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Thursday, August 01, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Coincidentally, a reader of the NYSD in Los Angeles, having read my report yesterday on the Gore Vidal, I Told You So book, sent me this message last night: 'In the last years of his life, I saw Mr. Vidal on a regular basis at the Polo Lounge (in the Beverly Hills Hotel). He was in a wheelchair and had a (very nice) male nurse. Gore would sit next to the piano player and sing standards and show-tunes for hours. He knew it was the end. When he sang, 'My Way', he very loudly emphasized the words "THE END IS NEAR, and so I face, the final curtain." Still, he seemed happy. He enjoyed talking to the people in the restaurant and would sometimes invite people back to his home to listen to opera. In the book of Vidal interviews ('I Told You So') he laments the loss of language and historical knowledge in the generations that have followed him, pointing out that the younger filmmakers have no sense of living, but more a sense of movies, which of course is not the same thing. It occurred to me that his singing those songs in public was not only a pleasure but another way for him to demonstrate the loss he was referring to." (NYSocialDiary)


" ... The 'different wings/' part of that is key. (Chris) Christie's (relative) social moderation and support for the (limited) power of government represents the old wing of the Republican party. (Rand) Paul's (relative) social conservatism and nouveau libertarianism is the new breed, an evolution of his Tea Party roots for the national stage. This is the sort of thing that often gets worked out in a presidential primary. In 2012, however, the party focused on getting rid of Barack Obama in lieu of identifying its own direction. Mitt Romney, from the Christie strain of Republicanism, tried on the Paul strain during the primaries. The mess that resulted needs no further explanation. But it meant that the party didn't try to bridge that gap, pushing off the debate until 2016. Which is why Christie and Paul have already taken it up. And it means that it's not really their fault. In a poll conducted by Pew Research released on Wednesday, that split is immediately apparent. Pew asked Republican voters about how the party is faring and how it might need to change. Three sets of responses are worth pulling out." (TheAtlantic)


"If I hear or read one more American hack mentioning the word 'democracy'  regarding Egypt and the Middle East, I swear on Joe Biden’s hair-implanted head that I shall go in front of the Capitol and commit ritual seppuku, the Japanese warrior’s way of leaving this life. ... It took the editor of the London Spectator writing in the Daily Telegraph to get it exactly right. What the Arab world needs is capitalism, not democracy, Fraser Nelson wrote. The so-called Arab Spring began when Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest the fact that he had to bribe Tunisian cops to sell his goods from a cart. It was as simple as that. A poor cart salesman immolated himself for capitalism, not democracy. Police had confiscated his fruit and a pair of scales once he refused to pay a bribe. That is all he had. He was not allowed to trade any longer, hence his suicide. Getting a license to trade, opening a shop, and even selling goods on the street need governmental approval. Bribes and bureaucracy go hand in hand. As Nelson wrote, 'traders do not really break the law—the law breaks them.' Sixty similar cases were overlooked by the geniuses of the press clamoring for democracy in the Middle East. But before I go on, a word about democracy, a most overrated and misunderstood institution that brain-dead reporters and so-called commentators use ad nauseam while reaching for the moral high ground. In what sense do you really have a hand in ruling the country through your vote? The sad answer is none whatsoever. Special interests and major corporations, yes; little John Doe, not at all. The demos, as the ancient Greeks called the people, practiced selective democracy, like we do in America with special interests. Mind you, the fairest way to ensure that everyone has an equal voice and chance to rule would be a lottery, but such a lottery would be rigged just as the game already is, so let’s drop that one." (Taki)


"Is politics a zero-sum game? Imagine, for a moment, if Sen. John McCain (R) had somehow won the presidency in 2008. How might the country be different? We would not have the Affordable Care Act. Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan would not be on the Supreme Court. And the stimulus passed at the outset of McCain’s presidency would probably have been considerably different from the one passed under President Obama. Oh, and there’s this: Democrats would probably still control the House, and they’d certainly still control the Senate. That’s because the president’s party almost invariably pays a price for holding the White House, a price that can be measured in the loss of House representatives, senators, governors and state legislators. Take a look at Chart 1, which examines the electoral history of the 12 presidents who served after World War II. Generally speaking, presidents left office with their parties having smaller House and Senate caucuses than when they arrived, and also fewer governors and state legislative chambers — often dramatically fewer. All in all, these 12 postwar presidents lost an average of 30 U.S. House seats; six senators; eight governors; total control of six state legislatures; and about 360 state legislative seats over their tenures. That includes Obama’s losses, even though his final tally remains to be totaled." (SabatosCrystalBall)


"'Satanic AOR:' a combination unlikely to find favor with devil worshippers, FM enthusiasts, or just about anyone else. And yet that's how a member of Sweden's Ghost B.C. (the legally-mandated "B.C." is silent) described a song off their new album, Infestissumam, which scaled Billboard's Hard Rock and Tastemaker charts back in May. This is all the more impressive considering that five of the band's six members -- known only as Nameless Ghouls -- hide their identities behind black vestments and masks that look like they were stolen from Sleep No More patrons; singer Papa Emeritus II prefers corpse makeup, pointy hats and plenty of inverted crosses. Infestissumam, the follow-up to Ghost B.C.'s 2010 debut Opus Eponymous, is rich with curveballs and contradictions. The single 'Year Zero/' sounds like classic 1970s metal -- think Ozzy melodies and haunted-house organ -- set to the beat of 'Dancing Queen.' (And indeed, the band recently recorded a cover of ABBA's 'I'm a Marionette' with Dave Grohl.) Our Ghoul, when asked about the song "Body and Blood," cited influences as far-flung as Television and Kansas. The melodies are often spectacular, as is the production. Somehow, Papa and the Ghouls have transformed a bonehead concept -- the presence of the Antichrist here on earth -- into something vastly more satisfying. If the Kinks and Gwar got together and remade The Omen, they might well end up with Ghost B.C. As you can imagine, staying anonymous within an increasingly mainstream band is hard. So is sustaining a concept as specific as Satanism over more than a couple of albums." (Paper)


"Michael’s was its a-clattering Wednesday self. Herb Siegel was at his regular table 5 with his son Bill Siegel and another guest. Right next to him, Vartan Gregorian was lunching with the Ambassador to Afghanistan; next door was Gerry Byrne, Vice Chair of Penske Media with Maryann Halford, finance and digital media consultant; Simone Levinson was with our Deputy Mayor Patti Harris; CNBC’s Ron Insana; Harold Holzer, Senior VP at the Metropolitan Museum, occupied Table One which looked liked a powwow of a working (delicious) lunch. Interiors-interiors, Steven Stolman of Scalamandre with Tristan Butterfield of Kohler. (Steven was featured in this past Friday’s HOUSE interview); tabloid impresario David Pecker with David Zinczenko publisher of his newly re-launched Men’s Fitness, along with Diane Clehane. Clehane’s lunches are interviews and she’s assiduous in getting her story which is published later in the afternoon on mediabistro.com. Next to them, Micky Ateyeh and guests. Nearby: Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel, brother of Rahm, the Mayor of Chicago, with David Zaslav, prez of the Discovery Channel; Chris Meigher of Quest with Lesley Stevens of LaForce and Stevens public relations. Moving around the room, Jack Kliger of TV Guide; Bobby Friedman the guy who had lunch with Leo DiCaprio a couple of weeks ago; the irrepressible Jason Binn, publisher of DuJour ..." (NYSocialDiary)


"To Sergey Aleynikov’s new way of thinking, every American could benefit from some time in jail, but in the event that you are yourself actually arrested and sent away, “there are certain practical aspects to keep in mind.” First, dress warmly. Detention centers tend to be freezing cold, even in summer, and so if you happen to be wearing shorts or short sleeves you’re in for a spectacularly unhappy night. Second, carry no cash. “If you have money, they charge you a convenience fee,” he explains. “If you don’t have it, they don’t charge you. The less money you have on you, the better.” Third, memorize a couple of emergency contact phone numbers. On the night of his first arrest he discovered he didn’t actually know his wife’s cell-phone number. He’d always phoned her by name from his cell phone’s address book, but his phone was one of the first things they’d taken from him. The fourth, and final, rule was by far the most important: Don’t say a word to government officials. “The reason you don’t,' he says, 'is that, if you do, they can place an agent on a witness stand and he can say anything.' On the night of July 3, 2009, as he came off a flight from Chicago to Newark, New Jersey, he was totally unprepared, because he’d never imagined himself as the sort of person who might commit a crime. He worked too much and took only the vaguest interest in his fellow human beings, but, up to the moment of his arrest, Aleynikov had no sense that there was anything wrong with him or his situation. On the surface, his life had never been better: his third child had just been born, he had a new job at a hedge fund that paid him a million dollars a year, and he’d just moved into a big new house of his own design that he thought of as the perfect home. He’d come to America 20 years ago with little English and less money. Now he was living the dream. For much of the flight from Chicago he’d slept. Leaving the plane he had noticed three men in dark suits, waiting in the alcove of the Jetway reserved for baby strollers and wheelchairs. They confirmed his identity, explained they were from the F.B.I., handcuffed him, and walled him off from the other passengers. This last act was no great feat. Serge was six feet tall but weighed roughly 130 pounds: to hide him you needed only to turn him sideways. He resisted none of these actions, but he was genuinely bewildered. The men in black refused to tell him his crime. He tried to figure it out. His first guess was that they’d gotten him mixed up with some other Sergey Aleynikov. Then it occurred to him that his new employer, the legendary high-frequency trader Misha Malyshev, might have done something shady. Wrong on both counts. It wasn’t until the plane had emptied and they’d escorted him into Newark Airport that they told him his crime: stealing computer code owned by Goldman Sachs." (Vanity Fair/Michael lewis)

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