It’s generally agreed that modern rich people suck, but the old-timers could be pretty rad. This detail from the usually tiresome and never-ending Brooke Astor case reminds us why. Apparently during the September 11, 2001 attacks, the superannuated heiress wanted to go to lunch, terrorism notwithstanding. John Shea of the Knickerbocker Club, where Astor wished to lunch, called and advised her, as he did all their clients that day, not to come. Astor asked why and was informed of the World Trade Center attacks. “No one is going to stop my car,” said Astor. “I will be there.”
The prosecution doubtless presents this as evidence that Astor was gaga (she was 99 at the time), but we prefer to think it shows noble patrician sangfroid instead, like that displayed by her former father-in-law, John Jacob Astor, at the sinking of the Titanic, or of Commander McBragg. Reschedule one’s lunch for a lot of Mahomedan thugs? Such things are simply not done.
So few people know how to behave these days. We bet all the internet billionaires were shitting themselves in their panic rooms.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 30, 2009