Thursday, August 29, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Some policy experts believe that the U.S., even with allied support, should not attack Syria without authorization from the U.N. Security Council. Insofar as the Russians and most likely the Chinese are sure to veto any resolution calling for reprisals against Syria, these experts are, in effect, saying that the U.S. should not attack Syria. If, lacking Security Council authorization, the Obama administration were to make a legal case for intervention, it would rest on enforcing the 1925 Geneva Protocol banning the use of chemical or biological weapons. That protocol was designed to prevent the use of weapons whose principal purpose was to terrorize civilians, which is exactly how the Assad government appears to have used its chemical weapons. Obama could also cite a United Nations initiative, adopted in 2005, establishing that a state has a 'responsibility to protect' its citizens from genocide and other crimes against humanity. Assad’s war crimes don’t so much amount to genocide as patria-cide, a willingness to destroy his own country.  Does abiding by the Security Council takes precedence over supporting these other norms?  That represents  a highly idealized view of how the Security Council has functioned. When Franklin Roosevelt first conceived the United Nations, he thought of the security council as a kind of extension of the wartime allied alliance in which the great powers, united among themselves, would prevent lesser nations from getting into trouble. But the Cold War undermined that original conception of the Security Council, and it has had a tattered record in preventing war. There are good reasons for the United States not to act alone in enforcing the 1925 Protocol, but there are also reasons why it should ignore the need for Security Council approval." (TNR)

"Because so many war plans simply do not survive the reality of war itself, each war is a unique universe unto its own and thus comparisons with previous wars, while useful, may also prove illusory. One of the many wrong assumptions about the Second Gulf War before it started was that it would somehow be like the First Gulf War, in which the pessimists had been humiliated by the ease of the victory. Indeed, the Second Gulf War unfolded in vastly different ways, this time proving the pessimists right. That is why the recent media refrain comparing a military operation in Syria with the one in Kosovo in 1999 worries me. There are profound differences. Syria has a population ten times the size of Kosovo's in 1999. Because everything in Syria is on a much vaster scale, deciding the outcome by military means could be that much harder. Kosovo sustained violence and harsh repression at the hands of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, which was met with a low-intensity separatist campaign by the Kosovo Liberation Army. Violence was widespread but not nearly on the scale of Syria's. Syria is in the midst of a full-fledged civil war. The toppling of Milosevic, moreover, carried much less risk of ever-expanding anarchy than does the toppling of Syrian ruler Bashar al Assad. Kosovo was more or less contained within the southern Balkans, with relatively limited chance for a spillover -- as it turned out -- into neighboring countries and territories. Full-scale sectarian anarchy in Syria threatens to destabilize a wider region." (STRATFOR)

"Last night a friend sent me an email about having just seen the latest issue of Quest, and felt compelled to tell me how good it looked and how interesting the read. The August issue is the Annual Quest 400  List, and it’s mainly a List. We all love lists, admit it. They’re mindlessly interesting and easily dispensed with.  And although they count for nothing in reality, we still assign them some odd kind of demi-authority ... This one I started nineteen years ago in Quest one month when I didn’t have or couldn’t think of anything to write about. I’d recently written a biographical piece on Vincent Astor, hence the '400' lists (which his grandmother the Mrs. Astor started back in the 19th century). Why not a new one, I thought. And so it was. It all led me to considering those early days at Quest which I first wrote for twenty years ago this past March. The first assignment came about serendipitously. I was introduced to Quest’s founder and then owner, Heather Cohane at a cocktail party at the Chanel store one autumn weeknight in 1992. I complimented her on the magazine’s social histories and told her how Larry Ashmead, an executive editor at HarperCollins, used to send me copies when I lived in Los Angeles. I also told her we had a mutual friend, a woman named Gloria Etting who lived in Philadelphia. In hearing her name, Heather said, 'oh I love Gloria. I’d love a story on her, would you like to write it?' That question, in retrospect was a seminal question in my life and my future. I didn’t know that at the time, of course. 'Living proof that charm and experience will always matter more than money' was the headline in the completed piece. Gloria Etting, who lived in Philadelphia most of her adult life, was brought up in Boston, one of several children of the socially well-connected (internationally) Italian family named Braggiotti." (NYSocialDiary

"Supermodel Naomi Campbell partied at an Ibiza nightclub just a table away from ex-boyfriend Vladimir Doronin, whom she managed to completely ignore, last weekend. The former — and now unfriendly — lovers were both at club Ushuaia on Sunday night where Avicii was spinning. Campbell was celebrating her stunning new Interview magazine cover with fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott as well as Eva Cavalli, Maxwell, Riccardo Tisci, Paris Hilton and Adrien Brody. Behind the group sat Doronin, his daughter, and Naomi’s godchildren. One spy told Page Six: 'The atmosphere was icy. They didn’t speak even though they were at a table right next to one another.' Another source tells us Naomi and friends were having fun, and she did turn around and wave at the godchildren." (PageSix)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Media Whore D'Oeuvres

"Images of multiple dead bodies emerged from Syria last week. It was asserted that poison gas killed the victims, who according to some numbered in the hundreds. Others claimed the photos were faked while others said the rebels were at fault. The dominant view, however, maintains that the al Assad regime carried out the attack. The United States has so far avoided involvement in Syria's civil war. This is not to say Washington has any love for the al Assad regime. Damascus' close ties to Iran and Russia give the United States reason to be hostile toward Syria, and Washington participated in the campaign to force Syrian troops out of Lebanon. Still, the United States has learned to be concerned not just with unfriendly regimes, but also with what could follow such regimes. Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have driven home the principle that deposing one regime means living with an imperfect successor. In those cases, changing the regime wound up rapidly entangling the United States in civil wars, the outcomes of which have not been worth the price. In the case of Syria, the insurgents are Sunni Muslims whose best-organized factions have ties to al Qaeda. Still, as frequently happens, many in the United States and Europe are appalled at the horrors of the civil war, some of whom have called on the United States to do something. The United States has been reluctant to heed these calls. As mentioned, Washington does not have a direct interest in the outcome, since all possible outcomes are bad from its perspective. Moreover, the people who are most emphatic that something be done to stop the killings will be the first to condemn the United States when its starts killing people to stop the killings. People would die in any such intervention, since there are simply no clean ways to end a civil war." (STRATFOR)

"Why is the United States poised to engage in military intervention in yet another Middle Eastern nation? Over the past two days the Obama Administration has made an effort to limit the ambitions and rationale for a strike in Syria, and to lower expectations for what an intervention might accomplish. First, a strike against the regime of Bashar al-Assad would not be an attempt to win the war for the opposition forces, the White House said Tuesday. 'There ... should be no doubt for anyone who approaches this logically, that the Syrian regime is responsible for the use of chemical weapons on August 21st outside of Damascus,' Press Secretary Jay Carney said during his regular briefing. 'We have established with a high degree of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons already in this conflict.' But any response will have a limited aim. 'I want to make clear that the options that we are considering are not about regime change,' Carney said. 'It is our firm conviction that Syria's future cannot include Assad in power, but this deliberation and the actions that we are contemplating are not about regime change.' And while an assault might be motivated by humanitarian concerns, it will not be a humanitarian intervention. Despite Secretary of State John Kerry's strong words Monday about the immorality of the slaughter outside Damascus, the most likely U.S. response will not be a robust effort to end the war, nor directly address itself to the ongoing humanitarian crisis caused by a civil war that the U.N. calculates has killed more than 100,000, many of them civilians, over two and a half years. And so the killing will go on. Displacement will go on (more than 2 million people have been registered as refugees, half of whom are children). Slaughter of innocents will continue, so long as the conflict there does, because that's how modern wars are conducted -- through the bodies of civilians." (TheAtlantic)

"Shonda Rhimes—writer-creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal, three smash hits once simultaneously on the air—is a three-time Emmy nominee, a powerful spokeswoman for racial diversity on television, and a deft coiner of pop-lexicon mainstays (McDreamy! McSteamy! Va-jay-jay!) that we challenge you to try to forget. But the higher Rhimes ascends in the Hollywood pecking order, the more she clings to her writerly, Dartmouth-educated roots, skipping L.A. nightlife to raise her two adopted girls, listen to composer Rachel Portman’s tunes, or plow through heaps of books on her nightstand. Here, the show-running geek gone chic on her habits, habitats, and (childhood) habiliments. A POLITICAL junkie turned political-thriller writer, she says her first memory of televised politics is the grainy flicker of the Watergate hearings, watched from the kitchen floor as a toddler." (VanityFair)

"Eric Brown is the well-known and highly respected co-director of Tibor de Nagy Gallery on Fifth Avenue in New York — one of my favorite galleries. I have covered two major exhibitions at Tibor for NYSD: Painters & Poets and, more recently, Jane Freilicher, Painter Among Poets. A graduate of Vassar where he majored in fine art, Brown now has the first showing of his own paintings on view at Ille Arts in Amagansett. Brown calls his exhibition Monday Paintings because like all gallery owners, that is his day off — the day he can concentrate on his own work in his New Paltz studio. 'Mondays are blissful,' says the artist, referring to his life in the studio. 'Things are quiet in the village and my neighbors are working. A church bell rings each hour and the school bus brings the children home at three. No wonder it's my favorite day to paint.' It was a pleasure for me to finally visit Ille Arts where I've heard so much about its innovative owner, Sara De Luca. In addition to showing well-known artists, Ms. De Luca has been presenting the exhibitions of many painters and sculptors who are making their debuts. Such is the case of Eric Brown aka E.L. Brown." (NYSocialDiary)

"John Legend is The Box. Or at least that was the prevailing view during his private performance for SCENE magazine at the infamous venue last night. 'There’s nowhere like the box,' Mercedes Pulido, president of Vendôme Macaron, said as a gymnast danced in a hoop suspended above the bar, between chandeliers and vintage pornography." (Observer)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Paper Magazine's Ciara Photo Shoot

The New York Times Website Hacked?

Anyone else having problems logging on?

Media-Whore D'Ouevres

"The generation that came of age during World War II famously — and, in time, tragically — came to apply the formative lessons to every foreign-policy event that followed it. The generation that came of age during the Vietnam War, and then, more recently, the Iraq War, was imprinted with the opposite lessons. I’m not immune: My formative experience in college was the Gulf War and, soon after that, the eventual, successful interventions in the Balkans. (I have a cousin who is married to a Kosovar, whose husband was murdered by Serbian militants, and who was saved by the United States military.) The merits of intervening in Syria strike me as both a closer call and a lower-stakes matter than what we think of as 'major wars.' The apparently forthcoming operation has much more modest ends than the intervention in Libya, which I supported and that succeeded in its aim. We will not be toppling a brutal regime or preventing an imminent massacre. The purpose of air strikes is to impose a cost on regimes that deploy chemical weapons against civilians. Attacking the Syrian regime won’t stop all future massacres of civilians, or even all chemical attacks on civilians, but it does strike, on balance, as better than doing nothing at all. I’m continually struck by the ideological cleavage between myself and the Iraq War–vintage smart center-left writers, who generally agree with me on domestic policy but sharply diverge with me on foreign policy. Matthew Yglesias, for instance, regularly makes arguments against any kind of military intervention that impress other Iraq War–era neoliberals but strike me as insanely reductive. The arguments Yglesias poses today against a military strike against Syria eerily echo the arguments conservatives and libertarians make against any kind of domestic government intervention." (Jonathan Chait)

"John Kerry’s job is to make peace, but on Monday the nation’s top diplomat was the man tapped to issue the clarion call for an American strike on Syria. 'What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality,' Kerry said. 'The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders, by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity.' In the first test of Obama’s second-term national security team’s stomach for war, gut-wrenching images of a chemical-weapons attack have turned even the least likely proponents for military action into a war council — or at least a limited-strike advisory group.  The hawk wing of Obama’s team — Leon Panetta, Hillary Clinton and David Petraeus — is long gone. They all lost the fight to get Obama to intercede on behalf of the Syrian rebels last year. But now their replacements are facing the harsh reality that sometimes America has little choice but to use its military. Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, both shaped in part by their service in Vietnam and their later regrets about voting for the Iraq War, set a high bar for the use of force. 'I think we need to be cautious with our power,' Hagel said at his confirmation hearing in which he spoke of having seen the 'horror of war.' The shift in personnel mirrored the president’s own reluctance to engage in more wars. And it seemed to be working — until Assad forced his hand." (Politico)

"The (38th) Annual Hampton Classic always signifies the end to the summer in the Hamptons. Held in high regard by the horse community, famous for its celebrity sightings, and second to none in high end shopping boutiques, it earns its nickname The Classic. It is one of the most prestigious horse shows in the nation, and features competitors at every level from young children in 'Leadline' to Olympic veterans in the feature Event of the Classic, the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix. This year, the Classic features six show rings, a 'Boutique Garden' with more than 70 high-end vendors, and an array of dining options. Governor Andrew Cuomo stopped in to show his support for the 'Taste NY' vendor stand and tasted some home-grown New York peaches. The world's best horses and riders, including Olympic medalists and other Grand Prix stars, head the list of entries in the 38th annual Hampton Classic Horse Show which opened on Sunday afternoon. Many of the world's best riders participate in the Hampton Classic.'" (NYSocialDiary)

"Miley Cyrus brought giant stuffed teddy bears and a foam finger to the VMAs this year. She stuck out her tongue indiscriminately, she slapped the asses of some anonymous black women, she stripped to her underwear and bent over in front of Robin Thicke, and we all pondered again this ancient transition from 'good girl' to pop vixen and wondered how we’re supposed to feel. What of this ephemeral existence—and why all the goddamn teddy bears? Initially, watching the video for 'We Can’t Stop,' I couldn’t decide if Miley was at all ironically self-aware; if she was conscious of the messages her reinvention was sending, of the way her studied makeover would make national news. This is our house, this is our rules, 20-year-old Miley sings, the grunge glam appeal of attractive teenagers destroying expensive things filling the screen behind her. And we can’t stop, and we won’t stop. She hasn’t: there was the haircut, then the twerking, and then this video, which was the fastest ever to be Vimeo certified, and now the VMAs. She adopts Jamaican patois briefly as she proclaims her right to this new image. We run things, things don’t run we, we don’t take nothin’ from nobody." (TheAwl) 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"THE trial has begun in the northern Chinese city of Jinan of a former member of the ruling Politburo, Bo Xilai. Mr Bo has been accused of corruption and abuse of power while serving in the provinces, most recently as leader of the south-western region of Chongqing. His case is the most sensitive involving a senior Chinese official since the televised show-trial of the Gang of Four in 1980 and 1981. Why is it so important for China’s new leaders? Since the Gang of Four (comprising Mao Zedong’s widow, Jiang Qing, and three other former members of the Politburo) China has put two other Politburo-level officials on trial: Chen Xitong, a former party chief of Beijing, in 1998 and Chen Liangyu, a former party chief of Shanghai, five years ago. Both received lengthy sentences for corruption. Mr Bo’s case has aroused far greater public interest than those of the (unrelated) Chens. Until he disappeared from public view in March 2012 Mr Bo had been considered a strong candidate for promotion to the pinnacle of power, the Politburo Standing Committee, later in the year. He had also enjoyed considerable public support, especially in Chongqing where he had waged a sweeping crackdown on organised crime and among neo-Maoists (some Chinese are disgruntled with the country’s capitalist ways) because of his fondness for Maoist rhetoric. Now he is accused of illegally pocketing millions of dollars and abusing his power by trying to prevent the investigation of his wife, Gu Kailai, for the murder of a British businessman. Mr Bo’s case is about more than the sensational fall of a rising political star. It has had huge political ramifications. For Xi Jinping, who became China’s paramount leader in November, it has helped remove a charismatic potential rival. But it has also been damaging for the party. The murder of the businessman, Neil Heywood, and its attempted coverup, exposed the untrammelled power of senior officials to a global audience. It is likely the case would not have come to light had it not been for the flight of Mr Bo’s former police chief, Wang Lijun, to an American consulate. Mr Xi has had to tread carefully. He does not want too much of the party’s dirty linen washed in public. Neither does he want trouble from the Maoists, many of whom regard the case as a stitch-up. But he also wants to give the impression that he is serious about tackling corruption and about building rule of law." (Economist)

"The decisions that (Rachel) Maddow makes go a long way toward defining what MSNBC is, too. Phil Griffin, the president, calls Maddow 'our quarterback,' the person who sets the tone for the network. A few years ago, MSNBC had a different quarterback: Keith Olbermann, a former ESPN anchor who rose to fame during the Bush years, delivering urbane, fuguelike denunciations of a President who was sometimes known, on his show, as 'you, sir.' Olbermann and MSNBC agreed to a no-fault divorce in early 2011, and Griffin has spent the past two and a half years reinventing the network in Maddow’s image. At almost any time of the day, you can turn it on and encounter someone whose liberalism is earnest, upbeat, and perhaps a little wonky. Melissa Harris-Perry, one of the network’s rising stars, is a Tulane professor who rallies her followers on Twitter with the hashtag #Nerdland. . . ." (NewYorker)

"I made it back to Key West last night and went directly to my favorite bar The Green Parrot where there was dancing and friends and fun, and then, incredibly, almost a full blown showdown fight with a drunk. In all my time here I’ve never had any problems at all, despite the fact I’m always out and everyone everywhere is almost always drunk, meanwhile the mood here is mellow. But this man with a floppy hat and a soggy mind decided I had offended him and he got ugly and began screaming threats at me. Thankfully the Parrot is full of very large security fellows and the night’s stain got thrown out on his ass, which was mighty satisfying to watch. And then the merriment continued until late." (ChristinaOxenberg)

"I stopped by Crawford Doyle bookstore on Madison between 81st and 82nd on my way home, and picked up 'This Town' ('Two Parties and a Funeral plus plenty of valet parking! In America’s Gilded Capital') by Mark Leibovich who is the Chief National Correspondent of the New York Times Magazine. Leibovich has been on the case for sometime. He knows of which he speaks. He begins his book with the memorial service five years ago for Meet The Press moderator Tim Russert which was held at the Kennedy Center.The author’s focus (which seemed to be the focus for those attending) was on who was present. Celebrity funerals are not unfamiliar to me here in New York (and the occasional one in Hollywood/Beverly Hills). They are spectator sports as much as memorials in (not all but) many cases – the opportunity to see and be seen by those who are working the scene on one level or another. Russert’s memorial was especially lively with the aforementioned because Tim Russert was a pivotal power point in the scheme of things. So the whole town (meaning the high mucky-mucks and their their lords and ladies in waiting) turned out including former President Clinton and his wife, Hillary, then soon-to-be Secretary of State." (NYSocialDiary)

"I’m not gonna watch it. I figure if anything happens worth knowing about, I can see it on the Internet tomorrow. That’s how far we’ve come, used to be you DVR’ed it and fast-forwarded through not only the commercials, but almost all of the musical performances. Now you don’t want to waste the hard drive space. And if it weren’t for Twitter, the show’s ratings would be so low they’d think about canceling it. You see now it’s no longer about the show itself, but the snark. The people on stage don’t realize they’re fodder for those playing the home game, making fun of everything happening on stage and off. Search Twitter, it’s not pretty. Even youngsters are sneering. And every oldster with a modicum of followers is live tweeting, which proves that the paradigm is done, once you’re afraid of being left out, once you’re leveraging your fan base for personal aggrandizement, we know the whole shebang is history. How did it come to this? Well, we know that television kills musical artists. Oh, it jets them to the moon, but sans mystery, they end up like sitcom stars, people with one moment of fame we end up laughing at, wondering if they’re off robbing a 7-11 now that their royalties are gone. This was true during the heyday of MTV. Now it’s even worse." (Lefsetz)

Friday, August 23, 2013



Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"SAGES from philosophers to pollsters have long struggled to explain what makes voters lean left or right. As political animals, people are unpredictable. Why do conservative poor people vote against their economic interests? Why do privileged young intellectuals stump for the welfare state?
Some political scientists like to believe political preferences are rooted in 'rational choices'.Sociologists claim that political inclinations are informed by a person’s home, institutions and social groups. Now it is time for the biologists and psychologists to weigh in, argues Avi Tuschman in his new book 'Our Political Nature'. An anthropologist by training, he claims that evolutionary instincts shape political preferences—and inform partisanship—far more than income or what people watch on television. With an arsenal of data and studies, Mr Tuschman views political divisions through three main personality traits: tribalism, tolerance for inequality and views of human nature. These qualities are all quantifiable and rooted in biology, he argues. Xenophobia, for example, is a result of breeding preferences. In cases where infectious diseases are common—often in hotter regions—people are more sexually conservative and instinctively avoid partners from different ethnic groups." (TheEconomist)

"For nearly 40 years, 'Saturday Night Live' has been a reliable engine for generating new comedic talent, and a springboard for stars like Dana Carvey, Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon and Kristen Wiig.
Though new cast members come from many different avenues, there’s ultimately only one way to get on this NBC late-night franchise: impress Lorne Michaels, the 'SNL' creator and executive producer who has run the show for 33 of its 38 seasons and is known for his cryptic, sphinxlike presence over the show. This year he and his team have their work cut out for them as they try to replace the veteran 'SNL' players Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis and prepare for the departure of Seth Meyers early next year. These losses will test a tradition that has evolved through decades, as Mr. Michaels and his colleagues spend their summers scouring sketch and improv comedy theaters and stand-up clubs around the country to replenish the ranks at 'Saturday Night Live.' But what exactly is Mr. Michaels looking for? While his personal tastes are enigmatic and the show’s recruiting process is generally opaque, dozens of performers have successfully navigated this minefield of uncertainty and anxiety. Here, 22 past and present 'Saturday Night Live' cast members — and one who almost made it — tell how they auditioned for the show. In these excerpts from their recollections, they reveal the stages of an obstacle course that often culminates with an audition on the 'SNL' stage at NBC’s Studio 8H (sometimes more than once) and an ambiguous final interview (or is it a personality test?) with Mr. Michaels himself — all for that one career-making chance to declare that 'Live, from New York, it’s ‘Saturday Night’!'" (DavidItzkoff

"Just before I left for the Greek islands I went to dinner at Eugenie Radziwill’s, whose other guests included the great Barry Humphries, his wife Lizzie, and a man I had never met before but whose name rang a distant bell: John Sutherland. The bell turned out not to be so distant, the prof having reviewed a book for the Speccie just that week. I was late as usual and when introduced to Susan Sutherland, I made the gaffe of asking her whether the professor was her father or her husband. She was a very pretty English Rose type, and smilingly she said, 'He is my husband' without making a face over my rudeness. Her hubby seemed amused and we got along swimmingly at dinner. After drink took hold, I told him that if all left-wing academics were as nice as he was, I’d tolerate even hush puppies, but never socks and sandals." (Taki)

"One of my favorite places in Paris is the Musée Carnavalet in the Marais district. The museum describes itself as “dedicated to the history of Paris and its inhabitants” and spans from the prehistoric era to the present. I was first taken there by my great, now long departed friend, the art historian, curator and magazine editor Patrice Bachelard. Patrice was born in 1952 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye just outside of Paris. By the time I met him, and his partner, American-born food authority Gregory Usher, he had already moved on from a distinguished career as a curator at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris. While there Patrice organized major exhibitions from 1977-1982 on a diverse range of contemporary artists as well major surveys of André Derain and Henri Hayden — artists on whom he also published important books. In 1983 he co-founded the art magazine Beaux-Arts — serving as editor-in-chief until 1988. One day in 1989, after I had just arrived in Paris for a visit, I met Patrice at his office behind the Hôtel de Ville on the rue François-Miron. During lunch, he was shocked when I told him I had never heard of the Musée Carnavalet. He insisted we pay the bill at once and walk a couple blocks away to the museum to rectify this failure in my education." (NYSocialDiary)

"A decade ago, the notion that (Steve) Case would be celebrated by businesspeople of any description might have seemed laughable. At the peak of the Internet bubble, he engineered a merger with Time Warner that, while highly profitable for Case and other AOL insiders, quickly became known as the most disastrous in corporate history, with more than $200 billion in shareholder value destroyed. Business school students still learn about it as a case study in hubris and magical thinking. Yet it’s now clear that Case not only survived a debacle that would have ruined the careers of other executives—and did—but is also thriving again, in a self-made role that in some ways makes him more influential than ever. Case has a venture capital fund, Revolution, that aims to be the dominant VC firm east of the Mississippi. He launched it with some $500 million of his personal fortune in 2005, investing in companies such as Zipcar and LivingSocial; a $450 million fund with outside money followed in 2011, and a $150 million fund will go live this fall. He’s also an in-demand 'cheerleader for entrepreneurism,' a gig that involves speaking at tech conferences, writing op-eds, and tweeting to 609,000 followers about #startups and #innovation. And perhaps most surprisingly for a figure who was once so radioactive, Case has become a genuinely productive figure in Washington—one of the few bipartisans who can take a meeting with the Obama White House one day and congressional Republicans the next, with actual legislation to his credit. How Case pulled this off—how he went from corporate punching bag to tech industry role model and Washington wise man—is partly about America’s endless capacity to forgive entrepreneurs. It’s partly a reminder that billionaires write their own rules. But mostly it’s about Case’s refusal to internalize much, if any, fault for what went wrong." (Businessweek)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Realpolitik, In the Hour of the Wolf

I am, by temperament, agreed with the pragmatic internationalist principles of Realism. Any political philosophy that has Cardinal Richlieu and Henry Kissinger as representatives, however, needs a tonic supplemental undercurrent. Idealism, particularly with regards to international law, still permeates much of my thinking and underlies that realism. So it is with great fascination that me, the child of an ambassador from Uganda, liberally educated in the West in the Great Ideas, observes the unusual rise of Libertarianism, the political philosophy of precocious adolescents, at center stage in what Nixon called The Arena.

The world, in that simplistic reducion of olde, is indeed "a dangerous place." The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined that term, serving, in essence, boob bait for bubbas. Obviously the world is a dangerous place (Averted Gaze). Most countries on this planet are ruled in a manner reminiscent of Chimpanzee society. Why do we need Al Jazeera when we have the National Geographic Channel and Animal Planet? The Generals in Egypt. The autocrats of the Stans. The governor of North Carolina (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment).

But I digress...

How is Libertarianism supposed to answer the global pandemonium? By retreating, it would seem, into an America First crouch (cue the Fight Song). Retreating off the world stage as the Syrian population is gassed. Coming home as Zimbabwe disintegrates. Selfishness, despite Ayn Rand's rhetoric, is not a virtue.

How about an ideological marriage between Niccolo Machiavelli and Hugo Grotius (which is, I believe, now legal)? Political realism with a grounding of what is achievable through international law. The present pandemonium should be met with America's hard and soft power (obviously), but dedicated to the principle of bringing about global order according to present international human rights laws. When the majority of sovereign nations on the planet are on the same page with regards to the principles of international law -- which, incidentally, owe their provenance to the United States Constitution -- then, collectively, outlier despotic regimes could be brought into line. That time -- and this is the Realist in me -- is not now. Ideally, Turkey would take the lead and with a combination of Gulf states and, perhaps, NATO aid, make the butchers of Syria pay for releasing chemical attacks in their backyard. Realistically, Turkey, bordered on several sides by dangerous countries, prefers -- not unlike Brazil, also bordered by difficult nations-- to always rely on diplomacy and soft power and not hard power to solve problems.

Let's hope that in some future era, possibly within the lifetimes of our children, some sort of era of global order will be realized. If not, lets hope that some form of global catastrophe or pandemic outbreak doesn't accelerate what appears to me to be inevitable. For then t might be too late.

media-whore d'oeuvres

"Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was asked recently what he would do in the event of a 2016 presidential contest between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). 'It’s gonna be a tough choice,' he said with a laugh. McCain’s ambivalence about a potential Clinton-Paul choice is primarily because of foreign policy: McCain is largely a hawk and Paul is largely a dove, to put it simply. In a Clinton-Paul contest, McCain and many other Washington neoconservatives would be ideologically closer to Clinton than Paul, at least on foreign policy. That doesn’t mean that McCain and others would actively support Clinton, but it does mean that Paul, a likely contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, would have to cut through the establishment to win the nomination. If he got it, the response from many Republicans would be tepid. A Paul ascendancy would inevitably be compared to the rise of Barry Goldwater, who outmaneuvered a series of mainstream Republicans to capture the 1964 Republican presidential nomination. Paul wouldn’t want to replicate the shellacking Goldwater got in the general election, but he probably would try to change the course of the GOP, just like Goldwater. Despite its demolition at the hands of Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the Goldwater campaign is fondly remembered by many Republicans for re-setting the party’s ideological compass. For three decades prior, Republicans argue, the GOP embraced “me-tooism,” simply providing the electorate with a lite version of the Democratic Party. Many conservatives wanted A Choice, Not an Echo, to borrow the title of the famous book by conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly. Goldwater provided it. The mid-1960s were an era, keep in mind, where Democrats had held the White House for 24 of 32 years, and the only Republican president in that time period — Dwight Eisenhower — was hardly a movement conservative. It’s no wonder that Goldwater biographer Robert Alan Goldberg called the 1964 GOP convention the 'Woodstock of the right.' Goldwater’s nomination was a defining moment for outsiders in an insider party." (CenterforPolitics)

"Yesterday Michael’s was busy but not the chatter/clatter you usually get in the mid-week pandemonium. At Table One, Norah Lawlor was hosting a lunch with Christopher Pape, the editor of The Resident — a local metropolitan paper that is distributed in the residential areas of the city. Also at table was Ernie Anastos, John Shavins and Jonathan Cheban. Mr. Anastos has an idea for a new news show, a 'positive' news show. He’s had enough bad news. Like the rest of us, no? The question begs: will a new show of 'positive' stories change things, or will we just be kidding ourselves? Mr. Cheban — if his name is sounding familiar but you can’t place it — is a close associate of the Kardashians, the reality-TV tycoons. He made headlines all over the world earlier this week because he was seen in the Hamptons last weekend wearing a gold watch that cost $500,000. ('Positive news') And someone almost tried to steal it. (Not so positive). Or almost stole it. Or tried. Something. All this while Mr. Cheban was having a lovely surf ‘n’ turf while lunching at one of the million dollar coffee shops out there. Mr. Cheban’s sartorial splendor, ironically, begins and ends with his half million dollar wrist bling." (NYSocialDiary)

"Past the closed-circuit cameras, past the nondisclosure-agreement-wielding security guard, past the Damien Hirst pictures, past the hyperorganized assistant and the bold monochrome walls and the sumptuous gray sofas and the three giant orchids — past all the accouterments of the celebrity household — a toddler sat on the floor, playing with her nanny.Beckham seized fame by the collar in 1996, when the Spice Girls emerged to become, briefly, the biggest thing in girl bands since the Supremes; fame in turn grabbed her by the throat when she married David, then a dishy Manchester United midfielder with mercurial hair, boundless talent and a yen for the limelight. They were more than the sum of their parts; he, one of the world’s most famous soccer players, with a deadly free kick; she, the impossibly thin, impossibly high-heeled quintessential wife, followed everywhere, photographed everywhere, even her most banal utterances repeated and dissected. But in the last few years, a new kind of renown has been creeping up on Victoria Beckham, an unfamiliar phenomenon in a Kardashian world where people are famous for just being famous. This is the renown that comes from having a serious job and being seriously good at it. Five years after she shocked the blasé New York fashion world by unveiling a collection of beautifully made, elegant dresses that were chic and understated and ultraflattering, Beckham has established herself as a powerful force in the industry, proving again and again that she is far more than another celebrity slapping her name onto someone else’s product." (TMagazine)

"You probably know Corey Feldman from classic movies like Lost Boys, Stand By Me, and the Goonies. But for the last year or so, he's been working on a new project, a '360-degree interactive experience' called Corey's Angels. Corey's Angels are, essentially, Corey's version of the Playboy Playmates: a gang of handpicked babes who constantly surround him. Only instead of chilling at the Playboy Mansion, they gather with Corey in his house (which he's dubbed 'The Feldmansion') ... Ron Jeremy, Tom Green, Woody Harrelson, and Chris Kirkpatrick have all previously been spotted at Corey's parties. When I found out that the hottest names in Hollywood were going to be living it up in a mansion with some of the hottest bitches on the planet I knew I had to see that shit with my own two eyes." (Vice)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bernadette Peters, Sexy at 65!

It is said that Pisceans age fantastically, but this is ridiculous! Bernadette Peters, born in 1948, is 65 and -- there is no other way around it -- stunning. (image via NYSocialDiary)

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Fox News sources are firing back against both Brian Lewis, the recently-fired Fox News executive vice president of communications widely reported to be Fox News chief Roger Ailes’s right-hand man, and Gabriel Sherman, a New York magazine contributing editor and the author of The Loudest Voice in the Room, a forthcoming book about Mr. Ailes and the rise of Fox News.  Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Mr. Lewis was hammering out details of a separation agreement with the network after he was 'fired and escorted from his office last month over what insiders are calling financial issues and other performance problems.' Fox News confirmed the story, adding that he was terminated for cause on July 25. 'After an extensive internal investigation of Brian Lewis’ conduct by Fox News, it was determined that he should be terminated for cause, specifically for issues relating to financial irregularities, as well as for multiple, material and significant breaches of his employment contract,' a spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter.Mr. Sherman weighed in on the news in a NY Mag blog post, where he summarized how Mr. Lewis’s one-time influence on Mr. Ailes had waned of late. As evidence, Mr. Sherman recounted a 2012 conversation he had with Mr. Lewis in which the communications executive explained that he disagreed with his boss over suing Fox News mole Joe Muto, who wrote about the network for Gawker (and then got a book deal). But maybe Mr. Lewis had one too many conversations with Mr. Sherman." (Observer)

"Orange was the new black for Taylor Stein, the daughter of legendary nightclub owner Howard Stein, after she punched her billionaire ex, cosmetics heir William Lauder, in the face.  Sources say the pair got into an argument on the street in Los Angeles. The screaming match turned physical, and Stein’s fists of fury left her victim, the grandson of Estée Lauder, red-faced, so he called police to have her arrested, The Post’s Richard Johnson reports. 'He’s literally twice her size,' one friend of petite, attractive, blond Taylor told Page Six. 'If I’d been him, I would have been embarrassed to press charges.' Lauder, son of billionaire Leonard and the late Evelyn Lauder, was so intent on keeping his affair with then-New York socialite Stein and the birth of their now 6-year-old daughter, Djuna, a secret, he agreed six years ago to give Stein $3 million if she left town and never came within 100 yards of any member of the Lauder family, including himself. But after the LA punch-up last November, he wanted her prosecuted. After being released on $50,000 bail — and several court appearances — Stein pleaded guilty in May to misdemeanor domestic violence. By July, Stein had paid fines totaling $1,834 and completed 19 days of community service, cleaning streets for the California Department of Transportation. The single mother-of-two — whose father owned Xenon and Au Bar — was seen wearing orange coveralls as she swept trash in Santa Monica, looking a lot like the inmates in 'Orange Is the New Black,' the Netflix series based on the prison memoir by Piper Kerman." (PageSix)

"Meanwhile, summer reading aside, was out East in the land of the salt and the sand and the hedge fund heroes, Adriann Swann was swanning about for the NYSD. He reports: 'I find myself cursing at out-of-town license plates. The traffic is the worst I have ever seen it out here. Even the back roads are at a standstill. What accounts for this? Is there more money around, thus more Hamptonites, or less, thus fewer overseas vacations? Damned if I know, but damned if I want to leave my porch anymore. If I had a putting green, I might not. But then again, if I did, I wouldn’t have Bill Clinton lounging on my chaise or Carl Bernstein schvitzing as he ran bases. Maybe that would be a good thing, but nevertheless, I trekked to Herrick Park in Easthampton for the 65th Annual Artists vs. Writers Softball Game. I actually tried to sign up. Unfortunately, they are long ‘writers’, and my very part-time avocation didn’t sway them. Had I a paintbrush, things might’ve been different. Apparently, since Jackson Pollack and Willem deKooning started this tradition with their pick up games, the artist’s team has thinned. Skywriters and auto body painters were recruited as ‘artists’ along side John Alexander and Eric Fischl. But this year, filmmaker Jamie Patricoff (son of Alan), won MVP and swung the pendulum back to the artists, 8-6. Ray Kelly and Matt Lauer umped, Lori Singer wore the uniform best, a ‘sit down’ with Mort Zuckerman was auctioned off (maybe to a single lady?), Ken Auletta managed his team, including his stalwart, Jay McInerney, and everyone left, a little dusty, some a little defeated, but happy they raised over $100,000 for several worthwhile East End organizations." (NYSocialDiary)

"Move over, Samantha Ronson! Here comes Mad Marj, a.k.a. Marjorie Gubelmann, Palm Beach adding-machine heiress, best-dressed-list favorite, Vie Luxe candles founder, and—much to the shock of her fellow Park Avenue mothers—Downtown’s newest vinyl-spinning sensation. “The truth is, I was D.J.-ing on my college radio station in 1987,” Gubelmann reveals, 'and I was called Mad Marj.' Flash-forward to 2011, when editor Mickey Boardman had Gubelmann D.J. a Paper-magazine party for fun, and she realized 'I hadn’t been that happy in years.' After six months of study at the Scratch DJ Academy in NoHo to catch up with the latest techniques, she was ready for her first paying job: designer Chris Benz’s Fashion Week after-party at the Standard in the East Village. Since then she’s D.J.’d for an Obama fund-raiser in an East Village bar, at a few corporate events, and at regular parties in the Tribeca Grand’s basement, where hundreds of models, stylists, actors, and artists, as well as pals such as Tory Burch and Renee Rockefeller, never stop dancing." (VanityFair)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Samsung Oled TV Event

On August 13th at Cipriani 42nd street Samsung unveiled their OLED TV screens. The Samsung KN55S9C OLED TV was announced. The price? $8,999, a big price cut and about $6K less than LG. At least for this year there won't be any flat versions in the U.S., only Korea.

Crab caviar and lambchops were on the menu, but people came to check out the latest gear. OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. I tried it out myself and must say the picture quality is pretty amazing. The lower energy consumption, however, appealed to me most as an environmentalist. My first -- and hopefully not last -- trip to Cipriani's in midtown.


Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Tabloid headlines. Personal dramas. Organizational disarray. Score-settling between rival factions documented in news accounts like a soap opera. Does this have a familiar ring? No one — or mostly no one — truly believes the swirl of headlines surrounding Bill and Hillary Clinton in the summer of 2013 should lead to a grand conclusion about whether another iteration of a Clinton campaign can be run effectively, free of the internecine warfare and incessant drama that marked her 2008 bid.
But if Clinton and her supporters were hoping to allay those doubts well ahead of a possible 2016 run, the past few months have not been helpful. Clinton supporters would point out, fairly, that much of what has happened to them this summer — the steady stream of unseemly stories about Anthony Weiner’s continued virtual liaisons, his wife and Clinton confidante Huma Abedin’s very public decision to stand by him, and reports of mismanagement at the Clinton Foundation — has been beyond their control. But it has all still renewed the question that hangs over Hillary Clinton: Has she learned from the mistakes of the past, and can she finally break some recurring cycles in her public life? Can she manage a functional, and focused, national campaign? That probably can’t be fully answered unless and until Hillary Clinton clarifies whether she plans to run for president. Only then, when she assembles a new team and makes clear whether she is bringing on new blood amid the old Clinton hands, will it become clear what the latest iteration of a Clinton campaign looks like. Unwanted coverage of the Clinton Foundation and the years leading up to Hillary Clinton’s arrival at its office has converged with the messiness of the Weiner-Abedin story. There has also been an element to some of the details in both storylines — people taking sides in a semipublic way in media accounts — that left some recalling the airing of dirty laundry after her 2008 campaign." (Politico)

"The rich and connected of the Hamptons are finishing their summer with anxiety. No it's not because Dabney's new boyfriend goes to SUNY Stonybrook of all places and they just want their little girl to end up with the right boy. It's not because Brooks totaled yet another car and has been sniffing around yet another pool boy, when all they want him to do is finish up at Wharton and join the firm. It's not anything like that. It's also, um, not the troubles in Egypt making them anxious, or concerns about the NSA, or that they're still rattled by that Frontline about the erosion of the middle class. No, it's because Calvin Klein's glorious new Meadow Lane mansion isn't finished yet and that means he might not have a big Labor Day party. While his ex-boyfriend self-immolates, Klein is working around the clock loading furniture and other things into the glass palace while curious neighbors sneak peeks through bushes and fences and whatnot. Everyone's eager for the house to be done because, Page Six tells us, Klein had a Hamptons housewarming back in 2004 that people still talk about. The party of the decade! And they'd like to do that again. Let Dabney run around with whoever she wants, she's still young. Brooks will straighten up just like his father did, this recklessness, and these... incidents... with local boys, it's all just a phase. And Egypt will sort itself out, they always seem to, don't they? The government isn't looking in on them, so who really cares. The middle class is still going strong, why, just look at Joe Biden. No, all of that will be fine. But this house, this wonderful almost-there house. Will it be finished in time? The lords and ladies of the Hamptons sit on sun-coddled porches, the blue sea twinkling sadly, and they sip their iced tea or white wine and they wonder, and they worry, and they watch birds flit over the bay, set aloft by hope, propelled forward by the wishes." (TheAtlantic)

"Michael Musto: When Calvin (Klein) threw that Indochine party for your birthday in 2011 and you were surrounded by all sorts of fawning fashion types and paparazzi (who normally would never be seen within a mile of an ex-porn star), what did you think? Nick Gruber: It was the best party I ever had in my life—an experience I can never forget, no matter how old I am. I’m thankful to Calvin for throwing the party for me. Michael Musto: You didn’t feel like you were being shown off like an object? Not at all, because we had true love. We still care for one another. He’d never use me like that." (Gawker)

"Summertime is reading time for me. That’s the luxury. The calendar lightens up to the point where I have nothing to report, to write about. Over this past weekend, I finished the book, which I’ve already written about, 'Serving Victoria.' It wasn’t compelling. You don’t wonder what’s going to happen next. Her actual day-to-day life was a deadly dull to be around. Yet I couldn’t put it down. She was a strange figure to behold — so remote, so somber in her frivolousness, yet likeable. Despite her congenital selfishness and self-centeredness, she genuinely liked people. Because of that she could listen — if you could get her ear, and that was the hard part because she was barricaded by protocol. There were many times when she was wise and admirable, including times when she was forced to submit to those who would’t go along. But she could be easily self-deluding when it came to those (men) she favored. Complaints of her Highlands servant’s drunkenness was excused as 'bashful' or 'tired.' She loved to eat, and had terrible indigestion, not surprisingly. She loved Tea (the tradition) — although despite her intake, it did not spoil her dinner. When she was at Balmoral, four times a week her confectionary at Windsor would send an order of: one fox of biscuits, one box of drop tablets, one box of pralines, sixteen chocolate sponges, twelve plain sponges, sixteen fondant biscuits, one box of wafer, one and a half dozen flat finger biscuits, one sponge cake, one Princess cake and one rice cake. Times four — all in a seven day period. She had help of course, in consuming this vast sugar quarry, but Victoria was generous with herself, by habit. She was then in her mid-70s and not getting any thinner.This was a rather plain, basically uneducated woman who lived all her life in castles and palaces, surrounded and waited on by hundreds. She was held in highest esteem and recognized for great political power by millions. But she was really just a woman living in a peculiar atmosphere of the Self at the center of world power. For any single individual — man or woman, it’s a bizarre reality. It points up again and again how strange Royalness is, and how unreal. Even today. She was not prepared for anything but the privilege. She deferred to her husband early on and had several children by him. When he died suddenly in his forties, she mourned him for the rest of her long life. And she owned her power, something that was clear to anyone and everyone who came in contact with her." (NYSocialDiary)

The End of Cuirrent TV, The Start of Al Jazeera America

One of the many great things about Brian Stelter of the NYTimes is his absolute love of all things TV News. Here, from his YouTube channel, The end of Current TV and the first 5 minutes of Al Jazeera America ...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Fourteen hours of straight news every day. Hard-hitting documentaries. Correspondents in oft-overlooked corners of the country. And fewer commercials than any other news channel. It sounds like something a journalism professor would imagine. In actuality, it is Al Jazeera America, the culmination of a long-held dream among the leaders of Qatar, the Middle Eastern emirate that already reaches most of the rest of the world with its Arabic- and English-language news channels. The new channel, created specifically for consumers in the United States, will join cable and satellite lineups on Tuesday afternoon. Al Jazeera America is the most ambitious American television news venture since Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes started the Fox News Channel in 1996. It faces some of the same obstacles that Fox eventually glided over — including blanket skepticism about whether distributors, advertisers and viewers will give it a chance. But that is where the parallels to other channels end, because Al Jazeera America is going against the grain of seemingly every trend in television news. 'Viewers will see a news channel unlike the others, as our programming proves Al Jazeera America will air fact-based, unbiased and in-depth news,' said Ehab Al Shihabi, the channel’s acting chief executive, on a news conference call last week. He was explicit about what will be different, saying, 'There will be less opinion, less yelling and fewer celebrity sightings.'   Mr. Al Shihabi and other Al Jazeera representatives say proprietary research supports their assertions that American viewers want a PBS-like news channel 24 hours a day. Originally the new channel was going to  have an international bent; now its overseers emphasize how much American news it will cover and how many domestic bureaus it will have, which some see as an effort to appease skeptics." (Brian Stelter)

"As she so often does in photographs, Martha Stewart looked relaxed and confident when she walked out of the front doors of the New York State Supreme Court building in Lower Manhattan on March 5, a hint of ironic amusement shadowing her smile as she looked out at the swarm of photographers gathered on the steps. She had spent the day testifying in the matter of Macy’s versus J. C. Penney and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, the public company that she founded, runs, and controls. The courtroom was packed, the wooden benches filled with spectators and the press, who had come for Stewart’s turn on the witness stand. Loved, hated, debated, and hugely influential, she was still, after some 30 years in the public eye, one of the most famous women in America, and one of its most successful ... Famous for her almost manic devotion to her work—she sleeps about four hours a night—Stewart seemed to be everywhere. In late April, her dating life, or lack of it, hit the headlines after she announced on the Today show that she was looking for a man. 'I’d like to have breakfast with somebody,' she told Matt Lauer. 'I’d like to go to bed with somebody. Sleep with somebody'—which was translated, in a screaming front-page headline in the New York Post, as: MARTHA: I NEED A MAN—FOR SEX. She then signed up for on-air, and with Lauer scrutinized the profiles of several of the 1,000 men who responded, then selected two—Stan, a filmmaker, and Larry, a steel trader—met them on the show, and, accompanied by NBC’s cameras, went out on a date with each one. In the process, millions of viewers learned that 'so far Aquarius and Sagittarius have worked out pretty well' for Stewart, that she liked public displays of affection, and that she was looking for an 'intelligent, established, and curious” man who 'relishes adventure' and 'can teach [her] new things.'" (VanityFair)

"Five years after Caroline Kennedy refused to release financial information during her bid to take over Hillary Clinton’s US Senate seat, newly filed documents reveal a personal fortune that could be as high as $500 million. Very private Kennedy declined to release the data in 2008. She subsequently withdrew her request for then-Gov. David Paterson to appoint her to Clinton’s seat. (If she had been running for office, Kennedy would’ve been required to report assets, credit card debt, mortgages and income from sources that total more than $5,000.) But now, Kennedy has had to file documents with the US Office of Government Ethics for her nominated role as Ambassador to Japan. Estimates in 2008 were that Kennedy could be worth anywhere between $100 million and $250 million. But, according to paperwork filed by Kennedy last month, that number could be even higher. 'She’s very rich, probably worth between $250 million and $500 million,' said one legal eagle who reviewed the publicly available documents. 'From the figures, it looks like she earns between $12 million and $30 million a year from her trust and from her investments.' The documents reflect that beyond her holdings in family trusts, she has positions through Phil Falcone’s Harbinger Capital, Apollo, Goldman Sachs, Vornado Realty Trust, JP Morgan, Blackstone and the Arctic Royalty Limited Partnership, which reportedly relates to two family-owned oil companies. She also reports almost $1 million annually from speaking engagements and royalties from books." (PageSix)

"I hate billionaires. I loathe, disdain, and want to throw them in a wood chipper; take your pick, I can’t stand to be in a room with them. Millionaires are a different story. Their wealth is either inherited and has been (properly) half-squandered, or they are self-made men who actually make something, or they are lottery winners. Inherited wealth, while obviously a windfall, usually offers gradual acclimation. The small-time manufacturer or franchisee likewise generally doesn’t have Maserati dreams materialize overnight. As for lottery winners, typically they were in dire straits before (hence, they play the lottery) and thus usually keep their heads while remembering their days in sanitation. But billionaires are a breed apart, akin to the overnight celebrity. They  'invent' something (usually service-related rather than real) that happens to catch on. Not that this would be such a bad thing. The problems arise when supposed geniuses who have much more in common with the latest sweepstakes winner than Albert Schweitzer start believing their own hype, which is almost immediately." (GuySomerset)

"Long time readers of the NYSD might recall that I wrote a book for Hermes Pan back in the early '80s when I was living in Los Angeles. It was intended to be a memoir and in the process of interviewing Hermes, we became friends and I got to know him quite well. Eventually I did put together a book, although we were not able to find a publisher (it was no tell-all and Hermes avoided controversy for several reasons even though he was in his 70s and his career had ended). I called the book 'The Man Who Danced With Fred Astaire.' Years later, about two or three years ago, some writer researching Hermes met his surviving family of nieces and nephews and came upon Hermes’ copy of my manuscript. The writer, whose name escapes me now, contacted me to interview me. I later learned that he’d lifted my title for his book — which infuriated me but his publisher insisted I had no rights to it. It was published and subsequently forgotten. Hermes Pan’s life story is almost a fable, like the name he was given at birth (the Pans were Greeks and had a much longer name beginning in Pan ... but it was Anglicized by his father). The man was always a dancer from childhood, never trained but eventually became a seat-of-the-pants professional in the late 1920s in New York. He was working in the chorus of a Ruby and Kallmar Broadway musical called 'Top Speed' when the ingénue, a young actress named Ginger Rogers told him she was going out to Hollywood because Talkies had come in and they were beginning to make musical pictures. This was 1930. She told Hermes he should consider the move because they needed singers and dancers for their movies." (NYSocialDiary)