shtarker: “a Yiddish word defined by the lexicographer Sol Steinmetz as ‘a strong- minded person willing to wield power.'”—William Safire
irst of all, if you don’t like the Rolling Stones, you should. But even if you don’t like them or their music, you have to like a story about them involving Donald Drumpf, a story I somehow missed when it came out last summer. The Los Angeles Times, just three days ago, picked up the old story and it is so cool, so revealing of just who Drumpf really is even in real life, that it will give you great joy to read.
A little background: Michael Cohl is a big-time concert promoter who, as the Times pointed out, “has worked on massive tours by Michael Jackson, U2 and Barbra Streisand.” Back in 1989, the Rolling Stones began touring again after several years off-road. The band had just released its latest album, Steel Wheels. Michael Cohl hooked up with the Stones and, as the Times noted, “concocted an idea for a boxing-style pay-per-view event that, if marketed properly, would yield huge profits.” Cohl said, “I thought, geez, if I can separate the Stones from their own gig, and just concentrate on the pay-per-view, then I might pull it off.”
The problem was that he couldn’t get any takers for his big idea. Except one. Drumpf. Cohl explained:
…unfortunately, the only person I could get to kind of agree to the site fee we needed and to work it through was Donald Trump. Now I had one of those, “Oh God, how am I going to do this?” moments.
And I opened my big mouth in the meeting with The Rolling Stones where they go, “This is all great, but we’re not going to be affiliated with Donald Trump. At all. Screw you.” And I go, “I will control Donald Trump! Don’t you worry!”
At this point you already have to admire the Rolling Stones. They wanted nothing to do with Drumpf. But it gets better, and I will let Cohl explain it in full, as he did last summer:
So, we signed the contract. Donald agrees that he will not be in any of the promotion except in Atlantic City, and he will not show up at the gig! Holy shit! Well, the quick version is we go on sale. Eric Clapton was there, Axl Rose, Slash, John Lee Hooker – we had a fantastic show; sell out three shows.
Are you ready for the punchline? Three-hundred dollar tickets. That’s where they originated — $300, $250, $150 and it worked. It was spectacular. And that’s how it happened.
The Stones agreed to that ticket pricing in Atlantic City. It didn’t have the happiest of endings, though. It’s the night of the show.
The Stones had such power in those days that the 6:40 p.m. slot on the national evening news was going to be an interview with the Stones to talk about and promote the pay-per-view. At about 5:50 p.m. I get word that I have to come to the press room in the next building. I run to the press room in the next building and what do you think is happening? There’s Donald Trump giving a press conference, in our room!
I give him the [come here gesture]. “Come on, Donald, what are you doing? A) You promised us you wouldn’t even be here and, B) you promised you would never do this.” He says, “But they begged me to go up, Michael! They begged me to go up!” I say, “Stop it. Stop it. This could be crazy. Do what you said you would. Don’t make a liar of yourself.”
I go back to the dressing room. Five minutes later, he’s back up. They call me back over there. Holy shit. I call him out (again). Same thing happens. I say, “Donald. I don’t know if I can control this. Stop it.” I go back to the dressing room. And I leave my walkie-talkie on in the dressing room. Moronic, on my part.
They call me back, at which point Keith [Richards, the Stones’ great guitarist and co-writer with Mick Jagger] pulls out his knife and slams it on the table and says, “What the hell do I have you for? Do I have to go over there and fire him myself? One of us is leaving the building – either him, or us.” I said, “No. I’ll go do it. Don’t you worry.”
I run over. He’s up there again! I go [gives the come here gesture]. We go into the hallway. I said, “Donald. You lied. You broke your promise. One of two things is going to happen. You’re going to leave the building and, at 6:40, The Rolling Stones are going to speak on CBS News, or you’re not going to leave the building and I’m going to go on and do an interview to explain to the world why the pay-per-view was canceled. I know it’s your building and…” – and in my head I’m going, this is so crazy, right? I’m trying to throw Donald Trump out of his own building.
But, anyway, the bottom line is I look at Donald and said, “You and Marla (Maples) have to go. You’re fired.” He looks at me and goes berserk.
“You don’t know anything! Your guys suck! I promote Mike Tyson! I promote heavyweight fights!” And I notice the three shtarkers he’s with, in trench coats, two of them are putting on gloves and the other one is putting on brass knuckles. I go on the walkie-talkie and I call for Jim Callahan, who was head of our security, and I go, “Jim, I think I’m in a bit of trouble.” And he says, “Just turn around.”
I turn around. He’s got 40 of the crew with tire irons and hockey sticks and screwdrivers.
“And now, are you gonna go, Donald?”
And off he went.
And that was the night I fired Donald Trump.
Now, go out and by a Stones album, if not because of the music, because of this story about the night Donald Drumpf was thrown out of his own place, as he would say, just like a dog.