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7. The end of the Summer of Love


I discovered something else that Fall semester: bridge. We’d played a little cards back in The Bronx: pinochle, canasta, that kind of stuff. Now I took up bridge, in a game that always seemed to be happening in the Student Union. I became hooked: studied bridge books, read bridge columns in the papers. What attracted me wasn’t just the intellectual challenge, it was the social aspect. I made friends with another Clark Jewish kid who was as obsessed as I was. He had a car. We began entering contract bridge tournaments throughout southern New England and in New York. This went on through the Spring,1964 semester. In May, final exams were scheduled. But eight of us had ended up in an around-the-clock bridge game in the dorm T.V. room (where earlier that semester we’d watched The Beatles on Ed Sullivan). We’d been playing continuously for days, barely sleeping, popping amphetamines to stay awake, when someone said, “Hey, finals start today.” Everybody looked at everybody else. The choice was stark: finals, or bridge?

Bridge won. Nobody took any finals. I flunked all five of my courses. I didn’t care; school had become irrelevant. So Clark threw me out. They said I could get re-admitted if I took two summer courses and got at least B-minuses in both. (I took Spanish and, for some odd reason, mathematical set theory, got two A-minuses, and was readmitted.) I don’t recall how my parents reacted when I gave them the news about flunking out. I’ll say this for them: for all their faults as parents, they were pretty laissez-faire with me. Uncle Teddy and Aunt Ruth had sent cousin Alan to a private military academy when he had some problems. My parents might have done the same; instead, they just acquiesced to the situation. They paid for me to stay for the summer in a boarding house across Main Street from Clark, a sprawling, decrepit old Victorian mansion, called The Elms, that looked like Norman Bates’ house in Psycho, and was run by an old German lady, Mrs. Elms, who scared the shit out of me. That summer of ’64, I spent in a blur of music, marijuana and wine. I met a guy, a traveling salesman who also was staying at The Elms, and had a torrid affair with him, the first time I’d ever been in a bed with another man, as opposed to in the bushes and alleys.

But if it sounds like I was having sex left and right, that would be misleading. The truth is, during my college years, I had very little sex. Everybody around me was getting laid all the time, or so it seemed, and rock and roll was almost exclusively about boy-girl romance. But I was more or less celibate—not by choice, but necessity: “gay liberation” wasn’t yet a “thing” in 1965, and I didn’t know where or how to find male companions. Still, I didn’t care. My emotional, creative and intellectual energies were completely absorbed in being a hippie and enjoying and fostering the lifestyle we were inventing.

It’s routine these days to poke fun at Sixties hippies: granny dresses and bellbottoms, tie-died shirts, flower children, and idealistic notions of making love, not war. But the truth, for those of us who lived the life, was that we took it very seriously. I mean in the sense that we were the vanguard of a new age, one that would replace the drab, stifling Eisenhower years and usher in a new era of peace, tranquility, human kindness, love, creativity, freedom and wisdom. It was a revolution, and we exulted in our roles as social revolutionaries and custodians of the future.

Any kind of social movement requires support from without; you have to have the sense that something greater than just you and your little pack of friends is moving you along. And in America, in the mid-60s—indeed, throughout the western world, from Paris and London to Rome and Berlin—there was evidence that whatever we were part of was indeed historic. Rock and roll, which had always been a huge part of the Baby Boomers’ lives, now became the soundtrack and lingua franca of our existence. Every new group, every new song, opened new worlds of thought, imagination, possibility. Messages were encoded in lyrics, and in our electronic age of radio and LPs, those messages crossed the oceans and national borders effortlessly. We were aware– passionately aware–of being part of a movement that was worldwide. All the best people—in our judgment—belonged to it: the most progressive politicians, the most famous actors and rock stars, the most celebrated literary and visual artists—the tastemakers and intelligentsia. It was very liberating, for a Jewish boy from The Bronx whose scope had been so provincial, to feel part of something so vast and important.

Drugs, of course, helped fuel the movement. Drugs were illegal, which made their consumption furtively exhilarating. The possibility of getting arrested added to that risk, to that edge—the same way that anonymous sex added to its pleasures. You could go anywhere and find brothers and sisters who were part of the cult. It was a badge of belonging—and the more I think about it, the more I think that what we wanted was that sense of belonging. You could find your tribe, the people who welcomed you anytime you showed up, “where everyone knew your name,” as they later said on Cheers. For someone who’d felt as disconnected, as rejected and weird as I, it was remarkably comforting, a miracle of sorts: I love these people and they love me.

Drugs weren’t only illegal, they were mind-altering, psychedelic, to use a word that shortly became popular. I must have heard of LSD in 1965. A spate of books and articles, especially in the underground press (local head shops sold the Berkeley Barb), caught our attention: acid was like marijuana but oh, so much more potent. The hype was irresistible: you would see through the veil of materiality to perceive Truth, or God. I was already interested in mysticism and Buddhism. My cohort in Worcester—my new townie friends—also wanted to try the new drug, but we didn’t have the slightest idea where to get it. As the New Yorker of the group, I volunteered to see what I could do.

I took the Trailways bus to the Port Authority Terminal on 42nd Street in Manhattan and booked a cheap hotel room in Times Square; I didn’t want my parents to know I was in town. I knew where to go: Greenwich Village. I’d collected a few hundred dollars in cash from my Worcester pals. I walked the streets, searching for a longhair—a comrade who looked trustworthy. A guy with hair down below his shoulders sauntered by. I struck up a conversation: Can you score me acid? Yeah, man. I gave him the money. That’s the way it was back then: trust cemented our tribe.

The guy told me to wait in front of a brownstone. I sat on the steps and waited. And waited. And waited. Afternoon turned to evening, to night. The hours went by. I never had the slightest doubt he would return. And he did, with a plastic baggie containing 16 little, football-shaped, shiny orange pills. They bore the name Sandoz: this was laboratory-pure LSD, from the company that invented it.

I took the pills back to Worcester, distributed them to my friends, and took my own hit. Sat back and…and…soared. How do you describe it? I was looking down long, shimmering hallways at the outside world through holes in my head…through my eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth. A crumpled newspaper on the floor was as luminous as View of Toledo. This was what I’d been looking for all my life. It was why I was a hippie. I had discovered mind. It was the first of hundreds of trips I took; I have no way of knowing how many. As Bob Dylan is reputed to have said, If you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t there.

I soon took to dealing. It was never my intention to make money; I felt it was my “civic duty” as a hippie revolutionary to make drugs widely available and cheap. At one point, I was selling marijuana for $10 an ounce, which was pretty much my cost. One night there was a knock on the door of my apartment. It was a man I didn’t know. He said, “There are people in this town who are upset you’re selling so cheap.” The ordinary going price was $30 an ounce. Then the man left. Somebody told me he was the mafia. I never heard from him again. Was it a threat?

To jump this narrative forward a few years: one day in early 1968 I heard that the Worcester Police were asking questions about me from people they stopped on the street. I was in their sights: the vice squad, which had jurisdiction over drug crimes, had my name. I was naïve, filled with notions of love. All you need is love: love would provide, would conquer all—would even change a cop’s negative mindset. I phoned the police department and asked for a meeting with the head of the vice squad. Sgt. Leahy was a nice-looking, middle-aged Irishman with a buzz cut and piercing, intelligent blue eyes. I told him my story: The drugs I was dealing were benign, indeed beneficial. They were helping to make our world a better place; couldn’t he see that? I would be happy, I told him, to turn him on. Two weeks later, my roommates and I were home one night, smoking. Suddenly there was a violent banging on the door. “Police! Open up!” Six of us were busted. They hauled us downtown in “paddy wagons.” I was fingerprinted and booked and thrown into jail. I called my parents. Once again, their laissez-faire attitude came to the fore. They bailed me out. My father issued what was for him a stern warning: “We’ll give you enough rope to pull yourself out, or hang yourself.” Although the cops found only two ounces of pot and a few “Black Bennies”—Benzedrine–it had been the biggest drug bust in the history of Worcester, New England’s second-largest city. In the end, it cost my parents a lot of money, but I avoided a jail sentence.

I didn’t stop doing drugs (although I did stop dealing), But I moved far from campus, to a flat in East Worcester, a working class neighborhood where I knew no one. I got myself a bicycle to ride back and forth to school, and lived in constant fear of being re-arrested. A new word had entered my lexicon: paranoid. The Buffalo Springfield song, For What It’s Worth, expressed it well:

Paranoia strikes deep

Into your life it will creep

It starts when you’re always afraid

Step out of line, the man come and take you away

“The man” already had taken me away once. Next time, he would take me away again, and that time, there’d be no bail, but jail. Fear began replacing love as the motive force for me, and for so many hippies, in that transitional year of 1968. The Summer of Love, of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, seemed long gone. Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King had been murdered; riots, not love-ins, took place in the cities. In San Francisco, where hard drugs were invading Haight-Ashbury, they’d already celebrated “the death of hippie.” It took us a little longer, on the East Coast, to learn that The Sixties—our Sixties—were over. But we—and I—adapted.

Coronavirus, and a courageous Judge speaks out


Greetings from the San Francisco Bay Area, where since midnight we’ve been living under the tightest restrictions in the country, due to coronavirus.

Six counties, numbering seven million people, have been ordered to “shelter in place.” This is a concept the Bay Area is used to, because of the vast oil refineries that line northern San Francisco Bay. Every once in a while, there’s an accident; people in the vicinity are told to “shelter in place.” But this is the first time that a shelter order has been imposed on the Bay Area as a whole.

We actually have few cases of coronavirus in the East Bay, where I live (Oakland/Berkeley), but there’s a big cluster of cases to the south, in Silicon Valley, and that was enough to convince the county health directors to band together and shut down the six counties. This morning, the freeways are empty, an odd site, because normally they’d be jammed.

We don’t know how long this will last; the initial order is for three weeks but, of course, if things are bad by the second week in April, no doubt the order will be extended, and maybe expanded. During the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, here in Oakland the police were under orders to arrest anyone not wearing a gauze face mask (Oakland’s mayor, who refused, was actually brought into custody!). The police are not yet cruising the streets arresting pedestrians—so far as I know. I will shortly leave my house to do a little food shopping, and I hope I don’t get busted!

Anyhow, this is the new normal. It’s very scary and frustrating—worse than an earthquake, really, because earthquakes are over pretty quick, and then you pick up the pieces and get back to living. This pandemic won’t be over pretty quick. It will undoubtedly get worse. Nobody can tell us how much worse. I’ve emailed Gov. Newsom to tell him we, the people, more than ever need trusted leaders, to whom we can look for information and reassurance. I hope the Governor will go on T.V. and address the people of California…not just once, but repeatedly, the way FDR gave his fireside chats.

And now, on another front. Readers: I hope you take a moment to read this letter from James Dannenberg, one of the nation’s top judges, to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Dannenberg just resigned from the Supreme Court Bar, one of the most prestigious legal seats in the country; membership is required for lawyers who wish to argue before the Supreme Court. In his letter, Dannenberg issued a scathing accusation against Roberts, personally, and against the other Republicans who currently serve on the court: Kavanaugh, Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch.

Dannenberg’s language is extraordinary. “You are doing far more— and far worse– than ‘calling balls and strikes”” he tells the Chief Justice. “You are allowing the Court to become an ‘errand boy’ for an administration that has little respect for the rule of law.”

There’s much more: “The Court, under your leadership and with your votes, has wantonly flouted established precedent. Your ‘conservative’ majority has cynically undermined basic freedoms by hypocritically weaponizing others.” And, in a sideswipe at the court’s Christian bias: “The ideas of free speech and religious liberty have been transmogrified to allow officially sanctioned bigotry and discrimination, as well as to elevate the grossest forms of political bribery beyond the ability of the federal government or states to rationally regulate it.”

What Dannenberg is saying, in essence, is that Roberts, under Trump’s prompting, has allowed the Supreme Court to become what the Nazi courts became in Germany during Hitler’s 12-year Reich: star chambers, beholden to Himmler’s security forces, which existed for the sole reason to glorify “Der Fuehrer” and to punish his “enemies,” who included anyone thought to oppose the Nazi regime.

Roberts, and the other Republican Justices, no doubt will read Dannenberg’s letter. Will they care about it? Probably not. They have not shown the slightest inclination to respect legal precedent, or the rule of law, or the Constitution, or our American values, so far. It’s unlikely that a mere letter will now convince them otherwise. Roberts is said to worry about his legacy, his position in history. If he is so concerned, he’ll begin siding with the four Democrats on the court, and will speak out against the very excesses Dannenberg is warning him about.

But Roberts, who as a Roman Catholic has to obey, not only his sworn allegiance to the Constitution but also the Vatican’s theocratic views, with its homophobia, anti-scientism and misogyny, may be too far gone into radical conservatism to reverse course, or even to understand how un-American he and the court have become. As for Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, we know they’ve been in the pocket of the rightwing Federalist Society all their careers. They’ve made no secret of whom their masters are: the neo-fascist billionaires who got them on the court. And then there’s Clarence Thomas, who molested Anita Hill, never apologized for it, and has consistently opposed any and all legislation designed to help his fellow Black Americans. In many respects—I firmly believe this—Clarence Thomas will be recorded as the worst Supreme Court justice in history.

So thank you, Judge Dannenberg, for speaking truth to power. I wish that every judge in America would similarly speak up and tell Roberts and his gang at SCOTUS that they’re insults to American jurisprudence.

My Fantasy About Trump


Do you think Trump regrets saying, barely two weeks ago, that coronavirus was “a Democrat hoax”?

I doubt it. “Regret” means feeling sorry you did or said something. “Feeling sorry” requires a conscience. Trump, a sociopath, has no conscience. In Freudian terms, he lacks a superego—the mind function that suppresses the animal “id.” Trump is all animal id, with the rapacious cleverness of his ego steering the ship.

Nonetheless Trump did call coronavirus “a Democrat hoax” and I hope that the two remaining candidates, Biden and Sanders, remind voters of that all the time. I’m sure they will. Both men, to their credit, are going out of their way to remind the American people how miserable Trump is as a human being. Americans understand that; even Republicans know that he’s despicable. They don’t care, of course—or so they tell themselves—because he’s giving them what they want—judges, restrictions on immigrants, things like that. “Nobody elected Trump America’s pastor,” concede the evangelicals.

I have a fantasy. Let’s say it’s early April, next month. Trump hasn’t been seen in a few days; the tweets have stopped. Everybody’s wondering. Since there’s no longer a daily press briefing, reporters have nobody to ask. Reports begin to leak out from the West Wing: Trump might be ill. The rumor spreads that he had a fever. Somebody said he was coughing and sniffling during a meeting. The nation is in an uproar. Stephanie Grisham is compelled to call in the White House Press Corps. “President Trump is self-quarantining for a while. He came down with some symptoms of a cold or flu.” “Has he been tested for coronavirus?” a journalist asks. “I’m not going to make any statements that compromise President Trump’s right to patient confidentiality,” Grisham replies. This is like poking a stick into a wasps’ nest. The reporters go wild with questions. Grisham ducks out of the room.

That night a convoy of black SUVs and ambulances is seen leaving the White House. Reporters follow. The convoy pulls up to Walter Reed Medical Center; the reporters are kept at least 100 yards away as a special patient is carried into the emergency room. The patient is on a gurney. Reporters can see that the patient is a large man with a fat belly. They cannot see his hair but the word instantly goes out: it’s Trump.

The hospital begins issuing bulletins. The President is in serious condition with pneumonia. No, he’s in critical condition. The family has been summoned: paparazzi catch photos of a black-clad Melania, a subdued Donald Junior, an ashen-faced Ivanka with Jared, looking, as usual, like a mortician. The nation is on the edge of its collective chair. Is the President dying?

April 12, shortly before noon, the official announcement: “The President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, died at 11:27 a.m. this morning, of complications caused by COVID-19, the coronavirus disease.” Those old enough to remember a similar announcement about the death of John F. Kennedy are transported back to that moment. But the two moments are dissimilar in this respect: when Kennedy died the nation was plunged into grief. When Trump died, there was dancing in the streets—literally. People cheered and applauded; they leaned out of their windows and blew New Year’s Eve horns, or threw confetti into the streets below. Total strangers high-fived each other; people in movie theaters and on the subways stood and yelled “Hooray.” The scene from “The Wizard of Oz” where the Munchkins sing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” went viral on YouTube.

Republicans said it was shameful the way Democrats celebrated Trump’s death. The Democratic presumptive nominee, Joe Biden, said he regretted some of the excesses but added that it was “understandable” that some people were happy to be rid of Trump. Sean Hannity said Joe Biden ought to be ashamed of himself, forgetting that he, Hannity, once had called for Hillary Clinton to be put to death. A trio of evangelicals—Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Franklin Graham—announced a Holy Memorial Service in Washington, D.C. It would feature country and western stars, preachers, Ted Nugent, Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood. The Mayor of Washington, D.C., a Democrat, announced that gatherings of more than 250 people would be banned in his city due to the coronavirus. The evangelicals were outraged; their lawyers demanded that the Supreme Court allow the Holy Memorial Service to proceed. But the Supreme Court, already down to only five Justices because the other four were sick with COVID-19, refused to hear the case. There was no Holy Memorial Service.

Trump was buried at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Michael Pence became the 46th President of the United States. He was assassinated by a deranged white Christian man from Mississippi who thought Pence was Satan. Republicans charged that the assassin had been persuaded to kill the President by Democrats. Rep. Devin Nunes announced he had “evidence” that the Bidens were involved in the conspiracy. House Speaker Pelosi said that, in view of the coronavirus, the U.S. House of Representatives would no longer meet while the pandemic raged. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below 10,000 for the first time in twenty-five years. The U.S. went into a massive Depression. Joseph Biden was inaugurated as the 47th President of the United States on Jan. 21, 2021. He died of a heart attack two weeks later. His Vice President, Kamala Harris, instantly became the 48th President. She served out her term, was re-elected in 2024, and re-elected again in 2028. The Republican Party never was officially outlawed; it simply ceased to exist, the way the Whig Party stopped functioning in the 19th century. The Democratic Party split into two wings: one progressive, the other moderate. Coronavirus disappeared just like the Republican Party: one day, people realized nobody was getting it anymore.

When people looked back at the events of the early 2020s, they could hardly believe them: it was like a dream. Had America really had a President Trump? Yes, some said; no, others claimed. Eventually, it no longer mattered. Hurricane Imelda destroyed Mar-a-Lago in September, 2025; Trump’s grave was washed out to sea. Donald Trump, Jr. killed himself after his third wife accused him of adultery with a Secret Service man. Ivanka Trump divorced Jared Kushner, who was found guilty of money-laundering in New York and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Ivanka restored her fashion design company. Barron Trump appeared on the cover of OUT! Magazine, the nation’s leading gay periodical; in a racy photograph inside, he was nude except for one hand discretely covering his genitals. Life, in other words, went on.

Coronavirus, the stock market and Trump: A cautionary tale


For a “hoax” perpetrated by the “Democrat” Party, coronavirus sure has caught Trump’s attention. His public appearances lately, especially at those coronavirus pressers presided over by a grim Pence, who looks rather like an undertaker, have shown a side of Trump we’ve rarely seen before: somber, halting, hesitant. Is this calculated body language, or is Trump really baffled and confused by the disease, and by the sudden, unprecedented slide of the stock markets? It’s hard to say, given the make-believe nature of the man—he’s been a performer for decades. There may no longer be sunlight between the “real” Trump and the person he plays on T.V. The two have become one—frightening thought.

Anyhow for once in his life forces are conjoining against him over which he has no control. Minions and sycophants obey his every command; viruses do not, nor does the buying and selling of stocks. This is what’s giving Trump that deer-in-the-headlights look lately. It’s a good look for him: no longer the sneering, snarling avenger, but an obese old man who has been humbled by events.

Trump, humbled? Let me find a better way of putting it. No, the man is not “humbled.” He has no humility—has, in fact, no such redeeming moral qualities. To put it in Freudian terms, there’s no superego there, just the raw, primal id rubbing up against a tumescent ego. This is animal cunning, with some human intelligence to guide it. A dangerous combination, a human insect, poisonous, sneaky and secretive.

That China seems to have contained coronavirus must be a great relief to Trump in those wee hours of the night when, tired of tweeting at last, and possibly sedated, he lays his massive head down on some pillow and tries to sleep. Trump’s only defense against charges of failing to adequately warn and protect the nation’s health has been that, someday soon, when warm weather returns, coronavirus will burn itself out and disappear, “miraculously.” I asked my doctor the other day if this is true; after all, flu burns itself out every Spring, why not coronavirus? “Because,” she explained, “the viruses are different.” Flu is not a coronavirus. We do not know if the novel coronavirus will burn out now that Daylight Savings Time is behind us and the days are getting longer and warmer. Donald Trump hopes so; he hopes, too, that the irrational mania that drives the buying and selling of stocks will push the markets up by thousands of points, just as it’s driven them down. But this is precisely why Trump looks so shocked lately: the List of Things Trump Cannot Control is led by viruses and stock prices.

There are things he can control through the power of the presidency. Yesterday he floated the idea of a payroll tax cut to help the economy. Well, this at least was some progress: Trump is loath to admit any failure on his watch but even a person of his incandescent pride cannot deny the thousands upon thousands of points the Dow Jones has fallen in the last week. What to do? The stock market—“his” stock market has been a point of personal boasting (even though the markets began their 11-year ascent in the winter of 2009, under Obama). Today, as I write, there is no cut in payroll taxes that has been announced. The premature announcement is one of Trump’s favorite tactics: say we have peace with North Korea (when we don’t), say we’re pulling out of Afghanistan (when we’re not), say coronavirus has been contained (when it hasn’t), say Mexico will pay for The Wall (when it won’t), say Obama was born in Kenya (a lie), say he’s cutting the payroll tax (when he’s not)—Trump’s idiotic followers will repeat it everywhere: He made peace with North Korea! He got out of Afghanistan! He cut the payroll tax! Well, facts have never been known to trouble Republican heads.

As for the Democratic race, now the pundits say it’s all down to Michigan! Who knows. To me it looks like Biden has things wrapped up. Lord knows he’s not a perfect candidate. I doubt there’s a Democrat anywhere who can watch a Biden interview or speech on T.V. and not privately shudder: Biden can be inspiring but he also can be doddering. He’s old. Trump will make hay of that: Trump is old, too, but not as old as Biden and, to tell the truth, for 73 going on 74 this June 14, Trump looks and sounds pretty good.

If the election were held today, we’re told by pollsters, the Democrat would win. Glory hallelujah! The only way to begin to un-do the damage caused by this Trump crowd is to take back the White House and seize control of both Houses of Congress and protect the Supreme Court before the orange shitgibbon can get his fat little hands on it again. God protect Ruth Bader Ginsburg and grant her long life! Well, at least through Jan. 22, 2021.

Melania Trump, in hardhat, battles the coronavirus

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“Melania Trump defends work on White House tennis pavilion as coronavirus spreads” is how CNN headlined the story over the weekend. Seems the lovely FLOTUS posed for pictures, sporting a sexy little hardhat that seemed almost haute on her coiffed head, as she presided over construction of a fancy new “tennis pavilion” on the White House grounds.

That she did this at the height of the fear of coronavirus spreading across America, with people dying and the stock markets withering, apparently did not occur to Mrs. Trump or her P.R. handlers. She also tweeted: “I am excited to share the progress of the tennis pavilion,” next to a photo of her looking absolutely stunning in a black, high-necked woolen cardigan coat.

Her followers weren’t buying it. “Bummer you won’t be able to use [the pavilion],” one replied, apparently a suggestion that Mrs. Trump’s days in the White House are numbered. Another replied, “melanoma please be sure it’s complete by November” so the Bidens can use it when they move in. Another got right to the point: “At least 314 people with the Covid-19 illness have been treated in 28 states, and at least 17 patients with the virus have died. Melania Trump: ‘We’re building a tennis pavilion.’”

Comparisons to Marie Antoinette (“Let them eat cake”) were inevitable. Mrs. Trump, meanwhile, felt the need to respond to the criticisms. “I encourage everyone who chooses to be negative (and) question my work at the @WhiteHouse to take time and contribute something good (and) productive in their own communities,” she tweeted. That didn’t really answer the accusation that she has been tone deaf about the tennis pavilion; it merely shifted the blame to everybody else.

In the interests of full reporting of the news, I’m able to reveal some other details of Mrs. Trump’s schedule over the last week.

Wed. March 4: Mrs. Trump attended a Runway Show for Michael Kors’ Spring 2020 line. She was seen applauding wildly for a checkered, black gingham dress decorated with lemons and cherries, set off with a jaunty cobalt leather belt.

Later that evening, in New York City, as the media reported on mounting coronavirus deaths in Washington State, Mrs. Trump dined at her favorite restaurant, Jean-Georges, in the Trump International Hotel, where she enjoyed chicken parmesan. Her dinner partners included Joshua Kushner, Jared’s brother, the founder of an investment firm that has made a lot of money since Donald Trump was elected.

Thurs. March 5: Back at Mar-a-Lago, Mrs. Trump was spotted at Stubbs & Wootten, an exclusive shoe store in Palm Beach. According to a store employee who did not want to be named, the First Lady purchased a pair of needlepoint Camo slippers with leather soles, for $500. She was overheard telling a clerk how “sad” the coronavirus is. “But it’s going to disappear very soon. My husband says so! And in the meanwhile, it’s important to look our best!”

Afterwards, Mrs. Trump and her entourage headed down to Boutique Ralph Lauren, on Palm Beach’s exclusive Worth Avenue (by appointment only), where, according to an employee, she bought throw pillows ($550 per), a 20-place setting of Wexford dinnerware ($125 per plate), and a set of crystal bar glasses ($595 each). She explained to a clerk that she’s constructing a “private little getaway” at Mar-a-Lago, “just a place for me and my girlfriends to escape from the pressures of the Southern White House and relax, as we girls know how to do!”

Fri. March 6: During an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Mrs. Trump was asked how she spends her busy days as First Lady. “Oh, almost all my time lately is work[ing] on anti-coronavirus activities,” she replied. “It’s very important for First Lady to have [a] steadying effect on [the] nation. I visit hospitals and talk to a coronavirus victim and do everything I can to help them.”

That evening found Mrs. Trump back in New York, where she attended an exclusive dinner at Calvin Klein’s Fifth Avenue penthouse. The supermodel Bella Hadid reportedly sneak-previewed Klein’s upcoming Summer Collection.

Mrs. Trump is scheduled to return to the White House early this week, where among other activities, she’s said to be involved in planning for the official opening of the new Tennis Pavilion. “The First Lady wants everything to be perfect,” said one of her aides, who asked not to be identified because she wasn’t authorized to speak to the press. “Style is very important to Mrs. Trump, as everybody knows, and she wants to have the perfect outfit for this important opening. She’s also very concerned about floral arrangements.” Asked if Mrs. Trump has any coronavirus-related activities planned for this week, the aide replied, “None that I know of. Mrs. Trump doesn’t want to get sick.”

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