Oct 27 2005

Twisty In TVLand


Yesterday, in order to keep from putrefying around the Twisty bungalow like a lazy old tumor, I went on a house tour with my brother-in-law, who is some kind of real estate dude. The tour is called The Parade of Homes. The name of the tour, I discovered, is a bit misleading, since it is the tourists, rather than the homes, who do most of the parading.

The four model houses which I and my fellow paraders paid $12 a head to inspect were all in the same chi-chi subdivision in Lakeway, which is a suburb of Austin reserved for white people with dough. The houses were two- or three-million-dollar, 6000 sq. ft. fake Tuscan villas, and, I am sorry to say, were some of the ugliest dwellings I have ever had the misfortune to parade around.

The subdivision spotlighted by The Parade Of Homes was called TVs At The Oaks.

That’s because every house had a TV in every room. I’ve been in Best Buys that had fewer TVs. They were all hi-def plasma TVs, too. Some of the TVs retracted into the floor. Some of the TVs were hidden behind motorized paintings. Some of the TVs were fitted with their own TVs.

One house had a master bathroom that resembled St. Peter’s basilica, only bigger, and had, I kid you not, three TVs. In one bathroom! Three TVs!

All the houses had infinity-edge pools, covered terraces with fireplaces, waterfalls, outdoor kitchens and hot tubs. There were 2 or 3 TVs on each terrace. That’s alotta TVs.

All the houses had media rooms, too. Media rooms are dark, carpeted dens with giant TV screens covering entire walls, surround sound, full kitchens with TVs in them, bathrooms with TVs in them, and black leather reclining theater chairs with TVs in them. For some reason, these media rooms with the giant TVs depressed me even more than the fake Tuscanity of the exteriors.

When I got home, I ran to the bathroom (because they didn’t let you pee in any of the $2 million houses), where I felt severely under-TVed. A quick inventory revealed that there was not a single TV in my bathroom. Not one.

When I got back to my desk I ordered one.


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  1. Emma Goldman

    Several questions:

    1. Why with the TVs? Really. Why? Three in one bathroom? I do not understand. Then again, I’ve watched so little television that I am sorely behind the times, and perhaps there are so many good shows on that one must have multiple TVs to watch them all.

    2. WTF is an “infinity-edge” pool?

    3. This is a comment, rather than a question, despite its appearing in a question list, but I think that I would have had to take a shower after a tour like that. Or something. Of course, I probably would have been asked to step away from the parade, because of my increasingly rude commentary, so I have to give you a round of applause for sticking it out.

  2. peacebug

    damn, twisty, you should have used the TV-land toilet.

    a college friend worked secret service detail in the reagan white house. I went to visit and he took me on a tour, after hours, natch. we strolled up the empty hallway to the oval office and gaped. later as we were heading out, I decided to use the facilities, pretty proud of myself, too, thinking I was using ray-guns toilet. turned out it was HW’s.

    they have *really* soft toilet paper in the white house.

  3. MsKate

    Sounds less luxe and more 1984! How long until all those TVs do more than feed 24/7 propaganda into all of our heads and start spying on us?

    Ya gotta wonder.

  4. Joolya

    That is so gross. Although it would be kind of nice to have a TV in the bathroom for those long bathroom use occasions. Or a book. Yeah, a book is probably better. Or a DVD player. A DVD player in the bathroom would be better than just a TV.
    But actually that is just sick. (Sick in a bad way.)
    I would have peed in the pool.

  5. kabbage

    Wow, these houses are for people who are bound and determined not to interact with anything real/natural, including live human beings, aren’t they? I’m with Emma — probably would’ve been kicked out for the snide comments or for becoming physically ill and spewing out of one or more orifices during the tour.

    I’m 44, and I have never in my life purchased a TV. I have one, sort of, because a friend (her income is roughly 1/3 of mine) insisted I take it when she downsized out of a single-wide into her travel trailer. No antenna, no cable, in the basement, so a little limited in the reception department.

    As for books in the bathroom, I regard those as one of the great privilieges of living the single life. When I get over 6 or 7 books in there, I think about moving some to another room.

  6. Sylvanite

    Heh. I remember when I was replacing my 13″ TV with a larger one that was set up to take a DVD player (I was primarily interested in getting a DVD player), everyone immediately said to me,”Oh, good. Now you can have a TV in your bedroom!” Why would I need a TV in my bedroom? I’m single. It’s not like I need to retreat to the bedroom because of programming conflicts with a spouse. I like my bedroom without a TV. If I want to watch something in bed, I can watch my fish.

  7. laughingmuse

    Boyfriend and I recently bought a new TV – although right now it doesn’t get TV channel reception, we just watch DVDs on it, which is kind of nice. The smallest one at our local “Best Buy” was I think a 24″ or 25″ TV, which is what we ended up getting – the cheapest one there. By the way, I think it’s huge!

    The big plasma wall-mounted TVs scared me. I don’t want life-size (or nearly) images climbing around on my wall!

    Huzzah for the modern Luddite-esque lifestyle, I tell you what.

  8. PrissyNot

    I refused to have a tv in the house until my daughter was 8 years old, when the man I lived with and my daughter ganged up on me. Suddenly there were three televisions in one small house. One in the living room, one in our bedroom and one in her bedroom! Never again! We own one now, but I can go days without even opening the doors to the entertainment unit that hide it away from us. Of course, I DO look at a computer screen most of the day . . . does that count?

  9. kathy a

    do people who can actually buy a multi-zillion dollar home have to pay the $12?

    the retracting and hidden tv’s are a nice touch — so the owners don’t *look* like the kind of tacky people who have a tv in every room…. but isn’t the media room a little redundant?

    guess they have to do something to fill the 6000 square feet, but did they ever consider people might have different hobbies and needs? this would have been a much more fun real estate report if houses had offered options: library, indoor pool, basketball court, mini-golf course, quilter’s paradise, museum space suitable for garage-sale finds AND that collection of plastic sushi models, auto shop, the mother of all junk rooms, etc.

  10. Anonymous

    I love this blog. I really look forward to reading your posts. You’re one of the few people in this world (outside of my family) that makes sense to me.

  11. Ron Sullivan

    Would I be in danger of acquiring a reputation for a certain kind of naivete if I said, “You’re making this up!”?

    OK, I really just wanted to crash some punctuation together.

  12. deja pseu

    The spousal unit makes fun of my bathroom reading habits. He’d probably be thrilled to be able to watch TV while taking a crap. He has many redeeming qualities, however.

  13. deja pseu

    Oh, and Damn! that be one ugly house.

  14. Kate

    Welcome to my day job. Writing about rich buggers and their TVs. Proving time and time again that money does not buy you taste, or good sense, or anything at all beyond godawful faux tuscan mansions in horrible housing tracts.

    I say: eat the rich!

  15. bitchphd

    My spousal unit once had a tv in the bathroom. Drove me nuts. His dream was to have a tv in every room in the house, even. Slowly, slowly, I have worn him down to only two tvs. Which I gotta admit is convenient for watching movies at night in bed, even though in theory I’d like to go down to one. In a basement room. Even though I do actually kind of like tv. Or maybe *because* I do kind of actually like tv.

    My, I’m rambling on, aren’t I? I think I’m overtired. Anyway, yeah, I clicked on the house pic and man. It’s like a $12 tour of seriously bad overdesigned taste. Which I guess is probably more amusing than a $12 tour of places one would actually want to live in, which would only make one feel kind of wistful or envious.

    Ok, shutting up now.

  16. Tony Patti

    They need all those TVs on all over the house at all times so they won’t miss a minute of Fox News.

    I can’t believe people have TVs in their bedrooms. How can you read “Within A Budding Grove” with a TV blaring?

  17. Chris Clarke

    I read this and then went about my daily business, which involved a perfectly good Thai meal and then a quick subsequent trip to the grocery store.

    In the produce section of the grocery store was a big honking flat-screen television tuned to the produce ad channel.

    I was still shaking my head about Produce TV when I put my purchases on the belt, looked up, and saw that every single checkout line had a television mounted on the cash register so that you could not stand in line without watching TV.

    Developments like this will someday get me mentioned in the newspaper. And the story will likely culminate in the phrase “…and then turned the gun on himself.”

  18. Indri

    God, at first I thought you were talking about transvestites, and I got all excited. I’d happily live in a house with a transvestite in every room.

    Then I realized what you really meant.

    I work in some of these homes, catering parties, and they never fail to depress the hell out of me. Although seeing that the people who live in them are not necessarily any happier than my working-poor ass has done a lot towards innoculating me against envy of the wealthy.

  19. Christine

    A couple of things that tick me off. TVs in kitchens and TVs in bedrooms of children under the age of 16.

    Growing up, we couldn’t have the TV or radio on during dinner and now you can get a refrigerator with a built in TV? Why oh why is that necessary?

    And I know young children (nieces included) that can’t possibly fall asleep without the TV on. And heaven forbid you turn it off before dawn, not being on will wake them up when they finally do fall asleep.

  20. alex

    I am reminded–unpleasantly–of Farenheit 451.

    And what the hell do people do with 6,000 square feet? My partner and I are living in a 700 square foot house right now, which is definitely too small. We’d like something twice as big! But all the modern houses are oversized monstrosities…

    I blame our populations’ inability to think critically. Deciding what sort of house is “better” is very subjective, requiring the purchaser to balance their families’ needs, price, location, etc. Any fool who can fasten the velcro on his own shoes can pick out “bigger” and “shinier”.

  21. toby

    I woulda gone crazy in a house with so many unblinking eyes for even that short period of time, how does one stand it? TVs flat on the walls remind me of “F. 451.” No need to burn the books no one is reading them anyhow, or they are all in Kabbage’s bathroom ;). The doors on the TV cabinet around here remain closed most of the time, although I am not going to mention the TV in the bathroom thing to the dude, because he might stop bringing the guitar in there with him, a habit that I always got a kick out of, and go out and buy a tv instead.

  22. ae

    _Farenheit 451_ is exactly what I think about when ubiquitous TVs are mentioned (or seen). It creeped me out then, and it creeps me out now.

    Is it unending loneliness? A lack of imagination? What? What?? I am so noise averse that the mere idea of blaring televisions is enough to give me the vapors.

    Chris Clarke, I hear you.

  23. Ron Sullivan

    …television mounted on the cash register…

    Now you’re making it up.



    I swear to god, if it weren’t for birds I’d never leave Berkeley again.

  24. Emma Goldman

    So I’ll ask again, because I really have no idea: what is an infinity-edge pool?

  25. Twisty

    It’s sort of hard to describe, but the infinity edge pool supplies the illusion that it more or less vanishes into the horizon, or that it appears to be contained by thin air on one side, when in actuality the water is running over a slightly recessed edge into a trough below. It only works when the pool is cantilevered into a hillside.

  26. kate.d.

    i feel like if the tv debate isn’t enough (to have? not to have? how many? 2.2?), then there’s the damn DVR issue. i feel like my boyfriend and i are the last people in the civilized world to not have tivo, or the comcast equivalent of tivo, or whatever. people act like i’m liking in the time of gas lanterns for having to watch tv “in real time.”

    what’s even more sad is that i predict that we will cave within a year. god forbid we be left behind by the technology train! damn.

  27. alphabitch

    I watch DVDs sometimes on my laptop. There are precisely zero TV sets in my house. I’ve never purchased a TV. We didn’t have one in the house most of the time when I was growing up. I never acquired the ability to watch television the way most people do; I lack some essential filter that most people seem to have. If I’m in a place where one is playing, I have to just sit and watch it. I can’t have a conversation or eat my lunch or even ride the damn stationary bike at the gym. It’s as if my brain falls off and bounces on the floor.

    It’s difficult to explain to people that yes, I can afford to buy a television set and no, I don’t want one. Hostile, defensive, and even slightly angry responses to my TVlessness are far far more numerous, than negative responses of any kind (at least to my face) to my completely not-secret queerness. To the point sometimes that I prefer not to mention it to people any more.

  28. danthelawyer

    Reminds that, sometimes, when I and the spousal unit get back from visiting the house of someone whose house we have not heretofore visited, spouse and I turn to each other and say, “Where were all the books?”

    Seems many folks indeed have the big-ass TV, plus numerous smaller (“little-ass”?) TVs, and — count them — zero books. This I do not understand. If you don’t have books, you don’t have Feminism and Vegetarianism, or even Howard Zinn.

    I have spouse, two kids, and thousands (yes, literally) of books.

    We have a TV. We do not, however, have TV reception: instead, we have Netflix. I confess we sometimes watch DVDs of old TV shows. But we watch them when we want to, and without commercials.

    I don’t watch sports. I run, or walk, or bike, or do one of those things with the kids, or some other damn thing.

    And here’s the other thing: if you have Tivo, why do you need a TV by the toilet? Isn’t that there only so you don’t have to miss a minute of bullshit while you crap? But doesn’t Tivo pause the bullshit for you while you crap?

    Oh, Twisty, did they have TVs by the pool?

  29. Twisty

    Yes. Yes, there were TVs by the pool. Large waterproof TVs.

  30. M

    If only I could conquer this ‘Dr Who’ addiction then I too could be TV free. Curse you, quality BBC Sci-Fi output! Curse you!

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