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Archive for June, 2009

#25 - Valium

#25 - Valium

Valium™
Price: $0.34 per pill

Rich people have very difficult lives. They are constantly anxious over when the Bentley will be carjacked, whether the maid is stealing silverware, if there will be enough caviar when Chas Underwood III visits and are they appropriately hedged against Yen exposure in their rapidly appreciating stock portfolios. If you aren’t shouldering upper class burdens but seek to befriend the rich, you must understand the desire…no, the necessity of a pharmaceutical approach to ridding one’s life of stress and strain.

Fortunately, Dr. Leo Sternbach and the good men and women of Hoffman-La Roche had the wherewithal to synthesize Diazepam in 1960 and help even the most troubled socialite to medicate their problems away. Marketed as Valium, Diazepam rapidly became the most prescribed drug in the United States between 1963 and 1982 with sales topping 2.3 billion tablets in 1978! Most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, it is also used for insomnia, agitation, alcohol withdrawal and sedation. The availability of Valium makes it socially acceptable but as with all drugs, it should never be taken without consulting a medical professional as it is highly addictive and overdoses can be fatal.

Available as a blue or yellow pill and famously referenced as ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ by the Rolling Stones, Valium is a staple for the rich but beware. Mr. Howard Hughes developed a severe addiction and his post-mortem toxicology report revealed high dosages of Valium and codeine. Fortunately, the less-reclusive rich have access to doctors at nearly every country club function to ensure that they are well sedated in a safe manner with only mild dangers of long-term addiction. Side effects may include confusion, fever, chills, drowsiness, slurred speech, diminished libido, and nausea. A final side effect, if the wealthy seem terribly uptight and massively constipated, this may simply be intemperate reliance on Valium. Of course, they may actually be arrogant bastards.

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#24 - Naming Museum Wings

#24 - Naming Museum Wings

Naming Museum Wings
Price: $28 million

All rich people consider themselves philanthropists. They want you to believe that they make the world a better place through sizable donations. More importantly, they crave the attention that people pay to their name on university buildings, hospitals and museum wings. But, just because the rich lack a sense of humour doesn’t mean museum names have to; the Wing Luke could host a great Star Wars exhibit and the Cockburn or Cummer Museum would…I think you get where I’m going.

Museum wings herald to the city, state and country that their benefactors are wealthy, tasteful, highly cultured and clearly connected to the right people. Why do donors fund a museum’s major construction costs when even in a no-name US city costs run upwards of $12 million? To the rich, naming makes a lovely gift, a lasting monument to themselves, a permanent place on the A-list, makes up for years of greedy indiscretions and ensures a table at the best restaurants…the Guggenheims never wait at Per Se or Le Bernardin.

If you want to make wealthy friends, dote on the upper class at any opportunity. Make constant references to their philanthropic efforts, regardless of the size of the gift. You’ll walk a fine line between sycophantic pandering and outright ass kissing, but the right level of recognition to their cries for attention will pay healthy dividends. Wooing the rich is easy but there are rules. First, do not ask how much they gave to the Met or MoMA…they are itching to tell you anyway. Next, mention that the use of an initial in their name conveyed tremendous sophistication. Finally, don’t talk about the art housed in their wing as they likely will have no idea that there are balloon animals and lava lamps masquerading as art under their silver plated nameplate. Natrally, knowing the difference between Monet or Manet is critical and it may land you invites to socialite galas chatting with beautiful women in Marc Bouwers and Jimmy Choos…now that’s art!

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#23 - Topiary

#23 - Topiary

Snowy Garden Topiary
Price: $12,000 per night

Rich people love topiary. These artful and ornamental cut trees and shrubberies decorate the expansive estates of the wealthy. You may think it is the aesthetics that the rich love and while this is important, topiary acts to remind the help that they are worth less to their employers than the perfectly sculpted greenery they maintain around the garden. What is it about these living works of art that are so appealing to the upper class? Nothing says opulence like spending an average man’s salary on lawn ornaments that must be maintained by…well, an average man.

The popularity of topiary has ebbed and flowed throughout the centuries but it suffered a significant blow in the late nineties. The blame; Edward Scissorhands and while ice sculptures thrived and pirates have hardly been kept down by more recent Johnny Depp features, topiary has had to work hard to comeback. Only in the past five years has topiary redeemed itself as an in vogue passion of the wealthy. Sighted again in 2004 during New York City holiday party season, a “Big Bank” rented extravagant topiary displays for upwards of $12,000 for the evening. Not to be outdone, Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev reportedly paid over $40,000 for a bush that adorns his $70 million dollar London mansion. By the way, do not erroneously introduce billionaires; it can ruin a good party.

To ensure that you are capable of building superficial relationships with the fabulously rich around you, learn a few facts about this lavish garden accoutrement. Speak about Cneius Matius Calvena, the father of topiary, a former pal of Julius Caesar and the second unpronounceable name cited by SRPL today. Admonish Alexander Pope and his essay, Verdant Sculpture, published in the 18th century which ridiculed topiary as a useless art form; clearly a man deprived of a proper upbringing. Finally, educate yourself in Jacobethan architectural style and praise Elvason Castle for opening its private gardens to the public in 1850 hence reviving topiary throughout England. As a sidebar, the rich do not appreciate jokes around ‘trimming the bush’ or similar forms of low brow humour.

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Hand Kissing

#21 - Hand Kissing

Hand Kissing
Priceless

Rich people love uncommon greetings. Hand kissing is a rare gesture among uncouth, lower classes and a distinguishing trademark of the wealthy. The simple gesture of bowing to a downward facing hand speaks volumes about one’s stature and while the upper crust will rarely actually kiss the hand, there are certainly situations where lips will grace the skin. To integrate fully with the rich, comfort with hand kissing is essential.

Most associate hand kissing with The Godfather, religious figures and romance but for the rich it is a gesture of chivalry although charm does play a role. Important figures make hand kissing a calling card of sorts. Jacques Chirac, former president of France, was well known as a hand kisser. In England, a newly minted prime minister will kiss the Queen’s hand as an expression of the monarch’s trust in her subject. This gesture of course is not reserved for high-ranking political figures; it abounds in social circles.

Like the air kiss, a hand kiss is an excellent vehicle to express your class and charm but bestows an air of individuality within your social circle. While I wouldn’t recommend pulling this out of the toolkit in business circles, kissing the hand of a new acquaintance at the amfAR New York Gala, as an example, is fitting. A well-placed hand kiss can appear as opulent and as high brow as arriving in a Rolls Royce Phantom. Despite your elevated stature among elegant women, expect a healthy dose of mocking from the gentlemen in your next foursome at Sebonack but if it is good enough for the King of Spain it is good enough for you.

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It is such a beautiful day! The sun is out, women are wearing gingham dresses, Prada sunglasses and floppy sunhats while the men look relaxed in linen suits with Ferragamo loafers. Such a lovely day calls for a trip to the ballpark, and what would a day watching the boys of summer be without sampling the finest MLB culinary offerings. Discover the best and worst of the 30 major league parks. Enjoy today’s fun site, Finding the Hits, Avoiding the Errors at the NY Times! I recommend the crab cakes in San Francisco!

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#21  - Mint Juleps

#21 - Mint Juleps

Kentucky Derby Mint Julep
Price: $1,000

All rich people love to drink. Give a rich person a stiff cocktail and a cigarette holder and they can stay out until dawn…of course they never do, it would be improper. Unlike the masses, rich people do not pick up a flat of Pabst Blue Ribbon or a bottle of Wild Turkey or loudly proclaim “it’s Miller time!” Instead, rich people tailor their drink of choice to the social gathering at hand. As an example, strawberries and champagne are lovely at Wimbledon, a Manhattan at The Campbell Apartment in New York will do, a Caesar (for our Canadian readers) or a Bloody Mary with brunch is quite civilized and perhaps the most famous, a Mint Julep at the Kentucky Derby is a must have.

Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, serves over 120,000 mint juleps each year. While this delightful cocktail of crushed ice, bourbon and fresh mint sweetened with syrup may fit the bill for the common man, the rich prefer a more prestigious concoction of this historic favorite. Each year the Kentucky Derby crafts 50 special edition mint juleps available to their wealthiest patrons for $1,000 per drink. Imagine…crushed ice from the Arctic Circle sweetened with hand-ground sugar from the island Republic of Mauritius, fresh Moroccan mint and Kentucky bourbon blended and served in an engraved gold-plated mug and sipped through a sterling silver straw. Custom storage box and an embroidered silk handkerchief, designed by the makers of jockey silks, make this a must-have for any patron of the sport of kings. Of course the proceeds go to charity but that’s hardly the point is it?

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La Prairie Skin Cream

#20 - La Prairie Skin Cream

Cellular Cream Platinum Rare
Price: US $1,000 per 1.7oz

Rich people love expensive skin cream. To be more accurate, rich people love to believe that they can appear forever young, glamorous and beautiful; all the reasons that their sugar daddy or sugar momma agreed to slip a Harry Winston ring on their gold digging finger in the first place. While not all eternal unions are based on such superficiality, the fact remains that stores like Neiman Markus can hardly keep their gleaming cabinets of youthful elixirs fully stocked.

How can this help you to ingratiate yourself with the wealthy? In a word, a thinly veiled compliment will do wonders for your social standing while exposing your connection with the finer things in life. Example…”My goodness you look exceptional, I play polo with a chap at La Prairie. I will have him call your Vertu, you must promise to act as their spokes model!” While this may seem grossly transparent, you are not clinging to yesteryear wishing you could turn back the sands of time a thousand dollars at a time.

If pressed, you must understand two things; Polo tournaments and skin cream. La Prairie is renowned for their luxurious skin treatment products. The crown jewel of their product line is ‘cellular cream platinum rare’ available in 1.7oz or 1oz sizes. In their own words this is “precious skin care for the privileged few”. Infused with platinum, valued at over $1,200 per oz, this precious metal bonds with the skin and synergizes with other ingredients to recharge your skin. Platinum protects the DNA and continuously replenishes moisture. A word to the wise…do not mention that in 2006, 130 tonnes of Platinum were used in automobile catalytic converters for emissions control…shhh it is for keeping the Earth beautiful too.

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