I love this Apple story, because its one of those great corporate intrigue tales that will make for a fabulous book in a few years. Tonight I finished a book about the old intrigues, a book on the history of Atlantic City and a nightclub owner who defined its peak. I spent a few days in AC many years ago, and found it one of the most hideously depressing places Id ever seen. Vegas without the genteel grace and charm. Three blocks off the boardwalk the town fell apart, and youd see the façade of a 60s nightclub long dead, an empty lot, a toothess block, a sad grimy White Tower serving desiccated eggs to scabby-armed bums. Outside the casino doors, this big dumb roaring beast of the sea pawing the shore. I could not wait to leave. Wrote a piece about it. Got a harrumphing letter from the city. Standard operating procedure; whack the messenger.
Anyway. The book concerns the rise and decline of Skinny DAmato, and the author 2/3rds of the way into the story gives us this description:
Skinnys whole look and style the way he held a cigarette in his mouth and closed one eye every time he took a drag, the custom suits, the expensive watch as the only piece of jewelry, the silk pocket square, the suede loaders, the light, clear scent (which was, in fact, Jean Nate, a womans perfume), the skill with a deck of cards, his neat trick of being able to spin a matchbook on its corners, the crooked, sly smile, the twitch to his lip when he was thinking, the huge tips, the way he gracefully put his arm around everyone his whole low-key, good-time affect, really, was the essence of cool. It was a way of life that Skinnys famous friends exaggerated, commodified, and sold to the world.
Nice. Given who Skinny counted as his friends Sinatra, Dean Martin, ancillary Rat Pack members the authors probably right about Skinnys influence. Sinatra plays a large role in the book, and reminds me again how much I dont like the man. And how that extends to his music. Theres something false and seductive about being a modern-day Sinatra fan, and by fan I mean someone who thinks they can get a few photons of reflected coolness by conspicuously immersing himself in the Capitol oeuvre, with all its world-wearing romantic rue and barroom charm. Its close to Tony Soprano Syndrome, where middle-aged guys think that if the opportunity arose, Tone might give them a casual how-ya-doin or nod brisk approval across a restaurant. The same old Mafia Chic. And I say this as a big Sopranos fan who loves the show and has substantial investment in the characters, and also believes that cosmic justice requires Uncle June to take a pill in the back of the head. (I wrote a long time ago about the inevitable end of the series: Tony has to die. Keeping that plot point secret will be tough; if the producers are smart theyll leak the news now, let it perc for a month, then start making noises about a movie.)
The Rat Pack Myth works best from a distance, preferably 1500 miles and 30 years; you dont see them feel up the hat check girl, kick the waiter (or have him kicked), or stare with vacant eyes from the bottom of whatever well of drunkenness they toppled into that night. We cut them slack because they wore cool suits and had short hair and smoked a lot and one of the spoke ever-so-cultured, and because they either slept with a Kennedy or pimped for one. Mafia Chic requires the same removal from the scene. The Sopranos is better than most depictions of that thing of theirs, but were still required to care about Carmellas moral quandaries, which occupy the same moral plane as Eva Brauns bunions.
Oh, crap. Its eleven oclock, and I have to write a column. Amuse yourself with this link. Via Andrew Sullivan: Passed Out Wookies.
Before the internet, such a sentence would make no sense.
Perm link: here.