Liz Smith: We’ll Try to Stay Off Politics

“Malice is not acceptable, hatred is,” said Martha Gellhorn who was one of Ernest Hemingway’s most intelligent wives.

Oh, I don’t know. Hatred is a terrible emotion.

OKAY, let’s give up commenting on politics and the Presidential election until after November 6th.

We don’t want to be accused of “hatred” or “unfairness” or “intolerance”and make David Patrick Columbia have to back us up even though he is willing to.  I don’t like it when people get mad at my pal David.

So, some people want me to stick to gossip but frankly, I can’t.  There isn’t any gossip right now worth going on about.  At least, the political game has been lively and the principal players are all fascinating, even the ones I find kind of weird.

PLAYBOY this month contains a long, fascinating interview with the British writer of all those quintessentially American Jack Reacher thrillers, Lee Child. 

Mr. Child professes himself very pleased indeed with the choice of Tom Cruise to play his wandering hero. (He thinks the outraged fans should calm down.)   And here’s what he says when asked, since his novels all take place in the USA, does he feel a sense of patriotism toward this country? “Being an immigrant I’m immensely patriotic about America.  First of all I love the diversity of people.  This is a mongrel race, and you find tremendous vitality in that … even if somebody’s not beautiful, they’re vivid — dark skin or big dramatic eyes.  Americans are much more vital than the inbred, pasty-faced people of Britain.

“But most of all what I love about America is that there’s a strand of decency and normality in almost everyone.  Generally speaking, Americans are full of kindness and generosity and goodwill.”

Nice. Very nice.  But apparently Mr. Child hasn’t been around too many politicians.

SHORT SHOTS:  Kevin Costner, who works when he wants, in what wants, in any medium, and in roles of any size, will star and direct a thriller about a Secret Service agent. Right now, I can tell you it will be long.  When I spoke to Costner  a few years ago, he shrugged off criticism that his movies had “too much plot.”  He said,  “As far as I’m concerned, there can never be ‘too much plot’ …

Gwyneth Patrow to make a movie about about the great 1980′s super girl-group, The Go-Go’s?  Well, she can sing, but let’s hope this is a less depressing experience than her ill-fated attempt at playing some ersatz combo of Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette in “Country Strong.” …

Finally, according to In Touch magazine, that puny vampire version of Elizabeth and Richard, Rob Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, have reconciled.  Maybe it was con job, all along?

SO, TODAY we’ll consider some history. And it happened not so very many moons ago, back in the late 20th century.

You do remember the Duke and Duchess of Windsor who spent their time, after he abdicated the British throne, traveling around the world to international watering spots and visiting on everybody else’s dime whenever they could.

After World War II, the Duke and Duchess were regulars in late El Morocco/Stork Club society just before it cratered.  They had to stay somewhere in keeping with their station and so they always tried to be in the Waldorf  Towers.  When they came to New York, they would invariably be invited out for dinner somewhere they didn’t have to pay.

The Duke was confiding to Bill Fine who was running a cosmetic company. He complained that the Waldorf was too expensive. “It costs so much money plus tip for the Duchess and me to have coffee and toast each morning.”  He went on to tell Mr. Fine that one morning he had walked down to the Lexington Avenue Drug Store  to check on their breakfast plan.

There, the counter man said to the man who had been King of England, “Ain’t you the Duke?”  When the Duke fessed up, he told the counterman his problem. It was costing at least $25.00 for two people to have coffee and toast in the hotel. (Those were the days!)

The latter exclaimed, “Relax, Duke. The Drugstore will deliver coffee and toast to the Waldorf Towers” for only $10.  And, that, exulted the Duke of Windsor is how he and the Duchess began to have breakfast in their fancy hotel for only a few bucks.

WHAT THE heck is this?

Referring to the large white “thing” my friend Kevan Kenney discovered in the high grass near his house in Saddle River, New Jersey.

I was amazed at this big whitish “watermelon.” It turns out that calvatia gigantea can be found popping up in the fall, early to mid October, and it is a “fruiting” body of fungus.  It is a giant puffball and can grow to three feet in diameter. These form large circles, or “fairy rings” in the woods.

Experts claim you can cut them in strips, fry them and they are delicious. But wild mushrooms and fungi can be poisonous, so I wouldn’t advise such a thing.  But they are not alien pods.  So relax all you “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” fans.

COMES word that our favorite person in all of Mayor Bloomberg’s NYC office is one, Megan Sheekey. Just about the most wonderful “official someone” I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Megan is wed to music and sound designer Shelby Gaines and the two of them welcomed a new baby, Rosie, born on September 29th.

With three-year-old sister Lucy Bo and one-and-a-half year-old Belle, things are very busy in the Sheekey/Gaines household. Congratulations and welcome to Rosie!

This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 10/4/12

One comment so far.

  1. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Hilarious about the Duke of Windsor. But you know, $10 was not really cheap back then. But cheaper than the Waldorf.  They really were the first “rent-a-royals” but even former kings of England have to watch the money. Of course today they would both be on television pitching things. Imagine her as the Weight Watchers spokesperson.  “One can never be too rich. Or too thin…”