Each month National Geographic spotlights a particular zip code in the nation on which God shed his (or her) grace. This month the magazine examines, with a barely perceptible arched eyebrow, the folkways of Houston’s 77019, which includes River Oaks.
“Survival of the Richest” it’s called, written by Texas Monthly's Mimi Swartz.
According to the demographic groupings formulated by
Claritas, one of those scary precision-marketing outfits, River Oaks 77019 is home to that slim stratum of highly desirable Americans designated as “Upper Crust.” No segment of the populace has "a more opulent standard of living," Claritas reports (“lifestyle traits” include spending $3,000+ on foreign travel per year, watching Wall Street Week [is that still on?] and driving a Lexus ES300 [Jesus, but money is wasted on the rich, isn’t it?]). Other demo profiles that inhabit the zip code include something called Bohemian Mix (“early adopters who are quick to check out the latest movie or nightclub”) and of course the Young Digerati ("the nation’s tech-savvy singles and couples ... "), which we believe Claritas had previously labeled the “Young Literati,” back last year before reading complete sentences went the way of the Olds 88.
But to our newest Port commissioner, 77019 is more than a stale computer-conglomerated collection of “lifestyle traits.” It’s a destination.
“I’m not moving out of 77019,” Elyse Lanier tells National Geographic. "It took me a long time to get here, and I’m not leaving."
That’s good to know. We were worried.
The hook for the article, sort of, is the chatter than Lynn Wyatt may be vacating her perch atop the local Social Heap, for reasons that go undisclosed (although mentioned in passing is hubby Oscar’s recent federal indictment for allegedly paying kickbacks to the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein to get cheap oil under the U.N.’s oil-for-food program. If we’re not mistaken this is the same regime whose overthrow and replacement [with ?] has cost the lives of more than 2,250 non-rich Americans---“Survival of the Richest” indeed!).
La Wyatt does not speak to the “improbable madness” of her possible declension, although she allowed herself to be photographed, looking fashionably cadaverous in Ray Charles sunglasses, with the River Oaks Theater sign as a backdrop.
More relevant, apparently, are Wyatt’s would-be successors, including one Becca Cason Thrash, who is pictured while perched astraddle two chairs at an otherwise empty La Griglia, strapped in a "python-skin jacket" and looking quite insane. At Thrash's fetes “the chic are fussed over” but “the overweight are not permitted,” National Geographic reports.
Such a shame, that the world must learn of this so soon after we received all that good publicity for our open embrace of Katrina refugees, regardless of their pants size.
We were left wondering, though, if Thrash's barring of the non-slim extended to the husband of Elyse daughter Courtney Sarofim, also pictured and chronicled in the article (now a "respectable" mother, despite youthful "party-girl" behavior). We seem to remember the Sarofim scion---Christopher, we think his name is---being a tad on the tubsy side, although maybe he’s gone South Beach and shed a few. But we’d guess that with his dough even the surplus poundage isn’t a deal breaker.
Ah, well. This seems like another job for the Cultural Coach.
Recommended journeys to more accessible zip codes:
Banjo Jones, who’d never discriminate against the overweight, recently visited Oklahoma and found it more than OK.
… While on The Block in Fightingville, 70503, the operative request at Mardi Gras wasn't “Throw me something, mistah!" but “Don’t beat me, mistah!”
And Break Yo’ Head With a Hot Corn Bread ...