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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvr



"Every time Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke opens his mouth, the markets move. But few could have guessed that in an offhand remark he would add legitimacy to the Bitcoin, the virtual currency that competes with the American dollar as a reserve currency and an international trading medium. Yet that is what he did when he held out a friendly hand to the notion of fantasy currencies in a letter to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. Understandably, this improbable endorsement from the guardian of the mighty dollar sent the value of the Bitcoin soaring. Until recently, the Bitcoin was seen as a novel, experimental, somewhat piratical cyberspace Monopoly money that has proved useful in moving money around the world without the hampering and costly help of banks, which slow things down, waste days while the cash lingers in limbo, and take a hefty slice of every transaction. Bitcoin’s headiest moment was as the currency of choice of the Deepnet black market website Silk Road, which sold everything from crack cocaine to child porn, and was closed down by the FBI last month. Bernanke sees far beyond the illicit uses of virtual currencies as a means of paying for contraband or shuffling hot money around without being traced. He believes they could become an ingenious means whereby the globalized market in legitimate goods and services can work more efficiently without the dead hand of the banks. The Fed chairman told the Senate Committee members, who are anxious that something outside the control of Congress will be used as a currency for criminals and terrorists, to think before consigning Bitcoin and similar monetary confections to oblivion. Forget money-laundering, he wrote, 'there are also areas where [virtual currencies] may hold long-term promise.' Bernanke’s guarded welcome to virtual currencies as an ingenious innovation that will liberate world trade seemed like an aside, but his glancing approval may ultimately prove a revolutionary step in both economics and politics. Competing private currencies have long been seen by free market economists as the holy grail. So long as the state governs the price of money through interest rates and insists that only one currency can be used in a geographical area, there is no chance of approaching a truly free market. Friedrich Hayek’s stunted Austrian economic notions may have failed to prevent the Keynesian revolution in macroeconomics, but his broader political vision of a world where untrammeled commerce replaces state-run, community-accountable institutions regulated by democratic bodies remains potent among conservatives. We remain a long way from his ideal of a world where countries protected by patriotism and highly-defended borders are succeeded by competing commercial city-states fueled by a borderless international free market in labor." (Reuters)


"Two former secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger, garnered loud applause during Tuesday night’s Queen Sofia Spanish Institute Gold Medal Gala at the Waldorf-Astoria where both Clinton and Antonio Banderas were being honored. 'We want our successors to do well,' Kissinger joked to more than 150 guests, 'but not so well as to draw unwanted comparisons.' The room later broke out in applause when Kissinger noted that 'four former secretaries of state have gone on to become president' as Hillary looked on with a twinkle in her eye. Notables there included host Oscar de la Renta, Michael Douglas, Chelsea Clinton, Diane von Furstenberg, Valentino, Carolina Herrera and Queen Sofia of Spain." (PageSix)


"Yesterday was the Michael’s Wednesday. It was a quieter Wednesday, decibel-wise, which I’ve a feeling it will be until after the end of the year. Strictly business. But pleasant; and always myriad conversations going on. The list looked something like this. By 'something' I mean, it is incomplete, the names I am most(ly) familiar with. Including: Matt Rubel; Sanford & Stein; Christine Schott; Lida Burpee; Michael Tannenbaum; Ed Kosner with Da Boyz: Kramer, della Femina and Imber, Bergman; Andrea Fahnestock; Mitch Kanner; Alice Mayhew; Philippe Salomon, Adam Schiff; Stan Shuman; Diane Sokolow; Shelley Zalis; Carl Bernstein; Robert Zimmerman with Alison Mazzola; Suzanne Bracker, Rick Davis; Jane Hartley; Angela Mariani, Jay McInerney; Chris Meigher; Bob Towbin, Philip Warner; Judith Regan with Joe Armstrong; Catherine Saxton with the Honorable Harry Herbert; Sara Beth Shrager; Beverly Camhe; Sir Norman Foster, Tracey Jackson; Debra Shriver ... You don’t recognize the names, some of the names, most of the names? Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. I don’t recognize them all myself. But they are: writers, bankers, lawyers, public relations people, tycoons, ladies-who-lunch-seriously, actors, artists, editors, talkers and such ... The Honorable Harry Herbert whom you see in the picture is the younger brother of the 8th Earl of Carnavon. He grew up in a Jacobean house the whole world knows now: Highclere Castle, a/k/a Downton Abbey. His father, the 7th Earl, also know as Lord Porchester – or 'Porchy' – was the racing manager for Queen Elizabeth II, and a lifelong friend and thusly very close to Her Majesty who is passionate about her horses and their racing abilities." (NYSocialDiary)


"The recent purchase of the $142 million Francis Bacon artwork by the Acquavella Gallery was the buzz of the party that the respected New York gallery threw for artist Enoc Perez’s new monograph from Assouline. After Page Six reported the real buyer was Qatar’s Sheikha Al-Mayassa, a host of intrigued art lovers turned up Tuesday hoping for comment from the gallery’s owners, but the family, including William Acquavella, remained politely tight-lipped. Well-wishers who arrived to congratulate Perez and Martine and Prosper Assouline included Alex Rodriguez, Tony Shafrazi, mega-collectors Alberto Mugrabi and Aby Rosen, writer Bob Colacello and J. Mendel designer Gilles Mendel, who celebrated his collaboration with Perez on an art book the night before at his new Madison Avenue store, with a fashion crowd that included models Chanel Iman, ­Constance Jablonski and Alek Wek, as well as Lauren Santo Domingo and Stefano ­Tonchi." (PageSix)


"Vanity Fair: When writing a joke like that, what is the thought process for you? How do you even get to that scenario in your head? Sarah Silverman: 'I have no idea. A lot of times, I use Twitter to write jokes. And I really like it for that. Some things have to be a tweet, and they don’t really expand well. But some I can make into something bigger. That was just probably like a stoned late-night tweet that tickled me. I watch all of this crap on TV. . . I swear, like the Real Housewives probably inspire the deepest of what I can offer for material. It’s such a modern tragedy in so many ways.' VF: It’s existentially depressing and yet addictive. Sarah: 'It is fascinating. These are grown women who are behaving badly because, I think, they are getting direct approval and love for their behavior from these unseen producers. They are rewarded for bad behavior. And even though they are grown ups, there is this inner child that responds to that. It’s so like the kid behaving badly for attention, even if it is negative attention. Ahh. It’s amazing.'" (VanityFair)


"After being felled by a brutal bug (which I picked up in my doctor’s office while waiting for my flu shot) last week, I was glad to be back at 55th and Fifth today where I embarked on the second leg of my own personal trifecta of reporting on every aspect of my television obsession, Downton Abbey ... Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd: (Table 2). Author Jay McInerney with a bookish, bespectacled fellow we didn’t recognize. Carl Bernstein (in jeans!) stopped by their table to say hello. (Table)3. Judith Regan with a lanky young gent we didn’t get to meet. Judith wished the lad a  happy Thanksgiving and then made her rounds in the dining room before departing." (Diane Clehane)

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