Today in Let Them Eat Cake

The Times and the Journal on what the out-of-touch super-rich are up to

What critically important new trends are sweeping the overclass now in our angry, unemployed, bankrupt, two-war country?

The New York Times zooms in on: bigass aquariums costing six figures. Or as the Times calls them: “Fantasy fish tanks.”

“Not pink,” said Mrs. Wilzig, 40, an artist and a mother of two small children. “Alan, go to the turquoise.”

Her husband, Alan Wilzig, 45, a former banker who collects motorcycles and prides himself on the orange tanning bed in his basement, goes to the James Bond-like control panel in the kitchen, where a touch of a button turns the fish — which are specially bred to be colorless — a vivid blue.

We hear from Messrs. Jones and Wise, a couple who’ve spent $200,000 hanging a 700-gallon bucket of fish from the ceiling of their, ahem, $17 million West Village apartment:

Meanwhile, Mr. Wise and Mr. Jones have bought a new place nearby and are considering jellyfish for the dining room.

“We went on vacation to Fort Lauderdale and stayed at the W, and they had a tank with all jellyfish,” Mr. Jones said. “That’s like living art to me.”

Jellyfish tanks are even more expensive and difficult to build than fish tanks, said Justin Muir, owner of City Aquarium, a Brooklyn-based rival to Manhattan Aquariums. For one thing, jellyfish have to be fed live food every day.

But “some people are like, ‘O.K., $5,000 every month to take care of the tank, plus $100,000 cost of the tank — I’m cool with that,’ ” he said.

And, of course:

But the real expense of owning such a fantasy tank is the maintenance. Mr. Muir has a staff of seven technicians and biologists who make house calls. “Some clients want nothing to do with the fish tank — they don’t want to feed it, they don’t want to clean algae off the glass,” he said. And most fish should be fed at least every other day. “That’s $150 per visit right there.”

My former colleague Megan Garber jokes on Twitter: “I defy you to find a more elegant argument for communism.”

Well, let’s see about that. Turn to The Wall Street Journal’s New York section and read this story, which will probably make you see red, if not Red:

Good eye contact, a firm handshake and self confidence can pave the way to a good interview. Turns out, that’s the case even if the applicant is 4 or 5 years old.

In the frenzy to get kindergarteners into the top private schools, parents are now hiring consultants to coach their children on the art of the interview.

These places like Horace Mann watch the kids in “playdates” and judge whether or not they’re good enough for their school. The consultants are paid to try to game that, like everything else.

Like most things in New York, the sessions don’t come cheap. Aristotle Circle charges $400 for a 45-minute observation and assessment.

Don’t forget to tack on the few hundred dollars an hour you’ll be paying in therapy bills about twelve years from now.

Meantime, folks who just need to pay their rent and buy their kids some clothes at the Wal-Mart are blowing their heads off in increasing numbers because the economy is so hopeless for those not ensconced at the top.

God bless America.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.