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Monday, December 24, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The horror at Newtown, Connecticut put a damper on the unending end-of-year parties. That includes my own Christmas blast at the Boom Boom Room in honor of Lindsay Lohan and some of the Big Bagel’s prettiest girls. At times I think I missed my vocation: Protector-Confessor of fallen women or those about to take the plunge. My only salvation lies in good old Helvetia, where the mother of my children will whip me back into shape in no time. No booze, no sex, just salads and mineral water. Ugh! Mind you, I’m not so sure about my marriage to Miss Lohan. Too many cops around her, and they make me nervous. My party began at 9PM and after eight hours it was still going. My bill was bigger than the Greek debt, and then some." (Taki)


"The whole thing was white, and broken, that much was clear. A week after the presidential election, when the dreams of Republicans were dashed with President Barack Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney, we were snorkeling in the blue waters of the Caribbean. In the distance was a shipwreck. 'You could make out the pieces of it,' said Ralph Reed, the right-wing political operator who had bolstered the Evangelical Christian vote for Romney. 'It was deep and murky.' Jonah Goldberg, the National Review contributor and author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, also bore witness to the once-great vessel that foundered off the coast of Fantasy Island and was now sunken and covered in white barnacles. 'I saw the silhouette of it,' he says. But what, exactly, were we looking at? It was Friday, November 16. We were in Honduras, gazing at a wreck off a resort called Fantasy Island, near Mahogany Bay. Through my goggles, I watched Reed, in white swim trunks and black flippers, flap his way down through the extravagantly blue waters to the old sunken barge, part of the $64.95 Shore Excursion available to passengers aboard the m.s. Nieuw Amsterdam, an 86,000-ton cruise ship owned by Holland America Line. It was day five of the National Review magazine’s Post Election Cruise 2012, and the GOP’s recent problems were, mercifully, about 760 nautical miles away. The cruise, featuring the star columnists of William Buckley’s 57-year-old conservative biweekly, had been planned long in advance, and everybody had believed it would be a victory party. An ­e-mail from the magazine’s publisher arrived a few days before we embarked: 'Do not despair or fret. At least not next week.'
Onboard the Nieuw Amsterdam, no one could follow his advice. 'Who sent Obama here to destroy America?' a fiftysomething woman asked me one evening over dinner, as if it were a perfectly reasonable question. And here onboard the cruise ship, it was. If the Nieuw Amsterdam was a kind of ark of American alienation, at least it was an eminently comfortable one. The ship was a country unto itself, eleven stories high, 936 feet fore to aft, with eleven bars, six restaurants, two swimming pools, five hot tubs, a large café, and a library. There was the endless buffet on the Lido deck, slot machines and craps in the casino, an Asian lounge singer who did a mean 'Copacabana,' a discothèque and a chamber-music cocktail lounge, cigars and Cognac by the pool, gift shops, and a full-service spa." (NYMag)



"Last Thursday, JH and I hosted our annual NYSD Holiday lunch at Swifty’s. We had twenty guests, eighteen of whom are contributors to the NYSD including Sian Ballen and Lesley Hauge, who do our weekly HOUSE series with Jeff; Jeanne Lawrence, who contributes her Shanghai Social Diary; Nina Griscom, who’s given us her African Diaries; Anita Sarko, who writes Shopping Diary, Wendy Lerman, who Tweets it; Jill Krementz, who gives us her magnificent photojournalist diaries on the arts; Jesse Kornbluth (Headbutler.com); John Foreman, who gives us his Big Old House every Tuesday, Charlie Scheips who originated our Art Set column; and Gail Karr, who sells all the beautiful ads that decorate the NYSD." (NYSocialDiary)


"It is the hottest day in Virginia history and Tyler Cowen has asked me to meet him at noon in an Ethiopian café in the Build America strip mall, a rectangular plot off Interstate 395, the spur route linking the state with Washington, DC. I arrive 10 minutes early. Cowen is already seated by the window of Seleme, peering at scattered papers from a World Bank report. He looks up and breaks the news: 'They don’t have any food.' We slope out and confront the 40C heat. Cowen has a plan B. He heads left; his hitman stride at odds with his professorial get-up – brown loafers, grey slacks and a black short-sleeved shirt. The two-sided mall has about 80 one-storey brick units and is bordered by a car park dotted with SUVs. We pass exotic cafés, hookah bars and money changers: it looks as if a bazaar has commandeered a boulevard of retirement bungalows. We find our new spot, Kebericho, which looks like the old spot.  A young Ethiopian man with half an eye on the local news sips a Corona beer at the bar. The waitress breaks off her conversation with a male friend and gestures that we pick one of the dozen tables. We opt for a central spot equidistant from the four speakers blaring arrhythmic African pop music." (FT)


"So when will it end? After the next killing, or the one after, or the one after that? When will the politicians who take the gun lobby’s money confront their benefactors? The answer is not in the immediate future. What will it take to stop the killing of innocents? Screening prospective gun buyers for criminal records is not enough. Most mass murderers don’t even have parking tickets on their resume. Adam Lanza used his mother’s guns. Why did a mother-housewife need three guns? And how typical of a mass murderer to murder his mother first, shooting her in the face. America has endured over 60 mass shootings in the last 30 years alone. I know no country in Europe that even begins to compete with this sick record." (Taki Theodoracopoulos)


"New CNN boss Jeff Zucker has been looking to raid certain print publications to beef up the network’s talent roster. We’re told he’s 'reached out to some top reporters in Hollywood to help CNN break more news in that area. He has been sounding out reporters at Variety and Hollywood Reporter.' The source added, 'You can’t turn TV people into great reporters, but you can turn a great reporter into a decent broadcaster.' Zucker also just hired Jake Tapper, ABC News’ chief White House correspondent (watch out, John King). Meanwhile, we’re still hearing Erin Burnett will be headed back to the morning show, while 'American Morning' anchor Soledad O’Brien has been promised a primetime slot." (PageSix)


"When, after years of record revenues, Burberry issued a profit warning in September, it rocked the luxury world. 'They basically said – and I’m paraphrasing – luxury is going sour and so are we,' says Thomas Tochtermann of McKinsey & Company, the consultancy. It looked as though they were right. In rapid succession, Britain’s Mulbalso issued a profit warning; Tiffany of the US announced a 30 per cent drop in third-quarter earnings compared with the same time last year and Louis Vuitton reported 'the softest growth ... in the past 12 years', Melanie Flouquet, an analyst at JPMorgan, wrote in a note. At the same time, however, Hermès raised its sales and profitability targets; and the Prada Group’s earnings were up 50 per cent in the nine months to September, compared with a year earlier. It was as though there were two different luxury realities ... After two decades of seeing luxury as a monolithic and highly profitable sector, investors are beginning to realise that they need to start taking a brand-by-brand approach. 'For a long time, whatever was luxury was successful,' says Mr Tochtermann. 'Now that has changed. Burberry was a real ‘Aha!’ moment.' The market is still predicted by Altagamma, the Italian luxury consortium, and Bain & Co, the consultancy, to grow between 4 and 6 per cent in the next two years, and Burberry and Mulberry stock has rebounded. Yet there is little consensus on how such growth will be achieved. Traditionally the sector has been divided into 'accessible' and 'high' luxury. In the former, focused on the pyramid model developed by American brands such as Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors, a luxury collection at the 'pinnacle' rests on a base of less expensive diffusion lines that provide the bulk of a company’s profits. These in turn are powered by the high-end image. In high luxury, the European model of Louis Vuitton and Hermès eschews the use of any kind of discounting to ensure pricing power and market position are maintained." (FT)


"Come January, auction house Phillips de Pury & Company will be simply Phillips, following news today that chairman Simon de Pury is stepping down after 12 years on the job. The departure, which takes effect today, comes as a result of Mercury Group, the Moscow–based investment firm that first bought into the house in 2008, acquiring his interest in the company. 'During the wonderful and exciting years I had the privilege to spend at Phillips de Pury & Company the firm has become a major taste maker in contemporary art, design and photography,' Mr. de Pury said in a statement. 'I embark on new adventures comfortable with the knowledge that the company is in an excellent position and has been going from strength to strength.' Phillips also announced that it plans to take more space in 450 Park Avenue for galleries and offices. The house first signed a lease there in 2010." (Observer)


"My penultimate move before I left town, on my way to New York for Christmas parties, was to drop my bicycle at the bike shop for a tune-up, which would include getting the chain back on the gears. I have been harsh on my green bicycle, plunging off sidewalks and knocking the air out of the tires, all in the name of fun. I knew it was time to take the bugger in when, while riding, a powerful clanking could be heard over my headphones. The absolute last thing I did before driving myself to Key West International Airport was to stop by Kermit’s Key Lime Pie Factory and purchase myself one frozen Key Lime Pie, with my Monroe County resident’s discount. The pie, resplendent in its carrying case of bright yellow plastic bag with Kermit’s logo emblazoned, caught the attention of local’s who called out, 'That’s the best pie in town!'  Had I known the exponential beneficial effects of traveling with a pie I would always have travelled with one. Usually unsmiling airport staff and security guards and fellow passengers bent over backwards reverentially, you’d think I had the Dalai Lama in a bag. Even the Security Team of screeners broke from their mean glares and offered jokes about how it wouldn’t be their fault if only half the pie made it out the other end of the x-ray machines. They were all abuzz and smiling at the very thought of pie. New York was raucous fun with Christmas parties, each of my four day visit devouring more of me until I was legless and it was a huge relief when I made it home to Key West." (Christina Oxenberg)

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