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Friday, February 03, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Something big has happened in international diplomacy: The Arab League, a body which until just the other day defended the sovereignty of its members at all costs, is demanding that a skittish U.N. Security Council take forceful action to stop atrocities committed by Syria, one of its own members. The league's call last year for a no-fly zone to protect civilians in Libya felt like an aberration, because Muammar al-Qaddafi had placed himself so far beyond the pale among his own neighbors. But Syria is a pillar of the organization, as central as France is to the EU. And so the spectacle of an Arab country -- Morocco -- introducing an Arab resolution to the Security Council earlier this week demanding that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad leave office was astonishing. Arab authorship radically changes the politics surrounding the question of international action. Think, by contrast, of Darfur, where the United States and several European allies on the Security Council pushed resolutions threatening sanctions against Sudan for its campaign of mass killing and expulsion. Arab leaders defended their brother in Khartoum, President Omar al-Bashir, while the African Union repelled outside interference with its calls for 'African solutions to African problems.' Much the same happened in the face of international outrage against the regimes in Zimbabwe and Myanmar. The perpetrator's neighbors thus twist legitimate calls for action into a campaign of Western neo-colonialism, and reduce the universal principles behind norms like "the responsibility to protect" into a hobby-horse of Western elites." (ForeignPolicy)

"Ken Rogoff has been coming to the World Economic Forum in Davos for a decade but he has never yet had a decent lunch. Sitting down at a small table in Gentiana, a bistro about 10 minutes’ walk from the Congress Centre, Rogoff says this is the first occasion he has ever had the time to venture out to a restaurant. His normal schedule is so hectic he just has to grab the sandwiches that occasionally appear in the centre. These days Rogoff, a 58-year-old Harvard economics professor, is more in demand than ever. With his co-author, Carmen Reinhart, he has written the definitive history of financial crises over the centuries. This Time is Different would have been a major contribution to economics and history whenever it appeared, but its publication in 2009, in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis caused by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, meant that it became an unlikely publishing sensation – rising to fourth on the Amazon bestseller list ... The financial crises in the US, the UK and the eurozone have caused the Swiss franc to soar in value – and we both do a double-take as we look at the prices on the menu. 'It’s just incredible,' says Rogoff, shaking his head sorrowfully. Gentiana is a comfortable but modest one-room restaurant, with the tables packed tightly together. None the less, the Wiener schnitzel and chips I intend to order will cost the equivalent of £30. Rogoff, dressed in a blue blazer and red tie, has issues other than price on his mind ...At Davos, everybody is talking about Europe’s debt crisis. Many think the worst is over. Rogoff is more cautious: 'There will be more drama ahead,' he predicts. The historical studies that he has done with Reinhart, his long-time collaborator, who is now a fellow at the Peterson Institute in Washington, DC, suggest that the debt levels of several European countries are simply unsustainable without some sort of 'restructuring'. So the tortured negotiations that are being conducted in Greece will be repeated in other countries such as Portugal and Ireland. 'Portugal only looks good in comparison with Greece,' he says drily. 'We’re not in the endgame, we’re in the middle-game.'" (FT)

"The tiny, oil-rich nation of Qatar has purchased a Paul Cézanne painting, The Card Players, for more than $250 million. The deal, in a single stroke, sets the highest price ever paid for a work of art and upends the modern art market. If the price seems insane, it may well be, since it more than doubles the current auction record for a work of art. And this is no epic van Gogh landscape or Vermeer portrait, but an angular, moody representation of two Aix-en-Provence peasants in a card game. But, for its $250 million, Qatar gets more than a post-Impressionist masterpiece; it wins entry into an exclusive club. There are four other Cézanne Card Players in the series; and they are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Musée d’Orsay, the Courtauld, and the Barnes Foundation. For a nation in the midst of building a museum empire, it’s instant cred. Is the painting, created at the cusp of the 20th century, worth it? Well, Cézanne inspired Cubism and presaged abstract art, and Picasso called him'“the father of us all.' That said, '$250 million is a fortune,' notes Victor Wiener, the fine-art appraiser called in by Lloyd’s of London when Steve Wynn put his elbow through a Picasso, in 2006. 'But you take any art-history course, and a Card Players is likely in it. It’s a major, major image.” For months, he said, 'its sale has been rumored. Now, everyone will use this price as a point of departure: it changes the whole art-market structure.'" (VanityFair)

"I wasn’t at Michael’s the day before – Wednesday because it was closed for a private party. Steve Tisch, Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein, Matt Lauer, John McEnroe, Terry McDonell, Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersole hosted a New York Giants Superbowl Pep Rally Luncheon for about 150 of their closest fan-friends. A lot of media people showed up even the bold-facers like O’Reilly and Ailes; as well as a lot of writers, reporters, sports fans who couldn’t pass up a Michael’s lunch and on the house, someone’s house, Steve Tisch’s house ... Last night I had two dinners. First at Swifty’s with Mitch and Sarah Rosenthal, Linda Fairstein and Joe Armstrong. This was a dinner among friends and booked several weeks ago. After dinner, about quarter to ten I hurried on down the avenue to Shirley Lord Rosenthal’s where she was hosting a dinner for author Ron Suskind who has been named the 2012 A.M. Rosenthal Writer-in-Residence at the Shorenstein Center at the Kennedy School of Press and Public Policy at Harvard. Abe Rosenthal was Shirley’s husband and one of the most important editors in the history of the New York Times. His reputation with and influence on his colleagues and newroom are legendary." (NYSocialDiary)

"WHEN Newt Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne, jolted the Republican race with her recent claim that the presidential hopeful had once asked for, in her words, an 'open marriage,' the phrase seemed like an echo from the Nixon years. 'Open marriage'? Adjust the rabbit ears. What decade are we in? As practiced today, open-marriage arrangements can take many forms. Some fall under the rubric of polyamory, which involves a couple sharing emotional and romantic attachment, as well as sexual, with more than one person. (Not all polyamorists are married, however, and many relationships involve bisexuality.)  Some fall under the term 'partnered nonmonogamy,' which involves outside sexual relationships, but no emotional attachment, said Tristan Taormino, the author of 'Opening Up,” a 2008 survey of 100 nonmonogamous relationships in this country that includes advice on managing jealousy and parenting duties for latter-day Bobs and Carols and Teds and Alices.  Despite the whiff of Roman-scale hedonism, modern open marriages often have little to do with the swinging sex romps of the 'Love the One You’re With' era. Ground rules are usually settled on in advance by all parties. Some even sign family contracts delineating financial obligations, said Diana Adams, a New York lawyer and practicing polyamorist. Others seek to lend the practice an air of legitimacy by using terminology like the lawyerly 'negotiated monogamy.'" (NYTimes)   

"'The last time I was at a Louboutin party, I almost broke my foot,' a woman said as she rode the escalator to the second floor at Bergdorf Goodman last night. Things didn't get quite that rowdy at the retailer's red-themed 20th anniversary fête for the shoe maestro. Except, that is, when the man of the hour made his grand entrance. As guests tried to get a photo or an autograph of Louboutin—not easy, what with his pack of bodyguards—even industry insiders admitted that meeting the designer is a thrill. 'In May, I had lunch with him in Budapest. I know it sounds name drop-y, but I'm from the Midwest, so it was pretty exciting,' said Paper magazine's Mickey Boardman." (Style)

"'People spend $300 on crazy things all the time, things like handbags. So work all year, scrape the money together, and come to my show. I'm worth it.' It's not the eighties anymore. But don't tell that to an ultra-rich woman living in a London inhabited by wealthy oil sheiks that appears to be oblivious to the recession, never mind the plight of those in the Midlands or the United States. This is how we know Madonna is toast. Ahmet always kept up with the trends, that's how he stayed relevant. And Madonna tried, albeit a beat behind the hipsters, distilling their fads for the masses, but now she's lost her way. You're supposed to be in bed with your fans. Or at least give that illusion. She's supposed to say she wants to charge less, but the scalpers won't let her, she wants to make sure fans get the tickets. Or, if she really cared about the fans getting tickets, she'd lower the price and go paperless. But Madonna never cared about her fans. Certainly not after she got rich and started living a better life hanging with the upper class. And this worked in the go-go eighties, even the dot com nineties, when seemingly everybody had money and was living the high life. But now, when those same fans who lined up as teenagers are mothers balancing the books to put food on the table, Madonna insults them? As for the comment re handbags, isn't this what's wrong with America? Empty, soulless gratification, like too much of Madonna's recent music? People are hungering for truth. Sure, they want to party, but not at these prices. Not that I believe Madonna will do poor business. But I'd be stunned if her album's a success in America. She's too old, too unhip, and without Top Forty success, you're done. It's a brand new music business and Madonna's not part of it." (LefsetsLetter)

"What better way for Ohne Titel's Flora Gill and Alexa Adams to celebrate a fifth anniversary than a candlelit dinner in The Waverly Inn's enchanting back garden? Estee Lauder president John Demsey and MAC's makeup mavens certainly thought so, as did the klatch of powerful women whom the Ohne Titel girls wanted to thank. FIT's Valerie Steele, Julie Gilhart, Cecilia Dean, Michelle Harper, Kim Hastreiter, and Annelise Peterson got cozy schmoozing over Champagne pre-dinner, while Lynn Yaeger and Patti Wilson wisely staked out a nook by the fireplace to catch up.  Turns out, Yaeger hits up The Waverly, a local haunt of in her 'hood, on a fairly frequent basis (but not quite on the level of a Waverly regular, she clarified.) The impetus for Yaeger's attendence? 'Just support the girls.' Well, the lure of a tasty meal, too. 'Plus, it's near my house and I was hungry!' Yaeger 'fessed. However, there's a major makeup artist, with some digs not far from the resto, who apparently detests the Waverly. But the Daily isn't going to divulge...Meanwhile, Mary Alice Stephenson (almost) set the room ablaze upon entering, in the case of a slightly singed noir fur while the stylist posed for a shot with Dempsey. 'Don't worry, Alina [Cho] and I put the fire out! Now the party has officially begun!' Stephenson jokingly announced to the amused and slightly concerned crowd." (Fashionweekdaily)


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