Archive for the ‘Philanthropy’ Category

Selling Tickets To Brooke Astor’s Funeral: Scam or Satire? (Updated)

Friday, August 17th, 2007

Every so often, I’ll get an out-of-the-blue email from some on-deadline journalist in search of a timely, amusing quote. And though I’m not exactly a one-liner kind of gal, I always give it a try.

And so late Thursday afternoon, while I was working on a still-to-come post and poll about General Petraeus’s upcoming surge report (and ignoring the rest of the news), I got an email from Robert Marchant, a reporter with The Journal News in Westchester County, New York. (In case you’ve never heard of it, it’s the Gannett daily that services the Clintons’ hometown — Chappaqua, New York.)

Marchant wrote:

I enjoy your blog. I’m a reporter with the Journal News in Westchester County, and I’m writing an article about efforts to sell “tickets” to the Brooke Astor funeral on the Internet. Thought you might have an observation about this, humorous or otherwise. Please drop a line if you have a chance.

His was an interesting query — not to mention a nice publicity opportunity. All I had to do was write something really funny and really fast about a story I’d never heard of. I mean, I knew that the great philanthropist Brooke Astor had just died and would presumably have some sort of celebrity-filled funeral. But the funeral ticket sales item had eluded me. (That’s what I get for mocking the GOP 24/7.) 

Now I didn’t think Marchant would be too impressed if I wrote back, “Huh? What ticket sales?” So instead, I turned to my trusty Google. And as always, it came through for me, leading me to this New York Daily News story:

Somebody is trying to cash in on Brooke Astor’s funeral. 

With an A-list crowd of New York bluebloods, politicians and celebrities expected to attend the beloved socialite’s farewell tomorrow, an ad selling two tickets in the “16th pew from the front” for $500 appeared on the Craigslist Web site yesterday.

But Astor’s daughter-in-law, Charlene Marshall, said the tickets were fake.

She called it “absolutely ghastly” that somebody was trying to profit from Astor’s death and noted the service is open to the public.  …

Cool!  Now I had some vague idea what I was supposed to be making fun of.  I played around with limericks for a bit, but nothing took shape.  Then I tried my hand at haiku and wrote one that was okay, but not especially funny:

Craigslist ticket ad
For Brooke Astor’s funeral:
Masterful satire.

No, that just wouldn’t do.  I needed to write a Jon Stewart-worthy one-liner … or at least something that might make Marchant (and his editor) giggle just a bit. 

The minutes ticked away as I thought about those tickets.  And then it finally came to me:

Just $500 bucks for two Brooke Astor funeral ticks? Now that’s what I’d call A Modest Proposal. 

I sent it off, Marchant liked it, and now its fate is in his editor’s hands.  If it appears in his article, I’ll post an update.  But in the meantime, here’s a limerick I wrote after Marchant’s deadline had passed:

Ode To Brooke Astor
By Madeleine Begun Kane 

A generous lady named Astor,
Whose kindness will surely outlast her,
Is mourned far and wide
Since she recently died,
And nobody’s ever outclassed her.

UPDATE: Marchant’s article is up and it quotes both my one-liner and a couple of words from my haiku. Here’s the article: Ticket sales for Astor funeral branded a hoax. Also, if you’d like to read (or re-read) Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, here it is. [tags]Brooke Astor, Astor Funeral, Funeral Tickets, Robert Marchant, Gannett Daily, News Journal Westchester, Craigslist Ad, A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift[/tags]