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Before we get started today, I'd like to announce a change in the format of this commentary. The Urban Man has decided to give up worrying about the soul of L.A. and become a luxury lifestyle reporter. From now on, you'll hear me speak brightly from inside gated estates. You'll hear me report on the handbags of elegant women. Sometimes I'll rhapsodize about the curves on the rear ends of fine automobiles or speculate on the meaning of the double G in the Gucci logo.
I'm sure the pay will be better.
Of course, I'll need a change of…attitude. I'll have to drop all ironic self-regard, along with that calm NPR tone. I'll have to let myself be seduced by fine wine and eager publicists.
But surely I will be performing a public service. I mean, as a luxury lifestyle reporter, I can plumb the very soul of pleasure.
Last week, I kicked off this career by heading for the launch of a new, $150-a-bottle champagne. The party was staged by a doughty team of PR folks in the fabled penthouse suite of the Sunset Towers Hotel. A room once occupied by Sinatra and Monroe.
Here were all the elements of the luxury lifestyle: rich view, black-suited servants. The furniture had been pushed back, and we lifestyle writers were seated for a meal billed as "the seven sensualities."
Only me—I hesitated. I thought, "Maybe I should ease into this thing. Maybe I should maintain some journalistic reserve."
So I explained I had dietary restrictions. I wouldn't participate in all the sensualities. I'd merely observe the pleasure of my colleagues as they ate Prunier caviar à la royale, a risotto of black squid ink with flecks of gold leaf, langoustines in coconut and a mole of squab—along with, of course, plenty of bubbly.
One local restaurant writer who has, wisely, never criticized a meal, proclaimed it the best lunch ever served in L.A. Another learned that champagne is now appropriate before, during, and after dining. The PR folks hinted they might "bring their friends to Paris" for the next gathering. But the finest poetry came from the winemaker himself, who spoke of light and dark, shallow and deep, hints of citrus, and the bold caress of his new vintage.
And truly, as I watched joy spread among my fellow luxury lifestyle reporters, I realized that in my new job, I would have to abandon all my former concepts of pleasure.
I mean, I used to think pleasure was a basic commodity, available to everyone. I thought it pleasurable to neck in the back seat of a Chevy, laze in the sun, or eat a simple meal.
Now I realized I would have to redefine the very meaning of the word for my listeners. I must help folks understand that true pleasure now requires the crucial addition of luxury.
If you really want to enjoy necking, you have to be sitting in a late model Lamborghini—or at least, a Lexus. A sunny afternoon now calls for a penthouse balcony with a potted palm. A really enjoyable meal requires tiny portions in bright colors.
I must report that without exclusivity and high cost, there can be no real enjoyment of life.
As the seven sensualities came to an end, the company moved to the terrace for cigars, where our host, known as an international philosopher of the good life, overcame my last hesitations. "Most people don't really understand luxury," he said. "Luxury is not about acquisition. Luxury is about sharing. About people sharing a moment."
Somehow, in that remark, it all came together. The Urban Man realized he had chosen a truly altruistic new direction, and in the future I could report on the luxury lifestyle with unrestrained verve.
Copyright © 2007 Marc Porter Zasada. All Rights Reserved.
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