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What is Trumbull?

jimmy trimble wally trumbull neal pollack trumbull island

What does Trumbull mean, some people have asked? What’s the deal with those posters all over the town?1 Why is your magazine/website/sticker named after a town in Connecticut? Or are you just big Detroit Tigers fans? Though it may not seem so, there’s a reason. Hopefully this sheds some light on what we are going for. If it doesn’t, then that’s cool too, you can always refer to our family tree.

James “Jimmy” Trimble III, born 1926, died in February 1945 a legend and a Marine private at the Battle of Iwo Jima, in a foxhole. Alternately known as a can’t-miss pitching prospect and the lost love of American novelist Gore Vidal, Trimble’s truncated life was the stuff of dreams. (Vidal, a schoolmate of Trimble’s at St. Albans, referred to him as the only person he had ever loved. Baseball Hall of Famer Heinie Manush called him “one of the finest prospects he had ever seen.”) A three-sport star in high school, at 17 he won a $5,000 contract with his hometown Washington Senators, the terms of which let him matriculate at Duke per his mother’s wishes. A bad eye disqualified him from entering the service through Duke, so he instead enlisted in the Marines, in the Third Division, where the new Private was stationed in Guam. With a standing offer to play baseball through his military service, Trimble instead volunteered for front line combat, motivated by a sense of duty which one U.S. General Graves Erskine would refer to as “unswerving.” Trimble had high morals, was kind, well-liked, and dedicated to his fiancée, his high school sweetheart, Christine White, who would later star on TV’s “Magnum Force.” He was survived by Christine and her parents, who were divorced.

In 2002, Neal Pollack wrote the excellent and hilarious “Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature,” the first book on the McSweeney’s imprint. Pollack adopted the voice of an over-the-top shadow out of time legendary writer named Neal Pollack. He was the greatest writer of all time. Jack Shafer:

But Pollack’s target isn’t just Vidal. He’s drawn a bead on every high-paid magazine writer and alpha-male novelist to swagger through the pages of GQ, Esquire or Rolling Stone; every New Yorker or Vanity Fair puffer fish to file first-person, ego-enriched letters from exotic datelines; every overwriter interviewed by The Paris Review. Think Norman Mailer. John Gregory Dunne. Christopher Hitchens. Gay Talese. Michael Herr. Mike Sager. Truman Capote. Peter Matthiessen. Martin Amis. Think Norman Mailer again.

Just as Vidal had Trimble, Pollack had Trumbull, his roommate at Exeter. We asked Neal about Wally, and he explained him to us in broad strokes:

Wally Trumbull III was the eldest son of Wally Trumbull Jr., the head of Trumbull Oil and also the head of Trumbull Fruit. He was the apogee of male beauty on earth. He was shot down over the South Pacific on March 14, 1942, in defense of his country, his potential unrealized, his beauty forever captured by the watery nether regions of one of the Earth’s most remote spots.

To us, Wallace Trumbull III represents the promise of youth and the rare all-encompassing and intimidating grace and success only some people possess. He could have done anything. Everyone liked him. In borrowing the Trumbull name, we are giving Wally the life he never had. In the space that we have created for him, he did everything, he has been everywhere, and met everyone. Wally may have been tied to this mortal coil for just a brief glimmer, but for us it’s a beacon light, shining hard and strong at length.

Put simply, the promise is still there. An archetype for the good life, Wally is, to quote Keef [Richards], shooting up in an alley one moment, in front of 50,000 the next. If a true bridge between high and low culture exists, it is Wally Trumbull. How did rich people get into Pettibon? That was Wally. Why is it skinheads love to read Keats and listen to The Ronettes? That’s Wally too. His knowledge of all worldly things is both deep, sweeping and based on real-life experience, the kind they don’t teach you about in school, but might. Wally has seen less-than-saintly situations and befriended questionable people, and even substances, but through it all has never compromised his own ideals.

Some of you may have been around Wally Trumbull during one of his escapades. Maybe you were there when he spilled creamsicle juice on you during his Mille Miglia race. You might have been there taking photos of his stagedives to DRI at The Ritz in a four-piece suit. You may have been there when he wrestled Sirhan Sirhan to the ground and some donuts from a line cook. Or when he taught the British people about both boiled wool and tapping solos.

When you hear death metal and smell pulled pork in Karachi, it’s Wally. When you’re on K2 and you’re out of layers, he’s the man with the Karakoram. When you are in Prague and you need a motorcycle and a vial of something unholy, he’ll find you. When you’re out of tweed and need a new suit, Wally finds you.

Trumbull Magazine is, in one way an extension of a short-lived hardcore fanzine which spent inordinate amounts of time on cool pursuits, but in another way, is the world seen through eyes which are, simply put, different. And better. It’s also information culled from the Trumbull Newswire, which feeds through both a stock 1992 Brother fax machine and a crystal ball. Trumbull is myth and possibility, the ethereal thread of the rare life that is perfect and full, and an eye over the whole of the American experience, top-to-bottom, no exceptions.


  1. Wally Trumbull has been many places. If you live in New York City, try visiting some of his favorite haunts to see what we mean. Head to CBGB's first.


  1. Wim Berchmans wrote:

    Well done.

    Monday, November 8, 2010 at 11:34 am | Permalink
  2. Phoebe wrote:

    Of course, best practice would be just to update your WordPress to the latest version.

    For example, a website about dating might post an article from
    a ‘money tips’ website that lists ways to save money on a date.

    Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

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