Monday, March 31, 2014
"Many of the Republican Party’s most powerful insiders and financiers have begun a behind-the-scenes campaign to draft former Florida governor Jeb Bush into the 2016 presidential race, courting him and his intimates and starting talks on fundraising strategy.Concerned that the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal has damaged New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s political standing and alarmed by the steady rise of Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), prominent donors, conservative leaders and longtime operatives say they consider Bush the GOP’s brightest hope to win back the White House. Bush’s advisers insist that he is not actively exploring a candidacy and will not make a decision until at least the end of this year. But over the past few weeks, Bush has traveled the country delivering policy speeches, campaigning for Republicans ahead of the fall midterm elections, honing messages on income inequality and foreign policy, and cultivating ties with wealthy benefactors — all signals that he is considering a run.Many if not most of 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s major donors are reaching out to Bush and his confidants with phone calls, e-mails and invitations to meet, according to interviews with 30 senior Republicans. One bundler estimated that the 'vast majority' of Romney’s top 100 donors would back Bush in a competitive nomination fight.'He’s the most desired candidate out there,' said another bundler, Brian Ballard, who sat on the national finance committees for Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008. 'Everybody that I know is excited about it.'But Bush, 61, would have serious vulnerabilities as a candidate. Out of public office for seven years, he has struggled in some appearances and has had difficulty navigating the Republican Party’s fault lines on immigration and other issues. A Bush candidacy also would test whether the nation still has a hangover from the George W. Bush administration.On Thursday night, Bush was feted here at a VIP dinner held by Sheldon Adelson inside the billionaire casino magnate’s airplane hangar. When one donor told Bush, 'I hope you run for president in 2016,' the crowd of about 60 guests burst into applause, said a donor in attendance." (WashPo)
"Not riding the cable-news wave of the missing Malaysian jet is MSNBC’s wunderkind Ronan Farrow, whose afternoon show has yet to make an impact. 'He sort of stinks on TV,' an anonymous MSNBC source says in today’s Daily News gossip page, which is perhaps prematurely warning of a potential cancellation. Although the show has only been on for about a month, 'He hasn’t turned out to be the superstar they were hoping for.' For context: Last Wednesday’s episode trailed an 8 a.m. repeat of Golden Girls on the Hallmark channel in the ratings, coming in 708th among all programming. And yet, MSNBC insists the rumors of the show’s early demise are 'simply not true. We’re happy with the debut of Ronan Farrow Daily and the show’s progress this first month. MSNBC will continue to support Ronan and his team as they develop and grow the program.'" (NYMag)
"Billionaire Leonard Lauder was spotted with a 'beautiful brunette' in Palm Beach after recently calling off his engagement to Brooklyn Public Library head Linda E. Johnson.The chairman emeritus of Estée Lauder, 81, was seen dining at hot spot BrickTop’s among a moneyed crowd that included billionaire Henry Kravis and his wife Marie-Josée, as well as Enterprise Rent-A-Car billionaire Jack Taylor, former Palm Beach mayor Lesly Smith, Texas oil mogul John Terwilliger and John and Marianne Castle.Lauder has been lauded as society’s most eligible bachelor since his split with Johnson, 55, late last year.The pair postponed their wedding last August days before they were to tie the knot, then split in December before a planned holiday party." (P6)
"The night that Sotheby’s held its most successful auction ever, and slipped deeper into corporate turmoil, there may have been only three people who fully comprehended the paradoxical dynamic. One of them was performing for the other two as he brought the hall to attention with eight clacks of a hammer. 'A very warm welcome to tonight’s sale of contemporary art,' said auctioneer Tobias Meyer. The handsome public face of Sotheby’s (and an imperious backroom power), Meyer exuded europäische cool as the first lot of the house’s big November auction, the Dan Colen painting Holy Shit, materialized on a silently rotating wall. As the bidding opened, Bill Ruprecht, Sotheby’s long-serving chief executive, took a silent appraisal of his auctioneer’s work as he stood at the margins of the silvery audience. Some were buyers, some were sellers—in the delicate vocabulary of the auction house, “collectors” and “consignors”—but most were accustomed to trading enormous sums. More than any other institution, except perhaps its rival Christie’s, Sotheby’s has brought together the realms of art and finance, producing a lucrative friction. But now the system was under strain, its competition turned self-destructive. Ruprecht was facing intense pressure from restive investors—in particular, the third man in the equation, the hedge-fund manager in Row 8. Dan Loeb, wearing a trim gray suit that night, is the public company’s largest shareholder. A few weeks before, he had likened Sotheby’s to 'an old-master painting in desperate need of restoration,' claiming it was falling far behind Christie’s, and had demanded Ruprecht’s resignation. Though he is an art collector, Loeb wasn’t planning to bid. He sat at the center of the auctioneer’s field of vision, smiling jauntily, trading whispers with his wife and an art adviser, his mere presence signaling a challenge.An auction is like a secret symphony, its surface spontaneity discreetly orchestrated." (NYMag)
"The family of Nancy Pfister — the Aspen, Colo., blue blood whose body was mysteriously found in the closet of her home last month — are being closely guarded by security, sources say, in part because other suspects in the case could still be at large.'They’re not sure if they’ve got them all,' an Aspen source told Page Six of the ongoing investigation in which three suspects have so far been arrested on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in connection with the case. 'There could be others lurking. Nancy’s relatives have been assigned security by the sheriff’s department. They are very grateful for that, and the support of friends and loved ones.'The source said Nancy Pfister’s sisters Suzanne and Christina — as well as her daughter Juliana — have been assigned security by the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. There’s also been a judicial protection order to bar the suspects in the case from contacting Pfister’s sisters or daughter. Arrests have included Pfister’s former assistant Katherine Carpenter and former tenants William and Nancy Styler.Pfister — whose family developed Buttermilk Mountain Ski Area, and who rubbed elbows with celebs from Jack Nicholson to Hunter S. Thompson — was found dead after posting messages saying she was having trouble with unnamed tenants. Sources have told Page Six that Pfister, 57, was tied up and bludgeoned. But the sheriff’s office has been silent about details surrounding the death that has rocked the ritzy community as the first homicide in over a decade." (P6)
"President Barack Obama's job approval has climbed to 48% according to a new poll by Zogby Analytics. The online poll was completed March 28-29 among 917 likely voters and has an overall margin of sampling error of +/- 3.3 percentage points. Mr. Obama is still upside down with voters; however, as his disapproval rating is 49%.The President has either improved or held on to his base support since a Zogby Poll last October. His rating among Democrats is 82% (down from 84%), liberals 86% (up from 79%), moderates 55% (from 54%), 30-49 year olds 50% (from 45%), 50-64 year olds 48% (49%), African Americans 92% (from 87%), Weekly Wal-Mart Shoppers 53% (from 47%), Creative Class 54% (from 56%), Investor Class 55% (from 53%), and voters in union households 64% (from 64% (from 60%). " (Zogby)
"It was unbearable, last fall, the few times I tried to watch Late Show with David Letterman. Has there ever been a 'TV personality' who exudes as much misery and sheer disgust at being on television as does Dave when he’s got his full sourpuss on—sneering at his own jokes, sneering at his audience, sneering at his guests, conveying the pungent sense that he has just stepped in a huge turd, and that that huge turd is his life and career? Depression and palpable self-loathing have always been part of the equation with Letterman, but over the last year or two, it has seemed as if he was never not in a mood. Watching the show, at least for me, was like having drinks with a chronically depressed friend: you’d like to jolly him or her up, but at some point you can’t bear the grimness anymore, and if you can, the friend starts to think you’re a dishrag. And anyway, wasn’t Dave supposed to be jollying up us? I quit him, and started watching Jimmy Kimmel.That was last year. With the late-night world reordered by Jimmy Fallon’s February debut on The Tonight Show, I thought it might be worth checking in on Dave again. For two decades his show—and seemingly his psyche—had been warped by the gravitational pull of the big, gaseous, lowbrow planet that was Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. Sometimes Letterman seemed to be energized by the competition, especially during the nasty back-and-forth between the two men at the time of the Leno-Conan O’Brien minuet. But the bitter fallout from that botched succession, along with Leno’s obdurate, unkillable hegemony—was he modern science’s first comedian-barnacle hybrid?—cast a pall over late-night television. Was that the source of Letterman’s gut-sick malaise? With Fallon replacing his old rival and yardstick, would Letterman, even if still stuck in third place ratings-wise, feel a lifting of his burden?Yes, it turns out, at least on the evidence of his three new shows this week. Letterman is now visibly older than when I last saw him six months or so ago. With white hair and white eyebrows and an even thinner frame, he’s turned into Buddy Ebsen circa Barnaby Jones. He’s also acting as if he once again, maybe-sorta-kinda enjoys being in front of an audience. His smiles and laughs, at times, seem genuine, believe it or not, and he’s got a crazy-grandpa aspect now, as if at any moment he might say something outrageous or embarrassing. It’s almost sweet, even if what actually comes out of his mouth are lame monologue jokes about John Boehner having orange skin or husbands not knowing how to load dishwashers properly. Or hey, that crazy New York subway! But also give him credit for having the integrity to persevere with his gags about Regis Philbin (a once well-known late-20th-century media figure)." (VF)
"Last Thursday night, The Cinema Society with Links of London hosted the premiere of Fox Searchlight Pictures' 'Dom Hemingway' at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema at 143 East Houston Street. After the screening guests moved to the new (not yet open) Il Principe at Hotel Hugo at 525 Greenwich Street, with Moet & Chandon joining in the hosting. Attendees from the film included Jude Law, Demian Bichir, Madalina Ghenea, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Kerry Condon, Richard Shepard (writer/director), and Steve Gilula (Co-President, Fox Searchlight Pictures).Other attendees included Lena Dunham, Jonny Lee Miller, Allison Williams, Paul Haggis, Maura Tierney, Karen Elson, Salman Rushdie, Dree Hemingway, Elettra Wiedemann, Ebon Moss, Louisa Krause, Peter Scolari, Dylan Baker, Isiah Whitlock Jr. (The Wire), Sam Underwood (The Following), Valorie Curry (The Following), Ben Shenkman, Sarah Sophie Flicker & Jesse Peretz, Jenna Lyons, Gilles Mendel, Jamie Chung, Duncan Sheik, Casey LaBow, Will Cotton, Stu Zicherman, Peter Cincotti, Pat Cleveland, Mark Seliger, Paul Sculfor, Olivia Palermo & Johannes Huebl, Ann Dexter-Jones, Alex Lundqvist, Elena Foley, Genevieve Jones, Amy Sacco, Robert Dundon (President, Links of London North America), and Cinema Society Founder Andrew Saffir." (NYSD)
"My mother told me to do it. Initially, I was horrified by her suggestion that I intern at a porn magazine, but soon the feeling turned to titillating curiosity. Her best friend’s daughter worked at Penthouse—sadly, my family’s only connection to the New York publishing world. My mother described the job as 'a foot in the door.' I giddily contemplated the possibilities offered by this 'experience'—editorially speaking and, presumably, beyond.Now, as the quaint world of print pornography quietly shuffles through what many are calling its twilight, I look back fondly to the summer of 1988, the summer that I became Penthouse‘s first (and, at the time, only) intern.
Every morning, my father and I would commute together from suburban Long Island. He’d drop me off at the Penthouse offices on Broadway and then head crosstown to his upstanding job at the United Nations. My first day, I wore a pressed skirt and blouse, though when I emerged from the elevator into a corridor hung with framed posters of naked Pets on Bob Guccione’s knee, I wondered whether the dress code was nothing at all. The editor in chief looked me over as if I were Snow White fluttering into his den of perversity. I was certain he could discern, with his pornographer’s X-ray vision, that I was still a virgin. Peter was middle-aged, with dark, thinning hair, though his strongest feature was his teeth, which were incredibly crooked, giving him a kinky menace when he smiled at me. He led me around the narrow banks of cubicles and introduced me to everyone on staff, most of whom were women. (To rationalize their work, they quoted the First Amendment constantly, with the righteous flourish of Bible-thumpers.) Some appeared indifferent to my presence, while others looked me over with concern, as if they were witnessing the conclusion of my wholesome girlhood." (Observer)
© Bob Gruen.
"In 1976, the New York rock and punk scene was
made up of the CBGB’s bands and the few music writers who loved them. In total, this may have consisted of about 60 people. This small scene did have great influence, but, like any scene, it just sort of happened. A bunch of people formed bands and had nowhere to play. They found a stage. Another bunch of people heard about those bands and went to see them play. Every night. It was similar to when Max’s Kansas City had its moment: if you skipped one night, you might have missed something. At CBGB’s, there was no velvet rope at the entrance. There was no big deal about 'getting in.' There was no 'list.' The same people who went all the time went all the time. Since we edited Rock Scene—which became a kind of house fanzine for CBGB’s—Richard, Lenny Kaye, and I were among those who just went all the time. I didn’t have to call a publicist or get a laminated all-access pass or a wristband to go 'backstage.' We didn’t have to wait for the lead singer to towel off after the performance and receive people. At CBGB’s, there was no toweling off—there were no towels. To get backstage, all you had to do was walk a few feet past the stage to the back hallway, to one of the crummy rooms on the right where Patti Smith or Joey Ramone would be sitting on the lumpy sofa. We’d all sit around with a few bottles of beer and just hang out. It was easy then to just hang out. It still was possible to discover something—either hearing about it from your friends or stumbling across it yourself. It wasn’t already written about in New York magazine before it had a chance to breathe." (Lisa Robinson)
"There is no excuse for not trying to build a vertical digital service (web site & mobile app) for a strong media company shifting to digital. As long as you have a powerful (not to be confused with profuse) newsroom coupled with a well-structured contents system, trying a foray in a specific domain is worth considering. As an example, see Atlantic Media, one of the most innovative media brands, as it deploys a series of verticals nested in its Government Executive Media Group. These units all generate small but extremely valuable and loyal audiences — and enviable revenue per user (more on the Atlantic in a future Monday Note).Building a vertical is a mere matter of implementation, you might say. But a look below the surface shows how such process demands much more than merely putting a small group of good writers in a digital stable, and asking them to gather news on a specific subject.That’s why Skift.com drew my attention. In less than twenty months, manned by only 9 people crammed in an mid-town Manhattan office, Skift.com has become a strong voice and a reference in the travel industry: airlines, booking systems, hotels, tour operators – and all the the sector’s disruptors." (Monday Note)
"Last night on Lindsay Lohan's reality show Lindsay, the flailing actress shared her frustration over her reputation for being an unreliable brat. That reputation has led to a lack of employment (hence the reality show). Funny that, because she shared said frustration on the very show that she started flaking on (attempting to cancel shoots, etc.), necessitating a stern talking-to from Oprah Winfrey just last week. Will she ever learn?That question is the one that Lindsay seemingly wishes to answer, and the one that Lindsay herself can't seem to answer honestly given her inability to accept full accountability for the state of her career. (Thousands of words on the difficulty of working with her on her most recently released movie, Paul Schrader's The Canyons, filled a New York Times Magazine cover story last year.) That asking and not answering and then re-asking because of the lack of answers, together make the show this perpetual motion machine. It's spinning its wheels while Lohan goes nowhere. And yet it is riveting to watch someone grapple with the fleeting nature of fame, especially when it's something that has been a key part of this person's identity since she was a child. Shows like Being Bobby Brown and The Anna Nicole Show made a joke out of has-beendom, while Lindsay grapples with its devastating reality." (Gawker)
Former Presidential candidate and VP nominee John Edwards has not learned much. Apparently he showed up at the funeral of Bunny Mellon. But was not welcome. From NYSocialDiary:
"If you believe that our deaths are a reflection of our lives you will understand when I note that Bunny Mellon went out with beauty, grace, order and determination. And perfection. These words define her understated, well-paced and yet rich funeral service at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville, Virginia, which the locals like to call the 'Mellon Church' because it was built by Bunny and Paul Mellon – for them and for everyone else, too, and to be open at all hours. Her funeral was also open to everyone, and by her design. 'She was the chief architect of this celebration,' announced Rev. Robert Banse Jr., to a congregation of family and friends, neighbors and staff, celebrities and farm hands, and those who felt she’d touched their lives and who wanted to pay respect. According to one of the speakers, the village of Upperville closed for the occasion. Bunny was in the details, of course. The service was impeccably timed. There was a sense it had been scripted with the clock in mind – speakers would make reference to 'going over' their time – but it never felt long, never felt rushed and always felt just right. The order of service program was titled “A Celebration of Life” and on the cover was Dorelia in the Garden by Augustus John, in which Dorelia McNeill – not unlike Bunny Mellon – is posed wearing blue and leaning on a garden tool. The picture was painted in 1911, a year after Bunny’s birth. Because of the large turnout, the service in the church was also broadcast on a big screen in the adjacent Parish house, where there were rows of folding chairs. Practically every seat was filled. In front of me was former presidential candidate John Edwards, with his daughter Kate. (Ed. Note: NYSD has just learned that Mr. Edwards was absolutely barred from entering the church by the family. And that he was working the crowd near the graveside after the service. The service may have been open to the public, but he was not welcome)."
He continues to be an embarrassment, despite saying -- after squeaking by some hard prison time -- that he would do good things in life.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Saturday, March 29, 2014
"More broadly, the United States would do well to tone down its sanctimony. Putin’s annexation of Crimea violated international law. But so did the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the NATO intervention to protect Kosovo, even if the latter was, to many, including me, a legitimate violation. Insisting that this is a new era because Moscow is bent on violating international law may indeed propel the world into a new era. But that would be a choice of our making, not Russia’s. Moreover, that choice would strengthen Putin and undercut the democratic movement in Russia. Just because members of the band Pussy Riot were imprisoned and Alexei Navalny was not elected mayor of Moscow and the size of protests against Putin’s government ebb and flow does not mean that this spirit has been crushed. On the contrary, these protests are like an aspen grove; fueled by social media, they spread in ways we cannot see until the next opportunity for their flowering emerges. Meanwhile, elevating Russia to global enemy No. 1 feeds the hard-liner narrative in Moscow just as it does in Iran. A better strategy would be to tone down the rhetoric and let Europe take the lead, while making clear that a Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine would be met with the strongest possible economic response. Ultimately, the absence of that invasion is the most striking event of the past month. The Soviet Union would have sent troops into Ukraine at the first sign a pro-Soviet government was in trouble. Indeed, as protests mounted on the Maidan in Kiev, the risk of direct Russian intervention was high; had Putin not sought to keep the world’s goodwill before and during the Sochi Olympics, all of Ukraine might already be back under Russia’s sway with a government willing to use whatever violence is necessary to suppress a pro-European opposition. Instead, a new Ukrainian government just signed an association agreement with the European Union. That is a Ukraine without Crimea, a dismemberment that should not be recognized by the international community. Meanwhile, however, the United States and the European Union should do everything possible to strengthen Ukraine’s government and hold it accountable for serving the interests of ordinary Ukrainians. We should not take those steps as a way of keeping Russia out, nor to prove that countries in 'our' camp fare better than countries in 'their camp.' Ukraine, Moldova, Transnistria, Georgia and others in Russia’s 'near abroad,' with which it shares deep historic ties, will flourish over the long term only if they have strong relationships with both Russia and the European Union, just as countries in Southeast Asia must have strong relationships with both China and the United States." (Ann Marie Slaughter)
"Indeed, Obama’s dismissal of Russia as a regional power makes his own leadership of the one superpower all the more embarrassing. For seven decades since the Japanese surrender, our role under 11 presidents had been as offshore balancer protecting smaller allies from potential regional hegemons. What are the allies thinking now? Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and other Pacific Rim friends are wondering where this America will be as China expands its reach and claims. The Gulf states are near panic as they see the United States playacting nuclear negotiations with Iran that, at best, will leave their mortal Shiite enemy just weeks away from the bomb.America never sought the role that history gave it after World War II to bear unbidden burdens 'to assure the survival and the success of liberty,' as movingly described by John Kennedy. We have an appropriate aversion to the stark fact that the alternative to U.S. leadership is either global chaos or dominance by the likes of China, Russia and Iran. But Obama doesn’t even seem to recognize this truth. In his major Brussels address Wednesday, the very day Russia seized the last Ukrainian naval vessel in Crimea, Obama made vague references to further measures should Russia march deeper into Ukraine, while still emphasizing the centrality of international law, international norms and international institutions such as the United Nations.Such fanciful thinking will leave our allies with two choices: bend a knee — or arm to the teeth. Either acquiesce to the regional bully or gird your loins, i.e., go nuclear. As surely will the Gulf states. As will, in time, Japan and South Korea." (Charles Krauthammer)
"Unless you worked in certain sectors of Wall Street, read a Businessweek Q&A last fall, or saw a short news item in the Times on January 14, you probably haven’t heard about the new book coming Monday by Michael Lewis, the author of Moneyball, The Big Short, and The Blind Side. It’s called Flash Boys, but its actual subject has been not just a mystery but something of a guessing game among journalists, publishers, and finance types. To close readers of Lewisania (and there are very many) it might have been fairly obvious that the book was about high-frequency trading — brokers gaining microsecond advantages on automated exchanges. (The topic was just confirmed via a CBS announcement that Lewis will appear on 60 Minutes this Sunday). But no one could be absolutely sure, because the book has been, through the entire run of its production cycle, a complete ghost.
Even a couple of friends thought he might only have started the book this past fall (which isn’t true but demonstrates both his stealth and his superhuman reputation). It wasn’t listed in publisher W.W. Norton’s catalog, and though it’ll appear this Sunday on 60 Minutes, today’s Amazon description still reads, blankly, 'Michael Lewis returns to the financial world with a new book that gives readers a ringside seat as the biggest story in years prepares to hit Wall Street.' But what story is that — the subject of Flash Boys, or Flash Boys itself?" (NYMag)
"But what makes (Tina Brown's) career 'extraordinary' isn't just the fact that it was so meteoric, but that she managed to go from one job to another while the magazines she edited – particularly the ones she set up herself – lost money. And I don't just mean a bit of money. As I say in the Spectator, 'I would conservatively estimate she’s lost her backers a quarter of a billion dollars.' How did I arrive at this colossal sum? When it comes to the first three magazines she edited – Tatler, Vanity Fair and the New Yorker – it's impossible to say with certainty how much money they lost under her stewardship since they're privately owned by the Newhouse family and the companies that publish them have never issued public accounts. So let's exclude Tatler and Vanity Fair for the time being. We'll come back to them. According to this article for the New York Times, the New Yorker lost $30 million in 1993, the first full year Tina was in charge, $17 million in 1995, $14 million in 1996 and $11 million in 1998. It doesn't record the losses for 1994 and 1997, but if you factor in that it lost an average of $18 million a year in 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1998, and assume that it lost that amount in 1994 and 1997, the estimated total losses during Tina's reign were $108 million. Next, let's look at Talk, the magazine Tina launched with great fanfare in 1999. According to this article in the New York Times, by the time it folded in 2002 it had lost its backers (Hearst Magazines and Miramax) $27 million a year each. So that's a total of $54 million over the course of its (roughly) two year life. And that's a conservative estimate. This article in the New York Post puts the figure at $80 million, but I'm going to go with the more modest of the two. Finally, there's The Daily Beast, which Tina founded in 2008. According to this article by Michael Wolff in the current issue of GQ, the Daily Beast lost a total of $100 million during Brown's five year reign. If we add up those losses, we get a grand total of $264 million." (Toby Young)
"Television Without Pity announced yesterday that the website would be closing up shop on April 4, with the forums going dark in May. The news was met with sorrow and hand-wringing from the TV devout, who were not just saddened that new recaps would cease — which I could tolerate; there are lots of good recaps out there on the web — but more distressed that the archive of old recaps would no longer be easily available. It feels like a heartless, shortsighted move by NBCUniversal, but even if TWoP itself disappears, there's no way its long reach ever will. TWoP helped create contemporary TV culture as we know it. A brief history: Sarah D. Bunting and Tara Ariano (both of whom contribute to Vulture) started a Dawson's Creek dissection site in the mid-'90s; that eventually became Mighty Big TV, which became Television Without Pity in 2002. The site focused on long (often several thousand words), detailed, humorous recaps, plus forums intense enough that show creators were known to swing by from time to time. In 2007, Bravo Media bought the site, and then a year later the founders left, though TWoP forged on. Part of what made TWoP so impressive in its early years was the breadth of shows it covered. In the olden days of the internet, it was relatively easy to find fan sites for specific shows — I remember obsessively reading about Melrose Place back when half of the internet was personal homepages with 'Welcome to Kevin's Melrose Place Site!' slowly scrolling across the top, with dancing wizard GIFs and a MIDI rendition of 'Strawberry Fields Forever.' But TWoP covered high- and lowbrow shows, reality and scripted, all in the same place: Come for a 7th Heaven recap, and stay for Sports Night, NYPD Blue, Alias, and Survivor.TWoP certainly popularized the recap concept — which is now utterly pervasive across entertainment-based and general-interest sites — but it also introduced a new vein of what TV coverage entails. At one side of the spectrum is obsessive, effusive fan coverage, and at the other is formal, detached criticism. There's a place for both of these things in the universe, of course, because man is meant to live in balance. What TWoP did is insist that television criticism could be both arch and informed, that you could watch a lot of Roswell, you could care about Roswell, and you could still think Roswell is dumb garbage. Prestige shows like West Wing or The Sopranos don't get a pass just for being fancy — even a recap praising a fabulous episode still had jokey nicknames for people, or wry labels for various TV clichés. Many of the recaps are incredibly funny, but there are plenty that had serious ideas about storytelling or costuming or characters' gender politics, too." (NYMag)
"Except for the hovering of helicopters overhead carrying great slabs of rock or timber, the constant whirring of cranes and cement mixers, and the roar of trucks, the building site that Gstaad becomes the moment the last billionaire departs for places closer to sea level takes on a dreamlike visual vignette of an alpine village. So faint is my memory of the village I first came to love back in the 1950s, I sometimes close my eyes and try to envision it, but it’s a losing game. In fact it’s a Blanche Dubois-like delusion of past grandeur, of the lights and laughter and the loves of teenage days. Let’s face it: Only suckers look back, so I must be the greatest sucker of them all. I simply cannot accept that even here, in peaceful Switzerland, the developers have triumphed. Build big and build expensive is their motto, and there are people out there who will pay anything to be part of—what? If I knew, I’d tell you. Gstaad was a small farming community until the 1920s, when some rich sporting types began tying boards on their boots and sliding down the surrounding mountains. The season was short, the chalets belonged to locals, and the sporting elite lived in hotels and inns. The Palace was THE place to be seen and to stay. A lot of Americans discovered the place during the war once they had bailed out from their crippled bombers, having steered them over neutral Switzerland. After the war, in typical can-do Yankee fashion, they built chalets that were a bit less Spartan than the local ones and enjoyed a healthy and fun life that got you four Swiss francs to a single dollar, the Palace at the time offering rooms that were as low as three dollars per night.'Woodrow Wilson was a phony, but a small phony compared to Tony Blair.' So far, so good. Yours truly arrived in 1956 with a thousand dollars that was supposed to last me for three months and suddenly found myself a rich man. I moved into the Palace for the next thirty years. The dollar sank and with it went many American friends of mine who sold their chalets and moved back to whence they came full of good memories. They were replaced rather quickly with types that would rather sell their sisters into prostitution than fly a bomber over Germany during the war. Children are known to retreat into a fantasy world especially if they’re unhappy, but I had a happy childhood and a very lucky life yet find myself repeatedly retreating into the fantasy world I once inhabited…things such as the moonlight parties at the Eagle club, the drunken dancing until dawn at the Palace, and the riotous drenching of stiff types at the Olden. The latter place closed earlier than usual because the owner, one Bernie Ecclestone, loves money more than I love Jessica Raine. He makes less profit during the off-season; hence the closure. (Anyway, the once wonderful Olden has now jerked up its prices so much that only camel drivers turned oil tycoons can still afford it.)" (Taki)