Loot – Luxury Living, Goods, Services and Reviews

You Look Like Someone Who Enjoys a Good Bourgeois Orgy

William Shakespeare

Shakespeare wrote some three dozen plays, and this season you can see at least 12 of them in New York. Loot turned to James Shapiro, Larry Miller Professor of English at Columbia University, and Leonard Barkan, chairman of Princeton's department of comparative literature, for help with the hard choices.

Shapiro says there's no one must-see -- you've got to take price, audience and personal preference into account. On price, he cites Theatre for a New Audience as an affordable choice. On audience, he observes, "It's not just who you're seeing, it's who you're seeing it with." He recently attended a production of "Much Ado About Nothing" by the Public Theater's Mobile Shakespeare Unit at the Rikers Island jail complex. (The play will be on view for all in December). "It was as thrilling a theatrical performance as you can remember," he says. "And the actors were thrilled to have such an engaged and open audience."

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Roasted Turkey

No!

That is, No! You bungled the turkey??

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Power Gifting: When a Learjet Would Be Redundant

Power Gifting

It's an annual gift-giving torment: how to find something for the person who has everything.

Capricia Marshall, an ambassador in residence at the Atlantic Council, knows that torment well. As former chief of protocol for the Obama administration, she had to find gifts for world leaders -- people with the coolest cars and jets, people with multiple homes without mortgages. People with standing armies.

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Mamil Races from Wall Street to Nyack

Every day, bankers check the league tables, a scoreboard that shows who won the biggest deals. Then they check their Strava app to see who’s chewing up the pavement fastest on his $20,000 bike. That's recreation on Wall Street.

Strava means strive in Swedish. Loot learned this factoid on a recent weekend at Lea, a dark, classy cocktail bar tucked beneath New York’s Helmsley building and just steps from Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan and UBS. The traders’ conversation was going as expected (Dodd-Frank complaints, bonus expectations), and then, suddenly:

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A $7,000 Pillow? Stuff and Nonsense

Pillows

Unmatched comfort. The glory of Venice. Sensible pillows.

You won't see that last boast in luxe hotel ad copy -- giant down pillows costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars are a selling point in the high-end hospitality industry. But a simpler, smaller pillow is often head and shoulders above the stuffy ones.

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White Truffles

It's white truffle season, and New York restaurants such as Nomad, Babbo, A Voce, Il Gattopardo, Asellina and BLT Prime are shouting their incoming shipments from the rooftops. Del Posto has a Festa di Tartufi night, with tickets going for $1,000.

What is it about these puck-size fungi, costlier than a fall coat, that makes chefs swoon and patrons blow hundreds of dollars?

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When Does She Jump Off the Roof? 

Tosca at the Met

Puccini’s Tosca has a great entrance, a fabulous exit and a fine aria in between, in which she sings of living for her art. There isn’t a soprano out there who doesn’t dream of singing the part of the doomed diva.

If only a few resisted.

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Henri Rousseau's "La Seine a Suresnes"

How to make your eyes glaze over as New York's fall auction sales get under way this week:

  • Browse through the glossy auction catalogs
  • Behold one sparkling masterpiece after another
  • Say: Oh. A painting by Giacometti with a high estimate of $50 million. That's nice.
  • Flip two pages at once and miss art worth more than a house on Mustique

But what if you pretended, as Loot did, that you had an extra hundred million dollars to burn and that these were actual shopping catalogs? What then?

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Halloween Books

The best horror books creep up on you. They're uncanny rather than startling, gut-wrenching rather than gross. It's not so much "What's behind the door?" as "After I open the door, will I ever be able to forget it?" Here, as a little Halloween chaser, are 13 books that do a nice, creepy job of freaking you out with finesse.

1. "The Maimed," by Hermann Ungar. Upon its publication in 1923, Thomas Mann approvingly called it "a sexual hell, full of filth, crime and the deepest melancholy" (Disney film to come). It's about a bank clerk forced into a sexual relationship with his landlady. But that's like saying "The Shining" is about a family vacation.

2. "The Other," by Thomas Tryon. A truly unsettling book. Twin brothers cavort through a bucolic New England town, gathering memories and a pretty good body count. The book starts with misdirection and turns into a nail-biter.

3. "Glamorama," by Bret Easton Ellis. Ellis neatly sets up the first third of the novel as a parody of celebrity culture, then smashes you in the face with torture and mayhem. In his other books, the violence has an element of humor; the deaths in "Glamorama" are so graphic and insistent that when you do put it down, the images will stay with you long after.

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The Fat Wallet: Can Leave Home Without It

Wallets

There’s a rule of thumb that says your wallet shouldn’t cost more than the money you have in it. It’s a nice idea: if you spend all of your money on an object that carries all of your money, you don't need it anymore.

Buying a wallet has other pragmatic considerations. As the silhouette of pants slims down, their pockets have shrunk with them. Men are still carrying their lumpy wallets--dragging all the detritus of their pasts behind them--while wearing jeans that can barely hold a tic-tac.

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About Loot

Loot chronicles everything from culture to luxury goods. It's not about being rich but leading an enriched life. Commentary or analyses in this blog are the views of authors and/or commentators, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

Contributors

  • James Tarmy
    James Tarmy
  • Jennifer Parker
    Jennifer Parker