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Gimme That!

Greed gone wild

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So for a good old-gentlemanly vice, I think I must take up with avarice.

-- Lord Byron, Don Juan

There's nothing wrong with a healthy desire to have nice things. A little greed can be a positive motivational force to work hard. But certainly if your appetites are out of control -- Tony Montana/Scarface-out-of-control -- greed can be a killer. So don't spend the summer dealing cocaine and shooting your rivals. There are better ways to exhaust your wants in these hot months, whether you hoard goods, hunger for power, have an obsession with material wealth or merely covet thy neighbor's Range Rover.

Hoard With the constant dangers of terrorism and uncooperative weather threatening our privileged supply of consumer items, it's actually a good idea to go over the top stocking up this summer. Load a grocery cart with gallons of water and get a couple of bottles of champagne, too. If the end is as nigh as prophetic hoboes say it is, you'll want some bubbly to make a final toast.

Having a wad of cash handy -- hidden in the toe of a galosh, perhaps -- is also a wise move, and not just in case a storm floods the area and knocks out the power. Brokers of illicit activities don't take credit cards. Should you be compelled to bribe a convenience store clerk to sell you beer after 3am, a stack of Jacksons is in order. But notice how an alcohol-stocked fridge at home prevents such a crime.

Other things to store up: gasoline, canned food and batteries. But these are all practicalities (depending on what you use the batteries for).

Extort You don't have to be a city official to play a little beach blanket extortion this summer. All you need is to wield a measure of dominance over someone. Say you have some dirt on this person, maybe you have a prized item that belongs to them or are simply holding a glass of ice water over them as they sun themselves. Make them an offer they can't refuse and name your price. Start small: a beer, quarters for parking, that kind of thing.

If you're having a hard time getting in the mood to take your game to the next level, listen to some gangsta rap. Snoop Dog's perennially got his mind on his money and his money on his mind. Nelly's buying Nike Air Force sneakers like there's no tomorrow. And 50 Cent's major label debut is called Get Rich Or Die Trying. Now that's the spirit. With the bass thudding in your ride, you're ready to cruise the streets in search of two parking spaces to take up.

Consume Consume Consume An obsessive desire for material goods, the most American symptom of greed, is also the most easily pacified. Some people are so overburdened with shopping bags when they leave the malls that they need weekly massages just to help them recover.

Acquiring thoughtful items like works of art, music and books may soften the guilt of overspending. A bit. Check CL's listings of gallery exhibits and support local fine artists. Download MP3s; at least that's free.

At our latitude, one can never own too many pairs of sunglasses -- especially if you're greedy -- but UV protection shouldn't run more than $20. Brand new Pradas are $200. At that rate, it's almost more cost effective to squint for the next 10 years and then get plastic surgery. Dollar stores and flea markets are wonderful places for greed mongers on a budget. They carry surprising, silly-cool sunnies. For a few bucks more, you can get Gucci knockoffs at sunglass kiosks everywhere.

Alas, all this talk of avarice has overlooked its punishment. In hell, the greedy are boiled alive in oil. But perhaps that sounds too much like a luxurious spa treatment to dissuade the nouveau riche.

ONGOING
Get greedy for some great art. The 2003 Spoleto Festival USA will be held through June 8 in Charleston, SC. Among the highlights will be the staging of two rarely performed operas, Handel's Tamerlano and Leo Delibes' Lakme. Tamerlano centers on the Emperor of the Tartars and his love for a Turkish Sultan's daughter, while Lakme focuses on a romance between the titular Indian priestess and a British officer. Tickets for Tamerlano are $75 for opening night and $65 for all other performances; tickets for Lakme range from $15 to $120. To purchase tickets, or for general Spoleto info, call 843-579-3100 or go online to spoletousa.org.

JULY3THURSDAY
The Metrolina Expo draws large enough crowds anyway, but expect even more bodies on hand today through July 6, when the Expo will include the Antiques Sell-A-Bration. The event hosts Antiques & Fine Collectibles shows in April, July and November, and the last gathering this past April drew over 3,000 dealers and over 30,000 buyers. Gates open at 9am Thursday through Saturday and 10am Sunday; daily tickets are $7. For more information, call 704-596-4643, or go online to www.metrolinaantiqueshow.com.

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