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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Very warm, sunny day, but bearable. We had some rain the night before,  and the nights have been comfortably cooler. Here in mid-summer my neighborhood is quieter especially since the two  girls’ schools across the avenue and around the corner are not in session, lightening up the sidewalk and road traffic noticeably in midday. Also this is a neighborhood where many are away for the summer or part of the summer, so that contributes to the mainly empty streets by sunset. I went down to Michael’s to lunch with Liz Smith who’s been having her getaway for a few days at a time up in Connecticut. Michael’s was full up. Calvin Klein was at the next table. Across the way, author ('Unreal Estate,''740 Park Avenue') Michael Gross was lunching with the new editor of Avenue Daisy Prince. On the other side of Calvin Klein’s table, Peggy Siegal was enthusiastically reporting on her just-returned trip from a few days abroad, stopping over the weekend in Aix-en-Provence where where Shirin and Frederic Fekkai hosted a dinner at their newly renovated/restored house. Not all of his fans and followers know that Frederic, whose parents were Algerian, was born and bred in Aix, coming to New York in 1979 at the age of 21 to start his career. And some career it has been – Frederic has built an enormous business in haircare, cosmetics and fragrances as well as his salons. Aside from business, he has also made an excellent reputation for himself in the community, participating in a number of charities and cultural events. After lunch I walked with Liz over to Fifth Avenue which was very busy with foot traffic. Liz said to me: 'what are you going to write about for tomorrow?' I said: 'I  don’t have a clue, what about you?' She replied, 'I know what you mean.'" (NYSocialDiary)



"The British public periodically goes ape over silly things such as cricket, Twiggy, the occasional sunny day, the Chelsea Flower Show, Guy Fawkes Night, and the not-so-direct descendants of King James I, whom Guy (AKA Guido) tried to blow up on November 5, 1605. Although James I was a Stuart and Elizabeth II is a Hanoverian, she wins the popularity stakes hands down because old Jimmy believed he was appointed by God. This brought him into conflict with the English Parliament, who distrusted his judgment on most issues. This June, under constant rain, floods, and the threat of a transport strike, the Brits yet again went ape over the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, marking her 60th year on the throne. In four years the Queen will surpass her great-great grandmother Victoria in length of service, something she should easily do as she’s in excellent health and has all her wits about her. Then the Brits once again will go ape and continue doing so for every year of her reign. Watching her going down the Thames—on a barge festooned with gold leaf and all sorts of heralds, shields, crowns, and whatever else the Brits stick up on walls to show that once upon a time they were an important nation—was almost touching. I say 'almost' because it was a show to please the masses, draw the tourists, sell newspapers, and show appreciation for the number-one draw to this wet and gloomy island. There she was, an 86-year-old lady standing for hours on end in the cold, smiling and waving and occasionally sneaking a look at her 91-year-old husband, Phil the Greek, who just as bravely stood up like the man that he is and ended up in hospital soon after.  Except for the Middle East, monarchies today are largely ceremonial. Royals have become the appendix of the body politic. Most seem to exist to sell gossip magazines and keep the fashion industries humming." (Taki)


"'Dowd's clique,' that circle of friends all working at The Times—described by Ariel Levy in 2005 as 'think Heathers, but nice'—hadn't yet quite formed. Dowd's pal, Michiko Kakutani, had been destroying authors in the Times' Books pages for a couple of years. But Alessandra Stanley, a sometime collaborator to whom she’d been close since their Time days, wouldn't show up until 1990, and friend Frank Bruni arrived in 1995. Six weeks before the AIDS story was published, Dowd had gotten her first byline as a general assignment reporter on the Metro desk. Fairly unremarkable, it's about Columbia University's just-completed Computer Science Building, on which $5.6 million was spent. It's notable mostly for the prediction of Arno Penzias, a vice president of research for Bell Laboratories and a Nobel Laureate in physics. 'By 1986, there will be more microprocessors being produced than McDonald's hamburgers,' he told Dowd. 'The Dick Tracy wrist radio is not that far away.' Raised in Washington D.C., Dowd had been working there before she moved to New York for the New York Times gig. As a new reporter, she told me, 'I thought maybe I should look kind of preppy, so I went and brought a duck sweater—you know, a sweater with a duck on it—from Talbot's.' On her way to Columbia she missed her subway stop and ended up in Harlem. 'And they were like, You do not belong here with that stupid duck sweater on. So then I got rid of the duck sweater.' Back then, Dowd filed every couple of days: on a new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, Marcus Garvey, Philip Roth ('ROTH'S REAL FATHER LIKES HIS BOOKS'), landmarks ('THE CHELSEA HOTEL, 'KOOKY BUY NICE,' TURNS 100"). Fourteen 'silly features,' is how she puts it. The profile of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, edited by James Gleick, was conceived as a story about the organization’s 'buddies system,' volunteers tasked to comfort dying men. Dowd was not expected to spend much time on it, maybe two days. She ended up taking three weeks. 'You could have done a two-day feature on it,' she allowed. But, she said, 'When you cover a news story like that, at a moment like that, that turns out to be this horrible, you know, plague for one segment of society, it’s just a very gut-wrenching experience." (TheAwl)

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