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Friday, April 09, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"So he’s not Jimmy Carter after all. Barack Obama was in Prague this week to sign a strategic arms treaty with Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev. Next week the US president plays host to 50 world leaders to discuss strengthening arrangements for nuclear security. In between times, he published a new military strategy that significantly narrows the circumstances in which the US would use its nuclear arsenal. Mr Obama, in other words, looks like a leader pretty much in command of his agenda. These three events mark an important way station on a route he mapped during a speech in the Czech capital a year ago. We are still light years away from the nuclear-free world he mentioned then. But we have stopped heading in the wrong direction. The latest initiatives have restored momentum to multilateral arms reduction. The collapse of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty does not look quite so inevitable. This takes Mr Obama some distance from the commonplace caricatures of only a couple of months ago. Then, even sympathetic observers were drawing baleful comparisons with the foreign policy calamities of Mr Carter’s presidency. Mr Obama, the argument ran, had spent his first year making speeches about restoring American prestige. He looked destined to spend his second explaining why he had failed. The president’s deliberative style jarred with the impatience of a modern political culture shaped by 24-hour rolling news." (FT)



"Cash-strapped actor Nicolas Cage, 46, who owes a fortune in unpaid taxes, has failed to find buyers for his homes in Bel Air and Malibu. Property isn't his strong point. He once rented author Gore Vidal's home in Hollywood. Disliking the flooring in the master bedroom, he asked if he could replace it. 'Sure, if you pay for it,' said Vidal. Cage laid down (USD $45,000) worth of marble. A day later, he moved out, although he'd paid three months' rent in advance. 'Such tenants you pray for,' said Vidal." (DailyMail)



"Remember the 'colored revolutions,' the mostly peaceful uprisings that were said to mark a turning point in the history of the post-Soviet space? In 2003, we had Georgia's Rose Revolution, which replaced President (and former Soviet foreign minister) Edvard Shevardnadze with a young U.S.-educated lawyer named Mikhail Saakashvili. In 2004, a fraudulent presidential election result was overturned by popular outrage in Ukraine, lifting Viktor Yushchenko past Viktor Yanukovych. In 2005, Kyrgyzstan's Tulip Revolution elevated Kurmanbek Bakiyev to the presidency. Georgia and Ukraine have since talked of joining NATO. Kyrgyzstan continues to allow American forces to use an air force base in its territory as a line of resupply for troops in Afghanistan. Western media celebrated these events as victories for democracy, and the Kremlin fumed over what it considered further Western encroachment into Russia's sphere of influence. Since then, Saakashvili has stumbled into a brief but costly war with Russia, and he faces a rising chorus of complaints at home. Yushchenko left the presidency with a single-digit approval rating, and Ukrainian voters have elected Yanukovych president. And now Kyrgyzstan's Bakiyev has come face to face with a depth of fury he was not prepared to handle. We shouldn't be surprised by the trouble in the Kyrgyz Republic." (ForeignPolicy)



"Rupert Murdoch, unlike many CEOs, did not make his reputation, or build his business, as an outside man—a smooth talking, limelight-seeking, frequently speechifying, walking-advertisement for his company and products. More naturally, Murdoch has glowered and cursed and been entirely uninterested in what people think about him. He has seen his job as beating the world, not convincing it. But, curiously, he’s now giving talks and testimonials at every opportunity. The other day, he was in Washington for a public interview with Marvin Kalb (a journalist even older than Murdoch himself), largely about how newspapers ought to stamp out search engines. Now whereas those sales-oriented, glad-handing CEOs usually enjoy public appearance and are good at them, Murdoch is terribly resistant. He’s incredibly nervous before each speech; he tries to practice, but with great frustration and great recriminations toward whomever got him to agree to do it. As often as not—not least of all because he doesn’t like to practice—he delivers a stumbling, disjointed, and often puzzling performance." (Michael Wolff/Newser)



"Howard (Stern) read about some of the guys that Courtney (Cox) allegedly dated. He read that she had been out with Liev Shreiber, Michael Keaton, Kevin Costner, Christian Slater, David Duchovny, Richie Sambora and others. David (Arquette) laughed when he heard some of those names. He said that Michael Keaton was the only one he had confirmation on. David said that was when he was doing Batman so he thinks that's actually kind of cool. He said that he would fuck her in the Batman costume if he had it. Howard asked David about producing the show 'Cougar Town' and if he goes to the set. David said he doesn't go down there that much. Howard said he saw David on Letterman and he was saying they have to schedule sex once a week. David said it's actually kind of cool. Howard heard he had to wait for 40 minutes on New Years Eve while she talked on the phone." (Marksfriggin)



"NBC's Dan Abrams, founder of Mediaite.com, and Dave Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of Men's Health, are getting into the restaurant business. The two bachelors, who share a Hamptons mansion each summer, are investing in the West Ninth Street location that used to be Village. Chef John DeLucie, of Waverly Inn fame, is a co-owner overseeing the kitchen. MTV honcho Tony DiSanto is also an investor. Sources say the new eatery, which features artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat, high ceilings and a huge skylight in the backroom, will be called The Lion. Expect crowds of media players." (PageSix)



"'Put me in a room with 30 billionaires and one artist and I’ll find the artist,' Ms. Hastreiter explained. 'I have zero ability to smell money. But I’m a heat-seeking missile,' for talent. And the talents that kill her are so wildly assorted that a Paper party can sometimes seem like a social mix-tape run amok. Doubtless she would protest the comparison, but in a sense Ms. Hastreiter is the successor, however unlikely, to society hostesses like Pat Buckley who once gathered at their tables a regular segment of the city’ s social gratin. Elites take on different contours in Ms. Hastreiter’s hands, though, and rather than Henry Kissinger at her dinner table you are more likely to find the apparition called Ladyfag, a woman who dresses like a man dressed in drag. It is true that at Ms. Hastreiter’s table at Indochine one may bump into the occasional It girl or social X-ray. But it is far more likely that one will encounter her latest intern or artistic discovery, or Shaun White, the snowboard god (who just turned up at the Paper offices in late February, fresh from his gold-medal-winning performance at the winter Olympics) or the artist Ruben Toledo attempting to chat with John Waters across the platinum-blonde palisade of Lady Bunny’s wig." (NYTimes)



"Fascinating that on a day Steve Jobs introduced iPhone 4.0, it was reported that digital track sales in the first quarter actually declined. Oh, there's some mumbo-jumbo about SoundScan reporting periods, but even if you adjust to the old window for comparison, sales would still be down .09% instead of 1%. In other words, the dream is over. You know, the dream that digital would replace physical. Or that iTunes would stop piracy. Or that the major labels would keep control of the music business. It's back to the drawing board, it's time for innovation. In other words, when more people are listening to more music than ever before, how can sales be down? BECAUSE WE'RE NOT DELIVERING MUSIC THE WAY PEOPLE WANT IT! Are Edgar Bronfman, Jr. and Zach Horowitz gonna stand on their high horses and decry pirates, refuse to license new business models as their revenues continue to slip? Or maybe they're going to come up with 3-D CDs, requiring special headphones. I mean what's the solution? Number one... Eviscerate piracy. Make it so it's just not worth it to steal." (LefsetzLetter)



"Although nobody handed me a sheet of instructions before boarding the plane to Lisbon with my younger brother in the summer of 1954, I understood that I was setting forth on the pilgrim road to an uplifted soul. Twenty years old and safely through my sophomore year at college, I’d paid close enough attention to the surveys of Western Civilization to know that the route map of 'The Grand Tour' had been clearly marked both by the sons of eighteenth-century British dukes and the wives of nineteenth-century American railroad barons. The accommodations weren’t as gracious as in the days when Henry James sailed for England with steamer trunks and a silver tea service, or as richly appointed as when Horace Walpole at Rome in 1740 could say to a friend, 'I would buy the Colosseum if I could,' but the itinerary hadn’t been much changed over the distance of two hundred years, and neither had its self-improving purpose. The sights were still there to be seen, and one was expected to take notes." (Lewis Lapham)

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