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Dinner. Dinner is the “oh-f” moment of the day. Unless you have an assistant who has expertly troubleshot your social life, or you are an out-of-towner who has diligently reserved the most ecstatically reviewed spots a year in advance, or you have an in, youre totally screwed for any day-of plan.

via Michael Wolff on securing top tables at New Yorks finest restaurants – GQ.COM UK.

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First-World Phenomena: Expensive Beach Homes

Status

Ms. Carman and her husband, who had hoped to retire in a few years, were reconsidering whether they could afford to remain on the coast on fixed incomes. But she said she feared that even selling their home could be hard. “Only wealthy people could afford it, I guess, not middle-class people,” she said. “You’re going to price us out of here.”

via Cost of Coastal Living to Climb Under New Flood Rules – NYTimes.com.

…the market is telling them that where they live is too dangerous. If they choose to live in harm’s way, they should bear the cost of that risk — not the taxpayers.

via End Federal Flood Insurance – NYTimes.com.

The Sunday Columns

Whereas the old elites used their culture to make explicit the differences between themselves and the rest, if you were to talk to members of the elite today, many would tell you that their culture is simply an expression of their open-minded, creative, ready-to-pounce-on-any-opportunity ethic. …But if you look at the omnivore from another point of view, a far different picture emerges.

via The New Elitists – NYTimes.com.

But, says Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, “Sugar — in the form of lactose — contributes about 55 percent of skim milk’s calories, giving it ounce for ounce the same calorie load as soda.”

via Got Milk? You Dont Need It – NYTimes.com.

First-World Phenomena: Faster Wine Decanting

I found I could get much better results by using an ordinary kitchen blender. I just pour the wine in, frappé away at the highest power setting for 30 to 60 seconds, and then allow the froth to subside which happens quickly before serving. I call it “hyperdecanting.”

via How to Decant Wine with a Blender – Businessweek.

See also:

…plurals seem to taste better than singulars…

via Language Log » Evaluative words for wines.

First-World Phenomena: Yuppie Foragers

Wild greens, edible flowers, wild garlic, and early mushrooms are just a few of the goodies popping up… Foraging is forbidden under parks rules, which stipulate that plants and flowers cannot be removed from greenspaces, a Parks Department spokeswoman said. But foragers insist they are helping the environment and doing the work of Parks employees for free…

via Foraging Prospect Park • The Brooklyn Paper.

First-World Phenomena: Unnecessary Staff Quarters

“I don’t think I’ve been up here in maybe two years,” Arlene Simon said, standing in her rooftop staff room at 27 West 67th Street, surrounded by cardboard boxes and an old air-conditioner.

via An Apartment High Above 5th Avenue, but Without Frills – NYTimes.com.

First-World Phenomena: the Mets’ Getting Off the Hook

Wilpon and Katz won’t be obligated to pay anything for several years. Instead, they will assign their $178 million “net loser” claims against the bankruptcy estate to Picard. If Picard does not recover the full $162 million from those claims at the end of three years, the Mets owners will pay the difference.

via New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz settle with Bernard Madoff trustee for $162 million, feel vindicated, could get money back  – NY Daily News.

Not long ago, the trustee charged with scrounging under the couch cushions of the Northeast’s grandees for Madoff money was thumping his law books and having his minions hold press conferences in which reporters were assured that the beleaguered, pathetic Mets had (and I am paraphrasing here) acted in vile, villainous concert with the aforementioned Ponzi schemer and were up to their whatsis in fictitious profits — in the neighborhood of $1 billion. (Seriously.) A billion dollars, mind you, from the owners of a baseball team worth, maybe, a quarter of that. (And that was before it let Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran walk).

On Monday, the emaciated, waxy smile of Fred Wilpon beamed into living rooms all across New York City (and maybe a few on Long Island) after the Mets conjured a settlement in the case, agreeing to pay just $162 million — symbolically, $1 million for every game they jake in a typical season. Not $1 billion, and not a dime for three or four years. (I am not making that up.) (And it gets better.) Most likely, the Mets will pay less than the agreed amount, probably much less. Improbably, there is an outside chance that the trustee will end up owing the Mets money. (This is like when my wife gives me money to go to the grocery store; I keep the change and the yogurt pretzels.)

On the face of it, this is a stunning and unexpected victory for the Mets. They may be out millions and millions of dollars, but that was money they didn’t have, anyway. Basically, the Mets are like a Midwestern homeowner making lots of frantic, guilty erasures on his 1040A.

What happened? [Expletive] me, if I know. The trustee, the always-grimacing Irving H. Picard, won a small victory in expanding the Mets’ liability to six years’ worth of they-were-never-there-in-the-first-place profits. He had been limited to less; and this, presumably, will be leverage he can use to slop tar on other Madoff cronies investors.

However, Picard also agreed to drop his claim that the Mets knew what Madoff was up to all along. This was the delicious bombshell of the whole case, and it seemed to threaten the team’s very existence. The tortured soul of Marv Throneberry was clanking through the Citi Field mezzanine, groaning under the chain forged link by link (and yard by yard) ever since Adam Wainwright struck Beltran out in the 2006 N.L.C.S. It was a claim that, to my eager ears, seemed like a slam dunk, especially because the jury that was to have been selected on Monday would not have had to trouble itself with picky, niggling reasonable doubt. All jurors needed was to conclude that a preponderance (i.e. more than “half”) of the evidence showed that the Mets were guilty.

Picard has said his job is to get as much money for the victims of the fraud as possible, but obviously he was not confident in his case. (The judge, the Sno-Ball-chinned busybody Jed S. Rakoff, seemed to say as much in court.) I suppose Picard also could have been sizing up the Mets from his bonded-leather chair, smoothing his comb-over and concluding that this blue-and-orange turnip was not worth the extra squeezing. To be sure, the team is wheezing under probably $400 million in debt, it has lost maybe a third as much just over the past two seasons and it was never going to cough up $1 billion. (The Mets did, you know, sell all 12 minority ownership shares they offered in a ploy to raise money; of course, they had to buy seven of them themselves.) But with a victory in a jury trial, Picard could certainly have dictated better terms.

As it is, the case fizzles down to a mere reminder of the absurd and abusive power enjoyed by people like Picard. Meanwhile, the Mets are transformed from Madoff villains, the sneering still echoing in their disfigured ears, into being basically like every other doe-eyed, blue-haired widow who swore she didn’t know a thing. Picard’s favored hell-hound, the droopy-eyed, slack-jawed David Sheehan, went so far as to call the Mets “partners.”

But remember, these were partners who, Picard and Sheehan gloated not long ago, “consciously disregarded” clear signs that Madoff was a fraud and continued, in a “cycle of dependency,” to invest money in the Ponzi scheme, or as Wilpon and Katz sometimes called it, “Saul’s cookie jar.”

(Crunch, crunch, crunch.) (Burp.)

First-World Phenomena: The Reeling Rich

“People who don’t have money don’t understand the stress…”

via Wall Street Bonus Drop Means Trading Aspen for Discount Cereal – Bloomberg.

From a Bloomberg article that promises to be well-read, the suffering of short-sighted, well-paid people who only now are realizing they are living beyond their ample means.

  • One complains that his $350,000 salary “doesn’t cover his family’s private-school tuition, a Kent, Connecticut, summer rental and the upgrade they would like from their 1,200-square- foot Brooklyn duplex.”
  • A “Wall Street headhunter” said his declining income had induced him to eschew expensive ski vacations and check newsprint circulars for bargains on cereal and salmon (we don’t recommend heavily discounted seafood).
  • One man’s children share a bedroom, and the family is forced to wash dishes by hand and make do without a guest bedroom.

First-World Phenomena: Superfluous College Funds

Some players get a watch when a veteran who joins the team takes their jersey number. Daniel McCutchen got a college fund.

via McCutchens compensation.

Ballplayers do this kind of thing a lot, I know, where an incoming guy will do some absurd favor for an incumbent wearing a coveted jersey number. But I observe that this is an especially warped example, roundly described as a sweet gesture by the relevant sports bloggers, of first-world phenomena.

The newcomer is starting pitcher A. J. Burnett, a nice-enough guy, apparently, who the Pirates took on for some peculiar reason in a salary-dump trade with the Yankees. The incumbent is Daniel McCutchen — not to be confused with the budding star (and much more interesting) Andrew McCutchen — a middling, 29-year-old middle reliever in his third season. The context is that Burnett has earned well more than $80 million in his career, and McCutchen was paid nearly half a million dollars, just in 2010. I ask, How sweet is the story of one overpaid ballplayer’s dropping a few dollars into the already-swollen pockets of another still-overpaid ballplayer?

“Eighteen years from now,” McCutchen said (his daughter is not born yet), “we’ll see what the market is.”

Eighteen years from now, if we have to step over upturned hot tubs and the burned shells of sports cars to finish a Where Are They Now article on Daniel McCutchen, we will at least know that Burnett did his part. (I add, truculently, that I wish Burnett did more of his part when he was in the Bronx [thanks for Game 2, though, O.K.? Seriously.]).

First-World Phenomena: the Babyccino

“They interrupt workflow, create milk wastage and can be served at a dangerous temperature to a vulnerable consumer,” said Caligiore, who despite his misgivings about the drink plans to begin selling the world’s first instant babyccino. “Babyccinos have become so popular in Australia it would be difficult to find a cafe that doesn’t have them on their menu.”  

via Coffee … for kids! ‘Babyccinos’ are espresso shots for tots • The Brooklyn Paper.