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Monday, October 20, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres






"In theory, the political equality of the polling place is supposed to be a counterweight to the inequality of wealth and power in the economy. According to the theory, anyone can vote, and anyone’s vote is worth as much as anyone else’s. But the Supreme Court, with its conservative majority, is bent on undermining the promise of American democracy. The Roberts court began to do this in Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC by allowing the wealthy inordinate influence over campaign outcomes through contributions, which need not even be disclosed. The latest salvo is the court’s decision last week to allow Texas’ restrictions on voting to go into effect in spite of a district court’s ruling that they were unconstitutional. Texas’s laws, like those in other Republican-dominated states, have an ostensible political purpose, but their effect is to reinstitute barriers to voting that two centuries of fierce conflict had finally removed. Texas’ Republican legislature began almost a decade ago to promote a law that would require special identification at the polling place.They finally passed a bill, which Governor Rick Perry jubilantly signed, in May 2011. In 2012, the Justice Department blocked implementation of the law under the Voting Rights Act. But a year later, the Supreme Court threw out the provision of the Voting Rights Act that allowed the Justice Department to deny the approval of voting rules in Texas and other states that had been guilty of violating minority rights. Texas’s Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is now running for governor, immediately declared the law in effect for the 2014 elections.n theory, the political equality of the polling place is supposed to be a counterweight to the inequality of wealth and power in the economy. According to the theory, anyone can vote, and anyone’s vote is worth as much as anyone else’s. But the Supreme Court, with its conservative majority, is bent on undermining the promise of American democracy. The Roberts court began to do this in Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC by allowing the wealthy inordinate influence over campaign outcomes through contributions, which need not even be disclosed. The latest salvo is the court’s decision last week to allow Texas’ restrictions on voting to go into effect in spite of a district court’s ruling that they were unconstitutional. Texas’s laws, like those in other Republican-dominated states, have an ostensible political purpose, but their effect is to reinstitute barriers to voting that two centuries of fierce conflict had finally removed. Texas’ Republican legislature began almost a decade ago to promote a law that would require special identification at the polling place. They finally passed a bill, which Governor Rick Perry jubilantly signed, in May 2011. In 2012, the Justice Department blocked implementation of the law under the Voting Rights Act. But a year later, the Supreme Court threw out the provision of the Voting Rights Act that allowed the Justice Department to deny the approval of voting rules in Texas and other states that had been guilty of violating minority rights. Texas’s Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is now running for governor, immediately declared the law in effect for the 2014 elections." (John Judis/TNR)


Chris Patten during a ceremony for his departure as Hong Kong’s last colonial governor in 1997.                        
Chris Patten during a ceremony for his departure as Hong Kong’s last colonial governor in 1997. Associated Press


"The agreement to return Hong Kong to China was signed by U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang in 1984. During a tense 1982 trip to China, Mrs. Thatcher tripped and stumbled on the steps of the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square. It proved to be an omen for Mrs. Thatcher, who had started out as an optimist about the Hong Kong negotiations but soon realized that China had the upper hand. By 1983, after several rounds of increasingly testy talks, she abandoned her hopes of 'turning Hong Kong into a self-governing territory,' according to her memoirs, and accepted China’s claim of sovereignty. 'We did the best we could with quite a weak hand because we were dealing with a lease that ran out in 1997,' said Anthony Galsworthy, a former British ambassador to China. While China had ceded Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon peninsula to Britain in perpetuity, the U.K. held the lion’s share of Hong Kong’s territory under a 99-year lease.
Still, Mrs. Thatcher, who died last year, remained hopeful. The 1984 agreement and subsequent pacts guaranteed that Hong Kong wouldn’t be quickly absorbed into China, stipulating that it would have 'a high degree of autonomy' and that top officials would come from Hong Kong. The negotiations provided only loose guidance, however, on the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive—today’s big sticking point." (WSJ)



Photograph by Jonathan Becker


"Standing six feet and five inches tall, John George Vanderbilt Henry Spencer-Churchill was every inch a duke.  He was born in 1926, at Blenheim Palace, the spectacular 187-room baroque behemoth that was part of the 2,000-acre estate in Oxfordshire that Queen Anne gifted in 1705 'on behalf of a grateful nation' to Spencer-Churchill’s forbear, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, after his pivotal victory against the French army.  Blenheim (the only non-royal, non-ecclesiastical residence in Britain styled a palace) has awed all visitors ever since. 'We have nothing to equal this,' King George III said to Queen Charlotte in 1786, upon his first visit. With the death of his father, in 1972, Spencer-Churchill became the 11th Duke of Marlborough and inherited the vast property—as well as the headaches all his ancestors had suffered trying to maintain the place. (Cousin Winston Churchill, born at Blenheim in 1874, was the presumptive heir to the dukedom until Spencer-Churchill’s grandparents produced a son.) 'My famous ancestor won the Battle of Blenheim in one day—but his descendants have been fighting it ever since,' His Grace the Duke said in 2011, when he and the Duchess of Marlborough allowed me to interview them for Vanity Fair and posed for photographer Jonathan Becker. " (VF)


Martha Stewart Weddings party inspires marriage proposal


"One exuberant guest got so caught up in the moment at Martha Stewart Weddings’ 20-year anniversary party at the Pierre Monday, he proposed to his girlfriend. 'She said yes,' said a witness.
The event was hosted by the mag’s staff, including editorial director Darcy Miller and Martha Stewart. The Living Omnimedia title will reportedly be handed off to Meredith Corp. in a licensing deal that was announced this week. Also at the bash, where guests could get manicures and makeovers, were designers Carolina Herrera and Erin Fetherston, as well as event planners Preston Bailey and Bronson van Wyck." (P6)


Entering Mrs. DeWoody's living room while one of the guests, having spotted me taking the picture, pretends to be hiding from the camera.


"Then on Sunday afternoon Beth DeWoody gave a booksigning party at her Gracie Square apartment for our mutual friend and neighbor Charlie Scheips and his new book “Elsie DeWolfe’s Paris; Frivolity Before the Storm” (Abrams Publishers). The “storm” being Nazi Germany. This is an extraordinary book for social history as well as a chronicle of a time and a world that has passed.  It bears the curiosity along the lines of the great social document Augustus Mayhew put together for us with Ellen Glendinning Ordway’s photo diary of 50 years of the 20th century. Mrs. Ordway, as firstly Mrs. Frazer, on her honeymoon coincidentally happens to make an appearance in the book. But more about all that on Tuesday’s Diary when I will write about the book, the author and the subject." (NYSD)



"For models, Fashion Week starts the week before the shows, with castings all over the city. You show up, walk for designers and casting directors, and hope to get picked. Sometimes you don’t find out if you’ve been booked for a show until the day before. Two years ago, I started taking a camera with me to castings and shows to document what I was seeing. This season, castings began on a lonely Labor Day weekend. While most of my friends were out of town, I shuttled around to different offices and shot a look book for a Korean designer. I went to SoulCycle classes and, at night, put on face masks. These things just get me in the game — there’s really nothing you can do to prepare for the runway other than just feel good about yourself.
Lately, casting directors seem to be looking for either brand-new faces or for big-name veterans, like Naomi Campbell or Gisele, who both made surprise appearances on the runway this season. It’s tough to carve out a career in between all that, when you’ve been around a few seasons but you’re not a household name. Still, this season I walked for Opening Ceremony and J. Mendel in New York, and then I went straight to Paris, where I was booked by Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent. Every designer asks that you walk down the runway a different way: Sometimes it’s graceful and feminine; other times it’s tough, like at Saint Laurent, where you just feel cool about yourself. I walked in the Chanel show, too, where Karl Lagerfeld staged a 'feminist' rally and asked us to come out holding picket signs and shouting slogans. I chose DIVORCE POUR TOUS because it felt less awkward to scream something in French than it would in English. Being a model today is about so much more than what you do on the runway. You have to promote yourself on Instagram and in street style and build your personal brand. Part of the reason I document my life is to turn the camera around — to photograph the world that photographs me." (NYMag)





"The dubious Dawa (medicine) man of Carnivore restaurant - the ultimate tourist trap in Johannesburg which is like the Epcot Center of South Africa (providing you and all its guests with a real, live South African experience!) ... promises his drink will soothe all your pans and ills and make you happy. Which it may. If you aren't AA or an angry drunk. Where: Carnivore Restaurant, Johannesburg Why go: You’ve seen animals like zebra, elan, springbok and crocodiles from a Jeep, now why not experience them on your plate? Just like a real African! Carnivore, which prides itself on giving tourists the ultimate realness in African experiences, is the meat eaters ultimate Epcot center. Adding to the Epcot-ness is, at least three times a night, the servers and other staff with beat drums and sing and dance across the dining area (which, in keeping with the theme, has zebra patterned nylon seats). Take Note: Crocodile oddly takes like fish. We’re talking fishy fish. And Zebra? Stick some slices on rye, with a little bit of horseradish mayo and that would make a mighty fine sandwich." (Paula Froelich/Yahoo! Travel)

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