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Status Symbol

April 23, 1988
One bumper sticker reads: "He Who Has the Most Toys, Wins." The other: "She Who Dates the Most Boys, Wins." Either way, they're talking about accumulating. . . . Piling up as much as you can as high as you can so you may take your place atop the heap, head and shoulders above your peers. The composition of the piles will vary, as do the symbols that represent success in today's society.
February 21, 2012 | By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times
So much for the long-held notion that Americans purchase a new car and flip it every three or four years. People who buy new cars are holding on to their vehicles for a record amount of time, an average of almost six years, according to the automotive research firm R.L. Polk & Co. The recent recession has pushed people to hold on to their cars and pay off their loans. In the process, they discovered that their vehicles were more reliable than they might have expected, said Mark Seng, a Polk analyst.
March 28, 1985 | MARYLOU LUTHER, Times Fashion Editor
The Hermes scarf. The quilted Chanel handbag. The Burberry raincoat. The mink coat. The black-kid glove. The alligator pump. All these discarded status symbols of the pre-mini '60s are popping up again on the streets here as the correct and conventional school of fashion comes back into fashion.
June 18, 2011 | By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times
Aaron Patzer lives in a 600-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in Palo Alto with an old couch and TV. His favorite shoes are hand-me-down brown leather wingtips that, at 39, are older than he is. He gets $12 haircuts. He drove a 1996 Ford Contour until he ran it into the ground at 150,000 miles. His new ride is a Subaru Outback that he bought for $29,000. You'd never know that the 30-year-old entrepreneur sold his Internet start-up for $170 million in 2009 or that he is now a top executive at Intuit Inc., the financial software company.
For many people, wearing something that lacks snob appeal is like making love with a condom--the thrill isn't quite there. If that analogy crosses the line between good and bad taste, then Tom Ford and Miuccia Prada, the typhoid Marys of the current epidemic of label fever, would undoubtedly be amused. Ford, design director of Gucci and architect of the company's latest dazzling rise, last year brought back logos with a wink and a nod to the wretched excess of previous status-bound eras.
Imagine a time when wholesale is a status symbol and one extreme, "shop till you drop," is replaced with another--"drop shopping." "It's the end of the world," suggests New York-based retail analyst Kurt Barnard. No, it's the beginning of 1992. This new spirit cannot be pegged only to the recession, or to the fact that aging baby boomers now have houses and families to support and less cash for grown-up toys. There's another, more fundamental source: shame.
Richard Avedon took the photographs in a New York studio. Jean Paul Gaultier provided a silvery corset for Christy Turlington, while this year's model, Nadja Auermann, wrapped herself in cobwebs and half-light. If only the guys at Foogert's garage could get their hands on those pictures. They know about the fashion shoot because it was paid for, oddly enough, by a tire company. And the resulting girlie calendar looks nothing like traditional car kitsch. No blondes drape themselves over fenders.
It's the year 2003. With public transportation as slow and unreliable as ever, you're still driving to work. But you've decided to make the daily commute a little more pleasant by junking the old 1994 Ford Taurus and buying a fully loaded Chrysler sports coupe. You liked the Toyota, but it was twice as expensive. When you unlock the door, the seats and mirrors automatically adjust to your favorite position. You turn the ignition and the engine purrs.
October 24, 1989
The series of articles on why the automobile is seen as a second home and also a status symbol reflects on modern urban values. The vehicle is but another way to arrogate against a threatening world. In truth, we do not drive. We are driven. That is counterproductive. It can only end in social gridlock. JOSEPH P. KRENGEL Santa Monica
December 27, 1987 | Jeannine Stein \f7
KAREN JUBERT Personal trainer, age 26 "Having a private trainer is definitely a status symbol, especially if they go to your home and set up a program for you. It's also a status symbol to have the best body. It's that more than material possessions. And quitting smoking is a major status symbol." BRAD ELTERMAN Photojournalist and real estate broker, author of "Shoot the Stars," age 29 "Everybody seems to be getting a portable cellular phone.
July 11, 2010 | By Ellen Olivier, Special to the Los Angeles Times
So what if 21st century concert-goers are unlikely to pack picnic baskets with fine china, linens and candelabras. When the L.A. Philharmonic launched its summer classical season, the great Los Angeles social tradition of dining at the Hollywood Bowl continued in style. "It's L.A.," said Lakers owner Jerry Buss, in his pool circle box. "As long as any of the L.A. landmarks were here, the Hollywood Bowl was here. It goes back with Grauman's Theatre and Angels Flight." Kate Edelman Johnson — whose license plate reads "K2BOWL" — said she grew up going to the Bowl with her father, producer Louis Edelman, and her mother, Rita.
July 28, 2006 | Kimi Yoshino and Doug Smith, Times Staff Writers
Forget whether you have an ocean view or a new Lexus. A more pressing question this week in Southern California: Do you have central air conditioning? The answer in Los Angeles and much of Southern California: Probably not. Less than half of the homes in the city of Los Angeles have air conditioning, and fewer than 1 in 4 have central air, a utility survey says. Statewide, coastal areas have fewer air conditioners; inland, they're working nonstop.
December 22, 2005 | Mimi Avins, Times Staff Writer
FOR a select group of Angelenos, the route to grandma's didn't go over the river and through the woods, but along Sunset to a 32-story Modernist block of stucco and glass built in 1964, a singular apartment house set back from and above the storied boulevard. Throughout the 1970s and '80s, encounter anyone under 60 in an elevator at Sierra Towers, and you'd assume they were visiting an older relative. That was then.
November 22, 2005 | Don Lee, Times Staff Writer
Li Xin knelt in a hotel room here, wearing polka-dot boxer shorts and a grimace on his face. The deputy mayor of Jining, in Shandong province, was pleading with his lover not to report him to authorities. But in the end, the 51-year-old official was exposed and sentenced to life in prison. His crime: accepting more than $500,000 in bribes, which he used to support at least four mistresses in Jining, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
June 8, 2005
Re "The Prefix Is In," June 4: For any Westsider who feels status-threatened by losing the 310 prefix, I suggest calling this number: 1-800-GET-A-LIFE. Steve Bowerman Sherman Oaks Eleven-digit dialing seems to be one of the main objections to an overlay area code. Surely the computer geeks at the phone company can overcome this obstacle. It seems to me that with today's technology, 11-digit dialing should not be necessary when calling a number in one's own area code.
March 26, 2005 | Erica Williams, Times Staff Writer
Along Vermont Avenue west of downtown, the streetscape is marked by that familiar Los Angeles mix of mini-malls, low-rise office buildings and aging Art Deco storefronts. But head north of 3rd Street and the chaotic commerce of Vermont suddenly takes on an unexpected order. A striking difference is new streetlights that look old-fashioned.
March 4, 2001
Re "Social-Class Patterns in Scones and Doughnuts," Around the Valley, Feb. 24. All this time I thought it was a Rolex, a beemer, a huge stock portfolio, a ZIP Code that reflected one's social status. I am shocked to discover that I must also flaunt a scone in one snooty hand and a cup of Starbucks in my other upscale hand. Now that I know that my choice of coffee and pastry determines my snootworthiness, tell me, what social status symbol determines my true worth as a decent, ethical, human being?
April 14, 1993
Re "A Status Symbol with Real Bite" (March 26): Please send Rip Rense to the Golden State Rottweiler Club's Annual Show and Trial in June. There he will see Rottweilers participating in obedience trials, carting and general dog activities. He will find that a large number of the dogs belong to families or to women--without tattoos. Rottweilers, if treated well, are friendly, loving pets. The same is true of pit bulls and other large breeds. We would appreciate a little good press for a change.
December 15, 2004 | Warren Brown, Washington Post
Whether he was falling into or out of love, the late Ray Charles had a penchant for falling into Detroit's cars when he sang the blues. Charles favored Cadillac, the standard of motorized excellence in the 1950s when he began establishing his reputation as one of the world's greatest performers of blues and country music. To get his woman, he needed that car -- the symbol of wealth, the high-powered version of manhood.
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