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Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Bargain at Just $43,000 a Month for 30 Years!



A notable home in the Jersey town of Old Tappan - just across the border from me - went on sale this week. I say 'notable' not because of the owners (although they're either Greek importers or Mafia, depending on who you ask). I say 'notable' because you cannot drive past this beaustrosity and fail to have your eyes seared by it.

For years, it was only the impression from outside - but the bizarre jumble of styles and complete over-the-top statuary in front suggests that neither money nor taste nor even a clean bill of mental health were impediments to its construction. But, thanks to the miracle of the internet and the subset miracle of realtors with digital cameras and access to web servers, I can now share with you this work of genuine architectural harikari. And the photos of the interior do not disappoint. The curb appeal continues all the way down, and it is sweet.

I swear, the state of New Jersey should buy this place and open it to the public as a museum, as Westchester has its Lyndhurst, San Simeon its Hearst Castle, and Hyde Park its Springwood.

Bergen County historical board: I beseech you to acquire and maintain this treasure as an ode to the style known either as "Old Tappan Crazy" or "Faux-Modern Wincing." These rooms can not be allowed to return to private hands, to the person with $9m in pocket, and be forever locked away from public view.

Sure, James Lileks has his "Gobbler." But, ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present Jersey's finest: The Prongthenon.











Note the telling details, like the chalk-white Corinthian columns in the main hall, reflected and contrasted in the polished obsidian tiles. Or the subtle thematic repetition of the chandelier in every room. Or the... oh, sweet Jesus... the stuffed cheetah placed at random in the middle of the guest bedroom. That just positively screams "class."

Actually, it damn well bellows "class," while simultaneously bashing you in the frontal lobe repeatedly with a flame-hardened Louisville Slugger that has the word "class" painstakingly carved into the business end with an ornate ceremonial dagger.

Seriously: at what point does the aesthetic sense atrophy enough to allow you to live in a place like this? When does it happen that you feel the need to live in Liberace's mausoleum? Is there a DSM-IV diagnosis for such a condition? Does your brain make a 'ping' sound at that moment, like it's been cooking for long enough and now it's done? Is it possible that this is all just the world's biggest practical joke by the world's richest practical joker? Is Reggie Van Dough just waiting in the wings with a video camera, ready to catch Richie Rich in the act of buying this compound?

Here's what the listing has to say: "IN AN UNDERSTATED SURROUNDING, THIS EXTRAODINARY HOUSE EXISTS, FULL OF INCREDIBLE BEAUTY. LAVISH USE OF MARBLE, BEAUTIFUL WOODS. INDOOR POOL, TENNIS COURT, THEATER, CABANA. THIS HOME HAS IT ALL. SEE FACT SHEET FOR DETAILS. 18 ROOMS, 10 BRS, 15 BTHS. ALL SET ON 2.8 ACRES"

All I can say is, I'm glad they're reinforcing that the house 'exists,' because it means that even the realtors have a hard time believing it does.

The best part of all, though, is the thing that's being conveniently cropped out of that exterior shot: right in the front yard sits an electrical tower. And I don't mean those pissant ones that try to blend in with the landscape - I'm talking one of the triumphant jobs that's clearly built to catapult voltage from here to Ohio.

Easily 70 feet tall, visible from the surface of Europa with a halfway decent pair of opera glasses. So, maybe 15 bathrooms and an indoor pool and a tennis court and and indoor theater and everything else from the lap of luxury can make you overlook the perversion of the senses that is the decor. But who in their right mind is going to lay down nine million dollars for a house with an electrical tower right next to the statue of the discus thrower?

There's only one person I can think of that's that kind of crazy - and, sadly for them, they're the one selling the place.

D.

7 comments:

Sean said...

I just have one thing to say:

"Delicate, sparkling, and bursting with class! Nothing says "I'm loaded!" like a CHANDELIER!

Are you kiddin' me? If you had one of dese in your house, you could look like a millionaire! Like da King of England! Like da King of France, or somethin'.

Imagine walking in your house and seein' dis one. Or dat one. Or dis one...

Ya GOTTA get a CHANDELIER!"

Anonymous said...

This place needs more "mah-buhl cah-lums" too!

Dave Kopperman said...

I was thinking something along the lines of either a large steel sphere, lovingly attached to a chain and then applied repeatedly to the structure, or something bright, flickering and hungry.

Boots said...

I know this house. Rumoured to be owned by Vinnie the Chin.
Thank you for showing me the inside. I think there is also a parking lot of limos in the back.

Dave Kopperman said...

Don't thank me... thank the fine folks over at the New Jersey Multiple Listings.

And, yes, that's a pertinent detail I neglected to mention - there often was a limousine parked out front.

Vinnie the Chin...? Perhaps I'll delete this blog...

D.

Boots said...

Again, Dave, Thank you for posting it. I have had trouble describing this house to my friends in the City. Now I have proof that I am not making it up...not that there aren't some other fine examples of McMansions as monuments to poor taste in the Tappan area, but this...this defied believable description.

Dave Kopperman said...

I'd have to say that it's specifically the Old Tappan area - Tappan itself really has nothing but small and lovely homes, and even the larger houses in the town seem to be built with an eye towards restraint and functionality over flash.

The moment you cross the border into Jersey, though... whoof!

Don't you think that Bergen should open it as a museum? In a weird way, these monstrosities are landmarks, and should be preserved. Heck, they could make their money back on it in a year, just hiring it out for film shoots...

BTW: I need to point some credit to my mother, who first noted the realtor's sign and found the listing online. She lives for that stuff.