And Gore Vidal in the Independent on family, feuds and fame.
Douglas Coupland's descriptions of Vancouver circa City of Glass are closest to my sense of the place. It's hemmed in and separated from the rest of the world by an ocean, a border, mountains. And then there's the unknown and incomprehensible north. Vancouver sits there, insulated to some extent, but picking up influences from across the ocean and across the border. The signals seem to be amplified by those symbolic barriers. Psychogeographically, I identify with greater Vancouver more than I do with the rest of Canada, which I have a fondness for and good feelings for. Vancouver's peculiar culture feels like home.
I like it because I grew up in a really extreme monoculture in southwestern Virgina. I was surrounded by Southern white folks – this was in badass Appalachia, up in the hollers where my mother's family had been forever. Having that experience in a small town made me happiest in big cities. Especially in radically multicultural big cities – as far as you can get from monoculture. I'm happiest where people are generally not even of recognizable ethic derivations. I'm into hybrid vigor.
Canada is set up to run on steady immigration. It feels like a twenty first century country to me because it's not interested in power. It negotiates and does business. It gets along with other countries. The power part is very nineteenth century. 99 percent of ideology we have today is very nineteenth century. The twentieth century was about technology, and the nineteenth was ideology.
As a 10-year-old, Gore appeared in a Pathé newsreel, landing a light aircraft. How did that feel? "Great. I was the most famous kid in the United States. That was 1936." He points to a dresser covered with small framed photographs. "There's a picture of my father."
"He looks like a film star."
"He was like a film star. He was the most famous college athlete in the history of the United States. A quarterback at West Point. He won a silver medal in the Olympic Games of 1924. In the 43 years that I knew him, we never quarrelled once, and we never agreed on anything."
His father's picture is towards the back of the display. Most prominently positioned is an image of a young woman with tousled hair, a mischievous grin, and great vitality: a tomboy with Katharine Hepburn cheekbones.
"Amelia Earhart," Vidal says.
"You can see courage in those eyes." "You can."
"Didn't she have a fling with your father?"
"She had more than that. I said to him, "Why didn't you marry her?' This was after she went down in the Pacific in 1936. They'd set up three airlines together." Even now, more than seven decades later, there is emotion in his voice. "He said: 'I have never really wanted to marry another boy.' And she was like a boy."
...He has recalled [his mother] telling him, for instance, that rage made her orgasmic ("I forgot to ask her if sex ever did") and remarking that she was born only "because my mother's douche bag broke". Nina also informed him how, on the way to their honeymoon, his father had told her: "'There's something very important I want you to know.' I was so excited. He's going to tell me he loves me. But he didn't. Instead, he said: 'I have three balls.'" According to Vidal, his father "was in all the medical books".