Friday at six, martinis straight up with olives. Plymouth or Hendricks. Tanqueray for JA; Bombay for Jim Tate ("lower proof so I can drink more of them"). A couple of eye drop's worth of dry vermouth, preferably Noilly Prat. Mucho hielo. Shake vigorously in a pickle jar. Yes, I know that shaking as opposed to stirring risks "bruising" the gin, and also that you slightly dilute the end product, and frankly my dear I don't give a damn. I like drinking the thing in a y-shaped glass with a floating island of chipped ice on top.
And then we talk.
Marshall McLuhan comes over and says that Obama is the "coolest" US president since JFK. The "hot" presidents were LBJ, Nixon, and Clinton. Carter was neutral. Reagan was "warm." W was mildly cool but only in relation to Al Gore in earth-tone garb.
Woody Allen looks down at the floor as he plays Cole Porter on his clarinet. He is really a very modest fellow.
Kim Novak doesn't have to act. All she has to do is stand there. Ditto Robert Taylor.
The waiter brings over a tray full of Algonquin cocktails. Since I have no pineapple juice, freshly pressed or otherwise, I had to substitute grapefruit juice, and the rye ran out so I used Canadian Club in honor of Don Draper, as follows: one and a half jiggers whiskey, one jigger Noilly Prat dry vermouth, one jigger of grapefruit juice, times two, shaken. "Delicious," Stacey says.
Judy Garland sings: "Our love affair will be such fun, / We'll be the envy of everyone. / Those famous lovers we'll make them forget / From Adam and Eve to Scarlett and Rhett." Lyrics by Arthur Freed, music by Roger Edens.
Jack Benny asks: Has the NEA done anything since Dana Gioia left the helm of the agency?
John Ashbery says that "Jack Benny was my role model."
Jack Benny reminds us that he was born on Valentine's Day. I give him a copy of Self-Portrait in a Coinvex Mirror. He says, "I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either"
In the works are three doctoral dissertations on JA in relation to Mr. Benny's radio show. "Anyone who would understand Ashbery's poetry had better listen to the radio shows of the early 1940s," says Professor McGuffin with the authority of Jacques Barzun on the subject of baseball.
I just thought of a skit featuring Danny Kaye and Bob Hope -- an abbreviated version of Kafka's The Trial. Kaye says he is looking and Hope says he may have to wait a long time. But Hope is useless.
And I don't know. Third base. -- DL
[From the Archives, originally posted September 28, 2012]