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Monday, January 06, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres









"President Barack Obama and his allies have increasingly focused on income inequality as a top policy challenge for 2014. A recent tweet by Ian Bremmer, a leading expert on the intersection between international relations and finance, seemed to provide some fuel for Obama’s concern.
Bremmer is the president and founder of the Eurasia Group, an international research and consulting firm, as well as a global research professor at New York University. On Jan. 4, 2014, he tweeted, 'US: Change in Income, 2009-13. Top 1%: +31.4%. Bottom 99%: +0.4%.' We thought we’d take a closer look at Bremmer’s numbers. We struck paydirt when we looked at the most recent data compiled by Emmanuel Saez, an economist at the University of California who has spent years studying inequality, most often with Thomas Piketty, a French economist. In his paper, Saez found that between 2009 and 2012, the top 1 percent’s incomes grew by 31.4 percent while the bottom 99 percent’s incomes grew by 0.4 percent -- the same numbers Bremer had tweeted. This means, according to Saez’s paper, that the top 1 percent 'captured 95 percent of the income gains in the first three years of the recovery." (Politicfact)


"To this point, Chris Christie has treated the George Washington Bridge closure story as a joke, and national reporters have regarded it as a minor irritation. The public release of e-mails among his staff changes all that. The e-mails prove that Christie’s loyalists closed the bridge deliberately as political retribution, not as a 'traffic study' as claimed. They display an almost comical venality bordering on outright sociopathy. And they will probably destroy Christie’s chances in 2016. The bridge story itself, while small in nature, reveals a political culture around Christie of people who have no business holding power. Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy on Christie’s senior staff, e-mailed David Wildstein, a Christie appointee on the Port Authority, which runs the George Washington Bridge, instructing, 'Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.' The resulting hours-long traffic jams worried public officials and created a safety hazard." (NYMag)


"Yesterday I went to lunch at Swifty’s with Jean Hanff Korelitz. Before I go any further: Jean, as you may or may not know, is an author. Her novel 'Admission' was made into a film released last March starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. She has a new novel coming out next month, 'You Should Have Known' about a marriage counselor married to a pediatric oncologist at a major cancer hospital, who writes a book by that aforementioned title and discovers her own perfect life with Doctor Right is a mirage. " (NYSocialDiary)


"Throughout last year I got happier and happier. In fact, it keeps getting better and better and at times I think there must be something very wrong with me. But I should not dare fate, nor the gods, because one’s fortune can change more quickly than an Italian government. What it comes down to is that the mystery of joy does not pose a problem for me. I treat it as a constant rather than a fleeting experience. Is it a Norma Desmond-like delusion? I don’t think so, because joy is not only a way of life, there is also a trick to it: anticipation. Can anything top the feeling just before an assignation with, say, my latest crush Amber Tamblyn? (I have never met her, but now that I’m a Hollywood star…Seduced & Abandoned…just read Deborah Ross.) Like the poet said, 'Never such innocence, never before or since.' Or the marvelous feeling and uncontrollable joy of overcoming the odds of old age at a sporting event? Taking the six-foot-eight Bo Swenson out at the judo world championships late in 2012 made my day for all of 2013. My daughter’s engagement to a wonderful Englishman brought even more pleasure, and I didn’t even have to sweat for it. A great drunken afternoon in London and the bacchanal that ensued throughout that night was as good as it gets, and leading up to Christmas, my party in New York at the Waverly Inn, my New Year’s Eve blast in Gstaad, and the dinner for Andy and Mandolyna three days later rounded up a perfect season." (Taki)


The New York Times also got their hands on a copy of Gabriel Sherman’s much-anticipated book about Roger Ailes. Apparently, Mr. Ailes said 'I want to elect the next president' and called Bill O’Reilly 'a book salesman with a TV show' (and there is plenty more gems like that: the book is 560 pages long). But a Fox News spokesperson is already calling all charges in the book false, despite not having read the clearly unauthorized biography. (The New York Times via The Observer)





"I went down to Michael’s for lunch. The traffic was gridlock on all the downtown avenues, except for Fifth, with few people walking. When I got to Michael’s, there were security people outside as well as a couple of big black Escalades and a squad car. Inside, in the garden, Paramount Pictures was giving a luncheon for its Oscar nominees. There were security guys in the restaurant also. I was told the security was for Leonardo DiCaprio, whether or not that was true. Shortly after I took my table, Leonardo came into the restaurant. He was well turned out in a grey suit and tie, as he passed our table, he noticed Martin Scorsese sitting at Table One in the bay with Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News and Henry Schlieff,  and went over to greet them all." (NYSocialDiary)


"The jewelry-designer niece of fashion icon Ralph Lauren forced a trans-Atlantic flight to make an emergency stop in Ireland when she pitched a mid-air drunken fit— and then insulted the Irish cops who hauled her in, telling them, 'Can you say that in English, please?' as they told her why she was being arrested. Jenny Lauren, 41, who went berserk on a Barcelona-to-New-York flight Monday, was arrested and held overnight at Shannon Airport. She had an unusual-by-American-standards arraignment Tuesday — in a makeshift court in a pub near the airport because there’s no courthouse in the area. Clad all in black, Lauren looked haggard and disheveled as she tried to hide her face from photographers outside the Brian Boru on the Hill tavern, and wept before appearing before the judge.
Her lawyers said the Upper East Sider would plead guilty as charged on Wednesday to three counts, including 'exhibiting drunkenness severe enough to pose a danger to herself and others.' JFK-bound Delta Flight 477 was diverted to Shannon and delayed for several hours on Monday due to Jenny’s alleged alcohol-induced antics, which weren’t specified during the hearing." (PageSix)


"Officially, Hillary Clinton's main concerns right now are working on her memoir, pressuring Chelsea to make her a grandmother, and deciding whether she wants to keep her new bangs. But while we're still many months away from an announcement on her plans for 2016, it's increasingly obvious that Clinton's camp is working to make sure she'll have a sophisticated presidential campaign at the ready. The super-PAC Ready for Hillary, which bills itself as a 'grassroots' effort to get Clinton to run, regularly offers schwag to those on its e-mail list, but Time reports a message on Sunday offering a free 'I'm Ready For Hillary' bumper sticker was different. The return address was 'info@hillaryclinton.com' and a spokesman for the super-PAC confirmed that it rented the e-mail list from Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. It isn't unusual for former campaigns to rent out their e-mail lists – Clinton's list has already been rented to groups including Barack Obama's campaign and EMILY's List – but the move is a sign that Clinton camp approves of the group's efforts, which was in question at one point. Certainly, Clinton is happy to have groups laying the groundwork for a potential run, but according to an extensive Politico report on the 'shadow campaign,' her team already had to step in to sort out the rivalry between outside groups vying for the job. Though Clinton has tried to maintain distance between her closest advisers and the super-PACs to avoid issues with coordination if she runs, Politico reports that at some point last year she was informed that the animosity between Ready for Hillary and Priorities USA, the main PAC supporting the reelection of Barack Obama, was boiling over. The latter was considering morphing into a pro-Hillary organization, and the two super-PACs were targeting the same donors and had 'wildly different' ideas on how to proceed before Clinton was officially running." (NYMag)



"For a little while in my teenage years, my friends and I read David Brooks columns. It was fun. I have some fond memories of us all being uninformed and feeling superior together. I think those moments of uninhibited self-righteousness deepened our friendships. But then we all sort of moved away from it. I don’t remember any big group decision that we should give up reading David Brooks. It just sort of petered out, and, before long, we were scarcely reading him. We didn’t give it up for the obvious reasons: that his ideas were repetitive and self-evident; that citing a Brooks column at a dinner party is a good way to get yourself mocked; that young people who read Brooks go on to join the College Republicans and perform patronizing monologues about “elitism” that are themselves elitist. I think we gave it up, first, because we each had had a few embarrassing incidents. People who read Brooks do stupid things (that’s basically the point). I read his column one day during lunch and then had to give a presentation in Economics class. I stumbled through it, incapable of putting together simple ideas, feeling like a total loser. It is still one of those embarrassing memories that pop up unbidden at 4 in the morning. We gave it up, second, I think, because one member of our clique became a full-on 'moderate Brooks-style Republican.' He may have been the smartest of us, but something sad happened to him as he sunk deeper into hypocritical, moralizing life. Third, most of us developed higher pleasures. Brooks was fun, for a bit, but it was kind of repetitive. Most of us figured out early on that Brooks doesn’t really make you more informed or more aware (academic studies more or less confirm this)." (VanityFair)


"Here's a story I've been telling for years, because I love it. New York City, maybe seven or eight years ago, a man living with a female roommate on Tompkins Square Park became famous for serving soup to the homeless. This man made enough soup to feed all the homeless for days on end and news crews came out in force and hailed him a hero. As a result of the intense media glare it became apparent ...that the hero's female roommate was missing. Got it? Roommate Soup. Totally true story. Today I was regaling my friend C, a poet and a traveler. However, just as I said 'Tompkins Square Park' C raised her blue inked hands with tattoos of dog paw prints and squiggles, and waved them, she was already giggling. I was a little annoyed because this tale is a real favorite and momentum is best not interrupted. 'Let me finish!' I begged , hoping to quieten her. 'No!' C was laughing loud. 'I was there! I ate the roommate soup!'" (Christina Oxenberg)


"Word comes from Los Angeles that Philip Van Rensselaer the socialite/memoirist and biographer died last week in Los Angeles in a convalescent home. He would have been 86 this year. Mr. Van Rensselaer was something of a media celebrity when I first came to New York out of college. A well known man about town with a very old family name in a world where that still had gravity in society and in the press.The Van Rensselaers were Dutch, and acquired their land grant in 1631 in what is now New York State and part of Massachusetts. It was 48 miles long by 24 miles wide. It extended up the Hudson and as far east as what is now the Western part of Massachusetts. The first Van Rensselaer who was Lord of the Manor was Kilian. He was a founding member of the East India Company that settled New Amsterdam as part of their business plan. He never came here to this country but managed his property like a major investment from Holland. His son came to visit but his grandson was the first to live on the ranch (my word, not theirs of course): Jon-Baptiste Van Rensselaer. These domains were not like your ordinary land ownership. The Van Rensselaer tract was theirs and you were a guest who lived according to and by their rules which were those of a colony. They were independent with their own police and judicial forces. They had great power in the New World. Once when Peter Stuyvesant got into a serious disagreement with the first Mr. Van Rensselaer, he said that the only way to win with a Van Rensselaer was to go to War with them.When the British took over 'New Netherland' and renamed it 'New York,' the Van Rensselaers got to keep theirs." (NYSocialDiary)



"There was some uppercrust controversy at the annual Palm Beach Coconuts bash.  The exclusive all-male Coconuts gang, which currently includes David Koch and Leonard Lauder, has thrown the area’s hottest New Year’s Eve bash since the ’30s. Guests traditionally wear black-tie while the dapper Coconuts don white dinner jackets and red carnations. But new chairman, sugar baron Alex Fanjul, has deep-sixed the look. 'We broke with tradition as Alex ditched [white jackets] for traditional black,' said a Coconut. 'A great time was had by all.'  But an insider griped: 'There was not much to change in the Coconuts . . . but people feel they have to do away with tradition.'" (PageSix)

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