Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Little Of The Old In And Out

In: John Hughes, RIP. John Hughes lovingly chronicled the American geek at his most acutely vulnerable moment -- in high school. It is probably impossible to underestimate the impression his coming-of-age movies made on anyone who came of age in the mid 1980s, at the height of Reagan's big-haired Imperial Burlesque.

The pendulum swung. As former hippies embraced the lavish, gaudy lifestyles born of huge budget deficits, Hughes captured, pitch-perfectly, the moody after-effects on the often psychologically left behind children of those neglectful Boomers.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful, Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink all bear his shy, iconic stamp. If that eternal, angry adolescent Ingmar Bergman's cinematic muses were Max von Sydow and Liv Ullman then John Hughes' alter egos were the brittle Molly Ringwald (whom he always portrayed with a gentle, fatherly love) and the acutely geekish Anthony Michael Hall, all squeaky-voiced and awkward gangly wonderful. Hughes created a self-contained but highly recognizable high school alternate universe where petty school bureaucrats ruled with an iron fist and soul-killing rules as cool kids, unpunished, roamed the halls like scavengers on the veldt. Anyone who grew up in the 1980s, at the height of the decline of American public education, saw ominous parallels.

John Hughes, like all great artists, never quite grew up. The slings and arrows of outrageous adolescence stayed with him. Clearly they stung. But they also provided a fertile almost volcanic soil for him to produce such strong green chutes like Ferris Bueller, the large-hearted class cutter always one step away from the bitter High School Principal, or Allison Reynolds, the hypershy magnificent freak who -- mirabile dictu -- turned out to be a swan under all the the dandruff, melancholy and goth clothing.

Rest in peace, John Hughes. Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.

(image via theatlantic)

Out: The Boston Globe. Good luck trying to sell a newspaper -- no matter how respected -- in this economic climate. The better idea would be to privately shop the property around to civic-pirited billionaires who may be interested in the news, like David Geffen. From Paidcontent:

"After playing coy for weeks—despite reports in its own papers and point-blank questions to its execs—the New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) is finally admitting that the Boston Globe, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and their websites are for sale.

".. No idea why CEO Janet Robinson and others couldn’t have admitted this weeks ago, at the very least after the Boston Newspaper Guild vote if that was the hold up or during Q2 results on July 23. It doesn’t help the company’s image—or add credence to the idea that Robinson and Arthur Sulzberger Jr. are being up front with their own staff."

More here.

In: Hillary In Africa. Hillary Rodham Clinton's latest incarnation -- and there have been a few: First Lady, ferocious Presidential candidate -- has her in one of the most glamorous jobs in the world. America, still the planet's only superpower, plays an indispensable role on the world's stage. And President Obama is allowing Secretary Clinton to push her favorite causes (the plight of women, the welfare of children). Plus, the SecState portfolio does not include worrying about the economy or the bruising health care fight.

And now she is in Africa, a place that has always loved her family, reinventing shuttle diplomacy circa: the 21st century. Basking in the glow of the world's rapt attention at Madame Secretary's every utterance days after her husband secured the release of two reporters from North Korea's hellish prison system. From Time:

"Africa putting its own house in order is indeed a goal of the new U.S. policy, and Clinton's trip is part of American efforts to separate the U.S. stance from the donor/recipient relationship of old. She told a forum for the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act that Washington wants to be a 'partner,' and not a 'patron.' And so, in her first two days in Africa, apart from calling out the Kenyan government on corruption, she urged Eritrea to stay out of Somalia's affairs, lamented the killings and rapes that continue in eastern Congo and warned of the threat of terrorism in the Horn of Africa.

"Before leaving Kenya for her next stop, South Africa, Clinton met with Somali President Sheikh Sharif as part of American efforts to help the weak Transitional Federal Government fight the militant Islamic al-Shabaab insurgency, which is supported by neighboring Eritrea. She was clear that this was in Washington's interest, warning that 'if al-Shabab were to obtain a haven in Somalia which could then attract al-Qaeda and other terrorist actions, it would be a threat to the United States.' To make the point, Clinton visited the site of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. Al-Qaeda was believed to have been behind the twin bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi that killed more than 200 people."

Which news weekly will first run a "Hillary Clinton: Iron Lady" cover? We bet The Economist.

Out: Donald Trump. The short-fingered vulgarian is having a hard time in this recession. But this really isn't the first time The Donald has had very public financial issues, which begs the question: why do so many buy this man's books and watch his shows on how to be a CEO (Then again, how many well-gelled douchebags thought Alan Grenspan was "the man")? From Bloomberg:

"Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. bondholders plan to reject Donald Trump’s attempt to take control of the bankrupt casino company because it would leave their securities worthless.

"Bondholders, who are owed $1.25 billion, say Trump’s deal undervalues the company. Trump and an affiliate of Beal Bank Nevada agreed on Aug. 3 to invest $100 million in the company. Beal would extend the maturity on a $486 million loan until December 2020 from 2012.

"'The plan proposed by Beal Bank and Donald Trump is not capable of confirmation for many reasons,' said Kristopher Hansen, co-head of the financial restructuring practice at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP in New York, who is representing bondholders. 'The stories of Mr. Trump’s regaining control of the debtors are simply inaccurate,' Hansen said in an e-mailed statement.

"Trump is attempting to retake control of the company he founded after the three casinos it owns in Atlantic City, New Jersey, wound up in bankruptcy protection a third time."

His fan base notwithstanding -- those who like to call him "Mr. Trump" at his half-hearted blog -- Donald does not come off as the superlative example of American executive excellence.

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