The Second Coming of Jilly’s

By | on Apr 29, 2021 | No Comments

In the early 2000s, one of Frank Sinatra’s old stomping grounds was reborn when Jilly’s reopened on 41 West 58th Street. For many years, Sinatra and his Rat Pack gang frequented the old place on 256 West 52nd Street, which is now home to the Russian Samovar. They used to hang out there until the ...

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The Wonderfully Wacky World of Fernando Arrabal

By | on Apr 27, 2021 | No Comments

Fernando Arrabal, the Spanish playwright, poet, and film director, is one of the wackiest and zaniest people I’ve ever met. Best known for co-founding the Panic Movement—a group of surreal and chaotic performance artists inspired by the god Pan who were pushing the envelope where surrealists had left off by shocking audiences with their bold ...

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Jorge Amado and His $250,000 Advance

By | on Apr 16, 2021 | No Comments

To Brazilians, the name Jorge Amado is to literature what Antonio Carlos Jobim is to Bossa Nova. In a career spanning 70 years that included 32 books, millions of sold copies, and translations in over 50 countries, Amado is often referred to as the “Pelé of the written word.” Best known for his three novels, ...

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Murder, He Wrote

By | on Apr 14, 2021 | No Comments

Some of my most memorable encounters at Trattoria Dell’Arte happened serendipitously. Like the time I met Abe Feder, one of America’s first modern “lighting designers” who devoted himself to a life of illumination lighting virtually everything he touched, including the Broadway theater, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Empire State Building. Or the time ...

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The Financier and His Attorney

By | on Apr 10, 2021 | No Comments

Victor Posner, without a doubt, was the nastiest and the most corrupt financier I have ever met. He took corporate malfeasance to new heights, shamelessly plundering the companies he bought and sold like collectible baseball cards, with little regard or sympathy for the people who devoted their lives to building those now-bankrupt businesses. Posner didn’t ...

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Looking for Gay

By | on Apr 7, 2021 | No Comments

Ever since I read Gay Talese’s collection of nonfiction writings in Fame and Obscurity, he has been one of my favorite authors. His meticulous attention to detail and deft, almost artisanal approach to selecting the ideal words or phrases to characterize the people or settings that were his topic were frequently arresting—layered but straightforward, and ...

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A Beautiful and Brainy Woman

By | on Apr 4, 2021 | No Comments

Hedy Lamarr was one of the most glamorous Hollywood film stars of the 30s and 40s. She was born in Vienna, Austria, and rose to fame as one of MGM’s most well-known actresses, starring alongside actors like Spencer Tracy, Robert Taylor, Charles Boyer, Spencer Tracy, and Clark Gable, as well as other leading males. But few ...

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No Ordinary Man

By | on Apr 2, 2021 | No Comments

Meyer Lansky had to be the most fascinating yet enigmatic person I’ve ever encountered. An infamous and prominent organized crime figure who emerged during the first half of the 20th Century, Lansky was a shrewd businessman known for his keen financial acumen. He was often referred to as the “Mob’s Accountant.” Along with his associate ...

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