Elaine’s, one of my favorite places in New York, is closing tonight. Elaine Kaufman, the longtime owner—and one of the best friends a writer could have—died a few months ago, and the joint just couldn’t manage without her.
One of the best nights of my life was spent at Elaine’s, in the company of writers old and young, at the wake held for W.C. Heinz, who wrote “Death of a Racehorse”—from which this blog’s name was lifted—among many other great things.
A few of us read “Death of a Racehorse” out loud to an audience that, had I been less drunk, would have made me shit my pants just by its having assembled. Later, five of us ended up at a round table together: Charles P. Pierce of Esquire and the Boston Globe; ESPN’s Wright Thompson and Jeff MacGregor; and Kevin Van Valkenburg of the Baltimore Sun.
It was one of those great, beautiful nights when we shared each other’s dreams and stories and company. I could never do justice to it.
Luckily, Kevin Van Valkenburg can. He’s done us the favor of writing about it, and allowing me to post his words here. My thanks to him for that.
Kevin’s a great man—a husband, a father, a writer, a traveler, a drinker, a reader, a romantic, and a beast. But mostly Kevin’s a dreamer. Of the five of us, I would bet that he’s the one most likely to have already been on the moon.
If this is your introduction to him, I hope you like what you read here. You’ve been missing out. If you know Kevin, well, then you already know what you’re in for: You’re in for grand company, which is what Elaine’s was all about, on our night there, on every night there, and now, tonight, with closing time coming down hard, and just enough time for one last wake.
Mr. Kevin Van Valkenburg, the floor, my friend, is yours: