Taki’s Best (And Worst)

circa 1955: Portrait of New York Yankees outfielder Mickey Mantle (1931 - 1995) at a baseball stadium, readying to swing a bat. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

As a child, the only list I had ever heard of was the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted. Then, a lady who wrote about fashion, Eugenia Sheppard I believe, made a list of the ten best-dressed women of New York, and the dam was broken. Everyone started making lists. Lists appeared listing the best and worst lists, and the craze even got to Europe, where the Almanach de Gotha codifies and names the true aristocracy but does not list them in order of importance.

So, this being the 400 Issue, I will offer Quest readers a few lists of my own choosing—at times listing as many as ten, others as few as two. (It is very hard to find more than two extremely disgusting couples.)

The two most disgusting couples in New York are: Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, and Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

The ten sexiest women during my lifetime are: Ava Gardner, Jane Greer, Cyd Charisse, Betty Grable, Keira Knightley, Dorothy Paley, Mimi d’Arcangues, Anne Marie de Rougemont, Victoire de Ganay, and Kiki Wittgenstein.

The five worst journalists in America: William Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Max Boot, Nicholas Kristof, and Charles Blow.

The five greatest American presidents: George Washington, Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan.

The ten greatest military men: Robert E. Lee, Hasso von Manteuffel, George Patton, Heinz Guderian, Erwin Rommel, Stonewall Jackson, Michel Ney, Leonidas of Sparta, and Napoleon Bonaparte.

The five greatest living American statesmen: Henry Kissinger, Henry Kissinger, Henry Kissinger, Henry Kissinger, and Henry Kissinger.

The ten greatest characters in a novel: Dick Diver in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is The Night; Jake Barnes in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises; Prince Andrei in Leo Tolstoy’s War & Peace; Pierre in the same; Raskolnikov in Fyodor Dostoyevski’s Crime & Punishment; Steven Rojack in Norman Mailer’s
An American Dream; Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher In the Rye; Captain Rinaldi in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell To Arms; Howard Roark in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead; and Philip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep.

The ten best male movie actors of all time: Burt Lancaster, William Holden, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Tyrone Power, Montgomery Clift, Mickey Rooney, William Powell, Gary Cooper, and Clark Gable.

The two most useless institutions ever: the United Nations and the European Union.

The three greatest horses in
history: Napoleon’s Marengo, Robert E. Lee’s Traveler, and Roy Rogers’ Trigger.

The ten most fun restaurant-nightclubs of all time in New York: El Morocco, The Stork Club, Nell’s, Elaine’s, Le Cirque, Mortimer’s, Billy Reed’s Little Club, 21, Toots Shor’s,
and the Persian Room.

The ten greatest New York Yankees: Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Billy Martin, Allie Reynolds, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Casey Stengel, Hank Bauer, Don Mattingly, and Thurman Munson.

The two best New York newspapers ever: the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Post. The worst: the New York Times.

The five most beautiful New York buildings: Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building, the Empire
State Building, the Plaza Hotel,
the Dakota.

The most obnoxious man in a city with close to 8 million obnoxious people: Bernie Madoff.

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