A culture of people…

A culture of people… May 30, 2012

like Francesca Eastwood are the ones who get most upset that the Catholic Church has a lot of art available for any riff raff off the street to go and see any time they like.  People who wantonly burn $100,000 (or, in the case of our Ruling Class, $1,000,000,000,000 on foolish wars) are the ones who express the most fake dudgeon when beautiful works of art are available to the poor for free instead of locked up in the mansion of a rich miser.

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  • Michael O.

    The tip is often included in the price in Italy. This is probably a case of a reporter ginning up a story for provincials, especially as it concerns the notoriously press-averse Zuckerberg on his “secret honeymoon.”


    • Peggy Hagen

      Yeah – from the story, they expected him to tip because tips are expected *of Americans*. He went by their practice and they were shocked. As a waitress…no sympathy here. “Europeans are horrible tippers” is one of the more reliable stereotypes in the business – “do into others”, and so on.

      • Peggy Hagen

        (Overstated. The Internet got the better of me.)

    • Roberto

      The bill shown in the article has no entry for service (“coperto”, or “servizio”). It is true that tipping in Italy is not what it is in North America (I am Italian!), but it depends on the establishment. This one looks like a fast food type place, so no tip would be OK.
      On the other hand, could it be that he gave no tip because the service was not good? We often forget that a tip is a thank you for a job well done. Just saying…

      • Peggy Hagen

        Ideally it’s a thank-you (and every server has their moments where they deserve no thanks); in reality its very often the only money the server sees. Min. wage being half the regular amount, and taxes on declared tips coming out f that 1/2 min wage- it’s not uncommon to get no paycheck at all.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Zuckerberg was trying to be urbane and sophisticated and “do as the Romans” who don’t tip as Michael O points out. I did tip, because I just do, but I tipped reasonably by Italian standards, which is basically paltry tokens when dining on vacation.

    Zuckerberg didnt want to be gauche, and he winds up looking worse than an ugly american.

    Ironic, ain’t it?

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Oh, and let’s see how long it takes before someone makes a joke involving a capsizing canoe…

  • Marthe Lépine

    It’s not the fact that those people chose to burn an expensive bag that bothers me… I am shocked by the fact that something that is only a fancy fashion accessory used to carry things that don’t fit in a woman’s pockets can be priced at $100,000. As a friend once said: Some people have more money than brains!

  • Marthe, those were exactly my thoughts! Why on earth is there a hand bag that costs $100,000? I mean really, why on earth is there a BAG that costs more than I earn in a year? Who is buying these bags? Why are they even being sold? Which fool lost their brains and actually purchased one?

    • Rosemarie


      I’ve long felt that way about expensive handbags, too. I’ve been doing just fine all these years with ones that cost under $15 so blowing thousands or even just hundreds of dollars on a pocketbook seems crazy to me. I guess they’re well-made (at that price they’d better be!) but it’s still nuts.

  • Patrick

    Whoever believes “the poor” care a wit about priceless artwork is a silly sentimentalist who has never met any actual poor people.

    The rich can do whatever they please with their money, so far as I care: burning this bag strikes me as no more wasteful than most things people do with their money: as you point out, I’d rather have a bag-burning than another war.

    • Tim

      I’m pretty sure the rich can’t do “whatever” they please. They can’t burn or otherwise mutilate their money:


      So let’s be thankful that Ms. Eastwood used a $100,000 hand-bag instead of the $100,000 itself.

    • Holy crap, that’s a condescending statement. Also, not true. Poor people care passionately about art. Haven’t you ever seen dirt-poor guys with pimped out rides that are more beautiful than anything any middle class person drives? Haven’t you seen how poor people dress when they can? That kid who spends all his time at school going over riffs on an imaginary guitar so that when he goes home to his crappy downtown apartment he’s still in practice and can still sound awesome: that kid cares about art.

      What they don’t care about is Art. They don’t care about art they don’t understand that has nothing to do with their lives, which is most of what goes in museums. But poor people care passionately about beautiful things well-made for their own sake; which is to say, they care passionately about art.

      • Patrick

        “Poor people care passionately about art. Haven’t you ever seen dirt-poor guys with pimped out rides that are more beautiful than anything any middle class person drives? ”

        I wrote “poor people don’t care about *priceless* art” of the type one would display at the Vatican. You just changed what I said. Oddly enough, you later agree with my point that poor people don’t care about Art of the type that would be at a museum – the priceless kind that would be on display at the Vatican. That’s what I said to begin with.

        Incidentally, I *love* the big rims on the ’80’s Buicks. Absolutely love ’em.

        • But the reason they don’t care about such “priceless” art is not that it’s priceless. The reason they don’t care about it is that it’s hidden away in museums and its genesis is completely foreign to their experience. If it was part of their lives and they knew people who did similar things, they’d appreciate the really fine art as the best of the best.

    • Alma Peregrina

      “Whoever believes “the poor” care a wit about priceless artwork is a silly sentimentalist who has never met any actual poor people.”

      1) I believe it.

      2) I actually met poor people. In fact, I work with lots of them.

      3) You don’t know what you’re talking about, but like to point fingers at other. Nice.

    • Mark Shea

      Subsidiarity: The only part of Catholic Social Teaching conservative Catholics care about.

      • Patrick

        I don’t follow. I think the “idle rich” are totally harmless: it’s the non-idle rich that get me. If George W. Bush, for instance, remained in Texas and bought ten ranches and three yachts (and burned ’em!), we would all be better off. Instead, he decided to get ambitious. Same thing with most of the Senate: what would they stay home and burn some handbags.

        • Patrick

          Oh also: I think people should try to *take care* of the poor: I just think you’d have to be a diluted sentimentalist to think the poor are virtuous or that, gosh, if only they could see some priceless art they’d be so happy and appreciative. You’re talking about people who keep the “energy drink” industry and tabloid industry and (coupled with college kids) the bad beer industry afloat here. It ain’t like they’ve got really good taste and are just waiting for some nice patron to buy them a ticket to see the Renoirs.

          • Mark Shea

            Who said anything about the poor being especially virtuous. I merely think the poor are, you know, human. And humans need beauty. The Church gives it to them for free. Your contempt for the poor is hard to square with “Blessed are you poor”.

            • Patrick

              Your contempt for the poor is hard to square with “Blessed are you poor.”

              Haha. I’m sure you know “blessed are you poor” doesn’t mean poor people have good taste in art, Mark. Why don’t you come down to West Oakland and ask anyone you meet their thoughts on post-Impressionism? Haha. Gimme a break.

              • Peggy Hagen

                Being able to explain the technique of a work of art is not at all the same thing as being able to appreciate the beauty of a work of art.

              • Mark Shea

                Who said anything about good taste? Your contempt for the poor is palpable.

              • Mark Shea

                Here’s one of those shiftless poor who wander into Roman shrines with no real appreciation for anything except their own laziness: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benedict_Joseph_Labre

          • Jared

            “I just think you’d have to be a diluted sentimentalist to think the poor are virtuous or that, gosh, if only they could see some priceless art they’d be so happy and appreciative.”

            Well, someone’s in a condescending mood today.

            • ds

              He used to be nicer, but then his sentimentality was diluted.

              • Steve P

                from an energy drink concentrate, perhaps? ; )

  • lethargic

    “… they just don’t understand art. ”

    Uh huh.

    And what shocks me about the big Z is that someone saved that receipt to show off just because he is who he is … can you spell parasite or gossip or … ?

  • ds

    As long as there are rich people with money to spend, someone will make something ostentatious for them to buy, e.g. handbags, lamborghinis, cell phones with no more functions than normal ones but with gold cases encrusted with jewels (only the truly rich can afford to be truly tasteless).

    But has Francesca Eastwood ever made a comment about too much art at the vatican? I don’t get where this is coming from. Since some people complain about the vatican’s art collection, so is she just assumed to be one of those types of people? All I see is a cute young woman biting a handbag like a terrier before burning it and I like her for that. Has the bile risen up to your throat so that it must be spewed at some target let it start leaking from your ears, Mark? If I am wrong, please correct me.

    • I thought along similar lines. Ms. Eastwood is, in my opinion, another hack who tries to shock or create controversy and claim it as “art”, her oeuvre being all the more artistic because so few people ‘get’ it, which means the new art is esoteric, only for the initiated and not for the plebs- and the initiated can keep it as far as I am concerned. My opinion is based on the article and encounters with many, many such ‘artists’. Having said that, our generous host’s claims about Ms Eastwood are completely unfounded by the article.

      • Oh, but I don’t agree with the bile rising from our host’s ears.

  • Tim

    In defense of Mr. Zuckerberg, when the waiter asked for a tip, Zuckerberg responded that he should sell his Facebook shares.

  • Ed the Roman

    I do understand art. Which is why Eastwood’s stunt disgusts me.

  • Ghosty

    I’m not bothered by either story, honestly. There are many reasons why a tip wouldn’t be left, though I’ve never personally encountered such a situation. As for the bag-burning, I honestly don’t care because the bag was already bought and paid for. It was a consumable item, and the money had left their hands and entered the economy. It’s not as if they burned $100,000 dollars itself, they simply gave the money away in order to burn something that people considered worth something. Just buying the bag and using it in the first place is equivalent to burning it, IMO, since the money is “used up” either way.

    The real crime is that a handbag costs that much money to begin with, but such is the way of wealth.

  • j. blum

    I suppose by “poor,” we could mean a number of things, but I have known any number of people who lived in subpar housing and were rather strapped for cash who have been devotees of Art, Museum-style. Many such people are, after all, artists of one sort or another. To paraphrase oyur host, “follow the muse, you could make literally hundreds of dollars!”

  • Mark R

    There is no mention of the Catholic Church in this article or of those who appreciate her art, so why does it have to be mentioned in Mark Shea’s commentary?
    Expensive handbags are ridiculous frou frou, and it is a poor imitation of cutting edge art to publicly burn it like this (and cutting edge artists can appreciate their own thing as well as what the Catholic Church has to offer, unlike quasi non-entities like Eastwood). Heck, even Bacon regretted his pope paintings, stating the originals he spoofed were so much better.
    That said, expensive handbags have their place in the larger scheme of things in that they are handmade, usually, and offer a good wage to real craftspeople whose talents would otherwise be wasted.

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    What would life be like for our country if Catholics chose to live very modestly? I don’t mean monastically, or dirt-poor or in grinding poverty, but sort of along the lines of that solidly middle-class folks of our grandparents or grandparents’ era (post WWII to late 1950s) lived? Nice house, one bath or one-and-a-half baths, every two kids share a room, family rarely eat out; mostly cook from scratch; One car or no car – Dad takes the bus to work; Mom walks to shopping, does own cleaning, laundry, ironing. One phone in the house; one TV in the house (black and white – 3 channels). Big treat once a month, pile kids into station wagon and go to a drive-in movie theatre. Saturdays – mowing lawn, yardwork, a snooze in the hammock in the back while kids play catch on the lawn. Big summer afternoon treat: put on swimsuits and set the sprinklers on the lawn. Run through and scream. Big fun. Summer evenings – cook hamburgers and hotdogs on the backyard grill. Parents socialize with the neighbors; play cards, play charades. Home by 11. Footwear for the boys is Keds chucks; trousers are jeans; tops are jerseys and everything is wash ‘n’ wear and hand-me-down. Mom is good at sewing curtains, and raises vegetables in backyard. Kids help out around the house, have chores to do daily, then go play with their friends. No snacking period. If you’re hungry, you get a little box of raisins or an apple. If you’re thirsty, you drink water: either from a glass filled at the kitchen sink, or from the garden hose outside. At mealtimes, you eat what is served; you clean your plate or no dessert. Kids make their own fun; If it costs money, they either pay for it themselves, or they don’t get to do it.

    Designer anything would be an utter irrelevancy to this family. One-upsmanship woud be irrelevant to this family.

    Life used to be a lot like that portrayed in the scenes of the Winona Ryder’s suburban family in Edward Scissorshands. The main characters’ family were comfortable enough, but really lived not very many notches above camping. I wish we could make it so, again.

    Golf outings, private pools, lawn services, fur coats, expensive jewelry, any designer anything, visits to hair salons, to nail salons, trips abroad, limos and rented hotel rooms for high school proms, the theatre, more than one or two dressy outfits at a time; more than one or two dressy pairs of shoes at a time, snacks – chips and cola and salsas, and ho-hos and ring-dings, store-bought everything, disposable everything, . . . electronics everywhere – phones, ipods, TVs, recorders and bills, bills, bills for these . . . I’m not saying these are bad; they’re not bad, but having more than just a few of these begins to make life more expensive and more complicated, too, than it needs to be.

    I’m just sayin’

  • Ted Seeber

    My family grew up living that way. My son’s life is full of screens, yes, but I’m an information age professional and I guarantee I’ve never spent more than $500 for any piece of electronics in my lifetime, and for the past 5 years I’ve dropped that limit to $200. My wife’s last phone upgrade was free.