“The Pride” is my first novel, originally published by Kensington Books -www.kensingtonbooks.com – in 2005. The sequel, “What You Sow”, was published (also by Kensington) in 2006.
“The Pride” describes a world where politics, investment banking, corporate finance and a multitude of passions intersect. Although “The Pride” is a novel and therefore fiction, it describes a world and a way of life that is very real.
During the coming weeks, chapters of “The Pride” will be published on this site and I hope that you will be interested enough in reading “The Pride” that you will want to get the entire book, available at http://www.amazon.com, http://www.bn.com, http://www.borders.com and at many community-based bookstores around the United States.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy “The Pride”.
I remember the end of that evening. When the last guests had been served and all the tables had been cleaned and set for Saturday’s brunch service, I sat in the now dimly lit dining room, sipping some Felipe II brandy and simply inhaled the wonderful, sentient experience of finally being where I wanted to be. The pianist in the bar that is just off the dining room was playing George Shearing’s “Someone to Watch Over Me” in a haunting, yet lilting style, the million billion lights of Manhattan reflected off the waters of the river. Off in the distance I could even make out the microdots of lights that were jumbo jets circling Kennedy Airport, bringing more dreamers like me to America at that late hour.
It was at this moment that I had my own personal revelation, an epiphany of sorts. The outline of my personal dream came to me. If I could have anything in this wonderful world amidst this explosion of humanity, I would have a restaurant like this. I would serve fine food and great wine and mingle with the best of the best in the world. I would bathe in the reflected starlight of my guests and friends and patrons and be more than happy. I would be fulfilled. At that point all I knew about the restaurant business was how to wash dishes, but one night in an actual restaurant told me that my dream was the right one for me.
And it was at that point the owner of the Water Club, Buzzy O’Keefe, happened to come by, checking on his restaurant before closing up for the night. I later came to know Buzzy as a very smart businessman, who was able to build a successful restaurant based on his ability to understand people. That particular night he seemed to be able to read my mind, almost seeing my dreams as if they were being broadcast on a wide-screen television. I have never found out if maybe he had the same dreams once upon a time.
Buzzy noticed me in my late night, after work reverie and told me that he had been watching me and that he liked my work. He offered me a full time waiter’s position and I accepted it in a heartbeat, afraid that he might change his mind before my dream started to come true and I wound up waking in the darkness of disappointment. And that turned out to be the true beginning of my beginning in the restaurant business.
I didn’t learn how to be a good waiter. I learned how to be a great waiter. I also learned how to be a great wine steward and a great maitre’d. Our guest have to decide for themselves as to whether I have become a great restaurateur when they visit Dorothy’s, just south of the Chelsea Piers and north of the World Financial Center, on the West Coast of Manhattan.
Duringthe next decade of working my way up the ladder at the Water Club, I learned about a lot more than the restaurant business. I learned about life in the greatest city in the world,
Working in that restaurant was like having a ringside seat at the wildest, most bizarre and most beautiful circus ever. The Water Club was a veritable epicurean carnival. The supermodels and the tycoons, the actresses and the hustlers, the sycophants and the pseudo-hip, the has-beens and the wannabees, all were part of the cavalcade that I was privileged to observe and serve. There are many jobs that an immigrant from Norway could land in New York City. I have always felt that I got the best. I have no idea what second would be, but it wouldn’t even be close.
Even now, as I stand on the deck of Dorothy’s, overlooking the Hudson River’s shimmering wavelets, I reflect upon my good fortune. I also reflect upon the fact that the Law of Unintended Consequences controls so much of life. That “Law” is a term used by my friend, benefactor and business partner, Paul Taylor.
Paul is a lawyer, businessman and a charter member of The Pride. Indeed, it was Paul who first made me even realize that there was something called “The Pride”. And it was Paul who first introduced me to the Law of Unintended Consequences.
The “Law” goes something like this – whatever your plan might be, there is always a strong probability that something is going to happen that is totally unplanned. To put it another way, one can be assured that something will occur as the result of a plan that will be unplanned.
To put it yet another way – be prepared for the unexpected. And it was this Law, which introduced me to Paul in the first place. It was the Law that resulted in my being a part owner and host of Dorothy’s by the Sea.
Despite it cosmopolitan veneer and its ultra liberal reputation, when it comes to matters of race New York City can be strangely conservative and segregated. As a schoolchild in Norway I read that there was a time in this country when there were signs on public restrooms, hotels and restaurants, restricting access to whites only. As an immigrant and an outsider I realize that it is easy to be critical as the ethnic and racial differences that we in Norway face are much more.
Nevertheless, upon getting off my SAS flight in New York City in the late 1980’s, I was certain that the racial divide about which I had learned was a thing of the past, especially in New York City. I was also certain that since all the civil rights bills had been passed that there was true integration, certainly in a major international city like New York. I could not have been more wrong.
When I was working in the kitchens of various restaurants, I had no idea of what was going on outside in the serving area. A dirty plate needs washing. That was all I needed to know. However it was not too hard to notice certain realities when I started working the tables at the Water Club. The first time I could take a moment to look around it was obvious-the complexion and racial makeup of the patrons made me think I had made a wrong turn coming out of the kitchen and that I was back in Oslo. Where were the black people?
I often wondered why a question like this would even come to the mind of one of the finest sons of Bergen, Norway. And I realized that the answer was simple and so very obvious.
When I came to America, I had seen black people on virtually all the sports programs and in many movies and television shows. Black music, black fashion and black style seemed to me to be very real aspects of American culture. As someone observing America through various media presentations, black people seemed to me to be a major and significant component of American culture, far out of proportion to the 12% of the population that black people represent.
It was with a dawning realization that I finally took note of the fact that very few black people ever came into the Water Club as guests. Over the years, I learned that it was not just the Water Club – it could be Lutece, the Gotham Grill, “21”, Windows on the World – it was almost as if someone had hung a “Whites Only” sign on the door that only blacks could see and read.
A dozen years later I am still trying to come to grips with this New York City phenomenon. Many books have been written and many books will be written about this particularly New York phenomenon. It is a phenomenon that correctly characterizes New York City as the most diverse and cosmopolitan city in the world. Yet this city is virtually segregated at the highest levels of commerce, culture and social intercourse.
True to the Law of Unintended Consequences, it would stand to reason that, at a place like the Water Club, the de facto segregation was noticeable. And, true to the Law of Unintended Consequences, and in a strange and almost predestined way, it would stand to reason that I would come to know Paul Taylor and learn about The Pride.
It would also stand to reason that meeting Paul and learning about The Pride would open yet another new and exciting chapter in my life.