Mitt Romney has said, in effect, “I’m rich and I don’t apologize for it.” Nobody wants you to, Mitt. What some of us want — those who aren’t blinded by a lot of bullshit persiflage thrown up to mask the idea that rich folks want to keep their damn money — is for you to acknowledge that you couldn’t have made it in America without America. That you were fortunate enough to be born in a country where upward mobility is possible (a subject upon which Barack Obama can speak with the authority of experience), but where the channels making such upward mobility possible are being increasingly clogged. That it’s not fair to ask the middle class to assume a disproportionate amount of the tax burden. Not fair? It’s un-fucking-American is what it is. I don’t want you to apologize for being rich; I want you to acknowledge that in America, we all should have to pay our fair share. That our civics classes never taught us that being American means that — sorry, kiddies-you’re on your own. That those who have received much must be obligated to pay — not to give, not to “cut a check and shut up,” in Governor Christie’s words, but to pay — in the same proportion. That’s called stepping up and not whining about it. That’s called patriotism, a word the Tea Partiers love to throw around as long as it doesn’t cost their beloved rich folks any money.
I keep copious notes. Notebooks have always been a critical part of my life. If I’m on a Virgin plane, I’ll get up and meet staff, meet passengers, get feedback and write things down.
When I’m on Necker Island [in the British Virgin Islands] about all I’ve got on is SPF—Sun Bum and also Island Company sun cream.
Every day is different, absolutely fascinating and a learning experience. In Canada, I’m trying to get legislation passed to save the polar bear. I’m going to Madagascar to try to save the lemur. Yesterday I was on stage with Amnesty International; today I’m doing a bit of business with Virgin Atlantic.
I hate being in hotels with a thousand rooms. And I personally don’t like going into hotels where you’ve got formal check-in desks. I’d much rather come and sit on the couch and be checked in that way, or ideally be checked in before I’ve actually gotten to the hotel.
My watch is a Bulova Accutron limited-edition. Every time one is sold, a portion of the proceeds goes to Virgin Unite, my charity.
I’ve spent a lifetime trying to set an example to get the necktie abolished. I mean, I just find it so sad going somewhere like Japan, where they’re all wearing suits. You look at these lovely pictures of them 100 years ago in their beautiful robes, and you think, ‘how on earth did the necktie ever catch on?’ I just find them uncomfortable and restricting. I think it’s people who run departments of companies, who’ve had to suffer all their lives and are damned if the next generation isn’t going to suffer, too.
I love to kiteboard. My board of choice is Cabrinha.
I’m not a very religious person, but if anybody was going to convert me, it would be Archbishop Tutu. He set an incredible example to the rest of the world, I think, when he helped bring about forgiveness in South Africa after the apartheid regime collapsed.
The reason I got into the travel business originally was out of frustration about the ghastly experience we used to get on other airlines. We literally started with one secondhand 747, crossing the Atlantic from London to New York to see whether people would go out of their way to travel on an airline that offered something a bit more personal. Fortunately, people did.
Jeans are great because you can wear the same pair of trousers 365 days a year and get away with it.
The movies that really make a difference are documentaries. ‘Sharkwater’ is one that changed my life. It’s about all the sharks that get slaughtered just for their fins and are thrown back in to die.
I could live off English roast dinner. If business is good, I love a glass of Champagne.
As a leader it’s important to always look for the best in other people—never criticize. If I ever said anything bad about anybody when I was a child, my mom would make me look in the mirror.
I’ve always believed in befriending your enemies. Years ago British Airways went to extraordinary lengths to put us out of business. After the court case, I rang up Sir Colin Marshall, who ran BA, and said, ‘would you like to come out for lunch?’ I think he wondered why on earth I was doing it. But we had a delightful lunch at my house in London and became friends and buried the hatchet.
There’s no better gift than aphotograph. Stephen Colbert recently sent an enlarged, framed photo featuring him dressed as me, vacuuming, with a nude model on his back. It was similar to a photo of me kiteboarding, and it was gratefully received because the fire on Necker burned down my office and with it all my notebooks and photographs.
I love the music of Peter Gabriel, who is also one of my best friends.
I recently bought a pair of Allen Edmonds lace-up oxfords in Las Vegas. I wear them all the time.
I’ve just spent two days in the Silver Bank, where pretty much every whale in the Atlantic converges once a year. It’s about 600 miles off the Dominican Republic. I was swimming with these magnificent creatures. The babies come up and play with you—it’s definitely one of the 20 wonders of my life. I think we’re going to send my catamaran there in March and April of every year and share the experience with other people.
I find that taking pictures gets in the way of enjoying the experience. But I’m also lucky that there are so many people around me who are taking pictures.
The Answer (on the L Train) Is Blowing in the Wind:
We all know what it’s like to run for the subway doors, only to watch them close and the train pull away, but it took the particular sensibility of Neil Goldberg to turn the experience into an art piece. One of his photo series shows New Yorkers doing just that; another records people choosing salad-bar offerings. “Subway Trapezoids“ shows the piece of sky you see when you ascend the stairs. These and more, including a video of a wind gust moving through people’s hair at the Bedford Avenue stop on the L Train, are in “Stories the City Tells Itself: The Video Art and Photography of Neil Goldberg,” the first contemporary-video show at the venerable Museum of the City of New York. To help the artist explain how he transforms seemingly meaningless moments into profound and comical artworks, the museum turned to Maira Kalman, whose delight and empathy for the objects of daily life was so beautifully showcased in her recent Jewish Museum exhibition. This Thursday, they will both appear in a conversation at the Museum of the City of New York, hosted by Queens Museum director Tom Finkelpearl. The subject is how they make art out of the everyday. Go for the talk—but get there early for treats from Brooklyn’s Blue Marble Ice Cream.
Image from Goldberg’s single-channel video installation ”Wind Tunnel,” 2012. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York and the artist.
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True Life: I think I’m starting to like bro things™
I don’t know what’s going on with me. Maybe it’s because I missed the entire tacky wash jeans phase, having worn raw denim for the past 6 years.
“They are mason jars hung from trees with candles in them. AMAZING!”
This year’s Lyrid meteor shower is expected to peak between midnight and dawn on Saturday night/Sunday morning. That means two things. One: it’s the weekend, which means you have no excuse not to stay up.