trouble sleeping. Even the announcement
that she would be donating her $800,000
fee to Monaco charities did nothing to
appease her opponents. Eventually, she
was obliged to announce that she was
dropping out of the film.
“It was heartbreaking for me to have to
leave the picture,” she confessed in June
1962 in a letter to Hitchcock.
“Yes, it was sad, wasn’t it?” replied
Hitchcock. But, on reflection, he considered it all for the best.
“After all,” he told her, “it was only a
Craig Brown’s Ninety-nine Glimpses of
Princess Margaret will be published in
August by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
–Sara Holdren,
S R.”
–Tim Teem
–Jesse Oxfeld,
n Brantley
k Sch
American Airlines Theatre
212.719.1300 •
The City:
Tom Robbins
Cy Vance’s Unequal Justice
Think the Manhattan
DA goes easy on the rich?
Take a look at how
he prosecutes the poor.
16 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
to hear the media tell it, Manhattan district attorney Cyrus
Vance Jr. is soft on white-collar crime. First came the news that
an attorney for Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. had arranged a fund-raiser for Vance after he refused to prosecute
them for fraud. Then there was Vance’s decision not to file
sexual-assault charges against Harvey Weinstein, even though
police had caught the Hollywood mogul on tape confessing to
the crime. Last month, spurred by a story in New York, Governor
Andrew Cuomo ordered the state attorney general to investigate
Vance’s handling of the case. The incidents have cost the DA:
During his uncontested election for a third term in November,
10 percent of voters were so fed up with him that they went to
the trouble of writing in someone whose name wasn’t Cy Vance.
This story is a partnership between New York and The Marshall Project,
a nonprofit news organization covering the criminal-justice system.
P H OTO G R A P H : C A R LO A L L E G R I / R E U T E R S
“IF Y O U ’ R E L O O K I N ’ F O R H O T S T U F F,
–Entertainment Weekly
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 W. 46th St. between Broadway and 8th Ave.
@ DonnaSummerBway •
But all the attention on Vance’s treatment
of the rich and powerful has obscured a
more surprising aspect of his record: The
DA, who styles himself a progressive reformer, is actually far more punitive toward
poor and minority defendants than his
counterparts in other boroughs. According
to a report issued last year by a special commission on Rikers Island, Vance’s office was
responsible for almost 38 percent of the
city’s jail population in 2016, even though it
handled just 29 percent of all criminal cases
in New York. “No other borough comes
close,” the report concluded. Brooklyn—despite having a million more residents than
Manhattan—accounted for only 22 percent
of those behind bars.
Vance’s selectively tough approach to
law and order continued last year. Even as
the DA supported the growing movement
to close Rikers, his office continued to fill
the jail at a far higher rate than other
boroughs’ DAs. As of December, according
to data published by the Department of
Correction, a third of the city’s inmates—
including 2,251 at Rikers—had been sent
there from Manhattan.
That parade of imprisonment is compounded by Vance’s onerous demands for
bail. In 2016, the DA’s own statistics show,
his office detained 17 percent of those it
charged with misdemeanors or minor
infractions—anything from smoking a
joint to jumping a turnstile. Only Staten
Island, with one-seventh as many petty
crimes as Manhattan, matched that level
of incarceration.
Then there’s Vance’s notoriously stingy
approach to providing defense attorneys
with the police reports and witness statements they need to defend their clients.
While most of the city’s other DAs have
moved toward the practice of “open file discovery,” releasing crucial records shortly
after arraignment, Vance pursues what defense attorneys call “trial by ambush,” using
the narrow requirements in the state’s law
on pretrial disclosure—considered one of
the most restrictive in the nation—to withhold vital evidence from indigent defendants until the last possible moment. As a
result, public defenders say, poor clients in
Brooklyn can easily obtain evidence that is
denied to those accused of similar crimes in
Manhattan. “It’s two boroughs divided by a
river,” says Bill Gibney, a veteran of the Legal Aid Society, the city’s oldest and largest
public defense organization. “Different policies, different results.”
In a lengthy interview, the usually mildmannered Vance bristles at any suggestion
that his office takes a different approach to
justice based on class or race. “Do we treat
the wealthy different than others purposely?
18 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
The answer is no,” he says hotly. Any such
suggestion is “offensive,” he adds, pointing to
two recent cases prosecuted by his office:
“Ask the two young white men just convicted
of rape, both from wealthy families.”
In Weinstein’s case, Vance says, his office’s
sex-crimes prosecutor decided the charges
were unprovable. “A judgment was made—
that I could not disagree with—that we
wouldn’t go forward with that case,” he says.
“It was a B misdemeanor at the time,” he
adds dismissively.
That comparison, however, serves only to
underscore the way Vance’s office takes a
different approach to the poor. Ordinary
misdemeanors like the one Weinstein faced
usually don’t merit personal attention from
the DA—and usually wind up with the accused being prosecuted. “We see a lot of
complaints drawn up with a lot less evidence,” says Edward McCarthy, a Legal Aid
supervisor who has two decades of experience in Manhattan’s criminal courts. Jonathan Oberman, a professor who trains public defenders at Cardozo Law School, also
scoffs at Vance’s reasoning. “There are conflicting stories from a witness?” he says.
“Okay—then just apply the same standard
to poor and low-income people and let
them derive the same benefit.”
Such criticisms are especially awkward
for Vance, who prides himself on being at
the forefront of progressive reform. In
2010, Vance became the first DA in the
state to create a special unit to address
wrongful convictions—but ever since, he
has refused to disclose whether the unit
has actually exonerated anyone. During
our interview, however, Vance reverses
himself and provides me with a list of
seven names. “I was told you’d asked for
this, and I said we should provide it,” he
tells me. He had previously kept the cases
Vance locks
up more poor
people than
any other
borough’s DA—
especially for
petty crimes.
secret, he explained, because “generally
speaking, there’s a view that these people
want the cases behind them.”
On closer scrutiny, though, it turns out
that one of the defendants on Vance’s list
was convicted after a retrial, while another
was released only after he pleaded guilty to
lesser charges. All told, after eight years,
Vance’s unit has exonerated only five defendants who were wrongly convicted—compared to two dozen in Brooklyn. Vance’s
office is “much more interested in preserving convictions than in taking a fresh, objective look at all the evidence,” says Robert
Gottlieb, a former member of Vance’s transition committee who has been seeking to
win exoneration for a defendant named
Jon-Adrian Velazquez since 2011. “I call it
the conviction-rejustification unit,” adds
Ron Kuby, who has won several wrongfulconviction claims on behalf of clients in
both Brooklyn and Manhattan. “Their
method is to collect evidence to attack your
witnesses and your argument.”
In recent months, seeking to bolster his
image as a reformer, Vance announced that
his office will no longer demand bail for
most misdemeanor charges. He has reduced penalties for marijuana possession
and reinforced a vow he made last year not
to prosecute most cases of fare evasion. He
proudly displays a chart showing that his
office has reduced the number of misdemeanors it prosecutes by 26 percent since
2014. Prosecutions for smaller-time offenses, like unlicensed vending or taking up
more than one seat on the subway, have
plunged by 87 percent.
But critics say Vance is taking credit for
broader trends he has no influence over.
“The reason marijuana arrests went down
was because of political pressure,” says Issa
Kohler-Hausmann, a Yale Law School professor and the author of Misdemeanorland.
“There was a massive campaign against
low-level arrests that targeted blacks and
Hispanics. It had nothing to do with Cy
Vance being a good guy.”
Lawyers for the poor, meanwhile, say
that Vance has failed to enforce many of his
much-heralded reforms. “We’re still getting
bail requested on people who are not a
flight risk charged with misdemeanors and
nonviolent felonies,” says Tina Luongo,
chief attorney for criminal defense at the
Legal Aid Society. “The entire nation is talking about not setting bail for these groups of
people, but somehow he can’t inspire or
motivate his staff to do it. It’s frustrating to
hear somebody boast themselves to be
about reform and not recognize that they
are running almost two separate shops of
prosecution—one for people with access
and influence and one for poor people.” ■
MAY 19 & 20
Frank Rich
No behavior is too appalling to sophisticated
New Yorkers as long as you are skilled at trading
power and influence. Roy Cohn knew this.
And he taught it to his longtime client only too well.
amid the aftershocks of donald
Trump’s firing of James Comey last May, I
went to see Angels in America at the same
theater in London, the National, where I’d
first seen it as a New York Times drama
critic some 25 years earlier. The play didn’t
transport me quite as far from the lamentable present as I’d hoped. The new production, now on Broadway, doesn’t radically
depart in tone or quality (high) from the
first. But the play’s center of gravity had
shifted. While Tony Kushner’s epic had been
20 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
seared into my memory by the frail figure of
Prior Walter, a young gay man fighting aids
with almost the entire world aligned against
him, this time it was Roy Cohn who dominated: a closeted, homophobic, middle-aged
gay man also battling aids but who, unlike
the fictional Prior, was a real-life Übervillain of America’s 20th century. “The polestar of human evil,” as one character
describes him. “The worst human being who
ever lived … the most evil, twisted, vicious
bastard ever to snort coke at Studio 54.”
Photograph by Mary Ellen Mark
Cohn in 1986, a few months before he died.
22 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
P H OTO G R A P H : B E T T M A N N / G E T T Y I M AG E S
What has changed is not Angels but America. Even if you hadn’t himself to the White House since Franklin D. Roosevelt.
known that Cohn had been Trump’s mentor and hadn’t read the
The story of Trump’s ascent complicates the equation for those
election-year journalistic retrospectives on their toxic common who want to believe that it was exclusively a product of his genius
tactics (counterpunch viciously, deny everything, stiff your credi- for publicity, or his B-stardom in a long-running reality show in
tors, manipulate the tabloids), you’d see and hear the current presi- NBC’s prime time, or a vast right-wing conspiracy abetted by
dent in Cohn’s ruthless bullying and profane braggadocio. That deplorable voters like those in Wisconsin who sent McCarthy to
isn’t because Nathan Lane, a Cohn for the ages, is doing a Trump the Senate in 1946 and helped Trump take the Electoral College in
impersonation. The uncanny overlap between these two figures is 2016. Nor is Trump’s New York backstory comforting to those of
all there in the writing. “Was it legal? Fuck legal,” Cohn rants at one us in the habit of quarantining the blame for his unlikely victory
point, about having privately lobbied the judge Irving Kaufman to to Russian and/or Comey’s interference, the ineptitude of the Clinsend Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair. “Am I a nice man? Fuck ton campaign, the Fox News–Breitbart complex, and the cynical,
nice. They say terrible things about me in the Nation. Fuck the feckless Vichy Republicans who stood by as Trump subverted
Nation. You want to be Nice, or you want to be Effective?” It turns every principle they once claimed to have held dear.
out that in his rendering of Cohn a quarter-century ago, Kushner
There are Vichy Democrats too. From the mid-1970s to the turn
had identified an enduring strain of political evil that is as malig- of the century, well before Trump debuted on The Apprentice or
nant in its way as the aids virus, just as dangerous to the nation, flirted more than glancingly with politics, he gained power and
and just as difficult to eradicate.
consolidated it with the help of allies among the elites of New York’s
Cohn, after all, was supposed to have been washed up in 1954, often nominally Democratic and liberal Establishment—some of
after he and his superior in witch-hunting, Joe McCarthy, imploded them literally the same allies who boosted Cohn. Like Cohn (a regin the televised Army-McCarthy hearings. McCarthy drank him- istered Democrat until he died) and Trump (an off-and-on Demoself to death, and Cohn fled
crat for years), their enablers
Washington a pariah, his brief
were not committed to any party
career in government service in
or ideology. Their priority was
ruins. Yet as Kushner accurately
raw personal power that could
picks up the story three decades
be leveraged for their own
later, Cohn had reinvented himenrichment, privilege, and
self as a power broker after
celebrity. Cohn’s biographer
returning to his hometown of
Nicholas von Hoffman
New York, and he would remain
described what he called the
so right up until disbarment and
“Roy Cohn Barter and Swap
aids finally leveled him in 1986.
Exchange”: It specialized in
How could that be? Sure, the
“deals, favors, hand washings,
right-wing resurgence of the
and reciprocities of all kinds.”
1980s gave him a late-in-life
And while Cohn is gone, the
boost. Cohn’s juice with Ronnie
exchange never shut down. Its
and Nancy, as Kushner dramaunofficial legislative body is the
tizes, gained him access to the
floating quid pro quo Favor
experimental medication AZT
Bank that has always made New
denied most everyone else. (He
York tick at its highest levels,
may have been the only aids
however corruptly, since TamCohn at a press conference with Trump, 1984.
patient the Reagan White
many Hall. It’s a realm where
House lifted a finger to help.)
everyone has his (or her) price,
But the question of how Cohn
and clout is always valued
both survived and flourished as
higher than any civic good. All
a Manhattan eminence in the quarter-century between McCarthy that matters is the next transaction. Since time immemorial, those
and Reagan is beyond the play’s already-considerable scope.
who find it unsavory are invariably dismissed as naïve.
It’s an ellipsis that gnawed at me because the same question
The more I’ve looked back at the entanglements of Trump, Cohn,
applies to Trump. Cohn thrived throughout a New York second act and their overlapping circles and modi operandi, the more I think
rife with indictments and scandals that included accusations of the crux of their political culture could be best captured if Edward
multiple bank- and securities-law violations, perennial tax evasion, Sorel were to create a raucous mural depicting the Friday night in
bribery, extortion, theft, and even precipitating the death of a young February 1979 when Cohn celebrated his 52nd birthday at Studio
man in a suspicious fire. Trump may never have been suspected of 54. That sprawling midtown Valhalla of the disco era, a nexus for
manslaughter, but he also flourished for decades despite being a boldface names, omnivorous drug consumption, anonymous sex,
shameless lawbreaker, tax evader, liar, racist, bankruptcy aficionado, and managerial larceny, was owned by Cohn’s clients (and soon-toand hypocrite notorious for his mob connections, transactional be-imprisoned felons) Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager. The guest
sexual promiscuity, and utter disregard for rules, scruples, and list? “If you’re indicted, you’re invited,” went the comedian Joey
morals. Indeed, Trump triumphed despite having all of Cohn’s Adams’s oft-repeated joke about Cohn’s soirées. Among the (alldebits, wartime draft dodging included, but none of his assets— white) Democratic revelers joining Republican and Conservative
legal cunning, erudition, a sense of humor, brainpower, and loyalty. party leaders at Cohn’s black-tie testimonial were the borough
(The putz-cum-fixer Michael Cohen, who is to Cohn what Dan presidents of Queens (Donald Manes), Brooklyn (Howard Golden),
Quayle was to Jack Kennedy, boasts none of these attributes either.) and Manhattan (Andrew Stein), not to mention the former DemoAnd Trump, like Cohn, got away with it all under the ostensibly cratic mayor Abe Beame and a bevy of judges, including the chief
pitiless magnifying glass of New York. Much as one hates to concede of the U.S. District Court. The investigative reporter Wayne Barrett,
it, it’s no small achievement that he succeeded where so many of who covered the scrum from the sidewalk for the Village Voice,
his betters failed in becoming the first New Yorker to catapult noted that, among the usual Warhol celebrity crowd, politicians,
and fixers, was a “surprise” attendee—
“newcomer Chuck Schumer, a ‘reform’
assemblyman from Brooklyn who insisted
he was just the date of a gossip columnist.”
Also in attendance, less surprisingly, and
camera-ready for the paparazzi, was the
32-year-old Trump, who by then had been
in Cohn’s orbit for six years.
Like the other developers on hand,
Trump had sought and won favors from
some of the older, more powerful Democrats who were present. With Cohn’s imprimatur, Trump gained easy access to the
ostensibly nonpartisan press Establishment
as well. Si Newhouse, the chairman of
Condé Nast magazines and Cohn’s best
friend since their high-school days at Horace Mann, showed up for the Studio 54
blast. Earlier in the day, Abe Rosenthal, the
executive editor of the Times, had brought
his companion, Katharine Balfour, to pay
homage to Cohn over lunch at the ‘21’ Club.
In years to come, Rosenthal would enjoy
Trump’s hospitality at Mar-a-Lago.
Neither the Newhouse magazine-andnewspaper empire nor Rosenthal’s Times
was in those days conspicuous for prying
too deeply into the shadows surrounding
Cohn or Trump. Some journalistic big guns
preferred to be behind velvet ropes with
McCarthy’s former henchman than out on
the pavement casing the joint like Barrett.
A few months after the Studio 54 bacchanal, Morley Safer would front a soft 60
Minutes Cohn profile in which, among
other euphemisms, viewers were informed
that Cohn had never tied the knot with his
oft-rumored fiancée Barbara Walters
because “he’s just not the marrying kind.” In
its effort to be “balanced,” the piece came off
as a free ad for Cohn’s supposed legal wizardry and cast him as something of a victim.
(Intriguingly, this 60 Minutes segment cannot be found on YouTube, while a tougher,
if tardy, Mike Wallace profile, made as Cohn
was dying seven years later, can be.) By that
point, Walters had long since delivered for
her platonic fiancé with her first promotional profile of his shiny young protégé for
ABC’s 60 Minutes rival 20/20. Titled “The
Man Who Has Everything,” it was, in the
Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio’s
description, “wealth pornography.” Among
other superlatives, it floated the dubious
claim (for the 1970s) that “the Trumps are
treated like American royalty.”
For years it’s been a parlor game for
Americans to wonder how history might
have turned out if someone had stopped
Lee Harvey Oswald before he shot JFK.
One might be tempted—just as fruitlessly—to speculate on what might have
happened if more of New York’s elites had
intervened back then, nonviolently, to
block or seriously challenge Trump’s path
a teller
at the favor bank
From the personal notebooks of Christine Seymour, a switchboard operator in the
office of Roy Cohn from the late 1960s until his death. Seymour died in 1994.
(Donald Trump’s sister):
Roy got the White House to
give her her judgeship. Roy
was out and the call came
in to tell her she got it. I
took the call and called her
to tell her. Ten minutes
later, Donald called to say
thank you.
He got snotty when
you didn’t recognize
his voice immediately.
So what was one to
do? I always asked,
“Who’s calling, please?”
and listened to him
STONE: Worked
with Roy very
heavily before
and after
elections. He was
the one, with Roy,
to find out the dirt
on [Geraldine] Ferraro.
Roger did not like Donald
Trump or Si Newhouse—
told me they were losers—
but if Roy used them, he
would, too. His wife’s name
is Bitsy. Roy called them
Itsy and Bitsy. Roy was
very fond of Roger,
and I think he saw
a little of himself
when he was
younger. [Reached
for comment, Stone
denied all of this. “I
never said Trump was
a loser. Why would I say
campaign adviser) and
(White House adviser):
Whenever Roy needed an
he White
called. Roy was in constant
touch with these two
during both elections.
source: marcus baram
Illustrations by Tony Millionaire
(director of U.S.
Information Agency): Roy
put Barbara Walters in
touch with him, and that’s
how she was introduced
to the White House crowd.
When he and Ian
[Schrager] were in jail,
Steve would call me at
home—collect—and since
I had a conference phone
… I would connect Steve
to whoever he wanted to
talk to. Once he called
Liza Minnelli,
who was staying at
Halston’s house out
on L.I., and they
were talking about
her song “New
York, New York” and
how she was furious
with Frank Sinatra.
“Mine is so much better” …
With Steve calling me
every night I had to laugh
because … there was an
article in New York
Magazine about Steve
calling people and the
A-, B-, and C-list. Which
list was everyone on?
I certainly was on the
A-plus-list—I connected
him to these people.
Roy wanted
a story stopped,
item put in, or
story exploited—
i.e., Ferraro and her
family—Roy called
Murdoch. Roy was also
Rupert’s attorney.
(senator from Nevada):
60 Minutes was going to
be doing a story on him,
not favorable … Roy called
the producer of 60
Minutes and had it taken
out of their schedule.
One day, she called me
[looking for] the attorney
Tom Andrews. She said,
“This is Gloria Vanderbilt.”
I said, “Tom isn’t in—may
I please take a message?”
She again repeated, “This
is Gloria Vanderbilt,” so my
dander got up, and
I said, “How do you spell
that?” … She slammed
the phone down and
I later heard she demanded
that I be fired. Roy just
laughed. He loved it when
you gave them what
they deserved.
Roy hated them … but
Roy was going to finally get
even when Aristotle
Onassis came to see him
to handle his divorce from
Jackie. But he died before
anything could be done.
to power. They had plenty of provocation and opportunities to do
so. Trump practiced bigotry on a grand scale, was a world-class
liar, and ripped off customers, investors, and the city itself. Yet for
many among New York’s upper register, there was no horror he
could commit that would merit his excommunication. As with
Cohn before him, the more outrageously and reprehensibly
Trump behaved, the more the top rungs of society were titillated
by him. They could cop out of any moral judgments or actions by
rationalizing him as an entertaining con man: a cheesy, cynical,
dumbed-down Gatsby who fit the city’s tacky 1980s Gilded Age
much as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s more romantic prototype had the
soigné Jazz Age of the 1920s. And so most of those who might
have stopped Trump gawked like the rest of us as he scrambled up
the city’s ladder, grabbing anything that wasn’t nailed down.
t was democrats in New York who taught both
Cohn and Trump that they could buy off politicians and try to get away with anything. Cohn’s
father, Al, was a Bronx and then New York State
Supreme Court judge. The elder Cohn’s roots in
the party’s machine were hardwired into his son:
Young Roy figured out how to pull strings to fix a
parking ticket for a teacher while still in high
school. Trump grew up with a father who had
been intertwined with the Brooklyn Democratic
machine while building his residential-real-estate
empire. By the time the clubhouse hack Beame
arrived in City Hall in 1974 after the reform mayoralty of John
Lindsay, Fred Trump had known him for 30 years. The new
mayor immediately gave both Trumps a license to steal by
declaring that “whatever Donald and Fred want, they have my
complete backing.” Never mind, as the Trump biographers
Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher observed, that Donald Trump
didn’t have the financing to snag the real-estate prize he then
sought, the properties of the bankrupt Penn Central railroad.
The Beame deputy mayor Stanley Friedman pushed through an
enormous 40-year, $400 million tax abatement—this at the
city’s bankrupt nadir—and in his waning weeks in office fasttracked the agency approvals Trump needed to rebuild the
decrepit old Commodore Hotel as the Grand Hyatt, his first big
deal. Roy Cohn served as the closer: The day after the Beame
administration was succeeded by Ed Koch’s in 1978, Friedman
was paid off for his Trump handiwork with a new job as a partner in Cohn’s law firm. (It was not enough to save Friedman from
federal prison a decade later, when he was convicted in unrelated
kickback scandals the year after Cohn’s death.)
Trump’s other major political ally as he erected a new, Manhattan real-estate empire on top of his father’s outer-borough fiefdom
was the Democratic governor Hugh Carey. Trump engineered a
brazen conflict-of-interest that you’d be tempted to call mindboggling were its contours not being replicated on a far grander
scale within the current White House. In the 1970s, Trump hired
as his lobbyist Carey’s chief political fund-raiser, Louise Sunshine,
even as he and his father were the second-biggest contributors to
Carey’s 1978 reelection campaign (only a Carey brother, an oilman, gave more). “He’ll do anything for a developer who gives him
a campaign contribution,” said Trump of Carey. And so he did.
Trump was unstoppable, though he kept writing checks to other
useful Democrats, including a record $270,000 (for a Board of
Estimate election) to the Cohn crony Andrew Stein, who served
as Manhattan borough president and then New York City Council
president from 1978 to 1994 and “whose varied public performances for Trump were a metaphor for gutter government,” in
24 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
Wayne Barrett’s estimation. (Stein would years later plead guilty
to un-Trump-related tax evasion.) Trump would also give to
(among others) Schumer, Eliot Spitzer, and Andrew Cuomo, who
took Trump as a client even as his father was governor and Trump
was conniving to develop the West Side yards and build a domed
football stadium in Queens.
Unlike Trump, Cohn had no interest in building anything. He
wanted to tear down institutions and people for fun and profit.
To shield him from repercussions, legal or otherwise, he didn’t
have just a retinue of politicians from both parties in his pocket
but a client list whose breadth was no doubt aspirational to the
young Trump—the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, the selfdescribed “boss of bosses” Carmine “Lilo” Galante, and the city’s
reigning real-estate titans (the Helmsleys, LeFraks, et al.), as
well as the Newhouse publishing empire and Studio 54. This
coterie either looked the other way or gave Cohn cover during
transgression after transgression, some of them proto-Trump
financial flimflams in which he looted banks or companies; others involving unpaid bills to creditors as varied as the IRS, Dunhill Tailors, and a local locksmith; still others more sensational.
In the late 1960s, Cohn took a loan of $100,000 from a client for
whom he negotiated a suspiciously parsimonious divorce settlement from a billionaire, and fought paying it back until the case
threatened his law license in the early 1980s. In the 1970s, a
Florida court ruled that Cohn had pushed an elderly friend in
mental decline, Lewis Rosenstiel, the founder of the Schenley
liquor empire, into signing a will that made Cohn a trustee of his
estate. It was in 1973, the year he met Trump, that perhaps the
most sinister of the Cohn horror stories of his post-McCarthy
career unfolded. A yacht leased by a shell company Cohn controlled was sent to sea despite having been judged in dire disrepair by its previous captain. A suspicious fire broke out, the yacht
sank, a crew member died, and Cohn collected both legal fees
and a back-channel insurance payout.
Some of these escapades would figure in the disbarment proceedings that finally ended Cohn’s legal career in 1986, though in
truth it was over anyway, since aids would finish him off six weeks
later. But until then he was often protected by the press. Through
a fluke, he had friendships dating back to childhood with Generoso Pope Jr., the owner of the very same National Enquirer
whose current CEO, David Pecker, now tries to protect Trump,
and Richard Berlin, the CEO of Hearst, as well as Si Newhouse.
Before he joined McCarthy in Washington, the young Cohn had
been an acolyte of and tipster for the mighty Hearst gossip columnist Walter Winchell, who demonstrated by example how the
press could be enlisted into the Favor Bank of the powerful. As
Thomas Maier writes in the 1994 biography Newhouse, Cohn used
his influence in the early ’80s to secure favors for himself and Mob
clients in Newhouse publications—even writing an IRS-trashing
cover story in its national Sunday-newspaper supplement,
Parade. After Rupert Murdoch bought the New York Post in 1976,
Cohn wielded the paper as his personal shiv, slipping tips about
friends and enemies to “Page Six.” His own ensuing image rehabilitation was at least as effective as his many face-lifts. “For
younger people,” Nicholas von Hoffman wrote in the 1980s, Roy
Cohn was no longer the McCarthy smear artist but “another name
for a très smart lawyer, for Disco Dan, for the international, I-goby-private-plane man.” The journalist Ken Auletta, in an unflinching 1978 dissection for Esquire, tried to puncture Cohn’s makeover, and was invited by 60 Minutes to be the contrarian in Safer’s
sanitizing profile. Nonetheless, CBS’s piece ended with a generous
summation, read onscreen by Dan Rather, that firmly humanized
him: “Roy Cohn is not an enigma. He’s simply a man who is seen
differently by different people. If you engaged in amateur analysis,
you might say that Roy Cohn was the kid on the block that all the
bullies beat up on. And so, when Roy Marcus Cohn was growing
up, he was determined to get rich, and get even, and he has.” Tick
tick tick tick.
uring his steady rise in New York from the 1970s
into the 1990s, Trump was tracked by some Aulettas of
his own in addition to the Voice’s Barrett, from Neil Barsky at the pre-Murdoch Wall Street Journal and Daily
News to the dedicated Trump-baiting magazine Spy.
But these journalists, like many to come, could be outshouted and
bulldozed by Trump’s relentless lies and self-mythologizing. With
the aid of Cohn’s own compliant press pool and the contacts he
courted at the television networks, Trump would continue to promote himself on his own terms in the pre-digital media era. Magazines, New York prominent among them, grabbed the commercial
rewards of exploiting his latest stunts as glossily as possible. The
most powerful news organizations and media barons often let
Trump have his way. In a scathing editorial this month, the Times
observed that “Mr. Trump has spent his career in the company of
developers and celebrities, and also of grifters, cons, sharks, goons
and crooks.” While the Times would start
covering his corruption in earnest in the
2000s after Timothy L. O’Brien, the
author of the hard-hitting 2005 book
TrumpNation, was hired, the paper’s
coverage was anything but aggressive
during the crucial decades when Trump
was amassing his power.
Exhibit A of the Times’ credulousness
is the puffy feature that put him on the
media map in 1976. “He is tall, lean and
blond, with dazzling white teeth, and he
looks ever so much like Robert Redford,”
read the lead. At this early date, Trump
had only proposed ambitious projects,
not built them or closed any of the requisite deals, but the profile christened him
“New York’s No. 1 real estate promoter of
the mid-1970’s” nonetheless. The article
accepted Trump’s word that he was of
Swedish descent, “publicity shy,” ranked
first in his class at Wharton, made millions in unspecified land deals in California, was worth $200 million, and with his father owned 22,000
apartment units. None of this was remotely true, but the sexy brew
of hyperbole and outright fantasy, having been certified by the
paper of record, set the tone for much that was to come.
In 1981, for instance, the Times could be found quoting an
unnamed “real-estate official” (John Barron, perhaps?) furthering
the implausible notion that Prince Charles and Diana were considering the purchase of a 21-room condo in Trump Tower for
$5 million—a useful bit of free false advertising as the development’s condos went on the market for a 1983 opening. A 1984
Times Magazine profile christened Trump “the man of the hour”
just as he was embarking on his financially reckless (and ultimately
catastrophic) expansion into Atlantic City. Along the way, Trump
continued to inflate his net worth. He was so obsessed with the
Forbes annual list ranking the wealthiest Americans that he had
Cohn muscle the magazine to fix it, a tale recently recounted in full
by a former Forbes staffer, Jonathan Greenberg, in the Washington
Post. By the 1990s, no less a television personage than ABC’s Diane
Sawyer courted an exclusive PrimeTime Live interview with Marla
Maples, complete with a best-sex-you-ever-had question, to facilitate the promotion of the Trump brand—“one of the low points in
television journalism history,” in the judgment of the PBS anchor
Robert MacNeil. The ultimate result of such fake news retailed by
real-news outlets, as Michael D’Antonio would conclude just before
Trump’s presidential run, is that “no one in the world of business—
not Bill Gates, not Steve Jobs, or Warren Buffett—has been as
famous for as long.” And one might add: No one as famous in business has been famous for a portfolio of low-rent businesses that
included the likes of Trump University and Trump Steaks.
Trump knew he could get away with snookering the ostensibly
liberal press Establishment because he’d seen Cohn do so. One of the
most memorable examples occurred on Sunday, November 17,
1985—the same day that Trump was the subject of his own first Mike
Wallace 60 Minutes profile. That morning’s Times contained a
gentle, reflective interview with the dying Cohn at a “Washingtonarea hospital” in which it was stated as fact that he was “fighting liver
cancer”—a fiction Cohn vehemently maintained, much as Trump
now tells staff members that the Access Hollywood tape is a hoax.
The unnamed Washington-area hospital was the National Institutes
of Health, where the Reagans had helped him cut to the front of the
line for aids treatment. It was a given under Rosenthal’s editorship
that the Times would bring up none of this to protect the criminally
hypocritical Cohn, who had threatened
closeted gay government officials with
exposure in the McCarthy era and loudly
fought gay rights ever since. Meanwhile,
the star Times columnist William Safire
had joined William Buckley Jr. and Barbara Walters among the three dozen celebrated character witnesses opposing
Cohn’s disbarment. Trump, however, had
distanced himself from his dying mentor,
for a while dropping him altogether. “I
can’t believe he’s doing this to me,” Cohn
said. “Donald pisses ice water.” With the
help of a new young factotum, Roger
Stone, Cohn’s last favor for Trump may
have been securing his sister Maryanne
Trump Barry a federal judgeship from the
Reagan administration in 1983 despite
her having received the tepid Bar Association rating of “qualified.”
Eventually, the Times’ coddling of
Cohn and its institutional homophobia
before and during the aids epidemic
would be aired thoroughly—a process facilitated by Larry Kramer’s landmark 1985 play The Normal Heart, Rosenthal’s retirement
in 1986, and Kushner’s portrayal of Cohn in Angels. But much of
the similarly embarrassing history of media collusion with Trump
has been either forgotten or whitewashed. Look back no further
than the obituaries and eulogies in the Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Condé Nast magazines that followed Si Newhouse’s death
last October at the age of 89. Not only was his history with Cohn
omitted but, more pertinently in 2017, so was his considerable role
in transforming Trump from a local celebrity into a national figure.
After he added Random House to his family’s holdings, it was
Newhouse, having met Trump through Cohn, who had the idea of
signing up the book that became The Art of the Deal, an oftenfictional exercise in self-promotion billed as an autobiography. At
the time the book was published, in 1987, Trump was so vaguely
known outside of the tri-state area that publishing insiders worried whether Random House would get back its investment. They
hadn’t reckoned, as Newhouse had, that Trump had the ability to
market himself with a zeal beyond the imagination of authors who
write their own books. The press ate it up. “Mr. Trump makes one
believe for a moment in the American dream again,” enthused the
(Continued on page 85)
Times’s daily book reviewer.
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
The dueling Democratic candidates in Georgia’s strangely pivotal governor’s race agree
26 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
Photographs by Benjamin Lowy
on one thing: Sometimes they wish they had different first names.
lisa chase
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
ualifying day in Georgia: the day
when anyone running for an office in
the state has to trek to the Capitol
Building in Atlanta—the Gold Dome,
as it’s known—to fill out some paperwork, shake some hands, and be officially recognized as a candidate. It’s a
necessary nonevent.
On this day, March 6, Stacey
Abrams is qualifying as a Democratic
candidate for governor of Georgia. As
is always the case with Abrams, whose
voluble, Bill Clinton–esque intelligence and ambition have won
her national press and big checks from out-of-state donors,
today is anything but a nonevent. About 40 people
sweep in to watch her register—supporters in
stacey abrams: governor T-shirts, a film crew
from a local TV station, energized activists,
Abrams’s senior staff, members of her large family.
Wearing a conservative cobalt-blue dress and a
string of pearls, she arrives last and is surprised by
her elderly parents, Carolyn and Robert Abrams,
who’ve driven over from Hattiesburg, Mississippi,
to watch their second-oldest daughter make history
as the first black woman to formalize her run for
governor of Georgia.
Abrams’s rival in the primary, Stacey Evans, 39,
just did the same thing—also, it must be noted, in
cobalt blue, but with much less hoopla. With her
was her mother, Kim Godfrey, who had Evans when
she was 17, and Evans’s husband, Andrew, clutching
the hand of their 6-year-old daughter, Ashley. Keith Godfrey,
who adopted Stacey more than 30 years ago, was there too. Her
parents, who divorced long ago, have logged so many hours
together on the campaign in the past year that they’ve started
dating. Evans offered a perfectly deadpan delivery: “This campaign is already bringing people together.” She and her mom
exchanged a hug. It’s like they couldn’t believe how far they’d
come from their humble beginnings. “I wasn’t supposed to be
here,” Evans has said repeatedly.
It’s the exact line Abrams, 44, uses: “I wasn’t supposed to be
here.” She means that she grew up poor and black—her parents,
who ultimately studied divinity at Emory University, raised six
children on Carolyn’s librarian salary and Robert’s dockworker
wages—and that because of how our system hobbles people with
brown skin and meager resources, Abrams’s chances of reaching
this moment were in serious doubt. When I ask her mother
about this, she starts to tell a story. “When Stacey was 12, she was
selected to go to a Girl Scout convention in Arizona. She was the
only black child, and she was left at the gate—” But then we’re
interrupted by the candidate, who’s come over to hug her parents, and they all head off together and leave me wondering: She
was left at the gate? What?
Right now, Democrats have not one but two really good candidates running for governor in the state. Abrams, the “black Stacey”—
disconcertingly common shorthand in a race straining under the
weight of identity politics in unpredictable ways—is basing her campaign largely on a message of minority empowerment. Evans, the
“white Stacey,” is pledging to restore to its former glory a state grant
called the Hope scholarship, an emotionally freighted program
founded to offer free public-college tuition to any high-school student with at least a 3.0 average. In 2011, when the Staceys were both
serving in the Georgia House of Representatives, they clashed when
Republicans went after the scholarship; Evans charges that Abrams,
as the House minority leader, allowed the other party to gut it. This
split turned out to be the drip that led to the stream that formed the
muddy river of a two-Stacey race for the Democratic nomination.
nail-biter with national implications is currently unfolding among Georgia Democrats. Georgia Democrats—rarely has an expression been more closely associated with longing and loss. “Here’s what I know: I’ve worked
in Democratic politics for a long time. It is hard for Democrats
to win statewide in Georgia,” says Stephanie Schriock, president
of emily’s List. “We’ve had some really good candidates, but
Democrats keep losing because they’re short 200,000 votes.”
28 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
“It’s like 2008, Hillary versus Obama, down here,” says Amy
Morton, chair of Better Georgia, a progressive nonprofit.
“Friends versus friends on who they are supporting. Sometimes
they stop speaking to each other.” In other ways, the race is more
Bernie versus Hillary—though, in the complicated world of
Georgia politics, it can be difficult to tell who’s the insurgent and
who’s the Establishment favorite.
In fact, both candidates are significantly further to the left than
most of the Democratic figures who are endorsing them. Abrams
sells herself as the progressive firebrand with a national fan base
(she was endorsed by emily’s List, where she’s been a favorite for
years) who can galvanize tens of thousands of African-Americans
to go to the polls for the first time. Yet she served in the Georgia
House for 11 years, seven of them as minority leader, and has a
reputation as a pragmatist willing to do deals with the Republicans who’ve controlled state politics for almost two decades.
Between February 1 and March 31, the latest campaign-financereporting period, she outraised her opponent three to one.
Evans, who has the support of much of the state party’s ruling
class, is a color-inside-the-lines consensus builder. “I see myself as a
champion for common sense,” she says. “Sometimes that makes me
moderate, sometimes that makes me liberal. Maybe every now and
then it makes me a conservative.” Yet Evans is almost exclusively
basing her campaign on an all-out defense of the Hope scholarship,
the most progressive entitlement program the state has ever enacted.
Abrams led Evans in the most recent poll by 18 points, but a
month before the primary, more than half of likely voters remained
undecided. On the surface, you’ll hear that the dueling candidacies
of these two accomplished women are “a high-class problem” for
Georgia Democrats, as Paul Begala, the strategist for both Clintons and former Georgia governor Zell Miller, puts it.
P R E V I O U S S P R E A D : M A K E U P BY PA U L E T T E M O R G A N / T H E I Q U E E N ( A B R A M S ) ; M A K E U P B Y M I M I J O H N S O N ( E VA N S )
Abrams has a Bill Clinton–
esque intelligence and
ambition that have won her
major national support.
But dig deeper: There’s unease in the air. In Georgia elections,
“race is a factor that sits in the corner of the room all the time,” says
Davis Fox, a political analyst in DeKalb County, one of the Atlanta
suburbs gradually undergoing a shift to the left. “I’m very worried
that this is a bitter train wreck between a black and a white.”
Jim Galloway, a longtime political reporter and columnist for the
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, says that the choice is between “immediate gratification and fundamental realignment” of the Democratic Party. Will Democrats make the safer bet and go with Evans,
who many think has a better shot in the general election because of
her embrace of Trump-disaffected moderate Republicans and rural
whites? Or will they tap Abrams as their homegrown Obama?
“I’ve talked to white Democrats and black Democrats—they’re
very unsettled by Abrams,” Galloway says. Then he adds, unsettling me, “She’s not just female, she’s unmarried. That’s an issue.”
to the point of sometimes seeming bland. “People underestimate her all the time,” says Morton,
the chair of Better Georgia. But Evans comes alive at the Union
Baptist Church in Macon one afternoon in early April, where she
is giving a stump speech to a group of influential ministers and
political leaders. We’re in Middle Georgia, which is home to one
of the largest concentrations of African-Americans in the state.
Evans is funny: “I was baptized in a really cold creek. Why does
it always have to be a cold creek?” She knows how to read the
room: “My family wasn’t looking for the government to do everything for them. In Georgia, families aren’t looking for that either.
But they want to see their government working for them.
Because they see it working for other people.” Lots of mmmhmms as the 50 or so mostly black men in attendance tuck into
a lunch of insanely good fried chicken and sweet tea and ponder
whether to throw their political muscle behind Evans.
The race is splitting the state’s African-American politicians
down the middle. Abrams has the support of Vernon Jordan and
A substantial part
of the black political
is on Evans’s side.
U.S. congressmen John Lewis and David Scott. In the Evans camp
are Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, former Atlanta mayor
and U.N. ambassador Andrew Young, and Elaine Lucas, half of
Georgia’s most venerable black political power couple. Her husband, David, the longest-serving member in the Georgia General
Assembly, tangled with Abrams over a project she started to register new voters in the state. Today in the church, Elaine, a longtime
Macon commissioner, gives a powerful endorsement for Evans. “I
used to just support black candidat
y were black? They were
okay,” she says. “I have matured, y’a
pporting Stacey Evans.
E-V-A-N-S, because there’s another Stacey … Abrams. They’ll be
right there on the ballot, together, so we don’t need any mistakes.”
Back in January, Evans made a mistake with the black community: a boneheaded video filmed in Ebenezer Baptist Church in
Atlanta in which her face and Martin Luther King Jr’s. meld for a
moment. The campaign released the ad near MLK Day, and the
resulting fracas probably cost Evans several points in the polls: How
dare white Stacey appropriate the image of Martin Luther King?
“That video went through seven sets of eyes on our campaign,
only two of which were white. Nobody thought anything about
it,” protests Seth Clark, Evans’s harried young spokesperson.
Since then, Evans seems to have recovered her footing. On the
way in to the lunch, I meet Floyd Griffin, a former state senator
and mayor of Milledgeville, who endorsed Evans a few weeks
ago: “I looked her in the eyes and said, ‘You are going to have
people of color in your administration?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ ”
Since we’re talking about skin color, does he think that because
Evans is white she has the best shot at winning the general?
Griffin smiles. “Anybody can win a primary,” he says. “She can
win the general. That’s all I’m going to say.”
on the Hope scholarship at first seems
overly simplistic. But it may be brilliant. Begala, who’s endorsed
her, thinks it is: “In this unbelievably clustered media environment,
very little cuts through. So far, what cuts through in the last cycle
is hateful and divided. I love the idea of the universality of Hope. A
message that self-consciously says that we lift up everything.”
The grant, beloved by Georgia families of both parties, was the
brainchild of Zell Miller. In 1993, then–Governor Miller created
a state lottery to fund the scholarship, and it became a vector of
upward mobility and economic development crossing class and
race lines. Because of Hope, many smart, driven students were
no longer leaving the state for UNC or UVA and, after college,
they settled in Georgia. Evans was one of them.
She grew up dirt-poor, born to a single mother who moved her
and her younger brother at least 16 times in and around the
North Georgia town of Ringgold. (Her most effective
campaign ad is called “16 Homes”; it’s literally a tour of
her difficult childhood.)
Sitting in a conference room in her unassuming campaign headquarters, Evans shares a story from her highschool days. She’s dressed in a slim black sweater dress
with ruffled shoulders, a poised Atlanta professional. “I
was running for student council, and I misspelled
secretary—I used an a instead of an e,” she says. “So I
made an e and taped it on the poster. I remember some
people snickering about it. There was a teacher—I won’t
call her name because she ended up being a good influence in my life—but I found out that another girl had
asked her for guidance about what to run for, and the
teacher advised her to run for secretary. And so I thought,
I guess this teacher thought I’d be the easiest one to beat.”
Evans won the race, her first election. While other people were
poor in Ringgold, she says, “I already knew my place. I knew my
station.” Another teacher at the school told her about the Hope
scholarship, and because of it, she was able to attend the University
of Georgia in Athens, then applied to law school there. But “I didn’t
have the lsat scores,” she says. She was wait-listed. Similar pattern:
She dug in her heels, got in, and ultimately made law review. After
graduation, she went to work for a big Atlanta law firm.
The next time the Hope scholarship intersected with her life
was when she was first elected to the Georgia House in 2010. “I
walk in the place, and that was the bill. That was the bill of the
year.” She’s referring to the 2011 legislation to cut funding for the
E VA N S ’ S L A S E R F O C U S
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
30 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
P H OTO G R A P H S : B O B A N D R E S / AT L A N TA J O U R N A L- CO N S T I T U T I O N /
A P I M AG E S ( A B R A M S ) ; @ E VA N S F O R G EO R G I A / T W I T T E R ( E VA N S )
scholarship. Georgia was in a recession, the lottery was throwing win List has endorsed a “Dynamic Dozen” women for state office
off less money to pay for the grant, and the Republican- and is backing others in down-ballot contests. The Republican
dominated assembly proposed to shrink the program by requir- woman who beat Jon Ossoff in the most expensive House race ever,
ing an SAT score of 1200 for a full ride to college and a 3.0 aver- Karen Handel, is being challenged by Democrat Lucy McBath.
Among old-boy, old-school Democrats, there’s a whiff of conage for discounted tuition at technical schools.
At first, Evans worked with Abrams on the negotiations. But descension toward this feminizing of politics. Over the summer,
she turned against the deal when Abrams agreed to changes that when Evans and Abrams had just announced their candidacies,
limited the number of high-school students eligible for the schol- Journal-Constitution columnist Galloway actually wrote, “Next
arship, seemingly in return for a Republican concession to retain year’s Democratic race for governor in Georgia could have the
full-day, full-week pre-K programs. “Democrats are not about feel of a feud between Beyoncé and Taylor Swift.”
cutting off access,” Evans says. “It’s an important
distinction between us.”
“It was a bipartisan solution to a terrible problem,” Abrams counters. “I was unwilling to simply
say no and let thousands lose access to education.”
She says that while Evans didn’t agree with the final
result, she “complimented me” on the negotiations.
“She said it was the best deal we could get,” Abrams
says. “So her framing of this as ‘gutting’ is completely
at odds with her contemporaneous acceptance.”
Evans spent the next six years trying to restore
parts of Hope. During an evening legislative session in 2015, a bill she’d authored was torpedoed
because, she was told, “there are some folks who
are concerned that you may want to run for
something higher, and they’re just not going to
write a campaign commercial for you tonight.” In
fact, Evans says she wasn’t really thinking about
running for governor—until then. “I realized I’m
not here to wear a badge, I’m here to get stuff
done. If that bill had passed that night,” she adds,
“I don’t think we’d be sitting here now.”
Thanks largely to a $324 million Medicare fraud
case she helped win while in private practice, Evans
is now wealthy enough that she could lend her own
Stacey Abrams at the state Capitol after she qualified to run for governor in March.
campaign more than $1.2 million and donate
$500,000 to her alma mater. She and her husband,
with their young daughter, live in affluent East
How might this primary have been covered if, say, the Staceys
Cobb County, just north of the city. “Things have gone very well in
my life,” she concedes, “but you are who you are, and you come from were named Steve? Abrams purses her lips, narrows her eyes.
where you come from. That lingering doubt that I’m not supposed “Everyone would be calling us by our last names, and that would
to be here has never really left me.” She debated whether to run be it,” she says. As for Evans, she looks annoyed at the question,
because Abrams’s intentions were well known, but she decided to too. “There’s two guys named Ken running for the Court of
go for it: “Just because she thought of it first doesn’t make it hers.” Appeals right now.” Pause. “Then again, it’s the Court of Appeals.”
Pause. “But I suspect it’s because we’re women.”
PEEVED LOCAL DEMS COMPLAIN that the national party and pacs
Last fall, Pave It Blue, a female-only grassroots movement
don’t pay enough attention to Georgia. (Note to emily’s List: “You born in the wake of Donald Trump’s win, hosted meet-and-greets
made the wrong call in Georgia,” says Morton about the group’s for the two rivals in the northern suburbs of Atlanta. Abrams
backing of Abrams, “because you didn’t make any phone calls in “requested a green room and brought 30 people with her, ready
Georgia.” Evans says that when she decided to throw her hat in to work the crowd,” says Leah Fuhr, a white elementary-school
the ring, emily’s List sent someone down to Atlanta to have teacher turned political consultant for progressive candidates. I
breakfast with her. The organization would be happy to support think I know where Fuhr is going here—a few weeks earlier, a
her, she was informed later, if she’d just run for another office.)
political operative grumbled to me, “Abrams travels with an
But the national party and pacs should take heed of what’s hap- entourage wherever she goes. They travel first class. I mean,
pening in Georgia now, because it mirrors what’s happening else- Jimmy Carter travels coach to New York.”
where in the country: Racial demographics are shifting, while at
But I’m wrong. Fuhr’s beef is with Evans: “She came in with
the same time enraged anti-Trump voters are flooding the field on no literature, no flyers. Her big fail was that she came with
the left—many of them women—and enraged retrenching white nothing.” We’re at a breakfast spot in a Cobb County strip mall.
voters are doing the same on the rig
ording to Melita Easters, At the table are five female activists, three white, two black,
founder of Georgia’s win List, a lo
on of emily’s List, there from No Safe Seats, an organization that spun off from Pave It
are 40 percent more female statecandidates and 25 per- Blue. To them, Evans’s approach to the forum seemed not
cent more female House candidates on the ballot than in 2016. folksy but disrespectful.
As for Abrams’s traveling with a pack of aides and supporters?
“She has to do that. She has no choice,” says Marla Cureton, who
is black. At the table, Nina Durham, who is also AfricanAmerican, nods in agreement.
What they’re saying, of course, is that as a black woman, Abrams
has to do ten times more than her opponent. But then, does her
“degree of melanin,” as Abrams likes to say, coupled with her
minority-empowerment message, make it impossible for suburban
white ladies and rural white carpet-factory workers to relate to her?
Because Abrams will need them, too, to win the general—remember
Schriock’s 200,000 missing Democratic votes. Abrams herself tells
a story about visiting a church in a poor white town in North Georgia (a town she was advised to be out of before nightfall) to answer
questions about how to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid: “One
gentleman who came up to me, he said, ‘Now, you know there ain’t
no way I’m ever gonna vote for you. But I won’t vote against you.’ ”
Her blackness—and the way she uses it—is the issue that looms
over this campaign. It gets nibbled at in all kinds of ways. Local
African-American political analyst Robert Patillo recently dissed
her in a local TV interview for daring to harness “the power of
black-girl magic.” One person who’s followed the careers of both
Evans and Abrams says, “People are really pushing back against
this idea that Abrams is running as ‘I’ll be the first black woman
governor.’ That she’s playing the race thing. That is making a lot
Hope-scholarship negotiations, leading critics to wonder if she
made a deal with the Republicans to line her own pockets).
Her campaign is rooted in the voter-registration drive she
started, which in 2014 raised $3.6 million, much of it from outof-state donors. Abrams says the initiative, called the New Georgia Project, has submitted 200,000 new voter applications. But
Secretary of State Brian Kemp, one of the five Republican candidates for governor, and various members of Abrams’s own party
have accused her of exaggerating NGP’s numbers; Abrams lobbed
back that the state mishandled or suppressed the applications her
group collected. State Senator Lucas, a longtime voter-registration
advocate who distrusted Abrams’s NGP work, told Atlanta magazine in 2015, “We were kept in the dark, period. [We didn’t know]
how much money was raised, who they paid to go out to do the
work. We literally didn’t know anything.” Kemp, who has a reputation as a Georgia vote-suppressor par excellence, investigated
NGP, but nothing official came of the inquiry.
As the primary grows closer, the attacks have intensified. On
April 19, a watchdog group filed an ethics complaint against
Abrams with the Georgia campaign-finance commission, charging
that she inadequately detailed the nature of $83,000 in reimbursements to her from her campaign. She denies any impropriety.
What does it all amount to? I’m trying to keep the word uppity
out of this story—but there it is, it’s on the page now—because while
Abrams has been the subject of two complaints,
numerous whisper campaigns, and swipes from
the Georgia press, she’s never been fined for or
formally charged with malfeasance.
All she seems to be guilty of, at least so far, is
lack of clarity about the finances of her multiple
nonprofits, making mistakes with her own
taxes, and daring to openly wield power—and
to want more of it. She still prefers to be called
“Leader Abrams.” She likes to show off her intelligence, and she has a witty line that does this:
“I went to UT Austin, Spelman College, and
Yale Law School. I amassed an extraordinary
amount of debt and knowledge. And I’ve been
able to keep both.” She worked “de minimis
issue,” “suborning lies,” and “it went beyond the
gentry and allowed the plebeians access” into a
ten-minute speech to a bunch of volunteers in a
public library in Columbus.
Indeed, she is a dazzling candidate whose
command of policy is impressive and whose charisma on the stage is undeniable. While she
served in the general assembly, she wrote
romance novels under a nom de plume (Selena
Montgomery) and an autobiography, just out
(Minority Leader: How to Lead From the Outside
Stacey Evans at church on Martin Luther King Day in January.
and Make Real Change). She spoke at the 2016
Democratic convention, and among her endorsof people mad, black and white, because Evans has probably half ers are MoveOn, Planned Parenthood, and Senator Cory Booker.
the black legislature with her, for reasons of personality.”
At her campaign headquarters in Atlanta’s gentrifying Kirkwood
Those who don’t think Abrams should be the governor of neighborhood—buzzing with the activity of dozens of young staffers
Georgia have commented on, among other things: how much and volunteers—I remember that I wanted to ask about the story
she’s paid herself in her various endeavors (too much); her her mother started to tell at the Gold Dome back on Qualifying Day.
national ambitions (overweening); her personal fiscal sloppiness
“Yes, so, I was 12, the only African-American girl elected to this
(she owed the IRS $50,000, which she is paying off, and carries delegation from Mississippi, and they were not pleased by my selec$170,000 in student-loan and credit-card debt); her lack of tion,” Abrams recalls. “They took a different flight and didn’t tell us.
transparency (one of her companies had a contract with the state We got to the airport, and they were gone. My mom was like, ‘Do you
(Continued on page 87)
government that she didn’t reveal to her colleagues during the still want to go?’ I’d never flown before.
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
I N 1931 ,
U N T I L N O W.
A B O V E : zora neale hurston in the early 1930s, around the time she interviewed
cudjo lewis. O P P O S I T E P A G E : lewis outside his home in alabama in the 1930s.
32 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
Six years earlier, Hurston had tried to publish another book
in dialect, this one a work of nonfiction called Barracoon. Before
she turned to writing novels, she’d trained as a cultural anthropologist at Barnard under the famed father of the field, Franz
Boas. He sent his student back south to interview people of African descent. (Hurston was raised in Eatonville, Florida, which
wasn’t the “black backside” of a white town, she once observed,
but a place wholly inhabited and run by black people—her father
was a three-term mayor.) She proved adept at the task, but, as
she noted in her collection of folklore, Mules and Men, the job
wasn’t always straightforward: “The best source is where there
are the least outside influences and these people, usually underprivileged, are the shyest. They are most reluctant at times to
reveal that which the soul lives by. And the Negro, in spite of his
open-faced laughter, his seeming acquiescence, is particularly
evasive … The Negro offers a feather-bed resistance, that is, we
let the probe enter, but it never comes out.”
Barracoon is testament to her patient fieldwork. The book is
based on three months of periodic interviews with a man named
Cudjo Lewis—or Kossula, his original name—the last survivor
of the last slave ship to land on American shores. Plying him with
peaches and Virginia hams, watermelon and Bee Brand insect
powder, Hurston drew out his story. Kossula had been captured
at age 19 in an area now known as the country Benin by warriors
from the neighboring Dahomian tribe, then marched to a stockade, or barracoon, on the West African coast. There, he and some
120 others were purchased and herded onto the Clotilda, captained by William Foster and commissioned by three Alabama
brothers to make the 1860 voyage.
After surviving the Middle Passage, the captives were smuggled into Mobile under cover of darkness. By this time, the international slave trade had been illegal in the United States for 50
years, and the venture was rumored to have been inspired when
one of the brothers, Timothy Meaher, bet he could pull it off
without being “hanged.” (Indeed, no one was ever punished.)
Cudjo worked as a slave on the docks of the Alabama River
before being freed in 1865 and living for another 70 years:
through Reconstruction, the resurgent oppression of Jim Crow
rule, the beginning of the Depression.
When Hurston tried to get Barracoon published in 1931, she
couldn’t find a taker. There was concern among “black intellectuals and political leaders” that the book laid uncomfortably bare
Africans’ involvement in the slave trade, according to novelist
Alice Walker’s foreword to the book, which is finally being published in May. Walker is responsible for reintroducing the world
34 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
to a forgotten Zora Neale Hurston, who’d died penniless and
alone in 1960, in a 1975 Ms.-magazine essay. As Walker writes,
“Who would want to know, via a blow-by-blow account, how
African chiefs deliberately set out to capture Africans from neighboring tribes, to provoke wars of conquest in order to capture for
the slave trade. This is, make no mistake, a harrowing read.”
One publisher, Viking Press, did say it would be happy to
accept the book, on the condition that Hurston rewrote it “in
language rather than dialect.” She refused. Boas had impressed
upon her the importance of meticulous transcription, and
while her contemporaries—and authors of 19th-century slave
narratives—believed “you had to strip away all the vernacular
to prove black humanity,” says Salamishah Tillet, an English
professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Hurston was of the
exact opposite opinion.
In any event, a dejected Hurston moved on to other projects,
and the manuscript for Barracoon ended up languishing in her
archives at Howard University. Until a few years ago, that is, when
the Zora Neale Hurston Trust acquired new literary representation: Had any unpublished treasures been left in the vault? the
agents wondered.
It may have taken 87 years for Barracoon to see the light of day,
but Valerie Boyd, who wrote a well-regarded biography of Hurston called Wrapped in Rainbows in 2003, believes the timing is
perfect for a writer “whose life’s work was to document and celebrate the lives of ordinary black folk.” “We’ve got an open bigot in
the White House,” Boyd says. “We’re much more engaged with
racial issues, with the resistance movement. A book like Barracoon says, ‘Yeah, black lives matter. They’ve always mattered.’”
Hurston seemed to assume that anyone deluded enough not
to realize that would wake up if African-Americans were
allowed to tell their own stories. (In one of her great quotes, she
wrote that she always felt “astonished” when people discriminated against her: “How can they deny themselves the pleasure
of my company? It’s beyond me.”) Here’s a scene of one of her
early conversations with Kossula:
“I want to know who you are and how you came to be a
slave; and to what part of Africa do you belong, and how you
fared as a slave, and how you have managed as a free man?”
His head was bowed for a time. Then he lifted his wet face:
“Thankee Jesus! Somebody come ast about Cudjo! I want tellee somebody who I is, so maybe dey go in de Afficky soil some
day and callee my name and somebody dere say, ‘Yeah, I
know Kossula.’ ”
their eyes were watching god is required reading in high schools and colleges
and cited as a formative influence by Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou. It’s been canonized by Harold Bloom—even credited for inspiring the tableau in Lemonade where
Beyoncé and a clutch of other women regally occupy a wooden porch—but Zora Neale
Hurston’s classic novel was eviscerated by critics when it was published in 1937. The
hater-in-chief was no less than Richard Wright, who recoiled as much at the book’s
depiction of lush female sexuality and (supposedly) apolitical themes as its use of black
dialect, “the minstrel technique that makes the ‘white folks’ laugh.”
by zora neale hurston
y father he name
O-lo-loo-ay. He not a rich man. He have
three wives. My mama she name Ny-fondlo-loo. She de second wife. My mama have
one son befo’ me so I her second child. She
have four mo’ chillun after me, but dat ain’
all de chillun my father got. He got nine by
de first wife and three by de third wife.
In de compound I play games wid all de
chillun. We wrassle wid one ’nother. We
see which one kin run de fastest. We clam
de palm tree wid coconut on it and we
eatee dat, we go in de woods and hunt de
pineapple and banana.
One day de chief send word to de compound. He want see all de boys dat done see
fourteen rainy seasons. Dat makee me very
happy because I think he goin’ send me to
de army. But in de Affica soil dey teachee de
boys long time befo’ dey go in de army. First
de fathers (elders) takee de boys on journey
to hunt. Dey got to learn de step on de
ground (tracks). De fathers teachee us to
know a place for de house (camp site). We
shoot de arrows from de bow. We chunkee
spear. We kill de beastes and fetchee dem
home wid us.
I so glad I goin’ be a man and fight in de
army lak my big brothers. Every year dey
teachee us mo’ war. But de king, Akia’on,
say he doan go make no war. He make us
strong so nobody doan make war on us.
Four, five rainy seasons it keep on lak dat,
den I grow tall and big. I kin run in de bush
all day and not be tired.
de king of dahomey, you know, he got
very rich ketchin slaves. He keep his army
all de time making raids to grabee people to
sell. One traitor from Takkoi (Cudjo’s village), he a very bad man and he go straight
in de Dahomey and say to de king, “I show
you how to takee Takkoi.” He tellee dem de
secret of de gates. (The town had eight
gates, intended to provide various escape
routes in the event of an attack.)
Derefore, dey come make war, but we
doan know dey come fight us. Dey march all
night long and we in de bed sleep. It bout
daybreak when de people of Dahomey
breakee de Great Gate. I not woke yet. I
hear de yell from de soldiers while dey
choppee de gate. Derefore I jump out de
bed and lookee. I see de great many soldiers
wid French gun in de hand and de big knife.
Dey got de women soldiers too and dey run
wid de big knife and dey ketch people and
saw de neck wid de knife den dey twist de
head so it come off de neck. Oh Lor’, Lor’! I
see de people gittee kill so fast!
Everybody dey run to de gates so dey kin
hide deyself in de bush, you unnerstand me.
I runnee fast to de gate but some de men
from Dahomey dey dere too. I runnee to de
nexy gate but dey dere too. Dey surround de
whole town. One gate lookee lak nobody
dere so I make haste and runnee towards de
bush. But soon as I out de gate dey grabee
me, and tie de wrist. I beg dem, please
lemme go back to my mama, but dey don’t
pay whut I say no ’tenshun.
While dey ketchin’ me, de king of my
country (Akia’on) he come out de gate, and
dey grabee him. Dey take him in de bush
where de king of Dahomey wait wid some
chiefs. When he see our king, he say to his
soldiers, “Bring me de word-changer”
(interpreter). When de word-changer came
he say, “Astee dis man why he put his weakness agin’ de Lion of Dahomey?” Akia’on
say to de Dahomey king, “Why don’t you
the middle passage
After the ship reached
shore, the slave owner,
Timothy Meaher,
had it burned to destroy
all the evidence.
mobile, al
The trip through the
Atlantic likely took
45 days, but under
the horrid conditions—
oppressive heat,
minimal drinking
water—Cudjo thought
it was almost twice
that long.
Around age 19, Cudjo
was captured and
sold by a neighboring
tribe in modern-day
Excerpt from Barracoon: The Story of the
Last “Black Cargo,” by Zora Neale Hurston.
Published by Amistad Press. Copyright © 2018
by the Zora Neale Hurston Trust.
Map by Joe McKendry
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
fight lak men? Why you doan come in de
daytime so dat we could meet face to face?”
Den de king of Dahomey say, “Git in line
to go to Dahomey so de nations kin see I
conquer you.”
Akia’on say, “I ain’ goin’ to Dahomey. I
born a king in Takkoi where my father and
his fathers rule. I not be no slave.”
De king of Dahomey askee him, “You not
goin’ to Dahomey?”
He tell him, “No, I ain’ goin’. ”
De king of Dahomey doan say no mo’.
One woman soldier step up wid de machete
and chop off de head of de king, and pick it
off de ground and hand it to de king of
Dahomey. When I think ’bout dat time I try
not to cry no mo’. My eyes dey stop cryin’ but
de tears runnee down inside me all de time.
I no see none my family.
All day dey make us walk. De sun so hot.
De king of Dahomey, he ride in de hammock and de chiefs wid him dey got hammock too. Dey tie us in de line so nobody
run off. In dey hand dey got de head of de
people dey kill in Takkoi. Some got two,
three head. Oh Lor’ I wish dey bury dem! I
doan lak see my people head in de soldier
hands; and de smell makee me so sick.
When we git in de place dey put us in a
barracoon behind a big white house and
dey feed us some rice. We see many ships in
de sea, but we cain see so good ’cause de
white house, it ’tween us and de sea. But
Cudjo see de white men, and dass somethin’
he ain’ never seen befo’.
De barracoon we in ain’ de only slave pen
at the place. Sometime we holler back and
forth and find out where each other come
from. But each nation in a barracoon by
itself. We not so sad now, and we all young
folks so we play game and clam up de side de
barracoon so we see whut goin’ on outside.
When we dere three weeks a white man
come in de barracoon wid two men of de
Dahomey. Dey make everybody stand in a
ring. Den de white man lookee and lookee.
He lookee hard at de skin and de feet and de
legs and in de mouth. Den he choose. Every
time he choose a man he choose a woman.
He take sixty-five men wid a woman for
each man. Den de white man go way. But de
people of Dahomey come bring us lot of
grub for us to eatee ’cause dey say we goin’
leave dere. We eatee de big feast. Den we
cry, we sad ’cause we doan want to leave the
rest of our people in de barracoon. We all
lonesome for our home. We doan know
whut goin’ become of us.
36 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
dey come and tie us in de line and
lead us round de big white house. Den we
see so many ships. We see de white man
dat buy us. I in de last boat go out. Dey
almost leavee me on de shore.
As the slaves were being rowed out to the
Clotilda, the ship’s captain began to suspect that the Dahomey were going to trick
him and try to recapture the people he’d
just bought, so he gave orders to “abandon
the cargo not already on board, and to sail
away with all speed.”
When I see my friend Keebie in de
boat I want go wid him. So I holler and
dey turn round and takee me. When we
ready to leave and go in de ship, dey
snatch our country cloth off us. Dey say,
“You get plenty clothes where you goin’.”
Oh Lor’, I so shame! We come in de ’Merica soil naked and de people say we
naked savage.
L I B R A RY, U N I V E R S I T Y O F SO U T H A L A B A M A .
After a three-day forced march, the party
arrived at the coast; Cudjo had never seen
the ocean before.
Lewis in his home in the 1930s.
Soon we git in de ship dey make us lay
down in de dark. Dey doan give us much
to eat. Me so thirst! Dey give us a little bit
of water twice a day. De water taste sour.
(Vinegar was usually added to the water to
prevent scurvy.)
On de thirteenth day dey fetchee us on de
deck. We so weak we ain’ able to walk ourselves, so de crew take each one and walk
’round de deck till we git so we kin walk
ourselves. We lookee and lookee and lookee
and we doan see nothin’ but water. Where
we come from, we doan know. Where we
goin, we doan know. Cudjo suffer so in dat
ship. I so skeered on de sea! De water, you
unnerstand me, it makee so much noise! It
growl lak de thousand beastes in de bush.
De wind got so much voice on de water.
Sometime de ship way up in de sky. Sometimes it way down in de bottom of de sea.
Dey say de sea was calm. Cudjo doan know,
seem lak it move all de time.
When the Clotilda arrived on the
Alabama Gulf Coast, Cudjo and his fellow
captives were ordered to stay below deck;
they were taken ashore after dark and
made to hide in a swamp for several days.
cap’n tim meaher, he tookee thirtytwo of us. Cap’n Burns Meaher he tookee
ten couples. Some dey sell up de river.
Cap’n Bill Foster he tookee de eight couples and Cap’n Jim Meaher he gittee de
rest. We very sorry to be parted from one
’nother. We seventy days cross de water
from de Affica soil, and now dey part us
from one ’nother. Derefore we cry. Our
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
grief so heavy look lak we cain stand it. I
think maybe I die in my sleep when I
dream about my mama.
Cap’n Jim he tookee me. Dey doan put
us to work right away ’cause we doan
unnerstand what dey say and how dey do.
But de others show us how dey raisee de
crop in de field. Cap’n Tim and Cap’n
Burns Meaher workee dey folks hard. Dey
got overseer wid de whip. One man try
whippee one my country women and dey
all jump on him and takee de whip ’way
from him and lashee him wid it. He doan
never try whip Affican women no mo’.
We doan know why we be bring ’way
from our country to work lak dis. Everybody lookee at us strange. We want to
talk wid de udder colored folkses but dey
doan know whut we say. Some makee de
fun at us.
Cudjo’s owner, Jim, ran a shipping
business on the Alabama River between
Mobile and Montgomery, and Cudjo was
eventually enlisted to “tote freight” on and
off the boats.
Every time de boat stopee at de landing,
you unnerstand me, de overseer, he go
down de gangplank and standee on de
ground. De whip stickee in his belt. He
holler, “Hurry up, dere, you! Runnee fast!
Can’t you runnee no faster dan dat? Hurry
up!” He cutee you wid de whip if you ain’
run fast ’nough to please him. If you doan
git a big load, he hitee you too.
De war commences but we doan know
’bout it when it start. Den somebody tell
me de folkses way up in de North make de
war so dey free us. I lak hear dat. But we
wait and wait, we heard de guns shootee
sometime but nobody don’t come tell us
we free. So we think maybe dey fight ’bout
something else.
Know how we gittee free? Cudjo tellee
you dat. De boat I on, it in de Mobile. We
all on dere to go in de Montgomery, but
Cap’n Jim Meaher, he not on de boat dat
day. It April 12, 1865. De Yankee soldiers
dey come down to de boat and eatee de
mulberries off de trees. Den dey see us and
say, “Y’all can’t stay dere no mo’. You free,
you doan b’long to nobody no mo.’”
Oh, Lor’! I so glad. We astee de soldiers
where we goin’? Dey say dey doan know.
Dey told us to go where we feel lak goin’, we
ain’ no mo’ slave.
after dey free us, we so glad, we
makee de drum and beat it lak in de Affica
soil. We glad we free, but we cain stay wid
de folks what own us no mo’. Where we
goin’ live, we doan know.
We want buildee de houses for ourselves, but we ain’ got no lan’. We meet
together and we talk. We say we from
cross de water so we go back where we
come from. So we say we work in slavery
five year and de six months for nothin’,
now we work for money and gittee in de
ship and go back to our country. We think
Cap’n Meaher dey ought take us back
home. But we think we save money and
buy de ticket ourselves. So we tell de
women, “Now we all want go back home.
Derefo’ we got to work hard and save de
money. You see fine clothes, you must not
wish for dem.” De women tell us dey do
all dey kin to get back, and dey tellee us,
“You see fine clothes, don’t you wish for
dem neither.”
But it too much money we need. So we
think we stay here. We see we ain’ got no
ruler, no chief lak in de Affica. Dey tell us
nobody doan have no king in ’Merica soil.
Derefo’ we make Gumpa de head. He a
nobleman back in Dahomey. We ain’ mad
wid him ’cause de king of Dahomey ’stroy
our king and sell us to de white man. He
didn’t do nothin’ ’ginst us. We join ourselves together to live.
Because Cudjo “always talkee good,” the
Africans selected him to approach their former owners and ask for land in exchange
for their years of free labor.
One day not long after dey tell me to
speakee, Cudjo cuttin’ timber for de mill.
Cap’n Tim Meaher come sit on de tree
Cudjo just choppee down. I say, now is de
time for Cudjo to speakee for his people.
We want lan’ so much I almost cry and
derefo’ I stoppee work and lookee and lookee at Cap’n Tim. He set on de tree choppin splinters wid his pocket knife. When
he doan hear de axe on de tree no mo’ he
look up and astee me,
“Cudjo, what make you so sad?”
I tell him, “Cap’n Tim, I grieve for my
He say, “But you got a good home, Cudjo.”
Cudjo say, “Cap’n Tim, how big is de
“I doan know, Cudjo, I’ve never been to
de four corners.”
“Well, if you give Cudjo all de Mobile,
dat railroad, and all de banks, Cudjo doan
want it ’cause it ain’ home. Cap’n Tim, you
brought us from our country where we had
lan’. You made us slave. Now dey make us
free but we ain’ got no country and we ain’
got no lan’! Why doan you give us piece dis
land so we kin buildee ourself a home?”
Cap’n jump on his feet and say, “Fool do
you think I goin’ give you property on top
of property? I tookee good keer my slaves
and derefo’ I doan owe dem nothin.”
Cudjo tell de people whut Cap’n Tim say.
Dey say, “Well, we buy ourself a piece of
lan’. ” We workee hard and save, and eat
molassee and bread and buy de land from
de Meaher. Dey doan take off one five cent
from de price for us.
We make Gumpa de head and Jaybee
and Keebie de judges. Den we make laws
how to behave ourselves. When anybody
do wrong we make him ’pear befo’ de
judges and dey tellee him he got to stop
doin’ lak dat ’cause it doan look nice. We
doan want nobody to steal, neither gittee
drunk, neither hurtee nobody.
We call our village Affican Town.
abila, she a woman, you unnerstand
me, from cross de water. Dey call her Seely
in Americky soil. I want dis woman to be my
wife. Whut did Cudjo say so dat dis woman
know he want to marry her? I tellee you de
truth how it was. One day Cudjo say to her,
“I likee you to be my wife. I ain’ got nobody.”
After the slaves were freed, Cudjo asked their former
owner to give them land to build homes. “Fool,” he replied.
“I tookee good keer my slaves. I doan owe dem nothin’. ”
38 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
She say, “Whut you want wid me?”
“I wantee marry you.”
“You think if I be yo’ wife you kin take
keer me?”
“Yeah, I kin work for you. I ain’ goin’ to
beat you.” I didn’t say no more. We got
married one month after we ’gree ’tween
ourselves. We didn’t had no wedding.
Whether it was March or Christmas day,
I doan remember now. We live together
and we do all we kin to make happiness.
After me and my wife ’gree ’tween ourselves, we seekee religion and got converted. Den in de church dey tell us we
got to marry by license. In de Afficky soil,
we ain’ got no license. So den we gittee
married by de license, but I doan love my
wife no mo’ wid de license than befo’ de
license. She a good woman and I love her
all de time.
Me and my wife we have de six chillun
together. Five boys and one girl. Oh, Lor’!
Oh, Lor’! We so happy. We been married
ten months when we have our first baby.
We call him Yah-Jimmy, just de same lak
we was in de Afficky soil. For Americky we
call him Aleck.
So you unnerstand me, we give our
chillun two names. One name because we
not furgit our home; den another name
for de Americky soil so it won’t be too
crooked to call. All de time de chillun
growin’ de American folks dey picks at
dem. Dey callee my chillun ig’nant savage
and make out dey kin to monkey. Derefo’,
my boys dey fight. Dey got to fight all de
time. Me and dey mama doan lak to hear
our chillun call savage. It hurtee dey feelings. When dey whip de other boys, dey
folks come to our house and tellee us, “Yo’
boys mighty bad, Cudjo. We ’fraid they
goin’ kill somebody.”
Cudjo meetee de people at de gate and
tellee dem, “You see de rattlesnake in de
woods?” Dey say, “Yeah.” I say, “If you bother
wid him, he bite you. Same way wid my
boys, you unnerstand me.” But dey keep on.
We Afficans try raise our chillun right.
We Afficky men doan wait lak de other colored people till de white folks gittee ready to
build us a school. We build one for ourself
den astee de county to send us de teacher.
Oh, Lor’! I love my chillun so much! I try so
hard be good to our chillun.
Cudjo’s wife died about 20 years before
Hurston interviewed him, and all six of
his children were gone by then, too. Three
died of illnesses, his only daughter at age
15; his youngest son was shot and killed;
another died in an accident; and another
left home one day to go fishing and never
came back.
by nick tabor
arry lumbers,
61, was back in
Mobile, Alabama,
this year for
Mardi Gras. For the big party
on Tuesday night, he and his
relatives staked out a spot at
Kazoola, a bar named after
Cudjo Lewis that opened
downtown in 2016. A
stranger in his 30s walked up
and pointed to Lumbers’s
T-shirt: It had a photo of
Cudjo Lewis and his two
great-granddaughters, Mary
and Martha, taken in 1927.
“Yo, man,” the guy asked.
“Where can I buy that shirt?”
“I had it made,” Lumbers
said. “One is my mom”—
Mary—“and one is my aunt.”
“Oh, man, I was ready to
give up $30 for one of those.”
These days, Lumbers says,
people in the Mobile area
tend to know about the
origins of Africatown (also
called Plateau)—and about
his great-great-grandfather
Cudjo, who helped found it a
few years after the Civil War—
but they seem surprised to
realize the family has living
descendants. “The churches
tell the kids the story during
Black History Month, but
they don’t know us,” he says.
Lumbers estimates that
about 30 of Cudjo’s
relations—all descendants of
his son Aleck—still live in the
60 acres of Africatown, but I
can attest that nobody seems
aware of them. I called local
ministers, government
officials, and assorted others
for several weeks before I
tracked down Lumbers with
help from a genealogist. Once
in town, thanks to Lumbers’s
driving directions, I found his
distant cousin Tyrone Lewis,
who lives in Magazine Point,
where, he says, Cudjo and his
first took
re freed.
I arrived at Lewis’s after dark,
and stray cats slunk around
my legs as I walked up to the
small, wood-frame house and
pounded on the door.
“Cudjo practically raised
my dad,” Lewis tells me after
his wife, Lana, invites me in.
“He used to tell us how they
were treated on the ship,
how they’d made their life
and built their land here.”
Lewis cleans floors for a
living and preaches at a
nearby church. But he and
Lumbers say the lack of job
opportunities has driven
many family members away:
some to Birmingham and
Montgomery, others to
Detroit and Chicago.
Lumbers himself left in 2000
Garry Lumbers, Lewis’s
to join his mother, Mary, and
sister in a bedroom
community of Philadelphia,
where he works in shipping
and receiving.
Mary and her twin were in
their early teens when Cudjo
died, in 1935. Lumbers and
Lewis were born more than
20 years later, but during
their childhoods in the 1960s
and ’70s, Africatown
remained more of Cudjo’s
time than theirs. Because
there was no indoor
plumbing, they bathed in
claw-foot tubs and heated
water on the stove. Lumbers
grew up in the house where
Cudjo lived most his life as a
free man—originally a oneroom log cabin, later
expanded to four rooms.
Most of the descendants
attended Union Missionary
Baptist Church, which Cudjo
and the other former slaves
had founded in 1872 and
named in honor of the
soldiers who’d let Cudjo
know he was free. There was
also an extra home in the
community called the “big
house,” where any family
could stay who’d fallen on
hard times, Lumbers says. “It
wasn’t really that big, but it
had a big front yard,” where
several times a year his
cousins, aunts, and uncles
would gather for a barbecue.
Africatown once had a
main commercial district—
including a grocery store,
post office, nightclub, and
hotel—but it was bulldozed
in the early 1980s to build a
highway. The middle school
is in danger of shuttering
owing to low enrollment.
The land that Cudjo and
his fellow Africans bought
from their former owners to
build a settlement is now
encircled by factories that
locals believe have polluted
the area, causing cancer and
other illnesses. Last year, an
Alabama law firm sued
International Paper, which
for many years had the largest
footprint there, for releasing
dangerous chemicals in
violation of EPA rules.
Lumbers is returning to
his birthplace after he retires
next year. “I’m going to get
that piece of land, near the
church, and I’m going to
build a family house. For all
my kids”—he has six—“and
my kids’ kids”—there are
21—“and anybody that needs
help. As long as you’re not
doing drugs or acting a fool,
you’ll be able to stay there
until you get back on your
feet. The big house. We’ll do
it just like we used to.”
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
AU T U M N ,
age 14 months
Dolce & Gabbana cotton
onesie, bib, and hat set,
$395 at
Luxury brands are going after
the under-10 set more than
ever. But no matter what
you dress them in, kids will
always be kids.
Photographs by BOBBY DOHERT Y
Styling by Diana Tsui
A I DA N , age 2,
and DY L A N , age 4
Young Versace poplin shirt,
$265, and jeans, $300,
at; Young Versace
silk dress, $540 at
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
age 5
Burberry reversible
cotton jacket, $850
42 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
S H I LO H ,
age 5
Burberry reversible
cotton jacket, $850
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
age 7
Balenciaga cotton hoodie,
$350, and cotton
sweatpants, $250,
Balenciaga knit sneakers,
$295 at Bergdorf
Goodman, 754 Fifth Ave.
44 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
age 9
Gucci nylon-tulle dress,
$1,850 at Bergdorf
Goodman, 754 Fifth Ave.
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
g ra d g i f t s t h e y ’ l
. . . . . look boo
. . . p l at t o n f e
’s d ay c lu s t e r s . . .
crodosing moment
i z z a r e v i va l . . .
the goal: Find a
relaxing and rejuvenating
near-universal gift
that mothers, fathers,
and recent grads can
all get behind.
the verdict: Since its
debut last winter, Sojo
Spa Club’s 90-minute
Premium Korean body
scrub ($135 at 660 River
Rd., Edgewater, N.J.) is
drawing New Yorkers
across the Hudson,
willingly. The treatment
(unique to Sojo) begins
with a hot-tub soak,
followed by a full-body
exfoliation during
which an attendant uses
specialized mitts to
vigorously scrub every
inch of you, sloughing
away dead skin and
unclogging pores. Part two
is a wet massage with
lavender oil and
moisturizing milk, finished
with a cucumber facial
and hair wash. For those
wary of the Edgewater
address, there’s a free
40-minute shuttle bus
from Times Square, and
the skyline views from the
spa’s outdoor infinity pool
alone are worth the trip.
Photograph by Bobby Doherty
Edited by Katy Schneider
ask a shop clerk
In February, low-key-menswear shop Corridor
(209 Mott St.) joined Nolita’s hip-dad-duds district.
On May 1, Williamsburg kitchenwares shop Whisk
will open in the former Cook’s Companion location
(197 Atlantic Ave.). Marketing manager Tux Loerzel
shares the best gift for a cooking-obsessed parent.
Corridor: Cerulean-blue linen
button-up ($198); slightly faded
herringbone khaki chinos ($195);
a skinny, polka-dot, handmadein-Brooklyn tie ($75).
Buck Mason
(235 Elizabeth St.):
Gray French-terry
sweatpants ($88);
short-sleeve henley
($45); long-sleeve
denim shirt ($105).
Baldwin NY (199 Mott St.): Khaki,
water-resistant mid-length trench
coat ($395); camo anorak ($295);
raw selvage-denim jeans ($225).
“For a parent, I’d go with our soapstone pots ($68). They’re
from Brazil, and they have a copper band along the outside.
Like a Dutch oven—which we have plenty of as well, from
$85 Lodges to pricier $340 Le Creusets—they’re great for
making soups, stews, deep-fries, bread, or pots of beans.
The stone is made of talc and magnesite, which means it
can hold heat and cold temperatures longer
than regular cookware, but it’s also just very
impressive-looking. When people walk into
the store, they often say, ‘What the hell is
that? It’s so pretty.’ ”
moving in
On May 22, Saks will launch Beauty 2.0, a full floor
with 120 brands and 15 treatment rooms. Chief
merchant Tracy Margolies talks the best gifts for new
moms (611 Fifth Ave., second fl.).
In late March, heirloom-inspired customizable-jewelry brand Foundrae
(52 Lispenard St.) opened in northeast Tribeca’s designer-gem division.
Ted Muehling (52 White St.):
Amethyst drop earrings
($160); brushed-gold-plate
earrings ($220); a simple
rose-gold bracelet ($500).
S .
“We recently began selling the Proenza Schouler Arizona
fragrance ( from $100), but I think the nicest gift would
be a bunch of treatments: a lash extension
at Blink Browbar ( from $165), an
appointment at the fragrance-personalization
bar ( from $365), a guided-meditation
manicure ($30), a ‘remodelage’ massage meant
to slim your body ($220). Nails, brows, lashes,
massage: sounds like a perfect day to me.”
Gurhan (160 Franklin
St.): A dark-blue evileye ring ($1,250);
gold-and-champagnediamond tassel-drop
earrings ($18,950).
Foundrae: Cigar bands printed with
symbols like a lion for strength
($2,850) or an 8 for karma ($2,850);
a gold-fly earring post ($895).
Gillian Conroy (368 Broadway):
A black-diamond engagement
ring ($2,350); a Tahitian-pearl
bracelet ($4,800).
top five
Five shop owners on their top gifts for graduates, from a glass tumbler to a leather folio case.
were desi
48 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
EAM: “Menu’s
($200) will help
a grad’s apartment more
isticated—the integrated
er is great for ambience.”
Lauren Snyder, the Primary
Essentials: “These tumblers
($6) are handsome and multipurpose—they can hold water,
booze, even toothbrushes.”
Bethany Vogel, Home of the
Brave: “When the city is being
tough, crawling into luxurious
bedding like our cotton blanket
($398) is very comforting.”
Noah (195 Mulberry St.):
Tricolor suede oxfords
($298); striped rugby tee
($118); Italian-made pink
seersucker jacket ($448).
S T.
the look book
Retired Clinical
When did you retire?
A few years ago, and
now I volunteer a few
times a week with victims
of domestic violence
at a homeless shelter.
The other days are a little
more fluid. I handle
our finances, which takes
up a lot of time—my
husband still works.
What does he do?
He’s a plastic surgeon.
Doctor Thomas W. Loeb.
Has he ever done any
work on you? Yes, I’ve had
a blepharoplasty and a
face-lift. But I still look like
me! My husband has a
light touch, a natural
aesthetic. Good plastic
surgery doesn’t stick out.
Where’s the suit from?
Gucci. I have eclectic taste;
I like things from Pas
de Calais and Zara to Dries
and Dior. I also have
a big collection of vintage
clothes. I’m still the
same size I was 38 years
ago—I hope this photo
comes out well, because
I do look good for 65!
interview by
alexis swerdloff
lightning round
From: Spring Lake,
New Jersey.
Kids: Two sons.
Key to a long and
happy marriage:
“It’s important to
have a balance
of independent
interests and shared
activities.” Favorite
restaurant: Via Carota.
Currently reading:
The Ninth Hour.
Currently watching:
The Looming Tower.
Photograph by Bobby Doherty
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
the everything guide to:
Microdosing’s Micromoment
Consuming crumb-size amounts of psychedelics—
not to get high but to feel more focused and creative and present—
has moved a tiny bit mainstream. BY SIMONE KITCHENS
s o f o n e m o n t h a g o , I knew of just one friend who
microdosed; my friend, who is a musician, said he was taking 0.1 grams of mushrooms a few mornings a week so he
could finish up an album that had been taking him years.
Then, a few weeks later, I was at a different friend’s house when he
walked into his kitchen, took a teeny-tiny, shriveled-up mushroom
stem out of the freezer, snapped off a minuscule amount, and
popped it into his mouth, a thing he now does regularly to feel “more
open” while on the many work calls he has throughout the day.
This was while telling me about another
friend, who’s devised a way to, as precisely as
possible, dilute liquid LSD into 10-microgram doses. That guy uses it for painting.
It’s been quiet but also quick: Microdosing, which usually means taking tiny
amounts of psychedelics (one-20th to onetenth of a recreational dose) has spread from
San Francisco to New York and around the
country. People say they are using it not to
escape their everyday lives but to enhance
them: If you’re microdosing, you might even
forget you’re doing drugs in the first place.
The amounts are sub-perceptual, without
the seeing-stuff side effects. They’re still
themselves, users say, only a little better.
Recent reports show that millennials are
drinking less and less interested in drugs
like cocaine. But in a strange turn of events,
they’ve taken up LSD and mushrooms in
the way someone else might pop an Adderall. The most common self-reported benefits include improved mood, better eating
and sleeping habits, and less of a need for
caffeine. And, really, what could be more
millennial than rebranding some of the
most potent drugs out there as illegal vitamins that combine the feel-good-ness of
self-care with the possibility of gaining a
competitive edge on colleagues?
Drug dealers I surveyed have reported
an uptick in microdosing requests: “Maybe
50 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
10 to 15 percent of my clients plan on microdosing, which is definitely up from
when I first started selling mushrooms,”
says one Brooklyn dealer. Another says that
while she’s noticed more people buying
mushrooms and LSD, return customers
are consuming them more slowly. One
dealer even brings around his scale for
microdosers who want to measure out
smaller amounts; another creates tinctures
of diluted LSD. And a growing number of
posts on Reddit devoted to the subject indicates that people are microdosing all
sorts of things, from ketamine (for depression) to cannabis (for pain management).
Between 2010 and 2013, microdosing
began to gain steam in Silicon Valley coder
circles, thanks in part to the preachings of
LSD researcher James Fadiman. The appeal
of a drug regimen that allows for hours of
uninterrupted focus and concentration was
not lost on this crowd. Fadiman thinks microdosing caught on so quickly because “it
has a small positive effect and it’s not scary,”
though, as is the case with all drugs, fear is
subjective. Particularly because microdosing is both highly unresearched and incredibly imprecise, and therefore prone to all
kinds of dosage mix-ups and unintended
trips. In fact, there have been zero controlled
clinical trials related to microdosing. In
England, Amanda Feilding of the Beckley
Foundation is close to beginning a study
that will involve hooking up microdosers to
an EEG while they play the strategy game
Go in an attempt to measure both creativity
and cognitive function. For now, that’s it.
Anecdotal accounts already suggest that
microdosing is not for everyone. For those
who have any sort of bipolar or psychosis
history, there is the possibility of overstimulation. It also doesn’t seem to agree with
those with existing anxiety, says Fadiman.
And, of course, it is illegal.
Yet the curiosity only grows, in part because of renewed interest in the potential
therapeutic benefits of psychedelics taken
in traditional doses. In Michael Pollan’s
new book on the subject, How to Change
Your Mind, out in May, he goes deep on the
science from professionally guided, federally approved studies that looked at the
effects of psilocybin (that’s the psychoactive part of mushrooms) on cancer patients
in significantly lessening signs of anxiety
and depression.
Which is why some people are ignoring
the risks and microdosing to get in on some
of the reported benefits. “Eventually, people
take things into their own hands,” says Dr.
Michael Mithoefer, a Charleston psychiatrist involved in MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of PTSD. “Certainly not the ideal way to do it, but that’s
one of the problems that happens when the
regulatory and scientific community isn’t
responding to the need for better medicines.” And perhaps the science will catch
up with the culture. “It’s a very plausible
question whether microdosing has antidepressant activity,” says Matthew W. Johnson, a Johns Hopkins psychologist who has
published psilocybin studies. “If that was
true, that could be a novel treatment to one
of the world’s biggest medical disorders.”
Photograph by Bobby Doherty
the everything guide to microdosing
What Is
a Microdose?
The Big Seven:
What Out There Is Being Microdosed
What it is: A drug
manufactured from lysergic
acid, which is found in the
fungus that grows on rye.
It is taken in tablets,
capsules, gelatin squares,
or pieces of paper.
What it is: “Magical
mushrooms” contain the
psychoactive compound
psilocybin. They can
be eaten, brewed into tea,
or coated with chocolate.
What it is: Cannabis is
a psychoactive drug from
the cannabis plant. It’s
either smoked, vaporized,
or taken in tinctures
or edibles.
What it is: The active
What it is: An Amazonian
hallucinogenic compound
in ayahuasca. It is most
often smoked in powder
form or consumed in
a brew.
plant mixture that
contains the psychoactive
substance DMT.
It’s generally consumed
in a tea.
How microdosing it feels:
How microdosing it feels:
How microdosing it feels:
How microdosing it feels:
How microdosing it feels:
About an hour or two
after ingesting the
microdose, people notice
an increase in focus and
energy. Many users find
that it helps with weaning
off—and staying off—
anti-depressants. It can
help lessen the side effects
of withdrawal and even
mitigate depression.
Many speak to the drug’s
ability to increase
empathy, too.
Cannabis in microdose
form has been found to be
helpful for a wide variety
of physical ailments:
chronic pain, nausea,
inflammation, indigestion,
fibromyalgia, PTSDassociated insomnia, even
nightmares. But it also
helps with mood: It can
boost interest in one’s
surroundings, creativity,
happiness, and focus,
while also combating
DMT has a faster onset
than any of the drugs on
this list—it can kick in
seconds after use, and its
acute effects last only
about a half-hour. It
brings users to a place of
introspection and, as one
frequent microdoser put
it, “cuts out anything that
isn’t serving me in the
present moment, so I can
just enjoy being.”
Microdosing ayahuasca
can increase sensitivity
and openness in users—
many feel their boundaries
and defenses dissolve.
It is not optimal for work,
as it can make physical
and mental tasks slightly
more strenuous and can
make users feel passive—
“It made it hard to answer
emails, write queries,
research,” said one.
Users describe experiencing
a boost in energy, focus, and
the feeling that life is
meaningful. A proper
microdose, according to
users of the drug, is like a day
in which you’ve “gotten
enough sleep and eaten well.”
It’s often used to help kick
addictions, from cigarettes
to heroin. Many LSD
microdosers find that it’s
made it easier to lose weight,
stop drinking, and even cut
back on playing video games.
The Guy Who’s Microdosed
It All (Or a Lot of It)
Cooper M., 23,
department lead
at a cannabis start-up,
LSD: “A couple of years
back, I was quitting
antidepressants. It was
52 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
It was much more effective
than any antidepressant
I’d ever taken. I took small
doses a couple times a
week for a few months, and
I found that my focus,
mood, energy, and creative
ing all improved not
he day of, but the
days following as well.”
Mushrooms: “Like LSD,
it makes me feel in the
moment, and my day-today feels fresher and less
stale. The main difference is
that it’s shorter and less
energizing. It makes me feel
more ‘go with the flow’ and
less analytical and sharp.”
CBD: “I take CBD—the
non-psychoactive element
of cannabis—every day to
help calm my mind and
body. I microdose Mr.
Moxey’s Mints when I need
a little kick or I get stuck in
a bad thought loop at work.
Illustrations by Mark Nerys
In the absence of clinical trials and studies, we created this chart by going straight to the source: lots of individual microdosers.
We shared our findings with two experts in the field of psychedelics—psychologist James Fadiman and psychiatrist
Julie Holland—who confirmed that what we learned meshed with the anecdotal evidence they’ve accumulated over the years.
Note: Many of these drugs have serious associated risks, so do not use this as a guide. by katy schneider
A microdose is generally considered
to be one-20th to one-tenth of a recreational
dose. If someone’s seeing things, he or she
has taken too much. Most people microdose
mushrooms or LSD, but other drugs
have also become popular of late.
Side Effects
May Include …
Five findings from
James Fadiman’s*
email in-box.
Period relief
What it is: A rarely
What it is: Ketamine
microdosed, difficult-to-get
perennial rainforest shrub,
some take it in premade
TA (total alkaloid) powder.
is a medication used for
maintaining anesthesia.
It is typically snorted,
though occasionally
How microdosing it feels:
Iboga in small doses can
promote introspection,
clarity, thoughtfulness, and
a feeling of connectedness
to people and the world.
One user reported feeling
“too introspective. I was
often lost in thought,”
she said, “and had no
interest in conversing with
others, because small talk
seemed too tedious and
unimportant.” It’s also
been known, in large doses,
to reset opiate receptors
and therefore help
curb cravings.
How microdosing it feels:
It’s less impactful per
dose than LSD, but I owe
being able to function
in a 40-hour workweek
to them.”
DMT: “I’ve also tried DMT.
It onsets within seconds
compared to oral
psychedelics that can take
an hour to set in.
This allows me to very
quickly reach the
thoughtful, centering
mental space I’m
looking for but also
not feel stuck in it
for too long if I take
too much. ”
Some users report feeling
a physical high and
a decrease in physical
sensation. “If you have pain
in your knees,” says one
user, “you’re not going to
feel that on a microdose of
ketamine.” It also eases
stress and depression. With
larger doses, users report
that those anti-depressive
effects can last for days,
weeks, or even a month.
“A number of women
who have had difficult
periods report that
their periods are now
normal. We got a note
from a woman in her
20s who said that
during the month she
microdosed, her
periods, which are
usually extraordinarily
difficult and painful,
were now normal.
Others say they
microdose before their
period and their
periods are now fine.
We don’t know
much, but we’re hoping
to get much
more conventional
research going.”
Better sex
“Just a few reports of
this, but one example:
Married 15 years, male,
38. ‘Sex is great with
microdosing … my
attention is at 100
percent in the bed,
easily expressed in our
lovemaking and
sensual touching.
There is no hurry and
no wait.’ ”
coffee consumption
“The most common
comment is ‘I just don’t
feel the need.’”
More anxiety
“We do not know if
anxiety goes up or if they
are more aware of their
anxiety, but in either case
we feel microdosing is
not beneficial.”
Better first drafts
“I never reveal my
sources (especially if
they are drug-using
*Why Does Everyone
Keep Bringing Up
James Fadiman?
Up until a few years ago, the
longtime LSD researcher who
published The Psychedelic
Explorer’s Guide in 2011 was
individually responding to
any would-be microdoser’s questions as
to suggested dosage or possible side effects
through his personal Gmail. He created
a protocol based on his many emailed-in
reports from users that’s pretty much
become the microdosing standard. Now
Fadiman is working with fellow researcher
Sophia Korb as they embark on the largest
nonclinical microdosing study to date
(59 countries and over 400 participants).
What Happens
to the Brain
The science that exists
is exclusive to therapeutic trips.
When not on psychedelics, various
networks of the brain operate mostly
independent of one another. But when
you’re tripping, those areas start talking to
each other: Brain-imaging scans from
an Imperial College London study showed
that psilocybin caused increased new
connections all across the brain in a small
sample of patients with depression. This
rerouting can lead to visual and sensory
changes like hallucinations, but also may
result in new ways of thinking, which
is why there are reports of transcendence,
being able to think outside the box,
and increased empathy after large-dosepsychedelic-led therapy sessions.
What that does (and mostly doesn’t)
tell us about microdosing.
No researcher will definitively comment on
what microdosing does to the brain (and
they were extremely wary about speculating),
because there is literally no science to point
to. Since researchers do agree that psilocybin
and LSD may cause increased connections
throughout the rest of the brain, it could
be that this is happening on a smaller
scale. One thing that scientists will say is that
while therapeutic trips can have benefits
that last many months, microdosing’s effects
disappear after a few days.
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
the everything guide to microdosing
How Do People Who
Do It, Do It?
Or this
starter pack
The Microdoser’s Tool Kit
A scale
A grinder
Gel caps
In New York,
some dealers
are adjusting to the
spike in microdoser
clients by creating
diluted liquid-LSD
tinctures; others are
offering use of their
scales to help
weigh mushrooms.
One that registers
a thousandth of a gram
helps people start
as small as possible.
Dried mushrooms
are quite fragile,
but a grinder (some
like a mortar
and pestle, others use
coffee grinders) will
yield a fine powder
that microdosers
will sprinkle into
various ingestible
things, even
“Strongly earthy”
is one way dried
mushrooms have been
described. Weighing
them, grinding
them into powder
form, and putting
them into gel capsules
is a way to make
microdoses and avoid
their polarizing taste.
Dose Day
No Dose
No Dose
Dose Day
The Pretty-Much-Agreed-Upon Regimen
According to the Fadiman approach, people generally microdose once every three days for
about a month—one day on, two days off. But why space it out? “After reading a lot of reports
and talking to a lot of people, the effects were lasting for up to two days,” Fadiman says.
“The psychedelics are actually gone within a few hours, but you have the same
kind of feeling—functioning better—for two days.” There’s another reason to space it out:
Psychedelics, while nonaddictive, can cause a tolerance to build. The most important thing
to keep in mind: Fadiman advises taking a microdose before 10 a.m. “Taking it later
may make it harder to fall asleep. From there, people should keep to their daily schedule:
work, leisure, meals, medications, exercise.” After the month, Fadiman found that
most people continued to microdose only occasionally, on an as-needed basis—for an exam,
a presentation. Plus, like with most things, it’s good to take a break.
54 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
P H OTO G R A P H : J O E B E L A N G E R / A L A M Y S TO C K P H OTO ( D O U G H N U T S )
A dealer
The Third Wave, a start-up
dedicated to “responsible
psychedelic use” founded
by Paul Austin, offers
both online guides
to microdosing various
substances and a $47 LSD
starter pack that includes
a sterilized amber bottle
with distilled water
for diluting, scissors for
cutting off tabs of LSD,
a sterile syringe for measuring
out microdoses, and an
LSD-testing kit (to make
sure it really is LSD).
A Doser’s Diary
Tao Lin, whose book Trip:
Psychedelics, Alienation, and
Change comes out May 1,
has dabbled in microdosing.
Anticipating questions
he thought he’d get on
the topic while on tour, he did
a trial run.
10 A.M.
10 A.M. Four days
Used one-sixth
of a tab of 100
micrograms of
LSD—a brand
called Aztec Xtal,
which may or may
not be LSD or 100
later, used one-sixth
of a tab again. I’d
planned on three
days, but I was
meeting my editor
and wanted to be
in a more familiar
mental space.
11:58 A.M. Have
11:41 A.M. Have
more of a sense
of humor and less
despair than
normal, smiling
greater ability
to end undesirable
12:35 P.M. Feel
distracted by the
world instead
of my thoughts,
which are a lighter
yet more
overlay than
11:54 A.M. Instead
of blankly gazing
at nothing, as can
happen normally,
my focus is flitting
randomly around,
scanning. My
memory images
seem stronger.
10:38 P.M. In bed.
and pleasurably
and unexpectedly
biked from 25th
to 3rd Street.
Had another almost
productive day—
doing a phone
interview, reading,
writing, drawing.
4:52 P.M.
12:55 P.M.
Attention span
became lower
than normal;
feeling the lack
of what I gained
Microtripping Nine to Five
What it’s like to be high and functioning on the job.
A Blueberry Edible Before a Meeting
“I take chocolate-covered blueberry edibles, which are about 5 mg. each
of THC—the psychoactive part of cannabis—on the way to work. It’s about
a 45-minute commute, so by the time I’m at my desk, it’s starting to
work. During meetings, I feel more lucid in my thoughts and confident
sharing ideas that I may have thought were too radical before. I find myself
making more jokes, laughing more. Before, I think I was always trying
to say the right thing, playing it safe in a way. It worked, but it was
also sort of boring.” —Anonymous animator
A Sliver of LSD Before Talking to the Boss
“When I microdosed LSD a couple of times before work, it was a mixed
bag: When talking to my boss—who I never had problems with—I felt
much more anxiety. I was more in my head, nervous about what I was
going to say. On the other hand, I had much more empathy—which was
a big deal, because I wasn’t very fond of my co-workers. It also made it
much easier to do boring, heads-down work. Time kind of flew by—
my job was basically ‘spreadsheet farming,’ and I was able to do that a lot
more efficiently.” —Anonymous recruiter for a financial-services firm
A Sip of Iboga Before Visiting Patients
“I work in palliative care. All my patients are dying. Since I started taking
50 mg. of iboga TA powder in the morning, pain- and symptom-management
visits are filled with much more laughter and happiness. Before, I was prone
to burnout from these visits—I was tired and sluggish and often only
able to provide the necessary care to my patients. I missed small subtleties in
their physical and emotional state. This doesn’t happen as often when
I’ve taken iboga. I am able to sit with a grieving family, feel their pain, and be
present, without allowing it to shatter me.” —Anonymous nurse k.s.
10 A.M. Two days
later. Used one12th of a tab—half
as much.
4:11 P.M. Time has
10 P.M.
temporary loss of
attention. Feel like
I had a day like
when I used to use
Adderall but with
less underlying
passed fast. The
half-dose seems
preferable. Onesixth felt sometimes
overwhelming and
disruptive to my
normal routine, but
this amount seems
good to use
occasionally and
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
the everything guide to microdosing
But What’s the Worst
That Could Happen?
It took a few tries before this Brooklyn musician landed on his ideal dose.
“The first time I did it, I took 0.2 grams of mushrooms at 8 a.m. It’s what
I thought was a very small amount, so I was like, Okay, I’ll take that and
I can up it from there. Maybe 20 minutes later I was in the park walking my
dog, and I looked up at the trees, and I was like, Huh, that looks weird.
Then I looked down at my hands, which is always the test: Do my hands look
trippy? And I was like, Oh, yeah, they’re trippy. The grass beneath them was
super-vibrant, moving in a weird way. I was like, Okay, I guess I’m tripping at
8 a.m. on a Tuesday. I tried to go home and work, and I was not okay to work,
so I lay down, put headphones on, and listened to music in my bed in the
dark for like an hour. So after that I started doing .07 grams, which is really
small, then slowly worked my way up to .1 gram. Sometimes I’ll do .08 grams
if it’s a day I know I’m going to be doing a lot of phone calls. There’s
no impairment, but if I’m doing 0.1 or 0.125, I definitely feel a little extra
something. When I hit the ideal dosage, it helps me get into a flow state.
It’s a feeling you can totally have without doing drugs, it’s just one that I rarely
achieve. If you’re working on something, you have a feeling that you
can do no wrong, and because you have that feeling, it kind of comes true.”
One of the
biggest dangers
of microdosing
is accidentally
Sara Gael, director of
harm reduction at the
MAPS Zendo Project,
an organization
committed to
supporting people
going through
bad psychedelic trips,
on the best ways to
ride it out.
Move the body
“Qi Gong, yoga,
stretches like that can
be helpful; they get
energy moving. When
we’re really stuck in
our head, feeling
comfortable in our
body can help.”
Eat something
“This can instantly
help you
feel grounded.”
Go outside
“Being in nature
is a big one. Go to the
park; it doesn’t have
to be in the middle
of nowhere, though
still try to avoid a ton
of people.”
Put on some music
classical, piano,
guitar; mellow
is key.”
56 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
P H OTO G R A P H S : M A S A H I R O N O G U C H I / G E T T Y I M AG E S ( PA R K ) ; C L A I R E L E W I S ( WA L D M A N ) ; CO U R T E S Y O F T H E S U B J EC T S ( R E M A I N I N G )
“Okay, I Guess I’m Tripping
at 8 a.m. on a Tuesday”
How Illegal
Is It?
Psychedelics are Schedule 1 drugs.
Though laws vary by state, if you’re
caught possessing or selling even a small
amount of psychedelics in New York
State as a first-time offender, you
could face jail time—anywhere from less
than a year to up to nine years. New
Mexico is unique in that it is legal to
grow mushrooms there, while a Florida
loophole lets people off the hook who
don’t realize the mushrooms they are in
possession of are magic ones. Meanwhile,
current decriminalization efforts in
California and Colorado could show up
on ballot measures later this year.
And now, a naysayer.
Richard A. Friedman, professor
of clinical psychiatry and director
of the psychopharmacology clinic at
Weill Cornell Medical College, thinks
microdosers should hold out for
more-conclusive science.
“The problem is that the large-dose
therapeutic studies that have been
done so far—the NYU and Johns
Hopkins ones in particular—are
flawed, I think, so we don’t really know
how safe or effective it is. For example,
niacin, which was used in the NYU
study as a placebo, doesn’t really have
a psychedelic effect, so my objection
is that it’s just a weak study. And then
there’s the sample: Who raises their
hand and does a hallucinogen? Those
people might be more psychologically
hardy and drawn to novel experiences.
With microdosing, if you’re going
to posit x or y about it, then go study
it and get good data. Otherwise
everybody thinks it’s perfectly safe, but
there are people who are going to do
it who are at risk for various psychiatric
problems like schizophrenia, bipolar
disorder, and severe depression,
or who have a genetic loading for
psychotic disorders and could unleash
a latent illness. That’s who I worry
about. Claims that are made based
on anecdotes and individual stories
are interesting but not conclusive,
and they need to be subjected to the
same rig
drug on
the market.”
“Did we get all these
people to be in a clinical trial
that we’re going to realize,
one day, was a bad idea?”
Some microdosing early-adopters look back.
Reply All, the podcast
that got things going
On November 5, 2015, the Gimlet
Media podcast Reply All aired a show
on which one of its co-hosts, PJ Vogt,
secretly took small portions of acid and
recorded what happened. (Vogt ended
up panicking and ditching the
experiment.) It’s become one of its most
listened-to episodes. Vogt and Gimlet
co-founder Matt Lieber reflect on
how the episode’s aged since.
Ayelet Waldman,
the mom
who microdosed
In 2017, Waldman introduced many
to microdosing with her memoir,
A Really Good Day: How Microdosing
Made a Mega Difference in My Mood,
My Marriage, and My Life. What
does she think about it now?
PJ VOGT: One of the things
I didn’t predict would
happen is that everybody
now tells me when they’re
microdosing. They’ll say, “Hey,
remember when you did that episode
where you took acid?” And it always
goes the same way: It’s them grinning
and going, “Well, I’m trying it right
now.” It happened two mornings ago
in the elevator.
MATT LIEBER: I remember
telling you that I was pretty
sure you were going to
inspire many people—
hundreds or even thousands—to try
acid. People that otherwise wouldn’t.
If you ask me how I feel about it …
I feel very conflicted, actually.
PJV: Sometimes I wonder, Did we get
all these people to be in a clinical trial
that we’re going to realize, one
day, was a bad idea? But most people
who’ve talked to me had good
experiences, and I think they feel that
they’re in a secret society.
ML: Have you done it since then?
PJV: No, oh my God, no. No. It’s worth
reiterating: I messed up the dose and
did not enjoy my experience. But I have
the rest of the acid in this Orbit-gum
box on
okshelf. It feels like
n in my apartment.
margaret rhodes
“I was writing about
microdosing psychedelics,
but at the heart of it, I was
writing about taking
responsibility for mental illness and
finding a way out of your deepest
darkest place, and when you write
about that, you have to take
responsibility for your reader. That’s
why I’m much less interested in
people who have a more jokey
approach to it. Look, I did it as an ad
hoc personal experiment. I obviously
don’t think there’s anything wrong
with that, as long as people are very
aware of what they’re getting into and
they understand the neuroscience,
the therapeutic elements, the history,
the criminal-justice ramifications.
We spend too much time in this
country taking really strong drugs
without thought; people are gobbling
up Paxil without anybody considering
how incredibly difficult it can be to
get off them. We’ve just been
swallowing thoughtlessly, both legal
and illegal, so if you’re going to
microdose, I want you to really do
your homework, or at least just read
my book. One of the beauties of
microdosing is that there isn’t a
Sackler family forcing you to become
addicted—there’s no advertising
dollars [behind it]—so you can have
a more thoughtful decision-making
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
Edited by
Rob Patronite and
Robin Raisfeld
Freewheeling Ferris
The hotel restaurant that doesn’t know it is one.
by adam platt
hese are not the best of times for the officers’ mess of a trendy new class of
restless, innovative cooks in the big Nordic submarine. If there’s a sign outcity, especially in Manhattan, where side, I didn’t see it, and to get to the
it takes about as much cash to open entrance, underneath the lobby of an
a restaurant as it does to run for Congress anonymous-looking structure on West
or mount a decent-size Broadway show. If 29th Street called the Made Hotel, you
you’re Greg Proechel, who made a bit of a descend a flight of concrete steps. There
splash a few years back cooking a slightly are 40 seats in the snug wood-paneled
elevated, off-center brand of cuisine at a room below, half of them set up at the
trendy Lower East Side bistro called Le kind of tall counter-style tables you see in
Turtle, maybe you’ll decide to leave the the bars at airports or railway stations.
rat race behind after your initial
There’s a bar facing the open
success and open that neighborkitchen, and with its impressive
hood joint you’ve always dreamed
spirits list (14 Scotch whiskeys, 21
44 W. 29th St.,
about. Or you could cash in at a
rums) and tightly packed tables,
nr. Sixth Ave.
high-profile, but much more forthe convivial little space feels like
mulaic, brasserie-style kitchen
it’s been designed more for hard
uptown. Or maybe you’ll find a
pub-style drinking than for serimodest space somewhere in the city, pos- ous eating, especially on a cold, windsibly in a boutique hotel with a decent blown early-spring evening.
budget and a built-in audience, where it’s
Proechel was known at Le Turtle for his
possible to hunker down, away from the elegant takes on earthy, rib-sticking Connattering crowd, and conduct your culi- tinental classics like wine-braised wheels
nary experiments in relative peace.
of oxtail, and a famous version of whole
Proechel’s new venture is called Ferris, chicken for two, which was delivered to
and if you didn’t know it was an actual the table in a nest of gently smoking hay.
restaurant, you’d be forgiven for thinking When I first visited Ferris several months
it was a bunker of some kind, or maybe ago, the cooking seemed to skew in that
58 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
++very good
same classically informed direction. There
were helpings of boudin noir crumbled on
the plate with cinnamon and choppings of
grilled dates, and a smooth, properly
boozy chicken-liver mousse stuck with
curls of crunchy fried pork-skin “chips”
for dipping. The trophy-size centerpiece
of our dinner was a cut of côte de boeuf,
over-aged according to current fashion
(I think the number was 60 days) and
dressed with novel things like black-garlic
jam and another frothy dip made with
onions and whipped buttermilk.
Many of these dishes survive in their
original form on the ever-evolving menu at
Ferris, but in the past month or two, enticing images have been popping up on
assorted websites and Instagram feeds
hinting at a new, Asian-themed direction.
When I dropped in for dinner a couple of
weeks ago, there were triangles of flashfried “lobster toast,” sprinkled with bits of
Japanese kombu, and tea-size Japanese
“sandos” made with fried cutlets of Ibérico
pork pressed between slices of toast that
tasted like they’d been transported from a
tonkatsu shop in Tokyo by way of, say,
Barcelona. There were freshly grilled
Vietnamese duck sausages folded in little
envelopes of wilted cabbage, and an
extravagantly aged beef carpaccio scattered with spoonfuls of uni and served
with a thick crust of fried sourdough bread.
“This place reminds me of eating in Australia,” one of my world-weary guests said as
we perched on our tiny stools at the bar and
not recommended
th e d ish
watched the bearded, Viking-size chef
throw together all sorts of unlikely ingredients drawn, like in the trendy restaurants of
Sydney or Melbourne, from Southeast Asia,
China, and Japan. The lobster I’d ordered
on my first visit was plated, seasonally but
not very successfully, with squash and
pumpkinseeds; now it rests on a bed of julienned hearts of palm, among other things,
all mingled together with crushed macadamia nuts and a tangy white curry. In addition to the big-ticket côte de boeuf option,
you can now order a beautifully cooked
crown of duck for two, which consists of two
crispy-skinned duck breasts dusted with a
housemade five-spice powder and brought
to the table, in familiar Korean bo ssäm
style, with bowls of dipping sauce (whipped
egg yolk, a version of hoisin) and fronds of
pickled cabbage.
Like other members of this two-fisted,
umami-obsessed generation of cooks,
Proechel has a tendency to push a little too
hard on the heavy-flavor-bomb combinations. My grilled bok choy was drowned in
a soggy flood of brown butter and anchovyheavy bagna cauda, and the chunk of hake
I ordered one evening was obscured in a
similarly brackish puddle of clam broth.
You’ll find plenty of indigestion relief on
co-owner Charles Seich’s beverage list
(in addition to all the whiskeys and
rums, I counted 13 amari and digestifs), and the desserts have clearly
been designed with a kind of communal palliative smoothness in mind. Our
rich, milky chocolate mousse was stuck
here and there with slivers of jasmineflavored meringue, and the warm cardamom pound cake was obscured by a great
cloud of whipped cream. For maximum
relief, however, call for the yuzu frozen
yogurt, which the chef finishes with olive
oil and slices of green, baby-size Waka
Momo peaches flown in from Japan.
“Fried Chicken But Cold”
That’s right. The fried chicken at Dave Chang’s new à la carte annex
to Momofuku Ko proper is served by the piece and straight from the
fridge, and listed on the handwritten menu as “Fried Chicken But
Cold.” Undoubtedly smart alecks will take issue with this. They’ll say,
“What, no ‘Bread But Stale’? No ‘French Fries But Leftover’?” Yet just
as the English like their beer tepid, some folks prefer their fried
chicken with a little chill on it. Executive chef Sean Gray, who’s also
“a cold-pizza person,” notes that piping-hot or even
On the menu at
moderately hot food inhibits flavor, though food
Momofuku Ko Bar; $7;
8 Extra Pl.,
scientists don’t really know why. Another reason
nr. 1st St.;
cold fried chicken might be better than hot: no wait
for it to cool off before you take a bite. r.r & r.p.
The cut
varies day to
day; you
either get two
wings or one
thigh or
There’s beer
and vodka in
the batter,
to enhance
lightness, and
The chicken is
battered and
fried four times,
which might
explain its
crunch even
when cold.
The quarters are snug, and it can be hard
to hear yourself think above the din,
but two hearty stars for the drinks and the
best of the satisfying, inventive cooking.
IDEAL MEAL: Pork “sando,” lobster toast,
Vietnamese duck sausage and/or blood
sausage, lobster or duck crown for two, yuzu
frozen yogurt. NOTE: There are rumors
few weeks as a menu special. OPEN: Dinner
nightly. PRICES: Appetizers, $9 to $16; entrées,
$24 to $82 (côte de boeuf $5.25 per ounce).
Photograph by Bobby Doherty
After the final
fry, the chicken is
glazed in a
mixture of green
Tabasco, mirin,
and yuzu juice.
Pizza, Roman Style
Not since Sullivan Street Bakery’s Jim Lahey popularized six-foot slabs of pizza
bianca in the 1990s has Roman-style pizza been such a hot topic. New styles, new shops, and
even new flour mixes are reshaping New York’s pizzascape, putting a post-Neapolitan
focus on lightness, airiness, and above all, crunch. robin raisfeld and rob patronite
underground gourmet quick bite
Mani in Pasta
How to Tell Your Taglios
and Teglias From Your Tondas
ani in pasta is the name. Translation:
“hands in the dough,” and that is where
Giuseppe Manco’s mitts have been most of
his 31 years. Manco runs this five-month-old East
Village pizza restaurant, and his dough-making
credentials are pretty impressive. The Neapolitan
expat got started early at the family-run trattoria
in Naples, where under the tutelage of assorted
aunts and uncles he made his first Margherita
D.O.C. at the ripe old age of 6. His parents had
hoped he’d become an accountant, but after that
formative experience, it was too late. What really
must have vexed his mom and dad, though, was
that while their son was working at a Neapolitan
pizzeria in Rome, he fell in love with Roman-style
pizza in teglia (or pan pizza), and he switched
teams. We mean he went over to the other side.
He became a Roman-pizza specialist. Manco
embraced the stuff with such fervor, in fact, he
eventually won an award for his version at the
2017 International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.
Now you can get the same blue-ribbon pan
pizza at Mani in Pasta in the East Village, and it is
a knockout—the crust dark and crackly around
the edges, the tender crumb boasting the kind of
webby, widely inscribed holes that hint of highpercentage hydration and long fermentation.
Toppings fall on the spectrum somewhere
between Neapolitan restraint and modernRoman-pizza-maker whimsy. In addition to pan
pizza, there’s the so-called pinsa, made with the
same crunchy dough but pressed thinner and
shaped and sized like a Neapolitan pie with a pronounced cornicione. If you like the idea of Neapolitan pizza, but not its soft and often soggy texture, this is the pie for you.
What: Flatbread baked with sea salt and olive oil, which, in
its raw-dough state, gets scrunched, then unscrunched like
an accordion when shoved into the oven, only to emerge
miraculously as a six-foot plank of golden bubbly goodness.
Where: Sullivan Street Bakery (multiple locations).
What: Pizza baked in steel pans and sold by the square slice.
(Al taglio means “by the cut.”) The trend today is toward
thickish pan pizza made from long-fermented dough.
Also trendy: Deluxe toppings à la Gabriele Bonci’s Pizzarium in Rome. Where: PQR (1631 Second Ave.), Mani
in Pasta (multiple locations), My Pie (multiple locations).
Teglia means baking pan and also refers to the food that
gets cooked in it, such as, yes, pizza, sold whole or al taglio,
by the slice. In other words, you get your pizza al taglio after
it’s been cooked in teglia.
What: The anti-Neapolitan pizza in that its crust is round
but rolled out extra-thin, emerging from the oven crackercrisp with little air, no droop, and nary a cornicione in
sight. Traditionally eaten for seated dinner, versus dayWhere: Gnocco (337 E. 10th
time’s al taglio on the go.
St.), Emporio (231 Mott St.), Martina (198 E. 11th St.).
What: Similar to Roman pan pizza but baked directly on
the oven floor, then cut into squares and sold al taglio. Pala
refers to the wooden peels used to shovel the pizza into and
out of the oven. Where: Farinella (multiple locations),
Eataly Downtown (101 Liberty St.).
What: Depending on which Italian-food-marketing Svengali you’re talking to, either (a) an ancient flatbread used
by peasants as an edible plate, (b) a term derived from the
ere, which describes the act of pressing down on
such as a ball of dough, (c) a modern, healthier
e to pizza defined by the mix of flours used to
make it: soy, wheat, rice, corn, etc., or (d) all of the above.
Where: Camillo (1146 Nostrand Ave., Prospect Lefferts
Gardens), Mani in Pasta (multiple locations).
60 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
Photograph by Bobby Doherty
P H OTO G R A P H : M E L I S S A H O M / N E W YO R K M AG A Z I N E ( M A N I I N PA S TA ) . I L LU S T R AT I O N S BY T H E E L L A P H A N T I N T H E R O O M .
245 E. 14th St.; 646-891-0174
What: The Italian flatbread that’s oiled and
salted, often thickish and bready, and sometimes
split in half and used for sandwiches. Why, you
ask, is it in a guide to Roman-pizza styles?
Because the focaccia that former Lincoln and
Per Se chef Jonathan Benno will introduce next
month at his Leonelli Focacceria e Pasticceria at
Nomad’s Evelyn hotel, where he’s also building
two sit-down restaurants, is greatly influenced
by some of Rome’s most distinguished pizzerias.
Chief among them is Pizzarium, the
gastrotourist mecca and leading light of Rome’s
artisanal pizza al taglio movement, where baker
Gabriele Bonci tops his naturally leavened crusts
with an inspired array of fresh, seasonal
toppings. “I thought someone should really do
something like that in New York,” says Benno.
He aims to incorporate that style’s open crumb
structure, flavorful dough, and bountiful
toppings (he’ll also make sandwiches with it).
Whatever you call it, Benno’s focaccia is serious
bread—75 percent Italian 00 flour, 25 percent a
blend of house-ground whole wheat, rye, and
spelt—baked, like pizza al taglio, in steel pans in an
electric oven. He intends to serve it as he has
enjoyed it in Rome: at room temperature. But
upon request, he’ll happily heat up slices decked
with combos like burrata, tomato, and basil, or
squash with arugula, mint, and ricotta (pictured).
Even for a chef of Benno’s stature, culinary
convention has its limits. “I’m not going to tell
New Yorkers how to eat pizza,” he says. Or
focaccia. Where: Leonelli Focacceria e
Pasticceria (7 E. 27th St.); June.
— Frank O’Hara
Steps, excerpt from Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara. Used by permission of City Lights Books. Photography: Clément Pascal.
New York
May 3–6, 2018
s h e i l a
h e t i
s a o i r s e
r o n a n
c r i t i c s
pa r t i e s
t o
d o
The Closet,
In The Boys in the Band, Zachary Quinto leads an all-star cast of openly gay actors
back to the days when being out was career suicide. By Amy Larocca
Photograph by Tania Franco Klein
T h e C U LT U R E PAG E S
n a bright, cold Saturday morning in a squat,
unmarked building in Brooklyn, the actor Zachary Quinto is sitting
at a card table while a man from Kansas City explains that he was, 14
years ago, drugged and subsequently implanted with a series of
microwave chips by a (former) friend who wanted to zap him into
giving up the rights to a hygienic soda-can cover that both men were
convinced would, eventually, make them millions of dollars.
It’s a very confusing conversation, but
Quinto is steady. The interview is being
filmed for In Search Of, a History Channel
show of which Quinto is both the executive
producer and the host. (This particular episode is about mind control.) “Are they still
following you?” Quinto asks. His heavy,
famous brow is furrowed. Quinto definitely
has sci-fi chops—he was personally
approved by Leonard Nimoy to revive the
role of Spock in the J.J. Abrams remakes.
He played a serial killer with superpowers
on Heroes and had roles on two seasons of
American Horror Story. He’s exactly the
person a midwestern contractor who
believes he’s been the victim of brain tampering would trust to take him seriously.
“They are following me,” says the man.
“I saw them on my flight.” Quinto leans
forward. He nods. “I believe you.”
In Search Of is a reboot of a show of the
same name that ran from 1977 to 1982,
hosted by Nimoy. Nimoy’s version was
about phenomena that seem a little quaint
now: yetis, the Bermuda Triangle, aliens.
Quinto’s show expands to explore the
interference of technology in a format he
describes as “less turtlenecks and blazers,
more Anthony Bourdain.”
It’s been a heady few months of production, but variety has always been what’s
really set Quinto apart. So a few weeks
after we meet, the minute he wrapped In
Search Of, he flew to Los Angeles to begin
rehearsals for a revival of a cultural relic of
a different sort: The Boys in the Band, the
1968 Off Broadway play by Mart Crowley
that is widely considered the first mainstream American play to deal openly
with male homosexuality. The characters
meet in an Upper East Side apartment to
celebrate a birthday. They are drunk,
they are funny, they are mean. The overwhelming sense is that they are hidden.
The damage that this double life causes
is palpable, painful, sad.
64 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
The revival is stuffed with blockbuster
names—all of whom, in a conscious move
by the producers, are gay. It’s produced by
Ryan Murphy, directed by Joe Mantello,
and Quinto’s co-stars include Jim Parsons,
Andrew Rannells, and Matt Bomer. But
even with all the attention that such a
high-wattage project will bring, Quinto
took some convincing to come aboard.
“Historically, the play has been really
stigmatized,” he says. It’s after the In Search
Of shoot, and Quinto’s eating a salad at the
Library bar at the Public Theater, near the
apartment he shares with his boyfriend, the
actor and artist Miles McMillan. “When it
“I wasn’t
capable of any
kind of lie
about my
authentic self.”
appeared in 1968, it was revolutionary. No
one had seen anything like it,” he says.
“Then the movie came out in 1970, and in
that period of time, Stonewall had happened, and this play became backwardlooking, reductive, and stereotypical. It was
a thing for the gay-rights liberation movement to say, This is exactly what we are not
anymore. We are not these men who have to
sneak around and make up stories.”
Quinto, in fact, had always thought of the
play that way himself. Since coming out in a
2011 interview in this magazine, he’s been
careful to pursue a varied career—he’s the
action and science-fiction star with the
healthy New York stage credentials. He cofounded a production company, as his friend
Sarah Paulson (who once had to breastfeed
him on American Horror Story) puts it,
“before I even got a computer.” She points
out that he was having big commercial-film
success when he committed to doing The
Glass Menagerie, which ultimately came to
Broadway but began its run in Boston. “I can
guarantee you his agents weren’t jumping
for joy,” Paulson says, “but it ended up being
wonderful, and I remember noting for
myself that these things could exist simultaneously. You can have commercial success
and take the power of that and use it to feed
yourself artistically.”
“He’s one of the most versatile actors
out there,” says J. J. Abrams. “He’s limitlessly capable.”
As for The Boys in the Band, which begins
previews at Broadway’s Booth Theatre on
April 30, “I’ve worked really hard to carve
out a career that is separate from my identity
as a gay man,” Quinto says. “And there was a
part of me that was just like, I want to go in
a different direction.” A July workshop convinced him that Boys would. “I think what
this production does is go in the face of how
far we’ve come,” he says, “and holds a mirror
up to the audience and asks them to evaluate
how far we still have to go. It’s incredibly relevant that a cast of accomplished, successful,
authentic gay men are standing up and giving this seminal work a Broadway production. We’ve all been able to build diverse and
satisfying careers for ourselves. The original
cast of the play really struggled.” Even just
having played gay men, they had limited
opportunities as a result of being in the play.
The question of whether Quinto’s coming out on the eve of his breakthrough role
changed the guardrails of his career is not
hugely interesting to him. “Look,” he says,
cocking an eyebrow, “I don’t think I would
have been James Bond anyway.” (He says
it as a joke, but it doesn’t seem the hugest
stretch.) “There are people who feel that
preserving that aspect of their identity will
generate better opportunities,” he says. “I
wasn’t capable of any kind of lie about my
authentic self.”
When The Boys in the Band finishes its
15-week run, Quinto’s not sure what’s next.
He’s thinking of shifting his base of operations back to L.A., where he can focus on
his production company. And while it
seems like there are already many Zach
Quintos out there—the deadpanning, scifi Quinto, the heartbreaking-and-honest
stage Quinto, the curious-businessman
Quinto—there’s still more. He wants to do
episodic television, he wants to do comedy
(“I mean, I’m hilarious,” he says), he wants
to continue wrestling with the obscure.
“What did you think of that guy?” he asks
later in the afternoon. “I mean, I feel like I
have a lot more I want to ask.”
P R O M OT I O N S . E V E N TS .
F O O D. S H O P P I N G .
E N T E R TA I N M E N T. A R T.
On April 2, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and
Entertainment and New York Magazine announced
the return of One Book, One New York, a citywide
reading initiative that encourages New Yorkers to
vote for one book they all want to read together.
In celebration of the program, PEN World Voices
literary festival hosted a panel discussion on April 19
at The New School moderated by Jennifer Boylan,
featuring four of the authors in contention:
Esmeralda Santiago - When I was Puerto Rican,
Imbolo Mbue - Behold the Dreamers, Hari Kunzru White Tears, Jennifer Egan - Manhattan Beach,
and director Barry Jenkins, who is making a film
of the late James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could
Talk. New York Editor-in-Chief Adam Moss and
Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media
and Entertainment Julie Menin were in attendance.
Vote now at
Vulture partnered with IFC’s comedy series Brockmire on
April 18 for its season two premiere, followed by an exclusive
Q&A with Hank Azaria, Tyrel Jackson Williams, and Joel
Church-Cooper, moderated by Bob Costas. After the
screening, guests followed Sugartone Brass Band through
Lincoln Center to a party on The Empire Hotel rooftop.
Keeping in theme with New Orleans, guests enjoyed
beignets and jambalaya while sipping on whiskey and rum.
The Cut launched its first live event for the editorial series,
How I Get It Done, at NeueHouse on April 11. The spirited
night featured The Cut’s President & Editor in Chief, Stella
Bugbee, in conversation with the inspiring: Zerlina Maxwell,
Senior Director of Progressive Programming at SiriusXM,
Linda Wells, Chief Creative Officer at Revlon, and Karen
Wong, Deputy Director of the New Museum.
Follow @NYFYI on Twitter for exclusive reports from NYC and beyond— curated by
the Creative Services team at New York magazine and our brand partners.
T h e C U LT U R E PAG E S
Sheila Heti
Have a Baby?
In her new novel Motherhood,
the author confronts an eternal female
crossroads. By Molly Fischer
motherhood will be published by Henry Holt on May 1.
hy have a baby? For a woman in her 20s or 30s
who’s accustomed to living independently, who feels
no religious or familial obligation to bear children,
the answer comes down to the vagaries of desire: Do
you want it, does the other person, how badly?
The simpler question might be Why not have a baby? Here, the obvious practical issues—money, time—are easier to weigh. How to pay for
the baby, who will watch the baby, where to put the baby, will the baby
get in the way of everything else? And this assumes a partner on hand;
without one, challenges multiply. There’s also the prospect of impending climate apocalypse, which at least one woman I know has cited as
reason enough not to procreate.
Practical matters, however, do not concern the writer Sheila Heti, who
takes up the problem of whether to have a baby in her engrossing new
autobiographical novel, Motherhood. “I lived only in the greyish, insensate world of my mind,” she writes, and in this setting, the question is
something more like this: What does it mean to have a baby? From there,
a cascade—does a baby make you happy, what kind of woman has a baby,
what kind of woman doesn’t have a baby, how does a baby change you,
is having a baby selfish or is it selfless, is not having a baby a way to avoid
real work, real meaning, real life … or is that what having a baby does?
Motherhood dwells within this uncertainty to an extent that will exasperate some readers as surely as it will animate others. I am only one reader,
and yet I’ve found myself in both camps: I read it the first time and felt
profoundly, irresistibly annoyed; I wanted to keep thinking about it enough
that I wanted to read it again. The second time I felt startled and embarrassed by the things I’d missed the first. In the months that followed, I
began waving it under friends’ noses like smelling salts, eager to observe
the reactions it provoked. Moms of small children loved it, and moms of
66 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
small children rolled their eyes. People who
couldn’t get through Heti’s last novel
devoured this one. A friend in her late 30s,
navigating the same straits Heti describes,
didn’t want to go anywhere near it. Then
she did, and said how glad she was to have
changed her mind. She’d been feeling so
alone in her uncertainty—Motherhood was
“the friend that I wanted to talk to.”
In April, I met Heti at the Lakeview Restaurant in Toronto; I had a beer and she
ordered a double Scotch. The Lakeview is a
24-hour diner Heti chose for its enclosed,
quiet booths. They turned out not to be
quite as enclosed as she’d remembered but
still provided a suggestion of privacy—
womblike, that is, but not too womblike.
Bruce Springsteen was playing.
Heti is a Canadian writer who first
attracted widespread attention in the
United States with her 2012 novel How
Should a Person Be? The book incorporated real emails and tape-recorded conversations as well as first-person narration
from a character named Sheila, a writer,
focusing on her friendship with a painter
named Margaux. The book was polarizing—in The New Yorker, James Wood
called it “hideously narcissistic”—but also
found prominent admirers. In March,
when the New York Times anointed a “new
vanguard” of 15 female writers “steering
literature in new directions,” it included
Heti. In the accompanying note about
How Should a Person Be?, critic Dwight
Garner praised her ability to write prose
“that feels like actual, flickering, unmediated, sometimes humiliating thought.”
Women in Clothes, the 2014 book Heti
edited with Heidi Julavits and Leanne
Shapton, drew together hundreds of women’s responses to a survey about what they
wear and why, compiling an encyclopedia
of female self-presentation. It also gave
Heti’s interest in intimate observation an
outlet more accessible than her novels and
went on to become a best seller.
“One good thing about being a woman is
we haven’t too many examples yet of what a
genius looks like,” Heti wrote in How Should
a Person Be? This was sort of a joke, as she
had to explain to a credulous interviewer at
the time: “The next line is, ‘It could be me.’ ”
But one good thing about this view of
female genius is the way it proposes seeing
gender: not as a basis for oppression but as
a source of possibility.
Motherhood joins How Should a Person
Be? and Women in Clothes to form what
might be read as a field guide to womanhood in a particular literary-bohemian
milieu. Heti started the book after entering
her 30s, when her uncertainty about motherhood had begun to feel like limbo. She
Photograph by Steph Martyniuk
T h e C U LT U R E PAG E S
remembers a conversation in this period
with the writer Sarah Manguso, who
became a mother in the course of their
friendship and whose 2015 memoir, Ongoingness, deals with the early days of parenthood. Manguso told her that actually having a baby felt like a relief after the long time
of wondering whether she’d have a baby. “I
remember thinking consciously, Oh, I need
to stay here longer,” Heti told me. “This is a
place to write about.”
when i spilled beer on my phone during my lunch with Heti, she worried about
whether it was one of the waterproof ones
(hers is not) and wiped up my mess with a
napkin. In the course of our time together,
she also worried that I might be hungry
after traveling (she recommended the poutine), advised me on the best time to call a
cab (earlier than I thought), and urged me
to use my umbrella, since I lacked a hat in
the rain. That evening, in the bathroom of
the suburban public library where she was
giving a lecture, she offered me a Clif Bar
from her purse. I accepted.
“I’m surprised that I’ve written three
books about or for mainly women,” Heti said
over the poutine. Gender can be a source of
possibility, but it can also be limiting when
it becomes the only lens through which
people see your work. While certain readers
applauded How Should a Person Be? for
championing “female friendship,” this was
not something Heti especially set out to do.
One of her inspirations for the book was My
Dinner With Andre, but all anyone ever
wanted to ask her about was Girls. “Two
friends talking for a long time about art?”
she said of the 1981 Louis Malle classic.
“Like, why did that not once come up?”
The Lakeview Restaurant is a ten-minute walk from Heti’s apartment, where she
lives with her boyfriend and her Rottweiler,
Feldman (puppyish, but with a name that
makes him sound “like an old Jewish man”).
Two big brown rabbits, Bun and Bun-Bun,
occupy the front yard. Heti has lived in
Toronto her whole life, save for two short
stints in Montreal, and in her writing, the
city often sounds like a place where government health care has fostered the fantasy
version of college life: where friends all live
cheaply nearby and run into each other,
drink, go on long walks, have long talks, and
undertake projects. At 41, Heti herself—fair
and faintly elfin, with overgrown bangs—
could pass for a grad student. The community she describes combines artistic seriousness with a playful sense of humor and a
constant appetite for conversation, argument, and collaboration.
“I think that part of the reason I like collaboration so much is because it’s some68 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
thing unexpected coming in, and you have
to stretch yourself to absorb it,” she told me.
In writing the new book, she wanted to be
more alone than she’d been when she was
working on How Should a Person Be? and
tape-recording her friends. “But I didn’t
want to be that alone. I didn’t want to be so
alone that there was no surprise, you
know?” Motherhood’s unnamed narrator
begins by asking questions while she flips
three coins—two or three heads, yes; two or
three tails, no—in a modified version of the
I Ching. “Is this book a good idea?” she
begins. “Yes,” say the coins, daring the
reader to disagree. Her character’s encounters with a tarot reader and a psychic are a
similar intrusion of the unexpected, though
Heti also hopes they provide a sense of desperation. “You don’t go to tarot readers or
psychics when everything’s going well,” she
said. “It’s always evidence of rock-bottom.”
At first, Motherhood was supposed to
look something like Women in Clothes. Heti
imagined a collection of interviews with
women about having children, or not.
(There was also a time, once she’d reimagined the book as a novel, when she thought
“I feel like a draft
dodger from the
army in which so
many of my friends
are serving.”
it might incorporate the comments on
Daily Mail articles about mothers; she read
them obsessively.) In the book’s final form—
fragmentary, cyclical, a collection of scraps
and dreams—conversations still echo
throughout. The narrator talks about motherhood with other women inexhaustibly:
younger women, older women, women her
age, women with babies, women with frozen eggs, women with regrets. Miles, the
narrator’s boyfriend, seems surprisingly
peripheral to all this. He has a daughter
from a previous relationship and tells her
he’ll have a child with her if she wants—but
it’s her decision and she has to be sure.
Motherhood, in this book, exists most of all
as a force that shapes women’s lives and
their relationships with one another.
Heti approaches the subject with an
observer’s curiosity more than a deliberate agenda. Growing up, she remembers
feeling distant from the received version
of femininity: The word mother, for
example, seemed to refer to a way of being
female “that just I never identified with.”
One of the women the narrator speaks
with in the novel, an American writer,
tells her that whenever she meets women
their age, the first thing she wants to
know is whether they have children, and
if not, whether they plan to—“It’s like a
civil war: Which side are you on?” Yet this
sense of the trenches transcends “mommy
wars” cliché. The experience of childbirth
and new motherhood—even just the
question of motherhood—comes to look
like a female proving ground; something
like what war has been to male writers.
(Reviews have compared Rachel Cusk’s
motherhood memoir A Life’s Work to “a
war diary” and Elisa Albert’s motherhood
novel After Birth to The Red Badge of
Courage.) Life-or-not-life stakes loom.
“Like soldiers nudging each other into
battle, we nudge each other into relationships,” the narrator reflects at one point.
“Stay there, we say. Don’t run from the
front lines.” The encounter with human
life in extremis gives rise to a kind of
camaraderie, but it’s a dark one, and she’s
contemplating it from the outside. “I feel
like a draft dodger from the army in
which so many of my friends are serving,”
says the narrator, “just lolling about in the
country they are making, cowering at
home, a coward.”
Foremost among the women the narrator contemplates is her mother, a Hungarian immigrant and a doctor who, in her
daughter’s memory, is always working and
always crying. As in Heti’s own life, the narrator’s father handled the bulk of child rearing. Growing up with this particular mother
has left her uncertain whether children can
ever be a pleasure rather than a source of
pain. The inherited focus on work (“My
mother works hard, and I work hard, too,”
she writes) means that a particular concern
is how having a child might affect her life as
a writer. She goes to dinner with a pregnant
friend who’s anxious that the narrator is
progressing in her work while she falls
behind in her own: “Stop making things!”
this friend says in a panic. But, on the other
hand, the narrator wonders, “Could I ever
hope to be a good enough writer—capture
on the page what being human felt like—if
I had not experienced motherhood?”
In the meantime, as she scrutinizes the
tea leaves of her mood, she finds herself
increasingly isolated. “I had always
thought my friends and I were moving into
the same land together, a childless land
where we would just do a million things
together forever,” she thinks. Instead, “one
by one, the ice floe on which we were all
standing was broken and made smaller,
leaving me alone on just the tiniest piece of
ice, which I had thought would remain
vast … It never occurred to me that I’d be
the only one left here.”
if the novel has a climax, it arrives when
the Sheila stand-in shows her manuscript
about motherhood to her mother and gets
to hear her response. This fulfills the narrator’s emerging sense that “motherhood,” for
her, might be bound up more in her relationship to her mother and grandmother
than in producing some future child.
I found myself curious what my own
mother might make of the book—as a
woman who wasn’t sure she’d be a mom
but then was, as a woman currently campaigning for grandchildren. I sent her a
PDF to read on her iPad. She called me
after she’d finished.
“You’re not going to like this,” my mom
warned me when I asked what she thought.
“But why didn’t she go on the drugs sooner?”
Ah, yes: the drugs. Midway through the
book, the narrator begins to recognize a connection between her moods and her menstrual cycle. There’s a pattern, it turns out, to
the violent internal weather systems she’s
endured, and online she finds a community
of women whose experiences mirror her
own. In some cases, these women take antidepressants to alleviate their symptoms. She
gets a prescription herself. Everything
changes. “How was it possible that antidepressants were legal?” she wonders, experiencing free-floating joy on her walk home
from the grocery store. “Did half the country
walk around feeling this way—sparkling
with ease and light?”
This happens near the book’s end, and
while the remaining 40 pages aren’t necessarily nonstop sparkle, things do get a lot
easier. Previous moments—“Outrun your
tears like an athlete every day,” she once
told herself—appear in a new light. Were
they signs of existential struggle or were
they symptoms?
My mother’s personal approach to motherhood dictates treating symptoms whenever possible. But, in answer to her question,
the delay—on the part of the character or
the author—seems understandable. If you
are accustomed to using your own thoughts
and emotions to make sense of the world (if,
for example, you are a novelist whose work
mines autobiography), what could be more
unnerving than the suggestion that your
thoughts and emotions can’t be trusted—
that you might be an unreliable narrator of
your own life? This, perhaps more than any
coin toss or collaborative partnership, is
cause to wrestle with the unexpected. Near
the end of Motherhood, the narrator wonders what it means for a story to hinge on
chemical intervention: “I don’t know what
kind of story it is.”
From one angle, Heti’s resistance to clear
answers can look like a cop-out; from
another, like a novelist taking full advantage
of her medium—of fiction’s right to be slippery. (The fact that Heti’s fiction draws so
directly on her life can make this possibility
easy to miss.) Or maybe Motherhood foils
my abilities as a critic: I like the book as a
catalyst for thought, and admire its ability to
withstand sustained consideration.
Heti hesitated to include the drugs in the
book. “I kept putting it in and taking it out,”
she said. She did not want to end the book
with a pharmaceutical deus ex machina, in
which “antidepressants fly in like Superman.” The critic Dave Hickey, a friend, convinced her she should: “You gotta put them
in, because it’s true,” she remembers him
saying. “Oh, okay,” she thought. “That
makes it really simple.” She’d fixated anxiously on the question of motherhood, but
relinquishing her relentless anxiety did not
make the question less real. “It sort of lets
the end of the book happen,” Heti said.
Throughout Motherhood, in her wariness
of motherhood, the narrator is on guard:
against the possibility that a baby could
change her, or that her body could have an
agenda at odds with her own. Acquiescing
to the mysteries of hormones and brain
chemistry doesn’t persuade her to have a
baby, but she does find herself accepting the
inevitable helplessness of life with a body—
of being something besides a grayish, insensate mind. A baby changes everything, but
so do SSRIs, and so does the passage of time.
“When I was writing the end of the book,
it felt very clear to me that the question was
solved,” Heti said—in the book, she does not
have a baby. “And then as soon as the book
was done, I was back in the nonfictional
world.” In the nonfictional world, the question remained. She started the book when
she was 33; now she was 41. She had lived
seven more years without a baby, and her
life was fine: She was happy. “When I was
younger, I think that I felt like I could only
live one way, and I had to figure out which
of those one ways it was going to be,” she
said. She now felt she could live either way
and be fine. “I have no anxiety about making the wrong decision.”
“There’s also something about every year
getting closer to death,” she said and
laughed. “It’s not like I have to live through
eternity with whatever decision I make. It’s
only another 30 years … It’s just until you
die, and that’s not that far away. It’s a bit of a
lighter feeling, somehow.”
Nicolas Cage was close to playing the villain in the Seth Rogen–
produced 2011 superhero comedy The Green Hornet.
Rogen: Really close. In retrospect,
maybe what he’d wanted to do wouldn’t have been any
worse—the movie didn’t turn out so
great. Sony was like, “We want you to cast Nicolas Cage.”
So we talk to him and he tells us he wants to do the movie, but he wants to play the character as, like, a white
Bahamian or Jamaican. Which to us was a little worrisome—it seemed perhaps
insensitive. We
I remember drivwere going to have dinner with him at Amy Pascal’s house to talk about the movie.
ing there and saying,
“If he does the white-Bahamian thing at dinner, I’m going to lose it. I can’t deal with
being face-to-face
with Nicolas Cage as he’s doing a Bahamian accent.” Within 20 minutes of getting to
the dinner, he’s fully doing it. I think he could so viscerally tell that we didn’t like the idea that he just left right in
the middle of dinner. He was just like, “I gotta go.” Then he called me two days after that and said, “I’m getting
the sense that you don’t want me in this movie.” But God bless Nicolas Cage. I’m a huge fan. david marchese
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
T h e C U LT U R E PAG E S
She’s the
Saoirse Ronan
self-destructs, Chekhov style.
the seagull opens May 11.
in michael mayer’s new movie adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull, Saoirse Ronan
stars as tragic heroine Nina, a young aspiring
actress who gets drawn into the tangled orbit
of her famous neighbor Irina (Annette Bening); dumps her well-meaning playwright
boyfriend, Konstantin (Billy Howle), for
Irina’s novelist lover, Boris (Corey Stoll);
then pays a steep price. “It becomes selfsabotage,” says Ronan, photographed on the
set of the film for New York by Brigitte
Lacombe. “Nina wants to have this wonder70 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
ful life filled with excitement. She’s so full of
hope and innocence and youth, and you
pretty rapidly see this young girl become
quite broken and lost.” Which character does
Ronan relate to most? “Probably Konstantin,” she says. “You are definitely putting yourself out there when you’re an actor, but you’re
still able to hide behind someone else—
whereas with your own writing, it’s solely
coming from you. I think Konstantin is just
sort of striving to do something that feels real
to him. Not Nina!”
hunter harris
Photograph by Brigitte Lacombe
T h e C U LT U R E PA G E S
Sara Holdren on My Fair Lady, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical,
Travesties, Saint Joan, and The Iceman Cometh.
Wizards and Disco,
Stoppard and O’Neill
The spring season’s final week.
vivian beaumont theater
from the very first moment
of the My Fair Lady now sweeping across the Vivian Beaumont stage, it’s
blessedly clear that we’re not in for a retrogressive reach-me-down. Director Bartlett
Sher and his team know what they’re making and when they’re making it. They know
that for all Henry Higgins’s “words, words,
72 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
words,” the story belongs to Eliza Doolittle,
and the production continuously and
thrillingly reminds us that, to quote Lauren
Ambrose, this is a show “about a woman
who comes into her powers.” She arrives at
Higgins’s house after he brags that “in six
months [he] could pass her off as a duchess
at an Embassy Ball” by transforming the
flower girl’s “curbstone English” into “proper” speech. Ambrose’s beautifully calibrated performance, supported by Michael
Yeargan’s dynamic set, always makes us feel
as if events—educational and emotional—
are rushing forward.
That performance starts small, then
grows and grows. In Ambrose’s first scene,
I felt a little thrown by her reserve—I still
had Audrey Hepburn in my head. But
gradually I realized how carefully she’s calculated Eliza’s arc. She’s building a real
awakening for the girl raised by a drunken
father who’s taken his belt to her, as she
turns into a woman who means every word
of it when she sings later that she “can do
bloody well” without Higgins, or anyone.
Her voice is sheer loveliness from the start,
and when she lets it soar at the climax of
“I Could Have Danced All Night,” the hair
on my arms stood up. It’s not really about
him (it never is, guys). It’s about her own
desire to keep feeling, keep learning, keep
discovering the world and herself in it.
What adds bittersweet nuance to My
Lauren Ambrose
as Eliza Doolittle.
Fair Lady, though, is that Higgins is also a
fantastic character. Whatever does exist
between him and Eliza is probably best
described in Facebook parlance: It’s complicated. And in this production, it’s almost
heartbreaking. Harry Hadden-Paton is
closer in age to Ambrose than most previous pairings (he’s actually three years
younger than she), and that lets us see Higgins for exactly what he is: a very smart,
very spoiled grown-up little boy, charging
through the world on the force of charismatic intellect and a misguided belief in his
own unconventionality—a man whose first
impulse when things go wrong is to bellow
for his mother. (She’s brought to life with
fitting amounts of lofty side-eye by Dame
Diana Rigg.) When he makes it to that final
problematic line (“Where the devil are my
slippers?”), he’s overcome by feeling and
simultaneously unable to do anything but
fall back on his snide flippancy. HaddenPaton almost whispers the words—he can
hear himself making the mistake and can’t
stop. I won’t spoil Ambrose’s gorgeous
response, but suffice to say that Sher’s final
gesture preserves the play’s rich ambiguity,
while also clearly leaving Higgins in the
shadows of 1913 as Eliza strides confidently
into the 21st century.
P H OTO G R A P H : B O N E A U / B RYA N - B R O W N
lyric theatre
“My geekness is a-quiverin’!” a teenage wizard named Scorpius yelps in excitement
somewhere around hour five, and he’s not
the only excited nerd at the two-part,
almost-six-hour-long, record-breakingly
extravagant, and extravagantly entertaining
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Packed
with plot twists, charming performances,
mind-bending spectacle, and, perhaps
more surprisingly, moments of theatrical
whimsy that feel, amid the high-tech sorcery, delightfully simple, The Cursed Child
is a fitting addition to the Potter canon. It
effectively weaves serious themes with
bouncy adventure narrative, it’s heartfelt
and hugely imaginative and a touch hokey,
and you’re willing to forgive its shortcomings as it sweeps you along.
Which it certainly does: J. K. Rowling
devoted a full novel to each year her teenage
hero spent at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, whereas in The Cursed
Child that hero’s son speeds through the
first three years at his dad’s alma mater
within 15 minutes. Harry’s boy is named
Albus Severus, and fast-forwarding him to
age 15 is only the first of the tricks the
show plays with time. Most of the play takes
place 22 years after the final book ends, and
Harry’s now a 40-something Ministry for
Magic official with three kids. His boss, the
Minister of Magic—his eternally type-A
buddy, Hermione Granger, who else?—
wants him to clear his desk of paperwork.
His former rival, Draco Malfoy, wants
Harry to help quell the nasty rumors that
Draco’s son, Scorpius, is actually the bastard child of the Dark Lord, Voldemort.
And Harry’s wife, Ginny, wants him to try
to connect with his brooding middle child.
Albus is a classic misfit teen struggling to
live up to his father’s fame, and Sam Clemmett is believably teenagerish with his
tensed-up shoulders, furrowed brow, and
coiled, simmering energy.
But, like the young Harry, Albus isn’t necessarily the most vivid character—he’s enlivened by a funnier, quirkier sidekick. That’s
the homework-loving, candy-hoarding
crown prince of nerds, Scorpius Malfoy,
and the tremendously talented Anthony
Boyle carries a huge portion of the show on
his skinny shoulders. Channeling a young
Rowan Atkinson in a chlorine-blond wig,
Boyle is all gangly, awkward gestures, bursts
of enthusiasm that come out somewhere
between a snort and a shriek, and expert
comic timing of the hopelessly uncoolguy variety. He’s also—and this is critical
if you’re an actor in a Rowling-based
universe—incredibly skilled at converting
large passages of exposition into dramatic
action through energetic delivery.
Without venturing into spoiler territory,
I can say that at the end of Part One, the
show’s visual sorcery spills out of the proscenium and takes over the room. Is the
sudden immersive effect Las Vegas–y? For
sure. But it’s also pretty thrilling. And
what makes The Cursed Child a continuous delight is that for every million-dollar
effect (and there are plenty), there’s a piece
of lovable lo-fi stage magic. Watching the
towering Brian Abraham—a human
embodiment of the Sorting Hat—pluck his
bowler out of the air, where it seems to be
floating unsupported; or seeing him sprinkle a handful of paper snow in anticipation
of a flurry falling from the flies; or watching the cast ingeniously enact the effects of
a transmogrifying potion: Moments like
these keep the show’s makers, and we its
watchers, honest.
lunt-fontanne theatre
I’m inherently skeptical of jukebox musicals. So many of them are painfully contrived: like a meal on one of those cooking
shows where you have to work with a basket
full of tricky, predetermined ingredients.
Here! Turkish delight, frozen waffles, and
sea urchin! Now make a delicious entrée!
Yet those ingredients do matter, and being
surrounded by genuine excitement in a
Broadway theater does a body good. Thanks
to the swift, smart construction of Summer,
which neither overburdens its material nor
overstays its welcome, the show is frequently a pretty damn good time.
Co-written by Colman Domingo, Robert
Cary, and the production’s director, Des
McAnuff, Summer’s book is sometimes
predictable and sometimes sentimental,
and every so often it pushes unsubtly on its
central image (the idea of “fragments” of a
life, which influences both scenic design
and storytelling). But it’s also up-tempo,
fluently interwoven with the show’s more
than 20 songs, and often genuinely funny:
Early on, an ensemble member playing
the Italian producer Giorgio Moroder has
a phone conversation with Neil Bogart
(a swaggering Aaron Krohn), an American
record executive who’s hooked on young
Donna Summer’s sensuous early single
“Love to Love You Baby.” As the song
moans in the background, Bogart tells
Harry Potter and
the Cursed Child
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
american airlines theatre
Patrick Marber, now directing Tom Stoppard’s Travesties, first encountered the
play as a 14-year-old. I was 15, and if I’m
honest, I’ve been waiting to see its whirlwind of highbrow showmanship again
ever since. And here it is, now at the
Roundabout in Marber’s knock-the-windout-of-you magnificent revival from London’s Menier Chocolate Factory. I was hop74 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
ing for a fun time—what I didn’t necessarily
expect was the startling degree to which
this rambunctious, pinprick-sharp production would feel eerily relevant. Under
its fizzy surface, Travesties interrogates
ideas of artistic genius and artistic responsibility, and it casts a shadow on the currently fashionable notion that—so says the
play’s own excited Leninist librarian—“Art
is a critique of society or it is nothing!”
The play takes place largely in the selfaggrandizing memory of Henry Wilfred
Carr, a (real-life) minor official in the British
Consulate in neutral Zurich during World
War I, now an old man in a grubby dressing
gown and a tattered straw boater. James
Joyce and Vladimir Lenin and Tristan Tzara,
widely known as the father of Dada, all flit
through Old Carr’s reminiscences, which
frequently rattle off the tracks as Travesties
stops and starts and repeats and reshuffles.
As Old Carr attempts to recount—and,
hilariously, to title—his memoirs (“James
Joyce As I Knew Him … The Lenin I Knew …
Memories of Dada by a Consular Friend of
the Famous in Old Zurich: A Sketch”), his
digressions pinch their dramatic structure
from Oscar Wilde.
The entire eight-person ensemble understands the mix of precision and animation
called for to make the comic lines dance.
Patrick Kerr is a wonderfully droll Bennett,
Carr’s possibly Communist manservant. As
Tzara—the artistic gadabout who was postbefore there was even modernism—Seth
Numrich is a physically and facially elastic,
impish delight. Scarlett Strallen and Sara
Topham—Carr’s Joyce-acolyte sister and the
Lenin-loving librarian respectively—are
likewise excellent, with an unfailing sense
for the flights of surrealism on which Travesties periodically takes off. And as Henry
Carr, the play’s infirm center, Tom Hollander
is a marvel, bouncing between drifty garrulous old man and the insouciant version of
his younger self that his mind has built. He’s
one of the most underappreciated actors out
there: He can be deliciously shameless
(check out his mock-edgy Scottish auteur in
the 2000 British comedy Maybe Baby), and
he can be heartbreaking (if you can get hold
of the 2001 indie flick Lawless Heart, do it).
After two and a half hours of laughter that
leaves you facially sore, Hollander’s Carr
manages to pull the emotional rug out from
under you in the final three minutes. His
physical embodiment of senility is suddenly
and deliberately truer, more devastating
than it was at the play’s beginning. Like the
play as a whole, Carr’s (and Stoppard’s) farewell is both a mischievous bon mot and a
serious theory of art as a celebration, an exaltation, a spell, a dance, a feast, and a farce.
And far too important to be taken seriously.
samuel j. friedman theatre
Theater artists who take on Joan of Arc
often seem to do so with the facile understanding of her story as an inspirational
one. That’s “inspirational”—to borrow from
David Foster Wallace—in “its ad-cliché
sense, one basically equivalent to heartwarming, or feel-good, or even (God forbid) triumphant.” It’s a sentimental, flattening approach that renders Joan dead in
the water before she ever reaches the fire,
and it’s the one that’s currently onstage in
Daniel Sullivan’s inert revival of George
Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, starring a disappointingly soft Condola Rashad.
The trouble starts even before the show
does, with Scott Pask’s set, which resembles the innards of a massive golden pipe
organ and screams “Epic!” Shaw’s play
begins with a comic debate: Joan is an
enthusiastic 17-year-old, a sharp, persistent Pollyanna who just wants a horse so
Moroder how much his L.A. club friends
love it: “I want you to make me a 25-minute
mix,” he demands. “Are you on drugs?” asks
Giorgio. Neil’s immediate, nonchalant
answer: “Of course.” It’s the ’70s, y’all.
Summer is a bio-musical with a major
women’s-empowerment theme—a wiser
decision by its creators than hanging the
Queen of Disco’s hits around some fictional
plot would have been. They’ve also cast
three actors, with three immense voices, to
embody her. There’s the feisty Storm Lever
as “Duckling Donna,” the youngest version
of the singer, who feels awkward (that’s
Duckling as in Ugly) unless she’s performing. There’s Ariana DeBose, a fierce dancer
as well as a singer who can both belt and
murmur beautifully, as “Disco Donna,” the
20-something-year-old singer whose danceclub hits made her a spangly superstar. And
then there’s the majestic LaChanze as the
singer’s mature incarnation, “Diva Donna.”
LaChanze—whose voice might in fact be
able to bring plaster down from the
ceiling—is our guide through the show.
She welcomes us at the beginning (“What
are y’all doin’ way up there? Is it that much
cheaper?” she calls to the balcony), and she
reemerges throughout to offer perspective
on the story her younger selves are living.
She also sings up a storm, and it’s no surprise
that the greatest pleasure of Summer is listening to its leads—especially LaChanze and
DeBose—make the walls quake.
Summer has its dips. It’s creepy to hear
the mournful “Pandora’s Box” in the context of young Donna’s abuse by her childhood preacher, and there’s a corny sequence
when Disco Donna is facing depression
(not to mention an addiction to Marplan)
and her sisters show up to encourage her to
talk “to Mary.” Yet the story line does well at
moving us through both the bright and
dark spots in its hero’s life without stopping
to dwell. Yes, it might feel odd at first to
touch on subjects as heavy as cancer and
abuse without really dropping a dramatic
plumb line down. But McAnuff keeps the
show straightforward and aware of its own
limits. It’s easy to condescend to, but pop is
a powerful thing.
she can go save France. It’s bright, sly social
comedy, not self-serious historical epic, but
Pask’s set gives us the end of the story, not
its beginning. It traps Joan inside the gilded cage of her saintliness, making it as difficult for her to move as the clunky plate
armor with which costume designer Jane
Greenwood loads down the actors.
More frustrating still is Bill Frisell’s treacly original music, which combines with
Christopher Ash’s sparkly projection design
to push Saint Joan into maximum mawkishness. Beneath this schmaltz, Sullivan has
mostly anesthetized the action. For all its
energy and wit, Saint Joan is overwritten,
so someone needs to light a fire underneath
its excess verbiage. But Sullivan isn’t helping his ensemble get things crackling.
Scenes coast where they should roller-coast
and snooze where they should snap, and
actors are constantly dropping punch lines.
And at the center of it all, the sometimes
exquisite Rashad is surprisingly edgeless.
Shaw’s Joan is energetic and quick—her
head isn’t so much in the clouds that she
doesn’t know a joke when she hears one.
But Rashad plays Joan gentle and straight,
and in her big defiant moments, though she
plants her feet and gets serious, she achieves
only about a quarter of the wallop these passages are capable of packing.
As for the other actors, the lackluster
staging often seems to obey the rule that,
whenever one person is talking, no one else
can move. The play is a keen study of
human hypocrisy—how we crush the
dreamer under our heel and then memorialize her—and on the page, it’s brimming
with bright, argumentative life. After this
dispiriting production, I’m still waiting to
see it resurrected.
bernard b. jacobs theatre
Eugene O’Neill had three Pulitzers by the
time The Iceman Cometh premiered in
1946, but the New York Post’s assessment
was brutal: “Action draggeth, dialogue
reeketh, play stinketh.” Indeed, Iceman is an
infernal beast, painfully long-winded and
often—despite O’Neill’s insistence that “the
first act is hilarious comedy”—a self-serious
emotional slog, and in George C. Wolfe’s
lumbering new production, its issues feel
exacerbated rather than addressed. Uncut,
the play is close to five hours in length, and
here it clocks in at just under four. Yet it feels
like eight, and, in between the intermissions
and awkward pauses, Wolfe doesn’t seem to
have anything specific to say about the play.
Consider that Iceman hangs its entire
emotional arc on the violence done to two
women by men who claim to love them and
are in fact driven by festering hatred. Is there
a way to channel Iceman’s deep, deep rage
into something revelatory, not an enactment
of the delusional, infantile anger (specifically
anger at women) of disappointed American
men but a piercing commentary upon it? If
there is, this production doesn’t find it.
It also fails to vivify the play’s dense,
voicey language. Like many attempts on
O’Neill, Wolfe’s interpretation insists on
treating his dialogue as naturalism. But it
isn’t natural, and playing his gnarly, spiky,
repetitive texts as “normal” speech leaves
the show feeling stalled before its engines
get a chance to rev. Wolfe has his actors
grind through each monologue with
broadly accented verisimilitude, and it renders the artificiality all the more pronounced. Real drunks don’t snooze in a
convenient lineup, awaiting their turn to
wake up and rhapsodize for a bit.
The sodden, sanguine monotony is all
set up to have a wrench thrown into it, and
one drops in near the end of O’Neill’s first
act in the form of Theodore Hickman, a
traveling hardware salesman known fondly as Hickey to his friends. Hickey’s introduced as a sunny reform evangelist, gone
off the bottle. But, in fact, he’s an angel of
death, and with his coming, the play should
feel alive and dangerous. The role has a history of going to charismatic showmen,
from Jason Robards to Nathan Lane, but
it’s a monster in a mensch’s clothing. The
actor playing Hickey must make a simmering, step-by-step descent into the pit under
the smiling surface. Denzel Washington’s
eyes twinkle and his smile is winning, but
he often seems static and impenetrable, his
veneer allowing no flashes of the sickness
underneath. And Wolfe hinders Washington by giving him the full celebrity treatment for his climactic, monolithic speech:
He has him pick up a chair, carry it downstage center, plunk it down with the entire
company behind him, and sit and deliver.
There’s something else causing a tricky
hiccup in Washington’s performance, and
it’s not his fault. Like James Earl Jones
before him, Washington is a black actor
playing a white Irishman who’s referred to
by one of the deadbeats as a “flannel-mouth,
flatfoot Mick.” The world of Wolfe’s play
seems weirdly blind when it comes to Washington’s race. It’s jarring because the character O’Neill actually wrote as black, Joe Mott
(Michael Potts, dousing Joe’s anger in gladhanding tipsiness), is the brunt of all sorts of
racism, even drawing a knife on the two
bartenders, Chuck and Rocky, who throw
unrepeatable slurs at him. What are we to
make of a world that acknowledges—and
denigrates—Joe’s race but seemingly can’t
see Hickey’s? I don’t know how James Earl
Jones handled that question, and I can’t
imagine that Wolfe and Washington have
given it no thought. They must have, but I
can’t see the results onstage.
It’s a major bummer to find that Iceman
is building up to the emotional explosions of
two different men who had to commit heinous crimes in order to be able to do what
they really wanted to do all along: call a
woman a bitch. The women onstage in Iceman are all “tarts,” played bravely but stereotypically here by Tammy Blanchard, Nina
Grollman, and Carolyn Braver. The women
offstage are the fulcrum of the play’s dramatic action, and their fates reveal that, if
you’ve got a vagina in this world, you’re
screwed, one way or another. Though I’m
willing (barely) to believe that there’s a production out there that reveals their abusers
as the delusional man-children they are
while also still granting them their pathos,
I haven’t seen it. Wolfe’s revival feels full of
unmet challenges and untapped dramatic
energy. As Rocky the bartender says of the
night following Hickey’s arrival: “Jeez,
what a funeral!”
The Iceman
Edited by Stacey Wilson Hunt
Reporting by Scott Huver and Nicole Weaver
“My character is three different
characters this season, but she’s still
the Dolores we know and love.”
—Evan Rachel Wood
“I’m a little concerned about technology and
the future of AI and that we’re all gonna be
obsolete at some point. But if Siri still can’t
tell me the capital of Minnesota when there’s
a little extra noise going on behind me,
I’m not too worried just yet.”
—James Marsde
Collins Jr.
“I love Lost, and if people see that
in our show, that’s great. But I like to
think what we do is a little less PG than
what you can do on broadcast TV!”
What parenting responsibility or adult chore
do you wish you could delegate?
“I’m not a cook. I’m not a
cleaner. I’m like a sloppy gross
raccoon, and I have to
fight against that instinct
every single day of my life.”
“Oh my God: taxes.”
“Braiding my kids’ hair.
My thumbs are
the size of avocados.”
“I started doing Brockmire’s
voice as a teenager. When
I was in college, I got a mic and
said, ‘Welcome to the Tufts
University obstacle course.’
And whenever we played
pinball, I would spew nonsense
in that voice. My cousin named
him years later, when I was
around 40. ‘Hey, that guy’s
name is Jim Brockmire.’
I’m like, ‘Okay, I buy that.’ ”
—Hank Azaria
“We have to get our fence
fixed right now, and I find it
so annoying and boring.”
76 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
Becky Ann
—Lisa Joy
Photographs by Patrick McMullan
For full listings
of movies,
theater, music,
restaurants, and
much more, see
well as off, it places them at odds again after Zabka’s Johnny reopens the Cobra Kai karate dojo.
Will a leg get swept? Oh, it better.
T h e C U LT U R E PA G E S
7. Go to Red Bull
Music Festival
New York rocks.
Various locations, May 3–25.
The innovative festival returns for the sixth year
with a lineup as diverse as the city itself, from a
performance by cult musician John Maus at the
Coney Island Wonder Wheel (May 4) to Swedish
experimentalist Fever Ray’s first U.S. shows in
almost a decade (May 12 and 13) to an in-depth
conversation with Harry Belafonte (May 5).
8. Read Warlight
Across the pond.
Knopf, May 8.
things to see,
hear, watch,
and read.
M AY 2 –1 6
1. Watch Being Serena
4. See I Feel Pretty
Taking the fall.
HBO, May 2.
In theaters now.
This five-part docuseries focuses on Serena Williams at a crucial personal and professional moment: as she grapples with the early stages of
motherhood—she gave birth to her daughter,
Alexis Olympia, in September—and attempts to
get back into tennis-champion shape. Consider
this series a warm-up to watching her compete in
the French Open, which starts at the end of May.
Ignore the prerelease backlash against this Amy
Schumer comedy and enjoy funny, deft farce in
which a woman with painfully low self-esteem
gets bonked on the head and suddenly sees herself
as madly attractive. Though Schumer didn’t write
the film, it fits beautifully into her history of challenging men on their donkey-boy aesthetics and
women on their acceptance of male standards of
beauty. Rory Scovel is her inspired straight man.
david edelstein
2. See Hours and Places
Room to breathe.
Bureau, 178 Norfolk Street, through May 6.
This smart group show from artists Wojciech Bakowski, Erica Baum, and Constance DeJong slows
us down with thoughtful drawings, constructed
sculptures, layered text, and sound pieces that
take us off the whizzing merry-go-round and let
us sink back into our own autonomous selves.
jerry saltz
3. Listen to 7
Dive in.
Sub Pop, May 11.
The Brooklyn indie-rock duo Beach House makes
dream pop drenched in hazy atmospherics that’s
been sampled by everyone from Crystal Castles
and Dan
to Kend
and the
bath in
keyboard and guitar player Alex Scally’s expressive
playing and singer-songwriter Victoria Legrand’s
ethereal vocals, this time with help from Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom.
craig jenkins
78 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
5. See The Birds
It’s all Greek to me.
St. Ann’s Warehouse, May 2–13.
In the 25 years since Michael Ondaatje published
The English Patient, which won a Booker and
spawned an Oscar-winning film, he’s written
three equally good novels but lost some fairweather readers. This one returns to World War
II, the terrain of his greatest hit, albeit on the
London home front. A brother and sister are
taken in by a strange group of grown-ups after
their parents leave for an unexplained trip to Singapore—one of many mysteries that will take a
dozen years to unravel.
boris kachka
9. See BambinO
Child’s play.
Metropolitan Opera, through May 5.
The opera Establishment, which fears aging and
death with more intensity than Woody Allen, is
making a play for young audiences—really young
audiences. The Met’s latest production, a 40-minute opus by Lliam Paterson, features a cast of two,
a versatile orchestra of two, and a participatory
audience of babies ages 6 to 18 months (plus one
accompanying adult each).
justin davidson
10. See King Krule
Director Nikos Karathanos brings this vibrant
adaptation of Aristophanes’ comedy to St. Ann’s
Warehouse following its sold-out world premiere
at the theater of Epidaurus in Greece. Ancient and
prescient, the rollicking satire follows humanity’s
search for a new utopia in the face of mass dissatisfaction with this messed-up world and its
messed-up gods.
sara holdren
Stoned and emotional.
6. Watch Cobra Kai
11. See Emilio Bianchic:
Still sweeping the leg.
Hammerstein Ballroom, May 4.
Over just three albums, British singer, writer,
multi-instrumentalist, and producer King Krule
has grown into a formidable architect of songs
about fleeting joy and haunting pain. Watch him
fold rock, jazz, hip-hop, and dance music into his
own beguiling blend.
YouTube Red, May 2.
Ooh La La
If yo
n wa
a Karate Kid follow-up
s wh
y Lawrence and Daniel
LaRusso are up to in middle age, it’s your lucky
day. This YouTube Red series not only brings back
Billy Zabka and Ralph Macchio to reprise their
roles from the 1980s classic about waxing on as
This storied 33-year-old outpost of vanguard
experimentalism and irascible art is currently
the site of a joyous gallop through the videos of
the Uruguay-born artist Emilio Bianchic. His
This little piggy.
Postmasters, 54 Franklin Street, through May 12.
P H OTO G R A P H S : S E R E N AW I L L I A M S / I N S TAG R A M ( W I L L I A M S ) ; YO U T U B E / CO U R T E S Y O F K I N G K R U L E ( K I N G K R U L E ) ; CO U R T E S Y O F P B S ( L I T T L E WO M E N ) ; CO U R T E S Y O F S T X
E N T E R TA I N M E N T ( I F E E L P R E T T Y ) .
long-toenailed feet perform morality plays, singing, dancing, and canoodling with other feet. It
adds up to his own private, politically charged
Mardi Gras.
12. Watch A Little Help
With Carol Burnett
Kids give the darndest advice.
Netflix, May 4.
Carol Burnett hosts this celebrity-filled twist on
Kids Say the Darndest Things and Little Big
Shots, inviting guests like Taraji P. Henson, Wanda Sykes, and DJ Khaled to lay out a personal
dilemma to a group of elementary-schoolers,
who then offer advice about how to solve it. Because, as the Bible says, “A little child shall lead
DJ Khaled.”
13. See Long Day’s Journey
Into Night
Back at home with the Tyrones.
BAM, May 8–27.
Sir Richard Eyre’s acclaimed production of Eugene O’Neill’s piercing, sprawling autobiographical family saga comes to BAM from Bristol Old
Vic, led by Jeremy Irons as boozy paterfamilias
James Tyrone and Lesley Manville as the morphine-addicted matriarch, Mary.
14. Watch Dear
White People Vol. 2
Campus intrigue.
Netflix, May 4.
The second season of Justin Simien’s dramedy,
inspired by his film of the same name, picks up
where it left off, with the main characters juggling
the usual academic and love-life problems while
dealing with a rise in alt-right rhetoric.
200+ Events
From Tip of the Iceberg,
by Mark Adams (Dutton, May 15)
“‘Facing down a bear is like facing down a drunk:
You just have to bluff,’ [said my guide, David].
I stood next to David, waving, clapping, and
screaming … The bear left my tent and ambled
in the direction of the kayak. [David] started
have two days’ extra food … ’ David explained,
‘but only one kayak’ … I remember this vividly,
because I underlined it in my notebook …
‘Are you taking notes?’ David asked, his arms
waving … ‘This is my job, dude,’ I said … ‘Gotta
get this stuff down while it’s hot.’”
L.A.’s best bars, cafes, hotels, markets,
restaurants and the world’s top chefs
for hundreds of extraordinary events.
Help raise awareness and funds to
fight food waste, hunger, food
insecurity and promote sustainability.
16. See The Rachel Divide
Digging through the layers.
In theaters and on Netflix now.
From Kings of the Yukon,
by Adam Weymouth (Little, Brown, May 15)
“‘There’s a bear,’ and I think what an inappropriate
joke, and I look up, and there is one. I had so long
imagined the moment that it feels like a kept
promise. It is a grizzly … Ursus arctos horribilis.
The day hones in upon it. It is on its hind legs, as
tall as the willows, perhaps six feet high, or eight,
and with furrowed features, it peers myopically
towards us … As one, [we] raise our hands and
make some unplanned, primal noise … It drops
to all fours, turns, cocks its head back at us, and
canters off into the scrub … A goose honks, and
then another. We reek of fear.”
Laura Brownson’s nuanced, intimate doc centers
on Rachel Dolezal, dreadlocked head of the Spokane branch of the NAACP who became a laughingstock—and drew African-American ire—when
she was revealed to be white and then maintained
that “race is not real.” Brownson talks to fierce and
articulate critics, but once you understand Dolezal’s
past—particularly her devotion to her adopted
black siblings, who were allegedly abused—you’ll
feel there’s more to her than a mere nutcase. d.e.
17. Watch Sweetbitter
Waiting games.
Starz, May 6.
Ella Purnell (Churchill, Miss Peregrine’s Home
for Peculiar Children) stars in this adaptation of
Stephanie Danler’s novel about a New York City
newbie attempting to navigate her life and job in
a high-end restaurant.
15. Hear Sol Gabetta
Humane sensitivity.
Alice Tully Hall, May 12.
I first learned of the Argentine cellist Sol Gabetta
through Michel van der Aa’s work for cello, ensemble, and film, Up-close, in which she performs
an exhilarating and tragic duet with an onscreen
alter ego many years older than she. That same
18. Read The Mars Room
Invigorating and urgent.
Rachel Kushner’s last novel, The Flamethrowers,
crisply brought to life the radical art and politics of
the 1970s through the eyes of a passive, albeit very
observant, female witness. The author’s roving political awareness now alights on the American
prison system. From another writer it might sound
lurid or, worse, like homework. But Kushner’s
writing and thinking are always precise.
19. Listen to O
The gang’s all here.
DERO Arcade, May 11.
SSION (“shun”) is the multimedia project of musical-visual artist Cody Critcheloe. His songwriting
is versatile enough to fit aspects of noise rock,
house music, and easy listening into the same
frame, and forward-thinking enough to make Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott a fan. O’s wild
guest list includes Royal Trux screamer Jennifer
Herrema, pop darling Sky Ferreira, folkie Devendra Banhart, and indie rocker Ariel Pink.
20. Watch The 2018 Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame
Induction Ceremony
The stars turn out at night.
HBO, May 5.
Sure, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a little
bogus, but the annual ceremony always ends up
being a good show. Watch Howard Stern use salty
Turn one lunch
into a bunch.
$15 helps make 60 happy tummies.
May 14-18, be a part of Skip Lunch Fight Hunger.
r Donate the cost of your lunch and join
thousands of New Yorkers helping to fuel City Harvest’s work delivering fresh, nutritious
food to the nearly 365,000 children facing hunger in NYC.
Help us feed NYC’s children. Donate at
P H OTO G R A P H : D E N A L I / W I K I CO M M O N S.
theatrical intensity infuses her performances of
music like Chopin’s G-minor Sonata, which anchors her Lincoln Center program.
language while inducting Bon Jovi into the Rock
Hall, see the Cars perform some of their greatest
hits, and let Mary J. Blige and Lauryn Hill be your
guides to the greatness that was Nina Simone.
21. See Paradise Blue
A stranger in Paradise.
Signature Theatre, through June 10.
In 1949, the Paradise Club sits at the center of Detroit’s rapidly gentrifying Blackbottom neighborhood. Blue, a trumpet player and the club’s owner,
is wrestling with whether to flee the neighborhood
and his memories there, when a mysterious woman arrives to complicate matters. Obie-winning
playwright Dominique Morisseau begins her Signature residency with this story of troubled pasts
in a changing city.
22. See London
Symphony Orchestra
Whatever suits your fancy.
David Geffen Hall, May 4, 6, and 7.
Whether you’re feeling irrationally okay about the
world or marinating in a self-pitying funk,
Mahler’s three final works put it all in perspective.
The Ninth Symphony and his orchestral song cycle
Das Lied von der Erde cover the emotional spectrum from giddy bliss to bone-crushing sorrow,
and the Tenth is his unfinished tombstone. j.d.
23. See Paul Schrader x 4
Taking stock.
Metrograph, May 4–6.
The ever-provocative director-screenwriter Paul
Schrader gets a mini-retrospective ahead of the
release of his latest film, First Reformed. This quartet exemplifies what Schrader has called his “man
in a room” films—a lonely-guy group of thrillers
consisting of Taxi Driver (directed by Martin
Scorsese), the fashion-setting American Gigolo,
The Walker, and the underseen Light Sleeper, featuring Willem Dafoe as a tortured drug dealer.
Schrader will be at the first three screenings. d.e.
24. Watch Little Women
Never too much Louisa May Alcott.
PBS, May 13.
The BBC and PBS’s Masterpiece teamed up to
produce this three-part mini-series about the
March girls, featuring an impressive cast: Emily
Watson as Marmee, Angela Lansbury as Aunt
March, Maya Hawke as Jo, and Kathryn Newton (Big Little Lies, Blockers) as Amy.
25. Hear Shai Wosner
Sounds of the wee hours.
92nd Street Y, May 4 and 11.
Schubert’s late piano sonatas are midnight music,
best heard when your defenses are down and
there’s time for leisurely, roundabout thoughts.
That being an impractical time for a public concert, Shai Wosner divides them up between two
one-hour concerts at 9 p.m., just late enough for
the music to resonate into the night.
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Spring Flings
This section’s online
directory can be found at
Thaw out this spring at some of the world’s most exciting vacation destinations. From
sun-drenched Amelia Island to the historically rich capital of the nation, DC, these seasonally
ripe gems are brimming with cultural treasures, relaxing and invigorating activities, and
irresistible fare.
Photo courtesy of
This Island
Is Your Island
904-277-0717 |
AMELIA ISLAND, an enchanting barrier
island off Florida’s northeastern coast,
has long been a beloved Florida
treasure, cherished for her thirteen
miles of pristine beaches. Consistently
voted a top island destination in North
America, the island offers a perfect
balance of natural beauty complemented
by world-class services and a growing
collection of award-winning independent
restaurants, luxurious spas, outdoor
adventures, and superlative golf courses.
Amelia Island provides a prize-winning
assortment of luxury resorts, charming
bed and breakfast inns, favorite hotels,
and a variety of condos and vacation
homes, making it easy for visitors
to find their perfect home away
from home. Just thirty minutes from
Jacksonville International Airport, Amelia
has consistently welcomed generations
of fun-loving families looking to make
memories to last a lifetime.
The fun at Amelia Island doesn’t
stop at the close of the summer
either. Plan for a fall trip, too, chockfull of amazing island activities. Relax
at the Amelia Island Wellness Festival
(Nov. 9-11), a three-day health-focused
retreat renewing the mind, body,
and soul. Hosted at The Ritz-Carlton,
it offers attendees educational and
inspirational sessions with acclaimed
names in yoga, meditation, and fitness
Experience the Pétanque Amelia Island
Open (Nov. 9-11), the largest pétanque
event in the Americas, which draws
players and spectators from around
the world. The event takes place along
the Amelia harbor front and Fernandina
Beach historic district (AmeliaIsland.
com/petanque). And don’t miss the
fourth annual Dickens on Centre
(Dec. 7-9) in downtown Fernandina
Beach, which recalls Charles Dickens’s
early Victorian–era Britain. Free to the
public, the event features horse
drawn carriage rides and period
vendors, themed characters and
entertainers, along with festive lights,
charming decor, and holiday tastes
DC Jazz Festival, Photo Credit: Jati Lindsay
Explore the Creative Side of DC
888.301.7001 |
WITH ROBUST offerings in museums
and on stages, DC’s arts and culture
scene shines in summertime. Explore
the creative side of the nation’s capital.
Through Jan. 21, 2019, the Renwick
Gallery hosts No Spectators: The Art
of Burning Man, an exhibit dedicated
to the Nevada festival that consists
of room-size installations in the
gallery and sculptures throughout
the surrounding neighborhood. The
National Portrait Gallery dives deep
into an understudied art form with
Black Out: Silhouettes Then and
Now (May 11 – March 10, 2019),
while the Phillips Collection highlights
Aboriginal Australian women artists in
Marking the Infinite (June 2 – Sept. 9),
challenging viewers to connect with
the natural world.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, one
of Broadway’s most innovative
and successful productions, comes
to the Kennedy Center from June
12 – Sept. 16. In addition to the musical,
various museums, hotels, and attractions
throughout the area are hosting their
own exhibits and experiences related
to Alexander Hamilton. Arena Stage
hosts world premiere musical The Snow
Child through May 20, based on
Eowyn Ivey’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated
novel. The Color Purple comes to the
Kennedy Center from July 21 to Aug. 26,
while Shakespeare Theatre Company
stages Camelot at Sidney Harman Hall,
May 22 – July 1. The Woolly Mammoth
Theater hosts Botticelli in the Fire,
May 28 – June 24, about an artist
and mentor of Da Vinci navigating a
populist revolution.
DC’s summer festival slate includes
Capital Pride (June 7-10), which
celebrates the LGBTQ community
with street happenings, concerts, and
a parade. DC Jazz Festival (June
8-17) brings the world’s best jazz
musicians to venues all over the city.
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By the People Festival (June 21-24),
an inaugural free arts festival, will
feature art installations, performances,
speakers, an augmented reality art hunt,
and late-night museum openings. The
Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle
(June 23-24) showcases the country’s
finest pit masters and live music. The
free-to-attend Smithsonian Folklife
Festival (June 27 – July 1, July 4-8) will
honor the cultures of Africa, Armenia,
and Catalonia through performances,
food, craft demonstrations, and more.
featuring a myriad of restaurants with
renowned chefs from U Street to the
Capitol Riverfront.
Whenever you choose to visit DC,
nothing but a good time awaits.
Hollywood glamour to New York City.
Equally wonderful is the eclectic
variety of small plates offered in
the evening, including tuna tartare,
spiced duck cigars, filet mignon
bruschetta, grilled lamb lollipops
with ratatouille, and Kobe sliders.
However, if recovering after a night
out is more your speed, the lounge
offers an equally delicious weekend
brunch menu, 12-4 p.m.
The refined service and relaxed
setting also make the environment
great for office parties and intimate
weddings. Equal parts decadent
cocktail bar and luxe garden party,
Upstairs at the Kimberly fulfills even
the loftiest of expectations.
Lincoln Memorial
The Crown of
145 East 50th Street
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SOARING 30 STORIES above Midtown
Manhattan, Upstairs at the Kimberly
Hotel provides a beautiful backyard
oasis. With 3,000 square feet of
pure luxury, and stunning views of
the iconic Chrysler Building, the
lounge offers a convivial atmosphere
that is so inviting you instantly feel
at home.
Living green walls cascade down
bronze panels framing the magnificent
cityscape from every possible angle,
while the vintage theatrical lights
and Edison bulbs bring a bit of old
The Original
Donald Trump
CO N T I N U E D F R O M PAG E 2 5
The actual author of The Art of the Deal,
Tony Schwartz, is the rare prominent collaborator in the burnishing of the Trump
myth in those pre-Apprentice decades who
has expressed public remorse at having put
“lipstick on a pig,” and he tried to make
amends by trolling Trump in 2016. “This is
the most perilous moment in modern
American history,” tweeted Richard Haass,
the president of the Council of Foreign
Relations, in March of this year, as the
Trump presidency careered into danger on
nearly every front. “And it has been largely
brought about by ourselves, not events.” You
don’t hear many others in such circles on
the Upper East or West Sides assuming any
responsibility. It’s all someone else’s fault.
uring his campaign, Trump
made a cause out of the corruption intrinsic to pay-for-play
political donations like those he
used to give. “Nobody knows the system
better than me,” he claimed, “which is why
I alone can fix it.” The second half of that
sentence was a lie, but the first was true.
As he’d elaborate in pitch-perfect Cohnspeak, he gave to “everybody” because
“when I want something, I get it. When I
call, they kiss my ass.” At the first Republican presidential debate in August 2015,
he fine-tuned his target: “Well, I’ll tell you
what, with Hillary Clinton, I said, ‘Be at
my wedding,’ and she came to my wedding. You know why? She had no choice,
because I gave.”
He was referring to the fact that either he
or his “foundation” gave at least $100,000
to the Clinton Foundation. He could have
added that between 2002 and 2009, he
had also contributed six times to Hillary
Clinton’s political war chest. And that he
had given Bill Clinton, whom he met with
to discuss fund-raising as far back as 1994,
free access to his northern-Westchester
club, Trump National, and on occasion
played golf with him there. Even without
that degree of incriminating detail, Trump’s
accusation of a quid pro quo stung Hillary
Clinton—so much so that after her defeat,
she felt compelled to revisit Trump’s wedding invitation, sort of, in the opening
pages of her postelection self-autopsy,
What Happened. “He was a fixture of the
New York scene when I was a senator—like
a lot of big-shot real-estate guys of the city,
only more flamboyant and self-promoting,”
she writes of Trump. “In 2005 he invited us
to his wedding to Melania in Palm Beach,
Florida. We weren’t friends, so I assume he
wanted as much star power as you can get.
Bill happened to be speaking in the area
that weekend, so we decided to go. Why
not? I thought it would be a fun, gaudy,
over-the-top spectacle, and I was right.”
Let’s posit that Clinton is telling the truth
when she says that she attended the wedding only because “Bill happened to be
speaking in the area that weekend” and she
wanted to take in a campy spectacle—an
explanation that clears her of Trump’s
charge that his contributions compelled her
to turn up. Let’s also give her a pass for
choosing not to regurgitate her and Bill’s
financial history with Trump. Even so,
everything else about this breezy and disingenuous paragraph epitomizes the honoramong-celebrities ethos of the bipartisan
New York Establishment that helped
Trump get where he was by 2005. To say
that Trump was typical of “big-shot realestate guys of the city” but merely “more
flamboyant and self-promoting” is tantamount to saying that Robert Durst was
typical of the big-shot real-estate guys in the
Durst family but more prone to being
accused of murder. The Clintons had to
know that there was a more malevolent side
to Trump’s so-called flamboyance than his
boorishness, vulgar properties, television
stardom, tawdry tabloid antics, and even
his brazen destruction of bas-relief sculptures he had promised to the Metropolitan
Museum when demolishing Bonwit Teller
for Trump Tower. None of it was secret. If
the Clintons didn’t know, it’s because they
didn’t want to know.
After all, it had been front-page news,
including in the Times, when the federal
government sued the Trumps under the
Fair Housing Act in 1973 for refusing to
rent apartments to black applicants (whose
paperwork they coded “C” for “colored”).
This suit was filed just after Trump had met
Cohn, who took on the case and filed a
frivolous countersuit demanding $100 million from the government for “defamation.”
The Trumps retreated two years later by
signing a consent decree—and soon violated that, too, forcing the Department of
Justice to file new complaints of racial discrimination in 1978. The Clintons might
have also heard how in 1989 Trump, running amok in a trademark rage, tried to
help toss the city into turmoil by taking out
a full-page racist ad in the four daily papers
demanding a reinstitution of the death
penalty for “roving bands of wild criminals”
after five black male teenagers were
charged (erroneously, as DNA would confirm in 2002) in the rape of a white female
Central Park jogger. The Clintons may have
even encountered the news, as did most
Americans, that Ivana Trump had accused
her husband of rape in a sworn divorce
deposition uncovered by Harry Hurt III for
his 1993 Trump biography.
So to return to Hillary Clinton’s flip rhetorical question: Why not go to the TrumpMelania wedding in 2005? These incidents
are just a few of the many reasons why a
former president and sitting United States
senator with presidential ambitions should
not have gone to this particular “fun, gaudy,
over-the-top spectacle” in Palm Beach. But
they just couldn’t stop themselves, any
more than so many Democratic leaders of
a quarter-century earlier couldn’t resist
dressing up for Cohn’s fun, gaudy, over-thetop birthday gala at Studio 54. In the bipartisan New York political culture that nurtured Cohn and Trump, the statute of
limitations for nearly every crime or outrage lasts about 48 hours. Nothing sticks;
even repeated racist bygones can be
bygones. Whether Hillary Clinton attended
the wedding (Bill showed solely for the
reception) because she’d taken Trump’s
money, or because she wanted to be in the
mix of power and celebrity no matter how
tacky, or because she hoped there might be
more favors to extract from Trump or
someone else in the wedding party, doesn’t
matter. Whatever the explanation, the
then–New York senator, sitting in a
reserved seat in the front row, lent a touch
of civic legitimacy to Trump that the other
glitzy celebrities on hand could not. He got
what he’d paid for. He had written his
checks knowing that the Clintons could be
counted on not to bite the small hand that
fed them—at least not until their own selfinterest was threatened in 2016.
n an aside that’s tucked into the
Oval Office pyrotechnics of Fire and
Fury, Michael Wolff offers a glimpse
into a representative back channel in
the bipartisan Barter and Swap Exchanges
of the Trump era: He points out that it was
the flack Matthew Hiltzik, “an active Democrat who had worked for Hillary Clinton”
and who “also represented Ivanka Trump’s
fashion line,” who gave Trump’s prized aide
Hope Hicks her start in public relations.
Wolff also helpfully (and accurately) reports
that Hiltzik had represented Harvey Weinstein, another major New York player in
Democratic politics (and a Trump-wedding
attendee), during those years when Hiltzik
and his staff were expected to “protect him”
from accusations of sexual harassment and
abuse. Weinstein was further protected by
april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
his contributions to Democrats, led by those
to the Clintons. Everyone in New York who
had professional dealings with him knew he
was a pig and a bully, much as they knew
about Trump. But the parties, screenings,
and star schmoozing were too much fun for
Democratic politicians to resist. It’s because
Weinstein had good reason to believe that
his political donations and liberal bona fides
would serve as a get-out-of-jail-free card for
even criminal behavior that he released that
bizarre statement vowing to turn his “full
attention” to fighting the NRA after the
Times and The New Yorker uncovered his
history of sexual assaults.
Wolff might have added that Hiltzik’s
résumé featured stints as deputy executive
director of the New York State Democratic
Committee, as a consultant on Middle East
issues for Kirsten Gillibrand and “Jewish
outreach” for Clinton, and as a shill for
Jared Kushner’s real-estate company. In
December 2016, Hiltzik took on a month’s
employment for David Pecker’s American
Media Inc. at a time when its flagship, The
National Enquirer, was dealing with the
aftermath of its coverage (and suppression)
of the alleged affair between Trump and the
Playboy model Karen McDougal. Hiltzik is
also a “longtime friend” of Bill de Blasio,
according to the Washington Post, but what
are conflicts of interest or politics among
clients and friends in pursuit of power? The
same strange bedfellows may be useful to de
Blasio should he try to pursue Trump’s New
York path to the White House.
As Cohn says in Angels, the questions
that count are not matters of principle but
“Who will pick up the phone when I call?
Who owes me favors?” Cohn’s Favor Bank
was such that he even gained access to the
floor of the 1968 Democratic National
Convention and briefly sat in the unoccupied box of the liberal Eugene McCarthy.
His extended circle included figures as
diverse as Cardinal Francis Spellman, various members of the Gambino crime family, Norman Mailer, George Steinbrenner,
and the inevitable Alan Dershowitz, who
had requested and received Cohn’s help in
gaining entrée into Studio 54. Cohn even
became pals with the CBS News executive
Fred Friendly, who decades before had
produced the legendary Edward R. Murrow special that helped rid America of Joe
McCarthy. Had Cohn not been struck
down by aids, Trump might have arrived
in Washington far faster.
Some of the rich, connected, and powerful New Yorkers who failed to stand up to
Trump before it was too late tried to cover
their tracks once the music stopped and he
had won the Republican nomination for
president. When in April 2016 The Hollywood Reporter called 89 guests who had
86 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
been at his 2005 wedding to request a comment, it did not receive a single response.
One attendee who did speak up during the
election year was the novelist Joseph
O’Neill, who had attended as the plus-one
of an invited Vogue editor. Writing in The
New Yorker, he suggested that “a revisionist
remembrance” was called for given Trump’s
“metamorphosis into a would-be dictator.”
A wedding that he had viewed ever since as
“an anomalous and trivial item of personal
recollection” now struck him “as the stuff of
historic testimony,” perhaps to be reviewed
“in the spirit of a Hannah Arendt or a Victor Klemperer.”
I was not at Trump’s wedding, but
O’Neill’s perspective resonated with me
because of another wedding, one that I
attended in 2012—indeed the largest and
most lavish wedding I’ve ever been to. It,
too, calls for a revisionist remembrance.
The two men getting married, acquaintances of mine from show business, held
their ceremony in a large Broadway house,
followed by a vast seated dinner in the old
Roseland Ballroom a few blocks away. The
mother of one of the grooms was a theater
producer who had co-produced a Broadway revival of The Normal Heart a year
earlier. Larry Kramer was there, and so
were celebrities like Barbara Walters and
such politicians as Christine Quinn, the
out Speaker of the New York City Council,
and her spouse. Quinn was then collecting
chits for what would be her unsuccessful
Democratic mayoral campaign.
There was premium seating at the ceremony, as it happened. Just before it
began, the congregants were treated to the
spectacle of Donald and Melania Trump
swooping down the aisle to their seats
down front. The Trumps were no doubt
there because the father of one of the
grooms and the host of the wedding was
Steven Roth, a far more successful New
York real-estate titan than Trump. Roth has
also been in business with the scandal-anddebt-plagued real-estate family of Trump’s
son-in-law, the (non-Tony) Kushners,
themselves profuse Democratic donors
until the family patriarch, Charles, went to
prison for multiple felonies in 2005.
Three and a half years after this wedding, in February 2016, Trump appointed
Steven Roth to his campaign’s economicadvisory team. Once Trump took office,
Roth would remain a visible supplicant,
appearing with the president at a public
event in Ohio to lend credence to his bogus
infrastructure initiative. By then, Trump
was piling up the most aggressive of record
assaulting LGBTQ rights since the era of
Reagan and Cohn. His Justice Department would soon file a brief at the Supreme
Court supporting the case of the Colorado
baker who refused to bake a cake for a
same-sex wedding like the one Roth
hosted and Trump attended for Roth’s son.
It’s easy for me, and I imagine a fair
number of this wedding’s other attendees,
to say that we would never drink a glass of
Roth’s Champagne again. But then, we’re
not looking for any invitations, favors, or
money from him. There’s no sign, however,
that Roth is being shunned by the city’s
most powerful elites, including those who
practice a showy rhetorical liberalism that
is a somewhat lower priority than advancing their own social and financial interests.
So what if Trump is translating homophobia into federal law at every opportunity,
from the transgender military ban to the
en masse elevation of gay-rights opponents to the federal bench to the creation
of a federal “religious freedom” office to
defend health workers who don’t want to
treat gay patients? The wedding was fabulous! Let’s move on.
Contrast the Vichy passivity of New York’s
elites with the mind-set of the citizenry of
Abington, Pennsylvania. As the Times
reported this month, this Philadelphia suburb was outraged to learn that another billionaire Trump economic adviser, the New
York financier Stephen Schwarzman, had
purchased the naming rights of its public
high school, his alma mater, in exchange for
a $25 million gift. As one horrified Abington
graduate put it to the Times, if the school’s
name can be auctioned off, “what else is for
sale?” The local protests were so loud that
the school district rescinded the renaming.
Needless to say, no such questions or qualms
prevented Schwarzman’s name from being
plastered all over the New York Public
Library’s 42nd Street flagship in exchange
for a gift of $100 million.
In Angels in America, Prior Walter, these
nights embodied by Andrew Garfield,
declares that “the world only spins forward.”
It can also spin in circles, as it turns out:
Steven Roth’s son, married at a gay wedding
attended by Roy Cohn’s protégé, is a coproducer of the current Broadway revival.
Cohn is dead at the end of Angels, as is the
Cold War in which he first thrived, but Prior
is still standing, frail but determined, an
apostle of hope. Yet the specter of Donald
Trump casts a pall over this eight-hour epic,
as it does over nearly everything else in
America. Watching Angels now, you can’t
help but be struck by how the strain of evil
that Kushner identified a quarter-century
ago has only metastasized in both political
parties, albeit in different degrees and in
different ways, ever since. Nor can we
escape the realization that the cancer now
consuming Washington was incubated not
in that city’s notorious swamp but in the
loftiest Zip Codes of New York.
Vs. Stacey
CO N T I N U E D F R O M PAG E 3 1
“They put me on a plane, and it got
diverted to Milwaukee because of engine
trouble. My mother started calling the
gate agent every 30 minutes—the gate
agent got to know my mother very well.
When it became clear they weren’t going
to be able to get me on another plane,
they put me in a hotel overnight. I had to
stay in a hotel and get myself to the airport the next morning.” A day after the
other delegates had arrived, Abrams
showed up in Scottsdale. And when she
got there?
“I was unhappy. But I’m very good at
working with people even when I’m not
happy with them.” What about those other
Mississippi delegates? “I hung out with
kids from other troops.”
The story cuts to a couple of essential
truths about Abrams. She sees herself as a
victim of her minority status: “I’ve been a
minority for a very long time. I’m really
good at it. And one thing you learn about
being a minority is that you don’t get
everything you want.” Yet she also sees herself as triumphant in her workarounds.
People don’t like her? Fine, she’ll find
other, more simpatico people. In grown-up
terms, that has meant cultivating a
national stage, national financial backers,
and the idea that she could build a newvoter infrastructure in Georgia where others have tried and failed.
Abrams isn’t blind to the discomfort that
her ferocious confidence and selfpossession engender: “My intensity and
intentionality for those that do not share it
is off-putting. That’s the level of intensity I
intend to bring to the governor’s mansion.”
What she doesn’t bring is a husband or
children. “I’d have plenty of time to focus on
the job,” she says one friend told her. Many
women reading those words are nodding
their heads yes. But per Jim Galloway’s
remark, is being single and childless a liability in Georgia, especially because she’s
black? Although attitudes are definitely
changing, it’s no secret that black churches,
and African-Americans in general, have
been less supportive of gay rights than
other groups. And several people I interviewed said, not for attribution, that they
thought Abrams was probably gay.
Georgia has elected gay candidates to its
general assembly. In 2016, Atlantans
chose a queer, 24-year-old AfricanAmerican woman, Park Cannon, to represent them in the statehouse; more black
women serve in its general assembly than
in any other state legislature in the country. But it’s the statewide offices where the
ceiling remains. Georgia has elected only
two African-Americans, both of them
men, to statewide office.
So I get Abrams back on the phone to
ask about what I’m hearing, that a single
black female can’t be governor in Georgia, and that there’s a line out there that
she’s a lesbian.
After such a long pause that I think
she’s hung up on me, Abrams replies. “I’m
trying to think exactly how I’m going to
answer this,” she says. “I am proud of who
I am. I do not believe my race or my gender or my marital status are disqualifying. I am a very strong LGBTQ ally. I am
personally heterosexual.”
She calls the gay rumors “pseudo worries, signals of internal fears” among people who harbor “deep disquiet with the
change that my candidacy represents.”
While we’re on that subject: Can a black
woman in 2018 Georgia win the general
election for governor?
“I believe there’s a progressive Georgia
lying just below the red patina that has
covered the state for years,” she says. “I’m
afraid that we’ve for so long ignored the
opportunity that, absent an ambitious and
innovative campaign like mine, we will
miss it again. There is a clear path to victory. It’s a hard one, but it’s clear.”
e come to the end of this
story asking the question:
Despite the best efforts of the
Staceys, does the governor’s
race end in tragedy for Georgia Democrats
yet again? As of the end of March, Abrams
had raised a total of $3.3 million and Evans
$2.6 million. But the leading Republican
contender, Lieutenant Governor Casey
Cagle, had raked in $6.8 million.
And this question, too: If there’s a blue
wave sweeping the nation, is it going to
wash over Georgia, or will it skip the state,
as has been the case in the past? “The blue
wave may be more like a thunderstorm,
because there are places that are not ready
to elect Democrats in the state of Georgia,”
win List’s Melita Easters says. Some of
that is because of gerrymandering, which
has been brutally effective against Democrats in Georgia after nearly 20 years of
Republican domination of the legislature
and the governor’s office. To be somewhat
reductive, the Ossoff campaign was hurt
by the weight of its own national symbol-
ism. But he also lost because he was running in a gerrymandered district, where
the previous congressman, Tom Price (he
of the late, brief stint as Health and
Human Services secretary), “used to win
with Joseph Stalin numbers,” says political
analyst Fox. It’s a reason both Staceys give
for wanting to be governor, as opposed to
running for another office: The governor
can rewrite the voting districts in the state.
The fact that Ossoff came within 4 percentage points of winning is a testament to
the state’s changing demographics: Moderate white women and growing minority
populations in suburban Atlanta are beginning to have an impact on elections. It really
is game on, says Michael Owens, Democratic Party chair in Cobb County, the state’s
third-largest county and a hotbed of
suburban-mom political activity. “I mean,
here I am, I’m an African-American male,
and I was out there with the liberal moms
from day one, out there protesting,” Owens
says. “But this is a 2024 story that we’re trying to make happen in 2016, 2018, and
2020. I think we’re pushing this three cycles
prior to where the demographics would
start to really take over.”
Which brings us to what is both the first
and last question in this race: Will white
men vote for a woman, let alone a black
woman, in the general election? The
Atlanta metro area and its ever-bluer 2.9
million voters aren’t quite enough to guarantee a Democrat victory in a state with 6
million registered voters. In the most optimistic nonpartisan scenario for Abrams I
read, from, if she “gets
black turnout up to 56 percent (which is
possible considering she would be Georgia’s first black governor) and gets Hispanic and Asian turnout to 40 percent
each, she will win 50.2 percent to 49.8
percent.” That’s a lot of ifs and just a sliver
of a victory. The Democratic candidate
must get white votes, and Evans has been
going hard for them.
Abrams has started going for them too.
In a mid-April ad called “Guys Like Me,”
three men—one black and two white, all of
them big, beefy dudes who definitely were
not styled for the camera—tell us why
they’re for Stacey Abrams. “She’s tough,”
says one of the white men, as country
chords twang. “She’s fighting against tax
hikes that’s gonna hurt guys like me that get
up at the crack of dawn to go work long
hours.” At the very end of the ad, in what
feels like an outtake added back in, he says,
with a laugh, “What’d you think I’d say?”
In other words: Don’t assume because
I look and talk the way I do that I’m not
for the black lady. Are there enough guys
like him out there to put her in the gov■
ernor’s mansion?
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april 30–may 13, 2018 | new york
New York Crossword by Matt Gaffney
1 ___ Chancellor (address for
Angela Merkel)
6 Posh resorts
10 Tapped on, as a cigar
15 Dells, e.g.
18 Bradbury category
19 Where a padlock goes
20 Peace in the Middle East?
22 100%
23 It may say rodgers or
favre on the back (colors of
the rainbow)
27 Skater Rippon
28 JFK’s prep school
29 Word on receipts
30 “Abstraction White Rose”
painter, 1927 (states admitted
to the Union)
35 Thin and dry
36 Pretend
37 Invalidate
38 Carnegie or Evans
39 Spectrum creator
41 Yank (on)
43 Carnation containers
46 Secret recipients get them
50 Have an inkling about
53 You can see the Flatiron Building from it (U.S. presidents)
56 Wedding-day role
58 In a ___ (troubled)
St. Cloud’s state (abbr.)
Small battery
Bunch component
Before, poetically
Time to have your guard up
71 Brooklyn hoopster
72 Becomes edible
74 Narrow opening
75 Suárez of soccer
76 Put together
77 “Wicked Game” singer Chris
78 Viewed to be
80 First, in Florence
82 Its slogan is “Keep Climbing”
(Greek alphabet)
85 Mysterious puzzles
89 Condition of sale at a yard sale
90 “Law & Order” episodes
91 Bring flowers to, e.g.
93 Small business?
94 Per ___ (allowance)
96 Old-timey “OMG!”
99 Common dinner hour, on a
grandfather clock
100 Strips with humorous effect
103 1987 Sue Grafton novel
(English alphabet)
109 Miss Scarlett’s surname
110 Secret location?
90 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
100 101
111 “Night” author Wiesel
112 Amusing phrase spoken on
one day in early spring—or
my wish for solvers on this
puzzle, considering the first
word of each theme entry
119 To’s counterpart
120 “___ That in a Garden Ever
Grew” (Edna St. Vincent
Millay poem)
121 Funny Bombeck
122 Clinton’s choice
123 “Indubitably!”
124 “Affliction” Oscar nominee
125 Highly suggestive
126 Queen ___ lace
1 One of its letters stands for
2 Unlike this answer (abbr.)
3 Risk roller
4 Have ___ of flying
5 Psychological warfare
6 Mysterious healer
7 Cough up
8 Snake in Shakespeare
9 Room
10 Request from
11 Wheat amount
12 Bret who chronicled the
California Gold Rush
Other than that
The AG in DC heads it
Art class adhesive
Delete all information from
In an underhanded way
Bronze, silver, or gold
Conrad of “Diff ’rent Strokes”
Michael of “SNL”
Tug-of-war injury
Areas between outfielders
Hosiery shade
Name seen in elevators
Away from the office
Lovely Heidi
Say “No thanks”
Took a turn on “Wheel of
42 Chit-chat
43 YouTube feature
44 Too
45 Gets lathery
47 Structure by a pool
48 Stretched (one’s neck)
49 Ted Cruz’s body
51 Fellows
52 Cheek drop
54 Word after North or South
55 Wharf
57 Hell-___ (they party hard)
60 Largest city in the Yucatán
61 Colored parts of the eye
62 Language spoken in
64 Mutated gene
66 Bowl for washing
68 “Put Your Head on My
Shoulder” singer
69 “C’est tout!”
70 Desperate
73 Suffers humiliation
76 Biblical trio
78 Royal ___ (Thai restaurant in
79 Work from a pattern, maybe
81 He coached Da Bears
83 They may have a red A
84 Nice evening
86 “Scoot over!”
87 It borders three oceans
88 Playlet
92 Former
95 Financier Carl
97 Flexibility
98 Island with many yoga retreats
100 Snug
101 Touchdown site in Illinois
102 White spreads
103 Salivate
104 “There’s no other option for me”
105 Binge
106 Ready for a 10k, say
107 Different
108 “The Quare Fellow”
110 Lionel Richie used to sport one
113 A billion years
114 Curvy Kate product
115 Letters in Einstein’s equation
116 Womanly half
117 “First of all …”
118 It borders Central Park, briefly
The solution to last week’s puzzle appears on page 81.
April 30–May 13, 2018. VOL. 51, NO. 9. New York Magazine (ISSN 0028-7369) is published biweekly, plus two special issues, Summer Weddings (March) and Winter Weddings (October), by New York Media LLC, 75 Varick Street, New York, N.Y., 10013. Periodicals postage paid at New York, N.Y., and additional mailing offices. Editorial and
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Don’t just read
Read The Atlantic.
Read The Wall Street Journal.
Read The New York Times.
Read the Financial Times.
Read The Guardian.
Read The Economist.
Read USA Today.
Read National Review.
Read BBC News.
Read the Los Angeles Times.
Read The New Yorker.
Read the Chicago Tribune.
Read The Baltimore Sun.
Read the New York Daily News.
Read more.
Listen more.
Understand more.
It all starts with a free press.
Honoring 25 years of World Press Freedom Day.
“And our Justice Department—
which I try and stay away from,
but at some point I won’t …”
Our deliberately oversimplified guide to who falls where on our taste hierarchies.
A collector accuses Jeff Koons
and his dealer, Gagosian Gallery,
of not delivering three
monumental sculptures—even
after he paid millions for them.
The best, worst, right, and left
of America’s ideologies mash
up in The Optimistic Decade,
Heather Abel’s Cliven Bundy–
inspired debut novel.
Maybe the president
should have gotten a
second opinion on
Dr. Ronny L. Jackson.
Simcha Felder, the State Senate
Democrat who persists in
caucusing with the Republicans.
A judge ruled that Madonna’s ex–art
adviser was within her rights to
auction the singer’s hairbrush,
underwear, and a breakup letter
from rapper Tupac Shakur.
RIP, super-chic dead-stock
vintage shop Rue St.-Denis.
Fox has full
faith in Sean
Mossylist’s adorable
YouTube stop-motion
lullaby “Sun Went Down,
Moon Came Up.”
The MTA spent $158
million to bring back the
unnecessary Cortlandt
Street subway stop.
… Nonetheless will
get our fannish
City Council
considers residentonly parking
spaces. Who says MTA experimenting with
tourists should double-decker buses. Who
get all the spots? says tourists should get
all the upstairs fun?
Jimmy Buffett is opening a
Margaritaville hotel in Times
Square. If you lose your
shaker of salt, the one in Ugly dad sneakers are
back in anti-style …
the mini-bar is $27.
Nine years after moving to
San Francisco, Una Pizza
Napoletana returns to the
Lower East Side.
… Of course, like
everything, they
look ugly-cute on
you—if you’re 23.
Well, somebody
around there had to
wear a white hat.
92 n e w y o r k | a p r i l 3 0 – m a y 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
The Handmaid’s Tale
returns to remind
us not to forget to vote
in the midterms …
… Related, somehow: Janelle
Monáe’s sexy Handmaid’sthemed “I Like That” video.
Avengers: Infinity
War’s often-corny
CGI hash …
The sad-sack s
Toronto was
radicalized on 4
message boards.
Carousel’s “Blow High, Blow
Low”: the best dance number
on Broadway in years.
… But we’ll watch it
anyway just to savor
Maeve’s demure
Amazon plans to follow you
around with eavesdropping
Alexabots for your home.
Burrito-size super-rats are
terrorizing Brooklyn Heights,
and neighbors blame Chipotle.
Karl Ove Knausgaard’s
novel Spring, his most
insightful and
suspenseful since the
early My Struggle books.
Matthew Broderick’s devilas-a-bit-of-an-aesthete in
The Seafarer at the Irish Rep.
Will Doig’s zippy tour
of Chinese soft power
in Southeast Asia,
High-Speed Empire.
Will Westworld’s portentous,
time-shifty narrative add up
to anything that makes
much sense in the end?
Seems rather unlikely …
Kanye is back on
Twitter. Boy, is he ever
back on Twitter.
The Met hosts LACMA’s
fascinating “Painted in
Mexico” show.
Emmanuel Macron’s
not-so-subtle shots at
Trump before Congress
(but after their mutual
presidential foreplay).
“Pavé Parisien”—a
cobblestone-size Sonia
Rykiel handbag inspired by
the May ’68 tumult in France,
the same year she opened a
store in St.-Germain-des-Prés.
The plot to label
coffee as
The immersive night-on-thesavannah sound design and
live music accompanying
Mlima’s Tale at the Public.
The variety of
dreams and
disappointments in
Jamel Brinkley’s
A Lucky Man.
The Kushner
Companies were
slapped with a
federal subpoena
regarding rentregulated
A federal judge rules that
“DACA’s rescission was
arbitrary and capricious.”
Art hegemon Frieze
New York puts on a
tribute to Feature Inc.
gallery and its aheadof-his-time owner,
Hudson, “For Your
The NEA tried to ban Allan Monga,
a refugee from Zambia, from
representing Maine in the Poetry
Out Loud national finals because
he is not a citizen.
Mick Mulvaney,
Sir Antony Sher’s fiercely
precise King Lear at BAM.
l owbrow
44/876: The cheese in Sting
recognized the cheese in Shaggy,
and the two made fondue, baby.
P H OTO G R A P H S : M C K M U LVA N E YO M B / T W T T E R ( M U LVA N E Y ) ; PAT R C K M C M U L L A N ( M A D O N N A ) ; CO U R T E S Y O F T H E A R T S T ( KO O N S ) ; J O H N J O H N S O N / CO U R T E S Y O F H B O ( W E S T W O R L D) ; CO U R T E S Y O F T W E N T E T H C E N T U RY F OX ( R AT ) ;
CO U R T E S Y O F M A R V E L S T U D O S (AV E N G E R S ) ; C A R O L R O S EG G ( B R O D E R C K ) ; J OA N M A R C U S ( M L M A’ S TA L E ) ; R C H A R D T E R M N E ( K N G L E A R ) ; M U S E U M A S S O C AT E S / L AC M A / F O M E N TO C U LT U R A L B A N A M E X , A . C ( D O N Z ) ; T W T T E R /
E M M A N U E L M AC R O N ( M AC R O N ) ; J U L E TA C E R VA N T E S (C A R O U S E L ) ; CO U R T E S Y O F H U LU ( M O S S ) ; L Z C L AY M A N ( P Z Z A ) ; S A LVA D O R O C H OA ( S H AG GY A N D S T N G ) ; CO U R T E S Y O F C-S PA N ( M E L A N A )
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