Tuesday, October 6, 2009
SALMAN RUSHDIE ON PALIN, POLANSKI and the POPE
"I think (Obama) is the best available president. I'll take him. I mean the alternative was McCain and Palin and that's... not thinkable."
Savagenyc interviews Salman Rushdie.
Americans for the Arts 2009 National Arts Awards
Robert Redford, Salman Rushdie, Ed Ruscha Honored
Cipriani 42nd Street, NYC
Salman Rushdie was giving Robert Redford and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi a run for their money.
Sure, the photographers had a field day when Redford and Pelosi arrived, arm-in-arm, for last night's National Arts Awards in midtown Manhattan, but who really wants to talk to a movie star and a politician when you've got a real live fatwa target standing right in front of you at a very...publicized event? Also, there's no statute of limitations on religious decrees issued by Iranian Islamic scholars and "ulamas", whatever "ulamas" are.
Not that savagenyc was granted interviews with Redford or Pelosi, but still—we were more psyched about Rushdie than those two.
And we were psyched about Dennis Hopper.
Stick around for Hopper—he's a doozy.
Surrounded by reporters waiting for him to finish his chat with Larry Gagosian and James Frey, Rushdie looked every inch the international literary playboy as he sipped what looked to be a martini on the rocks.
All that was missing from the scene was what the WSJ described as Rushdie's usual "babe in tow", but who knows? Maybe said "babe" was giving her man a break, or powdering her nose.
In keeping with this image, Rushdie remained hilariously deadpan about various international scandals when interviewed, but he revealed a polite and equitable side when asked about his award and the furor his presence was causing.
Upon accepting the Kitty Carlise Hart Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts award, Rushdie quoted Kingsley Amis's remark upon being awarded the Booker Prize: "I always thought that prizes like this were total shit, but I just changed my mind."
SAVAGENYC: TELL ME WHAT YOU'RE DOING HERE TONIGHT?
I have the easy job. I have to sit there and then get up and say, "thank you".
But it's very flattering that an organization with this kind of pedigree should wish to recognize my work.
If you look at the history of the people who've won these awards, it's very impressive to think that you're going to be a part of that list. So I'm just very flattered to be here and, also, I kind of admire the work they do—Americans for the Arts—because I think that actually it's a tough time. It's a tough time for everybody, but it's a tough time for the arts as well, and I think that we need effective advocacy organizations to push the arts agenda. Americans for the Arts has been very good about it, so in that sense I'm happy to be here to support them too.
SAVAGENYC: ARE THINGS CHANGING IN WASHINGTON WITH REGARD TO THE ARTS?
ARE THE ARTS BECOMING DE-POLITICIZED? THERE SEEMS TO BE A CELEBRATORY SPIRIT HERE TONIGHT.
If I had a vote in this country I would have voted for the president, the one we've got. I think he's the best available president. Which doesn't mean I think it's all perfect. In a way I'd like him to be tougher minded
and less compromising on a number of fronts, both domestic and foreign, but, you know, I'll take it. I mean the alternative was McCain and Palin, and that's not thinkable.
SAVAGENYC: THE ARTS COMMUNITY IN EUROPE IS GROWING INCREASINGLY DIVIDED OVER THE DETENTION OF ROMAN POLANSKI AND HIS POSSIBLE EXTRADITION TO THE US WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THE SITUATION?
It's a very difficult problem. It's a fifty-fifty decision. On the one hand, no one is in favor of the sodomy of thirteen year-old girls, that's obvious. However, I also think, to put it simply, that, for me, the thing that swings my opinion is the fact that the girl concerned, now the woman concerned, has herself no desire to see him prosecuted. She's been saying for twelve years that she actually wants the charges dropped, that she doesn't want him to go to jail.
You know there's a problem of some people wanting to be, as it were, more Catholic than the Pope.
I mean if she can forgive him, then so can we, and frankly, nobody at the time was recommending a custodial sentence. I mean, it's not a good idea to run, when you're facing charges, and that is a problem.
But it's quite clear that what happened in that court between him and the judge is very murky,so my view is that 30-odd years or more, nobody, including the victim, wants this to come back to life. I think: let it rest.
I have a little theory that he will not come back but that's just a guess.