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Friday, November 05, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"As they assess Tuesday's disaster, some Obama advisers are singling out the recently departed chief of staff. Richard Wolffe on the clash between Emanuel's personal ambition and his party loyalty. As chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rahm Emanuel built a Democratic majority in the House. As President Obama's chief of staff, he devised White House strategy toward Capitol Hill. So when the Democrats were going down in flames Tuesday night, where was Obama's chief political architect? Half a continent away, campaigning for himself. And his old colleagues in Washington aren't too happy about it. Some of them shake their heads in disbelief that Emanuel would bolt at precisely the juncture when the Democrats needed to shape their strategy and message during the homestretch of what everyone knew would be the toughest election cycle in years. 'It was Rahm's strategy and then he leaves a month before the election for his own personal political career,' said one former colleague. 'It's extraordinary.'" (Richard Wolff/TheDailyBeast)



"It was during a von Bülow lunch in a St James’s club which is also mine, and I was seated next to a plump, bald man who smiled brightly and introduced himself as Julian Fellowes ... As everyone outside Hollywood and Wall Street knows, snobbishness is simply an assumption of false superiority. The Fellowes couple seems to practice it with the limitless appetite of true parvenus. In their interview they admitted awarding black marks if they spotted someone tipping the soup plate toward them. And woe to those who 'grasped their knife like a pencil. Now they tell me. I even know people who grasp both their knife and fork like a pencil. I also know that pointing this out is even more common than holding one’s knife like a pencil, as is awarding black marks for lack of superficial manners. Let’s face it. There’s nothing better than exquisite manners—alas, hard to come across nowadays—but there’s also such a thing called humanity. Would the Fellowes prefer to dine with a great and interesting historian who, having grown up behind the Iron Curtain (I do have someone in mind), holds his knives and forks like pencils, or with a moron ..." (Takimag)


"It made me wonder if perhaps there was room for a short handbook of cancer etiquette. This would apply to sufferers as well as to sympathizers. After all, I have hardly been reticent about my own malady. But nor do I walk around sporting a huge lapel button that reads: ask me about stage four metastasized esophageal cancer, and only about that. In truth, if you can’t bring me news about that and that alone, and about what happens when lymph nodes and lung may be involved, I am not all that interested or all that knowledgeable. One almost develops a kind of elitism about the uniqueness of one’s own personal disorder. So, if your own first- or secondhand tale is about some other organs, you might want to consider telling it sparingly, or at least more selectively." (VanityFair)


"'I realized it is basically insane to make any kind of judgment about rap without hearing it.' So says New York magazine book critic Sam Anderson, after NPR questioned the wisdom of reviewing a lyrical anthology of rap without having ever heard the actual songs. Anderson, speaking with NPR's Frannie Kelley, said he read all the raps in his own internal voice, all at the same tempo. 'And then I'd read some of my favorite passages aloud to my wife, and she would laugh at me because it sounded ridiculous' ...In the end, Anderson is glad he didn't try and learn about rap through the music. 'Honestly, if I hadn't read and loved Big L's 'Ebonics' before I listened to it, I'm not sure I would have recognized it as someone engaging in incredibly smart and playful lexicography. Because to me, as an ignorant outsider, it just 'sounds' like a more-or-less generic rap song.' It's the kind of self-awareness that would make Juan Williams proud. The biggest surprise for Anderson, aside from Lil' Wayne? O.D.B., of course! 'His pronunciation of 'zoo' is one of the cooler things I've ever heard: a 'z' with the smallest possible nondescript little vowel syllable attached to it. There is no way on earth to communicate the musicality of the refrain that ends that song in print.'" (Observer)


"The 2010 U.S. midterm elections were held, and the results were as expected: The Republicans took the House but did not take the Senate. The Democrats have such a small margin in the Senate, however, that they cannot impose cloture, which means the Republicans can block Obama administration initiatives in both houses of Congress. At the same time, the Republicans cannot override presidential vetoes alone, so they cannot legislate, either. The possible legislative outcomes are thus gridlock or significant compromises. U.S. President Barack Obama hopes that the Republicans prove rigidly ideological. In 1994, after the Republicans won a similar victory over Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich attempted to use the speakership to craft national policy. Clinton ran for re-election in 1996 against Gingrich rather than the actual Republican candidate, Bob Dole; Clinton made Gingrich the issue, and he won. Obama hopes for the same opportunity to recoup. The new speaker, John Boehner, already has indicated that he does not intend to play Gingrich but rather is prepared to find compromises. Since Tea Party members are not close to forming a majority of the Republican Party in the House, Boehner is likely to get his way. Another way to look at this is that the United States remains a predominantly right-of-center country. Obama won a substantial victory in 2008, but he did not change the architecture of American politics. Almost 48 percent of voters voted against him." (STRATFOR)



"If you look at medieval art it was also to tell stories. This is what is so fascinating about art history, these shifts. You have to look at who the patrons were. There was a shift towards multiculturalism in the 80s …we were so used to seeing this western European idea of art, you know you go to Versailles … but things change and then there’s license to take from anywhere ... I think it’s very complex. I think the average person still has a hard time understanding Picasso. Twentieth century art is difficult. It’s all a kind of philosophy and it gets more and more conceptual." (NYSocialDiary)


"In the new video for LCD Soundsystem's song 'Pow Pow,' Oscar-nominated Up in the Air star Anna Kendrick struts, flirts, preens, and may or may not be a soul-taking deity. It's the kind of music video you have to watch more than once to really understand, the kind of esoteric-but-expensive-looking clip you used to see all the time on MTV but haven't in years. Now, though, the network hopes to bring back the format in a big way, and 'Pow Wow' is the first volley in what MTV hopes will be a groundbreaking new series of videos utilizing A-list talent that the channel is actually going to finance itself. Entitled 'Supervideo,' the series is the brainchild of Mean magazine publisher Kashy Khaledi, a 33-year-old who grew up obsessed with music videos and thinks the recent, YouTube-aided rise of Lady Gaga means that it's high time for a revival of the format. 'It says a lot,' Khaledi told Vulture. 'It says that there's a certain nostalgia, that there's a sort of excitement for the music video again.'" (Vulture)


"Henry Kissinger's lunch with former AIG chairman Maurice Greenberg was interrupted by pretty socialite Esther Silber. We witnessed the former secretary of state's eyes light up when he was introduced to the dark-haired beauty at a nearby table at the Four Seasons yesterday. Kissinger, 87, invited her over to his table for a chat. He later sent over a bottle of red wine, and then invited her back to offer her cotton candy. The excitement even caught the eye of Barbara Walters, who was lunching nearby. As Kissinger got up to leave, he whispered to Silber, 'You are so beautiful.'" (PageSix)


"An insider gave me this guidance about what went wrong with Undercovers, a show that NBC massively promoted and yet was still rejected by audiences: 'Many things. Mostly, what was meant to be a throwback lark of a show felt trivial to people. It felt flimsy and not compelling, partially because it was designed as a stand alone, non serialized show. Perhaps the stories lacked deeper interest and urgency. We tried to embrace a familiarity of form, but the public obviously didn't want something so familiar. Unfortunately we never got an audience from the get-go; our abysmal recent rating wasn't even one point lower than our premiere number. We just should have done better. It is a bummer to be sure. NBC did the best they know how. We feel responsible for the failure, though. But damn, it sure would be easier to blame the network!'" (Deadline)


"I am moderating a conference today here in Chicago for a group of large institutional investors. Needless to say, I will report back on what I learn unless it is really valuable information, in which case I will keep the information to myself, move my chips to the right number on the roulette table and cash out. That said, I wanted to leave you with the answer to a burning question on your minds: Who emerged from Tuesday's elections as the most important political voice in the United States? No, it's clearly not President Shellacking. He may re-emerge, but that will take new ideas. Speaker-to-be John Boehner (R-OH)? Nope, same reason. First of all, he is a workhorse and not a show horse. That's not a bad thing. But he's no limelight-hogging Newt, nor is he a creativity engine. Mama Grizzly? Ha -- although she will probably remain an energizing force for a large cross-section of Republican voters… Might it be Mitt Romney, who just by happenstance had an op-ed in the Washington Post Wednesday almost as if to say, 'Gentlemen, start your engines…'? Could be -- Republicans tend to pick the runner-up from the last election cycle, and he has many attributes that could make him a front runner in the current environment. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI)? One could only hope. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg? I light a candle every night. No, the most important political voice in U.S. politics today is … British Prime Minister David Cameron." (ForeignPolicy


"The horse—a somewhat obvious allusion done with less subtlety but more wit by the Brits in Hot Fuzz—meets a uniquely disgusting end on the streets of Atlanta in the first episode. But the frontier sensibility continues as Rick finds his way back to a small settlement that includes his wife and son. Trap-lines ring the camp to warn of walkers. Dead game brings danger with it. Rick's friend Shane (the equally excellent Jonathan Bernthal) metes out exceedingly rough justice. And the show is nothing if not self-aware about those references even as it exploits them. 'Nice moves there, Clint Eastwood,' the first survivor Rick meets tells him after he accidentally draws a pack of zombies with loud gunshots. 'You the new sheriff, come to clean up the town?' 'That wasn't my intention,' Rick tells him, only to have the younger man dismiss him with 'you're still a dumbass.' A badge and a gun get you only so far in an apocalypse, and on the frontier. But The Walking Dead isn't set in just any frontier community, and in this case, location matters. The Walking Dead has the potential to be the best, most elegiac fictional look at the fall of Atlanta and the return to the countryside since Gone With the Wind." (TheAtlantic)



"Cee-Lo Green — barefoot, in a white V-neck T-shirt and black-silk pajama pants — is perched aslant on a couch in a suite on the tenth floor of a Gramercy hotel room. Elsewhere in the tidy room: a cheeseburger and French fries in an aluminum-foil takeout container, opened but untouched; a bottle of as-seen-on-Entourage Aviòn Tequila; assorted tequila tumblers; a pair of oversize rock-star shades; ginger ale; and, laid out neatly on the TV stand by the flat screen, Cee-Lo's jewelry, including a bright, shiny diamond-studded watch, necklace, and complicated-looking bracelet. For the entirety of our conversation, Cee-Lo does not budge from his sideways sofa position. It's understandable. On this particular day, Cee-Lo is in the thick of things for promotion of The Lady Killer (out November 9) and he's trying to pace himself. There have been interviews since the morning, an imminent radio-show call-in to make, and, later on, a music-video shoot that promises to go into the early hours iIn fact, Vulture's interview slot is delayed slightly while a tuxedo for the shoot is approved). That means the conversation is stilted at first, with Cee-Lo offering polite, terse responses to questions he's possibly already fielded several times that day. But he warms up fast. And, quickly, he's serving up wide grins alongside candid talk. Also, cocaine analogies. 'Left to my own devices, my album would be powder,' Cee-Lo declares. 'Raw powder. And of course we all know, if you have any kind of common knowledge — it can't be completely raw. They just can't handle it like that.' He’s talking about appeasing the record label, and he knows of what he speaks." (Vulture)


"“Whenever you get a call from Rose Marie Bravo, it’s always good news!” laughed Glenda Bailey of learning she would receive a Phoenix House Fashion honor. Last night at the Grand Hyatt’s Empire Ballroom, Bailey, Saks’ Ron Frasch, and designer Josie Natori were recognized by the organization at the annual Phoenix House Fashion Awards dinner, co-chaired by the illustrious Bravo, along with Tina Brown, Andrew Rosen, and more." (Fashionweekdaily)

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