“I cover the waterfront…” Truman Capote chuckled one evening in his duplex apartment at The Beverly Wilshire, where Room Service delivered a hugely expensive bottle of vintage Chateau Lafite Rothschild, which we assumed we’d share.
“No, no… I’m not drinking.”
Fool that we are, we believed him. Yet after we wandered into the duplex’s kitchen, we glimpsed a half-empty bottle of Stolichnaya vodka and a pitcher of orange juice.
Not drinking, eh?
By “waterfront,” Truman inferrred that the world was his home, traveling and writing about it, as he did through the United States, Europe, Russia, Asia, and his favorite tropical spots in the Caribbean.
Islands that he wrote about extensively in his short stories, and based the musical story, House of Flowers, in Trinidad for the Broadway hit with composer Harold Arlen’s catchy music.
House of Flowers launched the thrilling career of the beautiful Diahann Carroll, cast with Pearl Bailey as the Madam of her “girls” in the “house.”
Truman’s “waterfront” quote that his home is the world also applies to our Beverly Hills realtors Elgart Aster and Paul Swerdlove.
Global travelers as well. Summering at the opulent Villa d’Este by Lake Como and roaming, as they do, hither and beyond in Europe and America.
Last week, Elgart and Paul returned from New Orleans, where they regularly attend the annual Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, which dates back to 1986 with the then-500 attendees. Today, the festival attracts more than 10,000 visitors who meet over discussions about America’s greatest playwright and experience performances of his plays.
They and others are saddened by Tennessee’s tragic end. He was found dead in the Hotel Elysee in Manhattan on Feb. 25, 1983.
Having swallowed and choked on the plastic cap from his bottle of prescribed medicine.
Tennessee never denied his enjoyment of an icy martini. And from what we discovered later, a devoted companion, Robert Carroll, described as “alternately sweet and beastly” introduced him to the highs and lows of the drug scene.
Tennessee requested that his remains be sewn in a canvas wrap and buried at sea, which he described as “the great mother of life.”
His family disagreed, interring him in their St. Louis Cemetery.
In our post-college youth, we occasionally would find him, martini in hand at lunch time, after completing his morning’s writing at the Isle of Capri in midtown Manhattan at 61st Street and Third Avenue. Where we would join Gloria Vanderbilt, now and then, for pasta.
Usually jovial and curious, Tennessee smiled at the attractive New Yorkers who favored the down-to-earth Italian dishes in this cozy dining room.
A Southern gentleman, Tennessee never demanded any special acknowledgement. Considering his fame and the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes. For A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948 and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof in 1955.
Of course, he’s remembered for other frequently performed classics — The Glass Menagerie, Suddenly Last Summer, Night Of The Iguana, etc. Overall, Tennessee’s written more than 30 plays.
Besides participating in the literary events, our peripatetic realtors, Elgart and Paul covered the culinary “waterfront.”
Dining at New Orleans’ legendary Galatoire’s, renowned for its seafood menu and bread pudding.
At Ella Brennan’s Commander’s Palace in the Garden District, they savored the famous gumbo and oyster stew.
At Antoine’s, the venerated French-Creole restaurant of six generations, the menu features pompano en papillote, oysters Rockefeller, and the city’s much-loved eggs Sardou.
When Elgart and Paul are next in the Crescent City, we must recommend the Bon Ton Café with its Cajun dishes. The crawfish etouffee, crawfish bisque, and its shrimp and oyster jambalaya, prepared from Al and Alzina Pierce’s family recipes from long ago.
A red-and-white checkered tablecloth dining room on Magazine Street, where boat calls sound off from the Mississippi River, the Bon Ton Café may be a tad away from the French Quarter, but it’s worth a visit and not to be missed.
Fireworks at Conde Nast!
Rumors are growing with staffers gossiping loud and long that Milady Anna Wintour is on the way out. The departure of the Vogue editor and artistic director for the Conde Nast publications is reported by the New York Post’s Emily Smith. Denials, of course.
If so, the talk surfaces that she may be appointed as the new chairman of the prestigious British Fashion Council.