The Bradley-Martin Ball in New York City, Gilded Age,1897 Pt. 1.

The Bradley-Martin Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City was a lavish affair that marked the pinnacle of Gilded Age social events.

A socialite by the name of Cornelia Bradley-Martin, in a scheme that can only come from inhaling the ether of burning money, sought to alleviate the economic conditions of the city of New York by holding a lavish fête wherein the theme would be costumes and depictions of royalty throughout history.

So, let’s summarize that scheme very quickly: economic depression, solution?, masquerade ball in which the richest in the city pretend to be monarchs of old. Thank god we started to push for universal education because this is so devoid of any sort of real world logic that it really paints a stark picture of Gilded Age society: namely, a society composed of haves and have-nots to the point where the detachment between the two is so great that something like this could be seen as a way to help the other.

The event was so lavish, in fact, that attendees arrived to the ball without their costumes on and changed into their costumes on the inside. The windows of the Waldorf-Astoria were papered over so that no one could see the decadence within and police stood guard at the entrance in case a ‘mob’ formed. Bradley-Martin held the ball on short notice so as to insure that all the costuming would be done within New York City and its environs, thus through ‘trickle down’ economics helping the lot of those who would not attend the ball.

The costumes and decor were breathtaking according to accounts, with some featuring diamonds as buttons, pearls and gemstones sewn into the fabric and antiques to capture the feel of being in the Trianon. Today, we have something similar happening although far-removed from the Gilded Age Bradley-Martin ball in that Mrs. Bradley-Martin didn’t come to wealth on the back of her sex-tape and reality show. Yes, Kim Kardashian is having her own Bradley-Martin affair today, and the news media is completely in her thrall. I don’t understand why such things are idolized and posited as aspirational. It is such an empty, shallow affair. With the economy of the United States in the shape it is currently in,echoes of the Gilded Age seem to abound.

I have no problem with Kim Kardashian’s money or how she got it really. What I do have a problem with is her crass, gauche manner of comporting herself in society. It has nothing to do with concepts of ‘class’ or elegance, rather, it has everything to do with decency and acknowledgement that those ‘fans’ of hers may never taste a $20,000 wedding cake. She’s not Kate Middleton, a fact lost on everyone including herself. How can it not be awkward when you are trying to compete with Prince William’s wedding? Unlike Kim Kardashian, the Prince’s wedding was a show of British prestige and monarchial tradition.

Whether one supports the monarchy or not, it was an event akin to the inauguration of the president. I just wish that Americans would wake up, put their shoulder to the wheel, and discard garbage like this. It doesn’t do anything for anyone. How can we call ourselves Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist or what have you when we think $20,000 for a wedding cake is chill? Is her beauty really so astounding as to necessitate all this hoopla?

Some say she’s akin to Elizabeth Taylor, except for Elizabeth Taylor actually had some talent and contributed to society. I’m sure Kim is convinced of whatever bullshit she does is contributing in a healthy way to the development of society and the expectations of young women in this economic reality. Some say the wedding is only promo for herself and her ventures, of which I can think of only one, a tv show. That’s sad.