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Friday, January 06, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"When the euro officially entered circulation at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2002, fireworks lit up the night sky across Europe to celebrate the scrapping of the French franc, German deutsche mark, Greek drachma, and a clutch of other ancient currencies. Brussels hosted an extravagant sound-and-light show, while Frankfurt unveiled a five-story statue of the freshly minted euro as a pop band belted out 'With Open Arms (Euro World Song).' 'I am convinced,' European Central Bank President Wim Duisenberg declared, that the launch of euro coins and banknotes 'will appear in the history books in all our countries and beyond as the start of a new era in Europe.' The early 2000s didfeel like the European moment. Enlightened policy wonks on both sides of the Atlantic gushed about the glamorous new arrival on the global stage. In this magazine in 2004, Parag Khanna described the "stylish" European Union as a "metrosexual superpower" strutting past the testosterone-fueled, boorish United States on the catwalk of global diplomacy. Later that year, economist Jeremy Rifkin penned a book-length encomium, The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, which was followed by Washington Postreporter T.R. Reid's unlikely bestseller, The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy. In 2005, foreign-policy expert Mark Leonard explained Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century.One wonders how well these books are selling today, now that the European dream has become a nightmare for many, with the euro teetering on the brink of collapse and the union that produced it mired in a triple crisis that will take years, if not decades, to resolve." (ForeignPolicy)


"While most of the political world was glued this week to the Republican presidential field’s tussle for the hearts of Granite Staters, a fresh Democratic front was opening just down the road in Massachusetts. After months of low-level chatter, Joe Kennedy III—son of former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II and grandson of Bobby—announced Thursday that, come January 20, he will leave his job with the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office to pursue the congressional seat being vacated by the crankily transcendent Barney Frank ... After an impressive run, the nation’s most famous political dynasty has fallen on hard times in recent years. In early 2009, Caroline somehow let Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat slip through her fingers. Later that year, liberal lion Teddy was felled by a brain tumor. And in 2010, after years of struggling with prescription drug and alcohol abuse, Teddy’s son, Patrick, opted not to run for reelection to his Rhode Island congressional seat. As for the younger generation, most have shunned the political arena. Indeed, since Patrick left office last January, the nation’s capital has been devoid of elected Kennedys for the first time since 1947 (that’s right: 64 consecutive years). At this point, the family standard has been relegated to Maria Shriver’s older brother, Bobby, the mayor of Santa Monica and the only member of the Kennedy clan currently in elective office.How the mighty have fallen."(Michelle Cottle)


"The new defense strategy President Obama unveiled Thursday is built around casting aside Cold War-era thinking, but it may start a new political war with Republicans.The new strategy ends the 'two-war planning construct' that for decades has been the central element of Pentagon strategy: that the U.S. military should be capable of fighting two large-scale land wars at the same time. Pentagon officials say times have changed and the U.S. no longer faces a peer military on par with the once-mighty Soviet force. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey went so far as to call the two-war construct 'an anchor' that was holding back Pentagon planners. The change is also driven by a new age of austerity hitting the nation. As $350 billion in scheduled cuts are made over the next decade, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the military 'will be smaller and leaner.' (The Pentagon says those cuts will result in a $480 billion cut to planned spending.) Yet in ending the policy, Obama is taking a significant political risk in an election year with strong headwinds against his bid for a second term in office. Foreign policy and defense have been strong points for Obama, but Republicans pounced on the new strategy, arguing it would leave the United States weaker." (TheHill)


"This past December Palm Beach weather has been blissfully warm, with delicious temperatures in the 80s. Everyone was out and about; biking, walking or driving around in charming 'cars' or 'wheels,' just right for this sunny resort town. Worth Avenue was packed with tourists and shoppers all admiring and photographing the spectacular Christmas tree, donated by Rush Limbaugh ... This is PB, so the town rocks every night with nonstop parties and dinners and is certainly in full gear now! The Baron Cliff Klenk hosted a small dinner with a scrumptious menu, starting with caviar parfait followed by yellowtail snapper, then a coconut cake snowball and a mini snowman ice sculpture, yum!  His swell guest list included Prince Michel de Bourbon-Parme and his wife Princess Maria Pia, Yanna and Stan Rumbough, Darcy and George Gould, Page Lee Hufty, Bill Flaherty, Ginny and Freddie Melhado and more. Of course Emilia and Pepe Fanjul gave their annual black tie Christmas dinner, but this year it was so warm that we had drinks by the pool instead of inside their paneled library with a fire going. This is my very favorite traditional holiday dinner party as it has all the trimmings, mistletoe, a big, beautiful tree, carolers, and dear friends to boot!" (Hilary Geary Ross/NYSocialDiary)


"Former movie star Ali MacGraw says she regrets not getting alimony from any of her three ex-husbands, including producing legend Robert Evans and late screen icon Steve McQueen. 'I had a romantic, ‘Aren’t I a good girl?’ take on divorce, but the truth is that was stupid,’' she tells Town & Country in its February cover story. 'When one stops working at the height of one’s career, it’s just stupid not to say, ‘I want to make sure I have a house.’' MacGraw, 72, starred in the 1970s classics 'Love Story' and 'The Getaway' — as well as the hit Aaron Spelling series 'Dynasty' in the ’80s — but has lived modestly out of Hollywood, in Santa Fe, for 17 years." (PageSix)


"The day my husband announced he was leaving, two days before Halloween, a pack of Rider Waite tarot cards arrived in the mail. Tarot folk wisdom suggests that instead of seeking out your own cards, you should wait for them to come to you. (Although I don’t think deliveries from Amazon were what anyone had in mind.) Of course I had ordered the cards myself. When I picked out the pack, I was already predicting my need for them. My husband was on tour in Australia, operating concert lighting for a musician's world tour. Most times his absence didn’t bother me — I knew what I was in for when I married a roadie, and, confession, I often enjoyed my time alone. But disturbing signs were beginning to accumulate. Earlier in the fall, he called to say he wanted to tell me something important, but instead bragged about fighting French men in French bars. When my doctor asked if I wanted to run a full STD packet with my annual exam, I said yes. Before flying out for Australia, my husband turned away from me in bed, claiming jet lag for the first time in our almost four-year relationship. I couldn’t yet see that he was making plans with another woman, but I sensed something about my life that needed knowing. The solution? Tarot cards. I can admit more than a tiny dose of the obvious here: when faced with an uncertain future, we want to know the future. The occultist Papus, writing in Paris in 1909, suggested that while men use the occult for 'resolving all major philosophical problems ... in the case of the women who find their curiosity aroused by Tarot, it is not the latter aspect that draws them, so much as the fact that, with Tarot, you can determine certain laws of chance in a way that renders it suitable for divination.' While part of me bristles at this easy split — men want to know the nature of evil, women the name of their next lover — Papus wasn’t necessarily wrong." (TheHairpin)



"In the annals of fashion history, Naomi Sims is most often cited as the first African-American supermodel. But Beverly Johnson fans beg to differ. In 1974, Johnson shot a Vogue cover with photographer Francesco Scavullo, becoming the first woman of color to grace the front of the renowned glossy. A French Elle cover followed a year later, helping to jump-start the Buffalo native's career as one of the elite catwalkers of the seventies and eighties and pave the way for the Imans, Naomis, and Tyras that followed. Becoming the face of change didn't come without its pitfalls, though. Johnson had plenty of people telling her she couldn't do it—including her first agent, Eileen Ford (she'd later sign with Wilhelmina). But naysayers be damned, Johnson's uncomplicated good looks earned her a Revlon campaign .." (Style)


"We measure. We hone headlines. We sell stories. Sometimes we oversell. But — and this marks us out — we believe that the best web content optimization strategy is something as old as journalism itself: the shocking truth and the authentic opinion. We’ll spill the truths that others gloss over to protect their access to sources or to conform to political correctness. Original thought (or Campfire groupmind) is muffled less. Think of Matt Buchanan’s stoned Friday evening truth bomb or Deadspin’s reporting of the Penn State scandal (more 2011 scoops at the end of this memo). There’s a new catchline on the media kit: Whatever we think. Whatever we know. That’s what we’ll publish. And that willingness defines not just our pitch to advertisers but our editorial mission." (Nick Denton/Observer)


"And speaking of the Duchess of Cambridge’s dance card, it’s been full filled since last April—she’s undertaken a total of 34 royal engagements since the wedding. (Before you marvel, she’s got nothing on her industrious father-in-law, Prince Charles, who reportedly participated in 601 official events last year.) Her number will likely swell, given that she’s just announced her official charity patronages: Action on Addiction, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, the Art Room, and the National Portrait Gallery of London. A former Brownie herself, she’ll also help out at the North Wales Scout Association—and reportedly even wear a uniform while on duty." (VanityFair)

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