Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: A Broad Abroad with Paula Froelich

WATCH: Anticarjacking Class? Sign Us Up! We Attend the Ultimate Driving School
Just a friendly roadside warning (Photo: Andrew Rothschild)

A Broad Abroad with Paula Froelich is one of my favorite new shows of the season. A Broad Abroad is a roller coaster of vicarious, informative thrills from some of the most fascinating places on the planet. The noteworthy photography, by Andrew Rothschild, makes lush use of the natural light with quick bite-size cuts that make one want to take some time off and see the world. Further, Paula is an incredible interviewer, asking all the right questions, like why exactly the shark spotter guide doesn't surf ("because I know too much," he replied.). I don't travel nearly as much as Paula, so watching her is something of a vicarious thrill. Paula, formerly of Page Six and Newsweek, is at her finest travelling to some of the most interesting place in the world and explaining the compelling ways that people live, and their local customs.

The most recent episode of A Broad Abroad features Froelich, the Editor in Chief of Yahoo! Travel, in South Africa. There is the Shark Spotters episode, which combines Paula's love of danger and travel. Paula is also a big fan of wildlife, most importantly her dog Karl.

My favorite of the short South Africa episodes is "Drinking the Strongest Brew in South Africa with a Shebeen Queen." "Back in the day," intones Paula, "some Shebeens served alcohol made with battery acid, contributing the reputation of serving some of the deadliest brew on earth." See, that's the sort of interesting tidbit you probably will not find on the more staid Travel Channel. Then, Paula proceeds to gulp some Special leopard beer -- twice as strong as most American beers -- out of what appears like a metal stein. After finding it worthy, she takes a second drink. This, clearly, is a woman after my own heart.

I highly recommend A Broad Abroad. Next up: Myanmar.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Anthony Haden Guest at Leonora

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The incomparable Anthony Haden-Guest performed some spoken word at Leonora. Also in the crowd of beautiful people: Lisa Xavier, Liam McMullan, Todd Smolar and Music by Nick Cohen. After putting on a masterful performance, the Iron Man Nightlife Decathalon Champion hit the dance floor and showed us all how it's done. I can now die in peace secure in the knowledge that I shared the dance floor with Guest.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"As the United States begins its full assault against the Islamic State in Syria, backed by Arab allies, the absence of NATO ally Turkey is drawing attention and comment. Just days before the Sept. 22 beginning of U.S. airstrikes, Turkey managed to broker a deal with the Islamic State to return 49 diplomats held in Iraq for 101 days. Contrary to diplomatic and media speculation, however, Turkey is not supporting the transnational, Syria- and Iraq-based jihadist movement known as the Islamic State. While the details of just how Ankara retrieved its diplomats are sketchy, Ankara likely negotiated their release through its contacts among the Iraqi Sunni community and its ally, Qatar. This influence, especially among Sunni locals in not just Iraq but also Syria, will be critical if Turkey is going to be able to manage the jihadist threat long after the United States declares mission accomplished and moves on. Rumors have long circulated that Turkey has been aiding Islamic State fighters. A New York Times article suggesting Turkey was tolerating an Islamic State recruiting center went viral, as did the subsequent war of words between the government and New York Times management. Another argument heard is that Ankara sees the Syrian Kurds gaining their own autonomous enclave in northeastern Syria as an intolerable security threat for the Turks — making the Islamic State the lesser evil. More recently, Turkey's unwillingness to join the U.S.-led international effort against the Islamic State was also seen as being driven by Turkey's dealings with the jihadist group. Such perceptions have been reinforced now that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has secured the release of 49 diplomats abducted by the group from the Turkish consulate in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul after the militants seized control of the city. Turkey's dealings with the Islamic State are much more nuanced than has generally been understood. Last year in July, Stratfor shed light on this dynamic, analyzing how the Turks were caught between two very threatening realities — both demanding simultaneous management — on their southern flank: jihadists of various stripes and Syrian Kurdish separatists. Managing the very difficult geopolitical battle space that is Syria required Ankara to develop relations within both the jihadist and Kurdish landscapes south of their border. Turkey also understands that it cannot allow itself to be a launchpad for an international effort against the Islamic State, the outcome of which is extremely uncertain. Turkey is all too aware of how Pakistan even today, nearly two generations after it agreed to serve as the staging ground for the U.S.-led effort to counter Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, continues to deal with the fallout of that war, which has not yet ended." (STRATFOR)

President Barack Obama is pictured. | AP Photo

"Call it the American exceptionalism exception. If there’s one place on President Barack Obama’s annual speaking calendar where rhetoric about the U.S. being the world’s greatest power doesn’t sell, it’s at the United Nations. So when he spoke to heads of state and diplomats Wednesday, there was little talk of America’s duty to solve the world’s problems. For many in the international audience, that kind of language conjures up notions of American imperialism, military adventurism and a foolhardy quest to remake the world in America’s image. Even as the U.S. expanded its most significant military operation since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq a decade ago, Obama watered down his noble-America rhetoric. Instead, he promoted a more benign kind of American optimism likelier to be soothing to the ears of those on the world stage. 'I often tell young people in the United States that despite the headlines, this is the best time in human history to be born, for you are more likely than ever before to be literate, to be healthy, to be free to pursue your dreams,'Obama said, casting for positive trends amid a cascade of global crises. 'For America, the choice is clear: We choose hope over fear.' Obama’s effort to find notes of optimism on the global scene struck a contrast with the grim picture painted by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who decried 'barrel bombs and beheadings' and bemoaned 'a terrible year for the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.' However, the closest Obama came Wednesday to embracing a special obligation borne by the U.S. was a mention of Americans being 'heirs to a proud legacy of freedom.'" (Politico)

"The national numbers indicate that Republicans should be on the verge of big House gains. But a district-by-district analysis suggests a different story. Throughout the election cycle, we’ve been closely monitoring the House generic ballot, which is the national poll that asks whether voters would support a Republican or a Democrat in their local House race. For much of the year, the polls have been roughly tied. Those were generally polls of registered voters — a bigger universe of people than the “likely voters” now being tested. With that polling adjustment now in place, Republicans have taken a clear lead in the House generic ballot, though perhaps not as big of a lead as they held at this point in 2010, when they netted 63 House seats and took control of the House. Table 1 shows the results of five recently released generic ballot surveys from high-quality, nonpartisan pollsters, as well as results from those same pollsters roughly this time four years ago. This is an imperfect comparison: While the pollsters used are the same, the timing of the surveys does not line up perfectly (we used the most recent survey from these pollsters conducted this year and tried to find the poll from four years ago conducted closest to this point in the election year). However, the Republicans held an average lead on the generic ballot of about 5.8 percentage points in these polls, whereas the same surveys now show an average lead of 4.2 points. That’s good for Republicans, but not quite as good as 2010. In comparing the overall average (including other polls not included in Table 1), the RealClearPolitics generic ballot average on Sept. 24, 2010 (four years ago as of this writing) showed a Republican lead of 3.7 points. The current average, as of Wednesday afternoon, shows Republicans with a 4.0-point lead. So depending on how one slices the numbers, one could argue that, based on this metric, Republicans are in slightly better shape in the battle for the House than they were four years ago. Or one could argue that they are not doing as well. For instance, another polling average — HuffPost Pollster — shows Republicans with only a one-point lead on the generic ballot, a couple points less than its average showed at this time in 2010. So pick your poison. The larger point is that the generic ballot, and how it moves from now until Election Day, might not tell us much more than what we already know about the U.S. House picture." (SabatosCrystalBall)

Michael McCarty at his Malibu home when we visited him in 2005. Photo: JH.

"It was Wednesday and Michael’s was bustling. Many of the familiar faces were there including James Chanos, the great hedge fund operator; Diane Clehane of MediaBistro who was hosting Monica Smith, Lisa Wells. I don’t know what they talked about but it was about (their) business. Moving along, the great Alice Mayhew of  Simon & Schuster and Jared Cohen of Google; Armando Ruiz. At table one, Mickey Ateyeh with guests Anne Moore and Adria De Haume; Tom Rogers of TIVO; Dr. Mitch Rosenthal, founder of Phoenix House was lunching at the corner table with Ray Kelly, former New York City Police Commissioner under Michael Bloomberg who is now well-occupied in the private security business; right across the aisle from them Nikki Haskell was lunching with Rikki Klieman, the legal eagle for CBS Morning whose husband Bill Bratton is the current New York City Police Commissioner (demonstrating, if nothing else, what a small world New York is – like, as I’ve written before: a small town. The ladies were joined by Eva Mohr, a major private residential real estate broker with Sotheby’s. At the table across from the ladies, the ex-officio Mayor of Michaels, Joe Armstrong, just back from Austin where he attended the opening of The Making of Gone With the Wind  at the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas at Austin, was dining with his friend David Zinczenko, editor/publisher/ ABC anchor, restaurateur.Moving around the room: Jim Cohen of Hudson News, Jonathan Estreich of Estreich & Co.; Wayne Kabak, mega-manager of  writers, television personalities, media personalities and actors; Fern Mallis the CFDA lady, the moving force behind the development of New York Fashion Week; Henry Schleiff, President and General Manager of the Discovery Channel" (NYSD)

By Jordi Matas/UNHCR.

"There are two Champs-Élysées in the world. One is in Paris. It's filled with movie theaters, boutiques, markets, and fantastic restaurants. Two months ago, I found myself walking down the other Champs-Élysées, nicknamed by aid workers, in the middle of the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. Zaatari is a ramshackle city of tents and containers, home to about 120,000 Syrian refugees. The streets of this Champs-Élysées are lined with makeshift stores. Where the walkways of its Parisian namesake are bordered by ethereal street lamps, here electricity is jimmy-rigged and borrowed from street lamps. It was incredible to see an improvised pizza-delivery place, a wedding-dress-rental shop, and, my personal favorite, a baklava bakery. The bakery was run by a family of mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, and grandchildren, and overseen by several brothers. They had survived the atrocities across the border. They each had unimaginable stories of heartbreak—their houses had been blown up, they saw men shot right in front of them, mid-sentence, mid-conversation. What’s more, the people who pulled the trigger could equally have been from any side. They not only survived, but also endured to re-create their bakery to feed their fellow refugees. Their pride in their desserts was as tangible as a sculptor’s in his creation. Their generosity was unparalleled. Every time I tried to pay for something, a hand would slap me away. 'What, are you trying to insult us? Eat. Enjoy.' Whenever I hear someone say 'Eat. Enjoy,' it reminds me of the way my grandmother spoke to me." (Harvey Weinstein)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Video: Emma Watson at the United Nations

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"When President Obama announced that the anti-Islamic State coalition had carried out airstrikes in Syria on Tuesday morning, he was quick to emphasize that the support of five Arab nations 'makes it clear to the world that this is not America’s fight alone.' Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar participated inor, in the latter case, at least supportedthe U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria. For Obama, participation from Arab allies was a necessity. This would not be another U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, but a cooperative, multilateral effort against a regional terror threat. But what do the Arab nations get out of it? For starters, each nation is domestically vulnerable to terrorist attacks, has a deep-rooted fear of a geopolitical situation favorable to Iran, and a longstanding policy of adhering to the U.S. foreign policy agenda in exchange for weapons and military protection. But there are differences, too. Here's a guide to the maze of motivations." (TNR)

"This is also a week of notable protest demonstrations in the city  for the Climate Change including Sunday’s march and Monday’s gathering at the foot of Manhattan. There was also a protest by several hundred people over at Lincoln Center last night where the Metropolitan Opera was opening its season with 'Le Nozze di Figaro.' The protesters were calling for the opera company to cancel its scheduled performance of John Adams’ 'The Death of Klinghoffer.' The opera is about the hijacking in 1985 of a cruise ship by the Palestine Liberation Front which in the hijackers murdered Leon Klinghoffer, a disabled Jewish-American passenger. The opera, which was completed in 1991, would be having its Met premiere this October. Rockefellers. I was asked to read this book by a publicist: 'Being a Rockefeller; Becoming Myself' by Eileen Rockefeller, the youngest child of David. I'd never read an account of any family members except the founder and his son. The Rockefeller family is interesting to me as a family because they continue to represent ultimate money and power in not only the United States but the entire world in the human era of fossil fuel energy. I’ve met and known some members of its 4th generation who are referred to as The Cousins. They’re mainly the Boomer generation. They’re very nice people, decent, unaffected, friendly and uncontroversial personalities. Their personal style is mainly conservative. I don’t mean that in the political sense but in terms of conduct among others. They are not people who draw attention to themselves. There’s no 'lookee here, lookee me' about any of them. This is my personal, superficial (or at least not deep) experience of family members. They’re generally WASPish in the the best and most authentic sense of the term. The values they reflect are textbook and what I grew up around in New England. They are the genesis of that over-used politically correct term 'family values.' And many of them are highly philanthropic and forward-leaning. My sense of the family has been formed mainly through those I’ve met and observed, and what I’ve read about their fathers, their grandfather and grandmother, and their great-grandfather who started it all. What is most curious to me is what is the dynamic that has flourished through the generations to keep them together. It’s an enormous family now, six generations later, but still in many ways a unit. And that is an amazing fact. Eileen Rockefeller’s memoir – which is very personal– confirms that in her stories about growing up. Despite the luxury of their surroundings and the special treatment that  the name evokes in others, they remain pleasant, unassuming, yet self-possessed individuals." (NYSD)

Scorsese’s latest doc is on New York Review of Books

"As the New York Review of Books approached its 50th anniversary in 2013, editor Robert Silvers and his staff wondered if words were enough to honor one of the world’s signature literary publications. 'Should we do anything at all, rumble along in our usual way, or should we make an occasion out of it?' the 87-year-old Silvers recalled during a recent interview at the Review’s offices in Greenwich Village, bookcases unavoidably nearby. 'We thought we should do something that was good for us and good for our readers. We thought — maybe a documentary.' They agreed on the ideal director: Martin Scorsese. 'The 50 Year Argument,' which airs Monday on HBO, mixes archival footage with contemporary interviews, scenes from the Review’s office and highlights from an anniversary celebration at Town Hall in Manhattan in 2013. The film is co-directed by Scorsese and David Tedeschi, who edited Scorsese’s documentaries on Bob Dylan and George Harrison. Scorsese, interviewed by telephone, said he has been reading the Review for decades and has piles of old issues around his apartment to prove it. His affection dates back to the magazine’s beginning, when he was a student at New York University and spotted the Review at a favorite newsstand. 'My family wasn’t in the habit of reading — there were no books in our apartment — so this was a period of really challenging everything that I had thought and I had believed,' said Scorsese, adding that the Review’s broadsheet design stood out compared with such rival publications as The New Yorker and Dissent.
'The paper itself made you want to read it, the actual texture. It wasn’t intimidating — until you read some of the articles.'" (P6)

Click to order “Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy – and What We Can Do About It.”

"Last night I went down to the Four Seasons restaurant where Jeanne and Herb Siegel were hosting a reception for Steve Forbes and his new book 'Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy – and What We Can Do About It.' Mr. Forbes wrote the book with Elizabeth Ames. Most of us have no idea what that means “destruction of the dollar,” and it is something that everyone should know about because it is upon us. I don’t even know what that means as I say it, except it means something very dire in our everyday lives. So Mr. Forbes’ book is a start, if you don’t know. It should be said that this is a widely discussed and debated topic among those who are in the financial business or have vivid interest in the markets and the economy of this country. That said, the party last night was called for 6. At 7:15 Mr. Forbes hadn’t arrived. I understood: it took me 45 minutes in what ordinarily would have been a ten or fifteen minute ride, because of the traffic jams in the East 50s. And it was rush hour. I finally got out of my cab and walked the several blocks to the restaurant. There were a lot of people who were late or hadn’t arrived. Out on East 52nd Street and Fifth Avenue it was a jam of people, motorcycle policemen, buses and teeming civilization." (NYSD)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sumo Gallery: Mick Rock 'Exposed'

portrait of the Ozzy as a young man

  • Sumo Gallery unveiled Mick Rock's Exposed last night, a show of works of art including rock and roll and fashion icons from the 70s to the modern day. The usuals are represented -- Kate Moss, blondie, Lou Reed, Bowie, Bob Marley -- but in unusual artistic waysSignature "Mick cocktails," among other adult beverages,  were served. Among the beautiful people: Mick Rock, Justin Parks, Ivy Silberstein, Brynn Rinderknecht, Ditch davey, Aristides Duvall, Tatiana Vidus, and Mattiu Bitton.

    Rock -- the Man Who Shot the 70s -- interprets photos with an energy that is equal to the wattage of the rock stars, and the materials he uses to express himself wonderfully capture the glissando of The Life.. 

    There was also a film on display on the bottom floor of Sumo, where Rock -- photographing The Killers, Jimmy Fallon, Kate Moss -- exposed his own methods in real time. He spins, he puts on flashing "Man-From-Mars" glasses, which, no doubt, leave triply, glittery ocular residue that enhances his mood and the way he sees things. He is hyperkinetic. He is, in essence, as much of a rock star as his photographic subjects.

    Sumo's events have an interesting mix of socialites, downtown hipsters, models, art aficionados -- and sometimes all four at once.

    Sumo's Mick Rock exhibition is Open to the Public, Sept 23-Oct 19, Tues to Sun, 11am-7pm. #MickRock #SumoGallery.

    You can also buy Mick Rock Exposed the book here.
  • The Razor Sharp Comedy of Key and Peele

    The fact that President Obama "gets," and is a fan of Luthor goves him cool points in my book ...

    Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

    "'Here begins our tale: The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been.' This opening adage of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, China's classic novel of war and strategy, best captures the essential dynamism of Chinese geopolitics. At its heart is the millennia-long struggle by China's would-be rulers to unite and govern the all-but-ungovernable geographic mass of China. It is a story of centrifugal forces and of insurmountable divisions rooted in geography and history -- but also, and perhaps more fundamentally, of centripetal forces toward eventual unity.
    This dynamism is not limited to China. The Scottish referendum and waves of secession movements -- from Spain's Catalonia to Turkey and Iraq's ethnic Kurds -- are working in different directions. More than half a century after World War II triggered a wave of post-colonial nationalism that changed the map of the world, buried nationalism and ethnic identity movements of various forms are challenging the modern idea of the inviolable unity of the nation-state. Yet even as these sentiments pull on the loose threads of nations, in China, one of the most intractable issues in the struggle for unity -- the status of Tibet -- is poised for a possible reversal, or at least a major adjustment. The long-running but frequently unnoticed negotiations have raised the possibility that the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, may be nearing a deal that would enable him to return to his Tibetan homeland. If it happens, it would end the Dalai Lama's exile in Dharamsala, India -- an exile that began after the Tibetan uprising in 1959, nine years after the People's Republic of China annexed Tibet. More important, a settlement between Beijing and the Dalai Lama could be a major step in lessening the physical and psychological estrangement between the Chinese heartland and the Tibetan Plateau." (STRATFOR)

    Photo: Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Corbis

    "Britain has decided to remain whole, but the secession fever gripping the world has not yet broken. Catalonia will hold a non-binding vote on independence in November, and a number of other European regions are contemplating going it alone. There’s always some idle secession chatter in the freedom-and-independence-loving United States, too. A new poll shows one in four Americans support 'the idea of your state peacefully withdrawing from the United States of America and the federal government.' But could it ever be more than a rhetorical phenomenon in the States? It seems unlikely, given that those who benefit most from union are those most interested in secession ...  To wit, only one in five residents of the wealthy New England states supports secession, separatist-lusty Vermont included, versus one in three residents of the poorer southwest, where the urge is more pronounced. In the United States, the most likely breakaway is Texas, and there’s at least some reason to believe it might do fine as an independent republic. It has access to international waterways. It has a diversified economy, with all that cattle and oil money coming in. It has a long foreign border with Mexico. Most of all, it has that independent spirit. But it takes a lot more than grit to make it as a new country — and generally, the poorer, smaller, and less-diversified the state, the worse it would fare after independence. Secession itself would also be extremely costly, though how costly would depend on whether the United States acceded to the plan (not likely) and how much it wanted to antagonize New Kansas or Free Texas or what have you." (NYMag)

    "For Barack Obama, what is happening now no longer falls into the category of cleaning up old wars. This is no longer the war of the Afghan 'surge,' which was mainly intended to end a war that was already underway. Or Obama’s aggressive policy of launching covert drone strikes and special operations missions against al Qaeda and its affiliates. This is a wholly new war, Obama’s very own, and it is out in the open. And it is happening in a country, Syria, where the president has until now resisted the entreaties of his entire national-security team to get involved militarily, refusing to arm the Syrian rebels and temporizing over whether to strike Bashar al-Assad over his alleged use of chemical weapons. It’s now clear that the perilously swift rise of the Islamic State, and perhaps too the perilous downward slide of the president’s poll numbers, has forced him to radically re-evaluate his presidency—and to shed, at long last, the state of denial he has appeared to inhabit regarding the most precious myth of his presidency: that he was close to defeating al Qaeda, and bringing America out of a 'state of perpetual war.' If Obama can at long last discard that superannuated narrative and forcefully confront the Islamic State—as he promised to do in his Sept. 10 speech to the nation—then the waning perception of him as an effective leader could change in a short period of time.
    It’s not that Obama has been shy about using force in the past six and a half years. But he has preferred to do it covertly." (Politico)

    Jack Ma celebrates Alibaba IPO at Tao Downtown

    "Jack Ma, the CEO of Alibaba, celebrated taking his Chinese e-commerce company public in what is now the largest IPO in history over dinner at Tao Downtown Sunday night. The 50-year-old entrepreneur — whose company is now valued at more than $200 billion — was the topic of conversation across the dining room as other guests noticed a very happy-looking Ma enter with 50 people. The group, sources said, seemed in high spirits during dinner. (You would be, too, if you were personally worth $18 billion). With Friday’s IPO, Ma became China’s wealthiest citizen." (P6)

    e48fdebcae8411e38b94124a1c452438 8 Young Models Are Easy Pickings For the Citys Club Promoters
    Ro-Parra Grady (right)

    "As Fashion Week returned to New York, thousands of young women and men visited, hoping their dreams of becoming a top model will come true. Waiting to catch these young hopefuls in an underground web of corruption are club promoters. Every night, one can find teams of promoters herding young pretties down into thumping burrows of hedonism. With offers of free dinners, paid-for vacations, entry into an exclusive life few are privy to, many models fall for the highlife pitches. Top earning promoters will make thousands of dollars a night, bringing in between 10 to 20 girls and boys to attend hosted tables. The more important the unsuspecting model or celebrity is regarded to be—and some of them are very successful working models—the more a promoter can charge the club for his or her visitation. From newbies to top earners, they are all susceptible to the antics of promoter manipulation. And the numbers are soaring. As hemlines rose, nightclubs, pop-ups and daytime deejay parties exploded all over the city and neighboring boroughs. Williamsburg this summer hit its peak as the new global fashion Mecca. Top promoters, many former fashion models themselves, sat outside fashion week castings waiting for models to exit. The Calvin Klein runway show casting was a specific target. Modeling agencies and management companies are now handing out books to their new models with specific restrictions against contact with promoters. So-called 'promoter clauses' are being built into models’ contracts and costly chaperones are being hired by agencies for girls and boys in development to insure that they don’t fall prey to these bad actors." (Observer)

    Monday, September 22, 2014

    Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


    "ON A SULTRY EVENING IN 2002 I could hardly get a sunny word out of Tim Forbes, one of the heirs to the Forbes publishing empire and, among them, the most conscientious operator—the brother who effectively ran Forbes magazine. We were on the Highlander, the 150-foot family yacht, which was used often to wine and dine advertisers and media people; Tim’s older brother Steve, fresh off one of his presidential runs, was the official host. As we circled Manhattan, everything seemed the opposite of glum. At first I took Tim’s rejection of even polite optimism as an indication of his refreshingly unhyped outlook. The dotcom crash had happened, and it was proving to be a struggle to get revenues back to where they had been. But Tim’s funk—mind you, we were on a cruise to celebrate everything that was good about Forbes—was implacable. I was the one offering bromides about the magazine business and the resourcefulness of the industry; he, I realized, was at best trying to humor me. Tim, of course, had seen his company’s balance sheet, and if the ad slowdown was still hitting the normally fat Forbes, he could infer a continued downward trend everywhere in the industry. And yet the loyal Forbes audience—the madras-wearing CEOs at country clubs across America—would surely remain a plum advertising target, no? Perhaps the dynastic weight—his generation is the third to run the company, and the fourth is already in place—caused him some extra foreboding. Family publishing companies don’t last forever. Still, the Forbes family was, all in all, in it together, and Tim had the kind of meticulous business mind you’d want as the steward. Looking back, I am certain he knew. 'I am not optimistic,' he kept repeating that evening, as though foreseeing the next decade’s horrible economic events. 'Don’t bet on that,' I recall him saying, when I described turnaround scenarios. It was the first time I felt—and it would occur many times afterward—a graveyard cold about the business I worked in. I went home that evening and wrote a note to myself for an article I was thinking about: 'Tim Forbes visited by magazine angel of death.'" (TownandCountry)

    "The Clinton Global Initiative, which gathers in New York this week for its 10th annual meeting, has always had a Hollywood feel to it, not least because there are invariably a few celebrities invited to mingle with the corporate suits and international development worthies. This year’s batch includes actor-activists Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Ashley Judd and Eva Longoria. The biggest celebrity, of course, is typically the former president himself, who provides participants with plenty of photo ops as he guides the conversation like a cross between an eminent professor and an ebullient Oscar host. But Mr. Clinton may find himself overshadowed a bit this year—and not by the West Coast A-listers. Amidst the serious talk about how best to battle Ebola and combat climate change, Mr. Clinton will no doubt repeatedly be asked to address the 'will she or won’t she' buzz, which only grew louder this week after he accompanied his wife to an Iowa steak fry. The 2016 question may be mere curiosity for the wealthy and well-meaning at the CGI gathering. But the political destiny of Hillary Clinton could have a profound effect on the initiative. And the CGI—awash as it is with big business and billionaires—could affect how candidate Hillary Clinton is perceived by the electorate and how President Hillary Clinton would deal with potential conflicts of interests arising from CGI’s work. The growing prominence of Hillary and daughter Chelsea on the CGI stage in recent years has been meat and drink for critics who see the event primarily as a promotional ad for the Clinton dynasty. The CGI has been careful to burnish its non-partisan credentials by giving the floor to some prominent Republicans: Hank Paulson, Treasury secretary under George W Bush, is speaking this year; Mitt Romney spoke ahead of the 2012 election. But an organization seeking commitments from influential people and organizations with such strong ties to a sitting president could easily be open to misinterpretation by anyone seeking indirect influence." (Politico)

    "In cahoots with the Saudis and the Kuwaitis, the Qatari ruling family allowed various so-called private businessmen to raise money for Jihad. Saudi money funneled through Islamic charities had been funding terrorism since the Eighties. Ditto the Kuwaitis. These private fund-raisers are an obvious charade. It’s the Kuwaiti, Saudi, and Qatari ruling families’ money that ends up in terrorist hands. It’s called protection money. All three ruling 'monarchies' are basically illegitimate, and their power derives certainly not from the people but from their oil and gas wealth and their ability to bribe Uncle Sam and other Western powers to keep them as heads. The three desert satrapies had a falling-out after the military overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The Saudis stuck with Sisi, the Qataris and Kuwaitis stuck with the Brotherhood. Qatar has allowed the Taliban to open offices and recruitment centers, and openly finances the bloodthirsty Islamic State ... How have we come to this? Big oil had a lot to do with the First Gulf War" (Taki)

    "In his new book, the former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger argues that 'chaos threatens' the world order 'side by side with unprecedented interdependence' between nations. He's right on target. The globalization of the world economy has proceeded alongside a host of threats that transcend borders: "the spread of weapons of mass destruction, the disintegration of states, the impact of environmental depredations, the persistence of genocidal practices, and the spread of new technologies." But even as the world's prosperity and problems become more intertwined, geopolitical conflict between traditional nation-states is on the rise. The main driver for this growing volatility is a deteriorating US-led world order, what I call the 'G-Zero'--the notion that we are experiencing a widening global power vacuum that no nation or group of nations will fill for the foreseeable future. America is becoming less willing and able to influence outcomes, precisely at a time when international leadership is increasingly critical. America's exceptional ability to organize global institutions and the international agenda no longer holds--and there is no useful strategy to try and regain it. That underpins and links the geopolitical conflicts that feel ubiquitous today, from the South China Sea and Ukraine to Iraq and Syria. If we fail to address these challenges, what comes next in this disorderly world? Kissinger envisions what is essentially realpolitik, but on a regional instead of global level. It's a world of regions, where different countries have different spheres of influence, sometimes competing, sometimes not. This scenario is wholly plausible, and based on recent events, it looks like momentum is taking us in this direction. This will be a world of winners and losers, with some regions proving more successful at maintaining order and stability. The Western Hemisphere performs well in this world, given its insulation from geopolitical hotspots. Eurasia and the Middle East will be a fundamentally different story, destined for more conflict in a world without global referees and rules. Asia has the most uncertainty: the greatest potential, the gravest potential conflict." (Ian Bremmer)

    "The dirty old man whom New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says groped her while telling her, 'Don’t lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby!' was apparently none other than Gillibrand's fellow Democrat, the highest-ranking Asian official in the U.S. ever, an army veteran, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 'according to people with knowledge of the incident,' the New York Times reports. He died in 2012 at age 88. As a senator, Inouye consistently voted in favor of women's issues. But, as the Times notes, the senator did have a black mark on his record: 1992 allegations that he forced his stylist to sleep with him (she said at the time that she did not consider it rape because she did not fight back). The woman claimed to know of nine others harassed by Inouye who did not want to come forward with charges. Gillibrand's office would not confirm or deny that Inouye uttered the comment." (NYMag)

    Hermione in the Naval battle of Louisbourg, by Auguste-Louis de Rossel de Cercy.

    "On another, higher, historical note for all patriots, lovers of history and fans of courage and ingenuity, I bring you the news that on Tuesday, October 14th, from 6:30 to 10:30 pm, the Friends of Hermione in the US are hosting their Inaugural NYC Gala with distinguished guests (honoring), Dr. Henry Kissinger, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, and Charlie Rose of CBS This Morning  and the Charlie Rose Show on PBS. The evening is Celebrating the Belief that Anything is Possible. History lesson. If you didn’t know, the Hermione is the 32-cannon 18th century French frigate that brought Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, known immortally by his title, Marquis de Lafayette, to America in 1780, age 22, to serve in General Washington’s army. This was Lafayette’s second trip to the Colonies. Three years before he came against the wishes of his superiors including Louis XVI, King of France. However, the very young marquis impressed Washington and he was commissioned a major general. The following year -- 1778 --  having been wounded, Lafayette returned to France where he actively and passionately lobbied the French and especially Louis and Marie Antoinette to support the American colonists in the war with the British. " (NYSD)

    Click to order “Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History."

    "Now that the social season is warming up, I’ll have less time to read. This is happening when some wonderful new books are presenting themselves. For example, the New York Review of Book’s latest issue features a review by Anka Muhlstein titled 'The Cut of Coco.' Coco Chanel. 'Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History' by Rhonda K. Garelick (Random House). I’ve read three or four biographies of the 20th century French designer who literally changed the way women dressed in a way that was so radical (after centuries) that it remains beyond compare. I still question what it is that draws me to try to grasp the person. The last one I read I wrote about on these pages – Paul Morand’s 'The Allure of Chanel' was modern Balzac. I later read that it was intended to be her memoir and a lot of it was made up. I cannot explain what the draw is for me, but she’s one of those characters who escapes explanation, a kind of sad, lone lioness.When I saw Mme. Muhlstein’s review and saw the length of the book (576 pages), I asked myself if I really wanted to get into a book of that length at this moment (of so little time). Oh, what the hell; who cares? So. In the first paragraph of her review  in the NYRB of, my vulgar curiosity returned instantly: 'I ... am an odious person,' Coco Chanel declared. Not many would have begged to differ. Chanel’s tongue was quite as sharp as her shears and she treated everyone who worked for her harshly, playing one against the other. No one escaped her malice, not even a trusted friend like the poet Jean Cocteau, whom she described to one interviewer as nothing but a “snobbish little pederast who did nothing all his life but steal from people.' She held her own customers in contempt and said: 'A woman equals envy plus vanity plus chatter plus a confused mind.' Mulhstein finished the paragraph with the bottom line of Chanel’s public existence: 'But no one ever built an empire by being nice, and Chanel, by simplifying, lightening, and eliminating the corset, invented a new way of dressing women.' Author Garelick’s new biography evidently covers much of the same for those of us who’ve read previous Chanel biographies, but with much more detail of this woman who actually changed the world in a very obvious yet continuingly subtle way. There was genius always running through her veins." (NYSD)

    Thursday, September 18, 2014

    Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

    Pro-independence campaigners in George Square, in central Glasgow, a day before the Scottish independence referendum.
    Pro-independence campaigners in George Square, in central Glasgow, a day before the Scottish independence referendum. Credit Photograph by Tolga Akmen / LNP /
    "The cheerfully innumerate humanist enters into economic debate not just with trepidation but wearing a Kevlar vest and a combat helmet, plus a parachute for quick escape. But this non-economist might offer some insight into the psychology of the European players who, right now, are so baffling and frightening the punditariat in America. I refer to the French and the Scots, the Auld Alliance, as it’s called, after the—well, old—alliance that brought the late-medieval and early-modern kingdoms of Scotland and France together against the English. (There is still a pub in the Marais, in Paris, with just that name.) Why, we hear, are French politicians so reluctant to put up a fight against Angela Merkel and the politics of austerity, despite the harm they’ve done to the French economy? How can the Scots consider disuniting themselves from the English, when it’s plain that the economic consequences are likely to be disastrous?" (Adam Gopnik)

    "Though Iran has been broadcasting pictures and videos of top state officials and noted foreign dignitaries visiting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the hospital, the health of the man who has held the most powerful post in the Islamic Republic remains unclear. The unusual public relations management of what has been described as a prostate surgery suggests Tehran may be preparing the nation and the world for a transition to a third supreme leader. Iranian efforts to project an atmosphere of normalcy conceal concerns among players in the Iranian political system that a power vacuum will emerge just as the Islamic republic has reached a geopolitical crossroads.
    Any transition comes at the most crucial time in the 35-year history of the Islamic Republic due to unprecedented domestic political shifts underway and, more importantly, due to international events.
    Pragmatic conservative President Hassan Rouhani's election in June 2013 elections led to a social, political and economic reform program facing considerable resistance from within the hard-right factions within the clerical and security establishments. The biggest issue between the presidential camp and its opponents is the ongoing process of negotiations with the United States over the Iranian nuclear program. After an unprecedented breakthrough in November 2013 that saw an interim agreement, the negotiation process has hit a major snag, with a final agreement not reached by a July 20, 2014, deadline, though the deadline for negotiations was extended to Nov. 24, 2014. Some form of partial agreement had been expected, with talks kicking into high gear ahead of the opening session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York on Sept. 18. A mood of pessimism in Tehran has since been reported, however, with senior Foreign Ministry officials prepping the media for the eventuality that the talks might fail. The risk of failure comes from the fact that Rouhani can only go so far in accepting caps on Iran's ability to pursue a civilian nuclear program before his hawkish opponents will gain the upper hand in Iran's domestic political struggle. Stratfor sources say Rouhani did not want to attend this year's General Assembly, but Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif reportedly convinced the president that his visit might help the negotiating process. As if the negotiation itself was not enough of a problem for Rouhani, the U.S. move to support rebel forces in Syria that would fight both the Islamic State and Iran's ally, the Assad regime, is a major problem for Tehran. U.S. and Iranian interests overlapped with regard to the IS threat in Iraq. But in Syria, the United States must rely on anti-Iranian actors to fight IS and the Obama administration seeks to topple the Assad regime. Accordingly, less than a year after the two sides embarked upon a rapprochement, tensions seem to be returning. On top of this stressor, uncertainties surrounding Khamenei's health have shifted Iran's priorities to the search for a new supreme leader. The unusual manner in which Tehran continues to telegraph Khamenei's hospitalization to show that all is well -- while at the same time psychologically preparing the country and the outside world for the inevitable change -- coupled with the (albeit unverified) 2010 release by WikiLeaks of a U.S. diplomatic cable reporting that the supreme leader was suffering from terminal cancer suggests the political establishment in Tehran is preparing for a succession." (STRATFOR)

    *3 vacancies in House: 2 Safe D, 1 Safe R

    "Another week is down the drain in the race for the Senate, and while our overall outlook is unchanged — a five to eight seat gain for the GOP — some of our ratings are in need of adjustments.
    One of these comes as a surprise, as Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) is proving to be quite resilient.Several Democrats privately expressed to us earlier this year their pessimism about Hagan’s chances. They didn’t think she had the wherewithal and entrenched image of someone like Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who is a much more respected campaigner. But now those same Democrats, to their surprise, believe Hagan can now win. And we’ve seen a lot of polling, both public and private, indicating that she is ahead, though she’s closer to 45% than 50%, which is still tenuous territory for a Democratic incumbent in a Republican year. The problem for Republicans in the Tar Heel State is that Thom Tillis, their candidate and the speaker of the state House of Representatives, has particularly poor numbers for a challenger: His unfavorables are usually higher than his favorables, and not just by a few points. It’s not hard to imagine that a more generic Republican who is not tied to the unpopular state legislature — someone like Landrieu’s main challenger in Louisiana, nondescript Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) — would be doing better here. Hagan’s numbers aren’t great, either, though they appear to be improving: There’s some indication that her favorability is inching up to near an even split, meaning her favorability and unfavorability ratings would be about the same. And even though the president remains unpopular nationally, this state is several points more Democratic than Alaska, Arkansas, or Louisiana, three states where Democratic incumbents with deeper roots and better reputations as campaigners are in more trouble than Hagan is at the moment. President Obama’s not the drag here that he is in those states, though he is still a drag. For all these reasons, we’re moving North Carolina from Toss-up to Leans Democratic." (SabatosCrystalBall)

    "CNN’s Fareed Zakaria is facing a growing list of plagiarism accusations with several recent examples coming from his CNN show. On Tuesday, the site OurBad Media, which has released previous examples of alleged plagiarism by Zakaria, released more than 20 new examples. We’ve reached out to CNN multiple times about the new claims, but have not received an on-the-record comment. A spokesperson referred us to previous comments given during earlier claims of plagiarism. The most recent example is a video compilation showing a clip from a 2011 episode of 'Fareed Zakaria GPS' matched with a 2010 documentary called 'Justice for Sergei.' The 'GPS' segment uses footage from the 2010 documentary, with an upper left courtesy, but Zakaria’s narration is lifted, nearly word-for-word, from the documentary. In another 2011 segment, Zakaria tracks a package on the lack of an operating government in Belgium. Parts of the wording in that story are identical to sections of a TIME article on the same subject." (TVNewser)

    Taken from across the room with a zoom and terrible light. Paul, Judy and Tracey.

    "Yesterday I didn’t get to the Michael’s lunch because my date canceled. I usually revel in cancellations especially if there’s a lot going on later in the day. Although I like seeing the crowd on Wednesdays because it gets an added zip to the turnout. Not infrequently stars – all kinds, political, business, media, movie, tv – appear and jazz up the atmosphere especially on Wednesday. So I wasn’t there, but I got a list from Steve Millington, the general manager, that gave me the rundown. A lot of familiar names to this reporter and probably to you too if you’re a regular reader even if you don’t know who the hell they are. I often don’t know either. Except New York works like any other neighborhood – if you see them around enough, and then you eventually hear a word or two about them or even meet them, and suddenly you 'know' them. Yesterday’s lineup looked like this. Joan Gelman and sons Josh and Gregg (Gregg is on our HOUSE); Nikki Haskell and Rikki Klieman; next to them were Shari and Ed Rollins with Robert Zimmerman at Table One. Just at Joe Armstrong’s usual table (he’s in Texas for the week) were Duh Boyz, Dr. Imber, Gerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman. At their usual table – next to the one they were at – was Linda Fairstein who was celebration her wedding with her pals Lynn Scherr, Esther Newberg, Faye Wattleton et al. Meanwhile at my usual table was Wednesday Martin with a gang of producers, Jason Binn of Du Jour  was right next door ... Last night I was the official host along with the beautiful Judy Collins for a booksigning and reception for Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson. Their book is called 'Gratitude & Trust; Six Affirmations that Will Change Your Life.' Paul, as you may know, has a story to tell that includes a trip down the rocky road to addiction and alcoholism. When he was at the top of his game." (NYSD)

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

    Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

    Getty Images

    "The Republican Party’s path to Senate control runs straight through the South, leaving Democrats fighting not to be wiped out completely in the region. 'You’ve got a number of the key races in the South this year,' said Emory University Professor Alan Abramowitz, who’s studied the region’s political history extensively. Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) are all in tough races, as is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and both parties are contesting the open seat in Georgia. If Republicans can sweep the South, they’ve already won a Senate majority. The GOP needs to net six seats and is a near-lock to pick up open seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, leaving it three seats shy of a majority. But if Democrats can win two or more Southern seats, the GOP’s path to the majority narrows considerably, as it would have to pick off Alaska and Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado or another swing state to reach the majority. The region has been trending away from Democrats for decades, as conservative white voters abandon the party that once dominated the South. But North Carolina, Georgia and other areas with major urban centers have the potential to swing back to the Democratic Party thanks to big growth in those states’ nonwhite populations and an influx of white voters from less conservative parts of the country. Arguing history is on their side, Republicans are predicting extensive victories in the region. 'We feel we’re in a position to sweep the South,' said National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokeswoman Brook Hougesen. 'Right now each of the Democrats are spending heavily to tread water, their numbers aren’t moving at all. Undecided voters are likely to move to Republican candidates.' Democrats say they have the right kind of candidates to win in the tough region, banking on their centrist incumbents with long family history and state ties to bail them out.
    'There’s no question the path to the majority runs through the South, where Democratic candidates are running smarter campaigns with better candidates who are out-raising and outworking their Republican opponents,' said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Justin Barasky. Democrats are feeling best about Hagan’s chances." (TheHill)

    "The first time I laid eyes on Joan Rivers on a red carpet, she was wearing a muumuu and teased hair like my grandmother in Miami. I was covering the 1997 Oscars for Women's Wear Daily and stationed next to the E! camera crew -- and Joan, well, she was puking, it seemed. On camera.
    I had just spotted what became one of the all-time most revered Oscar looks: Nicole Kidman's chartreuse chinoiserie-embroidered Dior gown. 'John [Galliano] made it for me, and I love it. I don't know if people will get it,' Nicole told me. "But if they don't, well, maybe they should." WWD gave her dress the next day's cover, pronouncing Galliano's ascension to red-carpet king. Up until this point, awards shows were predictable affairs -- parades of stately Armanis and sexy Versaces. Kidman brought the crackling excitement of couture, but Rivers wasn't having it. Knowing the dress would be controversial (it was on almost every top 10 or bottom 10 list, sometimes both), she yelled in her most obnoxious whiny New York Jewish accent: 'Nicole! Come tell me why you wore such an ugly color!' Whether the actress heard or not, she sailed by, leaving Joan screaming, 'I hate that color! You are making me puke!' And then Joan mimed puking noises. Graphically. Some of the other reporters were hysterical; some, cringing. This was exactly the response Rivers was going for. But in the fashion world, this kind of radical ambivalence was unheard of. 'If this is her idea of a fashion review,' I recall thinking, 'she's going nowhere in the fashion world.' Oh, how wrong I was. Sure, elitist journalists found her crass and turned up their sculpted noses when Rivers and daughter Melissa started E! red-carpet coverage at the 1994 Golden Globes. They knew nothing about fashion. All they did was bicker and hurl (literally, sometimes) insults. It didn't even seem like they meant their sartorial snark. And you weren't going to find Joan or Melissa in Valentino, Dior or Armani.While I interviewed her for a notorious W magazine piece in 1999 -- as it was becoming clear that ratings, not runways, were determining who got the last wardrobe word -- Rivers admitted she knew next to nothing about fashion. 'No, I don't go to fashion shows,' she said proudly. 'I couldn't tell you about Karl [Lagerfeld]'s last season. But I do know what I like, and that's what fashion is really about. I don't care what those snobby people think. I'm laughing all the way to the bank -- at least I'm laughing! They never crack a smile. They all have sticks up their tiny asses!' Rather than try to take down Rivers in print myself, I called upon Amy Spindler, the now-late legendary fashion critic of The New York Times. Spindler dismissed the comic's commentary as the worst trash and became Rivers' favorite new target on her radio show: 'Why should I be the only one to say we don't like the fashion section of the Times magazine? I want to see if she can wear a pink thing with a safety pin, which she featured last week. I have a feeling she's one of those all-in-black ladies.' Spindler shot back: '[Rivers] told everyone she did windows at B. Altman, so I could ask her if she used Windex when she did the windows.' But what the high fashion world of the late '90s failed to grasp was the beginning of its sinking relevance, as bloggers were ascending and fashion was going the way of armchair home critics." (THR)

    "It's no secret that James Brown had a dark side. This summer's biopic Get On Up left out many of the weird, uncomfortable, and simply violent incidents that Brown instituted or participated in. But it wasn't until now that we've been able to get a look at just how frightening the singer could be. Earlier this month, his daughter Yamma Brown published a memoir titled Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me (co-written with Robin Gaby Fisher) that details her life growing up with her often volatile dad. In the excerpt below, Yamma flashes back to a moment when Brown beat her mother in front of her and her sister, then writes about how that violent legacy stayed with her into adulthood.''The beatings always begin the same way, with the same terrible sounds. My parents are in their bedroom, behind closed doors. First comes the boom of my father’s voice. 'Dee Dee! Goddamn it, Dee Dee!' Then I hear what sounds like thunder rolling through the house. That’s Mom hitting the wall. I wait for her to scream, but she doesn’t. She whimpers. She must have learned long ago that screaming incites him. I swear that during those fights, I could feel the whole house shake with my father’s crazy rage. Whenever he’d start, my sister Deanna and I would run for cover, usually in a closet or under our beds, and cry quietly into our cupped hands. I shook a lot as a kid. My hands. My face. My knees. A 5-year-old with tremors. As my grandma used to say, 'Ain’t that just the saddest thing?' Sometimes the fights lasted only minutes. Sometimes longer. The monster would appear, wreaking havoc on our lives, and then the rumbling would stop and we’d hear our mother’s muffled cries. After that, the house would go completely quiet. The sound of the silence was the worst because that’s when Deanna and I would wonder if our mother were alive or dead and if we would be next. My father never beat us, but sometimes I think a beating would have been less hurtful than hearing the sounds of him using my mother as his punching bag. " (NYMag)

    "Smiling Through the Apocalypse" at Lincoln Plaza Cinema, playing today, Sept 17th and Thursday

    "Right now over at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, they’re showing 'Smiling Through the Apocalypse', a biography/documentary by Tom Hayes about his father the late Harold Hayes, the editor of Esquire magazine in the 1960s. Esquire was one of the most popular, most influential, most talked about magazines of the time, all under the direction of Harold Hayes. The film has recollections of Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, James Baldwin, William F. Buckley, Gore Vidal, Gay Talese. I don’t really know the story about Mr. Hayes, his life or his personality although I knew of his days at Esqiure, because it was what we now call 'cutting edge,' a must read, and it was because of Harold Hayes.What drew my attention to Tom Hayes’ film was my own very brief but important experience with Harold Hayes back in Los Angeles in the early 1980s when I was out there struggling without any success to make a career for myself as a writer. It was a very difficult time for me emotionally. I’d been out there for two years and making little headway, and even littler money. I had a terrible job working as an assistant to a film producer named Lester Persky who had very little going on in terms of production and was often in New York. Finally I managed to get a couple of writing assignments – helping someone put together a chapter and outline for a memoir, and writing a chapter and outline for another writer who had been contracted to write a book about Elvis Presley.Nevertheless both assignments were temporary and I was at my wit’s end. My only real writing was my daily journals much of which was an ongoing litany of complaints and inconsequential injustices that afflict the struggling artist, would be or otherwise. Aside from my personal drama, one night after a day at the fatigue-inducing assignments for other people’s projects, I sat at my desk and started going through my journal pages, looking for something that I could maybe turn into a story, or a script, something  that was mine. Aside from my mental dramatics I also wrote what I continue to do on these pages: about the day, what I saw, what I heard, where I was. And it happened. There was an entry, made in late 1980 about Truman Capote who had come to Los Angeles to meet with Lester Persky about a story he had originally written for Interview Magazine called 'Hand-carved Coffins' that he had just published in a book of his work called 'Music For Chameleons.' Lester was buying the film rights for $500,000. Truman was a major author and celebrity whose reputation at that point had been touched with notoriety. This was big time. " (NYSD)

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014

    Card Tricks with Willie Nelson

    Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

    "The idea of Scottish independence has moved from the implausible to the very possible. Whether or not it actually happens, the idea that the union of England and Scotland, which has existed for more than 300 years, could be dissolved has enormous implications in its own right, and significant implications for Europe and even for global stability. The United Kingdom was the center of gravity of the international system from the end of the Napoleonic Wars until World War II. It crafted an imperial structure that shaped not only the international system but also the internal political order of countries as diverse as the United States and India. The United Kingdom devised and drove the Industrial Revolution. In many ways, this union was a pivot of world history. To realize it might be dissolved is startling and reveals important things about the direction of the world.Scotland and England are historical enemies. Their sense of competing nationhoods stretches back centuries, and their occupation of the same island has caused them to fight many wars. Historically they have distrusted each other, and each has given the other good reason for the distrust. The national question was intertwined with dynastic struggles and attempts at union imposed either through conquest or dynastic intrigue. The British were deeply concerned that foreign powers, particularly France, would use Scotland as a base for attacking England. The Scots were afraid that the English desire to prevent this would result in the exploitation of Scotland by England, and perhaps the extinction of the Scottish nation. The Union of 1707 was the result of acts of parliaments on both sides and led to the creation of the Parliament of Great Britain. England's motive was its old geopolitical fears. Scotland was driven more by financial problems it was unable to solve by itself. What was created was a united island, acting as a single nation. From an outsider's perspective, Scotland and England were charming variations on a single national theme -- the British -- and it was not necessary to consider them as two nations. If there was ever a national distinction that one would have expected to be extinguished in other than cultural terms, it was this one. Now we learn that it is intact. We need a deeper intellectual framework for understanding why Scottish nationalism has persisted ...
    The possibility of Scottish independence must be understood in this context. Nationalism, the remembrance and love of history and culture, is not a trivial thing. It has driven Europe and even the world for more than two centuries in ever-increasing waves. The upcoming Scottish election, whichever way it goes, demonstrates the enormous power of the desire for national self-determination. If it can corrode the British union, it can corrode anything. There are those who argue that Scottish independence could lead to economic problems or complicate the management of national defense. These are not trivial questions, but they are not what is at stake here. From an economic point of view, it makes no sense for Scotland to undergo this sort of turmoil. At best, the economic benefits are uncertain. But this is why any theory of human behavior that assumes that the singular purpose of humans is to maximize economic benefits is wrong. Humans have other motivations that are incomprehensible to the economic model but can be empirically demonstrated to be powerful. If this referendum succeeds, it will still show that after more than 300 years, almost half of Scots prefer economic uncertainty to union with a foreign nation. This is something that must be considered carefully in a continent that is prone to extreme conflicts and still full of borders that do not map to nations as they are understood historically. Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona, the second-largest and most vibrant city in Spain, has a significant independence movement. The Treaty of Trianon divided Hungary so that some Hungarians live in Romania, while others live in Slovakia. Belgium consists of French and Dutch groups (Walloons and Fleming), and it is not too extreme to say they detest each other. The eastern half of Poland was seized by the Soviet Union and is now part of Ukraine and Belarus. Many Chechens and Dagestanis want to secede from Russia, as do Karelians, who see themselves as Finns. There is a movement in northern Italy to separate its wealthy cities from the rest of Italy. The war between Azerbaijan and Armenia is far from settled. Myriad other examples can be found in Europe alone." (STRATFOR)

    Scott Browns Path Back to D.C. Widens

    "Former Sen. Scott P. Brown’s path to victory in the New Hampshire Senate race has widened.
    Once a second-tier race that seemed unlikely to impact control of the Senate, a trio of recent polls show the race between Brown and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., has tightened.A CNN/ORC poll released Monday had the race tied at 48 percent. A WMUR/UNH poll from early August put Shaheen ahead, 46 percent to 44 percent. A CBS/New York Times/YouGov poll conducted in the final weeks of August and early September had Shaheen with 47 percent to Brown’s 41 percent.
    Shaheen remains the front-runner, but even Democrats acknowledge the race has moved to a single-digit contest — and Republicans are more bullish about Brown’s chances than ever. 'Everyone is more optimistic, almost without exception, than they were two months ago,' New Hampshire Republican political operative Charlie Arlinghaus said of Republicans. 'Part of it is that it just feels more Republican on the ground than it did, it feels like the mood leans more right than it did.'Republicans say Brown has impressed with his campaigning and suggest voters have largely moved past the idea that the former Massachusetts senator is a carpetbagger. 'He’s a bear on retail politicking, and I think that’s a big thing here,' said New Hampshire Republican operative Tom Rath. 'He’s been at every pub and diner in the state, and he seems to just relish that.'As for the carpetbagging, Rath said people have sort of gotten over it. 'We know he’s a Red Sox fan,' Rath said.
    Democrats acknowledge the race is competitive, but say they believe it will break in Shaheen’s favor by single digits. 'I think Jeanne Shaheen will win,' said Kathy Sullivan, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. 'It could be six points; it could be seven or eight.'" (RollCall)

    The Hedge Fund Scam Is Unraveling

    "CALPERS is America's largest pension fund, with $300 billion in assets. It just announced that it is pulling all of its money out of hedge funds. Why? Because everyone knows that hedge funds are a ripoff. CALPERS had about $4 billion invested in hedge funds. They paid $135 million in fees on those investments last year. They are pulling all that money out of hedge funds, citing both their complexity and their expense. Hedge funds operate by convincing investors to pay extremely high fees to hedge fund managers (whether the hedge fund makes money for investors or not) because hedge fund managers are presumably magical geniuses. Sadly, time has shown that hedge funds as an asset class are not worth the price. There seems to be a distinct shortage of actual magical geniuses.
    Honest finance experts have long known that the idea that investing in hedge funds will earn you better returns than investing in other, plainer, cheaper things like stocks and bonds is "a demonstrably wrong perception." In CALPERS's decision, we have a large-scale acknowledgment of that fact.
    The people who will continue to defend hedge funds are either A) People who have something to gain, such as hedge fund employees; B) People who have themselves invested in hedge funds, and are holding out hope that they will be the ones to beat the odds and strike it rich, much like lottery players hold out hope of finding the unlikely winning ticket; or C) People who do not know what they're talking about. "  (HamiltonNolan/Gawker)

    "There was a book party last night. Celia and Henry McGee and Geraldine Baum and Michael Oreskes gave a party for their friend Mark Whitaker and his new book 'Cosby: His Life and Times' (Simon & Schuster, publishers). I haven’t read it yet, haven’t even seen it yet, but it’s had a lot of attention because Cosby is the biggest laidback version of a Big Star that there is out there. I mean, there’s no ballyhoo about the guy — he lives a very quiet life (last I knew he was living for years with his wife in a major limestone mansion on the Upper East Side). I don’t think I’ve ever seen him around the nabe (which doesn’t mean he doesn’t go out), and aside from the tabloidal scandals which include a terrible family tragedy, you never hear much about him. But he’s a big star, has had a successful career for a half century, still goes out there and plays to large sold out houses doing his monologues a hundred times a year, and even allegedly had a major influence in the consumer culture that even the Kardashians can’t complete with. I’m talking about the 'sneaker' story. I say allegedly because I was told the story years ago by someone in the television production business who’d worked on or with the Cosby show. The story is this (and I’ve told it on these pages before): Back when Cosby was doing the show, and taping in Los Angeles, one day the star came onto the set wearing what we used to call sneakers. They were a major name: Adidas or Nike, something like that. This doesn’t sound remarkable today, but until that moment people — stars — didn’t wear 'sneakers' (which is what they were called for decades before) to the set. By that time, however, the athletic shoe and the aforementioned labels among them, had begun to build their market — although .... After a couple of weeks, the directors and the writers and other actors started following the Star’s fashion choice, and wearing sneakers to the set. And after a couple of months maybe, everyone on the set was wearing them. And a few months after that, everyone in the business was wearing them.It was a trend at the time, a change of costume. Nothing new about that — from the late '60s on, Americans have been trending in their costume, all in a 'more relaxed' direction. Within a year or so, the world  was wearing sneakers as everyday footwear. Cosby did that; no credit needed. Probably never saw a dime from it.  In other words, the man’s influence is quiet and wide, and profoundly cultural. There is an article in last week’s New Yorker by Kelefa Sanneh which you can get online that covers the story at some length." (NYSD)

    "You don’t need psychic powers to know that September has been rough on astrologer to the stars Susan Miller: Her monthly report arrived late Friday night, nearly halfway into the month. With each passing day, Miller made allusions to the chronic illness (intestinal ulcers, injections, Humira, lowered immunity, side-effect drowsiness) slowing her normally heroic output via Facebook and Twitter. And, as usual, Miller gave all 48,000 words (the equivalent of Slaughterhouse-Five) away for free. But that wasn’t enough to appease the Susanistas — the anti-Miller faction formed last time her reports ran late, in July — from griping on Miller’s Facebook page. They are accusing the astrologer of abandoning them, lying about her illness, unprofessionalism, and generally jerking them around. The Cut talked to Miller about the brewing backlash." (TheCut)

    'An electorate reshaped by a growing presence of liberal millennials, minorities, and a secular, unmarried and educated white voting bloc will most likely force Republicans to recalibrate. … When Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, white voters without a college degree made up 65 percent of the electorate; by 2012, that number had dropped to 36 percent.'
    The latter statistic is more complicated than it seems, in large part because more people than ever are getting college degrees—33.5 percent of people between the ages of twenty-five and twenty-nine had a bachelor's degree in 2012, versus 24.7 percent in 1995 versus 21.9 percent in 1975, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Given that the rise has benefitted minorities and, in particular, women, while the share of people from low-income families attaining those degrees has "remained relatively flat over the last several decades," what's been eroded, in part, is the bastion of white men who were able to skip college and attain a middle-classish existence, leaving the remaining uneducated whites exposed and isolated, economically and, increasingly, socially—making them angrier and louder and, unfortunately for them, their views ever more toxic to the nationally minded politicians who once clamored for their votes. If Democrats can win today on issues of reproductive rights and gay marriage in the South—if only occasionally, for now—who will be left representing the poor, conservative white man in a decade? " (TheAwl)