johnny apple, r.i.p.

Johnny Apple has died. (That’s R.W. Apple Jr. to the byline readers in the audience.) He was for many years perhaps the most famous name in The New York Times, covering politics, war zones, and (in his advanced years) the glories of high-cholesterol foods.
Some folks dumped on Johnny for his news analysis pieces. (As the excellent obit notes: “His best were 1,200-word tapestries of history, erudition and style; the worst were clear and concise, but reflected conventional wisdom that sometimes proved wrong.”) But he may have had the last of the great correspondent careers — a bon vivant roaming the globe, floating on a boundless expense account and the layer of fat born of eating in the world’s finest restaurants. It’s the sort of life newspapers don’t fund as much any more, alas.
Quoth the obit: “But he was a natural role model, and his colleagues and competitors all watched what he asked, and what he wrote, and what and where and when he ate and drank, and they did their best to follow suit, albeit with much less apparent ease, capacity or zest. When, in an Indian restaurant in Uganda, he warned his dining companions, ‘No prawns at this altitude!,’ they listened up.”
That’s my new life motto: No prawns at this altitude!
As a Louisianian, I had a special affection for Apple’s byline, since he had an appropriate appreciation for boudin. Note the reference to Nook Bonin’s boudin emporium in New Iberia, a (tragically since-closed) place of wonder, where I have proudly dined with Johnny’s friend (and Friend-of-Crabwalk) James Edmunds.
I can’t find Calvin Trillin’s 2003 profile of Apple (in The New Yorker) online anywhere, but it’s worth hunting down.
Update: Here it is. “Apple stories often portray R. W. Apple, Jr., checking into a hotel so staggeringly expensive that no other reporter would dare mention it on his expense account, or confidently knocking out a complicated lead story at a political convention as the deadline or the dinner hour approaches, or telling a sommelier that the wine won’t do (even if the sommelier has brought out the most distinguished bottle in that part of Alabama), or pontificating on architecture or history or opera or soccer or horticulture. He still travels grandly and eats prodigiously. In Apple stories that take place in restaurants or hotels or even newsrooms, the verb used to describe his manner of entry is normally ‘swept in.’”
Updated update: Turns out that my friend Mary had a semi-run-in with Apple based on the aforementioned boudin link.
Updated updated update: Here’s an NPR interview with Trillin about Apple (and Cajun food).