It has occured to me that it has been awhile since I did a "This Day In History". For the most part this day was not really, really exciting: Magellen made it to the Pacific, A NASA satellite flew by Mars, there was a bad fire that killed a whole lot of people and Truman Capote threw a party to honor Katherine Graham and celebrate the success of In Cold Blood.
Now the "Black and White Ball" has gone down in social history as one of the best events ever. Apparently If you were a SOMEBODY who knew a whole lot of other SOMEBODIES, then you got an invite. It was a sentence to Siberia or Outer Darkness to not be included. Capote apparently threw as much effort into it as he would have a small novel and spent most of the summer writing and rewriting the guest list while dangling the possibility of an invitation in front of friends and enemies. Should you be fascinated by all this hobnobbing of the great and near great enjoying the privileges of wealth and notoriety, there is an excerpt of a nice bit of gossipy fluff written by George Plimpton with quotes by all sorts of Truman's friends and whatever they were.
If you look at my "About Me", there is a mention that one of my favorite books is the beloved by many, To Kill A Mocking bird by Harper Lee. If you saw the recent movie "Capote" with the Academy Award winning performance by Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Capote, then you found out about his lifelong friendship with Harper Lee. He based the character of Idabel in Other Voices, Other Rooms on her. He in turn was the inspiration for the character Dill, in Lee's 1960 bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner.
After a long career producing some of the most fascinating material ever written, Capote trailed off into a multi-year, self destructive round of drugs and alcohol often making very witty appearances on TV talk shows often under the influence of one or both of these addictions that eventually caused his death in 1984. My one and only encounter with Capote was in 1978 viewing him all alone in a nook of the bar of the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, slumped drunkenly over a glass. As always when you see someone with such an addiction, all you can think is "What A Waste" and then go read everything he wrote so that you can remember what was great about the man.
"He mistook the rich who liked publicity for the ruling class, and made himself far too much at home among them, only to find that he was to them no more than an amusing pet who would be dispensed with, as he was when he published lurid gossip about them."