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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"What is a dictator, or an authoritarian? I'll bet you think you know. But perhaps you don't. Sure, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong were dictators. So were Saddam Hussein and both Hafez and Bashar al Assad. But in many cases the situation is not that simple and stark. In many cases the reality -- and the morality -- of the situation is far more complex. Deng Xiaoping was a dictator, right? After all, he was the Communist Party boss of China from 1978 to 1992. He was not elected. He ruled through fear. He approved the massacre of protesters at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989. But he also led China in the direction of a market economy that raised the standard of living and the degree of personal freedoms for more people in a shorter period of time than perhaps ever before in recorded economic history. For that achievement, one could arguably rate Deng as one of the greatest men of the 20th century, on par with Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. So is it fair to put Deng in the same category as Saddam Hussein, or even Hosni Mubarak, the leader of Egypt, whose sterile rule did little to prepare his people for a more open society? After all, none of the three men were ever elected. And they all ruled through fear. So why not put them all in the same category? Or what about Lee Kuan Yew and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali? During the early phases of Lee's rule in Singapore he certainly behaved in an authoritarian style, as did Ben Ali throughout his entire rule in Tunisia. So don't they both deserve to be called authoritarians? Yet Lee raised the standard of living and quality of life in Singapore from the equivalent of some of the poorest African countries in the 1960s to that of the wealthiest countries in the West by the early 1990s. He also instituted meritocracy, good governance, and world-class urban planning. Lee's two-volume memoir reads like the pages in Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans. Ben Ali, by contrast, was merely a security service thug who combined brutality and extreme levels of corruption, and whose rule was largely absent of reform. Like Mubarak, he offered stability but little else." (STRATFOR)


"Capote toted his register with him everywhere, canvassing friends for suggestions. A garrulous creature disinclined to make a secret of either his professional activities or his private life, he twittered constantly about his work in progress. The graphic artist Gray Foy remembers Capote revealing his plan soon after its inception to Leo Lerman, the late Condé Nast editor. Lerman anxiously inquired, "When is it going to be?" Capote reassured him, 'Don't worry, you'll be invited!' Others were taunted with the refrain "Well, maybe you'll be invited and maybe you won't." During the summer of 1966, Mary 'Piedy' Gimbel Lumet—a former United Artists employee who was helping Capote with a TV project about prisoners on death row, produced by Leland Hayward—accompanied him, her country neighbor, on a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. 'He kept telling me he was going to invite everybody. I was very disappointed when I finally realized that the Bridgehampton postman wasn't going to be there.' As the list took shape, Capote set the date (November 28, the Monday after Thanksgiving), the time (10 o'clock), the place (the Plaza Hotel's Grand Ballroom), and the theme. Inspired by My Fair Lady's breathtaking Ascot scene, costumed by Cecil Beaton entirely in black and white, he would restrict his guests' attire to this most severe of palettes. This decision, he felt, would bring at least visual unity to a convocation of people as different, says former Harper's Bazaar fashion editor D. D. Ryan, 'as chalk and cheese." Capote explained, "I want the party to be united the way you make a painting.' Furthermore, all guests would be required to wear masks, and the ladies to carry fans. (Capote allowed only this last rule to be bent.) "I haven't been to a masked ball since I was a child," he said. "That's why I wanted to give one." The masks, according to his scenario, would free guests to dance and mingle as they pleased. At midnight the disguises would be removed. 'It was complete autocratic hosting,' recalls D. D. Ryan. Capote's despotism extended to asking a number of friends to host pre-ball dinners." (VanityFair)


"The Wednesday lunch at Michael’s. A lotta women holding forth on this day. At the table next to mine, Debbie Bancroft was celebrating her birthday one day early (the girl’s always in a rush) with pals Leslie Klotz, Tiffany Dubin, Patricia Duff, and Laurie Durning Waters. Debbie now over 45 and to prove it, the “cake” was fresh fruit. The aforementioned friends really are that – the real truth about the birthday girl – she makes friends and keeps them. We’ve been faithful friends for about twenty years. Our secret: see each other very infrequently…and by accident ... Over on Table One, Robert Zimmerman, known in Washington as a political commentator and consultant was lunching withCaroline Hirsch, Christine Kuehbeck, Maureen Reidy, Allison Stern and Nancy Silverman. Ms. Reidy is the very very pretty young marketing director of the Paley Center. Before that she worked for The Donald running theMiss Universe business. And what were they talking about? I don’t know but someone in that mix had a plan that interested the others, that’s the way the cake bakes. Across the way CNN’s Felicia Taylor was holding forth, as at separate tables were: Star Jones, Beth DozoretzFox 5’s Rosanna Scotto, Lynn White and Penny Crone." (NYSocialDiary)


"It was wall-to-wall mavens and moguls at Michael’s today with EICs of those swanky design books (Architectural DigestHouse Beautiful and Veranda) holding court in one corner of the dining room (I guess living well really is the best revenge), while the usual bold-faced names and social swans exchanged air kisses in the other ... (Table) 1. Marketing man and political commentator Robert Zimmerman presiding over a table of glam power gals  Allison Stern, Caroline Hirsch, Christine Kuehbeck, Nancy Silvermanand Maureen Reidy. (Table) 2. Patricia Duff, Debbie Bancroft and Tiffany Dubin (Table) 3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Dave Zinczenko (Table) 4. Agent Boaty Boatwright (Table) 5. Esther Newberg (Table) 6. Dr. Gerald Imber, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Jerry Della Femina (Table) 7. DuJour‘s boisterous Jason Binn who told us he was with “some hard working folks” from Versace (Table) 8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia and Rosina Rucci ( sister of designerRalph Rucci who heads up the house’s PR effort) (Table) 9. Star Jones" (FishbowlNY)

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