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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Bush chooses to depict Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell—instead of any in a long line of congressional Democrats—as the person urging Bush to withdraw forces from Iraq, making the distinguished McConnell a member of the "cut-and-run" crowd. It is apparently McConnell who Bush defies with his courageous and counterintuitive decision to order a surge of forces into Iraq. Along with McConnell, Bush cites the usual boogeymen—Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, former Attorney General John Ashcroft—for any misjudgments in his administration. If there is anyone Bush seems peeved at in the book, with the exceptions of the French and Senator John Kerry (whom Bush apparently thinks he is still campaigning against), it is conservatives—those who opposed him when he ran for Congress, who complained about his stem-cell compromise, and who blocked Harriet Miers for the U.S. Supreme Court, among other offenses. Even Reagan, the patron saint of the GOP, gets an obligatory mention. When Reagan offers to campaign for Bush as he runs for Congress, Bush says no thanks to the man who bested his father. The book itself is light, nearly 300 pages fewer than Ronald Reagan's and 550 fewer than Bill Clinton's. The former president has a surprising lack of interest in detailing the successful and groundbreaking dispatch of the Afghan and Iraqi regimes; both are described in a thin seven pages. Oddly, much of Bush's descriptions of the war and its deliberations seems lifted from Bob Woodward's books, which have tended to heavily favor Condi Rice and Colin Powell's versions of events. (In a sign of his partiality, Woodward is now pushing his 'reluctant' friend Colin Powell as the nation's next secretary of Defense.) Once again presidential favorites, no matter how much they bungled, elude accountability. Throughout the book, Powell, Rice, and even the human bulls-eye Karl Rove, do not receive a single word of criticism. Perhaps it paid off for Condi Rice to have been tasked with reviewing the full manuscript—This book sometimes sounds like it was her story more than Bush's." (TheDailyBeast)


"At a Lavo party for Due Date—about an ultimately likable mess who attaches himself to an uptight urban professional—Courtney Love jumped me and kept me so feverishly entertained I forgot to work the rest of the room. At the New York Comedy Festival–hosted event, the rocker/personality told me she has a new place to live in New York (though she had to put down a year's rent in advance) and a brand-new Social Security Number, because of 'identity problems' that sprung up. 'I understand New York now,' Love said. 'I talk to people and listen more. I've lived in New York for over a year—this time without going to Bellevue!' And the grunge widow has been getting noticed for it. She said she had a lunch date planned with Page Six's Emily Smith; Radar.com was tracking her for a story about whether she owns the Knickerbocker Hotel (she swore she doesn't); and the Times's Sunday Styles section was about to declare her the new queen of Fashion Week. 'Supposedly, they'll say I've replaced Tinsley Mortimer,' said Love. 'I don't know who that is,' she added blithely." (Musto)


"Reading literature can be the best preparation for a discussion of a county’s budget deficit. Every place and every conversation is embedded in the centuries and the rivers and mountains that shaped the people who shape the centuries. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and withdrew to the borders of old Muscovy, there were those who said that this was the end of the Russian empire. Nations and empires are living things until they die. While they live they grow to the limits set by other nations. They don’t grow like this because they are evil. They do this because they are composed of humans who always want to be more secure, more prosperous and more respected. It is inconceivable to me that Russia, alive and unrestrained, would not seek to return to what it once was. The frontiers of Czarist Russia and the Soviet Union had reasons for being where they were, and in my mind, Russia would inevitably seek to return to its borders. This has nothing to do with leaders or policies. There is no New World Order, only the old one replaying itself in infinitely varying detail, like a kaleidoscope." (STRATFOR)



"Steve Martin may now be a more bankable star at the auction house than the box office. In 2006, Sotheby's anticipated a $15 million yield for a Martin-owned Edward Hopper painting, Night Window. Instead, the piece fetched $26.9 million. The Martin Factor will be tested again on Nov. 10 as Christie's plans to auction Ohhh...Alright..., Roy Lichtenstein's 1964 Pop masterpiece. The painting, once owned by Martin, is being sold by casino mogul—and power vegan—Steve Wynn. Expected cost: $40 million. The Martin Factor: priceless. Despite its well-cultivated veneer of elitism, the art world caters to our celebrity-obsessed culture nearly as much as USWeekly. The newest evidence comes in the form of Christie's auction of 35 pieces from the late Dennis Hopper's collection on Nov. 10. One of those pieces is a portrait of Hopper painted by his friend Andy Warhol in 1971. Twelve years ago, Hopper shelled out $162,000 for the canvas. Now the work could be worth up to $1.2 million, according to Christie's.  While the leap in value has a lot to do with the skyrocketing prices for Warhols, this painting has extra cachet: Simply put, it belonged to a movie star." (BusinessWeek)



"Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer were among the presenters at last night’s Glamour Women of the Year awards ceremony. ABC’s Christiane Amanpour appeared in taped message presenting an award. Other tvnewsers in the audience at Carnegie Hall: CBS Evening News EP Rick Kaplan, CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux and Oprah BFF and former local news anchor Gayle King. Winfrey presented an award to Julia Roberts. Other winners included Fergie, Donatella Versace, four female heads of state and Cher, who was presented a lifetime achievement award." (TVNewser)


"Meanwhile, up at the Café Carlyle, they held the Opening Night Performance of Steve Tyrell making his 6th holiday engagement, “I’ll Take Romance.” And down at Swifty’s – which was packed – DPC was having dinner with Ann Colton Nussbaum, whom he has known (and sung and danced with) since the First Grade back in our hometown of Westfield, Massachusetts. Always a reason for a celebration. Dining nearby were Sydney and Stan Shuman, Dick Nye and Francesca Stanfill, Wendy Moonan and friends, Hilary and Wilbur Ross, Gigi and Harry Benson, Mary McFadden." (NYSocialDiary)


"After three previous cancellations, U.S. President Barack Obama has finally made his long-overdue visit to Indonesia, where he lived for four years as a child. The trip provides the perfect venue to use his personal history to reset an engagement strategy with international Muslim communities that has proved strikingly deficient. Indonesia is not only the fourth-most populous country in the world, it is also the nation with the largest Muslim population -- larger than Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Syria combined. Indonesians have traditionally practiced a moderate form of Islam while, more recently, also committing to modern democracy. Indonesia's strong economy quickly shrugged off the global recession and is forecast to grow 6.3 percent next year, according to the Asian Development Bank. Indonesians are proud of Obama's personal ties to their country and remember the compassionate American response to 2004's devastating tsunami. Indonesians continue to give high favorability and confidence ratings to the United States (59 percent) and Muslim Indonesians to Obama personally (65 percent), according to the Pew Research Center." (ForeignPolicy)


"Over the past month, college campuses have started to ban or otherwise reduce availability of the increasingly popular Four Loko. The combination stimulant and depressant has led to hospitalizations amongst college-aged binge drinkers. But for mature fun-seekers, the drink isn't just for rappers any more: it can be a cost-effective way to feel the euphoric effects of far more expensive drugs in the midst of this Great Recession. On Friday night, after discovering that the Barcade in L.A.'s Koreatown is unrelated to the one in Williamsburg, we sat down at a diner to eat french fries and drink more beers. As I was making poor ordering decisions (stay away from the BBQ beef sandwich), my friend Cate mentioned that she enjoyed the 'Premium Malt Beverage with Artificial Flavors • Guarana • Taurine • Caffeine and FD&C Red #40.'" (TheAwl)



"Two weeks ago, at the Bowery Hotel, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, the younger half-sibling of the artistically diverse Ronson family, described what can happen nowadays to kids like herself who don't have professional representation ... A few years ago, this newspaper would have called Ms. Dexter-Jones a socialite, a title that has become increasingly difficult to dispense given how much young men and women have capitalized on their socializing by designing, modeling, acting, styling, photographing and DJ'ing-possibly all at the same time. These are the kids who take lunch meetings at the Smile and reconvene later that evening at the Jane or the Bowery hotel-activities that instead of intervening with their careers have actually helped make them. The marketing departments of companies like Levi's, Club Monaco and Target-eager, in this economy, to re-brand, downsize and cozy up to the buyer looking for their local designer boutique-have begun asking them (often through Facebook, how else?) to lend their distinguished coolness to national brands: Could Ms. Dexter-Jones design a capsule collection? DJ a brand launch? Make a video short for our Web site? What about television-does she want to do television?!" (Observer)

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