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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres








Jeremy Bird, a former Obama campaign organizer, who is advising an effort to oust Benjamin Netanyahu. Credit Melina Mara/Getty Images 
       


"Jeremy Bird, the architect of the grass-roots and online organizing efforts that powered President Obama’s presidential campaigns from Chicago, is advising a similar operation in Tel Aviv. But this time it is focused on ousting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. His consulting work for the group V15 — an independent Israeli organization that does not support specific candidates but is campaigning to replace Israel’s current government — has added yet another political layer to the diplomatic mess surrounding Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to address a joint meeting of Congress next week on Iran. The White House has argued that Mr. Netanyahu’s plan to deliver the speech on March 3, two weeks before the Israeli elections, is harming the United States-Israel relationship by injecting partisanship. Republicans contend it is Mr. Obama who is playing politics and cite the work of Mr. Bird as proof that the president is quietly rooting for the defeat of his Israeli counterpart. American strategists have for decades signed on to work in Israeli political campaigns, with Democrats usually aligned with the Labor Party and Republicans often backing Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party. There is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Obama or any of his senior aides had anything to do with the move by his former top campaign official, who has never worked at the White House, to join the effort to defeat Mr. Netanyahu. But Mr. Bird’s involvement in the elections is drawing attention when tensions between the two countries are so acute that what is usually considered standard practice for American political consultants in Israel is now seen as a provocation. 'It’s clearly a data point that people are looking to that indicates how the relationship has deteriorated,' said Matthew Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. He added that Mr. Bird reflects 'the hypocrisy of this White House, which wants to stand on the notion that they’re not playing politics when in fact their fingerprints are all over this.' The White House has repeatedly said its highest priority is keeping partisanship out of the relationship between the United States and Israel, citing that principle as Mr. Obama’s rationale for refusing to meet with Mr. Netanyahu during his visit." (NYT)




Say It in Style



"Oh! for the days when the worst offense was asking a foreign dignitary’s wife if she 'Likey soupy?' as the great Sir Denis Thatcher once did. Now it’s immediately the F-word and threats of physical violence by the heavy next to the newly rich pig. (And I apologize to our porcine friends, who would be appalled by the comparison if they could read.) But as I’ve said time and again, such are the joys of living in resorts visited by such people. Many of us remember the time when care, courtesy, and respect were part of everyday life. Now the culture is one motivated by spite, envy, greed, and gloating, not to mention bragging and showing off muscle, mostly that of others you pay to come to your rescue. Not that the state does not interfere. The omnipotent state has replaced the ethos of the landed aristocracy and that of the Church, with one that ensures no one’s self-esteem ever takes a dive. It has codified behavior and how we speak and think, and we have to think in the lowest common denominator. Back in the cities everyone’s into care and therapy, but up here in the Alps they’re into hedge funds and other such gadgets. Mind you, I’ve been taking a few lumps about Greece, a country my family has served loyally for generations, but one I’ve given up on until a political party like Golden Dawn is elected. The trouble with Greeks is they’re so predictable. That clown that had his picture all over the newspapers and on television for ten days, Yanis Varoufakis, was all show, no substance. As is Tsipras: Fidel without the beard. Wearing an untucked shirt and one’s collar up might impress the cheap women in Syntagma Square, but it does not get one relief from the hated bailout conditions. Sure, the French and Germans and the Brits smiled politely when the Greek show-off arrived dressed like Marlon Brando in The Wild One—instead of telling him that the dignity of their office required him to dress appropriately – but where did his sartorial defiance get him? NOWHERE. All he got was a permission to change the shape of Greece’s obligations, not reduce them. Varoufakis is a third-rate academic posing as Mussolini, and I apologize to the Duce’s memory. The Greek government had not a leg to stand on, had its day in the sun showing off like peacocks, then bowed to the German wishes as the great economist Taki predicted three weeks ago it would. So what else is new? Election promises in general and in Greece’s case in particular are like swearing eternal love to a woman you met in a low-life nightclub after you’ve had much too much firewater. A run on Greek banks was gathering pace, and capital controls were needed unless Syriza gave in, and they caved quicker than the Lebanese army does whenever it is called upon to fight. Once upon a time I was very proud to be Greek. That was long ago." (Taki)









John Fairchild, shown with covers of W magazine in 1976.



"John Fairchild, the witty and irascible publisher and editor who transformed his family’s fusty trade publication, Women’s Wear Daily, into the lively bible of the fashion industry, died on Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87. Women’s Wear Daily announced his death without specifying the cause. For more than three decades, from 1960 to 1997, Mr. Fairchild was one of the most powerful, and mercurial, people in the fashion business. From his perch atop Women’s Wear Daily — and later at W magazine, which he founded — he helped make kings out of designers like Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent and Bill Blass and whacked down those who did not meet his exacting standards. And before Gawker and Spy magazine and Page Six in The New York Post became must-reads, Mr. Fairchild was already encamped at the intersection of fashion, celebrity and high society, turning socialites like C. Z. Guest, Mercedes Bass and Pat Buckley into personalities, stationing photographers outside fancy restaurants as they came and went. Everyone who crossed his path knew to beware of the newspaper’s saucy headlines and withering asides in capital letters. He even gave designer collections letter grades, as if Carolina Herrera and Donna Karan were back in high school. 'Everybody got graded,' Ms. Herrera said on Friday. Calvin Klein, another loyal subscriber, said, 'He made WWD into a paper that the media as well as socials and celebrities and everyone else read to find out what was going on.' Not that Mr. Fairchild liked to take credit for mussing the industry’s hair and bruising feelings. 'On the whole, I think the fashion press’s power — and WWD’s in particular — is greatly overrated,” he wrote in his 1989 memoir, 'Chic Savages.' 'We don’t make or break a designer. Any designer who is good gets ahead. We write what the buyers are saying.'" (NYT)



EMINENCE TEASE John Fairchild in the living room of his chalet in Gstaad, 2011.


"Donna Karan still remembers feeling absolutely terrified when fashion arbiter John Fairchild, the tyrannical editor of Women’s Wear Daily, visited her showroom to see one of her early collections. 'I thought I was going to faint, I was so scared,' she says. 'John was larger than life—he intimidated me.” With good reason. The Citizen Kane of the fashion press delighted in making mischief, anointing winners and losers, and encouraging his writers to tweak the powerful with witty and often mean-spirited barbs. 'He made the paper very exciting,' says Oscar de la Renta. Adds his wife, Annette, 'And naughty!' Oscar laughs and continues, 'If the story was about you, you hated it, and if the story was about somebody else, you enjoyed it.' The Princeton-educated Fairchild, who transformed the sleepy publication that his grandfather had founded in 1910 into a lively must-read, trained his critical eye not just on the designers but also on the society women who wore their clothing. He popularized the phrase 'fashion victim' and created the capricious and much-copied 'In and Out” list. As Diane von Furstenberg puts it, 'John took a trade publication that belonged to his family and turned it into a fashion publication that is incredibly influential—it really made people, and destroyed people.' Chairing a Council of Fashion Designers of America (C.F.D.A.) gala several years ago, she spotted Fairchild and announced his presence to the crowd, saying from the microphone, “Even though you are retired, we are still afraid of you.' It’s been 15 years since John Fair­child left his office at Fairchild Publications, on his 70th birthday, March 6, 1997, vowing that he would never return to the workplace or go to another fashion show. And he’s been true to his word, insisting that he is following the example that his own father set upon retiring from the company, at age 65. 'My new life is being with my wife without any interference, and the children come see us every once in a while. I’m very happy,' he says. 'I think when you’re out of something, you should stay out. Don’t you?' These days he and his spouse of 62 years, Jill Fairchild, have become expatriates—holding on to their two-bedroom Sutton Place apartment, in New York, and their sun-dappled Nantucket house but spending seven months a year in luxurious exile overseas. Initially, they split their time between London and a chalet in Klosters, Switzerland. But the Fairchilds have now sold both of those homes and five years ago built a large, three-story wooden chalet, which sleeps 14, on a steep hill just a few blocks from the main street of the tiny alpine town of Gstaad." (VanityFair)

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