Daily Archives: October 16, 2009

Stupid media tricks

Anything for a story, but New York Magazine sinks, if possible, to a new low about desperate Greenwich residents hocking their jewelry to buy food.

Once a handsome, genteel suburb, Greenwich, Connecticut, has fallen into disrepair over the past year, as its residents struggle with increases in crime, unemployment, and vermin. Now, a new horror: Some of the city’s relatively poor denizens have taken to wrapping themselves in last season’s Chanel and selling their gold jewelry on the side of the highway. “They show up dressed very fancy, maybe wearing their Rolexes,” the president of Westport, Connecticut–based Cash for Gold, which has been holding appraisal sessions at the Hyatt Hotel off 95, tells Bloomberg. But one look at the sellers’ hollow eyes and starved bodies, and he can see the truth: They’re desperate. Selling this jewelry is their last hope. The gold is the last match in their bundle.

Hollow eyes? Starved bodies? That’s the standard Greenwich look, you moron.

update: okay, writer was being sarcastic. Still dumb.

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Hey, here’s a surprise

Main stream media discovers the deficit. Meanwhile, Instapundit has been running this chart since February. 

No question that it’s all Bush’s fault but riddle me this, Batman: if Bush’s $400 billion deficit was a bad thing, does tripling the deficit make it better? 

obamadebt

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And raising teachers’ salaries won’t help a dime

115 high school students pregnant in just one Chicago school.  No wonder Obama’s got his girls in a Washington private school. I’d be curious to see how many of these empowered young ladies graduate high school, finish college and make something of their lives. 

But that kind of follow up story isn’t done.

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When I hear the word, culture, I reach for my revolver

santaSome readers have expressed disbelief that Peter Brant’s latest effort to annoy and offend his fellow residents is deliberate, and speculate instead that the “Santa with Butt Plug” he’s planted on Conyers Farm (and there goes that neighborhood) really depicts Santa holding a Christmas tree, or something like it. El wrongo. Here’s the art world on the artist in question:

Over the past four decades, Paul McCarthy‘s work has gone from intimate performance videos to spectacular public sculptures — all without sacrificing its unnerving psychosexual tone. While the artist’s recent show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York surprised many with its unornamented structuralism, its restraint was comically upstaged by the unmooring of his giant inflatable dog turd at Switzerland’s Zentrum Paul Klee, which left a trail of downed power lines in its wake. It was as if McCarthy’s art had unleashed on the Swiss countryside the cartoonish extravagance that had been put on the back burner for the Whitney.

Not that McCarthy hasn’t paid tribute to the twisted pop-mythological deities of the American psyche. “I’m interested in caricatures — from Miss Piggy to Popeye to Santa Claus — that are cultural fabrications,” observes the 63-year-old artist from his LA home. “Santa is one that I’ve hung on to longer, that I repeat more. There’s the whole thing of Christmas and consumption and commodity, and its relationship to capitalism and Western culture and Americana. The character itself is this roly-poly patriarch with a beard — almost a godlike figure.” In fact, he notes, one of his earliest childhood drawings is of Santa Claus.

The old elf has surfaced often in McCarthy’s oeuvre, from the outrageous fecal-smearing bacchanalia of the mid-’90s Tokyo Santa(1996) and Santa Chocolate Shop (1997), to an entire series of recent sculptural works based on a Santa figure holding aloft a tree-like butt plug. This latter series culminated in Chocolate Santa (2007), McCarthy’s warped take on entrepreneurship in the form of a fully functioning “Chocolate Santa with Butt Plug” factory, churning out $100 gift boxes at a rate of 1,000 a day in New York’s Maccarone Gallery.

If there’s anything more comical than unmooring a giant inflatable dog turd I haven’t seen it, although that kid in Colorado might come close. Of course, funniest of all is seeing a fool parted from his money.

 

Oh, Peter, is all that for me?

Oh, Peter, is all that for me?

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Reader Poll: a new name for Round Hill

The few remaining unindicted residents of Round Hill must be sweating as one by one their neighbors are manacled and led off to the paddy wagon. Once a synonym for success, and the most prestigious road in Greenwich, Round Hill is in danger of becoming the laughing stock of the elite. Something must be done and as a public service, FWIW offers this forum for generous readers to suggest a new name for the road. Judge Judy will select the winner.

 

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Makes sense to me

Rajaratnam funded Tamil terrorists and Democrats.

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Name change?

With Round Hill Road quickly becoming known for its rogues and thieves rather than the successful people who once lived there, I smell property devaluation and I suggest a name change before more money is lost. How about “Hooker’s Lane”? Cos Cob doesn’t want it any more.

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Round Hill Road’s new lustre

News that Raj Rajaratnam, of 577 Round Hill Road, was arrested today for insider trading has got me wondering how many felons and no-goods inhabit that street.

We start with the Queen of Mean, Leona Hemsley and even if she has passed on to her just rewards her house is still sitting unsold.

Walter Fredric Bourke, convicted felon, awaits sentencing November 10th

Walter Noel, unconvicted felon, awaits bankruptcy

Dom Devito isn’t waiting for anything – he’s in jail (I think that’s right – Dom? You still around?)

The Antares Boys live just off Round Hill, temporarily, on Mooreland – I vote we give them honorary membership in this roll of giants

Raj,

That’s seven, off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are more. Feel free to contribute

UPDATE: A reader reminds of of Ed Scheetz, the Morgan (?) guy found with a dead prostitute in his bed, and David Stockman. I’ll give him Scheetz but I think Stockman got  bum rap and in fact, the charges against him were dismissed. We probably have some felonious athletes on the road too, no?

Update II – wasn’t one of Noel’s deputies living across the street from him in the house once owned by Casey Jones? What was (is) his name? [ah - Charles, "Chuck" Murphy, 202 Round Hill Road]. Here’s a story about his selling his NYC  townhouse. I believe Round Hill is still his.

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Hedge funders quaking in their boots?

So says BusinessInsider, reporting that news of Raj Rajaratnam’s arrest being accomplished by -gulp – FBI wire taps has many of them casting their minds back to various phone conversations they had with other traders over the years and wondering ….

Raj, by the way, is another Greenwich resident and maybe (I’m going to check) another Round Hill Road owner. That street is acquiring a reputation quite different from what it once had.

UPDATE: Round Hill Road it is, number 577. Raj was a neighbor of Dom Devito and may be once again, only this time over at Otis Correctional facility.

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Borge land sells

112 Field Point Circle, bought for $25,000,000 a few years ago and re-listed for $35,000,000 has sold (via Lyn Stevens) for $17.5 million. It’s gratifying if only because a reader asked this morning what it would sell for and I guessed, “between $15 and $18 million”.

Nice land.

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Ole’s Boat Yard for sale

Actually, this boat yard on Ole’s Creek (dividing Riverside and Old Greenwich) has been for sale for a year or so but it’s newly listed today (via Peter Chimpson) on the GMLS, asking $2.6 million.  Hmm. I wonder what this place is worth? It’s grandfathered in as a commercial boat yard but the D.E.C. has banned all floating docks on the mud flats of Ole’s, so it will be hard to sustain it as a business. It would make a nice restaurant but the neighbors would never let that happen, even if zoning allowed it (and I don’t believe it does). It could be that its highest and best use is as a residence but the land around it has been sold off and it now has just 0.3 of an acre in the form of a thin strip along the water. Between setbacks and shoreland regs, you could probably build something twelve feet wide and twenty-five feet high, but would you want to?

So what’s it worth? I have no idea – the town appraised it at $1.3 million, but that’s when there was still a viable business there. Now, perhaps it has more value as a charitable contribution to the Land Trust.

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Creative architectural descriptions

35 W. Broad St., Stamford

35 W. Broad St., Stamford

The listing for a condo unit in this building says “ranch” in the design category. That’s not my idea of a ranch but it must be someone’s because it sold today for $425,000.

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Remember, children, the (newly) poor have their troubles, as well as the rich

Markie Madoff cracks under stress, storms away from his apartment on a Vespa. Has anyone seen him at his Cherry Valley house recently? Where’s Scusie when we need her?

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Know when to fold them

DealBreaker reports that nine months after the Wall Street Journal listed Galleon Group as a money handler that would clearly survive the coming troubles, Galleon’s founder and manager has been arrested by the FBI for insider trading. And there are wire taps, so this should be fun.

Maybe all these surveys and ratings of money managers should carry a disclaimer along the lines of, “Unless they get indicted or something – like that’s gonna happen!”. Just until all this gets sorted out.

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Two more sale prices to add to data base

149 Old Church Rd

149 Old Church Rd

This is a great house that started out at $3.795 in ’08 and sold today for $2.304 million – 61% of asking price. The owners paid $1.975 million for it in 1998 and poured a ton of money into renovating it so as an investment, it was no better than Bear Stearns stock, but they had a lovely place to live for years. There are two similar houses still for sale on the same street, still priced way up in the $3s. But, as their owners will tell you, those houses are different.

 

 

4 Buxton Lane
4 Buxton Lane

And here’s a surprise: 4 Buxton Lane, asking $2.795, has sold for $2.4 million. That’s not only 86% of its asking price, it’s substantially higher than a similar house sold next door in 2004 or 2005. Well, Riverside is a nice place to live and someone obviously liked this home’s build and back yard more than he cared about the noise from I-95. Or perhaps he’s a truck spotter – they pay extra for proximity to their quarry.

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Grounded

I knew a fellow here in Greenwich who ran a succession of banks and financial institutions into the dirt, got fired from each in turn and given huge comfy severance payments to keep his lifestyle exactly where he wanted it: at the top. I don’t know where he is now – Aspen or Vail, probably, but I hope he collected air miles on all those private jet trips he enjoyed because things are getting tougher. The NY Post reports that Stan O’Neal,the fuck-up who was booted from Merrill when his mortgage troubles were first exposed but before anyone realized the full extent of his misfeasance, has been seen crammed into commercial carriers in coach! Coach! It’s one thing to put the Bernie Madoffs in jail, but moving has-been executives to the cattle car division is surely cruel and unusual punishment. You might as well force Cathy Fuld to shop at Target for her linens.

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Happy days are here again!

So says Greenwich Citizen’s real estate columnist, who points out that our “44″ (42, actually) single family home sales this past September represent an 83% increase over 2008 September’s activity. True enough, I suppose, though as I recall we had some fun stuff going on then, like the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the world-wide banking system, but I think he misses the point: houses are beginning to sell because prices are beginning to reflect reality.

Of the 42 houses that went to contract September 2009, 31 have closed and I thus have their final selling prices. I compared that number to the original asking price and found several that sold for 40% of original price, a bunch in the 50% range, one that hit 90% (well priced and they still lost money) and none higher. On average, the houses sold for 68% of their asking price. At least ten were sold for less than they’d cost their owners and several saw millions of dollars in out-of-pocket losses.

If you consider that many of these houses were priced lower than 2007 prices, then gaining just 68% of the asking price was not a home run. But at least they sold. Seven hundred others have not.

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Stimulus fun

Yesterday I pointed out that, using the fed’s own figures, each of the puny 30,000 jobs “created or saved” cost $74,000 – pretty pricey for a shovel-wielder. Michigan, though, has outdone itself, spending $1,550,000 for each of its 319 jobs. Now it is possible that there are 319 new millionaires in Michigan as I write, driving their Bentleys or even buying coats for poor folk at Burlington Warehouse. And it’s possible that around the county, 30,000 employees are savoring their tripling in pay.

It’s possible. It is also possible, however, and far more likely, that bureaucrats are having a fine time skimming off all this plunder and leaving crumbs for their charges. Years ago I read that for what we were spending on welfare we could give every poor man, woman and child $120,000 a year and still save money. That never happened, for some odd reason. Perhaps this time, it will.

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New listings

1 Turner Drive

1 Turner Drive

Nothing much as of Friday noon. This one acre on Turner Drive (in Calhoun Association, off Glenville Road) was purchased for $2.1 million in 2007 and the owner has brought it back on for $1.995. The listing says it’s “opportunity priced” but I dunno – seems to me the opportunity was back in 2007, when it was first sold. Opporknockity only tunes once. Assessed value, $1.3 million.

190 Clapboard Ridge, on the nicer part of that street between Lake Avenue and Round Hill, is priced at $3.895, assessed value is $2.999. I’ll be curious to see where it sells.

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