TIMOTHY NOAH AUGUST 2, 2012
The New York Times's Gore Vidal obituary is attracting attention today for the lengthy correction at its bottom, which includes the unsurprising news that Vidal and his live-in partner of half a century, Howard Austen, had sex on at least one occasion.
If we're going to get into that kind of detail, then let me offer one more correction. The obit says that Vidal's maternal grandfather, U.S. Senator Thomas Gore, lived in "a sprawling home in the Rock Creek Park neighborhood of Washington." But ... there is no Rock Creek Park neighborhood in Washington. Rock Creek Park is a big park running north-south through the center of Washington, like Central Park in New York City, though Rock Creek Park is more irregularly shaped. Many, many neighborhoods border Rock Creek Park, and there are lots of houses in these multiple neighborhoods situated on lots that back onto Rock Creek Park, which is really quite lovely. I assume that Sen. Gore lived in one of these. (Too bad he couldn't enjoy the view.) But that doesn't help you figure out where the house actually was. To say Thomas Gore lived in Washington's "Rock Creek Park" neighborhood would be like saying John Lennon lived in Manhattan's "Central Park" neighborhood (as opposed to "Central Park West"). It's true that the Washington Post has a Web pagepurporting to identify, among the city's many neighborhoods, a neighborhood called "Rock Creek Park." But if you click through you'll find that what it calls "Rock Creek Park" is virtually the entire city, plus a healthy chunk of Maryland. I assume the Web page, like yesterday's havoc on Wall Street, was generated by a rogue algorithm.