October 26, 2003
For this Murdoch, NoLita is the light of his life, fire of his loins

Everyone knows that Lachlan Murdoch is filthy rich. But today he's merely filthy. Standing on the debris-strewn second floor of his new NoLita apartment building, covered in drywall dust and sweating like the proverbial pig, Murdoch exudes none of the international playboy scion charm we've come to expect from the eldest son of media baron Rupert Murdoch. To be completely honest, the only thing Lachlan is exuding at the moment is a rank, unpleasant odor.

Stripping off an expensive looking dress shirt to reveal his intricately tattooed sinewy shoulders and back, Murdoch tosses the shirt aside, kicking up more dust and dirt. "I buy these things by the boat-load," he says of the hand-tailored, custom-fitted dress shirts embroidered at the cuff with his personal motto patris est filius ("He is his father's son"). "When I visit my brother in Hong Kong"—that would be brother James Murdoch, head of News Corporation's Asian satellite division—"I load up. You can get three shirts, a suit, matching ties and corner squares, a full massage with release and all-you-can eat dim sum in Hong Kong for the price of one Armani suit in the U.S." he says displaying his family's well-known regard for local craftsmanship and good values.

"Let's take a break," Murdoch says to no one in particular. We've all been working on knocking down a wall in his new apartment building at 11 Spring Street. The purchase of the landmark building, one of the biggest single family residential addresses in Manhattan, was surprisingly controversial. Murdoch did not expect the building's sale would make it to Web sites like Gawkster.com (an internet outpost for celebrity stalkers) and TheSmokyGun.com (a site where civil servants and court officers can find legal documents), but there it was, his mortgage paperwork for all the world wide web to see.

Working with Murdoch on this project is Jefferson (who declined to give a reporter his last name), a friend Murdoch refers to as "my partner in crime." There are also several day laborers Murdoch picked up outside Home Depot on Hamilton Avenue in Brooklyn who defer to the young executive with the sort of deference and respect one usually associates with troops looking to a visionary general during battle.

Today's battle, which is merely the beginning of the renovations of this five-story building, began shortly after 6AM. We're finally breaking at 1PM. As Murdoch and I sit on overturned milk cartons to discuss his new home, Jefferson fetches us some herbal tea from an electric kettle and occasionally interrupts to remind us to get back to work.

"I fucking love NoLita," Murdoch says in his characteristically frank manner. "You got everything right here. I can't imagine living anywhere else."

When pressed for some favorite locations, Murdoch begins a long litany that is both incredibly informed and casually extemporaneous. "There's the VICE store right around the corner. I'm a huge fan of VICE, both for their aesthetic and for their politics. If I could get away with it, The [New York] Post would basically be VICE. Huge, huge fan... There's that Paul Frank store nearby: I love those little monkeys. Lombardi's pizza is great. We were gonna put in a coal-burning pizza oven, but then my wife"—that would be supermodel Sarah O'Hare—"reminded me of Lombardi's. Saved me $20,000! Oh, shit, I almost forgot Rice to Riches! We were gonna put in a space-age rice pudding bar like we have in our Australian house, but we don't need one now, either. Another 2Ok we can play with!"

But it's not all racist hipster clothing outlets and space-age rice pudding bars that drew the Murdochs to the neighborhood. "It's the history of this place," he says, his eyes growing moist with feeling. "This is such rich, cultural stew. This neighborhood is half Chinese immigrants, half Old World Italian families. Well, it was these things, back in the old days, I mean. Now it's for everyone. Anyone can live here and feel those influences. All you need is a couple thousand dollars a month and you can see what it must have been like to be a poor immigrant living in a dangerously unsafe tenement. And you get the added benefit of high-class home furnishing and clothing stores, to boot! It's really amazing."

Just then, Jefferson interrupts for one of his friendly-but-forceful reminders of why we're really here. "Lach, we're paying these guys by the hour," he says, gesturing to the half a dozen men standing by silently, some drinking water they brought themselves, others licking their lips looking like they wished they'd remembered to bring their own waters. "Jefferson, I can afford to talk a little longer," he says, giving me a little can you believe this guy wink. "This gentleman was good enough to come down from, what was your magazine called again?" I remind him and Murdoch barely misses a beat. "From load culture, the least I can do is talk with him."

Jefferson mocks outrage and huffs away to get us some more herbal tea. The workers merely stand by watching with the awe and affection sailors must feel for their captain on the high seas.

"Another reason we picked this place," Murdoch says, "is that it's big enough. This building is enormous. My wife and I really wanted space. We originally looked at the church that had been the Limelight-you know, the nightclub. It was great and we completely love Chelsea, but every time I went to look at the place, I broke out with these pustules all over—" Jefferson chimes in to sarcastically say "G-ross!"—"It was like someone didn't want us to live there," he says looking towards the heavens and shaking his fist mockingly.

"But this place is perfect. We're going to turn this floor into a dog run, line the whole thing with rubber, cover it with wood chips and fake fire hydrants. It'll be adorable! Did you know I have seven MinPins—miniature Doberman Pinschers. Love those little monsters!

"The third floor will be the bedroom suite. I shouldn't tell you this, but my brother negotiated for me to get the frame of Mao's old bed. It's bigger than a King-size. It's an Emperor-size! Gotta get all the sheets and bedding custom-made. This bed is enormous!" he says with another wink.

"Fourth floor will be the entertainment center and library. When I was in college, I traveled around Europe and saw all these amazing old monasteries with books that dated back to the advent of the printing press and before. I just bought one after the other, dozens of these rotting old monastery libraries, and now I have the biggest private collection of pre- and early-Guttenberg books anywhere. I also have every issue of Maxim from when it started in America, even the special two- and three-edition special covers. I have every Pussycat Doll cover!

"Fifth floor is for guests, we'll probably have a futon with some Yaffa Blocks for bedside tables. Nice and simple. And I'll set up my old laptop for guests to use.

"The roof will have the pool and my archery range. I have to figure out a way to make sure the arrows don't go over and kill anyone," he says laughing. "No one except Al Franken," he adds cracking himself up completely.

When I remind him that the only floor he's neglected to mention was the ground floor, he smiles as broadly as the proverbial Cheshire cat. "Oh, we have plans for that," he says like the proverbial oracle offering the proverbial cliffhanger. "This is the best part. The ground floor is going to be completely glass like the Today Show studio, so I can share my home with the world. You know, this building is right around the corner from the Bowery, which—you might not even know this—has a lot of Salvation Army-type soup kitchens and so forth. I really believe that if the poor people of New York, the really desperate, hopelessly poor people can see what I have, see how happy my wife, my 7 MinPins, and I are, they'll have something to aspire to, something they can work towards. When people walk by, be they tourists, local 'hipsters,' homeless people, whatever and they can see our flat-panel TVs, our stainless steel restaurant-grade Viking Ranges, our fetal pony hair couches, the light-up "Cocktails" sign I got at Urban Outfitters, and the flowing oxygen-infused, spring water waterfall Jefferson said we need for feng shui purposes, they'll be inspired. Really, that's what we're all about moving into NoLita, inspiring people."

With that, Jefferson finally prevails upon us to return to work. Lachlan picks up the sledgehammer, his muscles rippling like the proverbial... something or other, and he takes a swift, hard swing at the solidly built pre-war wall. "One more thing," he says, gearing up for another whack. "To someone outside, it might look like I'm destroying this wall with this"—he shakes his powerful tool in his hands—"but I'm not. I'm making it a lot better." With that, he swings low and the wall, like every barrier thrown up in the face of this most amazing young man, comes tumbling down.

Posted in a Satirical, Shallow fashion.

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