blog advertising is good for you

Friday, December 03, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"When I travel to a foreign capital, I will ask the U.S. Embassy there for a background briefing, but I know not to expect much from it. I've found it far more useful to set up meetings with the Europeans -- Germans, French, or Swiss, especially. Those are the diplomats who will give you the real dirt: juicy details about corruption and political infighting and what nefarious schemes the Russians or Chinese (or Americans) are up to in the country. The difference is so striking that I long ago concluded that the Americans -- the product of a Foreign Service selection process that encourages dutiful ladder-climbers rather than creative thinkers and then sends them out to be walled up in overprotected embassy compounds far from town -- were just not as sharp as their wilier continental counterparts. (I exaggerate here slightly -- I also have met very savvy American diplomats, including all of you who are reading this article right now.) In any case, this is what I thought until I started reading the diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks has started making public. U.S. Foreign Service officers might not like their confidential correspondence aired in public, but overall, the cables portray them as smart and perceptive, and with no illusions about the countries they are dealing with." (ForeignPolicy)


"At 47, he has devoted all of his adult life to Africa, especially the Horn and Congo, formerly known as Zaire. He’s been jailed in southern Sudan. He’s had militiamen’s assault rifles jammed into his stomach in Congo. While we sat in the Juba restaurant in October, he was fighting off a rare infection that is a precursor to elephantiasis, contracted in Sudan a week or two before. Swollen glands throughout his body made him wince as he walked across the restaurant. (John) Prendergast laid a small map of Sudan — of the nation as it looks for the moment, not yet divided in two — on a table in front of Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, an insider in the South’s government in waiting, a towering man with tribal scars, six raised horizontal lines, spanning his forehead. The two men discussed the chances of the new country’s being born without causing more cataclysmic warfare. Scribbled notes cluttered the map as Gatkuoth brought Prendergast up to date on developments in the South, on fresh pacts being sealed between the main liberation group and an array of factions. The rebel leaders know from CNN, and from Prendergast himself — 'So George Clooney and I met with President Obama last week . . .' — that Prendergast has pull with their ally America. And for Prendergast, the information that he can learn from those leaders is currency. The mix of his exhaustive knowledge and his marshaling of movie stars has placed him near the heart of the American administration’s role in Sudan’s impending rearrangement." (NyTimesMagazine)


"Naomi Campbell showed some ladylike behavior at Tony Shafrazi's Art Basel dinner on the opening night of the Raleigh's new restaurant, The Royal. When Julian Schnabel arrived, 'She jumped out of her seat to kiss him hello, then moved to another seat so he could sit next to Shafrazi,' said a spy. Campbell is trolling the Miami art fest with Russian billionaire boyfriend Vladislav Doronin and a well-dressed bodyguard." (PageSix)


"While London is buzzing with royal wedding fever, Prince Andrew has been sizing up NYC ladies. The divorced prince mingled with the city's most glamorous including Laura Brown, Mary Alice Stephenson, Tatiana von Furstenberg and a bevy of models at a party at the townhouse of his pal Ghislaine Maxwell. A source told us, 'Since Ghislaine recently split up with her partner, this was almost like a singles party. The prince seemed to be enchanted with many of the women in the room, especially one particular willowy blonde.'" (PageSix)


"A witchy brew of madness and cunning, 'Black Swan' tells the story of a ballerina who aches, with battered feet and an increasingly crowded head, to break out of the corps. Played by Natalie Portman in a smashing, bruising, wholly committed performance, the young dancer, Nina, looks more like a child than a woman, her flesh as undernourished as her mind. When she goes to bed at night, a nearby jewelry box tinkling 'Swan Lake,' a crowd of stuffed animals watches over her, longtime companions that — as Nina and this dementedly entertaining film grow more unhinged — begin to look more like jailers than friends. Crammed with twins — lookalikes, mirrored images, doppelgängers — the story follows that of the “Swan Lake” ballet in broad, gradually warped strokes. It opens with the artistic director of a fictional New York ballet company, Thomas (Vincent Cassel), announcing that the new season will begin with a 'visceral and real” version of that old favorite. To that end he dumps his prima ballerina, Beth (Winona Ryder), and picks Nina to dance the dual role of the swan queen (an enchanted woman in bird form) and her villainous black twin." (Manola Dhargis via Anna Holmes)


"In Black Swan, French-born actor Vincent Cassel stars as Thomas Leroy, the fervently prickish ballet director who chooses Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) to be the swan queen in his latest production of the ballet classic Swan Lake; his psychologically and sexually abusive character unknowingly launches Nina into a classic Darren Aronofsky spiral of doom. Already a legit film star in France, Cassel is most recognizable to American audiences from his roles in Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen, but the Black Swan buzz could result in Cassel experiencing his own Javier Bardem crossover moment this winter. Vulture talked to the actor about his creepy new film and whether he's actually playing a variation on Swan Lake's Von Rothbart." (NYMag)


"Their worlds could not be further apart: She lived in a quiet, leafy and affluent corner of Westwood; he appeared to have been squatting in a transient building, in a seedy, rundown neighborhood on the east side of town. How—if at all—their deaths were connected is the question that occupies people in Los Angeles in the wake of the man's suicide Wednesday night. Described as a 'person of interest' in the killing of Ronni Chasen—the Hollywood publicist who was mysteriously gunned down in her car last month—the man known by his neighbors as 'Harold' remains an enigma more than a day after he turned his gun on himself in the lobby of the Harvey Apartments on Santa Monica Boulevard. Residents alternately described Harold as quiet and somewhat paranoid. 'He seemed like a troubled soul but was always nice, always shook my hand and gave me a half hug,' said Robin Lyle, whose apartment is a few feet from Room 329, where Harold lived. Lyle, whom Harold visited every day on his way to the store to pick up beer, said he believed Harold's last name was Smith. 'He was calm but every once in a while would get agitated and say, 'Have the cops been here, have the cops been here?' said another neighbor, who did not want to be named. This neighbor also claimed that shortly after the Chasen shooting Harold said to him, 'I messed up.'" (TheDailyBeast)


"For the art world, the opening day of Art Basel Miami Beach is simply not to be missed. The adrenaline rush begins when the doors first open at 11 a.m. for the lucky few who hold the 'First Choice' invitation to enter the Fair. Mega-collectors, such as Aby Rosen, Don and Mera Rubell, Beth de Woody, and Steve Cohen, were all in search of their first purchases of the day.  Los Angeles producer and collector Brad Schlei described opening day as 'the ultimate all-day cocktail party to see art, artists and friends.' With champagne flowing, lots of hellos are exchanged, but the magic of Art Basel remains the art, and art sales were strong on Day 1. Modern Art sold Barnaby Furnas’ Rock Concert for $300,000, while Mary Boone sold a large David Salle for $350,000 and David Zwirner sold Dan Flavin’s Untitled for $700,000. Galerie Gmurzynska's booth designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid was a flutter with activity as Calvin Klein, George Hamilton and Danny Glover all showed up at the same time, causing photographer frenzy. Although humor in art is often debated, a number of comedians have also caught the art bug. Steve Martin and Ben Stiller were both seen checking out the art work although I did not see them laughing when they were inquiring about the prices." (Lisa Anastos)



"With all the frantic hiring of young talent and established editors for The Daily, News Corp.'s new tablet-only newspaper, it's clear that Rupert Murdoch is trying to create the 'tabloid for smart people' that he's never quite been able to pull off in print. But this isn't just a gamble on content, but on technology — and that's the kind of bet the aging mogul doesn't have a reputation for winning. If he does, he could finally earn the reputation as a digital-media innovator. But how likely is that? It's not that Murdoch hasn't innovated before, in the pre-digital age. No one believed he could launch a fourth major TV network, and now, nearly two decades later, we're used to saying the phrase 'NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox.' And Fox News went from being a lark to completely dominating its predecessor CNN. But Murdoch's flashiest online efforts have flopped: See PageSix.com or his ludicrously pricey $500 million purchase of the rapidly deflating Myspace.com. With that kind of track record, outsiders are viewing the tablet newspaper with a heavy dose of skepticism." (NyMag)


"I think Veronese was way ahead of us contemps. I was reminded of that visit we made to the Villa Barbaro with the Venetian Heritage group, where we were given a concert in rooms painted with Veronese's murals, and how they still stick in my craw as beauty, mystery, history, life, humankind but immortal. The Wedding at Cana will never look the same to me after tonight. It is magnificent beyond sight. The photos I took unfortunately tell you nothing of the experience of just standing there taking it all in. It's a little like you’re standing there in that scene when the spaceship lands in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. You’re the child." (NYSocialDiary)




"As the explosive, ongoing release of hundreds of thousands of State Department diplomatic cables shows, official Washington is anxious about the direction that Turkey's government is taking the country -- and particularly the influence of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, long credited as the architect of its foreign policy. And judging by the academic-turned-international-strategist's doctoral dissertation, they have good reason to worry. The first batch of cables, published by self-described whistle-blower organization WikiLeaks on Nov. 28, express the unvarnished concerns of U.S. diplomats regarding the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has recently improved Turkey's ties to Iran and Syria and engaged in a high-profile war of words with Israel following the botched Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in May. One November 2009 cable says that U.S. officials were 'wondering if it could any longer count on Turkey to help contain Iran's profound challenge to regional peace.' Another cable quotes a Turkish government official saying that Davutoglu exerts an 'exceptionally dangerous' Islamist influence on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But the U.S. diplomatic corps shouldn't have had to wait for recent events to reveal to them the transformations that Davutoglu had in store for Turkish foreign policy. His doctoral dissertation, completed in 1990 at Istanbul's Bogazici University and later revised and published under the title 'Alternative Paradigms,' yields some important clues about his intellectual influences and guiding political philosophy.  The dissertation, written in English and buried in a neglected corner of the university library's reference collection, is esoterically titled The Impacts of Alternative Weltanschauungs on Political Theories: A Comparison of Tawhid and Ontological Proximity." (ForeignPolicy)


"It's not so much the weather down in Florida as the wind and rain up in New York, which kept Eddie Borgo, for one, grounded, and made him late to the cocktail party he was co-hosting for The Last Magazine at The Webster last night. Editor Magnus Berger was presiding over a one-night exhibition of materials featured in the latest issue, from cover pieces by Graeme Armour and Altuzarra to a racing suit and helmet belonging to 12-year-old go-kart phenom Santino Ferrucci. 'We wanted to bring the magazine to life, put it in a space where you can experience it and touch it,' Berger explained. Given all the flight delays, Cecilia Dean, Camilla Stærk, and co. were probably just happy to be there. As was Arden Wohl, who enthused that her recent graduation from the French Culinary Institute has put her on a new career path: 'I'm a pastry chef!' Just not for the next few days." (Style)


"Due to overwhelming demand, Prince announced today that he is adding another Madison Square Garden show to the previously announced New York Area concerts. The two previously announced Madison Square Garden shows taking place on December 18th and December 29th sold out in less than 30 minutes." (BrooklynVegan)


"On September 7, Japanese coast guard officials detained the crew of a Chinese fishing trawler after it rammed into two Japanese coast guard ships. The captain of the trawler was detained and faced charges that could have sent him to prison for up to three years. The incident set off a high-profile showdown between Beijing and Tokyo: the Chinese government threatened to withdraw from discussions over the East China Sea gas field and suspend ministerial-level contacts, organized demonstrations outside Japanese diplomatic missions in China, imposed an embargo on the shipment of rare earth metals to Japan, and detained four Japanese citizens for allegedly videotaping military targets in Hebei Province. Japan finally succumbed to the pressure and released the captain in late September. Many analysts have pointed to the incident as proof that Beijing has adopted a more aggressive stance toward its regional rivals. But Chinese behavior in the South China, East China, and Yellow Seas over the past several decades reveals a longstanding pattern of bullying and outright threats. As China has struggled to expand its maritime boundaries, assert sovereignty over disputed islands and vast maritime resources, and enhance its naval capabilities to counter U.S. Navy dominance in the Pacific, it has never been reluctant to use force or coercion. This long history of aggression suggests that the United States will have to be firm and proactive in countering China's expanding self-proclaimed zone of influence if it hopes to keep Beijing from dominating the coastal seas of the western Pacific. China has been most aggressive in the South China Sea, where it claims a number of disputed territories. In 1974, taking advantage of Washington's preoccupation with leaving Vietnam, China invaded the Paracel Islands -- which were then under South Vietnamese control -- beginning an illegal occupation that continues today. Over the years, China has increased its military presence on the islands, building a military airfield and an intelligence monitoring facility that can be used for operations in the South China Sea." (ForeignAffairs)

No comments: