By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
Photo by Rebecca SchoenkopfFriday night was all set. I would be tearing my sharp little teeth into a hunk of tender, bloody cow at tender, bloody La Cave with none other than the sheriff's guy Jon "Flash" Fleischman and another Republican friend, pollster/comedian Adam Probolsky. They would most likely insist on paying. After some deep consideration, I was really okay with that.
But then my other line beeped. It was Tragedy, wanting to chat, and I, fool that I am, answered. I rang back to Flash with sad news. "I can't go to dinner with you," I told him. Was there some sort of terrible emergency? Did I have any kind of excuse whatsoever? No! I explained: "Because a friend has just tragically offered me two tickets for the Lakers tonight! See ya, sucka!"
Flash understood. Then he told me about Mike Schroeder (local Republican puppet master; looks like Lenin) and Susan Kang Schroeder's (District Attorney's muscle; rumored to make banana daiquiris to kill for) floor seats. "Say hi to 'em for me!" said Flash. But if Mike and Susan were going to be at the Laker game, who would be running Hell?
Here's how we got the ticket. Haiti-born rapper Won-G should be blowing up when his video (with a certain woman whose 15 minutes of sex fame look like something the Pentagon shot during the nighttime "rescue" of Jessica Lynch) hits TRL later this month. We met him at a fabulous New Year's party in Newport Coast. He was there with his sister, his parents and a full entourage. They were all warm and dear and kissed on both cheeks; even his label guy, who is handsome and Italian and a label guy and so should be the last word in skeevy, mentioned his wife frequently when we chatted. That's the best! So it was happy news that we would be attending the Laker game—down on the floor and in the Monopoly Man boxes upstairs—with our new friends and their mink and chinchilla windbreakers! Hooray for us!
But not so much hooray for the Hawks (who?) who lost to the Lakers by almost 50 points—and they were so bad, the Lakers didn't even have to wait for their alarm clocks to go off in their customary fourth quarter to wake up and deliver their beating.
When I attended a Clippers game at Staples Center recently with my dad, Dad looked up with scorn at the luxury suites. "Worthless," he pooh-poohed. "These are the seats! Why would anyone want to sit up there?" Because they like having fresh sushi delivered to their boxes as a little gift to welcome them to the right side of the tracks? But if the real estate was pricey—and the fish daisy-fresh—our enjoyment of the game went down in inverse proportion to our enjoyment of the excellent grub. Down on the floor for the first half, we were glued to Kobe and Fisher—except while Won-G was on his phone to his friend across the arena, trying to pinpoint where we were so the friend could look across and see us. At the Laker game! Even though, really, we'd just seen the friend in the lobby anyway.
But once we were in the box, we had no need to watch the game. No need at all. There were armchairs to loll in and soft caramel apples to be ate.
And that is why being rich is boring.
You know what's fun? Being poor!
No, I'm just kidding. Being poor is not fun at all! But according to The Orange County Register, well, it's not as bad as all that! I've been enjoying greatly their guest columnists, such as Rich Lowry of the National Review Online, who a few weeks ago said that a stagnant job market is a dynamic job market and that "It is in destroying jobs that the economy improves and makes it possible for the standard of living of all Americans to increase." While I stood accused by some of not understanding Joseph A. Schumpeter's notion of creative destruction (slander! I bought Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy years ago, and I mean to get to it right after FA Hayek's very funny and thrilling Road to Serfdom), I can't generate anything like Lowry's religious feeling for the marketplace. Was it John F. Kennedy who said that financial markets were great at measuring "everything except that which makes life worthwhile"? Or was that just me, Rebecca Schoenkopf?
But far better even than Lowry—whom I believe Al Franken still wants to fight—was this Sunday's guest column by the Rocky Mountain News' Linda Seebach, which I read at halftime (Colts/Kansas City, playing one hell of a football game, brothers and sisters!) at Shooter's in Costa Mesa. Shooter's is quickly becoming my favorite Sunday morning place, not least because it's almost entirely free of all those pesky people.
Seebach, who is a dear, explains in her column "The Image—and Reality—of Poverty in the U.S." that she once lived in Shanghai while her husband was on a math professor exchange program there. They didn't have a TV or a car or a washing machine or a phone, and they shared a refrigerator with others on their floor. She was making only about U.S. $337 a month (and her husband was on sabbatical half-salary, but they really only used that money for travel). Even after she bought some extravagant food items, they still did just fine! And that is why when you hear about "poverty" in the U.S., it doesn't really mean people are poor, she explains. Because most people here have phones (thank you, Lifeline Program!) and cars (tell that to your nanny) and color televisions, according to Seebach. Also? In addition to not being as poor as Shanghai? Our poor people aren't as poor as flies-in-their-eyes Rwanda, so can we all shut up about the "poor" already? Thank you!