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Friday, February 25, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Trouble has been going on in the Middle East for weeks, so why have oil prices suddenly gone up precipitously today? Mainly because two major presumptions underlying our understanding of the world changed in the last 24 or so hours and in doing so shook up the global economic calculus (for the audio-inclined I discuss this on NPR's Diane Rehm Show today). First, we have long been accustomed to Saudi Arabia's calming, sonorous voice when events have shaken the world of oil, which as we know is the underpinning of the entire global economy -- no oil equals no economy, no conveniences, and so on. As it has in previous crises since the 1970s, Saudi Arabia has told the world -- do not worry, we will moderate prices, and should there be a loss of oil supply from one or more other countries, we will compensate for it with our own plentiful production capacity. A current corollary of this mantra has been that the kingdom is safe from the turbulence that has struck so many of its neighbors -- its citizens, cosseted by generous government subsidies, are simply too happy to rise up. Yet yesterday, King Abdullah (on the billboard above) returned home after three months abroad for medical treatment and immediately announced a $36 billion payout to his citizens, including a 15 percent salary increase for public employees, 'reprieves for imprisoned debtors and financial aid for students and the unemployed,' as the Financial Times reports. So oil traders can be forgiven if they thought to themselves, "If the Saudis are so immune from unrest, why did King Abdullah, as soon as he touched home soil, move to buy off his people?" The FT headline this morning put it bluntly: '$36 billion Saudi bid to beat unrest.' Result: panic buying on the oil market." (ForeignPolicy)


"Meanwhile, over at Michael’s I met up with Heather Mnuchin who had just flown in from Los Angeles which she and her husband Steven now make their main residence. Both Heather and Steven are native New Yorkers. Our meeting was ostensibly about The (17th annual) Evening of Practical Magic benefiting City Harvest that will take place on Wednesday, April 13th at Cipriani 42nd Street. The Mnuchins have been involved with City Harvest for a long time. Heather told me yesterday that it started with Steve. He was a kid out of business school and working for Goldman Sachs when one day he saw an ad in the New York Times about how $100 could feed six families that night through the auspices of City Harvest. He was so impressed he sent them a check for $1000. That was the beginning for him. In time he became a member of the board. Heather came to their marriage with a sense of volunteering and philanthropic work. When she was growing up, her mother was Director of Volunteers for St. Luke’s Hospital, and later for other hospitals here in New York. By the time she was 12 or 13, her mother was taking her and her sister along with on work projects. The girls learned then to practice the anointed art of volunteerism." (NYSocialDiary)


"If you thought Charlie Sheen's radio meltdowns were bad before — and with bombs hurled at his Two and a Half Men boss Chuck Lorre and inexplicable advice offered to Lindsay Lohan, they have been — they're nothing compared to the aggressive, addled rant Sheen launched today on the Alex Jones Show. TMZ has the audio, where Sheen calls Lorre ethnic slurs, talks about his army of assassins, and even slams one of our founding fathers. The beleaguered actor is supposed to return to work on Two and a Half Men next week, but after today, we're not so sure. (Update: CBS and Warner Bros. TV have decided against resuming production on Two and a Half Men next week and will keep the show dark for the rest of the season.) Here are eleven of the most incendiary, odd, or just plain inexplicable things Sheen said on the air .." (NYMag)


"'We are sick of hooking up with guys,' writes the comedian Julie Klausner, author of a touchingly funny 2010 book, 'I Don't Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters and Other Guys I've Dated.' What Ms. Klausner means by 'guys' is males who are not boys or men but something in between. 'Guys talk about Star Wars like it's not a movie made for people half their age; a guy's idea of a perfect night is a hang around the PlayStation with his bandmates, or a trip to Vegas with his college friends.... They are more like the kids we babysat than the dads who drove us home.' One female reviewer of Ms. Kausner's book wrote, 'I had to stop several times while reading and think: Wait, did I date this same guy?' For most of us, the cultural habitat of pre-adulthood no longer seems noteworthy. After all, popular culture has been crowded with pre-adults for almost two decades. Hollywood started the affair in the early 1990s with movies like 'Singles,' 'Reality Bites,' 'Single White Female' and 'Swingers.' Television soon deepened the relationship, giving us the agreeable company of Monica, Joey, Rachel and Ross; Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer; Carrie, Miranda, et al. But for all its familiarity, pre-adulthood represents a momentous sociological development. It's no exaggeration to say that having large numbers of single young men and women living independently, while also having enough disposable income to avoid ever messing up their kitchens, is something entirely new in human experience. Yes, at other points in Western history young people have waited well into their 20s to marry, and yes, office girls and bachelor lawyers have been working and finding amusement in cities for more than a century. But their numbers and their money supply were always relatively small. Today's pre-adults are a different matter. They are a major demographic event." (WSJ)


(Chloe Sevigny, Proenza Schouler's Lazaro Hernandez, Jack McCollough via zimbio)

"CHLOƋ SEVIGNY: I want to hear the crazy story about you losing your dog. (Proenza Schouler's )LAZARO HERNANDEZ: It's actually an amazing story. I was here alone, eight o'clock at night. I had my bags. I was going to Italy the next morning. I grabbed my dog and my bags and I'm waiting for the elevator but it doesn't come. It's taking forever so I'm like, 'Fuck. What's going on?' And I had to take a piss. So I run to the bathroom to pee, and I come back to the front, and the dog is gone. I have no idea where he is. I'm like, 'He must have taken the elevator. He must be in the lobby.' SEVIGNY: He just pressed the button. HERNANDEZ: I press the elevator again. It takes another 10 minutes for it to come. The elevator door opens. It's packed, packed, packed with people-Dan [Colen] and Nate [Lowman]. SEVIGNY: All the art stars. HERNANDEZ: They're all there. They're like, "Hey, Lazaro.' I'm like, 'Hey. It's my building. I'm going home. I lost my dog.' SEVIGNY: You guys don't understand the significance of the Swiss Institute, which is in your building. It has great shows, FYI. HERNANDEZ: Well, I get to the lobby and there are hundreds of people. There's a line down to Broome Street. I asked some guy, 'Have you seen a dog?' He's like, 'Oh, yeah. Someone left a dog in the elevator. I don't know where he went. He's somewhere in the building.' I have no idea it's Harmony [Korine]'s or Rita [Ackermann]'s opening. So I go to the Swiss Institute and it's packed with hundreds of people. My dog weighs five pounds! I'm freaking out. SEVIGNY: Someone stepped on him. HERNANDEZ: More like, someone stole him. One of these fucking hipsters stole my dog." (Interview)

"One of the big stories this Oscar season has been how Harvey Weinstein got his groove back. Judging from the impressive turnout at the dinner party Dior threw the indestructible movie mogul last night at the Chateau Marmont, it's a tale that everyone (including Halle Berry, Rosario Dawson, Adrien Brody, and Gerard Butler) wants to be a part of. Not that the house of Dior needs help wrangling A-list talent. But Anne Hathaway might have put it best: 'Have you ever tried to say no to Harvey?' According to Weinstein, it was Marion Cotillard who talked him into doing the dinner in the first place. 'I'm not the new face of Dior,' he joked ... With both The Fighter and The King's Speech in the running, there's every chance Weinstein will be toting some extra gold around to Sunday's after-parties. He always watches the nominations with one of his children for good luck, he explained after the post-dinner performance by Karen Elson. 'But once the voting ends,' he added, 'there's nothing I can do about it, so I just try to stay calm and throw a couple parties—a lot of parties.'" (Style)


"Eliot Spitzer is telling friends his CNN co-host Kathleen Parker 'will be gone within a week.' Relations between the ex-gov, who once called himself a '[bleep]ing steamroller,' and his conservative co-host are at an all-time low. A source said, 'Spitzer thinks she's holding him back. The ratings surged when she was out sick, and he anchored alone during the turmoil in Egypt. Only very few anchors have the power to wipe out a co-host, and Spitzer thinks he has it. CNN bosses are high on Spitzer, and he might get his own show. Kathleen has been weighing her options. There's this sense of dread among middle management.' We've reported that Parker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, could be dumped due to lack of chemistry with Spitzer. But our source said, "She's putting up a fight.' CNN President Ken Jautz recently said, 'There have been lots of press reports that I am contemplating changes, but I'm not going to engage in any speculation.' A CNN rep declined to comment." (PageSix)

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