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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Have you had it up to here with supposed allies who issue ultimatums to Washington? Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, seems to come up with a new one whenever he's in a bad mood. Last week's was: Hand over all the prisoners in the main detention facility in Parwan within a month. And what about the Pakistanis? In the aftermath of the NATO raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, the military leadership orderedthe C.I.A. to close the Shamsi airbase it uses to launch aerial drones -- this from a country whose military we train and finance, and whose pockets we deeply line. And it's not just the allies: Iran has threatened to close the Straits of Hormuz if the West doesn't suspend its program of sanctions. Remember when it was the United States that was issuing all the ultimatums? Those were the days. Right after 9/11, according to Bob Woodward's book, Bush At War, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage handed a list of seven demands to Pakistan's intelligence chief -- cut off support to al Qaeda and the Taliban, give the United States overflight and landing rights, etc. -- and Pakistan complied. President George W. Bush gave the world a clear choice: stand with us, or stand with the terrorists. And remember when British Prime Minister Tony Blair, America's closest ally, said that he could only join the U.S. war effort in Iraq if the allies got a resolution at the United Nations authorizing the use of force? Bush decided against seeking the resolution, and gave Blair the same choice: in or out. And Blair went in. So what's gone wrong? How come the United States is suddenly on the receiving end of so many ultimatums?" (James Traub/ForeignPolicy)

"Sir Elton John and David Furnish are fuming over Madonna’s Golden Globes win.
After John predicted on the red carpet that Madonna had 'no [bleep]ing chance of winning,' he was stone-faced when Madge — at her first Globes appearance in 14 years — triumphed for best original song Sunday night. Her tune 'Masterpiece,' from 'W.E.,' beat John’s 'Hello, Hello' from 'Gnomeo and Juliet.' After the win, Furnish posted on Facebook: 'Madonna. Best song???? [bleep] off!!!' After her acceptance speech Madonna delivered in a bizarre English accent, Furnish told us: 'I think it was a fluke . . . When this happens you have to question the integrity of the awards. Did Madonna get the Golden Globe because she attended the awards and agreed be a presenter?' He added, “Can you sing Madonna’s song? Can you hum it? It’s a song nobody has heard, from a film few have seen. The award should have gone to Mary J. Blige or Elton. I like Madonna’s music, but not her movies. She should stick to what she is good at.'" (PageSix)

Wendy Sarasohn gave a book signing the other night for Michael Gross and his new book Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles. I mentioned the book here once before but had only begun reading it and didn’t want to get into how I felt about it, since I didn’t know. Well, I finished it a couple of weeks ago and now I know. This is a fascinating book. For me anyway ... In Michael’s book, it’s these people living in West L.A. Houses are fascinating because houses are people. And when there’s the more, there’s the merrier, not to mention hucksters and hustlers, money managers and lawyers, and the misled, the misplaced, as well as the maudlin, and even murderous. It’s life on the other side of the real fence, and it’s not like yours or mine ... Los Angeles is a spectacular place. It’s a literary genre. Hollywood, Hollywood, Fabulous Follywood; wrote the poet Don Blandings about the place almost a century ago. It’s still got that thing: Glorious Glamorous and that old standby Amorous. Its residents live in castles of make believe. Their version of make-believe. Flamboyance and its exponents is the leitmotif especially with the newcomers and those getting richer by the minute. Flamboyance inspired by climate. The Dream Factory landing. You get all that and more in Michael Gross’s Unreal Estate." (NYSocialDiary)

"Lucian Freud’s final portrait is of a naked man and a dog. It is unfinished but otherwise betrays no sign of the agedness of its creator, who died last July 20, halfway through his 89th year. The scale is big, a square canvas of about five feet by five feet, and the brushwork is as sure and layered as in any painting he had ever done—smooth and free around the man’s shoulders, crusty and impastoed along the arms. The palette is Caucasian-fleshy from afar but remarkably varied and intricate up close: purples and greens in the man’s legs, vivid streaks of yellow in his right hand, rust and blue at the naughty bits. For the last 57 years of his life, Freud painted standing up rather than sitting down; the physical restrictions of seated painting, he said, had begun getting him “more and more agitated” in the 1950s, so he kicked the chair away. Painting on his feet required extraordinary stamina, given Freud’s self-imposed work schedule: a morning session with one model, an afternoon break, and an evening session with another model, seven days a week, all year round. What’s more, these sessions had a tendency to stretch on: a deliberate worker, Freud took 6, 12, 18 months or longer to complete a painting, marathoning into the night if the mood struck. But he had stamina in spades. Painting was his workout; he took no other exercise, and yet photographs of him working shirtless in 2005, when he was 82, show him to be lean and all sinew, a jockey-size Iggy Pop. But by June 2011, Freud recognized that his body was finally failing him, and that he had only so many brushstrokes left. The naked man in the portrait was completed, but the dog, a tan-and-white whippet, would never get its hind legs. Freud prioritized its head and face, adding a little dart of terre verte ('green earth') mixed with umber to depict the tip of the animal’s pricked-up right ear. In early July, Freud was addressing the painting’s foreground: the folds and ripples in the sheet that covered the low platform upon which his two models sprawled. Here and there, as his energy permitted, he applied quick strokes of flake white, a thick, lead-heavy paint, to the lower part of the canvas. That was as far as he got." (VanityFair)


"Do you know we had a snow storm? This morning my car wouldn’t start so I phoned the specialists to come take it away on a flatbed truck. You know how it is with German engineering, I can’t simply hand it over to just anyone, I have to get the most expensive most experienced people around. It’s going to cost a fortune. I’ll have to beg mummy to help with the bill. Ok, so my doorbell is broken and I had to leave the front door open, you know, because I might not hear the mechanics, and they will just leave and they will never come back today. You have to remember I’m in the boonies.So the front door was open and in flew this adorable tiny owlet, practically right into my arms. Then it went crashing against the ceiling and then up to the second floor, and it was bumping into everything and crying. Oh, I felt so bad for the little guy. Poor creature! I know how to handle birds because I’m a trained expert, I’m certified, but he was just a baby and I don’t have owlet formula on hand so I called the lupine man, I mean the avian man, the bird guy, whatever, anyway I got a hold of him and he said he’d be right over." (Christina Oxenberg)
"A new group that hopes to tap into a rising appetite for a third-party presidential challenger has discovered that $30 million in secret cash can buy ballot access and attention, but not necessarily a dream candidateThe group, Americans Elect, failed to generate interest in possible campaigns from Sens. Joe Lieberman and Lamar Alexander, and its intensive outreach to a host of other prospective candidates, including former Nebraska Sens. Chuck Hagel and Bob Kerrey, hasn’t yielded much public enthusiasm for its efforts." (Politico)

"The crowd at the GOP debate in military-heavy South Carolina got rowdy during a discussion of foreign policy, booing Ron Paul heartily and whooping and cheering when the other candidates took a hard line on foreign involvement. Scattered boos and jeers drowned out Paul's call for a 'golden rule' in American foreign policy. 'My point is, that if another country does to us what we do to others, we aren't going to like it very much. So I would say maybe we ought to consider a golden rule in foreign policy,' Paul said as the crowd laughed and jeered. 'We endlessly bomb these other countries and then we wonder why they get upset with us?' Paul was heavily criticized by his Republican opponents, who argued his foreign policy would put the country at harm. Newt Gingrich said that equating terrorist leaders to Chinese dissidents that might come to America - as Paul did to illustrate his point - was a false analogy ... The former Speaker - and history Ph.D - then played to the South Carolina crowd, earning him a standing ovation. 'South Carolina in the Revolutionary War had a young 13-year old named Andrew Jackson who was sabered by a British officer and wore a scar his whole life. Andrew Jackson had a pretty clear cut about America's enemies: kill them,' Gingrich said. The crowd broke into strong applause, with some members on their feet." (TheHill)



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