Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Exclusive: Vibe's Michael Jackson Tribute Issue Will Never See Daylight

Editors this week scrambled to get their Michael Jackson cover stories out. Vibe's, which almost certainly would have been quite popular, will never get the chance to see daylight. We emailed Rob Kenner, Editor At Large at the now shuttered Vibe magazine and editor at the reggae blog boomshots for his thoughts on the end of an era:

"VIBE was not just a magazine; it was a mission. The edit staff is mad we won't get to finish our Michael Jackson tribute issue... And please believe it was about to be a hot one. There's nothing else quite like VIBE out there. It's a bad day for music and those who care about it. And it's another bad day for publishing."

Vibe was founded by Quincy Jones in 1992. In a memo to staff today, Vibe's CEO Steve Aaron cited the tough economic climate.
Paper Magazine At The South Street Seaport

(images via Caroline Torem Craig/Papermag)

(image via guestofaguest)

For years we have been going to Paper magazine parties. Perhaps it is that wealth of experience -- over a decades worth -- that make Paper parties the best in the city. That, and a 4 hour-plus open bar that never once ran out of Asahi Beer (Ray Ban was also a sponsor), a beautiful crowd, and live music on the water. After a brief intermission for the rain, there were performances by Kid Cudi and Chester French and a DJ set by Les Savy Fav. The party marks a turning point for the downtown indi mag -- the first Paper magazine live outdoor event, and we hope it is just the beginning.

Mingling in the crowd were David Hershkovits, Whitney Spaner, Tom Murrin, Caroline Torem Craig and Brigitte Engler.
Justice O'Connor Was Disappointed She Wasnt Replaced On Court By A Woman

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a Centrist, was the first woman nominated to the United States Supreme Court on on July 7, 1981 by President Reagan. Justice O'Connor served 24 years on the Supreme Court before retiring. President Bush initially chose Harriet Miers -- an unqualified loyalist -- to replace O'Connor. After a bruising media battle Miers withdrew her nomination and the more masculine, more conservative Samuel Alito was nominated to replace Mrs. O'Connor. From TheDailyBeast:

"The Daily Beast: Are you happy that a woman, Sonia Sotomayor, has been nominated to fill the latest vacancy on the Supreme Court?

"Sandra Day O'Connor: I should say so. I was disappointed when I stepped down that I wasn’t replaced by a woman. It’s important for people to look around and see that women, who make up slightly more than 50 percent of the population, are represented on the court.

"The Daily Beast: Judge Sotomayor’s supporters say that her background and life story would make her a good addition to the court. Should such things matter in picking a justice?

"SDO: We’re all creatures of our upbringing. We bring whatever we are as people to a job like the Supreme Court. We have our life experiences. For example, for me it was growing up on a remote ranch in the West. If something broke, you’d have to fix it yourself. The solution didn’t always have to look beautiful, but it had to work. So that made me a little more pragmatic than some other justices. I liked to find solutions that would work.

"The Daily Beast: You were the last elected official to serve on the court. You were the Republican leader in the Arizona state Senate, and you served in all three branches of state government. Was that important to your work on the High Court?

"SDO: Absolutely. And here’s something I want to emphasize. It’s important for the Supreme Court to have a broader set of life experiences than just people who have served as judges. Judge Sotomayor’s appointment would mean that all nine justices are products of the federal courts of appeals. It used to not be that way. I was from state government. William Rehnquist had never been a judge before he was appointed to the Supreme Court. Lewis Powell had never been a judge. But they had broad real-life experiences, and I thought that helped make them good justices. In years past, you always had people on the court who had not spent their entire career as judges."

O’Connor currently serves as Chancellor of the College of William and Mary.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Here is my summary of where we are now: Several times the Bush administration tried to transfer responsibility for security to Iraqi army and police forces, only to see them unable to handle the burden. Now, once again, the Americans are trying to get Iraqi security forces to take over, as most U.S. troops withdraw from Iraqi's cities. Will the Iraqis be able to keep the population relatively secure? To be honest, I don't know, and no one else does. It's a matter of faith. And the leap comes tomorrow. The key issue is whether Iraqi forces will perform any better than they have in the past. U.S. officials, at least in their public comments, say they will. 'I do believe they're ready,' Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top commander in Iraq, said on CNN on Sunday. 'They've been working towards this for a long time. And security remains good. We've seen constant improvement in the security force, we've seen constant improvement in governance. And I believe this is the time for us to move out of the cities and for them to take ultimate responsibility.' But, as he says, it is a matter of belief. Here's a contrary view given to Reuters by Khalil Ibrahim, a leader of a unit in the turned insurgents the Americans call the Sons of Iraq: 'Iran has good relations with our political parties. They run militias. If the U.S. troops complete their withdrawal, Iran will do whatever it wants in Iraq. . . . Also, if the Americans pull out, al Qaeda will return.' Meanwhile, Abu Noor, a college student in Baghdad, told my old colleague Ernesto Londono that, 'We all know the militias are hiding because they know the Americans are inside the cities.' Who is right, Odierno, or Ibrahim and Abu Noor? No one knows." (Thomas Ricks/ForeignPolicy)

(image via travelbig)

"ANNA Kournikova got into a fight Saturday night in Las Vegas after an unidentified woman threw a drink at the tennis ace. Kournikova and her pals were partying at Lavo after attending the Hardbat Classic table tennis tournament when a woman at the next table 'threw a drink at Anna. She felt Anna was invading her space,' our source said. Kournikova 'sprung into action' and starting screaming at the woman and shoving her. 'It was a big fight,' the spy said. The woman was kicked out only after leaving Kournikova with some vicious scratch marks on her neck. Kournikova's rep didn't return calls." (PageSix)

"Last Friday I was quite the busy girl as I hosted a HBO and Belvedere sponsored 'Dinner With Bevy' for the fab actress Sanaa Lathan. It took place in Miami during the American Black Film Festival, and Sanaa brought along her famous pals like director Lee Daniels (can't wait to see his new movie, Precious), actress Gabrielle Union (her dimples are so deep, you can swim in them) and NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade (I wanted him to 'dunk on me' all night). The evening culminated with a rousing sing a long of the late great Michael Jackson's 'Wanna Be Startin' Something'! Momma say momma sa ma macousa, indeed!" (Papermag)

"What a difference a week makes! On Sunday, the New York Times finally reviewed Rogues’ Gallery, Michael Gross’s two-month-old, unauthorized expose about the famous people behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The review came just days after the book began appearing in the New York Public Library system, erasing Mr. Gross’s concerns that the two Manhattan institutions might ignore the book completely. 'I was thrilled,' Mr. Gross told the Observer. Before he received news of the review, Mr. Gross had been left to lament the book’s curious lack of coverage in the New York press. Rumors had circulated as to the reasons for Rogues’ radio silence, with plenty of suspicion cast in the direction of Annette de la Renta, who serves on the Met’s board, and whose attorneys had previously sent 'strongly-worded' letters to the book’s publisher." (Observer)

(image via cnn)

"GRAPEFRUIT heiress Julie Henderson has rebounded from Russell Simmons. After the hip-hop mogul dropped the 23-year-old swimsuit model in favor of 29-year-old model Noemie Lenoir, a spy tells Page Six that Henderson has been cozying up with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. 'They were having a romantic dinner at La Esquina on Wednesday,' a spy tells us. 'They looked cute.'" (PageSix)

"So I'm looking @globalgrind and there's yesterdays news about my x girlfriend julie moving on. That Quarterback is a very very lucky guy ..Just to repeat for the record she is a wonderful sweet person. :-). And the ny post is mean by saying 'I dumped her' mutual decession." (RussellSimmons/Twitter)

"Kazakhstan refuses to let Borat have the last word on its image. The Central Asian republic’s foreign affairs ministry inked a $1.5 million deal with a Washington lobbying firm, according to records recently filed with the Justice Department, with a partial goal of combating the image presented in the blockbuster film 'Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.' 'People look at Borat and think this country is a backwater, that it’s unsophisticated,' said William Nixon, chairman and CEO of Policy Impact Communications. His firm signed the yearlong agreement with Kazakhstan's U.S. ambassador on April 30. A team of a dozen lobbyists registered for the account and is working on the country’s ascension to the World Trade Organization, removing a number of trade restrictions put in place by the United States and improving its image." (TheHill)

(Fern Mallis and Euan Rellie via DPC/NYSocialDiary)

"(L)ast night in New York there was a book party for Jodi Della Femina and her new book 'By Invitation Only' at the Vera Wang boutique in the Hotel Carlyle building on Madison Avenue and 77th Street. Invitation to what, you might ask? Well, the party was at the Vera Wang boutique. I got there in the second hour when a lot of the early birds had left but there was still a big gang in attendance including a lot of Della Femina – Jerry and Judy (Licht), sister Jessie and brother, JT, baby daughter Maggie Kim, husband John Kim as well as their older little ones, Annabel and Charlie, and lots of friends, including: Betsey Johnson, Rachel Roy, Kelly Bensimon, Olivia Palermo and Johannes Huebl .."(NYSocialDiary)

(image via dvice)

"It would seem like a splitting of hairs, but then so much of copyright and trademark law is just that. Cablevision came up with a system allowing its customers to record TV shows, as they might with a DVR, but store them remotely on a Cablevision server. TV networks, which are generally opposed to all things DVR, objected and filed a lawsuit, arguing that Cablevision's remote DVR storage system violated their copyright protection of the shows they produce--and in a way that a TiVo device or similar home DVR device does not. The networks, including CNN, CBS and Fox Networks Group, along with the Motion Picture Association of America, won the first round in federal court but then lost on appeal, when last August the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned the lower court's decision. Yesterday the networks lost again when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case." (Medialifemagazine)

"The 2009 Aspen Ideas Festival opened Monday night with a smattering of ambitious, dissonant and indeed 'big' ideas .. The leaders in public service, business, science, the arts and media swarming the Aspen Meadows campus number almost 200. Their audience, almost 2,000. Among their ranks are U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who this morning will discuss the American criminal justice system with Bishop T.D. Jakes. This afternoon, Google CEO Eric Schmidt is due to talk about the state of the American economy with NPR’s Kai Rysdall. Representatives from the Obama White House are appearing throughout the week, beginning with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who appears in a public interview Wednesday. Later that day, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will sit down with PBS’s Charlie Rose. (Duncan’s predecessor, Margaret Spellings, is to discuss education policy on Saturday.) Attorney General Eric Holder is due for an event Thursday afternoon, along with former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and James Baker. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg talks about Obama’s Middle East policy on Friday morning. Bush-era officials are in on the act, as well. Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff appears throughout the week and discusses counterinsurgency tactics on Thursday. His former White House colleague, Bush press secretary Dana Perino, is due on stage Thursday night for some comic relief along with comedians Lewis Black, D.L. Hughley and Larry Wilmore. The legendary architect Frank Gehry will speak Friday evening. Saturday, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will sit for an interview with Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson." (AspenDailyNews)

"In the late 1990s, as ambassador to France, I spent much of my time singing the praises of American capitalism. But back at home the system was changing. A booming stock market sent executive compensation soaring, but with very little accountability for performance. Deregulation, an easy monetary policy and media-driven hype about new information technologies created essentially 'free money' and astronomic stock valuations. Speculation created the dot.com bubble and, in due course, brought about the collapse of much larger companies, with tragic results. The results were usually the same. Management and directors collected hundreds of millions in bonuses and stock sales while tens of thousands of employees saw their jobs and their savings lost. Hundreds of thousands of stockholders were ruined. These events struck at the very heart of the most basic requirements of market capitalism: transparency and fairness. In addition, the media treated finance like show business, creating stars out of executives and touting wealth as the sole standard of success. And neither the Securities and Exchange Commission, nor the Federal Reserve, nor the Congress, nor the administrations wanted the music to stop or tried to slow it down." (Felix Rohatyn/NYT, June 28)

"Had James Moroney read Chris Anderson’s new book, 'Free: The Future of a Radical Price' (Hyperion; $26.99), Amazon’s offer might not have seemed quite so surprising. Anderson is the editor of Wired and the author of the 2006 best-seller 'The Long Tail,' and 'Free' is essentially an extended elaboration of Stewart Brand’s famous declaration that 'information wants to be free.' The digital age, Anderson argues, is exerting an inexorable downward pressure on the prices of all things 'made of ideas.' Anderson does not consider this a passing trend. Rather, he seems to think of it as an iron law: 'In the digital realm you can try to keep Free at bay with laws and locks, but eventually the force of economic gravity will win.' To musicians who believe that their music is being pirated, Anderson is blunt. They should stop complaining, and capitalize on the added exposure that piracy provides by making money through touring, merchandise sales, and 'yes, the sale of some of [their] music to people who still want CDs or prefer to buy their music online.' To the Dallas Morning News, he would say the same thing. Newspapers need to accept that content is never again going to be worth what they want it to be worth, and reinvent their business. 'Out of the bloodbath will come a new role for professional journalists ..'" (MalcolmGladwell/TheNewYorker)
Empire's End

(image via timeinc)

It almost sounds like the sort of thing Tacitus had his Roman Senators fuming against as the Julio-Claudian dynasty descended into absolute decadence. The young aristocrats -- who are supposed to represent the best of their civilization -- are, in fact, duds. In a perfect world Nicky Hilton, wealthy, of a prominent family, would be educated, stoic, conservative but with a marked humanitarian streak. Instead, Nicky represents everything loathsome about privilege without merit. From PageSix:

"NICKY Hilton continues to prove money can't buy class. The hotel heiress and boyfriend David Katzenberg were spotted sitting outside East Hampton club Lily Pond Saturday night, 'watching people try to get inside and laughing at them when they were rejected,' said our spy. Instead of having a good time inside during the Absolut Vodka party, Hilton 'stayed outside, hysterically laughing every time someone wasn't let in. She was loving it.' Finally, the tipster told us, Katzenberg 'dragged Nicky inside' where she partied until 1 a.m."

Stupid and callous is no way to go through life, Nicky.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Little Of The Old In And Out

In: Al Franken. Clearly we are not a fan of the newly-minted Minnesota Senator, so this is bittersweet. But we'll clothespin our nose and clap as it gives Obama -- a natural concillator -- a filibuster-proof majority in the United States Senate. From Bloomberg:

"Democrat Al Franken won Minnesota’s disputed U.S. Senate seat as a loss at the state Supreme Court prompted Republican Norm Coleman to concede.

“I congratulate Al Franken” on his victory, Coleman said at a news conference outside his home in St. Paul. 'Sure I wanted to win,' the Republican said, though he said further litigation would damage the state’s unity.

Adding Franken, 58, to the Senate will give Democrats the 60 votes needed to overcome Republican delaying tactics on legislation. The seat has remained vacant since January. Franken plans a news conference later this afternoon at his home in Minneapolis.

".. 'Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled' by law 'to receive the certificate of election as United States senator from the state of Minnesota,' Minnesota’s highest court said in an unsigned opinion."

So ends the sourest case of grapes in recent American political memory. Congratulations, Senator Asshole.

(image via criticalfilmcondition)

In: Michael Bay. If one doesn't take director Michael Bay too seriously, there is something rather glorious about the cartoonish, explosion-happy masculinity that he represents. Michael Bay is the manchild that still stops and peeps through the hole in the fence to watch the demolition and construction work, mouthing the words "Wow." We like to joke about Michael Bay. There is even #MichaelBayFact on Twitter. Some of our favorites: Michael Bay lost his virginity to a bolt of lightning. God made the Universe; Michael Bay added the explosions. And: Michael Bay will only light his cigarettes by walking into a burning building.

But Michael Bay, clearly, has tapped into something. From Boxofficeguru:

"THIS WEEKEND Robots ruled the box office as the highly-anticipated action sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen generated the second biggest opening in history with a gargantuan $200.1M in its first five days, according to final studio figures, sending the overall marketplace to its highest gross of the year. The eye-popping figure included $109M over the traditional Friday-to-Sunday period plus an additional $91.1M since its Wednesday launch. Compared to Sunday estimates, the Fri-to-Sun gross dropped by $3M while the Wed-Thu take was revised upwards by $1.9M. Playing ultrawide in 4,234 theaters including 169 IMAX screens, the Paramount release averaged a stunning $25,736 over the Friday-to-Sunday period and a gigantic $47,255 over five days.

The only other film to ever gross more in its first five days was last summer's The Dark Knight which hauled in a slightly better $203.8M from 4,366 venues. The first Transformers bowed to $155.4M in 6.5 days and needed 12.5 days to break the double-century mark on its way to a $319.2M finish."

Or, as someone on #MichaelBayFact eloquently said: Michael Bay eats asteroids for breakfast, and then sh*ts out robots.

(weasel-faced bastard via theatlantic)

Out: Rudy Giuliani. As of early April, Giuliani Partners was in steep decline.

Fucking awesome (The Corsair sips a glass of Chateau D'Yquem)!

It was probably an ill-fated project, leveraging the post-September 11 goodwill in order to allow Rudy to fulfil his dream to become a Mini-Me Kissingeresque statesman. But Rudy has neither the intellect nor the intensity to parallel Kissinger's Satanic maneuverings.

How curious that now Politico reports that Giuliani is considering running in 2010 against the weak Governor David Patterson, the first African-American governor. Giuliani, you'll remember, ran against David Dinkins, the first African-American mayor of New York City. And, we cannot fail to note, Giuliani provided the slimiest "comm-yew-nity organizer" insinuation/soundbyte at the 2008 Republican convention against the first African-American major party Presidential candidate.

Nice karma with African-Americans, Rudy (Averted Gaze).

The prestige Giuliani Partners garnered in the days and months after September 11th has all but evaporated, particularly after the former Mayor's embarrassing performance in the GOP Presidential campaign (When, in American History, has a fucking local Mayor ever won the White House). This Gubernatorial run -- or mock-run -- begs the question: Was Cindy Adams right when she reported:

"POLITICAL pros say: Rudy, who's been very quiet lately, will make the run for governor. But whether the presidential campaign dampened him or he's reading polls, who knows? What they say they know is, he'll do all the paperwork, make all the moves, gather all the groups, get all the p.r., make all the statements, fund raise, file, flap around -- but . . . won't . . . run. They say he needs to create buzz around himself. To help himself in person, in general and in business in particular. They say."

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"NBC Universal boss Jeff Zucker is so concerned about the poor performance of Universal Studios that he is dispatching the company's chief financial officer to Hollywood for a month to observe the studio's business, The Post has learned. According to four sources inside the company, Zucker wants CFO Lynn Calpeter to 'get more educated on the studio' and have studio boss Ron Meyer explain his process for greenlighting movies and determining production and marketing budgets. 'It's really the first time [Zucker] is asking Ron to explain things,' said one source, who added that for the last decade Meyer has been essentially free to run the studio as he sees fit. But the studio's underperformance and costly misstep with 'Land of the Lost' this year has caught Zucker's attention. The Will Ferrell vehicle, which was launched June 5, cost $100 million to make but has grossed just $44 million through last Friday." (NYPost)

"Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay have finally sealed a deal that will keep them on Dick Wolf's 'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit' for the next two years. Also, NBC said that Christine Lahti is set to guest star in the first four episodes next season of 'SVU,' while former series regular Stephanie March, who plays ADA Alex Cabot (and returned on a limited basis last season), will once again show up on the drama starting with episode five. Meloni and Hargitay had been asking for $400,000 an episode - a $25,000-per-seg raise from the approximately $375,000 the duo were making under their most recent deal. Meloni and Hargitay were believed to also be asking for a single point of profit participation in the show. Talks broke down in the spring over the contract, but NBC nonetheless picked up an 11th season of the hit procedural for fall. Longtime 'SVU' showrunner Neal Baer also signed on to remain in charge of the show next season." (Variety)

(image via observer)

"The president has come under intense fire from a loyal demographic that has accused his administration of dragging its feet on those two issues. Last week, some high-profile gay Democrats boycotted a fundraiser attended by Vice President Biden. Obama said Monday he is aware that many in the gay community 'don't believe progress has come fast enough,' comparing their struggles to those of blacks during the civil-rights movement. 'It is not for me to tell you to be patient any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African-Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago,' Obama said. 'But I say this, we have made progress and we will make more.' The president said that he expects and hopes 'to be judged not by words, not by promises I've made, but by the promises that my administration keeps.'" (TheHill)
Jane Fonda: I Couldn’t Pretend To Understand Michael Jackson

(image via mjj)

Who would have thought Jane Fonda would become a blogger? And yet she has, talking today about her relationship with Michael Jackson:

"This is the longest I’ve gone without blogging for some time. But sometimes you just have to let life play itself out without comment. Like so many people, I have been in a wash of images and feelings about Michael Jackson. I knew him as well as one could know him during the time before he did 'The Whiz' and up through 'Thriller.' I couldn’t pretend to understand him. There were so many complicated signals. Did he want me to be his ‘older women’ friend. He gravitated to older women. For solace? Succor? A beard? Did he want me to teach him the ropes? I never could quite figure it out. But I remember one day he was visiting me at my ranch north of Santa Barbara. It was the first time he had been in that region but he must have liked it because later he bought his ranch in that same area. Anyway, as we walked around the ranch which was perched right at the edge of the mountain overlooking Goleta, I pointed to a spot where I told him I wanted to be buried. Michael had a melt down right then and there when he heard this. He shrieked and bent over and said 'no, no, no!' 'What’s the matter,' I asked. 'Don’t ever talk about your dying,' he answered. 'Don’t ever think about it.'"

More here.
Advice For Bernie Madoff In The Pokey

First and foremost we must recommend that Bernie Madoff acquire -- whether by legal or extralegal means -- Jim Hogshire's superlative underground classic "You Are Going to go to Prison." The book has sound practical advice as to how one can serve one's time in the pokey with minimal friction -- judicial, anal or otherwise (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment). This insightful, hard-boiled tome helps the newly-incarcerated to more fully understand the moist, Oz-like scenario which the inmate now inhabits.

This book is not tender. It comes off as a frigid, early morning prison-shower gangbang. Chapter Six ("Don't Drop the Soap - Sex in the Slammer"), and Chapter Nine ("Blood In and Blood Out - Prison Gangs and Violence") contain particularly poignant passages, cautionary tales. Incarceration is a grotty, unfortunate business where -- to paraphrase Anderson Cooper -- snitches get stitches. Being "fresh meat," or -- worse -- someone's "fresh fish," means being unintentionally popular in an arena where anonymity is infinitely more preferable (Averted Gaze). In order to smooth out the readers' heads about the realities of this musky, highly racialized situation in which the inmate finds himself, a boot must be metaphorically applied to the solar plexus of the naive. The wind must be taken out from one's proverbial sails. Prison is the gladiatorial fundament, an arena of Will, athleticism, ethnic balkanization and gratuitous tossed salads prevail. Abandon all idealism ye who enter cell block D. And yet, despite that grimmness, the book is not without its charms. Like Tolstoy's Anna Kerenina which had a workable recipe for jam, Hogshire leaves his readers a recipe for prison wine made from fermented fruit cocktail cups. And speaking of preserves, this book also offers advice on maintaining the integrity of one's bodily orifices in the hurlyburly of prison life.

Don't take our word for it. S. L. Simmons, a self-described "Inmates wife" from North Carolina reviewed the book on Amazon.com, saying: "I have a husband in prison who I talked every step of this book out with (him). He has been in prison for over ten years from MAX security to Medium and soon to minimum and I can tell you this book is right on the money .Its so helpful for folks headed into prison or for there families to give them some insight to what life inside is really like . I highly recommend this book to wives ...inmates ...families ... " 5 out of 5 people, we cannot fail to note, found that heartfelt review as helpful. Charmed, I'm sure.

"Cigarettes are the credit default swaps of the pokey," said Andy Borowitz of The Borowitz Report on WNYC's Leonard Lopate show this afternoon. "The first piece of advice," said Ron Kuby on his syndicated program months ago is that "prison is designed to be arbitrary...you have to live with the arbitrary system of the penal code. Period." Kuby continued: "Whatever you were before...changes...most of your reputation [depends on] how you handle yourself in prison." Kuby, who has defended some highly controversial people and seen them as an attorney after some time behind bars, does allow that Madoff could conceivably buy a crew for protection. "I think that he may [be able to buy respect]," Kuby said later. Kuby went further, "You gotta remember: respect." Respect in prison is key, said Kuby, illustrating that concept with an analogy about how getting up from table and having another man's tush at eye-level -- in civilized society -- might be dismissed with an apology, but could be a far more serious matter in the pokey.

Madoff, we cannot fail to add, should studdiously avoid accepting an offered burger prepared on a hot plate/radiator, or, by way of beverage, a commisary cup of prison wine. Leaving aside entirely the possibilities of blindness resulting from messing with an ill-prepared batch of Prison Pruno, those favors will almost certainly be collected upon at unfortunate moments with rather extreme interest rates ("break me off a piece of ass") attached, no pun intended. Outstanding prison debts must paid in jailhouse romance. "Mice trying to become rats," is how Alan Ellis, a criminal defense atty on Bloomberg, described inmates wanting to make their bones on Madofr. "(Medium security inmates will) want to make their bones by going after people like Madoff."
Bernie Madoff gets The Maximum 150 Years In Prison

Judge Chin's windup was brutal. And the victims impact statements did not help. You just knew as the Judge recited all of Madoff's shortcomings that it was going to be closer to 150 than 15. And it was. Bernie Madoff gets 150 years, the maximum sentence. The SEC focus should now shift to Madoff's sons, Mark and Andrew, and what did they know. "It gives you a little bit of satisfaction to know that he got the maximum sentence," said a victim to Bloomberg's Gigi Stone after the verdict.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Cinematographer Nicola Pecorini, who worked with Ledger on his last film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, says Ledger 'used to smoke marijuana on a regular basis, like probably 50 percent of Americans.' But after it became an issue, Ledger 'went clean as a whistle.' And vocal coach Gerry Grennell, who worked and lived with the actor during the filming of The Dark Knight, says Ledger even stopped drinking: 'Heath would happily go to the bar, buy a round of drinks for friends, and come back and have a soda or juice, never once drinking alcohol .. Ledger’s use of sleeping medication to combat chronic insomnia at the end of his life was of more concern to Grennell. 'I’d say, ‘If you can possibly bear it to stop taking the medications, do, because they don’t seem to be doing you any good.’ He agreed. It is very difficult for me to imagine how close he came to not taking them.' Ledger would typically spend night after night awake, diverting himself with time killers, Biskind reports, such as re-arranging the furniture in whatever space he happened to be living in at the moment. Grennell coached him in the Alexander Technique, which helped him to sleep for a few hours at a time, but he still struggled." (VanityFair)

"For the sake of storage, we hope one of the Autobots also doubles as a very large bank vault. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen dominated the box office this weekend to the tune of $112 million in ticket sales. Couple that with the $89.2 million earned since the film opened last Wednesday, and Transformers has already grossed a ridiculous $201.2 million, giving it the second largest five-day opening haul in Hollywood history, behind only the $203.8 million earned by The Dark Knight last summer. The search for 2009’s first megablockbuster can officially stop." (BoxOfficeGuru)

"Before Michael Jackson’s body was cold, controversy was already brewing around the custody of his three children. Michael Joseph, 12, Paris Michael, 11, and Prince Michael, 7 (Blanket) landed in limbo when their dad died because they have no real 'mother' and it’s unclear which of several women in their lives might be granted custody." (TheDailyBeast)

(Bobby Sager and NBC-Universial entertainment vice-chairman Ben Silverman via NYSocialDiary)

"NBC and The Creative Coaltion hosted the world premiere of 'The Philanthropist' in Washington last Thursday evening. Why here? Because, according to Ben Silverman, the network’s co-chairman of entertainment, the show’s theme is 'at the epicenter of what’s going on in Washington' ..Executive Producer Peter Horton’s direction is exciting, and the star, James Purefoy, at least in person, is thoughtful, friendly and a pleasure for the eyes. His character, Teddy Rist, is based on the adventures of a real life rich boy 'philanthropist,' Bobby Sager .. Emmy Award-winning writer/executive producer Tom Fontana, co-creator and executive producer Charlie Corwin, executive producer Gareth Neame, and executive producer Teri Weinberg .. were scheduled to be at the White House the next morning for a tour hosted by Social Secretary Desiree Rogers." (WashingtonSocialDiary)

"Whatever the CIA is doing in Iran — handing out Blackberrys, maybe — isn’t immediately obvious. Which is a good thing. But even if the spy agency has an informant serving tea to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, there can be little confidence that it really knows what’s going on in Iran. That is not to knock the CIA, which is easy enough on any account. As I was reminded the other day, even the very best intelligence agency can get things wrong in that part of the world. It’s well known that our spy chiefs were surprised and, dare I say it, shocked, when forces unleashed by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran in 1978 brought down the CIA-installed shah, who had occupied the Peacock Throne for a quarter of a century, despite the ubiquity of Americans in the country. What is far less well known, however, is that even Israel’s much vaunted intelligence service was surprised by the joint Egypt-Syrian attack in October 1973. And by most accounts, its intelligence on Iran- and Syria-backed Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon in 2006 was fatally flawed." (CQPolitics)

"IT sounds like Harold Ford Jr. and his wife, fashionista Emily Threlkeld, might be planning on a baby. The Post's Jennifer Gould Keil reports that charismatic Ford, the former Tennessee congressman turned New York banker who's also a regular on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe,' is putting their co-op at 105 Fifth Ave. up for sale for $1.79 million. The pad has classical features and 11-foot high ceilings but only one bedroom, and Ford's been saying on the show they're ready to have a child. Broker Kathy Sloane of Brown Harris Stevens had no comment." (PageSix)

"One Sage came from Omaha, seeking stocks he could hold 'forever.' Another fled Hungary and traded his way to wealth. The third, a rumpled giant, slew the inflation dragon that ravaged the U.S. in the 1970s. Warren Buffett, George Soros and Paul Volcker may look as different as Coca-Cola, Cristal and German lager. Yet all three had this in common: the character and judgment to shun the mob, as can be seen from two new books on the financial crisis, 'The Sages' by Charles R. Morris and 'Our Lot' by Alyssa Katz. Their approaches are poles apart. Morris offers three biographical sketches to show what it takes to rise above financial frenzy. Katz plunges us into the stampede itself, documenting how decades of U.S. social engineering fed the anxiety and greed that drove Americans mad with housing lust. Taken together, they offer insights into how to steer through the crisis and toward a sounder future." (Bloomberg)

"The Huffington Post is trying to monetise its overseas audience, enlisting AdGent 007 to sell localised ads to readers outside the US. The 'internet newspaper' may be highly US-centric but its publishing model - aggregating leading opinions, insight and news - is attracting admiration in international publisher circles, too. European unique users grew 279 percent to 864,000 in the year to May, including 244 percent growth in the UK to 305,000, comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) told paidContent:UK." (Paidcontent)
LiveTweeting The Madoff Verdict

I'll be livetweeting the Madoff verdict here. Some Tweets, thus far:

Madoff's prison location will, according to Bloomberg, "be decided at the highest levels of government." Not "club fed," methinks.
5 minutes ago from web

10 victims (as well as Madoff) will be testifying today at sentencing. Hoping Bernie cries like a bitch.
5 minutes ago from web

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Rhetoric Over Iran

So much of the chatter involving the aftermath of the Iranian elections is about political rhetoric and positioning than about how the United States can actually better the lives of the brave protesters and prevent the country's nuclearlization. Joe Lieberman, Lindsay Graham and John McCain -- or as we like to call them Joe, Lindsay and Creepy -- appear to be irresponsibly navigating the ship of state into the choppy waters along the Persian Gulf.

Even conservative Joe Scarborough wonders if these Senators know what they are doing. Senator McCain, particularly, may want to consult a professional about his unresolved "election issues," as he doesn't seem to fully accept the fact that the 2008 election ended with his being beaten like a red-headed stepchild (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment). Fareed Zakaria this week on GPS opened with a wise editorial saying, essentially, "Obama is right on iran."

In pressing President Obama from the discredited Wilsonian side of the foreign policy spectrum (Averted Gaze), they inadvertently feed Ahmadinejad's beast. There is nothing -- and we mean nothing -- that "President" Mahmood Ahmadinejad wants more than to paint President Barack Obama with the same red-white-and-blue colored Yankee brush as he did Bush. President Bush was a perfect distraction to mask Ahmadinejad's fudamental incompetence in governing Persia. President Obama is Ahmadinejad's nightmare. President Obama, unlike Bush, wants direct negotiations and has a far more sophisticated, multidimensional plan to deter the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Iran. Barack Obama has a longer attention span, and understands the Persian Game. He will not reciprocate, falling into Ahmadinejad's strategic provocations. So when McCain, Graham and Lieberman exert domestic pressure on the President, forcing Obama to ever-so-slightly to strengthen his rhetoric against Iran's ruling class, he provides exactly the distraction Ahmadinejad needs to once and for all snuff his own domestic chaos. From The CanadianPress:

" Iranian authorities have barred journalists for international news organizations from reporting on the streets and ordered them to stay in their offices. This report is based on the accounts of witnesses reached in Iran and official statements carried on Iranian media.

"President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pledged a 'crushing' response to continued American condemnation of Iran's crackdown on postelection protest, saying Saturday that President Barack Obama's criticism revealed his insincerity about improving relations.

"Ahmadinejad - with his internal opponents virtually silenced - all but dared Obama to keep calling for an end to repression of demonstrators who claim the hardline leader stole re-election through massive fraud.

"'You should know that if you continue the response of the Iranian nation will be strong,' Ahmadinejad said in a speech to members of Iran's judiciary, which is directly controlled by the ruling clerics. 'The response of the Iranian nation will be crushing. The response will cause remorse.'"

The thing is, President Obama has been hugely measured in his response to the situation in Tehran. So, for those keeping score: McCain, Lieberman and Graham, neocons on foreign policy -- are forcing -- ever-so-slightly -- the President to ratchet up his rhetoric regarding Iran. That rhetoric feeds Ahmadinejad's beast, thereby empowering his regime. Is that what Lieberman, Graham and McCain want? A stronger Iranian regime? An Iranian regime that fires a long-range missile at Tel Aviv?

Do these Senators just want a perfect excuse for regime change? Do they want to fucking widen the Second Persian Gulf War so as to fight two out of the three Axes of Evil simultaneously? Is this a completion of George Bush's "vision"? An Iranian attack on Israel -- as a cynical Ahmadinejadian distraction and a rallying cry for Iranian unity -- would be the perfect opportunity for neocons to get what they want: an attack on Natanz. Because if that is the case, there are many well-qualified psychiatrists that would probably give these Senators a solid group rate.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Picture Pages, Picture Pages ...

This is the framework of ideas and beliefs through which Quentin Tarantino interprets the world and interacts with it.(image via thecobrasnake)

He's your private dancer. A dancer for money. He'll do what you want him to do. (image via thecobrasnake)

Harvard, by way of the secondary school of Hard Knocks. (image via thecobrasnake)

"Cobrasnake skin has a limited capacity for growth and enlargement." (Image via thecobrasnake)

Have you ever gone along with the flow and had sex just in order to avoid an uncomfortable situation? (image via thecobrasnake)

"I was blinded by your beauty so I'm going to need your name and number for insurance reasons." (image via thecobrasnake)
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Neda Agha-Soltan is the lovely 26-year-old woman who has become the martyred face of the Iranian people. A lover of pop music, she was heading home from a music lesson last week when the car she was riding in was stuck in traffic caused by the demonstrations in Tehran. She got out for some fresh air, and was shot in the chest, apparently by a member of the Basij, the much-feared, government-backed militia that patrol the streets beating, arresting, and sometimes shooting peaceful demonstrators. Instead of apologizing or attempting to make amends for her murder, Iran's government prohibited her mosque from holding a memorial service, and told her family members they couldn't have a funeral. She was engaged to be married.
Soraya Manutchehri was an Iranian wife brutalized by her husband, falsely accused of adultery, and stoned to death by villagers empowered by a corrupt local mullah shortly after the Islamic revolution led by Ayatollah Khomenei in 1979. Her death is the subject of a haunting new movie, The Stoning of Soraya M. that is being released this weekend in cities across the United States. If you see this brilliant film, be prepared to be disturbed. You will also emerge with a newfound admiration for Shohreh Aghdashloo, the accomplished Iranian-American actress who plays Zahra, the aunt of Soraya, and the heroine of this film, and also for all the independent-minded women of Iran. I reviewed this movie for Politics Daily in May. Since then, I met Aghdashloo at a reception in Washington, where she spoke to a spellbound audience about her experience in making a movie about the plight of women in her homeland. She had seen a film of an actual stoning two decades earlier, and when Cyrus Nowrasteh, the Iranian-American director, called to inquire about her availability, she simply asked what took him so long." (PoliticsDaily)

"The reason Michael mattered -- continues to matter -- is because he was one of the first truly international stars. Not just transatlantic, not just big in Japan: He was global. The obvious effect was economic. Michael opened markets around the world; he made the world safe for MTV (after first making MTV safe for nonwhite performers, it should be said). He sold records and sold-out tours everywhere. He was, by most accounts, a gracious guest and a kind ambassador. Most importantly, in this moment before communication was instant and cheap, Michael was one of the most powerful access points to American culture from abroad -- his star didn't tarnish at the same rate elsewhere. Perhaps it was the wonder and magic of his music or the subversive hue of his skin that exempted him from accusations of cultural imperialism. Michael belonged to the world -- in part (as illustrated in this Three Kings scene that I've written about elsewhere) because America gave him up." (ForeignPolicy)

"As Jenny Sanford headed off for a boating trip, the day after her husband, Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, told the world he had been unfaithful, she met the throng of reporters waiting outside her South Carolina vacation home, all inquiring about her emotional condition. Jenny Sanford was described by friends as strong willed. 'Am I O.K.?' Mrs. Sanford repeated, from the driver’s seat of a vehicle. 'You know what? I have great faith and I have great friends and great family. We have a good Lord in this world, and I know I’m going to be fine. Not only will I survive, I’ll thrive.' It was, friends and former aides say, classic Jenny Sanford — strong willed, steely, anything but a victim. Mrs. Sanford, a former New York investment banker, largely gave up her professional life and turned to helping her husband’s political career, but those who know her well say she was also never one to abandon her sense of identity, her direction, or her own opinions." (NYTimes)

"When I visited Hayvenhurst in 2001, even eight years before his death, the house seemed haunted by Michael Jackson. Rolling through the iron gates, I passed the unoccupied guard station, which had cobwebs on it, and the video monitors were all off. In the driveway was a collection of fancy cars that seemed to have been bought at least a decade before—a big-engined BMW sat under a blanket with logs on top. The fountain in the front yard was dry and choked with dead leaves. Behind the Disney-like façade of a faux candy store nearby, all the goodie-jars were empty, the ice cream sundae bar dusty. The only Jackson—the only person, actually—there that day was Jermaine, who showed me around the much-in-need-of-upkeep-proto Neverland. Joe, the family patriarch, hadn’t lived there since 1994’s Northridge earthquake; the old man was so petrified of dying in 'the big one' that he had decamped for Vegas. Michael had moved to Neverland Ranch—a two-hour drive to the west—in 1988, the year he turned 30. His father only learned that Michael was leaving when he saw a report about it on Entertainment Tonight. This was typical Jackson family communication, which only got worse after Michael left this house ..Until he got too ornery, Bubbles the Chimpanzee resided at Hayvenhurst, as did the entire Jackson family" (TheDailyBeast)

"On Thursday, June 25, revelers piled into Jonathan Adler's Madison Avenue store to celebrate the launch of his older brother David E. Adler’s new book, Snap Judgment (FT Press). The book is about our instincts with money, and when we should obey them or avoid them at all costs, no pun intended! 'I could probably be a poster boy for the book,' said 6-foot-4 Sopranos actor Alex Corrado, who seemed to feel a tad out of place among the uptown home decoration crowd. ('It’s like reverse Pretty Woman!') .. Also sharing his saving tips was The Observer’s own Simon Doonan, husband to Jonathan and by extension part of the Adler family. 'I would love to be the person who has thousands of pairs of sneakers,' he said. 'I would love to be the male Mariah Carey. But being so freakishly undersized, I can’t find clothes in my size. It’s not hard for me to be parsimonious' .. Breaking news of pop star Michael Jackson's death cast a brief haze of sadness over the party. Mr. Doonan was visibly shaken: 'He was straight, gay, black, white, thin, fat—everything,' he clucked. 'Jonny and I have this big plaster bust of him that we bought at a flea market. ... It looks like a Jeff Koons, but it was really five dollars. I’m going to rush home and put a nice bit of chiffon on it.'" (Observer)

"With the highest metacritic score so far this year, and that expanded best picture lineup, you might be able to catch an Oscar underdog in theaters: Kathryn Bieglow’s 'The Hurt Locker,' hailed by The New York Times’ A.O. Scott as 'the best nondocumentary American feature made yet about the war in Iraq,' is also attempting to become the first financially successful one this weekend, leading a batch of seven limited releases fighting for business in the shadow of 'Transformers,' which has already grossed $60 million since opening yesterday. The other six include Michelle Pfeiffer’s overdue return to a leading role (in a theatrical role, unfortunately that is) in Stephen Frear’s version of Colette’s novel 'Cheri,' which is perhaps a slight Oscar contender in its own right for the performance of Pfeiffer." (IndieWIRE)

"Sources tell me Paramount's Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen is looking like it took in $35M tonight from 4,234 theaters. The studio is now estimating its 3-day weekend cume bigger than expected: $105M vs $90M previously anticipated. That means the robot sequel can get to $195M for the 5-day opening total. 'Any bump on Saturday and it has a shot at $200M,' an exec excitedly emailed me tonight. Because $203.8M was The Dark Knight's 5-day record 2008 opening cume. New Line/Warner Bros' counter-programming with the simpering My Sister's Keeper looks like $5M today from 2,606 venues for an estimated $14M weekend." (DeadlineHollywoodDaily)

"Some gay men tend to avoid relationships with straight men, too. Eric Perry, a gay graphic designer in New York, said he had no close straight friends. 'I don’t know what’s going on in their heads, and I don’t think they know what’s going on in mine,' he said. 'I’m afraid if I have a conversation with them they’ll think I’m hitting on them, so I just kind of avoid it.' Mr. Perry admitted the situation wasn’t ideal. 'There are a lot of straight guys on this planet,” he said. 'I should probably learn how to talk to them.'" (NYTimes/Style)

"Iran and Venezuela could not be two more different countries. Pious Shiites, daily prayers, and no alcohol in one; boisterous Caribbean culture, salsa, and a lot of rum in the other. Chadors and string bikinis; an Islamic Republic and a Bolivarian one. The Iranian supreme leader is a reticent cleric not prone to public speaking; the Venezuelan one never seems to stop talking. While Persian civilization is one of the oldest, the history of Venezuela is, shall we say, somewhat shorter. These two countries should have nothing in common. Yet they do. So much so that the recent Venezuelan experience sheds some interesting light on where the Iranian crisis is headed. The images of the opposition marches in Tehran (massive, mostly peaceful, with no clear hierarchy, and with people of all ages and social classes) are identical to those that used to take place in Caracas, before their ineffectiveness became clear and before the government repressed them. The desperation in the voices of the Iranian youngsters sounds much like that of the Venezuelan students who filled the political vacuum created by the incompetent opposition of their elders. To hear Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying that those protesting against his victory are just "dust" is to hear Hugo Chávez referring dismissively to the 'squalid opposition" whenever he talks about the millions of Venezuelans who don't vote for him.'" (ForeignPolicy)

"These days Howard Stringer makes his home in a hotel suite in an affluent Tokyo neighborhood not far from Sony headquarters. It's a comfortable but far from palatial space consisting of a bedroom, bathroom, and decent-size living-dining area with a small desk that he has outfitted with a PC and fax machine. Among the few personal touches are photos of his family -- his wife, Jennifer, and two children live in the country outside London -- some books he is reading, and an intricate Spider-Man sculpture made of chocolate that the staff of the hotel gave him on his 67th birthday in February. The confection, inspired by Sony's hit movie franchise and which Stringer is quite touched by, sits in a plastic case on the coffee table by the sofa. While he could not bring himself to eat it -- and it's starting to get a bit discolored at this point -- he can't bring himself to throw it out either. With hotel occupancy down amid the deepest Japanese recession since World War II, Stringer is a coveted guest. 'This room keeps getting cheaper and cheaper," he says. "They give an incredible price.'" (CNNMoney)

"DOESN'T Lou Reed know that booze is the fuel of rock 'n' roll? Reed was performing at the Whitney Museum the other night and insisted the bar be closed because "he didn't want to hear the clinking of glasses," said our source. 'He kept telling the crowd to shut the [bleep] up" before "he walked off stage yelling that the bar was open.'" (PageSix)