"OMG, our seats are on the floor!" my daughter screams. "I'm so excited!"
It was Friday, and the grand opening of the J.C. Penney flagship in the Manhattan Mall. If things seemed a little cramped it was because the ceremony was supposed to be across the street, at Greeley Square Park, but early morning rains put a damper on those arrangements. Only a soggy stage and Kimora Lee Simmons' luxury trailer parked along the curb gave any hint of the original plans. The festivities were quickly moved to the lobby of the mall, where male and female and child models walked down a red runway, stopping long enough to pose for the photographers standing cheek-by-jowl on risers. It was hard to see what was going on, but I knew the "oohs" and "aahs" were for the children. "Woo hoo, woo whoo," some women in front of me hollered when a hunky guy in a beige pin-striped suit sauntered out, as if this were Chippendales.
The drive from Northwest Arkansas Airport to Bentonville is pleasant enough, passing green pastures dotted with horses, cows and charming ramshackle barns, a scene that is occasionally broken by gated McMansion communities, followed by more bucolic scenery.
I checked into my hotel on Wednesday evening, ordered a tostada chicken salad from the all-Mexican-food restaurant menu and watched "The Devil Wears Prada" (twice). Watching the machinations and ridiculous striving of aggressive New Yorkers made me feel more at home while in the hinterlands.
That particular event stands out for the level of frenzy and sheer absurdity of celebrity worship Cavalli fans displayed. Shoppers climbed on top of displays and stripped mannequins of their clothing, picked racks clean of gold lame gowns and zebra print dresses, and grabbed merchandise indiscriminately out of the hands of sales associates who were trying to restock the floor.
When Cavalli pulled up to the store in a black Town Car and dropped his cigar on the ground, a woman on line wasted no time in picking it up and tossing it into a Ziploc bag -- she said she planned to sell it on eBay.
Donald Trump for years has been the poster child for the confident developer. The Donald may be more bombastic and boastful than most, but he shares with other developers a high tolerance for risk and the audacity to believe his multibillion-dollar projects will succeed. But developers and real estate executives don't seem so self-assured these days. With the global economy in free fall, their world decidedly changed from one of plenty -- available capital, myriad retail concepts, willing partners -- to one of scarcity. "The deals we hear about are dying," said a Manhattan-based retail broker. "My clients' sales are off. They don't want to go forward with anything now."