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Lifestyles Of The Rich and Famous


I recently took up an offer to get a free subscription to the New Yorker. Of course I rarely get a chance to read even part of its book-length essays and profiles each week, but the trip to Austin provided a rare exception. The New Yorker is famous for its liberal slant and its quality investigative journalism; there’s no doubt that by paying established writers top dollar and allowing them to spend months on each story, it produces some of the most reliable and informative reporting in America. But they exact a toll from the readers, the majority of who must belong to a demographic way beyond my expectations, judging by these excerpts from the March 20th issue. Cover to cover, it felt like a peek into a rarified world of seven-figure incomes, jetset lifestyles and ruthless boardroom battles. Where does the little man find Utopia in all this?

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Although the Dominican peso had nearly doubled in value in the five months since he had first visited the country, Curry kept pointing out new things that he might like to buy: a large farm… a radio tower in the neighboring town of Rio San Juan. As we walked into the lobby of a small hotel, which was apparently for sale at a price of a million dollars, and beheld a view of the waves crashing against the seawall below, Curry turned to me and said, “Just think, all this could be yours for the price of a small Manhattan apartment.”

From ‘The Utopians,’ Ben McGrath’s feature about 40-year old financier Boykin Curry and his plan to turn Playa Grande in the Dominican Republic into a Creative Person’s Utopia. Among his backers are Moby, Fareed Zakaria and Charlie Rose.

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Slimane has become a core member of that global fellowship of artists, designers, filmmakers, and pop musicians, who always seem to run into one another at hotels and parties, at film festivals and art fairs, and who speak consrtantly of working together on projects… He sometimes photographs his visual-culture friends for magazines, or they photograph him, and they take him on as a sort of idol and charm…. “He’s brilliant at text messages,” says Janet Street-Porter.

From ‘Pretty Things,’ Nick Paumgarten’s feature about Hedi Slimane, mens’ designer for Christian Dior and icon to the British rock industry.
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“I enjoy the war…. It’s the greatest game in the world. It’s like a poker game. Take Time Warner, I am on a battlefield against their top lawyers, thirty PR Guys are against me, and I’m here. I love being the underdog. I know it sounds immodest, but I’m much better than them at this type of thing.”

From ‘The Raid,’ Ken Auletta’s feature about corporate raider Carl Icahn and his “greenmail” of Time Warner. It’s people like this that force up the price of your cable bill.
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The foyer of their apartment, on the sixty-sixth floor (of the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle) is sheathed in an unpainted plywood and contains an eighteenth-Century German neoclassical table whose front edge bears a gift wood satyr head, an image echoed, on the wall above, by a framed photograph of the artist Matthew Barney in satyr horns. The living room walls and ceiling are covered with wallpaper designed by a young Brazilian artist who calls himself Assume Vivid Astro Focus, and it features… a larger than life size naked male with tattooed belly and pierced nipples. The floor is blanketed in black-and-white-striped broadloom. On one wall, a small painting of a girl’s head by Currin is surrounded by a massive Baroque frame of exploding acanthus leaves; on another hangs a gigantic Warhol silk screen of a pistol… Amid all this is an elegant grouping of eighteenth-century French marquise chairs.

From ‘The Alchemist,’ John Colapinto’s feature about Sothebys art autioneer Tobias Meyer. If you think his apartment seems extravagant, imagine that of the person who bought Picasso’s 1905 painting ‘Boy With Pipe.’ Meyer “set the world record for the most expensive art work ever sold at auction, when in May of 2004, he brought down the hammer on ‘Boy With Pipe’ for…. $104,000,000.”

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1 Comment(s)

  1. snotty moore

    25 March, 2006 at 8:14 pm

    Never take The New Yorker too seriously Tony. A few years ago I was at a launch for a book by one of its writers (an instantly out of date tome about our digital future- yawn) and said author actually wrote down in his little notebook the names of the British musicians I explained would top the US charts within the year. I was spot on of course, but a publication which takes its cues from a pissed part time bookseller is not necessarily as highbrow as it likes to be seen.

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