The Breakfast Table

Ballot Splitting

Dearest Stephen–

I share your election malaise. But let me say there is some connection between Alphone and Signora Gucci. Both seem oddly vulnerable now–her with the scheming adventuress psychic and Alphonse with his frail mother.

I like you split my ballot. I’m quite fond of Pataki because of his support for the arts. Actually I was at the governor’s Arts Awards this year when Frank Stella said that the New York government surplus should all go to abstract painters. My feeling is this is the right direction. By now I think they would have a better idea of what to do with the budget than most.

At first I was quite elated by the defeat of D’Amato especially because of his anti-choice stand. I felt that little click of democracy at work. But now six hours later the landscape seems the same. A political dynasty and some country-club Republicans have emerged, the senator in Illinois who defeated Brown is anti-choice, the Democrats are celebrating because they seem to have caught on to the country’s ultimate irritation with the Republicans, and Newt is telling press conferences that he is concerned. Somehow it does seem more of the same except for Maureen Dowd’s perception that there could be a Bush-Bush ticket. Do you think I could run with my brother Bruce?

I do agree with you that ultimately the Guccis capture the imagination more. And certainly the situation in Saggaponack is crucial. I’m sure you’ve read about the waste dump king who is building the largest private residence in the country, or at least one of them, on oceanfront potato fields. Because the town of Southampton said he was within their zoning laws to do this, the good second residents of Saggaponack want to seccede. Of course the question comes up what of what they did to the original potato farmers to begin with. Maybe there will be a battle of the Hamptons. BMW against BMW. Certainly everyone there is fit enough to fit a battle.

I went to Dartmouth to use the library and to plan to go back and write there. Of course in New Hampshire there are giant signs that say “Live Free or Die.” Hanover is a democratic semi-oasis in that state, although the conservative Dartmouth Review remains apparently quite powerful. When I came to my conclusion that after the election everything seems the same as it was 25 years ago, I looked around Dartmouth and thought not really. At least this wasn’t a world of 4000 men. When I was an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke I had a fix-up date with someone at Dartmouth named “Sex Larson.” I do think the disparity between the sexes is one of the largest changes in the last quarter of this century. Well, in a border sense maybe sexual politics is the largest change in this quarter of the century–that and the information revolution, which I am obviously not at the forefront of. Oh, Stephen, I never read so many papers either. But the Boston Globe makes a very good case this morning for the joys of New Hampshire versus the Manhattanization of Vermont. Did you know the one registered socialist in Congress is from Vermont? Actually he was originally from Brooklyn.

I am off to speak to DeWitt Clinton High School seniors about the joys of the theater. Speak to you later.