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Monday, July 21, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres









"A few months ago, President Obama delivered a tribute to Lyndon Johnson that was also a tribute to his optimistic vision about American history. Obama reminded his audience that the triumph of justice was not easy, continuous, or automatic. '[W]e know we cannot be complacent,' he warned, 'For history travels not only forwards; history can travel backwards, history can travel sideways.' This was Obama’s caveat to his main point, which is that, for all the struggle and imperfection and reversals and injustice that remained, over the long haul, moral improvement has carried the day:
'Still, the story of America is a story of progress. However slow, however incomplete, however harshly challenged at each point on our journey, however flawed our leaders, however many times we have to take a quarter of a loaf or half a loaf — the story of America is a story of progress.'Obama’s optimistic disposition toward American history is one I share. But it’s also something that has divided liberals for a long time, and the division, ironically, has deepened during, and because of, Obama’s presidency. Indeed, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Elias Isquith, two writers who occupy the left-wing side of the divide, quoted Obama’s warning about how history can move sideways or backwards as if it were his central point, rather than the caveat. The last few weeks, I’ve read What Hath God Wrought by Daniel Walker Howe, an engrossing history of the United States from 1815 through 1848. This is a period known — to the extent that Americans remember much about it at all — as 'the Age of Jackson,' but Howe argues that this label is a mistake. America was not so much unified by Jackson as it was polarized in a way (this is my view superimposed on Howe’s history) we would find highly recognizable today. America was split, geographically and sociologically: Red America favored militaristic foreign policy, the maintenance of existing racial and social hierarchy, and fiercely opposed big government; Blue America favored a more restrained foreign policy, a more amicable treatment of racial minorities, and activist government support for economic growth. The Jacksonians favored the gold standard and believed the Constitution prohibited the federal government from any program not specifically delineated. 'I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for making the Federal Government the great almoner of public charity,' declared Zachary Taylor, in terms reminiscent of modern conservative objections to the individual mandate. Blue America was more culturally effete and enamored of public education; Red America suspicious of centralization and steeped in a culture of violence." (Jonathan Chait)










Photo: At the Karageorgevic Museum in Topola, Serbia, July 18, 2014.  Christina and Zeljka are pointing at Christina's place on the Karageorgevic family tree.



Villa Olga, a house that once belonged to my grandmother HRH Princess Olga of Greece wife of my grandfather HRH Prince Paul of Yugoslavia has been returned to my family by the Republic of Serbia. In 1941 the Karageorgevic Royal family was asked to leave rather unceremoniously and sent into exile beginning with 10 years of house arrest in Africa. The diaspora of the family have been rootless nomads... ever since, some settling in America others in England and yet more in France. I grew up being told our family would never be welcome back in Serbia and if we ever dared step foot in the country we would be killed. I don't really know how true this threat was but that was what my cousins and I were told, so I hope we can be forgiven for our lack of enthusiasm to return, or even to learn the language. After communism crumbled gradually the official policy toward my family was adjusted and one by one, starting with my mother, they trickled back to see, to feel, and to learn. The purpose of my first visit to Serbia was to support my mother and to celebrate her achievement with the return of property. This was the first, and while the family hopes it will not be the last, either way this was a significant turn for us to acknowledge. This week I have seen a country I have only heard of and read about, I met cousins some of whom I have never even heard of, and we all rousingly toasted a beautiful moment." (Christina Oxenberg)





















"Today is the 115th anniversary of the birth of Ernest Hemingway, born in Oak Park, Illinois. I was of the generation that couldn’t resist Hemingway. He and Fitzgerald and O’Hara, were giants in 20th century American literature to this boy. The three men were also friends, and admirers of the man’s talent. And he, Hemingway, was, in my opinion, the most influential as a stylist. (Although O’Hara has always been my favorite.) I read the books and was deeply affected by AE Hotchner’s biography of him. He shot himself just three weeks before his 62nd birthday in Ketchum, Idaho in 1961." (NYSD)





















"'I think I was born in the wrong kind of family,' says Daphne Guinness. The eccentric style icon counts the Guinness brewery family as well as the legendary Mitford sisters among her ancestors. 'I should have been born in the circus. I can't imagine not dressing like me.' But it's not just her McQueen blazers, skunk-streaked hair and outrageously high heel-less platform shoes that's on her mind when I meet her at her downtown New York workspace on this early spring afternoon. Today she's going to play me some of the music she's been quietly making since 2011, when she set out to record a Bob Dylan song in honor of her brother, who had passed away. Three years later, she has written 13 original songs -- with the help of legendary producer Tony Visconti -- that she says represent 13 chapters of her life. As she starts to play songs with titles like 'Optimist in Black' and 'Marionettes,' I'm struck by the dark charm and poetry of her lyrics (dare I say I detected some iambic pentameter?) and by the fact that, instead of the electropop or acoustic folk sounds that fill up today's charts, Guinness' songs have a raw classic rock vibe and her voice has the power and grit of Grace Slick. 'My musical world ended in 1980,' says Guinness. 'For me it was always classical -- Bach, Mozart and Chopin -- or Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, the Stones, Jefferson Airplane. But the big, big thing for me was the Doors.'" (Paper)






Christie and political foe make up over breakfast




"Isn’t it nice when enemies shake hands and stop feuding — especially when bacon is involved?
Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean and current Gov. Chris Christie fell out badly when Christie backed an unsuccessful post-election effort to oust Sen. Tom Kean Jr. as the New Jersey state Senate majority leader. Gov. Kean emerged as one of Christie’s harshest critics in the Bridgegate matter and then told Politico he would not necessarily back Christie, his protégé, in a 2016 presidential bid.
The two governors met for a peace-making breakfast recently and Kean told intimates Christie 'came as close to apologizing as he ever comes' for his effort to oust Kean Jr." (Richard Johnson)


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