Arnon Grunberg



On Rudy – James Wolcott in LRB:

“The contrast between Rudy Then and Rudy Now is so stark that it has produced its own genre of journalism. An ostensible straight arrow from the school of hard knocks, a commando foe of graft and corruption, the younger Giuliani dressed sharp, acted sharp and talked sharp, cutting a clean swathe with a killer grin. Middle age brought out a rounder, preenier side, immortalised in 2000 in a video that showed him sashaying in matronly drag and preening for Donald Trump like a cross between Barbara Cartland and a funeral bouquet, a grotesque flirtation that proved prophetic. These two were fated to be mated. As the courtier, roving fixer and tireless mouthpiece for the Burger King of Palm Beach, Giuliani would relinquish all shame, honour, dignity, self-respect and semblance of continence. According to Maggie Haberman’s Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, he stank up the bathroom on one of Trump’s campaign planes so badly that Trump bellowed, ‘Rudy! That’s fucking disgusting!’ as Rudy hustled back to his seat. Under hot lights his hair dye dribbled as if his head had sprung an oil-can leak. He was nearly caught in a compromising position with a young actress pretending to be underage in the convoluted Borat Subsequent Moviefilm mockumentary.”


“‘His performance on September 11 was a tapestry of inspired leadership and fatal mistakes,’ Kirtzman writes. ‘The public saw only part of the picture that terrible day; the rest was shrouded in adulation for years. He became a living legend, America’s mayor ... It was inconceivable that the legend could have an expiration date.’”


“Judith Nathan was the mistress and Hanover’s successor. Giuliani would announce the dissolution of his marriage in a press conference before he had even informed his then wife it was over.
Not only did Hanover’s humiliation earn her the sympathy of nearly every bystander (hiring the publicity-hound divorce lawyer Raoul Felder to rough her up created even more of a backlash), it cost Giuliani any chance he had with women voters. This soap opera, along with a diagnosis of prostate cancer, compelled him to withdraw from a 2000 New York Senate run against Hillary Clinton. Eight years later he tried to make a go of it as a presidential candidate, a campaign that belly-flopped with an ignominious splash after he came in third in the Florida primary. Giuliani learned the hard way that even the most popular, high-profile New York politician doesn’t play well in the yonder reaches of mid-America. He was more socially and culturally moderate than mainstream Republicanism and the sullen, angry white base that Mailer dubbed ‘the Wad’. A man so armoured with a sense of destiny and invincibility lacks the tact and manoeuvrability it takes to shift with the times and improvise on the fly, and Giuliani operated like a mechanised unit, self-programmed to parrot ‘Noun, verb, 9/11,’ in Joe Biden’s priceless quip. That wasn’t what the Wad wanted. What the Wad wanted, was waiting for, was Donald Trump.”


“The most devastating portrait of Rudy in oily disarray was a New York Magazine profile by Olivia Nuzzi, on his return from Ukraine.
She described an early afternoon car ride with him to the restaurant at the Mark, a five-star Upper East Side hotel. Sitting in the back seat with her, his fly unzipped, saliva dripping down his chin, he sang her an aria from Rigoletto, fumbled with three cellphones, and tossed around conspiracy theories linking George Soros to the media and Marie Yovanovitch. ‘Soros is hardly a Jew,’ he said of the Jewish philanthropist. ‘I’m more of a Jew than Soros is.’ Some remarks defy explication.”


“He got, as we say in New York, bupkis. Less than bupkis. Negative bupkis. Giuliani so sullied his legacy that the major television networks declined to interview him on the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, denying him his moment in the memorial spotlight. In the closing pages of his book, Kirtzman tries to eyedrop a little pathos into Giuliani’s predicament, charitably ending with a quote from one of his few remaining admirers, a 23-year-old former assistant called Christianné Allen. But it’s hard to feel sorry for a man so stupid, blind and indifferent to the damage he’s done. He’s long past poignancy. The book’s subtitle – ‘The Rise and Tragic Fall of America’s Mayor’ – is loftier than he deserves. This may be classified as a political biography, but it reads more like an autopsy report from the wax museum. All that’s left to do is to mop up the drips.”

Read the article here.

Not too long ago I saw Rudy on the Upper East Side, in front of a hotel, he was waiting for a taxi, next to him was a young man in a raincoat. He still looked like a bon vivant. Not dripping.
And back in the days I remember him eating a plate of pasta in Via Quadronno on 73rd.
The man who believes he is more a Jew than Soros will even after the drips have been mopped up have his post scriptum. A biopic maybe.

The Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl could do it. And Rudy might believe that he is more Jewish than Soros, he is also very Austrian, in an uncanny way.

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