"'We don't have a strategy yet', is one of those things you don't expect presidents to say out loud. But maybe it is a mark of the divisions that exist within the administration over how hawkish to be about Islamic State. What this statement from the president does show is firstly just how complex the military options are in attacking Islamic State in Syria. But most importantly it shows the extreme wariness of this president to unilaterally start military action when it's not clear where it will end.
So next week John Kerry will go on from the NATO summit in Wales to the Middle East to build support for US action in Syria. But maybe the president was also sending a message to European leaders like Prime Minister David Cameron that says don't expect America to do all the heavy lifting on this by itself. In return, maybe in his statement on raising the UK terror alert, Mr Cameron was signalling back: you won't have to. But it is also worth just adding this: exactly this time a year ago, Mr Obama was preparing to attack targets of the Assad regime. Twelve months on he's looking to attack President Assad's opponents. That is a mark of just how complex the politics is - and might explain why the president is still trying to define a strategy." (Jon Sopel/BBC)
"When Carmen Dell’Orefice posed for Salvador Dalí in his suite at the St. Regis hotel, in Manhattan, in the spring of 1946, she was 14 and already a year into a modeling career whose unique, gravity-defying trajectory continues to gather momentum today. Her evolution from shy, skinny teenager to still-sexy grande dame has been charted by the defining image-makers of successive generations, from Beaton, Avedon, and Penn to Bruce Weber, Terry Richardson, and Nick Knight. Not bad for a girl who grew up in Depression-era New York, the daughter of a Hungarian dancer and an Italian concert violinist. Beauty has been her passport, gallows humor and an old soldier’s discipline her unbreachable defenses against life’s cross-currents: there were three 'successful marriages that didn’t last' (she has a daughter, Laura, 61, and a stepson, Jeffrey, 70, from her first marriage); the sudden death of fiancé number four, TV producer David Susskind; the loss, twice over, of her life savings (most recently to Bernard Madoff); and, latterly, the inevitable encroachments of age, culminating in a double knee replacement last year. 'It’s called living,' she says breezily. When I drew her for Vanity Fair, she was back at the St. Regis, in fine fettle. To set the scene, she brought a Dalí drawing from her Park Avenue apartment and reminisced about vacationing at the artist’s Spanish estate, where his pet ocelot, Babou, having learned to open doors, leapt into bed with her one midnight, long ago. There are tales aplenty to tell, but Carmen is more interested in her current project, planning her life from age 80 to 100. 'If I die,' she declares, 'it will be with my high heels on.'" (VF)
"The NYPD’s 'Hip-Hop Squad' has a number of rappers and stars — including Drake, Chris Brown and French Montana — on a special watch list and is stepping up surveillance on their New York parties in the wake of the Suge Knight shooting in LA, we’re told. The shadowy specialist unit, known locally as the 'Hip-Hop Police,' keeps a list of rappers and hip-hop stars whose shows and night club appearances are closely monitored. It also includes Fabolous, Wiz Khalifa, Young Jeezy, Fat Joe, Jim Jones and Lil Wayne. A source told us: 'All New York club owners are required to inform the Hip-Hop Police in advance if anyone on the watch list is coming in. They want to be there to monitor the crowd and in case any trouble starts.' The insider added, 'They don’t want any situations like the Suge Knight shooting. If something does go down, they want to already be on the scene.' Another source tells us the hip-hop cops are well-known in the urban music industry, and 'if there is a show going on, they are there. Their job is to investigate crimes and curtail violence in the hip-hop industry. So when they find out there is a beef between rappers, they monitor it. They are plainclothes cops, they go to clubs and shows. They were at J.Lo’s show in The Bronx because French Montana and Fat Joe were coming.'" (P6)
"Amazon posted its five new pilots today: Two dramas and three comedies. How are the new shows? Well, the comedies are a mixed bunch! One is terrific right out of the gate, one is polished but uninteresting, and one just needs to decide to be a better show. The Cosmopolitans: It's a Whit Stillman show set in Paris, starring Adam Brody and Chloë Sevigny (among others) as American expats who drink wine and go to parties and lament things. It's very much how you'd think, which is to say: Mannered and tiny in scope; nostalgic, almost, even though it's set in the present day; and also sharply funny and a little dreamy. ('You always imagine journalists being ugly, because of the anger, but she's really attractive!') Are these people loathsome or aspirational? Ah, complexity.
The Cosmopolitans is not a mainstream show by any standard, and I can't even think of a network where it would be at home — and this is the dream for TV fans, that the streaming universe will put out the kinds of shows traditional television would never make and couldn't really support. If there had been another episode to watch, I would have watched it immediately. Vive les Cosmopolitans." (NYMag)