Michael Wolff tells a weird story about American Apparel boss, Dov Charney:
Dov Charney has used a photographic approach that might be characterized as underage retro porn as American Apparel’s branding theme. Charney, who often takes the pictures himself, recently approached my daughter in Union Square Park in New York and gave her his business card in case she ever wanted to model for him.
Charney's Jewish. I need to tie this into my issues. Yesterday I had a discussion with my wife about the attitude in her culture, privileged WASPdom, towards rich people. She spoke of a guy she'd grown up with as a "loser." But he made a jillion dollars in telemarketing, I said. "He's still a loser, he's always been a loser," she said. "Do your sisters agree with you?" "Absolutely," she said. Neither she nor her sisters would have dated him.
I felt that my cultural inscription is different; and it struck me that there was too much prestige in Jewish culture for the rich. Maybe it was because we knew so few rich people, but when I was growing up, any rich person was revered. "Hank Greenberg married Gimbel's daughter!" Jacob Blaustein, of Standard Oil and the American Jewish Committee--oh my god! In The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten says that yiches, or prestige, attaches to the wealthy--though he emphasizes they must serve the community. And yes, this blog is all about different Jewish values; but I believe that Bernie Madoff's march to the sea was accomplished only because so many Jews took this ridiculous but rich nebbish so seriously. Franz Kafka said the same thing in denouncing the culture of the synagogue in a famous passage from his letter to his father:
[To] the religious material that was handed on to me.. may be added at most the outstretched hand pointing to "the sons of the millionaire Fuchs," who attended the synagogue with their father on the High Holy Days. How one could do anything better with that material than get rid of it as fast as possible, I could not understand; precisely the getting rid of it seemed to me to be the devoutest action.
I feel the same way about Charney. No prestige. Rich guys can be losers, too.