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Dean's List

Where are the African-Americans? New Yorker editor sparks politically correct contretemps at Howard Dean fund-raiser.

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‘Is he at least almost here?” muttered an anxious Andrew Solomon, author of the award-winning memoir on depression The Noonday Demon. He was standing in the foyer of his inconceivably regal West Village brownstone, where he was supposed to be hosting a fund-raiser for Howard Dean, the Democratic presidential hopeful who has already won the hearts and wallets of New York’s left-leaning smart set. By the time Dean appeared, more than 45 minutes late, in a dark-gray pinstripe suit, maroon tie, and black loafers, he was arguably the least well-dressed man there.

“Grrreat house!” he said, shaking Solomon’s hand. “All the greater for having you in it,” said Solomon. But wait, was . . . was Howard Dean wearing makeup? “I’m coming from Charlie Rose,” he mouthed.

Declining the opportunity to try out the Duke of Wellington’s campaign bed, which sits proudly in Solomon’s library, the Duke of Vermont took up his own campaign under a fabulous fifteenth-century Flemish tapestry. “I’m for the ordinary person,” he cried. The crowd, none of whom looked the slightest bit ordinary, applauded wildly.

All except for Charles Michener, a senior editor at The New Yorker, who seemed pained. “All very fine,” he whined loudly, “but I’m struck by the fact that there are no African-Americans in this room.”

“Yes, there are!” shouted an indignant black gentleman in the far reaches of the crammed room. “We’re just stuck in the back of the bus!” The crowd giggled nervously, but Michener persisted: “Well, you’re preaching to the converted!”

“Well, it is a fund-raiser!” someone else shouted. This time, Dean giggled as a purple-faced Michener stalked toward the exit.

Soon after, Dean was gone, too, the evening having grossed around $35,000. Solomon, meanwhile, was still thinking about Michener. “Could you believe his question?” he said. “I have to confess, I took a bit of delight in that. See, Charles and I had a little contretemps when I was at The New Yorker—he wanted to change a lead of mine, and I had to threaten to pull the article—God, he can be difficult.” He took a long, deep breath. “Now, what shall we do about dinner?”


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