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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Like a patient etherized upon a table.." TS Elliot

"In general, Stratfor deals with U.S. domestic politics only to the extent that it affects international affairs. Certainly, this topic has been argued and analyzed extensively. Nevertheless, the shutdown of the American government is a topic that must be understood from our point of view, because it raises the issue of whether the leading global power is involved in a political crisis so profound that it is both losing its internal cohesion and the capacity to govern. If that were so, it would mean the United States would not be able to act in global affairs, and that in turn would mean that the international system would undergo a profound change. I am not interested in the debate over who is right. I am, however, interested in the question of what caused this shutdown, and ultimately what it tells us about the U.S. capacity to act. That is one reason to address it. A broader reason to address it is to understand why the leading global power has entered a period when rhetoric has turned into increasingly dysfunctional actions. The shutdown of the government has thus far not disrupted American life as a whole, although it has certainly disrupted the lives of some dramatically. It originated in a political dispute. U.S. President Barack Obama proposed and Congress approved a massive set of changes in U.S. healthcare. These changes were upheld in court after legal challenges. There appears to be significant opposition to this legislation according to polls, but the legislation's opponents in Congress lack the ability to repeal it and override a presidential veto. Therefore, opponents attached amendments to legislation funding government operations, and basically said that legislation would only be passed if implementation of healthcare reform were blocked or at least delayed. Opponents of healthcare reform had enough power to block legislation on funding the government. Proponents of healthcare reform refused to abandon their commitment for reform, and therefore the legislation to fund the government failed and the government shut down." (STRATFOR)

"For about three years I have subscribed to two free Internet sites that offer investment advice. In a moment of madness or lack of self-knowledge, I thought I might start to take an interest in my own financial affairs, but one does not develop such an interest (as against the necessity to do so) in one’s sixties. I have never unsubscribed to the two sites, but I have never taken their advice, either. I leave my investments, such as they are, to fester quietly. I have no idea whether I would have done better to pay attention.   I mentioned my lack of interest in my financial affairs to a businessman the other day, and he replied, 'All men of substance are interested in their financial affairs.' I felt much deflated, for I had rather prided myself on my negligence, with its implication that my mind was fixed on higher, more substantial things. Could it be, then, that I was a man of no substance? It depends on what you mean by substance as applied to a man. I think my interlocutor meant economic substance only, but no writer, of however humble ambition, could think of human substance exclusively in this way. Is a man necessarily of no substance because he is possessed of no fortune? Is a man’s substance to be measured on a simple linear scale of dollars and cents? Am I of half the substance, then, of my own best friend?" (Theodore Dalyrimple)


"It’s a no-lose proposition for New York politicians. Gambling interests have donated $3.2 million to Gov. Cuomo, the Legislature and Democratic and GOP committees since 2011, the good-government group Common Cause reported Monday. And the pace of contributions quickened as a Nov. 5 referendum on Vegas-like casinos in the state neared. Democrats who control the state Assembly pulled in $414,760. Republicans who dominate in the Senate walked off with $403,760.
Other recipients were Cuomo ($361,500), chairs of Senate and Assembly racing committees ($86,806 and $64,659, respectively) and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ($129,500). 'The problem is that the rules of the game are stacked against average voters, and the house always wins,' said Common Cause director Susan Lerner." (P6)


"MILOS FORMAN (Film director): I finished a movie in 1967, and I didn’t have any money. Somebody told me that Stanley Bard would let me stay at the Chelsea until I would be able to pay him back. At the time all I knew about the Chelsea was that some people in the hippie world were staying there. But I didn’t know that it had the slowest elevator in the whole country. NICOLA L.: Anything could happen in the elevator. It was either Janis Joplin or the big woman from the Mamas and the Papas who tried to kiss me in the elevator. I can’t remember which. It was a crazy time. MILOS FORMAN: Once I was going up in the elevator to my room on the eighth floor. On the fifth floor the door opened, and a totally naked girl, in a panic, ran into the elevator. I was so taken aback that I just stared at her. Finally I asked what room she was in. But then the elevator stopped and she ran away. I never saw her again. And I remember in the floor above me there was a man who had in his room a small alligator, two monkeys, and a snake." (VanityFair)



"I spent a week in this part of Ohio, and during my stay I was invited to do all sorts of things with people of all kinds—rich and poor, white and black. I was invited to go flying, dig for worms at midnight, and plant raspberry bushes. My request to drive a tractor was turned down, not because I don’t know how to drive but because the tractor had been put away. In Ohio, there is space for people to do what they want. There is a lot of land, plenty of it. This is where enslaved people ran to, certain that they had finally evaded capture. This is where America’s first prominent black poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar, wrote 'We Wear the Mask.' And somewhere in the midst of it all is Dave Chappelle’s home. From above, everything seems smaller and less complicated—or at the very least things are put into perspective. From a plane at thirty-five thousand feet it was much easier for me to understand why Dave Chappelle quit his hit TV show, Chappelle’s Show, and said goodbye to all that, and didn’t stop until he got home to Yellow Springs, Ohio. When news of his decision to cease filming the third season of the show first made headlines, there were many spectacular rumors. He had quit the show without any warning. He had unceremoniously ditched its cocreator, his good friend Neal Brennan, leaving him stranded. Chappelle was now addicted to crack. He had lost his mind. The most insane speculation I saw was posted on a friend’s Facebook page at 3 a.m. A website had alleged that a powerful cabal of black leaders—Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, and others—were so offended by Chappelle’s use of the n-word that they had him intimidated and banned." (TheBeliever)


"Last night I went to the annual Autumn Dinner at the Frick. The Frick is like La Grenouille. Well, on the same page in terms of sensibility. I’m sure that Charles Masson when he’s looking for beauty, sometimes goes to the Frick. A lot of us do. It was one man’s house, as you probably know, although it was intended from the planning to be a museum one day. His daughter Helen Frick took the mantle of her father after he died and left the family imprimatur as effectively as all of the artists, sculptors, architects and interior decorators who created and built the house. So it is not only an exquisite museum but it has an emotional life that only a family can impart.I’ve been to this dinner a number of times. It is special mainly for its beauty. You can see in the photos I took of the West Gallery where many (but not all) of the guests were seated at two very long tables. The wines were very good (this year: The Four Graces Willamette Valley Pinot Gris 2012 and the Four Graces Willamette Valley Pinto Blanc 2012). The menu starter was Turnip Veloute; Preserved Lemon Roasted Hazelnuts, and Shaved Baby Turnips. Very good although, as it is at a dinner like this (black tie/formal), the helping is not substantial. It would have been in Mr. Frick’s day, but that was then and their cuisine was plainer. The main course of Muscovy Duck with Chestnuts, Prunes, and Armagnac Buckwheat Spaetzle and Kale brought out the fussy eater in me and the duck. Kale is a phenomenon. Everybody in New York eats Kale now. All the time." (NYSocialDiary)



"Over 40 years ago, a notorious womanizer was cuckolded. For some reason, this is big news today! Johnny Carson's one-time lawyer and friend Henry Bushkin has a new book out called Johnny Carson, an account of his time with the late late-night legend. Bushkin was Carson's lawyer for many years but was "banished from the kingdom" in the late eighties, according to a People article from 1991. Still, Bushkin moved forward with this book, an excerpt of which is in this week's EW. The selected section describes a night when Carson, Bushkin, and three seemingly unsavory associates broke into an apartment rented by Carson's then-wife Joanne. (She was Carson's second of four wives.) ... They get into the apartment no problem and then discover artifacts that suggest Joanne has been having an affair with former New York Giant Frank Gifford." (NYMag)

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