New York City has always been a capital of greed, excess and world-historical indulgence. Sure, the threat of a whole new Depression may have curtailed some of our larger desires, but even if we were all reduced to wearing barrels, New Yorkers would still find a way to satisfy the need for vice. With that in mind, we've provided a way to balance your predilection for sin with some occasions for virtue. You can be a good person, right?
The INDULGENCE: Expensive Comic Books
At this years annual meeting of NYC's geek elite that the suits call Comic-Con, the Holy Grail of Comic Books was on sale — Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman, who graces the famous cover lifting a car. Priced at a quarter of a million dollars.
The PENANCE: Donating Comics to Charity
Instead of spending enough money to buy a house (not in this city, though) on a single comic book, why not donate those tattered superhero adventures occupying your parents' attic space to Collectibles with Causes? They use the money to help people with medical, educational and developmental challenges. Look: no matter how long your cling to that unopened issue where Superman dies, still in its black mylar, it's never going to be worth $250,000. We all still have it.
The INDULGENCE: Buying Expensive Perfume
Saks Fifth Ave. sells Clive Christian's No. 1 for Women perfume at over $500 per ounce. It's made from unicorn horns and angel halos.
The PENANCE: De-Stinking NY
Rather than working hard so you can afford to smell like God's vagina, you could devote your energy to improving the odor of your fair city. The Department of Sanitation will help you organize a volunteer clean-up event by lending brooms, rakes and shovels — so you can sweep up litter, gather leaves and then dig a hole in which to bury them, so future generations won't know the mess we made.
The INDULGENCE: Expensive Cognac
Order a glass of Remy Martin's Louis XIII Black Pearl Magnum Cognac at the Plaza's Rose Club, and a manager will put on white gloves and pour it for you. You also get some dried fruit and nuts — which is the least they could do, considering the $2,500 price tag.
The PENANCE: Becoming an AA Sponsor
Instead of indulging your drinking problem with expensive cognac, you could clean up your alcoholism and then volunteer to be an AA Sponsor and help others to do the same. If we all pitch in, our children could live in a world without shots worth more than everything in our closet combined.
The INDULGENCE: Park Avenue Penthouses
Our career intern Henry lives in a Brooklyn room not much bigger than his parents' pantry. If he were willing to pay 350 times as much for rent, he could afford a $200,000/month Park Avenue penthouse with more than two bathrooms for every bedroom, a separate upstairs living area and a library. As it is, he sleeps on a bed of carefully stacked paperbacks.
The PENANCE: Volunteering for Habit for Humanity
Or Henry could devote the time he'd have to work (at plotting bank robberies) to be able to afford that rent by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity's NYC chapter, which not only builds homes for the underprivileged but advocates for affordable housing, as well.
The INDULGENCE: Hamburgers with Real Gold-Flakes
Stop by the Wall Street Burger Shoppe with a stimulus check and lunch like a Rockefeller by ordering the "Richard Nouveau," a $175 hamburger made from Kobe beef and topped with black truffles, foie gras and aged cheese. Oh, and it's topped with gold. Because rich people don't just hoard gold — they eat it, too, as a snack between meals, when they feast on orphan bones.
The PENANCE: Volunteering for Food Bank of NYC or City Harvest
Staff a soup kitchen or stock the warehouse or take one of the many other jobs devoted to making sure some of NY's hungry get something to eat — something that's not drizzled in gold.
The INDULGENCE: Ruby-Studded Underwear
Victoria's Secret asks $15 million for its Red Hot Fantasy Bra and Panties, made of red satin and rubies, which the company introduced at the grand opening of an Upper West Side store. We're wearing a pair right now. (It hurts.)
The PENANCE: Donating Underwear to Immigrant Prisoners
Operation Panty collects clean undergarment donations for immigrant women detained by Immigration Customs Enforcement, which sometimes forces women to wear the same pair of underwear in which they were arrested for weeks. Even you change your underwear more often than that.
The INDULGENCE: Diamond and Edible Gold Dessert
Serendipity 3 and jeweler Euphoria New York teamed up (finally!) to create Frrozen Haute Chocolate, which blends some of the most expensive cocoas around the globe, infuses edible gold, and is served in a goblet lined with edible gold, and a gold bracelet with white diamonds. It's topped with more gold, a side of truffles, and eaten with a gold- and diamond-encrusted spoon.
The PENANCE: Cookies for Kids' Cancer
Or you could organize a bake sale through, or buy cookies from, Cookies For Kids' Cancer, which raises funds for pediatric cancer research with non-gold-and-diamond-infused baked goods.
The INDULGENCE: Mayorlust
For a cool $85 million, in 2005 dollars, you could buy the mayoralty of New York City like Mayor Moneybags oh-vuh hee-ya.
The PENANCE: Helping the Rev. Billy Campaign
Or volunteer for the Rev. Billy's Green Party campaign for the same office. In Billy vs. Goliathberg, one has a bold pompadour; the other is a balding lizardface. The choice is obvious.
The INDULGENCE: Futuristic Facial
$500 at the Cornelia Day Spa will get you a Microablation and Triphasic Combination Facial in which "aestheticians wave an electromagnetic wand over the skin to stimulate collagen, minimize lines, reduce acne and ease chronic irritation (like emphysema or rosacea). They then use a triphasic resonator that relies on heat, vibration and therapeutic electrical force to contour and sculpt the face." You will be very pretty after all that.
The PENANCE: Helping Child Victims of Disasters
Meanwhile, while you're propped up on the spa chair, thousands of children across the country are huddled in shelters, having lost homes and/or family members to mine disasters, hurricanes, tornadoes and school shootings. Coloring Away Pain is a charity that donates coloring books to these kids, to alleviate the tedium and misery of their victimhood.
The INDULGENCE: Costly Massages
For $250, massage therapists at Bliss 57 will give you a two-hour "Ginger Rub," which involves a mix of grated ginger root and oils, a foil wrap, a 20-minute soak, a 100-minute massage and a sense of serene self-satisfaction.
The PENANCE: Anything Else
Few things scream self-indulgence more than a $250 massage with edible food; pick up litter on your walk home from the subway and ask your significant other for a quick back rub. And give one in return. And suddenly the world is a much better place, without the exchange of currency for goods and services.
The INDULGENCE: Diamond Dress
A Malaysian designer created a $30 million evening gown made of silk and taffeta, with a 70-carat (there are that many carats?) pear-shaped diamond and a train of diamonds. Unfortunately, the diamonds aren't edible. As far as we know.
The PENANCE: Donating Business Attire
Ladies can donate their old business suits to Dress for Success, which provides professional attire to disadvantaged women. Meanwhile, the Kingswood Youth Center in New Hampshire accepts eveningwear donations so kids can look nice at prom.
The INDULGENCE: Expensive Vacations
Musha Cay, a private island in the Bahamas, is probably a better vacation spot than your usual visit to Floyd Bennett Field's campgrounds, as rates start at $24,740 per day.
The PENANCE: Getting Underprivileged Kids out of the City for the
In contrast, you could volunteer or donate to the Salvation Army, who send underprivileged kids to summer camp and get them out of this rotten cesspool of a city with its campgrounds in former airports.
The INDULGENCE: Bullet-proof Stroller
For $600, your "smart urban baby" can be safe on any city street in Bullet Proof Baby's bulletproof stroller. But what do the company's customers, like Texas' Stacy Weaver, have to say? "My baby survived a freak hunting accident last fall thanks to this amazing bullet proof stroller. We all feared the worst but my darling Trevor was unharmed. Highly recommended!"
The PENANCE: Temporarily Boarding an Infant
Instead of indulging your neuroses over your own children, you could do something to solve the real problems facing someone else's; Spence-Chapin Services needs volunteers to provide temporary boarding for infants awaiting permanent placement. You can do something similar for dogs, too, not that we're saying dogs and babies are the same thing...they're just very similar.
The INDULGENCE: Renting a Hummer Limo
Take a taxi? What are you, a peasant? $650 will get you three hours in a Hummer Limo. Fuck the environment!
The PENANCE: Driving Disabled New Yorkers Around
If you're a licensed driver, NYC Service needs you to transport disabled adults to personal appointments, etc. With any luck, it'll be exactly like Driving Miss Daisy. Or, rather, nothing like that.
The INDULGENCE: Lap Dances
$1000 will buy you a private, half-hour lap dance at VIP Strip Club. In addition, you get a bottle of champagne, a plate of caviar, and your girl will sign a G-string for you to take home and obsessively hide from your girlfriend.
The PENANCE: Helping Domestic Violence Victims
Do something positive for women rather than exploit them sexually — like, volunteer at Sanctuary for Families, which helps battered women and their children rebuild their lap dance-less lives (if you could call that living).
The INDULGENCE: Buying Handmade Books
The New York Public Library recently displayed a $126,000 handmade book, weighing in at 62 pounds and bound in marble and velvet, which depicted the works of Michelangelo. It takes its creator six months to make each tome. And people actually buy them.
The PENANCE: Volunteering at the Library or Donating Books to
Before you buy expensive handmade books, take the time to donate your old ones to Books Through Bars, which will redistribute them to prisoners. If Shawshank Redemption taught us anything, it's that even prisoners deserve a library.
The INDULGENCE:Expensive Hotel Rooms
Up to three people can stay at the Four Seasons' Ty Warner Penthouse, 4,300 sq that runs $34,000. That's only $11,000 or so each — perfect for bored Brooklynites looking to spend a night in "the city." Or, a place for your parents to stay when they come to straighten things out with your trust fund.
The PENANCE: Helping out at Homeless Shelters
Devote your time to volunteering at any of the city's homeless shelters. There's more to do than make the beds. You can read bedtime stories to children, which sounds like just about the most goddamned virtuous thing you could ever do.
Illustrations Mike Force
The L sought out virtuous New Yorkers and asked them what vices they indulge in, mainly to feel better about ourselves. And we do. Feel better.
May 13, 2009