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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres






















"HE sat in the car, frozen with fear, as gunmen pointed rifles at his pregnant mother in the driver’s seat beside him. They were rushing to the king’s birthday party because they had heard there was a commotion. It was the summer of 1971, and the Moroccan Army killed over 100 party guests in its attempt to overthrow the monarchy. The gunmen spared the pregnant woman and her 7-year-old son. Later that day, the coup failed. With his monarchy preserved, King Hassan II sharply tightened his grip on his subjects, including his own family. It was a shift that the 7-year-old, Prince Moulay Hicham El Alaoui, still remembers well. The eldest son of the late King Hassan’s only brother, Moulay Abdellah, he is also the first cousin of King Mohammed VI — making him third in line to the Moroccan throne. Nicknamed 'the Red Prince,' he grew up to become a political activist whose public support for democracy has put him at odds with his family in Morocco. He exiled himself to America and was banned from the presence of the king for advocating a constitutional monarchy, like that in Britain or Spain. In a culture where princes are expected to hold their tongues and where family affairs do not leave the palace walls, Prince Moulay Hicham isn’t welcome. 'It’s been traumatizing. I have seen a father destroyed. It is a world where everything is artificial and nothing is genuine,' the prince, now 50, said during an interview at his hotel in Paris. 'I am happy to live far away. Instead of having 100 friends, you have five friends, but at least you know that they are here for you.' In April, he published a new autobiography, 'Journal d’un Prince Banni,' or Diary of a Banished Prince, that weaves together a series of vignettes and anecdotes to give readers a rare glimpse into Morocco’s royal family. But it also serves as a harsh political critique of the kingdom from an insider. The book, which will be translated into English in a few months, details how King Hassan, who died in 1999, constructed an opaque system of rule in which the elite could flout the law with impunity. Though he celebrates the late king’s undeniable grandeur, the prince describes him as an evil genius who brought Morocco onto the world stage. He also gives an intimate view of life inside the palace, growing up among the intrigues, and the mind games between him and his uncle." (NYT)





















Have you bought my book yet?
Have you bought my book yet? Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images





"Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century has thoroughly dominated the elite intellectual conversation during the four weeks since it was published. But it’s now also become a middlebrow phenomenon, the fourth-most popular nonfiction book in the country, according to the New York Times best-seller list and third-best seller (as I write) on Amazon, fiction or non-. That is an astonishing number of books sold to people who are mostly not social scientists. Its sales put it in the same blockbuster category as volumes in which a physician encounters God or Robin Roberts encounters cancer. Its popularity has helped turn inequality into a constant theme not just on MSNBC, but on Fox News. Given the density of the Frenchman's subject matter, spooling out over 700 pages, all of this is a pretty incredible feat, and a testament to the power and lucidity of Piketty's central idea. But it also makes you notice something else: how completely our intellectual conversation is now a conversation about economics. It isn't just that economics is the topic we are most interested in; economics, increasingly, is the only language that we're speaking. During the first five or six years of the century — the Bush years, before the financial crisis — the big books and the op-ed columns were about something else entirely: American identity (red states, blue states) and whether it was an honest expression of that identity to routinely invade other countries in order to overthrow their governments, then erect fortified Taco Bells on the Euphrates. It's no accident that the final rebuke to Bush was delivered by Barack Obama, arguing very explicitly that the Texan had misunderstood what being American was all about. Before that, in the late 1990s, the propulsive ideas were about the culture of the meritocracy, about what kinds of people got ahead in American life. That these questions have become obsolete is one reason that David Brooks and Thomas Friedman (even when they have something insightful to say) never really seem urgent anymore. But Paul Krugman always does." (NYMag)














marthamartha












"'I live on a farm. I cook. I garden. I craft. I do all those things,' Martha Stewart said, as a giant, high-resolution lobster glowed behind her. 'I'm your mom.'  Martha—it's always 'Martha'—had just returned to New York after a trip to China, where the Wall Street Journal reports she is plotting a 'cupcake revolution.' She also met with the team behind e-commerce giant Alibaba, which she found to be very inspiring. 'China is the land of opportunity. If you are an entrepreneur, or interested in the growth of a new middle class, China is the place to go,' she said. 'I do hope the censorship is lifted.'Her enthusiasm for Alibaba notwithstanding, the wider Internet garners only imperious disdain from Martha. And why shouldn't it? Websites like Pinterest and Instagram harvest the content of publications like hers all the time: 'If we're the most-pinned magazine, we should get paid for that,' Martha said. There is more bridal content available to consumers than ever, she lamented, even as fewer and fewer young people are getting married. 'Shame on you!' Martha admonished the overwhelmingly female crowd of mostly journalism students. 'It's fun! It's a rite of passage.' She laughed, and so did everybody else in the room. As far as her own media consumption goes, Martha listens to NPR and reads the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and 'a tabloid, the name of which I will not mention' on her commute from Katonah, New York, where she lives. She reads these cover to cover, and is disappointed in young people for reading newspapers on their phones. 'You miss a lot,' she said. (She’s not wrong!)Martha was speaking to former editor and publisher of the Nation, Victor Navasky, for Columbia Journalism School’s weekly Delacorte Lecture on Magazine Journalism, held in the school’s Joseph Pulitzer World Room. The appearance is part of an effort in recent months to rehabilitate her image—and in turn, her company, since the two are inextricably linked, and things have not gone well of late: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia shares 'have slid from a high of $37.40 to less than $3 for much of last year,' Bloomberg reported in January. 'Along the way, the company has shed more than $1 billion in value.' (Martha did well by the estimation of at least one audience member: 'She looks good,' admired the woman next to me.)" (TheAwl)









































"SCENES FROM a book party: Hollywood super-mogul Jerry Bruckheimer appeared at Manhattan’s Monkey Bar to promote his big, beautiful photo work, 'When Lightning Strikes: Four Decades of Filmmaking.' (It weighs about 20 pounds and would be useful as a weapon or an implement for exercise. Everybody at the party received one, along with a sturdy black canvas carrying bag. If you asked nicely, you got two!) Bruckheimer is the man behind some of Hollywood’s biggest feature film hits — 'Top Gun' ... 'Beverly Hills Cop' ... 'Armageddon' ... 'Con Air' ... the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchise and an omnipresent producing name on television — 'CSI' ... 'Cold Case' ... 'Without a Trace.' But why rest on your laurels when you are also a remarkably gifted photographer? His book is a splendid thing, highlighting the stars and the projects he has helped raise to the heights. Bruckheimer is slight and rather boyish. He doesn’t seem 'mogul-ish' at all and was nicely self-deprecating under the assault of compliments. ('I never imagined there would ever be a book about me' he writes in his intro.) He and his very attractive wife, Linda, didn’t make a fuss and delay their arrival for a grand entrance. When the first guests hopped into The Monkey Bar, at 6 p.m. the Bruckheimers were already there, smartly dressed, smiling, ready to go. (Linda was almost instantly attracted to the fabulous sliders, pigs-in-a-blanket and bowls of cheesy calamari and fries on all the tables. But she decided to wait until the event was over to dive in.) Peggy Siegal, who put the party together, wore a skirt that resembled one of those glittery wraps at the base of a Christmas tree. She apologized for her rather spiky hair-style ('I didn’t know what to do with it!') It looked pretty adorable, actually. Chris and Pat Riley, Blaine Trump and Steve Simon and Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones were the official hosts ... AMONG the Throng ... Cornelia Guest, looking remarkably fresh and happy ('I finally sold the house, thank goodness. Time to get something smaller.' — she meant her mother’s Long Island property 'Templeton') ." (Liz Smith)










Clive Davis urges homophobic sultan to sell LA hotels






"Clive Davis is heartbroken he will no longer see the devoted staff at the Beverly Hills Hotel, who have been taking care of his needs since 1965. But the chief creative officer of Sony Music is boycotting the Pink Palace as long as owner Sultan of Brunei is imposing Shariah law in his home count. As of May 1, the citizens of the oil-rich sultanate on the island of Borneo face fines and imprisonment for minor crimes, such as failure to pray on Friday. The Sultan’s plan calls for whippings and amputations for more serious crimes like stealing — and death by stoning for adultery and gay sex. 'When I learned of the enactment of the penal code, I realized it would be impossible for me to stay there,' the veteran music mogul told me on Friday. Davis is distraught he won’t be seeing the 'fabulous, terrific' staff at the hotel anymore. 'They know I like coleslaw, and dark meat better than white, and oatmeal raisin cookies,' he said. Instead of his regular haunt, the New York-based Davis spent the last week ensconced at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills." (Richard Johnson)







"If the Sultan of Brunei is going to enforce Sharia law fairly, his playboy brother Prince Jefri should be stoned to death for committing adultery. Jefri, 59 — who has had five wives, three of whom he is still married to — was known for keeping as many as 40 highly paid American and European women on call to have sex with him and his friends. New Jersey-born Jillian Lauren came home after 18 months in Brunei with $300,000 and wrote a book, 'Some Girls: My Life in a Harem,' about her experience. Besides having sex with Jefri, the then-teen also hooked up with the Sultan, she revealed this week in a piece in the Daily Beast. 'As the citizens of Brunei face the erosion of their rights, I imagine the man I once knew, holed up in a posh hotel suite somewhere, maybe with another American teenager in his lap, making laws that legislate morality,' Lauren wrote. Ex-Miss USA Shannon Marketic returned from Brunei in 1997 and sued Jefri and the Sultan, claiming she was held against her will as a sex slave. Marketic lost her lawsuit after Jefri claimed diplomatic immunity.
The first round of Sharia law, imposed on May 1, calls for fines and prison sentences for those who have a child out of wedlock, fail to pray on Friday or promote religions other than Islam." (Richard Johnson)

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