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Home » Culture and Criticism

8 Sick Burns On Trump And Mar-a-Lago From Madness Under The Royal Palms

Submitted by on May 25, 2017 – 6:11 PM2 Comments

Laurence Leamer's overwritten Palm Beach chronicle isn't great…except the parts dragging the Commander In Cheeto.

I picked it up because the cover implied that true crime awaited within, and while Leamer does discuss a murder, it's mostly a sweatily executed chronicle of the old guard's attempt to adjust to blah blah blah rich-people problems. He's going for a Dominick Dunne thing, I think, but with due respect for the place Dunne made for himself in his American life's second act, we really only needed one of him. We definitely don't need descriptions of a hostess "giving a throaty laugh that was her verbal signature. Her horsey chortling advertised that the prince had bestowed yet another wry jest on his hostess." "Horsey chortling" is actually a nice bit of business, economical. Too bad it's trampled by the rest of the graf. "Bestowed"? It's not a knighthood.

But while Madness Under The Royal Palms often strains for loftiness in its tone, that snotty attitude is more than welcome when the subject is the proprietor of Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump. The book came out in 2009, but few of its burns on our toddler president have lessened in degree. Below, the eight best.

By the early nineties, everything was falling apart, including his marriage to Ivana Trump. He had about nine hundred million dollars in personal debt, as well as three to four billion dollars in corporate debt, which led to three business bankruptcies though Trump never declared personal bankruptcy. He had not paid the mortgage on Mar-a-Lago for about two years, and sought to subdivide the seventeen-acre property into lots for eight other homes … but the Landmarks Preservation Commission turned the New York mogul down cold. (85)

Trump … said what he had to say and did what he had to do, to get what he wanted to get. He had no problem suing the town for fifty million dollars for turning down his previous plan, all the while having his minions present his new plan for a club at the town council meetings. (86)

Trump is…a man of the people who on special occasions greets guests at the door like Uncle Ho at Uncle Ho's all-you-can-eat buffet. He has the social skills of a populist politician … When Trump feels like playing the democrat, he is a man of the people…. (89)

And when he is hungry, he does not want the gussied-up cuisine on the Mar-a-Lago menu. At such moments, Tony Senecal, his butler, carries a silver plater full of cheeseburgers and French fries as big as small bananas to Donald's suite, and returns a few minutes later with a volcano of vanilla ice cream erupting in chocolate sauce. (90)

A couple pages later, it's noted that Senecal, who had lived in-house during the Post regime, was asked to leave when Trump realized he could make better money renting out Senecal's rooms.

Trump was the Wizard of Publicity, sitting behind his little machine sending out vast clouds of bright, dark, malevolent sandstorms, hail, mist — it did not matter how it looked as long as it made him more famous. (93)

This is following an incident in which Sean Combs allegedly headed from MaL to another, more conservative club down the beach to have sex with his mistress by the pool, then stormed back to Mar-a-Lago to complain to Trump about the security guard at the other club asking him to quit fuckin' in broad daylight. My kingdom for a Comey memo about THAT conversation.

When Marjorie Merriweather Post owned Mar-a-Lago, there was a tacit agreement that planes flying in and out of the airport would not pass directly over her estate. That agreement was long gone and PBIA was now a major facility … That one of the noisiest planes in the air arriving for the weekend was Trump's own Boeing 727 did not prevent the real estate magnate from raging against this outrageous incursion. … Lawsuits were Trump's Kalashnikov, a cheap and effective weapon to kill his opponents. (95)

The clubhouse [of the golf course] looks as if it had been built by a sultan who had seen too many Indiana Jones movies. (96)

And here's our populist politician responding to an intermediary asking whether Trump "was comfortable" with an openly gay couple joining the club. After shrugging that they could pay their hundred-grand membership fee like everyone else…

"I don't have any problem with it, but you don't want to yell fire in a crowded theater," he reportedly said. It was doubtless the first time that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes's famous opinion had been used to tell a gay couple that they should not flaunt their sexuality. (241)

Leamer's take on Palm Beach's LGBTQ community is not the most progressive either, honestly — phrasings like "the gays"; the word "flamboyant"; rundowns of their furnishings and habits that position gay Palm Beachers as vaguely exhausting exotic pets — and if Trump actually made that reference knowingly, I will eat a hat on TV, but: still.

I found Madness Under The Royal Palms in a summer-community bookstore, and it's a good enough book for summer, for that one total rain-out day at the beach house. The pictures aren't much better than the writing and the "insights" into the trashy behavior of the super-rich aren't anything you haven't seen more elegantly elsewhere, but the little (rotten) Easter eggs reminding us that Trump hasn't changed, and won't, are…something.

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  • lsn says:

    Seriously I'd never heard of Mar-a-Lago before the current President. And now I have even less desire to go there… as for Coombs, really? I mean, just… really?

  • DensityDuck says:

    "The clubhouse [of the golf course] looks as if it had been built by a sultan who had seen too many Indiana Jones movies. (96)"

    This is kind of what I think whenever someone takes me to eat at a Cheesecake Factory restaurant. It's like, the whole time I'm there I'm thinking "this is what people with no class think "class" looks like, this is what people do when they think that throwing enough money at something can make it be tasteful".

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