Monday, August 15, 2011

This is America

I don't know if I could possibly come up with a more ridiculously appropriate description of the last 10 to 20 years of American life than this article. It pretty much sums up everything good, bad, and weird about the country that we've both inherited and created.
If you've ever dreamed of turning the tables and taking Bernie Madoff to the cleaners, here's your chance. John Vaccaro, a New York entrepreneur, is selling iPad covers made from the disgraced financier's tailored clothes.
Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison in June, 2009 for swindling billions of dollars from clients in what has been called the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history.
Last November, his clothes and personal possessions were sold at auction sponsored by the U.S. Marshals Service with proceeds going to help those who lost money from his scheme.
One of the bidders at the auction was Vaccaro, 41, who had just launched a new company, selling eco-friendly customized iPad covers made from cashmere and other fine fabrics. Vaccaro first conceived the idea for his unique covers after purchasing an iPad and searching for a cover that would prove to be both scratch-resistant and fashionable...
Vaccaro immediately sold five iPad covers made from Madoff's former cashmere sweaters to a Wall Street attorney who gave them out as Christmas gifts.
"For some people in the finance world, these covers, made from Madoff castoffs, represent bragging rights," said Vaccaro. "For others, it's a chance to own a piece of history."
Now Vaccaro is focusing on selling one-of-a-kind iPad covers made from Madoff's Banana Republic chinos and Murphy & Nye sailcloth pants for between $250 and $500, while providing buyers with a certificate of authenticity, and a receipt from the auction.
He estimates that he has enough fabric to sell a limited collection of 31 Madoff-themed covers. Once he breaks even with his auction purchase, he hopes to donate a portion of the proceeds to Madoff victims.
Whether you choose to view this article as interesting, disgusting, amusing, or irrelevant is of course entirely a matter of your own personal point of view, and to me that's what makes it so fascinating.

This article has everything going on--the Madoff issue, some kind of non-descript pandering to Madoff victims' "charity", the cult of celebrity, Apple fanboyism, corporate voyeurism in all its forms--and basically is an absolutely perfect addition to the American time capsule.

Ultimately, what's clear is that America's obsession with celebrity remains incredibly powerful, regardless of the source of the celebrity. For better or worse, Madoff is most assuredly a celebrity, and he captivates the imagination of the people in a way that few people can. 

[CNN Money]

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