DeGroot On The Rich Niche

Self-described "ranting geezer" John DeGroot didn't think much of this Sun-Sentinel story about mags for the rich. I personally take issue with the article's contention that magazines are "flourishing" in South Florida, without so much as mentioning the recent demise of Las Olas Magazine, which was actually trying to be a real city mag.

The Sun-Sentinel tells us about pubs for the rich, like Florida Dog Magazine, published by a woman named Jennifer Wise whose dog is named "Bentley." I don't find that nauseatingly pretentious at all. Nor am I the least bit irked that Wise and her partner were "inspired" to start the magazine "after spotting several dogs on yachts along Fort Lauderdale's New River."

Enough. I don't want to hemorrhage. Onto DeGroot's take.

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The Rich Niche
by John DeGroot

The Business section of Monday’s Sun-Sentinel devoted more than half its front page to a photo promoting a new magazine for rich dog owners.

In fact, the newspaper chewed up more than 100 inches of editorial space (most of it white or graphic) to a pseudo-story on the new special niche magazines for the rich.

And why not?

Blessed with immaculate weather and an abundance of poor people, South Florida has long been a magnet for the obscenely rich in search of sunny climes and cheap domestics.

True, South Florida has its hurricanes and insufferable summers – each a distasteful inconvenience for the rich. But then, as any wealthy Floridian will tell you, the hurricane season is why God made Colorado and North Carolina.

Personally, as a decidedly bourgeois journalist for the past half-century, I’ve always found the obscenely rich far more interesting than the tragically poor.

This, of course, is because journalism is all about Nasty Business like crime, corruption and outrageous behavior.

And while Nasty Business is common among those born into poverty, obscenely rich people must WORK at that sort of thing

In short, a rich asshole is far more newsworthy than a poor one.

Which is why the likes or Paris Hilton and Donald Trump are so – well -- newsworthy.

Shakespeare understood all this. It’s why he never wrote about peasants. Just the ignoble acts of the nobility.

Of course, here in American, we have no true nobility ordained by lineage, or God.

So, not having any Kings, Lords, or Dukes, we’re left with celebrities and the obscenely rich. Because, in our consumer society, money is the measure of all things.

Like, “Boy, that sport coat sure cost a lot. So it’s gotta be good.”

Or, “You wouldn’t believe what he paid for her boob job!”

Same thing with people. For example:

Garbage collectors and car dealers are hardly icons of respect in any level of contemporary American society.

That is, unless they are obscenely rich garbage collectors and car dealers. Which explains Wayne

Huizenga, who now owns the Miami Dolphins thanks be to garbage. Or the late Jim Moran, who left a vast fortune thanks be to cars built by the folks who gave us the Bataan Death March.

But I digress.

Because what we’re about here is South Florida’s niche media for the obscenely rich. And according to today’s Sun-Sentinel, their number is growing.

Now, like most media, a Rich Niche publication is driven (and defined) by it’s content: Invariably a slick bevy of ads, photographs and articles focused on things people don’t need, or people who don’t need anything, or both. Plus a remarkable excess of on-the-scene snapshots featuring a host of folk well nipped, tucked and enlarged – these juxtaposed against teenage models wearing bathing suits equal to the price of a year’s worth of food for a refugee in Darfur.

Along with all this, Rich Niche Mags usually provide coverage of Society “doings,” which consists largely of profiles, photographs and snapshots of people in desperate need to be noticed by and/or associated with all the Right People.

And who are the Right People?

Well, for a Rich Niche Mag publisher, the Right People are called a “market.”

For example, the Sun-Sentinel’s very own Rich Niche mag City & Shore describes its Right People readership/market as “#1 in total retail sales per capita.”

Which is how and why City & Shore offers its readers “extravaganzas you simply must consider.”

Because, unlike you and I, the Right People have a Right to their absolutely necessary extravaganzas like:

A Fiandaca. (You’re lower than a parking valet if you don’t know Fiandaca does ball gowns.)

Or a Pierre Kunz.” (You couldn’t get a job cleaning toilets on Palm Beach if you don’t know Pierre Kunz makes a casual little watch that goes for $32,000.)

Or a bidet. (Which is not a low bid on Ebay, hairball.)

Anyway…

Open a decent Rich Niche Mag and there’s no way you’ll find an ad or an article about people who shop at Sears, or J.C. Penny. Or “do” the Swap Shop versus Boca’s Town Center Mall. Or wear Timex versus Rolex. Or drink at Little Red’s Bar & Grill versus the Blue Martini.

Okay.

About now you’re probably ready to throw up on your shoes over journalism that caters status-driven readers with way too much money and high end shit.

Lighten up.

Then go read a book about anthropology.

Because what we have here is an aspect of humanity as common as body odor. Maybe even more so.

How so? Basically, because homo sapiens have always been greedy bastards obsessed with getting more shit than they need -- and then showing it off.

True fact.

It’s a form of behavior that got our species through famine, drought, war, pestilence and so on.

Like a caveman with more meat had a better shot at survival than a caveman with less.

Or the guy with the bigger sword had a better shot than his neighbor with a small one.

Ditto with hooters.

Because big hooters mean more baby milk – which was a good thing for the tribe 50,000 years back. Which explains all the cosmetic surgery ads in a Rich Niche mag. And also all the men’s magazines devoted to mega-milk sacks.

In short, liking More and Bigger stuff is a very human thing – be it war clubs, cars, or whatever

Take the Whatahbooboo tribe in old Africa.

Here’s Mgumbo with a dozen goats versus Kowabonga with three. Who’s got more status? Anyhow…

What happens when you’ve got all the status you can get from an excess of goats and big-breasted women?

Well that’s when you move up to status symbols – like beads, or pretty stones and shiny metal that are hard to come by.

It’s how it works, status-wise.

And why the ancient Whatahbooboo tell each other, “Did you see the size of the shiny metal thing Mgumbo stuck in his nose? And I hear he’s gonna pay two goats to get his new bride’s lips stretched.”

Only now we have McMansions, Hummers, designer jeans, plastic surgeons, and high end merchants of shiny metal, pretty stones and exotic watches.

And also tattoos and body piercing.

It’s how we tell each other who and what we are.

Of course, a status-rich homo sapien with way too much unnecessary shit needs to display it.

So, centuries ago, the old Whatahbooboos would put on all their shit and drag all their wives to celebrate their status at a big festival thanking the gods for a year without locusts.

And maybe, like the Native Americans of the old Pacific Northwest, they would make a big show of their status by giving away some of their excess shit at a “Potlatch.”

Only here in America we have Society Balls and other status-events where people designer-dress up to give major money to some worthy cause like World Hunger, Lost Dogs, or Disease de Jour.

Call it Anthropology 101.

Trouble is, many of us are driven to self- righteous indignation over this very human quest for status and identity.

Like: “Can you believe the car that rich bastard’s driving?!” Or: “Did you see what she impaled in her tongue?!”

And so on.

Fact is, all comes down to goats, automobiles, big hooters, stretched lips, wrist watches and beads, along with whom you eat, sleep, screw and work – be a member of the Fort Lauderdale Yacht Club or the Whatahbooboo.

Because who you are is what you got and how you flaunt it, anthropology-wise.

Which is why any Whatahbooboo would understand a Rich Niche Mag like City & Shore -- once he figured out that Hummers trump goats among the Las Olas tribe.

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