culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Thursday, January 16, 2003
Last week I wrote about "
cracker chic," the phenomenon of wealthy people building million-dollar houses that are intentionally distressed to look like poor people's homes.

This new cultural wrinkle, featuring residential design as a weapon of class warfare or at least class insult, has haunted me ever since. The passage below, from the originally quoted article, has literally kept me awake at night:
The desire to get "back to the basics" is what drew Fort Worth native Michelle Coslik and her husband Steve to a two-story, $1 million vacation home in WaterColor, which is being developed by the homebuilding subsidiary of Jacksonville-based St. Joe Co.

Ms. Coslik's home features 1,000 square feet of screened-in porch. The screen door is made of mahogany and fitted with hinges that mute the slam into a sort of soft thud that one WaterColor marketing executive describes as "the sound of growing up in the South." The cost of the door, including handle, is $700.

Ms. Coslik, 36, isn't using her porch to escape the heat as the early settlers once did. She has air conditioning for that. For her, the porch is a place to meditate and practice Yoga. "When I think cracker," she says, "I think of getting back to the essence and away from material aspects of life."
It is the image of Michelle Coslik, meditating and practicing her yoga on her enormous screen porch while thinking sublime thoughts about southern poor folk, that resonates so strongly for me as a symbol of what has gone wrong with our country. It has bothered me ever since because I can visualize her blithe ignorance so clearly.

And so I asked myself: Who is Michelle Coslik?

We know from the article that she is the 36-year-old wife of Steve Coslik. They live in Fort Worth. They have a million-dollar vacation home in WaterColor, a development 30 miles outside Panama City in the Florida Panhandle, where developers are going beyond architecture to offer the "cracker experience." She wants to "get back to basics." She had a $700 door custom-made to evoke "the sound of growing up in the South." She has air conditioning, but prefers to practice yoga on her screened-in cracker porch.

But I needed to know more. What are Steve and Michelle Coslik like? Where did their money come from? What do they believe in? Michelle Coslik, the meditating wife on her cracker porch, my perfect symbol of ignorant vanity, needed to be fleshed out in my imagination. And so I turned as I would for any potential object of my curiosity to the source: Google.

Cracker husband Steve Coslik is the Chairman of The Woodmont Company, a nationwide real estate services firm, where he handled acquisition, negotiation and development of 11.6 million square feet of retail, office and industrial space. The 51-year-old owner of the $1 million cracker vacation home also enjoys running (#124) and damaging wetlands.

She and husband Steve have given at least $10,000 to Fort Worth's Bruce Wood Dance Company. In my mind's eye, I can see Michelle Coslik practicing her dance stretches on her cracker porch. But, alas, she is 36! Perhaps young enough to serve as the trophy wife of a real estate magnate fifteen years her senior, but too old for an aspiring dancer. If only she were younger and more limber — like the poor but chic (and doubtlessly photogenic) cracker wife she wishes she could be.

She and husband Steve are on the advisory board of the Sedona Intensive program, a self-described "Personal Growth Alternative Therapy," that allows its adherents to "finally break the grasp of addictions, compulsive behavior, and egocentric patterns. Resolve relationship conflicts."

Is that all the Sedona Initiative does? No, no, no. "To really hear God we need to clear away the static which clouds the channels God often uses to speak to us. After you clear away toxic blocks to the Creator, we will teach you to understand The New Language."

The New Language? Is that Orwell-speak for communication among God-sanctioned class warriors? Well, yes:
What the five days, or more, in Sedona will ultimately do for you is teach you The New Language — how to listen to God and get answers to your prayers, to know that you are on the right track even when plagued by worry, doubt and uncertainty.

Many years ago, after many personal struggles, I believe I began to hear God and experience His presence in the world around me, and my own life improved tremendously. I believe that God wants all of us to have a tie-in to Him. Knowing The New Language makes that possible.

But first, you must put the plug in the jug. Get clean. Get help with sexual addiction. Face compulsive/obsessive disorders. Surrender and clear your control dramas.
Clearing your control dramas evidently means submitting to guru Albert Clayton Gaulden, mentor to James Redfield of The Celestine Prophesy fame.
Gaulden refers to his methodology as "clearing," which is not to be confused with the term used by Scientology.

As a recovering alcoholic, sober for more than 22 years, he uses his honed intuition and Jungian archetypes to speed the plow of the process. Fearless and tough, Gaulden steers the prodigals who come to Sedona toward a powerful and personal relationship with the God within.
The Sedona Intensive, prodigal Michelle Coslik's faith-based luxury spa, has many delightful features:
On a typical day, you will attend a 12-step meeting, consult with a spiritual psychologist, relax with a hot lava rock massage, take a yoga class and receive a Network Chiropractic adjustment.

In addition you will breathe through core issues with a transformational breath worker, unwind in a Jacuzzi or steam room after meditation hikes through majestic Red Rock country.
When her muscles tense from stressful meetings with her cracker interior designer, Michelle likes to relax with a hot lava rock massage. Yoga is Michelle's favorite way of exploring the God within. If she inhales too much faux cracker dust into her lungs, her transformational breath worker is just a quick jet ride away. The Jacuzzi helps wash away the expensive cracker dust from her delicate pores. The "spiritual psychologist" must be useful in helping to calm the troubled seas of Michelle's soul, even in the comfort of her cracker home.

After my exhausting research, I feel that I now know Michelle Coslik much better. And, believe me, it was worth the time. Using my honed intuition and Jungian archetypes, I am beginning to understand her. I can even detect the faint silhouette of the God within her. Given the burden of her wealth, I can almost sympathize with the shallow, hateful disrespect she feels for poor people — the cracker lifestyle she finds so chic.

Speaking of "control dramas," we're engaged in one right now. WaterColor, the cracker chic development of vacation residences for millionaires who aim to make poverty more picturesque, is one of the enclaves of faith-based and wealth-based insanity that now characterizes the USA. The Cosliks represent the kind of brain-poor but asset-rich people the Republican "stimulus package" is designed to benefit.

Cracker chic is class warfare, and the blissful, ignorant and wealthy Michelle and Steve Coslik are the enemy.

Greatest Hits · Alternatives to First Command Financial Planning · First Command, last resort, Part 3 · Part 2 · Part 1 · Stealing $50K from a widow: Wells Real Estate · Leo Wells, REITs and divine wealth · Sex-crazed Red State teenagers · What I hate: a manifesto · Spawn of Darleen Druyun · All-American high school sex party · Why is Ken Lay smiling? · Poppy's Enron birthday party · The Saudi money laundry and the president's uncle · The sentence of Enron's John Forney · The holiness of Neil Bush's marriage · The Silence of Cheney: a poem · South Park Christians · Capitalist against Bush: Warren Buffett · Fastow childen vs. Enron children · Give your prescription money to your old boss · Neil Bush, hard-working matchmaker · Republicans against fetuses and pregnant women · Emboldened Ken Lay · Faith-based jails · Please die for me so I can skip your funeral · A brief illustrated history of the Republican Party · Nancy Victory · Soldiers become accountants · Beware the Merrill Lynch mob · Darleen Druyun's $5.7 billion surprise · First responder funding · Hoovering the country · First Command fifty percent load · Ken Lay and the Atkins diet · Halliburton WMD · Leave no CEO behind · August in Crawford · Elaine Pagels · Profitable slave labor at Halliburton · Tom Hanks + Mujahideen · Sharon & Neilsie Bush · One weekend a month, or eternity · Is the US pumping Iraqi oil to Kuwait? · Cheney's war · Seth Glickenhaus: Capitalist against Bush · Martha's blow job · Mark Belnick: Tyco Catholic nut · Cheney's deferred Halliburton compensation · Jeb sucks sugar cane · Poindexter & LifeLog · American Family Association panic · Riley Bechtel and the crony economy · The Book of Sharon (Bush) · The Art of Enron · Plunder convention · Waiting in Kuwait: Jay Garner · What's an Army private worth? · Barbara Bodine, Queen of Baghdad · Sneaky bastards at Halliburton · Golf course and barbecue military strategy · Enron at large · Recent astroturf · Cracker Chic 2 · No business like war business · Big Brother · Martha Stewart vs. Thomas White · Roger Kimball, disappointed Republican poetry fan · Cheney, Lay, Afghanistan · Terry Lynn Barton, crimes of burning · Feasting at the Cheney trough · Who would Jesus indict? · Return of the Carlyle Group · Duct tape is for little people · GOP and bad medicine · Sears Tower vs Mt Rushmore · Scared Christians · Crooked playing field · John O'Neill: The man who knew · Back to the top

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