Sandy happened to make landfall right at the start of high-society season in New York, when the city's hyper-wealthy plutocrats adopt their plumage and strut around like assholes for charity—nothing too dirty, mind you, just animals and parks and stuff. But the suffering that has befallen the non-rich denizens of Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens has put the kibosh on those gala events and forced people to ever-so-briefly consider the social and political implications of amassing vast wealth immediately adjacent to abject poverty. No fun.
Suddenly, many of these events have been canceled. Others have been changed to tone down ostentatious displays of fashion and affluence. And now many of the social scene's regulars-among Manhattan's financial and social elite-have begun having frank conversations about income inequality.
"Sandy has done what Occupy Wall Street tried and failed to do," said Euan Rellie, an investment banker and fixture at benefit galas. "It's made me think about the people who don't have what I have."
Other people who have tried (and obviously failed) to get Euan Rellie to think about people who don't have what he has: Jesus Christ, Buddha, Albert Schweitzer, Ghandi, Huey Long, Bono, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr.
It's not easy when New York's cotillionaires are suddenly forced to confront the reality of urban poverty. Just ask Dini von Mueffling. Seriously! Right now, go and ask Dini von Mueffling what it's like when high-society types are forced to confront the reality of urban poverty.
Dini von Mueffling a philanthropist and the founder of Love Heals, the Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education, said she has heard an unusual refrain from her friends in high society.
"It's a tale of two cities," she said. "I keep hearing: You can't imagine we're in the same city when you find out what's happening in pockets of New York you may not be familiar with."