Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Memorable Celebrity Fisticuffs

Perhaps all the media attention regarding the 200th Anniversary of the Hamilton-Burr duel has gotten people a bit hot under the collar in these dog days of summer. Cans of whoop ass all over the city are being opened up. Gawker reported yesterday that the unhandsome Stanley Crouch went a little -- how shall we put it so as to keep it jazz-themed? -- "improvisational" on Dale Peck, he of the scathing review:

"A little after two o'clock (yesterday), while novelist and book critic Dale Peck was lunching with the writer Linda Yablonsky at Tartine in the West Village, jazz critic/cultural commentator/novelist Stanley Crouch decided to introduce himself. (Peck had reviewed a novel of Crouch's a few years back; in response to that review, Crouch told Salon that Peck was "a troubled queen.")

"At Tartine, Crouch shook Peck's hand, then, as a follow-up, smacked him in the face, saying 'if you ever did anything like that [presumably referring to the review] again, it'll be much worse.'

Much worse than being bitchslapped in a public?

"Crouch once also threw a punch at Howard Mandel, the president of the Jazz Journalists Association. If two equals trend (or maybe three? Didn't Crouch hit Harry Allen at the Village Voice, back in the day? (And wait, make that four -- didn't he slug the late letters editor Ron Plotkin at the Voice as well?) ) then it's pretty clear Crouch has, at best, some serious impulse control problems. Funny stuff, coming from a guy who's always railed about the 'politics of resentment' -- guess he's been carrying around a grudge for years."

Celebrities, and we use that term very loosely in the case of Stanley Crouch, are not averse to the prospect of a spot of a little "rough and tumble." Here are some of my favorites over the fullness of time:

Ophelia Roop writes of Mailer versus Vidal:

"The most memorable confrontation between Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal occurred in the waning moments of their famous and infamous literary feud when each wanted to be considered America's leading wordsmith. The story went something like this: A famous hostess, whose name I've forgotten, either as an oversight or with her eye on publicity and notoriety, had invited both sages of American letters - Mailer and Vidal - to her gathering. Mailer, not a little drunk, had challenged Vidal to a fight and when Vidal had not responded, a frustrated Mailer had tossed his drink either in Vidal's face or elsewhere on Vidal's person. Unperturbed apparently, Vidal had said, 'Once again words have failed Norman,' and with this secured his place as America's leading wordsmith."

Richard Johnson versus Joe Conason:

"While (Richard Johnson) was on general assignment, he wrote a story about Ed Koch that garnered him a mention in Joe Conason?s 'Media Watch' column at the Village Voice. Conason called him the 'undependable Richard Johnson.' 'I called him up, and he said I could write a letter to the editor or sue him for libel,' says Johnson. 'I found him in his office. We were walking down the hallway. I threw a punch at him. It was only a glancing blow.'"

That troublemaker Gore Vidal, it is said, jumped on his archenemy Truman Capote, who was sitting on a sofa, and excused himself, saying that he mistook the Southern writer for "a cushion."

Ernest Hemingway nearly crushed George Plimpton's fingers on night, if not for the well timed intervention of a curious onlooker.

Mike Tyson punched out Wesley Snipes over a girl ("later for you")

Comedians Chevy Chase and Bill Murray had a full on brawl.

Jack White of the White Stripes kinked Jason Stollsteimer of the Von Bondies' ass

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan is said to have one slapped Senator Kit Bond in the face.


Anonymous said...

i mis me some Ron - Case

The Corsair said...

Case, I miss you too.