Last week, The St. Petersburg Times announced that its employees would have to take a 5 percent pay cut effective Nov. 2.
These are desperate times for newspapers. Some, like The Times, have to produce god-awful Sunday magazines full of fluff in order to attract high-end, upscale advertisers. Not surprisingly, the “articles” often are shameless features on local rich people.
Today’s Sunday “Bay” magazine made me want to vomit. It featured a nine-page spread on the 21,000 square foot home owned by Lisa DeBartolo, daughter of former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr.
Eddie DeBartolo Sr., who died in 1994, made a fortune as one of this country’s first developers of shopping malls. In 1977, he bought the 49ers and handed them off to his son, Eddie Jr., who, like his current Tampa sports neighbors Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, Bryan and Joel Glazer, has lived solely off his old man’s money.
In 1998, Eddie Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court to a felony charge of failing to report that a former governor of Louisiana allegedly extorted $400,000 from him to win a casino license. The episode was largely responsible for Eddie losing control of the 49ers to his sister. A few years later, Eddie moved to Tampa and has since reinvented himself as head of a sports business that represents athletes.
Lisa DeBartolo, like her old man, has led a life of leisure. She spends her days, according to the story, overseeing the family’s charitable foundation, which is to say she directs their tax-deductible giving. She’s married to some guy named Don Miggs, front man for an obscure indie rock band named Miggs, though given the money invested in a home studio, you’d think he was Bono himself.
Describing his studio, Miggs said, “It’s acoustically perfect, better than the Beatles recorded in.” The magazine notes that the studio’s non-parallel walls eliminate echoes and isolate sound. “U2 could record here,” he adds.
Between a new baby and her “work” with the foundation, Lisa DeBartolo is a busy woman. That’s why “personal chef Jay Minzer cooks dinner there five nights a week. Additional staff includes a property manager who lives above the four-car garage and a live-in nanny.”
They have a 12-foot long glass and steel dinner table that “took nine men to lift the 785-poound glass top.”
Miggs notes that the master bedroom is bigger than the house he grew up in and young Milo’s playroom is so large “we do play football in here.”
Lisa has three closets. “One just for shoes and one just for purses,” the magazine notes. “Manolo Blahniks, Jimmy Choos and Pradas fill floor-to-ceiling shelves. (A book lists current inventory.) Clothes hang on pull-down rods categorized by color, style, and season.”
The cedar-lined, walk-in purse closet, which is pictured in the piece, looks like it could hold a queen-sized bed.
“I don’t do drugs and I rarely drink alcohol,” says DeBartolo, noting she gives lots of shoes away, “but I do shoes and purses.”
At least Miggs seems to realize he married well. He notes the photos of Eddie DeBartolo Sr. and Jr., “to remind us of why we have what we have.”
The bulk of the Sunday Times chronicles the shattered economy of the Tampa Bay area, reeling from the real estate collapse, mini-Madoffs, and unemployment that’s estimated at 16 percent. Even in the best of times, it’s a challenging place to live financially given the low per capita income, lack of corporations, and outrageous cost of homeowners insurance.
Then there are the Lisa DeBartolos of Tampa Bay, blissfully ignorant and tone deaf to the rest of the world. She even tweeted to “check out the article on us.”
The St. Pete Times does not put its Bay magazine online. No doubt its editors are ashamed of the crap they have to produce to attract advertising in these brutal times.