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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Going into today's protest against the fraud in the Dec. 4 parliamentary election, it was unclear how many people would come. Would there be more people than the some 50,000 that gathered on Bolotnaya Square on Dec. 10, in the election's heady aftermath? Would there be less, given the holiday season, the dropping temperatures, and the distance -- three weeks -- from the insult of the election fraud that cemented the ruling United Russia party, however weakly, back into power? Would there be more, given the lack of a crackdown last time, when, it should be noted, no one knew how many would show up either? And even if there were more, what would it mean? Crowd counting, especially from the ground level, is an inexact science at best, but it was clear to everyone -- from police to journalists to the event organizers -- that thousands more people came out today to Sakharov Avenue than did two weeks ago to Bolotnaya Square, which has become the new by-word for the still hard-to-pin spirit of change creeping through the Russian political system. The crowd -- its estimates ranging from 30,000 to 120,000 -- was also different from the protest of Dec. 10. If Bolotnaya was packed with the young and the white-collared ('office plankton,' as they're known in Russia) today's demonstrations brought out a more motley assembly." (ForeignPolicy)


"I spent the day poring over a new book that Michael Thomas has been recommending to friends and which, coincidentally has been reviewed in the latest edition of New York Review of Books and in the Sunday New York Times Book Review: 'Journey to the Abyss; The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1918,' edited and translated by Laird M. Easton, (Knopf). Not surprisingly, diaries always attract me although I admit they can be slow going and even drown you in boredom. When I bought this book and saw that it was almost 900 pages in length, I naturally thought it would lose me quickly because my time to read is limited. Nevertheless I began it the night before last and only stopped reading because it was time to sleep. Count Harry is a fascinating fellow and an excellent writer and reporter. A member of an aristocratic and wealthy German family, well educated, his sphere of interest was mainly European in flavor, but he covered the whole world." (NYSocialDiary)


"The relationship between wealthy fugitive financier Marc Rich — the former husband of New York society queen Denise Rich — and his much younger former lingerie model girlfriend, Dara Sowell, has been put on ice over the holidays, according to sources. Sowell came to town to visit family for Thanksgiving, sources say, and the blond beauty was expected to then join Rich at his luxurious ski chalet in St. Moritz, Switzerland, for Christmas and New Year’s. But she instead decided to stay in the Big Apple and cool things off. 'She’s saddened to do this at the height of the holiday season,' said a source. 'Dara came to New York this fall from Paris and she was supposed to go to St. Moritz, but she decided not to. 'It was a brave decision for her to look towards the future,' the source added. 'She realized it was a dead end, that Marc is not going to re-marry or make a deeper commitment, and she wanted to move on with her life. She’s not going to St. Moritz at the glamorous height of the height of the holiday season.' Fifty-something Sowell was introduced to the 77-year-old billionaire by his children in St. Tropez last year." (PageSix)

"When she hit her mid-60s, with her career and husband deceased and her health wobbly, she might announce, 'Sue Mengers is dead,' or begin sentences in her smoky voice with 'When I was alive. . . .' Even maudlin, Mengers was magnificent ... Mengers presided with a devilish wit and an angelic smile, a dirty, flirty girl with devastating timing. She was wise and loyal. She was also brutally honest, and she lost clients and friends because of it. When she started a sentence 'Tip from Sue'or 'Notes,' you wanted to run for the Hollywood Hills. But she had a soft, warm side; she was a yenta who loved fixing people up, in work and in love. If a match struck, she would urge the woman, 'We have to close the deal.' After Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie, Mengers told me that she advised her beloved Jen to ask Brad for some of his sperm." (NYTimes)


"President Obama has seen his Gallup poll numbers jump into favorability for the first time since July. The rise in popularity arrives after a bruising defeat for Republicans over extending the payroll tax cut, a fight Democrats had hoped to use to their advantage. For the first time since July, more people view President Obama favorably than unfavorably, according to Gallup's tracking poll of the president's job approval rating. Obama's approval numbers spiked five percentage points the week before Christmas, Gallup found, with 47 percent approving and 45 percent disapproving between Dec. 21 and 23. The president's numbers were under water in the first weeks of December. Fifty percent of those polled by Gallup disapproved of Obama's job performance at mid-month, but his approval rating his climbed since then. Obama had a rough summer, struggling to win congressional approval of legislation to raise the nation's debt ceiling." (TheHill)

"New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov will be partying in high style this week at France’s chic alpine resort Courchevel. Spies say the Russian billionaire and budding politician arrived over the weekend via no less than six helicopters delivering an entourage of 24. Prokhorov is taking up residence in a $45 million chalet, they added. And he’s bringing in European celebrity chef Wout Bru to prep his favorite meal. After a security team scoured area restaurants for private rooms last week, Prokhorov instead decided to have Bru — a star of the European cooking challenge 'MasterChef' — come to him. '[Bru] is making Mikhail’s favorite dish,' said a source. 'It’s a crispy pork dish that takes 24 hours to make. Bru is coming to the house a couple times to make it.' Bru was a chef at one of Prok’s favorite haunts in Courchevel, the hotel Cheval Blanc, but he’s moved to another restaurant. Last year, the mogul was spotted sipping Champagne at a luxe luncheon at the hotel with a baker’s dozen of gorgeous women. Russian leader Vladimir Putin was a guest at Prokhorov’s chalet a year ago. But sources say that since Prokhorov announced this month that he’ll make a long-shot run for the Russian presidency, it seems unlikely that Putin will be enjoying the crispy pork with Prok." (PageSix)

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