Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Camp Victory surfaces in Manhattan!

I was reclining in the bathtub at the Plaza Hotel last night (I am in NYC for a talk and this is where my hosts put me) wondering why the Plaza irked me so. As I sipped on my WPLJ (white port and lemon juice; hi Kenny), it occurred to me: I was in one ...

Wikipedia
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I was reclining in the bathtub at the Plaza Hotel last night (I am in NYC for a talk and this is where my hosts put me) wondering why the Plaza irked me so. As I sipped on my WPLJ (white port and lemon juice; hi Kenny), it occurred to me: I was in one of Saddam Hussein's palaces, transported to midtown Manhattan.

As I lay atub, what nailed it for me were the plumbing fixtures painted gold, mixed with white walls and cheesy glass chandeliers -- even one in the bathroom, where the drains under the sink were gilded. The last time I bathed in such a place, I recalled, was the JVB at Camp Victory -- which featured bad food but good internet connections. (The latter matters more than the former to a reporter on that dusty war trail.) The Versailles-meets-pasteboard furnishings there were just awful, reminding me of my furniture-moving days as a Ute in Yonkers, and the Plaza is pretty much the same. Who is their interior decorator, Tony Soprano?

But, little grasshoppers, with one big difference: Oddly enough, the JVB in Baghdad had better internet connections than the Plaza does. And where do they get off charging $13.95 for a connection crankier than the one me and my dogs get at the Motel 6? (And it keeps bugging me to "upgrade to premium"!)

I was reclining in the bathtub at the Plaza Hotel last night (I am in NYC for a talk and this is where my hosts put me) wondering why the Plaza irked me so. As I sipped on my WPLJ (white port and lemon juice; hi Kenny), it occurred to me: I was in one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces, transported to midtown Manhattan.

As I lay atub, what nailed it for me were the plumbing fixtures painted gold, mixed with white walls and cheesy glass chandeliers — even one in the bathroom, where the drains under the sink were gilded. The last time I bathed in such a place, I recalled, was the JVB at Camp Victory — which featured bad food but good internet connections. (The latter matters more than the former to a reporter on that dusty war trail.) The Versailles-meets-pasteboard furnishings there were just awful, reminding me of my furniture-moving days as a Ute in Yonkers, and the Plaza is pretty much the same. Who is their interior decorator, Tony Soprano?

But, little grasshoppers, with one big difference: Oddly enough, the JVB in Baghdad had better internet connections than the Plaza does. And where do they get off charging $13.95 for a connection crankier than the one me and my dogs get at the Motel 6? (And it keeps bugging me to "upgrade to premium"!)

Then again, I don’t think I am in the Plaza’s prime demographic. Judging by folks milling about the lobby, they are marketing the place to Gatsbyesque foreigners who don’t know any better. Anyway, the visit made me miss the Four Seasons in Amman, Jordan, where oft would I stop for a couple of days on my way back from Baghdad to DC (at my wife’s request — "Hey, Tom, before you fly home, get the stink off"). Now that was a snazzy hotel — well run, good food, and fast connections. Decent pizza, great breakfasts, and nice tubs, too.  

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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