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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The United States is, at the moment, off balance. It faces challenges in the Syria-Iraq theater as well as challenges in Ukraine. It does not have a clear response to either. It does not know what success in either theater would look like, what resources it is prepared to devote to either, nor whether the consequences of defeat would be manageable. A dilemma of this sort is not unusual for a global power. Its very breadth of interests and the extent of power create opportunities for unexpected events, and these events, particularly simultaneous challenges in different areas, create uncertainty and confusion. U.S. geography and power permit a degree of uncertainty without leading to disaster, but generating a coherent and integrated strategy is necessary, even if that strategy is simply to walk away and let events run their course. I am not suggesting the latter strategy but arguing that at a certain point, confusion must run its course and clear intentions must emerge. When they do, the result will be the coherence of a new strategic map that encompasses both conflicts. The most critical issue for the United States is to create a single integrated plan that takes into account the most pressing challenges. Such a plan must begin by defining a theater of operations sufficiently coherent geographically as to permit integrated political maneuvering and military planning. U.S. military doctrine has moved explicitly away from a two-war strategy. Operationally, it might not be possible to engage all adversaries simultaneously, but conceptually, it is essential to think in terms of a coherent center of gravity of operations. For me, it is increasingly clear that that center is the Black Sea. There are currently two active theaters of military action with broad potential significance. One is Ukraine, where the Russians have launched a counteroffensive toward Crimea. The other is in the Syria-Iraq region, where the forces of the Islamic State have launched an offensive designed at a minimum to control regions in both countries -- and at most dominate the area between the Levant and Iran. In most senses, there is no connection between these two theaters. Yes, the Russians have an ongoing problem in the high Caucasus and there are reports of Chechen advisers working with the Islamic State. In this sense, the Russians are far from comfortable with what is happening in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, anything that diverts U.S. attention from Ukraine is beneficial to the Russians. For its part, the Islamic State must oppose Russia in the long run. Its immediate problem, however, is U.S. power, so anything that distracts the United States is beneficial to the Islamic State.
But the Ukrainian crisis has a very different political dynamic from the Iraq-Syria crisis. Russian and Islamic State military forces are not coordinated in any way, and in the end, victory for either would challenge the interests of the other." (STRATFOR)

The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators
Roll Call ranks Landrieu as the most vulnerable senator. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

"There is a new chart-topper in Roll Call’s latest monthly ranking of the 10 most vulnerable senators.
Montana’s appointed Sen. John Walsh was by far the most endangered incumbent in the chamber at the time of the previous installment in early August, but his decision last month to not seek a full term opened the top slot to a couple other worthy contenders. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., is still in a perilous political position, but Louisiana Sen. Mary L. Landrieu has leapfrogged him on the list to become the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbent. The Democrat is pushing hard to eclipse 50 percent on Nov. 4, the day of Louisiana’s jungle primary and possibly Landrieu’s best opportunity for re-election. She will undoubtedly get close. But if Landrieu doesn’t win a majority of the vote against a few GOP challengers, she will likely face Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., in the Dec. 6 runoff.If that happens, all bets are off, and Landrieu’s viability may depend on which party prevailed on Election Day. With the elections just two months away, Democratic incumbents overall have run strong-enough campaigns to ensure the fight for the Senate majority remains a tossup — despite a playing field tilted heavily in the GOP’s direction. Republicans, who need a net gain of six seats to take control of the chamber, are expected to get halfway there by picking up the open seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia. Its open-seat opportunities don’t stop there, but the GOP will likely need to defeat at least two sitting senators to win the majority. They have several to choose from:" (RollCall)

"After one of the most pleasant summers in memory (June through August), yesterday Mother Nature delivered us an important reminder: she rules. It was hot as hell and beyond humid yesterday in New York and much of the Northeast, unlike the past two months, and the weatherman says today will only be worse. I spent the holiday weekend in the City where it was beautiful including a brief but big thunderstorm on Sunday afternoon. Had dinner with friends on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and last night; and mainly read a book I’m just about to finish called 'Careless People; Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby' by Sarah Churchwell, an American professor of American Literature at a university in East Anglia. aturday, during my regular stroll (dogwalking) down by the river. I love to watch the boats on the river, as you may have gathered if you’ve read the NYSD before. However, I was surprised by all the activity going on in the brief time that I was there (with camera in hand). I have a new camera – a Canon SX700HS with a 30X Optical Zoom, and it was a perfect moment to check out its zoom power – as you will see. I love these big barges carrying construction equipment. I have no idea what kind of project the crane was heading for, be it in the harbor or on land although I was surprised to see it at work on a weekend, let alone a holiday weekend." (NYSD)

Keep Your Friends Close … Unless They’re in Washington

"Can somebody tell me when was the last time America got it right? Uncle Sam’s track record in selecting leaders in faraway places reminds me very much of my own, where libel is concerned: Plaintiffs 5, Taki 0. Let’s see, the good Uncle overthrew Mohammad Mossaddegh in Iran back in the early 50s in order for the Shah to become his man in Persia. The Shah went gallivanting in St. Moritz, threw very expensive parties in Persepolis, and spent money like a Saudi camel driver-turned-prince for American weapons. But once the Shah became a pariah, the home of the brave chickened out. The Shah became Shah who? Only Henry Kissinger admitted knowing him and even managed to get him a bed in a cancer hospital. What about the Diem family before that? They were bosom buddies with Eisenhower and the Kennedys until insiders in Washington started to talk down Madame (Diem’s sister-in-law) Nhu’s habit of spending lotsa moolah while Buddhist monks ignited themselves in protest of her Catholicism and corruption. The Diems were slain by generals who had been given the go-ahead by JFK, whose life was also terminated three weeks later." (Taki)

Fashion Week: Beautiful Savage Magazine

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And so it begins #NYFW

Last Thursday was the unofficial launch of Fashion Week with the new issue of Beautiful Savage magazine. Fashion Director Rowshana Jackson celebrated her birthday as well as the issue launch at Salon de Lafayette on Lafayette Street on the Lower East Side. Milano Green Vodka was served as well as amazing sweets and music was curated by DJ Beto and Jay White. Also among the beautiful people: Morgan McCarty, Matthew Anderson and Brandon Cole Bailey.

A good time was had by all.

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For Fashion Week I will be updating fairly regularly on

Friday, August 29, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

President Barack Obama pauses during a press conference on 28 August.

"'We don't have a strategy yet', is one of those things you don't expect presidents to say out loud. But maybe it is a mark of the divisions that exist within the administration over how hawkish to be about Islamic State. What this statement from the president does show is firstly just how complex the military options are in attacking Islamic State in Syria. But most importantly it shows the extreme wariness of this president to unilaterally start military action when it's not clear where it will end.
So next week John Kerry will go on from the NATO summit in Wales to the Middle East to build support for US action in Syria. But maybe the president was also sending a message to European leaders like Prime Minister David Cameron that says don't expect America to do all the heavy lifting on this by itself. In return, maybe in his statement on raising the UK terror alert, Mr Cameron was signalling back: you won't have to. But it is also worth just adding this: exactly this time a year ago, Mr Obama was preparing to attack targets of the Assad regime. Twelve months on he's looking to attack President Assad's opponents. That is a mark of just how complex the politics is - and might explain why the president is still trying to define a strategy." (Jon Sopel/BBC)

"When Carmen Dell’Orefice posed for Salvador Dalí in his suite at the St. Regis hotel, in Manhattan, in the spring of 1946, she was 14 and already a year into a modeling career whose unique, gravity-defying trajectory continues to gather momentum today. Her evolution from shy, skinny teenager to still-sexy grande dame has been charted by the defining image-makers of successive generations, from Beaton, Avedon, and Penn to Bruce Weber, Terry Richardson, and Nick Knight. Not bad for a girl who grew up in Depression-era New York, the daughter of a Hungarian dancer and an Italian concert violinist. Beauty has been her passport, gallows humor and an old soldier’s discipline her unbreachable defenses against life’s cross-currents: there were three 'successful marriages that didn’t last' (she has a daughter, Laura, 61, and a stepson, Jeffrey, 70, from her first marriage); the sudden death of fiancé number four, TV producer David Susskind; the loss, twice over, of her life savings (most recently to Bernard Madoff); and, latterly, the inevitable encroachments of age, culminating in a double knee replacement last year. 'It’s called living,' she says breezily. When I drew her for Vanity Fair, she was back at the St. Regis, in fine fettle. To set the scene, she brought a Dalí drawing from her Park Avenue apartment and reminisced about vacationing at the artist’s Spanish estate, where his pet ocelot, Babou, having learned to open doors, leapt into bed with her one midnight, long ago. There are tales aplenty to tell, but Carmen is more interested in her current project, planning her life from age 80 to 100. 'If I die,' she declares, 'it will be with my high heels on.'" (VF)

"The NYPD’s 'Hip-Hop Squad' has a number of rappers and stars — including Drake, Chris Brown and French Montana — on a special watch list and is stepping up surveillance on their New York parties in the wake of the Suge Knight shooting in LA, we’re told. The shadowy specialist unit, known locally as the 'Hip-Hop Police,' keeps a list of rappers and hip-hop stars whose shows and night club appearances are closely monitored. It also includes Fabolous, Wiz Khalifa, Young Jeezy, Fat Joe, Jim Jones and Lil Wayne. A source told us: 'All New York club owners are required to inform the Hip-Hop Police in advance if anyone on the watch list is coming in. They want to be there to monitor the crowd and in case any trouble starts.' The insider added, 'They don’t want any situations like the Suge Knight shooting. If something does go down, they want to already be on the scene.' Another source tells us the hip-hop cops are well-known in the urban music industry, and 'if there is a show going on, they are there. Their job is to investigate crimes and curtail violence in the hip-hop industry. So when they find out there is a beef between rappers, they monitor it. They are plainclothes cops, they go to clubs and shows. They were at J.Lo’s show in The Bronx because French Montana and Fat Joe were coming.'" (P6)

"Amazon posted its five new pilots today: Two dramas and three comedies. How are the new shows? Well, the comedies are a mixed bunch! One is terrific right out of the gate, one is polished but uninteresting, and one just needs to decide to be a better show. The Cosmopolitans: It's a Whit Stillman show set in Paris, starring Adam Brody and Chloë Sevigny (among others) as American expats who drink wine and go to parties and lament things. It's very much how you'd think, which is to say: Mannered and tiny in scope; nostalgic, almost, even though it's set in the present day; and also sharply funny and a little dreamy. ('You always imagine journalists being ugly, because of the anger, but she's really attractive!') Are these people loathsome or aspirational? Ah, complexity.
The Cosmopolitans is not a mainstream show by any standard, and I can't even think of a network where it would be at home — and this is the dream for TV fans, that the streaming universe will put out the kinds of shows traditional television would never make and couldn't really support. If there had been another episode to watch, I would have watched it immediately. Vive les Cosmopolitans." (NYMag)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"We’ve been noting for months the odd circumstances in the Kansas gubernatorial contest, where Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is in a Toss-up race with state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) despite the state’s inherent conservatism. But it’s also become clear that Sen. Pat Roberts (R) is also not exactly as safe as one might think. Despite facing a weak primary opponent in physician Milton Wolf (R), Roberts didn’t even crack 50% in the primary held earlier this month. The primary campaign revealed Roberts to be rather weak himself, particularly because he basically doesn’t even live in Kansas, a modern-day political no-no. Some recent polls, have shown Roberts leading but under 40% against two main opponents: Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor (D) and businessman Greg Orman, an independent former Democrat who can heavily self-fund.
Let’s be clear: Kansas hasn’t elected a Democratic senator since 1932, and Roberts’ poor performance as a candidate isn’t by itself enough to change that, particularly because the split field might actually benefit the incumbent in a state with no runoff. But to be cautious, we’re moving this race from Safe Republican to Likely Republican ... A pair of Midwestern Republican governors, Terry Branstad of Iowa and John Kasich of Ohio, have long held strong positions in our ratings, in part because of weak, underfunded opponents. Branstad’s challenger, state Sen. Jack Hatch (D), got the nomination only because it seemed like no one else wanted it. The same could arguably be said for Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D) in Ohio, where Democrats have a surprisingly weak bench given the state’s longstanding status as a political battleground. It now appears that the outcome in both races isn’t much in doubt, so we’re switching both from Likely Republican to Safe Republican ... One other race of note this week: We’re moving NY-18 from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic. There’s not a specific development that’s prompting this change in the rematch between Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D) and former Rep. Nan Hayworth (R): Rather, we’re just getting the sense that it’s more competitive than we previously thought, which makes sense in a district where the 2012 presidential results (51%-47% Obama) were the same as the national results (AZ-9, the Sinema seat mentioned above, is another 51%-47% Obama seat). Maloney, perhaps best known these days for the aerial photography at his recent wedding, remains a favorite." (SabatosCrystalBall)

"In a juicy new tell-all book, Katie Couric comes across as brash, striving, and self-absorbed, Diane Sawyer is a Machiavellian, often-inscrutable workaholic, and Christiane Amanpour has an off-putting moral superiority. For Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Christiane Amanpour, the moment of truth is about to arrive—or at least a book-length facsimile thereof. News executives and network publicists have been distracting themselves from this summer’s seriously depressing or otherwise alarming world events by passing around and poring over bound galleys of The News Sorority, veteran journalist Sheila Weller’s gossipy chronicle of the rise (and occasional stumbles) of three of television news’ best-known women. In Weller’s narrative—which, as the subtitle indicates, aspires to document 'the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News'—Couric comes off as brash, striving, self-absorbed, and occasionally insensitive to the realities faced by her less well-compensated coworkers, yet steeled by personal tragedy (the cancer-related deaths of her husband and her sister) and capable of big-hearted generosity. Sawyer is a Machiavellian, often-inscrutable workaholic who uses her seductive charm and good looks to professional advantage and torments news producers with her relentless perfectionism and insecurity—an apparent consequence of a fraught relationship with her judgmental, formidable mother (who once sent the adult Sawyer into a self-flagellating death spiral, Weller writes, when she criticized how her TV star daughter had made her bed). Amanpour is the reigning queen of the warzone, more physically courageous and resourceful than her male colleagues in perilous combat situations, but with an occasionally off-putting sense of moral superiority which, along with her posh British accent, sometimes renders her brittle and inaccessible to American audiences—a factor which seems to have hampered her career.
All three, in Weller’s account, are superb journalists who have risen to the top of their profession through sheer talent, brains, and hard work in an industry whose culture, even in the second decade of the 21st century, remains more than vestigially sexist. In one representative anecdote, CBS News Executive Vice President Paul Friedman publicly muses on an open audio line about which female anchor looks worse without makeup—Sawyer or Couric. 'I was blown back in my chair,' a female producer tells Weller. 'What did it say about a man in senior management that he didn’t know he shouldn’t say that, of his boss [Katie], out loud?'" (Lloyd Grove)

DPC and Arlene Dahl finishing up lunch yesterday at Michael's.

"Yesterday, I went to lunch at Michael’s with Arlene Dahl who is being honored today on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) with an all-day program of some of her filmography. I’ve seen Arlene in films and I even saw her first film at MGM when I was a kid, the first movie musical ' I ever saw: Three Little Words' with Fred Astaire and Red Skelton. Released in 1950. The 17-year-old Debbie Reynolds had her first film role at MGM in that picture lip-synching Helen Kane singing 'I Wanna Be Loved By You.' It was also Arlene’s first role under contract to the studio. I had my own education of Hollywood in the years I lived there, through my associations with a variety of men and women who were part of the vanguard of the mid-century film industry. I also wrote Debbie Reynolds' 1988 Memoir (“Debbie, My Life,” William Morrow publishers), and in the process met many more individuals who worked and created in the glory days of the studio system. It was a glamorous life to the kid out there in middle-America looking through the prism of Technicolor. And in some ways it remained that in my own experience. It wasn’t until decades later that I got a good look at the creative productivity of enormous studio teams of off-camera geniuses whose collaboration with the actor as cameraman, costume designer, choreographer, hair stylist, makeup artist, drama coach, lighting director, set designer, writer, producer, director actually created Stars whose images influenced the Americanization of the culture of the world. Arlene went to work at MGM in 1946. At the time her agent, Lew Wasserman got her contracts with both MGM and Warners, for whom she worked a divided week. A redhead from Minnesota, she started a professional career as a  model for a Chicago department store when she was still in her teens. Her supervisor who was leaving the job took Arlene to New York on one of her buying trips to see the fashions that she would be modeling, so she could make judgments without the director’s assistance." (NYSD)

"Joan Rivers is in critical condition after she stopped breathing during a medical procedure on Thursday, police sources tell The Post. The E! Fashion critic, 81, was a patient at Yorkville Endoscopy on East 93rd street near Third Avenue in New York City, police also confirmed.
After she stopped breathing, a 911 call was placed at around 9:40 a.m. TMZ reports the caller said, 'We have somebody in either cardiac or respiratory arrest.' She was reportedly rushed to Mount Sinai hospital. Sources says Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, is rushing to New York. Rivers had stressful week, performing 'Fashion Police' duty with the Video Music Awards and Emmys back to back." (P6)

Robert Simonson. (Photo: Daniel Krieger)
Robert Simonson. (Photo: Daniel Krieger)

"When Robert Simonson walked into The Long Island Bar on a recent Friday afternoon, he did so with a tote bag full of goodies. Inside that bag? A galley of the forthcoming Death & Co cocktail book, as well as a bottle of Batavia Arrack, which the Atlantic Avenue drinking establishment does not stock. 'This is probably totally illegal,' said Mr. Simonson, as we slid into a back booth. The idea was to have Phil Ward—the former Death & Co head bartender and current co-owner of Mayahuel, who still takes a regular shift at The Long Island Bar—whip up one of his original creations called the Shattered Glasser. Of course, bringing the cocktail book was unnecessary; Mr. Ward remembers all of his specs. And besides, we were here to talk about a different book all together, one penned by Mr. Simonson. The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail, which came out earlier this year, is a beautiful hardcover tome, with lush photographs, deeply researched lore and a whole mess of recipes. Mr. Simonson, who writes about all things bar and cocktail for The New York Times, picked out one such recipe for me to try: the tequila-based Oaxaca Old-Fashioned, another Phil Ward creation. Having recently returned from New Orleans’ Tales of the Cocktail, where he gave a presentation on his favorite drink, Mr. Simonson wasn’t sure he could stomach another Old-Fashioned. I pledged to drink for two. Let’s talk about the history of the Old-Fashioned. Where does the name come from? 'The full name is the Old-Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail. It started out as the Whiskey Cocktail, and that was served up and not on ice. Then around the 1870s, bartenders started putting other things in it, like maraschino liqueur and absinthe, to make it exciting and racy. Some people thought it tasted pretty good, but the old-timers didn’t, so they started asking for an old-fashioned Whiskey Cocktail.'" (Observer)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

TVNewser : Cable Network Ranker

(Click to enlarge -- image via TVNewser)


Media Whore D'Oeuvres

John, Elisha, Alexandra, and Margaret Thornton with Sheikh Shakhboot Bin Nahyan Al Nahyan

"This past Saturday night in Wainscott at their oceanfront home, Kilkare, Eleanora and Michael Kennedy hosted a celebration for Margaret Thornton and her novel Charleston. Margaret is the author of Tennessee Williams Notebooks, for which she received the BronzeFOREWARD Magazine Book of the year award for autobiography/memoir and the C. Hugh Holman prize for the best volume of southern literary scholarship. Her work has appeared in the Paris Review, World Literature Today, and the Times Literary Supplement, to name a few. She is a native of Charleston, graduate of Princeton University, and is married to John Thornton. They have four children. Guests from the worlds of literature, art, and publishing joined the neighbors in the Georgica association to honor Margaret. Among the attendees: The Thornton family, Candice Bergen, Marshall Rose, Ross Bleckner, Julian Robertson, Nancy Brinker, Kathleen Doyle, Richard Ravitch, Anna Safir, Jerry Della Femina, Judy Licht, Priscilla and Chris Whittle, Clifford Ross, Tad Friend, Amanda Hesser, Tom Edelman, Charlotte Moss, John Eastman, Ronald Lauder, Jo Carol Lauder, Leonard Lauder and Judy Glickman, Heather Watts and Damian Woetzel, Sima Ghadamian, and Chris Isham." (NYSD)

"In June, Hollywood journalist Nikki Finke launched an eponymous website following her drama-filled departure from Last week, BuzzFeed reported that was on the verge of shuttering following demands from lawyers representing her former employer, Penske Media Corporation, which owns Deadline in addition to Variety. Much schadenfreude was had. As we wrote last November, a new confirmed photo of Finke has not been published since 2008, which is bizarre because she lives in Los Angeles, a city that happens to be full of photographers both professional and amateur. People want to know what Finke looks like these days because she has terrorized Hollywood for years, and when someone yells at you on the phone, you want to have a picture of her in your mind." (NYMag)

Sarah Goodbody and Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill

"Aristocrats are packing up in St-Tropez, Capri and Ibiza and breaking out dinner jackets for the fall social season. Guests on both sides of the Atlantic are already buzzing about the impending nuptials of Lord Charles Spencer Churchill and Sarah Goodbody Sept. 19 at England’s Blenheim Palace.
The 18th century pile is occupied by Charles’ brother, the Duke of Marlborough and his wife, Lily. We hear the Duke’s ex, Rosita Spencer-Churchill, just returned from cruising Corsica with her kids. But first she’s expected as a guest at the 80th birthday of Oklahoma real-estate man Konrad Keesee, whose son, Christian, is throwing a four-day bash at The Connaught and sailing over American guests on the Queen Mary 2 on Wednesday, including 79-year-old former Vogue cover girl Fern Tailer. Also attending, we hear, will be Princess Esra of Hyderabad, who’s planning her own upcoming bash for 90 guests at Falaknuma Palace, her former home." (P6)