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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



(image via James Ferguson/FT)

"(Nouriel) Roubini was still far from being a household name when, in the autumn of 2006, with the world economy and credit markets booming, he gave a big speech to the IMF warning that the 'United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence and ultimately a deep recession', along with 'homeowners defaulting on mortgages, trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities unravelling worldwide and the global financial system shuddering to a halt'. It was a bold call; so much so that many policymakers and economists thought Roubini was slightly mad. Indeed, when Roubini attended the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos in January 2007 to make similar prophesies, his warnings were widely dismissed. It was at this rarefied Swiss mountain resort that I first encountered him and I remember it very well. In the preceding months I had also started to write about the dangers of complex finance (albeit far less eloquently and dramatically than Roubini) and those pieces sparked criticism from some of the luminaries assembled at Davos, who accused me of being 'alarmist.' Though we had never met before – and have barely talked since – at one sun-dappled lunch in a stuffy Swiss hotel Roubini forcefully defended my articles. I tell him I was grateful; vocal Cassandras were very thin on the ground back then. 'I remember that,' Roubini laughs. He then recalls, with irritation, a column written by Michael Lewis, author of the acclaimed Wall Street study Liar’s Poker (1989) as well as the recently published study The Big Short (2009), during that Davos meeting, which labelled Cassandras such as Roubini as 'wimps' and 'ninnies'. 'It is amazing how some people have changed their views,' he says, adding acerbically that 'there is a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking' now." (FT)



(image via thebosh)

"I didn’t know what the heck was going on there. I remember Madonna invited us to this party in Madrid. I think it was the Blonde Ambition tour. Yeah, I saw cameras – meanwhile, we were having dinner. But I thought it was some kind of news crew – I didn’t know she was doing a documentary. And it was not until I was finishing here in Los Angeles 'The Mambo Kings,' she called one morning to the hotel, which I thought was a joke. I picked up the phone: 'Hello, it’s Madonna.' I said, 'Yeah, sure.' But it was her. And she said, 'Listen, Antonio, I’m going to send you this documentary that I did in Spain.' I said, 'Oh, really?' 'And you are in it.' 'I am in it?' 'Yeah, you are, and I would like to get your approval for the use of your persona in the film.' So she sent it to me and I actually laughed about it. I thought it was a great promotional thing. I said to her, 'Sure, use it, whatever you want.'" (Antonio Banderas to David Itzkoff)



(image via ew)

"Howard (Stern) said he's a real critic of TV and he can pick apart why a show goes wrong. He said that American Idol is going through that now and Kara Dioguardi and Ellen Degeneres are the problem. He said that Ellen is the one going around thinking she's the one who is taking over the show. He said he gets obsessed with that. Howard said Ellen should be keeping her mouth shut. He said she was all over him when his name was out there for being the replacement for Simon. Howard said she has nothing to do with it. Howard said American Idol has dropped to the number 2 show and you just wait to see what's going to happen. He said they had Harry Connick Jr. on the show and he comes across as a guy who thinks he's funny but he's really just coming across as a douche bag. Howard said his music is awful and he doesn't know how he sells so many albums. Howard said the show has gotten really boring and they drag it out too long. He said he didn't even stay up to watch it last night. He said it's not appointment TV for him anymore. Robin said she just forgets about the show now." (Marksfriggin)



"IF THERE was ever a week to be depressed about the euro, this was it. After an age of dithering, Europe’s politicians cobble together a colossal rescue package for Greece, worth some €110 billion ($145 billion), nearly three times the level discussed only three weeks ago—and behold the results: carnage on the streets of Athens, where three people lost their lives, and no respite in the markets. Not only have yields on short-term Greek bonds soared once again, but other euro members that the plan was supposed to wall off are under pressure, with Portugal and Ireland hit particularly hard. Stockmarkets around the world have slumped as investors fret about the financial stability of a region that makes up almost a quarter of the world economy. Many Europeans fear that they have seen a fragment of their future: contagion spreading from one indebted country to the next, the breakdown of social order as public-sector jobs are cut, years of political indecision and the inevitable ousting (or withdrawal) of countries from the euro. And why not? If a bail-out worth nearly half of Greek GDP fails to command support on the streets of Athens or in the markets, it is tempting to say that the game is up." (TheEconomist)



"At last, the mystery of why superlative supermodel Naomi Campbell throws such filthy tantrums has been solved. Campbell may insist (as she told Oprah this week) that she has a 'type of emotional disorder … an abandonment issue', which leads her to lash out, but by the sounds of things she's so goddamned hungry all the time she'd have to be a saint to keep her composure – an empty tummy could make the best of us kick a pigeon or shoulderbarge a pensioner. Three times a year, Campbell revealed, she goes on the maple syrup diet – which isn't so much a diet as self-flagellation minus the scourge. It involves drinking nothing but said syrup mixed with cayenne pepper, lemon juice and water. When BeyoncĂ© did it, losing the equivalent of a small child in body weight for the film Dreamgirls, she also drank laxative tea every night and a draught of lukewarm sea-salt water in the morning. 'The most I've ever done it for is 18 days,' quoth La Campbell. 'So I started on Sunday. This is my sixth day.' Oprah was lucky. Day nine and merely raising the issue of her tantrums might have led things to get ugly. Yes, it all suddenly makes sense .." (TheGuardian)



"In an underreported bit of news this week, the Obama administration revealed how many weapons are in the U.S. nuclear stockpile. The number, which until now has been classified, turns out to be 5,113. Two reasonable reactions to this disclosure might be: Why was this number classified in the fist place? And why the hell do we need 5,113 nuclear warheads? It's a good bet that President Barack Obama meant to prompt precisely these responses. There were three reasons for declassifying the stockpile numbers. First, Obama does seem to have a genuine interest in lifting the cloak off government secrets that have no rationale for remaining secrets. And, especially since the Cold War ended 20 years ago, there is no good reason for keeping this information secret. Second, Obama hopes to prompt reciprocation from other nuclear-armed countries, especially Russia .." (ForeignPolicy)



(image via Mary Altaffer / AP)

"When I started writing Sex and the City in 1994 there weren't supposed to be any single women in their 30s. These were not 25-year-old girls who just came to New York and couldn't find boyfriends. These were women who found themselves in a new paradigm of being in their mid-30s and still not having found 'the One.' These were characters that people hadn't seen before. That's why it was so eye-opening — there were so many single women who felt like, Oh, finally here's something that's about my life." (Candace Bushnell/Time)



"The Whitney went downtown for its annual American Art Award Gala, which meant more open collars than usual and extra talk of the future. The dinner took place, after all, on part of the plot in the Meatpacking District that the museum hopes someday to turn into a 200,000-square-foot southern branch. The evening raised a total of $1.6 million. With an estimated budget of $680 million for the new outpost, the museum that gave Jasper Johns and Cindy Sherman their first retrospectives has a ways to go .. From there, the group—which included Larry Gagosian and John McEnroe—migrated two blocks south to the dinner tent, which had been outfitted for the occasion with colorful hanging panels by the artists Wade Guyton and Kelley Walker. 'This feels like a school trip,' mused Alice St. Clair Erskine. (Well, a school trip with Anh Duong, Caroline Winberg, and Shala Monroque.) Ever the student, Lady Alice was sporting her grandfather's Eton waistcoat; she'd even turned down an invite to Monday's Met ball to practice line readings for an upcoming audition. During dinner, Alex von Furstenberg accepted the evening's big award on behalf of the Diller—von Furstenberg Family Foundation, which has helped the museum get a foothold in the neighborhood. Lou Reed performed." (Style)



(image via pagesixmagazine)

"Ms. Silverman’s look is, in a way, an integral part of her comedy. It provides a buffer — the buffer of adorableness. The 39-year-old, who has been doing stand-up since she was a student at N.Y.U., has become famous with the most brilliant, jaw-dropping, deliberately shocking jokes about racism, abortion and rape. ('I was raped by a doctor ... which is really bittersweet for a Jewish girl.') Somehow hoodies and pigtails soften the blow. (I saw this buffering effect in action, when Ms. Silverman was doing stand-up in Midtown soon after 9/11. That night she suggested that American Airlines needed some help with its P.R., and should change its motto to 'First Into the World Trade Center.' The crowd extended her the courtesy of a stunned silence, until one man in the front row barked with laughter. Then the audience started booing him.) In fact, there is a tradition of beautiful women in comedy desexualizing themselves. Lucille Ball was a showgirl before becoming a comedian, but we don’t think of her as a great beauty; Phyllis Diller was actually a very attractive woman who donned the fright wigs and feathers to appear less threatening. 'Apparently people can’t look at a pretty woman and listen to her at the same time — and you have to listen to funny women,' says Gina Barreca, the author most recently of 'It’s Not That I’m Bitter' and a professor of English and feminist studies at the University of Connecticut, where she specializes in women and humor." (NYTimesStyle)



"In royal news, King Constantine of Greece will celebrate his 70th birthday this June. It is only too bad he won’t be celebrating his reinstatement as King, Greece could use him now. A big party is being given in his honor by his eldest son Pavlos and daughter-in-law Marie-Chantal at their London house. Tatiana Blatnik, who is marrying the King’s son Nikolaos on the Greek island of Spetses this September, is expected to attend. Tatiana is no doubt shopping around for a wedding dress. Carolina Herrera is said to be the front-runner. No word on whether or not Andres Piedrahita, the Colombian crook who invested his client’s millions with Madoff will be at the wedding. He is close friends with Tatiana’s charming step-father, Attilio Brillembourg. Piedrahita might still be in mourning since his sister committed suicide a few weeks ago. It is alleged that she owed a lot of money to the wrong kind of people, and that her brother refused to pay her debt." ("Bunky Mortimer")



(Lady Amanda Harlech, Karl Lagerfeld, and Elisa Sednaoui From PatrickMcMullan)

"Sienna Miller taught us at Monday’s Met ball that it’s not about what’s on your back but on whose on your arm, and we couldn’t help but notice the dark beauty at Karl Lagerfeld’s side, Elisa Sednaoui. The Italian-Egyptian model-slash stars in the designer’s most recent project. 'I was directed by Karl for his latest short movie that will be screened before the Cruise Chanel show in St. Tropez on Monday,' Sednaoui says. 'He showed me a preview the other day and I can’t wait to watch it again!' In the meantime she has just moved to New York City and is working on an Italian film and 'other juicy things in the air of which I prefer not to talk about.'" (VanityFair)



(image via newsweek)

"Theodore Roosevelt couldn’t wait to see combat. As war against Spain loomed and U.S. President William McKinley called for volunteers, Roosevelt ordered his uniform from Brooks Brothers and joined the army. He quit his desk job as assistant secretary of the navy, and had no qualms (perhaps the opposite) about abandoning his ailing wife and five children. His Rough Riders regiment included tough sheriffs and Indian fighters with names like 'Rattlesnake Pete.' There was also a contingent from the snooty Knickerbocker Club in New York and Boston’s Somerset Club, as well as Ivy League stars like Harvard footballers Woodbury Kane and Dudley Dean. Some men brought walking sticks, golf clubs and evening clothes, and one brought a valet to the Texas training camp, en route to Cuba." (Lewis Lapham/Bloomberg)

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