“There Will Be Blood” may have been painful — I could barely walk after three hours crammed in my seat — but it was worth it not just for the sharp relevance but for two scenes. One takes place in a restaurant where the evildoer oilman (or is that redundant?) brings his son and uncouthly demands “steak, whiskey and goat’s milk” before another table of slightly slicker petroleum scumbags comes in and not only knows enough to wait for a menu but immediately starts nattering away 2007-style, wondering whether the fritters are the way to go. Cash v. class, the eternal struggle. Even better was the ending, when the profiteering E.O. is living in luxury but still eating just steak, and obscenely overcooked steak at that. It pretty much illustrates why restaurants in rich neighborhoods are inevitably so abysmal. Money can’t buy you taste. No wonder I have visions of GoFuckYourself eating his meat before it can even coagulate.
If any more proof were needed that the rich are getting obscenely richer and poor writers are just getting socked with big increases for health insurance and co-op maintenance, consider the $2,500 tequila. That’s not a typo like the “million” left off the “$50” in the NYTimes story about the construction cost of a lavish Russian restaurant. It’s the actual price for a single bottle (admittedly, a Baccarat bottle). And we’re talking about booze here. You rent it; you don’t own it. Why would anyone really need to pay $54,000 for a bottle of scotch at auction? Or six grand for a cognac? So much money is floating around at a certain level that “private collectors” are into alcohol now, which is beyond absurd. Somehow I doubt there will ever be a Barnes Collection even of whiskey from George Washington’s distillery. And just imagine the investor lying on his deathbed looking at his life’s acquisitions: Bottles he could not open because their value would instantly dissipate. Instead of being lavished with tax breaks, these fools should be forced to take a few strolls through estate sales in Manhattan. When we were looking for retro accouterments for our 1929 kitchen, we trekked to three or four, and the saddest sight was always the array of liquor on offer. I could never decide which was creepier, the dustiness of the unfinished bottles or the greed that would make heirs think anyone might ever buy second-hand sherry. Maybe there’s a reason caviar is perishable. Otherwise beluga would be covered in cobwebs in mega-mansions all over America.