Saturday, September 29, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"One thing is clear: the U.S. military, according to my sources, currently has no interest in a preventive strike. 'The idea that we'll attack with Israel is remote, so you can take that off your list of options,' former Centcom commander Joe Hoar told me. Nor will the United States join an Israeli attack once it starts, the senior U.S. planner said. 'We know there are senior Iranians egging for a fight with us, particularly in their Navy,' a retired Centcom officer added. 'And we'll give them one if they want one, but we're not going to go piling in simply because the Israelis want us to.'That puts the military shoulder to shoulder with the president. Obama and the military may have clashed on other issues, like the Afghan surge, but when it comes to Iran, they are speaking with one voice: They don't want Iran to get a nuclear weapon, they don't want Israel to start a war over it, and they don't believe an Israeli attack should automatically trigger U.S. intervention. But, if they are to avoid becoming part of Israel's plans, they first need to know what those plans are. Three high-level U.S. military and intelligence sources have told me that Centcom has identified three options for Israel should it decide to take preventive military action against Iran. The first and most predictable option calls for a massed Israeli Air Force bombing campaign targeting key Iranian nuclear sites. Such an assault would be coupled with strikes from submarine-launched cruise missiles and Israeli-based medium-range Jericho II and long-range Jericho III missiles, according to a highly placed U.S. military officer. The attack may well be preceded by -- or coupled with -- a coordinated cyber and electronic warfare attack." (ForeignPolicy)

"Earlier this year, Clinton inadvertently helped the Romney campaign, causing some consternation at Obama's campaign headquarters, after he said that Romney had a 'sterling' business career at a time when the president’s team was trying to rip his credentials as an executive. At the same time, Clinton suggested that it might be problematic for the Obama campaign to slam Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, the private equity firm. 'I don’t think we ought to get into the position where we say this is bad work,' Clinton told CNN. 'This is good work.'  But observers have credited Clinton in recent days with helping to boost the Obama campaign at time when the president needed it most. Tobe Berkovitz, a professor at Boston University who specializes in political communication, acknowledged that Clinton is one contributing factor for Obama’s rise in the polls, in addition to a lackluster convention for Romney coupled with repeated gaffes including his now infamous 47 percent line.  But he said that Clinton was able to lend Obama some credibility by extending the 'positive halo' surrounding Clinton. 'It certainly doesn’t hurt with the base and with swing and undecided voters when the most charismatic and most popular politician around is aggressively supporting the president,' Berkovitz said. 'He connects with voters in a way that Obama doesn’t.'" (TheHill)

"Clinton — whose popularity has moved up steadily almost every year since the end of his scandal-ridden presidency — is a uniquely effective messenger. 'There’s a testimony that Clinton and only Clinton can give, which is: ‘I know how to build an economy that works, and this president is doing the right things,’' Begala said. 'It allows the debate to be eight years of Democratic economics, which is exactly the stuff that President Obama is trying to enact, versus eight years of Republican economics, which is exactly the stuff that Romney wants to go back to.' And the Obama campaign isn’t pretending otherwise. The Obama ad that featured a laid back Clinton chatting about helping the middle class — building up to 'that’s what happened when I was president' — has already aired almost 16,000 times in its first month on the air, making it the most-run spot of the campaign, Bloomberg News reported Thursday. The Obama campaign has been eager to use Clinton on additional stops after his post-convention swing through Florida, and the planning is underway for where those will be for after the New Hampshire trip next week." (Politico)

"Former Gov. David Paterson and his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, have separated after 19 years of marriage, Page Six can exclusively reveal. Paterson’s rep, Sean Darcy, confirmed to us yesterday that the couple — who both admitted to past affairs when he took office — have parted ways, adding that their decision is 'mutual and amicable' but giving no further comment on the breakup. A source close to the ex-pol told Page Six that the two had actually been 'separated for some months' and that Paterson, 58, had moved out of the Harlem home he shared with Michelle, 51. They have not formally filed for divorce. Spies have recently noticed Paterson out and about at various social events around town. 'He’s been charming and flirtatious' with the fairer sex, a source said, adding that the ex-gov has been spotted 'passing along his private number' to a few ladies ... Earlier this year, The Post revealed that Michelle was shopping a tell-all to publishers about her life in the public eye and that it would detail some of the couple’s past marital struggles. Paterson has weathered accusations of extramarital affairs, which he’s strongly denied. A source close to the couple insists there’s no third party involved with their split. The Post reported in 2010 that Paterson was spotted kissing the neck of a woman at a New Jersey steakhouse and that he was caught in an encounter with a woman in a closet at the Albany governor’s mansion. The reports were strongly shot down by Paterson’s reps at the time." (PageSix)

"Ten years ago this week I put my money down and The American Conservative magazine was born. They say that owning a yacht is like sitting under a shower tearing up hundred-dollar bills. Owning an opinion magazine based in Washington, DC is like sitting in a dull hotel room throwing thousand-dollar bills to the fire. A boat will at least get you some attention from the fairer sex—if it’s large and vulgar enough, that is—whereas a political fortnightly might attract some bores with lotsa dandruff on their collars, but that’s about it. For starters, Washington is as boring a town as they come. A large percentage of the people who work there might be women, but they certainly don’t line the bars at night looking for horny Greeks. After millions spent, there were a couple ladies to speak of—both Southern belles—who had nothing to do with the magazine. I had two partners, Pat Buchanan and Scott McConnell, both of whom I treated equally by giving them the same amount of shares free of charge as I gave myself. It was not the smartest of moves, but I’m an impulsive sort of character and much too impatient to think things out. Pat Buchanan had run for president three times and is still Mr. Conservative as far as I’m concerned. McConnell was the editor, and I had trouble with him from the beginning, as I tend to go for the jugular at times, whereas he prefers the friendly persuasion approach to politics. Pat, Scott, and I held a press conference in the National Press Club building in Washington for the launch, where I realized from the word go how deeply mistrusted and loathed is anyone who describes himself as a paleoconservative." (Taki Theodoracopoulos)

"I knew Brooke Astor for more than a quarter of a century. She had approached me after a New York Public Library trustees meeting and complimented me lavishly on one of my books. She asked a few trenchant questions. Then she said, 'Would you care to come for tea?' Would I? Of course I would. After that there followed invitations to grand lunches and coveted dinners, small gatherings, and 'just us two' ones. Soon I discovered that the private Mrs. Astor was a maverick. At a dinner party she gave for Schuyler Chapin, when he had just become commissioner of cultural affairs for New York City, he stood and said, 'I can never understand how I, who never went to college, am now commissioner of cultural affairs.' At which point Brooke piped up, 'Well, Schuyler, neither can we.' At library meetings of the nominating committee, Brooke exhibited what my mother used to call 'steel under velvet.' At one such meeting, the name came up of a vastly wealthy person, who I doubt had ever read a book. Everyone seemed dazzled by the money, but when it got to Brooke she said, 'I understand perfectly why this person would benefit the library monetarily. If you wish to elect him to the board, that’s fine with me. I have only one caveat, I would have to resign.' Over the years, Brooke voted against two other wealthy men as well, one because when she and her beloved Vartan Gregorian had gone to his office to ask for a library contribution, he sat with his feet on the desk and never rose to greet them. The second she later told me in private, 'Because he smokes cigars in the elevator'—they then lived in the same building—'and uses four-letter words.'" (TheDailyBeast)

"In the style-obsessed auditoriums that play host to the world’s fashion weeks, when someone mentions a 'star designer' they are not usually referring to an architect. If Rem Koolhaas, for example, who has done as much as anyone to craft Prada’s retail image, were to attend Prada’s show, he would go largely unremarked. If James Carpenter, responsible for the image renovation of Gucci’s stores under creative director Frida Giannini, were to sit front and centre at Gucci, it wouldn’t cause a stir. But this week in Paris, when Peter Marino walks into the Chanel show – and the Dior show, and the Céline show, and the Louis Vuitton show (all brands for which he has created stores) – flashbulbs will go off, people will call his name and photographs of him in the front row will go viral on the internet .. It is possible to see Marino’s entire career as a flight from the middle: from the middle class, which he was born into and earned his way out of; from the middle market, where he never works; from middle America, which would look at him in wonder ...I have known Marino a few years now; we see each other at fashion shows, or the openings of stores he has created, or sometimes at the dinner table of the designer Azzedine Alaïa. He is always very loud and very entertaining and makes everyone laugh, playing his part to the hilt. But while there are a lot of reasons for him to have Lunch with the FT – an exhibition in Paris of Marino’s first original bronzes (€160,000 each; he has, he tells me, sold 10 already); his recent winning of a commission for a spa and retail complex in Beirut ahead of Zaha Hadid and Norman Foster; the fact that he is the only fashion world player, as far as I know, who is able to work for rival brands, such as Chanel, Dior and Armani, all at the same time – the really interesting thing about Peter Marino is how his extraordinary appearance works to burnish, or tarnish, his cv." (FT)

"If you're a porn star and you learn that a bunch of other porn stars have a bad STD, what you want to know right away is if you've fucked any of those people. This August, a syphilis outbreak plunged the San Fernando Valley's multibillion dollar porn industry into chaos, and any information about the origins and extent of the scourge was maddeningly sparse. So when the porn gossip blogger Mike South confirmed the identity of the outbreak's 'patient zero' as a porn star who'd covered up his positive syphilis test, the relief was palpable among performers who could now at least roughly gauge their own exposure. It was another scoop in the long career of Mike South, the gonzo king of porn gossip. With sometimes questionable tactics but undeniable perseverance, Mike South has done more than any one person to expose the dark side of the porn industry he loves. South, 54 years old, is a small-time porn producer and actor, but his unfiltered personality and reporting chops have made his gossip blog, (NSFW), a must-read in the smut industry. For more than a decade, South has churned out a pungent mix of rumors, rants and essays, sprinkled with the occasional gallery of girls from the amateur porn sites—Southern Bukkake is his biggest—he runs to pay the bills. If, as Ron Jeremy has said, the porn industry is like a family, Mike South is the know-it-all uncle you'd avoid at reunions if he wasn't right so much of the time. 'Anyone with any amount of influence in the industry reads Mike South,' said Alec Helmy, owner of the porn industry trade publication Xbiz.' He is the king of porn gossip today.' Though South won't say how many pageviews he gets per day, he says it's 'in the thousands.' A major scoop can bring in tens of thousands of pageviews. A large part of what makes South such a phenomenon is his fearless—some would say reckless—railing against the entrenched institutions and figureheads of the adult industry. The porn industry sometimes seems to combine the oversized egos of Hollywood with the inscrutable power structures of organized crime. Mike South Hulk-smashes through it all with an anarchic distrust of all concentrated power and a Wikileaks-style taste for radical transparency. He's a self-styled defender of porn's powerless and self-described 'gun-totin' Libertarian.' 'When somebody mistreats the talent, or somebody does something scummy, that's a story and that's why a lot of people within the industry turn to my blog because it is a mirror on them,' South said. 'It lets the industry take a look at itself and sometimes say, ‘Well maybe there are some things we need to change, or maybe we do need to reign that person in.'" (Gawker)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Jimmy Crystal New York & Swarovski Elements Illuminated Elegance

Last night at their show room Jimmy Crystal threw a wondeful bash, the Illuminated Elegance Event.Very interesting personal styles going on in that room. Live music, wine, models and one of the most interesting guests I've run into in a while.

Spotted in the crowd: Tatiana Vidus, Sandro Rosario, MTV Korea's Claudine Benoit, Stacy Igel, Niecee R'driguez, SpryLeeScott and Patrice Covington.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"So with 40 days to go, we’re moving several toss-up states in the president’s direction. Our changes push Obama over the magic 270 mark, but we are not calling the race. First, the debates are yet to come. There is at least the possibility that, if Romney fares particularly well or Obama does poorly, the drift of this contest could change. Second, other events — international (a crisis) or domestic (dramatically poor economic numbers) — could theoretically occur to re-write the narrative of the race. So caution is always in order with almost six weeks to go, yet President Obama clearly leads at the moment. These rating changes move five of our eight toss-up states into Obama’s column, giving him 290 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206, with Colorado, Florida and New Hampshire as toss-ups (42 votes). Obviously, Romney needs to turn some of the blue on this map to red, or this race will be over. And much of Obama’s territory is unavailable to him: the states won by both Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 add up to 242 electoral votes on this map. Other than Wisconsin, Romney appears to have little chance of winning any of the other Gore/Kerry states. And the Badger State, despite Paul Ryan’s presence on the ticket, appears to be moving away from him as well. Provided Romney wins the three toss-ups, he will then need to pry another 22 electoral votes from Obama. And that will be difficult: Of all the states at least leaning toward Obama in our ratings, the president’s smallest polling lead, based on the RealClearPolitics average from mid-day on Wednesday, was four points in Iowa." (SabataosCrystallBall)

"One interesting meeting of this year’s United Nations General Assembly took place at the Mark Hotel, where Daw Aung San Suu Kyi met with Myanmar President U Thein Sein for a long discussion. The Nobel laureate, who lived under house arrest for 15 years and is the Myanmar opposition leader, met Sein for two hours at the Upper East Side hotel’s restaurant this week and was seen smiling as she left. The meeting raised optimism about the future of a country under military rule for half a century. Suu Kyi has said she had only met with Sein, a former general, a few times, and while praising his help to recognize her party the National League for Democracy, she said the move to democracy was fragile." (PageSix)

"Also this past Monday night the American Theatre Wing honored the Redgrave Family at its annual gala at the Plaza Hotel. The evening honored the Redgrave family's six generations of outstanding work and invaluable contributions to the theatre. The evening also honored Theodore Chapin, Executive Director of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization and for his work as chairman of the American Theatre Wing. The Redgrave family has been on the forefront of the creative arts for more than a century. Six generations of Redgraves and their spouses have included such celebrated artists as Michael Redgrave, Rachel Kempson, Vanessa Redgrave, Lynn Redgrave, Corin Redgrave, Natasha Richardson, Liam Neeson, Franco Nero, Joely Richardson, Jemma Redgrave, director Carlo Nero, and photographer Annabel Clark." (NYSocialDiary)

"As part of its 'Intoxication Nation' series, 'a crazy land where Charlie Sheen is the mayor and Courtney Love is the sheriff" (according to actress Kristen Johnston, who's a recovered alcoholic) ABC's '20/20' warned viewers it would show them 'what the kids are doing.'  This, according to the conventions of television, could not be good. The only question really, was the degree of plausible depravity. Vodka-soaked tampons? Check. Eyeball shots? Check. Gobbling booze-infused Gummi Bears because they want to live in crazy land all the time? Check. Once upon a time, Nirvana's 'Smells like Teen Spirit' demanded the world entertain us; now, according to '20/20,' this generation of kids have found their entertainment in Katy Perry: they want to smell like minibars.  The horror. And it's all the alcohol industry's fault. As Koren Zailckas, the author of Smashed, a memoir of her blacked-out teen and college years, tells ABC: 'I think the alcohol industry knows what the scientific community knows: the younger you are when you have your first drink, the more likely you are to become an alcoholic later on down the road.' To which Chris Cuomo of '20/20' responded, 'The Distilled Spirits Council of the United (DISCUS) States denies Zailckas accusations and told '20/20' underage drinking is at historic lows but that's the industry talking. The CDC says any decrease is insignificant." This was accompanied by an on-air image of the DISCUS statement—but it passes by so fast you'd find it hard to see the line 'according to U.S. Government data…' So, intrepid citizen journalists, do you think there might be a gap between Katy Perry's anthem for doomed American youth ('It's a blacked-out blur/But I'm pretty sure it ruled') and the statistics? Let's Google!" (TheAwl)

"Paramount is a wee bit nervous over Tom Cruise’s coming 'Jack Reacher' movie. The studio is worried that unending, negative Scientology publicity — accelerated by the Katie Holmes divorce — could finally do him in. There are even suggestions that Tom will have to choose between his religion or his career! (The Hollywood Reporter has a fascinating take on all this.)" (Liz Smith/NYSocialDiary)

"Tom Cruise was in a state because he didn’t have a girl. 'Can you believe my sister can’t even get me a girlfriend?' he said to David Miscavige, the chief of the Church of Scientology International, as Miscavige joined him and Cruise’s sister Lee Anne DeVette at the opening of the Madrid Scientology center, in September 2004. Mike Rinder, the founding director of Scientology International and former head of the Office of Special Affairs, claims that the star had just said the same thing to him minutes before as they waited for Miscavige, who is referred to by Scientology honchos as C.O.B., chairman of the board. Miscavige, according to Rinder and Marty Rathbun, Scientology’s former inspector general and No. 2, prided himself on being able to produce with a snap of his fingers anything Cruise desired, as well as to remove whatever he considered to be obstacles in the star’s life, such as his last wife, Nicole Kidman, and his last girlfriend, Penélope Cruz. (Rinder and Rathbun are part of a group of former high-ranking dissidents no longer connected to the organization. They and the other sources in this article, virtually all of them on the record, have been dismissed by Scientology as disgruntled apostates and worse. A lawyer for Miscavige refers to Rathbun and Rinder as 'a dynamic duo of lunatic venom and untrustworthy bile' and denies that the incident above ever took place. Tom Cruise and David Miscavige declined to be interviewed by Vanity Fair.) According to several of these on-the-record sources, Scientology more and more came to be whatever Miscavige said it was, and both Kidman and Cruz had been found wanting in their embrace of the organization and therefore unsuitable for the highly prized Cruise—Kidman especially. They say the church had determined that Kidman was its most dangerous type of enemy, a Suppressive Person (S.P.), who could threaten the spiritual well-being of Cruise and the two children the couple had adopted during their 10-year marriage. Cruise sued for divorce, and the children—Bella, then eight, and Connor, then six—were reportedly given a course in identifying Suppressive Persons. As Penélope Cruz became Cruise’s new love interest, she took her own set of courses, but, the sources say, she soon ran afoul of Miscavige, who dismissed her as a mere 'dilettante' when it was learned that she was unwilling to forsake her Buddhist beliefs. Cruise post-Cruz was apparently tired of having these ecclesiastical pillow fights interfere with his sex life: he needed a devout Scientologist to sleep with.Thus began an elaborate auditioning process, the sources say, to find him a drop-dead-beautiful true believer to share his life, someone who would not object to having the mercurial Miscavige as a powerful presence in the relationship. Miscavige’s wife, Shelly, was put in charge of the top-secret project, they tell me, and the ruse was to call in actresses from the organization’s rolls, tell them they were being given the honor of auditioning for a new training film, and then ask them some curious questions, such as: What do you think of Tom Cruise?" (VanityFair)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Elizabeth Chan at Soho House

Elizabeth Chan, Morgan Spurlock

I attended  Elizabeth Chan's "Naughty & Nice" listening party at the swishy Soho House. The selections came from Elizabeth's new album -- Christmas themed -- which just debuted at number 4 on the iTunes holiday chart. The mood was festive -- egg nog, cider -- for the first week of Autumn. Her band included Tony Lauria - Pianist, Pemberton Roach - Bass Guitar, Steve Addabbo - Guitar and Alex Alexander, percussion.

Also in the crowd: filmmaker Morgan "Supersize Me" Spurlock, Eric Norlander, Liz Picarazzi and East Village Live's David Barish.

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The biggest problem facing the global economy is not climate change, trade imbalances, financial regulation, or the eurozone. It is short-term thinking. An epidemic of myopia has swept over the world in the past few decades, and it threatens our living standards like nothing else. It's an epidemic with more than one cause, and not all of them are obviously sinister. Part of the problem is the growing complexity of the global economy. Life is simply getting harder to handle with the brainpower at our disposal. To understand why, imagine a chess master. She might be able to think her way through the game about eight moves in advance. Now add more squares to the board, and perhaps a few new pieces. How many moves in advance can she think? Not eight -- maybe not even five. Because of the growing interconnectedness of the global economy, our lives are becoming more complex in much the same way, with many more moving parts; we can no longer worry just about those closest to us. As a result, we can't plan for the long term as easily as we used to. Every corner of the global economy is like a chessboard with an infinite number of squares; there's simply too much uncertainty. Structural aspects of the global economy are magnifying the problem. For instance, the quarterly-earnings culture of financial markets -- the obsession with meeting analysts' expectations for corporate profits every three months, no matter what financial acrobatics that may imply -- owes its existence in part to arbitrary choices about how often companies have to report their results. Similarly, the money pumped into political campaigns has allowed them to lengthen considerably -- up to 22 months in the case of the 2008 U.S. election -- but legislative cycles have stayed much the same. With only two years between Congresses in the United States, for example, there's hardly time to focus on anything except reelection. Together with these challenges, there is one truly odious cause of short-term thinking: narcissism." (ForeignPolicy)

"In times of dislocation and discontent, we cleave to some remembered (or, more likely, imagined) past, some durable myths or a set of simple solutions that tide us over until reality has finished having its way. In the 1830s, the rise of popular democracy—a threat to the established political order—coincided with a comforting but divisive religious revivalism. The waves of Irish and German (and largely Catholic) immigration that preceded the Civil War sparked the vicious nativism of the aptly named Know-Nothing Party, bent on rollback to a previous age. The Populist Movement, at the turn of the 20th century, rejected the excesses of the Gilded Age’s 'Money Power' in favor of a return to the imagined virtues of the yeoman farmer and silver currency. The New Deal created not only the modern welfare state that saved capitalism but also the voices of intolerance and reaction that have been tearing at the safety net ever since. We’ve gotten away with this stance toward reality for two reasons. One is the comparative security and abundance that America has enjoyed for most of its history. Unlike the societies of ancient Greenland and Easter Island, destroyed by their own ignorance and shortsightedness, America has been able to absorb every misfortune and yet rumble on successfully after a painful reset. The second reason is historical memory—or, rather, the lack of it. The grim factory conditions of the 19th century? The traumatic migration from farm to city? The crippling legacy of Jim Crow? These events get a line in the history textbooks (except maybe in Texas), but the human consequences—the tens of millions of sundered families and squandered lives—have almost no place in our collective consciousness. We don’t remember them the way Russians remember in their psychic core some 27 million countrymen who died in World War II, or the way Armenians remember their massacre by the Turks. Americans pick up and move on, wiping the slate clean. In retrospect, as we tell ourselves the story, it’s all onward and upward—a very Whiggish view of history." (VanityFair)

"A much talked about event in the past two days has been the Brooke Astor estate auction at Sotheby’s. There was an exhibition of the sale items late last week. It was a hot ticket because everyone wanted to see what the lady had. Last Thursday night I went to dinner at La Grenouille with a group of friends, all of whom had just come from the opening of the exhibition. There was some surprise among the viewers, even disappointment that it wasn’t more spectacular — major furniture, paintings, etc. However, after seeing the catalogue, it looked appropriate for the woman and her time. Her belongings reflected a child of 19th century parents, wife of a 19th century American heir, and a lifetime spent in stylish and artistically conservative circles throughout the 20th century. She was a woman of taste whose choices reflected the elegance and refinement of the age into which she was born. Comfort and beauty were the reassuring qualities of her everyday living choices. The sale ended last night with an impressive total of $18.8 million and doubled its high estimate of $9.7 million. 95 percent of the 901-lot auction was sold. Buyers competed for paintings, drawings, Chinese works of art, furniture and decorative art from Mrs. Astor’s New York City and Westchester residences, as well as jewelry from her personal collection." (NYSocialDiary)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The world's annual diplomatic gab-fest -- the U.N. General Assembly debate -- opens on Manhattan's East River tomorrow against a backdrop of deepening civil war in Syria, nuclear-tipped confrontation between Israel and Iran, and nagging questions about whether a recent wave of anti-American protests was a blip or portends darker diplomatic days ahead for the United States and its Western partners. The U.N. session will offer world leaders an opportunity to take stock of the health of the democratic movement, known as the Arab Spring, that has swept through North Africa and the Middle East over the past year and a half, toppling dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and dealing an existential challenge to the Assad dynasty's decades-long rule in Syria. For the first time, the region's old guard, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will cross paths in the U.N. corridors with the region's new leaders, including Egypt's Mohamed Morsy and Libya's Mohammed Magarief ... In a rare snub to visiting dignitaries, President Barack Obama will avoid conducting the customary bilateral meetings with foreign counterparts, appearing only briefly at U.N. headquarters to deliver his address to the General Assembly. From there, he'll head crosstown, where he will speak at the Clinton Global Initiative conference hosted by former President Bill Clinton. He will, however, host a dinner for visiting leaders at the Waldorf Astoria hotel on Tuesday night." (ForeignPolicy)

"Sept. 29 will mark 40 years of normalized diplomatic relations between China and Japan, two countries that spent much of the 20th century in mutual enmity if not at outright war ... The current tensions surrounding the disputed islands began in April. During a visit to the United States, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, a hard-line nationalist known for his 1989 book The Japan That Can Say No, which advocated for a stronger international role for Japan not tied to U.S. interests or influence, said that the Tokyo municipal government was planning to buy three of the five Senkaku/Diaoyu islands from their private Japanese owner. Ishihara's comments did little to stir up tensions at the time, but subsequent efforts to raise funds and press forward with the plan drew the attention and ultimately the involvement of the Japanese central government. The efforts also gave China a way to distract from its military and political standoff with the Philippines over control of parts of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea ... The islands dispute is occurring as China and Japan, the world's second- and third-largest economies, are both experiencing political crises at home and facing uncertain economic paths forward. But the dispute also reflects the very different positions of the two countries in their developmental history and in East Asia's balance of power. China, the emerging power in Asia, has seen decades of rapid economic growth but is now confronted with a systemic crisis, one already experienced by Japan in the early 1990s and by South Korea and the other Asian tigers later in the decade. China is reaching the limits of the debt-financed, export-driven economic model and must now deal with the economic and social consequences of this change. That this comes amid a once-in-a-decade leadership transition only exacerbates China's political unease as it debates options for transitioning to a more sustainable economic model. But while China's economic expansion may have plateaued, its military development is still growing. The Chinese military is becoming a more modern fighting force, more active in influencing Chinese foreign policy and more assertive of its role regionally." (STRATFOR)

"No Michael’s for me with that traffic, I went down to Bella Blu on Lex and 70th to lunch with Nina Griscom who has just launched her own blog: And that’s what we talked about. Nina is the New Age socialite, a celestial-ite from Nouvelle Society. That was her flaming youth; and a very glamorous and stylish and energetic youth it was. The word wouldn’t faze her but she doesn’t regard herself thusly, having left that long ago. The New Age socialite in New York is a woman of a certain age who has been a card carrying Beautiful People person jet-setter tycoon’s wife BestDressedLister and is over all that (and even divorced and remarried or not). If you’re a reader of social columns and WWD, you’re familiar with all the names and even the faces. They’re sophisticated, worldly, industrious with myriad interests, and intentional with their decisions." (NYSocialDiary)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tricia Romano on The Village Voice: "Put The Old Girl Down"

You know the Village Voice had irrefutably jumped the shark when it got into an ill-begotten feud with Ashton Kutcher.

Alternative papers, to put it frankly, are getting decimated by the web. The Village Voice, which has seen its circulation fall 40%—from about 247,000 to 149,000—since 2006, according to the WSJ. 2006 is, incidentally, the year that Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, the majority owners of Phoenix-based Village Voice Media Holdings, bought the Voice. And now it has been sold. I have to say that I agree with the sentiment at the apex of Tricia Romano's fabulous/epic Twitter rant this morning -- "put the old girl down" -- about the Village Voice, which is, essentially, dead.

Yes, there is the amazing Michael Musto, and yes, there is always Dan Savage -- but for all intents and purposes, the Voice is an empty husk of what it once was as a weekly. I have, of course, written about the Voice, with great melancholy. In July 2011 I wrote on this blog:
"After losing such stellar talent as Nat Hentoff, Jules Feiffer, Lynn Yaeger and Tom Robbins the paper was never quite the same. Still, even with the amazing Michael Musto, Freewill Astrology and even the decent Running Scared blog the paper is not navigating the new digital universe well."

Romano took to Twitter today, on the sale of the Voice, posting earlier today, during the course of a dozen or so tweets:

When Lacey and Larkin bought the (Voice) it was not a perfect paper; but it was pretty good. We had recently won a Pulitzer. The Pulitzer was for an 8 part series by Mark Schoofs about Aids in Africa. We still had a stable of the best film, music, book, and dance critics, possibly in the country. The biggest issue was that our covers/features were trending too national and were of a generic Bush-bashing sort. When Lacey and Larkin bought us, there was some hope that we'd become more locally focused and maybe more arts-focused. Everything we thought would happen, did not. Instead, they bought us and they hatefucked us. In no order of importance, they fired Robert Christgau, @therealedpark, chuck eddy, Laura Conaway ... Wayne Barrett, Mihn Uong ... They also fired Keisha Franklin, LD Beghtol, Nat Hentoff (NAT FUCKING HENTOFF), who was later rehired, Ted Keller, and more

"People who weren't fired, like @CharlesMcNulty @jerrysaltz, @BellucciPR and @Joypress found jobs elsewhere after seeing writing on the wall. Oh, yes, also fired: two great redheads: Elizabeth Zimmer and Lynn Yaeger ... Eventually, they fired me too ... When you read New Times took over the #villagevoice it doesn't tell the whole story. They destroyed it .."

read the full, melancholy, magnificent Twitter rant here.
Kurt Andersen Interviews Craig Marks on the History of MTV

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"Foreign policy has long been one of the last great bastions of sexism. But as glass ceiling after glass ceiling is shattered in Washington, the time has come to ask when one of the last great barriers will be overcome: Is America ready for a male secretary of state? From a theoretical standpoint, there is no real reason that a man couldn't do the job. But in the salons of Georgetown and the halls of Foggy Bottom, there continues to be a steady undercurrent of chatter that a man just wouldn't be up to it. Right or wrong, here are some of the justifications foreign-policy insiders cite when they make the case that appointing a man as the highest-ranking diplomat in the land would be an overreach. First and foremost, many wonder whether a man would have the necessary endurance to do the job. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has visited more than 100 nations during her tenure, flown 897,951 miles, and spent 376 days abroad. By making it to 110 countries in just one term, Clinton broke the previous record for most countries visited by a secretary: 98, held by Madeleine Albright. And although Condoleezza Rice visited fewer countries, she did log more than a million miles in the air. Not many men can point to those kinds of frequent flyer miles. But beyond just the raw stamina needed to robustly represent the United States at home and abroad, others wonder if a man would simply bring the same skills to the table as does a woman. In numerous studies, women have been ranked as more emotionally intelligent than men while enjoying a greater ability to empathize with their interlocutors. Both men and women consistently rate women as better listeners than men. While some level of stereotyping is likely at work in these findings, there is much to argue that women are more culturally attuned and adept at interpersonal skills than their male counterparts. What skills could be more important for a good diplomat?" (ForeignPolicy)

"Top Jewish Democrats are standing squarely behind President Obama's decision not to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and warning Israel to butt out of the U.S. presidential race. The White House has been on the defensive ever since Israeli officials publicly complained last week after Obama refused to adjust his schedule to meet with Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this week. Republicans quickly pounced, urging Obama to reconsider and inviting Netanyahu to meet with them at his convenience. 'I don't think it's necessary for the president to rearrange his schedule,' Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), the top Democrat on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, told The Hill. 'I didn't think it was appropriate for the prime minister to publicly get into a dispute with the president of the United States, since we're both very closely working together to impose sanctions and to force Iran to stop its development of a nuclear weapon.' Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee, blamed 'internal Israeli politics' for the spat. 'Maybe Netanyahu's for [Republican candidate Mitt] Romney. And he's making a mistake if he is,' Frank told The Hill when asked why he thought Israel had leaked the news of a perceived 'snub' to the Reuters wire service. 'I think it was unwise for him to do as much,' he said. 'I think they've pulled back a little bit.' 'I think Obama played it right,' Frank added. 'The Israelis have to consider American public opinion; America's not ready to go to war until it's absolutely necessary. I think it's a mistake from Israel's standpoint if they give the impression they're trying to push us into going to war. I don't think any pressure's going to work.'" (TheHill)

"On September 18th at Cipriani Wall Street, the Institute of International Education (IIE) recognized the 10th Anniversary of its Scholar Rescue Fund at its Opening Minds to the World Gala Benefit. As part of this event, IIE's Humanitarian Award was presented to SRF founders Henry Jarecki, Henry Kaufman, Thomas Russo and George Soros. Senator Patrick Leahy was the special guest presenter for this award. The Scholar Rescue Fund has helped hundreds of scholars escape dangerous situations in their home countries. At the heart of the Fund is the idea that each scholar the Fund helps who continues his or her work in safety is a beacon of hope in the world, and will reach hundreds or thousands of additional students through the multiplier effect of teaching and learning. Since 2002, SRF has assisted over 450 scholars from 48 countries, placing them at nearly 300 host partner institutions in 40 countries around the world. The work of the Fund has become even more important in recent years with current threats to academic freedom and safety in countries such as Syria and Libya. The scholars' own dramatic experiences are the most powerful embodiment of the impact of the Fund. Abdul Sattar Jawad, for one, fled Iraq in 2005 after three attempts on his life by the Mahdi Army. As dean of the College of Arts at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, he realized his work as a Western-trained journalist and academic and editor of Baghdad's only English-language newspaper was endangering his life and the lives of his family." (NYSocialDiary)

"I stopped reading novels long ago. When those arch-phonies writing magic realism became household words, I dropped out quicker than you can say, 'Raymond Chandler.' Now that’s what I call a novel—the stuff Chandler churned out about old El Lay, everyone gulping booze and puffing away like steam engines, and only exercising between the sheets. Crime writers have always had an inferiority complex about their work, but they sure beat some of the clowns posing as novelists nowadays ... Speaking of underrated writers, what about the master, W. Somerset Maugham? I wouldn’t dare call him 'Willy' to his face, but he was a great stylist, a wonderful short-story writer, and his The Razor’s Edge is one of the masterpieces of English prose ... Norman Mailer’s An American Dream was outrageously provocative in the existential angst of its hero Stephen Rojack, and later on Mailer’s Harlot’s Ghost was a beautifully written and researched opus. Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities is a modern classic, illustrating exactly what Larry Darrell had foreseen as capitalism’s soul-wrenching weakness. Gore Vidal’s Washington, D.C. had me enthralled about the goings-on inside the Beltway, a place I’d choose instead of jail, but only just." (Taki Theodoracoupulos)

"Howard (Stern) said he thinks that Romney is like Gordon Gecko. He said he should probably be thrown out of the country based on what he's done. Howard said he will cast his vote for Obama. Jesse (Ventura) said that he has continued with the Bush stuff and he hasn't really changed the things he said he was going to change. Jesse said that they still have Gitmo and they won't release them because there's no way they could get a conviction ... Howard said that most people don't really look at the candidates. They vote based on the party. Jesse said that's why he thinks we should do away with the parties. Jesse said they should take the names off the ballot and find out what these people stand for. Howard said Jesse must like Occupy Wall Street. Jesse said he absolutely does. Howard said they just want a level playing field. Jesse said what they were doing was exercising their first amendment rights. He said if Howard tires to do that they'll get run off by pepper spray and dogs. He said these two parties don't care about this stuff." (Marksfriggin)

"The mistake Netanyahu has made is to believe he can go over the head of President Obama. He has tried through Congress, where his speech last year earned 29 standing ovations. He has greeted Romney in Israel as if he were on a state visit. He has said those “who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.” He has given critical interviews on U.S. TV networks in the midst of a presidential campaign. And he hath protested far too much that he has no intention — none — of swaying the outcome. Some adjectives that come to mind are: brazen, reckless and irrational. Another is disingenuous: Obama has set a clear red line on Iran — he will not permit Iran to become a nuclear-armed state. The president is angry. Not surprising that he has no time to meet with Netanyahu during his post-Yom Kippur visit to the United States this week for the United Nations General Assembly. No Israeli prime minister should seek to circumvent the president, bet on his losing an election, and attack him publicly when the most strategically damaging course for a state as powerful as Israel is to alienate its unwavering ally, generous funder and military supplier — the United States.  Barbara Boxer, a senator and California Democrat, was outraged. In a recent letter to the Israeli leader, she said she was 'stunned' and disappointed by his questioning of American support for Israel. 'Are you suggesting that the United States is not Israel’s closest ally and does not stand by Israel?' Boxer wrote. 'Are you saying that Israel, under President Obama, has not received more in annual security assistance from the United States than at any time in its history?' When Congressional support for Israel shows cracks, that is a seismic event." (Roger Cohen/NYT)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Vanity Fair: The Complaints Department

Vanity Fair: The Complaints Department from Jean-Paul Tremblay on Vimeo.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"(Bloomberg's Josh Barro): Anything is possible, but I find it hard to imagine Romney winning at this point without a major external event that damages the president or a boneheaded move from Obama that would be atypical of his previous, fairly steady performance. I think the leaked fund-raiser video was quite damaging, and the damage will become more apparent through October as the Obama campaign uses the footage over and over in attacks. One reason this is such a problem for Romney is that he's inscrutable — he's the most opaque major-party nominee since Nixon, and people have been reduced to guessing what he really believes and cares about. This provides something that fits an already bad narrative about him: that he doesn't care about the little people, that he's an out-of-touch rich guy and that will flow through in his policies. So, I think that was something he needed to overcome, and it makes it much harder for him to do it, and the economy isn't quite bad enough for people to look past it. As for how he could win, I don't think something like a few strong debate performances is enough. He's already had a lot of exposure and is unlikely to drastically change the public perception of him through the debates. And Obama is unlikely to make the kind of blunders that, say, Newt Gingrich did that hurt him. (NYmag)

"The other day I was on a talk show where the host asked me, 'Are we better off now than we were before the Arab Spring?' And I said, 'Who is we?' The furious attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts in the Middle East have left many Americans feeling that the neighborhood was a lot safer when it was patrolled by pro-American generalissimos. But for Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen -- the countries where citizens overthrew those hated rulers -- the demonstrations were a sideshow, if a mortifying one. The tumult offered a forceful reminder that 'good for us' is not the same as 'good for them.' I have always assumed that a more democratic Middle East would be good for the United States in the long run, but bad in the short run. George W. Bush was right when he said, in his second Inaugural Address, that 'the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands' -- or at least he would have been right if he had said something less resonant, like 'our security depends on legitimate government in the Islamic world.' In the long term, good for them is good for us. In the mean time, however, freedom releases poisons as well as noble aspirations. One of those poisons, of course, is anti-Americanism. Of course, there's nothing new about explosions of hostility to the United States in the Arab world; what's new is how far they're allowed to go." ( ForeignPolicy)

"When you step off the elevator in the nondescript Flatiron building that houses Terence Koh’s latest project (at 1133 Broadway every night from 7 to 9 p.m. through Sept. 22), you’ll feel a bit lost. The hallways are painted a dull yellow and have linoleum floors, like a public high school, and the room numbers are in the four digits because you’re up on the 26th floor. The correct room soon becomes apparent, though, as its numbers are in white instead of black, like the others. But here things get hazy: this reporter was relieved of his notebook shortly after arriving. What else do I remember about the experience? I knocked on the white door, and a white twentysomething guy, dressed in black monk’s garb, held a finger to his lips, admonishing me not to talk. With notecards inscribed in curling script, he explained that this was 'One Person at a Time,' and that I should put everything I had on me in a toolbox outside the door; that I would receive a key to this toolbox; that I was to remove my shoes once I got to the anteroom, whose white neon signs proclaimed beauty and truth." (Gallerist)

"Anti-Japanese riots aren't a new phenomenon in China, but the ongoing demonstrations across the country have surpassed previous outbreaks in both their extensiveness -- over a hundred cities -- and their perfervid declarations. One banner, hung over an Audi dealership, declared that the Japanese should be exterminated; another called for a nuclear strike on Tokyo; a woman's hospital featured a neon sign announcing that Japanese females would absolutely not be treated. The issue of sovereignty over the uninhabited islands, known as Diaoyu to the Chinese and Senkaku to the Japanese, sparked China's fevered response ... Despite their intensity, these demonstrations, like the half-dozen that preceded them over the past 25 years, are abating. In the past, China has long been able to hold Japan's economy hostage after political disputes, and it is likely to get its way economically this time as well. The two economies are deeply interlinked; trade between them in 2011 was worth almost $350 billion. China is Japan's largest trading partner and absorbs just under a fifth of Japan's total exports; Japan is China's third-largest trading partner, after the European Union (EU) and the United States. China's economy, which overtook Japan's as the world's second largest in 2011, is expected to grow at the reduced but still healthy rate of more than 7.5 percent in 2012; Japan's economy by contrast could contract in the third quarter of this year. Though it never recovered from the bursting of its economic bubble in 1990, Japan remained the world's second-largest economy until China edged it out of that spot in 2011. The triple earthquake-tsunami-nuclear meltdown of March 2011 curtailed domestic auto production; disastrous floods in Thailand in October of that year closed Toyota, Nissan, and Honda factories. Shortages of power resulting from the shutdown of reactors and strong public sentiment for ending reliance on nuclear energy meant fuel shortages and higher electric bills. To make matters worse, the global economic downturn depressed demand for the country's exports, and a strong yen made Japanese products less competitive in world markets. In that same annus horribilus, Japan recorded its first trade deficit since 1981." (ForeignPolicy)

" The actress/director/producer was there to drumbeat her funny, touching, new memoir, 'My Mother Was Nuts.' Penny (Marshall) worked the room non-stopAll earthlings available to the siren song of PR queen Peggy Siegal — and a few aliens, too — descended in full force on The Monkey Bar. I do mean such as David Geffen, in jeans and sneakers ... Calvin Klein, beautifully suited up ... Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg ... Art Garfunkel (Penny’s old flame) ... Lorne Michaels ... Graydon Carter ... Fran Lebowitz, who is determined not to smile too much as she moves around the room — this keeps unwanted admirers at bay ... Roger Friedman, reporter extraordinaire ... Carol Kane ... Gayle King ... Andy Cohen ... Mort Zuckerman ... Jacob Bernstein ... Tom Brokaw ... Barbara Walters, regal in a gorgeous red coat. You get it. It was one of those, 'if a bomb dropped' evenings.  Joy and Regis Philbin were there, still talking about the Marvin Hamlisch memorial. 'Now, that was a memorial,' said Joy. Turning to Regis, she continued, 'That’s what I’ll try to do for you.' Regis feigned horror ...Anjelica Huston was there. Her necklace was admired. 'Oh, look at these rubies,' she said, pulling rocks that seemed the size of Easter eggs from under her blouse. 'Lauren Hutton gave them to me. She got them in Nepal or one of those exotic places she was always traveling to. I kept admiring them, and finally she just gave them to me. I wore her out.'
" (Liz Smith/NYSD)

"'Like most moms, I’m always busy,' says Leelee Sobieski, taking a break at her neighborhood park while her duties as jungle-gym chaperone to two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Louisanna (Lewi for short) are assumed by her husband, designer Adam Kimmel.  ... Just as she and Kimmel are taking the year off, the same could be said about certain works they own, like a painting by controversial Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch that was moved to storage after Lewi was born. 'When you have kids, you don’t want to put up evil paintings,' Kimmel explains." (Vogue)

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"Though I’ve written thousands of words about him and talked briefly on the phone to him while he was in captivity, this is the first time we’ve met. He speaks with a powerful, didactic turn of phrase, in well-educated Mandarin that belies his peasant roots, though thankfully without the flowery classical aphorisms beloved of Beijing or Shanghai intellectuals. He walks with a limp but says his foot is healing and he will soon be able to visit the Statue of Liberty. Lunch, ordered in by Chen’s minders, is an excellent, enormous Italian meal of pasta, pizza and salads from Otto Enoteca Pizzeria on nearby Fifth Avenue. Before we start eating, he asks if he can hold my digital recorder. 'I have a deep fondness for audio recorders,' he tells me, as he examines my device with his fingertips. 'I was given one in 2005 that I used to document accounts of the government’s violent family planning practices. It survived countless confiscation raids on my house and I still have it today.' His casual, dispassionate reference to the work that got him into so much trouble is striking, as is the serenity and forgiveness he displays while describing horrific events and the people who subjected him to them ... Discrimination against the disabled is rife in China, especially in remote rural areas such as Dongshigu, the village where he grew up. Career options for the blind are limited, with the luckier ones finding work as musicians or masseurs. Chen himself studied traditional massage in the southern city of Nanjing but, once there, began to attend law lectures in his spare time. The only one of a large family of peasant farmers to attain anything beyond rudimentary education, he and his story would be highly unusual even were he not blind." (FT)

"For a display of the power of unlimited spending in politics, take a look at Ohio, where a barrage of television advertising is threatening to sweep away Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. His Republican challenger, first-term State Treasurer Josh Mandel, trailed by as many as 14 percentage points this past May, yet two recent polls show the candidates in a statistical tie. The gap narrowed after $18 million was spent on TV ads supporting Mandel. Much of the money came from independent groups, including Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, which under the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision can spend without limits on campaigns. Ohio, a bellwether in the presidential election, is also a linchpin in the Republican effort to take control of the Senate. Brown, 59, has spent close to four decades in politics, including just under 20 years in Congress, and won his Senate seat in 2006. He wears a lapel pin of a caged coal mine canary, his symbol of the need to protect workers, and mixes as easily with union members as with college presidents. “Nobody’s done this job the way I have and worked harder at it,” he says, citing more than 200 roundtable discussions he’s convened with constituents since joining the Senate. The author of a book criticizing free-trade policies, he voted against the 2002 Iraq War resolution in the House and is left of President Obama on such issues as health care and financial regulation. Mandel, 34, served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine reservist. He’s been Ohio’s treasurer since 2011, and before that was a two-term state legislator and a city councilman in Lyndhurst, a Cleveland suburb. If elected, Mandel says, he would focus on deregulation and simplifying the tax code. He has called Brown’s record 'ultraliberal' and 'hyperpartisan.'" (Businessweek)

"Author-turned-internet troll Bret Easton Ellis took to Twitter once again to offer his unsolicited opinion on the latest offense to the LGBT community ... OK, we get it, Bret. You don't like our modern world of political correctness and basic human decency. You long for a return to the '80s, when you were at the top of the literary brat pack, coldness was a virtue, and yes, dying of AIDS via casual gay sex was a much more omnipresent concern. Or you just enjoy being a contrarian and getting under people's skin, in which case writing about your carefully constructed faux pas only feeds into your hunger for online vitriol." (Gawker)

"'It's difficult to find a place in Brazil that isn't beautiful,' said Valentino creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri at the tenth annual Brazil Foundation Gala at the American Museum of Natural History last night. She would know; she and her co-designer, Pier Paolo Piccioli, have been spending time in the country in anticipation of opening a Valentino store there. An added bonus: 'The women are very, very beautiful,' her partner said. No one could argue with that. Gorgeous Brazilian girls in lacy and sparkling cutout gowns like Izabel Goulart and Jeisa Chiminazzo proved that point. But there were plenty of honorary Brazilians, too, like Uma Thurman, Stella Schnabel, and Olympia Scarry, who joined the ranks of official Brazilians like Francisco Costa, Lorenzo Martone, and Carlos de Souza. 'We always joke that everyone that comes to this has a Brazilian soul,' Martone said. 'The whole evening is a very Brazilian experience. Let me put it this way: Tonight is a marathon. We have cocktails in the dinosaur room, dinner in the whale room, and then there's a little after-party. Last year I had a samba moment with Natalia Vodianova on the dance floor.'" (Style)

"Model Maggie Rizer described her heartache over losing her beloved golden retriever, Beatrice, in a blog post 'United Airlines Killed Our Golden Retriever' yesterday afternoon. 'Our little Beatrice died in pain, scared and alone,' she wrote on her blog, 'Bea Makes Three.' Rizer, who’s been on the cover of Elle, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, was flying to San Francisco from New York two weeks ago with her husband, Alex Mehran, and 10-month-old son, Zander, and wanted to bring along her two dogs — 2-year-old Beatrice and 7-year-old Albert.  She said she paid an additional $1,800 to have the dogs cared for in United’s PetSafe program. The family bought kennels specifically for the plane’s pet-holding area and special water bowls filled with ice, to make sure the water wouldn’t spill. 'Albert and Bea were very prepared travelers,' Rizer wrote. But when the flight landed and her family went to the cargo terminal, she was coldly told, 'One of them is dead,' by a worker 'who seemed more interested in his text messages.' Thirty minutes later, a supervisor got around to telling her, 'It was the 2-year-old.' When the couple asked that Bea be returned to them, the model and her husband were told that the dog had been turned over to a local vet for an autopsy. 'Whatever thread of trust remained between us and United broke,' Rizer wrote. Rizer, who was given Bea as a wedding present, asked her own vet to do the autopsy. He said Bea, who had passed a health examination days before the flight, died of heatstroke." (PageSix)

"Part spy, part tycoon, Edwin P. Wilson lived large. He claimed to own 100 corporations in the United States and Europe, many of them real and many of them shells. He had an apartment in Geneva; a hunting lodge in England; a seaside villa in Tripoli, Libya; a town house in Washington; and real estate in North Carolina, Lebanon and Mexico. He entertained congressmen, generals and Central Intelligence Agency bigwigs at his 2,338-acre estate in Northern Virginia. He showered minks on his mistress, whom he called 'Wonder Woman.' He owned three private planes and bragged that he knew flight attendants on the Concorde by name. His preferred habitat was a hall of mirrors. His business empire existed as a cover for espionage, but it also made him a lot of money. He had the advantage of being able to call the Internal Revenue Service and use national security jargon to get the details on a potential customer. And if the I.R.S. questioned his own tax filings, he terminated the discussion by saying he was a C.I.A. operative on a covert mission. 'Being in the C.I.A. was like putting on a magic coat that forever made him invisible and invincible,' Peter Maas wrote in 'Manhunt,' his 1986 book about Mr. Wilson." (NYTimes)

"ON Sept. 5, Cipriani 42nd Street was decked out as if for a 1920s New Year’s Eve soiree: black candelabras with hydrangeas arranged like Art Deco sentinels, a model of a vintage airplane hanging overhead. A woman sang Cole Porter tunes while guests slurped freshly shucked oysters and sipped gin. Some partygoers reclined on metallic gold couches, their shadows cast by illuminated votives. All was designed to invoke the Prohibition-era setting of 'Boardwalk Empire,' the HBO show about to enter its third season. Near the bandstand, Richard Plepler, 53, who was named chief executive of HBO on Thursday after five years as the network’s co-president, was holding court: tall, tan and coifed, his ruddy complexion contrasting with the gleam of his pressed white shirt. He was gregarious and physical, his focus trained on each guest in front of him as if they were the only two people in the room. He gave Steve Buscemi, the star of 'Boardwalk Empire,' a bearhug. When Mr. Plepler saw the singers Diana Krall and Elvis Costello, he gripped Mr. Costello’s shoulder, wagging a finger at his chest. At one point he huddled with the author Malcolm Gladwell, who, like an increasing number of boldface New York writers, has a deal with HBO (he is writing a show about spies). Mr. Plepler is rarely glimpsed by the general public, except once yearly, when his network tends to take home a sack full of Emmy Awards. (The awards show will be held Sunday.) But he is a large presence among political, media and entertainment cliques in New York." (NYTStyle)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Video of the Day : Institutionalized by Suicidal Tendencies

Suicidal Tendencies - Institutionalized from Chucky Doll on Vimeo.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Mitt Romney’s appearance on Spanish-language news channel Univision yesterday demonstrated a peril of modern politics as old as televised campaigns: men's makeup. Ever since Richard Nixon refused professional makeup in favor of drugstore stubble-coverup for the first-ever televised debate against the youthfully radiant John F. Kennedy in 1960 — a choice many say cost him the debate — male politicians have been forced to perform a cosmetic balancing act traditionally reserved for women and actors. Underdo it, and risk subconsciously turning off voters with the pallor, dark under-eye circles, and beads of sweat drawn out by hot on-set lights. But go a shade too dark and risk losing the day’s narrative to blog posts like'Mitt Dons Brownface For Forum with Mexicans.' 'Mitt’s Mexican tan?' asked makeup artist Michele Probst when reached by phone yesterday. 'That was very curious.'" (NYMag)

"Mitt Romney was expected to use a billionaire-fueled fundraising juggernaut to crush President Barack Obama’s once vaunted small-donor army. But things haven’t gone according to plan.
Headed into the home stretch of the 2012 presidential race, it is Obama who looks to have an edge, thanks to an awakening donor base, aggressive summer spending on ads and ground game, and a Romney hoarding strategy that left him with plenty of cash in the bank, but not much to show for it.Through the end of August, Romney’s campaign and the party committees and super PAC supporting it had raised $736 million, compared to $774 million raised by Obama’s campaign and its party and super PAC allies, according to a POLITICO analysis of voluntary disclosures and Federal Election Commission reports filed Thursday. While Romney’s side boasted a nearly $50 million edge in cash on hand — $175 million to $126 million — headed into the final two months, it also had $10 million more in debt, as Romney’s campaign took out a $20 million loan to address cash flow issues. Team Obama has the momentum at the right time. Big Democratic donors are rallying to the Priorities USA Action super PAC, which is devoted to helping him and raised $10.1 million last month — its best month ever. And overall, for the first time in months, Obama’s campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the joint DNC-Obama Victory Fund outraised Romney’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and Romney Victory — $114 million to $111.6 million." (Politico)

"In October of last year, I set sail from Dubai on an aging 160-meter cargo ship laden with supplies for Somalia. For me, as publisher of Somalia Report, it was a chance to experience pirate waters up close. I had met pirates on land and in prison, and had counted their captured ships neatly lined up from the air -- but I had never visited them at their 3.2 million-square-mile workplace.  For the multinational crew, it was yet another nerve-wracking voyage for minimal pay. The Indian shipowner was forced to pay an additional $20,000 insurance premium for the short transit, even though he intended to sell the vessel for scrap after the journey to Bosaso, Puntland. It was a hefty fee. But, to put it in perspective, the owner's dirty ship -- which reeked of fish sauce and grease -- was making $40,000 a day for the duration of its journey -- even the time in port. He was making money even as the loading crews muscled cargo into the hold and massive cranes methodically slammed each container into place." (ForeignPolicy)

"Tomorrow is the first day of autumn. Yesterday felt like an early autumn day with temperatures in the low 60s, and thick grey clouds rolling in and moving on, as if maybe we’d get a little rain. It was a perfect day for New Yorkers – time for a jacket maybe, a sweater, at least for the little ones. It’s that time of year when you’re ready for a change, ready to put on something warm. I went down to Michael’s to have a long planned lunch with Alexandra Wolfe whom I met several years ago when she interviewed me for an article she was writing in the Observer. I can’t remember what the article was about but we became friends immediately (she laughed at all my wisecrdacks). These days she has, among other projects, a column in Departures. She loves her editor Richard David Story. Everybody who knows him loves him. Yesterday Alexandra, who turned 32 on August 30, told me she worries that she’s getting old." (NYSocialDiary)

"Flying at 47,000 feet at close to 500 knots per hour on a G550 is as close to perfection in traveling as it gets. The G550 is the Mozart / Beethoven / Schubert / Schumann / Edward Hopper / Degas / William Holden / Burt Lancaster / John Wayne / Papa Hemingway / F. Scott Fitzgerald / Lew Hoad / Roy Emerson / Robert E. Lee / Hasso von Manteuffel of airplanes ... My good mood ended as soon as I settled down with a large vodka and ice to watch a baseball game, now at season’s end getting down and dirty. The Yankees are in a dead heat with Baltimore, a team with less than half the Yankee payroll but one that has managed to match them with guile, pluck, intelligence on the field, and lack of arrogance off it. There is nothing like a baseball game in the closing days of the season in wonderful autumn weather between two teams that are dead even after 142 games—at least not for me, who can rattle off the lineup of the great 1949 Yankee team, and a friend of the greatest Yankee ever, Mickey Mantle, now batting up at that great diamond in the sky." (Taki)

"Attention, anyone who has $20,000 earmarked for 'lunch with a celebrity': George Clooney is auctioning off a Los Angeles–area lunch date to benefit GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, an organization that works to make schools safe for LGBT youth. The 'intimate' date comes with a number of stipulations, however, including that the get-together may take up to a year to schedule, it may be procured only by someone over 18, and Clooney and the winning bidder must be accompanied by a (probably very nice) third wheel, entertainment journalist and 'official red carpet greeter at the Oscars' Dave Karger. As far as A-list auctioned meals go, the date’s estimated price—$20,000—appears to be market value. A recent dinner with Charlize Theron cost someone a reported $20,000, and the shame of being called 'creepy' when the Oscar winner recounted the evening on national television. In 2001, Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and Hong Kong businessman David Tang paid a reported $41,000 for a three-way date with Scarlett Johansson benefitting the U.K. charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer." (VanityFair)

"'His first show was stiff,' Mr. Griffin told the crowd at the PoliticsNation party. 'There was no Rev.'
Over the course of his first year on air, though, Mr. Sharpton has managed to uncork those cable-friendly 'Rev' qualities—his undisguised political advocacy, for instance, and a compelling style of oratory that finds him punching rhetorical questions with a furious solemnity that lends the daily news churn an unusual hint of gravitas. Still, his reputation notwithstanding, Mr. Sharpton is far from the angriest man in prime time. 'He’s controversial,' Mr. Griffin told The Observer. 'But a lot of people only know him from a few things. You don’t understand that he’s a good person. He’s fair. You don’t want to be judged for just a few things in your life, do you?' We noted that his missteps had been particularly public and might color potential viewers’ impressions before they even tuned in. 'It’s the civil rights movement! He has to do things that he’s misunderstood for. Maybe he’s made a mistake or two—but his heart is in the right place.' He’s even happy to give airtime to his ideological foes. 'I fought with Newt Gingrich,' Mr. Sharpton reminded The Observer at his party. He was puffing on a cigar, his only vice after he adopted a vegetarian diet that brought his weight down to a svelte 150 pounds. (He’d lost weight during his 2001 arrest on the island of Vieques, then gained much of it back while running for president—'room service when you get back to the hotel, South Carolina, fried chicken three times a day'—and lost it, once more, before he even knew he’d be on television each day.) He was looking good." (Observer)

"There's a fascinating and worrisome confrontation playing out in the East China Sea, over a group of uninhabited islands called the Senkakus (Chinese name: Diaoyu). Here's where they are, and here's what they look like. Short version: Japan seized control of the islands following a war with China in 1895. The United States administered them from 1945 to the early 1970s. Japan regained control in 1972, when ownership was reacquired by a private family. Nobody lives there. Earlier this year, the right-wing mayor of Tokyo said the city government was going to buy the islands to ensure that they remained in Japanese hands. (Had he gone ahead and done so, they would have become the most distant metropolitan suburb in the history of the world). To forestall this step, the Japanese national government bought the islands instead, a step that has provoked some ugly demonstrations in China and raised the possibility of a military confrontation. This issue is a tricky problem for the United States, because we'll be expected to support our Japanese ally if the dispute escalates. The U.S. position on the whole issue isn't clear, however, and is further complicated by the fact that Taiwan agrees with the PRC and regards the islands (the largest of which is only some 4 square kilometers and is home to moles, birds, and sheep), as part of its territory too. This whole business got me thinking. In a bygone era, sovereigns used to sell each other territory when it was in their interest to do so, normally when one of them needed cash. Remember the Louisiana Purchase, or the acquisition of Alaska from Russia? If the Japanese government can pay roughly $2 billion to buy the islands from a private family, why can't China pay the same amount (or whatever the market will bear) to obtain them from Japan? After all, the PRC is pretty flush with cash these days, and Japan could use some extra money (although ~$2 billion isn't really that much). Still, why not just view this as a simple matter of business?" (ForeignPolicy)

"Fashion's "last emperor," Valentino Garavani, has mostly stepped back from design, but an invitation from the New York City Ballet proved too good to let pass. It had been a dream to work with the company and his friend, NYCB ballet master in chief Peter Martins, Garavani said at the Ballet's annual gala last night, even if designing nearly 25 costumes for the one-night-only performance was something of a learning curve, even after so many years in fashion.'I learned that when you do something for the ballet, you have to see what the dancers need,' Garavani said. 'I know ballet very well, and you must create and be able to leave the opportunity to the dancer to move well and jump well. I've worked for many years and I'm used to designing beautiful things, but this was a new experience.' It was a successful one, to judge from the reaction of the friends and fellow designers who came out for the performance and post-show dinner. Carolina Herrera called it 'haute couture ballet,' and Cynthia Rowley opined that "it was the perfect marriage of Valentino and he New York City Ballet." (Style)