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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"With release a few polls in the last few days, the West Wing can’t help but point out that a trend seems to be emerging: A Public Policy Polling survey showed the President’s approval at its highest since October (50%). A Fox poll a week ago showed Obama approval up net of +5 (48 approve/43 disapprove from 46 approve/46 disapprove). And Fox yesterday showed Obama’s highest favorability all year (53%), the lowest Dem deficit on generic congressional ballot this year (Dems -2) and big progress in enthusiasm gap / NBC/WSJ poll last night showed Obama approval up net of +5 (50 app/44 disapp from 48 app/47 disapp), and is first poll of theirs since October to show net approval on handling the economy." (Politico/Playbook)



(image via Murat Jean/NYSD)

"The lady in these photos taken in Nice, France last weekend by Murat Jean, exclusively for NYSD, is without the accoutrement (makeup and hair) that New Yorkers see. In Nice she looks relaxed, almost like a young girl touring, secure on the arm of her man, and excited to be there. And from the looks of these pictures, you might imagine she’s mad about the boy. Or rather the Hero. Because you can see that this isn’t just 'some guy' to her. This is Bernard-Henri Levy, -- known in France simply as BHL -- one of France’s great modern philosophers. They are the real rock stars to the French. Plus he's a centimillionaire, thanks to his industrialist father. He is currently married to his third wife, French sex kitten and songstress, Arielle Dombasle. Coincidentally, yesterday at lunch, who should walk in about two but that very couple. He looking quite the same and she looking like the Daphne Guinness we see in New York. Her knotted brown and blonde hair was up in its black-and-white knot. She was wearing a silk dress, short, almost iridescent violet-red in its sheen ... Daphne Guinness has that quality when she enters a room. When she wants to. If she wants to. That night at Alice Mason’s it was not apparent. The courteous manner, the natural physical beauty was there, but not the Wow! The Pow! Like yesterday afternoon. Michael McCarty was there and greeted the couple and led them to table one, the table in the corner. While just across from them, Dr. Gerry Imber, Jerry della Femina, Andrew Bergman et al, led the rest of the restaurant in staring. The good kind of staring -- where it’s just so alarmingly charming you gawk happily." (NYSocialDiary)



"Where does shape in nature come from? And how and why do we see apparent order in the world around us? The first question has been at the centre of the systematic investigation of cause and effect in the inorganic and organic worlds since such investigations were first undertaken. The second, which is more self-reflective, has been much debated in philosophy and in the sciences of perception and cognition. Reading Philip Ball’s wide-ranging, intelligent and non-dogmatic trilogy of books on what he calls 'nature’s self-organised tapestry', I have been struck by how little the more 'subjective' aspects signalled in the second question have impinged on the theory of the mainstream physical, chemical and biological sciences. Yet the more human-centred issue was clearly signalled by D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, the Scottish biologist and classicist, whose influence can be felt throughout Ball’s trilogy. Thompson’s masterly and eloquent On Growth and Form, first published in 1917, both defines the scientific quest and suggests a dimension of value that tends to be seen as illegitimate or embarrassing in modern science: 'The waves of the sea, the little ripples on the shore, the sweeping curve of the sandy bay between the headlands, the outline of the hills, the shape of the clouds, all these are so many riddles of form, so many problems of morphology, and all of them the physicist can more or less easily read and adequately solve: solving them by reference to antecedent phenomena, in the material system of mechanical forces to which they belong, and to which we interpret them as being due. They have also, doubtless, their immanent teleological significance; but it is on another plane of thought from the physicists that we contemplate their intrinsic harmony and perfection, and 'see that they are good'." (TimesOnline)



"Naomi Campbell, who once compared kabbalah to Alcoholics Anonymous, is now having secret meetings with Madonna's kabbalah mentor, Eitan Yardeni. Spies tell us the super model met Yardeni at Manhat tan's Kabbalah Center shortly before jetting to Europe with her Russian billionaire boyfriend, Vladimir Doronin, the other week. Two years ago, Campbell bashed the sect, saying, 'I knew about kabbalah before Madonna got involved. Kabbalah is not a religion, it's a program. I don't like to get hooked on things like that. It reminds me of AA, but just with differ ent words. They've got the same prin ciples . . . I just believe in God. I am religious. I pray most days and do my thing. But each to their own.' A rep for Campbell, who's preparing to celebrate her 40th birthday later this month with a huge party in Cannes, couldn't be reached for comment." (PageSix)



"The Cold War has now been over for nearly two decades. In that time, a whole generation has grown up, both in the United States and Russia, with no memory of the conflict that defined world politics for half a century. Not only do today’s college students have no memory of even the final stages of the Cold War, many were not even born when the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of 1991. For an ever increasing share of young people in both countries, seminal events from the Cuban missile crisis to Ronald Reagan’s stirring call to 'tear down this wall' occupy approximately the same place in individual historical consciousness as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand or the Battle of Waterloo. That observation may seem obvious, but it has profound implications for the future course of relations between the two former Cold War rivals. For much of the foreign policy elite in both Washington and Moscow, the Cold War remains the prism through which U.S.-Russian relations are filtered, largely because that elite gained its reputation and experience in an era when the entire panoply of foreign policy was based on the East and West struggle. Views and stereotypes that crystallized during the long twilight struggle of the late 20th century continue to provide an important intellectual framework for making sense of the messy post-Cold War, post-September 11 world. Institutionally as well, the United States, and Russia to a lesser degree, has struggled to adapt a Cold War tool-kit to a post-Cold War world.1 After largely establishing its role to spy on the bureaucratic, authoritarian Soviet Union, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is still, nearly a decade after September 11, racing to figure out how to penetrate the amorphous ideological movement of Al Qaeda. Russia faces this problem as well, as demonstrated by its checkered efforts to downsize and professionalize its military in an attempt to address the asymmetrical threats of the 21st century. Yet, if the Cold War remains the default paradigm for viewing U.S.-Russian relations among elites in both countries, the very fact of generational change means that within a comparatively brief period of time, that relationship will have to change in fundamental ways." (JournalofInternationalAffairs)



(image via mediadecoder)

"The preliminary ratings suggested this, but the official numbers are out now, and Betty White hosting Saturday Night Live brought in 12.1 million viewers. The 4.6 rating La Betty pulled in the 18 to 49 set puts that episode of 'SNL' ahead of 'House' and 'Lost' and 'Survivor' and almost on par with 'Glee.' Now many people in the TV industry will try to mimic this success and fail shamefully!" (Choire Sicha/TheAwl)



"It is one of the grand and glorious traditions of American politics that traitorous behavior is cloaked in principle and indignation. Ronald Reagan, famously, didn't leave the Democratic Party in the 1950s. The Democratic Party left him. Ever since, the Reagan formulation has been the ironclad rule for party switchers. And it would have been perfect for Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, a Republican whose prickly moderation — and proud pork barreling — had become decidedly aberrant among Republicans. After five cholesterol-laden terms in office, Specter was facing a prohibitive primary challenge from a right-wing ideologue named Pat Toomey. He was also in an excellent position to make a deal: his vote would secure passage for both Barack Obama's stimulus package and his health care plan. And so, convinced of his indispensability, Specter dispensed with the Reagan camouflage. He told a starker version of the truth: 'My change in parties,' he said, 'will enable me to be re-elected.' But candor is rarely rewarded in politics, especially when it is self-aggrandizing. Specter's invited the question, Is that the only reason you decided to become a Democrat? It also invited a primary challenge from an actual Democrat — an estimable one, Congressman Joe Sestak, a former three-star admiral who, in 2006, became the highest-ranking former naval officer to serve in the House of Representatives." (Joel Klein)



"As I write, the political situation in Britain has many of her citizens bewildered. Despite the staggering deficits and economic shocks, the good people of Britain voted with their hearts rather than their heads. Not being a medium, I will not try and predict what will happen. My advice to loyal Spectator readers is to go to Fitzdares and place some bets. (I sold my shares in Fitzdares with profit last year.) What I do know for certain is that Britain will soon be in the same boat as my birthplace if the three stooges don’t put the nation’s future ahead of their personal ambitions. Fat chance. So here’s a brief history lesson how Greece got not only the whole of Europe in a mess, but is now threatening the U.S. and even Asia. People ask me about Greece, and how could a people with such a glorious past act as stupidly and irresponsibly as they did. Greek intellectuals and historians have generally blamed the 400-year Turkish occupation for the nation’s ills. And it is a fact that, where humiliation persists through several generations, the oppressed begin—in defense of their own dignity—to imitate their oppressors. The cruelty, vindictiveness, and harshness shown by warring political factions testify to this theory. But this is not sufficient explanation. The volatility of the Greek character, probably the only remaining link with the glorious past of antiquity, is another." (Takimag)



"For months, criticism has swirled around Christiane Amanpour climbing into the host chair of ABC's 'This Week', the claim being that it will be difficult because of her lack of covering domestic politics. She shrugs it off, like a gnat that simply doesn't matter, that, to her, has never mattered. Most recently on the evening of the White House Correspondents' Dinner, Amanpour was seen majestically holding court (as shown here) in the hallway outside the CBS pre-party with her husband, former Asst. Sec. of State under President Clinton, Jamie Rubin, now a professor at Columbia and informal foreign policy adviser to President Obama and Sec. of State Clinton. When asked about concerns some critics have about her thin history of domestic political coverage, Amanpour was warm and gracious, but she simply stopped talking. Instead, she tipped her head back and laughed." (FishbowlDC)



"Fifty years ago, the Palme d'Or winner at Cannes was Fellini's 'La Dolce Vita.' More every year I realize that it was the film of my lifetime. But indulge me while I list some more titles. The other entries in the official competition included 'Ballad of a Soldier,' by Grigori Chukhrai; 'Lady with a Dog,' by Iosif Kheifits; 'Home from the Hill,' by Vincente Minnelli; 'The Virgin Spring,' by Ingmar Bergman;' 'Kagi,' by Kon Ichikawa; 'L'Aventura,' by Michelangelo Antonioni; 'Le Trou,' by Jacques Becker; 'Never on Sunday,' by Jules Dassin; 'Sons and Lovers,' by Jack Cardiff; 'The Savage Innocents,' by Nicholas Ray, and 'The Young One,' by Luis Bunuel. And many more. But I am not here at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival to mourn the present and praise the past. Cannes is still the most important annual event in the world of what some of us consider good cinema. The Official Competition here is so much better, as a group, than all the nominees for the Academy Award that it makes you want to cry. My friend Richard Corliss thought the 2009 Cannes festival was the best in its history. I fully expect this year's Cannes to show me great movies. But we are here at the end of something and not the beginning. The traditional model we grew up with is dying. We expected to hear about new films through news from festivals, Hollywood premieres, and reviews from New York and Los Angeles, to begin with." (Roger Ebert)



"Christie’s International plans to sell Renaissance and 19th-century European sculpture and paintings recovered from what prosecutors called one of the biggest art frauds in New York State history. The auction of artwork from the defunct Salander- O’Reilly Galleries is scheduled for June 9, according to Christie’s. The 130 lots, including works attributed to the Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens and 'the studio of El Greco,' is expected to raise more than $2.5 million, Christie’s said. Proceeds will benefit people and businesses that filed claims in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, after the gallery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2007. In March, a year after he was arrested, proprietor Lawrence B. Salander pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to grand larceny and fraud. Salander admitted that he sold artwork he didn’t own and kept the proceeds, collected money for fabricated art-related investment opportunities and sold more than 100 percent interest in single works. The June 9 sale is of art that creditors haven’t claimed or for which claims have been resolved by bankruptcy court. Each artwork is covered by Art Title Protection Insurance, issued by New York-based ARIS Title Insurance Corp., which protects the buyer against 'defective title,' or someone coming forward to claim ownership." (Bloomberg)



(Japan's royal family and Mickey Mouse via theage)

"In Japan, a man has been arrested for allegedly posting online a death threat against the eight-year-old Princess Aiko. Japanese news outlets have reported that Kengo Ezaka, 26, posted the following disturbing message on the country's largest Internet forum: 'I shall kill Aiko-sama by smashing her head with a hammer.' Ezaka has claimed he made the threat merely to test the reactions of other forum users. Princess Aiko, daughter of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, is having a rough year. In March she missed class for several days following a bullying incident at her Gakushuin Primary School. The Imperial Household even suggested she suffered from anxiety and stomach aches because of the rambunctious behavior of several of her second-grade classmates." (VanityFair)



(Valentino Garavani via DailyFrontRow)

"While the rest of the word is flying into Nice and dealing with the miserable weather in Cannes (Ron Perelman even cancelled his anticipated yacht party yesterday), Valentino Garavani decided to celebrate his big day in Gotham. After all, it is auction week, and the Last Emperor has been eying plenty of pieces. But before all of that, he had a 78th birthday to celebrate yesterday. Val’s day started with a nice lunch and gifting from his family at his uptown New York home. The evening was an entirely different story, of course. Bruce Hoeksema transformed his Madison VBH boutique into a Four Seasons-like party hall for the evening, compete with beautiful dinner settings and DJ Julio Santo Domingo at the turntables. The birthday boy, Giancarlo Giammetti, and Carlos Souza welcomed guests like Diane Von Furstenbeg, Marc Jacobs and Lorenzo Martone (who’ll celebrate his own birthday in Brazil in few days), Stavros Niarchos, Harley Viera-Newton, Annelise Peterson, and Paz de la Huerta." (TheDaily)



"Secretary Gates's speech in Kansas sounds as though budget axes will be falling all over the Department of Defense. In an homage to Dwight Eisenhower, Secretary Gates said 'what I find so compelling and instructive was the simple fact that when it came to defense matters, under Eisenhower real choices were made, priorities set, and limits enforced.' I'm in favor of cutting defense spending to help get America's fiscal house in order, and commend Secretary Gates for turning his attention to budgetary discipline. But both the Kansas speech, and the Naval Institute speech he delivered a week prior (in which he also questioned procurement programs), had an odd ring to them. You wouldn't know by listening to these speeches that Gates has had the ability these past three years to accomplish any of the work he deems essential. Neither he nor the administration has yet given us a strategy that defines what they believe the United States needs to do in the world, how our military activities fit into that broader framework, and what size and type of military we therefore need." (ForeignPolicy)



"Who knew Iggy Pop still had this kind of pull? Iggy & The Stooges, plus The Virgins put on showstopping performances at the Musical Hall in Williamsburg for the Ray-Ban concert. Everyone from Kate Bosworth to Chloe Sevigny to Kelly Osbourne and her fiance Luke Worrall showed up for the concert. Leigh Lezark (straight off a plane from France from the Chanel Cruise show) made an appearance in (what else?!) Chanel." (GuestofaGuest)

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