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Monday, August 11, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres





"I haven’t commented yet on Robert Draper’s much-discussed New York Times Magazine piece entitled “Has the ‘Libertarian Moment’ Finally Arrived?” That’s partly because my instinctive hostility to libertarianism (possibly due to an early high-school brush with the adolescent virus of Objectivism) means I have to calm down and think clearly before writing of such things. And it’s partly because Draper’s piece—while fascinating like everything the man writes—spends a lot of time retailing dubious libertarian claims that this or that generational trend on a scattered assortment of issues means The Movement is on the brink of some national breakthrough (as Draper notes, we’ve heard that before).But the most interesting part of the piece is the increasingly familiar idea that Sen. Rand Paul has the skills and flexibility to launch some sort of gussied-up version of the Eternally Correct Ideology with enough mass appeal to conquer the GOP and then the nation. It’s analogous to how some movement conservatives looked at Ronald Reagan, who wasn’t as simon-pure as Barry Goldwater by any stretch of the imagination, but was trusted to have the best interests of The Cause foremost in his mind, and knew where to trim and prevaricate in the pursuit of votes. One of Draper’s aging hipster libertarian interlocutors offered a similar analogy of Rand Paul being Pearl Jam to his old man’s Nirvana. I’ve earlier talked about Rand seeking to advance some sort of Big Tent Libertarianism that’s soft enough around the edges and weasely enough on tough issues to be tempting to many regular Republicans looking for a change of pace without abandoning core anti-government and Obama-bashing principles. He’s been pretty good at it in the past (viz. his election in not-exactly-hipster Kentucky), but as I’ve been noting, he’s struggling now with a pattern of self-contradiction and transparent flip-flopping. As usual, Charlie Pierce sums it up pungently after noting the snares Paul has become entangled in after his flight from DREAMers at a fundraiser with Steve King earlier this week .." (Ed Kilgore)



"We’ve been lucky in our send-ups of prejudice. Sidney Poitier had only to turn up for a meal in a white household in San Francisco in 1967 to show just how enlightened the most well-meaning liberals are in matters of interracial relationships. Middle America’s perception of the New York Jew is forever enshrined by Grammy Hall’s imagined thought-picture of Woody Allen as a shtetl-sprung Hasid dining at her Easter dinner table. Screenwriter Paul Rudnick made a condition for the marketing of In &Out that the audience not be told in advance whether or not the Kevin Kline character was gay—that movie being as much a commentary on the assumptions of sexuality as about the awkward, bumbling realities of whom one ultimately takes to bed. While racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia are all worthwhile quarries, nicely hunted and filleted by such master sportsmen, there’s a slightly unfair advantage in mocking the homegrown and familiar. It’s impossible to imagine American political comedians like Norman Lear or Jon Stewart doing something interesting in, say, Cairo or Moscow. This is all the more bizarre given that that anti-Americanism is the last acceptable form of modern bigotry and should therefore be a subject of intrinsic interest to our domestic satirists. Re-enter Whit Stillman’s Barcelona, the funniest film ever made about the violent hatred of Americans, which turned 20 this month." (TheDailyBeast)



"For a time, in the 1990s, there were few celebrity journalists who lived quite as large as Vanity Fair’s Kevin Sessums. He smoked a joint with Heath Ledger in Prague. He interviewed Courtney Lovewhile she soaked in a tub. He crawled into a bed with Cher. During those heady years of ascendant glossy magazines — before fame was devalued by reality stars and the selfie overshadowed the glamour photo shoot — Mr. Sessums offered the public and movie stars what they wanted: each other. He was one of a coterie of Hollywood writers who used charm, moxie and an impressive Rolodex to not only write about celebrity culture, but to inhabit it. He was treated like an insider, too. Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg held a book party for Mr. Sessums at Indochine when he published his 2007 memoir, 'Mississippi Sissy.' And he traveled well: a yachting trip to French Polynesia with David Geffen, whose house on Fire Island Mr. Sessums said he visited during summers. Writers at Vanity Fair had a cushy life under the editorships of Tina Brownand, later, Graydon Carter. Ms. Brown routinely doled out six-figure contracts to those she considered star writers, including Mr. Sessums. When he wasn’t in residence at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, Mr. Sessums lived in a rented 2,000-square-foot TriBeCa loft. It was a nice setup for a writer. But as celebrities entrusted publicists, social media and reality TV to build their public personas, Mr. Sessums, 58, found it hard to adjust." (NYT)




"The big news out East was the wedding yesterday of Gayfryd Steinberg and Michael Shnayerson at five o’clock in the afternoon at the Sag Harbor Synagogue. This is a real romance story, and I’m almost laughing as I write it because how many do you know at their ages (sixty-ish) who have a grownup romance most closely resembling the kind of romance you might have had on your first big crush back when you were a teenager? That kind of romance. These two have been having that for about a year, astounding one and all, if they really think about it. Their friends observing have been wide-eyed and almost agog to see what I’ve just described. It’s like Paris, like the song. I’m not kidding. I’ve known the groom for about 24 years. He’s a writer as you may know and at that time we met he was working on a memoir for  Irving “Swifty” Lazar in Los Angeles where I was living. I rented him a room in my house and he’d come out every few weeks for a week or ten days to work with Lazar. You live with someone, you get to know them. Plus it was a little like a grownup’s frat house. We’ve rarely seen each other during all these New York years since, but both of us are working writers which takes you where you need to go." (NYSD)




"It has been seven weeks since Tavi Gevinson graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School, and in that time she has moved from a tiny, cluttered bedroom with a single bed and a revolving collection of handwritten quotes and stylized ephemera at her parents’ suburban house to a studio apartment in a high-rise condominium in downtown Chicago that is paid for by the production team of This Is Our Youth, the Kenneth Lonergan play in which she is appearing with Kieran Culkin and Michael Cera. Rehearsals for the Steppenwolf leg of the show (previews on Broadway begin August 18) began before high school even ended, so perhaps the ending came a bit earlier than the day that she collected a diploma from her father (who is also her manager and the retired head of the English department at her school) and tweeted a photograph of herself in a white dress and a huge smile captioned: SCHOOL’S OUT FOREVER!" (NYMag)





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