This is Ben Shaoul (the one in the sweater and cap), who was the subject of a story in the NYTimes Metropolitan section today. The most frustrating part of this story about Ben Shaoul, Great Neck, Long Island-raised (obviously) heir to a Persian Jewish real estate dynasty and community college drop out turned tycoon is not that he’s gentrifying the East Village, because maybe he’s just taking part of the inevitable, nor that he’s completing construction with no regard for anyone’s safety, because, sure, he’s a businessman first, nor that he’s bullying out rent-controlled tenants and then pointing to the fact that no court or city agency has ever found that he’s violated anything when of course they haven’t, because the tenants are small and he is big and rich and that is the way the world is.
No, the most frustrating part is that, in response to all that, Ben Shaoul’s complaint is that people don’t have enough nice things to say about him. That they don’t tell him what a nice guy he is and what a good job he’s doing. That a reporter says to him, “People say that you turned off their heat and said their apartments were for rent when they clearly weren’t and did construction that endangered the people who are living there and that you have no sign of stopping because you are getting richer and more powerful and nothing else matters” (I’m paraphrasing), and all he can say is, “I’m a regular guy, I have feelings. Is it hurtful when people write things that are bad. Yeah, it’s hurtful” (I’m not paraphrasing at all).