Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Surreal Estate/Tiger's Other Mansion"

In our on-going effort to find a land use angle on the Tiger Woods scandal, I give you a recent article from The New York Times T Magazine.  The writer describes a mansion Tiger and his wife (at least for now) are building in Jupiter, Florida.

The new 9,700-square-foot house is split between the living quarters and a gym, which are connected by a glass-covered walkway. The ultra-modern design is already annoying residents of this conservative community, even though it remains unclear when Woods will move in.

Although the house may be unpopular - and apparently Tiger tore down a "classic Bahamas-style mansion" (whatever that is) to build it - Tiger's bigger problem may be the lack of amenities available on the Island if he can't get into the Jupiter Island Club.  Apparently there's not much to do on Jupiter Island if you don't belong to the club - no restaurants or stores - and it's hard to have a social life outside the "WASPY" enclave.

Now I find it hard to believe that any country club would fail to admit the world's best golfer, no matter how non-WASPY he is, or how scandalous his current reputation.  I think athletic achievement surmounts race, class and moral differences in our culture.  However, the fact that these enclaves still exist raises interesting issues in our supposedly post-racial, egalitarian society.

On a side note on identity issues, for a great take on WASPs and their role in our society, I highly recommend Cheerful Money by Tad Friend.  I read it at the same time as President Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father.  Reading these two books together gives lots of food for thought on how racial identity informs our lives - and often, our settlement patterns.  One of Friend's themes is what to do with the shambling family mansion in the exclusive neighborhood that few of the original WASP families can afford to maintain. Obama writes about his days of community organizing in one of the poorest, most polluted sections of Chicago. A stark contrast, to be sure, but each interesting and informative in its own way.

Jamie Baker Roskie

Planning, Race | Permalink

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