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Monday, June 17, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Two mournful friends dropped by our flat in Paris last Sunday. They are a well-paid couple from the caste known in Paris as  'bobos': people with bourgeois incomes and bohemian tastes. In the popular narrative, bobos have invaded Paris, driving out pure bohemians and the working class. But my bobo friends had a new story: they themselves were being driven out of Paris. To get enough space for their kids, they were leaving for the suburbs. When they’d told the headmaster at the children’s school, he had looked sad and said: 'Everyone is leaving.' Paris is pricing out even the upper middle-class. There is a wider story here. The great global cities – notably New York, London, Singapore, Hong Kong and Paris – are unprecedentedly desirable. At last week’s fascinating New Cities Summit in São Paulo, the architect Daniel Libeskind said: 'We live in a time of renaissance … cities are coming back to life, after a long neglect.' Edward Luce chronicled the urban revival in last Saturday’s FT Magazine. However, there’s an iron law of 21st-century life: when something is desirable, the 'one per cent' grabs it. The great cities are becoming elite citadels. This is terrifying for everyone else. At the New Cities Summit I had a coffee with Saskia Sassen of Columbia University, leading thinker on cities. That took some doing: Sassen arrived from Bogotá that morning, and was flying to Zurich hours later. 'Cities were poor,'  she told me, in between. 'In the 1970s London was broke, New York was broke, Tokyo was broke, Paris was much poorer than now. And the built environment was a bit run down.' But from the 1980s, these cities recovered. An increasingly complex financial sector needed more sophisticated networks of lawyers and accountants. Corporate mergers and takeovers meant global headquarters got concentrated in fewer places. Crime declined, making cities less scary. And so great cities grew richer. Fancy architects put up lovely buildings. House prices rose. First, the working classes and bohemians were priced out. Nowadays the only ribald proletarian banter you hear inside Paris is from the market sellers, who don’t live there anymore." (FT)



"'Stupid, stupid. Americans are stupid. America is stupid. A stupid, stupid country made stupid by stupid, stupid people.' I particularly remember that because of the nine stupids. It was said over a dinner table by a professional woman, a clever, clever, clever woman. Hardback-educated, bespokely traveled, liberally humane, worked in the arts. I can’t remember specifically why she said it, what evidence of New World idiocy triggered the trope. Nor do I remember what the reaction was, but I don’t need to remember. It would have been a nodded and muttered agreement. Even from me. I’ve heard this cock crow so often I don’t even feel guilt for not wringing its neck. Among the educated, enlightened, expensive middle classes of Europe, this is a received wisdom. A given. Stronger in some countries like France, less so somewhere like Germany, but overall the Old World patronizes America for being a big, dumb, fat, belligerent child. The intellectuals, the movers and the makers and the creators, the dinner-party establishments of people who count, are united in the belief—no, the knowledge—that Americans are stupid, crass, ignorant, soul-less, naïve oafs without attention, irony, or intellect. These same people will use every comforting, clever, and ingenious American invention, will demand America’s medicine, wear its clothes, eat its food, drink its drink, go to its cinema, love its music, thank God for its expertise in a hundred disciplines, and will all adore New York. More than that, more shaming and hypocritical than that, these are people who collectively owe their nations’ and their personal freedom to American intervention and protection in wars, both hot and cold. Who, whether they credit it or not, also owe their concepts of freedom, equality, and civil rights in no small part to America. Of course, they will also sign collective letters accusing America of being a Fascist, totalitarian, racist state. Enough. Enough, enough, enough of this convivial rant, this collectively confirming bigotry. The nasty laugh of little togetherness, or Euro-liberal insecurity. It’s embarrassing, infectious, and belittling. Look at that European snapshot of America. It is so unlike the country I have known for 30 years. Not just a caricature but a travesty, an invention. Even on the most cursory observation, the intellectual European view of the New World is a homemade, Old World effigy that suits some internal purpose. The belittling, the discounting, the mocking of Americans is not about them at all. It’s about us, back here on the ancient, classical, civilized Continent. Well, how stupid can America actually be? On the international list of the world’s best universities, 14 of the top 20 are American. Four are British. Of the top 100, only 4 are French, and Heidelberg is one of 4 that creeps in for the Germans. America has won 338 Nobel Prizes. The U.K., 119. France, 59. America has more Nobel Prizes than Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and Russia combined. Of course, Nobel Prizes aren’t everything, and America’s aren’t all for inventing Prozac or refining oil. It has 22 Peace Prizes, 12 for literature. (T. S. Eliot is shared with the Brits.) And are Americans emotionally dim, naïve, irony-free?" (AA Gill)


"I happened to see those words of Victor Hugo’s over the weekend and I was reminded of Paul Soros who died on Saturday night here in New York, after a long illness. Not famous like his younger financial investor brother George, Paul, who celebrated his 87th birthday just two weeks ago, was an immensely successful and innovative industrial engineer. According to his obituary in the New York Times his firm, Soros Associates 'dominated the port-building industry and shifted international trade and production patterns through its shipping innovations.' His expertise and skill also made him very rich. He and his wife Daisy shared an ample part of their wealth with their philanthropy in the community, both in helping young people get educations and in promoting the arts and the public’s access to enjoying it. Their eighteen year sponsorship of the Summer Swing Dance at Lincoln Center has brought great good fun and pleasure to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who love music and love to dance. I always thought of this particular philanthropic gesture as definitive of the characters and personalities of the Soros couple. They recognized by their experience in life the depth and value of music and dancing in our lives." (NYSocialDiary)


"SAINT-TROPEZ—To the once-upon-a-time sleepy fishing village, now the focal point for Russian oligarch excess, outrageously ugly super-yachts, and what is commonly known as the scum of the Earth, the nouveaux riche of the 21st century. A tiny but perfect airport for small planes and jets means the 747s the camel drivers prefer are too big to land and thus have to use Nice or Marseille.
I am here for the annual Pugs Club regatta. I flew down from Gstaad in Peter Livanos’s chopper, a great machine that slalomed around the snowy mountains in a fog, skipping the dense parts, climbing and diving around protuberant rocks, getting us down from door to transom in one hour and thirty-five minutes. Sorry, folks, but it’s the only way to travel nowadays. Five minutes by car from my chalet to the Saanen Airport, 75 minutes of inspecting the Alps from very nearby, then a 15-minute ride to the port of Saint-Tropez, where a chartered racing machine was waiting for me.
The four competing boats were all lined up: Tim Hoare’s beautiful Alexia, Roger Taylor’s Tiger Lily, Tara Getty’s Skylark, and the poor little Greek boy’s toy, a modern marvel that can reach twenty knots in a high wind and is as ugly as she’s fast. All the competing boats had to bribe the local powers to secure a place right in front of the famed Saint-Tropez quae, which is usually reserved for the most flamboyant boats owned or chartered by types that think Paris Hilton is class personified.
The first evening dinner took place at Rolf Sachs’s house in the bay—he’s Gunter’s boy—where it wasn’t the first time the competitors got much too chummy with each other and by far too drunk. I spilled the beans about my boat’s speed and like a fool demanded I be given a handicap to match." (Taki)



"Freaks and Geeks creator, Bridesmaids director, and helmer of many of your favorite episodes of Mad Men, Arrested Development, and Parks and Recreation Paul Feig returns on June 28 with The Heat, starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as mismatched crime fighters in pursuit of a drug lord. In no particular order, these are the movies, books, cuisines, and teachers that inspired him.  1. Groucho Marx My mom took me to see Animal Crackers and I started imitating Groucho. At one point I was doing Groucho-Grams, where I’d go to somebody’s work and be Groucho. I bought the long coat, glasses, and greasepaint mustache. My boss was like, 'Just get one of those nose and glasses.' I was like, 'How dare you, sir!' 2. George Carlin I bought his albums on cassette, and I had this cassette player that I only found out years later ran a little faster than a normal player. So, for years, I loved Carlin’s delivery because he was really fast. But he was bred to be funny. He was comedy personified .." (NYMag)

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