Eat the rich

This is the lead from a story on the front page of the real estate section of the Sunday New York Times:

Charlene and Jon Simonian were longtime renters, occasionally looking for a place to buy. They got serious, but everything in Manhattan seemed too expensive. Until they found a three-bedroom condo at 1280 Fifth avenue. They bought it for $1,525,000, and moved in last spring.

Is it the Simonian’s textbook narcissism that I’m so annoyed at? [The article included a photo of them holding cups of tea and another of them on their balcony overlooking Central Park.] Their need to tell their tale in a public forum of a struggle against almost insurmountable odds? Their triumph over adversity? Thank heavens they found something within their meager budget. Good for you, Charlene and Jon! We all celebrate your success!

Or is it the New York Times itself, who likes to fancy itself as a populist publication and a champion for the common good, but then prints tripe like this?

Or is it my own insecurity? The fact that I will never have the wherewithal to plant my clan in a $1.5 million home?

I suspect it might be a combination of the three. I can tell you one thing for certain; it doesn’t go well with coffee and a Hostess Ho-Ho on a Sunday morning.

*     *     *

I promise this is the last time I’ll prattle on about Las Vegas. It was three weeks ago and I need to move on. I know. You don’t have to say anything. But there was magic at my fingertips. I keep looking back in my mind’s eye and I can still see it all so clearly. The focus is still sharp. It hasn’t begun to blur yet. This isn’t how I get to live all the time. I’m just regular.

I spent hours lounging on my balcony, day and night, and became lost in thought. This is extraordinary when you consider the fact that crap tables were only an elevator ride away and I am a borderline addict. I memorized the view. They had a nice chair and end table set that made it comfortable and hard to leave. I was entertainingly appalled by the gruesome lights and architecture, the fake Eiffel Tower and the dancing waters.

On my last night in town, I requested a wake-up call for 4:45 a.m. to catch a 7:30 flight. But I couldn’t tear myself away and stayed out there just drifting until 3:30 a.m. It was a new sensation and I was afraid that if I stood up, opened the sliding door, went to bed and closed my eyes, it would all disappear like vapor. But I have this bright memory. I’m not convinced it’s ever going to go away.

20 thoughts on “Eat the rich

  1. There is a wealth beyond the mere dollar…the kind that you already have, in your family and friends and appreciation of life.Who the hell wants a Central Park view? Apart from me, that is! 😉

  2. my fountain? thank you… i don’t know if you truly comprehend how much i adore the Bellagio fountain. Cheesy and ridiculously over the top? Of course! But it’s engineering AND choreography!the pic of you with Teller makes him look like your hand puppet. how’d you do that?

  3. Charlene and Jon should probably have a celebrity telethon in their honor so they can stop slumming it on Fifth Avenue with their Central Park view. They are practically living in squalor. SQUALOR. Someone call Sean Penn …You had quite the awesome view of the strip from your hotel room. Vegas looks so much less seedy from afar!

  4. dinah: Yes, I am a wealthy man. Wealthy in the things that are important in life. But I’d still like the Central Park view. I wouldn’t flaunt it in the Times, that’s for sure.daisy: The fountain is even more impressive/outlandish when viewed in conjunction with the music. The timing is pretty impressive stuff. Teller is small enough to be my puppet.AWC: Everything is less seedy from a distance. Cole Porter has a great song about Manhattan called Down in the Depths (On The Ninetieth Floor) about just that. And in Warren Zevon’s excellent Splendid Isolation we hear:I wanna live on the Upper East SideAnd never go down into the streetIt’s all about keeping your distance.Pat: Ted Danson without the toupee. Or money.

  5. you know i adore reading the NYT, but at 6usd a read, i’ve cut it out of my budget. i suppose i could do the online thing, but it sort of loses the tactile enjoyment of handling a newspaper…anyway, i do get a vicarious thrill out of the fashion, housing, food articles. BUT, that isn’t what you’re talking about is it? now, vegas? i have a real love/hate relationship with that place…YOU MET TELLER AND STOOD THISCLOSETOHIM hot damn, sugar, now that is far cooler than a $1.5m apt to me! (here’s my own way of dealing with that sort of apartment envy: i think of the HOA dues, taxes, upkeep, etc to maintain those sort of digs!) xoxoxox

  6. sav: Ink-stained fingers have been a big part of my Sunday routine for many, many years. I’ll never give it up for an e-reader. I get a pfat discount for home delivery. Anyone can meet Penn and Teller! They greet the audience in the lobby after each show! Pretty generous, if you ask me.Sid: I suppose it’s a steal if you’re overlooking the park but my problem is that it’s a LOT of money and the Times pretends like its nothing. Like it perfectly normal to drop that kind of coin on a two-bedroom flat.

  7. One of the morning news shows has a “bargain” real estate segment – bargain, in their minds, sometimes pushing half a million dollars. Who are their viewers? What world do they live in and why are they rubbing my nose in it?Your shot of Las Vegas touches a deep affection I have for artificial edens, amusement parks and the like, that first enchanted me in early childhood. It evolved, over time, to a fondness for the metropolis of which only a handful, Manhattan, Miami, Chicago, are up to the challenge. I haven’t been to Glitter Gulch yet, but I’m sure I’d love it.

  8. Jeaux: I think there must be an enormous pool of money out there that I, nor anyone in my life, is a part of. There’s a concentration of wealth on the east coast from Boston to DC that keeps real estate prices through the roof. You should visit Las Vegas. It’s a lot like New York; it’s not for everyone, but you should see it at least once.How do you pronounce Jeaux?Eryl: Sister, you don’t know the half of it.

  9. $1.5 million?A pitance.Pay it out of the petty cash. (Blackadder)Actually james Cameron (The director of Avatar, Titanic et al) has just bought himself about 30 square miles of prime New Zealand land and house. I believe it went for about $16 Million.Kind of puts it in perspective.I can understand the fascination of the lights from the balcony. Addictive.

  10. nurse: It’s a hell of a Paris, that’s for sure.TSB: That’s not the only thing in that town that’s addictive. I saw some absolute train wrecks. People felled by alcohol or gambling. All in the name of entertainment. Humanity, I love you with all your weaknesses.

  11. I’m having increasing difficulty reaching your blog. I sometimes have to go out and come back to click your site. Is this just me or or other people having the same problem?

  12. Paulo: Boy, it beats the hell out of me. I have my same typically low numbers so I can’t tell if readership has been affected. But thank you for your efforts! Come to New York and I’ll buy you a fan-appreciation cocktail at The Plaza.

  13. Same as my name – Joe. Some friends and I used to francify everything, the more elaborately the better. One of them nicked me Jeaux and it stuck. Yep, American Buffalo. Gads – who knows that? My roomie back then was a fixture at La MaMa and later Public Theater, a boyhood friend of Sam Shepard. I saw a lot of theater in those days. Pacino’s Shylock is quite the touchstone, I’ve heard.

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