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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



On the Death of a Friend



"I hate to start with a cliché, but Count Arnaud de Borchgrave d’Altena, who died in Washington, D.C., last week aged 88, was the last of the great foreign correspondents, with trench coat, suntan, title, and 17 wars under his belt included. One accomplishment none of his obituaries comprised—mind you, this is perfectly understandable—was the introduction to journalism and subsequent mentoring of the greatest Greek writer since Homer, yours truly, a fact Arnaud kept quiet about throughout our 48-year-close friendship. Here’s how it began: It was May 1967. The Greek junta had just taken over the government in April, and Arnaud had flown in to interview the Greek strongman, Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos. A Greek mystery man, Niko Farmakis, who may or may not have been a CIA agent or a Greek secret service man, or even just a well connected enabler, had invited me to dinner at the Starlight Roof of the Hilton Hotel. 'You’ll meet the greatest foreign correspondent ever,' he told me. My beautiful first wife was the only lady present at the dinner. Arnaud was suntanned, well dressed, and spoke beautiful French and English. He looked far more elegant than most people in the room, with the exception of the reigning King Constantine, dining near us with the pregnant Queen Anne-Marie. Arnaud held court, regaling us with stories about the wars in Indochina and Algeria, including the siege of Dien Bien Phu, one he had covered with distinction. I was going nuts throughout. My tennis career was a flop, I was not happy being married to the prettiest girl in Paris, my father was threatening to cut me off unless I went to work for him, and the future looked bleak for a poor little Greek boy who had just turned 30. Three days later, very early in the morning, I drove to the airport, bought a ticket to Rome, and sat next to Arnaud, flying first class, naturally. I told him I only had a toothbrush and was heading for Turin to see Gianni Agnelli of Fiat fame. He asked for an introduction and I guaranteed him one. We then connected with a flight to Torino. Two weeks later, Gianni’s handsome face was on the cover of Newsweek, Arnaud had convinced the editor of the weekly that I could open doors galore, and I had been given a Newsweek press credential as a photographer. The rest, as they say, is non-history." (Taki)





Arnaud de Borchgrave in the newsroom of The Washington Times, where he was the editor.


"Arnaud de Borchgrave, a Belgian count’s son and storied foreign correspondent who cabled back bell-ringing scoops throughout the Cold War decades, often from the battlefield, died on Sunday in Washington. He was 88. His wife, Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave, said the cause was bladder cancer. Twice a best-selling novelist, Mr. de Borchgrave led a life that rivaled fiction. A teenager when he enlisted in the British Navy, he was shot on D-Day. He was wounded again, as a Newsweek reporter, in Vietnam (where he lobbed a grenade at North Vietnamese soldiers). He covered, by his estimate, at least 18 wars. At 58, he was named editor in chief of a daily newspaper, though he had never worked for one before. A correspondent and editor at Newsweek for decades, Mr. de Borchgrave was fired by the magazine in 1980, after his increasingly conservative political bent found its way into his dispatches, ending in his likening the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to Hitler’s pre-World War II grab of Czechoslovakia. He found a more hospitable place to work in 1985. He was hired to direct the news coverage and the editorials of The Washington Times, the daily newspaper started with the financial support of the Unification Church and its founder, the Rev. Sun MyungMoon, the conservative South Korean evangelist who led a worldwide spiritual movement.
For conservatives in the nation’s capital, Mr. de Borchgrave fashioned The Times into a must-read, if money-losing, alternative to what he viewed as the biased liberal news media, even if the paper was branded a mouthpiece for Mr. Moon. Mr. de Borchgrave insisted that he was no saffron-robed Moonie, as the movement’s followers were derisively known. As editor, he said, 'I have never received a single editorial suggestion, let alone a directive, from any representative of the owners.'
As a foreign correspondent, he told Esquire magazine in 1981, he kept “the starched combat fatigues of 12 different nations' in a closet of his pied-à-terre, conveniently located near the Geneva airport.Wearing an Egyptian general’s camouflage suit and facing six Israeli tanks during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, he cabled his Newsweek editors: 'I burrowed my head into the sand like a mole — a little deeper with each shell until my mouth was full of sand.' Arnaud de Borchgrave (pronounced AH-no deh-BOAR-grahv) was born in Brussels on Oct. 26, 1926. His father, Count Baudouin de Borchgrave d’Altena, was head of military intelligence for Belgium’s government in exile in Britain during World War II. His mother, Audrey Townshend, was the daughter of a British general." (NYT)





Sofia Coppola, left, and Anjelica Huston, third-generation Academy Award winners, at lunch above Central Park. Credit Malin Fezehai for The New York Times


"No matter who takes home Academy Awards this weekend, Sofia Coppola and Anjelica Huston will remain an exclusive club of two: the only third-generation winners in Oscar history. Ms. Coppola, 43, the writer and director of films such as 'The Virgin Suicides,' 'Somewhere' and 'The Bling Ring,' won an Academy Award for best original screenplay for her 2003 film 'Lost in Translation.' Her father, the filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, has won five Academy Awards, three of them for 'The Godfather, Part II.' And her grandfather, the composer Carmine Coppola, won for best score, for that film.Ms. Huston, 63, an actress and writer, won the best supporting actress prize for her breakthrough role as Maerose Prizzi in 1985’s 'Prizzi’s Honor,' directed by her father, John Huston, who was also a screenwriter and actor. He received 15 Academy Award nominations and won twice. Ms. Huston went on to star in 'The Grifters,' 'Crimes and Misdemeanors' and 'The Addams Family.' Her grandfather Walter Huston won the Oscar for best supporting actor for 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre' in 1948, directed by his son. The second volume of Ms. Huston’s memoir, 'Watch Me,' was published last year." (NYT)


My favorite bootie of all time from Madison Brentwood: Officine Creative handmade.


"It seemed the perfect time to go to L.A. It was pre-Awards season! I needed a laugh. As Uma Thurman begins to follow Renée Zellweger with lasering her face off, and Bruce Jenner continues to broaden his transgender brand for reality show purposes, his own 'Keeping up with the Kardashians.' L.A. is the home of 'morphing ... Maybe I needed that in my own way. What L.A. brings up for me is the subject of aging, since this town is the land of 'forever young.' In the last year I have decided that all a woman over 65 years old needs to feel fashionably safe and secure is a good haircut. Bill Blass once said after age 60, 'a woman must get her hair cut to chin level; anything longer and she looks like a Basset Hound' — plus sensible shoes, a great scarf and/or decent jewelry, and a wonderful pair of eyeglass frames. Clearly aging gracefully is in the details — not the clothes!The scarf and jewelry everyone can do, but the shoes — that’s a serious problem. I don’t understand Louboutin spikes after 60 — or even after 50 for that matter. And if you don’t get what I am talking about, look at Madonna at the recent Grammy’s. She might be an extreme example, but not really: 56 years old, dressed in a matador costume, fishnets, a thong, and a 'butt bra.' As the saying goes: 'Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should do it.' She can’t, and she shouldn’t. Ever. Her spike heels prevented her from doing a decent dance routine. She teetered from step to step. Her entire presentation was shaky and moldy. A bad sign of irrelevancy and desperation. But back to shoes for the advanced agers, and I don’t mean 'space shoes' or Neutralizers or Aerosoles. Actually the Queen of England and Margaret Thatcher choose Ferragamo pumps (even Meryl Streep admitted that she got into playing Thatcher instantly just by wearing the Ferragamos). The only shoe that doesn’t look like Dame Edna! 'Sensible shoes' they call it, but Ferragamo is the original in taste and class. They have done the same cut and low stack heel for years; choose your color and leather. But boots present a problem. Too clunky and you look like an aging Mammy Yokum biker. Too high and you look like you are appearing in Bravo Housewives or a member of an escort service." (NYSD)

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