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Monday, November 19, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"In the summer of 2011, Cameron Munter, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington and asked her to intercede with the White House to give him greater control over the CIA's use of drones along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, and to let him speak openly to the Pakistani people -- who viewed  drone warfare as a gross violation of national sovereignty -- about the rationale for the strikes. The stakes, in Munter's mind, were very high. A few months earlier, the White House had dispatched Senator John Kerry to Pakistan in the hopes of cooling the public fury over the killing of two Pakistanis by Raymond Davis, a CIA contract officer. Kerry had succeeded, in part by promising greater coordination on counterterror measures -- and then, soon after his plane left Islamabad, the CIA launched another drone strike. By the time Kerry landed in Doha, Pakistan's political and military leaders were apoplectic, and Munter had a new crisis on his hands. Clinton brought the issue to the White House -- and got beat by the CIA. 'The State Department threw him under the bus,' says Christine Fair, a South Asia scholar and an expert on counterterror warfare in the region. Today, Pakistanis know next to nothing about the drone program, and believe the worst about it." (ForeignPolicy)


"Michael Kinsley: When you took over Newsweek, after Sidney Harman bought it and brought you and Barry Diller in as partners, everyone I talked to had the same reaction: If anyone can pull this off, it will be Tina, but no one can pull this off. That turns out to have been correct. Tina Brown: I think it was a romantic gamble that there was still life to be had for Newsweek. We felt that for the Daily Beast—such a frisky digital brand—to have a print platform as well would be great. And, actually, that proved to be true. But every piece of the Zeitgeist was against Newsweek, combined with an unfixable infrastructure and a set of challenges that really would have required five years in an up economy to solve. Kinsley: What was your vision for it? Tina: I’ve always been very enamored of European newsmagazines—the Spiegel kind of magazine, which has an energetic, high-low approach to news. But those magazines also need a lot of pages—there’s something about the way a magazine looks and feels when it doesn’t have advertising that is unbelievably disappointing, both as an editor and as a writer. Pages are not meant to be adjacent to one another. They need the advertising to give it body and fullness. There was always that sense of Newsweek being not the full-bodied thing that it ought to be." (Tina Brown interviewed by Michael kinsley)


"Last Thursday night at the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West and 77th Street, they held their annual black tie Museum Gala with more than 700 attending. Cocktails, called for 7 were held in entrance gallery around the massive dinosaur skeleton. At 7:45 the first dinner gongs were heard throughout the hall, directing guests to move downstairs to the gigantic Millstein Hall of Ocean life with the great blue whale (94 feet in length) suspended above. Getting a crowd of 700 who are enjoying themselves at cocktail hour to move is a bit of a challenge. It was 8:30 before everyone (or almost everyone) was seated. And then greeted by Tina Fey ... Lorne Michaels, the creator/producer of Saturday Night Live was, with his wife Alice, was one of the gala chairs, and there were many attending from the cast and staff of the show. So you could assume that was how we had the pleasure of Tina Fey as mistress of ceremonies. However, there have been frequent sightings of a 'Tina Fey look-alike' in the museum exhibition halls over the past few years, always accompanied by children. That’s because the lady herself (and her kids) are frequent visitors. After brief messages from Lewis Bernard, the museum chair and from the great Ellen Futter, President of the museum, the guests dove into the delicious menu created by Mario Batali especially for the occasion. After the main course, Jamie Niven, Executive Vice President of Sotheby’s came onto the podium to conduct a fund-raising auction. He told us beforehand that a generous donor had already volunteered a matching fund up to a million dollars. After that announcement one individual donated another $100,000; three more donated $50,000 each and before Jamie was through, he’d raised another half million dollars, which of course was doubled by the anonymous donor’s matching gift. The final tally raised from the evening was well over $2 million. After the auction Tina Fey introduced Maroon 5, the rock band. As they were coming up on stage, someone said to me, 'did you see Mick Jagger?' No. Then he was pointed out to me as he and L’Wren Scott were reaching the top of the stairs exiting the hall." (NYSocialDiary)


"I am down here in the migratory pattern of the perma-tanned for the Grand Masters World Judo Championships. The last time I won the thing was in 2008 in Brussels, and I have medaled every time since. This was going to be my swan song, something I have threatened before, especially since an Austrian by the name of Marius Vizer bought the International Judo Federation and runs it like his fiefdom. This wily Austrian corporal charges large monetary sums for registration and gives nothing in return. In Miami the organizers had volunteers doing the heavy lifting, which led to total confusion. There were more than 850 competitors at $150 each. I was put in a younger age group because there were no competitors in my own. I ended up fighting for a gold medal with someone twice my size and who under his own admission had not been required to weigh in. His name is Bo Svenson and he’s reportedly Quentin Tarantino’s favorite actor. He’s been in The Great Waldo Pepper, Kill Bill, Vol. 2, and Inglourious Basterds. He made his name in Walking Tall, and tall he is. When we met in the lineup to go in for the match I thought it was a joke. He’s 6’6” and looked to be about 220 pounds. I’m 5’8'' and 185 pounds. He is also six years younger." (Takimag)



"Harvard had been Maria’s dream school for years. (She requested a pseudonym, but not because she’s not proud of her alma mater.) A valedictorian of her New England public high school, she got in on the basis of a 4.0 GPA and started working toward an English major. Last year, she began looking around for some extracurricular activities to enrich her college experience. There were more than 400 student groups to choose from. Maria chose a group called Munch. Her goal was to meet new people, to explore something new, maybe to release some of the pressure that comes with trying to compete in an intimidating hothouse of rampant overachievement. Maria is petite, with honey-blonde hair and brown eyes. They widened as she ticked off a few of the areas she hoped to explore in her free time: 'Bondage, handcuffs, ice play…' Maria is, she said, less a masochist than a submissive. 'So a lot of taking orders and stuff like that,' she explained. 'I’m really into the whole exhibitionist thing, semi-public places, mirrors…' ... The popularity of 50 Shades of Grey has accelerated a mainstreaming of the BDSM subculture already underway—the initials stand for bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism—and the trend has been especially pronounced in our more elite institutions of higher learning. Columbia has a BDSM group. So do Tufts, MIT, Yale and the University of Chicago. Brown, UPenn and Cornell have hosted BDSM educators for on-campus seminars entitled 'The Freedom of Kink' and 'Kink for All.'" (Observer)


"Happy 70th birthday to Calvin Klein, who shares the day with Indira Gandhi and Allison Janney and other spiritual notables. Klein is proof—like some other very rich people in New York City who are of the exact same age—that life, and the expenditures of great sums of money, really does begin at 70. Having sold the company 'Calvin Klein' almost exactly ten years ago, he has spent the last ten years really coming into his own: buying a monstrous Hamptons estate, then tearing it down; taking up with an extremely young lover, then having the young lover promise to write a tell-all about it, after breaking it off when the young fellow was mandated to rehab after being charged with assault and cocaine possession." (Choire Sicha)

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