March 14, 2019

TOM WOLFE MAY BE GONE, BUT WE’RE ALL STILL LIVING IN HIS VIRTUAL REALITY PROGRAM:

● Shot:

Maybe this is why Gregory and Marcia Abbott allegedly bought their daughter’s way into college.

Their “rapper” son, Malcolm, popped out of the family’s Fifth Avenue building to smoke a giant blunt — while defending his parents and bragging about his latest CD.

“They’re blowing this whole thing out of proportion,” said Malcolm Abbott outside the home that overlooks the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “I believe everyone has a right to go to college, man.”

* * * * * * *

The toker, who sports a ponytail and raps under the name “Billa,” then shamelessly plugged his music. “Check out my CD, ‘Cheese and Crackers,’ ” he said of his 2018 five-track rec­ord that includes a song titled “If I Lost My Money.”

Later, Malcolm emerged with his brother, who groused to The Post on Tuesday his parents “got roped into [this by] some guy who f–king cheated them.”

—“Son defends parents caught in college admissions scandal while smoking blunt,” the New York Post, yesterday.

● Chaser:

In Silicon Valley, wearing a tie was a mark of shame that indicated you were everything a Master of the Universe was not. Gradually, it would dawn on you. The poor devil in the suit and tie held one of those lowly but necessary executive positions, in public or investor relations, in which one couldn’t avoid dealing with Pliocene old parties from . . . Back East.

Meanwhile, back East, the sons of the old rich were deeply involved in inverted fashions themselves. One of the more remarkable sights in New York City in the year 2000 was that of some teenage scion of an investment-banking family emerging from one of the forty-two Good Buildings, as they were known. These forty-two buildings on Manhattan’s East Side contained the biggest, grandest, stateliest apartments ever constructed in the United States, most of them on Park and Fifth Avenues. A doorman dressed like an Austrian Army colonel from the year 1870 holds open the door, and out comes a wan white boy wearing a baseball cap sideways; an outsized T-shirt, whose short sleeves fall below his elbows and whose tail hangs down over his hips; baggy cargo pants with flapped pockets running down the legs and a crotch hanging below his knees, and yards of material pooling about his ankles, all but obscuring the Lugz sneakers. This fashion was deliberately copied from the “homeys”—black youths on the streets of six New York slums, Harlem, the South Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, South Ozone Park, and East New York. After passing the doorman, who tipped his visored officer’s hat and said “Good day,” the boy walked twenty feet to a waiting sedan, where a driver with a visored officer’s hat held open a rear door.

What was one to conclude from such a scene? The costumes said it all. In the year 2000, the sons of the rich, the very ones in line to inherit the bounties of the all-powerful United States, were consumed by a fear of being envied. A German sociologist of the period, Helmut Schoeck, said that “fear of being envied” was the definition of guilt. But if so, guilt about what? So many riches, so much power, such a dazzling array of advantages? American superiority in all matters of science, economics, industry, politics, business, medicine, engineering, social life, social justice, and, of course, the military was total and indisputable. Even Europeans suffering the pangs of wounded chauvinism looked on with awe at the brilliant example the United States had set for the world as the third millennium began.

—Tom Wolfe, “Hooking Up: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the Second Millennium: An American’s World,” the first chapter in his 2000 anthology, Hooking Up. 

(Post article spotted by Rod Dreher, who writes, “Do read the whole thing, if only to see the photo of Young Master Abbott and his blunt. Like I even have to ask.”)

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