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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Amr Moussa stood on a rickety stage, battling the summer heat and feedback from a defective microphone, promising the Egyptian people the world. 'We're making a Second Republic, a renaissance for Egypt,' he told the audience of several hundred. 'It is the time to rebuild the country, to fight poverty and unemployment, which has resulted from mismanagement.' He went on in that vein, ticking off the boxes of socioeconomic development: health care, education, wages. Children played with posters featuring the visage of the former Egyptian foreign minister and Arab League secretary-general and a simple message: 'Create jobs.' It was the spectacle, not the speech, that counted. Moussa's campaign bus had been joined by a convoy of honking cars as it entered the town; a makeshift band played on the back of one pickup truck. Moussa's first stop was to the town's mosques, where he prayed briefly among the crush of locals trying to get close to him. Outside one mosque, the crowd thronged around the door in anticipation of his exit, cheering expectantly. A man from the town exited before Moussa and waved to the masses. 'Thank you, thank you,' he joked. 'Yes, I am the prime minister' ... But what does Moussa's success say about the state of Egypt's politics? The word "revolution" has been thrown about for the past 16 months to describe the upheaval in the country; a victory by the 75-year-old veteran of internecine battles within Hosni Mubarak's regime and the old Arab order suggests something closer to a course correction. Moussa, for better or worse, is not the culmination of anything approaching a revolution.Many Egyptians recognize this, and resent it. Dissenters trail the crowds of cheering supporters at Moussa's every campaign stop. His earnest speech in Beni Suef was interrupted when a youth of no more than 20 burst into the tent to denounce him as felool -- a derogatory term for 'remnants' of the old regime" (ForeignPolicy)


"It’s not exactly news: there’s a swath of the nation that can’t stand Barack Obama. Voters there didn’t like him in 2008 and on Tuesday their disdain for the president resurfaced in Democratic primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky, where Obama won with less than 60 percent of the vote – an anemic performance for an incumbent. The region in question is the Upland or Upper South: its borders range roughly from eastern Oklahoma to western North Carolina and northward to include Appalachia. It’s similar in many ways to the Deep South but still culturally, politically and economically distinct. The heart of the Obama resistance is located in the coal country of Kentucky and West Virginia, places that first signaled their opposition to Obama in 2008 when they voted for Hillary Clinton in overwhelming numbers. Then, in the November general election, John McCain carried both states easily while getting shellacked elswehere. Since no one expects those Kentucky or West Virginia – or Arkansas, Oklahoma or Tennessee, for that matter – to be competitive in the general election, Obama’s weak showing in the region is little more than a curiosity. The worst is behind him: all the states in the president's region of doom have now held their primaries and the remaining states that will vote over the next month will likely restore his luster." (Politico)

"I went down to Michael’s to lunch with a friend. They were busy. In the bay behind our table were several Very Busy Ladies Who Lunch together about once a month; pals: literary agent Esther Newberg, Linda Fairstein, Faye Wattleton Lynn Scher, Kimba Wood, Jurate Kazickas, Lesley Stahl, Ellen Futter (I’m not sure she was present yesterday). I have no idea what they talk about but it would be interesting considering that these are some of the most dynamic/can-do/get-things done women in New York. Every one of these women has a major career as well as full lives of extra- activity both social and cultural, and philanthropic. At the table next to them was Bryant Gumbel with the Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, and next to those guys: Donny Deutsch and producer Jonathan Wald. Nearby, Harry Benson was lunching with David Friend of VF; Charles Grodin with Gil Schwartz." (NYSocialDiary)


"Monday morning’s big fall in Facebook’s stock hardly came as a shocker. It was clear on Friday that, at the offering price of $38 a share, there were more sellers than buyers. The only reason the stock held up was that Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriter on the initial public offering, stepped in and supported it. At the opening of trading this morning, the stock fell $5, to $33, before rebounding a bit. (At 2:30 P.M., it was at $34.75.) That’s bad news for investors who thought their luck was in when they were allocated some Facebook stock. It’s also worrying news for I.P.O.s and the capital markets in general. In fact, a strong argument can be made that Facebook’s shaky start as a public company demonstrates that the entire I.P.O. process, which is supposed to spread the rewards to innovation, is broken. By the time Facebook’s stock started trading on the public market, insiders—the company’s founders, employees, and venture-capitalist backers—had bagged most, if not all, of the company’s value for themselves. That’s fair enough, you may say. Mark Zuckerberg and some Harvard pals created the company. It was Facebook’s professional managers, such as Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, and David Ebersman, the chief financial officer, who turned it into a real business. And it was some savvy venture capitalists, such as Jim Breyer of Accel Partners, and David Sze of Greylock Partners, who first spotted its potential. Surely, these are the folks who should be rewarded. (Bono’s investment, which my colleague Virginia Cannon wrote about, also falls into the reasonably early category. In April, 2010, Elevation Partners, a venture-capital firm in which Bono is a partner, paid ninety million dollars for one per cent of Facebook.)Up to a point, I would agree with you. But the I.P.O. system only works if it preserves a balance between public and private investors. If this balance is upended, and virtually all of the rewards are reserved for insiders, ordinary investors will refuse to play the game." (New Yorker)
"To be a true rock star, in the most Almost Famous meaning of the term, you need to do three things: 1) Rock and roll all night, 2) Par-tay ev-er-y day, and 3) Have a ridiculous sex life. You think Megadeth became a huge band because of their musical ability? Ha. It’s because the ladies told true stories about how Dave Mustaine is a 'considerate lover.' How do I know this? It’s not because my mom told me. Rather, I read about it on Groupie Dirt, a website last updated in the early 2000s that chronicled the sex lives of famous musicians, as told by the people who'd know best: groupies. And your mom told me. Here are my 10 favorite 'stories.' You'll never think of Billie Joe Armstrong in the same way again." (Uproxx)
"Washington’s old-line diplomatic community once delighted in telling tales about one Arnaud de Borchgrave, a cool-named foreign correspondent who worked 30 years for Newsweek in the heart of the Cold War. There was the one about how de Borchgrave kept 14 military uniforms hanging in a Geneva closet, according to a 1980 Washington Post report. And the one about how he called Al Haig on his direct line to ask about a high-risk rescue operation. Or how he ducked in and out of 18 wars during his career. The latest story about de Borchgrave, who went on to become the top editor of The Washington Times and still writes a column for the paper at age 85, will not add to his legend. The Times announced late Monday that it would undertake an 'internal assessment of Mr. de Borchgrave’s columns,' after allegations that he repeatedly lifted passages from reports previously published on the Internet. The questions relate to de Borchgrave’s writing in his capacity as a columnist for the Washington Times and United Press International and as a program director for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The Times also said de Borchgrave would be taking a three-month hiatus from his column to work on his memoirs." (WashPo)


"Paul Allen’s Cannes bash is being talked about as one of the most rocking Film Festival parties this year. Guests, including Antonio Banderas and Jeremy Irons, danced until the early hours to the Microsoft co-founder’s band (in which he plays guitar) at Monday’s party. One guest told us, 'Paul has a new band, and they are actually really very good — people were dancing until 4 a.m.' Also there were Cyndi Lauper, Ray Liotta, Tom Freston and Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker and Tom Bernard. All braved bad weather to get onboard Allen’s 303-foot yacht Tatoosh, which was moved to a new mooring for the bash because of heavy swells and 'to stabilize the boat.' The party-goer added, “Paul told the crowd, ‘I have got a funny song for you,’ then launched into ‘Purple Rain,’ poking fun at the bad weather.” Over at the Chopard bash, also on Monday, Sean “Diddy” Combs was walking around with a camera crew filming a documentary for his new network." (PageSix)

"Holy cow. The most rapturous audience reception at the Cannes Film Festival has gone to "Holy Motors," a disorienting, whirling dream of a movie by French director Leos Carax. Starring Denis Lavant as a man who adopts a dozen wildly different personas during the course of a long Paris day, the film includes surrealist scenes, tender moments, a song by pop star Kylie Minogue and the unexpected appearance of bonobo monkeys." (SeattlePi)

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