The Real Gossip Girl
New York on the hellish farce of NYC Prep.
New York, July 13 A feature on the new Bravo reality show NYC Prep calls the series "an upper-class farce" about Manhattan as "a capitalist hell … a symbol of spiritual emptiness, an island of lost souls, almost submerged in colorful cocktails." The image marks a change in New York's portrayal on TV, the article argues, since "[i]n the past, reality shows about the rich were, for the most part, a West Coast phenomenon."… A profile portrays Bernie Madoff's wife, Ruth, as "one of the most reviled figures in New York." Her sons have stopped speaking to her, her husband is locked up for life, and there's still a chance she could be questioned about her involvement in his financial crimes. "In the public eye, Ruth has come to represent the spoils of her husband's criminal activity." Her once-glittering social life over for good, now Ruth is "too timid to venture into places like museums, for fear of recognition."
Weekly Standard, July 13 The cover story reviews several new books on Margaret Thatcher and tries to account for "the strengthening of Thatcher's reputation as time goes by." "Popular biographies and memoirs of friends tend to concentrate on Thatcher's personality and take the rightness of her politics for granted. Most of these show the decisive and energetic stateswoman of legend." In today's climate of financial uncertainty, Thatcher remains popular among Britons for "her business-friendly policies, tax cuts, and labor union reforms."… An article gives the Senate pointers for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's upcoming confirmation hearings. Although "the expectation of drama and excitement in confirmation hearings is seldom fulfilled," senators should not settle for equivocating answers from Sotomayor. They should ask pointed questions about the effects of Supreme Court decisions on "American politics and culture," such as Sotomayor's thoughts on the role of the court in the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision.
Vanity Fair, August 2009 A feature on Sarah Palin by Todd S. Purdum rehashes notable events on the campaign trail, with a few new facts. Before her legendary interview with Katie Couric, aides told Purdum, Palin was more concerned with preparing "a humdrum written questionnaire from her hometown newspaper." Later, Mark McKinnon, "a smart, funny, soft-spoken former Democrat from Texas," came onboard to coach Palin for the debate with Joe Biden. At one point, aides wondered whether Palin was suffering from postpartum depression, and at a pro-life event in Indiana this spring, Palin "made a startling confession" that when she first found out she was pregnant with Trig, she understood why some women consider abortion. … Michael Wolff's column praises Politico for being "some obsessive-compulsive mix of trade journal, Twitter feed, and, quite literally, real-time chat with seniormost newsmakers and leakers." However, its keen specificity "reduces the world to Rahm Emanuel and to the people who want to be Rahm Emanuel."
New York Review of Books, July 16 In an essay, Michael Chabon reminisces about the "thin two-acre remnant of a once-mighty wilderness" where he and his friends growing up in Maryland pretended to be "braves, crusaders, commandos, blues and grays." He laments the fact that today's coddled children are not given the same freedom to explore their surroundings unattended. "If children are not permitted—not taught—to be adventurers and explorers as children, what will become of the world of adventure, of stories, of literature itself?"… An essay argues that the horrors of the German concentration camp at Auschwitz have overshadowed the full scope of killings that wiped out European populations in the 1930s and 1940s. "The geographic, moral, and political center of the Europe of mass killing is the Europe of the East, above all Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltic States, lands that were subject to sustained policies of atrocity" by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
Monocle, July/August 2009 Its annual survey of the 25 "most liveable cities" in the world ranks urban locales based on "everything from public transport, education, cultural outlets, crime, hours of sunshine and global flight connections" to "chain store pollution" and "ease of opening a business." Zurich tops the list. … An article asks, "Should cities that have lost their purpose be abandoned?" A scientist suggests New Orleans might be better off relocating farther from the coast, for example. But although "human beings are ruthless in discarding obsolete technologies, politics and fashions, we do not give up on cities easily."… An essay observes that "[t]he slum, with its lack of clean water, electricity and anything provided by the government, sums up the state of African cities." Without the "political will" and "visionary civic leaders" to improve urban public works and the judicial system, the divide between Africa's rich and poor will only increase.