Monday, March 17, 2014




What You Get for ... $5,000,000

 (that's 5 million)

Of course we don't have to look at these ads, articles, nonsense (whatever they are), but there they are each week, or far too often, in the New York Times. Not so glaring in the print edition as the screen display of the newspaper, but glaring like one more reminder of the 1% royalty that do now run the world — 'here's what you can have for, say, 4 million dollars: a trophy house smack-dab built in the Tetons of Wyoming, and the land will cost you a million and half on top of that. That's dollars.'

Joe Starrett once lived in the shadow of the Tetons with his little family — son Joey and wife Marian. It was a log home they built by hand with woodsmoke always drifting out of its roof top pipe day or night. Joe could be seen part of each day whaling away on an ornery stump five times larger than he was and made of the best mother earth steel. His axe blade went dull after an hour of beating on the stump, but he was making progress. Wood chips flew. Marian had a kitchen garden and Joey was meant to keep the few cows that kept the family in milk out of the garden. Deer came close, almost tame. And the sunshine baked the treeless plain.

The above paragraph is all fantasy. Alan Ladd is about to stroll his handsome horse into the picture and the 1953 movie Shane is about to really get rolling. But wouldn't you rather live in this picture? than some boom frickered nightmare of get rich builders and realtors playing with the jet set?

Things would change mightily for these Shane period homesteaders by 1980 in films. Heaven's Gate, directed by Michael Cimino, would reveal what would happen to Joe Starrett and his little family when bruts, hired by the then 1% during the Johnson County War of Wyoming, executed, flash shotgun style, small settling ranchers in the way of big daddy development. It's still being done today by depriving, thievery and big money. Dreams cut down to size. To the size of embitterment.

George Stevens was the director of Shane — maybe the finest full-blown western ever made, complete with starstruck dazzle and a remarkably grim center plot of prejudice and fighting for justice with a lawman no closer than "100 miles away." The showdown between Ladd and Jack Palance, in a saloon, Clint Eastwood would attempt to reoccur in his classic Unforgiven, and while Eastwood's version is riveting, nothing tops the two hour build-up in Shane. George Stevens may have been the most subtle and physical director then in the business. Few could come even close to the sound and fury in very small doses that both Ladd and Palance portray in this film. In Stevens' earlier film, the classic drama A Place in the Sun, with Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor, Stevens has Clift's character meeting a lawman looking for him while attempting to escape through a woodlot. It's a moment on screen of hollowed out, wintering patience. We rarely see this any longer in American cinema.

Or real estate.  

For one of the links below, the taxes yearly on the home and land will cost anyone $14,000-$15,000, which is the total annual income for some people I know. That's just the taxes. I didn't even bother  to look at the taxes for the Wyoming wingding. Don't come around snooping or even dreaming about buying this property, buster, if you don't have the dough. And let's face it, even the majority of the New York Times readers no longer have this kind of dough to splash around.

It's a disturbing contribution to a way of life that hurts to see, to even think someone is preparing these "dream destinations" at the New York Times each week — without the money to purchase much more than their already sky rocketed city apartment rent — to appease a gentry that are basically moving to a personal Shangri-La that's out of their element.

It's all about attempting to tame the land, bring it around, make it recognizable to us. End the wilderness.

Drop the ads, the articles, the gauche, whatever they are Mr. and Mrs. New York Times.

Work the stump. 

  [ BA ]

photo: ny times