Archive for January, 2012

R.I.P. Joseph Brooks

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New York Magazine’s Daily Intel has resurrected “The Great Zatzby,” my 1992 profile of Joseph Brooks (nee Joe Zatz), the former boss of Lord & Taylor and Ann Taylor, who died last week at age 84. This morning’s obituary of Brooks in the local community newspaper omitted most of the blood, sweat, tears and juice in his biography, but thanks to New York and Google Books, you can wallow in them here.

Coming into Los Angeles

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Attention Angelenos: Click through for the details on my February 12th appearance at the Beverly Hills Women’s Club and the next day’s Aaroe Architecural Forum lecture at the Pacific Design Center’s Silver Screen Theater. (That’s Lynda and Stewart Resnick‘s Sunset House under construction, at right)

Back on the block, still on the list.

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Unreal Estate is now (unreally!) in its eleventh week on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. My new Crain’s New York Business column is about the persistence of beach books. And in case it’s not obvious, Gripepad is off the beach (at right) and back in business.

Later…

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Unreal Estate is “an astounding history,” says New York Social Diary

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David Patrick Columbia has written briefly about Unreal Estate before. Today, he offers a lengthy review, and it’s as provocative as I tried to make the book. “Houses are fascinating because houses are people,” he writes. “And when there’s the more, there’s the merrier, not to mention hucksters and hustlers, money managers and lawyers, and the misled, the misplaced, as well as the maudlin, and even murderous. It’s life on the other side of the real fence, and it’s not like yours or mine. That’s what you get in this book; the hot skinny and with caviar and creme fraiche. … Continue reading

Hey, Mitt: How do I fire my health insurer?

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My new column in Crain’s New York Business is about the unfortunate politics of health insurance.

Unreal? No, unbelievable!

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For the ninth week, Unreal Estate is holding the fort on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. This week, it’s at #7. Thanks again, California. I look forward to saying that again in person on February 12 at the Beverly Hills Women’s Club and the 13th at the Aaroe Architectural Forum at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.

L.A. on Park Avenue

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Star Corcoran broker Wendy Sarasohn hosted a book party for Unreal Estate on Wednesday night, where I spoke to a crowd of New York real estate heavyweights including Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman (at left in the photo with Wendy and me) and New York’s highest-earning realtor (and go-to guy for 740 Park apartments), John Burger of Brown Harris Stevens. The New York Observer’s Elise Knutsen was there and reports on the festivities here. And Guelda Voien of The Real Deal has a report and photos, too. (Photo above by Richard Lewin)

Hand-fed but lacking in nutrients

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Today’s announcement of a new head of contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in its in-house newsletter, er, sorry, the Arts section of the New York Times, was heavy on hand-fed detail but sorely lacking in context. The Met’s relationship to contemporary art has been contentious almost from the day the museum opened, and is an unlikely foundation for its emergence as “a Major Player,” as the C1 headline has it, yet art-world reporter Carol Vogel (who has gone far since her days as an assistant to caricature-quality fashion editor Carrie Donovan at the Times’ magazine) chose to … Continue reading

Appearing this week at Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport…

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That’s Unreal Estate front and center in Burbank. Meanwhile, on the right coast, Elise Knutsen offers up a squib on my next book, House of Outrageous Fortune, for my new publisher, The Free Press at Simon & Schuster, on observer.com. And as if all that isn’t enough attention for one Wednesday, The Fame Game has named me the week’s #1 literary Mover and Shaker, edging out James Frey and Candace Bushnell. The great Gay Talese and the egregious Ann Coulter round out the top five. (Photo by the The Real Estalker aka Your Mama)

Unreal staying power

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In a post-Christmas surge, Unreal Estate has vaulted back up to the #6 position on the Los Angeles Times non-fiction bestseller list.

Unreal is #2 (again)!

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Former #1 Steve Jobs has dropped from the top ten, but Unreal Estate is showing staying power at #2 on the nonfiction bestseller list at Book Soup this week. The people of L.A. approve and one author rejoices.

“Compulsively readable,” writes Liz Smith in The Chicago Tribune

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Unreal Estate leads Liz Smith‘s column today for the Chicago Tribune and wowowow. It’s “a sprawling, delicious chronicle of how L.A. evolved real estate-wise, how the land became valuable, how the great neighborhoods were designed,” Smith writes, “….compelling and overflowing with gossip. Gross doesn’t just give us sites and architecture. He tells of the innumerable scandals that each house spawned: the epic divorces, murders, suicides, bankruptcies, sexual excess, family plotting, betrayals and crooked land and water deals. It’s fun! And quite astonishing to read….Unreal Estate is compulsively readable.”

Comfort the Afflicted: Feed the Rich!

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Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal inspired my first Crain’s New York Business column of 2012, proposing that we cut the uber-wealthy even more tax breaks. Elsewhere, today’s New York Post looks at one of my earlier column subjects, a leading anti-carriage-horse activist, revealing his use of campaign contributions to buy City Council support for his agenda.