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Friday, October 22, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Lately, I’ve been reading the galleys of Peter Firstbrook’s 'The Obamas,' a history of the African side of the President’s family and a fascinating look at their tribe, the Luo. The book will be published in the spring by Crown; it is already out in the U.K. Firstbrook, a former director and producer for the BBC, interviewed Obama family members, friends, and scholars in Kenya and adds many interesting details to what we know of the President’s heritage. The most provocative pages are those in which some of Barack Obama, Sr.,’s relatives and friends cast doubt on the official version of his death—that he drove his car into a tree following a day of drinking in Nairobi ... During the research for “The Bridge,” my book on Obama’s life before the Presidency, I spoke to many of Obama, Sr.,’s friends and acquaintances, and the resulting portrait of him is even more tragic than the one in his son’s bittersweet memoir, 'Dreams from My Father.' Some background: Obama, Sr., was not only a thwarted politician and bureaucrat; he was also open about his anger at the Kenyan leadership for its tolerance of corruption and of scandals such as the murder, in 1969, of the politician Tom Mboya. Like “The Bridge” and other earlier accounts, Firstbrook’s book portrays Obama, Sr., as someone who can barely contain his disenchantment, especially when he is full of whiskey. (He was nicknamed Mr. Double-Double for his Scotch orders at various taverns around Nairobi." (David Remnick)


""'I think the idea of saving the world on a G-string is fantastic!' declared host Sofia Vergara last night during Seven Bar Foundation’s Lingerie New York event, a runway show presented by Freedom Bay St. Lucia in support of microfinance for women. The charitable event’s mantra is 'saving the world on a G-string,' and models like Veronica Webb did just that as they walked the runway at Cipriani clad in underpinnings. 'This is a special cause very, very close to my heart,' said Vergara warmly. 'This is exactly what we need—people to call attention to an issue like this and then get the funds to help these women.' But lacy underthings are not for all: Michelle Rodriguez admitted, 'I’m not really a fancy lingerie girl. You won’t see me on the runway. It’s not my thing.' While Rodriguez remained safely in the DJ booth, models took to the runway, as guests watched below, seated during dinner and refreshing themselves with Hennessy Black." (Fashionweekdaily)




"BENTIU, Sudan—Gen. Gabriel Tanginye has a complicated relationship with his home region of south Sudan. Born and raised there, he has spent much of his life fighting for the country's north. And during a 21-year-long north-south civil war, that meant Tanginye was fighting against his own regional kin. It's a role he seemed to have no qualms in undertaking; in 2000, he hijacked a U.N. plane to show his displeasure with the international body's assistance to south Sudan's then-vice president. Today, he lives in the northern capital of Khartoum, supporting his southern-based family from afar. Recently however, Tanginye has been back in south Sudan trying to make amends. With the looming January 2011 referendum, in which south Sudan is likely to vote for independence from the north, Tanginye realized that his future as a northern military commander may have a limited horizon. So when the men now leading the Southern Sudanese government came calling, Tanginye's calculation was simple: Take the hefty reward they offered him for switching camps, rejoin the south, bring his 44,000-strong ethnic militia with him, and express his solidarity with his former enemies ahead of the crucial independence vote. Then after the ballot, reconsider his options." (ForeignPolicy)


"Russell Simmons must have been high on veggie juice when he called his pal Courtney Love 'a crackhead' for posting nude photos of herself on Twitter. 'I think she is a sweet girl . . . It's probably exciting to be a crackhead, I wouldn't say I was a crackhead but I did smoke a lot of crack," he joked at the launch party for his new Oxygen series, 'Running Russell Simmons.' 'I had fun smoking a lot of angel dust . . . Right now I'm a monk. I'm boring, I'm on a green juice fast at this moment so I'm a little high now. I had a double shot of ginger, which makes you a little flighty.' Love, who didn't make it to his party at Midtown hot spot Lavo, told us last night: 'I'm fairly insulted that he associates me with that drug. What does that mean?'" (PageSix)


"... I high-tailed it out of there and five blocks down the avenue to 67th Street and the Park Avenue Armory, for the Preview Party benefiting The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (SMSKCC). This was the 22nd Annual for the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show (a Haughton International Fairs show). The first one was staged in 1989 by Brian and Anna Haughton, both antiques dealers in London who have become major players in the international art and antiques fairs business. The committee members of the SMSKCC always deliver a big fund-raiser. This year it was sponsored by Giorgio Armani and 1stdibs.com, with additional support from ELLE DÉCOR. There were more than a thousand guests, although the Armory space is vast and the Haughtons set up their exhibition stalls to lend to the sense of comfortable space. This year the committee members were outfitted in Armani. The Sloan-Kettering connection is prestigious for a number of reasons. Those who volunteer and contribute to its strength are exemplary, and are expected to be. Whatever 'society' in the old sense of the word that still might exist in New York, many of the SMSKCC, volunteers are members of it." (NYSocialDiary)


"His daughter, however, chose to attend to Duke University, which served as a major inspiration for (Tom) Wolfe's last novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons. The book delved into the sexual habits of college kids in work hard/play hard academic settings, so when The Observer approached the legendary novelist we couldn't help but ask about that university's most recent claim to notoriety. Have you heard about a certain Power Point presentation associated with Duke University that's come out recently, we asked? At first, he denied any knowledge of the scandalous list, but as we started to roll off some details, Wolfe perked up. 'Oh, wait a minute! You're not talking about the girl who... Ha, ha! I've never seen it. Is it on YouTube?' We told him it was everywhere online." (Observer)


"'WITH you in charge, I am at ease,; Mao Zedong is supposed to have told his successor, Hua Guofeng. It proved a disastrous choice. Mr Hua lasted a couple of years before being toppled in 1978. A decade later succession plans once again unravelled spectacularly, against a backdrop of pro-democracy unrest. Only once, eight years ago, has China’s Communist Party managed a smooth transfer of power—to Hu Jintao. Now a new transition is under way. The world should be nervous about it for two reasons: the unknown character of China’s next leader; and the brittle nature of a regime that is far less monolithic and assured than many foreigners assume. The man ordained to take over Mr Hu’s twin roles as party chief in 2012 and president the following year is hardly a household name. On October 18th Vice-President Xi Jinping was given a new job as vice-chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, which Mr Hu heads. This is a position for leaders-in-waiting. The portly son of one of Communist China’s founders, little known to the outside world until a few years ago, Mr Xi is preparing to take the helm of a country with the world’s second-biggest economy and its biggest armed forces—and which is in the midst of wrenching social change. Quite how he has risen so high in a party that, for all its growing engagement with the world, remains deeply secretive, is unclear. Mr Xi’s appointment was eerily similar to the recent anointing of Kim Jong Un in North Korea: he too was made vice-chairman of a military commission after a closed-door party conclave, without public explanation. China’s leaders at least offered a sentence on Mr Xi’s appointment, albeit at the end of an arid 4,600-character communiqué after the fifth party congress." (TheEconomist)


"Many people who know 17-year-old Taylor Momsen predominately as rebellious, private-school-educated Jenny Humphrey -- her character on the hit teen soap Gossip Girl -- brush off her side gig as frontwoman of Pretty Reckless as nothing but angsty teenage rebellion. But the girl can sing, and she completely captivated the audience last night at Don Hill's during Pretty Reckless' performance at a party thrown by Express and PAPER. I sat down with Pretty Reckless members Ben Phillips, Mark Damon, Jamie Perkins and Momsen as they had a few smokes and drinks (Taylor's was alcohol free, of course) before they took the stage." (Papermag)

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