But who in the hell will even care about Trump and his Mar-a-Lago 50 years from now?
Hearing of the deaths of Carrie Fisher, her mother, Debbie Reynolds, Zsa Zsa Gabor and other famous celebrities recently and especially all the talk about Palm Beach and the oh, so private and exclusive Mar-a-Lago these days and the “great Donald Trump,” takes me back to memories of my band and singing days at famous places and private parties of celebrities and high society, especially in Palm Beach. The high falutin’ grandiose put ons have never changed.
Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach
All during 2016 we saw tens of thousands of people lined up for many hours to attend and/or see Trump and his multi-multi million dollar plane land at his rallies. He carried on then and still does like he is some kind of god. Likewise for personal appearances of a lot of famous people, as if they are some kind of god from outer space or somewhere and are so greatly important. When, in all actuality, we humans are all built exactly alike, physically, and have to perform the same daily duties, whether on gold plated toilet seats or mere plastic.
Mar-A-Lago back view
Tickets to these celebrity events and/or a “look see” these days amount to hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. But some people eat it up. Lately, there was a piece about Trump’s sons, whereas a sizable contribution would bring a private audience with THE Donald. Wow!!!
My first glimpse of the phenomenon that may be called being ga ga over seeing celebrities began for me in the early ’50s, when I first moved to New York. Free attendance to radio and early television shows was my introduction to the celebrities of the day. Speaking of Carrie Fisher, her dad, Eddie Fisher, big and famous, was doing his live TV show in a theater just south of Radio City Music Hall, and I was at the dress rehearsal just before the live air show. He didn’t have a good ear for musical time and missed a couple beats on song in the rehearsal. Nobody said anything, but I heard it. I thought sure he would goof up the same on the air. So during the break just before air time, I introduced myself and we chatted about the both of us singing with the Army bands; him in DC and me in Atlanta (Third Army). We were both drafted about the same time. Then I mentioned the goof and sang the line and counted it for him. He thanked me and damn if he didn’t sing it right on the live show. All the big names, including Eddie, had their professional photos done at James Kriegsman in New York. I wasn’t a big name but I scraped the forty bucks together and had my next photo shoot there and I struck a pose just like Eddie and his poses.
I’ll never forget the words of my first bandleader I worked with in New York at that time, Harry Settle. He would always say about any situation, “It don’t matter. Fifty years from now, we’ll all be downstairs.” And there was always a laugh or two over that. Oh, but how true about fifty years from now. Who’s gonna care? And what about a hundred? Totally ancient history.
In the winter of 1956, I was fortunate enough to have a winter job in Palm Beach singing and playing at THE place in Palm Beach, Nino’s Continental Restaurant’s Moulin Rouge Room on fabulous Worth Avenue.
Worth Avenue 1950’s
Worth Avenue today
Everyone who was anyone came there. The highest of high society, and the richest and biggest names with big money. And I got to see first hand how they came and danced the two step, got drunk and pigged out just like the rest of us do. The only difference was that they all had a “few” more multi-millions than the rest of us, and apparently loved to display that fact. Us lowly ones with little or no money would never see the inside of those places, nor be able to lay out the funds for the great expensive entrees of “Chef What’s His Name.” But fortunately, I was getting paid to play music and witness the events for that whole winter. By the way, musicians usually don’t miss a trick while playing and viewing the audience. We see it all.
Speaking of Zsa Zsa Gabor, later back in New York, I’ll never forget playing house parties for her in the Hamptons and sister Eva Gabor on Fifth Avenue. All their celebrity friends were always in attendance with millionaires everywhere, putting on the Ritz. I played private parties everywhere in Manhattan, Westchester County, Jersey, the Island, where you never knew who might show up. I also played and sang in all the big hotels, like the old famous Astor Hotel, the Waldorf, etc. where all the stars camped, and the Plaza, now owned by Trump, and his favorite places like the Four Seasons and not to forget, the 21 Club on 52nd Street. Some might say, “been there, done that.”
By the way, I have to mention that I lived a block from St. Patrick’s Cathedral when I first got to New York, and went every Sunday and kissed the “great” Cardinal Spellman’s ring. Everyone who was anyone had their visit with Spellman, even Presidents Kennedy and Nixon. He was high and mighty and friends with Pope Pius XII and the word was that he wanted to be the next pope.
Kissing NY Cardinal Spellman’s ring was the thing to do
I really didn’t know why but kissing a cardinal’s ring was the thing to do. And I did it because I saw everyone else do it. It was something to write home about. I guess it was some kind of special blessing or something about getting out of Purgatory early. I read “Cardinal Spellman’s Dark Legacy” recently, by Michelangelo Signorile and Spellman really was a gem, and now probably “downstairs,” as my band leader friend would say. Signorile wrote: “The arch-conservative Spellman was the epitome of the self-loathing, closeted, evil queen, working with his good friend, the closeted gay McCarthy henchman Roy Cohn, to undermine liberalism in America during the 1950s’ communist and homosexual witch hunts. The church has squelched Spellman’s not-so-secret gay life quite successfully, most notably by pressuring The New York Times to don the drag of the censor back in the 1980s.” So now, all those years later, knowing what I know about him now, I’m sure a lot of alter boys and chorus boys had to kiss his ass and then some.
There’ a story about a Broadway dancer in the show One Touch of Venus who had a relationship with Spellman back in the 1940s; the prelate would have his limousine pick up the dancer several nights a week and bring him back to his place. When the dancer once asked Spellman how he could get away with this, Spellman answered, “Who would believe that?”
But my main point here is just to say “so what” or another way of putting it, “who cares?” Well said, I believe. The rich used to be known as millionaires, but now, we hear of only billionaires. So here we are now, hearing all about Mar-a-Lago and the billions there in Palm Beach and who owns it and where and how Trump spends every minute with his billions and does his tweets. Next thing you know, he’ll be having everyone kneel and kiss his ring, higher and mightier than any cardinal, or Russian president.
With this in mind, and the newspapers and television channels telling us all about the Trump family, Palm Beach, and Mar-a Lago, I can’t help but remember Harry Settel’s remark, and how Trump, if his billions may be able to keep him alive, will be all of 120 years old if only his billions could keep him alive fifty years from now. But more than likely THE Donald will be long gone. And when his name is mentioned at that time, people most certainly will ask, “Who??” He’ll most probably be “downstairs” with Spellman.
And by the way, I heard that Palm Beach’s Nino’s Continental 50 or so years later is now a parking garage, and I guess he and his famous clientele everyone would read about are all “downstairs,” or at least somewhere, out of sight and out of mind.
And in fact, now, I believe we can truly say “Who in the hell cares???”