"They went to Elaine's every night, then they came home and went to Europe!"
This is young Danny Jenkins explaining to a pal what it was like for him, his brother and sister to be raised in New York City with famed sports writer dad, Dan Jenkins and food expert June Jenkins for parents.
•Now Dan, well known for what I call his chicken-fried steak writing and his 11 novels and his nine non fictions, has decided to do what he calls "a Semi-Memoir," titled His Ownself. Doubleday is proudly bringing this out, reminding us of Dan's books made into movies, most famously: "Semi-Tough"..."Dead Solid Perfect"...and "Baja Oklahoma."
New York nightlife for the literary set, centered around Elaine's restaurant up in the 80's/90's on Second Avenue, practically never recovered when Dan and June decided to desert and go back home to Texas.
•This was in another time but it's fun to look back on it. When a new book comes in the mail with an inscription that reads: "To Liz an American treasure..." well, I have to admit I'm flattered and I sat right down to read it. Much of this book is about Dan's love affair with, not only June Jenkins, but with the art of golf. And his mentor the great Ben Hogan.
Where I come into Dan's life is with the unlikely coincidence that I, too, hailed originally from Fort Worth, Texas and I had attended and graduated from Pascal High School sometime before Dan and his sidekick writer, Bud Shrake, became its best-known alums. When we ended up in the 1960's all working on Sports Illustrated magazine, Dan and Bud became my idols. They treated me with the deference I deserved for my sports ignorance and tried to help me and bring me along as I covered "the soft side of sports" for a magazine that did us all a lot of good. We remained pals ever after.
Dan and I sort of remember all the same things about Fort Worth, called Cowtown. When we began hanging in New York with the likes of Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, Bruce Jay Friedman, Gore Vidal, Gay Talese, Pete Hamill, Truman Capote and the like, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Dan and Bud and I stayed friends and Dan was always describing himself as a "conservative" and calling Bud and me "Communists."
Dan became "famous-er and famous-er" and one time when I was introducing him in Fort Worth for some honor or other, I recall being followed by Sally Jenkins, his prizewinner writer daughter. Sally said that introducing her father seemed to her to be like Frank Sinatra, Jr. introducing his own father.
What I loved was reminiscing about the good old days on Time, Inc. expense accounts when all of us "writers" flew First Class around the world and these guys helped me to become a reporter. Those were the days when fanciful expense accounts arrived and were paid without question for guys who were enjoying wine, women and song and had sometimes thrown their typewriters out the window and then put them down on paper for Time, Inc.'s unquestioning accountants. I also love it that when I read Dan Jenkins, I am always stumbling across memories of Texas I had forgotten -- like the glamour of the 1936 Centennial when Fort Worth put Dallas to shame by hiring Billy Rose to bring the top titans of show biz down to the Casa Mañana. I am talking big stars like Paul Whiteman Orchestra and Sally Rand who did her fan dance under the Texas skies.
I see I put too many inserts into pages of Dan's His Ownself to go back and resurrect all these stories. Just do yourself a favor and buy the book. Nobody writes like Dan Jenkins -- oh, and he used to laugh fit to kill when questioning me about my "sports" background for Sports Illustrated. He says I once defended myself by saying, "I do too know a lot about football. Why I remember when the Daggett quarter back, the soon to be famous Bobby Layne, ran out of bounds and fell on my Bobby, breaking my brother's leg!"
•As all fabulous things must, HBO's Game of Thrones has made it to the cover of Vanity Fair, in anticipation of its fourth, highly-awaited season on April 6th.
On Tuesday, March 18th, HBO will premiere the first hour-long episode of Game of Thrones at Avery Fisher Hall. It's bound to be quite a night. HBO has rounded up what appears to be a good deal of the still-living cast members (in terms of their fictional characters), including breakout star, Emmy winner Peter Dinklage (the bad boy prince we love to love)...Lena Headey (the evil queen we love to hate)...Emilia Clarke (the blonde chick with the bad temper and the dragons) and the great Diana Rigg. (Not quite sure if Miss Rigg is good or bad, but she devours every scene she's in!)
HBO is riding high. Their True Detective was so eagerly watched, several online sites crashed. Season 2 will arrive all in good time (Cable loves to make its subscribers suffer for a year between seasons.) But it won't star Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. True Detective is an anthology series, so it'll be a new set of protagonists next time. Well, one certainly can't expect busy movie stars like Matthew and Woody to commit themselves for more than a year. Especially after McConaughhey's recent Oscar. He has to strike while the iron is red-hot.
•Apparently addiction to Justin Bieber is worse than the hard stuff. Former Disney princess Selena Gomez entered rehab a while back to shake off, among other things, Mr. Bieber. But she's on the mainline again, with Justin, in Texas, practicing "dance moves." Well, she's 21 and there's no use in talk to her.
The video clips released from Justin's legal deposition, regarding his bodyguard supposedly beating up a photographer, are mind-boggling. He's utterly arrogant and smug and chiding (he wags his finger at one point when asked about Miss Gomez, by the accuser's lawyer, finally storming out.) But before that he, adjusts his shirt and collar for the camera several times and even winks -- aren't I cute, he seems to suggest?
Yes in fact you are. But I could fill this column with the names of the formerly cute who wonder where it went and how did it go so wrong? If they are even still here to wonder.
Bieber likens himself to Michael Jackson. Aside from matters of talent, Michael was always incredibly polite, even under the most grueling circumstances. So was Elvis.
•I don't personally find much of the current popular art in the world to be quite as compelling as what used to be called art. But I do find the work of Gloria Vanderbilt to be astounding. Great age should sit on all of us the way it does on Gloria who is still going strong
after a lifetime in the headlines, newspapers and books.
She is still one of the most beautiful women in New York -- born an heiress to a grand name via her mother...a mere child in a celebrated custody case...a socialite before her brief marriage to a Hollywood name, an actress when I first met her in the Sixties, a poet, a member of a compelling three-famous-girls friendship (Gloria, Oona O'Neill and Carol Saroyan), a May-December marriage to conductor Leopold Stokowski, an on-going novelist, a successful designer of blue jeans, a marriage to the movie director Sidney Lumet, and a last happy marriage to writer Wyatt Çooper, four sons and a hot comeback as a unique personal artist. (Only a few years ago she wrote a novel every bit as sexy as the Shades of Gray hit.)
Her art work titled The Left Hand is the Dreamer -- works in gouache, collage and pastel -- can be seen now at the 1stdibs Gallery through March 28th. That is on the 10th floor at 200 Lexington Ave.