Friday, September 16, 2016


Well, kids, don't say I never do you any favors...

Yes, as those who follow me over there in the right-hand column on Twitter* already know, I dropped this afternoon into the new Trump International Hotel, just so you don't have to.

And believe me, unless you really, really like blue velour, you don't have to.

Now, don't get me wrong: having lived for as long as we did in the Sandlands, I'm something of an aficionado of big, silly hotels; certainly there are fewer bigger or sillier than those to be found (in abundance) in Dubai. A fellow survivor and I were just the other day bemoaning how one has to readjust, as if decompressing after a long, deep dive, to American hostelries, with their distinct lack of 24-carat faucets, executive Champagne lounges (at breakfast, I mean), or on-call Bentleys ready to speed one to the nearest mall.

But this new... feature on the DC landscape is really something else entirely. Housed as it is in the historic old post office building (late the site of a truly regrettable "festival marketplace," just as successful in the end as most of those generally lamentable impositions on notable sites), it start with a great advantage: the stately old building boasts a central atrium as potentially grand as any out there in the Sandlands. What has happened, though, appears to be something on the order of a Trumpische failure of confidence. The new place may be just as tacky as any of its brethren out there in the Gulf, but somehow - and rather fatally - it lacks the conviction of its own tackiness.

For tawdry to work, it has to be unconscious of its own mediocrity: Maria Montez, say, in any of her roles. When tawdry becomes self-aware, though, it becomes something else - Emmy Slattery, longing to be a lady at Tara, or Stella Dallas, looking in from the rain at the dull, classy people she'll never belong to.

What the place looks like, at this stage, is less like a full out Glamour Attack than it does a particularly ambitious display at a second-rate discount furniture house. It's trying - trying so, so hard - but beyond a certain shiny gloss there lies nothing but boredom. A row of ridiculous and ill-proportioned sub-Versailles chandeliers hangs incongruously from the soaring exposed steel arches, and beneath them is a thick cluster of figured carpets, broad sofas, gilded armchairs, and low coffee tables larded with knick-knacks of uncertain origin and piles of books of the sort less likely to be read than to have cocktails spilled on them. The overall effect is something rather as if your dentist's wife (who dabbles in interior design when she's not doing the bookkeeping) somehow got hold of a substantial budget and an abandoned train station. It's not even fun enough to be ridiculous.

Lord knows this town could use some thrills; one seems unlikely to find them in this almost embarrassingly earnest place. Once again, as so often in recent months, I find myself struck with nostalgia - once upon a time, when she was the favorite victim of the old Spy magazine, who would have thought that Ivana was the classy one?

* And really, why, unless you're just plain opposed to the platform, aren't you following me? Go do that, but do come back...


  1. Donald is giving nouveau riche a bad name.

  2. The man's whole contribution to the world has been a bad trashy novella. And then there's Melania... Jx

  3. You gave me my quote of the day: "The overall effect is something rather as if your dentist's wife (who dabbles in interior design when she's not doing the bookkeeping) somehow got hold of a substantial budget and an abandoned train station."

  4. I got married in central New Jersey the year the Trump Taj Majal opened, and we spent the first day of our honeymoon, such as it was, driving down the Jersey shore. So we had to stop in. Since we approached it by road, we got to view the casino, as locals do, in the context of Atlantic City residential misery. My best memory of the casino itself is of staff members taking their smoke breaks in the Ladies' lounge. Dressed in vaguely Mughal fashion with huge fuscia-colored turbans on their heads, they would be kicking back with a cig and complaining to each other about everyday stuff: aching feet, irritating spouses, ungrateful offspring.

  5. "For tawdry to work, it has to be unconscious of its own mediocrity...[w]hen tawdry becomes self-aware, though, it becomes something else"


  6. When Melania "redoes the Blue Room", at least we'll know the pedigree of the tax-payer funded purchase of "historic furnishings".

  7. there's nothing worse than vulgarity trying to be taken seriously. Embrace
    your trashiness! Wear those anklets with pride.

  8. I was a huge fan of Spy back in those days, but even I found that 'Ivanarama' cover and article painful. She was quite the undeserving target. And the fact that, upon seeing the hideous closeup cover, she went out and bought a new face? Then he promptly dumped her? It was just sad.

    1. They really did go after her - and hardly without reason - but I think she came out of it pretty unscathed. If nothing else, she'll live on in her terrific little cameo in "First Wive's Club," and she's had several decades of apparently quite contented sybarism since. Not a bad deal on the whole, even she did have deal with having spawned the Children of the Corn.