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East Side A Christmas Bust?

In our continuing series of the Best of, we have this report from Stoolie “4shzl” on the holiday season in Manhattan:

Spent the week before Xmas in New Jack City — mostly in museums and galleries where the wealth of art on display was so rich and varied that it was almost possible for me to believe that our society is not in such desperate straights after all.

Back on the street, reality reasserted itself. The tonier sections of Manhattan have become progressively more hollowed out since I moved away some three decades ago. Apartments that use to house upper middle class families have been transformed into the third, fourth or nth trophy home of the international PigPerson set. Uniformed staff at Park and Fifth Avenue coops stand guard over richly paneled lobbies and elevators whose residents are seldom seen. The upper East Side has the air of a magnificently maintained necropolis: service workers come and go and the brass is scrupulously polished — all for the benefit of a mysterious, ghostly clientele.

Nowhere was their absence more obvious than on Madison Avenue in the sixties and seventies where the crème de la crème of the city’s high-end retailers have opened satellite boutiques in recent years. As I trundled back and forth past the elegant window displays of Prada, Max Mara, etc. etc., immaculately attired sales staff stood lonely watches undisturbed by all but a very occasional customer.

Perhaps agents from the sovereign wealth funds will be diverted from their “bargain hunting” at the lower end of the island to pick up a few baubles before the year ends. If not, I’m guessing the all-important holiday shopping season will turn out to be a bust from top to bottom.

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