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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Sandy, like many in an America with changing demographics, has overseas roots, hailing from the tropics. She rose to our attention in the south but ultimately, like so many others, she hit the big time in the northeast, and her political impact will extend well into the heartland of America, where this election will be decided. Like Joe Biden and Chris Christie, Sandy is an uncontrollable, wind-powered force of nature. Like many politicians, the first impression she may give the average voter is that she is all wet. But there is more to Sandy than meets her eye. Sandy is a game-changer. For those of you live far from the eastern shores of the United States, it is also worth noting that she is also a hurricane, a big one, currently cutting an 800-mile swath across one of the most heavily populated areas of the richest and most powerful nation on Earth. And in so doing, she is speaking volumes about subjects many U.S. politicians have avoided and, at the same time, she is having a major impact on America's process of electing a president. To begin with, Sandy will do more to draw attention to issues of climate change than all the candidates running for every office in the United States during this election cycle have done. While it's impossible to attribute her size or impact to man-made origins, it is also impossible not to wonder whether the recent frequency of large storms is related to the growing oceans of data about the reality of global warming. Sandy looks like what climate scientists have been warning about for years." (ForeignPolicy)


"Friday night Kathy Sloane gave a birthday dinner at La Grenouille for our friend Alice Mason the legendary private residential real estate broker here in New York. Grenouille is Alice’s favorite. It is, for many, without peer; and Friday night attested to that – it was full. Their Dover Sole is an especial favorite with the clientele. They say it’s the best in New York. The Mushroom Risotto is highly prized also. As is just about everything on the menu. But it is not just the menu; it is the room, the light, the flowers, the ambience, the vibe, all which come together to deliver the personal experience of elegance. Suddenly luxury is real because you are in its thrall, rather than like some lovely item purchased for a price. All of this is the mastery of its proprietor and host Charles Masson and his impeccable staff." (NYSocialDiary)



"In 2006, an Iraqi technocrat named Tariq Shafiq was charged with crafting an oil law. A Berkeley-trained engineer, he began his career in the 1950s, rising through the consortium of foreign firms that comprised the Iraq Petroleum Company -- until the Baathists nationalized the oil sector and sentenced him to death, in 1970, for conspiring with the imperialists. Luckily, Shafiq had been out of Iraq at the time, and he didn't return for decades. But now he would again find himself at the center of controversy. In a country that receives 95 percent of its revenue from oil, his oil law would not only shape the management and regulation of the national economy but also determine the extent to which power would be centralized in Baghdad. It was the centerpiece of Iraq's own version of the Federalist Debates. On the federalist side, Iraq's minority Kurds -- who had already gained significant political and military independence in their semi-autonomous northern region -- argued that dispersing state power could prevent the kind of oppression that had been fueled by Saddam Hussein's complete, unwavering control of oil revenuesIt would be a safeguard against tyranny. The centralists, on the other hand, argued that a Balkanization of the oil sector would lead to conflict, with local governments fighting over cross-border oil fields; moreover, they said, it would be a bad value for Iraq. If different parts of the country were bidding to partner with the same top companies, they would inevitably undercut one another. Shafiq had suffered at the hands of oppressors in Baghdad, but he still took the centralist view." (ForeignPolicy)



"PPP's newest Colorado poll finds Barack Obama's position improving slightly in the state after his debate victory this week. He now leads Mitt Romney 51-47, up from a 50-47 spread last week Colorado voters think Obama was the winner of Monday night's debate by a 51/38 margin, and it seems to be having a positive impact on his approval numbers. 51% of voters give him good marks to 47% who disapprove, up from a 49/49 spread last week. Romney's favorability numbers are unchanged from a week ago with 48% of voters rating him favorably and 49% unfavorably. Voters trust Obama more on both the economy (50/46) and Libya (53/44) than they do Romney. Obama has a 51/43 lead with independents. Beyond that his advantage is being driven by large margins with women (54/44), Hispanics (65/34), and young voters (60/35). Romney's main areas of support are with men (49/47), whites (52/46), and seniors (56/41)." (PPPolling)


"I’ve never visited Villa Erotica but was a regular visitor of Chez Lapin, a wonderful old brothel of a nightclub in old Piraeus, which came to mind reading about Patrick Leigh Fermor and the ‘louche and delinquent’ dockside tavernas' two weeks ago in the Spectator. What memories! Piraeus back in the early fifties was pure Middle East, a Levantine port of roast peanut smells, souvlaki stands, and troubadours strumming their guitars along the docks. The louchest and most dangerous club of all was the Kit Kat, where sailors fought nightly with knives over women of ill repute, the cops not even bothering to break it up. I discovered the Kit Kat in 1953, when at fifteen I was taken there by Mike Williamson, son of the American military attaché and brother of the beautiful Nancy, a girl that broke more hearts among Athenian swells than Zuleika managed to in Oxford. Mike was tall, tough, very good-looking, and drank like a true Texan. I was mad about Nancy but she was older than me and going out with my friend Karolos Fix. At the Kit Kat after some heavy drinking, Mike cooled some Russian sailor and his buddies stepped in. We fought them as best we could but eventually lost due to numbers. Mike had been knifed on both his arms and legs but had been so drunk he hardly noticed. I was spared because of my age and the fact I looked younger than my years. A black eye and a cut lip was a small price to pay for the honor of having fought all out at the Kit Kat. Sailors are good people, and knifing 15-year-olds is not their specialty. At least not back then." (Takimag)



"I arrive early at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel, where I am due to meet Brad Grey, chairman of Paramount Pictures. Waiting at his usual table near the front of the restaurant, I nibble a breadstick, study the menu and listen to the pianist mangling pop favourites.
Looking towards the lobby, I expect to see Grey. Instead, Dolly Parton totters into the room in impossibly high-heeled shoes, her gravity-defying décolletage looming towards me. As Parton tries to locate her table, Grey arrives. 'Hi Dolly,' he says, after greeting me and sitting down. 'Hi Brad,' she replies in her southern lilt, flashing a smile and heading to the other side of the room.
Such is life at the Polo Lounge, which Edward Mady, hotel general manager, calls 'Hollywood’s commissary', since this is where the entertainment industry comes to do business, gossip, drink – and sometimes even to eat. The hotel, opened 100 years ago, is steeped in the glory and traditions of old Hollywood: Gloria Swanson, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin made films here, Elizabeth Taylor honeymooned here (more than once), Howard Hughes lived in one of its bungalows for many years, and Raquel Welch is said to have been 'discovered' here, while swimming in its pool." (FT)


"Fantasy Fest has come and gone. Since arriving here a year ago I have heard of this spectacle from the locals, but had yet to witness it myself. Fantasy Fest is the entire week before Halloween when the bulk of Key West participates in a carnival of craziness. Duval Street is blocked off for pedestrians, and each night is dedicated to a theme of dress, one night all red, another night togas, and so on, the madness building to a crescendo by Saturday night with a parade of floats. This annual freak-out is when fifty-thousand out-of-towners descend upon this tiny coral island and partake in the nuttiness. Naturally, I went to look and for the most part I was too astonished to remember to raise my camera. Mostly I walked about with my mouth agape, busting with spontaneous giggles at the outlandish sights. Such as the enormous naked muscular man wearing only work boots and a ‘hammock’ for his equipment and a black mask with a closed zipper at the mouth. Many costumes were impressively detailed, most were scant and provided a voyeur’s delight. Mostly what I saw were breasts, cleverly painted with a thick shellack and reconfigured to a lion’s face or draped fabric and so on as far as the imagination can go. Many women were completely nude with appliqué hearts pressed on at the coochy, presumably in a salute to modesty. " (Christina Oxenberg)

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