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Daily Briefing

Deep buzz for the content-deprived

Every weekday, while you get showered and dressed, we pluck these dewy- fresh, breaking stories from the info-clogged byways of the datasphere. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and stoke up on everything you need to know, or at least enough to fake it.

Wilde Ride
Anthony Paletta, The Daily Beast | Wilde Ride | January 5, 2013

There is not a shred of proof that Oscar Wilde quipped, upon entering the United States, “I have nothing to declare except my genius.” But, given his record of wit, newspaper publishers seem to have been quite happy to simply print the legend—and who could ever blame them?

It is oddly fitting that the most prominent relic of Wilde’s 1882 tour of the United States is possibly apocryphal, given that the actual substance of the tour seems, short of a few narrowly-missed meetings, the stuff of dime novels and historical fiction. Declaring His Genius: Oscar Wilde in North America, Roy Morris, Jr.’s delightful account of the tour, sets a visitor from one realm (Wilde) careening into one that seems impossibly separate (early Gilded Age America); not merely drinking elderberry wine with Walt Whitman in Camden, or holding chilly conversation with Henry James in Washington, but lecturing in Saint Josephs, Missouri, two weeks after the death of Jesse James, calling on an elderly Jefferson Davis at his Mississippi plantation, and falling prey to a con-man in New York’s Tenderloin...

Eunuchs Of The Universe: Tom Wolfe On Wall Street Today
Tom Wolfe, Newsweek | Eunuchs Of The Universe: Tom Wolfe On Wall Street Today | January 4, 2013

Come join us as we go back seven months to the apex of the history of American capitalism in the 21st century. We find ourselves in a swarm of fellow starstruck souls outside the Sheraton Hotel on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, churning, squirming to slip past a battalion of cops and a platoon of security operatives in gray suits with small white techno-polyps in their ears attached to coils of white intercom cord trying to keep us under control… as we all but trample the raggedy, homeless-looking ranks of the television crews and every other laggard in our way.

We are ablaze!—ablaze with excitement, burning, yearning for a glimpse of the John Jacob Astor, the Andrew Carnegie, the E.H. Harriman, the John D. Rockefeller, the Henry Ford, the Bill Gates of our century… and that’s him! Look at him! He’s not wearing Astor’s wing collar debouching a silk four-in-hand or John D.’s stiff silk topper and morning coat with a red carnation in the buttonhole of the left lapel and a pair of striped pants, nor even Bill Gates’s off-the-Joseph A. Bank—rack sack suit. No, our man is only 27 years old and attired as a tycoon of our time… His shirt is a gray T-shirt, one of the 30-some gray T-shirts he has on hand in order to make sure he is clad in the same rebelliously fashion-defying teenager garb every day… and over it, a dark-gray sweatshirt with a hood, a garment known familiarly as a hoodie. From this day, May 7, 2012, forward, the hoodie becomes his symbol, his trademark, his battle standard...

A Careful Writer Stalks The Truth About Scientology
Charles McGrath, The New York Times Book Review | A Careful Writer Stalks The Truth About Scientology | January 4, 2013

The writer Lawrence Wright doesn’t seem at all the sort of person you’d find in public wearing a black cowboy shirt emblazoned with big white buffalos. He’s shy, soft-spoken, a little professorial. But as if he didn’t have enough to do, besides working on three plays simultaneously and getting ready to publish a new book in two weeks, Mr. Wright has been taking piano lessons with Floyd Domino, the two-time Grammy winner, and on a recent Saturday, in his buffalo shirt, he played in a concert at the Victory Grill here with the band WhoDo. Mr. Wright was at the keyboard, and sang solo on “Sixty-Minute Man” and the Count Basie tune “She’s Funny That Way.” Not bad for a bookworm.

“I decided a while ago that I would only do things that are really important or really fun,” Mr. Wright said. “This is really fun.”

More fun, probably, than dealing with lawyers. His new book, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief” (Knopf) is about the famously litigious Church of Scientology, and he said he has received innumerable threatening letters from lawyers representing the church or some of the celebrities who belong to it...

The Incredible Story Of What Happened When Two Gay Men Were Harassed While Waiting For Pizza

This past weekend I was a part of something incredible that happened in my community of Columbus, Ohio. After a fun night out in the Short North, my friend Ethan and I ventured down the street to a popular pizza truck called Mikey's Late Night Slice. As a frequent late night visitor to the truck I knew the requisite wait in line is part of the process for securing an insanely good slice of pizza. It was really cold so Ethan and I were holding hands and standing close together to keep warm, we were laughing and joking about all the fun we'd had that night, when all of the sudden the guy in front of us turns around and tells us to cut our "gay shit" out.

 

 

Joel Diaz

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The Incredible Story of What Happened When Two Gay Men Were Harassed While Waiting for Pizza

Posted: 01/02/2013 2:28 pm

 

 

 

 

 

This past weekend I was a part of something incredible that happened in my community of Columbus, Ohio. After a fun night out in the Short North, my friend Ethan and I ventured down the street to a popular pizza truck called Mikey's Late Night Slice. As a frequent late night visitor to the truck I knew the requisite wait in line is part of the process for securing an insanely good slice of pizza. It was really cold so Ethan and I were holding hands and standing close together to keep warm, we were laughing and joking about all the fun we'd had that night, when all of the sudden the guy in front of us turns around and tells us to cut our "gay shit" out.

I was a bit startled  by his words but I didn't expect what happened next. Almost every single person in that line made it known to him it was not OK for him to speak to us like that...

Angelo Mozilo, Former Countrywide CEO, Claimns He Doesn't Know What 'Verified Income' Is

Another day, another corporate titan suffering from devastating amnesia. This time, the memory-loss patient is none other than Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of Countrywide Financial.

Deposed in the landmark lawsuit between the monoline insurer MBIA and Countrywide/Bank of America, Mozilo professed not to know the difference between "verified" income and "stated" income. He also made some incredible remarks regarding his notorious "Friends of Angelo" lending program, in which, among others, political figures like North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd received Countrywide mortgages on highly advantageous terms just because they were tight with the CEO...

Peter Pan, Alzheimer's Patient
Brad Leithauser, The New Yorker | Peter Pan, Alzheimer's Patient | January 2, 2013

...“Peter Pan” is another matter: a different book whenever you pick it up. In this year, the seventy-fifth anniversary of Barrie’s death, I read it twice. Recent rereadings have left me increasingly feeling that the book’s preoccupation with forgetfulness—an utter lack of fixity—is a little chilling. Naturally, the book’s heroine, the levelheaded girl-child Wendy (an instinctive nanny and nursemaid, or, in modern parlance, a born primary care-giver) sees the issue most clearly. Peter’s hopeless. He can’t retain anything. I know of no other children’s book in which forgetfulness is so pervasive and disquieting a theme. Wendy begins fretting about Peter’s memory even before they reach the Neverland. While still in mid-flight, he seems to forget the names of Wendy and her two younger brothers. The book’s high jinks haven’t yet begun, and already, debating within herself, she’s worried about his ability to retain them: “ ‘—And if he forgets them so quickly,’ Wendy argued, ‘how can we expect that he will go on remembering us?’ ” Wendy is confronted with the prospect of Peter Pan, Alzheimer’s patient...

50 Shades Of Vulgarity
Christine Haughney, The New York Times | 50 Shades Of Vulgarity | January 2, 2013

Cindi Leive, editor in chief of Glamour, was searching for the best way to draw readers’ attention to an article in the November 2011 issue about how women could better organize their closets and bank accounts. “12 ways to get your act together” didn’t have much punch. “12 ways to get your stuff together” also fell flat. So she decided to substitute “act” with a word unprintable here and waited for the angry letters to pour in. They never came.

“It appeared I was the last person on planet Earth to care about it,” Ms. Leive said about the decision to put an expletive on a magazine cover. “It has not been an issue.”...

2012 Year In Review
Ann Telnaes, The Washington Post | 2012 Year In Review | December 31, 2012

A look back at some of the years highlights and lowlights...

'Gangnam Style,' 'Call Me Maybe' & More of 2012's Best Viral Videos
Ben Teitelbaum, The Daily Beast | 'Gangnam Style,' 'Call Me Maybe' & More of 2012's Best Viral Videos | December 31, 2012

Was 2012 the best year ever? If you're the Internet, the answer might be yes. From 'KONY 2012' to Felix Baumgartner's skydive from space, watch our countdown of the videos that almost made the Internet explode...

The Great Smog Of China
Clarissa Seabag-Montefiore, The New York Times | The Great Smog Of China | December 31, 2012

My mornings in my home in Beijing always follow the same routine. Wake up. Make coffee. Check Air Quality Index online. Feel faintly depressed.

The AQI is tweeted by the U.S. embassy hourly. The rating ranges from “good” to “hazardous” to off the charts, and it determines my day: whether I bike or take public transport to work, whether I go for a run outside, and in the summer, whether I eat dinner in my balmy courtyard or huddle indoors with the windows shut and the air filter on.

It is a relief, then, to be back in London for the holidays; here, rain, not pollution, dominates small talk. I joke that driving into Beijing on a bad day is like entering the Gates of Mordor. England’s endlessly shifting tableaux of clouds, by contrast, seem sublime...