I spent part of the long holiday weekend catching up with Evan Osnos’s account of Macau’s casino scene, a story gorgeously stuffed with details of nouveau riche excess. The mind reels at the thought that Macau’s high rollers require stools upon which to place their handbags, or that they rock $12,000 mobile phones. But the anecdote I loved most came high up in the piece, as Osnos recalled his first visit to one of the peninsula’s most lavish destination:
A short drive from the ferry, Steve Wynn has a complex with two hotels, where the Louis Vuitton outlet is said to generate more sales per square foot than any other Louis Vuitton outlet worldwide. Walking past a tank of luminescent jellyfish, which require a specially designed curtain to sleep at night, the casino official who was showing me the place told me that Chinese clientele demand a heightened level of luxury, because “everyone is a president or a chairman.” We stopped into the complex’s newest Michelin-starred restaurant, which has an in-house poet who writes a personal verse for every V.I.P.
This was the way things worked in the old days, correct? Before poets were expected to support themselves through book sales and teaching gigs, they relied on powerful patrons who expected adulation in return. I’m sure the poet who holds this post is thankful for the steady paycheck, but I do wonder what he thinks of the multi-millionaire strangers he must shower with praise. He probably didn’t get into the poetry game because he yearned to massage the egos of fat cats.
And the never-ending cosmic ballet twixt art and commerce continues…