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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"On Monday night, 24 hours after the polls closed in Russia's parliamentary elections and United Russia claimed victory with 49 percent of the vote, some 6,000 young Russians stood out in the cold rain in the park at Chistye Prudy voicing their dissatisfaction. 'Putin is a thief!' and 'Russia without United Russia!" they shouted, teasing the once-and-future president by calling him Mr. Botox. When they started to march and the riot police attacked, they didn't budge. They yelled 'This is our city!' and 'Shame on you!' and appealed to the police as fellow citizens. 'Are you ashamed when you go home and take off that uniform?' one protester asked a helmeted cop. It was an exceptional sight in a city that rarely sees more than a few hundred elderly protestors at opposition rallies. Today, despite the controversy over the elections and rumors swirling about those detained last night and more protests later in the evening, the feeling of euphoria in Moscow is unmistakable, uplifting, and addictive. But, even if this is the beginning of something big and civic and beautiful -- a 'Russian Tahrir' as one of the speakers at last night's rally predicted -- it's still very much the beginning, and still very much a big "if." The opposition -- a disorganized group of small organizations and unaffiliated well-wishers -- will have an uphill battle to fight its way to power, or to get United Russia to concede an inch of ground. And this despite a rather embarrassing showing at the polls. As the parliamentary vote approached, United Russia was slipping in public opinion polls and was being booed at public events. In May, one third of Russians polled agreed with the Internet meme created by blogger and anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny that it was 'the party of crooks and thieves." (ForeignPolicy)

"When it came to it, and old Kingsley suffered from a demoralizing and disorienting fall, he did take to his bed and eventually turned his face to the wall. It wasn’t all reclining and waiting for hospital room service after that—'Kill me, you fucking fool!' he once alarmingly exclaimed to his son Philip—but essentially he waited passively for the end. It duly came, without much fuss and with no charge. Mr. Robert Zimmerman of Hibbing, Minnesota, has had at least one very close encounter with death, more than one update and revision of his relationship with the Almighty and the Four Last Things, and looks set to go on demonstrating that there are many different ways of proving that one is alive. After all, considering the alternatives …Before I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer a year and a half ago, I rather jauntily told the readers of my memoirs that when faced with extinction I wanted to be fully conscious and awake, in order to 'do' death in the active and not the passive sense. And I do, still, try to nurture that little flame of curiosity and defiance: willing to play out the string to the end and wishing to be spared nothing that properly belongs to a life span. However, one thing that grave illness does is to make you examine familiar principles and seemingly reliable sayings. And there’s one that I find I am not saying with quite the same conviction as I once used to: In particular, I have slightly stopped issuing the announcement that 'Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.' In fact, I now sometimes wonder why I ever thought it profound. It is usually attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche: Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker. In German it reads and sounds more like poetry, which is why it seems probable to me that Nietzsche borrowed it from Goethe, who was writing a century earlier." (Christopher Hitchens)


"Yesterday was a rainy day in New York, although not cold. I went down to Michael’s (I hadn’t been there in a week – some kind of record for me) for lunch with Ward Landrigan of Verdura. Ward and I have known each other for more than 15 years and we share similar interests from different vantage points, so we’ve always got more to talk about. I asked him to lunch specifically because I knew he had a story about Elizabeth Taylor and her jewels. Years ago, in the 1960s and 70s, Ward was head of the jewelry department at Sotheby’s. Sotheby’s was considerably smaller, but always a very prestigious auction house out of London. Years later – I think in the late 70s – and I could be wrong about this date – Ward left Sotheby’s and acquired Fulco Verdura’s business, name and assets. Fulco, if you didn’t know, got his start in the jewelry business working as a designer for Coco Chanel. A Sicilian duke who was also a darling of international society in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, Fulco was also a wit and a wit with his designs ... (The Taylor diamond) was a record and everyone was excited. After the sale which was in the auction house’s old room in the Park Bernet Building on Madison and 77th, Ward and his colleagues went over to the Hyde Park Hotel one block north to celebrate with some drinks at the bar. While still there, a Sotheby’s staffer came in and told Ward that 'Miss Taylor wants you to deliver the diamond to her in London.' Sure, says Ward, going back to his cocktail, adding that he’d package it and get it out before the day ended. No, the staffer said, 'she wants it NOW.'" (NYSocialDiary)


"Questlove has been ordered to have his song choices approved by NBC honchos after his musical attack on Michele Bachmann, when his band the Roots played the opening of 'Lyin’ Ass Bitch' as she walked on 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.' Talking to Rolling Stone before the incident, Questlove admitted he was planning the number. 'I’m gunning for Bachmann,' he said. 'I want to try and do Fishbone’s ‘Lyin’ Ass Bitch.’ I just don’t know if I’m going to tell Jimmy.' (He says Fallon has vetoed only one song, 'She Blinded Me With Science,' for Katie Holmes. Questlove laughed, 'That would have been good.') While Bachmann didn’t object on camera, the lyrical diss caused a huge stir and NBC had to apologize. Questlove tells the magazine he was awakened by a 9 a.m. call the next morning summoning him to 30 Rock, where he was told he must clear every song with three different NBC execs, and he was forbidden to tweet about the incident. 'It was a real bummer,' Fallon told Rolling Stone. 'We don’t want to censor anyone, but . . . I don’t know. Maybe Questlove is a Romney guy.'" (NYPost)



"Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP presidential nominee in 2008, is moving toward endorsing a candidate for 2012. Republican sources familiar with his thinking say he will probably endorse his onetime political enemy, Mitt Romney. There is virtually no chance, sources say, that he will pick former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who has surged into the lead in polls, stoking consternation among his ex-colleagues on Capitol Hill. Asked Tuesday if he might back a candidate in the GOP primary, McCain told The Hill, 'Yeah, I think it would be several months later on.' This is a change from the senator’s stance earlier this year, when said he would not endorse during the primary.
His statements come as angst among Republicans in Washington is intensifying." (TheHill)

"The fantastic ratings in key demos registered by AMC's The Walking Dead and other cable offerings this year could be looked at as the death knell of broadcast television. Look at the weakest of the broadcast nets, NBC: Dead's weekly audience of 4.35 million 18-to-49-year-old viewers is bigger than many of NBC's prime-time offerings; however, instead of fearing AMC, FX, and the other upstarts, NBC should use them as an example. After all, if AMC — with its lower audience penetration (available in only 84 percent of television households vs. 100 percent for NBC) and smaller outlays for production and promotion — can put together a schedule that is competitive when up against with the broadcasters, why couldn’t NBC? Here are my suggestions for how to reinvigorate NBC prime time, and make it once again a ratings and profit leader." (NYMag)


"Oprah Winfrey came out to help Jessica Seinfeld mark 10 years of her nonprofit organization Baby Buggy at its 'A Night of Comedy' on Monday at Avery Fisher Hall. Winfrey, keeping a low profile, bypassed the red carpet and sat with her best friend, Gayle King, and Julianne Moore during the event. Oprah was so low-key that one confused guest even remarked, 'Gayle King sure has a lot of security.'" (PageSix)

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