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Monday, September 09, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Of course, the Bloomberg-as-president fantasy has collapsed irretrievably, and the larger project of sustaining his worldview as a replicable credo has failed to track. This failure was inevitable, an odd flight of fancy for a figure so famously and proudly grounded in reality. Bloomberg was a rousing success; Bloomberg­ism, a debacle. Bloomberg’s image of himself as a potentially unifying national figure rested all along on a series of deep misconceptions. Bloomberg imagined that his brand of good governance would transcend ideological divisions. He attracted talented civil servants, applied rigorous metrics to every facet of their performance, and made government work. In an overwhelmingly Democratic city, making government run well is indeed a recipe for broad approval. In national politics, though, the wisdom of making government run well is a bitterly contested idea. The vision of a government managed by disinterested experts who follow the dictates of empiricism dates back a century to the Progressives—good-­government types who are found today on Glenn Beck’s blackboard, connected by conspiratorial arrows to various Obama-administration figures. The most Bloombergian initiative Obama has undertaken, comparative-effectiveness research, empowered the health-care industry to analyze the practical value of different medical interventions. You may know that initiative by its colloquial name: 'death panels.' Unsurprisingly, Bloomberg has emerged as a national hate figure among conservatives perhaps second only to Obama. Mississippi passed an anti-Bloomberg law prohibiting any mayor from restricting soda-cup sizes; Reason.com called him 'Pol Pot on the Hudson.' Bloomberg’s faith that bureaucratic competence would allow him to escape partisan division was merely naïve, but his apparent belief that his views on national politics situated him in the center is downright bizarre. He is a conventional social liberal. To the degree that he has separated himself from the Democratic Party, he’s done it mainly by articulating more outspoken versions of the standard liberal view on climate change, gun control, immigration reform, and gay marriage. Yes, Bloomberg assailed Obama for lacking a plan to reduce the budget deficit, which sounds conservative, except that Bloomberg’s own proposal included ending all the Bush tax cuts, not just those for the rich. (The last prominent politician to advocate that? Howard Dean.) Bloomberg did position himself clearly to Obama’s right in one way, and it was very telling: He robustly defended the rich in general, and Wall Street in particular, from the widespread public revulsion it has faced since the economic crisis. Far from clashing with the general liberal cast of Bloomberg’s ideological profile, this one piece completes it. Bloomberg is the candidate of the Democratic Party’s donor class. He stands for the things the $50,000-a-plate social liberals wish Democratic politicians would say if they weren’t so afraid of how it would play in Toledo. Bloombergism at a national level is merely Democratic Party liberalism stripped of any concern for public opinion. Some of Bloomberg’s most ardent admirers failed to understand this. The unofficial members of the Draft Bloomberg committee, represented well on the op-ed pages, often presented him as the vox populi of the disaffected center. (Washington Post columnist David Broder urged Bloomberg to run in 2008 because 'there is a palpable hunger among the public for someone who will attack the problems facing the country—the war in Iraq, immigration, energy, health care—and not worry about the politics.') Elitists often think of themselves as populists, but Bloomberg has always been undeluded about this. He is that rare species: not merely a functional elitist but a philosophically committed one." (NYMag)


"When Hamish Bowles was a toddler walking down the street with his mother near their home in the leafy north London neighborhood of Hampstead Garden Suburb, an elegant Indian woman came toward them dressed in an elaborate sari. 'Hamish rushed up to her and plucked at it,' his mother, Anne Bowles, recalled recently. '‘Mummy, mummy, look, it has gold threads,’ ' she remembers her small son saying. 'It was a wake-up call, definitely, that Hamish was interested in fashion,' Mrs. Bowles said.   Threads of all colors were not a passing fancy for Mr. Bowles, the dapper international editor at large for Vogue who has been tapped to fill the shoes (if not the billowing caftans) of André Leon Talley, the longtime columnist who left the magazine last February to edit Numero Russia.       
'We wanted to fill that void with another compelling voice that could bring you into the world of fashion, travel and all the extraordinary places Hamish goes and all the people he sees,' said Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor.  For the daylong celebration that Ms. Wintour arranged last June for Mr. Bowles’s 50th birthday, Ralph Lauren made a three-piece suit in sherbet pink, to which the guest of honor added an antique fob chain and a diamond and emerald Art Deco pin. 'Long live the lilac queen,' the writer Christopher Mason toasted Mr. Bowles (known for his love of that color) in song, who can 'find in piles of schlock, some Balenciaga frock.' That is an understatement. If Mr. Talley was Vogue’s resident peacock, swooping about in capes and issuing edicts, Mr. Bowles is more its professor, with one of the largest private collections of vintage clothing in the world, which he stores in the Bronx and Queens. At the invitation of Oscar de la Renta, he curated the 'Balenciaga in Spain' exhibition that showed in New York and San Francisco two years ago. He also curated 'Jacqueline Kennedy and the White House Years' at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2001. His new Vogue column began with a visit to Chatsworth, home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. But Mr. Bowles has also displayed a comical side, reveling in unlikely immersive journalism like a stint at the Boulder Survival School, surfing with Blake Lively and, at the suggestion of Ms. Wintour, auditioning for “The X Factor.” (He has been known to sing Broadway show songs by heart at Marie’s Crisis in Greenwich Village.) " (NYTimes)


"The new guard of tech entrepreneurs moving into San Francisco’s ultra-exclusive neighborhood of Pacific Heights, historically a Waspy and conservative enclave of old-money families, is creating friction, writes contributing editor Evgenia Peretz in the October issue. Peretz speaks with both new and old residents, exploring the culture clash. 'They bore the hell out of me,' San Francisco society doyenne Denise Hale tells Peretz of the Silicon Valley transplants. 'They’re one-dimensional and can only talk about one thing. I’m used to brilliant men in my life who leave their work, and they have many other interests. New people eventually will learn how to live. When they learn how to live, I would love to meet them.' An exception, Hale says, is Yahoo C.E.O. Marissa Mayer: 'Marissa is something which I like. Marissa has a handsome husband, in love, beautifully dressed, a lady. I don’t go for this slob culture—leave me alone.' Peretz writes that the two families who ruled the roost in Pacific Heights for the past 30 years—the Gettys and the Trainas—are still very much kicking today. But, according to Peretz, the tech elite is buying there en masse, including: Mark Pincus, founder and chairman of gaming platform Zynga, and his wife, Alison, co-founder of online-shopping destination One Kings Lane; Sir Jonathan 'Jony' Ive, head designer at Apple; Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and C.E.O. of Yelp; Bebo’s Michael and Xochi Birch; Facebook designer Aaron Sittig; Nextdoor founder Nirav Tolia; and Yammer C.E.O. David Sacks. The younger generation of Gettys and Trainas appears to be welcoming its new neighbors with open arms. According to Tolia, Trevor Traina, San Francisco’s undisputed social king, 'basically handpicked the neighborhood” for them. “My aspiration for my good friends is that they all love their homes,' Traina tells Peretz, 'and selfishly it’s wonderful to have so much incredible magical brainpower nearby.'" (VanityFair)


"Last night, a scrum of fashion editors, models, club kids and celebrities made their way past tourists and families eating dinner at the South Street Seaport to the shopping mall at Pier 17 for Alexander Wang's much-anticipated annual fashion week party. Once inside, guests took escalators through the empty mall -- past a closed Christmas store and deserted kiosks -- up to the food court, which had been transformed by the SHADE team (led by Ladyfag and Seva Granik) into a Tokyo-inspired shopping plaza. Light installations flashing Japanese characters, girls dressed in Harajuku get-ups, vendors giving away Pocky and Hello Kitty backpacks were a few of the night's novelties, enjoyed by folks like Solange Knowles, Dev Hynes, Jourdan Dunn, Derek Blasberg, A$AP Rocky and the A$AP Mob and Rihanna (who stayed backstage in a VIP area the entire party). DJs like PAPER Beautiful Person Mess Kid, Jus Ske and Fatherhood (Michael Magnan and Physical Therapy) played a mix of hip-hop, house and electro but the night's musical highlight came courtesy of a surprise performance by Nicki Minaj. Singing hits like 'Super Bass,' 'Dance (A$$)' and 'Starships,' Minaj was joined onstage at one point by Alexander Wang himself, who did a little booty dance with her." (Papermag)


"Who are the Millennials? Narcissists, that’s who. Entitled types who actually expect to be paid for the work they do. A generation foolish enough to have graduated into a recession—“liking” rather than loving, stealing Wi-Fi, twerking molly (or whatever it is you do with molly). Takers of selfies!
This unfortunate demographic, which has become an easy target for anti-technology pundits, a peg for prurient essays on hookup culture, and a marvellous resource for op-ed columnists in a rush, is now in possession of its very own cable channel: Pivot, which débuted, very quietly, last month. Launched by the producer Evan Shapiro, whose résumé includes executive roles at Sundance and IFC, two of the more innovative small cable networks, the network has a sly slogan: 'It’s Your Turn.' And so far, at least, you’d never recognize that mythical Millennial in Pivot’s schedule, which has an appealingly humble aura—it’s diverse, it’s global, it’s progressive, with a touch of early MTV (right down to its première broadcast, a montage of bands covering 'Video Killed the Radio Star'). As long as you avert your eyes from the talk show hosted by Meghan McCain, Pivot suggests legitimate creative possibilities. The highlight is the sweetly melancholic half-hour comedy 'Please Like Me,' a small charmer that is a bit like 'Louie' or 'Girls'—that is, if Louis CK were Australian or Lena Dunham gay. In addition, Pivot has 'Jersey Strong,' a gritty reality series set in Newark, and plans to launch a crowd-sourced variety show called 'hitRECord on TV,' hosted by the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. (On the hitRECord.org Web site, Gordon-Levitt has been posting daily videos in which he solicits material from viewers, including audio tracks and designs for animated characters.) Next year, there will be a scripted drama called 'WILL.' It’s the story of Shakespeare as a Millennial, which is either the best idea on earth or the worst; either way, the concept has a brassy, shoot-the-moon quality and, presumably, a refreshing lack of criminal anti-heroes." (Emily Nussbaum via TheAwl)


"RFK Jr. also kept notes for his journal during his month-long stint in a Puerto Rican prison that July. He, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson’s wife, Jacqueline, were charged with trespassing during protests on Vieques, the Puerto Rican island the US Navy used as a bombing range. The Revs. Jackson and Sharpton 'give me the creeps,' Kennedy writes in a July 5 entry. 'Al Sharpton has done more damage to the black cause than [segregationist Alabama Gov.] George Wallace. He has suffocated the decent black leaders in New York,' he says. 'His transparent venal blackmail and extortion schemes taint all black leadership.' Rev. Al Sharpton gave Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 'the creeps,' he wrote in his diary. He goes on to call Sharpton a 'buffoon' who has never escaped the 'stench' of his advocacy for Tawana Brawley, the black Dutchess County teen who fabricated a story about six white men raping her in 1987." (PageSix)



"Friday I got this catalogue in the mail from Doyle Galleries and their upcoming auction of the Leo Lerman & Gray Foy Collection on September 24th. I like this picture because it gives you the opportunity to see every item clearly. In real life, the room is large and tall and dark Victorian despite the ample (tall) windows. It has a drama, a stage drama, if you will, about it. The entire apartment does. It is not reclusive or dark and foreboding in its feel, as you might expect of a Victorian interior. It is quite cheerful, and possibly because of this 'Collection.' The thousands and thousands of people who came through its doors to attend the hundreds of parties these two men gave down through the decades, must have felt they were in the thick of that great theatrical drama that the rooms refer to.  It began with Leo. He was born in New York, in Queens into a family of ethnic Eastern European immigrants in 1925. All the world outside their door was new to them, and all remained new to the boy who grew up with them. Leo came of age when the city was possibly at its metropolitan zenith. It was a city of skyscrapers, factories, working class neighborhoods, wealthy neighborhoods, a powerful theatrical (and movie) culture. There were eight or ten dailies. Radio had entered and connected the country 'Coast to Coast.' The city’s nightlife was bursting. People went out all the time. They went out to bars, to restaurants, to nightclubs all the time. People saw each other socially all the time – those who had the time and money, because New York was always a city of working people. When Leo was 26, in 1941, he was offered a job writing for Vogue and other Conde Nast titles. This was when the man himself, Conde Nast was running things. Leo’s previous background was theatre. He had aspired to be an actor. For whatever reason – probably at least having to do with 'earning a living,' the move into the magazine world was the golden road for him. " (NYSocialDiary)

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