A few years ago Stephen Fry drove around the US in a London cab with a tv crew. I’ve seen a couple of episodes of the resulting tv series, and liked them. One of the places he visited was Atlantic City…
Would it not have been better to let the home of Monopoly, this seedy resort town and remnant of another way of holidaying, simply fall into the sea? Instead we are given an obscene Gehenna, a place of such tawdry, tacky, tinselly, tasteless and trumpery tat that the desire to run away clutching my hand to my mouth is overwhelming. But no, I must brave the interior of the most tawdry and literally trumpery tower of them all … The Trump Taj Mahal.
For taking the name of the priceless mausoleum of Agra, one of the beauties and wonders of the world, for that alone Donald Trump should be stripped naked and whipped with scorpions all along the boardwalk. It is as if a giant toad has raped a butterfly. I am not an enemy of developers, per se; I know that people must make money from construction and development projects, I know that there is a demand and that casinos will be built. I can pardon Trump all his vanities and shady junk-bonded dealings and financial brinkmanship, I would even forgive him his hair, were it not that everything he does is done with such poisonously atrocious taste, such false glamour, such shallow grandeur, such cynical vulgarity. At least Las Vegas developments, preposterous as they are, have a kind of joy and wit to them … oh well, it is no good putting off the moment, Stephen. In you go.
He’s exactly right, isn’t he – such poisonously atrocious taste, such false glamour, such shallow grandeur, such cynical vulgarity. That living room in Trump Tower…
Here’s another image of that living room, the one that inspired me to go looking for more:
It is repellent. It would be less hideous if he had simply constructed the whole thing out of blocks of cash.
He goes in.
All you need is here: mini-streets complete with Starbucks for people who hate coffee and KFC for people who can’t abide food; there is even a shop devoted entirely to the personality of Donald Trump himself, with quotes from the great man all over the walls: ‘You’ve got to think anyway, so why not think big?’ and similar comforting and illuminating insights that enrich and nourish the hungry human soul.
There’s a lot of horrible tat for sale.
There is nothing here that I would not be ashamed to be seen owning. Not a thing. Oh, must we stay here one minute longer?
Then he goes on into the casino.
Above my head glitter the chandeliers that for some reason Trump is so proud of.
‘$14 million worth of German crystal chandeliers, including 245,000 piece chandeliers in the casino alone, each valued at a cost of $250,000, and taking over 20 hours to hang,’ trumpets the publicity.
‘An entire two-year output of Northern Italy’s Carrera marble quarries – the marble of choice for all of Michelangelo’s art – adorn the hotel’s lobby, guest rooms, casino, hallways and public areas.’
And there you have it. It’s expensive. The end. That’s his entire aesthetic: it’s expensive.
Writing in the present (or rather, last April), Stephen Fry sums up:
Do please believe that to decry such offences against taste is emphatically not a kind of snobbery. Doubtless Trump and his supporters would see any attack on him on aesthetic grounds as sneering metropolitan elitism because they would choose not to understand the moral dimension at play here. It must be understood that bad taste on the monstrous scale that Trump disseminates and embodies is the most brutal crime against the human spirit – a snobbery that looks down with contempt.
If you don’t know Peter York’s book Dictators’ Homes you really should try to get hold of it. It demonstrates quite wonderfully and hilariously how a gross, shatteringly greedy appetite for power and gross, shatteringly vulgar taste go hand in hand. The ‘ruthless, ill-educated, ignorant and trashily vainglorious’ who want to rule us at any price can be read through their bedrooms, dining-rooms and studies.
And, leafing through the book, whose execrable, vomitous taste do you think is shown most exactly to match that of Trump and his towers and foul resort hotels? Why Saddam Hussein’s of course. Indistinguishable.
Maek you think.