Rivera planned to leave his boat in a New Jersey marina run by his friend Chick.
So with me as his crew (evidently he likes to subject reporters to nautical experiences), we cruised down the Hudson toward the Atlantic Ocean.
The northwest winds were bad, he said, and the ocean would be choppy. Water began to splash off the bow; it seemed there was a real danger the boat would submarine, or that it would get hit broadside by a huge wave and capsize.
As the winds broke in from seemingly every direction, Rivera's grip on the joystick tightened, and he handed me his beer so that he could concentrate."Can I have some of this?
" I asked, clinging to the side of the boat with one hand and the Sam Adams with the other. "Help yourself." The beer was warm, but I finished the bottle in two swigs.
Rivera whistled gaily, and joked that the waves were cleaning the front of his boat.
But he was also once, and now aspires to be again, a newsman and a serious journalist.
Mustering a coherent sentence with great effort, I asked, "Is this a typical ride? "Typical of my life." One of Rivera's most surprising qualities is his self-awareness: at every moment, at every stage of life, he seems to know exactly where he is.This is hard to remember, however, when seeing footage of him having fat from his buttocks injected into his forehead, or contending with brawling neo-Nazis on his talk show, or vainly searching "Al Capone's vault" for two hours on live TV, or promising to personally kill Osama bin Laden, or simply strutting and preening and boasting the way he does.Some smart, prominent people (Harvard professors, high-powered lawyers, distinguished journalists) who know Rivera well call him brilliant—and yet he can't seem to escape the larger-than-life circus act that is "Geraldo." So I had come to the Boat Basin on this frigid day, when he planned to put his thirty-six-foot jet-powered Hinckley away for the winter, to see if I could begin to figure out what lay behind Geraldo the Pop-Cultural Phenomenon, and whether there might, in the end, be redemption for Geraldo the Reporter.Couples make promises to each other that won't last till August—which is fine, just fine, for the moment.But in winter the restaurant is closed and shuttered, and the basin is a cold and forlorn place, devoid of life save for a few dock employees and compulsive joggers. Yet there I found myself one day in mid-December, trying to keep warm, looking for a man whose face millions of people know, but whose essence and motivations remain mysterious: the lawyer-turned-journalist-turned-talk-show-host-turned-journalist Geraldo Rivera.