Whatever happened to the old New York?

The NY Observer marks a week in which not a single inhabitant of the Big Apple was murdered. Good news, although the paper’s review of the new Norman Mailer biography does leave you hankering for the days when the city was that tiny bit edgier. I mean, how many writers host soirées like this nowadays?

The party was, in Mr. Lennon’s words, “the worst night of [Mailer’s] life,” though one must imagine it was worse for Adele. Mild-mannered Allen Ginsberg called Norman Podhoretz a “big dumb fuckhead.” A crasher “wrapped in bandages” tried to convince George Plimpton he had been a victim of police brutality. Meanwhile, a highly inebriated Mailer was stalking the room, staring people down and inviting them to go downstairs into the street to fight. Adele was also drunk and made a “fag crack” (Mailer’s words) at her husband. Tensions rose, and, early the next morning, Mailer stabbed Adele twice with a penknife, the one he used to clean his nails, once in the back and once in the chest, barely missing her heart. The next day, he formally announced in a taped interview with Mike Wallace that he would be running for mayor of New York on his own “Existentialist Ticket.”

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