The Christmas That Wasn’t

More sights and sounds surrounding this magical holiday season:

“Strolling the half-mile of Fifth Avenue from Rockefeller Center to Central Park—the white-hot heart of the high-end Amer­ican Christmas experience—you en­counter the businesses that man­age to separate more people from their hard-earned money more than any others. But crowds in these thrift-killing fields were relatively sparse last week (aside from the clutch of Citi­group bankers trying to present toxic mortgage-backed securities as collateral for loans from Salvation Army kettles).

The Rockefeller Center tree, like everything else in New York this year, has been down­sized. The 2008 Norway spruce is 72 feet, down from 84 in 2007. In Bottega Veneta, not a creature was stirring, not even a Vogue assistant editor.

The Apple Store earlier this fall was so mobbed that hipsters had to take a num­ber to enter the Shrine of Jobs. This time, I swept right in and didn’t have to wait to pay. Across the plaza from Apple stands FAO Schwarz. In normal times, it’s an anxiety-inducing miasma of kids, tourists, and fly­ing plastic toys. Last Tuesday, it was an oasis of calm. I could have done yoga safely in the Lego section.”

“…no indicator was quite so telling as the plaintive message left on my home an­swering machine over Thanksgiving weekend. A kindly Bergdorf Goodman salesperson invited members of our hum­ble household to stop by and check out the bargains. Now, if you’re not a habitué of the his-and-hers luxury department stores on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, there are a few things you should know about Bergdorf Goodman. This place puts the haute in haute couture. It’s about as wel­coming to the public as North Korea. It’s the kind of store where the salespeople take one look at your shoes and judge whether you’re a big spender. Bergdorf Goodman cold-calling suburban shoppers? It’s like col­lege kids canvassing for Obama votes at a National Review conference.” [Link]

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~ by eaesthete on 12/09/08.

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