Brooklyn Heights neighbor/author Norman Mailer will be laid to rest in Provincetown, where he spent the majority of his final years, this week. New Orleans based writer Tom Piazza befriended Mailer in the early 80s. Whenever he would visit New York City, they'd lunch at Fortune House on Henry Street. The photo on the left was taken sometime in the late 90s. Piazza tells BHB that "Norman loved Brooklyn Heights".
He discussed his friendship with the author in 2003:
Best of New Orleans: In 1981, Piazza struck up a conversation at a party with a fellow writer, Peter Alson, who just so happens to be Mailer's nephew. "We just hit it off immediately," Piazza says. "We had a lot in common, and we just became famous friends right off the bat. Peter was working on his first novel, and I was working on my first novel, which never got published," Piazza says. "Mercifully."
Alson, it turned out, boxed with his uncle every Saturday morning — as well as with former light heavyweight champion Jose Torres, actor Ryan O'Neal and "various taxi drivers, out-of-work actors, all kinds of characters" — in a gym on 14th Street. "It was in a tenement building," Piazza recalls, "and you had to climb up a couple of really dusty flights of wooden stairs and you'd hear the clinking of the chains of the punching bags upstairs coming down to you."
Mailer was pleased to meet someone so familiar with his work and invited Piazza to step into the ring. "He was a very good little boxer," Piazza says. "He's very short, but he was quick on his feet, and he had all these greasy little moves he'd throw in. I don't know where he got all these little weird moves.
"It was very strange to box with him. I would hit him in the head, and I would think, 'Oh, shit! There goes another chapter of the next Armies of the Night or Executioner's Song.' It was terrible.
"Not that I pulled my punches," Piazza says, seriously. "I will say that he gave better than he got."