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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Last week I popped into the American Girl store in Manhattan, the giant consumer temple that sells wholesome 'all-American' dolls and clothes. As I queued to buy 6in replicas of a cheerleader costume and football suit, I could not help but chuckle: between the red, white and blue, there was a tag saying 'Made in China'. Those American Girls were not so 'American' after all. It is a telling metaphor for a much bigger economic, cultural and political dilemma stalking the western world. Over the past decade, a growing proportion of the manufacturing processes that used to occur in the US and western Europe have moved elsewhere. Last week, for example, the economics consultancy IHS Global Insight calculated that in 2010 China displaced America as the largest manufacturer in the world – the first time that the US has lost this top slot for 110 years. And the list of goods involved in this shift is growing longer by the day. According to a recent piece of analysis by Newsweek magazine, a host of seemingly American items are no longer produced in America, such as Barbie dolls, Hummers, gumball machines, Wurlitzer jukeboxes, Levi’s jeans and Converse All Star basketball boots. Even Spalding basketballs – the official ball of the NBA – are not truly 'American', since they are stitched offshore. Unsurprisingly, this makes many Americans very nervous. President Barack Obama likens the rise of China and other emerging markets to the Soviet Union’s launch of the Sputnik missile – an event so shocking that it should galvanise the nation. And when the IHS data emerged last week, Deborah Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness, told my colleague Peter Marsh that the US 'should be worried' by China taking the top slot from the US." (Gillian Tett)



"Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi began to approach the eastern rebel capital of Benghazi on March 19, with the BBC reporting that loyalist armor already is inside the city, though this may have been only a reconnaissance element. Soon after these reports, word of impending international military operations against Gadhafi’s forces began to emerge, with French and Italian aircraft reportedly beginning to conduct combat air patrols. Though Gadhafi declared a unilateral cease-fire in response to the U.N. Security Council’s (UNSC) authorization of the use of force against Libya on March 17, it is becoming apparent that this was simply a stalling tactic in an attempt to consolidate gains ahead of airstrikes. The military incentive for Gadhafi is to reach Benghazi before any airstrikes begin. If a 'no-drive' zone between Ajdabiya and Benghazi were to come into effect, military vehicles and supply convoys would be vulnerable to any coalition aircraft orbiting overhead, making it far more difficult for Gadhafi to project force across the large open terrain that separates the two cities. (STRATFOR)

"The 2007 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale is the first new release of this wine since the death of Elaine Kaufman, the legendary restaurateur, friend of writers, directors and cops, bane of tourists and foodies. I mention this fact because Elaine has been in the news again recently thanks to a scurrilous posthumous profile of her in British GQ by Michael Wolff and also because Elaine’s was the place I first made the acquaintance of Ruffino’s Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale. Along with Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio it was pretty much the house wine, although the old hands like Norman Mailer and George Plimpton drank Scotch throughout their meals. Tough guys and blue bloods didn’t drink Chianti, apparently, but many of us did, and the Riserva Ducale was always a good bet—and when a royalty check had come in, we’d splurge for the Riserva Ducale d’Oro, the gold label. The 2007 vintage of the Riserva Ducale, which follows the excellent ’06, marks the 80th anniversary of this wine, and it’s a fine example, approachable now, with that tart cherry fruit that characterizes Sangiovese, and a nice long finish. Tuscany’s been on a roll recently with a string of good vintages; as for Chianti, I’d also recommend the ’07 Felsina Chianti Classico and the ’07 Fontodi Chianti Classico. Any of these would be terrific with the veal chop at Elaine’s—always the insider’s pick. Obviously, they’d be good with any veal chop, and they have enough acidity to make a decent companion for tomato-based pasta sauces." (Jay McInerney)


"His arms folded like a nightclub bouncer’s, his eyes staring through you like twin barrels of dark matter, Henry Rollins looks as implacable as a hewn-rock statue graffiti-painted with tattoos—a solid hunk of muscle rooted to one spot, one role. But since squeezing a hand mike in a death grip as the lead singer of the West Coast punk band Black Flag, Rollins has revealed the versatile range of a Renaissance dharma bum; he has been an author, a spoken-word poet, a book publisher, a cable talk-show host, a blogger (at Vanity Fair’s Web site), a newspaper columnist, a radio D.J., a film actor (shoved through a sliding glass door in Heat), a TV actor (dying nobly in a toilet stall in Sons of Anarchy), and even a sitcom guest star—when we spoke, he had just shot an episode of Paul Reiser’s upcoming NBC series. 'I show up for almost anything thrown at me,' Rollins says, his receptivity and work ethic keeping him on the restless move, avoiding rust and stagnation. Between rent-paying stints, he’s a solitary traveler (you can always tell Americans overseas, he says—they clump together, forming a slow-moving huddle), his backpack stuffed with camera, laptop, peanut butter, and protein bars. His lone-wolf status enables him to explore the world along the fringes—'That’s where you get revelations, epiphanies.' Having turned 50 this February (which in punk years makes him a sequoia), Rollins will be performing at birthday bashes in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Los Angeles, and creeping out ophidiophobes in a National Geographic Wild special on snakes and the freaks who dig ’em. Which should not be interpreted as a 'value judgment'—as the gospel of Henry teaches, we are all freaks, in our own freaky way." (VanityFair)


"This Sunday marks the series finale of 'Big Love,' HBO’s dramatic series about modern-day polygamy, which follows the travails of the Mormon patriarch Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) and his three wives: first wife Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), second wife Nicki (ChloĆ« Sevigny), and third wife Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin). Nancy Franklin reviewed the show in 2006. Sevigny began her career in 1994, with an appearance in a Sonic Youth video, and was then cast in the director Larry Clark’s film 'Kids.' Clark’s actors were all non-professionals, and Sevigny played Jennie, a teen-ager who’d recently lost her virginity and contracted H.I.V. Just prior to the release of 'Kids,' Jay McInerney wrote a Manhattan Diary about the nineteen-year-old Sevigny, in the issue of November 7, 1994." (NewYorker)



"If spring comes, can winter be far behind? We are just concluding one of those rare hours when history could be viewed with something other than contempt. The revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia introduced a new movement of freedom, and demolished the cultural pessimism that confined such longings to people like us. The revolt in Libya, also animated by a democratic aspiration, exposed not only the depravity of a dictator but also the cravenness with which he was received in the wood-paneled precincts of some of the immensely important people of Washington, New York, and Cambridge. For a few months, the world seemed righter. For a few months, there was nothing stupid about hope. But now the rotten old arrangements are pushing back. With the permission of the West, Qaddafi is crushing the rebels in the east, and his war against political liberalization has given heart to other satraps in the region. The Saudis, whose freak-out is one of the primary strategic facts about the Middle East, have sent troops to Bahrain, to protect the Sunni autocrats against the Shia populace, and also against Iranian intrigue. In Egypt, there are murmurs of Mubarakism without Mubarak, as the ecstasy of Tahrir Square is succeeded by the banal and benign authoritarianism of a military that wants both political reform and its economic privileges. A sense of possibility is giving way to a sense of actuality—to a restored appreciation of the tenacity of power." (Leon Wieseltier)


"Last night, I moderated a really fun and informative panel about the history of New York nightlife at the Museum of Arts and Design. On the panel were such formidable presences as Susanne Bartsch, Hattie Hathaway, Desi Monster, and Ladyfag, all ready to share their colorful stories of life after midnight to the crowd of cute looking clubbers. But the scheduled Michael Alig--still doing prison time for manslaughter--never materialized on the video screen via remote, as planned. As the event organizer explained, 'Michael got in trouble with the Department of Correctional Services for something and they cut off all his contact with the outside world until he has a hearing,' Oy. Not exactly surprising, right?" (Michael Musto)


"When I arrive at Barney Greengrass, the Upper West Side family delicatessen whose former owner Moe Greengrass was known as The Sturgeon King, there is no sign of Howard Schultz near the long counter of cured fish. I find him in the restaurant to the side, sitting at a Formica-topped, metal-legged table with Moe’s son Gary, who inherited the place ... As the founder and once more chief executive of Starbucks, 57-year-old Schultz oversees 17,000 coffee stores from Seattle to Shanghai. But he first came here with friends as a teenager, taking the subway from his home in Brooklyn ... We glance at the menu, a bafflingly long list of eggs and cured fish served in multiple combinations. 'It’s authentic food and it’s relaxed and I’ve known Gary for many years. It’s kind of an extension of your house, really. It reminds me of my mother’s food,' Schultz says. We talk about Brooklyn for a while, a borough whose reputation as a rough melting pot has changed in the past few years towards becoming a symbol of gentrification. I live in Park Slope, the epicentre of the shift. 'That’s not really Brooklyn,' Schultz says quickly. I mention another chief executive I’ve met who grew up in Bensonhurst. 'That’s Brooklyn,' he says approvingly. '" (FT)



"NOBODY calls me anymore — and that’s just fine. With the exception of immediate family members, who mostly phone to discuss medical symptoms and arrange child care, and the Roundabout Theater fund-raising team, which takes a diabolical delight in phoning me every few weeks at precisely the moment I am tucking in my children, people just don’t call. It’s at the point where when the phone does ring — and it’s not my mom, dad, husband or baby sitter — my first thought is: 'What’s happened? What’s wrong?' My second thought is: 'Isn’t it weird to just call like that? Out of the blue? With no e-mailed warning?' I don’t think it’s just me. Sure, teenagers gave up the phone call eons ago. But I’m a long way away from my teenage years, back when the key rite of passage was getting a phone in your bedroom or (cue Molly Ringwald gasp) a line of your own. In the last five years, full-fledged adults have seemingly given up the telephone — land line, mobile, voice mail and all. According to Nielsen Media, even on cellphones, voice spending has been trending downward, with text spending expected to surpass it within three years." (NYtimes)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This article is brilliant. Elaine was a brute. I never forgot how she would stare down someone who wasn't famous. It was uncomfortable to watch. Eventually that person would leave wondering what had happened. The ugly side of New York delivered to you by Jabba the Hut.