New York

I hope this is my last week in the Bagel. I plan to fly first to Switzerland, then on to London. There’s the annual Pugs Club lunch I cannot afford to miss, but now that Boris is married I don’t suppose he gives a damn about the poor little Greek boy and his club lunches. Incidentally, the little bird has answered my query about The Spectator’s summer bash: the sainted editor is waiting to hear what, yes you guessed it, the new-bridegroom premier will allow this summer. Boris doesn’t seem to be able to make up his mind whether the magazine he headed for close to eight years should go two years without a party.

Oh boy, it’s getting very confusing, and I for one have lost the trust I once had in science. My unsolicited advice to Boris is that he should listen more to his instincts and less to scientific types. I’ve never met the third wife and know nothing about her, but instinct tells me she’s got Boris wrapped tight around her little finger (though not half as tightly wrapped as Meghan has the halfwit).

Never mind. There are other things to worry about than henpecked hubbies. For example, some fool writing in the Bagel Times pejoratively refers to the great Irwin Shaw short story ‘The Girls in Their Summer Dresses’. Actually, only a depraved maggot could write that the marvelous short story is ‘sexist and dated’. (Probably under orders from the top, or trying to please his superiors.) More to the point, this garbage related to ‘gender fluidity’ entering its next phase, which means men wearing dresses instead of men wearing trousers. So it’s skirts and frocks for the boys from now on, at least if you want to be with it in New York.

For some strange reason I knew it would come to this. Heterosexuality is kaput, and definitely under attack. Unless you’re gay or trans you’re old hat, which makes me very old hat. They call it ‘waning gendered dress codes’ — women wearing dresses and men wearing trousers, that is. The waning gendered dress code makes a lot of straight men wannabes put on their summer dresses and glide around like Titania. And it gets better. The fashion industry is as venal and corrupt as, say, the art world, and fashion’s gilded cesspool will now be enhanced by lots of snowflakes in drag. Yippee!

This is nothing compared with what is going on in London, where the celebrity hysteria has reached a point where a pair of dirty sneakers once worn by some foul-mouthed celebrity are valued more than a Matisse. Yes, you read that correctly. An exhibition at the Design Museum features the sneakers Kanye West, ex-husband of Kim Kardashian, once wore that sold for $1.8 million at Sotheby’s last April. Fame acquired through talent or courage has now given way to fame earned via publicity. Bravo London, you are as obsessed with trivial celebrity as New York, and I hope you don’t soon become as unlivable as the Bagel has become.

Personally, I wouldn’t touch those sneakers with the proverbial 10-foot pole, but it only shows how out of touch I am with reality: I prefer to pay 1.8 million greenbacks for a (microscopic) Matisse than for a pair of West’s foul-smelling sneakers. Filthy sneakers are now called tools for cultural expression, and soon jockstraps of basketball freaks will probably become even more expensive tools for cultural expression. I can see the headline: $10 million for a LeBron James jockstrap made available immediately following his overtime victory over the Nuggets.

Once upon a time art was defined by its beauty and creativity. Can you imagine the depths to which we’ve descended when sneakers are elevated by know-nothings to the level of artistic expression? On aesthetic grounds this is garbage; it is psychological warfare against beauty by ignoramuses. Next it will be an old bra of Dolly Parton’s going for double what an Edward Hopper is worth. It reminds me a lot of Mao’s cultural revolution of the 1960s, which attempted to change history and reality by force.

In the meantime, your High Life correspondent is getting to be very famous here in the Bagel. So famous, in fact, I am thinking of hiring heavies to protect me from my fans. Only last week, while dining with Ted Leonhardt, the first person ever to recognize me, a pleasant young man accompanied by a very pretty young woman approached me and complimented me on my Spectator writing. He’s a Brit, Fred Spencer, and I complimented him back on the company he was keeping. Although hard to believe, the very next morning, as I was training in the park, an American reader of you-know-what, Brett Roberts, did something similar. ‘Are you Taki?’ Three people in 44 years of writing for The Speccie means that if I get to keep the column for another 3,000 years I’ll be as well known as Sean Connery was before he made the first James Bond movie. Yippee!

This article was originally published in The Spectator’s August 2021 World edition.