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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"The latest CQ-Roll Call survey of the political landscape finds an environment that continues to worsen for Democrats and new race ratings to reflect Republicans on the ascent. Among the seats now held by Democrats that have been moved into more competitive categories, CQ-Roll Call now rates three of as likely to be won by Republicans: the 2nd district in Arkansas; the 3rd district in Louisiana; and the 29th district in New York. Those three seats are open following the retirements or early departure of Democratic incumbents, and all three seats went for Sen. John McCain for president in 2008. The New York district is vacant following the resignation of Eric Massa, who left amid a scandal. Rep. Vic Snyder (Ark.) is retiring from a moderate district, where Democrat Joyce Elliott is currently running 17 points behind Republican Tim Griffin in a recent poll. And after running unopposed two years ago, Rep. Charlie Melancon (La.), now seeking a place in the Senate, is leaving behind a district that voted 61 percent for McCain." (CQPolitics)



"I dined early at Swifty’s with my friend Pax. The place was full up by 7:30. On the banquette to my right was Barbara Taylor Bradford (76 million books in forty languages!) with her husband Bob, and friends. On my left were Jeanne and Herb Siegel, the man I like to think of as New York’s anonymous tycoon. Across the way were Steve and Kitty Sherrill. I went over to the Metropolitan Museum to lunch with Michael Thomas and Yves Smith, the founder and writer of Naked Capitalism. We met in the Great Entrance Hall ... At first I thought Yves was a man. It is a nom de plume chosen for a variety of reasons (mainly to keep a basic anonymity). She told me she chose 'Smith' as an homage to Adam Smith and Yves as a reference to a French (or maybe Swiss?) economist I’d never heard of. Knowing I was going to meet her, I’d thought of some questions I could ask about her, but on meeting, with the natural input of our host, the conversation raced off in a variety of interesting directions." (NYSocialDiary)



"I am intrigued by this, from tiny little Monaco, once ruled by Hollywood’s Grace Kelly. At the annual, famous Red Cross Ball on July 30, Princess Caroline, Grace’s eldest daughter, did not attend. What’s left of Europe’s royals and serene Highnesses gasped. The tragedy-plagued Caroline is separated from her husband Prince Ernst of Hanover, and she has moved back to Monaco. So, she was expected to attend the event that her mother had turned into an international gathering of the rich and useless – all of whom do, after all, give up big bucks for a good cause. But Caroline was a no-show. Rumor has it that she is not fond of her brother Prince Albert’s fiancée, Charlene Wittstock. (Yes, amazing – lifetime bachelor Albert is set to wed. So, there’s still hope for George Clooney – who has at least been married once before.) When Albert and Charlene wed, she will become Princess of Monaco and Monaco’s First Lady, the job that Caroline took after the terrible death of Princess Grace in 1982. Caroline assumed even more responsibility in the wake of the death of her father, Prince Rainier, in 2005. Caroline is currently steaming, I mean – streaming, aboard her yacht, with three of her four children, Charlotte, Pierre and Andrea Casiraghi. If Albert and Charlene do not produce a legitimate heir, Caroline’s son Andrea will become the ruler of Monaco. (Albert’s other issue, such as his son by an airline stewardess, cannot ascend the throne.)" (LizSmith)



"On May 17th, a black-tie audience at the Metropolitan Opera House applauded as a tall, jovial-looking billionaire took the stage. It was the seventieth annual spring gala of American Ballet Theatre, and David H. Koch was being celebrated for his generosity as a member of the board of trustees; he had recently donated $2.5 million toward the company’s upcoming season, and had given many millions before that ... The gala marked the social ascent of Koch, who, at the age of seventy, has become one of the city’s most prominent philanthropists. In 2008, he donated a hundred million dollars to modernize Lincoln Center’s New York State Theatre building, which now bears his name. He has given twenty million to the American Museum of Natural History, whose dinosaur wing is named for him. This spring, after noticing the decrepit state of the fountains outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Koch pledged at least ten million dollars for their renovation. He is a trustee of the museum, perhaps the most coveted social prize in the city, and serves on the board of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where, after he donated more than forty million dollars, an endowed chair and a research center were named for him. One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the event’s third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular." (NYer)



"Earlier this month, a story splashed across the front page of the Post warned that representatives from more than a dozen New York City hedge funds had 'crossed the border' to meet with Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell. Over fried calamari, the governor reportedly pitched the executives on moving their businesses to her state: There had been talk for months that the city's hedge fund managers might flee because of cruel new taxes, just like the threats about a mass exodus from London to Switzerland, or from Europe to Hong Kong. Instead, the real threat to the hedge fund world has turned out to be the ineffable, sweet, cozy lure of hammocks. This month, Richard Grubman, the top Boston hedge fund manager, who was in the papers earlier this year for allegedly throwing his keys in the face of a valet who had asked him to move his BMW X5 at the Ritz in Boston, announced his retirement from the $10 billion Highfields Capital. Then, last week, the 57-year-old Soros protégé Stanley Druckenmiller announced he was shutting his hedge fund, writing a widely circulated letter that described the stress of recent struggles. He reportedly had his retirement epiphany after turning down a nice October golf invitation from another billionaire." (Observer)



"Marvel Studios is moving forward on a live action feature version of Iron Fist, hiring screenwriter Rich Wilkes to draft a movie based on a martial arts expert whose battle with a dragon--ended when he plunged his hands through the beast's molten heart--turned his fists into indestructible weapons. Iron Fist was on the minds of many fanboys when Disney paid $4 billion for Marvel's 5000 superhero library and vowed to turn the less obvious comic book heroes into films and TV properties. Marvel tried to make an Iron Fist movie with Artisan nearly a decade ago, as a vehicle for X-Men villain and martial arts expert Ray Park. The Iron Fist comic book mythology was created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane in the 1970s, when the popularity of martial arts films was on the rise." (Deadline)



"It was a balmy June day, Pentecoste Sunday, a major holiday in France. The Casino de la Corniche was a chic and popular establishment on a rocky spur between Saint-Eugene and Pointe Pescade. The beach was the finest in the area, and the young French lieutenant, scion of a ducal family, went for a swim with a friend. After he walked up the hill, with its plush gardens surrounding the casino, where from 4.00 to 8.00 there was a matinee dansante with couples dancing the fox trot and the tango. By all accounts it was an idyllic scene. 'The deep blue of the Mediterranean, the cloudless sky, the honey-colored sand, the intense light, the gulls circling, the young men preening, and the girls pretending not to notice—it was all there for the rich, and even the poor.' I’ve lived such a scene many times, with girls walking by giggling and whispering, and casting side glances to see if they were being noticed. But not on this occasion. In the late afternoon the lieutenant ambled up to the casino garden and sat under an acacia tree eating spicy sausages. He could hear the strains of the nostalgic tango from the dance floor. His friend wondered why everyone loved this land so much. Because of its beauty, came the answer. As they were speaking, an explosion inside the casino ripped away the walls and windows. The two ran inside down a long hall with a red carpet. The bomb had gone off under the bandstand, which had been torn to pieces. The dance floor was littered with body parts, piano keys and mangled saxophones. The roulette tables were shredded, the croupiers, those who were still moving, writhing on the green felt tables. Rien ne vas plus. His friend picked up a woman’s shoe with the foot still in it. All the victims were French colons. Not a single Arab had been killed because of a very simple reason. The matinee dansante was barred to Arabs. This was Algiers, part of metropolitan France, in 1958." (Takimag)

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