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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

Monday, April 14, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waves to the crowd after delivering remarks at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries conference on April 10, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Getty
Clinton is continuing to keep a remarkably low political profile.

"She’s one of the most sought-after surrogates of a party that can use all the help it can get in the midterms. But for reasons both personal and strategic, Hillary Clinton, potential Democratic 2016 standard-bearer, has largely resisted the tug of electoral politics — and likely won’t hit the trail for Democratic candidates until the heat of election season this fall.More than a year removed from the State Department, Clinton is continuing to keep a remarkably low political — if not public — profile. She has remained in the news with a series of paid speeches, including one last week when she dodged a shoe hurled at her by an audience member. But when she campaigned for two friends last year — Terry McAuliffe in Virginia and Bill de Blasio in New York City — her aides made clear at the time those were exceptions. Clinton’s absence so far from an uphill election year for her party contrasts with the other Democrats who are openly eyeing presidential bids in 2016, Vice President Joe Biden and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Both have telegraphed that they plan to become active surrogates for Democrats on the ballot this year, though they have a lot more to gain politically than Clinton.Campaign and party committee officials would love Clinton’s help whenever it comes but point out that Bill Clinton has begun campaigning and raising money for a number of Democrats running this year. Since his poll numbers remain high and the two are seen as a single entity, and people view him as tending to the family’s political business, Hillary Clinton gets credit for that.
Sources close to the former first lady say she’s likely to campaign in some capacity for Democrats in the run-up to the election, when they believe her involvement would pack the most punch. Her main focus in recent months has been on finishing her latest book about her time as secretary of state, which is due out June 10. A lengthy book tour is expected to follow, marking an intense period leading up to the midterms that could provide clues to Clinton’s thinking about another national campaign. 'I didn’t actually ask her; she told me,' Raymond Buckley, the New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman, said in an interview. He recounted what Clinton said in December were her plans for this year: ''I’m going to finish my book, then I’ve got the book tour.’" (Politico)

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens during a news briefing after the weekly Senate Republican Policy Luncheon December 11, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. McConnell discussed various topics with the media including the fiscal cliff issue saying "time is running out."

"The most recent forecast by Fivethirtyeight gives Republicans a sixty percent chance of winning a majority of the Senate in November’s elections. Given that any bill already has to pass the Republican-controlled House, the effect of a Republican Senate upon President Obama’s legislative agenda can be calculated at zero, with a margin of error of zero. You can’t kill something that is already dead.On the other hand, what is currently alive, albeit barely, is a fragile peace that has enabled the functioning of the traditional separation-of-powers relationship between the branches of government. The survival of that peace depends entirely on a Democratic Senate. Almost nobody seems to be thinking about the potential chaos that could lie ahead.The Constitutional crises of 2013 were numerous enough to blur together. The most easily resolved took place when Senate Republicans began wholesale barricading of various judicial and executive branch appointments by the Obama administration. Previously, the Senate tended to block candidates in rare and particular circumstances — say, if they were unusually radical or unqualified, or sometimes in response to a particularly bitter fight over a previous candidate. Last year, Senate Republicans declared they simply would not allow any Obama nominees for various positions in the executive branch whose functioning (like enforcing labor law or regulating Wall Street) they did not care for. They likewise announced that they would not permit any new judges to the powerful D.C. Circuit because the court was balanced between the two parties and Republicans wanted to keep it that way. This escalation amounted to a major revision of the balance of powers — if it held, a hostile Senate could paralyze any agency it desired, or prevent a president from appointing anybody to the federal bench.Senate Democrats resolved the standoff by changing the Senate’s rules to ban filibusters for executive branch nominees and federal judges. This was the 'nuclear option' — a dreaded unilateral alteration of the chamber’s rules. Republicans and respectable centrist observers alike predicted the nuclear option would unleash terrible and indescribable consequences. The nuclear option turned out to defuse the conflict. Obama has gone ahead filling administrative and judicial appointments, none of them especially offensive to the Republican minority, and the crisis dissipated, as if into thin air." (Jonathan Chait)

"Twenty-five years after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, Vanity Fair writer Paul Elie hears from Rushdie himself and authors including Stephen King, Ian McEwan, E. L. Doctorow, Gay Talese, and Martin Amis, as well as editors from Viking and Penguin, the book’s respective U.K. and American publishers, about how the prophetic and provocative book made its author a hunted man and unleashed a fury around the world. Bombs exploded in bookshops in the U.S. and the U.K.; the book’s Japanese translator was shot and killed, its Italian translator was stabbed, its Turkish translator was attacked, its Norwegian publisher was shot, and two clerics in Saudi Arabia and Tunisia who spoke out against the fatwa were shot and killed. In total, Elie writes, more than 60 people died in the controversy.Stephen King went so far as to intervene on Rushdie’s behalf when a number of bookstores in the U.S. announced plans not to sell the book or to remove it from their shelves. At the behest of two Viking editors, King called the chief of bookstore chain B. Dalton and gave him an ultimatum: 'You don’t sell The Satanic Verses, you don’t sell Stephen King.' The store reversed course. 'You can’t let intimidation stop books,' King now says, recalling the episode. 'It’s as basic as that. Books are life itself.' Martin Amis tells Elie that Prince Charles refused to support the British-Indian Rushdie. 'I had an argument with Prince Charles at a small dinner party,' Amis recollects. 'He said—very typically, it seems to me—‘I’m sorry, but if someone insults someone else’s deepest convictions, well then,’ blah blah blah . . . And I said that a novel doesn’t set out to insult anyone. ‘It sets out to give pleasure to its readers,’ I told him. ‘A novel is an essentially playful undertaking, and this is an exceedingly playful novel.’ The Prince took it on board, but I’d suppose the next night at a different party he would have said the same thing.' Ian McEwan recalls the fear that pervaded time spent with Rushdie, including a dinner party at McEwan’s Gloucestershire cottage. 'I remember standing the next morning with Salman in the country kitchen, a gray English morning, and he was the lead item on the BBC—another Middle East figure saying he too would condemn him to death. It was a very sad moment—standing buttering toast and listening to that awful message on the radio.' For his part, Rushdie recalls that a number of prominent authors surrounded him with support." (VanityFair)

"I was always obsessed with adventure. Which is exactly how I would eventually find my way to glorious Key West. But I wouldn’t figure that out for many years. When I was 19 years old and filled with desire to unearth the meaning of life, I traveled around the world for six months by myself. While this sounds brave I never intended to travel alone. It would not have occurred to me to travel throug...h foreign lands all by my lonesome. When I flew out from NYC with my friend Gina and a couple of backpacks from the Salvation Army and a switchblade knife, we thought it would all be great fun and the goodbye party we threw for ourselves was riotous. When the backpacks rattled out on the luggage conveyor belt at Orly Airport their little metal legs were bent and all the straps were ripped off so that we could no longer wear them, but rather we had to drag them bumpily behind us like reluctant puppies. We should have heeded the omen. Instead, over the next couple of weeks we alit here and there through Europe and all the way to some Greek island (not the one we bought a ferry ticket for so we were tossed off the boat at the first port of call) we left a steaming hideous trail of squabbles. We fought about absolutely everything. Every day was a tangle of disagreements and sometimes my switchblade knife looked like a tempting solution. Thankfully Gina had a moped accident on this Greek island (I swear I did not push her). I stuffed her and her bloody knees into the surf to clean her gravel filled wounds, got her a bottle of wine to shut her the hell up, and made arrangements to ship her home. We had been poised to head east, to the start of the truly mysterious destinations, like Sri Lanka, a country I had never even heard of but I was ecstatic to see Gina go." (Christina Oxenberg)

"Last Thursday’s social calendar in New York looked something like this: The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s annual Spring Luncheon at the Pierre; the ASPCA’s annual Bergh Ball -- 'House of Paws' -- at the Plaza; the 29th Annual rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Barclays Center, Creel & Gow’s book party for international interior designer Nina Campbell; Jay Jeffers Collection Cool Book launch at a private residence; the French Heritage Society’s benefit concert and champagne reception at the Consulate General of France; The Public Art Fund’s 2014 Spring Benefit." (NYSD)