TALL, COOL ONE (Tom Wolfe, R.I.P.)

Tom Wolfe, co-creator of the “new” journalism, and one of its ablest practitioners, was, more than any other of his breed, even Hunter Thompson, bound up in Rock and Roll America. He was first on the ground to Phil Spector, the Merry Pranksters (who rolled over every other square who tried to act like one of their own and accepted Wolfe and his white suits and southern gentility because he never pretended to be anyone but himself), the Black Panthers in their Limousine Liberal phase.

Later on he wrote about the Space Race and social dissolution in the Frozen Silence. How well, I couldn’t say, though if Frozen Silences should, by chance, deserve chronicling, I’m sure he was as well-suited to the task as anyone.

But when he made his real mark, it was mostly about speed, speed, speed. Verbal speed, the speed of sound, the need for speed (all kinds–wind speed, asphalt speed, pharmaceutical speed).

And at the back of the speed it was all about cars.

Cars, cars and more cars.

The cars that forced him to notice them….and make himself a reputation.

Kandy-Colored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby Speed.

I have it on good authority that the butler who attended his last word heard a single syllable as the snow-globe fell from his dying hand and shattered on the hardwood floor.

Cars….

Well, then, I guess he should just ride on out of here.

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