A Tribute to Park Place, the Shangri-la of Norwood, NJ

Dear Jin Lee,

         Our first plenary meeting of the new Board last night, Jul 2, 2019, turned Park Place from an array of stately but forbidding castles into a community of affable and agreeable denizens, all committed to preserving and enhancing the beauty and dignity, even grandeur, of their neighborhood, a shangri-la at the foot of the majestic forest that rises gently, irresistibly to the crest, beribboned by the Palisades Parkway and overlooking the Hudson with a panoramic view of Manhattan and its environs. 

Ownership here despite the high taxes and maintenance bespeaks financial status but I cannot suppress the urge to discover everybody’s occupation, the one thing that tells more about a person than even net worth and therefore a taboo and assiduously avoided by well-mannered Americans. Well, who cares? I am the Korean boor, too old to learn. My nosiness pays off and I know what my neighbors do, what their values and goals are, to be exhilarated by their exceptional accomplishments in their respective fields. Verily feel I live among the chosen.

Meeting Sangjo Kim for the first time and thinking him a kid just out of college, I ask pointblank how he manages to live in Park Place, hinting that he is probably born with a silver spoon. Lo and behold, he turns out to be an established anesthesiologist! Michael Laginestra, accessible, always ready and glad to share his knowledge and experience, generous with praise and encouragement, turns out to be a multimillionaire with business interests all over the country. Ben and Susan Gutmann, my closest neighbors, who host the meeting, are captains of industry with a global clientele, including Korean businesses. I know Sam Park to be independently wealthy, free to take on the nitty gritty of Park Place presidency, interviewing contractors, checking their references, inspecting their performances, a full time job, somewhat like Trump donating all his salaries. I haven’t found out what SK Kim does, a tad older than Sangjo but not by much, who has the dash and verve of an up and coming CEO. Determined, nevertheless, to buttonhole him after the meeting, I look around and find him checking the terrain and storm drains with Ben Gutmann, as responsible Board members should.

Jin, I am glad I have asked for your business card, confirming everybody’s knowledge of your unique qualification to sit on the Board, as there may be potential litigations involving delinquencies and other issues that threaten the financial health of Park Place. Like the homeowner who has put up a fence behind his house on the mountainside and reengineered the storm drains to interfere with the community system. Two notices of correction have been serenely ignored. But nobody is really worried all that much. We can hire and get the work done, then send him the bill, a deep pocket owning the biggest Korean supermarket chain in the States, the bill certified by your law offices to be more persuasive.

By the way, 11 of the 19 homeowners are Korean, immigrants ranging from one to six decades in this country but equally passionate in their attachment to real estate, second nature to them. Undaunted by the downturn in the NJ housing market because of the irrational property tax rate, they doggedly hold on for the next inevitable upswing, in the meantime making serious upgrades inside and out, with frequent reference to the Bylaws regarding the exterior.

         From their glowing emails immediately afterwards I am glad other attendees have found the meeting enjoyable and informative. I hope this letter to you will put you in our group mail list. 

         Also I write to apologize. Asked by the Board to bring as many home owners to the meeting as possible and eager to show myself as a worthy asset, I screw up my courage and go over to your front door at 5:40 p.m. to invite your father to the house next-door, presuming on my acquaintance with him, however fleeting. Apparently caught at a bad time he refuses. So I try to give him some issues of the Korean New York Ilbo Daily which is serializing my novel, The Polyglot: Union of Korea and Japan, running to the 27th installment as of today. A couple of years my senior he would find the subject matter interesting, I think.  But he declines, pleading his poor eyesight. That’s no problem, though, with online magnification. Attached therefore are the first introductory article and the 16th installment, featuring the recurring motif, love at first sight, that transformative vision of the opposite sex guaranteeing our survival as a species. Perhaps you can help him write to EySong0726@hotmail.com and ask for free subscription for daily email delivery and for back issues. I hope you’ll give it a read, too. 

          Ty Pak

P.S. Trying to figure out how to insert the files.

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