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Monday, September 17, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"In his Pentagon office last Friday evening, a smiling but tired-looking Leon Panetta drank a Sprite on ice and sat for an extensive interview with Foreign Policy, in which the defense secretary spoke publicly for the first time about last week's remarkable, unexpected protests across the Middle East. Even as wall-to-wall media coverage showed angry young men scaling U.S. embassy walls, setting cars and buildings aflame, and hoisting al Qaeda's black flag, Panetta called the demonstrations 'convulsions' related to the political tumult in a region that had cast off dictators for democracy. The protests, Panetta argued, were as unreflective of popular Middle Eastern opinion as 'a Ku Klux Klan demonstration' in the United States. But the prospects for more unrest are widespread, Panetta acknowledged, saying the military was positioning forces to respond to as many as 18 sites of concern -- far more than the two embassies in Libya and Yemen that 100 Marines have so far been hurriedly deployed to protect. Just a year ago, Panetta hailed the impending 'strategic defeat' of al Qaeda; in the interview, he clarified to say he was talking about 'the al Qaeda that attacked the United States of America on 9/11,' while its affiliate groups are in fact now growing in Yemen, Somalia, and across North Africa. In a normal week, the top national security news would have been the public row between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama administration officials over whether to set 'red lines' that would trigger military strikes to halt Iran's nuclear program. But Panetta dismissed Netanyahu's heated rhetoric, repeated on this weekend's U.S. talk shows, about the need for such 'red lines' in the effort to pressure Iran: "The fact is, look, presidents of the United States, prime ministers of Israel or any other country -- leaders of these countries don't have, you know, a bunch of little red lines that determine their decisions.'" (ForeignPolicy)

"On Friday night I had dinner at Sette Mezzo with an old friend. We started out talking about her experience of Fashion Week. She’d had enough; and talked about the 'step and repeat' that goes on before the shows. 'Step and Repeat' is the name given for those people pictures taken in front of a scrim that promotes some business. They’re as boring to look at as a police line-up and they don’t flatter or draw special interest. But they plug. It’s the name recognition/ branding process annoying the senses. It might behoove a few of our advert and communications gurus to work more on their 'allure' factor and deep six the 'In Your Face' and give themselves (and us) a break. However, my friend at dinner was talking about the (society) 'girls' and their contrived 'images' versus their 'realities.' This is where the gossip in New York begins to get off the ground (although rarely ascend). I was hoping she was gonna fill my ears with a labyrinthine tale about one of our better known local couples, and who’s been doing what with whom or to whom. Remember this is New York and life can be a full-blown who-dun-it segment before you cut to commercial. It started out with a very pretty young divorcee with two little ones in private schools here (45 grand a year) while she sleeps on the (cold) floor of their studio apartment. You feel sorry for her? Couldn’t you? Ahh, but she’s out there pitching for another rich guy who will return her to a top-of-the-line mattress. So to speak. Denouement? There is none. She’s just out there." (NYSocialDiary)

"Florida’s southernmost Key had been overrun by bikers. It is Bike Week, and for three days and nights I have heard the growling rumble of the motorcycles as they headed south, to downtown Key West. I had to go look. Lined up along both sides of Duval Street were rockets and choppers of all colors and engineering-defying shapes, and all around milled men in jeans and chunky boots and leather waistcoats with patches declaring allegiance to this or that motorcycle club. A great deal of visible skin was festooned with tattoo art. And everywhere I looked there was a great deal of skin on display. Mostly from the biker molls, many of whom had stopped in at the ‘body paint’ booth of a maestro, a ponytailed man wielding a spray gun. The molls fearlessly whipped off their tops and had their chests painted with trompe l’oeil, so that once more they appeared dressed, until a breast slung into profile, and the give away was a cheeky nipple. It was the middle of the afternoon and while no doubt everyone was working on their drunk as best they could, and despite the embellished breasts, the mood was more ‘family’ than 'hell’s angels’. Some excellent music hauled me indoors momentarily and I ventured into Sloppy Joe’s, where framed photos of Ernest Hemingway loom all over the walls. In one, looking so very correct and unimpeachable in a roll neck fisherman’s sweater and cap, and a pipe in his mouth. A rock and roll band dominated the raised stage, bouncers in orange teeshirts filled every crevice, watching closely, never smiling, on high alert." (Christina Oxenberg)

"According to a report by Politico, Mitt Romney isn't the only person responsible for his campaign's recent stumbling. In off-the-record interviews, members of the Romney camp paint a picture of a campaign that's surprisingly disorganized for an organization run by a former Bain man. At the center is Stuart Stevens, who's been serving as Romney's chief strategist, ad maker, and speechwriter. Sources say that while Hurricane Isaac didn't help, Stevens deserves much of the blame for the Republicans' lackluster convention. In addition to deciding Clint Eastwood's remarks didn't need to be vetted by the campaign, Stevens scrapped two completed versions of Romney's acceptance speech in the week before he was set to take the stage, forcing Stevens and Romney to cobble together the final version with little time to rehearse." (NYmag)



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