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Friday, July 02, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"And the world’s richest individual is . . . Carlos Slim. According to Sentidocomun, a respected website that carries economic and business news from Mexico, the country’s telecommunications magnate continues to occupy the top slot with a personal net worth of $59.3bn by the end of the second quarter of this year. Sentidocomun’s calculation is interesting for several reasons. One is that the website calculates Mr Slim’s net worth every three months instead of annually in the case of Forbes. Another is that the figure is consistently higher than that of Forbes. Eduardo García, founder of Sentidocomun, says that the difference almost certainly lies in the fact that his calculation includes the dividends Mr Slim receives from his shareholdings whereas Forbes’ figure does not." (FT)



"Naomi Campbell has been officially ordered by subpoena to testify at the international war crimes tribunal ...Campbell, who went to Cipriani's restaurant in London last night with her Russian boyfriend Vladimir Doronin and was seen leaving a hotel today in a car, is guaranteed to liven up the first trial of a former African head of state by an international tribunal." (DailyMail)



"It was Andy Warhol who x-marked the point of impact where celebrity and mortality meet in head-on collision, spilling blood and tabloid ink. With his multiple silkscreens of Jacqueline Kennedy in veiled mourning and his portrait series of Marilyn Monroe (begun within weeks of Monroe’s fatal overdose, in the summer of 1962, the art historian Thomas Crow reminds us), Warhol perceived that in the age of Hollywood and mass media the front-page deaths of Pop icons aren’t one-day headlines—they forever flash before our eyes, like newsclips or movie close-ups in endless, monotonous replay. That very monotony—the grainy repetition, the bland detachment, the blank emotion—exerts a compulsive force that eludes closure, feeding an addiction that gets us no deeper into the mystery of Marilyn Monroe’s platinum martyrdom or the lunky slack of Elvis’s jaw. Warhol made celebrity death seem both momentous and mundane. With Warhol no longer around to lacquer the beautiful dead, the culture has produced an unlikely successor, a tenacious sea dog who always sounds as if he’s been eating crackers: CNN host Larry King, whose Larry King Live has become an institution—the funeral parlor of the gods. Post-Warhol, King has assumed the indispensable role of designated mourner to the stars, tollbooth collector at the last stop before the Hereafter, pallbearer beyond compare. Who elected Larry King America’s grief counselor?" (James Wolcott/ Vanity Fair)



"The most striking characteristic of the fictional works of Vladimir Nabokov is uncanniness ... Nabokov’s singular prose style burnishes the commonplace world so that genies jump out of it, and the reader’s response depends on whether he is willing to be magicked away into a realm that he knows well and yet feels not quite at home in. No doubt Nabokov’s literary sensibility was to some degree formed by his own forced transmigration from what seems to have been truly an idyllic childhood in prerevolutionary Russia to, first, war-torn Western Europe and then onward to America where, seemingly to his surprise, he found, for a time, a new world even more congenial than the old one he had left." (NYRB)



"People used to say ‘You know that girl is after Virgil’ and I used to say ‘Oh, good for her!’ I never thought about it because for one thing I was very busy. I had my job for all my life. And I’ve had my own … sort of … identity. And also I got sick when I was 29 with all those cancer operations, so I wanted something for him to do while I was away in the hospital! He was a wonderful husband and father." (Interior designer Betty Sherrill/ NYSocialDiary)



"On Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi's main drag, the Museum of the Soviet Occupation stands right across from Georgia's national parliament. Constructed in 2006, the museum takes visitors through the history of Georgia's encounter with the Soviet Union, from the Red Army's invasion in 1921, through the mass murder of the Georgian political and cultural leadership over the following decades, all the way up to the end of the Cold War and Georgia's declaration of independence in 1991. Not long after the museum opened, then Russian President Vladimir Putin complained about it directly to his Georgian counterpart, the young and exuberantly pro-Western Mikheil Saakashvili, protesting what he considered to be its anti-Russian tone. After all, he pointed out, some of the most ruthless figures in the Soviet hierarchy -- including Joseph Stalin and Lavrenty Beria -- were themselves Georgian. Saakashvili responded sarcastically that Russia was free to open a museum to memorialize Georgian oppression of Russians, and that he would even donate the funds." (ForeignAffairs)



"The 10 states that fill out the top ranks of this year's Failed States Index -- the world's most vulnerable nations -- are a sadly familiar bunch. Shattered Somalia has been the No. 1 failed state for three years running, and none of the current top 10 has shown much improvement, if any, since FOREIGN POLICY and the Fund for Peace began publishing the index in 2005. Altogether, the top 10 slots have rotated among just 15 unhappy countries in the index's six years. State failure, it seems, is a chronic condition. This year's index draws on 90,000 publicly available sources to analyze 177 countries and rate them on 12 metrics of state decay -- from refugee flows to economic implosion, human rights violations to security threats. Taken together, a country's performance on this battery of indicators tells us how stable -- or unstable -- it is. And unfortunately for many of the 60 most troubled, the news from 2009 is grave." (ForeignPolicy)

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