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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oevres


"The all-consuming hunt for donors has led President Barack Obama’s campaign to England. And France. And China. Obama is tapping the network of American citizens living outside the 50 states more than any other presidential campaign has before, with more than a dozen bundlers who have pledged to raise as much as $4.5 million. The president’s overseas power centers include London, where high-powered execs like Warner Bros. Josh Berger and Anthony Gardner of Palamon Capital Partners have promised to deliver as much as $500,000 each to the campaign, and Shanghai, where businessman and Technology for Obama co-Chairman Robert Roche has committed to bringing in more than $500,000. It’s all legal — the donors are American citizens who pay U.S. taxes — and the net income to the campaigns is paltry compared the hundreds of millions of dollars raised stateside. Presidential campaigns have long taken in campaign donations from expats and people living in U.S. territories, but Obama’s campaign is focusing on those donations more than ever." (Politico)

"Although Woody made a movie back in 1998 titled Celebrity which seemed to be his final word on the vagaries of fame, To Rome With Love surpasses that in every way. It’s funnier, more touching, more trenchant and doesn’t seem to be trying at all. This movie — four stories that do not intertwine, or even take place in the same time frame — is an effortless soufflé. It is unmistakably Woody, but not a throw-away. It’s the work of a master who still has something to say about fame, fantasies, sex and some eventual, haphazard sensibility. And as one audience member exclaimed as the credits rolled, 'If I had my passport on me, I’d go to Rome right now!' Aside from Mr. Allen and Judy Davis, the film stars Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page. I also have to mention the great (and lesser known) Italian actors Flavio Parenti, Alessandra Mastronardi, Antonio Albanese, Fabio Armiliato, Alessandro Tiberi, Ornella Muti. Everybody is terrific. Mr. Benigni — who has annoyed me otherwise — is simply adorable as a man, who for no apparent reason, finds himself famous. But I have to give particular kudos to Alec Baldwin, as an architect revisiting Rome (his character breaks the cinematic 'third wall' pushing the movie’s fantasy aspect) and to Penelope Cruz, as a pragmatic hooker. Alec is handsome and scathingly funny. But he has one moment toward the end, it’s a long close-up, as he observes a self-centered young actress (Miss Page) close in on herself and abandon Mr. Eisenberg. It’s a devastating moment. Alec knows all about it, in every way. All his cynical comments in the film lead up to this lingering denouement." (NYSocialDiary)

"One of the most admired Greeks of antiquity is Alcibiades, a rich aristocrat, seducer, and general who convinced Athens to undergo the disastrous adventure against Sicily. Then he fled to Sparta and joined in the fight against his birthplace. Then he seduced the Spartan king’s wife and fled to Persia, where he was finally cornered by a Spartan hit squad and speared through the heart. Yet such was his aura with the fairer sex that his Persian wife covered him with her cloak trying to protect him. Back in Athens, men in the agora said he was dressed like a woman and died like one, cowering in fear. Yet when I was young, Alcibiades was my hero, a man who could do no wrong—until I said this to my Spartan mother, that is. She ordered Fräulein to administer couple of hard whacks.No matter what happens in Greece, the great economist Taki believes that the Germans will eventually throw in the towel and bail out Europe. (No Wehrmacht spirit there.) Greece will renege and Germany will fold. But Germany will not announce it prematurely. If they do, the Europeans will do what they always do and go back to the bad old ways. There will be some banking union of sorts and there might even be a euro bond, but we’re in for a decade of no growth, and if anyone tells you differently, ask them to shut up and read the greatest Greek writer since Homer. Alexander the Great did not untie the Gordian Knot, he cut it with his sword. These clowns are trying to solve the riddle with bandages. We need an Alexander, and we need him badly." (Taki)

"ON a late afternoon in May, Martin Amis gestured toward the tall, sun-filled parlor windows of his Brooklyn brownstone. 'Out there, it’s Arcadian,' he said. 'It’s prelapsarian. It’s like living in the ’50s.'
The 63-year-old author was wearing a frayed pink shirt, black pants and black boots. In height he occupies 'that much-disputed territory between five foot six and five foot seven,' as he wrote of the character Keith Nearing in his 2011 novel, 'The Pregnant Widow.' His much-discussed youthful beauty has crashed on the shore of late middle age without too much damage.  'One of the things I like about Brooklyn is you see Manhattan from a distance,' Mr. Amis said. 'And it’s magnificent: what a work of man that is. And every time I see it ... And then you visit it and come back here.'        A few weeks earlier, Mr. Amis had eulogized his best friend, Christopher Hitchens, across the East River at a memorial service at Cooper Union in Manhattan. A friendship that he described as 'perfectly cloudless — it is a love whose month is ever May,' had come to an end last December when Mr. Hitchens succumbed at 62 to cancer." (NYTimes)

"If the hope is that world-class players such as Drogba and Anelka can help create a world-class football nation to rival China’s status in the global economy – or for that matter, in ping-pong – it will not be easy. A mere 2,000 years after a game suspiciously like football was invented in China, the world’s most populous country has yet to make its presence felt in the world’s most popular sport.The Chinese love to watch football; when the country qualified for its first and only World Cup tournament to date, in 2002, a reported 170m new television sets were bought to follow the team’s progress. But Chinese state media has quoted football officials as saying that only 100,000 children, in this land of 1.3bn, are playing any form of organised football, partly the result of high levels of corruption in the past. The country’s presumed next ruler, Xi Jinping, recently outlined his plan for the Chinese game: first qualify for another World Cup; then host a World Cup; then win one." (FT)


"WHEN I FIRST visited Paso Robles, in 2005, I felt as if I was stepping back in time, exploring a little-known outpost of the wine world set in a pristine California landscape where flocks of wild turkeys mingled with cattle and groves of towering live oak shaded Mennonite homesteads. Justin Baldwin, a regional pioneer of viticulture who founded Justin Vineyards in 1981, told me he fell in love with the area in part because it reminded him of Napa in the '50s and '60s. Paso is still beautiful, if slightly less obscure, and if this Central California region eventually becomes as renowned as Napa or Sonoma, 2010 will be viewed as the turning point. Within the span of a few weeks, Justin Vineyards was purchased by bottled-water giant Fiji Water, and Saxum's 2007 James Berry Vineyard red, from a winery founded in 2002, was named the wine of the year by the Wine Spectator. The wine had already gotten a maximum 100-point score from Robert Parker. Saxum's James Berry Vineyard is planted on a steep calcareous hillside that was once an ancient seabed, as evidenced by the marine fossils which crop up out of the soil between the vines. 'That's a fossilized whale vertebrae,' winemaker Justin Smith tells me, kicking a big, curiously symmetrical rock formation underneath a gnarly head-trained Syrah vine." (Jay McInerney)

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