I read The Sunday New York Times, so you don’t have to: July 8
Today’s coffee is an unfortunate generic brand. I forgot to pick up something good at the market from Joe. First music of the day: Paco de Lucia En Vivo, a live set by by the renowned Spanish classical guitarist. And remember, social mediates, you can now follow me on Twitter, @jeffspevak1.
1, So we were all worried about Super-PACS, the Political Action Committees that grew out of the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision that allows corporations to give unlimited contributions to their favorite political causes and candidates. Republicans, mostly. As Mitt Romney famously said, “Corporations are people too, my friend.” Turns out those people, the corporations, are a step ahead of us. “Instead, there is growing evidence that large corporations are trying to influence campaigns through another route,” The Times reports in its lead story. “Donating money to tax-exempt organizations that can spend millions of dollars without being subject to the disclosure requirements that apply to parties, candidates and PACs.”
2, Mitt Romney is in the Hamptons at a Republican fundraiser being hosted today by the conservative billionaire industrialist David Koch. The cost: $75,000 a couple. I’m betting newly married Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank and his husband aren’t invited to this one.
3, The Sunday Styles section expands on this notion, with Barack Obama skipping the Hamptons fundraising circuit in order to emphasize the difference between the two candidates; you won’t get John Kerry and Jimmy Buffett playing “Brown Eyed Girl” together while celeb chef Daniel Boulud prepars them bacon-wrapped Montauk tuna (at least Kerry was a leader in the locavore movement). But the Republican soires won ‘t have star power either. “There’s enough interest in stopping Obama,” said one Romney spokesman, “that you don’t need to hire entertainment and celebrity chefs.” Certainly it should be enough to hang out for a day at Revlon chairman Ronald Perelman’s estate, called by one tree-society bulletin “the eighth wonder of the horticultural world” and “the most outstanding private conifer collection the United States, a living work of art.” Romeny’s three Hamptons parties this weekend are expected to net his campaign $3 million.
4, “Dr. Gabriel Nahas, Marijuana Opponent, Dies at 92,” The Times headline reports. “Dr. Nahas saw his anti-drug campaign as nothing less than a continuation of the fight against totalitarianism,” the obit says, “which for him began during World War II as a decorated leader of the French Resistance; like totalitarianism, he believed, drugs enslaved the mind.” While many of Dr. Nahas’ medical findings – marijuana users display chromosome abnormalities – were disputed at the time, and still are, his anti-drug reputation resonated with many conservatives. “In the 1970s,” The Times writes, “he marshaled his newly public persona to sign newspaper advertisements criticizing opponents of the Vietnam War.”
5, International cheese authority Daphne Zepos has passed away from lung cancer at age 52. A writer up to her elbows in the cheese industry, Zepos campaigned hard on behalf of artisanal cheese in this country, The Times noting that her husband “said she might invoke Homer, Mark Rothko, the soul music of Stax/Volt Records and the pianist Glenn Gould in a single blissful breath.” The Times also notes that Zepos was “a gerontologist of cheese. More precisely, she was an affineur, as someone who oversees the aging of cheese to its exquisite, carefully calibrated pinnacle is known.” As her editor at The Atlantic magazine said, “She loved looking at the light in your eyes when she put a piece of cheese in your mouth.”
6, In the Travel section, we learn about sidetour.com, where you can pay for one-of-a-kind New York City tour experiences that “include authors, artists, musicians, professional chefs, bartenders and restauranteurs, a farmer, a monk, a concert pianist and a handbag designer.” A 1 1/2-hour conversation at the Core Club with the jazz musician David Sanborn will set you back $200, but you can have drinks at the Knickerbocker Bar and Grill or 1 1/2 hours with a Rolling Stone journalist for only $20.
7, London is experiencing a beer renaissance, a need that I was unaware of. I figured London always had craft beers aplenty, but in 2006 it had just seven working breweries. “It used to be the worst beer city in Britain,” says one pub owner. That number has since tripled. Civilization moves on.
8, According to a Princeton University study, the household standard for comfortable living in the United States is $75,000 a year, after which “the beneficial aspects of money tapered off entirely.”
9, In the Sunday Review, Brian McFadden’s comic strip, The Strip, nails lazy journalism. One panel is labeled “Trend Spotting,” and shows a reporter hovering over her laptop and urged to “Write a trend piece about the first thing you see” as a woman holding balloons walks by. “Balloons: Summer’s Hip New Accessory.”
10, Lamenting the incorrect reporting that followed seconds – and weeks later, still – the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act, University of San Diego law professor Frank Portnoy blames our rush to judgments. “E-mail, social media and the 24-hour news cycle are informational amphetamines,” he writes, “a cocktail of pills that we pop at an increasingly fast pace – and that leads us to make mistaken split-second decisions.”
11, The candidates for president are a little leaky with their history. When Obama points to Americans working together to accomplish great things in the past, such as building the Interstate highway system, he’s overlooking how contentious those projects were, a couple of history scholars write in the Sunday Review. And when Romney says the Founding Fathers were against gay marriage, stop and think: When did Washington or Jefferson ever address that issue? Did gay marriage ever even cross their minds?
12, Columnist Timothy Egan writes of events such as last week’s Colorado wildfires: “In March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in a special report of ‘unprecedented extreme weather and climate events’ to come. The events are here, though the skeptics now running the Republican Party deny the obvious, in large part because they are paid to deny the obvious.”
13, In the magazine, Sam Anderson has written an awesome piece on LeBron James. It spends a great deal of time with his exploits at the Greece Olympics in the 5th century B.C., as a Roman gladiator and then a 16th-century Aztec ullamaliztli player before arriving at his NBA career. James looks like “a sack of melons” Anderson writes, his face “a theater of strange beards and scowls.” Anderson uncovers a useful word – “uglyphine” – to describe James, “the paradoxical zone of attractiveness where beauty and ugliness meet.” Now that’s sportswriting.
14, It’s startling to hear the competitive Walker Cronkite described as “ruthless” when it came to competing with TV colleagues. Otherwise, he comes off quite as you’d expect in MSNBC host Chris Matthews’ review of Douglas Brinkley’s Cronkite. No subtitle needed on this book.
15, In My Cross the Bear, Gregg Allman describes the peak of the Allman Brothers Band’s success, and getting on the new private jet to find “Welcome Allman Bros” written in cocaine on the bar. By his estimate, Allman was in rehab 18 times before it took. Happy at last, with a new liver, reviewer David Kirby says Allman’s last words are “I don’t know if I’d do it all again.”