Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rich People Behaving Badly

"Dead End Gene Pool, A Memoir" by Wendy Burden Gotham Books 279 pages $26

Burden's great x four grandfather was Cornelius Vanderbilt, but the Burdens on their own made fortunes. Her grandparents owned a 5th Avenue Mansion, homes in Virginia, Maine and Florida.

In all of their establishments, Edwardian rigidity ruled the servants. Burden was born in 1955 and this rule still held. Alcohol and drugs marred the later years of: the grandparents, Burden's mother and both brothers. She has an ... interesting... resume: illustrator, zookeeper, taxidermist, bistro owner and chef.

She and her grandparents were in Paris; all went out to dinner at a famous,but not very accessible restaurant near Neuilly. At the end of the meal, Grandpa realized he'd not taken his checkbook, his wife didn't have one and Burden had only $102 or so in her account. He demanded that she write out a check for $200,000 (saying his secretary would replace it in the morning.) Befuddled, she did. He took the check, handed it to the proprietor and told him it was the best meal he'd ever eaten in his life, but the stairs had nearly killed him and the check was to put in an elevator! Madcap adventures abound in this book.

"True Compass, A Memoir" by Edward M. Kennedy Twelve Books 332 pages $35

Kennedy proves his Catholic faith over and over again. He is a true believer that you can do anything, go to confession (when you've been undeniably caught, that is,) be absolved of your sin and go on your merry way. His stance is: Circumstances/Other Guy made me do it, but (chest thump) I confess: it was entirely my fault and I am heartily sorry (because I did get caught and now I have to man out of it.)

I found myself laughing out loud on page 465: Clinton has just been nailed for Lewinski and Ted is all solicitous and "What can I do to help?"

Kennedy felt that impeachment was the "kind of attempt to delegitimize a President (that) was dangerous for our democracy"! He adds gratuitiously that our sins don't define the whole picture of who we are.


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