Brooklyn recently went to a Tom Wolfe chin-music recital in New York. And my reaction was: you couldn’t drag me to a Tom Wolfe reading for all the smack in China. Not even if the opening act was a mud-wrestling grudge-match between Erica Jong and Susan Sontag.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Wolfe is a fantastic writer. He’s fab & gear & smack-a-delic to the max. I love the way he teased Marshall McLuhan for McLuhan’s cheezy clip-on tie. With the little plastic cheaters sticking out of the collar. The kind of goofy cheez-artifacts that they used to have hanging from those rotating racks at Rexall drug stores. (Marshall McLuhan. Now there was a pedantic pseudo-mystical bullshit-monger if there ever was one. Ya know that old joke about how the Irish gave the bagpipes to the Scotch as a gag-gift? And that the Scotch still haven’t caught on to the joke? Well that’s what McLuhan was. Another Irish whoopee-cushion. But at least Wolfe was sport enough to play along with the joke.)
The Acid Test book was marvelous. Ya gotta admire the sheer weirdness of someone who would dive into that whole LSD cult without once taking LSD himself. You can always count on Tom for humoristical eloquence. Here he is on the architect Le Corbusier: “Le Corbusier was the sort of relentlessly rational intellectual that only France loves wholeheartedly, the logician who flies higher and higher in ever-decreasing circles until, with one last utterly inevitable induction, he disappears up his own fundamental aperture and emerges in the fourth dimension as a needle-thin umber bird.”
But when all is said and done, I gotta admit it. I really can’t say that I like Tom Wolfe as a person. And it’s not because of his inconceivably faggy clothes. With those high collars that look so scratchy & uncomfortable. And it’s not because he flirted with negrophobia in “Bonfire”. And it’s not because he indulged his anglophobia in “Bonfire”. (It featured two slimey-limeys. One of them was a drunken hack journalist. The other one was a leaching buffoonish gasbag of a poet. Who was also an AIDS-infected homo for good measure.)
I’m sorry but I’m really not offended by any of that. No. What really makes me hate Tom Wolfe is something he said in his piece about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: “the unspeakable and inconfessible goal of the New Left on the campuses had been to transform the shame of the fearful into the guilt of the courageous”. In other words, if you’re a draft-dodger or a war-protester then you’re a cowardly faggot. This is Tom Wolfe’s way of ingratiating himself with the patriotic German shithead who stabbed Monica Seles for the greater glory of Steffi Graf’s Thousand-Year Reich. And notice how Wolfe smears the epithet “New Left” on anybody who just happens to object to military slavery or American intervention in an Asian civil war.
Author: Cooper Ward
Cooper Ward hails from Lake Plains, IL, which he describes as “the flattest place east of Nebraska.” He enjoys watching cooking shows and listening to semi-classical music.