Private Varnish Usually Costs At Least $300 A Gallon
July 2, 2013 4:20 PM   Subscribe

Many folks who play Powerball in the U.S. dream of private jets. But that's so passé. All the coolest, richest kids are buying, rebuilding and riding "private varnish" (29 page .pdf file) and those that don't have the scratch for that, charter.

If your pockets and Rolodex are deep enough, you might even be able to get hold of the Georgia 300 for a few days. If not, perhaps you can still scrape together enough scratch and influence to get a chance to ride a fine private car like The Frank L. Suter. But if you don't even have the wherewithal for that, perhaps you can still subscribe to Private Varnish magazine.
posted by paulsc (55 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Only if it comes with an ocelot named Babou.
posted by miyabo at 4:25 PM on July 2, 2013 [29 favorites]


Yeah... gotta admit that episode was also the first thing I thought of. Our parodies are becoming disturbingly accurate to life.
posted by selfnoise at 4:26 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK, so I thought this was going to be an automobile at first and I was like, pfff. But a train car? Can I get the one from the original Wild, Wild West TV show?
posted by DU at 4:30 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a few of these parked by Milwaukee's Intermodal station.
posted by drezdn at 4:34 PM on July 2, 2013


After that, if you have any faith left in the worth of humanity, Rich kids of Instagram will mop it right up.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:39 PM on July 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


I see some of these at Santa Fe Station in San Diego. Some seem quite deluxe from the outside. But I'll take the Coaster or Surfliner any day.
posted by birdherder at 4:44 PM on July 2, 2013


If you're not quite rich enough still you could always stay at the Downtown Indianapolis Crowne Plaza which has a bunch of restored Pullman cars converted into hotel rooms.
posted by zrail at 4:48 PM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


That PDF fills me with an irresistable urge to try building my own submarine. Cheap and easy by comparison.
posted by localroger at 4:51 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


After that, if you have any faith left in the worth of humanity, Rich kids of Instagram will mop it right up.

I must have an inner windowed wasp matriarch inside me cause my gut reaction to that tumblr is always a slight lowering of the eyelids and a deep, internal conviction that I will not be supporting thier admission to the board.
posted by The Whelk at 4:54 PM on July 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


zrail, OH YEAY I totally want to do that! What a great looking place!
posted by dabitch at 4:55 PM on July 2, 2013


What good is it being rich if those are the people you have to hang out with?
posted by 1adam12 at 5:04 PM on July 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Look out boys! He's crepuscular!
posted by boo_radley at 5:05 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Whelk: "After that, if you have any faith left in the worth of humanity, Rich kids of Instagram will mop it right up.

I must have an inner windowed wasp matriarch inside me cause my gut reaction to that tumblr is always a slight lowering of the eyelids and a deep, internal conviction that I will not be supporting thier admission to the board.
"

Whelp, you are better than I. Not only are you a nattier dresser, but all I think when I saw the RKOT blog and people like the private varnish crowd is "FIRE! DEATH! KILL THE WEAK! HAVOC! BASTARDS! AT LEAST BE SUBTLE! DIE DIE DIE DIE!". Or something like that. I never wrote it down.
posted by Samizdata at 5:06 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


1adam12: "What good is it being rich if those are the people you have to hang out with?"

If you have any rich friends in the Midwest that need a pity attendee, I am experienced and work cheap.
posted by Samizdata at 5:07 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, should I win Powerball, let me state I will be train-free. I doubt trains will reach my private island lair, which will always be available on request for MeFi meetups among those that actually go in the sun.
posted by Samizdata at 5:09 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wait - you want us to set you up to attend to people you just screamed "DIE DIE DIE" at?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:10 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you have any rich friends in the Midwest that need a pity attendee, I am experienced and work cheap.

Don't do it. I've been there. 1994-2002 I spent much of my free time in casinos, the last few of those years in high rollerland as my wife played for the card-counting team run by our best friend. We had our fun with $300 steaks, $50 shots of brandy, limousine pickup, and hotel suites you can't rent for any amount of simple cash.

My favorite story from that era involves the few hours my wife spent playing blackjack at a high roller table with some guy who looked like Brad Pitt. Well, actually he WAS Brad Pitt, but she didn't realize that until she got back to the room and saw the team messages.

It is a remarkably asocial world. Of course at the level of casino play my peeps were doing (2 hands of $3000 in a high count, not unusual to drop or win $50,000 on a shoe) there are very few professions that can keep you funded for more than a few months of regular play, and we just winked and mentioned that "Roger does computers" when anyone would express wonder at our ascent from the $5 free-drink and tournament circuit.

Most people don't do computers or count cards. So they're public figures and don't want you watching them masturbate, or they don't want you to know their business and assume you don't want them to know yours. I suppose it's not as dark in the Hamptons but even secure rich people have a huge defensive streak, probably because normal people who find out who they are suddenly start very obviously seeing them as human-sized bags of money instead of people. I have actually been on the rich person side of that myself as I watched my wife "blow my money" at the tables and it is very, very depressing.

So anyway around 2004 the casinos finally figured out they could simply end their card counter problem by not offering beatable games and people would still play and the team dissolved, and I can't say that I don't sometimes miss it but I can say that I don't miss it enough to spend much effort trying to get back there. I cannot imagine being born to that kind of lifestyle and turning out as anything other than an insufferable asshole. And the experience of people who were born to that lifestyle seems to affirm my impression.
posted by localroger at 5:23 PM on July 2, 2013 [26 favorites]


Interesting story, localroger, but what does it have to do with private rail cars?
posted by grouse at 5:27 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


what does it have to do with private rail cars?

Answering samizdata's slight derail, which is more about people rich enough to have certain hobbies than the hobbies themselves.
posted by localroger at 5:29 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's Raining Florence Henderson: Wait - you want us to set you up to attend to people you just screamed "DIE DIE DIE" at?

It's German, he really meant to say THE THE THE!
posted by dr_dank at 5:36 PM on July 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


Well, no one who speaks German could be an evil man.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:39 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


"... I doubt trains will reach my private island lair, which will always be available on request for MeFi meetups among those that actually go in the sun."
posted by Samizdata at 5:09 PM on July 2

Pfft. Larry Ellison owns Lanai. But he doesn't own, or ride, an Amtrak 800,000 number.

Aim higher, grasshopper. A lot higher. They aren't building new business cars at Pullman, any more.
posted by paulsc at 5:41 PM on July 2, 2013


It's Raining Florence Henderson: "Wait - you want us to set you up to attend to people you just screamed "DIE DIE DIE" at?"

I didn't say I would do it in person. Besides, then they would be people to me, rather than obscene icons of excessive leisure and overconsumption.

Besides, I would get drunk pretty fast and I am a very friendly drunk.
posted by Samizdata at 5:43 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


localroger: "what does it have to do with private rail cars?

Answering samizdata's slight derail, which is more about people rich enough to have certain hobbies than the hobbies themselves.
"

SEE! SEE! HE SAID DERAIL SO IT WAS ABOUT TRAINS! SEE!
posted by Samizdata at 5:44 PM on July 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


paulsc: ""... I doubt trains will reach my private island lair, which will always be available on request for MeFi meetups among those that actually go in the sun."
posted by Samizdata at 5:09 PM on July 2

Pfft. Larry Ellison owns Lanai. But he doesn't own, or ride, an Amtrak 800,000 number.

Aim higher, grasshopper. A lot higher. They aren't building new business cars at Pullman, any more.
"

Yeah, but unlike Larry Ellison, I will have my OWN PRIVATE VOLCANO!
posted by Samizdata at 5:45 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like this thread because it just made me picture Harlan Ellison sitting in a lānai on his private volcanic Island getaway watching a train go by and I cannot scream.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:51 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


"... Yeah, but unlike Larry Ellison, I will have my OWN PRIVATE VOLCANO!"
posted by Samizdata at 5:45 PM on July

But if you're the kind of short sighted private island owner Ellison is, you'll be too cheap to lay track to the summit, and you won't have locomotives or switch engines for hire, and you'll never think of putting in sidings for private observation cars... Private cars can be shipped by sea freighter, you know. What kind of private tropical volcano owner wouldn't cater for them?

It might be your only chance to get filthy rich folk that close to Hell fire...
posted by paulsc at 5:58 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but unlike Larry Ellison, I will have my OWN PRIVATE VOLCANO!

And unlike you and Larry Ellison, I will have my OWN PRIVATE IDAHO!



Wait, what were we talking about, again?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:58 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, I thought everyone already knew that Harlan Ellison lives on Spider-Skull Island.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:00 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Training Day
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:00 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


paulsc: ""... Yeah, but unlike Larry Ellison, I will have my OWN PRIVATE VOLCANO!"
posted by Samizdata at 5:45 PM on July

But if you're the kind of short sighted private island owner Ellison is, you'll be too cheap to lay track to the summit, and you won't have locomotives or switch engines for hire, and you'll never think of putting in sidings for private observation cars... Private cars can be shipped by sea freighter, you know. What kind of private tropical volcano owner wouldn't cater for them?

It might be your only chance to get filthy rich folk that close to Hell fire...
"

Not if I have my servant corps to carry them to the summit.
posted by Samizdata at 6:06 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rich people who spend their money preserving beautiful artifacts from a bygone age that would otherwise go to the scrapyard are decidedly not high on my list of people to hate.

Even if they take those artifacts on excusrions I can't afford to go on.
posted by ocschwar at 6:06 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


"... Not if I have my servant corps to carry them to the summit."
posted by Samizdata at 6:06 PM on July 2

But, um, wouldn't having a servant corp make you one of the filthy rich, to be toted to the summit of the volcano, and possibly, Hell fire??

Might be time to lawyer up, Samizdata...

posted by paulsc at 6:10 PM on July 2, 2013


And unlike you and Larry Ellison, I will have my OWN PRIVATE IDAHO!

And just like Larry Ellison, I will have my OWN PRIVATE AIR FORCE!

Rich people who spend their money preserving beautiful artifacts from a bygone age that would otherwise go to the scrapyard are decidedly not high on my list of people to hate.

How do you feel about preserving a MIG 29?
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:17 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I thought everyone already knew that Harlan Ellison lives on Spider-Skull Island.

I am sort of surprised that Ellison hasn't made a cameo on Venture Bros. yet, given his level of brilliant misanthropic crankdom and all.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:26 PM on July 2, 2013


"... How do you feel about preserving a MIG 29?"
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:17 PM on July 2

You didn't ask me, directly, but, um, off the top of my head:

-No kitchen
-Cramped sleeping accomodations
-Non-existent crew quarters
-No bathrooms
-No water tanks
-Limited air conditioning
-No WiFi
-No conventions, unless you think the Paris Air Show qualifies

and worst of all,

-No speaking platform.

OTOH:

Machine guns!!!
Armament hard points!!!
Afterburners!!!
posted by paulsc at 6:31 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where are the Motherfuckers now that we really need them?
posted by ob1quixote at 6:37 PM on July 2, 2013


"How about your own private railroad car?", offered Atlas.
"Meh", shrugged Dagny, "I'll raise you my own private railroad."
posted by cenoxo at 6:40 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


In The Stars My Destination, most people have perfected the ability to teleport with their minds, but the truly ostentatious arrive by rail car (on tracks laid down by their servants) as an anachronistic display of wealth.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:56 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not gonna lie. If I had more money than I knew what to do with, I'd probably buy my own train car before a jet or a huge mansion. (But that's just because I'm a huge nerd)
posted by schmod at 6:59 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


There used to be a big railroad car manufacturer in Wilmington and the Delaware Public Archives has a photo archive of cars they built including many cool old private cars.

H.M. Flagler's private car, the the Emperor of Brazil's car, E. F. Hutton's car, the International Correspondence School had a private car, an Anti-Gambling Car, and my favorite, the car for Charles H. Yale's Marvelous, Panoramic Scenic Sensation, The Way Of The Transgressor, featuring the Wonderful Acting Landseer Dogs.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:18 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


The thing about owning a rail car is that while it's an ostentatious display of wealth, it's the very opposite of the claim of freedom you can lay on a yacht, airplane, or fast car. You are entirely dependent on multiple deep bureaucracies to get your toy from where it is to where you want it to be. It's not just a claim that you own the toy, it's a claim that you are rich enough to be able to deal with the infrastructure and scheduling requirements of the network on which the toy rides.

Of course it also doesn't involve water or flying, both of which deeply scare some people. And the fact that it's so pointlessly expensive is a feature not a bug if you're showing off. But you really have to be the kind of person who masturbates to pictures of trains to even think of this if you're not rich enough to have employees deal with all the crap shit necessary to make it work.
posted by localroger at 7:25 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


paulsc: ""... Not if I have my servant corps to carry them to the summit."
posted by Samizdata at 6:06 PM on July 2

But, um, wouldn't having a servant corp make you one of the filthy rich, to be toted to the summit of the volcano, and possibly, Hell fire??

Might be time to lawyer up, Samizdata...
"

No. I would not be rich. Just a merciless despot on his first steps to dominating the world...
posted by Samizdata at 7:32 PM on July 2, 2013


How do you feel about preserving a MIG 29?


You can't awaken my class consciousness by stroking my aspirational zones. Puts me right in a lumpenslumber.
posted by ocschwar at 7:38 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


But you really have to be the kind of person who masturbates to pictures of trains to even think of this if you're not rich enough to have employees deal with all the crap shit necessary to make it work.


DON'T JUDGE ME.
posted by ocschwar at 7:40 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


ocschwar my fetish has a tidy clinical name. It's called "sadism." I won't judge you on your train fetish if you don't judge me.
posted by localroger at 7:44 PM on July 2, 2013


"... It's not just a claim that you own the toy, it's a claim that you are rich enough to be able to deal with the infrastructure and scheduling requirements of the network on which the toy rides. ..."
posted by localroger at 10:25 PM on July 2

True dat.

And if you are a President-elect of the U.S. of A., making your way, even partially, to Washington on a rail car, on a similar route to that taken by A. Lincoln, that is reason enough for the FAA to divert air traffic all along the route of your journey.

Look, there's money, and then influence, and then national security, and then Presidential security. The last being enough priority, that for once in history, a rail car's itinerary trumped any aircraft's plans.

To have watched B. Obama on parts of that route, that day, you would have had to have booked satellite time, like George Clooney.
posted by paulsc at 7:47 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am sort of surprised that Ellison hasn't made a cameo on Venture Bros. yet, given his level of brilliant misanthropic crankdom and all.

HE HAS AN ACTUAL CAMEO AS HIMSELF IN THAT MYSTERY INC. REBOOT OF SCOOBY DOO THAT IS LIKE SERIOUSLY WAY WAY BETTER THEN IT EVER SHOULD BE.
posted by The Whelk at 8:40 PM on July 2, 2013


( seriously, it's like Venture Brothers for kids)
posted by The Whelk at 8:41 PM on July 2, 2013


About Rich Kids of Instagram, I'm not the kind of person who sees a photo of a beautiful young person hanging out in a beautiful house, or expensive car, or even private plane or yacht and automatically thinks "must eat," but OMG that's a $3500 bottle of vodka.
posted by subdee at 8:49 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


And just like the cheapest shit in the store, it will end up as piss by morning, subdee.
posted by jrochest at 11:44 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the early- to mid-80s, my grandfather ranked high enough in the Indian Railways to have a dedicated saloon car. It was a sumptuous, regal thing -- two bedrooms, a large living-dining room, full kitchen and staff quarters, a proper air conditioner (at a time when they were still out of the reach of the ordinary middle class) and its own little siding and well-maintained platform, just off the State Entry Road gate at New Delhi station.

Between the luxury of this bungalow and my own early rail-nerdery, it was almost too much awesome. We "visited" the saloon often enough, though I spent more time outside, watching the last of India's huge old steam engines chuff through the station.

But the best bit was when I managed to tag along when my grandfather took a sort of grand tour across a large area of the country. In case you haven't travelled by train in India, I'll just say that it can be overwhelming on the senses, both positively and negatively. But in the saloon it was even more surreal. Here we were in the most extreme luxury, stopping at some of the most chaotic and teeming stations in the country. Every time I was allowed to get out during a long stop and wander around at the stations, getting back on was a trip - almost too much of a contrast. Sometimes it was considered too risky to be let out, so I'd just watch the throng through the window, almost feeling like I was on a different planet.

Eventually, my grandfather retired and gave up a whole lot of these official luxuries. He probably misses the massive old bungalow right next to Connaught Place, but personally I just miss that saloon. I've driven to the State Entry Road gate a couple of times and there are still saloon cars there, though it's been so long that I can't tell whether any of them is "ours."
posted by vanar sena at 4:03 AM on July 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


I was going to come in here and talk about how I got to ride in the Canadian National Railway business cars, but then I read vanar sena's post here and his story is way more interesting than mine, my imagination was working the whole time I read his post. Awesome stuff, thanks for sharing!
posted by Vindaloo at 4:13 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


After that, if you have any faith left in the worth of humanity, Rich kids of Instagram will mop it right up.

I'm equally chagrined and pleased that the extraordinarily wealthy look like fucking idiots, to a one.
posted by stenseng at 9:58 AM on July 3, 2013


I spent a summer as car attendant for a Really Rich Guy's (His family held the patent for canned air used in those annoyingly load "safety horns' for sailboats, among other things) private rail car. This is the actual car, slightly changed and renamed since my 1983 sojourns...

Since he was so busy, he didn't have the time to actually ride the car to destinations where he wanted to impress his business associates, so I would actually ride the car and set up the movements necessary to get it where and when it was needed. I would also hire staff (waiters and cooks, or arrange catering) when necessary. I often wore a white dinner jacket and acted as attendant/porter on occasion.

The job did not pay a great deal, especially when you considered the responsibility and the hours, but oh boy, the perks were killer. The owner did not want the car handled on freight trains because of rough handling, the possibilities of graffiti, etc, so we ran almost exclusively on the rear of Amtrak trains. Picture, if you will, a much younger and handsomer me, riding the rails like an oriental potentate, on the back of Amtrak to and from South Florida during spring break.

Like I said, the perks were killer.
posted by pjern at 2:29 PM on July 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


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