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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"This week, Vladimir Putin was sworn in for a third term as Russian president, and France's presidential election continued the trend of losses for incumbent European governments when French President Nicolas Sarkozy lost to socialist challenger Francois Hollande. Putin's return to the presidency was not unexpected; he was never really unseated as Russia's leader even during Dmitri Medvedev's presidency. Nevertheless, the changes in Europe exemplified by the French presidential election will require Russia to change its tactics in Europe ... During Putin's era, Russia set its sights on what it considered three of the four premier European powers: Germany, France and Italy. The Kremlin considers the United Kingdom the fourth main power, but London's firm and traditional alliance with the United States has made it resistant to Russia's overtures. The Kremlin saw Germany, France and Italy as the countries holding the economic, political and military heft that, if unified within Western alliance structures, could oppose Russia in Europe. In order to forge partnerships with these countries, Putin built relationships with their rulers. Germany was Russia's natural first choice for a partnership; not only is it the core of Europe, but it is also the European state that the Kremlin fears most. Moreover, Putin has an affinity for Germany that dates back to his days with the KGB, when he was stationed in Dresden, Germany. In the early 2000s, Putin was able to use his fluency in German to develop a strong friendship with then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.Schroeder saw the relationship first as an economic opportunity, since Russia is the world's largest energy producer and exporter and also a place for potential heavy investment ... As his friendship with Putin grew, Schroeder purchased an estate outside Moscow near Putin's home and even sought Putin's assistance in adopting two Russian children. Schroeder's ejection from office in 2005 did not end their friendship -- or Schroeder's usefulness to Putin. Despite widespread German criticism, even from Schroeder's own party, the former chancellor accepted a position with Russian state natural gas firm Gazprom to lead the Nord Stream project, a pipeline designed specifically to maximize Russia's energy leverage over Belarus, Ukraine and Poland." (STRATFOR)


"If your interest begins and ends at the red carpet, the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute Gala doesn't change all that much from year to year. As the CFDA's Steven Kolb put it last night: 'Sometimes you walk in straight, sometimes you come in from the left, sometimes you come in from the right.' On the other hand, there's more to this particular fashion party than a glamorous entrance, and each edition informs the next. Last year's opener for the Alexander McQueen exhibition—a potent mix of spectacle, timeliness, and emotional punch—would seem to have raised the bar. Rather than try to come up with another single-designer blockbuster, this year the museum has boldly (you might even say provocatively) put two designers head-to-head, in Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations. One has long belonged to the history books and the other is still going strong, but Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada are a couple of the most fearless nonconformists the fashion world has ever celebrated, and some guests couldn't but wonder what it might have been like had they literally shared a room. 'It would be very fiery—these are two powerful Italian women, and I think in their ways both quite complicated,' offered Lady Amanda Harlech. 'But I think they'd end up loving each other, and I think that would be a really exciting film.' Prada didn't exactly bask in the attention. She barely broke her stride on the way in, pausing only to do a perfunctory live-stream interview with Elettra Wiedemann. 'She's not comfortable with it at all,' explained (Baz) Luhrmann, who's close to the designer. 'But it's part of being a creative force. You have to front.'" (STYLE)


"Did the co-op board at 907 Fifth Avenue  really hate the idea of making a full-floor apartment out of Huguette Clark’s two 8th-floor residences? Or do they just hate children? Following our report yesterday that Clark’s mega-apartment sale fell through, reportedly because the board didn’t like the bidder’s plans to combine the units, the New York Post IDs the reason as too many kids. That’s a new one.The rebuffed buyer, rumored to be Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, reportedly made a $31.5 million bid, which was $500,000 over the combined ask for the two apartments, listed at $19 million and $12 million, with Brown Harris Stevens brokers Mary Rutherfurd and Leslie Coleman. Mr. Hamad’s 15 kids, two wives and and small army of staffers were simply too much for the co-op board, claims the Post." (Observer)


"A couple of weeks ago, before he was pictured on the front page of the biggest newspapers in America last week holding the hand of Chen Guangcheng, I had breakfast with Kurt Campbell. Campbell is assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, making him the guy with day-to-day responsibility for many of the most sensitive issues the U.S. faces, from North Korea to Myanmar, Japan to China. We have breakfast every so often. We have known each other for almost 20 years, since we both served in the Clinton administration. When we met this time, I was thinking of doing a column on Kurt. In my view, the work he has done at the State Department has been among the very best of any sub-cabinet official on the Obama team. If they gave out an MVP award for contributions to U.S. foreign policy over the past several years, justice would demand Campbell be considered. But before I wrote anything, I wanted to talk to Kurt. One reason was to pick Kurt's brain on developments in Asia. Unlike most folks in top Washington jobs, he has a strategic perspective -- a worldview -- and he rigorously re-examines it and ensures it evolves over time. Few people, in fact, would so appreciate the watershed that the dramatic and confounding Chen incident represents than this guy who was at the center of it. There was another reason I wanted to talk to Kurt, though. I didn't want to write anything about the work he was doing without getting his OK. Not regarding the substance of what I was writing, but that I was writing anything at all. Because while Kurt can hardly be called a self-effacing guy, a large degree of his success thus far has been due to the careful way he has worked behind the scenes. He knows that working quietly is what works best in Asia -- and also in Washington." (ForeignPolicy)


"New York’s art world seemingly decamped en masse (with kids and dogs) Sunday to the sprawling Greenwich, Conn., estate of the Brant Foundation Art Study Center for a show by Karen Kilimnik. Billionaire Peter Brant and wife Stephanie Seymour played hosts to guests including artists Urs Fischer, Francesco Clementi, Nate Lowman and Dan Colen, gallerists Tony Shafrazi, Paul Kasmin, Gavin Brown and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, and collectors and curators Agnes Gund, Jane Holzer, Adam Lindemann, Neville Wakefield, Simon de Pury and Jeffrey Deitch. TV stars, designers and rockers also mingled. Lunch, served on a lawn with sculptures by Richard Serra and Fischer, looked like an art installation, too: terrifying splayed lamb carcasses on spits dramatically encircled a fire. Those who didn’t make it hit Frieze: Spotted at the Randalls Island art fair Sunday were Uma Thurman, LVMH scion Antoine Arnault and his girlfriend Natalia Vodianova. John McEnroe managed to hit both events." (PageSix)


"Meanwhile, I went down to 425 East 61st Street where Iris Cantor was dedicating the first Iris Cantor Men’s Health Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Iris donated $20 million to establish what they are calling a 'comprehensive, one-stop-shopping center for Men’s Health.' Ten years ago, Iris funded the start up of the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Today, 40% of patients treated there are men, most often brought in by the women in their lives. That was the signal to Iris. 'Time for men to have a place of their own for comprehensive health care,' she concluded.  The Iris Cantor Women’s Health Care Center has served close to 90,000 women and men since it started. Iris initially took on the project because she believes 'convenience is an incentive to health.' I first met Iris a number of years ago through our mutual friend Raul Suarez. I knew of her, of course, the widow of the fabulously rich B. Gerald Cantor, with whom she amassed the most important collection of the works of Auguste Rodin in the world. She had lived in Los Angeles, as did I, and that was, for me, our initial bond. I
later learnd that she is the biggest woman philanthropist in America today." (NYSocialDiary)



"Conservative activists say a victory by Richard Mourdock in the Indiana Republican primary Tuesday would be a significant step toward a Tea Party takeover of the Senate GOP agenda. Mourdock’s anticipated win over Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) would be a huge boost to the Tea Party movement, which earlier this year was said to be losing steam and viability. Mourdock is one of a half-dozen Tea Party-allied candidates in Republican primaries who could change the balance of power among Senate Republicans. Rep. Jeff Flake, who is favored to win the Arizona Senate Republican primary; Josh Mandel, the GOP nominee in Ohio; and Ted Cruz, who could be headed for a runoff election in Texas, are other conservatives who are in decent position to triumph in November. They would give more influence to the conservative faction of the conference, which includes Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah), founding members of the Senate Tea Party Caucus. DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund has endorsed Flake, Mandel and Cruz.  'In the middle of a campaign season that’s been dominated by talk of [the] presidential race, there has been a group of independent conservative candidates that is gradually building momentum and gaining support,' said Matt Hoskins, spokesman for the Senate Conservatives Fund. 'We could have another election with an injection of the new blood of Tea Party conservatives in the Senate.'Erick Erickson, editor in chief of RedState.com, an influential conservative website, says if Tea Party Republicans don’t take over the Senate GOP conference, they will gain enough members to change the agenda. 'I don’t think they’ll have a majority of the conference, but they will have enough representation to give Mitch McConnell and the Democrats a serious headache,' he said in reference to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.)." (TheHill)


"When Get Out magazine throws a nightlife gala, everyone comes with their feathers and tails on. Such was the case at Get Out's awards at Splash on Saturday, especially when it came to yours truly. I not only looked extremely fierce, mama, but I presented two honors--and won a plaque for keeping gay nightlife in the public eye. How do I do it? Well, I'd stop and explain it, but sorry, I have to get back to doing--and having--it all.
Meanwhile, check out all the other winners (in every way)." (Michael Musto)


"There were millions of dollars of diamonds and bejeweled clutches galore at last night’s Met Gala in New York, but the hottest accessory was definitely a good-looking guy in a tux.Jessica Biel arrived on the arm of fiancé Justin Timberlake; she worked an ivory satin deep-V gown with jade stones by Prada (and that ring!) while he accessorized his tux with a Cartier watch. Gisele Bündchen (in Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci) looked equally lovely on the arm of husband Tom Brady, who drew lots of looks for his new hairstyle. Emily Blunt and John Krasinski both opted for looks by Calvin Klein, her peach gown finished with a Christian Louboutin clutch and Neil Lane jewels. Alicia Keys and hubby Swizz Beatz both pulled off pants in matching Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci ensembles.(People)

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