Swelter 3

Back to Miami, cash-clogged but somehow lacking swank. A talent scout from MTV coming down this weekend from New York City, looking for a few good visuals suitable for the neat parameters of television truth. The formerly valid Grace Jones, all about the visual, reduced to singing birthday tributes at Bar None. On a more seemly note, MDCC Wolfson Campus' Cultura del Lobo series bringing John Kelly's Pass the Blutwurst, Bitte to the Colony Theater, incorporating bits of Egon Schiele, Adolphe Adam, and the Vienna Boys Choir. And people say Miami doesn't have any culture. Staying on the low road personally, catching Ivana Trump's hell-hath-no-fury number on The Tonight Show ("You know Donald -- he'd do anything for a hundred bucks") and reading about the triumph of Gump in Vanity Fair. The saga of a down-home idiot savant becoming a movieland cash cow, Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis banking a cool 40 million each. In true Hollywood style, Gump author Winston Groom given a cursory, thoroughly insulting acknowledgement by the the film's principals during the Academy Awards. He's only a writer, and after all, what has he done for us lately?

The Gump phenomenon, what with the collected thoughts of Chairman Gump and a Gump cookbook, netting Groom some twelve million dollars A an unbelievable rags-to-riches score for any serious novelist. And then, of course, there's Gump II. Despite a folksy persona, the gifted Groom started off as a well-bred, good-looking young writer in New York, adorning his share of dinner parties and scaling Upper East Side society. The world by the balls, and yet during a night of South Beach carousing last November, Groom evidencing perfect recall for every slight, remaining gloriously nasty: "I'll never forgive that bastard -- he couldn't get change at a Texaco station now -- for not giving me a blurb eight years ago.... That venomous son-of-a-bitch has a mind like a CIA mole.... When the Washington Post did those Gump-backlash editorials, I wrote a letter in Gump's voice -- it's just a simple story about human dignity -- and they wouldn't publish it, after I'd stayed at Kay Graham's place on the Vineyard. Now I use the piece in my speeches: At $20,000 a pop, that works out to $505 a word. Serves them right."

Throughout that grand evening, taking a ride on the underbelly of the American dream, Groom a man after our own heart. Never forget, never forgive. In this country, even the lucky don't get out alive.

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