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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Robert DeNiro on Vine

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"If you want to know what someone’s views of society are, ask what they believe is the best long-term investment.  I am fascinated each year when Gallup Poll asks Americans to choose the best option among real estate, stocks and mutual funds, gold, savings accounts and CDs, or bonds. The results are a pop psychologist’s dream of cognitive issues, belief systems and ideologies.
Now, before we get into the details, some caveats: First, people often don’t really know what they want or think. Instead, when questioning people about their hopes and desires, we end up with a distorted mass-media version of a bad Robin Leach television series. Sad but true, often we don't know what we want out of life. Second, survey responses are not all they appear to be. There is value in the collective data, but we need to dive into the details to tease out some fascinating cultural differences. Note what happens when we divide the survey responses along income lines. We discover some very telling things about the American psyche. Consider the differences between what the wealthy and poor believe is the best long-term investment .." (Bloomberg)

Walmart heiress’ prenup overshadowed by lawsuit

"Walmart heiress Paige Laurie Dubbert is done with husband Patrick Bode Dubbert, but it’s going to cost her a pretty penny to be rid of him. Paige — whose mother, Natalie Walton Laurie, and aunt Anne Walton Kroenke inherited a multibillion-dollar fortune when their father, Bud Walton, died — recently filed for divorce from her husband of five years, reports TMZ. Shortly after she filed for divorce, Paige also filed a civil lawsuit against her soon-to-be-former husband, according to a later report by the website. The suit accuses Patrick of funneling huge money out of a business — a retail center in Malibu, Calif., that Paige financed. Allegedly, Patrick hired a friend to co-manage the project. The duo then named themselves general contractors on the project — positions they were completely unqualified for — in order to up their monthly pay (from $15,000 to $75,000). All of this on top of the $250,000 a year Patrick was already being paid to monitor the project." (P6)

"Kyo, not his real name, is a young black man in his mid-20s currently living in transitional housing for the homeless in Northern New Jersey. I have known him since he was 18. I had met Kyo during my former job as a reporter with The Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper. Kyo was placed in the foster care system as a toddler. His mother was dead of a drug overdose, and his father was a long-time drug addict until he became clean several years ago. Kyo does not have a close relationship with his father, but has kept regular contact with his siblings, one younger brother and two older sisters. In the system, he had stayed at several places including a good orphanage, where he felt taken care of, and the home of an abusive couple who would make him and their other charges stand for hours on end as a form of punishment. He had bounced between several schools over the years as well, but he did manage to graduate with a high school diploma. When I first met Kyo, a Newark native, I was immediately struck by his demeanor. He was simply the coolest teenager I had come across in a long while. He had a mature, perceptive air. I took to him because he reminded me of my younger self. Fellow geeks, we bonded over our love of manga, anime, and comics. He is a skilled artist and musically gifted as well. He can play the guitar and has a lovely voice. I kept in touch with him and we became good friends. Over the years, I have seen him age out of the system, move from job to job, couchsurf with friends, grapple with the emotional legacy of his upbringing, and basically survive hand to mouth. The last time I saw Kyo was a few weeks ago. He had left a friend’s apartment where he had stayed for a few weeks, and then slept over at my home for a night. Afterwards, he stayed at a homeless shelter for about a week. He just started a stint in transitional housing that will last for three months during which time he aims to find a job and get his own place to live. We talked about survival, the demons of depression, his views on government assistance, and hopes for the future." (Sharon Adarlo)

Jane Hansen and Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum.

"I went down to Michael’s to lunch with Bill Stubbs, the interior designer from Houston who was headed for a new Designers Conference in Argentina, which will attended by several Americans designers including Charlotte Moss. You might know him as William Stubbs, who hosts the PBS show 'A Moment  of Luxury.' I first met him when he was shooting his first show down in Palm Beach at the Brazilian Court Hotel where JH and I were staying while covering the Palm Beach Antique show ... Over 200 people attended the 16th annual Healthy Give and Take luncheon sponsored by the Auxiliary of NSLIJ- Lenox Hill Hospital. This year's luncheon was held at the Metropolitan Club with the theme 'A Healthy Give & Take Luncheon:  Relationships, Friendships and Intimacy:  The Mind/Body Connection.' Jane Hanson, the Emmy award winning broadcast journalist acted as moderator for the event. The topic focused on relationships and the affect they have on our minds and bodies. Just like Henry Jaglom’s new film 'The M Word,”'in a way." (NYSD)

"In June 1942, the bulk of the Japanese fleet sailed to seize the Island of Midway. Had Midway fallen, Pearl Harbor would have been at risk and U.S. submarines, unable to refuel at Midway, would have been much less effective. Most of all, the Japanese wanted to surprise the Americans and draw them into a naval battle they couldn't win. The Japanese fleet was vast. The Americans had two carriers intact in addition to one that was badly damaged. The United States had only one advantage: It had broken Japan's naval code and thus knew a great deal of the country's battle plan. In large part because of this cryptologic advantage, a handful of American ships devastated the Japanese fleet and changed the balance of power in the Pacific permanently. This -- and the advantage given to the allies by penetrating German codes -- taught the Americans about the centrality of communications code breaking. It is reasonable to argue that World War II would have ended much less satisfactorily for the United States had its military not broken German and Japanese codes. Where the Americans had previously been guided to a great extent by Henry Stimson's famous principle that 'gentlemen do not read each other's mail,' by the end of World War II they were obsessed with stealing and reading all relevant communications.The National Security Agency evolved out of various post-war organizations charged with this task. In 1951, all of these disparate efforts were organized under the NSA to capture and decrypt communications of other governments around the world -- particularly those of the Soviet Union, which was ruled by Josef Stalin, and of China, which the United States was fighting in 1951. How far the NSA could go in pursuing this was governed only by the extent to which such communications were electronic and the extent to which the NSA could intercept and decrypt them.The amount of communications other countries sent electronically surged after World War II yet represented only a fraction of their communications. Resources were limited, and given that the primary threat to the United States was posed by nation-states, the NSA focused on state communications. But the principle on which the NSA was founded has remained, and as the world has come to rely more heavily on electronic and digital communication, the scope of the NSA's commission has expanded. What drove all of this was Pearl Harbor." (STRATFOR)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"I have maintained a certain agnosticism about Edward Snowden’s relationship with the Russian intelligence services up until now. I noted with interest, but unconvinced, statements by congressional intelligence committee leaders that suggested he was a spy. And I questioned Edward Lucas’s conclusion that Snowden was at least a passive, unknowing dupe of the FSB.Snowden’s appearance on Russian television yesterday in a highly-scripted propaganda stunt for Vladimir Putin does not settle the question of whether he was originally an FSB tool. But it sure does settle the question—at least in my mind—of his role now. I’m not sure why this grotesque display does not move Snowden’s many admirers. Perhaps people may rationalize what he did and say that he’s posing the same question to the Russian leader about which he forced a debate in this country—and that he is thus being consistent. But they can’t actually believe that. These are sophisticated people, after all, many of whom are journalists. They must know the difference between a scripted set-piece appearance with an authoritarian strong man on state-controlled television and asking the tough questions in the context of democratic dialogue. They must know that Snowden either played that role willingly or was, in one way or another, encouraged to do so by authorities who have enormous leverage and control over him. They must know, in other words, that at this point at least, Snowden—by his own volition or against his will—is very clearly working for the Russians. Having said that, let me now make clear that I do not believe this fact should influence overmuch the way we read the material Snowden has disclosed. The authenticity of the documents in question is not disputed. Those documents reveal programs, some of which raise significant public policy concerns, and we need to discuss those, whoever Edward Snowden may be. But I do think we should regard the subplot here of who Edward Snowden really is—a subplot that has been an important discussion in its own right over the last year—very differently in light of yesterday’s appearance. We should stop thinking of Snowden, to the extent that we ever were, as a hero. We should stop thinking of him as a whistleblower. We should think of him, rather, as a man who has actively thrown his lot in with Vladimir Putin even as the latter is working to dismember Ukraine, and who helps a dictator make propaganda videos designed to embarrass his country." (TNR)

"Here's one easy way the Republican primaries could go.  Let's say you've got your saggy Scott Brown, your Rand Paul, maybe your Ted Cruz on the outside… and then up front, your Marco Rubio and your Jeb Bush. I just can't take Mike Huckabee seriously, even though he's polling first right now. (In this hypothetical universe, it's, predictably, all men: Everyone decides Nikki Haley is too young, Mary Fallin never gets any steam, and Sarah Palin sticks her head out and everyone's checkbooks retreat in terror and she goes away again.) ... Jeb is the money leader early out, just because a Bush raises money like a cat hunts a mouse. The machinery is oiled. And all the 'negative perceptions' of a Bush only exist in a Libertarian or liberal mind. 'Four more years of Bush' is soothing to everyone else, for some unknowable reason. There's a brief period where Jeb is the front runner, through Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. Let's say he loses New Hampshire (the kind of state where they get their back up about legacy names). The Republicans are compressing the primary season because it's brutal, expensive and bad for party unity. Totally reasonable, honestly. But it means zooming towards their convention, in some city that starts with a C (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus) or maybe a D (Denver, Dallas) in late June or early July, instead of stupid old August. They need the time on the ground to work against Clinton. Haha, and everyone is losing their minds, because we're about to have a Clinton versus Bush race, which is hysterical, it's like a referendum on America itself. Madness! So then there's probably a reduced Super Tuesday on March 6th, a likely not very impressive Tuesday (2012's super Tuesday had ten states). And right before that, let's say March 5th… Obama drops the hammer and says something really nice about Jeb Bush, and blammo, even though Obama's approval rate is like 8% by then, he's still Obama, and it's over, Republicans run screaming from Obama's semi-endorsement of Jeb and the Republicans are left with whoever's standing, with only three months or so for the rest of the primaries before the convention. Maybe it's Marco Rubio! Maybe it's stupid old Mike Huckabee! Maybe it's… Marsha Blackburn??? " (Choire Sicha)

"A tally of Jeb Bush’s many lucrative board positions and consulting gigs paint a complicated picture of the former Florida governor’s chances at surviving a campaign for the White House. The report, by The New York Times, offers a look at a man who felt his wealth had been diminished by being governor of the country’s fourth most populous state, a perceived wrong he’s been busy righting since he left office in 2007.According to the Times, Bush has worked for or with Lehman Brothers, a soap maker whose books were cooked, and an Affordable Care Act-supporting hospital owner. He has raked in at least $3.2 million from board positions, charges $50,000 for speeches, and is said to be paid more than $1 million a year by Barclays, the firm that absorbed much of Lehman after Bush’s bid to have Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú save the failing bank.He’s made so much money, in fact, that one Bush supporter went on the record with the paper to cast doubt as to whether or not the presumptive candidate would even want to pause the gravy train to run for president. 'Although he’s been at this for seven years, it’s the last few years that he’s begun to flourish as an investor and build a commendable nest egg,' longtime ally Al Cardenas told the Times. 'Leaving all of that behind, all he’s built, is a challenge and a sacrifice for him.' The Republican picture for 2016 is quite murky, with would-be front-runners such as New Jersey governor Chris Christie embroiled in scandals, and upstart challengers like Kentucky senator Rand Paul scandalizing the party with unorthodox platforms (Paul is unapologetically isolationist, for example). Florida senator Marco Rubio, Texas governor Rick Perry, former senator Rick Santorum, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, and Ohio governor John Kasich have also been rumored to be mulling bids." (VF)

Diane & Woody’s ‘Hall’ of fame date

"There’s at least one person out there who still loves Woody Allen. Diane Keaton waxes poetically about the reunion she had with Allen on 77th and Madison Avenue, a stroll down memory lane nearly 40 years after 'Annie Hall' hit theaters, according to Keaton’s memoir 'Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty' (Random House).Keaton invited Allen out for a stroll 'like we used to' on Madison Avenue before he headed off to France for a shoot in 2011. 'We didn’t hold hands, like the old days, but I swear he wore what must have been one of his beige bucket hats from ‘Annie Hall,’ ' she writes. She paired a Marni dress with a black turtleneck, a big cross around her neck, and “the requisite wide-brimmed black hat,' Keaton’s signature 'Annie Hall' look. 'We looked in the windows of stores, starting with Ralph Lauren complex on 72nd. We passed the Whitney. We took in the people. They took us in, as well.' 'When we reached Campbell’s mortuary, we looked at each other. He was 77. I was 67. Where did the time go?' 'It was almost like it used to be, only sweeter, because I knew it couldn’t last. Paul waved goodbye as we headed back.'" (P6)

Click to order Dying Every Day.

"History Lessons from the Emperor Nero. I spent quite a bit of the weekend catching up on some reading. I’m still moving along with 'Dying Every Day; Seneca at the Court of Nero.' I bought this book half-expecting to lose interest halfway through. It’s one of those preconceived notions of mine that invites ignorance. However, Seneca and the Court of Nero will keep your interest. Although it’s creepy at its roots. A lot of poisoning going on. Agrippina killed Claudius (poison), then his son Brittanicus or Germanicus (more poison), and then Nero had his own mother Agrippina murdered in a botched crime. I haven’t got to what happens to Seneca, philosopher of the ages. So far Seneca is still alive. He was famous in his day and in modern times as a philosopher of note. As the first tutor and then “adviser” to Nero, he becomes ... very rich ... Sound familiar?  Although the Romans were brutal and completely decadent to the point where I wonder if their brains had been toxified. At least the ruling classes. Even the poisoners got rich. We don’t know about the working classes. Until, of course there’s a revolution; and that was a long way off, at the time.James Romm, the author of this history presents his story through Seneca’s writing at the time. Philosopher and all, Seneca was a guy who talked out of both sides of his mouth. Especially as he was amassing his fortune. That’s all I can tell you right now because I’ve got another third to go. But if you like history, it is an amazing experience grasping what life was like and how those people behaved under the circumstances of temptation." (NYSD)

"I leave the Rock so infrequently my world has shrunk to this final bead of coral, the end of the archipelago and sunk in the shallows of the Straits, near the edge of the Gulf Stream and surrounded by predators like sharks, crocodiles, tourists and Bubbas. Key West is a fractal of the world at large, and I love it, but to leave is daunting. Usually I depart from the Key West International Airport,... minutes from my home, reached by a route that parades along the coast with palm trees to one side and the other a scape of wide open dazzling glittering ocean its horizon split with bands of blues.
I almost never drive. Partly because it’s effing loooooooooooooong. Occasionally, for one reason or another, I do motor to Miami or the even chillier north of the Palm Beaches, west or otherwise. To cross the divide and merge with the highway northbound and roll into the mess of rushing automobiles is to enter an alien world, also known as the Real World, and mixed in there is a whiff of something horrifying. Recently I made one such trip and on the way, forgoing the phone, I plucked music discs at random from the center console of my car. Full blast and blaring like a pimped-mobile I relished one great track after another. This was a year’s worth of discs I have happily and sweatily purchased at the end of nights of hypnotic dancing at my favorite bar in the world The Green Parrot which I love because of the reliably sensational bands they book. Groups of searing talent like only the backwaters can produce. I’m there so often I worry they might hit me up for rent money. The drive north and back I zoned out to this music and it helped insulate me from the fray of big city vibes and hectic anguish inducing traffic. The tunes were original and nothing you would find on the radio, especially since radio stations scarecely waver from predictable Billy Joel. Nothing against old BJ you understand, but there’s so much more out there to explore." (Christina Oxenberg)

lindsaydinalohan The Failed Social Experiment of Lindsay

"It turns out, things could get worse for both Lindsay Lohan and her mentor/enabler Oprah, as we saw on last night’s finale of OWN’s terribly-rated, viciously-panned docu-series, Lindsay. As we found out approximately 10 hours ago, in what appeared to be an hour-long coda to a wince-inducing protracted portrayal of a woman on the verge (of her N-th rehab stint), Ms. Lohan admitted to having a miscarriage during the filming of the program. This was teased out before the two-part, two hour finale last night, and apparently caught more than one person by surprise. Even if director Amy Rice hadn’t planned for this last-minute revelation when she began releasing episodes of Lindsay out into the world, the last-ditch opportunism of throwing it in casts an even worse pallor over the entire enterprise, and by extension, Oprah herself. Who knew that Lindsay was going to be her Achilles’ Heel? I would be surprised if OWN didn’t close up shop after this horrific debacle, which wasn’t even good as a narrative story. In fact, the whole timeline of Lindsay seems a bit murky: they were filming the last portion of the series while the first episodes were airing, allowing a sort of infinite mirroring. Lindsay saw Lindsay, then reacted negatively to it, and that happened approximately a month ago. That’s the reason she didn’t get out of bed for what constituted the majority of the show, because she was miscarrying a baby from unknown origins. And despite the fact that nothing Lindsay Lohan has ever done has been kept a secret for more than ten minutes, this story never leaked.
Here is what happened on Lindsay, as best as I could reconstruct it: she missed some meetings, relapsed, came to terms with her mother’s book deal, got yelled at by Oprah, was late to several photo shoots, went to Art Basel, was late to film with Billy Eichner, got her own book deal (maybe?) and had a miscarriage." (Observer)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Howard Stern Interviews Tracy Morgan

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Even as the crisis in Ukraine continues to defy easy resolution, President Obama and his national security team are looking beyond the immediate conflict to forge a new long-term approach to Russia that applies an updated version of the Cold War strategy of containment. Just as the United States resolved in the aftermath of World War II to counter the Soviet Union and its global ambitions, Mr. Obama is focused on isolating President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world, limiting its expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood and effectively making it a pariah state. Mr. Obama has concluded that even if there is a resolution to the current standoff over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, he will never have a constructive relationship with Mr. Putin, aides said. As a result, Mr. Obama will spend his final two and a half years in office trying to minimize the disruption Mr. Putin can cause, preserve whatever marginal cooperation can be saved and otherwise ignore the master of the Kremlin in favor of other foreign policy areas where progress remains possible. 'That is the strategy we ought to be pursuing,' said Ivo H. Daalder, formerly Mr. Obama’s ambassador to NATO and now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. 'If you just stand there, be confident and raise the cost gradually and increasingly to Russia, that doesn’t solve your Crimea problem and it probably doesn’t solve your eastern Ukraine problem. But it may solve your Russia problem.' The manifestation of this thinking can be seen in Mr. Obama’s pending choice for the next ambassador to Moscow. While not officially final, the White House is preparing to nominate John F. Tefft, a career diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Ukraine, Georgia and Lithuania. When the search began months ago, administration officials were leery of sending Mr. Tefft because of concern that his experience in former Soviet republics that have flouted Moscow’s influence would irritate Russia. Now, officials said, there is no reluctance to offend the Kremlin. In effect, Mr. Obama is retrofitting for a new age the approach to Moscow that was first set out by the diplomat George F. Kennan in 1947 and that dominated American strategy through the fall of the Soviet Union." (NYTimes)

Top Clinton supporter bashes Obama in new book

"President Obama gets criticized by a lifelong Democrat, Bernard Schwartz, in his new book, 'Just Say Yes.' The Bensonhurst native, who ran Loral Space & Communications for 34 years, was the top donor to the Democratic party during the Clinton Administration. But Schwartz is less thrilled with Obama, who has failed to push through the infrastructure initiative Schwartz claims will boost the economy and add 7 million jobs. 'Since the middle of the Clinton Administration, the reins of governmental power have been held by men like Robert Rubin, Hank Paulson, Larry Summers, Alan Greenspan, Timothy Geithner, and Ben Bernanke,' Schwartz, 88, writes.'Not all of these gentlemen are equally responsible for the 2008 crisis or its potential repetition in the future, but there has been a pervasive conceptual thesis advanced by this group that heavily favors Wall Street over Main Street.' The powers that be favor the big banks, says Schwartz. 'And unfortunately, President Obama’s immediate political advisors were not experienced enough to offset this imbalance of influence.'" (Richard Johnson)

"On a crisp morning in late March, an elite group of 100 young philanthropists and heirs to billionaire family fortunes filed into a cozy auditorium at the White House. Their name tags read like a catalog of the country’s wealthiest and most influential clans: Rockefeller, Pritzker, Marriott. They were there for a discreet, invitation-only summit hosted by the Obama administration to find common ground between the public sector and the so-called next-generation philanthropists, many of whom stand to inherit billions in private wealth. 'Moon shots!' one administration official said, kicking off the day on an inspirational note to embrace the White House as a partner and catalyst for putting their personal idealism into practice.The well-heeled group seemed receptive. 'I think it’s fantastic,' said Patrick Gage, a 19-year-old heir to the multibillion-dollar Carlson hotel and hospitality fortune. 'I’ve never seen anything like this before.' Mr. Gage, physically boyish with naturally swooping Bieber bangs, wore a conservative pinstripe suit and a white oxford shirt. His family’s Carlson company, which owns Radisson hotels, Country Inns and Suites, T.G.I. Friday’s and other brands, is an industry leader in enforcing measures to combat trafficking and involuntary prostitution." (NYTimes)

Dana Giacchetto by Wesley Mann

"'Leo DiCaprio is like my little brother,' says Dana Giacchetto, 51, sipping Viking Blod Mead honey wine during a $400 seven-course meal at midtown Manhattan's Aquavit restaurant and hoping his next meal isn't on Rikers Island. During the 1990s, Giacchetto (pronounced 'jah-KET-toh') was an investment adviser with an incredible list of celebrity clients that included DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Cameron Diaz, Ben Affleck, Michael Ovitz and Michael Stipe (also 'like a brother to me,' he says). It all ended very badly. In 2000, he was nabbed at Newark Airport with a falsified passport and not long after pled guilty to fraud involving the misappropriation of between $5 million and $10 million of clients' funds. He was sentenced to 57 months in prison.Although the money involved might seem small today, in the pre-Madoff era it was a staggering scandal fueled by just the right mix of bold-faced names from Hollywood and Wall Street.Giacchetto was released in 2003 and set about rebuilding his life. There have been setbacks and disappointments, including many strange new deals and a recent federal criminal complaint accusing him of fraudulently billing $10,045 to someone else's credit card -- allegations he denies -- that could put him back in prison.Yet tonight, in his first interview since 2003, he is delighted to have two THR reporters pick up the tab and join him on a three-day romp through New York City as he explains in great detail how supremely misunderstood he has been. The story is, well, like a movie -- specifically, The Wolf of Wall Street, which he believes he inspired, as DiCaprio in the late '90s often stayed at Giacchetto's SoHo loft, which Giacchetto says was awash in sex, drugs and punk rock. As he consumes a prodigious amount of alcohol, he rages, sobs, brags, cackles hysterically, confesses then denies guilt for the events that sent him to prison and otherwise exudes the exuberant charm that persuaded hundreds of intelligent, worldly people to trust him with their money.Celebrities, executives and even former close friends including DiCaprio almost unanimously refused to comment on Giacchetto's stories -- 'I need to be in this story like I need tooth decay,' says one. A few facts are uncontested: Born in Medford, Mass., 15 minutes from Horatio Alger's birthplace, Giacchetto was an Italian-American baker's grandson whose mom told him, 'It is impossible not to love you.' At 19, he got a job at Boston Safe Deposit & Trust and released a punk rock album while earning a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts. At 26, he founded Cassandra Group with about $200,000 from his mom's Treasury bonds. Befriending Marc Glimcher, now president of New York's Pace Gallery, he sold conservative blue-chip stocks to artsy blue bloods. Glimcher introduced him to then-skyrocketing CAA agent Jay Moloney, who hooked him up with Hollywood mogul Ovitz, manager Rick Yorn and pre-Titanic DiCaprio.There were some legitimate deals along the way." (THR)

Secret wife of late Jackie O. designer booted from will proceedings

"A Nassau county judge booted the secret wife of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis fashion designer, Oleg Cassini, from her position as executor of his $60 million estate — finding that the former model dug her own grave with wacky testimony about investigators killing dogs, allusions to Nazis and questioning the citizenship of an attorney. Judge Edward McCarty III gave Marianne Nestor Cassini a final opportunity to defend herself in court next month.But eight years after the famed designer’s death at age 92, his widow has 'engaged in numerous activities which require the court to suspend her' position immediately, the judge wrote in the March 13 ruling.Among Nestor’s misdeeds are claiming that estate paperwork was destroyed in a fire, helping herself to $387,000 that was supposed to go to a stepdaughter, and refusing to identify the whereabouts of $4 million in memorabilia — including letters from Jackie O. and Grace Kelly, according to court papers.
Judge McCarty noted his decision was 'a drastic measure.' Cassini, the son of Russian royalty who also dressed Kelly and Marilyn Monroe, left behind a $42 million fashion and perfume company, a $10 million Gramercy Park mansion and $10 million in antiques, art and furnishings.Nestor, who is 30 years his junior, purportedly married the designer in a secret London ceremony in 1971, but his 1986 autobiography made no mention of her. Nestor called her husband 'boss' or 'chief' in public, according to a Vanity Fair article, but the bedroom in his Oyster Bay summer home had a secret passageway to hers." (PageSix)

Illustration by James Ferguson of Jagdish Bhagwati

"It’s a blisteringly cold day in New York and I arrive at the corner of Lexington and 64th Street in need of thawing out. JoJo is a snug little restaurant inside a two-storey salmon pink house. Inside, there’s a tiny bar at the foot of the stairs leading up to the main dining area. The barman is pouring an enticing-looking glass of red wine. 'I’m meeting Jagdish Bhagwati,' I say, shivering. 'Could you possibly send a glass of whatever that is to our table? “This one is for Mr Bhagwati,' the barman beams. 'Two glasses coming right up.' It’s not only the cold that makes me want something to take the edge off. Bhagwati, brilliant, argumentative and occasionally vituperative, has a reputation for skewering his enemies. One of the most outstanding economists of his generation never to have won the Nobel Prize, his failure to be recognised for his work on international trade has become something of a cause célèbre.One fellow academic told me he used to avoid the great professor on the day the economics prize was announced because Bhagwati was inevitably in a frosty mood as yet another prize-less year went by. The Nobel committee’s oversight is so well known that it has even made it on to The Simpsons, an episode of which features Bhagwati receiving the coveted prize. (Krusty the Clown gets the Nobel peace award.)More recently, Bhagwati, 79, has gained notoriety for a bitter intellectual feud with Amartya Sen. Like Bhagwati, Sen is an Indian-born, Cambridge-educated economist now in the US (where Sen is professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard). Unlike Bhagwati, Sen is a Nobel recipient. In a long-running argument, Bhagwati accused Sen of prioritising redistribution in poor countries such as India. Bhagwati argued that only by generating sufficient growth to begin with would there be enough wealth to spread around. 'Sen puts the cart before the horse; and the cart is a dilapidated jalopy!' he wrote last year in Mint magazine. Sen, he said, paid lip-service to the idea of growth “much like an anti-Semite would claim that Jews are among his best friends!' The argument has since spilled out of the ivory tower and into the blood and dust of the Indian election, the world’s largest democratic exercise, which reaches its climax in May. Sen is seen as lining up behind the incumbent Congress administration, which has pursued policies that broadly favour the poor but has allowed growth to slide. Bhagwati supports the controversial candidacy of a fellow Gujarati, Narendra Modi, who fronts the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) and promises to get the economy revving again." (FT)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Barry Diller Executive Suite - H 2014

"When Barry Diller left Fox in 1992, he had launched a TV network and been chairman of Paramount Pictures -- a run that would have been enviable on its own. But he was just getting started: The combative, curious executive began a journey that would include running the home-shopping channel QVC, attempts to buy Paramount and CBS, the purchase and sale of USA Networks and a brief partnership with Vivendi when it owned Universal. Ultimately, Diller transformed his digital commerce and media holdings into IAC/InterActiveCorp: With revenue of $3 billion in 2013, an 8 percent increase from 2012 (Forbes estimates his net worth at $2.4 billion), his empire includes the production company Electus, search engines like, the fast-rising VOD company Vimeo, the dating app Tinder and The Daily Beast. Through it all, the outspoken and mercurial Diller, who married designer Diane von Furstenberg, his close friend, in 2001 -- his stepson, Alexander von Furstenberg, 44, is on IAC's board of directors -- never has lost his appetite for disrupting the status quo. On April 22, the Supreme Court is expected to take up American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo, a case that could alter the television landscape profoundly. Aereo, a startup in which IAC led a $20.5 million investment in 2012, captures broadcast TV transmissions via tiny antennas then relays the programming to subscribers' digital devices. Broadcasters say Aereo merely is a technologically sophisticated way to violate copyright laws. They also see it as a significant threat to an increasingly important revenue stream: the billions in retransmission fees they receive from cable and satellite providers to carry their content. Diller, 72, met with THR in late March in his suite of executive offices on the sixth floor of IAC's gleaming, Frank Gehry-designed headquarters in New York's Chelsea. Its undulating form resembles a giant sailing vessel -- appropriate given he owns the Eos, a three-masted Bermuda-rigged schooner that reportedly is the world's largest private yacht. Diller revealed whether he thinks Aereo will survive ('50-50') and who in Hollywood really understands the Internet (hint: practically no one)." (THR)

"Over the past 40 years, there have been many ways to leave the U.S. House of Representatives. Specifically, nine different methods. The main ones, beyond losing a primary or general election, are to retire or run for another office. But a member can also do one of the following: be appointed to another office, resign, be expelled, pass away or, in the rarest of instances, have the House vacate one’s seat. So far, 50 members of the 113th Congress have either left office or signaled their intentions to leave at the end of this cycle. The manner in which they have left or plan to leave the House varies. Two already found paths to the U.S. Senate: Then-Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) was appointed to the upper chamber and then-Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) won a special election to replace Secretary of State John Kerry. Another 17 are in the midst of running for other offices that will preclude them from running for the House again — 13 are running for the Senate (or ran, in Republican Rep. Steve Stockman’s case), two are running for governor, one is seeking a lieutenant governorship and another is hoping to become a county supervisor. Most of those exiting the House (24) will do so by retiring at the end of the term, while six have already beat them to the punch by resigning. Lastly, the late Rep. Bill Young (R) died, necessitating the hotly-contested special election in March to fill his Florida seat. Despite all that, the degree of turnover in the House this cycle is not unusually high. Over the last 40 years, an average of 70.4 members has exited the House for one reason or another each two-year cycle. That’s about one-sixth of the total House membership every cycle. At 50 exits so far, this Congress still has a ways to go in order to produce even an average level of turnover. Of course, there might still be additional retirements or resignations, and some incumbents will lose primary and general election contests. However, while this cycle’s total will go up, it remains to be seen whether or not it will reach or surpass the average number of departures." (CenterforPolitics)

"It was Wednesday. Where else? Michael’s. The Wednesdays customers are always in the mood to know who’s in the room; who’s breaking bread by their side. Public relations, media, authors, agents, bankers, corporate executives, editors and Wendi Deng Murdoch who is at the top of the 'talk-about' list because of her marriage break-up with a man named Rupert. Mrs. Deng Murdoch was lunching with Erik Gordon and Fisher Stevens, the actor, director, producer who won an Oscar four years ago for his documentary feature. Also in the room, Vanity Fair writer Amy Fine Collins with Debra Spar, president of Barnard College; Bernard Gershon, Senior VP Disney; Steve Solomon of Rubenstein Associates (public relations), Jim Abernathy (vip public relations); more PR: Lisa Dallos of HL Group; Audrey Gruss (founder of Hope for  Depression) with Jay McInerney; Michael Gross, who is busy right now publicizing his new book 'House of Outrageous Fortune' about 15 Central Park West, the building where retired banker Sanford Weill sold his penthouse apartment to the young daughter of a Russian oligarch for $88 million. Moving around the room: Glenn Horowitz, the rare book seller, an occupation which is much more than meets the eye, as you will learn here; producer Beverly Camhe; mega-entertainment lawyer Allen Grubman; Scott Marden (Compass Partners); Martin Puris; Henry Schleiff with Steven Schipopa (from The Sopranos); Lisa Linden and Julie Menin, the Manhattan Community leader who ran for Borough President (; Gus Oliver with Frank Biondi, media and film executive (Viacom, Universal Studios); Marty Pompadur, former President of News Corporation (Murdoch); media executive Peter Price; former Redbook publisher Tony Hoyt .." (NYSD)

"It looked like a flash mob. Right after lunch on the first warm afternoon in April, seniors began streaming out of the city’s elite private schools. They came East from Spence and Nightingale and Sacred Heart, West from Chapin and Brearley. They met at 86th Street and Park Avenue. Then the Dalton crew arrived, and there were several hundred kids milling around. They were the sons and daughters of the very rich in their final weeks of school. They’d just returned from Spring Break in St. Barts and Harbour Island and Palm Beach; in September, they’d be off to Duke and Brown and Harvard. They were tanned and buffed, glowing with good health and good fortune, and when they came together, they looked like a Ralph Lauren double-page foldout in Vogue. The first sign that this might be something more than a flash mob was the arrival of a convoy. A Range Rover. A Suburban. A Denali. All black. These were the cars of the wives of three Wall Street titans who were, as it happened, friends having their monthly lunch at Swifty’s. Their kids knew their mothers would be drinking Sancerre until at least 2:30, plenty of time for them to borrow their chauffeurs for a grocery pickup at the D’Agostino on Madison Avenue. They just hadn’t told the drivers that they’d be picking up $6,000 worth of canned food. Bought online. Paid by Platinum cards. Yes, a huge purchase. But considering who the customers were, it was more like a rounding error. Real money would be more like Kate Nichols — daughter of Billy Nichols, head of equities at Morgan Stanley — getting a $2 million apartment as a pre-graduation present for getting through Spence." (Observer)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

Joe Biden is pictured. | AP Photo

"Vice President Joe Biden really did get ahead of President Barack Obama on accepting gay marriage in 2012 — and the White House really wasn’t happy about it, despite their many attempts to claim otherwise. That’s the story laid out in Jo Becker’s new book, 'Forcing the Spring,' which documents the past few years of successful efforts to expand the legalization of gay marriage, according to an advance copy obtained by POLITICO. Speculation that Biden’s comments on 'Meet the Press' in May 2012 were meant as a trial balloon, Becker writes, came from people 'not privy to the chaos that erupted inside the West Wing after an emailed transcript of the interview landed in the inbox of the White House press team.' A furious Valerie Jarrett, Becker adds, accused Biden of 'downright disloyalty.' Becker describes the months leading up to that rushed moment as a scramble to weigh the political dangers of backing gay marriage against the expected push to add marriage equality to the Democratic convention platform. And Becker says Obama senior adviser David Plouffe reached out to an unexpected ally: former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who came out as gay himself in 2010.In a private lunch at the White House, Mehlman advised Obama that backing gay marriage could reassert his character strength from 2008, appealing to young people, Republicans and independents and beyond by seeming to take a bold stand without regard to the political consequences. On November 10, 2011, Mehlman sent Plouffe a full write-up of how the president should announce his support — in a joint interview with the first lady, conducted by a female journalist and 'all 3 should be sitting. Soft lighting'—as well as a full suggested script for the president to use.That script wasn’t far off from what Obama eventually said as he went public with his 'evolution,' and though he did the interview solo, he did do it with as Mehlman advised, with a female interviewer (ABC’s Robin Roberts).But he did it six months after Mehlman sent Plouffe the email, and only after Biden forced him. The first lady and Jarrett, Becker writes, were pressuring Obama to pull the trigger but his own personal and political anxieties held him back. Then came Biden. 'I think you may have just gotten in front of the president on gay marriage,' his communications director, Shailagh Murray, told him on the car ride back from the studio.Reflecting on the moment in an interview a year later, the vice president said, 'I didn’t go out volunteering a position, but when asked a question … I had to respond to it.'" (Politico)

"There are no tank battles or carpet bombings, but war is creeping into Ukraine. When Russia invaded Crimea last month, it was more of a parade—the Ukrainian army put up no real resistance, and the locals were either pleased with the turn of events or apathetic. This time, a nastier conflict is emerging in Donbass, an agglomeration of mining cities and towns including Artemivsk, known in times of peace for its sparkling-wine factory but also home to one of the country's largest weapons and ammunition stores. In recent days, groups of heavily armed men in modern combat fatigues with no insignia have been emerging, as if out of nowhere, in each of these towns and taking over local government buildings. They became known as 'the little green men,' a childish idiom which normally refers to aliens from space. The men are definitely not little, but they are certainly aliens in Donbass. They are unable to find their bearings in these miners' towns, speak Russian with a wrong accent (using words normal for St. Petersburg but not Ukraine), and they carry ultra-modern weapons that are unavailable in Ukraine. Journalists and politicians in Kiev are adamant they are Russian special troops, mixed with Crimean and local policemen who switched sides after losing to pro-democracy protesters in Kiev last winter. People also suspect local 'Cossacks,' paramilitaries who spent years training in 'patriotic' summer camps run by Moscow-friendly organizations. Once the 'little green men' take over a building, a few hundred unarmed supporters pour in to build barricades and serve as a human shield in case Ukrainian security forces decide to attack. These became known as "colorados," after the Colorado potato beetle—a nasty pest that sports black and yellow stripes on its back, same as on St. George ribbons worn by pro-Russian activists. The ribbon, which harks back to a Tsarist-era war medal, has become a symbol of Russian military glory in recent years. Some call it "Putin's swastika." There are more locals among the 'colorados,' but their commanders—always busy talking on the phone with their superiors and giving quiet orders to the protesters—often fail to produce the trademark "gh" sound that distinguishes Ukrainians and southern Russians from Russians who live around Moscow and St. Petersburg. The 'colorados' are not a homogenous group; they are comprised of Communists nostalgic about the USSR, Russian nationalists including outright fascists, and a whole bunch of fringe groups, such as neo-pagans. Some of them favor a federal Ukraine, with Donbass ruled by its own government. Others want their region to join Russia." (TNR)

"Cersei Lannister is a dangerous woman. She is the wicked queen of HBO’s super series Game of Thrones, the would-be power behind the Iron Throne. She is bold, ambitious, and ruthless, and she operates at the heart of power, yet she is locked out by her gender. Cersei seeks to control the driving political narrative of the show, masterminding the death of her husband (the King) and installing her son as ruler in his place with the hope of commanding things herself from the sidelines. But it’s not as easy as all that. If you’re a woman.She's not the only one left out, of course, even in the ruling House of Lannister. Game of Thrones is a show in thrall to outsiderdom, and in the latest episode Tyrion, Cersei’s brother, drops a great line, quippily nicknaming his crew of siblings 'the cripple, the dwarf, and the mother of madness.' To each their own flaw. The middle-generation Lannisters carry marginality right to the heart of power. They are all excluded: the true patriarchs are Tywin and Joffrey, grandfather and grandson (and they, it seems, are on their way out); centrality has skipped a generation. Cersei is the only one of the three who is not considered, by the values of Westeros, to be physically distorted. But she is a woman: her marginality is built into her body even as it conforms to expected norms.Cersei is a mythic reference, a homonym of, and presumable homage to, Circe, Odysseus’ witch-lover in the Odyssey. Circe is a powerful sorceress who turns men into pigs, found living in an all-female household on the island of Aeaea. So far, so threatening to patriarchal order. But then Odysseus shows up. Circe becomes his lover and becomes ancillary to his purposes, kitting him out with a boat for his journey, essential information on navigating the straits of Charybdis and Scylla, and tips for gaining access to the underworld, herself vanishing from the narrative as he departs with the plotline.This doesn’t seem like Cersei. She has her own unswayable desires and intentions, and exists at the heart of the plot, driving it onward." (Hairpin)

There was no money in old TV: Asner

"Journalists should NOT start a career interviewing colorful Ed Asner, who prefers being called Edward. Like the old pro from TV’s old Mary Tyler Moore show says: 'It’s Pesach [Passover]. I’m off to a Seder.' I reply: 'You’re Jewish?' He answers? 'What the f - - k did you think I was?' Ask: 'You rich?' It’s: 'Jesus, no. In TV’s old days we got paid like schleppers.' His lifestyle? 'I live alone in Valley Village, a continuation of Studio City. Been there seven years. I live quietly, just pick my nose, and emit all those noises we make as we get older.'" (Cindy Adams)

The block on the northwest corner of 86th and East End Avenue with the festooning pear trees which seemed to happen literally over night (Sunday to Monday).

"The first pears to blossom in the neighborhood was the row along Henderson Place on the northwest corner of East 86th Street and East End Avenue. They’re in the direct course of the Sunrise. These brick houses were built by a businessman named Henderson in the early 1880s. This part of New York was sparsely settled in those days. Gracie Mansion -- now The Mayor’s Residence -- was across the road, built eighty years before in 1799. It was originally a country place when the city was way down at the tip of Manhattan. The road was known as Avenue B on the grid back then (the straight line of the grid resuming about 79th Street. Mr. Henderson, according to Christopher Gray, the always fascinating architectural historian of the New York Times, intended the houses to be for 'persons of moderate means.' The middle class lived in townhouses in those days, many of which were rentals. The working poor lived in tenements. The wealthier citizens lived in townhouses which sometimes were mansions. East End Avenue which was then Avenue B was almost an outpost from the center of the city.Henderson built 32 houses. The  architects were Lamb & Rich, who designed Sagamore Hill in Long Island, the now famous country house of Theodore Roosevelt. The complex is, according to Christopher Gray, 'one of their signature works, on which they called on all the charming details in their portfolio and lavished them on the complex.' One hundred and thirty years later, Mr. Henderson’s inspiration retains its charm, and is even more beautiful while the pears are flowering. " (NYSD)

Mickey Rooney at the 1982 Academy

"In the 1930s, Mickey Rooney was the biggest star in the world. In April of 2014, when he died at the age of 93, his estate was valued at $18,000. How does that happen to a bona fide Hollywood legend? It depends on which warring side of his surviving family members you ask. Today The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg runs down the ugly feud between Mark and Chris Aber, the sons of Jan Chamberlin Rooney, who married Mickey Rooney in 1978. Though the couple never divorced, the Rooneys remained estranged when Mickey died; as Jan told The Hollywood Reporter, she learned of her husband’s death when 'someone from TMZ called me.' 2011, when Mickey Rooney testified before the Senate Special Committee on Aging about his experience with elder abuse at the hands of stepson Chris Aber and his wife, Christina. A legal complaint alleged that Aber 'threatens, intimidates, bullies, and harasses Mickey,” and the couple was asked to stay 100 yards away from the actor at all times. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, though, Chris Aber says it was all a setup orchestrated by his brother, whom he claims was stealing from Rooney: 'I caught him. And then, in order to defuse [the situation], he got a restraining order on me and told Mickey that I did it. Mark Aber was Rooney’s caregiver for the last year of his life, and Chris blames his brother for their mother’s unfortunate phone call from TMZ: 'My brother, whom [Rooney] died in front of, didn't even have the decency to call my mom [upon Rooney’s death] . . . That's how evil these attorneys and my brother are.' Feuds among family members of the rich and famous are nothing new, but it’s especially distressing to see a family torn apart in this way—not only over money, but accusations of violence and stealing, all with the law forced to take sides." (VanityFair)

Howard Stern interview: Danny Triejo