“I want to create my own little world”|“I like living here, I love it.”
May 14, 2018 12:04 AM   Subscribe

Two Op-Docs by Lance Oppenheim for The New York Times: posted by Going To Maine (24 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
For a guy who allegedly runs "an online investment business" he's surprisingly hard to Google. If this were an Agatha Christie story he'd be running some sort of a scam - probably seducing wifows and heiresses. As it's real life, I presume he's just figured that living on a ship is actually not all that expensive if you don't need to pay for life on land, too.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:50 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


is it me, or is it saddening that the above links read as if they view both sets of living arrangements (permenant cruise, and corporate motor home) as aspirational?
posted by Faintdreams at 3:41 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I think it's aspirational for some; everyone has a different way that they want to live. I'm not sure how well the documentary makers managed to bring this out of their subjects, or communicate it to a wider audience.
posted by carter at 4:36 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Super Mario's 'friends' mostly seem to be cruise line employees who are professionally obligated to be friendly with him.
posted by srboisvert at 4:54 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


I can see where the perma-cruise could be legitimately aspirational (hey! permanent vacation!), but the pilots living out of airport parking lots seems aspirational only in terms of no longer sharing a small apartment with seven other pilots, which is also a common arrangement.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:58 AM on May 14


For a guy who allegedly runs "an online investment business" he's surprisingly hard to Google. If this were an Agatha Christie story he'd be running some sort of a scam - probably seducing wifows and heiresses. As it's real life, I presume he's just figured that living on a ship is actually not all that expensive if you don't need to pay for life on land, too.

I was hoping for a mysterious backstory also, but you are probably right. I've had slightly similar thoughts before a few times when I have realized that a budget vacation hotel we were staying at was considerably cheaper per night than our regular cost of living.

Having watched both of the videos, I don't think they are being presented as particularly aspirational, aside from the basic fantasy of escaping one's regular life and its constraints. Both videos strongly emphasize how lonely and disconnected the people being profiled are and set a rather wistful tone. Whether that loneliness is because or in spite of the non-traditional living situations isn't directly addressed in the videos, though, and there is a lot left unexplored.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:28 AM on May 14


Whether that loneliness is because or in spite of the non-traditional living situations isn't directly addressed in the videos, though
Or the root of the desire for the non-traditional living situations?
posted by cardioid at 5:40 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


“But there is no Fox News on Royal.”

o_O

I had never considered that I might enjoy a cruise.
posted by slipthought at 5:49 AM on May 14 [9 favorites]


> As it's real life, I presume he's just figured that living on a ship is actually not all that expensive if you don't need to pay for life on land, too.

Except that he does: He's got a condo in Miami, which means property fees, association fees, and utilities. Plus possibly a mortgage. And he has a car as well, which means insurance, maintenance, registration and inspection fees, and possibly garage fees if it's being parked in an urban area -- even possibly at his condo.

If he was a career investment banker, this still means a life lived more cheaply than his peers who have spouses (and possibly ex-spouses receiving alimony) and children who, according to the social norms of their class, are attending public school and being groomed to attend one of the Ivies. And probably multiple residences, whether for reasons of work, personal interest, or family. Exchanging that life for the monotony of a perpetual vacation cruise is a far different notion of "living cheaply" than the average mefite assumes.

On the other hand, he's ahead of his peers in global warming preparedness.
posted by at by at 5:57 AM on May 14


I met Bea my first week working aboard a ship. Other staff warned me that she could be grouchy or curt, and I certainly found that to be the case. But she also exuded a kind of romance, especially when I would run into her in the evening out walking on the deck. I lost track of her after I left that job, but at least according to the Cunard staff gossip boards, she lived on QE2 for about a decade.

(Insert joke here about a woman doing it first but not getting the credit)
posted by minervous at 6:23 AM on May 14 [7 favorites]


There's also the Google employee turning a truck into a tiny apartment in the parking lot.
posted by eye of newt at 7:20 AM on May 14


Another article mentioned him budgeting 60-70k per year, which isn't exactly economical, but not that much either given food, lodging, and entertainment are included.
posted by tavella at 7:49 AM on May 14


I was on the Enchantment of the Seas in October and of course we saw Mario, whom I learned about via the cruising boards. I tried to get my mother to hook up with him. He'd be the perfect stepdad - away all the time with an empty condo in Miami AND a bank of points we could use to cruise wherever we wanted? Mom declined because she is far classier than I am.
posted by kimberussell at 7:49 AM on May 14 [18 favorites]


When I was a freshly MLIS-ed baby librarian, I applied for what I thought would be my dream job: Cruise Ship Librarian. Sail the seven seas! Find the perfect Nora Roberts Trilogy for my patrons to read while sitting on the Sunlight Deck! Eat delicious food and sleep every night lulled by the gentle waves! Meet fascinating people! See exotic lands! Set a course for adventure, your mind on a new romance! It's the love boat! (maybe)

I didn't get an interview, but after thinking about it I'm glad that I didn't. Cruise ship employment is a rough job. Long hours, living where you work, low pay. I imagine that after a while I would have gotten bored with helping an endless stream of vacationers looking for the latest potboiler or cozy mystery or just something to lay on the table next to them as they pass out by the pool. And no matter how you spin it, I'd be spending the vast majority of my time on a tiny boat in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by an ever-changing cast of characters and my co-workers.

Mario's life is not one I would choose, but I'm glad that he found his bliss.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:54 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Mom declined because she is far classier than I am.

Maybe she just didn't want to cut you in on a deal where she's doing all the work?
posted by biffa at 8:06 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


I worked for Lance (the director) on a narrative short recently! Fantastic dude and an amazing film maker.
posted by backlikeclap at 8:12 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


It seems like it could be an interesting case study not only about his private misery, but the confusion of those writing/reading about him on the subject of his well-being, since his "dream life" is the sum of so many of our common aspirations - wealth, business success, individuality, travel as expression of the ultimate leisure. He's this dynamo of cultural ambivalence... he has what we want! He must be so happy! He doesn't seem all that happy. He's secretly miserable! Let's get him! Do I pity him? What is going on?

I like how cruises are problematic in this way. Like, perhaps there are people who enjoy them, people who hate them, and overlapping these categories are a subset of people who cannot believe the people who enjoy them really enjoy them and aren't just vacation signaling in a sea of misery, people who guiltily enjoy them yet feel they shouldn't, and those who hate themselves for having tried to enjoy a cruise yet were unable to, but can't shake their own aspirations of all the components that make up the cruise lifestyle but only seem to add up to endless cruises. How unsettling for it to be OK to want something but not to actually have it.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 8:17 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


For a guy who allegedly runs "an online investment business" he's surprisingly hard to Google.

I suspect that answering "I am on a permanent cruise and handle some investments" when your tablemates ask what you do would be a heck of a marketing hook.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:13 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


There's also the Google employee turning a truck into a tiny apartment in the parking lot.

I just followed the links to his blog, and it sounds like he is having second thoughts about his lifestyle these days.

"Super Mario" sounds like he's doing what he wants, but the pilots and this fellow at Google sound like they're trying to put a brave face on something that is secretly an economic necessity.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:19 AM on May 14


Mario seems to spend a lot of time back to the world, looking into a laptop, comforted by a cigarette and drink.
posted by marvin at 11:42 AM on May 14


Super Mario's 'friends' mostly seem to be cruise line employees who are professionally obligated to be friendly with him.

Mario seems to spend a lot of time back to the world, looking into a laptop, comforted by a cigarette and drink.


Agreed, he is living the dream.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:18 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


Mario's life is not one I would choose, but I'm glad that he found his bliss.

But that's just it, right? Mario says he's the happiest man, and he's clearly comfortable, but the happiest? No -- he makes the statement with a slightly ironic, wistful tone, and behind his empty stare I sense longing for a missing someone, or something, which he's not talking about, that's gone forever, never to be re-acquired, and now he's just killing time. It's unfortunate, Mario, but Life is Loss.
posted by Rash at 3:04 PM on May 14


I don't know. I'm a pretty happy guy, but people to seem to think I'm not. Maybe Mario and I just have some weird affect, you know?
posted by Chrysostom at 2:11 PM on May 23


I don't know. I'm a pretty happy guy, but people to seem to think I'm not. Maybe Mario and I just have some weird affect, you know?

There’s an interesting question about what we expect happiness to look like on film and what it actually looks like. It’s not a new question, but it will forever persist. Is that guy a loner because he’s unstable, or because he likes doing his own thing?
posted by Going To Maine at 4:55 PM on May 23


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