Undercurrents

Donald Trump, a man better known for brash impertinence than charm, describes in his book The Art of the Comeback a nearly pathological disdain for those who defile him by wanting to shake his hand. Palm Beach bartenders don't care about his hand, but they'd sure like a fair shake.

At Trump's late-night stomping grounds, 251 Sunrise, the help grumbles the billionaire is a stiff. Of all the celebrities, celebrity hangers-on, and wannabes who mingle at the chichi Palm Beach bar, The Donald is by far the worst tipper, according to bartenders. In fact, one bartender noted that Trump sometimes doesn't bother to pay his tab.

One Saturday evening in March, the swanky bar played host to Rod Stewart, Jenny McCarthy of MTV fame, and Trump, who arrived with an entourage to join the Palm Beach cell phone and silicone set. According to a bartender, most of the patrons paid their bills and tipped generously. "Trump," she sneered, "never gives anything."

Other bartenders confirmed similar behavior from the man who estimates his own self-worth at more than $3 billion. "On a $600 tab, he'll give maybe $30," one offered, then snickered, "Maybe."

The bartenders' theory is that Trump believes his tip is his presence, that by being there he lures scores of paying nobodies to the bar each weekend night.

So far he hasn't demanded a cut from those tips, but, who knows, he may start charging to shake his hand.

From the Everglades, a creative new use for New Times:
After the March 19 cover story on Seminole Chief James Billie, ("Big Chief Moneybags," Sean Rowe), Billie and his country music band were playing a relaxed Saturday-afternoon gig at Smallwood's Store, a waterfront trading post that dates to 1909 in middle-of-nowhere Chokoloskee, south of Everglades City.

As Billie came off the stage after the gig, a crew-cut young guy in shirt and jeans approached holding a copy of New Times with the chief's full-color picture on the cover. When the fan asked for an autograph, the chief, naturally flattered, started to sign the cover. "No," said the man, "turn to the inside -- there's more white space there."

When Billie flipped to the story page he found a surprise: a big green subpoena, summoning him to a deposition in a casino management lawsuit. Scrawled in bold, black Magic Marker across the New Times page were the words, "You Have Been Served," followed politely by, "Nothing Personal, Sir."

The surprise was the handiwork of private investigator Max Caulfield, who prides himself on serving enigmatic personalities like Billie. Since subpoenas served on Indian reservations tend to get thrown out by the courts, Caulfield started tracking the chief's off-the-reservation appearances and, when he read the New Times story, devised a strategy: "I decided to appeal to his ego."

When served, Billie looked Caulfield right in the eye -- then started laughing. "You're cool," decreed the chief, and had his photographer take their picture together.

Undercurrents wants to know about any and all political deals, media screwups, and particularly dumb memos from bureaucrats. Let us know. Call 954-233-1572, fax 954-233-1571, or e-mail undercurrents@newtimesbroward.com.

 
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