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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Sometime in the next few weeks, Congress and the White House will descend into the labyrinthine politics of comprehensive health care reform. For Barack Obama, this signals the end, in a sense, of the eventful prologue to his presidency. Impressive as they are, Obama’s legislative victories to this point — most notably the $787 billion stimulus bill and a stunningly ambitious $3.6 trillion budget resolution — have been relatively easy lifts for a popular new president installed at a time of economic crisis and buffered by comfortable majorities in the House and Senate. Sure, getting those bills passed required a fair amount of perseverance on the part of the White House, but persuading congressmen to spend public money in their districts doesn’t exactly qualify as dark magic. Designing a new health care system, on the other hand, is a legislative goal that has eluded every Democratic president since Harry Truman and that Obama repeatedly vowed to accomplish during last year’s campaign; he has said that it is not only a moral imperative but also a crucial part of his plan to remake the American economy, an ever-expanding share of which is swallowed up by doctors’ bills and hospital stays. Making good on his promise will require not just public expenditure on a disorienting scale but also the kind of activism and creativity, the birthing of new rules and institutions, at which Washington hasn’t succeeded for generations." (NYTimes)



"'I feel like the Benetton ads,' said filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, posing for photos with Senegalese singer Youssou NDour and fellow director Mike Nichols at a screening of her new documentary, Youssou NDour: I Bring What I Love, at the Paris Theater on Thursday night, June 4 .. Documentary film seemed to be the unifying theme among the unlikely mix of personalities in attendance. Portrait photographer and documentarian Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart) posed gamely while holding up a point-and-shoot. Philippe Petit, whose 1974 walk between the former World Trade Center's twin towers was chronicled in last year’s Man on Wire, hobnobbed in solidarity with a fellow documentary subject .. The subject of the most pre-arrival speculation was Lou Reed. 'Lou Reed’s gotten really into it,' claimed one photographer, wryly joking about the legendary guitarist's typical red carpet antics. The grizzled speaker was a cartoon paparazzo, chomping a toothpick and wearing orange-lensed sunglasses and an earring. 'Really?' replied a colleague. 'He used to be terrible.' Indeed, he still is. She had been taken in by her colleague’s rascally wit. 'The only way Lou Reed’ll pose is if Laurie tells him to,' he explained. This prediction proved accurate. The former Velvet Underground frontman attempted to march, zombie-like, into the theater until wife Laurie Anderson coaxed him to pause." (Observer)



"Memorials have been pouring in over the past 24 hours: Bruce Weber offers an extensive obituary at The New York Times; The Guardian‘s Xan Brooks has a 'life in clips' memorial on his blog; The House Next Door has created a forum for people to share their thoughts and remembrances; Cinematical‘s Peter Martin takes a look at Carradine’s lesser known works; Entertainment Weekly‘s Clark Collis said Carradine 'was a sly, devilish, and at times downright freaky movie presence'; CHUD‘s David Oliver wrote of the actor: 'In a staggering career that ranged from the 1966 TV series Shane, to the iconic Kung Fu in the 1970s, to Death Race 2000, all the way to Kill Bill, Carradine is a man who seemingly did it all on film, for all the good and bad that that entailed'; While Living In Cinema‘s Craig Kennedy emphasizes that while 'speculation as to the circumstances and cause of his death are spreading around the Internet,' the 'only important fact is that Caine walks the earth no more.'" (IndieWIRE)



"But the political realities of this small, chronically divided Mediterranean country are far less drastic, and far more complex. Hezbollah, which the United States considers a terrorist group, is already part of Parliament and the cabinet. It is almost certain to win the same number of Parliament seats — 11 out of 128 — as it now holds. If Hezbollah and its allies win a majority for the first time — and the race is likely to be very close — there will be concern in Washington and Tel Aviv. But the Lebanese government will not fall into the hands of armed Islamists. Instead, the election turns on the votes of Lebanon’s Christians, who are divided between the two main political camps. The real beneficiary of an opposition victory would not be Hezbollah but its main electoral partner, the Free Patriotic Movement, led by the retired Christian general Michel Aoun. His parliamentary bloc is already more than twice as large as Hezbollah’s, and a clear electoral victory could propel him into a dominant position." (NYTimes)



"When I spoke to the lady judge afterwards she was very diplomatic about her colleagues but admitted that reputations do count. As in real life. At the end I got the bronze medal and the podium as a German fighter had scored more points than me in the medal round and finished up with the silver. My coach, Teimoc Ono-Johnston was the only other American (I was representing Uncle Sam, as Greece is to Judo what Monte Carlo is to the nuclear club) to get to the podium. Teimoc won all his matches but one by ippon, but the one lapse cost him the gold. So, I am no longer world champion, only a bronze medallist, the equivalent of a hedge fund manager during the go-go days. I have a dislocated left thumb and very sore ankles, but I promise loyal readers that solipsism time is finally over. You will not read about my judo and karate exploits until next year, when hopefully I will have regained my title and my self respect. Down with Judo referees—except for one lady." (Takimag)

"President Sarkozy’s cold shoulder to the Queen on D-Day’s anniversary doesn’t surprise Michael Korda — 65 years after the Allies saved the French, he’s still waiting for a 'thank you' .. It is hard to celebrate the past in an ecumenical way, or even in a fair-minded one, apparently. The trouble with the past is not just that it’s behind us, it’s that it is not even over yet. Thus the tiff over President Sarkozy’s decision not to invite Queen Elizabeth II to the ceremony on the 65th anniversary of D-Day—a piece of monumental French rudeness that was hardly assuaged by a last-minute invitation to the Prince of Wales. It exemplifies not the Allied unity that General Dwight D. Eisenhower insisted on and, without which the invasion of Europe, could never have succeeded, but instead the thousand-year history of mutual recrimination and contempt that, with a short interruption during the reign of King Edward VII, has always characterized the prickly relationship between France and Great Britain." (TheDailyBeast)



"With stars such as Brazil's Kaka and Spain's Fernando Torres heading to the Confederations Cup, the host South Africans are hoping to put on a show that will prove they were the right choice to stage the 2010 World Cup. Eight teams are coming to South Africa to play the June 14-28 tournament in four of the stadiums that will also stage World Cup matches next year. The teams are sending most of their best stars, even those who have only just finished a gruelling season with their European clubs .. The South Africans, who have been dreaming for decades of the World Cup coming to their continent, have to put on a near flawless performance to convince a skeptical world that their country, plagued by street crime and AIDS, is safe and able to hold such a big championship." (CanadianPress)



"The annual June Conservatory Ball at the New York Botanical Gardens, which attracts New York's most serious fundraisers, is often referred to as an 'older' event when compared with the Winter Wonderland Ball held traditionally in December .. 500 revellers like Sigourney Weaver, Anne Grauso, Alexandra Kotur, Gillian Miniter and Bronson van Wyck to enter the Conservatory Tent .. 'Despite my best intentions, I've been out quite a bit this week,' confessed Alex Kramer, citing a particularly late night at the birthday party of Shoshana Gruss, Dani Stahl and Ali Wise. 'But this is a good one--and how can you say no to Christian?' Indeed. The event, which raised over $1.5 million for the NYBG, was governed by good energy. 'Whatever happens,' declared Creel with gusto, 'There will be dancing!'" (Fashionweekdaily)



"I emerged from a funeral service in northern New Jersey two weeks ago to find a large iguana chained beside a water bowl on the church’s weedless lawn. What would John Updike have done with this picture? Death ended Updike’s long stint as a man of letters in January while a final collection of short fiction was still in the works. 'My Father’s Tears and Other Stories' has arrived now with shades of valediction, mourning and nostalgia, yes, yet also with the still brilliant, vital gifts of seeing and saying that set Updike apart. The first of the 18 stories dates from 1979, while the others were written this century and appear in chronological order. The arrangement echoes the title work of Updike’s 'Endpoint and Other Poems,' published in April. 'Endpoint' comprises verse from March 2002 to late 2008 marking birthdays or personal themes. Both collections offer a rare chance to trace a writer’s thoughts and art in his final years and months." (Bloomberg)



"Japonais Restaurant & Lounge, Marie Claire Magazine, and Priority Films teamed up Thursday to host a red carpet cocktail reception benefiting The RedLight Children Campaign. The guests dined on Japonais signature dishes, sipped cocktails sponsored by the William Grant Portfolio, and danced to tunes spun by DJ SERG. The hostesses at the party were dressed as Geishas and were styled by Francky L’Official, Weldon Layne, Vincent Oquendo from Artists by Next Agency. Proceeds from the event went to benefit The RedLight Children Campaign. More photos and story from this event. The campaign works to stop all forms of child sexual exploitation, human trafficking and slavery." (Guestofaguest)



"Mark Ronson proved to be a bit of an embarrassing brother last night, as he constantly interrupted Sam's DJ set with drunken warblings. His sister was DJing at Notting Hill Arts Club — and doing a fine job, we might add — but Mark kept grabbing the mic and shouting: 'Make some f***ing noise for Sam Ronson!' In fact, if it wasn't for Mark's girlfriend Josephine de la Baume, it might have been worse. She at least managed to keep him distracted by snogging his face off behind the DJ booth. Thanks Josephine." (Thisislondon)

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