THE GREAT GATSBY is the best book I have ever read. I have no idea how many times I’ve read it but each time it’s as if it’s the first time. There have been four terrible movies made from this novel. One of the significant images in the novel is the optometrist billboard, a pair of eyes staring at you. There have been many essays written about the significance of this image. The easiest explanation is that it’s a portent of doom.
Chuck Pfeifer was a war hero in the Vietnam War, as much as you can be called any kind of hero in that travesty, but I’m not judging. Chuck did his duty with honor and received decorations. Chuck was incredibly handsome and he and his partner, Rick Levine, wanted me to be a director in their New York company to open an office in Los Angeles. I was happy with the representation I had, and was living large, so I really didn’t consider it seriously, but Chuck was persistent, and his company was enjoyable, (him, not his ‘company’).
I was living in Vail at the time, and commuting to wherever the jobs were, Los Angeles, New York. It was an easy commute because Vail was convenient to Denver airport, so I drove to the airport just about every weekend, to and fro. One weekend, I get into my car, and hit I-70 toward Vail. Just as I pass the outskirts of Denver, I see a huge billboard on the side of the road with an image of Chuck Pfeifer staring at me. It’s for Winston Cigarettes and it’s a simple photograph of Chuck holding a pack of cigarettes near his crotch, looking directly at the camera.
I chuckle to myself.
Sunday evening, on the way back to the airport there’s an identical billboard on the other side of the road. That’s enough. I called Chuck the next morning and I made the deal.
I haven’t read GATSBY since.