Thursday, May 25, 2017

Metal Credit Cards for the Rich!

A couple of years back I wrote a post about credit cards for the rich and went on and on about the secretive and mysterious American Express Black Card. In the beginning there were only rumors about the card, no one was really sure if it even existed. The thing is it's not exactly something most of us can apply for.

In fact, it's issued by invitation only to the richest of the rich, and by all accounts the membership list is both unforthcoming and reportedly quite low. But as details gradually leaked out, it seems this prestigious card carried a $2,500 annual fee and required a quarter-of-a-million dollars in annual purchases to keep it active - at least at the time.

The only reason I knew about the Black Card was because the former mistress of the house (who I miss like crazy) had one. In fact, she already had it before she came into the marriage - the end result of several successful divorces, no doubt. She would hand it to me to run errands around town, and boy did I have fun. No matter how hungover or grubby I might have looked at the moment, it was always amusing to see how the immaculately-groomed clerks at Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf's would buck up when I pulled out that card. 👀

But now there's something entirely new on the scene. Thanks to our friend Miss Helen I'm just now catching up to the latest craze about metal credit cards. They're hot, they're flashy, they're sexy, and they're oh so expensive! Here's a link to see what I'm talking about.

Oddly enough the demand for these cards is propelled by millennials who jumped on them like ducks on a June bug. Spokeswoman Lauren Francis at Chase Bank said:

"We've approved tens of thousands of applications for the card. Most of the customers are millennials who typically shun credit cards and are not usually a target for high-fee ultra-premium plastic."

But driven by the internet and social media, it's something new and novel for the millennials - and definitely a conversation piece. As US News & World Report said:

"Calling it plastic wouldn't do it justice. It is a high-end, high-fee, high-reward card made of a metallic alloy that gives it a satisfying heft and an impressive THUNK when you toss it onto the table to pick up the check." 

Personally I have questions about these trendy metal baubles screwing up card scanners or if they cause problems with airport security. But I guess those bugs have already been worked out, right? I'm thinking that it's the thunk on the table that's causing all the rage.

But not to be cynical about millennials, I'm also thinking that perhaps they're being socially and environmentally responsible in knowing that their expired credit cards will simply rust away in the landfills - not sit there like plastic cards that will be around for kingdom come. Yes, I'm sure that's it! Why else would they abandon their anti-credit stance unless for a good social cause?

As always, thanks for dropping by this evening,


Editor's Note: There's additional vital observations of the rich in this writer's book The Billionaire's Butler; Mystery, Murder and Romance in the Wacky World of the Super Rich, available in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Suffering Rich!

While the title might suggest I'm about to launch into a philosophical or sociological examination about the guilt rich people feel for having too much of everything, I promise you it's no such thing.

This is about the physical suffering they go through in their struggle to stay looking young in spite of the ravages of age. Since this entire blog is based on having insider information on how they live and conduct themselves, in this particular situation I have not only observations but personal experience to add to it.

Here's what happened: A couple of years back I took a hard fall on a hiking trail, face down on the rocks. Ouch! And I really mean ouch! Apparently knocked out for awhile (long enough for insect bites and buzzards starting to circle) it resulted in a dizzy-fying concussion that lasted for months. But that wasn't the end of it. It seems the levator muscles were damaged, resulting in increasingly droopy eyelids. (Not unlike Matt Damon, ok?) 😒  But the point is, the decreasing light was beginning to interfere with night driving. The eye doc said it's only going to get worse, and since it would be a medical necessity the insurance company would pay for it - as opposed to elective plastic surgery. But it's the same exact procedure that rich people go through to look younger. Which I felt embarrassed about and dreaded like crazy!

The suffering: First off, did you know they don't put you to sleep for this procedure? Nope! Just stick needles in your eyelids with a pain killer. What? What! Ouch! Then they start cutting away with a hot cauterizing knife to get rid of the droopy skin. But then YIKES - you start to feel both the cutting and the hot knife, and they stick more pain killer into your eyelids! Oh my lord! After a long miserable half hour, they tell you they're all done cutting and will now starting stitching your eyelids back together. Great! But it takes for freaking ever and you're feeling the little needle pricks and the string being pulled through! Help me God! All through the procedure I kept wanting to jump up and run out! But you can't really do that without eyelids, can you? With shattered nerves and a queasy stomach, when it was finally all over they kicked me out and sent me home to recover as best you can on your own. 😓

The recovery: Surprisingly (thankfully!) the post-op pain was easily manageable with gin and tonic. But there's major black eyes and swelling for a good two-to-three weeks, something like Mike Tyson would understand and appreciate, requiring lots of bed rest, propped up pillows, and ice packs.

Reactions from others: This is the fun part and it seemed to break down into three categories. When out and about with my cousin Celene (a tough looking chick) we got weird looks that we interpreted as suspicion of domestic violence! At the gym people generally asked if there was a fight or an accident. But here in my rich uppity neighborhood I got sympathetic 'knowing looks' and smiles, like they understand exactly what I've been through. Which I was afraid of in the first place - and embarrassing as all get out!

The difference between the rich and poor: Of course rich people have these procedures done in luxury resort hospitals like in Switzerland and I suspect they might have sedation of some sort - if nothing other than a couple of gin martinis before the surgery. Instead of being thrown out onto the street to recover on their own, they enjoy a luxurious two-or-three week holiday, pampered by attentive personnel who apply ice packs hourly for a few days to keep the swelling at bay. There's massage therapy to help you relax, and plenty of activities and gourmet food while the bruising and swelling slowly disappears - well before re-entering society with an all new face. In fact, many rich people discretely disappear to Switzerland in deep winter and do this sort of thing before the spring social season begins.

The thing is, I found this whole simple surgery thoroughly disturbing and painful. It's hard to believe that rich people do this on an elective and regular basis. Not just eye lifts but full face lifts, nose jobs, chin jobs, butt lifts, tummy tucks, breast augmentation, and liposuction for days. There is serious pain involved with all these silly self-indulgent procedures - which is why I'm going to say if you don't think rich people suffer for having all that money, look twice! 👀

I hope this post wasn't too dumb. But it's part of the big picture as to what the rich are up to. With all their cash and power, they want to live forever of course! And why not try to look good along the way? 😏

As always, thanks for dropping in tonight,


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Farewell to "The Greatest Show on Earth"!

It came as a sad shock in January when Ringling Bros.and  Barnum & Bailey Circus announced they were closing down after 146 years! Something akin to the world spinning off it's axis, to my way of thinking.

It also came as a shock when my crotchety old employer asked me to acquire six tickets to one of their last performances in Uniondale, New York. Honestly, I didn't know the old buzzard had any scintilla of sentimentality whatsoever, but apparently he does. I figured he and his guests would stay at the penthouse in Manhattan and take a limo out to Uniondale for the performance. But no, he asked me to book a three-bedroom suite at the Plaza. Which actually makes the whole thing more simple for me. I'll just dump it all in the Concierge's lap at the Plaza and let her take care of the tickets and limo arrangements. (Concierges always have the best tickets anyway, albeit triple/quadruple the cost.)

Nelda, our ancient Teutonic executive housekeeper, told me that as a child he used to stay at the Plaza with his parents when Ringling Brothers came to town, and actually saw the circus under the Big Top. Which would have been before 1957 when Ringling stopped bringing their own tents in favor of setting up in local venues like coliseums, sports stadiums and arenas. Personal memories are from seeing the shows in a coliseum where high wire acts were easily suspended from the rafters above.

But I get it, and understand why he wants to nourish and relive his memories. Ringling has been a part of American culture for almost a century and a half. When they arrived and set up their Big Top, schools would close and there would be a town holiday. Long before there were zoos in American cities, where else could children see exotic animals - lions, tigers, bears, and elephants! Not to mention all the wonderful old films about circus life, plus all the famous stars (like The Flying Wallendas and clowns like Emmett Kelly) who came from that extravaganza.

The cost of sustaining all the performers and maintaining those animals all year round, plus transporting them to a venue is mind boggling to begin with. With the pressures of animal rights activists nowadays (which I fully understand), pulling the elephants from the show was reportedly the last straw and resulted in declining sales. The Greatest Show on Earth had no choice but to shut down.

My thoughts now are with all the performers; what will they do in the future, and where will all the animals go? I suspect the animals will go to zoos, and the performers will stick together and go into retirement at Ringling Brothers' winter home in Florida. Why not? But I guess we'll hear more about this later, hopefully with some memoirs coming forth.

The thing is, Ringling Brothers has been around for over half the lifespan of the United States itself, and it's hard to say goodbye. Although we still have a three-ring circus going on in Washington these days, it's not really the same, is it? And never will be.

If you want to catch one of their last shows, here's a link to their schedule. And as always, thanks for dropping by this evening.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gatsby the Great!

Well crap! There's more trouble around here than you can shake a stick at! This afternoon Dame Garrett (one of our absolutely favorite Grand Dames of local high society) arrived just in time for happy hour the evening cocktails. When she got out of her beat-up old Bentley, one of the Great Danes grabbed her umbrella and ran off with it!

Not just any umbrella mind you, but a Monet print, acquired from a visit to the artist's hometown in Giverny, France. And from Dame Garrett's panic and tears there was no doubt sentimental attachment involved. Chasing the Dane as he lopped off to his secret burial ground, we were able to bribe him with a treat and he finally let go of the umbrella with only a few minor punctures. (In which case the umbrella becomes a parasol I suppose, rather than protection from rain.)

In any case, his full name on the vet's records is Gatsby the Great. But whereas his companion Darcy is gentle and well mannered, Gatsby is a total mess! Perhaps one of the dumbest dogs God ever put on the planet! Here's just a brief history:

- When he was a puppy we sent him off to a two-week boarding academy for training. Not only did he not graduate, but after six days the academy called us up and politely asked us to pick him up. "We'll send a private trainer to your home," they explained.

- He crawled under the Lexus SUV one night and chewed up a bunch of wires! Requiring a tow truck and ungodly expense to repair!

- When the Mister arrived home from the office one day, Gatsby grabbed his electronic car key and we never saw it again! ($500 to replace!)

- When contractors come, he grabs their tools and runs off to the burial ground! Which causes endless delays in needed repairs. (I try to warn them but they don't fully get it until it's too late!)

- At one cocktail event he grabbed a Senator by his Brooks Brothers tie and just hung there! The man (an elderly gentleman with a bad heart) was totally freaked! But Gatsby wouldn't let go until we got there with a treat.

- One elegant lady, stepping outside for a breath of fresh air at a cocktail event, screamed in alarm when Gatsby yanked her Neiman-Marcus scarf right off her neck! He ran around the grounds with the scarf trailing after him in the breeze, and just try to envision this woman in her red stilettos and diamond bracelets chasing after him!

- Then there was the lady doing her wedding photo shoot here on the grounds. To her horror Gatsby ran up and jumped on her gown with muddy paws! Needless to say screams, tears and re-scheduling!

Don't get me wrong, it's not that Gatsby is a mean dog, but he's definitely got issues! Dame Garrett said that, "With his affection for Brooks ties, NM scarves, Mercedes keys, and Monet umbrellas, at least the boy has good taste."

I guess I have to agree. Gatsby has never grabbed my umbrella from Wall-Marts.

Thanks for dropping in this evening and sharing my angst!



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Inauguration Gossip Among The Rich!

Needless to say my employer is pleased as punch that the Republican Party is back in office. Apparently he's been a small-government republican all his life and relishes the prospect of all three branches being controlled by one party.

On the other hand, he and his rich old cronies who show up here on a regular basis are quite liberal when it comes to social issues. They are seemingly at odds with the other half of the Republican Party that wants to snoop around in everyone's bedrooms and control our private lives.

In that context, I've heard some hysterical conversations at cocktail parties the past few weeks, from the day of the election results until this first full week of the new president taking office. The comments bounce around the room from group to group, but here are a few snippets.

At first the chatter seems to concern the new guy's readiness and his questionable world view:

"He doesn't seem very well informed, does he?"
"On some subjects, perhaps not."
"Don't you mean most?"
"Have it your way, I'm not in the mood to fuss with you tonight."
"I don't like that he's embracing isolationism."
"I wish you'd embrace it and go home."
"Did you see all those protests?"
"I thought about going, but what does one wear?" 
"Why does he continue with those impetuous tweets?"
"I think it's a crutch. Like that Champagne flute you just refilled."
"The markets are holding steady, that's all I care about."
"You always were so selfless, my dear."

Then the conversations move on to the man's erratic ego issues and what problems that may cause down the road:

"Why did he want to be president anyway? Such a dreadful occupation."
"Most likely an ego thing."
"Why does he keep talking about his numbers?"
"It's something about that TV show I think."
"His bragging embarrasses me."
"It's a wonder you can be embarrassed by anything at your age."
"What voter fraud is he talking about anyway?"
"The one that shows Hillary won."
"What happens when Putin pops his balloon?"
"Cash in and buy gold you twit, like we always do."
"Did he just start a war with Mexico?"
"I wasn't paying attention, what have you heard?"
"His narcissism makes me nauseous."
"Those cheap pearls you're wearing tonight are making me nauseous."

Then after all the grumbling stops I hear stuff like this:

"But his ego makes him want to be a good leader, doesn't it?"
"One would think."
"I mean, he'll probably want to have a second term."
"Unless that nasty business about impeachment comes up."
"He might surprise us."
"Your lips to God's ears."
"His wife has wonderfully good taste, don't you think?"
"Well yes, except for her taste in men."
"He doesn't do cocktails? I don't understand that."
"Oh, shut up Sylvia!"

So there we have it. Confusion and consternation are alive and well these days. Not being rich myself there's no rhyme nor reason I would be a republican - not to mention I'm a big fan of clean air and water. But I realize the pendulum swings and don't mind the other party being in office from time to time, to keep things in balance.

At this point I think I'll follow the advice of our ancient and frequent cocktail guest Dame Covington. Dressed in haute couture this evening and dripping in diamonds, she simply said, "We have to give the man a chance, don't we?"

It's not as if we actually had a choice, but I think she's right. Cross our fingers and hope for the best is all we can do right now.

As always, thanks for dropping by this evening. This is not a political blog, so I hope this hasn't been offensive to anyone. It's not my fault our new president is intentionally so tendentious, is it?


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Post Holiday Blues!

Well, well, it's finally all behind us, isn't it? Thanksgiving, charity balls, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year's Eve. All the pretty lights are coming down and the utter madness of gift shopping, menu preparations and travel plans have all been accomplished.

We're left wondering if our gifts were well received or returned to the department store - perhaps shuffled up to the attic, or given away to the homeless. But who cares, really? At least we're relieved that our family obligations are over for the foreseeable months ahead, and that no one seemed to notice or mind that we couldn't remember their names in these infrequent gatherings.

This has been a strange Christmas season around here with our employer running off to Europe for almost all of December. There were no major parties or charity events to deal with, and only a handful of important (which is to say political) cocktail parties. The house decorations were limited as well, no fourteen-foot tree to decorate. And the exterior decorations were just enough to keep our hateful neighbors from gossiping.

This is the time of year when post holiday blues can easily set in for many of us. Nothing major coming up, just dark dreary days and deep winter setting in. There's still some important football games to look forward to, not to mention the Super Bowl coming up on February 5. But that's about it, and not all of us are football fans, are we?

This is also the time of year when many rich people run off to Switzerland to have their eyes done, as well as other significant nips and tucks here and there like butt and breast lifts with plenty of time to heal before the Spring Social Season starts to wind up.

My employer is among this vain crowd, so we're hoping he'll disappear for a few weeks. He had his eyes done last year and still looks like a deer caught in the headlights. So we'll see how much more work his seventy year old face can stand. I just hope he doesn't come out with a permanent smile like so many victims of repeated plastic surgery. It would certainly not suit his grouchy old personality.

In America we do have the spectacle of a curious new president being sworn into office in January, which could serve as comic relief during the winter doldrums. Half the country is elated about his election while the other half is flirting with moving to Canada. Will he be a good statesman, or just blow up the whole damned world? It's anybody's guess at this point, but it should be amusing to watch, in a disturbed sort of way.

The chatter heads on all the US news channels are certainly well occupied these days with this new president elect - to the point where we don't get any news at all! To find out what's going on in the Middle East, Europe, India, Africa, Asia, and South America, I'd recommend tuning into the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) on your TV or on the net. Much more calm, no chattering heads, just straight news the way we need it and want it.

I hope you're not afflicted with post holiday blues too badly, to the extent that I am. The problem is it comes at the same time when a real clinical condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can set in. It's a mood change during dark cold days during the fall and winter when sunshine is hard to come by, and can lead to both mild and serious depression. Anyone in mental health care can tell you that the nut houses mental institutions fill up during this time of year.

If you find yourself slipping in this dire direction it's advisable to seek professional help right away. I might also mention that lots of champagne and gin martinis make you forget what time of year it is altogether. :)

Thanks for dropping by tonight. I hope this post hasn't been too erratic?