Fly Me to the Moon

Kurt Andersen and Nora Ephron

Fly Me to the Moon

Kurt Andersen and Nora Ephron

Fly Me to the Moon
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Sept. 16 1999 12:40 PM

Kurt Andersen and Nora Ephron


One of my thousands of favorite things about New York is how weather-proof it mostly is. How it takes a three-foot snowstorm to shut it down, and even then the subways work. But all this changed a couple of weeks ago, when there was a flash flood that shut down the city completely. Absolutely flooded the subway system. Do you know why? I do. Because they're not spending enough money keeping the drains clean. This was in the newspapers, I think, but it's one of the nice side-effects of living with a former political journalist who is an expert on all sorts of things like tertiary sewage-treatment facilities. I just heard from New York that everyone is being sent home from work at 1 o'clock today; that would never have happened but for the incident a couple of weeks ago.


So you are thinking of canceling a book signing just because no one will come?  You must go. I insist.

Yesterday you wrote that the '90s don't exist as a culturally distinct decade. You are so wrong. The '90s began in around 1985, when the '70s ended. The '60s were about sex, the '70s were about drugs, and the '90s are about money. There were no '80s. They never happened. I know this: I am about to make a movie that takes place in the '80s, and when you make a list of what the '80s were, you come down to a list of what they weren't: no cell phones, no color computers, no SUVs, no botox, no Starbucks, no Web sites, no *69, etc. For the purposes of the movie, I think of the '80s as the moment just before everything that is currently happening happened.

This brings me to a thing I love to think about, especially when I fly to Los Angeles: the private plane. I didn't fly on one, I hasten to say. But I did read Vanity Fair on the plane, and if you look at their list of the New Establishment, 45 out of 50 of them have private planes or access to them. I'm sure the other five think of nothing but how to get them. There are people in Hollywood who would truly rather die than be seen flying commercial. In fact, last year one of my Hollywood friends was visiting New York and said he was going back to Los Angeles the next day. The next day I saw him and said, "I thought you were going home." "We couldn't get out," he said. Now, what he meant was not that he couldn't get a flight home--there are, as you know, dozens of flights to L.A. every day--but that he couldn't get the Warner jet. He actually stayed an extra day in New York rather than submit to the humiliation of American Airlines.

And guess what! This brings me to Ron Perelman. Yay. Or the Ron Perelmans of the world. Because if you really want to know how these guys get beautiful women to sleep with them, I'll tell you: They take them on their jets. The jet is a powerful aphrodisiac. The jet is the thing that causes the Patricia Duffs of the world to lose their minds. The jet is the thing that makes them all do the I'll-never-go-hungry-again thing. (Back to Gone With the Wind, so maybe it belongs on that list of the century's 10 best after all.) In fact, when Ron Perelman and Patricia Duff broke up, at the 1996 Democratic convention in Chicago, her friends told everyone (without irony) that one of the injustices of the breakup event was that Patricia was forced to fly commercial back to New York.

I wish you would write about private planes. Really.  I could go on forever.

My ghastliest show-business moments were spent with Dustin Hoffman, but bad as they were, there were nowhere near as bad as being told you've flunked an exam you haven't flunked and being forced to go to summer school (and, as the Times notes today, being punished by your parents for flunking said exam). The story in today's paper is truly horrible: These are kids with serious self-esteem issues anyway.

By the way, in today's Los Angeles Times is an article about Kenneth Starr, who gave a speech here in which he admitted to some qualms about his career as a special prosecutor. The man is clearly looking for a job.

I have a rule about who wins the presidency, too. Mine is the person with 1) the most authenticity and 2) the biggest balls. This is why W. is so dangerous. And your remark about Jesse Ventura truly strikes fear into my heart. Although someone gave me his autobiography for my birthday, and I feel you could not possibly have read it if you believe you could pull even the smallest lever for him.

Kurt Andersen was architecture critic for Time, co-founder of Spy, and editor of New York magazine. He now writes for The New Yorker, and his best-selling first novel, Turn of the Century, was published in May (click here to buy it). Nora Ephron is a screenwriter and director. Her films include Sleepless in Seattle, Michael and, most recently, You’ve Got Mail.