Kudos to artist and mom Helen Marden for allegedly slapping the pancake makeup off former Vogue Magazine staffer and notorious social climber Helen Lee Schifter, who summers in the snooty Hamptons and sounds like one of the posers who are drawn to the news industry's exclusive fashion magazines.
In case you didn't know, "exclusive" is how businesses that cater to rich New Yorkers say "Bridge and Tunnel Crowd not welcome." And Bridge and Tunnel Crowd is Manhattan Society slang for the working-class people that take a bus, train or tunnel into its wealthy neighborhoods to walk the dogs of the rich, cook their food, paint their nails, open their doors, and read The Cynical Times.
Anyway, Schifter got hers and we love Marden for dropping the hammer on the Carrie Bradshaw wannabee with a slap heard round the Manhattan socialite world. According to the Post, Marden walked up to Schifter at an exclusive West Village eatery called Bar Pitti and asked if she was "the [probably "bitch" or "tramp"] that has been [rhymes with puck]ing my husband?"
Marden might just as well have made like Rick James and asked whether Schifter knew "what the five fingers said to the hand," because she allegedly proceeded to go all Bridge and Tunnel on the younger woman with a slap to the chops, at which point the other diners gave her a standing ovation.
We love it. Even though a fellow scribe was on the receiving end.
Moral No. 1 of this story is that if you want to sleep around, don't marry. Moral No. 2 is that if you're gonna seduce a famous 72-year-old man you better make sure he's not married to Helen Marden, beause she's definitely a woman "who cares" as Lynyrd Skynyrd put it in the song "Gimme Three Steps."
We love this story even more because Schifter is a fame addict who boasts of powerful connections, according to this article in the Page Six column of The New York Post, but hasn't written a single story any of us would want our lowly Bridge and Tunnel peasant bylines on.
Sex and the City wannabees like Schifter are a plague in Manhattan. They think their genitals are made of gold, typically have no moral compass, and no agenda other than shameless self promotion and living out their adolescent Carrie Bradshaw fantasies.
Schifter shows up in a lot of those exclusive celebrity and society photos in overpriced designer dresses with her head tilted to the side in false modesty, although it's not really clear what she's supposed to be famous for. It's definitely not her writing. And we get the feeling she's probably also a big attendee at those tacky charity balls, where the rich pay $500 a seat to play dress-up just so they can tell eachother they did something for the less fortunate.
The Cynical Times prefers people that get personally involved in helping the needy, rather than donating money to charities that pay six-figure salaries to the otherwise idle children of their wealthy benefactors. That means handing a blanket to the cold, a sandwich to the hungry, and a beer to any beggar bold enough to hold up a "need money for beer" sign.
Here's how Schifter was quoted talking about working people in the exclusive Hamptons by exclusive New York Magazine: Helen Lee Schifter wanted to move an electrical outlet to the kitchen's center island. "The electrician who'd originally wired the house said, 'Oh, no, we can't do that,' " Schifter recalls. "Then my phone person from New York City told me it should be a simple job." Out here, she says, "they just don't want to bother."
That wasn't the end of Schifter's subcontractor blues: "Most of the paint flaked off the west wall of our servants' quarters," she sighs. "We waited two and a half months before it got repainted."
Oh the agony. Children are going to bed hungry nationwide and laid off workers are blowing their brains out, but Schifter is worried about the paint on the walls of her servants' quarters.
The Cynical Times, which is staffed by media industry veterans who have paid their journalism dues and paint their own friggin walls, is not a fan. It's not that we object to women monetizing their bodies; it's just that we know that guys can be easily fooled into thinking there's more to a beneficial networking fling than blind ambition. They see what they want to see, especially when their own body parts start to wear out.
Watching someone like Schifter allegedly try to take advantage of an old man like Brice Marden, one of the leading abstract painters of the past 40 years, is like watching a teen from the Bronx shake down a prep school kid for their lunch money on the D-Train. Just because the target can't defend themselves doesn't make it OK.
The Post's coverage of the slap doesn't provide ages for either woman, but Marden must be in her 60s. Schifter is 54 and Cityfile lists her as a graduate of New Hampshire's exclusive Phillips Exeter Academy and Amherst College.
Tuition at Exeter averaged $38,720 for boarding students in 2010, not counting books and fees. Apparently, Schifter's affluent parents didn't realize they could have sent her to public school for free. Boy did they get screwed.
Anyway, Marden is married to renown abstract painter Brice Marden. That's a picture of them together to the right.
Schifter is also married - her hubby is fashion magnate Tim Schifter. Both Schifters were born with silver spoons planted firmly in their... ummm... mouths. Apparently, that's all it takes to merit an exclusive wedding announcement in the elitist rag that now masquerades as the venerable New York Times.
In other words, both Schifters have had plenty of breaks in the course of their lives. And we're all painfully acquainted with people born on third base who think they hit a home run here at The Cynical Times.
Judging from the initial article about the slap heard round the Manhattan socialite world, and the frequency with which Schifter appears in the media, it's a safe bet she has a talented publicist on retainer. It's also a safe bet that either she, her husband and/or their publicist were the unnamed sources who made the following ridiculous claims:
- Schifter was Brice Marden's "muse."
- The relationship between Schifter and Brice Marden was "platonic."
- Brice Marden apologized to Schifter for his wife's behavior
- Helen Marden lurched toward Schifter, but never slapped her.
"Lurched" as in that thing drunks do.
Good work publicist. You earned your intellectual hooker pay with that low but effective slur. I bet your mommy and daddy are proud.
The cool-as-ice Mrs. Marden, who is also an artist, set the record straight with this quote in the follow-up story: "I was cold and calm. I did not lurch. I was not in a rage. I slapped her."
Meanwhile, a recalcitrant Brice Marden also stepped up to the plate and acknowledged that his relationship with Schifter was "not platonic." If he really did apologize for his wife's behavior, he shouldn't have.
Listen dude, the next time you're gonna let the little head do the thinking you might bring a bit of risk-reward analysis to the table first. Schifter is a lot of things, but no one will ever confuse her with Salma Hayek in the 1996 film "From Dusk Till Dawn." And your wife is a stand-up lady (that's a gratutitous photo of Salma at her peak to the right).
We like your work, but we still have to give you low marks both for judgment and selection in what the London-based Daily Mail described as a year-long affair. They said your Helen knew about it all along, too. Ouch.
Good men don't hurt their wives like that Brice, and it's not a part-time job.
Here at The Cynical Times, we dearly love when the snowballs finally catch up with the liars of the world. Kudos to Helen Marden for doing the right thing instead of worrying about being right after the fact. Go on with your bad self.
The Mardens have two grown daughters of their own and a son from Brice Marden's first marriage. The couple has been married 43 years.
This little fracas should serve as a cautionary tale for other social climbers in the rich-kid set: the posturing artists that sell you $50,000 paintings may seem all safe and docile when they're in marketing mode, but a lot of them began their careers eating PB&J sandwiches three times a day and sleeping in their studios. Scratch the surface too hard and you might wind up with a red cheek like Schifter, or worse.
As you may know, The Cynical Times does not buy into the notion that greed is good; that there should be different social standards for the rich; that there is such a thing as an individual birthright; or that "networking" justifies dishonorable behavior like this alleged affair. We also believe that there's a time to stop being politically correct and break the law when something impacts you at a visceral level, provided you're willing to do the time for the crime.
In other words, we don't think there needs to be a law against burning the flag, or that every infidelity should end in divorce. If something bothers you, we think you should get personally involved in making it right, within reason, and pay the penalty with your head held high.
That's why we absolutely love Helen Marden. She didn't wait for somebody else to solve her problems for her. She fought for her shit by regulating a serial line crosser.
We can all learn from Marden's example in a Nanny State where the middle class has grown surprisingly soft and lost sight of the critical difference between doing right and being right.
The only place where Marden screwed up was in the complete absence of a parting catchphrase. If she had been real Bridge and Tunnel Crowd she might have quoted old school rapping legend Kool Moe Dee and asked "how ya like me now?"
Feel free to use it the next time Helen.