In 1888, Edwin Booth, the famed Shakespearean actor, along with Mark Twain, General William Tecumseh Sherman, and a slew of other distinguished American notables from the nineteenth century, formed their own club where they could hang out and smoke cigars and sip brandy and yap about the dramatic arts. They also created a fund to help struggling actors. They called themselves "The Players," and their club was run out Booth's old townhouse at 16 Gramercy Park, where it is still in operation.
In the past few days, the club's picturesque Stanford White façade, facing the tony private park, has been partially blocked by a sight uncommon in this quiet residential neighborhood: the union rat. It's a sign of lingering troubles within.
As expected, reproofs of modern American journalism were flying Wednesday night at the launch of Harper’s editor emeritus Lewis Lapham's new magazine, Lapham’s Quarterly, the first issue of which contains essays and correspondence on the topic of war from writers as diverse as Sun Tzu and Mark Twain. Needless to say, neither of them was at the party. But Gay Talese was!