29 November 2007

Rest in Peace, Bobby V

Ah yes, my boy Bobby V; the piano-playing, coke sniffin, Bridgehampton restaurateur who fed Truman Capote his liquid lunch most days - died in obscurity on Tuesday as a taxi driver in Huntington, Long Island. Cue that Price Is Right tuba fart when someone loses...

Bobby had a healthy appetite for the booze and the coka and was forced out of his own business many years ago. But his name lives on at the Bobby Van's in Bridgehampton, as well as at four steakhouse outlets in Manhattan and two in DC.

The one I know best is a stone's throw away inside the Helmsley Building; the building that basically swallows Park Avenue whole like the gaping mouth of a giant liger bitchface.

Upon entering Bobby V's Park Avenue burger joint, one is greeted with the sight of a credenza groaning under the weight of large bottles of wine. A bar full of total Johnson's is on the left and looking into the 100-seat dining room, one sees the 30-foot high ceiling and windows that overlook Park Avenue. It's a great place to meet with The Total Johnsons about some spreadsheet-related bullshit at work while eating marbled Porterhouse ape-steaks and behemothic Maine Lobsters in madras shorts and boat shoes.

In his book about the Hamptons, Philistines at the Hedgerow, gossip-insider Steven Gaines called Bobby V's "an oasis of warmth and country bonhomie in the bleakness of the gray Hamptons winter"; yeah well ol' Bobby V was "reduced to driving a cab and was on dialysis" at the end, said my source who spent many a pleasant evening at the original East End restaurant - where Truman Capote would order "my orange thingee," which turned out to be 4 parts vodka, one part orange juice.

The watering hole became a hot spot the moment it opened in 1969, drawing such other regulars James Brady, George Plimpton, James Jones, Kurt Vonnegut, John Knowles, and helped establish the Hamptons as an A-list resort.

Van's ex-wife, Marina, had him cremated with no service and no announcement.

Bobby was 64.

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