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Saturday, December 04, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"THE first question people always ask when you tell them you’ve visited the Chateau Marmont, the great gothic pile of a hotel on the Sunset Strip, is 'Who did you see?' For the record, during my sojourns there last month, I saw, in no particular order: The stylist Rachel Zoe wearing fur, dining alfresco with a table of European fashionistas smoking cigarettes. The musician Joel Madden, huddled on a lobby couch with his 2-year-old daughter, eating a grilled cheese and fries. Amanda Seyfried, Keanu Reeves, Debra Messing and Carey Mulligan. Not together. Joaquin Phoenix, coolly deflecting approaching strangers at a poolside bungalow party hosted by Flaunt Magazine. The director Sofia Coppola rolling press interviews in the lobby while her publicists watched from a distance. As for the rest — a motley assortment of writers typing away on laptops, Italian tourists in neon footwear, Hollywood moms toting babies, agent types buying meals for actor types, and fashion people eating salads on the patio — they pretended diligently that the celebrities were not there at all. As one diner, surveying the lunch crowd, whispered to a friend: 'It’s always such good people-watching here. You just have to remember not to stare.'" (NYTimes)


"I have been on the road, got home late tonight (while my wife is traveling elsewhere), and amused myself with.... the C-SPAN rebroadcast of today's Don't Ask Don't Tell Senate hearings. Yes, this is exciting life for a member of The Atlantic's team. The full video of the hearing is here; don't see how to embed the original feed. Andrew Sullivan and Ta-Nehisi Coates have, I see, already mentioned the incredible crabbedness of John McCain's role at the hearings, which is on display in the opening minutes of the C-SPAN video. I'll stress the incredible part, because much more than my colleagues I can remember when McCain seemed to be a potentially Eisenhower-ish, as opposed to an increasingly Bunning-like, figure in American public life. Broad-minded, tolerant, eager to bridge rather than open divides -- this was the way he seemed to so many people starting from his arrival in the Congress in the 1980s. Seeing him now is surprising not simply because it reminds us: this man could be the sitting president, but also because it again raises the question, how did he end up this way? Even if his earlier identity had been artifice, what would be the payoff in letting it go? I have been trying to think of a comparable senior public figure who, in the later stages of his or her career, narrowed rather than broadened his view of the world and his appeals to history's judgment. I'm sure there are plenty (on two minutes' reflection, I'll start with Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh), but the examples that immediately come to mind go the other way." (James Fallows/TheAtlantic)



"Andre Balazs opened his doors to The Standard once again, but this time, to celebrate 10 years of Bruce Weber’s All American. As a full marching band performed, the most fabulous 'What the f*** moment?' occurred! The sea exploded and waves covered the dock as the art and fashion world glitterati, including Calvin Klein, Bettina Prentice, Luigi Tadini and Lorenzo Martone, stood shocked. Luckily, I was wearing my patent leather Louboutins---which survived the monsoon! The sea was theme for the evening as I rushed off to the Webster to a cocktail party hosted by La Mer. Looking forward to the not-to-be-missed gift bag of the week, Santiago Gonzalez, Chiara Clemente, Aaron Young, Jennifer Rubell and Ryan McGinley were all checking out the art while Laure Heriad Dubreuil and Frederic Dechnik, the founders of the Webster boutique, were having a moment with Alex Rodriguez–-a possible frequent shopper. As the ultimate Art Basel indulgence, La Mer has set up Spa de la Mer, where I cannot wait to pamper myself. Maybach hosted a dinner at the New World Symphony, the new building by Frank Gehry, celebrating its partnership with Julian Schnabel and the unveiling of his new sculpture, Queequeg- The Maybach Sculpture, which was named after the harpooner in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. As Naomi Cambell approached the entrance, a number of men, including the boys from The Bruce High Quality Foundation, who were standing outside smoking and checking out Queequeg- The Maybach Sculpture and an actual Maybach, got collective whiplash as Naomi walked in with her boyfriend, Vladislav Doronin." (Lisa Anastos)


"THE lecherous old lush is still on the cognac, even if there is sadly no news of the Swedish masseuses. That Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s dictator, has an abiding proclivity for the bottle has now been attested (at second hand) by a senior member of the Chinese government. But otherwise the American diplomatic cables made public in this week’s WikiLeaks deluge confirm little that was not already known about Mr Kim, or China’s relations with him. They merely add fuel to the blaze of guesswork and gossip that passes for analysis of China-North Korean relations. Still, they contain one piece of startling, headline-grabbing conjecture: that China could live with a reunified Korea, controlled by the South. China pays lip service to the idea of Korean unification. In practice it has long seemed ready to put up with almost any misbehaviour by its ally, North Korea, to prevent its collapse and absorption by the American-allied South. Even this year it has refused to condemn the North for the sinking of a South Korean corvette, the Cheonan, in March, the revelation in November of an unknown uranium-enrichment facility, and the shelling that month of a South Korean island. In fact the headline version of China’s alleged change of attitude to a takeover by the South distorts the analysis given in February this year by the cable’s source, Chun Yung-woo, who has since become South Korea’s national-security adviser. Mr Chun is quoted as saying merely that two senior Chinese officials were 'ready to face the new reality' that North Korea no longer has much value for China as a buffer state. This view, he argued, had gained ground in China since the North’s unneighbourly test of a nuclear bomb near the Chinese border in 2006." (TheEconomist)


"A corpse lies in a bathtub, illuminated by a single light bulb. The head listing awkwardly to one side is that of a young, scrawny man with close-cropped hair, clothed in a sleeveless undershirt and track-suit bottoms. The check-shirted torso of another man bustles over the body, covering and uncovering it in shadow and then light, his face masked with a bandana. He is wiping blood off a knife and whistling faintly. The tune is instantly recognisable to the Russian ear as a sappy, Soviet-era song about patriotism: 'Where does the motherland begin? With the pictures in your first book of ABCs/With good and faithful comrades/Living in the neighbouring yard.' The grotesque parody is not lost on the viewer as the whistling man grabs the corpse and begins whittling off its left ear. Then he starts sawing at the neck, beginning an hour-long process of dismemberment. The video of this grisly scene is one of many pieces of evidence in the ongoing trial in Moscow of the remaining members of the now-defunct National Socialist Organisation (NSO), an ultra-nationalist skinhead gang. The corpse was that of Nikolai Melnik, a gang member who had run foul of the NSO gang code: 'He didn’t belong fully to our group, didn’t share our ideas and goals and wanted to play us against each other,' according to the testimony of one of the alleged killers, Vladislav Tamamshev. The video of his dismemberment was posted on the internet as a warning to other transgressors. Melnik had lived the blood-spattered life of a Russian skinhead and his death is just one of 27 murders, many of immigrant labourers, for which 13 NSO members are on trial. The killings, not only that of Melnik, were routinely videotaped, the court has heard." (FT)


"Last night in Miami, the party set was all dressed up with everywhere to go—actually, scratch the 'all dressed up' bit. Albert Hammond, Jr., had trouble getting into the glitzy after-party for a screening of Julian Schnabel's latest film, Miral, on account of his hoodie and Dr. Martens, never mind that he was a guest of the filmmaker's son Vito. 'This is the nervous-I'm-going-to-get-kicked-out corner,' he explained, sitting on a bench in the lobby of the New World Symphony building. Also circulating were Alber Elbaz, Naomi Campbell, and Sean Penn, whose Haiti charity was the beneficiary of the evening's very lucrative auction (arranged by Maybach) of new artwork by Schnabel. In his sweatpants and a frayed flannel shirt, the latter looked even more than usual as though he'd just taken a late-morning stroll out to the mailbox—though presumably he didn't have any trouble at the door. Bruce Weber, a neighbor of Schnabel's in Montauk, barely lifted an eyebrow. 'Yeah, he dresses like that back home,' he shrugged." (Style)


"Everybody's Lucifer had it right. The swivel-hipped satyr could as easily been giving stage notes to Nina Sayers, Natalie Portman's bedeviled ballerina, as she struggles to embrace the psyche-splintering demands of her performance in Swan Lake which includes a dual role as the Black Swan, the Jungian alter-ego of the title figure, and the thematic engine of Darren Aronofsky's film of the same name. The dynamics were a bit different in Performance, the 1968 Donald Cammell/Nicolas Roeg film in which Jagger's hermetic rock god Turner plays mind games with a mob enforcer (James Fox) on the run, who has tumbled into his Dionysian lair. There, sexy druggy things ensue, before someone dies and Turner may or may not have become a doppelgangster. Seeing as Performance hit screens in 1970, when audiences were as likely to be stoned or munching blotter acid as they were popcorn, its hallucinatory style synonymous with Roeg is practically inchoate compared to Aronofsky's carefully attenuated orchestration of Nina's mental meltdown in Black Swan. That's one of the new film's strengths, even as he taps into the cinema of insanity, doubles, shattered mirrors, bent psychologies, and edgy sexuality that includes films like Persona and Mulholland Dr., not to mention freaked-out classics of mental disintegration like Repulsion, and the thriller continuum that runs from Hitchcock to Cronenberg. Aronofsky keeps an impressively tight focus on the core of his story before it gradually spins toward a tripped-out climax that rates as the most exhilarating screen moment of the year." (GreenCineDaily)


"Yesterday I had the pleasure of having lunch at Michael’s with New York luminary David Patrick Columbia, founder of New York Social Diary. Hardly a person passed by our table without stopping to shake his hand or say hello. His chronicling of New York and society began in 1993 as a monthly society column in Quest magazine. Then in 2000 David decided to become independent and take his project online. Each day, with the help of his business partner, Jeffrey Hirsch, David documents society with his unique personal reflection." (AllTheBest)


"Bloomberg BusinessWeek: What can Greece, Ireland, and other troubled members of the European Union learn from Turkey? Turkey's Finance Minister  Mehmet Simsek: 'We didn't put an end to years of crises until we convinced the markets we had a credible program to impose fiscal discipline on ourselves. We significantly reduced the ratio between debt and gross domestic product. We liquidated troubled banks. And we made it clear going forward that we would hold shareholders, bank managers, and, in some cases, their families personally responsible if they caused their banks to fail. Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland, as members of the euro zone, were never really penalized for poor fundamentals.'" (NormPearlstine)



"It's Miami, and money is rustling the town like wind through the palm trees. The Art Basel Miami Fair opened to VIPs this morning at 11 a.m. And by 5 p.m., a handful of galleries, at least, were gloating. With the Dow's climb buoying spirits, several dealers said collectors were buying ... Celebrities? Ricky Martin was living la vida loca at the Vanity Fair party Tuesday.  Julian Schnabel, natty in shorts, was touring Michael Werner's booth at the main fair; scoping out a George Baselitz. Danny Glover drew paparazzi as he strode in, and explained that he was an art collector and a former owner of an art gallery.  Perennially tanned George Hamilton, a collector well known to European dealers, checked out the wares at Zurich gallery. 'I love Miami, but not as much as St. Moritz,' he said ... Crowds, as they always do, encircled the Gagosian Gallery, where Adam Lindemann, Aby Rosen and Tico Mugrabi hung out in front of a Basquiat and discussed boats. (You can't make this stuff up.) Gagosian showed a work from a fresh Richard Prince series that was garnering much attention. Lehmann Maupin reported several sales in the mid to high five figures by day's end, including a work by Brooklyn artist Mickalene Thomas." (Observer)

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