What did you think of Donald Trump a decade ago?

From all the way back in 1989:

I’ve been a Dave Barry fan since I was a college student, and that about summed up my feelings about Trump: Someone who held himself up as the epitome of “classiness” and “success” but was in reality tacky, faintly ridiculous, and whose business ventures were more likely than not to end in bankruptcy.

By around 2012, it was becoming more clear to me that Trump was a racist demagogue, but he still seemed more like a “blowhard” than a threat to the Republic. At the beginning of his candidacy it was still hard to take him seriously. “Donald Trump, President of the United States!” A joke, right?

It was only as he moved closer to becoming the president of my country that I began to truly despise the man.

**What did you think of Donald Trump a decade ago?

**In 2008 I thought of Donald Trump as a rich real estate con-man who got famous screwing over Merv Griffin on some kind of real estate deal.

In the mid-nineties he screwed over my old home town of Bridgeport with a bullshit development deal.

^This. Especially with the whole ‘The Donald’ thing.

Al I knew if trump was that he was the go-to personification of a rich real estate developer. He owned a lot of buildings. If you needed to make a reference to “rich New Yorker”, trump was to one you used. I cringe now when I hear him referenced in old Law & Order episodes.

A joke about trump I remember from back in the day (someone like Letterman used it): trump on a roof, looking over Manhattan skyline, points at buildings and says “Own it. Own it. Want it. Own it.”

He went through a lot of “hot babe” wives.
As I never lived in NYC, I wasn’t aware of the details. I wouldn’t have known about bankruptcies, not paying contractors, the genuine sliminess of the man. I wish I still didn’t. I wish he was still NYC’s problem, and not all of ours.

On a personal level, I knew of him mostly as a rich punchline. Blowhard guy with lavish tastes (gold!) who had multiple bankruptcies so he couldn’t have been all that good at it.

Professionally, we were bidding on construction work for the Trump building in Chicago and were warned through the grapevine to include a “Trump factor” of 30-40% because Trump would screw you by at least that much, claiming bullshit things like never having agreed to this or being dissatisfied with that until he was paying far below the contract and just threaten you with a million dollars worth of lawyers if you didn’t shut up and take it. Fortunately, we didn’t get the job since the guy who did later said to my boss that it was the worst job he ever had and he was indeed fucked over time and again until he wasn’t even making a profit. So that was my main impression of Trump.

I vaguely knew of him as a kid in the 90s because I read MAD magazine, and they referred to him occasionally as a smug, conceited, tasteless asshole. Then I saw him on one of the Home Alone sequels. After he got extra famous for being on a reality show I kind of figured he couldn’t be that rich, because why would someone who was actually rich and important stoop to being on reality television? Could you imagine Steve Jobs joining the cast of Survivor? Or Bill Gates on the Real World? Real rich people had better things to do. I laughed when I saw he was one of the 30 or so guys running for the Republican nomination early in 2008.

Then I went back to ignoring Trump until 2015 or so.

I don’t recall having heard of him.


I was surprised to find, among my old comics, a magazine which used him as a joke (c. 1992). If you’d asked me who that guy they were mocking was, I would either have had to answer “no idea” or, at most, recognized him as “Ivana Trump’s husband, she’s on the glossies sometimes.”

I thought he was an obnoxious showman in 2008 (and for years prior). Gold plated, bad hair, good at getting in the papers, trading in his women for younger models every few years. Essentially, he just struck me as an icon of that 80s wealth worship that just never went away.

He was big on the East Coast. I’ve hated him since the early 1990s when about 12 of my friends and acquaintances were fired from Taj Mahal. We have that “down the shore” thingy where a bunch of teens would rent a house for the summer, make mad dollars. They ended up taking buses and buying bikes to get to jobs much further than Atlantic City.

Can’t remember exactly when I became aware of him first, but I vaguely remember “news” about the whole Ivana debacle and can’t remember a time I didn’t see him as a narcissistic (expletive) with a fondness for putting his surname on things.

It’s funny, I actually have a good answer to this question.

I’m 32. I didn’t live through the 80s (I mean, not in a culturally conscious sense - obviously I was alive) and I wasn’t paying attention during the 90s to Trump’s career. And I never watched reality shows, so I didn’t know anything about his persona on the Apprentice. There was one thing, and one thing only, that I knew about Donald Trump, other than how he looked and the fact that he was very rich and lived in New York:

I had a book as a teenager called “Get Strong”, one of many “teenage motivational books” given to me by my parents. The book was by a guy named Jake Steinfeld, who built a successful career selling fitness programs. And periodically in the book, he would provide quotations from other successful people interspersed with his own narrative. This is one of them, from Donald Trump:

“As I said earlier, I’ve always had a personal thing about cleanliness, but I also believe it’s a very good investment. For example, if you want to sell a car and you spend five dollars to wash and polish it and then apply a little extra elbow grease, suddenly you find you can charge an extra four hundred dollars— and get it. I can always tell a loser when I see someone with a car for sale that is filthy dirty. It’s so easy to make it look better.”

That quote actually really stuck with me - I think I was probably about 14 when I read the book - no, I didn’t know it by heart or anything, I did have to Google for it just now. But it did stick with me. I felt it was a very good point. During my teenage and college years I did actually sell numerous things on eBay, and every time, I remembered that quote, and made sure they were clean and that I took pictures of them that made them look good, and it did help them sell.

Today I am a real estate agent. Although I work primarily representing buyers, I have listed a handful of houses over the past three years. Every time, I made goddamn sure that the houses were as CLEAN as possible; that they were staged (had some attractive furniture and decorations set up - with the exception of one house that was already occupied and the owners had tasteful decorations) - and that the pictures of them were good (I worked as a freelance photographer before real estate, and currently work a second job as a photographer for a classic car dealership, so that part is easy for me.) But it’s not easy for others. I consistently see listings (when I search for homes for my buyers) with pictures that look hideous; dark, poorly composed, cluttered rooms or vacant ones that look dreary with no furniture; just awful in every way. And I’ll keep seeing those listings on the market for months, because they don’t move, because the presentation sucks.

Buyers, or agents looking for houses for their buyers, see large, bright, clear, high-contrast, well-composed photos of a property, and it gets them in the door to see it and potentially buy it.

All of this can be traced back to that initial quote from Donald Trump that I read (not even in a book that was written by him, just a quote.) It’s actually made a pretty substantial impact on my life. At this point, I think about it and it just seems like “common sense”, not something distinctively Trumpian. But if I hadn’t initially read that quote, I guess it’s possible that I could have wound up just not caring about presentation/salesmanship in that way.

But, still, until 2011 when the Birther shit started happening, despite taking that quotation to heart, I still didn’t really know anything about Donald Trump other than that he was a good salesman, lived in New York, and had weird hair. I just didn’t think about him.

I certainly never imagined that he was as obnoxious and generally unlikable as he has turned out to be. But again, I never watched The Apprentice, I knew next to nothing of his public persona.

If you live in the NYC area, which I have since 1978, he’s been shoved down your throat by the tabloids since the early 1970s.

He first hit the papers by denying apartments rentals to black people, along with his old man Fred Trump. Fred’s history goes further back, including connections to the Ku Klux Klan (not terribly common to Queens businessmen), and having a snarky protest song written about him by Woody Guthrie, who was once one of his renters.

I’ve mentioned many times here how he tore down the beautiful Bonwit Teller building on Fifth Avenue to erect the disgusting Trump Tower, how he promised to donate the historic Art Deco bas-reliefs to the Metropolitan Museum, and then had his illegal immigrant workers jackhammer them to dust in the middle of the night when he learned it would cost him a couple thousand bucks to move them uptown.

Follow that up with making his mistress Marla Maples make a statement about how he gave her “the best sex I’ve ever had!”, which I had to endure seeing as every tabloid headline on the newsstands for several hours.

So ten years ago I was thoroughly sick of him, and considered him the prime shit of the world.

Yes, with bad hair, and I thought he was playing some sort of character. Later, I knew he was on reality TV, but I didn’t watch the show.
I was happy then.

A blowhard celebrity.

I don’t remember having much of an opinion of him at all before about say the 90’s. A few flashes on TeeVee shows, cameos in movies I didn’t like anyway. So, no, I never liked him. I always thought hewas, like I said, just another blowhard celebrity. I never considered his wealth because I didn’t care, but with the spotlight on him now it’s no surprise to me that he’s more talk than actual money. Nor am I surprised at all to find out he’s a tax cheat. I was not surprised to find out that my cat shits in box in the basement either, for what it’s worth. I never watched a second of any iteration of The Apprentice. I have an aversion to reality TV to begin with so there’s no way I was going to waste time on a reality show with fucking Trump in it.

Listen, I’m cynical by nature. More than anything I hate phoneys. This guy is nothing but sheen and facade. He’s so full of shit he could fertilize New Jersey with a sneeze. I’ve always considered him so and nothing he’s done or said as president has changed my mind.

C’mon now, honestly, did you really need Trump to tell you that?
It’s a bit of common sense most people know. Real estate agents call it “curb appeal” I believe. I cleaned my cars before selling and took nice pictures and my real estate agent took a lot of professional pictures of my home when selling but I don’t think either of us was ever told this was a good idea. It’s just kind of a “a-duh” kind of thing.

A decade ago? Vapid attention whore who’d had more bankruptcies than marriages, yet was still somehow believed to be a master businessman. At that point I had also recently realized he was a racist vapid attention whore.

I mean, no, of course you don’t need Trump to tell you that…you’d think it would be common sense, although a surprising number of people trying to sell things don’t seem to know it. I just remember that as a 14 year old, it was that specific quote from Trump which seared it into my mind. It was also, in part, the use of the word “loser” that made it stick with me. I don’t know if would have same the same impact if he hadn’t put it that way. (Looking back on it, it’s so typical of his personality, but I didn’t realize that at the time.)

It’s definitely not an endorsement of him, really just a coincidence.

A rich, successful crass baboon.

Now I know he ain’t rich.