Ten kitchens. A bowling alley. A health spa. A full-sized baseball field. A separate wing for the children. Something that could logically be referred to as “a grand staircase.” My house doesn’t have any of these things, does yours?
Jackie Siegel’s, on the other hand, will. Or at least, that’s what she and her husband, David Siegel, hoped when they began construction on what would have been the largest single-family residence in the United States, a 90,000-square-foot masterpiece of a home in Orlando. They called it “Versailles.”
I say “would have” because construction on Versailles has halted, yet another victim of the financial crash. The 99 percent may have been hit by the economic downturn, but Lauren Greenfield’s new documentary, The Queen of Versailles, puts a face on the 1 percent, too: Jackie.
What is it like to watch somebody with all the trappings of wealth — teetering heels, a litter of fluffy little dogs — lose it all? Greenfield spent more than three years filming Jackie and her family, stepping over the same dog turds ground into the carpet after the household staff was let go to save money as Jackie, David, and their eight kids did.
Roughly the same age as the titular queen [of the documentary], Greenfield and her camera were a mostly-silent presence in the Siegels’ life, witnessing Jackie, an RIT-educated engineer, thinking aloud that her children “might have to go to college” if the money ran out, and David theorizing that “anyone who doesn’t want to be rich is probably dead.”
The base conundrum is this: what does a relationship between an engineering student-cum-beauty queen-cum trophy wife and a documentarian focusing on social ills (Greenfield’s first feature documentary, Thin, focused on eating disorders) look like after three years, multiple foreclosures, countless hours in the editing room, and a lawsuit? (David Siegel has filed a defamation suit against Greenfield and her associates.)
Beyond that: what’s it like to watch a house of cards tumble in slow motion and remain behind the lens?
Greenfield and I sat down for a chat last week in New York ahead of the film’s limited release.
An annual poll conducted by the nonprofit Delta Dental Plans Association showed that on average, kids are finding $2.10 under their pillows the morning after leaving a lost tooth there. That number is down 42 cents from the $2.52 they received per tooth in 2010.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual informal study, Thanksgiving dinner for a group of 10 people — including a turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, carrots, celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, coffee and milk — will cost an average of $49.20 this year, an increase of $5.73, or 13 percent, from last year’s survey.
Lacquered red drums, glittery blue marching band type bass drums, bongo drums, tambourines and a cowbell, an overturned bin painted streaky red and hand-lettered with “OCCUPY WALL STREET,” slapped at with palms and mallets and drumsticks, anything really.
October 5, 2011 marked the 18th day of Occupy Wall Street, a protest that has filled a small park in downtown Manhattan for weeks and sparked copycat protests across the country and abroad. Hundreds have been arrested over the past few weeks — at least 20 were arrested last night — and the world has its eyes on Liberty Square, where the protesters have made their encampment.
NEW YORK — On the 18th day of Occupy Wall Street, the protest against corporate greed that began as a small group of grassroots activists and spread to dozens of cities across the U.S. and abroad, several big names joined the shouting masses in Liberty Square.
Your concerned friend/family member/bartender/bootlegger gives you big, sad eyes, puts a gentle hand on your elbow and says, in a hushed voice, “I just don’t know, Daily RFT reader. You’re still incredibly handsome, but you’ve changed. I think you have a drinking problem.”
Fear not, you have a brand new excuse! Better yet, it was made by science, so it can’t be too close to wrong, can it?
Gut Check heard recently that St. Louis Bread Co. intends to open a new location on the north side of Plaza Frontenac, near Brio Tuscan Grille.
Hat tip to the lovely and charming Deb Peterson for the scoop. The real question, beyond the blah-blah details of square footage and whether they’ll offer pedicures, is whether the Frontenac location will be designated as another of the Richmond Heights-based company’s pay-what-you-wish locations.
Click behind the jump to find out whether you’ll be able to get a dose of the warm fuzzies along with your overpriced LuluLemon sportswear, or head over to Gut Check, the RFT‘s food blog, where this piece originally appeared. (more…)
For the last four days, two massive tour buses carrying 50 unionized employees of Express Scripts, Inc.’s Bensalem, Penn. facility have been rolling toward St. Louis. Monday afternoon, they gathered outside the corporate headquarters of the pharmacy benefit management company to protest the pay and benefit cuts they face.
“I think George can hear us loud and clear, right?” shouts a man with a megaphone, pacing the sidewalk in front of the crowd, referring to Express Scripts CEO George Paz.