Monday, February 28, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The turbulence across the Middle East provides us with unique insight into the behavior of a rare and unusual species: The oil trader. Over the last several weeks, traders have bid up and down the price of oil by almost $20 a barrel, earning millions of dollars in profits. And they have done so based almost solely on one, single fact: No one, apart from perhaps the royal family itself, knows what is really going on in Saudi Arabia. Are the Saudis truly immune to an uprising in their oil-rich, Shiite-majority Eastern Province? Even if Saudi Arabia is safe for now, can it be counted on to increase its oil production to make up for output lost from other OPEC countries, such as Libya, that go up in flames? Will they do so if two OPEC countries, such as Libya and Algeria, go up in flames at once? Because virtually no one outside Saudi Arabia knows the true answer to these questions, we will almost certainly suffer a rise in the price of gasoline at the pump in the coming weeks. That means, when tallying up the beneficiaries and victims thus far of the turmoil in the Middle East, we must include the world's oil consumers -- meaning every person on the planet. One of the few apparent certainties of the upheaval is that it's not over. As we head further into this uncharted territory, Foreign Policy compiled a short list of the most pressing questions about the upheaval in the Middle East's effects on the oil and energy market." (ForeignPolicy)

"Rolling Stones legend Mick Jagger and rock-star names from Hollywood, Wall Street and media all rubbed shoulders at Vanity Fair's viewing-party dinner last night, the prelude to editor Graydon Carter's after-party at Hollywood's Sunset Tower Hotel -- the Oscar weekend's hottest ticket. Among those turning heads at the glam gathering were teen couple Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. They shared the spectacular dining room specially built over the hotel pool with luminaries including Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, who brought Ruzwana Bashir, the first British-born Asian woman to become president of the Oxford Union, in 2004. But for all the fun, viewing-party guests didn't seem impressed with Oscar hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway's attempts at comedy. Bill Maher tweeted: 'On the lameness of the comedy, Arianna [Huffington] told me, 'It's excruciating for me, I can only imagine what it's like for you.' George Hamilton, Anjelica Huston, Steve Martin and Joan Collins were on Carter's guest list, too, along with the toast of young Hollywood, Emma Stone, plus Jon Hamm of 'Mad Men' and Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer of 'True Blood,' Gwyneth Paltrow, Sandra Bullock, Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber, Rob Lowe, Sidney Poitier, Don Rickles and John Mellencamp's soon-to-be ex-wife, Elaine Irwin. Fashion royalty included Diane von Furstenberg, Tom Ford, Tory Burch, Donna Karan and L'Wren Scott. But there could have been a tense moment had Ford bumped into towering Italian investor Jean Pigozzi, who told Vanity Fair last year that Ford had said to him, 'I don't want big fat guys like you in my shop.'" (PageSix)

"The online activist group 'anonymous,' which has used coordinated denial of service attacks -- a crude but effective Internet weapon -- to temporary disable sites belonging to foes ranging from Scientology to WikiLeaks foes -- has turned its firepower on the Koch-backed conservative group Americans for Prosperity, making the group's site intermittently unavailable tonight." (Ben Smith/Politico)

"Loving watching the Oscars: Mandy Moore in her pale silver sparkled Monique Lhuillier looked delicious. Amy Adams in sapphire blue l'Wren Scott sparkle dress is strong but hair is wrong. Marisa Tomei in vintage dark sapphire Charles James dress was a good surprise and a shout out to great designs of the 50s. Nicole Kidman in white Dior made a mistake. Natalie Portman, pretty pregnant in lavender. Cate Blanchett in lilac Givenchy had me puzzled. I personally dislike the dress with its silly bib but I am getting emails from pals saying how great it is. So chacun à son goût I guess." (NYSocialDiary)

"The new online TV show, created by Dazed co-founder Jefferson Hack, launched on Wednesday and brings you new ideas, underground music, breathtaking fashion and radical art. Dazed TV Party, a new and exciting online music and pop culture show that brings to life the innovative and anarchic editorial spirit that has made Dazed & Confused one of the trendsetting magazine brands of the last 20 years. Hosted by Dazed's literary editor Stuart Hammond, and created by Dazed co-founder Jefferson Hack and deputy editor Tim Noakes, the Dazed TV Party will be an ongoing audiovisual experiment produced by Juliette Larthe at Warp Films. Paying homage to the lo-fi public broadcasting aesthetic of Glenn O’Brien’s cult 1970s TV Party, the first episode features interviews and exclusive performances from Florence Welch, Jake Chapman, Alice Dellal, Dominic Jones, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Factory Floor, Dave I.D, Marques Toliver and Theo Adams." (GaryCardiology)

"Yesterday afternoon, the mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti, presented Duran Duran with a style icon award. The mayor is clearly a John Taylor girl, judging by the way she monopolized the dashing bass player at the Teatro Dal Verme, where Hogan's Diego Della Valle and Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani threw a dinner party in the band's honor last night. Afterward, Simon Le Bon and the boys returned the favor with a set of old and new songs. Fendi treated some of the same fashion insiders to a Duran Duran concert in Paris last October, but as the band's upcoming album says, All You Need Is Now. From the way the crowd jammed into the aisles, it looked like everyone who got an invitation turned up, and then some. Anna Dello Russo couldn't sit down, not because of the crush but on account of her House of Worth tutu. 'It also comes in handy if there's anyone I don't want to kiss,' she laughed. Donatella Versace sat in the third row with her daughter Allegra—that is, until the band launched into their monster hit 'Rio,' which had her bopping up and down in her corset dress." (Style)

"In interviews for NBC's Today show and ABC's Good Morning America, Charlie Sheen toned down the name-calling from his recent radio rants a bit but continued to attack CBS and Warner Bros. for shutting down production on his hit comedy Two and a Half Men. In the GMA interview, he vowed to sue for tons. 'I'm gonna sue for what I'm worth and what I deserve and what they think they can take from me. They can't,' Sheen said. 'I don't have a job. I got a whole family to support and love. And -- people beyond myself, people a lot more important than me, are relying on that money to -- fuel the magic.' 'I'm here to collect. They're gonna lose. They're gonna lose in a courtroom. So, I would recommend that they do an out of court settlement and fix this whole thing, and pay the crew, and get season nine back on board,' he said. And how much would it cost Warner Bros. to have him back on Men? In the Today interview, Sheen demanded that the studio more than double his current salary to $3 million per episode. 'Look what they put me through,' he said." (Deadline)

"New charges against John Galliano were filed by an unnamed woman in Paris on Saturday morning. The woman alleged that she was the victim of racist remarks made by the designer in a Paris café called La Perle, where Galliano was arrested last Thursday for similar accusations of verbal assault toward a man and a woman, now identified as Philippe Virgiti and Géraldine Bloch. Galliano's lawyer, Stéphane Zerbib, confirmed that the latest plaintiff's reported altercation with the designer happened several weeks ago. The news preceded the release of a video this morning by British tabloid The Sun, which was filmed with a handheld camera at La Perle and depicts a wine-swilling Galliano slurring, 'I love Hitler ... People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed.' When the woman recording him asks if he has a problem, he responds, 'With you. You're ugly.' She then asks where he's from, and he says, 'Your asshole.' It is unclear whether the video was filmed by the same unnamed woman who filed charges on Saturday. As previously reported, Galliano was suspended from Christian Dior on Friday after Géraldine Bloch and Philippe Virgiti accused him of saying to them, 'Dirty Jewish face, you should be dead ... Fucking Asian bastard, I will kill you,' also at La Perle. Galliano responded on Friday by filing charges of defamation, injury, and menace against the pair." (NYMag)

"Dear John Galliano, What happened to you on Thursday night at this nice Parisian cafe, La Perle, fighting with this couple? I know that you are not at all racist —whatever you said, drunk or not, to them! Your multi-ethnic shows, celebrating the beauty of nomadic worlds, and looking into visual languages of forgotten minorities (from everywhere on this planet), has brillantly proved it to everyone from collection to collection since years. We are living in a dark world where the fashion system can celebrate talented people like you, use them as long as they want and fire them from a day to the next —exploiting an unfortunate private incident (and thusfar unproved anti-Semitic allegations), to get rid of an artist. Letting the international media suspect that you could be a racist, is not acceptable! I hope that you will be able to keep your position at Dior and I can’t wait to see your new collections in Paris next week. Love, Olivier Zahm" (Purple)

"'Thou shalt not overspend' is rapidly becoming a tenet of the evangelical belief system, rivaling social issues like gay marriage. Can the gospel of thrift save our economy? The priorities of white evangelical Christians, about 60 million strong, have driven the culture wars for decades. It was they who formed the Moral Majority in the 1970s, which helped elect Ronald Reagan in a landslide in 1980. And it was their children—some of them, anyway—who strayed from their parents' interpretations of faith and helped elect Barack Obama in 2008. Politically active, evangelicals have fought with varying degrees of success against abortion, same-sex marriage, and the teaching of evolution in public schools. But a recent study by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows that white evangelicals may, in fact, have more pragmatic concerns than their reputation indicates. "They, like everyone else, are concerned about the $14 trillion national debt. And true to evangelical principles, it's an issue they have started to talk about in moral terms. According to the Pew report, released earlier this month, most Americans are pessimistic about the economy and believe the government should cut spending, but at the same time want it to spend more on education, health care, and veterans' benefits. White evangelicals are concerned about the deficit, too, but the way they want to deal with it is with spending cuts that are somewhat less merciful." (TheDailyBeast)

"Author Michael Lewis was sued by Wing Chau, president and principal of Harding Advisory LLC, who accused the writer of defaming him in his 2010 book 'The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine.' Chau, a manager of collateralized debt obligations, according to a complaint filed Feb. 25 in Manhattan federal court, claims the book unfairly casts him as one of the 'villains' responsible for the 2008 financial collapse. The book 'depicts Mr. Chau as someone who ignored his professional responsibilities, made misrepresentations to investors, charged money for work that was not performed, had no stake in the CDOs he managed, was incompetent or reckless in carrying out his responsibilities, and violated his fiduciary duties by putting the interests of ‘Wall Street bond trading desks’ above those of his investors,' according to the complaint." (Bloomberg)

"The contrast between Libya and Saudi Arabia on Feb. 23 couldn't have been more striking. As Qaddafi loyalists fought rebel forces east of Tripoli, oil majors such as Total (TOT) and ENI (E) cut or suspended their Libyan oil production, while the U.S., Britain, and Italy prepared to send ships and planes to evacuate their citizens. On the other side of the Arab world, Saudi King Abdullah returned from three months of medical treatment abroad laden with gifts for his subjects. Abdullah, known as the people's king, announced $36 billion worth of new jobless benefits, education and housing subsidies, and debt write-offs. The government even unveiled a new sports channel. The world is focused on the tragic events unfolding in Libya, which have alarmed U.S. policy makers and spooked markets into bidding oil above $100 a barrel. Yet a nonevent—the unrest that is not occurring in Saudi Arabia—could prove just as important in determining the future of the region and the world economy." (BusinessWeek)

"Oscar Night in Los Angeles is like Easter in the Vatican City: it’s a celebration that just about everyone takes very seriously. But you don’t have to attend the awards themselves to be a part of it—not when you can mingle with the nominees and a few hundred carefully selected power brokers from the worlds of entertainment, media, tech, and finance. Graydon Carter’s 17th annual Academy Awards dinner and after-party gave the winners of Hollywood’s highest honor a chance to show off their hardware to a crowd that knows a thing or two about being on top. The festivities began at approximately 4:30 p.m., as guests for the awards-viewing dinner began arriving at the Sunset Tower, where the pool area had been converted into a dining room complete with TV screens embedded in foliage." (VanityFair)

"Sure, every Oscar weekend there are the Friday night agency parties -- Ari Emanuel's WME fete, and Jim Berkus' UTA party for the Coen Brothers, and Bryan Lourd's CAA bash (where the valet parkers screwed up the parking situation so badly that the Triple-A crowd had up to a 2-hour wait for their cars). But the place to really see the Big Media moguls, past and present, and their assorted pilot fish on parade is Barry Diller's Saturday afternoon lawn luncheon ostensibly in honor of Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. This year drew a particularly good 300+ crowd to the tent on Diller's Beverly Hills estate for Hollywood's major meet'n'greet. Guests included in no particular order: Sir Howard Stringer (eating the repast of veggie chili and fried chicken and poached salmon with Rupert Murdoch), David Geffen ..." (Deadline; image via PurpleDiary)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Secretary Gates Indirectly Criticises Bush Administration

Sane people know that Bush fucked up on Iraq. Neocons, still clinging to their extreme idealism (or a stubbornness to admit that they got it wrong), like to argue that the world is a better place without Sadaam Hussein. Defense Gates will soon step down, after having served two American Presidents in that capacity. He was called upon to clean up the mess that Donald Rumsfeld left on America's doorstep. There is, incidentally, a lot of chatter along the beltway that the ever tired SecState Hillary might be the next -- and first female -- SecDef. Interesting, though I'd rather see Secretary Clinton replacing Biden. Obama would be a shoo-in for a second term with Hillary Democrats -- even against the formidable Huntsman.

But back to Gates. This is widely seen as Gates's farewell to the army, this speech at West Point. He has earned the right to deliver some collateral damage to the administration that fucked things up so royally. And he does, which is kind of extraordinary. From The Christian Science Monitor:

As he winds down a remarkable Pentagon career – overseeing two long and very costly wars, wrestling with a military-industrial complex resistant to his budget moves aimed at questionable weapons, and shaking up the senior officer corps – Defense Secretary Robert Gates has a message for his successor.
“Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as General [Douglas] MacArthur so delicately put it.”
In referring to Iraq and Afghanistan, as he did elsewhere in his speech to cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point Friday, Defense Secretary Gates was not directly critical of the man he replaced – Donald Rumsfeld – or of the Bush administration’s leading an invasion of Iraq now generally acknowledged to have been based on faulty reasoning, insufficient preparation, and – initially, at least – poor execution.

That’s not Gates’s style. And in fact, Rumsfeld’s inclination was to take Iraq with as few troops as possible, while many of those in the Bush administration predicted a quick victory. No “big American land army” for them.
Future wars, Gates hinted, will involve the Navy and Air forces and counteracting cyber attacks. The days of heavy land army use are behind us and he was giving a heads up.
Chris Matthews Hardball Special

I find Bill Clinton endlessly fascinating on many levels. The last American President -- for some time, at least -- that really had fun in the job (big budget surpluses, technological innovation, last standing global superpower, thank you very much). For the forseeable future American President's are going to be digging us out of the financial hole.

I also happen to like Chris Matthews, who is big, gregarious, extremely knowledgeable about the American political process and always interesting. Matthews regularly cuts people off when they try to spin him. We like.

In many ways Chris Matthews was born to cover Bill Clinton. They are both loud, boisterous, Irish American men with big appetites and a healthy lust for public life. There was a lot of friction between the two of them during the Monica episode and also in the thick of the Hillary campaign. But that all seems to be water under the bridge as the former President gave Matthews full access. This "documentary" is very, very pro-Clinton -- it aired on MSNBC. But it is a great look at Bill Clinton's post-Presidential life (even if somewhat flawed by being so deeply uncritical).
Chris Matthews on Charlie Rose

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"It's hard to imagine that a Vogue editor woke up this morning and decided it wouldn't be hugely embarrassing to publish a puff piece today, at the moment of the greatest upheaval in the Middle East in two generations, about Syria's ruling family. But that appears to be exactly what happened. The article does not once mention the protests currently under way in the Middle East, including scattered evidence of demonstrations in Syria. Instead, the article focuses on Syrian first lady Asma Assad -- the 'freshest and most magnetic of first ladies,' endowed with '[d]ark-brown eyes, wavy chin-length brown hair, long neck, an energetic grace.' At a time when other Middle Eastern first ladies, notably Tunisia's Leila Trabelsi, have been the target of protesters' wrath, this may not be the wisest moment for Asma to flaunt her glamour. One can only assume that the Assads agreed to be interviewed for this piece before the current outbreak of unrest made it embarrassing for both for them, and for Vogue." (ForiegnPolicy)

"Acid monologues like this have made (Chris) Christie, only a little more than a year into his governorship, one of the most intriguing political figures in America. Hundreds of thousands of YouTube viewers linger on scenes from Christie’s town-hall meetings, like the one in which he takes apart a teacher for her histrionics. ('If what you want to do is put on a show and giggle every time I talk, then I have no interest in answering your question.') Newly elected governors — not just Republicans, Christie says, but also Democrats — call to seek his counsel on how to confront their own staggering budget deficits and intractable unions. At a recent gathering of Republican governors, Christie attracted a throng of supporters and journalists as he strode through the halls of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel like Bono at Davos. While Christie has flatly ruled out a presidential run in 2012, there is enough conjecture about the possibility that I felt moved to ask him a few weeks ago if he found it exhausting to have to constantly answer the same question. 'Listen, if you’re going to say you’re exhausted by that, you’re really taking yourself too seriously,' Christie told me, then broke into his imitation of a politician who is taking himself too seriously.  ‘Oh, Matt, please, stop asking me about whether I should be president of the United States! The leader of the free world! Please stop! I’m exhausted by the question!’ I mean, come on. If I get to that point, just slap me around, because that’s really presumptuous. What it is to me is astonishing, not exhausting.'" (NYTimes)

"Embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is set to be deserted by another close ally after his Ukrainian nurse said she was heading home. Galyna Kolotnytska, described in a diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks as a 'voluptuous blond' who 'travel[s] everywhere' with Col. Gadhafi, called her family in Kiev on Friday to say she intends to return to Ukraine, her daughter told daily Segodnya. 'Mom got in touch yesterday. She said she was now in Tripoli,' Tetyana Kolotnytska said. 'She spoke in a calm voice, asked us not to worry and said she'd soon be home.' According to the cable from September 2009, contacts in Tripoli told U.S. diplomats that Col. Gadhafi 'relies heavily' on Ms. Kolotnytska, then 38, as 'she alone 'knows his routine.' The cable also reported claims from unnamed sources that the eccentric Libyan leader and the nurse, part of a retinue of four Ukrainians, 'have a romantic relationship.' Ms. Kolotnytska's daughter said her mother had been in Libya for nine years, originally employed in a hospital before starting work for Col. Gadhafi. 'Other Ukrainian women also work for him as nurses. Mom is one of them," she said. "For some reason, he doesn't trust Libyan women with this matter.'" (WSJ)

"In October of 2009, tens of thousands of LGBT people marched on Washington, lambasting President Obama for what they saw to be a totally underwhelming agenda on gay rights. What a difference a year and a half can make. Since that time, when Andrew Sullivan loudly declared that Obama’s speech at a gay rights event was little more than '[bullshit…campaign boilerplate,' the president has signed a major hate crimes prevention act, repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, refused to support the Defense of Marriage Act, and now the latest: appointed Jeremy Bernard as the first man and the first openly gay person to be the White House social secretary, replacing Julianna Smoot, who’s leaving to go work on the president’s re-election campaign. 'It’s a big week for gay rights,' said Corey Johnson, the political director for Towleroad, the influential gay blog. Further, Bernard’s ascension is a sign that neither the 'shellacking' Obama took in the mid-term elections or the crucifixion of his ex-social secretary Desiree Rogers back in 2009 are going to keep the president from making bold, occasionally eyebrow-raising choices—which in some way, Bernard is. Talk to people who know the president’s new pick and the words that come up indicate an extroverted quality that’s somewhat at odds with what’s ordinarily expected from those around Obama. Bernard, who is 49 and most recently served as the chief of staff to the U.S. Ambassador to France, is 'gregarious' and 'electric,' they say. He carries himself with 'flourish' and 'panache.' He may not cut as wide a swath as Rogers, but he’s probably closer to her than his immediate predecessor, Smoot." (TheDailyBeast)

"I haven’t got that much time left, but I’d gladly give 10 years of my life to see that homicidal maniac Gaddafi strung up from a palm tree alongside his wart-hog sons, especially Hannibal Gaddafi, an expert in imprisoning and torturing helpless servants and beating up women in posh Western hotels. What a ghastly world we live in. Gaddafi has been bullying us for 41 years, his henchmen murdering an English policewoman, killing an estimated 1,200 Libyan prisoners in cold blood back in 1996, shooting down an unarmed civilian airline, then cheering when the convicted terror-bomber is released by a spineless British government more interested in oil and gas than justice. As I watch the news of the Libyan massacres, an image of a smiling Tony Blair kissing Gaddafi’s arse keeps flashing before my eyes. If Blair had an ounce of decency left in him he would take a bottle of Chivas Regal and a pistol, write a letter of apology, and do the manly thing." (Takimag)

"It's that time of the year in Hollywood, when stars and starlets are in the market for some extra sparkle—the perfect moment, in other words, for an organization called the Diamond Information Center to do some outreach. At the dinner the promotional outfit threw last night at the Chateau Marmont in honor of Best Actress nominee Michelle Williams, unique pieces by Forevermark were on display in the dining room—and, more noticeably, on Debra Messing, Liz Goldwyn, and plenty of other guests. How much precious jewelry will Williams don for the big night? 'I can't say,' she insisted. Before the seating, the actress and a friend, Cougar Town's Busy Philipps, bantered about the time Dita Von Teese performed wearing $5 million worth of diamonds and nothing else. 'She probably gets more dates than I do,' Williams said. Philipps: 'She takes her top off a lot.' Williams: 'So do I!'" (Style)

"The fashion house Christian Dior said on Friday that it had suspended its design director, John Galliano, after he was accused of making an anti-Semitic slur during a drunken tussle at a Paris bar. John Galliano, the design director for the French fashion house Dior, was accused of making an anti-Semitic remark during a fight at a bar in Paris. Some of John Galliano’s designs were featured during Fashion Week in Paris in January. 'Christian Dior has an unequivocal zero-tolerance policy regarding anti-Semitism and racism,' the chairman and chief executive of Christian Dior Couture, Sidney Toledano, said in a statement. The statement said Mr. Galliano, 50, had been suspended pending the conclusion of a police investigation into the incident. His lawyer, Stéphane Zerbib, contested the claims on Friday. 'There was never the slightest comment of a racist or anti-Semitic connotation,' Mr. Zerbib said in a telephone interview. The police detained Mr. Galliano at La Perle, a trendy bar in the Marais district of Paris, at about 9 p.m. Thursday, a police official said. Brought to the police station for questioning on charges of 'light violent acts' and 'insults of anti-Semitic nature,' Mr. Galliano had a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal driving limit, the police official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity in keeping with police regulations." (NYTimes)

"Increasingly, it seems to me, Scott Walker's political gamesmanship is discrediting the vital cause of tackling deficits and debt in the states. It's a classic case of over-reach. And the same can be said of marriage equality in Maryland, where extreme rhetoric in the debate turned some previously anti-gay marriage legislators around. The NYT reports on the muted response of the GOP's potential presidential candidates to the Obama administration's decision not to defend Section 3 of DOMA in the courts. I don't for a minute believe that the Christianist base will be satisfied if the House decides to let sleeping gays lie, but the feeling is different now, don't you think? The genius of the Holder decision is that it forces the GOP to decide very quickly whether to double-down on this issue. It's the last thing Boehner wants to be thinking or talking about. And Obama has wisely restricted his shift to the federal government's recognition of what states have already done. In other words, Obama's decision can be viewed as a federalist one. Why, after all, should some states not have all their marriage licenses recognized by the federal government, rather than, say, 98 percent of them? Since the DOMA provision protecting every state's right to decide how to define civil marriage remains, this becomes an issue of the states versus the federal government. Which again intensifies the Republican internal conflict." (Andrew Sullivan)

"'What I love about Burgundy is the authenticity,' says Daniel Johnnes, the hyperactive, diminutive dean of American Burgundy geeks, over an omelet at the New York restaurant Balthazar. 'You meet a Burgundy grower, they're farmers, they spend half the day on their tractors. You shake their hands and they are calloused. When you meet a chateau owner in Bordeaux, his hands are smooth and he's wearing a foulard.' As generalizations go, this one is pretty accurate. Two days later, Mr. Johnnes welcomed more than 30 Burgundian winemakers for the 10th La Paulée de New York, and more than a few of them looked as if they'd just climbed off a tractor. These French farmers were received reverentially by several hundred of America's wealthiest citizens, more than a few of whom travel in private jets and chauffeured Maybachs, and all of whom had paid 1,400 bucks for dinner. Mr. Johnnes modeled his New York celebration on La Paulée de Meursault, which was founded in 1923 when vigneron Jules Lafon gathered his neighbors for a fall feast to celebrate the harvest .. He continued to invite Burgundian vignerons to meet American oenophiles at Montrachet, and in 2000 he launched La Paulée de New York, an event that has become an institution in the wine world, the annual gathering of American Burgundy Nuts. When I say 'nuts,' I'm being kind. You have to be more than a little mad, and more than a bit of a masochist, to love Burgundy. Burgundy is a fickle and unreliable lover. It's the source of more heartbreak than country music radio." (Jay McInerney)

"A week ago, James Franco joined Twitter. He has since racked up over 150,000 followers. Besides being kept up to date on the 127 Hours star’s whereabouts—'I’m on my way to a meeting with one of my favorite artists, Richard Prince,' was one tweet—Franco’s acolytes have been treated to teasers for this Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, which Franco is co-hosting with Anne Hathaway. On Thursday, Franco linked to YouTube footage of the co-hosts performing a Grease-inspired dance number, which will presumably be featured on the ABC telecast. And earlier in the week, he posted an 'omitted oscar song': an audio recording of him warbling tunelessly through the Cher belter 'You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,' from the film Burlesque. The Academy has long struggled with the dilemma of how to draw a younger, hipper audience to the ratings-challenged Oscars, with every year bringing new ploys: A John Hughes tribute! Bringing in the Twilight cast to present awards! Chris Rock as host! Cutting out musical numbers! The decision by this year’s Oscar producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer to hire Franco and Hathaway—the youngest hosts in the history of Oscar—was itself a drastic act in the progressive slouch toward a cooler, more populist Academy Awards." (SexyBeast)

"Photographer, one-time frequent PAPER contributor and Londoner-turned New Yorker Janette Beckman will be opening a fascinating exhibit, 'Catch The Beat: The Roots of Punk & Hip Hop' on March 11th at the Morrison Hotel Gallery. The show documents the excitingly innovative hip-hop and punk movements that grew out of New York City and London in the the '70s, '80s and '90s. The exhibit is also a collaboration between Beckman and fellow photograher David Corio, documents the trailblazers of both genres and features portraits of everyone from Afrika Bambaataa to the Clash to Tom Waits. We wouldn't be surprised to find a few images that originally ran in PAPER included in the show and we can't wait to take a spin through her instillation." (Papermag)

"Justin Wohlstadter navigated easily through the crush of long-legged beauties and laptop jockeys crowding the lobby of the Ace Hotel on a chilly Thursday night. His informal office when he’s not in the U.K. doing postgraduate work at Oxford, the wood-paneled bar is also his hunting ground for tech deals to fund as director of the investment company Penny Black, named for the world’s first prepaid adhesive stamp—'a game changing idea,' as the Web site describes it. 'There is a pretty small group of us, really young guys, who are in the fortunate position to be making investments in tech,' Mr. Wohlstadter said, grabbing a seat in an oversize armchair. Ivy League handsome in a white Oxford shirt unbuttoned a few notches below the neck, he bounced his smart phone from palm to palm, flagged down the waitress and ordered a Brooklyn Lager. 'What do you think of Hashable?' Mr. Wohlstadter wondered, name-checking one of his investments. The Observer related our score on the application, which gives users a way to track meetings and awards points for each connection. 'Oh, man,' Mr. Wohlstadter laughed. 'You need to get out more.' Mr. Wohlstadter, 23, began funding entrepreneurs a year and half ago—just a few weeks after graduating from Harvard." (Observer)

"There’s a moment in Julie Taymor’s gender-bent film of The Tempest when Helen Mirren seems to come down hard on “actors”. Briskly dismissing the masque summoned for the entertainment of the betrothed Ferdinand and her virginal daughter Miranda, 'Prospera', the enchantress, gently but firmly disenchants. 'Our revels now are ended. These our actors,/ As I foretold you, were all spirits and/ Are melted into air, into thin air …' It’s a famous speech, often read as a valediction in Shakespeare’s last play; the Bard, as it were, flicking the house lights on and off to boot out the late-night groundlings. Mirren delivers the lines in a tone of benevolent clarity, as if breaking it to her innocent daughter that Santa isn’t actually up there with the elves. In the London hotel drawing room where we’re talking, her mother’s mink collar wound round her neck, a slash of scarlet lipstick on her mouth, Mirren is warming up the bone-slicing cold with the sparks of her merry, articulate intelligence. I tell her, in case she hadn’t done it consciously, that she lingeringly enunciates 'actors' with a curl of the lip. She breaks into one of her salty, estuary-girl laughs and says, 'Oh, really? I didn’t mean to insult actors. I love actors and the whole process of acting.' You believe her because she’s a performer who reflects nonstop about what she’s doing, on stage, film or television, yet without ever burdening her delivery with over-considered attitude. When I saw Gielgud do Prospero at the Old Vic in the 1970s, the great man wandered about the stage in a state of vague irritability, vocalising the 'cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,' as an inward, sombre meditation on the illusion-chamber of the theatre itself. But Mirren’s delivery is blade-sharp steel to Gielgud’s tarnished silver." (Simon Schama/FT)

"With a stunning Brazilian girlfriend on his arm, you'd think Ronnie Wood would make a bit of an effort. But last night the ageing rocker looked every inch his 63 years as he dined out with 31-year-old girlfriend Ana Araujo at C restaurant in London. The Rolling Stone didn't do himself any favours either as he wrapped up warm in a granddad-style cardigan-cum-coat decorated with a bizarre Inca-style design. With his collar turned up, the star appeared totally at odds with girlfriend Ana's effortless chic. Frail-looking Ronnie looked a little unsteady on feet as he accepted a helping hand from a doorman as he stepped into a waiting cab as Ana looked on from behind." (TheMirror)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Trouble has been going on in the Middle East for weeks, so why have oil prices suddenly gone up precipitously today? Mainly because two major presumptions underlying our understanding of the world changed in the last 24 or so hours and in doing so shook up the global economic calculus (for the audio-inclined I discuss this on NPR's Diane Rehm Show today). First, we have long been accustomed to Saudi Arabia's calming, sonorous voice when events have shaken the world of oil, which as we know is the underpinning of the entire global economy -- no oil equals no economy, no conveniences, and so on. As it has in previous crises since the 1970s, Saudi Arabia has told the world -- do not worry, we will moderate prices, and should there be a loss of oil supply from one or more other countries, we will compensate for it with our own plentiful production capacity. A current corollary of this mantra has been that the kingdom is safe from the turbulence that has struck so many of its neighbors -- its citizens, cosseted by generous government subsidies, are simply too happy to rise up. Yet yesterday, King Abdullah (on the billboard above) returned home after three months abroad for medical treatment and immediately announced a $36 billion payout to his citizens, including a 15 percent salary increase for public employees, 'reprieves for imprisoned debtors and financial aid for students and the unemployed,' as the Financial Times reports. So oil traders can be forgiven if they thought to themselves, "If the Saudis are so immune from unrest, why did King Abdullah, as soon as he touched home soil, move to buy off his people?" The FT headline this morning put it bluntly: '$36 billion Saudi bid to beat unrest.' Result: panic buying on the oil market." (ForeignPolicy)

"Meanwhile, over at Michael’s I met up with Heather Mnuchin who had just flown in from Los Angeles which she and her husband Steven now make their main residence. Both Heather and Steven are native New Yorkers. Our meeting was ostensibly about The (17th annual) Evening of Practical Magic benefiting City Harvest that will take place on Wednesday, April 13th at Cipriani 42nd Street. The Mnuchins have been involved with City Harvest for a long time. Heather told me yesterday that it started with Steve. He was a kid out of business school and working for Goldman Sachs when one day he saw an ad in the New York Times about how $100 could feed six families that night through the auspices of City Harvest. He was so impressed he sent them a check for $1000. That was the beginning for him. In time he became a member of the board. Heather came to their marriage with a sense of volunteering and philanthropic work. When she was growing up, her mother was Director of Volunteers for St. Luke’s Hospital, and later for other hospitals here in New York. By the time she was 12 or 13, her mother was taking her and her sister along with on work projects. The girls learned then to practice the anointed art of volunteerism." (NYSocialDiary)

"If you thought Charlie Sheen's radio meltdowns were bad before — and with bombs hurled at his Two and a Half Men boss Chuck Lorre and inexplicable advice offered to Lindsay Lohan, they have been — they're nothing compared to the aggressive, addled rant Sheen launched today on the Alex Jones Show. TMZ has the audio, where Sheen calls Lorre ethnic slurs, talks about his army of assassins, and even slams one of our founding fathers. The beleaguered actor is supposed to return to work on Two and a Half Men next week, but after today, we're not so sure. (Update: CBS and Warner Bros. TV have decided against resuming production on Two and a Half Men next week and will keep the show dark for the rest of the season.) Here are eleven of the most incendiary, odd, or just plain inexplicable things Sheen said on the air .." (NYMag)

"'We are sick of hooking up with guys,' writes the comedian Julie Klausner, author of a touchingly funny 2010 book, 'I Don't Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters and Other Guys I've Dated.' What Ms. Klausner means by 'guys' is males who are not boys or men but something in between. 'Guys talk about Star Wars like it's not a movie made for people half their age; a guy's idea of a perfect night is a hang around the PlayStation with his bandmates, or a trip to Vegas with his college friends.... They are more like the kids we babysat than the dads who drove us home.' One female reviewer of Ms. Kausner's book wrote, 'I had to stop several times while reading and think: Wait, did I date this same guy?' For most of us, the cultural habitat of pre-adulthood no longer seems noteworthy. After all, popular culture has been crowded with pre-adults for almost two decades. Hollywood started the affair in the early 1990s with movies like 'Singles,' 'Reality Bites,' 'Single White Female' and 'Swingers.' Television soon deepened the relationship, giving us the agreeable company of Monica, Joey, Rachel and Ross; Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer; Carrie, Miranda, et al. But for all its familiarity, pre-adulthood represents a momentous sociological development. It's no exaggeration to say that having large numbers of single young men and women living independently, while also having enough disposable income to avoid ever messing up their kitchens, is something entirely new in human experience. Yes, at other points in Western history young people have waited well into their 20s to marry, and yes, office girls and bachelor lawyers have been working and finding amusement in cities for more than a century. But their numbers and their money supply were always relatively small. Today's pre-adults are a different matter. They are a major demographic event." (WSJ)

(Chloe Sevigny, Proenza Schouler's Lazaro Hernandez, Jack McCollough via zimbio)

"CHLOË SEVIGNY: I want to hear the crazy story about you losing your dog. (Proenza Schouler's )LAZARO HERNANDEZ: It's actually an amazing story. I was here alone, eight o'clock at night. I had my bags. I was going to Italy the next morning. I grabbed my dog and my bags and I'm waiting for the elevator but it doesn't come. It's taking forever so I'm like, 'Fuck. What's going on?' And I had to take a piss. So I run to the bathroom to pee, and I come back to the front, and the dog is gone. I have no idea where he is. I'm like, 'He must have taken the elevator. He must be in the lobby.' SEVIGNY: He just pressed the button. HERNANDEZ: I press the elevator again. It takes another 10 minutes for it to come. The elevator door opens. It's packed, packed, packed with people-Dan [Colen] and Nate [Lowman]. SEVIGNY: All the art stars. HERNANDEZ: They're all there. They're like, "Hey, Lazaro.' I'm like, 'Hey. It's my building. I'm going home. I lost my dog.' SEVIGNY: You guys don't understand the significance of the Swiss Institute, which is in your building. It has great shows, FYI. HERNANDEZ: Well, I get to the lobby and there are hundreds of people. There's a line down to Broome Street. I asked some guy, 'Have you seen a dog?' He's like, 'Oh, yeah. Someone left a dog in the elevator. I don't know where he went. He's somewhere in the building.' I have no idea it's Harmony [Korine]'s or Rita [Ackermann]'s opening. So I go to the Swiss Institute and it's packed with hundreds of people. My dog weighs five pounds! I'm freaking out. SEVIGNY: Someone stepped on him. HERNANDEZ: More like, someone stole him. One of these fucking hipsters stole my dog." (Interview)

"One of the big stories this Oscar season has been how Harvey Weinstein got his groove back. Judging from the impressive turnout at the dinner party Dior threw the indestructible movie mogul last night at the Chateau Marmont, it's a tale that everyone (including Halle Berry, Rosario Dawson, Adrien Brody, and Gerard Butler) wants to be a part of. Not that the house of Dior needs help wrangling A-list talent. But Anne Hathaway might have put it best: 'Have you ever tried to say no to Harvey?' According to Weinstein, it was Marion Cotillard who talked him into doing the dinner in the first place. 'I'm not the new face of Dior,' he joked ... With both The Fighter and The King's Speech in the running, there's every chance Weinstein will be toting some extra gold around to Sunday's after-parties. He always watches the nominations with one of his children for good luck, he explained after the post-dinner performance by Karen Elson. 'But once the voting ends,' he added, 'there's nothing I can do about it, so I just try to stay calm and throw a couple parties—a lot of parties.'" (Style)

"Eliot Spitzer is telling friends his CNN co-host Kathleen Parker 'will be gone within a week.' Relations between the ex-gov, who once called himself a '[bleep]ing steamroller,' and his conservative co-host are at an all-time low. A source said, 'Spitzer thinks she's holding him back. The ratings surged when she was out sick, and he anchored alone during the turmoil in Egypt. Only very few anchors have the power to wipe out a co-host, and Spitzer thinks he has it. CNN bosses are high on Spitzer, and he might get his own show. Kathleen has been weighing her options. There's this sense of dread among middle management.' We've reported that Parker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, could be dumped due to lack of chemistry with Spitzer. But our source said, "She's putting up a fight.' CNN President Ken Jautz recently said, 'There have been lots of press reports that I am contemplating changes, but I'm not going to engage in any speculation.' A CNN rep declined to comment." (PageSix)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Separated at Birth?

Sleazy, empurpled Libyan strongman Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi ...

... And sleazy Purple magazine editor Olivier Zahm?
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The scathing manuscript draft of former Sarah Palin aide Frank Bailey's In Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years, leaked to The Daily Beast, spares not a single embarrassing email or angry campaign trail moment. Among more juicy allegations in the book, which is filled with catty asides, including a description of Palin's skin as being 'tanning-bed bronze': 1) Todd and Sarah Palin Had Marital Problems, Neglected the Kids. Sarah Palin appeared to trust Bailey and confided in him on all topics, including family matters. In an email, Palin told him that Todd was working behind her back on the Troopergate affair, writing to Bailey: 'We're not like normal couples, Frank. We don't talk.' Bailey writes that the Palins had marital problems and that Todd would even steal his wife's BlackBerry 'in order to read her emails for emotional clues' before emailing campaign headquarters during the 2006 Alaska gubernatorial campaign to 'relay his wife's demeanor,' good or bad, to the team. Bailey also alleges that Todd even accessed Palin's email without her knowledge, and if he saw something that worried him, he would call Bailey with his concerns." (TheDailyBeast)

"Strike up the Brahms, put down your bowling pin, and pick up your milkshake, because the 2011 Oscar race has closed. Academy members’ ballots are in—except those still using theirs as a bookmark—and the Oscar-bloggerati almost unanimously agree that The Weinstein’s Speech—pardon, The King’s Speech—will win best picture over The Social Network. Despite the latter’s carpet-bombing of critics’ awards, the life-affirming themes of royal self-help appear to rule the roost of Academy hearts over the cold, hard reality of Silicon Valley’s greatest e-screwing. Academy to Social Network: “You’re going to go through life thinking Oscar doesn’t like you because you didn’t run a good campaign or Academy members love British accents. We want you to know from the bottom of our hearts that’s not true. It’s because you’re an asshole.” So, what surprises are left for Sunday night? Probably none. The Social Network does have a chance at an upset and it won’t be left out in the cold entirely. Aaron Sorkin’s had a lock on best adapted screenplay for so long that if he doesn’t win, you can expect to see the sun rise in the West on Monday. Also, despite the fact best director almost always dovetails with best picture, David Fincher is favored to win for The Social Network." (VanityFair)

(image via abcnews)

"Michael’s was busy, as usual, but quiet for a Wednesday. It was the vibe; muted. Michael McCarty told me it was the school vacations – both public and private coinciding with the long holiday weekend, with families off to the slopes for their final time of the season. Nightimes they see lots of the in-town people. In session, many regulars as well as occasional guests including: Stan Shuman, Dave Zinczenko, Keith Kelly, Jean Doumanian, George Malkemus, Barbara Liberman, Michael Gross and Jessica Aufiero; Fern Mallis and Jack Kliger, Judy Price and Libby Kabler, Betty Liu, Jaqui Lividini, Jack Myers, Ed Pressman, Malcolm Morley, Marcy Bloom, Eric Korman. Last night in New York, friends invited me to dine at Daniel Boulud’s Café Boulud, in the Surrey Hotel on 76th Street between Madison and Fifth. The café is not a secret, but rarely talked about and always busy." (NYSocialDiary)

"As George Friedman noted in his geopolitical weekly 'Revolution and the Muslim World,' one aspect of the recent wave of revolutions we have been carefully monitoring is the involvement of militant Islamists, and their reaction to these events .... As we watch the situation unfold in Libya, there are concerns that unlike Tunisia and Egypt, the uprising in Libya might result not only in a change of ruler but also in a change of regime and perhaps even a collapse of the state. In Egypt and Tunisia, strong military regimes were able to ensure stability after the departure of a long-reigning president. By contrast, in Libya, longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi has deliberately kept his military and security forces fractured and weak and thereby dependent on him. Consequently, there may not be an institution to step in and replace Gadhafi should he fall. This means energy-rich Libya could spiral into chaos, the ideal environment for jihadists to flourish, as demonstrated by Somalia and Afghanistan. Because of this, it seems an appropriate time to once again examine the dynamic of jihadism in Libya." (STRATFOR)

"It was a frosty standoff between designers Tom Ford and Valentino over 'The King's Speech' star Colin Firth at the Sunset Tower Hotel's Tower Bar on Tuesday night. Spies say Ford was dining with Firth when Valentino, retired from fashion but now the subject of a documentary, waltzed in, 'looked at Tom's table and was noticeably upset to see him with the celebrity of Oscar season. Valentino kept staring at Tom's table with daggers, like he was jealous that Tom had the best celebrity accessory in town. Finally, he went over to introduce himself.'" (PageSix)

"Let's say that Libya's entire oil production shuts down, a process that currently seems under way. Would Saudi Arabia genuinely make up the difference, as its energy minister, Ali al-Naimi (pictured above), has said in Riyadh? The answer is crucial -- everyone from the presidents of the world's leading industrial nations to the CEOs of the Fortune 500 to Wall Street expects Naimi to step up to the plate with Saudi's 4 million barrels a day of excess production capacity should there be an oil shortage. It's not an exaggeration to say that the global economy relies on this presumption. Yet, not everyone thinks the answer is as pat as the conventional wisdom suggests." (ForeignPolicy)

"Jim Murphy has been named an executive producer of Anderson, Anderson Cooper's new one-hour syndicated daily talk show for Telepictures Prods. set to launch on September 12, 2011. Murphy, who will exec produce alongside Cooper, has worked on such morning and magazine shows as Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, 48 Hours and CBS Evening News." (Deadline)

"There have been moments in history where revolution spread in a region or around the world as if it were a wildfire. These moments do not come often. Those that come to mind include 1848, where a rising in France engulfed Europe. There was also 1968, where the demonstrations of what we might call the New Left swept the world: Mexico City, Paris, New York and hundreds of other towns saw anti-war revolutions staged by Marxists and other radicals. Prague saw the Soviets smash a New Leftist government. Even China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution could, by a stretch, be included. In 1989, a wave of unrest, triggered by East Germans wanting to get to the West, generated an uprising in Eastern Europe that overthrew Soviet rule. Each had a basic theme. The 1848 uprisings attempted to establish liberal democracies in nations that had been submerged in the reaction to Napoleon. 1968 was about radical reform in capitalist society. 1989 was about the overthrow of communism. They were all more complex than that, varying from country to country. But in the end, the reasons behind them could reasonably be condensed into a sentence or two. Some of these revolutions had great impact. 1989 changed the global balance of power." (George Friedman)

"It's Oscars week, and Hollywood is suiting up. Last night at Eveleigh, a rustic-looking new restaurant on the Sunset Strip, those suits were by Brioni—the label joined Vanity Fair in sponsoring a cocktail party for Artists for Peace and Justice and outfitted the evening's host, Pierce Brosnan. The former 007 opted to linger coolly by the bar, leaving the Haiti charity's main mover, Paul Haggis, to do the heavy schmoozing. The Fighter has much longer odds than The Social Network. "We are for sure the underdog," the film's director, David O. Russell, admitted at the dinner Interview magazine and Hugo Boss threw for him a few blocks down the Strip at the Mondrian. 'But how can you lose? You got to be part of this thing.' It's also hard to be much of a pessimist when the Moët is flowing and you've got Milla Jovovich and Paz de la Huerta tugging at you from both sides." (Style)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"In the past 24 hours, WikiLeaks has released three additional cables that the New York Times says 'offer a vivid account of the lavish spending, rampant nepotism and bitter rivalries that have defined what a 2006 cable called Qadhafi Incorporated.' The dictator's children were all the beneficiaries of income streams from the National Oil Company. What did they do with their wealth and power? Hire American pop stars like Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, and Usher to perform at New Year's parties in St. Barts, build their own militia, and cover up domestic abuse." (NYMag)

"A meeting between a dictator's son and a senior Cabinet minister at a classic English shooting party revealed how deeply the Gaddafi regime wormed its way into the British Establishment. The weekend took place in 2009 at Waddesdon Manor, the Buckinghamshire home owned by financier Jacob, 4th Baron Rothschild. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was a guest of financier Nat Rothschild and Lord Mandelson, the former business secretary who was virtual deputy to Gordon Brown. The peer and Saif are said to have got on well and met again at the Rothschild holiday home in Corfu, where Lord Mandelson stayed for a week and discussed the case of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, who was freed days later. Saif is Muammar Gaddafi's third son and heir apparent. (London School of Economics) educated, he owns a home in Hampstead with eight bedrooms, indoor pool, sauna and cinema. Last year Saif claimed Tony Blair was a 'personal family friend' who had visited Libya many times, becoming an adviser to Colonel Gaddafi over the fund that manages Libya's £65 billion oil wealth." (ThisisLondon)

(image via NYSD)

"I went to lunch at Michael’s with Kitt Shapiro. We met through Susan Fales-Hill. She and Kitt are old close friends. They both went to Lycee Francais here in New York when they were kids. Kitt’s mother was Eartha Kitt, the legendary chanteuse who became very famous in the early 1950s with the song C’est Si Bon, which she introduced in Leonard Sillman’s New Faces of 1952 on Broadway. She was 25 then and already had almost a decade of show business in her CV." (NYSocialDiary)

"A certain amount of grumbling is par for the course in the media business these days—an ambient hum so pervasive you almost forget it's there. But that disconsolate keening seems to have reached a new pitch with AOL's staggering $315 million purchase of the Huffington Post, an aggregation-loving site that, in the words of one Web editor, makes fellow page-view-hoarders Tina Brown and Nick Denton 'look heroic.' The deal means hefty payouts not only for proprietress Arianna Huffington (rumored to have landed somewhere around $20 million) but also for some of her minions. Sources tell The Observer that a half-dozen or so original employees are expecting payouts of around $1 million each. 'Think about it,' groused a magazine veteran not connected with the deal. 'Anyone who's been at HuffPo that long probably has zero creative fire, talent or editorial ambition. Now these people are cashing seven-figure checks?' The big winners are 'the most boring, non-personality people,' according to a former Huffington Post employee who turned down a big job early on. 'There's always regret when you see money being handed out in giant chunks,' admitted Rachel Sklar, who worked at the Huffington Post from 2006 to 2008 but says she 'never inquired' about equity." (Observer)

" ... most of the crowd decamped to The Box, where Jefferson Hack, in a fedora and tux, celebrated Another Magazine's tenth anniversary at a ball hosted by Kate Moss and Tilda Swinton. Guests at the private dinner at Jay Jopling's house that preceded the ball buzzed that it was 'the party of the year,' and the eye candy at the after-bash was nothing to sniff at, either. In the crowd: Damien Hirst, Stella McCartney, Daphne Guinness, Kirsten Dunst, Lily Donaldson, Phoebe Philo, Hussein Chalayan, Gareth Pugh, La Roux's Elly Jackson, and Natalie Massenet (who surely had to have an early night, considering that Mr Porter was launching today). Even Wang popped by after his own party to see what all the fuss was about. And the fuss? New Yorkers need no introduction to The Box, but it's still relatively new in London. Set in an alley in Soho, it's a dark, seedy town house with a debauched bordello feel and gilded private rooms purpose-built for unmentionable things. Mark Ronson did a set, followed by the burlesque dancers that Prince Harry made famous last week when he hinted that he may borrow a few for his brother's stag night. And behind the hidden doors and cubbyholes? Let's just say, what happens at The Box, stays at The Box. Most didn't say their goodbyes until the birds were chirping outside, proof positive that the night was a crowd pleaser. 'I've been to a few parties in my life,' laughed Beth Ditto. 'But let's just say this ranks up there.'" (Style)

"The owner of the estate at 3620 Sweetwater Mesa Road, which sits high above Malibu, California, calls himself a prince, and he certainly lives like one. A long, tree-lined driveway runs from the estate's main gate past a motor court with fountains and down to a 15,000-square-foot mansion with eight bathrooms and an equal number of fireplaces. The grounds overlook the Pacific Ocean, complete with swimming pool, tennis court, four-hole golf course, and Hollywood stars Mel Gibson, Britney Spears, and Kelsey Grammer for neighbors. With his short, stocky build, slicked-back hair, and Coke-bottle glasses, the prince hardly presents an image of royal elegance. But his wardrobe was picked from the racks of Versace, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana, and he spared no expense on himself, from the $30 million in cash he paid for the estate to what Senate investigators later reported were vast sums for household furnishings: $59,850 for rugs, $58,000 for a home theater, even $1,734.17 for a pair of wine glasses. When he arrived back home -- usually in the back seat of a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce or one of his other several dozen cars -- his employees were instructed to stand in a receiving line to greet the prince. And then they lined up to do the same when he left. The prince, though, was a phony, a descendant of rulers but not of royals. His full name is Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue -- Teodorin to friends -- and he is the son of the dictator of Equatorial Guinea, a country about the size of Maryland on the western coast of Africa." (ForeignPolicy)

"Campaigns can often be important guides to performance in office. Rahm’s was nearly flawless. 'He was the perfect candidate,' said Larry Grisolano, managing partner of AKPD Media, the firm headed by David Axelrod and David Plouffe that manages not just Emanuel but President Obama. 'The whole thing was done with a touch of finesse he’s not usually associated with.' It helped that he raised more than $10 million, half of it in increments of more than $50,000, obtained last fall just before a new Illinois law barred such large contributions. But because much of that money was from out-of-state, from people like Steven Spielberg and Roger Altman, Rahm will arrive in office without big debts to pay powerful local interests. Beyond being rude on occasion, Rahm’s biggest flaw is that he can be too reactive and tactical—governing on the basis of what fire in the news cycle needs to be put out. The disciplined, strategic and programmatic quality of his campaign offers Chicagoans some hope that he has changed enough to allow him to become a historic mayor." (Jonathan Alter)
"'I’m the most fashionable antifashion guy,' proclaimed Olivier Zahm, the publisher of niche magazine Purple Fashion. He’s weary after the social and professional grind of New York Fashion Week and lamenting the democratization of fashion on the Internet. 'This is why the industry is going in a vulgar, common, bad direction — because of the direct access that doesn’t come with an education, reflection, understanding,' Zahm said in his thick French accent, reminiscent of Serge Gainsbourg. Wearing his signature retro look (tinted aviators, fitted jeans and a leather jacket) and famous for his roué Seventies lifestyle, he seems like a natural enemy of fast fashion and its weapons, blogging and tweeting. 'It is vulgar and common,' he repeated, before pausing to answer a call from Yves Saint Laurent designer Stefano Pilati. Fashion for Zahm is deeply personal, as is Purple Fashion, the title founded in 2004, which has become as much a cult as he is. 'I don’t want to accept it [fashion] the way it is proposed, and I don’t want to just be an instrument of this industry,” he said. So how does he do that without becoming a tool? Purple Fashion just breaks even — before it pays its staff and such mundane matters as the lighting and heating bills. It’s no InStyle or Vogue in the money machine department, that’s for sure." (WWD)

"The Obama administration plans to nominate a top White House Middle East advisor to be the next U.S. envoy to Israel, POLITICO has learned. President Barack Obama intends to nominate one of his most trusted Middle East aides, the National Security Council’s Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa Dan Shapiro, to be his ambassador to Israel, administration officials said. Shapiro has earned Obama's trust as a Middle East and Jewish outreach advisor going back to the campaign, and one who uniquely seems to get along well with everyone else. Shapiro has worked closely with all the key inter-agency players including National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, the NSC’s top Iran and regional strategist Dennis Ross, as well as Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell, and has a good rapport with Congress, where he previously served as a staffer. Shapiro also has good ties with the Jewish community, having served as a key White House point of contact for the Jewish community, and helped head up Jewish outreach for the Obama campaign. Shapiro, who speaks fluent Hebrew, also has a good relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wide contacts in Israel and the region, and has accompanied Mitchell on countless shuttle diplomacy trips to the region." (Laura Rozen)