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Archive for BOOK REVIEWS

Book Review: ROGUES’ GALLERY The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Metropolitan Museum By Michael Gross via [nyt]

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Exhibitionists

By AMY FINNERTY

Michael Gross, a journalist and best-selling author, organ­izes “Rogues’ Gallery,” his tirelessly detailed and gossipy history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, not around its more than two million artworks — many gouged from tombs, many magnanimously donated; many venerated by humanity, many coveted by jealous curators — but around the handful of men (and rare women) who have run what may be America’s pre-eminent cultural institution. The Met’s gatekeepers are the “rogues” of the book’s title.

The museum’s directors (there have been nine since its inception), its curators and board members, and the moneybags who have donated important collections together form a blockbuster exhibition of human achievements and flaws. Gross maintains that the place has bred in its stewards “arrogance, hauteur, hubris, vanity and even madness.”

The urban planner Robert Moses — “a 20th-century czar of the city,” as Gross puts it — was aware of the problem. In the late 1930s, he pushed the elitist mu­seum to be more democratic, entertaining and responsive to the community. But proximity to treasure, the author suggests, is a potent narcotic, and the Met has always attracted — and magnified — big egos (many having lived within a few blocks of one another on the Upper East Side).

Luigi Palma di Cesnola became the Met’s first director in 1879. This former soldier of fortune had a provenance as dubious as some of the collections he presided over. In 1865,trading on a wispy connection to the recently assassinated Abraham Lincoln, he managed to be named United States consul to Cyprus, and there, smelling opportunity, started digging up tombs. Within a few years he had 12,000 objects, many of which he later installed at the Met.

Cesnola revealed his contempt for the public during a debate about opening the young museum on Sundays to accommodate the city’s working folk. Calling them “loafers” and “scum,” he declared the idea unthinkable, envisioning visitors who would “peel bananas, eat lunches, even spit” in the museum.

Gross, whose previous books include “Model” and “740 Park,” has a quiverful of damning items about his subjects. The Met president J. P. Morgan became paranoid and delusional toward the end of his life; William Ivins, acting director of the museum in 1938, had an “absolutely ungovernable” temper, according to his assistant, and was nicknamed Ivins the Terrible; Arthur Houghton, the president from 1964 to 1969, was “a serial marrier whose new wife was always younger than his last.”

In a typical revelation, Thomas Hoving, the museum’s charismatic director from 1967 to 1977, recalls a conversation he had with Robert Lehman, who would become the Met’s first chairman. Hoving says that when he suggested a Jewish financier for the board, Lehman, who was himself Jewish, objected to the nominee and went on to explain to Hoving the difference between “the Episcopalian Jews” and what he coarsely deemed the less desirable sort. (The author reports that Lehman’s son questions Hoving’s reliability on this matter.)

Hoving — who, unlike those who have recently run the museum, cooperated with Gross — is central to many of the book’s most pungent passages. In one, he calls Nelson Rockefeller “a cheap grifter.” In another, he recounts his delicate dealings with what was known as Culture Gulch, the culture desk of The New York Times. (Arthur Ochs Sulzber­ger, chairman emeritus of The New York Times Company, served as chairman of the museum from 1987 to 1998.)

The philanthropists and former Met trustees Charlie and Jayne Wrightsman make for a rich source of material, including pages of Vanity Fair-worthy name-dropping and social climbing. In a passage that may be as snobbish as the museum is reputed to be, Gross says that Charlie Wrightsman hired tutors to teach his wife not only table manners and French but also “proper English.”

Certainly, the Met has been used to launder reputations and fortunes, and in turn has used its supporters. But in this telling, sadly, its magnificent art is buried in lurid details.

“Perfumes: The Guide” by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez via [Allure and Luckyscent]

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Perfumes - The Guide  by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez

Perfumes – The Guide
by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez

Perfumes: The Guide (Hardcover)Perfumes: The Guide (Hardcover) by Luca Turin (Author) Tania Sanchez (Author)
Buy used from: $23.00

The Scoop
Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez are experts in the world of scent. Turin, a renowned scientist, and Sanchez, a longtime perfume critic, have spent years sniffing the world’s most elegant and beautiful–as well as some truly terrible–perfumes. In Perfumes: The Guide, they combine their talents and experience to review more than twelve hundred fragrances, separating the divine from the good from the monumentally awful. Through witty, irreverent, and illuminating prose, the reviews in Perfumes not only provide consumers with an essential guide to shopping for fragrance, but also make for a unique reading experience.
Perfumes features introductions to women’s and men’s fragrances and an informative “”frequently asked questions”” section including: 

  • What is the difference between eau de toilette and perfume?
  • How long can I keep perfume before it goes bad?
  • What’s better: splash bottles or spray atomizers?
  • What are perfumes made of?
  • Should I change my fragrance each season?

Perfumes: The Guide is an authoritative, one-of-a-kind book that will do for fragrance what Robert Parker’s books have done for wine. Beautifully designed and elegantly illustrated, this book will be the perfect gift for collectors and anyone who’s ever had an interest in the fascinating subject of perfume.

 

Adore or odour?

THE BEST…

Mitsouko
L’Heure Bleue
Chanel No 5
Joy
Shalimar
Angel
Diorella
Chanel Pour Monsieur
Timbuktu
Knize Ten

AND THE WORST…

Creed’s Love in White
Chanel Gardenia
Michael Kors

The Classics

Some of these five-star landmarks definitively changed the history of perfume, and some stand the test of time because they continue to smell fantastic, decade after decade.

By Tania Sanchez

Chanel No. 5 (1921) and No. 5 Eau de Toilette (1924) Two monuments of perfect structure and texture.

Mitsouko by Guerlain (1919) Dark, rich, and exquisitely beautiful.

Habit Rouge by Guerlain (1965) A soft and rasping scent, like stubble on a handsome cheek.

L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain (1912) Guerlain at its best; a wearable praline.

Opium by Yves Saint Laurent (1977) The most distinctive spicy oriental ever.

Pleasures by Estée Lauder (1995) This antidote to the loud fragrances of the 1980s; smells fresh out of the bath.

Shalimar by Guerlain (1925) The perfect little black cocktail dress, translated into fragrance.

Angel by Thierry Mugler (1992) A huge, brassy belly laugh of a scent.

Vol de Nuit by Guerlain (1933) This is what quality smells like.

White Linen by Estée Lauder (1978) The smell of snow in sunshine.

Five-Star Scents

We rank fragrances, giving five stars to masterpieces, four stars to excellent fragrances, three stars to solid, yet uninspiring ones, two stars to disappointing scents, and one star to fragrances so vile they insult the smeller. And we call them like we smell them. One startled PR assistant asked coauthor Luca Turin, after he requested an actual perfume and not just press releases, “What will your opinion rest on?” He answered, “A triangular appendage in the middle of my face—called the nose.” 

By Lucia Turin and Tania Sanchez

Badgley Mischka
Gorgeous Fruity
The first thing I noticed was a big, breathtaking fruity top note, which I promptly forgot about, since what doesn’t have a big fruity top note these days? The second time, I was floored by the lushness and freshness, reminding me of ripe fruit before everything goes to brandy—peaches, mangoes, lychees, pineapples. Like church bells on Easter morning, this is simple and perfect and sure. It’s like a novel in which the hero discovers that his friend is the most beautiful girl in the room, and only familiarity prevented him from seeing it was time to face the facts: It’s love.

Beyond Paradise by Estée Lauder
Symphonic Floral
What is so impressive about Beyond Paradise’s masterful portrait of a fresh, fictional, ideal tropical flower is that the image holds steady for hours. It takes a lot of work to make something this accomplished appear this easy. Lovers of exotic beach-fantasy florals put out by niche firms should pick up the weird sci-fi rainbow nipple bottle at the Lauder counter and give it an honest try.

Calyx by Prescriptives
Guava Rose
Calyx maintains a perfect balance between clean crispness and rosy sweetness without ever falling into either camp completely. For a scent of the ’80s—1986, to be exact—Calyx also manages to smell incredibly fresh and modern. This scent helped inspire the next generation of fruity, clean florals, although none have really improved on it. It’s one of those rare fragrances you could wear your whole life.

Chinatown by Bond N.Y.C. No. 9
Gourmand Chypre
The plucky Bond No. 9 has produced its masterpiece. Chinatown is one of those fragrances that smells immediately, compellingly, and irresistibly great. It’s both oddly familiar and surprising. Some people find it too sweet. To my nose it smells like a corner of a small French grocery in summer, in the exact spot where the smell of floor wax meets that of ripe peaches. A treasure in a beautiful bottle.

Lolita Lempicka by Thierry Mugler
Herbal Angel
With most of the many fragrances inspired by Thierry Mugler Angel, the first thing you think on smelling them is: Hello, Angel. Not this time. Lolita Lempicka keeps the sweet, woody stuff but skips the push-up bra. The fragrance is snappy and smart, the ideal accompaniment for flirtatious banter from prim girls in glasses. It’s also a clever feminine that clever men can wear. I once got on a subway just as a pretty young man stepped off in a cloud of it. Bonus: darling bottle.

Missoni
Kaleidoscopic Floral
I have no idea whether this perfume will still be around in ten years, but I will make sure I have enough of it to last me a lifetime. Missoni is one of the most accomplished fragrances to be created in years. The fragrance alters as it dries on the skin; it’s beautifully modulated, and then it has a luminous, almost minty accord. The subsequent effect is a perfume that feels very much alive, somehow composing itself as it goes along. Most other perfumes are rapidly fading photographs; this one is a movie.

Tommy Girl by Tommy Hilfiger
Tea Floral
No fragrance in recent memory has suffered more from being affordable than Tommy Girl. It’s as if it were deemed less desirable for being promiscuous. Tommy Girl’s origins were explained by its creator Calice Becker, who asked a chemist to sample the air in the Mariage Frères tea store in Paris to figure out what gave it its unique fragrance. To this tea base an exhilarating floral accord, traje de luces, was added to form Tommy Girl. Hilfiger’s public relations team asked Becker for a reason to label the fragrance as typically American. A botany expert was called in, and, to everyone’s surprise, the composition fell neatly into several native American varieties of flowers.

Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, copyright ©2008 by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez.




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Book Review: “French Women Don’t Sleep Alone” by Jamie Cat Callan via [zabeth’scorner]

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originally posted by Zabeth

In her book French Women Don’t Sleep Alone Jamie Cat Callan outlines the romantic secrets of French women that have intrigued and captivated men (and some women) for decades. Callan unlocks the secrets that have made French women so alluring.I did find the advice offered in this book to be good; however, it’s the same advice you’d find in The Rules. Both books concur that women should not chase men, that they should play hard to get and, not make themselves too easily available. That’s nothing new or revolutionary. Also when reading this book there are some obvious caveats that you should take into consideration. First, French men are not American men and French culture is not American culture so, not everything will “translate”
so to speak. Second, the French live in a much smaller much more intimate country; therefore, their “rules of the game” will be different from our own.

I also don’t like the notion of European cultural superiority and the idea that Europe does things better than America, or that Americans need to learn something from Europeans. As a proud “can do” American I do get a bit defensive about that. Nonetheless there are many things in this book that American women can learn from French women:

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  1. Instead of going online or to a club/bar try throwing a dinner party.

    French women don’t meet men online or in bars. Instead they meet men through their existing social circle or “coterie.” Try throwing a dinner party at your home and have each guest bring one or two guests. This broadens your social circle and will give you a chance to get intimately acquainted with the people in your inner circle. Your friends and acquaintances will get to see you in a different light too- dinner parties give you a chance to show off your intellect and your cooking and conversation skills. There’s also an air of competition. When you’re online men already know you are available; when you meet at a dinner party they won’t and thus can’t take you for granted. They’ll also take note of other potential suitors.

  2. Go for a walk.

    Instead of going to a restaurant on a first date and confining yourself to that one person for 2 hours, go on a walk or a bicycle ride. This eliminates the quid-pro-quo where because the man is paying for something he feels entitled and you (may) feel obligated. Also when you’re out and about walking through town looking and smelling good other men will notice you…and don’t think your date won’t notice that. For the times when you don’t have a date, fill in the time by doing something else out and about in the world where you can be visible to the opposite sex.

  3. Dare to be feminine.

    There’s nothing wrong with being a woman and embracing your femininity. American women have had this beaten out of them for the past 40 years. French women on the other hand love being women and they don’t turn their sensuality on and off- it’s just always on. Second, French women don’t hide their intelligence. In fact they like to look brainy and appear intellectual. Intelligence isn’t a masculine trait and, real men know that smart is sexy.

  4. Take care of your body.

    French women put themselves first. Putting yourself first means taking care of your body both physically and emotionally. This is something we as BW especially, often neglect to do. Always know you’re beautiful and be happy with who you are. Exercise. Eat quality, nutritious food. Take good care of your skin. In other words, don’t neglect yourself.

  5. The myth of the French Mistress.

    Contrary to popular belief, adultery is not as tolerated in France as some people (men) would like to believe. Nor are French women as tolerant of a husband’s indiscretions as we are sometimes led to believe. Let’s also not ignore the fact that women are just as capable of being unfaithful. Affairs do happen in France but it’s really not much different than in the U.S.

Overall I’d give this book 2 and ½ stars out of 5. Callan often repeats herself- really just re-wording points she’s already made- throughout the book. However, I found it to be a cute and fast paced read that offered interesting advice and insight into another culture.



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Book Review: Rich Like Them by Ryan D’Agostino via [thesimpledollar.com and blog.budgetpulse]

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Rich Like
Them: My Door-to-Door Search for the Secrets of Wealth in America’s
Richest Neighborhoods
by Ryan D’Agostino

Buy new: $10.40 / Used from: $9.40
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One: Open Your Eyes

We’re all almost drowning in opportunities. The problem is
that many of us simply don’t see them. We’re either too focused on the
specific little thing at hand or simply aren’t keeping our mind open
when we’re “off the clock.” Every person you meet and every situation
you’re in is an opportunity not only to improve yourself, but to connect
to others and open the door to money-making possibilities.

What steps can you take? Build relationships with people – and, even
better, try to connect those relationships to each other, because
bringing people together in a useful way is one of the best things you
can do. Listen to what people are actually saying and doing – and try as
hard as you can to keep your own conclusions out of the mix.

Two: Luck Doesn’t Exist

Luck is mostly about preparation. If you have the
ability to record great ideas and to take immediate advantage of
opportunities that come your way, you’ll seem much more lucky than the
guy who never writes anything down and doesn’t have a hefty savings
account.

What steps can you take? Write down ideas as soon as they come to
you. Have an “opportunity fund” in the bank in cash form that
you can use when something great comes along. Surround yourself with
people who are doing useful and interesting things.

Three: The Economics of
Obsession

Find something you’re passionate
about and throw yourself in head first. Become obsessed with
what you’re doing. Read everything you can get your hands on. Meet
everyone even remotely related to your passion. Try it all. Practice,
practice, practice.

What steps can you take? Figure out what you’re truly passionate
about, then when you find it, make it central to your life. Surround
yourself with people and activities that reinforce that passion. Become
so obsessed, in fact, that others sometimes find it almost scary.

Four: The Myth of Risk

Risk is real, but most people use risk as an excuse not to try things.
Instead, you should build a safety net for yourself and take that leap
sometimes. A risk that others aren’t willing to take is often the source
of an incredible opportunity for someone who is passionate and is
prepared.

What steps can you take? Make your own life as financially secure as
you can. Dig into opportunities and figure out their real risks. Realize
that if something is truly in your wheelhouse, you’re likely to face
less risk than someone less impassioned.

Five: Humility

Above all, no matter what happens, be humble. Humility takes you far
in life – you can mess up and you will. The way you
treat others often winds up matching the way they treat you, especially
at that key moment when you really need their help.

What steps can you take? Treat everyone well. Don’t
complain about the behavior of others – instead, set your own example.
Be humble about your accomplishments instead of bragging about them.

The Best Part: Little
Points of Wisdom

The part of this book that
really stuck with me was the short principles and quotes inserted
throughout the book every few pages. I collected these pieces together,
simply because I thought they were so incredibly worthwhile:

Don’t forget your goal – even when you’re on vacation
Where
others see death, imagine life
When you hear someone say “If only I
could…,” you’re hearing an opportunity
Connect the people you meet

Even when you find the sure thing, save some money for a rainy day

Once you connect the dots, follow through
Choose your purpose, and
don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong
Remember: with time comes
free money
Watch your pennies, no matter how many you have
Keep
your cool – it’s a big part of persevering
Don’t deviate from your
planned path to get a quick gain
Perseverance doesn’t take forever

Once you find your calling, persevering is easy
Remember that you
can’t do a business transaction with yourself
Prepare to get lucky

Find a driver other than money – it’s usually more lucrative than money
alone
Do one thing and do it well
Obsess over whatever job you
have
Take your mind off the money – you’ll earn more
Don’t plan
a career – plan a life
Obsession makes you work harder
If you
look forward to going to work, that’s a good sign
Discover love
through immersion
Turn fear into passion
Never stop being a
student
Calculate every risk – even the one you live in
Look for
your window to go solo
You want autonomy? Let it motivate you

Be cocky when it counts
Don’t worry about what other people think

Reduce risk by believing in yourself
When you fail miserably,
rejoice
If you hate your career, um, change it
Sometimes the
biggest risk is doing nothing
Never let pride get in the way of
profit
Be humble even if you’re as rich as Brooke Astor

Understand your limitations
Don’t be a slave to Plan A – it’ll
prevent you from seeing plan B
Don’t be afraid to make less than
your spouse
Never feel as if you’re too successful to sweat

Remember that you are not, nor will you ever be, a god or goddess

Good stuff, all around. Somewhere in there is a piece of advice that
is probably a life changer for you.

Is Rich Like Them Worth Reading?

Rich Like Them is a spectacular handbook for
someone who is a self-starter with an entrepreneurial bent. If you’ve
got a strong desire to build your own success, the advice in this book
can provide a great foundation.

If that doesn’t sound like you, Rich Like Them doesn’t have as much to offer.
Unlike The Millionaire Next Door and The Difference, the focus here is strongly on
entrepreneurial behaviors – taking advantage of the opportunities around
you.

So, here’s the deal: if you have an entrepreneurial nature, Rich Like Them is an excellent read; if not, I
highly recommend giving The Millionaire Next Door and The Difference a read.


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Book Review: Chowhounds by Dr. Ernie Ward via [LifeofaBusyMom.com]

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Host: Ernie Ward

Ernie Ward

“Chowhounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter—A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives”

About a month ago I was given the opportunity to take a sneak peek at the book, “Chowhounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter—A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives” by Ernie Ward D.V.M. Dr. Ernest Ward, DVM, or “Dr. Ernie,” is a practicing veterinarian who is dedicated to helping pets and their humans live healthier lives. He appears regularly on the Rachael Ray Show, and has been featured on Animal Planet, NBC Nightly News, and CNN.

As soon as I read about him, I was interested in seeing what his book was all about. As most of you know, almost six months ago Dinsmore became extremely ill and after a lot of painful appointments, we discovered that he suffers from canine colitis, which is very similar to colitis that humans get. He was on tons of medications, needed lose about five pounds, and his entire diet had to change. Because of the illness, his weight came off quickly (and not all by choice), but for other dogs that have issues, it is not that easy. I mean I can barely lose five pounds so how was I expected to make my 25 dog lose five pounds. We were very lucky with Dinsmore, and he is now on a strict diet regime integrated with activity, and stress management techniques.

via[YouTube]

After reading this book, I became aware of how much I did not know about taking care of my little guy. This book is broken down in an easy to read format that gives you the opportunity to see why your dog could be overweight, and healthy ways to change its life with food, exercise, and gives the owner a greater understanding about your four legged friend.

The book was extremely easy to read, and really opened my eyes about a lot of things. What has stuck with me is chapters he wrote about dog food regulations, and what the different types of food (entree, flavored, etc.) really mean, and my friends it was not as pretty as you think. This book is completely fascinating, and there are even tasty recipe treats for your fur-baby.

I wish I had read this book a lot sooner. It made me reflect on how many things I could have done differently if I had just known. Even though I finished this book a couple weeks ago, I have gone back and checked with it a couple times when talking or looking at things in Dinsmore’s life. Even if you think you know everything there is to know about keeping your pup healthy, I can guarantee you are missing big things. Even when it comes to working out your dog, it explains how animals burn calories, and how to do it in a safe manner, and things you make think are safe really aren’t. Totally interesting right?

via [www.lifeofabusywife.com]



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Book Review: Celebrations by Preston Bailey via [luxist, allthebest ]

Preston Bailey
Celebrations: Lush Flowers, Opulent Tables, Dramatic Spaces, and Other
Inspirations for Entertaining (Hardcover)

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Preston
Bailey Celebrations: Lush Flowers, Opulent Tables, Dramatic Spaces, and
Other Inspirations for Entertaining
by Preston
Bailey
Buy new: $37.80 / Used from:
$35.00
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Just in time for the holidays, the
fabulous Preston Bailey has released a new book. I had the opportunity
to meet Preston this past April, and he is as charming and wonderful
in person as the events he creates. 

Preston
Bailey Celebrations
is a collection of his extraordinary floral
arrangements, set designs, lighting and art installations. Truly it is a
visually spectacular book filled with inspiration and breathtaking
photography.

Simply stunning!

Tell Us Everything, Event Designer Preston Bailey

by Carrie N.
Culpepper

Last week, high-end event
planner Preston Bailey
gathered hundreds in the sprawling 69th
Regiment Armory in Manhattan to celebrate the launch of his fourth book,
“Preston Bailey Celebrations.” The gorgeous book is
filled with images of the lavish events he’s designed the world over
(with rates starting at $250,000), from a stunning Tiffany-glass
inspired wedding in New York to a reception with giant floral animals in
Bali. So you can expect his own party would be a stunner – not to
mention celebrity-tinged.

Bailey created a magical environment
with no shortage of glitz (above). Two giant disco balls dramatically
projected light throughout the room and dreamlike trees glowed at the
entrance. A giant runway ran down the middle of the room, which was
projected with a rotating image of pages from his book, giving it the
illusion of a printing press. The runway served as a stage for
performers such as Martha “Everybody Dance Now” Wash and Gloria Gaynor,
then later was filled with attendees dancing. Bailey was true to his
theory that a diverse crowd makes for the best parties. He was feted by
quite a diverse crowd.


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Designer Preston Bailey”



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STYLE DEFICIT DISORDER: HARAJUKU STREET FASHION – TOKYO by Tiffany Godoy

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Style Deficit Disorder

Harajuku
Street Fashion—Tokyo
By Tiffany Godoy
Edited
by Ivan Vartanian

Style Deficit Disorder: Harajuku Street Fashion - TokyoStyle
Deficit Disorder: Harajuku Street Fashion – Tokyo
by Tiffany Godoy
Buy new: $11.98 / Used
from: $15.37
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hours

Style
Deficit Disorder

Style Deficit Disorder — The Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo has
become an international style mecca, a street-level fashion scene
prowled by major designers looking for inspiration, and whose local,
cutting-edge labels enjoy global cache. Style Deficit Disorder
is the first book to explore this remixed, fast-forward fashion hotbed,
profiling its most daring and influential designers, labels, stylists,
and shops (including Comme des Garçons, Hysteric Glamour, Super Lovers, A
Bathing Ape, and Laforet). Featuring nearly 200 photos, essays by key
Japanese fashion editors, and commentary by Edison Chen, Patricia Field,
John Galliano, Shawn Stussy, Shu Uemura and others, this is a
must-have, insider’s look at an international fashion and pop culture
epicenter, past, present, and future.

Tiffany Godoy is a contributor to V and Vogue Nippon
and former fashion editor at Japanese culture magazines Composite
and Studio Voice. She lives in Tokyo.

Quotes

Style Deficit Disorder is an awesome encyclopedic breakdown
of [Harajuku]..” —The Fader

“essential reading for anyone who wants to get the real lowdown on
the fabled district.” —Japan Times

“Too Good To Be True”: The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff by Erin Arvedlund

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Too Good to Be True –
Arvedlund’s In-Depth Look at Madoff

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Too Good
to Be True: The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff
by Erin
Arvedlund

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by Annie Scott
Too
Good to Be True
” is a new book by Erin Arvedlund which chronicles
the catastrophic fraud committed by Bernard Madoff over the last
no-one-knows-how-many years. 

Arvedlund wrote a Barron’s article
back in 2001 called “Don’t
Ask, Don’t Tell
” questioning the magical returns of Madoff’s
so-called “hedge fund,” which is now widely accepted to have been the
largest, most outrageous, most ginormously craptastic,
how-do-I-express-without-cursing Ponzi scheme in history.

“Her
article in Barron’s, based on more than one hundred interviews, could
have prevented a lot of misery, had the SEC followed up,” boasts the
jacket of her new book “Too Good to be True,” which was released August
11.

I didn’t know what to make of the book at first; it seemed to
read somewhat Biblically — a lot of begetting (who Madoff knew, how he
knew them, etc.) and not a lot of action. For the first 100 pages or so
I kept thinking “Arvedlund had better sex this up,” especially
considering the number of other books on Madoff, including the highly
anticipated “Madoff’s
Other Secret: Love, Money, Bernie, and Me
” by his mistress, Sheryl
Weinstein, released August 25.

Well, if money is your porn, you
won’t get through this book without removing an article of clothing.

The
book slowly becomes a whodunit, naming both names and numbers and
ultimately presenting the unsatisfying fact that Madoff got away with
one of the oldest tricks in the book — the same trick relied upon by
everyone from white collar criminals to wedding crashers and underage
drinkers — he pretended nothing was wrong, and so nobody asked him any
questions.

As the story picks up, it becomes the heroic tale of
Harry Markopolos, whom Arvedlund wisely and perhaps correctly dubs an
Everyman; “a straightforward American guy who liked numbers.” This man
practically gift-wrapped red flags and hand-delivered them to the SEC
for a decade preceding Bernard Madoff’s arrest. Reading, I felt a
discouragement with our country’s level of corruption I haven’t felt
since I watched Michael Moore’s damning portrait of war and the oil
industry, “Fahrenheit
9/11
.” The SEC was created during the Great Depression to regulate
our financial industry, but, according to Arvedlund, it’s being run by a
bunch of early-career lawyers who don’t want to step on anyone’s toes
— and who were getting their financial advice from Uncle Bernie
himself.

The book has no mercy on Madoff — there is no point at
which we are expected to believe in him. It simply relays the facts like
an obituary; one which gets juicier and juicier as it exposes the
cyclone of fraud which took place. It was executed in such simple and
easily understandable ways — virtually the whole scheme seems to have
relied upon Madoff’s refusal to upgrade an archaic computer system which
required one to enter stock price data manually. “Entering the data by
hand [Robert] MacMahon noted, meant that the person doing it could put
in whatever they wanted,” writes Arvedlund. As you probably already
know, Bernie found himself in the business of making up numbers. The
book purports that he created monthly statements by going back over the
last month’s market and seeing what he would have had to trade to make
the profit he claimed to have made (which I’m guessing someone else
probably did for him while he was in France, buying his third boat).

The
book recounts the aftermath well; the suicides, the testimonials in
court (left me wanting more), and delicately suggests other individuals
who could be to blame; for example Michael Bienes, who did a lot of
recruiting for Madoff — a pointed final statement in the section about
him says “At the time of this writing, no one has sued Bienes over his
ties to Madoff.”

“Too Good to Be True” will appeal to both the
savvier members of the financial community who knew (or should have
known) better than to trust Madoff, and to the underdogs and
mom-and-pops who were (or might have been) swindled. The lesson is
clear: no one should be so well-respected that they don’t have to answer
questions, and if everyone pretends they understand something they
don’t so as to appear sophisticated, or they accept being kept in the
dark about the means so long as the ends are 10-20+ percent, villains
like Madoff will always be able to take advantage of that pride and
greed — not to say that his victims were guilty of either; it’s the
feeder funds and his recruiters at whom we should all be looking. And,
of course, probably his family and everyone else who worked alongside
his IBM AS/400.

In these economic times, most of us have had a
taste of what it’s like to lose money, and it’s easy to identify with
Madoff’s victims. I found myself choked up at the end of the book — not
because the damages will perhaps never be repaid, not because our
country seems to constantly wager the well-being of its citizens (I’m
speaking of the SEC dot gov’s alleged shameless favoritism), but because
although he was one of the most well-connected, powerful, and
untouchable figures in the world, they got him. It took the collapse of
the financial market, but they finally, finally got him.

Well
done to Arvedlund for telling the story clearly and with more facts than
most of us knew were available. “Too
Good to Be True
” is available from Amazon
for $17.13.


BOOK REVIEW: Smart Girls Marry Money:”How Women Have Been Duped Into The Romantic Dream–And How They’re Paying For It” by Elizabeth Ford and Daniela Drake via [Marie Claire and ABC.com]

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The Feminist Gold Digger

model carrying a dollar bill purse walking dog wearing a dollar <br/>sign cape

Smart Girls Marry Money: How Women Have Been Duped Into the  <br/>Romantic Dream--And How They're Paying For ItSmart
Girls Marry Money: How Women Have Been Duped Into the Romantic
Dream–And How They’re Paying For It
by Elizabeth
Ford

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Elizabeth Ford and Daniela Drake — an Emmy-winning news
producer and an M.D., respectively — are no bimbos. And yet, they’ve
written what sounds like a bimbo bible. In a chatty, if bitter, tone, Smart
Girls Marry Money: How Women Have Been Duped Into the Romantic Dream —
And How They’re Paying for It
makes the case against marrying for
love. We couldn’t resist a few words with the authors.

Smart Girls Marry Money: How Women Have Been Duped Into the <br/>Romantic Dream--And How They're Paying For It

MC:
You’re both accomplished working women, but you’re telling us
we should marry for money. What gives?
FORD:
The juggling
act required to be a successful woman, to be a good mom and to be a
careerist, makes you want to say, “Screw it, I should’ve married money.”

MC: So you’re saying we should quit our careers?
FORD:
You should definitely keep your job. But we haven’t climbed
the ladder as far as we should have. We have to keep that in mind when
looking for a partner, and steer clear of seductive slackers.

MC:
But what about all the gains we’ve made in the workplace?
DRAKE:
You
can always find a poster girl who earns more than a man. But the
average woman earns one-third of what a man earns over the course of her
working life.

MC: Did you two marry for love?
DRAKE:
I did. And I’ve been happily married for 10 years.
FORD:
I married the love of my life when I was 26 years old. Now I’m
a single mom, and he’s engaged to a girl 15 years younger than me.

MC:
Oy, that sounds tricky.
FORD:
I was with my husband for 13
years, and then he wasn’t in love with me anymore. The bitterness is
there.

MC: Thus the book’s premise?
FORD:
It’s
meant to be funny. It’s meant to be catty. It’s meant to be a good
read. The title gets people’s attention. You picked it up, didn’t you?

Smart Women Marry Rich, Says New Book

Why Do Women Choose ‘Big Blue Eyes’ Over ‘Big Green Bank
Account?’

By SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES

June 5, 2009—

Heart-stopping, knee-weakening, “when-is-he-going-to-call” kind of
love wanes in about 18 to 24 months, but the kind that comes in dollars
and cents lasts a lifetime.

At least according to a new book, “Smart Girls Marry Money: How Women
Have Been Duped into the Romantic Dream — and How They’re Paying for
It.”

The book confirms what mothers have been telling their daughters for
generations: “Girls are told at their mother’s knee: “It’s just as easy
to love a rich man as a poor man.” Or, “No Romance without Finance.”
And, “Marry the one you can live with, not the one you can’t live
without.”

Many women would agree that one good man in the boardroom is better
than two in the bedroom.

Such was the case with Ginger Borgella, a 29-year-old Maryland
therapist who writes the blog, “Girls
Just Want To Have Funds
.”

“How a man treats his finances — if he is not willing to honor his
debts and obligations — is an indicator of how he will treat you in the
marriage,” she told ABCNews.com.

“I want a man who is financially savvy,” said Borgella, who asked to
see her prospective husband’s credit report.

That report wasn’t perfect, but the couple made a mutual plan to
establish financial security and have now been married since 2006 and
own their own house.

“I don’t want to be broke,” said Borgella. “I’m not Paris Hilton, but
I lead a comfortable life.”

“Smart Girls Marry Money” is a satirical self-help guide is written
by two middle-aged professionals scarred by their first marriages.

They aim their advice squarely at nubile girls who have falsely
equated romantic love with happiness.

Why are girls are encouraged to court the man with the “big blue
eyes” rather than the one with the “big green bankroll?” they ask.

Both authors — Los Angeles mothers Daniela Drake and Elizabeth Ford
— say they “married for love, but reaped the consequences.”

Drake is a primary care doctor with an MBA and Ford (divorced from
the son of actor Harrison Ford) is an Emmy-winning television producer.

Ford admits the book’s title is “meant to get your attention.”

“It’s not just about how to marry a rich guy,” she told ABCNews.com.
But women are way too obsessed with the “love drug.”

The question women should ask about the fiance is, “Does he have a
financial plan and how does that match up with your values?”

Romantic love, they say, is never a valid reason to get married.

“Both men and women think it is the end-all, be-all of happiness,”
said Ford. “Every movie ends with the wedding scene and a pregnant girl
at the end and they live happily ever after.”

Science seems to back this theory. MRI scans now reveal a
“complicated biological cocktail of hormones” that light up in the brain
when people are in love, according to the book. And, Ford notes, the
activity is in “the most primitive, reptilian” part of the brain.

Knowing that that loving feeling doesn’t last and that women have a
“sell-by date,” women should pursue the “gold digging imperative” —
finding a man while they still have their youth and looks.

“I am just old fashioned enough to find [marrying for money]
repellant,” said Stephanie Coontz, professor of history and family
studies at Evergreen State College in Washington.

Still, she notes that romantic love is a modern notion.

According to her 2005 book, “Marriage, A History: From Obedience to
Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage,” it began in the Victorian
era.

“There is nothing new about this idea,” Coontz told ABCNews.com.
“Women have been marrying for mercenary reasons for most of history.
They had to, because they couldn’t support themselves.”

She said that as late as 1967, women routinely considered marrying a
man they didn’t love “if he met the financial criteria.”

For thousands of years, marriage was based on political and economic
convenience for both men and women.

“Until the 18th century the biggest infusion of cash until marriage
was death and an inheritance,” said Coontz. Next was the dowry.

“Families were interested in the connections to in-laws to improve
their financial interests,” she said.

But as the middle class emerged and men could support themselves
rather than depend upon an inheritance, they became “the most
exuberantly romantic,” she said.

“Women who were totally dependent and legally subordinate said things
in their diaries like, “Caution: My heart inclines to Harry, but I
can’t take that risk.”

By the mid 20th century, modern attitudes gave men and
women equality to choose a mate, but not economic equality.

Men expect power because they make more money and women “trade
services for deference,” Coontz said. “This has created an unstable
situation.”

The best hope for a stable and satisfying marriage is one where both
husband and wife share the bread-winning, child care and housework,
according to Coontz.

“Women mostly say it is less important to have a man earn a lot of
money than a man who can communicate and share his feelings,” she said.
“And that doesn’t mean they want to marry a deadbeat.”

The book’s authors agree that economic equality is important.

They argue that women can’t earn as much as men, especially after
having children, and if they do marry well, and then split, they are
shortchanged by divorce, both professionally and financially.

The book cites research by Professor Stephen Jenkins, director of the
Institute for Social and Economic Research, who found that five years
after divorce, men were 25 percent richer, whereas women still had less
money than they did pre-split; and that 31 percent of mothers received
no support no payment for children.

Women face the pressure to do it all — raise children, earn a decent
salary and be a hot sexpot in bed.

And, the authors note from personal experience that 50 percent of all
marriages are doomed to failure.

“If falling in love is a valid reason to get married, then falling
out of love is a reason for divorce,” said Ford, whose husband left her
two years ago to raise their now 8-year-old son, motivating her to write
the book.

Ford’s enthusiasm for the topic was also fueled by a younger sister
who graduated from college “looking for love” and ended up with “slacker
guys who don’t pay the rent.”

Her co-author, Drake, left her husband, because he had no concern for
the couple’s finances. She is now remarried with two children.

A good marriage, they both say, is an economic partnership. And
research shows that if a couple stays together long enough, the
passionate love will reignite.

Such was case with one blogger on the Web site Urban Baby who said
her best friend had always dated “rocker guys” but, instead, married a
Jewish MBA consultant.

“She admits that he is not as sexy, interesting or thrilling as her
past boys,” she wrote. “But he is understanding and kind and super
intelligent. I ‘m sure that loft in Tribeca didn’t hurt either.”


“BUY*OLOGY: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy” by Martin Lindstrom via [USA Today]

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‘Buyology’ offers a peek inside
buyers’ heads

Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We BuyBuyology:
Truth and Lies About Why We Buy
by Martin
Lindstrom

Buy new: $10.20 / Used from:
$9.10
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By Seth Brown, Special for USA
TODAY

Picture a mad scientist in his
laboratory, cackling with glee as he tries to unlock the secrets of the
human mind. Now, consider the unsettling possibility that the scientist
may be on to something.

Marketing expert Martin Lindstrom is that
scientist, caught up in the excitement of research in his new book, Buyology.
Lindstrom first became aware of neurological marketing research
through a Forbes magazine article, “In Search of the Buy
Button.”

The article discussed a lab in England, where a
neuroscientist teamed with a market researcher to scan the brainwaves of
subjects watching commercials. Lindstrom was thrilled that unbiased
access to the consumer brain was finally available.

A difficulty of standard marketing research,
Lindstrom says, is that people will not — or cannot — provide accurate
information about their mental states.

When asked why they prefer a brand of soft drink,
or how a warning label affects them, most people cannot give a straight
answer. This, Lindstrom says, is the great advantage of brain waves.

“They don’t waver, hold back, equivocate, cave in
to peer pressure, conceal their vanity, or say what they think the
person across the table wants to hear. … Neuroimaging could uncover
truths that a half-century of market research, focus groups and opinion
polling couldn’t come close to accomplishing.”

Two technologies were used in Lindstrom’s
studies: SST (Steady State Topography) and fMRI (functional Magnetic
Resonance Imaging). In a series of tests spanning three years and more
than 2,000 subjects, he concluded:

  • Warning labels on cigarettes don’t work. They
    stimulate activity in the part of a smoker’s brain linked to cravings.
  • Traditional advertisements no longer create lasting
    impressions.
    By age 66, most people with a TV will have seen
    nearly 2 million commercials. That makes it hard for an ad to increase a
    viewer’s memory of a brand, despite the millions spent.
  • Product placement only works when fully integrated. It
    works when Coke-bottle-shaped furniture is part of the set design on American
    Idol
    , for example, or when Reese’s Pieces candy was used for bait
    in the movie E.T. However, when a product is not integrated,
    such as FedEx packages appearing in the background of Casino Royale,
    there is no measurable effect with regard to viewer recollection of
    brand.
  • Sex sells itself. Viewers of sexually suggestive
    ads did pay attention, but more to the sex than the ad. In one study,
    fewer than 1-in-10 men who saw a sexually suggestive ad could recall the
    product, while twice as many remembered the product in non-sexually
    suggestive ads.
  • Successful branding functions like religion. Simple
    rituals, such as putting a lime wedge in a Corona or slowly pouring a
    Guinness, give the brand added cachet. Brands attract zealous followers —
    “I’m a Mac; I’m a PC.” Scans using fMRI technology showed that some
    viewers had the same neurological response to strong brands that they
    did to religious iconography.
  • Subliminal advertising can be highly effective. When
    watching an advertisement, viewers automatically raise their guard
    against its message. With subliminal advertisements, viewers’ guards are
    down, so their responses are more direct.
  • Marketing isn’t restricted to the visual. Many
    companies use smells to sell products. Fast-food restaurants and
    supermarket bakeries use artificial fresh-cooked food smells. Sounds
    also effect buying. A study showed shoppers purchased French or German
    wine depending on which nationality’s music was playing on store
    speakers.

Lindstrom’s research should be of interest to any
company launching a new product or brand. “Eight out of 10 products
launched in the United States are destined to fail,” Lindstrom writes.
“Roughly 21,000 new brands are introduced worldwide per year, yet
history tells us that more than 90% of them are gone from the shelf a
year later.”

It’s likely that the information in this book
will be used in future marketing campaigns, so even if you aren’t in the
marketing business, it’s a worthwhile read as a measure of
self-awareness and self-defense.

Seth Brown is a freelance writer and the
author of Rhode Island Curiosities. His website is
http://www.RisingPun.com


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