14 April 2011

Gay Talese & Shirt Boards

Esquire Magazine's Best of 40 Years

Talese and Thomas Wolfe

The Talese Gate
The Shirt Boards

Five minutes early so I walk past the gate to his four story townhouse and stand on a corner. A cab pulls up for a fare but I shake my head. I pull out my phone and pretend to read an email. I feel like I'm staring at my navel. Put the phone away and walk past the house again. Two more minutes to go. I've never met Gay Talese but have seen him in the neighborhood more than once. First you see the hat and then the swagger. He's hard to miss.

Talese asks if I want something to drink. "Water? Maybe a Scotch?" "I'll have whatever you're having." I say. "I don't drink in the afternoon." he smiles and his eyes crinkle. It's 5PM on a Saturday that feels more like late November than late March. "Water is fine." I tell him. Talese leaves and I stand by two leather tufted sofas that could stand some saddle soap. A formal dining room is to my left and the fireplace surrounded by books reminds me of the other writer who lives here.

Talese returns with a cold bottle of Pellegrino and two white wine glasses. We sit down at opposing sofas and he crosses his legs. He's in amazing shape and I later learn, at 79, he still works out. More for me to feel bad about.

Highly polished black loafers are, I'm guessing, Bally. Dark gray trousers with a cuff not quite two inches but almost. A waistcoat and jacket of the same wool plaid in dark blood red. Purple and blue stripes on a white shirt frame his face and an Hermes-green tie of some early vintage and narrow width blossoms from his neck. A small, almost feminine, gold watch on his left wrist reminds me that Italians are almost always too studied. But it suits him to the ground. I think of the camera in my jacket pocket but don't have the guts to ask for a picture.

Gay Talese talks in a voice that is fast-slow metered and dry like dead Summer pine needles. We're 20 minutes into the interview before I realize the tape recorder isn't on. He's like a skilled salesman who overcomes objections before you ask them - For every one question I ask - Talese answers nine more on my list. His right profile suggests John Slattery, the silver haired Roger Sterling from Mad Men.

Near the end of the interview, I ask him about the shirt boards he cuts up for note taking. Gay pulls a couple from inside his jacket and hands them to me. "Here. Keep a couple." Talese smiles when I see the one with my name on it.

The Gay Talese interview will appear in a magazine due for release this Fall.

14 comments:

brohammas said...

SO he pre-autographed a shirt board with your name? smooooth.

Nicely done on the interview.

Barima said...

What I like about Talese is that he doesn't only own his look, but his lifestyle, also

All best,

B

Oyster Guy said...

While I firmly believe that the unexamined life is not worth living, I would never, ever desire the microscope that Talese has built and turned on himself. I admire his courage and his wife's even more so. A lucky,lucky man.

Anonymous said...

Did he show you the shirt board for "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold?"
It looks like a piece of art.

I can't wait to read this interview, such an interesting and talented man. Great work in getting this interview.

Also, glad to see you turned people onto Wolfe.

Lastly, I took your suggestion and and picked up a couple Mercers. Wonderful shirts.

--Matthew

Anonymous said...

What interview? All TinTin has told us is what Talese was wearing. More to come, I presume?

Enzo AGC said...

Hard to imagine Gay wearing madras in real life.

Really glad this worked out and I can't wait for the interview.

AKC

Anonymous said...

Bad ass posts lately. You're kicking that Michael William's ass these days.

Alice Olive said...

That's pretty cool.

Unclelooney said...

Why isn't Louis L'amour on that cover?

Scale Worm said...

Thank you, but I want more!
Well done, and again, sincerely, Thank you.

Jeff P. said...

Can't wait!

TRAWETS NILTGEOV said...

Too bad Esq doesn't consider/cater to that caliber of man any longer. I don't know what's worse: men that still read the mag, or men that are featured in it.

Anonymous said...

What's up everyone - I'm a brand-new member on this here message board and I reckon I ought to mention a couple things about myself. First off, I am 20 years old, a girl, plus I study french in my uni. I truly look forward talking with you people... Au revoir!

Harris Reiss said...

I was walking down 2nd Ave/60th St on a hot Summer day in 98. I looked to my right had one of many Gay talese sightings. We said hello and he asked me if i had any Polish vodka in the water bottle I was carrying. I kick myself for not taking him to the bar to the left and buying him a drink.