According to his Connecticut Realtor and several items in the press, Beck and his family have sold their colonial estate in blue-blooded New Haven and have rented a $20,000-per-month spread in Westlake, just up the road a piece from where I live in Arlington.
Currently owned by Major League Baseball outfielder Jorge Piedra and his Swarovski heiress wife, the house north of Fort Worth has been on the market for a couple of years already. No word on whether it's a lease-to-buy arrangement, or if the Becks will simply be using Westlake as home base while they scout out a more permanent homestead here.
After all, Beck won't exactly feel out of place in north Texas. A lot of Tea Partiers live around these parts - far more than stalk the concrete canyons of Manhattan, or even glide around Connecticut's discretely wealthy villages in unpretentious American-made sedans. Beck talked recently about being heckled in New York's urbane Bryant Park, but I suspect real New Yorkers - not the tourists and transient twentysomethings who flock to that area around the New York Public Library - probably don't even know what he looks like, because they never watch his show.
Kinda like me. I'm not a real New Yorker, nor am I an unmitigated liberal. But regular readers of this blog know that I'm not the type to fall for his nonsensical nostalgia and regurgitated talk show rhetoric. He's a Mormon masquerading as an evangelical, a multi-millionaire masquerading as an ordinary everyman, and a marginally-educated pontificator masquerading as an expert on American history.
It's amazing he never found his niche up there in Gotham.
Actually, Beck may be the kind of guy I wouldn't mind having as a neighbor, but I don't expect we'd be having each other over for dinner much.
Plenty of folks cheered when another big-time conservative, George W. Bush, moved back to Dallas' swanky Preston Hollow, a neighborhood bristling with expansive estates and grand mansions. Although I've heard Beck isn't exactly a devoted fan of the former president, I don't think Texans put too much stock in evaluating the nuanced differences between Republicans. As long as you're not a Democrat, you're considered a good ol' boy.
Although the good ol' boy who moved into Preston Hollow acted like a fat guy trying to fit into the middle seat in coach. The Bushes purchased an elegant $2 million home in a more densely-developed part of Preston Hollow, and then tore down the $1 million house next door to have more open space. Since their neighborhood wasn't a gated community, they paid to have a privacy gate installed on their street to appease the jittery Secret Service and the well-heeled neighbors who weren't used to gawkers traipsing all over their well-manicured lawns. Sure, they had every right to make themselves at home, and they paid for all of it themselves. I just wonder why the Bushes couldn't have found a $3 million estate with all of the security and space they've otherwise had to manufacture.
Definitely not the type of neighbors I'd have over much for dinner.
At least the Becks are going to what's supposedly a gated community which is already home to the family of the musical Jonas brothers. Not that they'll have to deal with security like the Bushes do, since most of the people who can't stand Beck don't have the chutzpah to ram his gate or inflict bodily harm.
Westlake's own website pretty much tells you all you need to know about their community:
"Minutes from downtown Fort Worth, the Town of Westlake is home to several upscale residential communities and Fortune 500 companies, all of which share a unique character and charm, along with a commitment to excellence... From the highest development standards of a meticulously master planned community to the highly sought after Westlake Academy, residents and visitors have come to expect the very best a community can offer."
It all sounds good, until you get to the "meticulously master planned community" part, which to most Tea Partiers, probably sounds like government regulation and intrusion. Thank goodness Beck is only renting there!
Riding Off Into the Sunset?
With some news reports of Beck's media empire actually beginning to shrink, I suspect that moving to Texas is a tactical move on his part, knowing that of all the places he could go, the Lone Star State offers the best chances for stringing out his brand of half-baked piecemeal politics than just about anyplace else.
Plus, we don't have a state income tax here. Of course, neither do we fund our public schools well. We have the most uninsured employed people in the country, and our care of poor children ranks at the bottom of just about every list. Our governor thinks he can become president running on statistics like that, and many Texans believe him. Apparently Beck hopes this is the right environment to either re-invent himself or retire among kindred spirits.
Not that Beck will be completely cutting himself off from the Big Apple. He's keeping his Manhattan apartment, and part of his media company is staying behind in what even conservatives can't deny is the media capital of the world. And it's not like Beck was the only right-winger on Manhattan Island anyway. One of his primary patrons, the billionaire industrialist David Koch, lives on the Upper East Side, sits on the prestigious board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and has been splashing money all over the city lately. Who knows how many other capitalists scattered among New York's limousine liberals have relished having Beck over for dinner, savoring the pleasure of like-mindedness in a city brutalized by high taxes and political correctness run amok.
No, I don't blame Beck and his family for fleeing the ridiculously expensive, union-plagued, and over-taxed metropolitan Tri-State area. Actually, I'm surprised he stayed up there as long as he did, all politics aside. And maybe the coarseness of life he sensed up there contributed to the vitriol which made him so popular among swaths of Middle America.
There will be very little coarseness of life when he settles down in Westlake. It's about as vanilla as a village of McMansions and miniature estates can be. It's miles from poor people, public transit, and even ordinary public schools. Kinda like coastal Connecticut, actually, but without the trees and seasons.
Down here in Texas, some of the state's proudest transplants gush, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could."
If Beck ever quotes that slogan himself, I can just hear some New Yorkers retort, "What took ya so long?!"