20 Mar 2008

Buying Wyoming

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Ian Frazier, in the New Yorker, satirizes conspicuous real estate consumption.

Typically, this New Yorker essay ridiculing the super-rich manages to combine with its satire a very characteristic note of complacent self-identification with the supposed target.

I feel sorry for people who still think of their places in terms of square feet. My partner, Scott, and I recently purchased Wyoming, which we are in the process of having renovated, and, yes, I do know the square footage (something like two trillion seven hundred and thirty billion square feet, give or take). But that’s just not a very practical type of measurement when we’re dealing with all the plumbers and contractors and security staff and reporters and other non-wealthy service personnel we have to give instructions to. …

Basically, we are looking at this purchase as a tear-down. There’s really not a lot here you’d want to keep, except one or two of the Wind River Mountains and some old nineteen-twenties Park Service structures in Yellowstone. Scott and I bought for the location—it’s convenient to anywhere, really, if you think about it—and for the simplicity of line. We wanted someplace rectangular, a much easier configuration from a design point of view, and we won’t have to fuss with panhandles and changeable riverine property lines where we’re going to get into disputes with the landowner next door. Spare us the headaches, please! We’ve had plenty already, with the former occupants (thank heavens they’re gone) and all the junk they left behind—the old broken-down pickup trucks, houses, eyesore water towers, uranium mines, the University of Wyoming, Yellowtail Dam, Casper. I’m a thrower-outer. I believe we must first clear everything away, then see what we’ve got. Scott is more sentimental. He thinks we should leave the North Platte River, for example, and work around it. I haven’t said yes or no. I’m secretly hoping he changes his mind.

Read the whole thing.


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