SPEND $500 on two magnums of Veuve Clicquot Champagne at Bagatelle on West 13th Street in the meatpacking district, and the bottles are delivered to your table with lighted sparklers stuck in their corks. Spend $2,500 on a jeroboam of Veuve Clicquot and some magnums of Dom Pérignon, and the lights dim, the D.J. cues up the theme from “Superman,” and a waiter is hoisted onto the shoulders of his fellow servers. With a tablecloth knotted around his neck as a makeshift cape and his arms outstretched, he carries one of the blazing bottles of bubbly to your table. As the waiter soars through the air, he does so against a backdrop of patrons fist-pumping Champagne flutes, flashing cameras capturing pictures ripe for Facebook and a dozen young women clad in sequins, stilettos and Chanel bags climbing onto chairs, banquettes, even tables -- any elevated surface that is sturdy enough to dance on….
[I]t is not Friday night. It is 3:30 Saturday afternoon. Champagne corks are always popping somewhere, of course, and the high life never disappears entirely, especially in New York. But these days, a $750 magnum of Perrier-Jouët stands in striking contrast to the scene outside Bagatelle’s glass-paneled door, where the Dow has lost half its value since the fall of 2007, the recession has claimed a net total of 4.4 million jobs since it began, more than 850,000 families lost their homes to foreclosure last year, and the word “depression” is being heard in the land....
“It’s like, ‘What recession?’ ” said Ms. Brodish, who lives in TriBeCa and was dressed this afternoon in a glittery top paired with skinny black pants. “Look around. Do you see a recession?” ...
A man who works in finance and was standing near the bar of Merkato 55…. As for how he and his fellow Wall Streeters could still afford such afternoons, he said: “We all made so much money in the past five years, it doesn’t matter.”
A 29-year-old man who works for a large investment management firm and was at Bagatelle’s brunch one recent Saturday and at Merkato 55’s the next, put it another way: “If you’d asked me in October, I’d say it’d be a different situation, and I don’t think I’d be here. Then the government gave us $10 billion.”
Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Monday, March 16, 2009
Lifestyles of the New Welfare Recipients