Searching For Wesley Clark
“In 38 years of service in the United States Army, Wesley K. Clark rose to the rank of four-star general as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. Since retiring from the military in 2000, he has become an investment banker, businessman, commentator, author and teacher. In September 2003, he answered the call to stand as a Democratic candidate for President of the United States.” —Wesley K. Clark & Associates
“After recently filing for divorce from his wife of 46 years, retired General Wesley Clark is now dating 30-yearold online entrepreneur Shauna Mei, was rumored to have attended Burning Man a few weeks ago, and has apparently been spotted hanging out in clubs in the Meat Packing District of Manhattan” —GQ (September 12, 2013)
My search for General Wesley Clark starts at Simyone Lounge, known as SL to patrons that consist mainly of models, socialites and rich businessmen. Specifically, my search starts outside SL. It was here, months ago, that Chris Brown and his entourage of several dozen hangers-on stampeded in and crowded most of the exits.
How embarrassed would my ghost be, I thought, if a fire ignited inside SL and I died because Chris Brown’s “people” were too dense to walk through before succumbing to smoke inhalation? I vowed that this would be the only time I ever set foot in SL.
The bouncer blinks a few times behind his oval glasses. He’s been staring at the photo of General Clark for an unsettling amount of time. I ask him again if he has ever seen this man ever, anywhere. “No,” he says, clearly hiding something. Finally he breaks down.
“You should speak to the club manager.”
The club manager, as luck would have it, is a short, wellgroomed man who I recognize. If you are an underage girl without ID, he usually pulls you aside and says, “PLEASE BE CAREFUL TONIGHT,” before sending you inside the club. I hold up Clark’s picture. Has he been in tonight?
Is he sure?
“I would remember seeing somebody like that…Why are you looking for him?”
Does he look familiar at all?
“Aside from the fact that he looks like every third member of Congress?”
I find two very mellow looking bros leaning on a metal barricade in front of the club. They’re both wearing denim- on-denim. I ask if they have seen The General. Lifting his head only slightly and hardly opening his eyes, one of the bros speaks.
“Is he your dad or something?”
I explain that he is not.
“Is he lost?”
He may very well be lost, I tell them.
I make my way to the place next door, which is not a nightclub but has a velvet rope because the Meatpacking District is horrible. The doorman here is very eager to help me.
“I don’t think I’ve seen him,” he says, fiddling with a button on his grey suit jacket. He calls over the bouncer. “Someone like that’d definitely stick out here,” the bouncer laughs. “I don’t know where someone like that would be…he looks like he’s 70 or something.”
“Would he travel alone?”
Just then, a very imposing Hulk-Hogan-blonde woman taps me on the shoulder. “Is this SL?” she says in my ear.
Walking back towards 9th Avenue, I’m confronted with a young-ish man in a burgundy velvet blazer with paisley lapels. His outfit is nearly as ostentatious as The General’s beribboned uniform. I assume they must know each other.
I hold up Clark’s photo and ask if he’s seen him.
“He crawled into my penis,” he laughs.
His orange-skinned female friend congratulates him on such a clever response. I ask if The General will be able to get out of his penis. He thinks for a moment.
“No, he’s in there. He’s inside of my penis.”
My boots-on-the-ground strategy having failed, I decide to check Terry’s Diary, the blog run by fashion photographer Terry Richardson. Richardson often documents New York City nightlife so it’s at least possible that Clark will show up in one of his photos. I scroll past Amanda Lepore, Lohan, Harry Bee, Sky Ferreira…no sign of The General.
Next I reach out to Cat Marnell, the former beauty editor of xoJane who famously quit with the announcement, “Look, I couldn’t spend another summer meeting deadlines behind a computer at night when I could be on the rooftop of Le Bain looking for shooting stars and smoking angel dust with my friends…”
Surely Cat knows where The General is or what he is doing. She grew up right outside of Washington, after all.
Marnell replied to my email, “Anytime a famous politician or D.C. person like that is in a nightclub it means they are with really wealthy people who give them money for their passion projects or campaigns or whatever.” Her opinion? “He’s singing for his supper. Snooze.”
In 2004, General Clark launched a political action committee called “WesPAC - Securing America’s Future.”
Reached for comment, WesPAC’s former Deputy Director, explained that the PAC is no longer in existence. (The domain WesPAC2004.com is now for sale). When I ask if anyone might be able to confirm or deny the rumors about The General’s hard-partying habits, she suggests that I “try the Internet.”
I’m just about to give up when I hear back from DJ Michael Cavadias. DJ’s always have the best gossip. He told me that he had “not personally” seen General Clark but apparently “he has been making the rounds at every club on the Lower East Side and in the Meatpacking District.”
Cavadias continues, “I heard that he’s started DJ’ing, too… but that’s just what I heard.”
I ask if he’s heard what type of music The General has been DJ’ing.
“Mostly reggaeton. I heard it’s a mix of reggaeton, death metal and show tunes. From what I’ve heard, he plays all three at the same time. So, he plays three songs simultaneously and he likes to turn the treble all the way up and play it with no bass.
“Look, I can’t verify any of this, but I’ve heard that he’s just been coming in and playing these really, I think, quite innovative sets. But it’s just what I’ve heard.”
I have spent the last few days in something of a depression. Maybe The General and I are simply not destined to party together. Like most sad 20-year-old girls in New York, I have found myself at Marquee on 27th and 10th.
As I scan the crowd upstairs for Clark, I feel something cold on my back. A champagne flute. A fairly large group of Japanese businessmen are toasting something and they are trying to get my friend and me to join. Surely one of them knows Wes. I show the tallest of them Clark’s picture and ask if he has seen him here tonight.
I ask what he’s doing.
I ask what he’s drinking.
“I don’t know.”
I ask the Japanese businessman if he knows who Clark is.
“He is my father.”
And then I see him, his glistening white hair a beacon of hope in the distance, the still point in a turning world.
Could it be General Wesley Clark?
Maybe-Clark makes his way to the table next to me and with the confidence of a four-star general or just an intoxicated, rich, old guy, he comes up and whispers, “Perfect.”
“Um, hi. Are you Wesley Clark?”
He is German.