Any writer with any ambition at all can do a nice little 800 word piece while hanging out in pretty much any hotel lobby or bar in America. It's easy. Strike up a conversation. Strike up another. Buy the old lady a drink. Ask the divorced father hustling his kids cross-country over Christmas what that's like. Hell, Mike Royko built half his career carefully documenting the dreams and beefs and brags and heartbreaks of the real and imaginary denizens of Chicago beer halls, taverns, posh joints and dives.
Of course, David Brooks, being David Brooks, does none of these things.
Freed by wealth and status from the need to interact with actual, grubby humans, like some discarded minor character from an early draft of Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho, Mr. Brooks bypasses "people" altogether and burns his 800 words fetishistically cataloging the price tags of various boutique hotels and their selections of sofas (cerulean) and photos (Steichen). It is an incompetent, assembly-line still-life: dead, flat, with a few, travel brochure stick-figure caricatures tossed in --
...the sort of affluent consumer who is produced by the information economy, which rewards education with money. This is a consumer who is prouder of his cultural discernment than his corporate success...
-- to maintain the illusion that this junk is not extruded by rote.
If the Time's wants to save a bundle, it should just licence a copy of Real Human Praise from The Colbert Report. With a few, minor upgrades it could be rigged to generate a new "David Brooks" product comparable in every way to their existing David Brooks product, every two minutes, until the end of time (UPDATE: video removed because despite the "autoplay" feature showing as "false" in the code and not autoplaying in my browser, apparently it is starting up unbidden in everyone else's browser.)
Then again, perhaps the motive behind Mr. Brooks pissing away 800 words of prime journalistic real estate to up-sell high-end hotel rooms --
A basic rule of happiness is don’t buy things; buy experiences. The market has taken one commodity product after another and turned it into an emotional experience — even hotel stays. I don’t know how you measure how much better off we are because of that, but we are significantly better off. The world’s a sweeter place when, for an extra 200 bucks a night, you can lodge like Afrojack.-- is somewhat more nakedly mercantile (From the Guardian, with emphasis added at no extra charge):