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Pity Those Poor Millionaires

March 20, 2000|ROY RIVENBURG

Down and Out in Beverly Hills: Everyone always whines about the plight of the poor, but Index, the cost of ostentatiousness rose a staggering 4% during the past year.

This is an outrage. To get an idea of the hardship, consider the price of a round-trip Concorde ticket between New York and Paris. A year ago, it was a reasonable $10,912, but now it's an obscene $11,578. Similarly, a case of vintage Moet & Chandon champagne that used to cost $430 now retails for $463, which is also what a gallon of gas will cost by the end of this week.

(As Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle noted, "I'm telling you, smart people know that the $3 gallon is coming, and they are draining their swimming pools and hot tubs and filling them with gasoline.")

The only bright spot on the horizon seems to be Jaeger-LeCoultre 18-carat gold watches, what about the plight of the rich? For example, according to the latest Moet & Chandon Luxury But that's not enough to keep some wealthy people from slipping below the poverty line into upper-middle-classdom. A few have even been forced to compete on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" just to have pocket change.

Others are trying to keep up appearances by logging onto http://www.nobletitles.com and buying royal titles (the viscount of Carbino in Albania is available for $4,000 and a baron of Beauchamp of Bedford title can be purchased for $55,000).

So the next time you want to criticize the rich, first walk a mile in their Louis Vuitton moccasins.

Dark Boogie Nights of the Soul: Hard times have also hit the porno film industry. Normally, X-rated flicks lure audiences by spoofing the titles of mainstream movies. But that strategy is now in peril. According to Nic Cramer, director of such Oscar contenders as "A Clockwork Orgy," most recent movie titles don't readily lend themselves to parody.

According to another director, the only possibilities are "The Sixth Sense," which could become "The Sex Sense" ("I see nude people"); "American Beauty," which could be retitled "American Booty"; and "There's Something About Mary's Bustline."

Another option is an X-rated talk show called "Bill Maher's Anatomically Incorrect."

Alarming Trends Bureau: NASA has hired car designer George Barris, who created the original Batmobile for the 1960s "Batman" TV series, to help build a space rover for missions to Mars.

which have fallen in price from $19,800 apiece to $18,050. Stock up now.

OSHA Nightmare Bureau: In honor of National Organize Your Home Office Day, HomeOfficeLife.com is sponsoring a contest to find the most unusual home office.

Leading contenders include a Stockholm man who runs a computer firm out of an old bank vault, a California woman who works in a treehouse, two entrepreneurs who conduct business from a bathroom, a woman whose home office is a wet bar, and a man who claims to work in the trunk of a car equipped with custom interior lighting and breathing holes.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Cannibals Hire Public Relations Firm to Improve Their Image!" (Weekly World News)

Step one was devising a catchy slogan: Human flesh--the other white meat.

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service, Baird Jones. E-mail Off-Kilter at roy.rivenburg@latimes.com. Off-Kilter runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we volunteer at a Beverly Hills soup kitchen, ladling out Evian and sushi.

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