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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Israel and the Palestinians agreed to restart direct peace talks after more than three years, as months of diplomacy by Secretary of State John Kerry showed tangible, if tenuous, signs of progress.
Senior Israeli and Palestinian officials will meet in Washington within the next two weeks to establish a time frame and other details before a more formal relaunch of the Middle East peace process, Mr. Kerry said at a news conference late Friday in Jordan. ... After Palestinian leaders rebuffed Mr. Kerry's proposal on Thursday, the secretary of state—on his sixth trip to the Mideast since taking his post in February—returned to Ramallah on a Jordanian military helicopter on Friday to make a last-ditch effort to sway Mr. Abbas. U.S. officials said that meeting with Mr. Abbas late Friday was crucial to forging an agreement. Mr. Kerry told the Palestinian leader that he brought fresh pledges secured from Mr. Netanyahu during a two-hour phone call with the Israeli leader on Friday, a senior aide to Mr. Abbas said. The secretary of state told Mr. Abbas that the Israeli government had agreed to quietly halt building in Jewish West Bank settlements, but wouldn't make any public announcement to that effect, according to the aide. He said Mr. Netanyahu had also pledged to release some Palestinian prisoners before the first day of talks in Washington. Mr. Kerry gave Mr. Abbas his own guarantee that peace talks would resume on the basis of Israel's pre-1967 borders, the aide said." (WSJ)


"President Obama delivered an impromptu, instantly historic soliloquy on race today at the White House press conference, occasioned by the acquittal in the George Zimmerman trial. Obama has rarely spoken about race directly since taking office, but here was the unprecedented spectacle of an African-American president essentially explaining structural racism to America. Obama does not disagree with the legal verdict but found the shooting itself troubling. But he used the occasion to speak more expansively on race from the perspective of an African-American than he ever has before — arguing how, verdict aside, the case triggered legitimate anger. African-Americans, he said, "'et frustrated, I think, if they feel that there's no context for it or — and that context is being denied. And — and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.' While acknowledging that there is no way for the federal government to intervene directly in cases like the Zimmerman trial, he suggested a few ways in which the government might respond: more racial bias training for law enforcement, closer examination of laws like Stand Your Ground, 'some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys,' and "some soul-searching.' Why is Obama saying this? And why now? There are three things to bear in mind for how Obama approaches the subject of race." (NYMag)


"He has accumulated five marriages, eight children, a $12bn-$14bn fortune and countless legal bills from run-ins with family members, business associates and regulators. So it’s not a surprise that Ron Perelman collects restaurants, too. The pugnacious dealmaker has invested in establishments from Graydon Carter’s Monkey Bar in Midtown Manhattan to Harlem’s fashionable Red Rooster. He once fought to close the bistro Le Bilboquet because of 'illegal' outdoor tables on his block, only to fund its move to a larger venue two streets away. Perelman, one of the 'barbarians' of the 1980s junk bond-fuelled takeover boom, has no stake in Michael White’s celebrated Italian seafood restaurant Marea but seems at home here. Maybe because he is a regular or maybe because its laminated wooden walls make the place shine like a billionaire’s well-polished yacht: it’s midday on a Friday and the 70-year-old looks ready to head for what he describes as his 'little boat in the Mediterranean', the 257ft yacht C². His pale blue shirtsleeves are rolled up, two buttons are opened to reveal a white undershirt and faint stubble spreads from his scalp to his chin. When I arrive he is at a corner table, watching the summer crowd walking along Central Park South with the wide, easy smile familiar from gossip column photographs. Perelman’s diverse holding company, MacAndrews & Forbes, unites businesses selling mulch, military vehicles and scratch cards. He is also the controlling shareholder of the cosmetics giant Revlon. He has few insights into how a place such as Marea wins two Michelin stars, though. 'I’m not a real foodie,' he confesses. 'I like the theatre of restaurants more than I care about the food.' He finances restaurants to support friends or to boost their local communities, he says, and in 2009 backed an East Hampton margarita joint called the Blue Parrot with art dealer Larry Gagosian, singer Jon Bon Jovi and actress Renée Zellweger even though he hates Mexican food. The chefs there serve him grilled fish instead. He wastes little time with Marea’s menu, despite putting on spectacles with comically thick round green frames to consult it." (FT)


"The sky on the outskirts of Taos, N.M., that September afternoon was a drenched cerulean blue. The air was warm, caressing and scented with sage. I sat in bright sun in a parched meadow looking at the distant black ridge of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. They looked mystical and Tolkien-like, reminding me of youthful reading trances and of my childhood belief in mystery and reward. Though it was a hot, beautiful day, I felt bereft and frozen. I was 25 that summer, but I felt old, sere and without hope. The previous year I had fallen in love with a handsome, kind, intelligent stranger. After a two-week courtship we got engaged, carried forward on an irresistible wave of optimism. A few months later, we married. When we met, I had only just emerged from a long college love affair that had ended painfully; my boyfriend had said that at 23 he was too immature to marry, and he was right. For me to meet an appealing, honorable man so soon after that breakup and to become his wife so effortlessly had felt like salvation. But things did not continue as they began. In the first days of our marriage, exhilaration turned to dismay as we learned we were not well attuned. He was reserved, I was direct. He harmonized, I soloed. He was patient, I was impatient. We were desperately polite but desperately mismatched. We felt no accord; we did not touch or hold hands. At night we lay still on our sides of the bed like figures on a stone sarcophagus. Inwardly, I reeled at my physical isolation; I wept silently in the dark. As the months passed, I came to see myself as a child trapped in an unending game of house who didn’t want to disappoint her playmate by ending it." (Liesl Schillinger)


"Jennifer Lopez didn’t let controversy surrounding her singing 'Happy Birthday' to allegedly oppressive Turkmenistan leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for $1 million ruin her own birthday. J.Lo was seen celebrating Thursday at Miami nightclub Wall. Spies said rapper Pitbull jumped into a booth with DJ Irie to serenade Lopez, who sat with boy-toy Casper Smart and 15 pals in a banquette. The group ordered bottles of Belvedere and Moët Rosé, though Lopez stuck to water, spies said, and stayed till 3 a.m. We hear the 'On the Floor' singer — whose 44th birthday is Wednesday — will continue celebrating Saturday at her new $10 million Water Mill estate. 'It’s going to be a lovely all-American party like it’s the Fourth all over again,' said a source. We hear there’s an 80-person guest list for the hush-hush bash. The Human Rights Foundation accused J.Lo of raking in $9 million over two years by playing private gigs for “dictators.'" (PageSix)


"If you’re not a political inside-baseball junky, you may have missed the proliferating conservative campaign to vilify Senator Rand Paul, the Kentucky libertarian with presidential aspirations. Catch up quickly via the vigorous work of Jennifer Rubin, author of the Washington Post’s Right Turn blog. Rubin advocates purging Paul based largely on his employing as a Senate aide one Jack Hunter. According to Rubin, Hunter “has a history of outlandish statements (as late as 2009) including opposition to the Civil War that would make Pat Buchanan cringe.'" (Businessweek)

 


"I grew up during Woody Allen’s not-so-memorable middle period—'Mighty Aphrodite,' 'Deconstructing Harry,' 'Sweet and Lowdown.' (When I was in the sixth grade, Allen filmed a scene from “Everyone Says I Love You” in a stately home down the block from my elementary school, in the Bronx, and I skipped class with my best friend to get his autograph.) But I was fortunate enough that my parents had an old tape of Allen’s album 'Standup Comic: 1964-1968,' and our family often would listen to it on long car rides. Many of Allen’s anxious, absurdist one-liners—'I had a pain in the chestal area' (from the bit 'Eggs Benedict'); 'He made a remark' ('Mechanical Objects'); 'Gertrude Stein punched me in the mouth' ('Lost Generation')—became regular family sayings, and the routine about the moose was, and still is, an oft-invoked favorite. So it set my chestal area aflutter to read yesterday on the New York Timess ArtsBeat blog that Allen is maybe, possibly considering a return to standup comedy. Allen’s new movie, 'Blue Jasmine,' includes the standup comics Andrew Dice Clay and Louis C.K. among its cast members, which prompted the Times reporter Dave Itzkoff, during a recent interview with the filmmaker about his many distinctive female characters, to inquire about the possibility of Allen returning to his nightclub roots. Allen responded that the casting of Clay and C.K. was coincidental (he’s a huge fan of C.K., and found Clay to be a surprisingly sympathetic actor), but admitted that he has been “toying with the idea” of developing new standup material." (NewYorker)

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