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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Media-Whore D'oeuvres




The White House Correspondents' Dinner table in 2013 is shown. | AP Photo


"Washington is Hollywood for ugly people. That line, or a variation thereof, was first used by Paul Begala in the 1980s. Begala says he might have heard it in a bar. Which is where most truths about Washington and Hollywood originate. This Saturday is the Nerd Prom, officially called the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, a gigantic bash where the powerful of Washington, the beautiful of Hollywood and the geeks of the national press corps gather together in one giant banquet room to do … what? Critics say the whole affair stinks of elitism, classism and narcissism. (In my experience, it stinks mostly of bourbon.) The New York Times, which has not attended the dinner since 2007, said through one editor, 'It makes it appear that everything in one Washington is a big game, theater. But that a couple times a year the press and pols take their costumes off, sing together, mingle with celebrities and act like we are all in it together. I just don’t like the appearance.' A blogger called BooMan wrote a few years ago: 'The primary importance of the WHCA Dinner is to document yearly just how out of touch our elite politicians and journalists are with the rest of the country and to confirm the rest of us in our hatred and resentment of this class of people who have led us like thieves and incompetents for decades without let up.'To which I say firmly and with resolve: 'Can I get another drink here?' To me it’s a party. It’s fun. Though some journalists squeezed into too-tight tuxedos or ballgowns defensively say they use the party to get information from powerful sources. I have attended the dinner for almost 30 years and the most powerful person I ever talked to was Vanna White." (Roger Simon)



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"When computers are involved, otherwise brilliant leftists who carefully examine the political commitments of most everyone they side with suddenly throw their lot in with libertarians — even when those libertarians explicitly disavow Left principles in their work. This, much more than overt digital libertarianism, should concern the Left, and anyone who does not subscribe to libertarian politics. It is the acceptance by leftists of the largely rhetorical populist politics and explicitly pro-business thought of figures like Clay Shirky (who repeatedly argues that representative democratic and public bodies have no business administering public resources but must defer to
disruptive' forces like Napster) and Yochai Benkler (whose Wealth of Networks is roundly celebrated as heralding an anticapitalist 'sharing economy,' yet remains firmly rooted in capitalist economics) that should concern us, especially when they are taken up as if they are obviously positions the Left should favor. It is the boastful self-confidence of engineers and hackers that their advanced computer skills inherently qualify them to say a great deal about any part of the social fabric to which we are lucky enough to have them contribute, regardless of their understanding of politics or society. The inherent claim informing these politics of digital utopianism is that the political world has shifted so radically due to digital technology that the old rules do not apply; computers represent such a fundamental break in human history that they justify altogether new ethical and political standards." (Jacobinmag)








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"Dana Giacchetto, the man convicted of fraud and misappropriating up to $10 million from celebrity clients in 2000, is back in the news. Once dubbed as 'Investment Adviser to the Stars' he was a fixture in the schmoozy, '90s New York nightlife scene and best buds with Leonardo DiCaprio and other Hollywood hotshots like Tobey Maguire, Cameron Diaz, Ben Affleck, and Michael Stipe. Giacchetto served three years in prison after it was discovered his firm Cassandra was using client money to replenish other clients' accounts and to cover company and personal expenses. Recently I received a call from an 'unknown number' as I was about to go into a meeting. It was Dana, who I hadn't spoken to in years, though I knew that he was quietly rebuilding his life since his release in 2003. Barred from trading, he remains active with several business ventures and has two young children. Dana never did me wrong and we tried to reconnect when he was released from prison, but a sketchiness that was always there that I self-servingly overlooked, got in the way. I asked him to call back. He never did. I knew Dana when he was Master of the Universe, went to parties at his Soho loft and hobnobbed with his A-list connections. I valued his advice, was in awe of his contacts, drank fine champagne at his parties and couldn't help being drawn into his orbit even as my journalist's mind kept sweeping the room for something that would help me understand how he did it. Think Nick Carroway to Giacchetto's Gatsby..We met at an annual Christmas party thrown by an elite downtown couple, a head turning affair full of bold-face names hobnobbing in every direction you looked. Giacchetto exclaimed his admiration for PAPER and proceeded to tell me about himself and his business model, an investment firm focusing on the creative community, helping people who weren't traditionally good with money to grow their wealth. He was believable and I believed him, watching his client list grow, his indulgences escalate, his bubble burst. Hours after I received a phone call from him, the New York Post's Page Six reported that Giacchetto was in trouble again, accused this time of identity theft and wire fraud, under the alias Stanulis." (David Hershkovits)















"Perhaps what we should really be asking is: How did Clooney manage to snag her? Alamuddin is 36 and speaks French and Arabic, and her English is probably very posh, because she studied at Oxford and NYU Law. Clooney, 52, did a silly voice in O Brother, Where Art Thou? Alamuddin was named the hottest barrister in London in 2013; Clooney hasn’t been the  'Sexiest Man Alive' since 2006. Alamuddin looks a glamorous hybrid of Anne Hathaway and Huma Abedin, even when her hair is wet. Even when she’s super embarrassed. She has the regal grace of Carolyn Bessette but possibly with even better style?  Not to mention impeccable brow game. The daughter of the Diane Sawyer of Lebanon, Alamuddin served as an advisor to Kofi Annan on Syria. At leading human rights firm Doughty Street Chambers, her clients include former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah Al Senussi, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Julian Assange, and the state of Cambodia. Clooney won a prize for playing a CIA operative in the Middle East in a movie." (NYMag)




Adam Gopnik and his wife, Martha Parker.


"The past week stands out for parties that were different in form and location but lent themselves to the spirit of capturing the moment. The first was last Thursday at the St. Regis Hotel and hosted by Thornwillow Press publisher Luke Ives Pontifell, who gives good parties. A full room but not crowded, a din of conversation but no need to shout, and delicious cocktails. I’ve only been to two of Luke’s parties, both in Washington, and both delightful. He appears to craft his soirées with the same measures used in his profession of creating handmade books, stationery, calling cards and other beautiful paper items. The party was to promote Thornwillow’s new edition of Lewis Carroll’s poem 'The Walrus and the Carpenter,' and to thank Adam Gopnik, who wrote the book’s foreword. The photo I loved best happened the moment after Pontifell introduced Gopnik, who said something that was insider funny to both of them, and Pontifell cracked up. It’s attractive when men make other men laugh. I wish I could remember the joke, but I can’t and it doesn’t matter." (NYSD)


Canadian Breast Cancer Society
Canadian Breast Cancer Society


"The arrest of Palm Beach socialite Nancy Tsai is big news in Toronto, where she once ruled the charity circuit as one of 'The Glitter Girls' (also the title of a 1993 book about her and her clique).
Tsai, 66, ex-wife of the late Primerica chairman Gerald Tsai, was charged last week with defrauding millions of dollars from the trust account of Helga Marston, 92, a friend of four decades who has dementia and 'zero mental capacity.' Among the purchases were a $2.3 million beachfront penthouse condo, a $170,000 Bentley and a $28,000 private jet day-trip between Florida and Canada.
After a small-town childhood, where she grew up pitching hay, Tsai, then known as Nancy Paul, was the founder of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. 'Her pièce de résistance is when she hosted Valentino himself at a lavish party at her home, in 1986,' said Canadian social columnist Shinan Govani. 'It’s a party some people still talk about. Apparently, she still holds the city record for that event for having the most flowers delivered to a single home.' Tsai, whose daughter E. Sarah Paul was the beneficiary of Marston’s most recent will, was Marston’s trustee and had power of attorney. Police say Tsai was also having an affair with Dennis Melchior, the broker of the trust until UBS terminated him last year." (Richard Johnson)

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