I've never liked Donald Trump and for
good reason. In 1980 he purchased the
Bonwit Teller building located on Fifth
at 56th. As the wrecking ball loomed,
he promised to donate it's deco reliefs
of ladies dancing to the Met. However
a few days later, they were destroyed
by his worker's jackhammers. Yet that
wasn't his greatest crime. In 1989 after
purchasing the Plaza Hotel, Donald
deemed it's Trader Vic's nestled deep
in the basement "tacky." And quickly
thereafter replaced it with a health club.
It may seem petty to harbor resentment
over long ago errors in judgement. But
Mr. Trump has repeatedly destroyed the
cherished architectural icons of my youth.
Only to replace them with glitzy mounds
of no lasting consequence. In my opinion
his greatest crime is a lack of good taste.
And given Donald continues to reside in
the most awful of gilded cages, he still
displays an obvious lack of decorative
decorum. Thus for that reason alone, this
bon vivant could never vote for the man
who snuffed out my beloved tiki torch.
Kitsch me please
Obviously Trader Vic's was tacky.
However that's what made it all the
more fabulous. Climbing down the
stairs across from the Oak Bar was
like entering an ancient tomb. There
below lay a treasure trove of rattan
wonders - all gently coated by a thin
layer of dust and grime. Within it's
murky depths one could nibble upon
pu pu (as in platter) or suck on some
suffering bastard (as in cocktail kids.)
As the city that never slept lay above,
one lolled amidst tropical trappings.
Starting in the thirties "Polynesian"
became popular. Post World War II
returning vets yearned for a taste of
the islands they'd left behind. Soon
hundreds of tropical grottos served
up the same formula - menus filled
with a pastiche of Chinese, Indian,
and Japanese cuisine. Plus pages of
heady concoctions guaranteed to
sneak up on you. At one time there
were over thirty Trader Vic's in the
U.S. alone. Now only two dish poi
near San Francisco and Atlanta.
More is more
As some of you know, we consider our
time as residents of Columbus Ohio as
not among our greatest of hours. Yet
nestled within it's midwestern monotony
was a treasure of treasures - Kahiki! This
amazing eatery looked as if a Polynesian
space ship had landed in the middle of a
sea of macadam. After crossing a bridge
above a chlorinated moat one entered a
soaring space decorated a la Easter Island.
Frankly post passing that portal I recall
little more. That is probably due to the
fact that one invariably exited shit faced.
Is Mai Tai straight?
One of the most unique characteristics of
these establishments were their cocktails.
All consisted of crazy concoctions. Each
identified by a seemingly innocent moniker.
Hence one had no idea what they were in
fact drinking beneath that paper parasol.
Somehow such a light hearted approach to
consumption lulled one into a false state of
security. When in truth, after two or three
one's risk of alcohol poisoning increased
beyond human reason. Yet in those days
before designated drivers we somehow
always got home. And forgot everything.
Brew ha ha
Years ago Frank and I took a snobbish
acquaintance to our favorite Chinese
restaurant. Quickly I ordered up three
massive Mai Tais. For those of you
unfamiliar with this magical elixir - its
the adult equivalent of Hawaiian Punch!
Soon thereafter she rolled her Botoxed
eyes and proclaimed our repast "banal."
Given I find little more distasteful than
hosting someone incapable of enjoying
the moment - that was the last straw.
Thus post dumping her off into her
doorman's care, we never spoke again.
At times everyone needs a dose of kitsch.
If for no other reason than that it distracts
one from the harsh realities of modern life,
Thus I find the idea of someone deeming
such escapism as "tacky" beyond offensive.
Just because one flies by in a gold plated
jet doesn't make them an authority on taste.
In truth there is nothing more distasteful
than not keeping your promises. Thus for
years I've written Donald Trump off as a
bourgeois bully. Which makes me think of
my Mai Tai maiden. For once we agree that
some people are nothing but "BANAL."