The story that killed Truman

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Truman Capote when he was just 23 (1947).

Monday, February 5, 2024. Yesterday was a sunny Sunday. Bright and beautiful despite the bare trees and gardens. Blue skies. Nevertheless, the Sun said it all. You could see the difference on the way people were walking. We haven’t had a day like that in weeks. Sweet Sunday.

A number of friends have mentioned the new series, Feud: Capote vs. The Swans, based on Truman Capote’s short story in Esquire in the 1970s. I happened to read it at the time; very good gossip it was. Esquire’s editor-in-chief Harold Hayes made it an intelligent read and the kind of gossip that turns out to be true. The kind that ends up as history. Of which we can never quite be perfectly sure. Lee Harvey Oswald, anybody? 

But Capote was smart. He came from nowhere and had been abandoned by his parents in childhood. After that, everything else is a story that has several effects on all of us, having been children once upon a time. Truman was always the child, always listening, always looking, always wondering. And there was a reward for you, dear reader.

What he told us about those “girls” — who I hear are not too brilliantly cast in this series — was that they played for keeps. Yes, and very chic when going to lunch. They were the stars of their generation, which came from the turn of century parents. They were 20th century modern women.

The one thing they all needed was … money. Just like the rest of us. They had a sixth sense and were out to look at and know what that emerald was worth. Truman gave them all that in his story. You could almost see the scene of tables in the restaurant, since several were boldfaced names. 

Ann and William Woodward, Jr. during happier times.

It was lunchtime cocktail talk at La Côte Basque, sometimes haha, sometimes whisper. But it was also matter-of-fact, what it was like in the end: Ann Woodward killed him. Everyone who was at that dinner party that night which was also on the same property where the Woodwards spent weekends, knew who and why. 

They knew it at the dinner party. He had a girlfriend and was seriously leaving. He was her bread and butter. A girl from nowhere who’d come to New York for the same reason millions of us come to New York: to make her way in life. Big time. 

And she did. And when she died and the story came out in the national press, her elderly father, a farmer in the Midwest who hadn’t seen her in a lifetime, was quoted as saying he thought his daughter was Bobo Rockefeller. 

She’d left the planet that night after the dinner party. And that was it for Truman. Although he did show them all a good time, as he did for us readers, before they left.

Capote, 33 years later.

Sunday afternoon. Reading in the financial pages, always looking to learn, I came upon this, the late great and wise John Kenneth Galbraith writing about financial markets:

“Those involved with the speculation are experiencing an increase in wealth — getting rich or being further enriched. No one wishes to believe that this is fortuitous or undeserved; all wish to think that it is the result of their own superior insight or intuition. As long as they are in, they have a strong pecuniary commitment to belief in the unique personal intelligence that tells them there will be yet more. 

Accordingly, possession must be associated with some special genius. Speculation buys up, in a very practical way, the intelligence of those involved. Only after the speculative collapse does the truth emerge. What was thought to be unusual acuity turns out to be only a fortuitous and unfortunate association with the assets.” from his book “A Short History of Financial Euphoria.”    

Moving right along. I love this photo. It says it all and it’s all good news to bear in mind: I was so mesmerized I don’t recall where I found this. It’s a beauty for us all. Everything/everyone in it:

“­This 2,000-year-old baobab tree is located at Zwigodini Village of Mutale in Limpopo, South Africa. Venda people call it ‘Muri Kunguluwa,’ which means ‘The Tree That Roars.’ The tree actually makes a roaring sound when the wind blows through its branches. 

It is also called, ‘The Tree Of Life,’ because it serves as a source of life to the animals and the community that live around it. 80% of its trunk consists of water and it can hold up to 4,500 liters, making it a water source for the community and the animals.

Elephants eat the bark. Baboons eat the fruit. Leaves can also be eaten. Birds, bees, fruit bats and bush babies nest in the tree. Humans use the dried fruit powder in drinks, as a source of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. The bark can be used to make rope, baskets, mats, cloth and paper. It also holds a spiritual significance for African people. In ancient times, leaders and elders would hold meetings under huge baobab trees to discuss important matters. They believed that the spirit of the baobab would help them make wise decisions.”

(I believe them.)

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