Friday, August 29, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

President Barack Obama pauses during a press conference on 28 August.

"'We don't have a strategy yet', is one of those things you don't expect presidents to say out loud. But maybe it is a mark of the divisions that exist within the administration over how hawkish to be about Islamic State. What this statement from the president does show is firstly just how complex the military options are in attacking Islamic State in Syria. But most importantly it shows the extreme wariness of this president to unilaterally start military action when it's not clear where it will end.
So next week John Kerry will go on from the NATO summit in Wales to the Middle East to build support for US action in Syria. But maybe the president was also sending a message to European leaders like Prime Minister David Cameron that says don't expect America to do all the heavy lifting on this by itself. In return, maybe in his statement on raising the UK terror alert, Mr Cameron was signalling back: you won't have to. But it is also worth just adding this: exactly this time a year ago, Mr Obama was preparing to attack targets of the Assad regime. Twelve months on he's looking to attack President Assad's opponents. That is a mark of just how complex the politics is - and might explain why the president is still trying to define a strategy." (Jon Sopel/BBC)

"When Carmen Dell’Orefice posed for Salvador Dalí in his suite at the St. Regis hotel, in Manhattan, in the spring of 1946, she was 14 and already a year into a modeling career whose unique, gravity-defying trajectory continues to gather momentum today. Her evolution from shy, skinny teenager to still-sexy grande dame has been charted by the defining image-makers of successive generations, from Beaton, Avedon, and Penn to Bruce Weber, Terry Richardson, and Nick Knight. Not bad for a girl who grew up in Depression-era New York, the daughter of a Hungarian dancer and an Italian concert violinist. Beauty has been her passport, gallows humor and an old soldier’s discipline her unbreachable defenses against life’s cross-currents: there were three 'successful marriages that didn’t last' (she has a daughter, Laura, 61, and a stepson, Jeffrey, 70, from her first marriage); the sudden death of fiancé number four, TV producer David Susskind; the loss, twice over, of her life savings (most recently to Bernard Madoff); and, latterly, the inevitable encroachments of age, culminating in a double knee replacement last year. 'It’s called living,' she says breezily. When I drew her for Vanity Fair, she was back at the St. Regis, in fine fettle. To set the scene, she brought a Dalí drawing from her Park Avenue apartment and reminisced about vacationing at the artist’s Spanish estate, where his pet ocelot, Babou, having learned to open doors, leapt into bed with her one midnight, long ago. There are tales aplenty to tell, but Carmen is more interested in her current project, planning her life from age 80 to 100. 'If I die,' she declares, 'it will be with my high heels on.'" (VF)

"The NYPD’s 'Hip-Hop Squad' has a number of rappers and stars — including Drake, Chris Brown and French Montana — on a special watch list and is stepping up surveillance on their New York parties in the wake of the Suge Knight shooting in LA, we’re told. The shadowy specialist unit, known locally as the 'Hip-Hop Police,' keeps a list of rappers and hip-hop stars whose shows and night club appearances are closely monitored. It also includes Fabolous, Wiz Khalifa, Young Jeezy, Fat Joe, Jim Jones and Lil Wayne. A source told us: 'All New York club owners are required to inform the Hip-Hop Police in advance if anyone on the watch list is coming in. They want to be there to monitor the crowd and in case any trouble starts.' The insider added, 'They don’t want any situations like the Suge Knight shooting. If something does go down, they want to already be on the scene.' Another source tells us the hip-hop cops are well-known in the urban music industry, and 'if there is a show going on, they are there. Their job is to investigate crimes and curtail violence in the hip-hop industry. So when they find out there is a beef between rappers, they monitor it. They are plainclothes cops, they go to clubs and shows. They were at J.Lo’s show in The Bronx because French Montana and Fat Joe were coming.'" (P6)

"Amazon posted its five new pilots today: Two dramas and three comedies. How are the new shows? Well, the comedies are a mixed bunch! One is terrific right out of the gate, one is polished but uninteresting, and one just needs to decide to be a better show. The Cosmopolitans: It's a Whit Stillman show set in Paris, starring Adam Brody and Chloë Sevigny (among others) as American expats who drink wine and go to parties and lament things. It's very much how you'd think, which is to say: Mannered and tiny in scope; nostalgic, almost, even though it's set in the present day; and also sharply funny and a little dreamy. ('You always imagine journalists being ugly, because of the anger, but she's really attractive!') Are these people loathsome or aspirational? Ah, complexity.
The Cosmopolitans is not a mainstream show by any standard, and I can't even think of a network where it would be at home — and this is the dream for TV fans, that the streaming universe will put out the kinds of shows traditional television would never make and couldn't really support. If there had been another episode to watch, I would have watched it immediately. Vive les Cosmopolitans." (NYMag)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"We’ve been noting for months the odd circumstances in the Kansas gubernatorial contest, where Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is in a Toss-up race with state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) despite the state’s inherent conservatism. But it’s also become clear that Sen. Pat Roberts (R) is also not exactly as safe as one might think. Despite facing a weak primary opponent in physician Milton Wolf (R), Roberts didn’t even crack 50% in the primary held earlier this month. The primary campaign revealed Roberts to be rather weak himself, particularly because he basically doesn’t even live in Kansas, a modern-day political no-no. Some recent polls, have shown Roberts leading but under 40% against two main opponents: Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor (D) and businessman Greg Orman, an independent former Democrat who can heavily self-fund.
Let’s be clear: Kansas hasn’t elected a Democratic senator since 1932, and Roberts’ poor performance as a candidate isn’t by itself enough to change that, particularly because the split field might actually benefit the incumbent in a state with no runoff. But to be cautious, we’re moving this race from Safe Republican to Likely Republican ... A pair of Midwestern Republican governors, Terry Branstad of Iowa and John Kasich of Ohio, have long held strong positions in our ratings, in part because of weak, underfunded opponents. Branstad’s challenger, state Sen. Jack Hatch (D), got the nomination only because it seemed like no one else wanted it. The same could arguably be said for Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D) in Ohio, where Democrats have a surprisingly weak bench given the state’s longstanding status as a political battleground. It now appears that the outcome in both races isn’t much in doubt, so we’re switching both from Likely Republican to Safe Republican ... One other race of note this week: We’re moving NY-18 from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic. There’s not a specific development that’s prompting this change in the rematch between Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D) and former Rep. Nan Hayworth (R): Rather, we’re just getting the sense that it’s more competitive than we previously thought, which makes sense in a district where the 2012 presidential results (51%-47% Obama) were the same as the national results (AZ-9, the Sinema seat mentioned above, is another 51%-47% Obama seat). Maloney, perhaps best known these days for the aerial photography at his recent wedding, remains a favorite." (SabatosCrystalBall)

"In a juicy new tell-all book, Katie Couric comes across as brash, striving, and self-absorbed, Diane Sawyer is a Machiavellian, often-inscrutable workaholic, and Christiane Amanpour has an off-putting moral superiority. For Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Christiane Amanpour, the moment of truth is about to arrive—or at least a book-length facsimile thereof. News executives and network publicists have been distracting themselves from this summer’s seriously depressing or otherwise alarming world events by passing around and poring over bound galleys of The News Sorority, veteran journalist Sheila Weller’s gossipy chronicle of the rise (and occasional stumbles) of three of television news’ best-known women. In Weller’s narrative—which, as the subtitle indicates, aspires to document 'the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News'—Couric comes off as brash, striving, self-absorbed, and occasionally insensitive to the realities faced by her less well-compensated coworkers, yet steeled by personal tragedy (the cancer-related deaths of her husband and her sister) and capable of big-hearted generosity. Sawyer is a Machiavellian, often-inscrutable workaholic who uses her seductive charm and good looks to professional advantage and torments news producers with her relentless perfectionism and insecurity—an apparent consequence of a fraught relationship with her judgmental, formidable mother (who once sent the adult Sawyer into a self-flagellating death spiral, Weller writes, when she criticized how her TV star daughter had made her bed). Amanpour is the reigning queen of the warzone, more physically courageous and resourceful than her male colleagues in perilous combat situations, but with an occasionally off-putting sense of moral superiority which, along with her posh British accent, sometimes renders her brittle and inaccessible to American audiences—a factor which seems to have hampered her career.
All three, in Weller’s account, are superb journalists who have risen to the top of their profession through sheer talent, brains, and hard work in an industry whose culture, even in the second decade of the 21st century, remains more than vestigially sexist. In one representative anecdote, CBS News Executive Vice President Paul Friedman publicly muses on an open audio line about which female anchor looks worse without makeup—Sawyer or Couric. 'I was blown back in my chair,' a female producer tells Weller. 'What did it say about a man in senior management that he didn’t know he shouldn’t say that, of his boss [Katie], out loud?'" (Lloyd Grove)

DPC and Arlene Dahl finishing up lunch yesterday at Michael's.

"Yesterday, I went to lunch at Michael’s with Arlene Dahl who is being honored today on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) with an all-day program of some of her filmography. I’ve seen Arlene in films and I even saw her first film at MGM when I was a kid, the first movie musical ' I ever saw: Three Little Words' with Fred Astaire and Red Skelton. Released in 1950. The 17-year-old Debbie Reynolds had her first film role at MGM in that picture lip-synching Helen Kane singing 'I Wanna Be Loved By You.' It was also Arlene’s first role under contract to the studio. I had my own education of Hollywood in the years I lived there, through my associations with a variety of men and women who were part of the vanguard of the mid-century film industry. I also wrote Debbie Reynolds' 1988 Memoir (“Debbie, My Life,” William Morrow publishers), and in the process met many more individuals who worked and created in the glory days of the studio system. It was a glamorous life to the kid out there in middle-America looking through the prism of Technicolor. And in some ways it remained that in my own experience. It wasn’t until decades later that I got a good look at the creative productivity of enormous studio teams of off-camera geniuses whose collaboration with the actor as cameraman, costume designer, choreographer, hair stylist, makeup artist, drama coach, lighting director, set designer, writer, producer, director actually created Stars whose images influenced the Americanization of the culture of the world. Arlene went to work at MGM in 1946. At the time her agent, Lew Wasserman got her contracts with both MGM and Warners, for whom she worked a divided week. A redhead from Minnesota, she started a professional career as a  model for a Chicago department store when she was still in her teens. Her supervisor who was leaving the job took Arlene to New York on one of her buying trips to see the fashions that she would be modeling, so she could make judgments without the director’s assistance." (NYSD)

"Joan Rivers is in critical condition after she stopped breathing during a medical procedure on Thursday, police sources tell The Post. The E! Fashion critic, 81, was a patient at Yorkville Endoscopy on East 93rd street near Third Avenue in New York City, police also confirmed.
After she stopped breathing, a 911 call was placed at around 9:40 a.m. TMZ reports the caller said, 'We have somebody in either cardiac or respiratory arrest.' She was reportedly rushed to Mount Sinai hospital. Sources says Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, is rushing to New York. Rivers had stressful week, performing 'Fashion Police' duty with the Video Music Awards and Emmys back to back." (P6)

Robert Simonson. (Photo: Daniel Krieger)
Robert Simonson. (Photo: Daniel Krieger)

"When Robert Simonson walked into The Long Island Bar on a recent Friday afternoon, he did so with a tote bag full of goodies. Inside that bag? A galley of the forthcoming Death & Co cocktail book, as well as a bottle of Batavia Arrack, which the Atlantic Avenue drinking establishment does not stock. 'This is probably totally illegal,' said Mr. Simonson, as we slid into a back booth. The idea was to have Phil Ward—the former Death & Co head bartender and current co-owner of Mayahuel, who still takes a regular shift at The Long Island Bar—whip up one of his original creations called the Shattered Glasser. Of course, bringing the cocktail book was unnecessary; Mr. Ward remembers all of his specs. And besides, we were here to talk about a different book all together, one penned by Mr. Simonson. The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail, which came out earlier this year, is a beautiful hardcover tome, with lush photographs, deeply researched lore and a whole mess of recipes. Mr. Simonson, who writes about all things bar and cocktail for The New York Times, picked out one such recipe for me to try: the tequila-based Oaxaca Old-Fashioned, another Phil Ward creation. Having recently returned from New Orleans’ Tales of the Cocktail, where he gave a presentation on his favorite drink, Mr. Simonson wasn’t sure he could stomach another Old-Fashioned. I pledged to drink for two. Let’s talk about the history of the Old-Fashioned. Where does the name come from? 'The full name is the Old-Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail. It started out as the Whiskey Cocktail, and that was served up and not on ice. Then around the 1870s, bartenders started putting other things in it, like maraschino liqueur and absinthe, to make it exciting and racy. Some people thought it tasted pretty good, but the old-timers didn’t, so they started asking for an old-fashioned Whiskey Cocktail.'" (Observer)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

TVNewser : Cable Network Ranker

(Click to enlarge -- image via TVNewser)


Media Whore D'Oeuvres

John, Elisha, Alexandra, and Margaret Thornton with Sheikh Shakhboot Bin Nahyan Al Nahyan

"This past Saturday night in Wainscott at their oceanfront home, Kilkare, Eleanora and Michael Kennedy hosted a celebration for Margaret Thornton and her novel Charleston. Margaret is the author of Tennessee Williams Notebooks, for which she received the BronzeFOREWARD Magazine Book of the year award for autobiography/memoir and the C. Hugh Holman prize for the best volume of southern literary scholarship. Her work has appeared in the Paris Review, World Literature Today, and the Times Literary Supplement, to name a few. She is a native of Charleston, graduate of Princeton University, and is married to John Thornton. They have four children. Guests from the worlds of literature, art, and publishing joined the neighbors in the Georgica association to honor Margaret. Among the attendees: The Thornton family, Candice Bergen, Marshall Rose, Ross Bleckner, Julian Robertson, Nancy Brinker, Kathleen Doyle, Richard Ravitch, Anna Safir, Jerry Della Femina, Judy Licht, Priscilla and Chris Whittle, Clifford Ross, Tad Friend, Amanda Hesser, Tom Edelman, Charlotte Moss, John Eastman, Ronald Lauder, Jo Carol Lauder, Leonard Lauder and Judy Glickman, Heather Watts and Damian Woetzel, Sima Ghadamian, and Chris Isham." (NYSD)

"In June, Hollywood journalist Nikki Finke launched an eponymous website following her drama-filled departure from Last week, BuzzFeed reported that was on the verge of shuttering following demands from lawyers representing her former employer, Penske Media Corporation, which owns Deadline in addition to Variety. Much schadenfreude was had. As we wrote last November, a new confirmed photo of Finke has not been published since 2008, which is bizarre because she lives in Los Angeles, a city that happens to be full of photographers both professional and amateur. People want to know what Finke looks like these days because she has terrorized Hollywood for years, and when someone yells at you on the phone, you want to have a picture of her in your mind." (NYMag)

Sarah Goodbody and Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill

"Aristocrats are packing up in St-Tropez, Capri and Ibiza and breaking out dinner jackets for the fall social season. Guests on both sides of the Atlantic are already buzzing about the impending nuptials of Lord Charles Spencer Churchill and Sarah Goodbody Sept. 19 at England’s Blenheim Palace.
The 18th century pile is occupied by Charles’ brother, the Duke of Marlborough and his wife, Lily. We hear the Duke’s ex, Rosita Spencer-Churchill, just returned from cruising Corsica with her kids. But first she’s expected as a guest at the 80th birthday of Oklahoma real-estate man Konrad Keesee, whose son, Christian, is throwing a four-day bash at The Connaught and sailing over American guests on the Queen Mary 2 on Wednesday, including 79-year-old former Vogue cover girl Fern Tailer. Also attending, we hear, will be Princess Esra of Hyderabad, who’s planning her own upcoming bash for 90 guests at Falaknuma Palace, her former home." (P6)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"ALONG with a billion Muslims across the globe, I turn to Mecca in Saudi Arabia every day to say my prayers. But when I visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad, I am forced to leave overwhelmed with anguish at the power of extremism running amok in Islam’s birthplace. Non-Muslims are forbidden to enter this part of the kingdom, so there is no international scrutiny of the ideas and practices that affect the 13 million Muslims who visit each year. Last week, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the United Nations to fund a counterterrorism agency. This was a welcome contribution, but last year, Saudi Arabia rejected a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council. This half-in, half-out posture of the Saudi kingdom is a reflection of its inner paralysis in dealing with Sunni Islamist radicalism: It wants to stop violence, but will not address the Salafism that helps justify it. et’s be clear: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and others are all violent Sunni Salafi groupings. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism across the globe ... Unlike a majority of Sunnis, Salafis are evangelicals who wish to convert Muslims and others to their 'purer' form of Islam — unpolluted, as they see it, by modernity. In this effort, they have been lavishly supported by the Saudi government, which has appointed emissaries to its embassies in Muslim countries who proselytize for Salafism. The kingdom also grants compliant imams V.I.P. access for the annual hajj, and bankrolls ultraconservative Islamic organizations like the Muslim World League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth.  After 9/11, under American pressure, much of this global financial support dried up, but the bastion of Salafism remains strong in the kingdom, enforcing the hard-line application of outdated Shariah punishments long abandoned by a majority of Muslims. Just since Aug. 4, 19 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia, nearly half for nonviolent crimes.We are rightly outraged at the beheading of James Foley by Islamist militants, and by ISIS’ other atrocities, but we overlook the public executions by beheading permitted by Saudi Arabia. By licensing such barbarity, the kingdom normalizes and indirectly encourages such punishments elsewhere. When the country that does so is the birthplace of Islam, that message resonates." (Ed Husein)

Left, © Eric Boman; Right: From The Condé Nast Archive

"How did Gianni and I meet? It feels as if I had always known him, but the truth is that we met through his sisters shortly after World War II. I must have been 18 or so, and Gianni was 6 years older. It was after a brief encounter with his mother in 1943 that I began to listen to stories about the Agnelli clan and about Gianni, the eldest son. My girlfriends spent hours telling me about his reckless military actions as well as his gallant bravery. These narratives of heroic and irreverent behavior filled my imagination during those last war-torn years with a kind of longing. It was at that time, I think, that, without even having met Gianni, I started to feel butterflies fluttering for him. The Agnellis had been at the center of what was known then as “the fast set.” They led a glamorous life of parties, streamlined yachts, fast cars, and luxurious villas. Like most members of that set, they kept lovers. Their lives filled the gossip columns. I wouldn’t say they belonged to an immoral world, just a freely amoral one—at least by comparison with the one I had grown up in, an isolated, slightly conservative world known as the anglo-beceri. It was inhabited mainly by wealthy Anglo-American expatriates, like my mother, and members of the old Italian aristocracy, like my father—a set of people who spent their days visiting one another’s exquisitely refined gardens and crumbling villas on the hills of Florence and getting into interminable philosophical disquisitions. The Agnellis—seven siblings who all looked alike, talked alike, and often laughed at the same jokes—emanated a tribal aura. Their parents, Edoardo and Virginia Agnelli, had died young, so Gianni, at 24, found himself the head of the family. His youngest brother, Umberto, was only 11 at the time. Gianni was very close to all his siblings, and so when he and I got engaged, in the late summer of 1953, I felt daunted at the prospect of having to take on such a large, clannish family. But everyone was very supportive of us, including the devoted house staff that had served the Agnelli family for decades. They were delighted that, at the age of 32, their Avvocato, as they called him in tribute to his law degree, had finally decided to get married. When Gianni came from Turin to Rome to see my parents and ask for my hand, as one did in those days, I was in a state of total anxiety. I think I may have even stood behind the closed doors trying to eavesdrop. My mother wasn’t enthusiastic about this marriage at first. Her Puritan streak made her wary of the Agnelli glamour, and she didn’t like the fact that Gianni was a fixture in the gossip columns. My father was less judgmental and gave our union a chance. We were married on November 19, 1953, in the chapel of Osthoffen Castle, just outside of Strasbourg. My father, at the time, was secretary-general of the Council of Europe, which was based in that city. The day of the wedding was cold and gray, but the house was full of life. Our two families were there—including my Caracciolo cousins, uncle, and aunt—as well as our closest friends, some 60 people in all. I wore a Balenciaga gown. Gianni was on crutches following a bad car accident the year before. My mother had organized everything to perfection. She tended to be disorganized in the management of her everyday life, and on the whole she avoided social events, but when she had to be, she was amazing. When I had gone back to Italy in the spring of 1953, after my 18- month experience working in New York with photographer Erwin Blumenfeld, Condé Nast offered me a job as its correspondent in Italy. It worked well for me, but once I was married I had to give it up. I just didn’t have time to keep up with everything." (VanityFair)

Clare Boothe Luce, right, with Eleanor

"THAT PROVERB appears, by no coincidence, and with significant meaning, in an astonishing book, 'Price of Fame: The Honorable Clare Boothe Luce' by Sylvia Jukes Morris. This is Ms. Jukes second volume on Mrs. Luce. The first, 'Rage for Fame: The Ascent of Clare Boothe Luce,' I somehow, incredibly missed. But I didn’t feel out of my depth plunging into this one. I know a good deal about Mrs. Luce — at least the public woman — and 'Price of Fame' supplies enough background on Clare’s rather grimy, unhappy childhood, and her years as the beautiful, witty playwright of “The Women” and Society’s darling, to assuage any fears to missing 'the good stuff ... The BOOK begins in 1943, when Mrs. Luce, married to Henry Luce of Time, Inc. fame, sweeps glamorously and controversially into Washington as the Republican Congresswoman from Fairfield, Connecticut. Once fairly Democratic, she has swung violently Republican, never pausing to berate President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for his handling of World War II, and innumerable other issues. Though not so Republican that she didn’t constantly push for women’s rights and civil rights. On the former, in much later years, her views could be typically, frustrating — oblique and conflicting. Women, she would say, who gave too much of themselves to their careers, faced 'loneliness and fatigue.' This from one of the century’s great career women!)  Clare’s various adventures as a Congresswoman, a war correspondent, the first female Ambassador to Italy (a successful but fraught several years, which might have included intentional arsenic poisoning!) and her brief tenure as Ambassador to Brazil, is a sturdy but essentially plain support for the story of Clare the woman. No movie star biography I have ever read has so many dramatic personal crises (mostly self-inflicted, natch), romantic/sexual episodes, and conflicting versions of the protagonists personality. Judy Garland, Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor seem downright normal against the tsunami of Mrs. Luce’s struggle with life, love, ambition, fame." (NYSD)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Media-Whore D'oeuvres

"I haven’t run an item on one of my longtime running topics, the comparison of Barack Obama and George W. Bush’s approval ratings, because it got boring for a while, with Obama pulling firmly ahead. Well, it’s time for an update, because it’s interesting again -- probably (although of course we can’t know for sure) for the last time. Here’s the story: After a long stretch in which Bush and Obama were essentially tied for the period of May in their fourth years in office (2004, 2012) through February in their sixth years (2006, 2014), Obama finally pulled ahead of Bush, peaking -- at least according to Gallup -- at close to a 15-point approval gap. Not, to be sure, because Obama was improving; the big movement was Bush’s approval rating tanking in 2006. However, Bush had one last rally remaining. An Aug. 18-20 survey put him at 42 percent approval; it was followed (Sept. 7-10) by a reading at 39, and then one (Sept. 15-17) at 44 percent approval. That was Bush’s last Gallup poll rating over 40; after that, he slipped and pretty much continued slipping, eventually spending most of 2008 below 30 percent. What about Obama? He’s at 43 percent today in the Gallup tracker, as well as in the Pollster estimate. The trend is pretty much as flat as it can be. According to Pollster’s main chart, Obama is exactly where he was back in October, and he hasn’t moved as much as a full percentage point in either direction since. If that estimate (using Pollster’s regular setting) is correct, Obama is on a very slight downhill slope right now and has been since mid-April; however, using Pollster’s 'less smoothing' option, which is more sensitive to recent changes, Obama’s spring slump ended a month ago, and, if anything, he’s now trending slightly up. None of which is really worth fighting about; it’s easiest just to say that he’s been flat for almost a year now. Of course, there’s no way at all to predict what comes next. I’d say it’s highly unlikely that Obama’s approval ratings will deteriorate in his last two years the way Bush’s did, unless events (the economy, scandals, trouble abroad) change for the worse." (BloombergView)

Nicky Hilton celebrates engagement to James Rothschild

"Nicky Hilton celebrated her engagement to British banking heir James Rothschild at the Hilton family’s annual summer party in the Hamptons. Nicky was seen showing off her stunning diamond ring at her parents Rick and Kathy Hilton’s soiree at their home in Southampton Thursday night.
Rothschild proposed to Nicky last weekend during a boat trip on Italy’s Lake Como after he made a secret trip from England to the US to ask her parents for her hand in marriage. James and Nicky met at Lake Como, when both were guests at Petra Ecclestone’s wedding to James Stunt, and began dating in 2011. Those congratulating Nicky at the party included David Koch, Debbie Bancroft, Robert Zimmerman, Jay McInerney and Anne Hearst, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan and Bettina Zilkha. Meanwhile, much of the talk was over where the wedding will be. The Rothschilds own French estate Château Lafite, while the Hiltons have properties in the Hamptons and LA." (p6)

"Gstaad—In this freewheeling Swiss village of the 1950s, the unconventional was the norm, monumental drinking commonplace, but the manners of the players were always impeccable. Yes, there were ladies of lower-class parentage and of a dubious past, but they covered it up with a grand manner and an affected aristocratic confidence they had learned through experience. That’s how things were back then; the slags that pass for celebrities today would not have lasted a minute. Some might think it was snobby, but it was nothing of the kind. One just had to act in a certain manner and that is all. Everyone knew where everyone else came from, so it wasn’t even a pretense. It was just a disciplined way of living that had nothing to do with whether one lived within or outside the rules. Men remained married whether they had mistresses or not, as did women even if they took lovers. Divorce was as much of a no-no as swearing in public or calling a lady of easy virtue a tart.
Am I being too idealistic about a period that was so long ago? Of course I am, but then one always remembers the good and tends to forget the bad. Aged twenty-two or even younger I hung out at the Palace Hotel’s grill every night. That’s where it all took place. There was a bar and a tiny dance area, and a large dining room and that was that. There was no nightclub, and the music was soft and only for dancing, and dancing up close, that is. Which means the Palace grill was the perfect place to pick up women. One such lady and I hooked up back in 1958 for a very brief and innocent romance. And now I’ll come to the present. Maya Schoenburg, ex-Flick, has the same birthday as Napoleon, August 15, so we all gathered at Mick Flick’s chalet for a party. Mick and Maya have remained close because they have three children together and because both are extremely nice and civilized. The party was all Flicks and Schoenburgs with some very young members of the latter family." (Taki)

"First things first. The day before Brian Williams and Seth Meyers met for lunch at the Sea Grill restaurant in Rockefeller Center, Mr. Meyers’s publicist had staked out his seat. You see, Mr. Meyers, 40, the host of NBC’s 'Late Night with Seth Meyers,' a former anchor of Weekend Update on 'Saturday Night Live' and the host of the Emmy Awards this year (to be broadcast on Monday), likes to be photographed from the left. So, it was mildly alarming when the publicist for Mr. Williams, 55, the anchor and managing editor of 'NBC Nightly News' and a winner of 14 Emmy Awards, appeared at the restaurant, moments before the men were to meet, to announce her boss’s seating preference. Fortunately, Mr. Williams wanted to be photographed from the right. When the men arrived, they took their appropriate places, and each profile got its due. 'I would have given up the seat in a tie,' Mr. Meyers said. 'My bad side looks better than Brian’s bad side. And I need to give him every advantage.'" (NYT)


"In news that is sure to stir hearts across the country, Goldman Sachs has decided to give a $15,000 annual raise to next year's class of analysts (junior bankers typically just out of college, usually about 22 to 24 years old) as part of an effort to retain and attract top-level talent. It's an overdue move, and not all that surprising. Life as a young banker on Wall Street is a fairly miserable experience, and many young bankers are understandably fleeing the cramped bullpens of Manhattan for the free snacks and treadmill desks of San Francisco. Paying bankers more is one way to fight that attrition. But it's not going to solve the biggest problem Goldman has. To understand why not, you should know that there is a junior Goldman Sachs analyst archetype — call that type the Renaissance Kid. This kid worked hard in high school, got into Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Wharton, excelled in class while racking up a slate of impressive extracurriculars, majored in a social science or a hard humanity, and interned at a bank during the summer after sophomore or junior year.
The Renaissance Kids typically have their pick of investment banks, and what makes them so attractive to Wall Street — aside from their credentials, which look good on a pitch book — is that they're interesting. They're not carbon-copy Alex P. Keatons. They read books, can wax eloquent on nonfinancial matters, and are good at male small-talk (which female Renaissance Kids also excel at). Executives look them over and imagine them schmoozing clients, passing the airport test, and eventually taking over for them at the top of the firm. Goldman Sachs is especially desirous of Renaissance Kids, because it's always fancied itself the thinking man's investment bank. ('I think you also have to be a complete person. You have to be interesting,' Lloyd Blankfein told the bank's interns last year.) But because Goldman wants them, everyone else does, too." (NYMag)

Shirley Lord, Leila Heller, and Ene Greenfield.

"This is kind of our 'vacation' time but both JH and I have found that as the city never sleeps, so it is with the NYSD. Wednesday night I went down to the Leila Heller Gallery on 568 West 25th Street on the corner of 11th Avenue. I rarely go down to that part of town although I’m in the minority among those I know. That is in the heart of art gallery land in Manhattan, and right next door to the city’s newest and maybe biggest tourist attraction park, the High Line. Many of my friends and acquaintances are involved in the New York art world either as artists, collectors, gallerists and/or staffers. It’s a dynamic industry in New York ...Leila was one of the first people I met when I came back from Los Angeles in the early 90s. She was a young mother then. I think she told me she had an art gallery. But it could be that there was a few years when she focused on her two sons growing up. They’ve grown up. She’s been (back) in business for quite a few years. She had a gallery up on the Upper East Side. Then she moved to a larger space. She now has a gallery on East 57th Street where I visited the Portrait Show that Beth DeWoody curated. But her main gallery has been this one on 25th and 11th.This was a Pop Up Show for Peter Heywood. It runs through Saturday, August 23. I’ve known Peter for sometime. He’s an Englishman who also has an olive orchard in Sicily with his twin brother. Shirley Lord is a lifelong friend of Peter’s brother. But it was only several years ago, however, that she met Peter ... In the mix: Gil Shiva and Faye Wattleton, Boaz Mazor, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Rikki Bratton, Denise and David (“The Sopranos”) Chase, Donald Marron, Nick Gage, Pat and John Rosenwald, Anna and Bill Mann, Audrey and Seymour Topping, Carole and Philippe de Louvrier, art curator Diana Burroughs with Greg Kelly (son of Ray and Veronica) of Fox Good Morning, David Monn, Departures e-i-c Richard David Story and Jennifer Story, Linda Mason, the Alan Aldas" (NYSD)

"The most strategic way for Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes — who has just fended off Rupert Murdoch's efforts to buy his company — to keep Time Warner independent is to show he's not a seller by becoming a buyer. At the end of the day in the media business, you're one or the other.
But that's a problem for Bewkes because temperamentally, rationally and, in a sense, brilliantly, he's a dedicated streamliner and off-loader. He's never pretended otherwise. Over the years, Bewkes — previously the longtime head of HBO, the jewel in the Time Warner crown — has been openly derisive about the ungainly beast that Time Warner became when it piled on acquisitions, depressing its shares and its employees' options. Where moguls amass assets, Bewkes' very unmogul-like credo as CEO has been to build shareholder value. That has meant jettisoning hard-to-manage or low-performing properties like print (Time Inc.), cable systems (Time Warner Cable), music (Warner Music) and digital (AOL) and, having learned from his HBO experience, focusing on the high and reliable returns of cable programming. Even now, he's not saying he wants to not sell Time Warner, just not yet. Maybe three years more, when he'll be 65 and ready to retire. (Bewkes is going through a divorce — not the best time for the big payout he'll receive in a sale.) The problem here is that sellers can't always pick their moment. It's not the easiest case to make: a willingness to sell the company for, say, a speculative $100 billion in a few years time — when all sorts of dire things can happen to undermine expectations — versus a reluctance to sell now for Murdoch's $80 billion to $90 billion in the hand." (Michael wolff)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Finally, liberal democracy is almost universally associated with market economies, which tend to produce winners and losers and amplify what James Madison termed the 'different and unequal faculties of acquiring property.' This type of economic inequality is not in itself a bad thing, insofar as it stimulates innovation and growth and occurs under conditions of equal access to the economic system. It becomes highly problematic, however, when the economic winners seek to convert their wealth into unequal political influence. They can do so by bribing a legislator or a bureaucrat, that is, on a transactional basis, or, what is more damaging, by changing the institutional rules to favor themselves -- for example, by closing off competition in markets they already dominate, tilting the playing field ever more steeply in their favor. Political decay thus occurs when institutions fail to adapt to changing external circumstances, either out of intellectual rigidities or because of the power of incumbent elites to protect their positions and block change. Decay can afflict any type of political system, authoritarian or democratic. And while democratic political systems theoretically have self-correcting mechanisms that allow them to reform, they also open themselves up to decay by legitimating the activities of powerful interest groups that can block needed change. This is precisely what has been happening in the United States in recent decades, as many of its political institutions have become increasingly dysfunctional. A combination of intellectual rigidity and the power of entrenched political actors is preventing those institutions from being reformed. And there is no guarantee that the situation will change much without a major shock to the political order." (Francis Fukuyama)

"There are many ways to think about the Republican Party's electoral predicament — in racial terms, in sectional terms, in ideological terms. One clarifying way to conceive the problem is in generational terms — a geriatric trap. David Frum has an essay in Foreign Affairs laying out his view of how the Republican Party must change in order to regain parity at the national level. Frum’s core insight is that the Republican Party fell into a self-perpetuating cycle whereby its ideas attracted mainly old people, and old people in turn shaped its ideas, and so they wound up 'reinventing themselves as defenders of the fiscal status quo for older Americans — and only older Americans.' Even while fighting a desperate rear-guard campaign to prevent, and then to destroy, universal health insurance, Republicans exempted all Americans over the age of 55 from any budget cuts. As a Fox News ratings gambit, this works splendidly. As both a long-term Republican political strategy and as a governing doctrine, it is a catastrophe. If anything, Frum’s essay actually understates the party’s failure. It wasn’t merely that Republicans protected the elderly and near-elderly from the austerity of the Ryan budget. They savagely attacked the Medicare cuts enacted by the Obama administration. The hyperbolic version of this attack was 'rationing'; the insane version was 'death panels.' As Lamar Alexander memorably put it, while rising in opposition to universal health insurance, 'If you find savings by cutting waste, fraud and abuse in Grandma’s Medicare, spend those savings on Grandma.' They also repeatedly turned down opportunities to cut Social Security spending out of a combination of anti-tax absolutism and sheer partisan spite. The GOP’s old-person problem is on inadvertent display in a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute. Biggs is professionally committed to cutting Social Security, and the column is devoted to the need to restore solvency to the Social Security Trust Fund, which certainly ought to be a conservative priority. Yet Biggs finds himself dancing awkwardly around the reality that Obama is the one who has proposed to do the thing he advocates, and Republicans are the ones who stopped him. His excruciating contortions highlight the impossible predicament faced by Republican entitlement hawks trying to defend the party line." (Jonathan Chait)

"There are 65 prominent people who might run for president in 2016. The Democratic and Republican fields contrast sharply. Hillary Clinton is the clear front-runner, while there is no front-runner on the Republican side. Twenty-three Democrats have been mentioned as a candidate or are eyeing a bid, according to an analysis by The Hill. The GOP side has 42. Most of the people on this list won’t run, and some have adamantly claimed that they’re not interested. But many politicians have changed their minds on seeking the White House. Before mounting his 2008 bid, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said he wasn’t running. The following is The Hill’s list of 65 people who might run for president in 2016 ... Russ Feingold — The liberal darling mulled a 2008 bid before losing his reelection race in 2010 ... Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley — Uphill climb for O’Malley. How tough? Three members of the Maryland delegation (Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Reps. Steny Hoyer and John Delaney) have already said they would back Clinton in the Democratic primary ... Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick — Will likely run for president at some point, but not in 2016. Sen. Bernie Sanders — The liberal Sanders, who is technically an independent, has said he would challenge Clinton if no one else from the left launches a bid. Brian Schweitzer — The former governor of Montana has had a rough summer. Sen. Mark Warner (Va.) — Warner stunned political observers, when he didn’t run for president in 2008. He instead ran for the Senate and is up for reelection against Ed Gillespie this fall. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) — Unlike Clinton, Warren has been busy on the campaign trail for Senate candidates." (TheHill)

"Iceland is bracing for a possible eruption at its Bardarbunga volcano for the first time since 1996, after about 800 earthquakes in its vicinity in the past few days prompted the nation's Met Office to raise its alert level for the mountain to 'orange,' signifying 'increased potential of eruption.' In April 2010, Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull erupted, leading to more than than 100,000 flight cancellations over the North Atlantic and Europe amid concern lava-loaded ash might destroy aircraft engines. Among the hardest-hit by the flight ban were Kenyan exporters, left with no way to get $12 million of produce to the international market. Kenya is the world's largest exporter of black tea, and it's the nation's biggest foreign-currency earner. So the Trade of the Day is to settle down to a cup of Kenyan tea while stocks last. And, if you have a European flight planned for the next few weeks, you might check your travel insurance while you're sipping." (Bloomberg)

As well as events surrounding her family, Frazer's scrapbooks include published images of her friends

"In March 2011, New York Social Diary featured the first part of a series Philadelphia in Palm Beach: 1920-1931 adapted from Ellen Glendinning Frazer Ordway's voluminous biographical scrapbook of photographs. For this next chapter, I perused the more than 3,000 images Ellen Frazer compiled in a six-volume set recording her life from 1931 until Spring 1935, beginning with the family's top-of-the-world year abroad and ending at Palm Beach following the divorce that ended her fourteen year marriage to Persifor Frazer III. A prolific photographer, Frazer utilized small-format roll film to capture the everyday events of her family and friends as well as kept a record of her friends' milestones when they made headlines in newspapers and magazines.  Unlike the era's commercial images produced by celebrity photographers like Bert Morgan or the 'portrait of the good life' conveyed by Slim Aarons, these photographs are of a far more private nature. But, while the photographic quality of Morgan's and Aarons' images have been maintained, most often printed from the original negatives, because Frazer's images were developed utilizing the chemically-unstable machine processing of the 1930s they reflect a degradation of image quality. In general, I arranged the images in chronological order with some exceptions. I combined three consecutive summers into Watch Hill, 1932-1934. Likewise, I merged several winter seasons into Palm Beach, 1932-1935. The year the Frazers spent in Europe I have kept in its original order. I placed quotes around captions when I transcribed them as Ellen Frazer wrote them." (NYSD)

"Russia and Ukraine continue to confront each other along their border. Iraq has splintered, leading to unabated internal warfare. And the situation in Gaza remains dire. These events should be enough to constitute the sum total of our global crises, but they're not. On top of everything, the German economy contracted by 0.2 percent last quarter. Though many will dismiss this contraction outright, the fact that the world's fourth-largest economy (and Europe's largest) has shrunk, even by this small amount, is a matter of global significance. Europe has been mired in an economic crisis for half a decade now. Germany is the economic engine of Europe, and it is expected that it will at some point pull Europe out of its crisis. There have been constant predictions that Europe may finally be turning an economic corner, but if Germany's economy is contracting (Berlin claims it will rebound this year), it is difficult to believe that any corner is being turned. It is becoming increasingly reasonable to believe that rather than an interlude in European prosperity, what we now see is actually the new normal. The key point is not that Germany's economy has contracted by a trivial amount. The point is that it has come time to raise the possibility that it could be a very long time before Europe returns to its pre-2008 prosperity and to consider what this means. The German economy contracted despite indications that there would be zero economic growth. But the rest of Europe is faltering, too. France had zero growth. Italy declined by 0.2 percent. The only large European economy that grew was the United Kingdom, the country most skeptical of the value of EU membership. Excluding Ireland, which grew at a now-robust rate of 2.5 percent, no EU economy grew more than 1 percent. Together, the European Union scarcely grew at all. Obviously, growth rate is not the full measure of an economy, and statistics don't always paint the full picture. Growth doesn't measure social reality, and therefore it is important to look at unemployment. And though Europe is fairly stagnant, the unemployment situation is truly disturbing. Spain and Greece both have around 25 percent unemployment, the level the United States reached during the Great Depression. While that's stunning, 15 of the 28 EU members have unemployment rates of more than 10 percent; most have maintained that high rate now for several years. More alarming, these rates are not falling.Half of all EU residents live in four countries: Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy. The average growth rate for these countries is about 1.25 percent. Excluding the United Kingdom, their economies contracted by 0.1 percent. The unemployment rate in the four countries averages 8.5 percent. But if we drop the United Kingdom, the average is 9.2 percent. Removing Britain from the equation is not arbitrary: It is the only one of the four that is not part of the eurozone, and it is the country most likely to drop out of the European Union. The others aren't going anywhere. Perhaps the United Kingdom isn't either, but that remains to be seen. Germany, France and Italy, by population if nothing else, are the core of the European Union. They are not growing, and unemployment is high. Therefore, Europe as a whole is not growing at all, and unemployment is high. Five to six years after the global financial crisis, persistent and widespread numbers like this can no longer be considered cyclical, particularly because Germany is running out of gas. It is interesting to consider how Germany has arrived at this point." (STRATFOR)

The cocktail hour before the dinner at the ARF 40th anniversary benefit on Saturday night.

"Regular NYSD readers know how much animal rescue means to us here at NYSD. Both JH and I have adopted pets. One of JH’s adored pets was Oliver Dog adopted at age 3 at an annual ARF gala thirteen years ago. Oliver had had three homes before he met Jeff. He became a beloved member of the family, gracing them with his presence until he went to Dog Heaven two years ago, then mourned by all who ever knew him. This year was a special year not only because of the anniversary but because ARF’s staff has done an incredible job in caring for the animals and in increasing the numbers of adoption. In the past 40 years they have saved 20,000 animals (!). Last year, they adopted out 1134 dogs and cats. This year they have set a goal of 1300 adoptions and from the looks of things right now, they may exceed that number. They have so far adopted out 735 little beauties and lovebugs and kitty cats, an increase of 18% over last year at this time – 112 more lives saved!
More than 400 attended the gala which was held on the ARF grounds in a tent set up on their dirt parking lot – although you’d never have known it when you saw the finished product. David Monn and Alex Papachristidis decorated the tent and provided the white carpet and handsome dance floor. The white “balloons” you see rising to the top of the tent were lent by David, who also trucked the blue and white porcelain out from Manhattan. They used 1500 Sunflowers from local East End stands. Babinski Flower Stand and Lisa & Bill’s in Wainscott provided them at cost. A list of ARF Angels put the event together. There was an auction led by Benjamin Doller, Executive VP and Vice Chairman, America of Sotheby’s. He raised close to $132,000 for ARF, the majority already earmarked for 9 Puppy Mill rescues. Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes emceed. Steve and his wife Jennet Conant share their home, and have for years, with a dog from ARF. Leslie Stevens provided the PR, and Sean Driscoll’s Glorious Food catered the affair with an excellent summertime menu." (NYSD)

Hey, ladies — catcalls are flattering! Deal with it

"The Post has come out boldly in favor of catcalling ... The saddest thing about these unimaginatively provocative stories—the DON'T HATE ME FOR MY PRIVILEGE essays, the CALM DOWN, PEOPLE! rants—is that the best-case outcome is the education of one person: The writer-subject, who will become either permanently entrenched or emotionally broken as a result of the ensuing backlash. Otherwise, the ripples don't even make it to the edge of the pond. Some readers nod their heads and turn the page; others click, think 'oh [hell] no,' and generate some angry social media. It's first and foremost a human sacrifice intended to insert a small thrill into the paper: the private thrill of reading your horrible opinion expressed in public at no personal cost (there but for the grace of god!), or the more public thrill of identifying something utterly and completely wrong." (TheAwl)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

Have you heard? The Clintons are rich.

"This weekend, yet another story about Hillary Clinton's outsize wealth ricocheted through the blogosphere, this one publicizing her contract for a $225,000 speech at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Foundation. Among her requests: travel on a $39 million Gulfstream jet, round-trip business class tickets for her advance team, a $500 cash stipend, lodging in a presidential suite plus five more rooms, and coverage for all meals and incidentals. The story, based on a public-records request, has the same sneering, how-dare-she quality that much of the coverage of Clinton’s money has taken on ...Wait, Hillary Clinton – the woman likely to be the next leader of the free world, a person as in-demand as Lady Gaga, Oprah and the Pope – doesn’t charge a modest speaking fee, make her own way and fade into the background? Cue the outrage! ... But what the pundit class sees as the real issue for Clinton is not the money so much as it is her awkward embrace of it – her Romney-like inability to take it as a given that she is very rich, and to stress that she empathizes with middle-class Americans rather than living their same struggles. She infamously described her family as 'dead broke' when leaving the White House. 'We struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea's education,' she added. 'You know, it was not easy.' Then she ham-handedly tried to explain that they are ordinary-rich, not rich-rich. 'We pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names,' she said. 'And we've done it through dint of hard work.' It's been enough to cement a narrative about Clinton being out of touch. What has been strange about Clinton’s responses to the questions about the many tens of millions she and her husband have pulled in of late is that there is an elegant and obvious rich-Democrat way to answer them. She simply has to say, 'Yes, we’re really lucky. And I know first-hand that we don’t need a tax break for our millions in earnings or our private jet.' It’s a well-worn response, too, given by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton among many others.But it is a response that Mitt Romney, whose economic policies would probably have slashed his own taxes while raising them for lower-income Americans, could never give." (NYMag)

Gregory got $4M to quietly leave NBC

"Ousted 'Meet the Press' anchor David Gregory was paid $4 million to leave NBC and signed a contract not to speak out against the network, sources told Page Six. Gregory, 43, who moderated the show for six years, was unceremoniously dumped from the political program on Thursday after dismal ratings and months of speculation about his departure. He has been replaced by NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd. A source said Gregory’s contract extended into next year, so NBC had to pay him for the rest of the term, plus an extra fee to ensure his silence. In return, he was asked to sign a nondisparagement clause, which explains — despite the drama behind the scenes — his saccharine message on Twitter to announce his departure." (P6)

"Everyone knows the US imprisons more people than any other country in the world. What they might not know is that, as an American citizen, you’re more likely to be jailed than if you were Chinese, Russian or North Korean; that, with 2.3 million inmates, there are currently the same amount of people imprisoned in the States as the combined populations of Estonia and Cyprus; and that once Americans are sent to jail, they tend to keep going back. According to a recent study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics—a US Department of Justice agency—within six months of release 28 percent of inmates get rearrested for a new crime. After three years, the figure rises to 68 percent. By the end of five years, it’s an alarming 77 percent. But terrible recidivism rates have been a constant in the Land of the Free. The Pew Research Center issued its own report on the problem in 2011; the conclusion was bleak. Too many criminal offenders emerge from prison ready to offend again, and more than four out of 10 adult offenders in America return to prison within three years of their release. For too many Americans, the prison door keeps revolving. How do we try to change whatever it was that brought someone into trouble with the law? And if that proves impossible, what is the best way that society can protect itself? I wanted to find out. I also wanted to see how much of what I knew—or thought I knew—about jail turned out to be true. So I wrote to corrections departments worldwide asking for access. Russia, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Jamaica, Sweden, Norway, France, the UK and Britain’s own off-shore tax haven, the Isle of Man all refused because my personal safety 'could not be guaranteed.' The Zimbabwean prison service said that 'the request was considered,' but they turned me down eventually. I even sent an email to Guantanamo Bay but got no reply.  Just as I was about to give up, I discovered that I could go to jail in America as an 'undercover voluntary detainee.' With the right procedure I could gain admittance to 'holding facilities' in Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska and North Dakota. My contacts in law enforcement helped cook up a plausible cover story: I was arrested for driving a stolen car on the wrong side of the road and found in possession of methamphetamine. The cover was funny because a) I cannot drive, and b) I had absolutely no idea what methamphetamine was." (Vice)

"1000 years ago as I was sorting through my first divorce, (second happiest day of my life), I had a rental house full of furniture and objects. It was easy enough to get rid of the rental, especially as it belonged to the ex-husband’s mother, and then I shoved all those ridiculous objects into storage and forgot about them. It had all seemed quite inexpensive at $100 month. A decade and $12,000 later and still all those objects were moldering in the storage unit. So when friends of mine decided to get married I figured what better present than the key to my storage unit. I told them everything in this unit is yours. All you have to do is clear it out so that I don’t have to keep paying for it. He took it very well and said thank you while she decided I must be making preparations to kill myself. She got quite concerned, she said it looked like I was getting all my affairs in order. I said fat chance, I said take this key and save me please from this financial hemorrhaging. So they did and they filled up their new house with all of my possessions and occasionally through the years I’ve been to visit and it’s always a bit of a shock to pick up a fork I bought or to sleep in a bed I picked out, or to look at the paintings on the walls, all mine! For one thing that first husband was a painter so I had a lot of his paintings, I was even in some of them. I heard of an excellent moment when my ex-husband visited that house and after a few beats realized he knew everything around him and got quite a surprise. Although this is not nearly as funny as the time the gun-toting guerrillas marched him off our hill in beautiful Colombia but that’s another story." (Christina Oxenberg)

Ellen Glendinning Frazer Ordway a year before her death in 1975.

"Warm and beautiful Summer weekend in East Hampton and Watch Hill where the NYSD staff  members were taking a weekend away. JH and his wife went to stay in Rhode Island, and DPC went to East Hampton to attend the 40th Anniversary celebration and benefit for ARF (Animal Rescue  Fund) in the Hamptons. (More about that on tomorrow’s NYSD) In the name of a summer break, we’re taking a Sort of few days away from our keyboards and professional obligations. So this week and next we are mainly re-running in chronological order, the Photo Archives of Ellen Glendinning Fraser Ordway — the Philadelphia-Palm Beach-Northeast Harbor socialite who was born at the beginning of the last century — began taking photos in the 19-teens and methodically posting them in her private photo albums through the first three-quarters of the 20th century. Ellen Ordway, as she was known for a good part of her adult life, was a serious amateur photographer.  It was not a career she pursued professionally but the tens of thousands of photos she took of her world and its denizens over almost seven decades are tribute to her commitment that rivals any professional. Mrs. Ordway was born in 1901 and died in 1976. Beginning in the twenties, she photographed her life and those who were part of it. It is a unique document of American society in the American 20th century by a woman who was at the center of it. All of work is presented as extemporaneously as the modern digital images captured through Instagram and Twitter. Her objective was simple: to photograph what and who she saw and socialized with. We see fascinating travels, great friendships, marriages, divorced and real people relaxing among the international leisure class with emphasis on Americans." (NYSD)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Washington week with Gwen Ifill

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

Illustration by Darrow.

"It is time to roll up the red carpet, return it to the factory showroom, and let famous faces attached to famous bodies walk among us as free people, not as fashion perps and exotic pets—clickbait snack meats. 'More will mean worse,' the novelist Kingsley Amis prophetically grumbled, and the red-carpet procession—once such a stately ritual—has stretched into a forced march, an endless series of campaign stops for stars striking poses and beaming smiles unnatural for any normal being, putting a strain on their intergalactic alloys. When the red-carpet ceremony was limited to gala occasions—lavish premieres, the Academy Awards (its red carpet was introduced in 1961, but it wasn’t until the Oscars were telecast in color, in 1966, that it became synonymous with that night of nights), the opening of the Cannes Film Festival, a meet-and-greet with Queen Elizabeth and hubby Phil—it retained a sovereign glamour, a special hullabaloo. These days the red carpet has mechanized into a treadmill for a marathon awards season that stretches through the winter months, from the Golden Globes to the Screen Actors Guild Awards to the ACE Eddie Awards to the BAFTA Film Awards to the big finale, with the slack in the remainder of the year taken up by the Emmys; the Grammys; the Critics’ Choice Television Awards; the MTV Movie Awards; the Academy of Country Music Awards; the SXSW Music, Film, and Interactive Conference & Festival; Comic Con; the ESPYs; the AmFAR Inspiration Gala; the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award; the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner; the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards; the Kennedy Center Honors; the Indy 500 race; car-wash openings; papal visits; and random ribbon cuttings. It has altered our expectations of stardom, added a new imperative. It’s not enough for an actor to deliver the goods on-screen or onstage, or for a musician to scale heaven in the recording studio or the concert arena. They must now aspire to be runway-sophisticated: turned-out, fashion-savvy, smartly accessorized, majestically moussed, manicured, pedicured, hickory-smoked, poised, and good sports, discreetly chewing their Nicorette gum without chomping like camels. Not everyone plays along." (James Wolcott)

"Recently, Tavi Gevinson – editor-in-chief of Rookie magazine, budding Broadway star and possibly the most influential 18-year-old in America – went to her first and last high school rager. Earlier that day, she'd graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High in suburban Chicago, tromping around the football field in the blazing heat. In terms of doing the classic high school party thing, she thought, it was now or never. 'It was at this guy's house,' she says, 'and I was like, 'Oh, you know what makes social anxiety better is if you just keep drinking.'' Which she did until things got messy ('There was vomit'), though not too messy ('I didn't try to seduce anyone'), after which Gevinson made her way home, where her mom helped her into bed: 'In the morning she gave me a flower and explained why drinking is extremely dangerous and why not to mix stuff and to eat first and to not do it until I'm 21. Then my dad came in, and they both laughed at me.' If Gevinson has failed to indulge in such iconic teenage pastimes to date, that's thanks to her many pressing duties as our culture's Teenager Par Excellence. Gevinson's role as universal expert on all things teenage has, somewhat ironically, left her little time for iconic teenage experiences like this one. At 11, she started Style Rookie, a blog that garnered the attention of fashionistas the world over with its pictures of a tiny, unsmiling Gevinson, standing in a suburban backyard and wearing the most fantastical of garments. Soon she was flying to Paris for Fashion Week, meeting Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour. Sporting a dyed silver-blue bob, thick glasses and Iris Apfel-inspired outré-granny chic ('People talked about how when you're a woman of a certain age you stop caring about certain things, and I was like, 'If I can try that now I will be ahead of the curve'), she became a sort of high-fashion mascot, half prodigy, half pet.
And then, just like that, Gevinson decided to leave these childish things behind." (RollingStone)

Lauren Bacall, Liz, Carroll Petrie all making up to the very rich Milton Petrie, who is not amused. Circa 1980 at the Waldorf.

"TIMING is everything! — as the saying goes. Only this week I wrote of how I was going with my friend Robert Pounder over to the Dakota to see Lauren (Betty) Bacall before her coming September 16th  birthday when she’d have been 90.  (Miss Bacall didn’t particularly relish becoming 90 and removed herself from the race.)  So, my timing was bad and I didn’t get to see her one last time. But my memories of 'Miss Bacall' — as I usually  fancifully referred to her — are full to bursting. We had been through a lot of celebrity incidents  together ... back to when she didn’t speak to me, then she did, she couldn’t decide, then she did, and so forth. Actually, we became good friends just as I became friends with her son, Stephen Bogart. And she and I often got together with our pal Phyllis Newman. EVENTUALLY we became close and  she visited me in the Connecticut countryside when she went to see Katharine Hepburn at Fenwick.  (Her tenderness for the great Kate went way back to when she’d first been wed to Bogart and he and Kate were making 'The African Queen.' Betty’s hidden sentimentality was one of the nicest things about her.) She often talked to me about  how proud she was of her three children ... of her struggles with husband Jason Robards and his alcoholism ... of the tortured days when Bogey was dying of throat cancer ... of her disillusionment when Frank Sinatra took offense at a gossip item and called off their engagement. She was philosophical in 1997 when she didn’t win the Oscar for 'best supporting actress' costarring with Barbra Streisand in 'The Mirror Has Two Faces.' But I wasn’t philosophical. I thought she should have won. And isn't it interesting that after all Bacall's work with powerful male directors, it took a woman, Barbra Streisand, to, bring her an Oscar nomination." (NYSD)

"This is what the EU scum have done to us. Forced us to sell the few assets nature gave us instead of oil and gas, and the oily ones were the first to grab them. The ultimate touchy-feely accolade of our times—a big sloppy bear hug à la Clinton or Blair—almost made me sick last week, as practiced by the Greek prime minister hugging the grotesque Jean-Claude Juncker. What is it with these phonies? Can’t anyone shake hands anymore? And while I’m on the subject, Antonis Samaras, the PM, I met only once, around 35 to 40 years ago. He had just returned from Amherst or Harvard and had entered the Greek nationals in tennis. I played him in the first round, saw that he could more or less hit the ball, and beat him 6-0, 6-0. There were no refs in the early rounds. While shaking hands he asked me if he could change the score to something more respectable. I said sure, I never liked giving anyone two bagels. But it shows the kind of shifty character that he is, and he’s known for having bitten every helping hand. While these two sons of bitches were hugging each other for a photo opportunity, the straitjacket of the euro continued to do its stuff. Unemployment is still at a record 27 percent, and for those under 25, around a staggering 55 percent. Our debt is about 170 percent of our GDP, a gap bigger than Italy’s and topped only by Japan’s, which goes to show we are good at something after all. At bullshitting the people, that’s for sure." (Taki)

‘Homophobic,’ ultra-rich Sultan of Brunei wants The Plaza hotel

"The Plaza’s Eloise may have to start wearing a burqa over her trademark red hair ribbon. The Sultan of Brunei — infamous for imposing sharia law, which calls for death by stoning of gays and adulterers — is first choice to buy the landmark Manhattan hotel. As part of an estimated $2.2 billion deal, the sultan would also purchase downtown’s Dream Hotel and London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, all currently on the selling block by owner Subrata Roy, a jailed Indian industrialist, according to the Times of London.Roy remains in a New Delhi jail on contempt of court charges and needs the money to cover his bail. The sultan would not have a say in the day-to-day operation of the hotels but would be the controlling owner in partnership with two investors who already have stakes in the properties, Hampshire Hotels and Saudi Prince Alwaleed, said Manhattan-based hotel analyst Sean Hennessey, CEO of Lodging Investment Advisors." (P6)


"It's a battle of Al vs. Al. According to a court filing unearthed by Bloomberg, Al Gore is suing Al Jazeera America for refusing to turn over millions of dollars it promised to pay following the acquisition of Current Media back in January 2013. Gore and his Current co-founder, Joel Hyatt, claim Al Jazeera America 'wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago.'" (NYMag)