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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"There are two major criticisms of President Obama's foreign policy that, I believe, are beginning to resonate. The first, argued forcefully by Bob Kagan, is of his harsh or negligent treatment of allies, in contrast to his rather more gentle treatment of dictators and adversaries. The second is that he cares not a wit about foreign policy, especially if it gets in the way of his domestic agenda. Let me focus on the second. In the case of Asia policy, his preoccupation with his domestic agenda is deleterious in two ways. First, despite all the snarky bragging by Obama officials about how 'America is back' (see recent posts by Dan Twining and Walter Lohman), he cancelled a trip to Asia for the second time to deal with a crisis of his own making: health care. I believe this is unprecedented." (ForeignPolicy)



"NECKS craned for a glimpse of Patti Smith as she settled at her customary corner table at Da Silvano in Greenwich Village, a favorite afternoon haunt, earlier this month. The wonder was that the patrons, silver haired and sleekly buffed, could pick her out at all. Ms. Smith was understated, even self-effacing in her mannish jacket, boater shirt and beat-up jeans. Watching her sip hot water and lemon, you could easily have mistaken her for one of any number of androgynous downtown hipsters adopting skinny jeans and boyfriend coats as a low-key urban armor. Was she trying to merge with the scenery? Ms. Smith shrugged, noncommittal. 'My style says Look at me, don’t look at me,’ she said, a hint of testiness ruffling her easy composure. 'It’s, I don’t care what you think. So it was surprising to learn that her roomy gray jacket, with cuffs that unfasten at the wrist, was designed by Ann Demeulemeester, a high priestess of Parisian vanguard chic. Her jeans were Ralph Lauren, prized by Ms. Smith for their racy lines. Her boots, a gift from Johnny Depp, who wore them as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, were the perfect fit, Ms. Smith exulted, 'like when the magic cobbler made your shoes.' She has a rarefied feel for that kind of evocative detail — no stray seam escaping her scrutiny. That might stun her fans, who think of Ms. Smith as a gnarly rocker, thrashing and howling soulfully on stage." (NYTimes)



"Growing up is hard to do—particularly for Noah Baumbach’s raft of characters. From the aimless postgrads of his 1995 debut Kicking and Screaming to the excruciatingly immature parents in The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding to one thrill-seeking vulpes in his script for Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox, the Brooklyn-reared Baumbach has always shown a knack for capturing the regressive, self-absorbed, juvenile side of the adult human condition. 'I’m always interested in how people, myself included, have ideas of themselves, of how they thought they would be, or of how they want to be seen,' explained Baumbach, on the phone from Los Angeles, where he now splits his time with his wife and collaborator, actress Jennifer Jason Leigh. 'And the older you get, the world keeps telling you different things about yourself. And how people either adjust to those things and let go of adolescent notions. Or they dig in deeper.' 'And Greenberg,' added Baumbach, referring to the central figure in his latest film, 'has obviously dug in deeper.'" (IndieWIRE)



"All over the United States, anxious high-school students and college graduates ready for another round of education are scouring the mail for big envelopes. As the acceptance letters come pouring in, these prospective students have some important matters to consider. The first question they should ask is: 'Does the school have an extant endowment?' But the second should be: 'What are my chances of meeting a dashing royal during orientation?' We at Royal Watch have noticed that quite a few of the world’s princes, princesses, and other nobles alight to the U.S. for their undergraduate and graduate studies. We’ve compiled a short list of the American universities with high rates of royal enrollment." (VF)

"Not much ever really comes of commissions, really. The last one that really came up with something truly concrete was the Warren Commission, and for all its good work, most Americans persist in believing that Oswald was working in tandem with the CIA, FBI, Lyndon Johnson, and the John Birch Society. The last big commission was the Iraq Study Group. It was chaired by James Baker and Lee Hamilton, the wisest of the wise men. Its Republican members included Sandra Day O’Connor, Ed Meese, and—what do you know?—Alan Simpson. Simpson seems to have become a first-responder wise man. For the Democrats, there were Leon Panetta, now head of the CIA, Vernon Jordan, and Chuck Robb. It doesn’t get more establishmentarian than that. What did they recommend? Essentially: that we get the f--- outta there. What happened? The surge. And so it goes with blue ribbon commissions. Thank you. You have done a great service to the country. Don’t forget to turn out the lights on your way out. I don’t mean to be flip, really. But if you live in Washington and see these commissions come and go, it’s hard to avoid becoming a little skeptical." (Chris Buckley/TheDailyBeast)



"Seeing Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning dolled up in their Young Hollywood best before the screening of Floria Sigismondi's The Runaways last night made it tough to think that they could accurately portray two queens of early L.A. punk. But we're happy to report that their heavily styled red-carpet looks were deceiving. On screen, in Joan Jett's black mullet and Cherie Currie's feathered blowout, respectively, Stewart and Fanning convincingly snorted drugs in airplane bathrooms, made out together, and danced around in leather trousers and bikini bottoms. The two still-teenage stars holed up on an outdoor patio at the Tommy Hilfiger-sponsored Bowery Hotel after-party behind a pair of security guards. Of her turn as a gritty, bi-curious rocker, all we could get out of Fanning was that she had fun playing the part. Chloƫ Sevigny was much more chatty, talking hair with Currie herself, who's now a chainsaw artist working in the San Fernando Valley." (Style)

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