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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The members of the UN Security Council are girding themselves for what will likely be a contentious debate on Syria. For all the empassioned rhetoric that will be deployed, there is one simple reality: if Russia doesn't like what's on the table, it will veto. And that noxious outcome will no doubt revive the perennial debate over whether the veto power is worth having. The most straightforward response is that the debate is entirely academic. The veto's not going anywhere. Amending the UN Charter requires the assent of the veto-wielding permanent five and none of them would contemplate shedding their privileges (least of all the United States). Absent a new world constitutional moment--which would not benefit the West or the cause of human rights at all--the veto is here to stay. That said, there are a few things worth noting about the veto power and its use. First, contrary to the conventional wisdom, Russia and China are not the most profligate in their use of the veto. Since the 1970s, that distinction has belonged to the United States (usually on draft resolutions containing criticism of Israel). Second, overall use of the veto has declined markedly since the end of the Cold War. The threat of the veto has important shadow effects on Council deliberations, of course, but the historical trajectory is toward greater consensus on the Council and against the casual use of the veto. Perhaps the most fundamental point about the veto is that you could not have a Security Council without it. Major powers will simply not grant an international body binding legal authority on matters of peace and security unless they are certain that it will not prejudice their interests. So the alternative to the Security Council veto is really no Security Council, or at least not in a recognizable form. As maddening as the likely Russian nyet will be, that's a tradeoff that few would be willing to make. As frustrating as it is, the Security Council is still an enormously useful body, not least because it institutionalizes the practice of great-power security consultations. If jettisoning the veto power is both impractical and ill-advised, there is an alternative for those convinced that the world must put an end to the Syria violence, through forceful means if necessary: pretending that the veto power doesn't exist." (ForeignPolicy)


"Mitt Romney snapped back from South Carolina with a Florida primary victory that took advantage of a more diverse electorate, re-established his image of electability and economic leadership, and demonstrated his organizational firepower in attracting – and retaining – early-deciding voters.
Far fewer voters made up their minds in the Florida campaign’s closing days than in any previous GOP contest this year – and Romney won his largest share of those who did. His final barrage of ads may have helped both to limit the number of late-deciding voters, and to stem defections in this group.The exit poll, analyzed for ABC by Langer Research Associates, found that Romney had other advantages – much more positive personal appeal than his top competitors; a sharp gender gap for the first time this year, with far greater support among women; fewer evangelicals, a group in which he’s struggled; lots of seniors; and, in another first for the GOP in 2012, a substantial number of minority voters. Mainly Hispanics, they backed Romney by more than double his margin among whites. Yet, while the result pulled Romney back to his strong New Hampshire showing, there was enough in the results to give Newt Gingrich a continued source of ammunition. A substantial 41 percent of Florida voters described Romney’s positions on the issues as 'not conservative enough'; among all non-Romney voters, 67 percent said so. Gingrich, indeed, won 'very' conservative voters by 42-30 percent, won the strongest anti-abortion voters by 15 points and won strong supporters of the Tea Party political movement – more than a third of all Florida primary voters – by 12 points.
In a more general kvetch (and possible nod to ex-Gov. Jeb Bush), nearly four in 10 voters said they’d like to see someone else run for the nomination." (ABCNews)


"There was a booksigning last night at Doubles for George Gurley and his new book – maybe his first book. It’s called 'George & Hilly; The Anatomy of a Relationship.' As perceived in the oontext of couples therapy. George is a young guy but already a seasoned journalist in New York. He’s one of the best interviewers I’ve ever met, because he’s interested. That doesn’t sound like much but it’s rare and it’s everything. He’s got a quirky kinda Midwestern style, farmboy hayseed; and sharp as a tack. It’s not the kind of book (title-wise anyway) that would interest me in the least. First of all, I’ve been there, and done that. So long ago it’s a distant, immaterial memory ..I’ve had quite a bit of therapy in my adult life. Nothing to compared to a lot of people I know including my ex-wife; but enough to know what it is and what it can/could do for me. I liked it for what it delivered ... He started this as a column a few years ago in the Observer about the two of them going to couples therapy. So I figured George had found a way to capitalize on his relationship with Hilly. After all, a writer writes about what he or she knows. It probably could make a good series. Or a movie. If you’re in your twenties, it’s probably an eye-opener, aside from being funny. Male or female; you get both sides. If you are in your 50s you might also fall off the chair laughing at what strange birds we are. George has got something here. The party started at 5:30 and I got there a little after 7. Wendy Carduner was at the door – the place was packed. She told me George had just “proposed to Hilly” on bended knee (surrounded by photographers). This was no accident, of course; this was New York playing itself in the world of authors and artists and actors and such .... They’ve been together for so long now, we’ll have to concur that Hilly is a partner on this voyage. Full partner." (NYSocialDiary)



"Comedy Central’s newest sketch series, Key and Peele, premieres tonight. The show is the creation of Mad TV alumni Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. I should acknowledge a bias — a friend of mine, Peter Atencio directed the show’s first season. OK, now on on to the facts: Key and Peele is truly one of the most original, subversive and howl-inducing shows I’ve seen in the last decade. It’s a smart and robust sketch series that that manages to satirize politics, movies, black culture, and white culture, without condescension or pandering to one group. In all truth, it may be that I find the show so sensational because I got to visit the set when Ty Burrell was dressed up like Nazi playing a scene that was spiritually somewhere between Inglorious Basterds and The Producers. Or because I saw Peter stay up for 48 hours straight editing a 45 second single take sketch about the Tea Party, choreographed to perfection like a Gene Kelly dance number. Or I could love the show so much because its just, really, really good." (Natasha Vargas Cooper/Splitsider)



"Long before a well-known French shoe designer immortalized women’s feet with red soles, the red Valentino dress had deified the women who wore them for several decades. Renowned couture designer Valentino Garavani practically had 'red' named after him. 'Valentino Red' is a source of reference among those in the know. According to the designer, the inspiration came to him when he was 18 at a Barcelona theater. The opera was La Traviata and everything he saw was red, from the theater’s interior to the flowers to the dresses. He decided it would be his signature color.For roughly five decades, Valentino has been creating some of the world’s most exquisite clothes. A serious wardrobe, the likes of which women such as Jackie Onassis or Elizabeth Taylor possessed, always has one of his dresses among the heap. All the most glamorous celebrities, socialites, and grande dames have worn him. He is up there among the greats with Dior, Saint Laurent, Chanel, Balenciaga, and Schiaparelli. Four years ago the Italian designer announced his retirement. His company had already been sold for almost a billion dollars. But his work continues online. Garavani and his longtime collaborator Giancarlo Giammetti launched the Valentino Virtual Museum late last year. While the concept might not mean much for people who don’t care about clothes or for whom women’s fashion holds little meaning, Valentino’s Virtual Museum is as worthy of admiration as any other exhibition room. It is the first of its kind, and like Valentino himself, rather exceptional ...Garavani and Giammetti live privileged lives surrounded by exceptional beauty. Their houses in Italy, France, England, and Switzerland betray the fact that they are true aesthetes." (Mandolyna Theododoracopulos)


"Hollywood’s latest health craze is — wait for it — human growth hormone. Alana Stewart tells the new March issue of Vanity Fair: 'I had started noticing a few gray hairs coming in. But I noticed that when I was taking it — no gray hairs.' Stewart, the leggy model and former wife of George Hamilton and Rod Stewart, was the sole H.G.H. user who agreed to be identified in the piece by Ned Zeman. The drug costs as much as $10,000 a year, and is described in celebrity circles as 'a fountain of youth in a syringe.' 'People talk about H.G.H. the way they talk about people who get Botox or Viagra,' says a movie producer. Another filmmaker reports he uses it to perk up his sex life. The results: 'My internal organs got healthier quickly. And I could feel it . . . It very much imbues you with a sense of clarity and confidence.' Dr. Andre Berger, a Los Angeles-based H.G.H. expert, said, 'People are going to be living longer. This is about preventing the chronic diseases and all the ravages that affect your quality of life.' While the Mayo Clinic lists side effects including carpal tunnel syndrome, swelling in the limbs and enlargement of male breast tissue, Dr. Uzzi Reiss tells Zeman, 'I’ve been taking H.G.H. for many years. I have the energy and vibrancy of a man half my age. I don’t get sick, don’t get jet-lagged.'" (PageSix)


"It's official, I am completely obsessed with openly gay socialite Peter Brant II and his (potentially gay) younger brother Harry. Screw Glee's Kurt Hummell, every gay teen on earth pretty much wishes they were either of these kids. They're just spectacularly amazing. I want to write a young adult novel series based on these two called Gossip Gays about them being young and attractive and rich and just downright awesome as they flutter from St. Bart's to New York to Paris, attending all the best parties and sneaking champagne on the sly. (All lit agents out there, that is a serious pitch.) The pair are the progeny of billionaire Peter Brant Sr and supermodel Stephanie Seymour. They will one day potentially be worth worth billions on their own—if they don't spend all their money on clothes first. We met Peter Brant II (he's way too luxe to be a 'Jr') last year when pictures of him getting close to his mother on the beach surfaced. We instantly fell in love with him after he told everyone in the media they were 'gross' for insinuating that he had an inappropriate relationship with his mother." (Bryan Moylan/Gawker)


"For ten years, the Sidaction gala has closed the spring Couture season in Paris. The evening has evolved into a highly successful fundraiser for AIDS education, research, and treatment, but the personality of the actual event is contingent on a couple of other features. One, it's something of a fashion showcase, not quite to the extent of New York's Met ball, but designers do make the scene with a 'muse,' like Giambattista Valli arriving with Bianca Brandolini d'Adda, Peter Copping dressing Clémence Poésy, or Dita Von Teese sporting Alexis Mabille on her bod and Alexis Mabille on her arm. Jean Paul Gaultier and Grace Jones also made a logical pair, even if she was actually with The Other JPG (Jean-Paul Goude). Another characteristic of the gala is the lengthy speechifying that precedes dinner." (Style)


"Back in the late '80s, the French government was planning to run train tracks for the high-speed TGV right through the middle of the historic vineyards of Vouvray, and Gaston Huet, as mayor of the town and its most important vintner, was leading the fight against the plan. When the writers Don and Petie Kladstrup went to interview Mr. Huet about the controversy, they asked him in passing about the greatest wine he'd ever tasted. Not surprisingly, he said it was a Chenin Blanc from his native Loire Valley, but he couldn't remember the maker or the vintage. He had tasted it as a prisoner of war in Germany, and the wine, a thimbleful in a mustard jar, was underripe and short on the finish. But it had the characteristic pear, apple and honey flavors of his beloved Loire Chenin, and it was the first wine he'd tasted since his capture some two years before. A railroad tunnel was excavated under the vineyards of Vouvray in the late '80s and Mr. Huet passed away in 2002, leaving his winery in the capable hands of his son-in-law Noël Pinguet, while the Kladstrups published a very fine book called "Wine and War" that was inspired in part by Mr. Huet's story. What hasn't really changed all that much is the relative obscurity of Loire Chenin Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc, the other white grape of the Loire Valley, gets more recognition, particularly when it's grown in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. But to my mind, Chenin is a much greater and more versatile grape." (Jay McInerney)

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