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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Has Sontag dated? Born in New York in 1933, she was strongly associated with the 1960s counterculture and its more anarchistic aftermath in the 1970s, and this interview combines two meetings that took place in 1978. She was then at the height of her media presence as the empress of intellectual earnestness, and her interviewer Jonathan Cott was one of the founders of Rolling Stone magazine, then at the height of its status as the world’s hippest journal. So this book had all the makings of a period piece.On closer examination something else started to kick in. Sontag’s photo on the cover for a start: coolly beautiful and stylish, an energy in mesmeric repose. It had been taken inside Sontag’s penthouse on Riverside Drive, location of the second interview in New York. The first interview had been done five months previously in her Paris flat—which was located not in Belleville or the Latin Quarter but in the top-drawer 16th arrondissement. This blue stocking, it turns out, was also rich and chic and I’d never quite seen her in that light before ...What first put Sontag on the map was her collection of essays Against Interpretation (1966), in which she took the attitude of her mentor Roland Barthes in ignoring barriers between high and low or popular culture, introducing that attitude to an Anglo-American audience with a bravura of her own. It was a heady mix because high culture at that time was intensely rarefied, while popular culture, with the rock revolution, was emerging from corporate clutches into something very ambitious of its own, and the two somehow met on the great highway to the future. So Sontag’s warmth, playfulness, and generosity of spirit ('I’m all for deviants') should come as no surprise, and yet they do ..." (Takimag)



"My mother would do whatever she had to do to keep a roof over our heads. That often meant sleeping with someone that she really didn’t care for. That was just the way it was. By then, I was going to public school and that was a nightmare. I was a pudgy kid, very shy, almost effeminate-shy, and I spoke with a lisp. Sometimes my mother would be passed out from drinking the night before and wouldn’t walk me to school. It was then that the kids would always hit me and kick me. We would go to school and these people would pick on us, then we would go home and they’d pull out guns and rob us for whatever little change we had. That was hard-core, young kids robbing us right in our own apartment building.Having to wear glasses in the first grade was a real turning point in my life. My mother had me tested, and it turned out I was nearsighted, so she made me get glasses. They were so bad. One day I was leaving school at lunchtime to go home and I had some meatballs from the cafeteria wrapped up in aluminum to keep them hot. This guy came up to me and said, 'Hey, you got any money?' I said, 'No.' He started picking my pockets and searching me, and he tried to take my fucking meatballs. I was resisting, going, 'No, no, no!' I would let the bullies take my money, but I never let them take my food. I was hunched over like a human shield, protecting my meatballs. So he started hitting me in the head and then took my glasses and put them down the gas tank of a truck. I ran home, but he didn’t get my meatballs. I still feel like a coward to this day because of that bullying. That’s a wild feeling, being that helpless. You never ever forget that feeling. That was the last day I went to school. I was 7 years old, and I just never went back to class." (Mike Tyson)


"We’ll save our Republican friends a recitation of all the damage they did to themselves during the recent battle over the government shutdown and the debt limit. Anyone who can read a poll knows what happened. The shutdown kerfuffle has led to a significant improvement in the national political climate for Democrats. The House generic ballot, a national poll that measures whether those surveyed prefer a Democratic or Republican candidate in their local U.S. House race, was generally close over the summer, which was great news for Republicans: According to the Crystal Ball’s Alan Abramowitz, these generic ballot surveys will have to show a double-digit lead for the Democrats around Labor Day next year for them to get within striking distance of picking up the House. But since the shutdown, Democrats are getting closer to the kind of numbers that would put the House in play. The last nine generic ballot surveys listed on HuffPost Pollster as of Wednesday morning read as follows: D+8, D+8, D+7, D+6, D+7, D+10, D+8, D+4 and D+5 — that’s an average lead of seven points.If the numbers look similar close to Election Day next year, Democrats would be poised for significant gains in the House, and the generic ballot would also indirectly indicate a national sentiment for retained Democratic control of the Senate.That said, the election is a long ways away, and Democrats would have to net 17 seats to win a majority in the House. Another polling average, RealClearPolitics, shows Democrats with a six percentage point lead in the generic ballot. That’s not all that much different than the 5.5 point edge Democrats held in the RCP average on this exact date four years ago. Of course, back then the Democratic arrow was pointing down — that lead was gone by December 2009. Now the Democratic arrow might be pointing up, and the GOP will start to hit the panic button if their numbers stay so poor.Republicans hope that Americans have short memories and begin to focus on things that will help their candidates in 2014: Namely, continued sloppiness in the Obamacare rollout, a weak economy (shown again by mediocre unemployment numbers released Tuesday) and a president with a middling approval rating (Obama’s approval right now, which is mired in the mid-40s, isn’t much different than it was right before the 2010 Republican congressional wipeout). However, we’re far from sure that the Republican hopes are warranted: After all, if one argues that voter anger over the shutdown will fade, doesn’t it also stand to reason that anger over Obamacare website snafus will also fade in the 12 months before the election?As we take a look at the Senate and the House, we’ve found positive developments for Democrats in both places." (Sabato)


"The last couple of days have been jammed with events. On Tuesday night in the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza, The World Monuments Fund held its 26th annual Hadrian Awards to Roberto Hernandez Ramirez in recognition of his dedication to the preservation of Mexico’s cultural patrimony.  The Hadrian Award is presented annually by the WMF since 1988 and honors international leaders whose patronage has greatly encriched the appreciation and conservation of art and architecture around the world. Sr. Hernandez was a co-founder of Acciones y Valores de Mexico (Accival) – one of the most important investment banks in Mexico – 42 years ago, and is Chairman of the Board. In 1991 he became Chairman of Banco Nacional de Mexico (Banamex), Mexico’s leading commercial bank, thus founding Grupo Financiero Banamex-Accival where he served as CEO and Chairman of the Board from 1997 to 2001. Currently besides being on the board of the bank, he holds offices in several cultural and philanthropic organizations involved in education and the arts. Sr. Hernandez is also a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Federal
Reserve Bank of New York." (NYSocialDiary)


"Over the years, I’ve heard my father described as a Lothario, a drinker, a gambler, a man’s man, more interested in killing big game than in making movies. It is true that he was extravagant and opinionated. But Dad was complicated, self-educated for the most part, inquisitive, and well read. Not only women but men of all ages fell in love with my father, with that strange loyalty and forbearance men reserve for one another. They were drawn to his wisdom, his humor, his magnanimous power; they considered him a lion, a leader, the pirate they wished they had the audacity to be. Although there were few who commanded his attention, Dad liked to admire other men, and he had a firm regard for artists, athletes, the titled, the very rich, and the very talented. Most of all, he loved characters, people who made him laugh and wonder about life. Dad always said he wanted to be a painter but was never going to be great at it, which was why he became a director. He was born in Nevada, Missouri, on August 5, 1906, the only child of Rhea Gore and Walter Huston. Rhea’s mother, Adelia, had married a prospector, John Gore, who started up several newspapers from Kansas to New York. A cowboy, a settler, a saloon owner, a judge, a professional gambler, and a confirmed alcoholic, he once won the town of Nevada in a poker game. Dad’s father was, of course, an actor, and in 1947, Dad directed Walter in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, for which they both won Academy Awards. My mother, Enrica Georgia Soma, had been a ballet dancer before Tony and I were born. She was five feet eight and finely made. She had translucent skin, dark hair to her shoulders parted in the middle, and the expression of a Renaissance Madonna, a look both wise and na├»ve. She had a small waist, full hips and strong legs, graceful arms, delicate wrists, and beautiful hands with long, tapering fingers. To this day, my mother’s face is the loveliest in my memory—her high cheekbones and wide forehead; the arc of her eyebrows over her eyes, gray blue as slate; her mouth in repose, the lips curving in a half-smile. To her friends, she was Ricki. She was the daughter of a self-proclaimed yogi, Tony Soma, who owned an Italian restaurant called Tony’s Wife, on West 52nd Street, in New York. Ricki’s mother, Angelica Fantoni, who had been an opera singer in Milan, died of pneumonia when my mother was four. That broke Grandpa’s heart. But he took a second wife, Dorothy Fraser, whom we called Nana, a pleasant, no-nonsense woman who raised my mother under a strict regime. Grandpa was dictatorial and prone to aphorisms such as 'There’s no intelligence without the tongue!' and 'Through the knowledge of me, I wish to share my happiness with you!'" (VanityFair)





"Riding in the cab on my way home from lunch. The cabbie and I got started on the weather ... Coming through the park on to 72nd Street, passing the house that now belongs to the Emir of Qatar (the Sloane mansion), the cabbie said people only care about money nowadays; that’s all they worry about. There’s a lotta people with a lotta money in this city, he told me. Once, last year he had a man who left his backpack in the back seat of this taxi. It had a half a million dollars in cash in it. Really? Yes, the guy was on his phone, he paid his fare and got outta the cab and walked away talking on his phone. The next fare who got in told the cabbie: someone left their backpack in the back seat. The new fare passed it through the divider window to the cabbie in the front seat, without bothering to open it. Neither did the cabbie.Fortunately the guy who left it in the cab had his receipt from the ride, and when he suddenly realized what he had done just a few minutes later, he called 311. They got in touch with the cabbie right away. He still hadn’t looked inside. Then he did, and there it was – packs, stacks of hundreds. All hundreds. A half a million bucks. The guy who left it was very relieved and happy. He said it was all the money he had in the world. He said he was in the diamond business although the cabbie didn’t know if he should believe him or not. He gave the cabbie two hundred bucks reward. A half million will get you a couple hundred. If you’re honest." (NYSocialDiary)

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