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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"When most of us hear 'George W. Bush' and 'foreign policy' in the same sentence today, the word that most quickly comes to mind is 'neoconservative' (well, perhaps after 'ill-fated'). Yet, when Bush first ran for president in 2000, his foreign-policy agenda was something else altogether. He bemoaned Clinton-era nation-building and pledged to focus as president on promoting a more "modest" foreign policy. His chief foreign-policy advisor, Condoleezza Rice, even wrote a lengthy realpolitik tract for Foreign Affairs magazine titled 'Campaign 2000: Promoting the National Interest.' Of course, as we now know, that talk barely survived the campaign trail. As president, Bush's embrace of neoconservatism came to define not only his foreign-policy vision, but also the foreign-policy vision of the Republican Party. So it's perhaps a bit of a surprise that on Monday, June 13, at the first Republican primary debate, the protagonists seemed to channel not President Bush, but instead candidate Bush. Republican realism made an unexpected comeback at the debate as the GOP field sought to offer an alternative to President Barack Obama's military escalations amid growing public concerns about the costs of U.S. global leadership. If anyone three years ago had predicted that this would be the emerging division on foreign policy for Obama's reelection campaign they would have been laughed out of the room.  Are we seeing a newly realist Republican Party? Or is this a momentary search for political opportunity? Only time will tell, but if Monday's debate is any indication, the fault lines for Campaign 2012 might not be as predictable as once imagined." (ForeignPolicy)


"Release the hounds! It’s that lofty defense aristocrats just can’t seem to outgrow. Last weekend, The New York Times reported that affluent families are relying increasingly on elite guard dogs to protect themselves and their lavish homes. Prices for these coveted animals, the article noted, can easily reach six figures, topping out at around $400,000 for special German shepherds with the right pedigree and natural instincts for the job. The sudden fascination with K-9 security is linked to the recent mission against Osama bin Laden, during which members of the navy’s black-ops force, SEAL Team Six, are believed to have fought alongside some sort of expertly trained dog combatant. It doesn’t surprise me to learn that vastly rich households are willing to spend a small fortune on exceptional pets—especially ones associated with eliminating the world’s most formidable terrorist. Prosperous families already shell out millions each year on other prized animals, notably horses, which can cost the kind of money that only billionaires throw around. I’ve said it many times before in this blog, but I believe the point bears repeating—rich people are notoriously bad with intimacy, and the relationship they can form with a pet is often the most affectionate bond they ever know. For the patrician class, referring to dogs as 'man’s best friend' is no exaggeration. (I’ll say it: dogs aren’t just their best friends—they’re often their only real friends.) " (VanityFair)


"Erica’s book party was held in the apartment of friends high above the city, with spectacular views that yesterday were made more dramatic by the moisture gracing the roadways and the trees. The book, Sugar In My Bowl; Real Women Write About Real Sex, edited by Erica (Jong) and with pieces by more than two dozen distinguished writers (many of them friends of Erica) including Gail Collins, Anne Roiphe, Susan Cheever, Daphne Merkin, Fay Weldon, Honor Moore, Liz Smith, and even Erica’s daughter, the novelist Molly Jong-Fast (whose contribution is entitled 'They Had Sex So I Didn’t Have To'). 'When it comes to sex, what do women want?' is the question posed on the book’s jacket flap, adding 'In this eye-opening and courageous collection, Erica Jong reveals that every woman has her own answer' ... From Erica Jong’s book party, I got a cab at 59th and Fifth (regular traffic from the 70s, south) and went down to the Players Club on 16 Gramercy Park South where the Players Foundation for Theater Education was 'celebrating The Stork Club' – the famous nightclub started by Sherman Billingsley in the late 1920s that was a destination for theatre and movie stars, celebrities, cafĂ© society and their ilk right up through the early 1960s." (NYSocialDiary)


"While the perils of child stardom in Hollywood have been well documented—from Judy Garland to Lindsay Lohan—few celebrity bildungsromans are as heartbreaking as that which befell Tatum O’Neal ... TheDailyBeast: One of the things I was taken aback by in the book was your father trying to pick you up at Farrah Fawcett’s funeral. Tatum: My father doesn’t really remember what I look like. He sees blond hair, a black dress, and to him, that’s just a chick. A girl. He didn’t know it was me, so he kind of swooped in, and I had to remind him he was 70, and I was his daughter. That’s the second time that’s happened to me with him, but you know, he lives in another world. TheDailyBeast: Farrah and Michael Jackson passed away the same day. That’s a pretty full-circle thing for you, to have your first “public” boyfriend and your father’s great love that sort of drove a wedge between you two, pass at the same time. Tatum: [Michael] was somebody I knew and I did go on a date with, but I don’t know about my first “public boyfriend.” Let’s call that the media’s take on my first 'public boyfriend.' First of all, how sad to lose two fucking icons. Secondly, it sort of canceled Farrah out a little bit because she didn’t get the moment that I think she deserved and could have had. At the same time, this is life, man. This isn’t about who’s going to get the better farewell.'" (TheDailyBeast)


"'This is Zen,' Betsey Johnson exclaimed, inhaling deeply, at Donna Karan's Haiti fundraiser and awards ceremony last night—an odd way to describe a bustling charity event, perhaps, but the air in Karan's Urban Zen shop was rich with cinnamon-scented essential oils, not to mention feel-good vibes ... In the process, they paid respect to Karan's late husband, Stephan Weiss, in whose memory her Urban Zen Foundation honored Bill Clinton, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and education philanthropist Courtney Ross. As it did at Weiss' funeral ten years ago, the weather added some drama. 'That was Stephan,' Karan said, visibly moved, upon hearing a thunderclap. 'He loved thunderstorms' ... In his speech, President Clinton touched on everything from global warming to Karan's heroic efforts to help Haitian artists. "He's my most admired human being on the planet, I think, apart from my husband,' Patti Hansen declared, within earshot of Keith Richards. 'Before he leaves, he'll connect with everyone in one way or another,' predicted Kenneth Cole. The former president did nothing to contradict either one of them, but he did note that he owes some of his success to the suit Karan put him in for his first inauguration. 'That was a bigger deal than she let on, because a lot of the political and social elite in American thought I came from the wrong side of the room,' Clinton explained. 'Once I got Donna's clothes on, I had street cred in Washington.'" (Style)


"Keith Olbermann likes looking into a camera. The return of its gaze animates him and reminds him that he has a million friends on the other side of it. But he doesn’t picture those people. He talks directly to the camera. 'I’ve never been convinced the cameras are plugged into anything,' he said.  'Sadly the only difference between Olbermann and the talking heads of the right is that he spoke truth to power. An articulate and honest TV commentator is more than the corporatocracy can stand.' Just how much does Olbermann like being on camera? In late May, we went to the Saturday night game of the Mets-Yankees subway series. A former ESPN anchor and a lifelong Yankees fan, Olbermann is a deeply knowledgeable baseball wonk. We emerged from the dining club in the new stadium, stepped out into the section right behind home plate, walked down to the very front row and took a seat next to one of his longtime producers, Katy Ramirez Karp. Alex Rodriguez was just a few feet away, taking lazy warm-up swings and nodding at some pals who were sitting behind us. Olbermann looked beyond him, peering into center field. 'Switch seats with me,' he said pleasantly. 'I want to be in the Fox Sports shot of home plate. They usually cut it off right here,' he said, indicating the arm of the seat between us. 'It’s fun to mess with them.' Not only were we inches away from the field, but Olbermann was on television, messing with the heads of his sworn enemies at Fox. It was a wonderful place for him to be, second only to that lone seat in front of the camera. He has missed it." (NYTimes)


"Magazine publishers are putting a lot of faith in apps, building development teams and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars (in some cases, much more) to launch them. Last week, Hearst unveiled its new app lab. Meanwhile, Apple recently changed its terms to allow magazine publishers to experiment with in-app subscription pricing. Still, publishers continue to take some heat for producing apps that are clunky, not social enough, and overpriced. And at least one magazine entrepreneur/executive argues that his peers are deluding themselves about the likelihood that apps are going to generate profits anytime soon.  So what do the big magazine publishers have to show for their efforts?" (PaidContent)

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