Weeding Out Your
A lot of people I know in New York have too many
friends. Too many friends means too many obligations, and by the end
of an average week, you realize you’ve been to 29 events—nine
goodbye parties, 10 lunches, four brunches, two baptisms, a bris, a
graduation party, a wedding and a wake—and you’ve had no time to do
important things, like eat chips, watch TV and try on new clothes
you can’t afford.
That’s why it’s time to weed out your friends.
You’ll reduce schedule congestion, save money and be happier. Here
are a few tips:
1. First of all, it’s time to redefine who your
friends are. "Friend" has become a loosey-goosey catch-all term
these days—kind of like "fiancé." We use "friend" to describe
everyone from our lifelong school chum to our co-workers to the
super’s brother. As a general rule, I think you need to know the
first and last names of your friends. You also need to have been to
their home at least once, and for something other than to borrow AA
batteries. You should also be able to steal money from them when
they’re not looking, and hang up on them when you’re not interested
in talking to them anymore. That’s a friend.
2. You don’t really need to have that many friends
from your younger life. You can have a couple of friends from
college, and one from high school, but any more than that is
redundant and a bit pathetic. You definitely don’t need to be
friends with your old roommate from 10 years ago. You never really
liked her, and you will be very psyched when you don’t have to go to
her husband’s 34th birthday party.
3. It’s good to have some friends at work. You need
them when times are rough, plus work is where you make your money.
But be careful about playing favorites. Work is a little bit like
kindergarten—if you bring in cupcakes, you’re supposed to bring in
cupcakes for everybody. If you don’t, you’re an asshole
4. Another good way to clear out time for yourself
would be to not make friends with artists. Artists are interesting
people who contribute a great deal to the cultural energy of the
city, and you can have very long, interesting conversations with
them about graduate school. But artists can be needy. I don’t mean
needy in the financial sense—because most "artists" I know in New
York City just use that term instead of another, less nice term:
"dilettante"—I mean needy in the event-planning sense. If you make
friends with an artist, pretty soon they’re inviting you to things:
openings, retrospectives, auctions. You don’t want to go to these
things; they’ll clog up your life. Besides, what the fuck do you
know about art?
5. Same goes with friends who are in bands. Avoid
them. Actors and actresses, too. A friend I knew who stopped hanging
out with actors said she reduced the amount of shitty theater she
saw each month by 95 percent.
6. I don’t think I need to tell you that breakfast
and brunch are for people you are having sex with. Period.
7. I think it’s best to avoid goodbye parties
altogether. Goodbye parties are the plague of the New York City
social life. By the age of 31, the average New York City worker has
had 19 goodbye parties. Considering most people don’t start working
until they are 21, that’s nearly two goodbye parties a year per
friend. That’s a lot of goodbye-party cake, fat boy. Besides,
usually it’s not some big dramatic goodbye anyway—they just got sick
of working at CosmoGIRL! or some crap like that. Same goes
for anyone throwing themselves a goodbye party because they’re
leaving New York—as if they’re Charles Lindbergh taking off for
8. Graduation parties are for high-school kids.
Your friend graduating from the Columbia M.F.A. program doesn’t need
a party. He’s 31, has never had a job, and needs to knuckle down and
write a fucking book.
9. You don’t need friends in Park Slope. Jesus.
10. Once you have winnowed down your friends, you
should also tell them up front that you will attend three (3) events
related to them each year. It can be a lunch, a graduation party and
a wedding. It can be their mother’s funeral, a dinner and a New
Year’s bash. But three events is the limit. Explain this to them and
they will understand and make their plans accordingly.
American Pronoun Day
There’s a movement afoot to create American Pronoun
Day, to honor the variety of pronouns our nation has created. "You
all" (or "y’all") is probably the most famous neologism, which
parallels the somewhat antique Brooklyn "youse," as in "Youse guys
better run!" But there are many more American pronouns. Early New
Agers of the 1970’s used the phrase "this one" for "I": "This one
feels the room is rather warm." Rap music has given us "Yo!" (which
implies "you") as well as numerous versions of "we": "my posse," "my
crew," "my buds," etc. Perhaps the quintessential American pronoun
replaces the third-person plural: "The Competition."
To support American Pronoun Day, write: A.P.D.,
Post Office Box 63, Phoenicia, N.Y. 12464.
The Olsen I.P.O.
Next week, lonely men and ’tweens the world over
will share a euphoric moment: On June 13, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
turn 18. The auspicious birthday will catapult the twins into the
driver’s seat of an expanding empire that might one day rival
General Electric. That is, if G.E. had made its fortune selling body
glitter and books with titles like Boy Crazy and Camp Pom
Considering that the twins virtually disappeared
from public view nine years ago, when they stopped playing the
little simian Michelle Tanner on the sitcom Full House, their
accomplishments are impressive. Dualstar Entertainment, the
privately held company which houses the Olsens’ 52-plus product
lines (sold mostly through Wal-Mart), is projecting $1.2 billion in
sales in 2004. Its chief executive officer, Robert Thorne, described
the strategy as a "global expansion campaign," with upcoming
launches in Japan and Spain, in addition to its current presence in
the U.K., Canada, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, Israel, France and
Mary-Kate and Ashley, who have bought adjoining
(conjoined?) $3.5 million condos on Morton Street and will be
attending New York University in the fall, will be assuming the
joint title of "president" of Dualstar after next week, in addition
to gaining unfettered access to their own money, which is currently
handled by "hordes and teams of court-monitored advisers," according
to Mr. Thorne.
For those who fret that the sudden crush of
responsibility might overwhelm the girls, there is good reason for
concern. History is littered with baby millionaires who squandered
their fortunes and had to be pried out of the gutter: Corey Haim, of
80’s Lost Boys notoriety, filed for personal bankruptcy in
1997 at age 24, owing money to the I.R.S., while Gary Coleman, of
Diff’rent Strokes, sued his parents for
misappropriation of his trust fund, won $3.8 million and then went
bankrupt in 1999. Just last weekend, Brian Bonsall from Family
Ties earned a D.U.I. after he pulled his car over to let his
friend throw up out the window. (When the troopers asked him how
much he’d had to drink, Mr. Bonsall replied, "Plenty.")
Evan Bell, a C.P.A. and financial adviser
specializing in the young and suddenly wealthy, has seen many a
youngster with money flame out spectacularly.
"I would say the instinct to try to handle
everything yourself would probably be the biggest mistake," said Mr.
Bell. "I’ve seen some situations like this where, by the time I got
involved, a 22- year-old actress—whose name you would recognize—had
14 friends living in her house. I think they feel guilty about what
they have, and they realize how many friends they have, and how much
each one of them wants.
"I have clients whose relatives are on the payroll
and can’t seem to get off. It’s endemic," continued Mr. Bell. "For
me, 18 years old is still a child. If they want to start taking
control of their empire, they have to start learning." Mr. Bell
explained that many of his clients, who work mostly in the
entertainment industry, start to "glaze over" when he tries to
explain their finances to them, which is typically not a good
Apparently, this is not the case for the twins. Mr.
Thorne said that all of Dualstar’s business decisions are already
made by himself, Mary-Kate and Ashley "by consensus," and that they
"couldn’t possibly be more involved than they already are." They
speak on the phone "several times a day."
"We travel together, they are actively involved in
scripts, fashion design and product decisions as much as humanly
possible," said Mr. Thorne. "We’re already in the process of
constructing office space for them in New York for them to stay
involved—a place for them to do interviews and conference calls,
just as we have offices in London, Sydney, Auckland, Paris and
"From the time they were 6 and 7, we were all
making decisions with them and their mom and dad, and always made
sure that their voice was heard—even if it was, ‘Mom, I don’t want
to go do that,’" said Michael Pagnotta, Mary-Kate and Ashley’s
spokesman. For example, the girls were the ones who rejected the
idea of Mary-Kate and Ashley–branded fruit roll-ups.
"For many years, they got an allowance from their
parents—$10 or something—if they did their chores …. Now they’re
able to supplement that. They have credit cards, but they spend
cautiously," continued Mr. Pagnotta. "They were never anybody’s meal
ticket; they were never made to feel that way. That’s what separates
them from other child stars."
Unfortunately, all of this means that hopes for a
hot and wild Olsen summer may not materialize. Said Mr. Thorne: "I
see their money being spent on college tutoring, not on lavish
parties in the Hamptons."