Before the market crashed and home prices tumbled, before federal investigators showed up and hauled away the community records, before her property managers pled guilty for conspiring to rig neighborhood elections, and before her real estate lawyer allegedly tried to commit suicide by overdosing on drugs and setting fire to her home, Wanda Murray thought that buying a condominium in Las Vegas was a pretty good idea.
When Tupac was riddled with bullets just off the Las Vegas Strip in 1996, yet another city was added to the long list of those that have claims on him: Baltimore, Oakland, New York, Los Angeles, Marin City. As the list's last entry, Las Vegas became the one people would least like to remember. Strangely, the city already had a street named after him—or so it would appear to us now.
The lecture hall is packed. The elephant-gray room is set up like a mini-arena to allow for maximum capacity and good acoustics. It’s new but generic — there are probably a million of these very same tank-like spaces in universities around the world. The concrete step I’m sitting on cuts into my back as I shuffle my feet to make room for the other kids and parents who are streaming in.
Let me tell you about this one stretch of Hillsborough Road in Durham, North Carolina. It’s between two freeways, just a short drive from the noble towers of Duke University, and in the space of about a mile, you will find a McDonald’s, a Cracker Barrel, a Wendy’s, a Chick-fil-A, an Arby’s, a Waffle House, a Bojangles’, a Biscuitville, a Subway, a Taco Bell, and a KFC.
Harold Evans, the publisher of Random House, calls me at The New Yorker, where I work. “I’d like to have a word with you,” he says. “Can we have coffee sometime, perhaps?” It is 1995, and Evans and I have met at parties given by his wife, who happens to be Tina Brown, who happens to be the editor of The New Yorker.
Jack Abraham’s taxi came to a stop. It was Saturday night, Feb. 17, 2012 — around 7:30 p.m. Outside the cab, it was dark and in the low 40s. Abraham had arrived at San Francisco Airport. He had just barely enough time to make his flight. Still, he hesitated, momentarily glued to the seat as the momentousness of what he was about to do fully dawned on him.
“Are you crazy?” he asked himself, out loud.
Just before 8 this September evening, the guests are herded into a ballroom with onyx-lined walls, where they’re welcomed by wavy-haired Thomas Pritzker, the billionaire executive chairman of the Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels chain. He invites everybody to join him in a toast to his new inn. “We think we have created the finest product in New York,” Pritzker says.