Monday, November 24, 2008

LEGGO MY EQUITY!

Good heavens, it’s getting so one barely wants to turn on the morning television for fear of having one's breakfast appetite ruined beyond repair!



Case in point, this whole “worldwide economic collapse” thing everyone’s been yammering on and on about for the past several weeks.



We are certainly shocked of course; what a SURPRISE to discover that John and Mary Q. Public couldn’t quite make the monthly payments on their seventy five thousand square foot MegaMansion AND keep up the maintenance charges on the yacht they bought on their maxed out credit cards, even with their high paying jobs as Official Greeters at the Podunk, Iowa Walmart.



And my word, hasn't it been a REVELATION to discover that the kind of people who would engage in deception about their employment status or financial means in order to convince some equally shady mortgage broker to fork over the cash to buy an overpriced stucco hovel on the corner of Crack Avenue and Whore Boulevard-



- would subsequently bail on said deal and simply abandon the place, often leaving their dogs and cats behind like unruly teenagers dumped at a Nebraska hospital-



- while they returned to whatever corner of the world from whence they came…



But must we hear about it in such breathless detail on EVERY single bloody television network, spewed out by millionaire talking heads for whom economic hardship means cutting back on their prostitutes, on an almost hourly basis?



It’s enough to put one off one’s morning croissant.

Even our houseboy Panton-



- hardly Mensa material to say the least, understands the flawed mathematics which have put the American – and consequently the World – economy into the kind of freefall not seen since Steinbeck’s Joads were reduced to eating wallpaper to stay alive. Whilst the dear amber skinned boy was mixing our morning Bloody Mary, he said:

“You smart man, boss. You say no to refinance mans, you say no to egg-edy mans, you just buy nice things Tiffany.”

(It took several minutes to determine that "egg-edy" meant “equity”; one pardons Panton’s fractured English – while we still have not yet determined his country of origin, we suspect it has neither a particularly strong system of education nor indoor toilet facilities. But he has so many other marvelous attributes, we tend to overlook his grammatic challenges.)



He is right of course, we have studiously avoided all of those “get rich quick” schemes-



- especially the ones which promised to treat one’s home as some sort of automatic teller machine, spewing money at random intervals with no thought whatsoever as to when said “piper” would have to be paid.



It all seemed so terribly “gauche”, prostituting our little desert “casa” to buy such – according to the advertisements - desperately needed items as flat screen television sets, the latest video games and hi-tech exercise devices to work off the fat accumulated while sitting on one’s quickly enlarging posterior watching the aforementioned televisions and video games.



And so, while stocks and bonds are currently plummeting in value, and retirement years, once envisioned as an endless parade of golf course days and island vacation nights, are currently looking more and more to be spent wearing a polyester uniform on the midnight shift at the 7-11, we at 801 seem to have miraculously avoided this particular disaster.



We are not alone in this, naturally; it appears that the “old money” of our desert paradise have also protected themselves.



At least that was the indication at a recent charity luncheon we attended with The Mother Of The Boyfriend -



- (as delightful a lady as her handsome son is a gentleman…) at our favorite local “watering hole” MELVYN’S at the Ingleside Inn.



Nestled in a beautiful, tree lined property, shaded by the majestic San Jacinto mountain, this legendary boutique hotel is owned by a remarkable businessman named Mel Haber –



- whose story is told in a marvelously gossipy little book called “Bedtime Stories” (available online at inglesideinn.com with proceeds to Dimes for The Unwell or something like that…) – and is staffed by a collection of characters that would have made the late, lamented Studs Terkel sit up and take notice.



Among them, our favorite Maitre’d on the planet, Brian -



-who, on this particular afternoon, was quite startled to discover us awake and dressed to the nines for this particular event and promptly seated us at – to quote him – “the power table in the room”.



This provided us with an excellent vantage point for the marvelous “Fourth of July in October” –themed Fashion Show which ensued, parading a collection of vintage (ie: salvaged from the closets of the dearly departed throughout the valley and - hopefully after a good cleaning - donated to charity) couture including Oscar De La Renta, Pucci and, in one startlingly over-sequinned instance, an original Bob Mackie which frankly couldn’t be worn anywhere less than ten feet away from a Las Vegas bordello.

If only Mr. Blackwell, he of the “10 Worst Dressed List” could have been there.



Unfortunately, he had just recently gone on to that Great Catwalk In The Sky where, one hopes, the targets of his “couture criticism” weren’t lying in wait to ambush him. A spiritual army of vengeful female celebrities, armed with tacky stiletto heels and low-slung metal brassieres, is a horrible thing to contemplate.

Speaking of “fashion”, we recently attended a delightful lecture at the local Art Museum by noted designer – and one of our “amis du café” – James Galanos, whose life story reads rather like Horatio Alger in taffeta.



While we are not particular fans of live events – as we’ve previously mentioned the only theater we enjoy is that which features puppets or strippers (preferably simultaneously) – this delightful afternoon whetted our appetites and we then continued on to see the irascible Margaret Cho in concert.



She is a favorite of The Boyfriend’s and while we have long admired her intelligence and talent, we did find her to be a trifle profane for the sake of profanity. In spite, or probably because, of this she has certainly carved a niche for herself and The Gays seem to love her. One suspects this is mostly due to her rather vivid impression of a homosexual gentleman preparing to orally pleasure a lady for the first time; it is as ghastly to watch as it sounds, but it certainly does get a very big laugh and, as she is a comedienne, this is a good thing.

She received her biggest response for her take on California’s Proposition 8 “anti-gay marriage” bill; a bit of pandering perhaps, especially as most of the audience were on her side-



- but I did find myself wondering what her reaction was when this reviled piece of electoral bigotry recently passed with a slim majority, thus threatening to destroy 18000 marriages, not to mention the hundreds of children who suddenly became "bastards" overnight.

It certainly has caused a storm of protests across the country, everywhere from a much-gay-loved Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles-



- to the headquarters of the Mormon Church in Utah.



One does wonder exactly where all this passion was BEFORE the election; certainly part of the problem was that the folks in favor of gay marriage just naturally assumed they lived in a civilized part of the world.



Imagine their chagrin to discover that some 52 percent of their neighbors think they are subhuman perverts barely worth the lube they use up between corrupting children and bringing American society to its, you’ll pardon the expression, knees.



We say “they” of course even though we are, as is well documented throughout the world, a card-carrying homosexual ourselves.



We even attended one of the protests held in our desert paradise-



- where a local religious kook had the Styrofoam crucifix she was shoving into people’s faces knocked to the ground.



This resulted in a national outcry about “Violent Gay Mobs” but was, in actual fact, little more than some silly old woman angling for her 15 minutes of Fame. She's lucky the only thing that got busted was her ridiculous foam prop.

(And as we've previously mentioned, has it occurred to these religious loons that perhaps the LAST thing their beloved - and rather belated - Jesus Christ would want to see upon his return to Earth is a crucifix? Isn't that bit like having John F. Kennedy come back from the grave and immediately taking him on a lovely drive through Dallas?)



Things ended peacefully with a plan to march from City Hall through the streets of town to demand Our Civil Rights until it was pointed out that our desert paradise doesn’t have sidewalks along the planned route, at which point several of the protesters also remembered they had dinner reservations and so things broke up without much more ado.



Frankly, we didn’t for one moment think that gay marriage was going to fly with the electorate, the vast majority of whom are mouth-breathers who can barely control their cringing when the topic of ANY kind of sex – straight, gay, bi or any of the more exotic varieties - rears its shiny head.

Given that we live in a country where fully 90 percent of the population believes that somewhere up in the sky there is a Giant Magic Fairy Who Controls Everything-



- it should hardly be surprising that the Mormons, the Catholics and every nutcase religion in between ganged up to shut down the very idea of civil equality for homosexuals.



The Holy Management are terrified that once people start to see that gay couples can be just as committed – and just as divorced – as straight couples, the brick wall of control encircling the “God-fearing” will begin to crack and the churches will lose not just their congregants but, more importantly, their cash flow.



Religion is, and has always been, nothing more than a money-making proposition.



It’s just another form of Show Business, selling the Snake Oil of the Soul to the gullible, and in return offering nothing more than a way to get to sleep at night without slamming back a full bottle of Jack Daniels.



Is it merely a coincidence that both the Church AND Hollywood Agents collect ten percent from their respective adherents? One doubts it, but at least in the agent’s case one gets value for money; one may be skeptical about the potential for immortality in Heaven, but there is no arguing with the “eternal life” of one’s career in reruns.

And yet the Church isn’t without its uses; it may indeed hold the key to the salvation of our country’s economic problems after all. The removal of religion’s “tax-exempt” status would likely set us up for a worldwide economic boom not seen since Adam and Eve realized they needed to get to the mall and pick up some clothes.

But that isn’t probably going to happen any time soon.



The same folks who are drowning in debt and standing in unemployment lines across the country are the ones who desperately need to believe that there is Somebody watching over them-



- and to feel that their empty homes and hungry kids are all part of God’s Great Plan.



The last thing they're about to do is challenge the Church on anything, let alone its tax-status, especially since it might just end up being their next address when they have to move into a tent pitched in the side yard of the rectory.

We at 801 certainly appreciate their plight and while some would remind us “there but for the grace of God go you…” we are quite sure the Heavenly Fund Manager Above had nothing whatsoever to do with our surviving this current crisis relatively unscathed.



But to be completely honest, we also must admit it has nothing to do with any particularly clever financial decisions nor any sort of wisdom when it comes to business affairs. Likely as not, it is - like faith, hope and charity - just a matter of taste.

Or perhaps Panton was onto something after all; paper money comes and paper money goes but it must be said that the best things in life, while not necessarily “free”, can usually only be had at Tiffany’s.



Even after breakfast.