My Bro Hunt

March 25th, 2012

My brother Hunt and I have loads of friends in common and usually talk every  day. So when Anita Antonini at PMc magazine called and asked me to write a  story about him, I thought I’d just type while we talked (believe me, I asked  if it was okay ahead of time). I think this should offer some rare insight, as  I was kind of born into his extreme world.

We were both born in  Kittery, Maine (where my parents summered at the beach when my dad was at MIT  Graduate School in nautical architecture). When I was six weeks old, we moved  to Hawaii, and Hunt had hundreds of birds even at that time. In our family, we  were always taught about sex in avian terms (for real).

Few people  really stay at Hunt’s houses as often as I do with my wife and kids, so people  don’t really realize how extreme it all really is . . . how, like an  unfinished canvas, the houses are magically reworked and channel history and  lost worlds and beauty. Of course, he’s known for this, but he really does  have a sensational eye.

There is a giant alligator that lives out in  back of Albania plantation. Hunt’s exceedingly charming caretaker is named  Butch. One time we took a boat out into the bayou, and the driver’s husband  was named Butch, and there was another Butch in our group. And Hunt’s  caretaker Butch was with us. So we were never really sure which Butch anyone  was talking about. Very Butch trip. Lots of gators. And we also visited one of  his antiques dealers, who lives in a tower with a moat, surrounded by  alligators. I wish I was kidding.

Apparently, when Jude Law was shooting  ”All the King’s Men”at Albania, he and Butch really had it out. The house,  circa 1835, is entirely made of cypress, and Law kept smoking on the porch.  And Butch made it clear if Law smoked one more cigarette on the porch, Butch  would start shouting during his takes. This was back when he and the nanny and  the kids were also playing soccer on the back lawn. I don’t think they knew  about the gator and how fast he is.

Hunt never told us that  Lakeside plantation had been a hospital during the Civil War. We found out  after our last visit. And in the morning, at these houses, he’s always asking,  ”Did you see anything?” And then you ask why he is asking, and he just says,  ”Oh, nothing.”

A door swung open hard and hit me  once when I was taking a scouting shot of a red bedroom at the Cordts Mansion  for Elle Decor. I didn’t think anything of it until I saw Nicole Kidman in  ”The Others.” And then I got chills down my spine. When our son Finbarr was 4,  he shrieked in the downriver parlor at Cordts. And when we asked him what  happened, he said he saw flesh tones flashing by his eyes. Yeesh.

At  Albania there is a house for peacocks that is nearly the size of my house in  East Hampton. The kids loved feeding them. Lakeside plantation has tons and  tons of cute, friendly lizards outside. And at every restaurant within a  half-hour drive, everything is fried, except, maybe, if you’re lucky, a salad  or beer.

Below, copy link for my story . . . just out in PMc  magazine:

True  Great | PMC Magazine

Personality snapshots of truly great  individuals by Jeffrey Slonim

Life after the Academy Awards

March 1st, 2012

Been talking to other journalist friends, and the Academy Awards took their toll. One left coast scribe fell asleep on date night Monday before the movie rolled. And this writer took a red eye, closed my eyes, and the next thing I knew we were touching down at JFK. During Oscar week, I stayed at the Luxe hotel on Sunset at the edge of Brentwood. Perhaps a bit too tony for me. There was a tennis court. And the pool had canvas tented cabanas.  When I did my laps in the pool, I was the only one under age 70.  And it drives me nutty when the valet drives my car two feet and then puts his hand out for a tip. I would tip more if he just said, “Here’s the key and there is your car.” Sometimes he did a circle around the outdoor lot and then I had to do a another lap to get out. Not exactly eco-friendly. And then a minute after I checked out, I noticed that my key no longer opened the pool. I was up all night working and begged for a late check out. No luck. They gave me half an hour. Had to send my Oscar story to Gotham from the restaurant down the hill.
Accidentally found Bundy while looking for the Getty Museum. It just brings the whole O.J. trial back to see that word on a sign.

And then on an American flight at 9:45 p.m., I was just setting out a book on one seat, my computer on another, and ready to recline, when a flight attendant came up and suggested that I give up my seat (that I had just paid extra to get) so that she and her peeps could take over my empty row. They put me next to some guy with his size 11 shoes on the seat next to me. I was livid, until I passed out and woke up in New York, so it didn’t really matter, except that she had said: “I’m going to take care of you.” And she offered me booze and a free snack. Not interested. Taking care of me sounds like a free hotel in Maui or something REALLY fun to me, right?  H’mmm.