Monday, April 30, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The Chinese government is so terrified of Chen Guangcheng that, when rumors spread on Sunday that he had boarded United Airlines flight 898 from Beijing to Washington, state censors almost immediately blocked Weibo users from sending any messages with the word "UA898." Chen, a lawyer who campaigned against state-forced sterilizations and abortions meant to enforce China's one-child policy, is blind; the words "blind man" were also blocked online. Though Chinese police often bend over backwards to avoid harming Westerners, especially high-profile ones, they roughed up Christian Bale and a CNN crew for trying to visit the building where he is kept under house arrest. This is how seriously the Chinese government takes Chen Guangcheng. Now, Chen has escaped house arrest and reportedly fled to the American embassy in Beijing. In immediate human terms, the U.S. response would be easy and automatic: grant him legal asylum and fly him back to the United States. But foreign policy is more complicated than that. If China knocked around Christian Bale just for trying to shake Chen's hand, what would the country to do the American foreign policy agenda if Obama grants Chen his freedom to continue raising awareness about Communist Party abuses, embarrassing the leaders of that party in the process?" (TheAtlantic)

"At the same time in Israel, the conservative government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been rocked by a series of public comments from current and former Israeli military and intelligence officials questioning the wisdom of attacking Iran. The latest comments came from Yuval Diskin, the former chief of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, who on Friday said Mr. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak should not be trusted to determine policy on Iran. He said the judgments of both men have been clouded by 'messianic feelings.' Mr. Diskin, who was chief of Shin Bet until last year, said an attack against Iran might cause it to speed up its nuclear program.  Just days before, Israel’s army chief of staff suggested in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that the the Iranian threat was not quite as imminent as Mr. Netanyahu has portrayed it. In his comments, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz suggested that he agreed with the intelligence assessments of the United States that Iran has not yet decided whether to build a nuclear bomb.Iran 'is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn’t yet decided whether to go the extra mile,' General Gantz told Haaretz. He suggested that the crisis may not come to a head this year. But he said, 'Clearly, the more the Iranians progress, the worse the situation is.' Last month, Meir Dagan, the former chief of the Israeli spy agency Mossad, said he did not advocate a pre-emptive Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear program anytime soon. In an interview with CBS’s '60 Minutes,' Mr. Dagan said the Iranian government was 'a very rational one,' and that Iranian officials were 'considering all the implications of their actions.'" (Jamie Rizn via ForeignPolicy)

"President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton teamed up for a fundraiser in Virginia on Sunday, taking shots at presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney. While neither mentioned him by name during the event at the home of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, the two presidents delivered harsh criticisms of Obama's likely November opponent. "This is crazy, he's got an opponent who basically wants to do what they did before, on steroids, which will get you the same consequences you got before, on steroids," said Clinton. The two presidents once had a frosty relationship, as Clinton was a strong advocate for his wife then Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) as she battled Obama for the 2008 Democratic nomination. At Sunday's event, however, President Clinton was full of praise for Obama, defending his record and saying that the current president needed more time to address the problems left behind by the Bush administration. 'He's beating the clock, not behind it.  Don't listen to those Republicans.  We are beating the clock,' Clinton said. 'I think he is beating the historical standard for coming out of a financial collapse and a mortgage collapse.  I think the last thing you want to do is to turn around and embrace the policies that got us into trouble in the first place,' he added. In his remarks at the fundraiser, Obama linked Romney's foreign policy to the Bush administration." (TheHill)

"Last week I had lunch with Pat Schoenfeld who has been very busy lately out at booksignings and promoting the memoir of her late husband Gerald Schoenfeld. Mr. Broadway is the title and That Man on the cover is the immortal Al Hirschfeld’s portrait of him.In the last twenty years I’ve got to know Jerry Schoenfeld, getting around as I do, and also because he frequently lunched at Michael’s. He was a very friendly fellow, droll and mensch-y, although I knew he was a very shrewd lawyer and businessman who with a man named Bernie Jacobs, ran the Shubert  Organization for almost forty years (not counting his years when he worked for JJ Shubert and then Lawrence Shubert Lawrence. I first knew of Jerry when I was a kid aspiring (wrong word/right idea) actor and working at Sardi’s restaurant in a part time job – 11 to 2 on matinee days (Wednesday and Saturday) and 5 to 8 Monday through Fridays. Sardi’s was then, as it had been for decades, the center of the world of Broadway. Everybody who was anybody came through its door -- every star, aspiring, headlining, former, future; playwrights, writers, tycoons interested in shows (or actresses or actors); lawyers, agents, their girls, their wives, their secret boyfriends; press agents, movie stars, movie producers, movie directors, journalists (the New York Times was next door). It was a hub of the theatre world." (NYSocialDiary)

"Like marathoners heading into their 26th and final mile, the slate of party-goers who had been bouncing around White House Correspondents’ Association dinner events for the past four days turned into the Georgetown home of POLITICO owner Robert Allbritton and his wife, Elena, to recap the weekend, swap stories, and, for some, to say farewell until we do it all again next year. Roughly 250 attendees showed off pictures of George Clooney on their iPhones and wondered whether he’d ever run for office ('He’s really such a pro at these events,' said one), weighed in on Lindsay Lohan ('When you talk to her, she sounds like a 90-year-old woman,' noted another guest) and generally bemoaned their lack of shut-eye over the weekend (although Arianna Huffington — who’s written extensively about the importance of sleep — boasted that she got at least seven hours both Friday and Saturday night) ... But the big topic of conversation, of course, centered on the comedic stylings of President Barack Obama and Jimmy Kimmel at the Saturday night gala. Obama received rave reviews." (Politico)

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these partiers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. Twas a damp, cloudy, humid night in our nation’s capital, and at the residence of the French ambassador, guests of the Vanity Fair and Bloomberg party completed their post–White House Correspondents Dinner rounds under white tents, aided and abetted by space heaters, liquor, and overcoats. The air was chilly; the mood, warm personally saw Uggie embraced by Reese Witherspoon and Colin Powell. (Is Uggle the first dog and/or human to be able to make such a claim? We’d like to think so.) Running a close second in the night’s most-popular category: the impossibly charming couple Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann, who chatted with George Clooney, Rashida Jones, Daniel Radcliffe, Paul Rudd, Kate Hudson, Rachel Zoe, Rodger Berman, and Martin Short. Elsewhere: Harvey Weinstein and a stunning Georgina Chapman, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, White House speechwriter Cody Keenan, Arianna Huffington, Claire Danes, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Jay Carney, David Axelrod, Chris Matthews, a pregnant and glowing Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein, Salman Rushdie, Colin Powell, and Andrew Sullivan. Braving the inclement weather on the back porch: Woody Harrelson talking with New York Times reporter Ashley Parker, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Wright, and longtime New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier. Back inside, Aziz Ansari posed for pictures with a stunning, cream-silk-clad Kate Upton, whose stature in Washington has already far outmatched that of her congressman uncle, Fred Upton (R-MI)’s official vote for most charming attendees: an effortless Goldie Hawn and a casual and silly Elizabeth Banks. Cutest couple: Bo Derek and John Corbett, who showed up before most guests and danced to oldies by the coffee bar." (VanityFair)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"One afternoon, just before he took a job as a state judge in 1990, federal prosecutor Richard G. Stearns was clearing out his desk at the U.S. Attorney's office in Boston when he came across an old piece of evidence: the wallet belonging to Charles Taylor, a young Liberian bureaucrat he had attempted to extradite back to his homeland in 1985. He was a reasonably educated and polished in his own way, Stearns recalled. 'But I did not honestly see him at that time as what he became, which was bloodthirsty.' Taylor was educated at Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts before returning home to serve in the government of brutal dictator Samuel Doe. After falling out of favor with Doe, Taylor returned to the United States, where he was arrested in 1984 on embezzlement charges. Famously, however, he escaped from a jail in Plymouth before he could be extradited, emerged a short time later as a warlord in the Liberian bush, and fought his way toward the presidency of his country, building a political career through a succession of humanitarian catastrophes in West Africa. The Taylor case remained a dangling thread for Stearns. Until Thursday.Stearns -- now a federal judge in Massachusetts -- heard, along with rapt audiences in Freetown, Monrovia, and in the gallery at the Special Court for Sierra Leone at The Hague, what may be the final word on the former Liberian president's career: Taylor was found guilty on 11 counts of aiding and abetting Sierra Leonean rebels in crimes including the murder, rape, and conscription of child soldiers during that country's 1990s civil war." (ForeignPolicy)

"He’s the GOP vice presidential pick that Democrats fear most — a brassy choice who would likely deliver his crucial home state, boost the ticket with Hispanics and Catholics and appeal to both conservatives and independents. The problem: Jeb Bush apparently doesn’t want the job. The former Florida governor raised eyebrows in Boston, Chicago and beyond last week when he said in a rare interview that he’d 'consider' being Mitt Romney’s running mate. President Barack Obama’s high command, believing Bush would effectively take Florida off the map, paid very close attention to the comments to Newsmax. But sources close to Bush say he wasn’t signaling anything and that’s why he sought to shut down speculation with an email to Bloomberg’s Mark Silva, a former Florida reporter, writing, 'I am not going to be the veep nominee. Lay that to rest.'" (Politco)

"Mitt Romney held a high-dollar fundraiser Thursday night at the home of John Paulson, the controversial hedge-fund billionaire who made a fortune shorting the housing market and subprime mortgages in 2007. New York grocery billionaire John Catsimatidis told The Daily Beast the fundraiser, at Paulson’s posh townhouse at 9 East 86th Street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, was a “big-dollar event” for wealthy donors like himself 'fighting for the soul of America.' The Romney campaign did not return requests for information about the fundraiser—which was not listed on the candidate’s public schedule. Paulson’s publicist, Armel Leslie, also did not return calls seeking comment. A neighbor who witnessed the event from across the street described it to The Daily Beast as a large crowd of 'older white people, mostly men,' who started showing up around 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Around 8 p.m., sirens started blaring as more and more people started to show. There was security at the door as well as a police car on the street. Then things became quiet until the sirens started up at 9:30 p.m. An SUV tried to block 86th Street, but New York drivers characteristically went around it. Then, as the security stood in the street, Romney emerged from the townhouse, 'looking tall and neat.' He took off his suit jacket and climbed into the SUV." (TheDailyBeast)

"Yesterday, Mr. American Psycho Bret Easton Ellis used his highly entertaining Twitter account to comment on culturally relevant events by boasting about what we’re sure was a really fun and not totally disgusting party at the time. How scandalous! We wonder who the 3rd could be. Surely not Ms. Hunter’s ex and BEE’s best friend, Jay McInerney! (Story of His Life, right ladies?!) Either way, Mr. Ellis isn’t talking, but maybe someone could wring the truth from Brat Packer Molly Ringwald."

"The first friend I made at Lawrenceville School was Reuben Batista, eldest son of the Cuban strongman. Being foreigners gave us something in common, the rest of the school being mostly WASPS with a smattering of Catholics. By the time I met Reuben in 1949 his father Fulgencio had been in power either directly or indirectly for nearly two decades. Havana was a paradise if one was rich and liked easy women, rum drinks, flashy nightclubs, and casinos. The disparity in wealth was shocking even back then, yet there was a sweetness of life, one that was lost in January 1959. I visited Cuba a couple of times before Castro and found the people among the nicest in the area. Batista was always referred to as a dictator, which he was, but it was the most benevolent of regimes. In my young and limited experience, I never got the impression that the people were afraid to voice their opinions. I had some good friends such as the Garrido brothers, both Wimbledon players who were poor but comfortable and who had shown me around when I was in Havana. There are certain things that are now set in stone—for example, Batista bad, Castro good. The fact that people voted against Castro by leaving the island in the millions with only the clothes on their backs does not matter. The executions, the torture, the jailing of homosexuals, the totalitarian regime does not matter to the press nor to the academy. Castro was a man of the left; hence he was, is, and will always be good. Fifty-three years later the song is still the same. Castro and his brother are still the darlings of professors and media types. (Taki)

"Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq, has a remarkable ability to make enemies. As Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group puts it, 'Personal relations between everyone and Maliki are terrible.' This gift was vividly displayed in March, when the annual meeting of the Arab League was held in Baghdad. Although the event was meant to signal Iraq's re-emergence as a respectable country after decades of tyranny and bloodshed, leaders of 10 of the 22 states, including virtually the entire Gulf, refusedto attend out of pique at Maliki's perceived hostility to Sunnis both at home and abroad, turning the summit into a vapid ritual. The only friend Iraq has left in the neighborhood is Shiite Iran, which seems intent on reducing its neighbor to a state of subservience. It's true that Iraq is no longer a threat to its neighbors, as it was under Saddam Hussein. In that narrow respect, the U.S. invasion has made the Middle East a safer place, though at an unspeakable cost in Iraqi and American lives. But the hopes that Bush administration officials once entertained-- that a post-Saddam Iraq, perhaps guided by a secular figure like the émigré opposition leader Ahmad Chalabi, would serve as a stabilizing, pro-American force for the region -- now look patently absurd. Maliki never had much interest in being a friend of the United States, and the departure of U.S. troops has allowed him to forget about it altogether." (ForeignPolicy)

"The circumstances of its conception were murky and surrounded by intrigue, which has never been a bar to future greatness. No fuss or fanfare attended its birth, which ditto. Eighteen years on, the infant has grown to much-admired maturity and become one of the great fixed points of this newspaper, a Financial Times institution as important and as enduring as Sam Brittan or Lex. Born on April 23 1994, the list – now more than 800 names long – of those who have had Lunch with the FT is an international who’s who of our times. There have been presidents and playwrights; tycoons and tennis players; royalty and rogues; monks and a convicted murderer (Norman Parker). In age the subjects have ranged from centenarian Frances Partridge, last of the Bloomsbury group, to an 18-year-old former hostage, Noriaki Imai.  But this is not just a series of interviews. What makes it special is the word 'lunch'. Most obviously, this elevates the occasion above the customary celebrity interview, which these days generally takes place in an anonymous hotel room with the subject in the midst of about 57 other similar conversations in two days, and the PR representative looking pointedly at his watch. The hope is that anyone will be more relaxed with food on the table and the minder out of earshot. Yet even if that does not happen, the circumstances transform the occasion and the article ... The credit for this ingenious idea belongs to Max Wilkinson, now living in very active retirement in Essex, who was in 1994 the editor of Weekend FT. However, it was inspired in a roundabout way by the advertising department, which had found a car manufacturer (Vauxhall Motors), anxiously searching for an innovative way of promoting its new executive model, the Omega, and willing to sponsor a series of interviews with well-known people who might be keen to drive an Omega and perhaps give it a discreet mention." (FT)

"The parties are underway in Washington D.C. ahead of the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Last night at the St. Regis, TIME and People threw a cocktail party with drop-ins from a bunch of boldface tvnewsers all enjoying custom flavored custards by Shake Shack.
TIME‘s Managing Editor Rick Stengel (below with Savannah Guthrie) along with and DC bureau chief Michael Duffy, People‘s Managing Editor Larry Hackett, and DC correspondent Sandra Sobieraj Westfall hosted the party." (TvNewser)

"This weekend is the White House Correspondents' Dinner, which means a tornado of beautiful celebrities and media moguls will descend upon Washington to attend the dinner and its dozens of before- and after-parties. Who all is coming? Rumor has it George Clooney and his girlfriend Stacy Kiebler will be coming as guests of TIME Magazine, Sofia Vergara and Elizabeth Banks as guests of ABC, Daniel Day-Lewis as a guest of Huffington Post, Claire Danes as a guest of CBS, Stevie Wonder as a guest of American Urban Radio Networks, and Reese Witherspoon and Viola Davis will be guests of Newsweek--just to name a few." (GuestofaGuest)

"Another week, another episode of Girls with no black people, another Gawker Media piece about why it's fucked up to not include black people in your show about New York, another article from angry neocons attacking Gawker Media. The dust Lena Dunham's new HBO show has managed to kick up thus far is remarkable in light of its relatively average ratings. But it's also noteworthy because far fewer people seemed to care when the crimes of which the show is accused happened before—many times. Though it's taken on different iterations throughout the years, the white-ified TV New York City has served as a backdrop for lots of America's most beloved programs, and there is no sign that that trend is slowing. Hate Girls all you want, but recognize that Dunham is following a precedent that started even before she was born." (Gawker)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Elijah Wood DJ'd Last Night's /BIN Party

last night via jonathankalkin

Last night Elijah Wood Dj'd the /BIN party at Skylight studios -- and he was pretty good. Apparently he has been doing a lot of DJing recently. Up on the roof, the view was magnificent, although the night was a bit chilly (it has been in NYC this week).

image via wovencharlie
Also in the crowd: WIRED EIC Chris Anderson (who earlier in the evening brilliantly explained the 5 new revenue models --  Everybody pays, Majority Pays, Minority Pays, Somebody Else Pays, Nobody Pays -- of the digital age), Box CEO Aaron Levie, Arthur Dobelis and the lovely Victoria Song.
Julian Schnabel and His New Girlfriend, May Andersen

photo by David Barish

This photo of artist Julian Schnabel, who goes through wives/girlfriends like Picasso, and his latest, model/Playboy Playmate May Andersen, was shot by my friend David Barish of the awesome East Village Live blog. As I saw this picture I couldn't help but think about the song "Dangerous Curves."

"Diesel Smoke/ Dangerous Curves ..."
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Rupert Murdoch has apparently lost a great deal of his power of memory, but nature has compensated by endowing him with a vivid imagination. He can surely deploy his new gift in the service of Fox movies. There is the great scene he pitched to Lord Justice Leveson on Wednesday morning where the editor of the Times enters left, closes the door behind him and begs: 'Look, tell me what you want to say, what do you want me to say, and it need not leave this room and I'll say it.' And our hero proprietor, so famously fastidious about such matters, has to tell Uriah Heep: 'That is not my job.' And thus, children, was how Mr KR Murdoch honoured the promises of editorial independence that enabled him to avoid the Monopolies and Mergers Commission over his bid for Times Newspapers in 1981. As the editor in question, I am not able to compete with Murdoch in fabrication – he has had a lifetime of experience – but I do happen to have retained my memory of the year editing the Times, made notes, kept documents and even had the effrontery to write a whole bestselling book about it in 1983, called Good Times, Bad Times. It has gone unchallenged for 30 years in its detailed account of precisely how Murdoch did break all five of the crucial pledges, did press for adopting his rightwing views, did want to know why we reported the Treasury statistics that the recession continued when the government had previously said it had ended. When counsel waved the book in front of him, Murdoch wanted everyone to know he had not read it." (Sir Harry Evans)

"The London Olympics isn’t the only venue for world-class sport this year. Political gold is waiting to be won in November, and the only way to grab the top U.S.A. medal is to master Electoral College math. It is both deceptively easy and maddeningly complex. A candidate has to accumulate 270 votes in a tiny universe of 538, but those 538 will be generated by 130 million votes cast in 51 separate entities. A game that looks like checkers is really multi-dimensional chess. Still, the deep polarization of party politics has simplified the process somewhat. Remarkably, about 40 states — and maybe more — have almost no chance of flipping from one party to the other in the 2012 Electoral College. If President Obama gets his way, the electoral map will look very close to the way it did four years ago; on the other hand, Mitt Romney needs to flip a relative handful of states to take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Obama’s 2008 performance was close to the high-water mark for a modern Democrat: 365 electoral votes (359 under the new 2010 census apportionment). Obama did the seemingly impossible by very narrowly pulling two long-time Republican states, Indiana and North Carolina, to his column and even winning an electoral vote in Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, while narrowly losing Missouri and Montana. Those latter two states are widely believed to have moved out of his reach for 2012. It is a little-known Electoral College tidbit that a president reelected to a second term has always added a state to his coalition that he did not win during his first successful run. Sometimes, in the early days of the Republic, it was a state that didn’t exist during a president’s first bid. But it appears that Obama, if reelected, will break this trend. The only state John McCain won that Obama appears to have a chance of flipping is Arizona, but that is a long shot that would require a massive turnout effort by the Obama campaign among Hispanic voters. To compare 2012 politics to war for a moment, the current electoral map is akin to World War I’s Western Front trench warfare: Massive amounts of manpower and resources will be needed to move the frontlines even a smidgen. And the less the lines move, the better it is for Obama." (Larry Sabato)

"From the lecture it was down to Michael’s Wednesday, and full up. Just inside the door and Mary McFadden, Jackie Weld Drake, Anne Eisenhower and Saundra Whitney were lunching, as you can see. Around the room, a variety of trades and types: Bob Arum, the mega-fight promoter; Jewelle Bickford with Michael Fuchs; Susan Blonde with Javier Colon, James Cohen with the legendary Bo Dietl; Steven Haft, Gerry Imber and Duh Boyz – Della Femina, Greenfield, Bergman. I didn’t see Kramer the playwright. Next door, Hoda Kolb with producer Amy Rosenbloom ..."(NYSocialDiary)

"New Age/New Media guru Arianna Huffington’s love of sleep is well documented. There’s the “sleep your way to the top—literally” TED talk, the sleep challenge and the famous AOL nap rooms. That story that she hides her three BlackBerrys in the bathroom while she sleeps is inextricable from her personal mythology. Repeating it to WWD at the Time 100 Gala this week, she revealed that her PDA brood has grown since the New Yorker profile. 'When I sleep, I put all my devices in another room to charge,' she said,'“I have four BlackBerries, one iPhone, two iPads.' And it seems the increased connectivity demands a new mode of relaxation. She told WWD she’s launching an app called 'the GPS for the Soul.' ;It’s a way for us to identify our stress levels and course-correct,' she said." (Observer)

"But I’ve lived in Europe most of my life. What Obama and his media catamites have to say about the rich or well-born I’ve been hearing all my life in the Old Continent, and then some. Even my old man blamed it on the class system, one that had performed swimmingly since Roman times until well past World War I. There was an upstairs and a downstairs; you’ve seen Downton Abbey and know the rest. People knew their places and stuck to them. Pliny the Younger had two houses, one more showy than the other, where elegant food was matched by deep thought, clever chat, and stunning scenery. It was a Platonic ideal of dining, an event where all the elements were in perfect harmony, although I’m not sure the servants agreed. Listening to some European protesters nowadays, one would think that nothing has changed since Pliny’s time ... The decline of the upstairs-downstairs system had something to do with the general cultural decline. It began with a healthy challenge to deference from below and became a crisis of nerves from above. The people who belonged to the Establishment, the old authority figures—and by that I don’t mean only lords of the manor and millionaires, but also teachers, religious leaders, and politicians—no longer believe in the ethos that made them what they were. They no longer feel able to uphold traditional values. Parents, bombarded by generations of lifestyle gurus on bringing up their children, simply lost the plot. Respect for one’s elders is now an alien concept ... Most people I grew up with never swore, and I don’t think my mother would have recognized a swear word if she heard it. She was kinder to people who worked for a living than, say, a countess or a princess of the blood, and in a way I’m glad she’s no longer around to see our current mess." (Taki)

"Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin asked for a meeting with Spanx creator Sara Blakely after the secretary of state spoke at the Time 100 Gala. Tuesday’s event to celebrate Time Magazine’s '100 Most Influential People in the World' issue was packed with moguls, leaders and newsmakers including Jeremy Lin, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Harvey Weinstein, and Rihanna — but it was Blakely whom Abedin, wife of Anthony Weiner, most wanted to meet before she and Clinton left the Time Warner Center, An event organizer was dispatched to Blakely’s table to ask her to come over, and the Spanx sensation was soon seen in deep conversation with Clinton ... Clinton didn’t reveal much about her next move, saying, 'As I finish off my term as secretary of state and eventually get to a point where I can put my feet up and enjoy just being a citizen again . . . We need to continue what America does best.' The night ended in raucous style with Tilda Swinton and pals poking fun at Angelina Jolie by posing in front of the Time backdrop, striking Jolie’s famous right-leg Oscar pose." (PageSix)

"That’s how I think about the memorial to Norris Church Mailer which happened at The Players Club on April 22nd. I couldn’t be there. But my good friend, Maury Hopson who had charge of my flowing locks for the recent Annie Leibovitz photo in Times Square, has written me a heartfelt paragraph on the late wife of Norman Mailer – one Norris Church. Needless to say, Norris was about the most adorable woman to ever come into Norman’s orbit. Her recent memoir, A Ticket to the Circus, was a refreshing, great, uncensored screed to love, romance, sex and how a beautiful girl from Arkansas caused an American literary idol to fall for her. The aftermath became novelistic history. She also became a wonderful painter, writer and the caring mother of all of Norman's children. But here’s Maury: 'She was quite a force and she was another friend who leaves a hole in all of our hearts. The program ended with a great still photo of her with Norman and a hauntingly beautiful song 'You’ll Come Back (You Always Do)' with lyrics by Norman, sung in a gorgeous voice by Norris herself.'" (Liz Smith/NySocialDiary)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Elsa Hosk by Guy Aroch Closing Party

Last night's closing exhibit party at Milk Made for Elsa by Guy Aroch was, even by Milk's legenadary standards, a swishy affair. A swell time was had by all.

The photographs, of gorgeous Victoria's Secret model Elsa Hosk, are intimate: taken mostly in the late 80s -- two years of documenting -- when Guy Aroch came to New York to make it big, and Elsa was just comign of age in the modelling world.

Because the two were friends, there is a closeness that comes out in the photos, many of which are nudes, semi-nudes and in intimate settings. Spotted among the crowd:  Jesper Dahl, David Barish, Elsa Hosk, Nitya Chandra, Hissa Igarashi, Mazdak Rassi
Dominque Paul at AC Institute

Revelation 3/
European Collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Last Friday I had the exquisite pleasure of getting a private tour of artist Dominique Paul's work now at the AC Institute. I am, as readers of this blog know, a fan.

Mixing experimental video, costume design and a deep knowledge of studio art, Paul's works can only be properly construed as postmodern: political, a compendium of all that has gone before and operating in many different media at once. Actually, the scope -- and the amount of time (sometimes years) -- of what she does is positively breathtaking. The AC Institute show opens with Revelation 3 (above), an astonishing work -- a photograph -- updating of an Old Master work, with Dominique Paul in a self-designed dress of plastic bottles (playing the holy Mother), wonderfully lit from underneath with soft blue internally. Lighting, and issues of the environment (recycling, the amount of inorganic plastic we produce) are big on Paul's radar, as, obviously, is the history of Art.


Another piece, Pandora, also is heavily influenced by environmentalism and Old Masters and what I like to call The Mystery of Light. Paul uses plastic bottles and eggs containers and Pandora is lit with three different types of white light which become orange blue and green when interacting with the piece.

Prometheus 2

The third piece comes from the Prometheus collection -- my favorite of hers. It involves endangered animals, stuffed, and illuminated by the artist in a self-designed dress of plastic bottles and egg crates.

Of Dominque Paul's work, her bio reads: "To counter the evanescence of the body relating to the screens she builds translucent structures surrounding the body that are lit from the inside. The body becomes visible in the dark and may have the power to shed light on its immediate surroundings. The structures are made from recycled clear plastic containers being transformed by light into what appears now to be a precious material. She participates in a 're-enchantment' of the world." And re-enchant she does.

Domique Paul's work will be on display at 547 W. 27th St. #610 and the AC (Exit) Project Space New York until Sunday, April 29th. If you are in the area Thursday or Friday doing the Chelsea art crawl, I highly recommend you stop by.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, took what our President calls a shellacking on Sunday night. Sarkozy is running for reëlection, and in the first round of voting, he came in second place to the Socialist Party candidate, François Hollande, who has been heavily favored to beat him, and is even more heavily favored to do so again when the two men go head-to-head in a runoff vote, two weeks from now. Never before in the history of the Fifth Republic (as French broadcasters repeatedly intoned while the votes were being counted) has an incumbent of the Elysée Palace failed to win the first round. But it’s not news that the French are sick of Sarkozy; and they don’t much like Hollande, either, except in so far as he is the anti-Sarkozy. To many French voters, the choice this year is so depressing that it feels like whoever wins, France loses. On Sunday, however, the turnout at the polls was much higher than expected, and the really big loser was Europe. Combined, Hollande and Sarkozy claimed only about fifty-five per cent of the vote; the rest went to seven other candidates—mostly to Marine Le Pen, of the far-right National Front (18.2 per cent), and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, of the far-left Parti de Gauche (11.1 per cent). Le Pen is seen as the heir to French fascism, and Mélenchon as the last gasp of French communism, but, as the saying goes, 'les extremes se touchent': both are anti-globalization nationalists who call for protectionist policies that amount to rejection of European integration and the European Union. Le Pen stands for withdrawal from the euro and the E.U., and Mélenchon stands for policies that would necessitate such a withdrawal. Support for the far right and far left in France is usually described as a protest vote. But in this election, voting for Hollande is a protest vote, too; and while Hollande supports and defends the E.U. and France’s part in it, he originally called for throwing out the compact by which the E.U. is contending with its dire financial crisis—and he now calls for renegotiating it in a way that is bound to put France at odds with Germany and weaken its standing as a leader of the Continent." (NewYorker)

"Time rolled out the red carpet for its annual Top 100 bash at Jazz at Lincoln Center at the Time Warner Building last night, and Media Ink had an exclusive look at who the weekly deemed to be the most influential people in the world this year — and who showed up to share the spotlight. Although there are 33 tables in all, there are a few power tables that generated the most sparks ... The megawatt tables appeared to be 7, 8 and 9 in the second tier, with 9 actually looking like the top spot — where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin were chatting it up with the newly minted Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Time’s top editor, Rick Stengel ... Clinton was introduced by Stengel, who made the comment that she could be elected president of any country that she visited. Clinton replied, 'Welcome to my announcement to run for president — of Malta.' She added, 'Aside from the dictators — and I’m not just talking about my friend Harvey (Weinstein) — this is truly an inspired list.' A close second in the mega-wattage department was Table 8, where Stephen Colbert, who delivered zingers to some of the honorees, and NBC News anchor Brian Williams were breaking bread with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and Time Inc. Editor-in-Chief John Huey. Colbert joked about Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown coed who complained that she could not get her birth control paid for under her health insurance; Colbert likened it to Dolan not having his Viagra covered. Realizing he might have gone to far with the joke, he said, 'It’s OK, I’m Catholic. I can always go to confession.' Colbert also singled out influential conservative Republican businessman David Koch, up at third-tier Table 15: 'If David Koch likes his waiter tonight, he will be your next congressman.' Colbert also quipped, 'Given the state of the publishing industry, this might be the only way to sell 100 copies of any magazine.'" (KeithKelly)

"When Glencore, the world's biggest commodities brokerage firm, went public in May 2011, the initial public offering (IPO) on the London and Hong Kong stock exchanges made headlines for weeks in the Financial Times and the trade-industry press, which devoted endless columns to the company's astonishing valuation of nearly $60 billion -- higher than Boeing or Ford Motor Co. The massive new wealth turned nearly 500 employees into overnight multimillionaires and made billionaires of at least five senior executives, including CEO Ivan Glasenberg. 'We are not going to change the way we operate," vowed Glasenberg, who had started as a lowly coal trader for the Swiss firm nearly three decades earlier and, with the IPO, immediately became one of Europe's richest men. "Being public will have absolutely no effect on the business.' And what a business it is. The firm was forced to pull back the curtain on its famously secretive doings to go public, and what it revealed shocked even seasoned commodities traders. Glencore, which Reuters once called 'the biggest company you never heard of,' turned out to be far more globally dominant than analysts had realized. According to its 1,637-page IPO prospectus, the company controlled more than half the international tradable market in zinc and copper and about a third of the world's seaborne coal; was one of the world's largest grain exporters, with about 9 percent of the global market; and handled 3 percent of daily global oil consumption for customers ranging from state-owned energy companies in Brazil and India to American multinationals like ExxonMobil and Chevron. All of which, the prospectus said, helped the firm post revenues of $186 billion in 2011 and employ some 55,000 people in at least 40 countries, generating an average return on equity of 38 percent, about three times higher than that of the gold-standard investment bank Goldman Sachs in 2010. Since then, the company has only gotten vaster in scale.? (ForeignPolicy)

"A 'polite' crew from the District Attorney’s office served Fox Mole Joe Muto with a search warrant at 6:30 this morning, Mr. Muto said on Twitter. Officers took his iPhone, laptop and old notebooks, he wrote, adding that, according to the warrant, he is being investigated for charges including grand larceny. 'They’re pretty worked up over a clip of Romney talking about his horses,” Mr. Muto wrote of the unaired Fox News video footage he published on Gawker. Nick Denton’s news site thought the clip was worth $5,000, five times the threshold for grand larceny in New York. 'I should have done something more innocuous, like hacked a dead girl’s phone and interfered with a police investigation,' he added, referring to Fox News parent company News Corp.’s ongoing phone hacking and bribery scandal. The scandal thrust chief Rupert Murdoch in the spotlight again today in another installment of the Leveson inquiry. Testifying before a judge, a rehearsed, confident Mr. Murdoch denied asking any favors of Prime Ministers and claimed Gordon Brown misled Parliament when he said Murdoch tabloids hacked his family’s medical records. In the inquiry, Mr. Murdoch slammed the once-rampant phone hacking practice as a 'lazy way of reporters not doing their job,' but maintained that the celebrities, politicians and public figures—including himself—should be subject to greater scrutiny." (Observer)

"Three years ago in Taki’s Magazine, before all of Tiger’s problems with his now ex-wife surfaced, I pointed out that Woods had become massively more muscular before our eyes in 2006-07. This was puzzling, since looking like a GI Joe action figure isn’t essential to golf. For instance, as a 24-year-old in 2000, Woods had won the US Open at Pebble Beach by a record 15 strokes while wearing a shirt that appeared several sizes too large for his then-wiry frame. Now we finally know what the bodybuilding was about. According to insider Hank Haney’s book The Big Miss, Tiger had long been fascinated by the Navy SEAL commandos. His father Earl had been a lieutenant colonel in the US Army Special Forces, and the only thing cooler than a Green Beret is a SEAL. (Just under a year ago, SEAL Team Six assassinated Osama bin Laden.)  Around the time his father died in May 2006, Tiger transformed himself physically to see if he had what it takes to make it in the SEALs as an overage new recruit. When Woods went on a three-day paratroop training session before the 2006 US Open (in which he missed the cut), Haney unloaded on him in an email: 'With the U.S. Open 18 days away, do you think it was a good idea to go on a Navy SEALs mission? You need to get that whole SEALs thing out of your system and stick to playing Navy SEAL on the video games. I can tell by the way you are talking and acting that you still want to become a Navy SEAL. Man, are you crazy?' Woods kept up his strenuous military sojourns well into 2007." (Takimag)

"'Act professionally. Act professionally! Don't be argumentative with the candidate.' It was January of 2008, the last time Romney ran for president, and Fehrnstrom was getting in the face of an Associated Press reporter in a Staples store in South Carolina. The reporter, Glen Johnson, had just challenged Romney during a press conference, interrupting him in the middle of a claim that he didn't have lobbyists working on his campaign—Mitt definitely did—and when the press conference was over, Romney rushed after Johnson to press his case.  'Listen to my words, all right? Listen to my words,' Romney sputtered, smiling through gritted teeth. That's when Fehrnstrom stepped in and cornered Johnson in front of a Post-it notes display. 'You should act a little bit more professionally instead of being argumentative with the candidate,' he hissed at Johnson. 'It's out of line. You're out of line.' The exchange, which was caught on camera, became a brief YouTube sensation, a rare glimpse at the sort of aggressive press-management tactics that are usually employed over the phone or at a hotel bar rather than out in the open at an office-supplies superstore. But for politicos and journalists back in Boston, the video was mostly a source of amusement. They'd witnessed Fehrnstrom tearing into a reporter on Romney's behalf plenty of times before. But him lecturing someone else about journalism ethics? Now that was rich. Before he went into politics, Fehrnstrom was a reporter himself—and a notorious one at that. He worked for the Boston Herald—the tabloid rival to the more staid Boston Globe—which prided itself on its feisty, muckraking metro coverage. As a Rupert Murdoch owned paper, the Herald's political mission was simple: Make life miserable for Massachusetts Democrats. 'The Herald was like the schoolyard bully,' Howie Carr, the legendary Boston brawler who was the paper's top columnist and animating spirit, told me. 'We were all about finding people and kicking them when they were down. And then we'd laugh about it.' With Michael Dukakis gearing up to run for president in 1988, there was never a riper target for kicking, so the Herald'seditors moved Fehrnstrom from the police beat to politics. The hard-hitting scoops he dug up about the state's budget crunch may have been motivated by spite for a Democratic presidential contender, but the stories themselves were fair, substantive, and uniquely damaging. At one point, George H. W. Bush actually brandished copies of the Herald on the stump, turning one of Dukakis's core strengths—his cultivated reputation for fiscal competence—into a crippling liability. Today, Dukakis is philosophical about the teardown job that Fehrnstrom, Carr, and the rest of the Herald did on him.  'I'd say, 'Look guys...don't waste time with that paper,'' Dukakis told me. 'The Herald is the Herald.'" (GQ)

"'I'm looking at the cardboard cutout over there and thinking that's Bill,' Gayle King said last night at the Waldorf Astoria, where the legendary Bill Cunningham was being honored with the Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence. "I feel stupid with two Os. I was thinking, 'Wow, he's taking pictures at his own party.' In fact, that's exactly what the real Bill Cunningham was busy doing. Surrounded by some of his favorite subjects, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Linda Fargo, Mercedes Bass, and Annette de la Renta (all of whom had come 'dressed for Bill'), the shutterbug snapped away with his camera. 'Bill is like a war photographer. If he's talking to you and sees something going on, he'll leave mid-sentence,' Paper's Kim Hastreiter told 'Bill used to run after me on the street and photograph me because I used to dress crazy back in 1976 and we just became friends,' Hastreiter went on. 'Then one time the photo ended up in The New York Times—I remember I was wearing this coat made out of a Hudson's Bay blanket.' Many ladies last night were musing over the thrill of their first Bill photo: 'There's really nothing like the first time; you can't compare anything to that,' said Alexandra Lebenthal." (Style)

"Yesterday at noon at '21,' the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club held its fourth annual luncheon and honored Somers Farkas. The Club which was founded in 1919 is the only private organization in the New York area which provides accommodations at subsidized rates, as well as club-type facilities for servicemen and servicewomen, military retires and veterans and their families visiting the city.  The club is not affiliated with the US federal government, the state or the city. It is private and not–for profit. Ivan Obolensky, a nephew of the late Vincent Astor, and son of Alice Astor and Serge Obolensky, is a long time supporter and the club’s CEO, and has worked hard to maintain its founding credo: 'Service To Those Who Have Served Our Country.'  To make a tax-deductible donation, click here." (NYSocialDiary)

"The Skyy Vodka/Spin Magazine party at the Reniassance Resort in Palm Springs had one of the best vibes during Coachella weekend #2. The liquor brand's new coconut flavor made for a sweet treat in the desert heat, which called for plenty of floppy hats, huge sunglasses and flip-flops courtesy of Havaianas (which had a customization booth). DJs including Ana Calderon, spun splashy, funky and rockin' tunes for the colorful crowd." (Papermag)
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 reversed a process that had been under way since the Russian Empire's emergence in the 17th century. It was ultimately to incorporate four general elements: Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Caucasus and Siberia. The St. Petersburg-Moscow axis was its core, and Russia, Belorussia and Ukraine were its center of gravity. The borders were always dynamic, mostly expanding but periodically contracting as the international situation warranted. At its farthest extent, from 1945 to 1989, it reached central Germany, dominating the lands it seized in World War II. The Russian Empire was never at peace. As with many empires, there were always parts of it putting up (sometimes violent) resistance and parts that bordering powers coveted -- as well as parts of other nations that Russia coveted. The Russian Empire subverted the assumption that political and military power requires a strong economy: It was never prosperous, but it was frequently powerful. The Russians defeated Napoleon and Hitler and confronted the far wealthier Americans for more than four decades in the Cold War, in spite of having a less developed or less advanced economy. Its economic weakness certainly did undermine its military power at times, but to understand Russia, it is important to begin by understanding that the relationship between military and economic power is not a simple one." (STRAFOR)

"By 2008 more than 40% of Nigerians were mobile-phone subscribers. But according to U.N. human-development indexes, over 60% of these people were poor—living on less than $2 a day. Drivers of battered old taxis and pavement-stall sellers were suddenly talking and texting, buying and selling. Meanwhile entrepreneurial middle-class Africans, many of whom had studied outside their own countries, took advantage of the economic growth and newly available communications to set up service businesses. It was a good decade in Africa. For Mr. Severino, in 'Africa's Moment,' what matters now is the demographics: the coming African population explosion and the mass movement of people from rural areas to towns. The population boom is partly due to a decline in infant mortality. According to the World Bank, in 1970 there were 136 deaths per thousand live births; by 2009, the number had dropped to 72.6. But the birthrate itself remains very high in many African nations. The U.S. fertility rate is estimated at 2.1, Europe's is 1.59. Sub-Saharan Africa's is estimated at 4.94. One simple fact is clear: Many Africans want to have many children. Africa, Mr. Severino notes, had a fifth of the world's population in 1500 and then suffered four centuries of mortal disruption. It is only now catching up. But this raises a question. Historically, when populations have exploded—such as Europe's in the 19th century—the answer was emigration. But tomorrow's young Africans will have nowhere to go. The African population boom, Mr. Severino believes, will be 'the most incredible demographic adventure that human history has ever known. A time neither for rejoicing nor for fear, but simply for recognizing the facts. . . . Africa's demographic advance over the next fifty years is unstoppable. The worst thing to do would be to ignore it.'" (WSJ)

"I went to Michael’s to lunch with Blair Sabol who writes her No Holds Barred column for NYSD. She is in town working on another column about a singer. JH joined us. Michael’s was busy but especially notable to us regulars because in the bay at Table One George Lucas was lunching at that big round table with just Martin Scorsese. It was a long one too. They were talking seriously. All eyes (no ears – as noisy as the place can get, the sound doesn’t carry when it grows quieter). But people were wondering what. So this was today’s movie. Meanwhile, a few tables away the mogul Harvey Weinstein was lunching with Brian Roberts of Comcast. His seat was set, coincidentally so that he could look right across the room at Lucas and Scorsese. So some of us were wondering if Weinstein knew what they were talking about or if in fact he put them together (you never know), or if he wanted to know. Or if he saw an opportunity. After he finished his lunch, he went over to their table." (NYSocialDiary)

"If you're reading this in the bathroom, stay there--it'll have that much more relevance. In Full Service--the tell-all book by old-time Hollywood hustler/pimp Scott Bowers--the esteemed Mr. Bowels, I mean Bowers, talks about at least two old-time movie stars who thought a number two was a perfect 10. According to a book review by Andrew Holleran in The Gay & Lesbian Review, Bowers reveals that Tyrone Power had a predilection for 'the pee and the poo.' And now we know why he starred in Abandon Ship, not Abandon S**t. But blustery, brilliant Oscar winner Charles Laughton could top that. Bowers wrote that Laughton once put together a sandwich in the kitchen while Bowers and an assigned hustler watched. Writes Holleran: 'Having arranged the lettuce, tomato, and buttered bread, Laughton needs only one more ingredient--provided by the hustler during a quick trip to the bathroom--after which the lettuce and tomatoes reappear with a light brown smear.' No, it wasn't Nutella ... That led the hustler to amusingly whisper to Bowers, 'Why did he even take the trouble to wash the fucking lettuce and tomatoes'?" (Michael Musto)

"Here is a rare picture of notorious New York photographer Terry Richardson and his girlfriend of somewhere around a year, Audrey Gelman, posted to Richardson’s blog. Why are there so few pictures of them? Ms. Gelman has an image to manage. Not hers, of course, but that of her boss: Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer, widely considered a contender in the 2013 New York City mayoral election. She’s his press secretary. Stringer might be able to pull the likes of Scarlett Johansson to support his campaign, but Gelman doesn’t do too bad with her own press: We hear the good friend of Lena Dunham has a cameo in the first season of HBO’s Girls." (Observer)

"Hugh Hefner in an editorial for the May issue of Playboy magazine slammed the GOP presidential field as 'repressed conservatives' who are 'pounding on America's bedroom door.' Hefner warned readers of his empire’s flagship magazine that members of the Republican Party are waging a 'war on sex.' The phrase — which serves as the title of the editorial — is a new spin on a raging political battle over contraception and federal funding for Planned Parenthood that Democrats have called the “war on women.” But Hefner makes an argument some Democrats have rejected by returning the fraught debate to the issue of “sexual liberation.” Many Democrats have argued that contraception is an element of women’s healthcare, rebuffing Republicans who bring up sexual behavior. Many of the Republican presidential candidates, including those that have dropped out of the 2012 race, opposed the White House’s mandate earlier this year for employers to include contraception as part of employee insurance coverage without charging a co-pay, and have also proposed defunding Planned Parenthood. Hefner calls out Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul in his article as the worst offenders. 'If these zealots have their way, our hard-won sexual liberation — women’s rights, reproductive rights and rights to privacy — lie in peril,' Hefner wrote. 'We won’t let that happen,' he continued. 'Welcome to the new sexual revolution.' The editorial, of course, is included in a magazine that features pictures of nude women." (TheHill)