“I’m going to read you something that I just read,” said my journalism professor, Donald Gale, holding up an issue of Esquire. Ït’s called “Frank Sinatra has a Cold.” He spent the next hour reading Gay Talese’s simple and melodious prose, my introduction to one of the creators and masters of the New Journalism.
When I moved to New York to be a journalist, I would sometimes see him on the East Side — once with his wife Nan at a photography show, where I also found myself gazing at the same photo with Woody Allen and Mia Farrow.
But mostly I heard about him from my friend Linda Grant, who knew him through her husband Everett Martin, a well-known war correspondant. They did some apartment-sitting for the Taleses, and Linda reported that Gay actually did have a section of wall in his writing room covered with green baize, the cloth that covers pool tables. So the apocryphal story then circulating, that Gay would pin his pages to the baize, then look at them from the far side of the room through binoculars, in order to get the sense of how they would look on a printed page — it was true!
Sometimes you meet a celebrity, one you have admired since you first read him at 18, and he happens to be entirely photogenic. Hopefully you have your camera and you have thought of a good setting.
He used this photo as his standard pubicity shot for a while — he’s generous guy, too.