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Monday, February 25, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The bill that President Obama signed into law on January 15, the Department of State Rewards Program Update and Technical Corrections Act, was ostensibly about improving the government's ability to combat international war criminals. Obama's signing statement even cited Joseph Kony, the infamous warlord (and subject of a viral video campaign) who faces charges before international tribunals for attacks on civilians, murder, the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and rape. But the importance of the law is likely to extend for beyond the pursuit of Kony. Indeed, the law's biggest impact may be the way it had quietly reset the fraught relationship between conservative policy makers and the International Criminal Court.  Established in 1998 under the Rome Statute to prosecute war crimes, genocide, and other human rights atrocities, the International Criminal Court has never before been recognized by the United States. But under the new law, the State Department is empowered to offer monetary rewards for foreign nationals indicted by any international court for genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity, including the ICC. This amounts to an unprecedented channel of cooperation between the U.S. and the ICC—and a surprising, if tacit, endorsement of multilateralism and international institutions by the conservative lawmakers who fought to pass the bill. The explicit inclusion of the ICC in the text of the law is no small matter given Washington's traditional suspicion of international law. Historically, opponents of the court in both parties have worried about prosecutions against Americans. While President Bill Clinton signed the Rome Statute in 2000, he did so noting that “fundamental concerns” remained and that he would not send it on to the Senate for ratification. The Bush administration then abandoned the treaty entirely in 2002. Later, Bush signed the American Servicemembers Protection Act (ASPA), which shields U.S. and allied personnel from prosecution by the ICC, and generally restricts American cooperation with the court. That proved to be the high point of Washington's unipolar moment; the Bush administration's hostility towards the court faded soon began to fade, at least somewhat. In March of 2005, Bush agreed to allow the UN Security Council to refer the atrocities in Darfur to the ICC for investigation; it also waived the restrictions on foreign assistance to ICC party countries. But adherence to international legal norms was still mostly dismissed by conservatives as a liberal cause." (TNR)


"The Alps are aglow like never before. A record snowfall and an abundance of sun have turned the region into a postcard of long ago. From afar, that is. Up close the cranes are ever present, although during the season building is verboten. For the last few years I’ve been meeting with three Greek childhood friends once a week for lunch in a nearby inn. They are: Aleko Goulandris, my oldest friend (we met in 1945); Karolos Fix, a German Greek who arrived in that tortured land along with my ancestors back in the 1830s with the first King Otto from Bavaria; and Leonida Goulandris, who is the youngest at 52 and whose parents were my friends long before he was born. When the King of Greece is in Gstaad he is the fifth Hellene at the table. It is a male lunch that is transferred to Porto Heli during the summer months. We drink white Swiss wine, eat trout straight off the tiny pool they’re kept in, and talk. It takes place every Tuesday—two days of recovery time—because the weekends at the Palace tend to be rather crazy and confused. (Last Friday was the worst—6AM and counting.) 'Beauty has largely vanished from our civilization in general.' Basically, it is an exercise in nostalgia ... King Constantine is a calming influence. He does not participate in our political discussions and when he’s present even I lower the rhetoric. He is very interesting when he talks about the heads of state he had known as a young monarch, especially de Gaulle and Eisenhower. He does not like President Nixon, my favorite, whom I shall write about next week, so be prepared.
And so it goes. Another week, another great lunch filled with nostalgia and the flickering memories of long ago. A few laughs, too. Last week the mother of my children had some cousins over for dinner. They were all Chernins and Lichtensteins and Schoenburgs, and they all went by their first names with friendly smiles and impeccable manners. That’s when John Preston’s review of Rupert Loewenstein’s book on The Rolling Stones came to mind. 'There are some people with titles who don’t make much of a song and dance about it, and some people who do,' writes Preston. Boy, oh boy, does Rupert baby make a fuss about his." (Taki)


" It may have felt like 54 below outside, but inside 54 Below, tucked beneath the infamous Studio 54, it was HOT HOT HOT. A motley assortment of good time Harrys and Harriets stuffed themselves into banquettes, mingled at the bar and shook their booties on the dancefloor.  The occasion was Michael Musto’s Disco Extravaganza. Resplendent in a black sequined Kevin Novinski-designed jacket on stage (he wore a different, equally splendid jacket to welcome everyone) and backed by Elektrik Company with Tish and Snooky providing additional vocals , Michael belted out a hilariously revised 'I Will Survive', replacing love addiction with pizza addiction, dueted with Elektrik Company’s Lisa McQuade on 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart', and finished his solo warblings with 'Last Dance', after forgiving Donna Summer for her transgressions (the alleged anti-Gay remarks attributed to her when she became a Born-Again Christian, words later denied by Summers). " (NYSocialDiary/Anita Sarko)


"For all of the magnetic bodies that swirl around the Vanity Fair Oscar party—award winners, mega-producers, billionaires—there is one focal point of power in the room. It’s not the person toting the statuette for Best Picture (although Ben Affleck did cause a stir wherever he, wife Jennifer Garner, and Oscar turned up that night). And it’s not even Graydon Carter, the host of the weekend’s most exclusive event and Vanity Fair’s fearless leader. No—the locus of energy is a place, a specific spot exactly twenty paces from the front entrance of the Sunset Tower Hotel, just past the photo booth. It’s just far enough away from the pleading photographers and screaming fans outside, but not too far into the party that a person standing there could miss anyone important as he or she entered the room. It is, in short, where everyone wants to look. Last year, it was on this very spot that David and Victoria Beckham held court for much of the night, with the then-happily married Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes—the latter on one of their last-ever joint public appearances. This year, the spot was occupied by a rotating cast of heavy hitters. In the early evening, Sandra Bullock and her agent Kevin Huvane did a little choo choo train dance across it to get to the bar. It was where Jane Fonda ran into Valentino and—despite the remarkable tightness of her form-fitting dress—performed an elaborate bow to the designer. Graydon Carter stood right there to pose with the only three guest editors to ever have borrowed the reins of Vanity Fair from him (Tom Ford, Judd Apatow, and Bono). And even though Jennifer Aniston slipped in through a distant side door with her beau Justin Theroux, she still managed to assume the prime position shortly after her arrival and greet all comers—including Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, and Sacha Baron Cohen." (vanityfair)



"'When I was a child, Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the wine of major family events: Christmas, birthdays, weddings,' Isabel Ferrando, a rising star of the appellation, told me recently. 'This wine is inextricably associated with happiness in the family, my aunts and my mother cooking, the smell of beef in sauce, game in the fireplace.' Ms. Ferrando grew up in the town of Carpentras, at the foot of Mont Ventoux, not far from the source of these heady wines, and eventually went to work for a branch of the bank Crédit Agricole, in Nîmes, where she frequently dealt with farmers and winegrowers. After her daughter was born, in 1997, she decided she wanted to change her life, and she increasingly fantasized about the life of a vigneron. 'I dreamed of silence, the sound of the wind, the sun on my skin' ... Henri Bonneau is the 12th generation of his family to produce wine in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which acquired its name when Pope Clement V, a wine lover of French extraction, built his summer residence in the village after hijacking the papacy to nearby Avignon. His successor, John XXII, seems to have been the one who planted vines. The popes eventually returned to Rome, but the vineyards flourished, slaking local thirst without attracting wide attention. They did play an anonymous role in beefing up the Pinots of Burgundy, which has a cooler and less reliable climate. In the 19th century, the rakehell Marquis de Nerthe, who owned vines here, raised the profile of the local wines by promoting them as an aphrodisiac, a claim which may have merit given their relatively high alcohol. The predominant grape in the 7,900-acre appellation is Grenache, a hot-weather variety that probably originated in Spain (where it's called Garnacha.) Twelve other red varieties are permitted in the appellation, including Mourvèdre, Syrah and Cournoise, but voluptuous Grenache is the diva in the group, with the others singing backup. The character of the wine is a function of the terrain and the weather; once you've smelled the local garrigue, the fragrant mix of wild plants including lavender, thyme and rosemary, you will swear you smell it in the wines." (Jay McInerney)


"Marc and Lizzie will tell you they are collectors. Lizzie likes to think she has a better eye than her husband, but 'Marc has that dash of rash', she’ll tell you, 'He’s really a genius!' They were obsessed with things and shopped continually. Saturday mornings they were first at every yard sale. They pet and pampered and fetishized their things. They have a storage unit here in town and when they visit they can’t help themselves and they are haggling over the abandoned objects available for purchase at the front desk. In reality they are hoarders. In reality they have supplanted the value of human beings with things, betting on imortality, perhaps. They are old and possibly they hope shopping and amassing will keep them from dying. After all, how could they die before they have had the time to inventory and archive and display all their precious possessions. After a few months in Key West, to get to know his new environs, Marc went on some ride-alongs with the police. The cops whetted his expectations by hinting at the lewd scenes they’d be coming across and he was titilated. He also learned about the Baker Act, a Florida institution whereby the insane are divvied up from regular garden-variety miscreants. Marc will tell you he found the ride-alongs, 'Fascinating.' Everyone who knew them remarked on how well they got along. 'Soul mates', people said, and it appeared Marc and Lizzie had a storybook romance." (Christina Oxenberg)



"Two elusive legends turned heads at agency William Morris Endeavor’s Oscar party at the home of uber-agent Ari Emanuel. Morrissey, the former Smiths singer, held court with power players while Patrick Stewart chatted to admiring guests. Others at the exclusive Friday bash included Best Picture “Argo” director Ben Affleck, Emma Watson, “Les Misérables” hunk Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness. An on-form Russell Brand worked the room, which was decorated with paintings by Retna (who was part of MoCA’s “Art in the Streets” exhibition that set attendance records in LA). Also spotted were Larry David, “Bernie” star Jack Black and Charlize Theron, looking beautiful with cropped blond hair in advance of her Oscars dance number with Channing Tatum. The stars were joined by industry powerhouse executives including DreamWorks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg, Paramount’s Brad Grey, CBS’s Les Moonves and Viacom’s Philippe Dauman." (PageSix)

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