“Norman, let’s run.”
“I know, they spoke to me. But I have to clean up some business first. I think we could make a great team. Now here’s what I’m doing. I’m going to Provincetown for a week to think this over. Maybe we can get together for a night before I go. Then when I come back, we can make up our minds.”
“All right,” I said.
So two nights later there were about 40 people in the top floor of Mailer’s house in Brooklyn Heights. They were talking about the terrible condition the city was in, and of the incredible group of candidates the Democrats had in the mayoralty primary, which is on June 17. Norman Mailer began to talk about the right and the left mixing their flames together and forming a great coalition of orange flame with a hot center and I looked out the window at the harbor, down at a brightly lit freighter sitting in the black water under the window, and I was uneasy about Mailer’s political theories. I was uncertain of the vibrations. Then I turned around and said something about there being nine candidates for mayor and if New York tradition was upheld, the one who got in front in the race would be indicted. When I saw Norman Mailer laughing at what I said. I decided that he was very smart at politics. When I saw the others laugh, I felt my nerves purring.
Then he began to talk casually, as if everybody knew it and had been discussing it for weeks, about there being no such thing as integration and that the only way things could improve would be with a black community governing itself. “We need a black mayor,” Mailer said. “I’ll be the white mayor and they have to elect a black mayor for themselves. Just give them the money and the power and let them run themselves. We have no right to talk to these people anymore. We lost that a long time ago. They don’t want us. The only thing white people have done for the blacks is betray them.”
There hasn’t been a person with the ability to say this in my time in this city. I began to think a little harder about the prospects of Mailer and me running the city.
A different time, eh?