Thursday, March 31, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"More so than the conflicts in Tunisia, Libya, and Bahrain, and perhaps even more than the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, the recent violence in Syria has posed a challenge to the Obama administration's strategy in the Middle East. The conflicting impulses within the administration can be seen in recent statements made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; days ago, she described Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a 'reformer'; in London on March 29, she issued a 'strong condemnation of the Syrian government's brutal repression of demonstrators.' Which view of Assad prevails, and how the United States responds to events in Syria, will go a long way toward determining how deeply US.. policy in the Middle East is altered by the recent turmoil there. One of the key departures President Obama made from his predecessor's policy in the Middle East was in his approach toward Syria. Rather than continuing to heap pressure on the Syrian regime, the Obama Administration returned to the policy of engaging Syria practiced by past administrations. The reasons behind this shift were manifold: the pressure policy was perceived as not working and engagement with hostile regimes broadly was seen as holding diplomatic promise." (ForeignPolicy)

"I had a lunch date down at Michael’s with Geraldine Fabrikant of the New York Times. It was Wednesday and for whatever Michael’s was its Wednesday-self. Wall-to-wall. A very eclectic crowd, perfect for reporters like this one and Ms. Fabrikant who can sit for hours and speculate on the who’s and the what’s and the why’s of this aglomeration of celebrity, notoriety, wealth, fame, political power making and mongering, and media madness. For example. Rachel Uchitel, one of the leading ladies in the Other Woman-Tiger Woods marital disaster, was there with Michael Callahan of Vanity Fair. Is there even more dirt to spill or spread (or deny)? Do we care? Moving right along, next door to my table: Julie Macklowe, the hedge fund lady married to the real estate heir, now investing in the fashion industry, with three lovely ladies; Lally Weymouth of the Washington Post family; Harvey Weinstein of the Oscar-winning family with James Dolan, the Cablevision heir ... Roger Ailes, the man who made Fox News lunching with Jon Meacham, former editor of the pre-Tina Brown Newsweek, also biographer of Andrew Jackson and now executive editor of Random House; right next door to them, the legendary Jack Welch; Alexandra Trower and Pamela Van Zandt of Estee Lauder; George Ledes, beauty and fashion publisher. Norman Foster, Baron Foster of Thames Bank with Paul Goldberger at Michael's. Also Robert Zimmerman, CNN contributor, political commentator and Democratic strategist with Tad Smith, head of Cablevision ..."(NYSocialDiary)

"They say when sexual attraction sets in, all other brain functions shut down. It’s nature’s way of ensuring procreation. My brain shut down last week, and for a Hollywood actress to boot. Of German extraction, Sandra Bullock is not the classic Aryan goddess, but she’s most attractive in the flesh, more so than on the screen. I ran into her at Michael Mailer’s birthday party. He threw the bash in his famous father’s old house in Brooklyn, a wonderful location overlooking New York Harbor, a place that brought back many memories of wild nights with Norman Mailer. Jimmy Toback, screenwriter for Bugsy and the director of Harvey Keitel’s gem of a movie, Fingers—the only American film ever remade as a French movie—has directed some of Michael’s films, so we talked about sons and old movies."(Takimag)

"It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow. Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today." (Joseph Steiglitz)

"Having covered the scene at Michael’s for some time now, I’ve been witness to plenty of Fellini-esque tableaus where the head-spinning mix of stars and strivers, masters of the universe, and alien-like actors never ceases to amuse and occasionally amaze me, but today was off the charts. What started as an afternoon of ramped up power lunches (Harvey Weinstein and James Dolan! RogerAiles and Jon Meacham!) turned into a game of Spot The Tabloid Temptress. I just happened to be at the front desk when regular Henry Schleiff came in followed by a blonde, pillow-lipped gal hiding behind her huge sunglasses. I immediately recognized her as Rachel Uchitel.  What was Tiger Woods‘ infamous mistress doing with Henry? I couldn’t wait to ask him. Before I could, she darted around us, averting my eyes and making her way into the dining room. Turns out she was on her way to meet Vanity Fair’s Michael Callahan. 'Did you see who that was?' I asked Henry. When I told him, he quipped, 'I didn’t recognize her with her clothes on!'" (FishbowlNY)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Amid the new drama that unfolds every day in Egypt and Tunisia, these swipes at the regime's tormentors stand out as an early test of how truly committed reformists are to their own calls for democracy and human rights. Vigilante justice is one thing. Transitional justice is another: Not only a break with the past, but the creation of a new political culture based on civic freedoms and rule of law. To see this kind of transition firsthand, North Africans need only peer across the Mediterranean and study what post-authoritarian Eastern Europe has undergone during the past two decades. Nudged forward by a desire to join the European Union, new elites tackled the question of what to do with the key perpetrators of the ancien régime -- plus all the loyal foot soldiers who propped it up. The key question: Beyond the secret police, how deeply to cut into the old elites, public administration, bureaucracy, courts, economy, army and regular police, even in the media and universities?"(ForeignPolicy)

"Lately, it’s been easy to criticize billionaires. Ever since the financial crisis hit, they’ve become targets for anyone wishing to blow off steam about inequality in America, and what some believe are harmful concentrations of power and wealth. But at least two exceptional billionaires shouldn’t be put in the crosshairs: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, leaders of a new philanthropic initiative called the Giving Pledge, are demonstrating their magnanimity by donating a majority of their own fortunes to charity, and encouraging others in their income bracket to follow suit. Officially making 'the pledge' requires billionaires to donate a bulk of their assets to charitable organizations, then to announce their commitments in open letters published at It’s an impressive feat to get the wealthy to part with money—especially some of the notoriously acquisitive billionaires named on the Giving Pledge’s list. But by leveraging their combined social influence, Buffett and Gates seem to have successfully raised the bar for what counts as high-level charitable giving. Their achievement recalls the important contributions made by other vastly rich men in previous generations—like Andrew Carnegie, whose famous 'Gospel of Wealth' philosophy helped to inspire a tradition of social responsibility among the American upper class."(Janie Johnson)

"In December 2003, Beth Ostrosky wanted to bring radio shock jock Howard Stern to his knees, so she whipped out the big guns — and took out the gizzards. She cooked her then-boyfriend of a few years a chicken dish from a recipe in Glamour magazine, and sat Stern down for a candlelit dinner. 'I swear to you, he had never been love-ier or more romantic. He was saying the sweetest things to me. And in the back of my mind, I was chuckling, 'Wow, that magazine knows what it’s doing,' says the 38-year-old with a laugh. The next morning Stern raved about the meal on his radio show. When Beth Ostrosky was looking to heat things up with Howard Stern, she turned to poultry. Yes, Mrs. Stern says her chicken dish 'definitely struck something' with her then-beau. 'He started talking about the lemons up the chicken’s butt when a woman called in and said: Howard, you just described Engagement Chicken. Beth wants you to marry her ...' So why does the humble chicken dish possess so much romantic power? 'Remember the old Pillsbury slogan that Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven? asks Leive. 'It sounds so horribly retro, but it’s true. Roast chicken is one of those dishes that says, ‘I took some time. I made something that says I’m taking care of you.’ It’s delicious, but also comfortable.' Seconding that view is Karl Myers, 39, who was putty in his now-wife Doris’ hands after she roasted the chicken for him in April 2007. Myers was hypnotized by the 'very juicy' and 'very moist' poultry. 'Soon after eating the chicken, it wasn’t a conscious thing, but I just found myself getting an engagement ring made,' admits Myers, who lives in The Bronx and owns Main Drag Music in Williamsburg. 'I was like, ‘Wow, how did I get here?" (NYPost)

"Last night in New York down at Christie’s, they held the 2nd annual Bid to Save the Earth, which benefits four separate environmental non-profit organizations. This was the go-to Party of the Night in New York. There must have been a thousand guests filling many of the galleries of the great auction house. The invitation read: 'Christie’s, Runway to Green, & Vogue; Anna and Graydon Carter, Salma Hayek and Francois-Henri Pinault, and Susan and David Rockefeller' as hosts. It was such a large party that there was more than one planner. Vogue and Anna Wintour, for example, were the force behind the runway show and everything around it .. This was one of the best 'large' parties I’ve been to in a long time. Not to be confused with a dinner, etc., this was cocktails and champagne, hors d’oeuvres frequently passed, space to stand and walk around in, and literally hundreds of guests milling, mingling ... I left before it was over (missing the runway) show, for a dinner with a friend at The Lion on West 9th Street. Nine o’clock table. Very busy night at The Lion. Back uptown, after the Runway Show at Christie’s, there was an after-party over at Graydon Carter’s Monkey Bar."(NYSocialDiary)

"Elizabeth Taylor married eight times to a total of seven people, but some were more memorable than others. Here are my rankings of the men she said 'I do' to, in ascending order of merit. (7) Larry Fortensky (1991-1996). A lowly construction worker! So out of her league! He must have thought, 'I can't believe I'm drilling Liz Taylor!' (6) John Warner (1976-1982). A Republican! That's almost as low as a construction worker! What was she thinking? (5) Conrad Hilton, Jr. (1950-1951). Nine unhappy months. Hilton relationships never last. Look at Paris ..." (Musto)

"Mike Huckabee, whose nonstop book-flacking is keeping him on the political radar, was doing a routine radio interview when the talk briefly turned to Natalie Portman. Seattle host Michael Medved questioned how the 29-year-old actress could tout her pregnancy at the Oscars when she had not yet married her fiancé. The once-and-maybe-future presidential candidate replied that it was 'troubling' to see 'a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts' of having a child out of wedlock, because 'there aren't really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie.' And then—nothing happened. But three days later, in a glass-sheathed building atop Washington's Buddha Bar, Eric Hananoki, a 27-year-old with a growth of stubble, discovered the audio on his computer. At 5:41 p.m., he posted a blog item for the liberal advocacy group Media Matters, declaring that Huckabee had 'attacked actress Natalie Portman for having a child 'out of wedlock.'' Five hours later, MSNBC's Ed Schultz was skewering Huckabee, and the story quickly ricocheted from TMZ to Politico to Stephen Colbert. We have entered the era of sound-bite warfare on steroids." (Howie Kurtz)

"When people talk about how good television has gotten recently, they usually start with Mad Men. The series, which premiered in 2007, has won 13 Emmys and four Golden Globes. It was key to establishing AMC’s reputation as a network for quality shows like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. But Mad Men has never gotten great ratings. The finale of the most recent season drew 2.44 million viewers. That’s fewer people than watched a recent rerun of the struggling network show Brothers & Sisters. So it’s not a big surprise that there’s now a battle going on over money. The show was supposed to be in production for its fifth season right now. But at this point, it looks new episodes won’t air until 2012. The show airs on AMC but is produced by Lionsgate. According to Deadline Hollywood, a big sticking point in negotiations is creator Matthew Weiner’s salary. Deadline says Weiner is poised to earn $30 million over two years. That would make him the highest paid show runner in basic cable." (Forbes)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Until 2011 with its tumultuous 'Arab spring,' it has been decades since the president led the nation in discussion about Middle East policy. Obama officials relish the chance to mold a new foreign-policy paradigm, one that relies less on autocratic governments and their oil reserves and more on a genuine connection between Americans and citizens of the Arab world. But it will not—cannot—be entirely consistent.Although he didn't articulate this point, the president and his aides know that from a strategic vantage point, a democratic movement in Bahrain will almost certainly be catalyzed with covert help from Iran, which wants to establish another harbor to contain the power of Saudi Arabia. Bahrain, therefore, has more leeway. (That is also the home to America’s 5th Fleet.) There is no coherent opposition force in Yemen, and the United States worries that regime change would allow al-Qaida to flourish in that impoverished country where the terrorist group has already gained a foothold. In a briefing with reporters on Monday, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Denis McDonough, accepted the criticism that Obama’s actions seemed inconsistent but rejected the idea that they would set a precedent that would be hard to follow. 'We do get very hung up on this question of precedent,' he said. 'We don’t make decisions on interventions based on consistency, or precedent. We base them on how we can best advance our interest in the region.' That means that Obama will not use the military to intervene everywhere there exists a potential for humanitarian crisis. McDonough was quick to stress that there are other ways to pressure countries, but the implication is clear: the threshold for military intervention is whether such a move will meaningfully contribute to the furtherance of U.S. goals, which include the strengthening of international institutions." (Marc Ambinder)

"One by one, the leaders of Europe's three biggest immigration destinations have stepped up to solemnly repudiate a policy that has long ceased to exist. In recent months, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have let it be known that multiculturalism shall no longer be the continent's doctrine of immigrant integration. 'The multicultural approach, saying that we simply live side by side and be happy about one another, utterly failed,' declared Merkel in a speech in October 2010. 'Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream. We've failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong,' said Cameron on February 2011. 'Multiculturalism is a failure. The truth is that in our democracies, we cared too much about the identity of the migrant and not sufficiently about the identity of the country that welcomed him,' Nicolas Sarkozy announced on French TV later that month. These unusually convergent statements would seem to signal a dramatic turning point in Europe's relations with its Muslim populations, who are the target of these putative reforms. The speeches were designed to convey the image of political leaders fully in control of their national destiny, boldly charting a new course for their societies. The reality, however, is far less grandiose. Merkel, Cameron, and Sarkozy are playing a catch-up game with the right wing of their constituency by savaging a straw man -- multiculturalism -- and offering precious few concrete proposals behind their new proposed course of action." (ForeignPolicy)

"'We competed to see who could play harder, then show up for work and still kick ass,' Rob Lowe tells Vanity Fair contributing editor Vanessa Grigoriadis about filming Masquerade in the Hamptons in 1987 while his then buddy, Charlie Sheen, was filming Wall Street. 'The verdict: Charlie by a nose.' Lowe tells Grigoriadis that his friends growing up in Malibu pre-fame were the 'uncool' guys who didn’t surf: Chris Penn and Charlie Sheen. 'The cool girls in Malibu had no time for me,' Lowe says. 'I wasn’t a beach volleyball player, a surfer, or a quasi-burnout.' However, as Lowe recounts in a Vanity Fair excerpt from his upcoming autobiography, it would be a mere five years after plotting their acting careers in the Sheens’ pool that the actor and his friends would be shot to fame. Grigroriadis writes that Lowe 'wasn’t embarrassed to admit that he began landing the cool girls,' which the actor confessed over the years included Demi Moore, Nastassja Kinski, Princess Stéphanie—who, Lowe remembers 'with a fair amount of residual pride,' had a poster of him—and Washington secretary Fawn Hall, whom Lowe tracked down after seeing her at the Oliver North trial." (VanityFair)

"It boasts a star-studded cast that includes Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard. But all eyes will be on France's premiere dame Carla Bruni as she makes her acting debut in Woody Allen's latest film, Midnight in Paris. And although the movie is not set to be released until May, followers can preview Carla's acting skills in the trailer. It features President Sarkozy's wife in a cameo role as a buttoned up curator at the famous Rodin museum. Described by one film critic as a 'love letter to Paris', the romantic comedy follows an engaged couple, eager to experience the charms of the city. But Rachel - playing the fiancée - becomes concerned when her husband-to-be (Owen) begins to disappear for hours on nightly strolls, and a detective hired to follow him vanishes into thin air. When it was filmed crowds flocked to the French capital last year to catch a glimpse of former model Carla in action. And the excitement extended to her husband, who couldn't resist visiting the set to see what his glamorous other half shooting her scenes." (Hello!Magazine)

"This White House moment happened at a time when Elizabeth Taylor had become a part of Washington, as inexplicable as that may seem. It was a festive time in the capital. Post-Watergate. Post-Vietnam. She showed up a lot, usually in the company of Andy Warhol, Halston, and Liza Minelli. She would party till the wee hours at raucous and extravagant parties hosted by Iranian Ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi. These were the last years of when the Shah still had Iran and Zahedi was his man in the U.S., and Washington hasn’t known anything like him (or that moment) since. He was precisely Liz Taylor’s perfect host, with limitless supplies of champagne, caviar, jets, baubles, and opportunity. The high life slowed when John Warner came along and swept Taylor off her feet. He was divorced from a Mellon, had some some Mellon money, was a country gentleman, former Navy Secretary, and aspiring politician. In 1976 they married and Warner parked her at his remote Atoka Farm in the rolling “hunt country” fields between Middleburg and Upperville."(NYSocialDiary)

"With a quarter of a million people on the streets of London protesting against the UK budget cuts, and with the US government days away from a potential shutdown, the social divisions over fiscal policy are deepening. It is not hard to see why. Both the US and UK have experienced a profound shift of income distribution from the poor and the middle-class to the rich in the past 30 years yet the fiscal adjustments are dominated by sharp cuts on public services combined with reductions on corporate tax rates. The social contract is under threat. Only international co-operation can now solve what is becoming a runaway social crisis in many high-income countries. The underlying political and economic forces tearing our societies apart are very powerful. The rise of globalisation, and especially the entry of China and India into the world markets, has put extreme downward pressure on wages of low-skilled workers while giving new opportunities for financial and business investments. The pre-tax income of the top 1 per cent of households has soared, from 10 per cent of household income in 1979 to 21 per cent in 2008 in the US, and from 6 per cent in 1979 to 14 per cent in 2005 in the UK. With capital globally mobile, moreover, governments are now in a race to the bottom with regard to corporate taxation and loopholes for personal taxation of high incomes. Each government aims to attract mobile capital by cutting taxes relative to others. Governments like Ireland have created tax havens that drain revenues from the rest and act as conduits to tax-free Caribbean hideaways such as the Cayman Islands. The rich are doubly benefited: by the underlying market forces of globalisation and by their governments’ policy response." (Jeffrey Sachs)

"By force of will and a fierce work ethic, Gov. Cuomo has pulled off the near-impossible with a budget agreement that closes a $10 billion projected deficit without the tax hikes, fees and fiscal gimmicks that have been so common in the past. Even more breathtakingly, he did it in the face of a spendthrift Legislature that had helped turn New York's government into a joke line on 'Saturday Night Live.' Cuomo's victory holds out the hope of inaugurating a new economic era that reverses the decades of private-sector decline and public-sector expansion that began with Republican Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller in the early 1960s. Paired with a similar decision made by New Jersey's Chris Christie, Cuomo's action could help redefine the bi-state area, now known as one of the most business-hostile regions in the nation. Cuomo achieved his success through weeks of planning, analysis and an intense series of anticipatory tactics that friends and foes alike call three-dimensional political chess." (Fred Dicker)

"Greg Mottola is set to direct Aaron Sorkin's HBO drama pilot set behind the scenes at a cable news show. The project, which recent Oscar winner Sorkin is executive producing with Scott Rudin, centers on news anchor Will McCallister, a role Jeff Daniels has been in negotiations to play, who has his own cable show; his female executive producer; and his staff." (Deadline)

"Is it 50 billion euros? Or perhaps 70 billion euros? The cost of bailing out Portugal varies according to who makes the calculation. No one will know the real price until officials from the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank tell us. But it isn’t the actual amount that counts. It is the price the euro area is paying for having a single currency. And on that measure, a rescue package for the beleaguered Portuguese economy comes with far too high a price tag attached. It will raise too many questions about whether the euro can ever be made to work; it will mean there is no longer a firewall that stops the crisis from spreading to Europe’s core; and the Portuguese don’t seem willing to accept the same type of austerity package that Greece and Ireland got ... The country needs money. It faces redemptions valued at about 9 billion euros ($12.7 billion) in total on April 15 and June 15, perhaps around the time of early elections to choose a new government. Portugal intends to sell as much as 20 billion euros of bonds this year to finance its budget and cover maturing debt. Right now, it doesn’t look as if the markets are willing to come up with that kind of cash. That leaves the euro area and the IMF as the only viable alternative -- the same way it was for Ireland and Greece. The money can be found if it has to be. A bill for 70 billion euros won’t bankrupt Germany or France. But just because you can afford something financially doesn’t mean you can afford it in other ways. The euro area can’t take the cost of bailing out Portugal." (MATTHEW lYNN/Bloomberg)

"Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is best known for two things: She hung up on President Obama when he called her on the phone (not believing she wasn’t being punked), and she is a staunch opponent of thawing relations with Cuba while it continues to be run by the Castro tyranny. As the new chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ros-Lehtinen could make a significant new mark during this Congress. Her panel is scheduled to hold a hearing this week on America’s role in Libya. She and other committee Republicans are expected to criticize Obama’s handling of the issue. The Obama-Ros-Lehtinen relationship got off to a rocky start when, as president-elect, Obama called her when she was the ranking member on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Thinking it was a prank, she hung up. Then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called her back, and she hung up on him, too."(Roll Call)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"There are plenty of smart objections to America’s Libya intervention. But when President Obama addresses the nation on Monday night, he should rebut the stupidest one: that America shouldn’t wage humanitarian war in Libya because we’re not doing so in Congo, Zimbabwe and every other nasty dictatorship on earth. The consistency argument, it’s important to understand, has nothing to do with Congo and Zimbabwe. Most of the people who invoke those ill-fated countries showed no interest in them before the Libya debate and will go back to ignoring them once Libya is off the front page. Ask someone who demands moral consistency in humanitarian war how exactly they propose to intervene in Congo and you will quickly realize that the call for moral consistency is actually a call for immoral consistency. The point of invoking the horrors of Congo is not to convince the US to act to stop the horrors of Congo; it is to ensure that, out of respect for the raped, murdered and maimed in Central Africa, we allow innocents to be raped, murdered and maimed in North Africa as well. The Congolese, presumably, will find it comforting to know that the great powers are as just as indifferent to savagery in other lands as they are to the savagery in theirs." (Peter Beinart)

"From the minute I landed in Bombay—as everyone here still calls it—the rapidly shifting nature of contemporary India was apparent. Instead of waiting in agonisingly long queues at the airport, I breezed through immigration, customs and bag collection in only 45 minutes. That’s faster than one can make it through most terminals at Heathrow or JFK these days. Outside the airport, cranes building a new terminal towered over those waiting with signs to pick up arriving international passengers with names like Padamsee and Singh, but also Takahashi and Levine, signs of the globalisation that is quickly transforming this city into an international melting pot. The last time I attended a fashion week in India was five years ago, so when IMG kindly invited me to attend this season’s Lakmé Fashion Week, I was curious to see how things had changed. With GDP growth racing along at a blistering 8 percent per year, and a growing sense of national pride, there were bound to be changes in India’s fashion business landscape as well." (BusinessofFashion)

"This morning’s Telegraph of London is running an obituary of Princess Antoinette of Monaco, the sister of the late Prince Rainier’s and aunt of Prince Albert and the Princesses Caroline and Stephanie. The princess, who died ten days ago at age 90, was considered by some to be eccentric, by others to be wild in her younger years (which extended well into her 70s), and definitely a lady who did as she pleased. The obituary will tell you the whole interesting story. The most interesting aspect of the princess’ story, which has never been unknown but rarely ever discussed in print, is the Grimaldi families lineage, which runs up and down both sides of the social ladder and fits nicely with allusion to the principality’s roots, in Somerset Maugham’s famous quote about Monte Carlo being a 'sunny place for shady people' ... It might be said that the Grimaldis have the most colorful genealogy of any royal family in Europe of the past three or five centuries. The first Grimaldi took over the palais one dark night in the 13th century, dressed as a monk, with a knife concealed underneath, knocked on the palace door one night and immediately murdered the owner and took over the place. Those were his politics." (NYSocialDiary)

"It’s not a secret that the states are a mess. All over the country, the collision of decades of expansive social programs, federal tax cuts for the richest, and the aftermath of the global financial slide has produced oceans of budgetary red ink. Governors, unlike Congress and the president, are legally required to balance their ledgers each year. The drama is playing out in a variety of ways across the national stage. In Wisconsin, Republican Scott Walker has tried to smash the public-sector unions; protesters flooded Madison while the state’s Democratic senators fled to Illinois. In New Jersey, Chris Christie has used ridicule and threats against the same targets, making him a conservative darling and a YouTube star. Out in California, Democrat Jerry Brown has tried a more cerebral, compromising approach, to little effect. All of which has given Andrew Cuomo an enormous if risky opportunity to define a new Democratic path, between confrontation and capitulation, left and right: progressive austerity, achieved through equal parts brute force and seduction, bringing business, labor, and politicians together to work it out semi-peacefully. Thus far he’s played the politics brilliantly. 'Like Nixon and Johnson, Andrew is always gaming everything. And he’s very good at it,' says a New York party leader. 'He has figured out how to turn his electoral victory, which he’s claiming is a mandate, and his popularity to keep people off balance in Albany.'" (NYMag)

"Presidential aspirants, in what they offer, and voters, in whom they support, typically react to the immediate past. After the scandals of Richard M. Nixon, Jimmy Carter promised virtue. After Mr. Carter gained a reputation for small-bore fecklessness, Ronald Reagan pledged robust leadership that did not sweat the details. After George H. W. Bush won the Persian Gulf war, Bill Clinton vowed to focus on an ailing economy. And after the younger Mr. Bush embraced his role as 'war president,' Mr. Obama stood out among his major challengers as an opponent of the Iraq war since 2002, even before it started. Mr. Obama said then that he opposed 'dumb' wars, not all of them. By increasing forces in Afghanistan, President Obama fulfilled a pledge to reinvigorate a mission he argued Mr. Bush had neglected. The Libya intervention is different. Mr. Obama initiated it, applying two lessons drawn from his predecessors. One is the 'responsibility to protect' innocents from slaughter, as Mr. Clinton failed to do in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Mr. Obama judged Colonel Qaddafi’s vow to show Libyan rebels 'no mercy' such a case. The second is the need for greater international coordination than Mr. Bush relied upon." (John Harwood/TheCaucus)

"Last month, a group of American investors assembled by former sommelier Robert Bohr purchased Domaine René Manuel, about 20 acres of prime Meursault vineyards for some €13 million ($18.5 million), sealing a trend whereby wealthy American oenophiles buy into the fabled vineyards of Burgundy ... Was this just a friendly confederation of well-heeled Burghounds looking for bragging rights and first crack at some old bottles for their personal cellars? Was it part of an incredibly intricate scheme for wine-world domination, possibly some sort of prescient countermove against the nascent Chinese interest in the rival region of Bordeaux? Or was it yet another example of the influence of Becky Wasserman, the American-born Earth Mother of Burgundy, who acted as the matchmaker in this particular Franco-American union? I say the latter. Ms. Wasserman grew up on East 77th Street in New York, the daughter of a Wall Street broker she describes as 'an elegant alcoholic' and a Hungarian ex-prima ballerina. She attended the Rudolf Steiner School on East 79th Street and Hunter College High School, where her teacher Madame Brody introduced her to the French existentialists and she associated 'with terrible girls with pretensions peering at Dylan Thomas drinking at the White Horse Tavern.' After a year at Bryn Mawr and several years of marriage to 'a Harvard fellow,' she sailed for France with her second husband, 'who had left Merrill Lynch to go to art school.' They found a crumbling barn in the town of Bouilland and restored it, in part with castoff materials from neighbors who were replacing their ancient flagstone floors with linoleum. Her husband, she says, 'collected Burgundies and au pair girls.'" (Jay MacInerney)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Corsair Classic The Smiths - How Soon Is Now

The Smiths - How Soon Is Now by beautifulcynic
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"With Libya, humanitarian hawks have found an almost too-good-to-be-true vehicle for this vision. In Qaddafi, the U.S. has an operatically villainous adversary who not only has the blood of Americans on his hands but also the blood of his own citizens, having pledged to Libyans who dare oppose him that his military 'will find you in your closets.' From a purely ­Realpolitik perspective, Qaddafi also gives the U.S. a Muslim foe who—unlike even Saddam Hussein—is not particularly beloved by the Arab street, much less Arab leaders. Which explains why, unlike the war in Iraq, this military intervention is truly multilateral. Then there’s the reality of this particular moment. There is no chance of the U.S. intervening militarily on behalf of the revolts in places like Bahrain or Yemen or Syria, where the U.S. either counts on the cooperation of its repressive leaders or fears the relative might of its armies. But Libya, with its isolated, intransigent dictator and ragtag military, presents no such difficulties. As such, it offers an ideal vehicle to signal to 'those kids' (as an Obama aide, speaking to Politico, referred to Arab pro-democracy demonstrators) that the United States is on the right side of history." (NYMag)

"'What happens in Libya stays in Libya,' a Middle Eastern diplomat told me. 'What happens in Egypt affects the entire region.' The constant National Security Council meetings about Libya, the discussions at the U.N. and NATO and the Arab League were all a diversion—as was the prospect of spending billions on (yet another) military campaign in an Islamic country, which would have far less lasting impact than spending those same billions on a well-planned and coordinated development program for the countries in the region with the largest influence and population, starting with Egypt. The revolution in Egypt isn't over. It has barely begun. The military is in power, as it has been, essentially, for the past 60 years. And a crisis is coming, a classic crisis of rising expectations: What happens three months from now when life hasn't changed in any appreciable way for the hundreds of thousands of young people who took to the streets in Cairo? More than 60% of the population in Egypt is under the age of 30; those demographics are common in the region. An estimated 25% are unemployed. These are the sort of calculations that caused President Obama to call National Security Council staffers Dennis Ross, Samantha Power and Gayle Smith into his office last summer. "He had his doubts that the Middle East status quo was sustainable," said one of those at the meeting. "He wanted us to come up with a long-term policy." (Joe Klein)

"My late wife, the actress Carrie Nye, made a dreadful movie called 'Divorce His, Divorce Hers' with the Burtons in 1973. She was a gifted writer and when she got back from Germany — where the movie was made for some Burton-related tax reasons — she penned, for friends’ amusement, a comic piece called 'Making It In Munich.' It’s laugh-out-loud funny. My friend Chris Porterfield read it and passed it to Henry Grunwald, then the top editor at Time, who said, 'This goes in the next issue.' Time introduced the piece by saying that Miss Nye had appeared with the glam pair in the two-part movie, adding that, 'incredibly,' it was about to be rebroadcast. Carrie Nye was especially pleased when Gore Vidal called with praise, complaining, 'I can’t get things Time asks me to write into the magazine and you get in without trying.' She liked both Burtons, saying she felt sorry for Elizabeth, and that, being from the South, she knew the problems of women married to alcoholics. We never knew if either of them read the 'Making It In Munich.' The piece’s humor derived from such matters as the director’s awful dilemmas, like the fact that by the time Liz got to the studio, Richard would be too drunk to continue work, while her own hearty imbibing disqualified her by the time he sobered up. A dilemma because they had scenes together and simultaneous sobriety was rare." (Dick Cavett)

"Though Bonnie and Clyde helped kick-start the emerging '70s cinema, Virginia Woolf was a formidable front runner and, in a few ways, more disturbingly violent. In it, words and deeds are doled out with a ferocious vitriol that remains unmatched -- at least in terms of eloquence. Nothing so nasty has ever been so sickly beautiful. It certainly helps when Liz is slinging the sadism. That this still beautiful, still young woman would dress herself down to mean-mouthed, muffin-topped middle age was brave enough -- but her words and actions -- funny, terrible, sad and at times, strangely sweet, showed that Taylor truly understood this woman. And dammit if Liz's dumpy, yet oddly sexy and potently poignant drunk and Burton's broke-down 'bog' aren't beautiful losers. Yes, beautiful. Never mind how toxic they make their lives. Beginning with a gorgeous title sequence during which we watch History Professor George (Burton) and his saucy and sauced wife Martha (Taylor) walking back from a function drunk and cackling, the movie immediately places us in their dark, disconsolate universe -- one of shattered hopes, nihilism, and dipsomaniacal game playing." (Sunset Gun)

"'A guy got shot in the head at a club and the brain pieces were on the mirror -- as I was running out I took a glance at it.' Pharoahe Monch is talking about the most unfortunately explicit thing he saw growing up in the same Southside Jamaica, Queens neighborhood that 50 Cent would later mythologize in rhyme as a heinous war-zone. But while Monch walked similar blocks filled with, as he puts it, 'drug dealers and the gangstas and the thugs,' he also stoked his artistic intrigue while attending the High School Of Art And Design, a move which freed up his creative mind and prompted him to take an interest in hip-hop music seriously ... Monch's new album, W.A.R. (We Are Renegades), find him resolute in his commitment to conveying a message and a certain degree of lyrical art in his music -- he talks with surprise about how few artists feel the need to speak on the world around them, not least regarding the recent events in Japan and Libya -- but he's also tried to frame it in a cinematic context. With a more mature approach to songwriting, Monch wants to appeal to those who want to hear actual songs, not just rap scholars looking to dissect 16 densely-packed bars." (VillageVoice)

"This is turning into a topsy-turvy box office as North American grosses come in for Friday and the weekend (which will be another down one overall, -9% compared to last year). Last night, it appeared that Fox's Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules sequel opened as a surprise No. 1 but Warner Bros' Sucker Punch came on strong in late night West Coast shows. They're looking neck-and-neck for the weekend depending on how much Zach Snyder's sci fi fantasy film drops on Saturday or Wimpy Kid 2 surges in kiddie matinees today. Meanwhile, 2 pics this first quarter of 2011 have passed $100 million domestic: Paramount's Rango and Sony's Just Go With It (Adam Sandler's 12th pic to do so while international is headed to $100M, too)." (Deadline)

"ONE winter evening, Brian Beutler, 28, a reporter for the online publication Talking Points Memo, sat with his friend and roommate Dave Weigel, 29, a political reporter for Slate and a contributor to MSNBC, at a coffee shop on U Street. Recovering from a cold as snow fell outside, Mr. Beutler spoke about his younger — well, relatively younger — days in the city. 'Everyone’s gotten a little bit older and a little more boring,' Mr. Beutler said, speaking of a wave of Washington bloggers who have come of age together. 'Four years ago, we were far less professionalized, and the work was less rigorous and less stressful. So in addition to being younger, we were also a bit less overwhelmed. That all has changed.' In only a few years, these young men and others like them have become part of the journalistic establishment in Washington. Once they lived in groups in squalid homes and stayed out late, reading comic books in between posts as more seasoned reporters slogged their way through traditional publications like The Hill and Roll Call. Now the members of this 'Juicebox Mafia,' as they were first called by Eli Lake of The Washington Times, in a reference to youth, have become destination reading for — and respected by — the city’s power elite. Indeed, arguably they are themselves approaching power-elite status (as well as, gasp, age 30). 'I look at those guys and call them Facebook pundits, said Tammy Haddad, the venerable Washington hostess and cable news veteran. 'They’ve risen up the media food chain. They’re acknowledged by the White House. They measure their success in a different way than the old guard in this city used to. 'It’s a whole new stream — a new vein of voices engaged and engaging with the power centers in Washington,' added Ms. Haddad, known for the boldface-name-dotted brunch she holds annually before the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner." (NYTimes)

"Friday night, and the crowd at the bar in Harlem's Lenox Lounge is a mix of neighborhood old timers and young hipsters who have come for the jazz club's 1940s ambiance ... The room itself hasn't changed much since Billie Holiday sang here decades ago, but tonight it's filled with the foundation's donors—mostly white hedge fund guys—and their female companions. A handful of guitarists, drummers, keyboard players, and even a saxophone-playing blues vocalist from New Orleans—most of them black—are standing by to provide the evening's entertainment. The two groups maintain a polite but awkward distance. Finally someone arrives who can bridge the cultural gulf. Richard D. Parsons, the 62-year-old chairman of Citigroup (C), strolls through the doorway with his wife, Laura. His beard is closely cropped and he wears rimless glasses, a brown sport coat, black shirt, and no tie. At 6 foot 4, he towers over his spouse. His singular talent, which has powered his career to the top of some of America's most prominent—and troubled—companies, is one he demonstrates tonight as he mingles easily with the musicians and the money men: He is flat-out smooth... Michael E. Novogratz, a director of Fortress Investment Group, a New York hedge fund, gives Parsons a hug and presents him with a Montecristo cigar. Parsons looks pleased. 'Oh man,' he says, 'I wish we could light these up in here.' The two men exchange condolences about the market, which is zig-zagging with the turmoil in the Middle East. "I lost more money this week than I did in any week in 2008,' Novogratz laments. Parsons tells him not to be so hard on himself. 'Nobody knows what's going on,' he says." (Businessweek)

"By interesting serendipity, the news about the final Oprah show and the new round of speculation that Katie Couric will most likely leave the CBS Evening News anchor chair in June came in within minutes of each other today. The coincidence is intriguing as Couric is touted as a potential successor to Oprah Winfrey as she is preparing for her next career as a daytime talk-show host. Couric, of course, won't be a direct replacement for Oprah, and not only because a whole year will separate Oprah's exit from daytime and Couric's expected arrival in fall 2012. Interestingly enough, Dr. Oz can claim that title. Of the 155 markets in which Oprah is not being replaced by a newscast, more than 80, including two of the Top 5, went with Dr. Oz in the Oprah slot, more than all other talk shows combined. As for ratings supremacy, Judge Judy, already beating Oprah on a regular basis, is expected to become the undisputed new daytime queen, with Dr. Phil and Ellen also poised to get a boost." (Deadline)

"The panel discussion was defiantly titled 'Flying The Indie Flag' and the mood was clearly intended to be triumphant. 'Indie labels are having a banner year,' crowed the panel’s organizers at last week’s South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, and are 'being successful by doing it their way, in a world where major labels no longer control the music business landscape.' Yet the faces on the actual indie label panelists looked anything but victorious. Sub Pop Records co-founder Jonathan Poneman—still earning sizable royalties for his initial signing of Nirvana over two decades ago—scowled his way through a series of accolades delivered for him. And Mac McCaughan, frontman for indie rock standard-bearers Superchunk and co-founder of Merge Records, merely shrugged and then shrank back in his seat as moderator Karen Glauber, president of Hits magazine, began gushing over the recent accomplishments of Merge’s Arcade Fire: A gold record—500,000 CD sales—at a time when such certifications are increasingly rare for even the industry’s biggest players, followed by a left-field Grammy award." (TheAwl)
Love for Japan with Wynton Marsalis

Love for Japan with Wynton Marsalis from Purple Magazine on Vimeo.

Wynton Marsalis performing at the Love for Japan fundraiser on Wednesday night at En Japanese Brasserie, New York. Video by Alexis Dahan

Friday, March 25, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"With the precise mission of the intervention unclear and exact command and control structures yet to be decided (though the intervention itself is already begun, a summit in London on March 29 will supposedly hash out the details) it is no surprise that Europeans seem to lack a consensus as to what the exit strategies are. Ultimately some sort of NATO command structure will be enacted, even if it is possible that NATO never gives its political consent to the intervention and is merely 'subcontracted' by the coalition to make coordination between different air forces possible. U.S. military officials, on the other hand, have signaled that a divided Libya between the Gadhafi-controlled west and the rebel-controlled east is palatable if attacks against civilians stop. Resolution 1973 certainly does not preclude such an end to the intervention. But politically, it is unclear if either the United States or Europe could accept that scenario. Aside from the normative issues the European public may have with a resolution that leaves a now-thoroughly vilified Gadhafi in power, European governments would have to wonder whether Gadhafi would be content ruling Tripolitania, a pared-down version of Libya, given that the bulk of the country’s oil fields and export facilities are located in the east." (STRATFOR)

"If a picture's worth a thousand words, we should probably just shut up right about now but the divine (Carmen Dell’Orifice) tends to inspire sonatas of praise. We'll just say this: She just turned 80 years old and she is a better model now than she was 50 years ago. No joke. Beautifully styled editorial with well-chosen looks that she can make sing for the camera (in Vanity Fair). And there's no question the clothes look better on her than on the one-quarter-her-age runway models. The woman's a legend for a reason." (TomandLorenzo)
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The third mistake has been the tendency by Qaddafi to interfere in the internal affairs of many African countries, using the little money Libya has compared to those countries. One blatant example was his involvement with cultural leaders of black Africa -- kings, chiefs, etc. Since the political leaders of Africa had refused to back his project of an African government, Qaddafi, incredibly, thought that he could bypass them and work with these kings to implement his wishes. I warned Qaddafi in Addis Ababa that action would be taken against any Ugandan king who involved himself in politics, because it was against our Constitution. I moved a motion in Addis Ababa to expunge from the records of the AU all references to kings (cultural leaders) who had made speeches in our forum, because they had been invited there illegally by Colonel Qaddafi." (Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni)

"In Los Angeles, they buried Elizabeth Taylor at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale which is about a 45 minute drive from Beverly Hills. There is more than one celebrity cemetery in Los Angeles, and there is something 'impressive' about each place where A LOT of famous people are buried. Forest Lawn, which is almost a century old, is the 'final resting place' of some of the most famous names of the last century, especially movie stars. Gable, Lombard, Harlow, Bogart, Pickford, Burns and Allen, Tom Mix, Sammy Davis, Walt Disney, Alan Ladd, Norma Shearer, Chico Marx, Nat King Cole, Ethel Waters, Errol Fynn, Spencer Tracy and authors such as Louis L’Armour, Theodore Dreiser and L. Frank Baum who wrote 'The Wizard of Oz.' Elizabeth, almost 30. She had won an Oscar for 'Butterfield 8' and would soon enter into her most important relationship of her lifetime. Elizabeth Taylor came of age on screen in 'A Place In the Sun,' based on Dreiser’s 'An American Tragedy.' Notice how the Studio changed the title to something more upbeat than a 'tragedy.' However, when that decision was made to change it, the value of Taylor’s name and public image in selling the film was as important as, if not more important than the title of the film (which often ran under the name of the star). These matters explain the differences between a movie star today versus a Movie Star like Elizabeth Taylor. In the days of the Studio system, stars were products, or as we would say today: brands." (NYSocialDiary)

"In the early 1950s Gore Vidal wrote three mystery novels under the name Edgar Box. Now Vintage Crime has reissued them in separate volumes. The Box novels are minor works in the career of a writer who would become a versatile and prolific man of letters, but Vidal’s style — witty, literate, mischievous — is unmistakable. The novels are satirical comedies, and reflective of their time. In an introduction Vidal explains that the mysteries came to be written after his third literary novel, 'The City and the Pillar,' about a homosexual love affair, was rejected by The New York Times on moral grounds. The Times also declined to review his next five novels. He turned to mysteries at the suggestion of Victor Weybright, an editor at Dutton who was known for publishing mass paperback series of novels by authors who ranged from William Faulkner to Mickey Spillane. Vidal writes that Weybright had Spillane in mind when he suggested he write mysteries. 'I said that I didn’t think I was sufficiently stupid to be a popular author, but he said, ‘You’ll find a way.'" (Boston Globe)

"While in Libya, I was invited to meet Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, Leader of the Revolution. The meeting took place at the Bab al-Azizia military barracks in the middle of Tripoli. I waited in a chilly room near the entrance, glad I was wearing my coat. Bashir Saleh Bashir, one of Qaddafi’s closest assistants, came to greet me and reiterate the government’s promise of full cooperation with our inspection of their nuclear program. A short time later, the foreign minister, Abd al-Rahman Shalgem, appeared and invited me inside. I was ushered into a large heated library. There was little furniture, just a big desk in front of rows of bookshelves holding a meager scattering of books in Arabic. Colonel Qaddafi, seated behind the desk in a traditional robe, invited Shalgem and me to take the chairs facing him. The ambience of the meeting matched the spartan look of the place. Qaddafi was more soft-spoken than I expected, his manner an odd mix of friendliness and reserve. His opening line was memorable: 'I don’t know how to put this,' he said, 'but why does the Egyptian government hate you?' He added quickly, 'The Egyptians are claiming that they can help us get rid of our weapons program better than you and your I.A.E.A. colleagues can.' Qaddafi then asked whether I was a Nasserite. 'You grew up during Nasser’s time in Egypt,' he said. 'You must be a Nasser fan.' 'I am not,' I answered, probably to his disappointment, since Nasser was reportedly his idol. 'Nasser had a very good vision and set of principles,' I added, 'but much of it failed in its implementation.' Qaddafi launched into a soliloquy on his decision to terminate his W.M.D. programs. He had reached the conclusion that weapons of mass destruction would not add to Libya’s security. They should be gotten rid of, he declared, not only in Libya but also in the Middle East and globally. Of course, I heartily agreed. Qaddafi digressed. He spoke glowingly about Libya’s place in world affairs, anecdotes that were not in all cases admirable. 'This little Libya,' he said proudly ..." (VanityFair)

"Perusing the list of artist for the upcoming Pantheon: A history of arts from the streets NYC show one could sight many academic similarities & differences however this is Plaztik Mag, lets just be real. Many of these artist don’t get flown on planes to fancy countries to do large scale murals funded by Coca-Cola, or have teams of people to help aid in putting their art work up for them. Instead, this is a group of 'Street Art Ninjas'. The daily foot soldiers communicating with one another in the language of the New York City Streets. Let me be clear about location, this is not a train yard in middle America or a rock you got drunk at & wrote your name on, these are the streets of NYC with many elements only a true warrior can successfully handle. The head Ninja would have to be Richard Hambleton better know as 'Shadow Man' he is the godfather of street art from the early 80’s." (Plaztikmag)

"At a party a few years back, another guest asked what I did, and I told him about the network of charter schools I founded in Harlem. Then he told me he'd created the TV show 'Survivor.' 'Oh,' I said. 'What's it about?' I don't remember Mark Burnett's reaction, but our host burst out laughing and proclaimed me 'the only person in America who hasn't seen that show.' The College Board, maker of the SAT college-entrance exam, would seem to agree. It kicked up a stir recently by making reality-TV the subject of an essay question: 'How authentic can these shows be when producers design challenges for the participants and then editors alter filmed scenes?' The controversy has mostly focused on the fairness issue -- are kids who watch no reality TV at a disadvantage? But the real issue is what the question reveals about our values and our vision for a 'college ready' student." (DEBORAH KENNY)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Hold the 'freedom fries'. The rapid pace of change sweeping the Arab world has wrongfooted many western policymakers. But surprises have extended beyond the region. The Middle Eastern upheavals have revealed US foreign policy to be more timid than the world has become accustomed to, and a remarkable subject has emerged as the toast of neoconservative Washington – France. While the French lobbied energetically for military action against Libya, Barack Obama and his team deliberated for weeks before finally coming out in favour of a UN resolution – drawing jibes about a president rendered 'spectator-in-chief”. Eric Edelman, undersecretary of defence in the George W. Bush administration – when in the throes of the Iraq war some diehards patriotically rebranded French fries – summed up the bitterness of those who felt that Washington should be more assertive. 'This administration seems quite content to let the leader of the free world, Nicolas Sarkozy, move ahead with all of this.' Administration officials argue that Libya is a special case, since the US sees countries such as Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen as strategically more important. And Mr Obama is an exceptionally cautious, some say hesitant, president. But all the same, the trend lines of US policy are clear. Faced with an overstretched military, massive government debt and popular disenchantment with foreign wars, Washington is looking for its partners to do more, even if that means the US playing a mere supporting role." (FT)

"To understand what's happened to Anna Wintour and to the fashion industry as a whole, it helps to look at two photographs. The first is a 1955 Richard Avedon shot of the model Dovima, dressed in a black Dior gown with flowing white sash, stretching her white arms toward two enormous pachyderms that flank her like bodyguards. 'Dovima with Elephants,' as the photograph is known, may be fashion's most iconic single image—perfectly posed and concerned with absolutely nothing but itself. A print sold for $1,153,011 at Christie's last November—a record for an Avedon. Wintour turns that iconography inside out in Vogue's April issue. Amidst the magazine's lissome models is a photo spread featuring Amar'e Stoudemire, the 6-foot-10-inch, 240-pound basketball forward, in his New York Knicks uniform. An elephant among Dovimas. Stoudemire isn't the first pick in Wintour's basketball draft—she put LeBron James on the cover a few years back—but she's been courting him for a while now. In September, she invited him to join her at the runway show before last September's Fashion's Night Out and in February she brought him to the Tommy Hilfiger show. 'Amar'e looked wonderfully dapper when he turned up,' Wintour says. 'I can think of very few men who could pull off a collegiate cardigan, bow tie and Nike high-tops. I asked him what he thought one of the best looks was, and he indicated a camel cape. And you know, he was right.' 'There are people who are like beacons, and I'm in the fortunate position that I can meet such people,' she says. It's hard to imagine Wintour hanging around with these people just because, well, she likes them. 'To be in Vogue means something,' she continues, matter-of-factly." (WSJ)

"My first encounter with Elizabeth Taylor came in 1964 when I was attending the Le Rosey boarding school in Switzerland, and we were at our winter campus in Gstaad. I was 12 at the time. The head of the English side of the school, Mr. Edward Turner, summoned me to his office. Once again, I thought I was in trouble. However, on this occasion, Mr. Turner said that an American mother wanted to send her son to Le Rosey the next school-year. Before doing so, she wanted to speak with an American student her son’s age to ask how I liked the school and my experiences. I was selected for this duty, and told to go to Charley’s Tea Room, a local Gstaad après ski gathering place, the next afternoon at 4:30. I was to meet a 'Mrs. Burton.' So on the appointed day, I showed-up at Charley’s. It was memorable for two reasons. First, I quickly learned that Mrs. Burton was Mrs. Richard Burton, aka Elizabeth Taylor. I sat at the table, ordered hot chocolate and she ordered a small plate of pastries for me. She could not have been kinder. She could see that I was nervous, and went out of her way to put me at ease.  So, flash forward to the next school-year, and my room-mate became Michael Wilding, son of British actor, Michael Wilding, Sr. and Elizabeth Taylor. What I remember most about Michael was his resemblance to his mother and her unique violet eyes." (NYSocialDiary)

"Twenty-two years or so ago, I wrote a column for The New York Observer, a weekly paper owned by a tycoon named Arthur Carter. He had come up the hard way and made his fortune in Wall Street but retained his loathing for those who had made it the old-fashioned way, mainly by inheriting and the old-boy WASP network. Graydon Carter (no relation), a good friend of mine who went on to become the big poobah at Vanity Fair, hired me to write the column. Mind you, what I wrote made Graydon very nervous. Arthur Carter was climbing the greasy social pole and complained nonstop to his editor about the cheap shots a columnist of his took at such social icons as Mercedes Bass, Henry Kravis, Michael Bloomberg, and the social moth, one Jerome Zipkin, who is no longer with us. Graydon nevertheless stuck by me even after I committed the greatest of sins—as a joke—writing that Si Newhouse, the honcho of VF, Vogue, and every other glossy that counts, was the only man who buys two tickets when he visits a zoo: one to get in and the other to get out. Having written that Arthur Carter—who dyed his hair and eyebrows in the most egregious way—had bought all the shoe polish in the city, preventing me from getting a proper shoeshine, did not help. Graydon used to have his assistant—a pretty, extremely capable, and charming girl called Amy Bell—make sure I was held in check when he was away. The trouble was Amy and I were buddies ..." (Taki Theodocrapoulos)

"Global alternative asset manager The Carlyle Group said Thursday it has expanded its presence in emerging markets by establishing a team to conduct buyout and growth capital investments in Sub-Saharan Africa. 'Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, driven by favorable demographics, expanding domestic industries and an improving political environment,' said Greg Summe, a Carlyle managing director and vice chairman of the Global Buyout group. Carlyle said its initial target industries include consumer goods, financial services, agriculture, infrastructure and energy. The team, which will work out of offices in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Lagos, Nigeria, is co-headed by Managing Directors Marlon Chigwende, a former managing director and head of private equity Africa for Standard Chartered Bank, and Danie Jordaan, a former executive committee member and partner of South African private-equity manager Ethos Private Equity ... Carlyle, with $97.7 billion in assets under management, including $16.6 billion in emerging markets, first entered the African continent with the establishment of its Middle East North Africa team in November 2006." (WSJ)

(Thakoon Panichgul and Princess Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis via style)

"The fête (for Thakoon Panichgul), held at Soho House Basement deep in the heart of Chinatown, brought in a crowd that included Detmar Blow, Dan Macmillan, Princess Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, and models of the moment Cara Delevingne and Edie Campbell, with Misty Rabbit at the decks. Then there were the hosts, Poppy Delevingne and Mary Charteris (the latter of whom has fashion in her DNA—her auntie is Daphne Guinness)" (Style)

"Sometimes the star of the show isn't feeling particularly starry -- or chatty. But who, then, was the belle of the ball at last evening's soiree for the John Frieda Precision Foam Colour short flick (or lengthy commercial -- tomato, to-mah-to) starring Katie Holmes, entitled The Decision? It definitely wasn't Holmes, who grinned girlishly in a white blazer and cig skinnies on the red carpet before ducking inside to nibble quietly at a roped-off table on her special-order basket of fragrant truffled fries while the brief b&w film debuted ...   It's a pity that The New York Times' dining section dynamo Sam Sifton wasn't in attendance to provide some addendums to his side-splittingly funny Lavo review from the fall ... And as Sifton astutely noted, Kelly Bensimon and Tinsley Mortimer were there for the eatery's debut eve in September and "apparently put some kind of spell on the place, because roughly 70 percent of the women who eat at the restaurant look like one or the other of them." Well, both Bensimon and Mortimer mingled amid the quilted leather walled banquettes, posed in tandem for a few glossy-locked photos-- and were indeed surrounded by myriad ladies who looked like them." (Fashionweekdaily)