Sunday Bloody NYT Sunday: Special Shudder-Inducing Ross Douthat Sexy Feelings Edition
We were going to skip the New York Times this morning because really, how many times can we yell about Thomas Friedman (ok, all of the times) and threaten to eat the rich? Even our bloodlust eventually wanes. Then we remembered we live somewhere really fucking cold and the newspaper guy had brought us the Times anyway and it was 15 below outside and we felt guilt and read the New York Times. The things we do for you and the newspaper guy.
Before we get to our usual surprise and dismay about how much of the monies rich people can spend on keeping giant gold-plated roofs over their heads, we should first take a gander at how the rich stay rich. Hard work, probably? Haha no you are A Idiot. The rich stay rich because they hide all their money.
[T]hanks to a recently released trove of documents, it’s become clear that hundreds of wealthy people have stashed their money [in the Cook Islands], including a felon who ran a $7 billion Ponzi scheme and the doctor who lost his license in the Octomom case.[…]
The Cooks are a global pioneer in offshore asset-protection trusts, with laws devised to protect foreigners’ assets from legal claims in their home countries.[…]
The Cook Islands offer a different form of secrecy. The long arm of United States law does not reach there. The Cooks generally disregard foreign court orders, making it easier to keep assets from creditors, or anyone else.
Win a malpractice suit against your doctor? To collect, you will have to go to the other side of the globe to plead your case again before a Cooks court and under Cooks law.
The entire article is a depressing tromp through a wide variety of scam artists, criminals, bad doctors, and garden-variety insanely rich people, all of whom have every need to hide their money from the gubmint and from you, should you be unlucky enough to have had any of your money stoled by them. Yay!
The types of people that need to stash their piles of cash in the Cook Islands because there’s only so much money you can stuff in the house and the Benz and the other Benz and the gatehouse and the gazebo and the banana stand are also probably the types of people that will by buying this absurd homage to Versailles that will only cost over $110 million.
Ms. Viola supervised every detail of the makeover. She went on worldwide shopping sprees to find precise shades of Venetian onyx (even the elevator is onyx) and other decorative finishes, and visited Versailles so that she could replicate its grandeur in her 900-square-foot dining room. She recently installed the finishing touches in the duplex library — a ceiling mural painted by an artist from County Cork, Ireland, and a two-story rendition of Kipling’s poem “If,” hand-stenciled by an artisan who has designed custom Christmas cards for the White House and the Vatican.
The grand staircase of Italian granite has a custom-carved mahogany banister, and many of the walls are decorated with gold-leaf filigree. There are service kitchenettes and powder rooms off both the parlor-level living room — which has a fireplace of Brazilian travertine, a coffered ceiling, a south-facing Juliet balcony, and a heated walnut floor with an inlaid stencil — and the third-floor banquet room, whose heated floor is black walnut with a marquetry border.
The level of existential gloom this entire description fills us with cannot be overstated. We also too go on shopping sprees, but we define that as “going to the mall for one pair of jeans and coming back with three pair” not “traipsing across Europe for the perfect fucking onyx.”
Worse: after all this the lady that did all the Versailles creating decided she and her husband wanted to live in Florida, which is why this thing is on the market. Imagine having enough money to remodel this thing to palace specs and then deciding aw naw mang let’s unload this thing and roll south.
Now, if you are rich but not Versailles rich — more “annoying people with your wealth” rather than “crushing everything around you in a black hole of wealth” — you might be the kind of douche that keeps posting pix of your sexcellent adventures and are therefore giving your other semi-demi-rich friends (look! it’s our own Sara Benincasa!!!) a sad because they are not doing that exact same thing with you right at that moment.
For many urban creative professionals these days, it’s not unusual to scroll through one’s Instagram feed and feel suffocated by fabulousness: There’s one friend paddling in the surf at Positano under a fiery Italian sunset. Another is snapping away at a sweaty Thom Yorke from the third row at an Atoms for Peace concert in Austin. Yet another is sipping Champagne in Lufthansa business class en route to Frankfurt, while a fourth is huddling with friends over omakase at Masa.
Jesus Christ we have got to get better richer friends. When we get all FOMO and envious it is usually because someone has posted a picture of themselves with some Jameson and we’re at home with that whiskey that comes in a plastic bottle and lives on the bottom shelf. Why don’t you people introduce us to some richer people, for christ’s sake?
The Times is always really fantastic at reminding us that there is a wide variety of terrible in the world, and if people aren’t terrible because they’re rich, they’re terrible because they’re just terrible. From this week’s modern etiquette social questions mailbag:
People gush over my baby’s appearance. I am biased, but I recognize that he is quite cute. What should I do when another mother compliments his beauty, but I don’t feel the same about her child? I sound insincere returning the compliment, but just saying “thank you” feels wrong.
Lady, what the ever living fuck is WRONG with you? Just say “your baby is also attractive too” or “look at the eyes on your baby” or even “your baby’s features are symmetrical so congratulations.” What kind of nonsense person actually thinks of this as a social dilemma so dilemma-y that they have to email the NYT to ask about it?
While we’re talking about letter writing, little Tommy Friedman has penned an imaginary memo to the president of China. We feel reasonably certain that the president of China was not breathlessly awaiting the words of one Mr. Thomas Friedman. Tommy is basically concern trolling China about how they shouldn’t shut out Western journalists who want to write about corruption or other assorted Chinese regime problems. Friedman is actually right about this but we don’t care because he’s such a smug asshole. Anyone else would have just written this as a straight column about how openness and journalistic access is important, but only Thomas Friedman would make it a memo from the desk of Thomas Friedman.
Maureen Dowd would also too like to bring her big brain to bear on an Important Journalism Issue, namely, that of whether Buzzfeed is erring by saying it won’t do negative book reviews. Gawker hit back at that assertion a while back, noting that the smarm of faux-niceness is its own evil. This is an interesting conversation, MoDo thinks, but wouldn’t it be better if it was just about MoDo??
I started speaking truth to power early. And my older brothers didn’t like it. They told me that archness in a 10-year-old was not welcome.
I concocted a plan to prove how boring life would be if you were just nice all the time, how much more bracing it is to have sweetness laced with tartness. I told them I would be very, very nice until they asked me to stop, certain that they’d get sick of saccharine and syrupy in short order. Except they didn’t. They liked it.
After a week, I’d overdosed on sugar myself and gave up, going back to my old ways of being angelic or devilish, depending on the provocation.
There is no one on this earth that believes 10-year-old MoDo was “speaking truth to power.” We don’t particularly believe she even knows what it means now. This little Maureen Dowd origin story vignette as told by Maureen Dowd does at least clarify that she has always believed that being bitchy constitutes incisive and trenchant observation.
That being said, we’d take one million more words by Maureen Dowd about Maureen Dowd if it meant we never had to read Ross Douthat talking about sex. In fact, we’d rather call our mother and ask her to graphically describe what it is like to give head to our father than hear what Ross Douthat thinks about the beast with two backs. We spent a few minutes trying to figure out what he was going on about, and it seems to be that if you have daughters, you’ll probably be a conservative because of what how all the dudes are going to try to get in their ladypants.
[Fictional character Nathaniel P.] provokes it by taking advantage of a social landscape in which sex has been decoupled from marriage but biology hasn’t been abolished, which means women still operate on a shorter time horizon for crucial life choices — marriage, kids — than do men. In this landscape, what Nate wants — sex, and the validation that comes with being wanted — he reliably gets. But what his lovers want, increasingly, as their cohort grows older — a more permanent commitment — he can afford to persistently withhold, feeling guilty but not that guilty about doing so. […]
One obvious solution to the Nathaniel P. problem is a romantic culture in which more is required of young men before the women in their lives will sleep with them.
To the extent that parents tend to see the next generation’s world through their children’s eyes, that’s an insight that’s more immediately available through daughters than through sons.
Ladies, always wanting with the marriage and the babies and only sleeping with the menz to get the marriage and the babies, your protector, your knight in shining armor and 1990s facial hair, your Ross Douthat has arrived. This is the day the Ross has made, so let us rejoice and be glad.
Seriously, Douthat. Just because you’re going to spend your entire life stuck in your sad ladyparts-fearing value system does not mean the rest of us have to. Some ladies actually like to just have sex because sex is fun! No, really! OK, probably not for you, Ross, because sex for you inevitably involves you and that terrible chin hair you have, but for the rest of us we quite dig on the sexytime for no good reason. We’d wish you godspeed in discovering this, but we’ve just realized that if you did, you’d write a column about it and oh dear god no. Please keep being repressed so that this is as brazen as you ever get in talking about the sex. Our sex lives would never recover from Ross Douthat actually talking about sex that involves Ross Douthat.