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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Political analysts trying to explain the current standoff in Washington are quick to point to redistricting as helping to foster ideological extremism in Congress. Representatives have been skillfully gerrymandered into safe districts of like minds where they can do as they please, listening only to reflections of their own thinking without fear of political consequence. But given that politics in its current form is threatening to produce a crisis that threatens to create financial mayhem on a global scale — while striking one more blow against claims of American 'greatness' — perhaps something more complicated than sketching out voting districts is at play. The polarized political map is now accompanied by a media ecosystem that is equally gerrymandered into districts of self-reinforcing discourse. Justice Scalia and millions of news consumers select and assemble a worldview from sources that may please them, but rarely challenge them. As I flipped through cable channels over the last week, the government shutdown was viewed through remarkably different prisms. What was a 'needless and destructive shutdown' on MSNBC became a low-impact and therapeutic 'slim-down' over at Fox News. But cable blowhardism would not be such a good business if there hadn’t been a kind of personal redistricting of news coverage by the citizenry. Data from Pew Research Center for the People and the Press on trends in news consumption released last year suggests people are assembling along separate media streams where they find mostly what they want to hear, and little else." (David Carr)


"Ben Younger's tightly focused 2000 drama Boiler Room covered a sliver of Belfort's story, but if that low-budget film was a penny stock, The Wolf of Wall Street is pure blue chip. To capture the criminal spectacle of the era, the duo aimed to make a film every bit as excessive as Belfort's ego. DiCaprio says he tried to pick up the kinds of details that might slip off the printed page: "The attitude, the lingo, the type of music he listened to, the drugs he took, how he took those drugs, the effects that it had on his mind and his psyche.' Asked for an example of this research, DiCaprio describes a large-scale scene, in which Belfort throws a wild party to celebrate his firm's success: 'We reach our monthly quota, and I make it a big celebration,' says DiCaprio. 'A gigantic marching band and a bunch of naked strippers come into the salesroom.' Production managers booked trained horses, hired scores of extras and midgets who would be dressed in Velcro suits and thrown at targets, per Belfort's memoir. Then, just days before the shoot, DiCaprio remembered something crucial from his conversations with Belfort and sought out Scorsese: 'I said, 'Jordan also mentioned that he had a chimpanzee on roller skates in a diaper that was handing out tickets to all the stockbrokers.' And Marty's like, 'That's great, how do we get a chimpanzee?' And I said, 'I don't know.' And he's like, 'All right, somebody get on it.' " (WSJ)


"The 'social life' as it exists in early 21st century New York is centered around the 'gala.' Without it, the community would be completely at odds. A benefit, a fundraiser. The gala is the Craigslist for New Yorkers on the rise, and thereabouts. I know that might sound cynical. I don’t mean to be; it is honest and sincere – the now. The 'gala' is how connections are made on a certain socio-economic strata. This is a natural response to an important aspect of New York. This is a town of ambition and ambition needs rewards. The 'social' aspect is an important part of the reward. A large part for many people. And it can be very interesting, egos aside. Nothing new here; history is written from it. All of that goes into what I am looking at and how I keep myself interested in what, like anything else, can become the same-old, same-old. One of the things I like about it is that it keeps challenging. I, as now of this late if not great age, am in the midst of the fray that is New York. And although it is more than any one man or woman could consume and comprehend at once or even ever, it’s rejuvenating, stimulating and enervating, no matter what. It was the Michael’s lunch yesterday. Wednesday. I was having lunch with my friend Tracey Jackson who has a daily blog which we’ve published. At the moment she is in the midst of writing a book with Paul Williams, the famous singer-songwriter." (NYSocialDiary)


"In the early 1990s when I was living in the heart of the East Village (which up until that time was still more often called the Lower East Side), there existed the remains of what was a bohemian world — not just in that area, but also in pockets all around the island. Two of my favorite bohemians that I came to know then in the East Village were Quentin Crisp, the 'Naked Civil Servant', who lived in a tiny squalid apartment on East Third Street, and Taylor Mead, who also lived in a tiny squalid apartment on Ludlow Street. Crisp shunned even the idea of housecleaning, explaining that he 'discovered, after five years, things don’t get any dirtier.' I got to know Crisp at first after he was the houseguest of friends of mine for a weekend in Hartford, Connecticut. He was a hilarious wit but frequently with an acid tongue — when I asked what kind of music he liked, as we sat with one of his hosts, composer James Sellars, he said without hesitation: 'I hate music.' I didn’t write down his explanation but I found a quote by him that repeats what he said to me that day: 'There’s too much music everywhere. It’s horrible stuff, the most noise conveying the least information. Kids today are violent because they have no inner life; they have no inner life because they have no thoughts; they have no thoughts because they know no words; they know no words because they never speak because the music’s too loud.' Ouch! After spending the weekend with Crisp I saw him frequently around the East Village — most mornings I spotted him, with his lavender-tinted cotton candy hair, having breakfast in an old fashioned diner on 2nd Avenue. In retrospect the East Village was already becoming gentrified with chic shops and fancier restaurants beginning to open. But Tompkins Square Park was still dicey and there was even a bar with no name that was nicknamed 'Betty Ford' because if you were drinking there (it stayed open at least to 4 a.m.) then detox was metaphorically just your next step around the corner." (NYSocialDiary)


"Libyans are among the most civilized people on Earth. When a Russian hooker (I assume) killed a Libyan Air Force officer, a mob stormed the Russian embassy seeking revenge. They failed, but not for lack of trying. This time last year another mob murdered the American ambassador and three others in a similar attack, although no Yankee gal had harmed any Libyan flyer. The civilized Libyans also did democracy proud when they captured Qaddafi. They shot him up the bum with an AK-47, dispensing with a boring trial. The bad guy that got away is Hannibal Qaddafi, who with wifey allegedly used to beat up and torture Filipino servants and intimidate the Swiss government by kidnapping Swiss citizens working in Libya and holding them on charges unknown. He slipped over to Algeria, where his ill-gotten moolah is welcome. My friend Saif Qaddafi wasn’t as lucky. He was 'detained' while fleeing the country and is held by some nice guys south of Tripoli. I call him my friend because we were introduced in New York four years ago and I mistook him for a coke dealer and politely asked if he had anything good." (Taki)


"For all of its creative highs, The Walking Dead has always been a series in flux. Launching as a cinematic, slow-burning zombie horror serial under original showrunner Frank Darabont, the drama soon evolved into, well, a lot of talk about postapocalyptic morals. Glen Mazzara took over halfway through season two and got the survivors out of their own heads and the hell away from that farm and turned the show into a nonstop battle zone: the prison vs. Woodbury, Rick vs. the Governor. In its fourth season (premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC), the series undergoes another evolution that includes a bunch of new characters, a new scary (if not monstrous) threat, and yet another new showrunner: Scott Gimple, another promotion from the writers' room. Vulture spoke to series executive producer and author of The Walking Dead comics Robert Kirkman about where the show has fallen down, what he and the writers have learned along the way, and what to expect next." (Vulture)


"On a characteristically foggy evening here, a group of predominantly single venture capitalists, tech executives, hedge-fund managers and philanthropists gathered for a cocktail party in a penultimate-floor suite at the St. Regis apartment complex. As guests ate oysters, baby lamb chops and perhaps the world’s smallest cheeseburgers, they were pitched a multiday, intellectually rigorous singles mixer to be held in January 2014 on Necker Island, Richard Branson’s 74-acre Caribbean paradise, 'curated' by Kelleher International, a long-running, high-end matchmaking service that is targeting Silicon Valley with particular vigor. Wearing an Alexander McQueen dress and towering Valentino heels as she sold the idea was the company’s 44-year-old chief executive, Amber Kelleher-Andrews. 'If we can get interesting single people and match them according to their taste, their likes, their interests and their passions, and get these 30 people on the island at a time, I can’t even imagine what would happen,' she told the group. 'Whether it’s two girls that become best friends or two guys that become business partners together, or it’s a couple that ends up falling in love, I’ve seen it at TED, I saw it at Sundance and I know it can happen at Necker.' The cost of the trip per person is still being determined, but the base fee is $45,000 (some of which is deductible because net proceeds go to Virgin Unite, Mr. Branson’s charitable foundation), not including the cost of flights and optional spa treatments. It is the luxurious but perhaps logical next step for a new breed of philanthropically minded, well-heeled singles who are already tramping around the knowledge enrichment circuit." (NYTimes)

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