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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Media-Whore D'oeuvres

"The digital era has led to increasing challenges for western and traditional news media business models. Media outlets are facing steady declines in revenue, while the migration of advertising online has brought limited success in 'monetising' digital’s audiences. To make things worse, internet ads have progressively decreased in value in recent years. The issue of how to fund quality journalism that would hold the government to account is a pressing one. As newsrooms continue to cut back, there is a real reduction in reporting capacity with profound effects on quality, investigative and exploratory journalism. And yet, the last year has seen a quite hectic, energising movement of 'digital journopreneurs'. Personal-brand journalists, digital entrepreneurs and investigative journalists have decided to embrace the capabilities of web technologies to launch a new wave of journalism platforms.In March, statistician and journalist Nate Silver launched his ESPN-backed, a data blog that, by banking on Silver’s impressive record, will bet everything on a data-focused approach. Silver is part of a wider movement of celebrity journalists who are migrating from mainstream press to digital start-ups. Ezra Klein left the Washington Post earlier this year for an initiative launched in April and backed by Vox Media, which promised to 'explain the news' in a new revolutionary way by employing 'next-generation technologies'.The list could go on: there is also Jessica Lessin’s The Information and Pierre Omidyar‘s First Look featuring Glenn Greenwald. In February, First Look launched digital magazine/investigative site The Intercept.These exciting ventures led New York Times media commentator David Carr to declare the birth of a new start-up digital journalism bubble." (TheConversation)

"Speaking of McConnell, his campaign operation has had its share of minor headaches. His campaign manager was caught on tape complaining about the job. “McConnelling” became a new meme thanks to some stock footage the campaign put on the Internet for use by third-party groups. And the minority leader evoked memories of Michael Dukakis by awkwardly clutching a rifle at the Conservative Political Action Conference, among other things. But none of these stories have apparently meant much in McConnell’s primary race against Tea Partier Matt Bevin, who appears to have little chance to upset the five-term incumbent. Bevin’s own troubles, particularly his seeming support for the 2008 bank bailout that McConnell’s forces gleefully spread far and wide, seem more significant. So is the fact that it’s just really hard to beat an incumbent senator in a primary." (Centerforpolitics)

"Late in the afternoon the news came out about the sudden, untimely death of Mark Shand, an Englishman who had been here in New York promoting his Elephant charity with The Faberge Egg Hunt auction that was held this past Tuesday night at Sotheby’s. To the many who knew him, it was shocking. Shand had gone on to a party to celebrate the great success of the auction fundraising for the elephants. At some point, he either was leaving the party, or went out onto the street to have a cigarette. At curbside, he briefly slipped or lost his balance and fell headfirst onto the pavement. He was taken immediately to Bellevue Hospital, had surgery, and never recovered. He died at noon yesterday. He was sixty-two. Head wounds are often fatal and New Yorkers, all New Yorkers, including visitors, are at risk. It is important (and almost impossible) to watch where you’re going all the time. Even then, an accident, like a slipping or tripping, can land you on your head. It’s a most ordinary accident that can occur under any circumstances any time of day. And very often fatal. For Mark Shand, it was night time and it was not light. A moment’s distraction can be one’s fate. Mark Shand was first in the American press in the 1970s when it was reported that he had a date with the then teenage Caroline Kennedy. She had been in London and they met there. The item was newsworthy because it was showing that the late President’s daughter was growing up. Shand was no more than in his early twenties, if that. I met him in the early '80s when he was in Los Angeles with his friend Harry Fane and they were doing business internationally collecting and selling vintage Cartier jewelry, watches, etc. The two young men were staying with our mutual friend Lady Sarah Churchill in Beverly Hills. Sarah often had houseguests and there was the resulting camaraderie between everyone, as she liked to entertain. These boys she had known all their lives." (NYSD

Condé Nast rumored to shutter Lucky Magazine

"Could Lucky magazine be in for a bit of bad luck? Talk in media circles is that Condé Nast will finally shutter the struggling shopping title soon, and move Editor-in-Chief Eva Chen back to Teen Vogue. Chen was the beauty director at Teen Vogue for many years, and last year was tapped to overhaul Lucky. A Condé rep insisted the rumors are not true, and pointed out that the magazine’s ad pages in its May issue are up 19 percent." (P6)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Income inequality in the United States and elsewhere has been worsening since the 1970s. The most striking aspect has been the widening gap between the rich and the rest. This ominous anti-democratic trend has finally found its way into public consciousness and political rhetoric. A rational and effective policy for dealing with it—if there is to be one—will have to rest on an understanding of the causes of increasing inequality. The discussion so far has turned up a number of causal factors: the erosion of the real minimum wage; the decay of labor unions and collective bargaining; globalization and intensified competition from low-wage workers in poor countries; technological changes and shifts in demand that eliminate mid-level jobs and leave the labor market polarized between the highly educated and skilled at the top and the mass of poorly educated and unskilled at the bottom. Each of these candidate causes seems to capture a bit of the truth. But even taken together they do not seem to provide a thoroughly satisfactory picture. They have at least two deficiencies. First, they do not speak to the really dramatic issue: the tendency for the very top incomes—the '1 percent”—to pull away from the rest of society. Second, they seem a little adventitious, accidental; whereas a forty-year trend common to the advanced economies of the United States, Europe, and Japan would be more likely to rest on some deeper forces within modern industrial capitalism. Now along comes Thomas Piketty, a forty-two-year-old French economist, to fill those gaps and then some. I had a friend, a distinguished algebraist, whose preferred adjective of praise was 'serious.' 'Z is a serious mathematician,' he would say, or 'Now that is a serious painting.' Well, this is a serious book." (TNR)

"There was a time not so long ago when the vast majority of experts agreed that a country could not emerge decisively from a financial crisis unless it solved problems of both 'stocks' and 'flows' -- that is, secured a flow of money to cover its immediate needs and found a way to manage its stock of outstanding debt over time.In Europe today, this conventional wisdom appears to be fading. The temptation there is to declare victory having solved only the flow, not the stock, challenge.The flow/stock intuition is quite straightforward. In the first instance, a crisis-ridden country must generate enough resources to meet its pressing funding needs, and do so in a manner that does not erode its growth potential. Soon thereafter -- or, even better, simultaneously -- the country needs to realign its longer-term payment obligations in a manner that is consistent with both its ability and willingness to pay.Unless a country does both, the productive commitment of its own people and companies will be too tentative to drive a full and proper recovery. It will also be a lot harder to attract the scale and scope of long-term foreign direct investment that is so helpful for enhancing growth, jobs and national prosperity. The need for a comprehensive approach was most vividly illustrated during the Latin American debt crises. Having secured sufficient emergency financing and embarked on serious economic reform efforts, the successful countries devoted lots of effort to improving their debt maturity profiles, better aligning the currency composition of their debt and, most important, reducing the size of their contractual obligations. These efforts were instrumental in productively re-engaging the domestic private sector and in attracting sizable foreign investment.
Peripheral countries in the euro area -- such as Greece and Portugal -- have done a lot to deal with their flow challenges over the last few years. They have also made some progress in addressing stock challenges, yet quite a bit remains to be done." (Bloomberg)

"Last night I went to see Liz Smith interview Frank Rich and Alex Witchel at the Cosmopolitan Club on East 65 and 66th Streets. Billed as 'An intimate evening of conversation' moderated by Liz, that is exactly what it was. Or as intimate as two adults/writers are going to get in a room of a hundred people. Liz has been conducting these interviews (last year I think it was Whoopi Goldberg) every year to benefit Maria Droste Counseling Services. Founded by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd 32 years ago and named for a Good Shepherd sister who was renowned for her ability to console those who came to her in pain. The Mission of the Counseling Services is to provide affordable therapy. Last night’s benefit raised funds that will augment that mission. Elizabeth Peabody, who works at the Services, organized this annual benefit and produces it each year.This was the first of these interviews that I’ve attended. Guests were provided with tables and chairs, as you can see, and hors d’oeuvres (excellent) were passed along with wine, sparkling water, etc. It was a middle-to-older crowd, not surprisingly, many of whom know each other, perhaps through the club, or professionally, or socially. I saw many faces that I see when I am out and about, or at dinner or lunch, or a culture event. It’s kind of a neighborhood of mutual interest and curiosity. There was also a center table of Barbara Walters, Peter Brown, Marie Brenner and Ernie Pomerantz, Suzanne Goodson, Lesley Stahl and Aaron Latham, all close acquaintances or friends of the three conversers. For me it was somewhat of a Proustian moment in that last night was the first time I’d crossed the threshold of the Cosmopolitan Club since the day I changed my life at age 23 and got married, in October 1964. The Cos Club is mainly a private woman’s club where a lot of wedding receptions and dinners are still held. I remember the day very well, of course, from morning (early) to night (late) in Nassau, the Bahamas. The first and only time I was there also." (NYSD)        

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Robert DeNiro on Vine

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"If you want to know what someone’s views of society are, ask what they believe is the best long-term investment.  I am fascinated each year when Gallup Poll asks Americans to choose the best option among real estate, stocks and mutual funds, gold, savings accounts and CDs, or bonds. The results are a pop psychologist’s dream of cognitive issues, belief systems and ideologies.
Now, before we get into the details, some caveats: First, people often don’t really know what they want or think. Instead, when questioning people about their hopes and desires, we end up with a distorted mass-media version of a bad Robin Leach television series. Sad but true, often we don't know what we want out of life. Second, survey responses are not all they appear to be. There is value in the collective data, but we need to dive into the details to tease out some fascinating cultural differences. Note what happens when we divide the survey responses along income lines. We discover some very telling things about the American psyche. Consider the differences between what the wealthy and poor believe is the best long-term investment .." (Bloomberg)

Walmart heiress’ prenup overshadowed by lawsuit

"Walmart heiress Paige Laurie Dubbert is done with husband Patrick Bode Dubbert, but it’s going to cost her a pretty penny to be rid of him. Paige — whose mother, Natalie Walton Laurie, and aunt Anne Walton Kroenke inherited a multibillion-dollar fortune when their father, Bud Walton, died — recently filed for divorce from her husband of five years, reports TMZ. Shortly after she filed for divorce, Paige also filed a civil lawsuit against her soon-to-be-former husband, according to a later report by the website. The suit accuses Patrick of funneling huge money out of a business — a retail center in Malibu, Calif., that Paige financed. Allegedly, Patrick hired a friend to co-manage the project. The duo then named themselves general contractors on the project — positions they were completely unqualified for — in order to up their monthly pay (from $15,000 to $75,000). All of this on top of the $250,000 a year Patrick was already being paid to monitor the project." (P6)

"Kyo, not his real name, is a young black man in his mid-20s currently living in transitional housing for the homeless in Northern New Jersey. I have known him since he was 18. I had met Kyo during my former job as a reporter with The Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper. Kyo was placed in the foster care system as a toddler. His mother was dead of a drug overdose, and his father was a long-time drug addict until he became clean several years ago. Kyo does not have a close relationship with his father, but has kept regular contact with his siblings, one younger brother and two older sisters. In the system, he had stayed at several places including a good orphanage, where he felt taken care of, and the home of an abusive couple who would make him and their other charges stand for hours on end as a form of punishment. He had bounced between several schools over the years as well, but he did manage to graduate with a high school diploma. When I first met Kyo, a Newark native, I was immediately struck by his demeanor. He was simply the coolest teenager I had come across in a long while. He had a mature, perceptive air. I took to him because he reminded me of my younger self. Fellow geeks, we bonded over our love of manga, anime, and comics. He is a skilled artist and musically gifted as well. He can play the guitar and has a lovely voice. I kept in touch with him and we became good friends. Over the years, I have seen him age out of the system, move from job to job, couchsurf with friends, grapple with the emotional legacy of his upbringing, and basically survive hand to mouth. The last time I saw Kyo was a few weeks ago. He had left a friend’s apartment where he had stayed for a few weeks, and then slept over at my home for a night. Afterwards, he stayed at a homeless shelter for about a week. He just started a stint in transitional housing that will last for three months during which time he aims to find a job and get his own place to live. We talked about survival, the demons of depression, his views on government assistance, and hopes for the future." (Sharon Adarlo)

Jane Hansen and Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum.

"I went down to Michael’s to lunch with Bill Stubbs, the interior designer from Houston who was headed for a new Designers Conference in Argentina, which will attended by several Americans designers including Charlotte Moss. You might know him as William Stubbs, who hosts the PBS show 'A Moment  of Luxury.' I first met him when he was shooting his first show down in Palm Beach at the Brazilian Court Hotel where JH and I were staying while covering the Palm Beach Antique show ... Over 200 people attended the 16th annual Healthy Give and Take luncheon sponsored by the Auxiliary of NSLIJ- Lenox Hill Hospital. This year's luncheon was held at the Metropolitan Club with the theme 'A Healthy Give & Take Luncheon:  Relationships, Friendships and Intimacy:  The Mind/Body Connection.' Jane Hanson, the Emmy award winning broadcast journalist acted as moderator for the event. The topic focused on relationships and the affect they have on our minds and bodies. Just like Henry Jaglom’s new film 'The M Word,”'in a way." (NYSD)

"In June 1942, the bulk of the Japanese fleet sailed to seize the Island of Midway. Had Midway fallen, Pearl Harbor would have been at risk and U.S. submarines, unable to refuel at Midway, would have been much less effective. Most of all, the Japanese wanted to surprise the Americans and draw them into a naval battle they couldn't win. The Japanese fleet was vast. The Americans had two carriers intact in addition to one that was badly damaged. The United States had only one advantage: It had broken Japan's naval code and thus knew a great deal of the country's battle plan. In large part because of this cryptologic advantage, a handful of American ships devastated the Japanese fleet and changed the balance of power in the Pacific permanently. This -- and the advantage given to the allies by penetrating German codes -- taught the Americans about the centrality of communications code breaking. It is reasonable to argue that World War II would have ended much less satisfactorily for the United States had its military not broken German and Japanese codes. Where the Americans had previously been guided to a great extent by Henry Stimson's famous principle that 'gentlemen do not read each other's mail,' by the end of World War II they were obsessed with stealing and reading all relevant communications.The National Security Agency evolved out of various post-war organizations charged with this task. In 1951, all of these disparate efforts were organized under the NSA to capture and decrypt communications of other governments around the world -- particularly those of the Soviet Union, which was ruled by Josef Stalin, and of China, which the United States was fighting in 1951. How far the NSA could go in pursuing this was governed only by the extent to which such communications were electronic and the extent to which the NSA could intercept and decrypt them.The amount of communications other countries sent electronically surged after World War II yet represented only a fraction of their communications. Resources were limited, and given that the primary threat to the United States was posed by nation-states, the NSA focused on state communications. But the principle on which the NSA was founded has remained, and as the world has come to rely more heavily on electronic and digital communication, the scope of the NSA's commission has expanded. What drove all of this was Pearl Harbor." (STRATFOR)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"I have maintained a certain agnosticism about Edward Snowden’s relationship with the Russian intelligence services up until now. I noted with interest, but unconvinced, statements by congressional intelligence committee leaders that suggested he was a spy. And I questioned Edward Lucas’s conclusion that Snowden was at least a passive, unknowing dupe of the FSB.Snowden’s appearance on Russian television yesterday in a highly-scripted propaganda stunt for Vladimir Putin does not settle the question of whether he was originally an FSB tool. But it sure does settle the question—at least in my mind—of his role now. I’m not sure why this grotesque display does not move Snowden’s many admirers. Perhaps people may rationalize what he did and say that he’s posing the same question to the Russian leader about which he forced a debate in this country—and that he is thus being consistent. But they can’t actually believe that. These are sophisticated people, after all, many of whom are journalists. They must know the difference between a scripted set-piece appearance with an authoritarian strong man on state-controlled television and asking the tough questions in the context of democratic dialogue. They must know that Snowden either played that role willingly or was, in one way or another, encouraged to do so by authorities who have enormous leverage and control over him. They must know, in other words, that at this point at least, Snowden—by his own volition or against his will—is very clearly working for the Russians. Having said that, let me now make clear that I do not believe this fact should influence overmuch the way we read the material Snowden has disclosed. The authenticity of the documents in question is not disputed. Those documents reveal programs, some of which raise significant public policy concerns, and we need to discuss those, whoever Edward Snowden may be. But I do think we should regard the subplot here of who Edward Snowden really is—a subplot that has been an important discussion in its own right over the last year—very differently in light of yesterday’s appearance. We should stop thinking of Snowden, to the extent that we ever were, as a hero. We should stop thinking of him as a whistleblower. We should think of him, rather, as a man who has actively thrown his lot in with Vladimir Putin even as the latter is working to dismember Ukraine, and who helps a dictator make propaganda videos designed to embarrass his country." (TNR)

"Here's one easy way the Republican primaries could go.  Let's say you've got your saggy Scott Brown, your Rand Paul, maybe your Ted Cruz on the outside… and then up front, your Marco Rubio and your Jeb Bush. I just can't take Mike Huckabee seriously, even though he's polling first right now. (In this hypothetical universe, it's, predictably, all men: Everyone decides Nikki Haley is too young, Mary Fallin never gets any steam, and Sarah Palin sticks her head out and everyone's checkbooks retreat in terror and she goes away again.) ... Jeb is the money leader early out, just because a Bush raises money like a cat hunts a mouse. The machinery is oiled. And all the 'negative perceptions' of a Bush only exist in a Libertarian or liberal mind. 'Four more years of Bush' is soothing to everyone else, for some unknowable reason. There's a brief period where Jeb is the front runner, through Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. Let's say he loses New Hampshire (the kind of state where they get their back up about legacy names). The Republicans are compressing the primary season because it's brutal, expensive and bad for party unity. Totally reasonable, honestly. But it means zooming towards their convention, in some city that starts with a C (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus) or maybe a D (Denver, Dallas) in late June or early July, instead of stupid old August. They need the time on the ground to work against Clinton. Haha, and everyone is losing their minds, because we're about to have a Clinton versus Bush race, which is hysterical, it's like a referendum on America itself. Madness! So then there's probably a reduced Super Tuesday on March 6th, a likely not very impressive Tuesday (2012's super Tuesday had ten states). And right before that, let's say March 5th… Obama drops the hammer and says something really nice about Jeb Bush, and blammo, even though Obama's approval rate is like 8% by then, he's still Obama, and it's over, Republicans run screaming from Obama's semi-endorsement of Jeb and the Republicans are left with whoever's standing, with only three months or so for the rest of the primaries before the convention. Maybe it's Marco Rubio! Maybe it's stupid old Mike Huckabee! Maybe it's… Marsha Blackburn??? " (Choire Sicha)

"A tally of Jeb Bush’s many lucrative board positions and consulting gigs paint a complicated picture of the former Florida governor’s chances at surviving a campaign for the White House. The report, by The New York Times, offers a look at a man who felt his wealth had been diminished by being governor of the country’s fourth most populous state, a perceived wrong he’s been busy righting since he left office in 2007.According to the Times, Bush has worked for or with Lehman Brothers, a soap maker whose books were cooked, and an Affordable Care Act-supporting hospital owner. He has raked in at least $3.2 million from board positions, charges $50,000 for speeches, and is said to be paid more than $1 million a year by Barclays, the firm that absorbed much of Lehman after Bush’s bid to have Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú save the failing bank.He’s made so much money, in fact, that one Bush supporter went on the record with the paper to cast doubt as to whether or not the presumptive candidate would even want to pause the gravy train to run for president. 'Although he’s been at this for seven years, it’s the last few years that he’s begun to flourish as an investor and build a commendable nest egg,' longtime ally Al Cardenas told the Times. 'Leaving all of that behind, all he’s built, is a challenge and a sacrifice for him.' The Republican picture for 2016 is quite murky, with would-be front-runners such as New Jersey governor Chris Christie embroiled in scandals, and upstart challengers like Kentucky senator Rand Paul scandalizing the party with unorthodox platforms (Paul is unapologetically isolationist, for example). Florida senator Marco Rubio, Texas governor Rick Perry, former senator Rick Santorum, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, and Ohio governor John Kasich have also been rumored to be mulling bids." (VF)

Diane & Woody’s ‘Hall’ of fame date

"There’s at least one person out there who still loves Woody Allen. Diane Keaton waxes poetically about the reunion she had with Allen on 77th and Madison Avenue, a stroll down memory lane nearly 40 years after 'Annie Hall' hit theaters, according to Keaton’s memoir 'Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty' (Random House).Keaton invited Allen out for a stroll 'like we used to' on Madison Avenue before he headed off to France for a shoot in 2011. 'We didn’t hold hands, like the old days, but I swear he wore what must have been one of his beige bucket hats from ‘Annie Hall,’ ' she writes. She paired a Marni dress with a black turtleneck, a big cross around her neck, and “the requisite wide-brimmed black hat,' Keaton’s signature 'Annie Hall' look. 'We looked in the windows of stores, starting with Ralph Lauren complex on 72nd. We passed the Whitney. We took in the people. They took us in, as well.' 'When we reached Campbell’s mortuary, we looked at each other. He was 77. I was 67. Where did the time go?' 'It was almost like it used to be, only sweeter, because I knew it couldn’t last. Paul waved goodbye as we headed back.'" (P6)

Click to order Dying Every Day.

"History Lessons from the Emperor Nero. I spent quite a bit of the weekend catching up on some reading. I’m still moving along with 'Dying Every Day; Seneca at the Court of Nero.' I bought this book half-expecting to lose interest halfway through. It’s one of those preconceived notions of mine that invites ignorance. However, Seneca and the Court of Nero will keep your interest. Although it’s creepy at its roots. A lot of poisoning going on. Agrippina killed Claudius (poison), then his son Brittanicus or Germanicus (more poison), and then Nero had his own mother Agrippina murdered in a botched crime. I haven’t got to what happens to Seneca, philosopher of the ages. So far Seneca is still alive. He was famous in his day and in modern times as a philosopher of note. As the first tutor and then “adviser” to Nero, he becomes ... very rich ... Sound familiar?  Although the Romans were brutal and completely decadent to the point where I wonder if their brains had been toxified. At least the ruling classes. Even the poisoners got rich. We don’t know about the working classes. Until, of course there’s a revolution; and that was a long way off, at the time.James Romm, the author of this history presents his story through Seneca’s writing at the time. Philosopher and all, Seneca was a guy who talked out of both sides of his mouth. Especially as he was amassing his fortune. That’s all I can tell you right now because I’ve got another third to go. But if you like history, it is an amazing experience grasping what life was like and how those people behaved under the circumstances of temptation." (NYSD)

"I leave the Rock so infrequently my world has shrunk to this final bead of coral, the end of the archipelago and sunk in the shallows of the Straits, near the edge of the Gulf Stream and surrounded by predators like sharks, crocodiles, tourists and Bubbas. Key West is a fractal of the world at large, and I love it, but to leave is daunting. Usually I depart from the Key West International Airport,... minutes from my home, reached by a route that parades along the coast with palm trees to one side and the other a scape of wide open dazzling glittering ocean its horizon split with bands of blues.
I almost never drive. Partly because it’s effing loooooooooooooong. Occasionally, for one reason or another, I do motor to Miami or the even chillier north of the Palm Beaches, west or otherwise. To cross the divide and merge with the highway northbound and roll into the mess of rushing automobiles is to enter an alien world, also known as the Real World, and mixed in there is a whiff of something horrifying. Recently I made one such trip and on the way, forgoing the phone, I plucked music discs at random from the center console of my car. Full blast and blaring like a pimped-mobile I relished one great track after another. This was a year’s worth of discs I have happily and sweatily purchased at the end of nights of hypnotic dancing at my favorite bar in the world The Green Parrot which I love because of the reliably sensational bands they book. Groups of searing talent like only the backwaters can produce. I’m there so often I worry they might hit me up for rent money. The drive north and back I zoned out to this music and it helped insulate me from the fray of big city vibes and hectic anguish inducing traffic. The tunes were original and nothing you would find on the radio, especially since radio stations scarecely waver from predictable Billy Joel. Nothing against old BJ you understand, but there’s so much more out there to explore." (Christina Oxenberg)

lindsaydinalohan The Failed Social Experiment of Lindsay

"It turns out, things could get worse for both Lindsay Lohan and her mentor/enabler Oprah, as we saw on last night’s finale of OWN’s terribly-rated, viciously-panned docu-series, Lindsay. As we found out approximately 10 hours ago, in what appeared to be an hour-long coda to a wince-inducing protracted portrayal of a woman on the verge (of her N-th rehab stint), Ms. Lohan admitted to having a miscarriage during the filming of the program. This was teased out before the two-part, two hour finale last night, and apparently caught more than one person by surprise. Even if director Amy Rice hadn’t planned for this last-minute revelation when she began releasing episodes of Lindsay out into the world, the last-ditch opportunism of throwing it in casts an even worse pallor over the entire enterprise, and by extension, Oprah herself. Who knew that Lindsay was going to be her Achilles’ Heel? I would be surprised if OWN didn’t close up shop after this horrific debacle, which wasn’t even good as a narrative story. In fact, the whole timeline of Lindsay seems a bit murky: they were filming the last portion of the series while the first episodes were airing, allowing a sort of infinite mirroring. Lindsay saw Lindsay, then reacted negatively to it, and that happened approximately a month ago. That’s the reason she didn’t get out of bed for what constituted the majority of the show, because she was miscarrying a baby from unknown origins. And despite the fact that nothing Lindsay Lohan has ever done has been kept a secret for more than ten minutes, this story never leaked.
Here is what happened on Lindsay, as best as I could reconstruct it: she missed some meetings, relapsed, came to terms with her mother’s book deal, got yelled at by Oprah, was late to several photo shoots, went to Art Basel, was late to film with Billy Eichner, got her own book deal (maybe?) and had a miscarriage." (Observer)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Howard Stern Interviews Tracy Morgan

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Even as the crisis in Ukraine continues to defy easy resolution, President Obama and his national security team are looking beyond the immediate conflict to forge a new long-term approach to Russia that applies an updated version of the Cold War strategy of containment. Just as the United States resolved in the aftermath of World War II to counter the Soviet Union and its global ambitions, Mr. Obama is focused on isolating President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world, limiting its expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood and effectively making it a pariah state. Mr. Obama has concluded that even if there is a resolution to the current standoff over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, he will never have a constructive relationship with Mr. Putin, aides said. As a result, Mr. Obama will spend his final two and a half years in office trying to minimize the disruption Mr. Putin can cause, preserve whatever marginal cooperation can be saved and otherwise ignore the master of the Kremlin in favor of other foreign policy areas where progress remains possible. 'That is the strategy we ought to be pursuing,' said Ivo H. Daalder, formerly Mr. Obama’s ambassador to NATO and now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. 'If you just stand there, be confident and raise the cost gradually and increasingly to Russia, that doesn’t solve your Crimea problem and it probably doesn’t solve your eastern Ukraine problem. But it may solve your Russia problem.' The manifestation of this thinking can be seen in Mr. Obama’s pending choice for the next ambassador to Moscow. While not officially final, the White House is preparing to nominate John F. Tefft, a career diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Ukraine, Georgia and Lithuania. When the search began months ago, administration officials were leery of sending Mr. Tefft because of concern that his experience in former Soviet republics that have flouted Moscow’s influence would irritate Russia. Now, officials said, there is no reluctance to offend the Kremlin. In effect, Mr. Obama is retrofitting for a new age the approach to Moscow that was first set out by the diplomat George F. Kennan in 1947 and that dominated American strategy through the fall of the Soviet Union." (NYTimes)

Top Clinton supporter bashes Obama in new book

"President Obama gets criticized by a lifelong Democrat, Bernard Schwartz, in his new book, 'Just Say Yes.' The Bensonhurst native, who ran Loral Space & Communications for 34 years, was the top donor to the Democratic party during the Clinton Administration. But Schwartz is less thrilled with Obama, who has failed to push through the infrastructure initiative Schwartz claims will boost the economy and add 7 million jobs. 'Since the middle of the Clinton Administration, the reins of governmental power have been held by men like Robert Rubin, Hank Paulson, Larry Summers, Alan Greenspan, Timothy Geithner, and Ben Bernanke,' Schwartz, 88, writes.'Not all of these gentlemen are equally responsible for the 2008 crisis or its potential repetition in the future, but there has been a pervasive conceptual thesis advanced by this group that heavily favors Wall Street over Main Street.' The powers that be favor the big banks, says Schwartz. 'And unfortunately, President Obama’s immediate political advisors were not experienced enough to offset this imbalance of influence.'" (Richard Johnson)

"On a crisp morning in late March, an elite group of 100 young philanthropists and heirs to billionaire family fortunes filed into a cozy auditorium at the White House. Their name tags read like a catalog of the country’s wealthiest and most influential clans: Rockefeller, Pritzker, Marriott. They were there for a discreet, invitation-only summit hosted by the Obama administration to find common ground between the public sector and the so-called next-generation philanthropists, many of whom stand to inherit billions in private wealth. 'Moon shots!' one administration official said, kicking off the day on an inspirational note to embrace the White House as a partner and catalyst for putting their personal idealism into practice.The well-heeled group seemed receptive. 'I think it’s fantastic,' said Patrick Gage, a 19-year-old heir to the multibillion-dollar Carlson hotel and hospitality fortune. 'I’ve never seen anything like this before.' Mr. Gage, physically boyish with naturally swooping Bieber bangs, wore a conservative pinstripe suit and a white oxford shirt. His family’s Carlson company, which owns Radisson hotels, Country Inns and Suites, T.G.I. Friday’s and other brands, is an industry leader in enforcing measures to combat trafficking and involuntary prostitution." (NYTimes)

Dana Giacchetto by Wesley Mann

"'Leo DiCaprio is like my little brother,' says Dana Giacchetto, 51, sipping Viking Blod Mead honey wine during a $400 seven-course meal at midtown Manhattan's Aquavit restaurant and hoping his next meal isn't on Rikers Island. During the 1990s, Giacchetto (pronounced 'jah-KET-toh') was an investment adviser with an incredible list of celebrity clients that included DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Cameron Diaz, Ben Affleck, Michael Ovitz and Michael Stipe (also 'like a brother to me,' he says). It all ended very badly. In 2000, he was nabbed at Newark Airport with a falsified passport and not long after pled guilty to fraud involving the misappropriation of between $5 million and $10 million of clients' funds. He was sentenced to 57 months in prison.Although the money involved might seem small today, in the pre-Madoff era it was a staggering scandal fueled by just the right mix of bold-faced names from Hollywood and Wall Street.Giacchetto was released in 2003 and set about rebuilding his life. There have been setbacks and disappointments, including many strange new deals and a recent federal criminal complaint accusing him of fraudulently billing $10,045 to someone else's credit card -- allegations he denies -- that could put him back in prison.Yet tonight, in his first interview since 2003, he is delighted to have two THR reporters pick up the tab and join him on a three-day romp through New York City as he explains in great detail how supremely misunderstood he has been. The story is, well, like a movie -- specifically, The Wolf of Wall Street, which he believes he inspired, as DiCaprio in the late '90s often stayed at Giacchetto's SoHo loft, which Giacchetto says was awash in sex, drugs and punk rock. As he consumes a prodigious amount of alcohol, he rages, sobs, brags, cackles hysterically, confesses then denies guilt for the events that sent him to prison and otherwise exudes the exuberant charm that persuaded hundreds of intelligent, worldly people to trust him with their money.Celebrities, executives and even former close friends including DiCaprio almost unanimously refused to comment on Giacchetto's stories -- 'I need to be in this story like I need tooth decay,' says one. A few facts are uncontested: Born in Medford, Mass., 15 minutes from Horatio Alger's birthplace, Giacchetto was an Italian-American baker's grandson whose mom told him, 'It is impossible not to love you.' At 19, he got a job at Boston Safe Deposit & Trust and released a punk rock album while earning a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts. At 26, he founded Cassandra Group with about $200,000 from his mom's Treasury bonds. Befriending Marc Glimcher, now president of New York's Pace Gallery, he sold conservative blue-chip stocks to artsy blue bloods. Glimcher introduced him to then-skyrocketing CAA agent Jay Moloney, who hooked him up with Hollywood mogul Ovitz, manager Rick Yorn and pre-Titanic DiCaprio.There were some legitimate deals along the way." (THR)

Secret wife of late Jackie O. designer booted from will proceedings

"A Nassau county judge booted the secret wife of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis fashion designer, Oleg Cassini, from her position as executor of his $60 million estate — finding that the former model dug her own grave with wacky testimony about investigators killing dogs, allusions to Nazis and questioning the citizenship of an attorney. Judge Edward McCarty III gave Marianne Nestor Cassini a final opportunity to defend herself in court next month.But eight years after the famed designer’s death at age 92, his widow has 'engaged in numerous activities which require the court to suspend her' position immediately, the judge wrote in the March 13 ruling.Among Nestor’s misdeeds are claiming that estate paperwork was destroyed in a fire, helping herself to $387,000 that was supposed to go to a stepdaughter, and refusing to identify the whereabouts of $4 million in memorabilia — including letters from Jackie O. and Grace Kelly, according to court papers.
Judge McCarty noted his decision was 'a drastic measure.' Cassini, the son of Russian royalty who also dressed Kelly and Marilyn Monroe, left behind a $42 million fashion and perfume company, a $10 million Gramercy Park mansion and $10 million in antiques, art and furnishings.Nestor, who is 30 years his junior, purportedly married the designer in a secret London ceremony in 1971, but his 1986 autobiography made no mention of her. Nestor called her husband 'boss' or 'chief' in public, according to a Vanity Fair article, but the bedroom in his Oyster Bay summer home had a secret passageway to hers." (PageSix)

Illustration by James Ferguson of Jagdish Bhagwati

"It’s a blisteringly cold day in New York and I arrive at the corner of Lexington and 64th Street in need of thawing out. JoJo is a snug little restaurant inside a two-storey salmon pink house. Inside, there’s a tiny bar at the foot of the stairs leading up to the main dining area. The barman is pouring an enticing-looking glass of red wine. 'I’m meeting Jagdish Bhagwati,' I say, shivering. 'Could you possibly send a glass of whatever that is to our table? “This one is for Mr Bhagwati,' the barman beams. 'Two glasses coming right up.' It’s not only the cold that makes me want something to take the edge off. Bhagwati, brilliant, argumentative and occasionally vituperative, has a reputation for skewering his enemies. One of the most outstanding economists of his generation never to have won the Nobel Prize, his failure to be recognised for his work on international trade has become something of a cause célèbre.One fellow academic told me he used to avoid the great professor on the day the economics prize was announced because Bhagwati was inevitably in a frosty mood as yet another prize-less year went by. The Nobel committee’s oversight is so well known that it has even made it on to The Simpsons, an episode of which features Bhagwati receiving the coveted prize. (Krusty the Clown gets the Nobel peace award.)More recently, Bhagwati, 79, has gained notoriety for a bitter intellectual feud with Amartya Sen. Like Bhagwati, Sen is an Indian-born, Cambridge-educated economist now in the US (where Sen is professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard). Unlike Bhagwati, Sen is a Nobel recipient. In a long-running argument, Bhagwati accused Sen of prioritising redistribution in poor countries such as India. Bhagwati argued that only by generating sufficient growth to begin with would there be enough wealth to spread around. 'Sen puts the cart before the horse; and the cart is a dilapidated jalopy!' he wrote last year in Mint magazine. Sen, he said, paid lip-service to the idea of growth “much like an anti-Semite would claim that Jews are among his best friends!' The argument has since spilled out of the ivory tower and into the blood and dust of the Indian election, the world’s largest democratic exercise, which reaches its climax in May. Sen is seen as lining up behind the incumbent Congress administration, which has pursued policies that broadly favour the poor but has allowed growth to slide. Bhagwati supports the controversial candidacy of a fellow Gujarati, Narendra Modi, who fronts the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) and promises to get the economy revving again." (FT)