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Friday, June 18, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"As it contemplates the violence that has claimed the lives of well over a hundred people in its backyard nation of Kyrgyzstan, Russia should look to France's experience in Central Africa for lessons. There are distinct parallels. Just as Paris maintained strong links with its former colonies across Africa, Russia has maintained its with the governments of former Soviet Republics in Central Asia. But just as Paris lost so much traction when Rwanda ignited in 1994, wrong moves in Kyrgyzstan might alter those treasured links between Moscow and Central Asia for good. Since subjugating Central Asia in the 1920s, Moscow has sought to fulfil the same kind of role in Central Asia that France once exercised in Francophone Africa - to be at the centre of an unofficial empire built on patronage, migration, history and corruption, as much as force. As the Soviet Union came and went, the end of the Cold War did little to alter this state of affairs. Central Asian leaders travel to Moscow, much as West African leaders once journeyed to Paris." (EuropeanCouncilofForeignRelations)



"Media executives were out in force at News International's summer party last night, where Mark Thompson rubbed shoulders with Lord Browne, Dawn Airey chatted to Mariella Frostrup and Channel 4's low-key CEO David Abrahams made a brief appearance (as did his predecessor Andy Duncan). David Cameron and his 'mini-me' deputy Nick Clegg, along with both Miliband brothers, drank bubbly from incredibly tall champagne glasses while journalists gossiped about Rupert's new super-short hair style (he was sporting an Action Man-style buzzcut). James Murdoch looked natty in a colourful tie, and a couple of Toyota Priuses – the company car driven by Sky execs – were parked outside the Orangery restaurant in Kensington Gardens." (TheGuardian)



"Joran Van der Sloot is alone—that is, except for the hit man who shares his jail cell in Peru’s notorious Miguel Castro Castro Prison. The 22-year-old Dutch native, who was formally charged with the murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores in Peru’s capital Lima last week, shares his prison days with Hugo Trugillo Ospina, convicted of killing a Peruvian businesswoman on orders from her daughter and her lesbian lover. The two cellmates are apparently communicating in Spanish, playing cards and lifting weights together in a makeshift gym in the common area. And Ospina has a television in his cell that he has reportedly adjusted to allow his new Dutch friend a glimpse." (TheDailyBeast)



"Down at Michael’s I was lunching with Duane Hampton to talk about her memoir/biography of her life with her late husband Mark Hampton. When I arrived at Michael’s someone very excitedly told me that Paul Williams was in the room. I hadn’t heard that name in a while. You mean the Paul Williams who wrote 'We’ve Only Just Begun' and 'Rainy Days and Mondays'? Uh-huh. Later, toward the end of the lunch hour, he came by the table with Tracey Jackson, the writer who had been lunching with him and his wife Mariana. She stopped to introduce us. I told him that I had written a memoir for Debbie Reynolds and when we were working on it she told me about the time she filled in for him in Vegas. He seemed to know what I was talking about and told me the story. He was in Las Vegas performing and had been nominated for an Oscar for 'Evergreen' (which he’d written with Barbra Streisand for her version of 'A Star Is Born'). He’d wanted to attend but his bosses in Vegas wouldn’t give him the night off. Then he got a called from a woman who said: 'Paul, this is Debbie Reynolds.' He was flabbergasted and impressed but wasn’t sure if this were the real Debbie. She told him she’d heard he’d wanted to attend the Oscars but couldn’t, and offered to fill in for him that night if he’d like. He replied that it was fine with him if she could convince his bosses. Which she did. And so he went off to Los Angeles where 'Evergreen' won the Oscar, (as well as the Grammy and the Golden Globes for the album)." (NYSocialDiary)



"I got into the business through a madam that I used to work for when I was a call girl. She asked me if I wanted to do an adult film and I was like 'Sure, how much does it pay?' It paid $150 -- exactly what I needed to pay the rent and go to Europe with a friend of mine who had invited me. I had so much fun I just had to keep doing it ... I chose Vanessa because I had a friend in kindergarten named Vanessa and I had a very best friend at the time who was a movie buff. She said why don't you choose Del Rio after Delores Del Rio. So Vanessa del Rio sounded great." (Vanessa del Rio/Papermag)



"Peter Brant and Val Kilmer browsed works by Spencer Sweeney at Art Basel in Switzerland together this week. Brant's Greenwich, Conn.-based art foundation -- having previously bought Sweeney's works from his show in April -- bought a self-portrait of the painter at the fair. Sweeney's rep would only say Brant's purchase was 'expensive -- and good value.' Sweeney's works start at $25,000. Kilmer is a longtime friend of both Brant and Sweeney, who's also a co-owner of downtown club Santos Party House." (PageSix)



"The rapid economic development of Asia since World War II -- starting with Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, then extending to Hong Kong and Singapore, and finally taking hold powerfully in India and mainland China -- has forever altered the global balance of power. These countries recognize the importance of an educated work force to economic growth, and they understand that investing in research makes their economies more innovative and competitive. Beginning in the 1960s, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan sought to provide their populations with greater access to postsecondary education, and they achieved impressive results. Today, China and India have an even more ambitious agenda. Both seek to expand their higher-education systems, and since the late 1990s, China has done so dramatically. They are also aspiring to create a limited number of world-class universities. In China, the nine universities that receive the most supplemental government funding recently self-identified as the C9 -- China's Ivy League. In India, the Ministry of Human Resource Development recently announced its intention to build 14 new comprehensive universities of 'world-class' stature. Other Asian powers are eager not to be left behind: Singapore is planning a new public university of technology and design, in addition to a new American-style liberal arts college affiliated with the National University." (ForeignAffairs)



"A STRANGE MIX of nostalgia and anticipation accompanied the opening of the Sixth Berlin Biennial. Last Tuesday night, artists Wolfgang Ganter and Kaj Aune raised a giant heap of trash on a small forklift in a parking lot in front of Vittorio Manalese, Bruno Brunnet’s new gallery. The performance brought to mind two “trashy” installations from the legendary First Berlin Biennial in 1998: the maniacal videos and sculptures of the (now forgotten) Honey-Suckle Company and those of Jonathan Meese. Curator Kathrin Rhomberg dispersed all notions of nostalgia right away during the press conference on Wednesday morning, arguing that this year’s Biennial embraces the present moment. 'No pleasure-ful gaze,' she said. This obviously meant forgoing the glamour of the Mitte district. The press conference was held in the Alevitic cultural center in Kreuzberg, close to the Biennial’s main location at Oranienplatz, in the most culturally diverse area of Berlin. Artist Katharina Sieverding sat in the front row, taking pictures, and MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach also attended, of course. The conference was cut short––only a handful of questions were asked––because the minister of state for cultural affairs, Bernd Neumann, wanted the first view and had a tight schedule. A strong political realist himself, he used his speech mainly to explain one thing: how he had heroically saved the federal cultural budget from cuts after the Greek/Euro crisis." (Artforum)

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