21 Vista Drive, which couldn’t sell in 2009-2010 for $50 million, is now offered for sale for $54. I believe this was once The Donald’s and, post-divorce, Ivana’s place for a while, and sold in, perhaps, 1999, for about $21 million. Prices for Greenwich waterfront have certainly climbed since then so who knows? Besides, the sellers are probably counting on collecting a premium on the news of the new Citarella opening in Byram.
Let’s start with the building itself, the actual architecture. Union Station is a neo-classical mix of styles — European styles. The symmetry, arched windows, ornate cornice and stacked, stone walls have their roots in the glory days of France, England, Greece and Rome, in empires that were nearly absent of ethnic minorities and who felt fully at ease invading, exploiting and actually enslaving the people of Africa, subcontinent Asia and South America. [So - asymmetrical design, square windows and plain sheetrock is the key to appealing to blacks, Latinos and Asians - we could call in Dr. Ghery, but isn't he one of those non-minority types, like, er, Jews? Ed]
Yes, that’s all in the past; things have changed. But the $54 million renovation of Union Station doesn’t take that into account. It restores the symbols of an old world with no updates. The gilded chandeliers have been rewired, the marble polished, but there’s no nod to the present, no interior walls in the bright colors of Mexico, no Asian simplicity is in the remix. There are no giant sculptures by African-American artists bonused into the lobby, no murals on the basement walls.
A preservationist might object to physical updates. Restoration is about the exact, the original. History has its ups and downs, the thinking goes, and you can’t blame buildings for the good or bad that happened. But a preservationist just might end up with a building that draws mostly white people — with a Union Station.
The present restoration harkens back to Union Station at its height, in the first half of a 20th century when many Americans suffered the social indignity and economic disadvantage of a segregated America. Denver’s neighborhoods, parks, schools and social amenities were divided sharply by race.
The trains themselves were not officially segregated here, but you can bet many people on them boarded or disembarked in stations where blacks entered in separate doors and rode in restricted cars.
Denver’s bigshot bigots are gone, schools and workplaces desegregated. But the structures of back then look the same — are they to be honored or altered to make the past palatable for everyone?
[S] omething is missing. There’s no traditional Mexican restaurant, no soul-food restaurant, no sushi bar [first time anyone's identified an Asian as an oppressed minority in decades - the guy is really trying for diversity here. Ed] as if no one noticed that the Mexican-American, African-American and Asian-American families that own and operate those places across the city are also our best food purveyors.
RTD had a thousand choices when it was rehabbing the station. It could have put in a farmer’s market or a suite of micro-offices. It could have let its imagination run wild and installed a basketball court or a rec center, day-care facility, museum, a theater that any group could rent, an indoor playground, or yes, a Subway [he is apparently referring to that processed meat peddler that poor people like so much, not an underground railway. Ed.]
But it chose a different path. RTD, whose buses and trains are the most diverse places in Denver, created a monster of separation [building up to his climax here] .
Union Station will make plenty of money and that will help keep our transportation system solvent. But how much is lost?
This really was a chance to define today’s Denver, to show off to the world, to say we are as interesting and relevant as anywhere you can name. But this project has defined us narrowly, darkly, negligently. There is danger in that, too.
Up in Aspen, these sage words will be nodded over and earnestly discussed over glasses of chilled Littorai Thieriot Vineyard Chardonnay, and all will praise Mr. Rinaldi for his perspicacity and sensitivity.
Which just proves the point.
I suppose it could work: Greenwich proper residents do travel that way to have their Mercedes and Beemers serviced, so at least they know how to get there, but I’m dubious.
749 Lake Avenue, the last of three homes built up there by Kali-Nagy, reports a pending deal. Last price was $8.6 million,starting price was $10.5. We reported on this house when it first came on and, while extolling its beauty and craftsmanship, questioned whether it was really worth $10.5 when the other two sold in the low $8s. Apparently potential buyers did, too.
That said, Andrew Klavan sums it up nicely. Knucklehead Row: The elite are stupid.
Whatever its pretensions, whatever its claims, statism — progressivism, leftism, socialism — is based on the idea that a small elite intelligentsia can run your life better than you can. They know how to spend your money. They know how to educate your children. They know how to run your health care. They know how to protect you from yourself.
You do not have to talk to a statist very long before he will profess an intense dislike, distrust and even fear of ordinary people. Ordinary people spend money on what they want (TV’s restaurants and cars) rather than what the elite know they ought to want (aluminum foil climate change reversers). Ordinary people teach their children that God created the world rather than a random pattern of mathematic realities that came into being through another random pattern that came… well, the elite know: it’s random patterns all the way down! Ordinary people will give jobs and business to those who earn them rather than those the elite, in their greater understanding, know are historically deserving because of past oppression. And so on.
Now, of course, with the very elite of the elite running the country, we find that — what do you know? — this statism dodge doesn’t really work all that well. And there are two reasons for this. The first is that the statist premise is wrong. In fact, ordinary people left at liberty to do as they will are actually better at running their lives and businesses and country than the geniuses in Washington. Central planning works great in the imaginations of the elite, but in the real world… not so much.
And the second problem is that the elite are stupid. No, really. They’re educated and sophisticated and they dress well and speak well. They may even have high IQs. But in the immortal words of Forrest Gump’s mother: “Stupid is as stupid does.” And the elite are stupid.
The CEO of the French giant oil giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, died in a plane accident at about midnight Tuesday in Moscow when his plane collided with a snowplow driven by someone who was drunk, Russian investigators said. De Margerie was 63.
The executive was in Russia attending a government meeting on foreign investment and headed back to Paris. Total is a top foreign investor in Russia, where it is part of a joint venture with the Russian company Lukoil over the exploration of shale potential in Siberia.
The Falcon 50 plane crashed into a snow-removal machine during takeoff at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport.
“The Vice-President acknowledges his part in Monsieur De Margerie’s death,” Gore spokesman Jim Henson told FWIW. “If he hadn’t stopped global warming, Moscow would be enjoying snow-free Octobers by now, and there would never have been a snowplow on that runway. So, ‘sorry’!””