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Drinking Gold and Other Extravagances

20 Nov

by Roger White

 

Every columnist, blogger, reporter, broadcaster, tweeter, facebooker, and crackpot correspondent within 500 miles of Austin has had something to say about all the hoopla surrounding the brand-spanking-new F1 Circuit of the Americas auto race here recently, so I thought I’d do something different. I’m going to say something about all the hoopla surrounding the brand-spanking-new F1 Circuit of the Americas auto race here recently, but I’m going to DO IT IN ALL CAPS! FURTHERMORE, I’M GOING TO REPLACE ALL THE G’s IN MY STORY WITH K’s JUST FOR KRINS. HERE KOES:

 

FOR ONE THINK, I HONESTLY DON’T KET ALL THE EXCITEMENT CONCERNINK THIS KOSH DARN F1 RACE. IT’S A BUNCH OF RICH BRAZILIANS AND SOUTHERN EUROPEANS ZIPPINK AROUND IN OVERKROWN HOT WHEELS CARS…oh, forget it, I can’t keep this up.

 

But honestly. I really don’t get it. I watched news reports of what appeared to be sane-looking people standing in snaking lines for hours, just to board a shuttle to take them out to the track way east of town, where they’d stand in line for more hours just to get in to the place. The whole town was so crowded, even days before the big event, that my drive home from work took an extra hour and a half—and the F1 facility is nowhere near my workaday route!

 

I know, I know, local income, healthy economy, good vibes to the world, yadda. I still don’t get it. Plus, on race day, helicopters buzzed over our neighborhood all day and night, ferrying the ultra-rich from their rented villas to their VIP viewing boxes and back. I read in the paper that the champagne being served to these typhoons was on the order of several thousand dollars a pop—and get this, it’s infused with 24-karat gold. Yes, these lords and ladies are so disgustingly wealthy that they’re drinking gold. Some, I heard, were a trifle miffed that they couldn’t have their luxury yachts airlifted into Lady Bird Lake south of downtown.

 

Yep, these aren’t NASCAR fans. These are the crème de la crème de la crème. Crème x 3. I did a little studying up on this, and apparently F1 followers are the Donald Trumps of groupies. They travel the globe following their fave drivers, throwing money around like it’s Enron stock. You wanna know how rich these people are? My journalist pal, Carlos Carlos Moore, was able to tag along with one of these typhoons during race weekend. Carlos Carlos wouldn’t divulge the guy’s name, but he said something about oil, Dubai, and the patent on Styrofoam packing noodles.

 

Here’s some of the stuff this typhoon had:

• Cashmere toilet paper. That’s right. Cashmere TP. It’s all too real. A British company called Waitrose came out with TP that contains not only cashmere extracts but a mixture of jojoba and aloe vera. The science behind this way-over-the-top wipe, according to the developer, is “designed to deliver the most luxurious bathroom tissue yet. The infusion of jojoba and aloe carries the additional innovation of having a scented core, providing a refreshing aroma to the bathroom.”

• A Swarovski-crystal-studded toilet. Yup, this $75,000 can is entirely encrusted in Swarovski crystals. Well, if you’re gonna wipe with cashmere, you gotta have a crystal john. And besides, after imbibing all that liquid gold, it only stands to reason…

 

• The M55 Terminus E-Bike. This electric bicycle, which retails for about $35,000, is plated in gold and silver, adorned with crystals, and rests on a carbon fiber body. It even has disc brakes designed for sports cars. Carlos Carlos reported that the typhoon dude even hired a guy to ride it for him.

 

• A $2.4 million mobile phone. Made by jeweler Peter Aloisson, this handy little iPhone 3G is smothered in 6.6-carat diamonds and white gold. Carlos Carlos said this was the kid’s phone. He wasn’t allowed to see the expensive one.

 

• A bottle of 64-year-old Macallan Scotch, valued at $460,000. This hooch, apparently the oldest whisky ever bottled at Macallan, sold at a charity auction a couple of years ago for nearly half a million bucks. The typhoon told Carlos Carlos that guests have offered him $500 just to sniff the cork.

 

• On an end table in the typhoon’s villa, Carlos Carlos spied what he determined was none other than a slice of what is known as the Sultan’s Golden Cake. This delicacy hails from the Ciragan Palace in Istanbul. The dessert takes three days to make and has figs, quince, apricot, and pears marinated in rum for two years. Two years. It’s topped off with caramel, black truffles, and, yes, edible gold. And I don’t even know what quince is. Anyway, this goes for roughly $1,000 a mouthful.

 

By the way, a Brit named Lewis Hamilton won the actual race, but Carlos Carlos reported that his typhoon friend didn’t get to see the finish. Seems he overindulged and had to have his stomach pumped at a local hospital. ER physicians said that byproducts of the procedure more than covered the man’s bill. I just don’t get it.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

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Here’s to the Royal Couple! Clink. Hic.

2 May

by Roger White

I simply cannot tell you what the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton meant to me. No, wait, actually I can. In four words.

Toad in the hole.

As most regular guys will attest, all the pomp and majesty and gowns and uniforms and beefeaters and archbishops and romance and cleavage do very little for us. Well, maybe the cleavage. Otherwise, to the average American Joe Blow—who comprises 92 percent of the U.S. male population (97.7 percent of Oak Hill men, huzzah!)—watching coverage of the royal hitching could be likened to sitting through a televised reading of the Congressional roll call.

Ho. Period. Hum. Exclamation point.

Highlights of the actual ceremony for us Joes?

• Posh Spice (aka Mrs. David Beckham, hubbah hubbah)

• Pippa Middleton (Kate’s sister, who followed the bride around carrying the dress’s caboose—again with the hubbahs)

• That gorgeous droptop Aston Martin the royal couple tooled down the road in. Now we’re talking. I did some research and found that this awesome ride, which Wills borrowed from his dad, is a 1969 DB6 Mk2. This car, sweeter than any bridal gown the House of Steve McQueen or whatever could produce, is fueled by a four-liter double-overhead cam six-cylinder powerplant, churning out over 280 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. Not a V6, mind you. No, this is an old-world inline six. Righteous. William cruised off to his mom’s palace using a five-speed manual transmission, by the way. So there was no playing handsies in the car; he was working a stick. How ’bout that for wedding reporting, guys?

So, anyway, about the toad in the hole. After watching the newly minted royal spouses speed away in a car likely worth more than double my lifetime earnings, I figured that was it for me—no more happy royal nuptial news, please.

Then I heard National Public Radio’s coverage of various “wedding watching” parties across the country. Apparently, many, many ladies throughout our fair land got up at three a.m. to bear personal witness to all the glitter and gowns and unicorns and such. But they didn’t simply crawl out of bed and turn on the tube. No, they gathered in brightly colored klatches, baked up all sorts of British fare, mixed up champagne and orange juice, champagne and cranberry juice, champagne and prune juice, champagne and more champagne, and made genuine little festivals out of the whole affair.

I’m thinking the female work force in the U.S. and U.K. was pretty sparse later that day.

Listening to the women carry on at these shindigs in NPR’s story made me a tad envious, I must admit—and hungry. Some of the properly British dishes served at these gala gatherings included chocolate scones, bubble and squeak, toad in the hole, egg in a basket, fruit bismarcks, smoked haddock, truffles, rashers, black pudding, and, of course, fish ’n’ chips with Guinness.

First off, bubble and squeak. Sounds like a bathtub cleaner, I know, but it’s really quite yummy. You take leftover roast and veggies, throw in some potatoes, cabbage, carrots, peas, and other odds and ends and fry it up in a pan. To be perfectly cheerio, you serve it with pickles.

Toad in the hole?  Sausages in pudding batter, slathered in onion gravy, and baked like a casserole. Sausages in anything, onions on anything, I’m there. The Pavlovian dog in me heard the bell quite plainly.

What else. Ah, yes, egg in a basket. Remember the movie Moonstruck? When Olympia Dukakis was frying up an egg in a piece of toast? Again, ding! Rashers—basically, that’s British bacon. Fruit bismarck? Easy, that’s essentially a big ol’ mixed fruit pie gobbed with powdered sugar and whipped cream. The rest of the royal rations you can probably guess.

And, of course, the whole lot is washed down with ample servings of champagne with (insert fruit here) juice and/or beer stout enough to walk on.

As I listened to the recipes pile up in this story, I realized the common denominator was booze of one sort or another. Aha! There, I determined, lay the ulterior motive for many of these stately soirées. These ladies only claimed interest in the House of Windsor’s succession rituals just to catch a buzz. Sheesh, some people.

Well, it’s all over and done with, anyway. Hand me a Miller Lite, will ya? The game is on in a few.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat daschund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.