October 29, 2010

BRONX CHEERLEADER:

Recalling a New York Character, in Fiction and Real Life (JAMES BARRON, 10/29/10, NY Times)

Tom Wolfe said Burton B. Roberts, the model for a cranky character in Mr. Wolfe’s 1987 best-seller “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” “had such a huge impact on my life, it’s hard to know where to start.”

Facing the crowd at Judge Roberts’s funeral on Tuesday, Mr. Wolfe paused, as if he were waiting for instructions.

“Burt’s yelling,” he said, alluding to Judge Roberts’s tendency to use his thunderous voice to tell people the facts as he wanted them presented.

Mr. Wolfe said Judge Roberts, who died on Sunday at age 88, was a “totally honest, totally compassionate, totally strong man who opened up so much of the world for me.” He also repeated what some in the crowd of judges and lawyers said before the hourlong service began: Judge Roberts was one of those larger-than-life New York characters.

“There could be 20, there could be 50 people in a room, but Burt took it over,” Mr. Wolfe said to the mourners at Riverside Memorial Chapel on the Upper West Side. [...]

Mr. Roberts also recited “An Ode to the Bronx,” which he said Judge Roberts had delivered “in response to some judges from Buffalo who were criticizing the Bronx with its high crime rate.” [...]

I see thee in my dreams, my dear beloved Bronx.

Thy face to me is fairer by far than the face of Yonkers.

I love thy charm, I love thy grace,

I love the beauty of thy face.

I love thee Bronx, I love thee well

Anywhere else, a living hell.



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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 29, 2010 4:08 PM
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