BLOG ART

The debate over the relative merits and character of Stephanie Klein’s Greek Tragedy blog vs. the parody blog, a Tale of Two Sisters has far deeper roots and may have far greater implications ultimately than the surface debate between the first amendment protected right to parody (fair use of copyrighted material) vs. the unlawful use and infringment of copyrighted material. (see also, The First Amendment Project)

Literary art remains one of the most undercompensated endeavors. Struggling artist is a tag which far too often applies to a great many story tellers and journalists. The rewards to practitioners of this craft are slim relative to the number of talented people in the field. Fortunately, the authors of a Tale of Two Sisters at least have the consolation of having companies like Six Apart graciously making their publishing platforms available in the face of a baseless and misguided challenge of their First Amendment rights, See Lindsayism’s, “someone’s head is so far up their own rosebud.” A great many writers, often have to leave their posts or find some more practical way of earning a living and paying their overhead to pursue their craft. Viewed in that light, it is not surprising to see the growing tension between un-compensated legitimate literary artists and the purveyors of crass commercial cliche, like Ms. Klein and her marketeers and handlers, Judith Regan and Regan Books.

Call it what you will. But, the literary classes rising up against their passive oppressors in the publishing industry cannot be discounted as mere resentment or jealousy of Ms. Klein’s success. Passive because they are too lazy to seek out, develop and promote the works of legitimate story tellers and are instead more inclined, hell bent or pre-occupied with finding the next great reality series, the next great spinoff, Part II or Part III of what has already been done before. They find complicitors in the “legitimate press” in the form of folks like Stephanie Rosenbloom who use their latest girl crush to publish journalistic reports on these alleged writers which amount to nothing more than sugar coated press releases in the guise of human interest stories.

Are these folks all evil? No Are they manipulative and lazy? Yes. Why? Was there not a time when being a Publisher meant nurturing and marketing the talents of genuine and original artists? There was also a time when being a journalist in a paper of record of which the New York Times purports to be actually meant something more than proof reading a press release off the fax machine from a publishing house, taking a few self serving quotes from one of the most over hyped, unpublished writers of our time, and running it on the front page of any section of your newspaper. See, Reader, I dated Him. It speaks volumes of a society in such artistic decline that a newspaper of record would immerse itself in such cheapened journalism but also speaks volumes about the masses who will digest it. Believe me, I have empathy for the New York Times and for Stephanie Rosenbloom, but honey seriously, eat a meal ok? Capturing the attention of the American public for more than five minutes is not an easy task. If you want to be “read” you must compete with numerous media blogs, celebritiy obsessed publications (see Star, People, Radar and Ok Magazine) as well as reality shows.

A stroll down the links column of a few random blogs (see Alex Blagg, Young Manhattanite, Industry Whore, mimi in NY, Ultragrrl etc.) however, lands you on the publishing platform of far more original artists telling entertaining and often compelling stories which are not so utterly contrived and tragically ironic pre-packaged cliche as those of Stephanie Klein’s Greek Tragedy. That is what struck me about what was most ironic in this debate. Even Heather “This Fish” Hunter (AKA “do not write a negative comment on my blog, otherwise I will report you to your employer”) has a list of links to others who are mostly far more interesting than she is. But yet, what do I know is that she is selling t-shirts of a fish on a bicycle. That is one seat that I would not want to sniff after it was ridden. (maybe nobody else does either since the blog is now mysteriously down today. perhaps the association with SK is killing her brand as well?)

While it very well may be that Art is the New Religion, from Broadway, Hollywood and the publishing industry, it seems that investors no longer desire nor may they be able to take developmental risks on good art. It may not ultimately reach or be understood or appreciated intellectually by the mediocre masses or at best would require a huge investment and press campaign to help educate them of it’s significance. Logically, it may ultimately make more sense instead to feed them a steady diet of the sure thing, formulas that have worked before. The work of Stephanie Klein appeals to that instinct.

Maybe you cannot blame the ruling classe of the artistic world for purveying the works of writers who use their “talents” to appeal to the mediocre masses or the middle of the bell curve. You cannot fault publishers with wanting to make rather than lose money. To not heed the warnings or the critiques of the intelligentsia, will ultimately doom the publishing industry and the craft of writing as whole. Ms. Regan will only for so long be able to profiteer off bad commercial art before she brings down the entire industry as a whole down by suppressing legitimate artists (through overreaching use of the copyright laws), decentivizing their original works and incentivizing mediocrity. Ms. Regan may soon come to recognize that even the American public will no longer find the Stephanie Klein’s of the world all that palatable. What comes to mind is a line from the movie the American President wherein Michael Douglas as President Andrew Shepard states:

“People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.” (click here for more quotes from the movie)
Continue to feed the masses sand and what you will be left with is an abandoned and broken talent pool of writers who are spending the most critical time of their lives not pursuing their passion but rather soleley what enables their survival. In the short term, perhaps you can build your own downtown loft and enjoy the bi-coastal life but in the long term you will crush literary ingenuity as whole, leaving the people to drink sand. Or internet bloggers will rise up and strike down the craptacular product you send out into the marketplace.
So if you want to truly understand the resentment of the literary classes over the book and TV deals finessed by Judith Regan with regards to Stephanie Klein it may be for the reasons outlined above. Here is toasting to a New Blog Order.

Parody of a Copycat: The First Amendment & Stephanie Klein

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” -Al Pacino, Godfather III

Some thought that my critique of Stephanie Klein in this blog and in my subsequent interview with Luke Ford, was a bit heavy handed. Perhaps they were right. Admittedly, it was a bit verbose. I was even accused of Misplaced Passion for allegedly spamming someone I did not even know existed until today, with an anti Stephanie Klein Press Release under the pseudonym of “Karen Jackson” no less. I admit it, I stealthy sought out a guy who I never heard of in a part of the country I never go to and troubled him with my posting rather than say someone here in the media capital of the world. Because after all, Justin Tasselhoff is such a big macha I just had to reach him. It was all part of my evil plan.

The more recent entries by Lindsay Robertson and Alex Blagg may have you rethink the validity of my critique. Stephanie “more photos of me” Klein is the individual suspected behind the filing of a copyright infringment claim against the authors of a “brilliant-yet-esoteric parody blog” known as Tale of Two Sisters. Lindsay highlights a poignant statement made by one of her friends in conversation on the topic:

“The irony of a woman whose blog is for all intents and purposes a blatant rip-off of Sex and the City trying to shut down another blog for “copyright infringement” is pretty astounding.”

The legal issue is whether a legitimate parody (Tale of Two Sisters) of someone’s copyrighted material (Stephanie Klein’s Greek Tragedy) which is itself a copycat/knockoff of someone else’s copyrighted material (see My Big Fat Greek Wedding & Sex and the City) deserves First Amendment protection or whether it infringes on the copyright of the copycat. The answer is unequivocally “YES” even if Stephanie Klein does not think so. The Consigliere’s advice to the two sisters would be to consult with Richard Signorelli, no longer a close friend of the Consigliere but nevertheless someone I endorse as being most capable, experienced and savvy in matters like these.

Think again little red. There are some things far more important than the cottage cheese on the back of your thighs/ass and your forthcoming book launch. My advice honey is to leave the phucking First Amendment alone. Seriously, you have no right crapping around that document. Are you that self important or fearful of parody? Do you want to be known as the chic who chilled unfettered free speech on the internet? Unfortunately and sadly if it would lead to more books sales for you to stifle dissent, I think that you would. That in and of itself tells any legitimate writer or reader all they need to know about Stephanie Klein. The idea that someone who now writes for a living would attempt to curtail the First Amendment rights of her fellow writers and free speech is itself indicative of how much of a glammy sham artist you Stephanie Klein actually are; the Puff Daddy of chic lit or the tranny queen of the blogosphere. Is this evidence of your plagiarism? Maybe you should check with other writers before you lift verabitim from their work. Click on the link and you decide. (post mortem: see Young Manhattanite: It’s Like Faking An Orgasm With A Blow-Up Doll)

Writers far more earnest, accomplished and original have had their work critiqued and taken it in stride or worked hard to succeed in the face of criticism. You think that there are some people who did not tell Jimmy Breslin that he sucked at some point? Think again. The obsession with your attempt to control dissent is so Nixonian. Perhaps your view of the world is that they are either with us or against us and that axis of evil is anyone who questions, critiques or lampoons your literary art form.

The intolerance and discomfort that Ms. Klein has of criticism and the draconian measures she appears willing to take to stifle dissent are mind boggling. I would not have believed it if I did not witness it up close and personal. When Alex Blagg wrote the best “period” piece on Stephanie entitled “Profiles in Douchebaggette’eryStephanie Klein went ballistic or at least appeared to have deep concern that someone had…”What… what did they do Stephanie? Tell me.” “Chris, he wrote a really mean negative blog entry about me!” And? The reason why this is important is because? I did not get it. “Stephanie, it is phucking Christmas time and I just lost my job…please tell me why I should care about this?”

What you Stephanie Klein are doing is relatively trivial in the grand scheme of things. Consider yourself fortunate that someone is now paying you to do it. Face it Steph, the reality of it is that the world is not filled with fans; yours or mine. The vast majority of people are neither aware of your existence nor do they care who fingered you in a Range Rover on the way home from a cocktail party in the West Village. Everyone is just not that into you or me. If you are ever going to consider yourself an artist, accept that some people are just going to think that you basically suck. Some will actually tell you so and some will make sure to tell others. You are now in the stage where they are telling others. Notably, the prose of those critiquing you, however, is so more well written than that of those whom blow daily smoke up your ass, waxing poetic about your profound insight in recognizing the irony behind your latest poop and its grander meaning in terms of your relationship with your dog’s poops. The reality is, however, that there is a bigger market of clueless people in this country to whom you can make a boat load of money marketing your tragic irony. Just do not expect anyone with a half a brain or soul to enjoy it. As a friend of mine who was not at all surprised by your success stated to me:

“It is rather a simple mathematical equation. Stephanie Klein’s Greek Tragedy plays to the hump on the bell curve. The audience on the right side of the bell curve is simply too small. Stephanie does not appeal to the intelligentsia, the socially conscious or aware but rather the vast middle, the mediocre masses. By piecing together common romantic cliches or stories which are like riffs from Hallmark Greeting Cards, she reels in those less enlightened or critical. Chris, this is why, whether you intended to or not, your labeling her the Puff Daddy of Chic Lit is particularly accurate.”

Why? Why do you care so much? Perhaps it is because so much work has gone into the crafting of this fictional persona to fit the second coming of Carrie Bradshaw, only to have the literary community and your contemporaries lambaste you as an utterly vapid, self absorbed and indulgent fraud and rip-off artist? The idea of Greek Tragedy as some unique brand is perposterous. You have to know that. Take one part my Big Fat Greek Wedding add two parts Sex and the City, make yourself the centerpiece, create some pseudo angst and presto changeo you are the next Candace Bushnell? Judith Regan seems to think so. And she has a knack for finding the next big book. So, what the phuck do I know?

On the other hand, I say if they are passing out dildo’s bend over, pucker up and take a big one right in the tuchis and accept it as going with the territory. That really puts the GREEK in your Tragedy. On the other hand, I wonder if some small part of you is not enjoying the fact that the heightened attention only adds to your Technorati ranking by making you more controversial. I mean, even though they think you suck, they are linking you. So while you are being linked for basically sucking, you are still linked. It almost seems “Judith Reganesque“, that this drama and controversy preceding your book launch will potentially add to your technorati ranking and celebrity among sedentary people eating bon bons who are reading your blogs in other parts of the country. And for god sakes I could be screwing someone right now but I am writing this blog entry about your fat ass of all things.

My very very real concern is that since Stephanie Klein is now a hot media property for Regan Books, I would imagine that they would do all they could to protect the integrity of her brand, even if it means crushing a small blogger’s first amendment rights, thereby effectively bringing a quick end to all this mishegoss. A small part of me wonders whether there is some Machiavellian plan at play to stir up interest in Stephanie Klein as a controversial or polarizing figure in advance of the book launch. Afterall, as the joke goes: “Hhow to you stop a Princess from phucking? Marry her.” Well how do you make a tragic bore relevant? Blog about her.

No other blogger has gotten the kinds of deals that you have. Take the money and run like a good little buck ho. My advice is to look at your bank statement, keep at the keyboard to prepare for more fat pay days ahead, go give your flavor of the month a BBBJ and get over it.

Customer Service

How important is “customer service”? Nearly two years ago I switched from Verizon to Cingular Wireless because (a) you gotta love the little orange guy (b) my cell phone bills with Verizon were too high (c) Cingular gave me a 212 area code for my cell phone and (d) for the customer service. My sense is that most people are not completely satisfied with all aspects of their cellular service but poor customer service is very much a deal breaker with me. So in a city where everyone complains about everything in an effort to get a better deal, I try instead to seek out and patronize ONLY those businesses that offer me the fewest headaches and lowest emotional transactions costs. I would just rather never go back or have to deal with complaining and negotiating. Life is just too damn short.

This past Sunday afternoon I was almost dreading going into the Cingular store on 53rd & 6th (pictured at left) to rectify some idiosyncratic issues that I was having with my recently purchased Motorola Black Razr cell phone. Gadget freaks should get this phone. It is a Star Trekian device. Every time I open it, rather than dialing a call I am tempted to say, “Beam me up Scottie, there is no intelligent life down here.” Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I received exemplary customer service with a smile from their Lead Retail Sales Consultant, Kevin Walker. This is where I will do my cellular business from now on. If you are not yet a Cingular customer and are thinking of becoming one, check in with Kevin. You can reach Kevin at:

Cingular Wireless
1330 Avenue of the Americas, at 53rd Street
New York, New York 10019
e-mail: kevin.a.walker@cingular.com
tel: 212-315-0392

The store is across the street from the Hilton Towers, next door to Starbucks and around the corner from MOMA. It is no wonder that this store has a demanding celebrity clientele which includes a who’s who of boldfacers and page sixers. They know how to treat people right.

Luke Ford Interview

To read my interview with Luke Ford, click here. To visit Luke Ford’s web site, click on the photo at left. The interview was a little more free wheeling than my inteview with Ask A New Yorker earlier this summer.

HAMPTONS COLOR WARS: Color me “Blue”

Img_0749Fashionably late is what I am. That is what I was thinking while anxiously doing some last minute shopping for lavender and periwinkle colored shirts at the Polo store in Southampton. Why? I had to have my colors before the weekend’s festivities. Adult "color wars" are representative of the fabric of the values and culture out east much in the same way that color war was for me as kid at Summer Camp. How else can I explain my inability to comprehend the big picture? Some say the bell goes off in the Hamptons on Memorial Day. Still others insist that it is the opening weekend of a key benefit or the commencement of Polo. I won’t argue as to when the Hamptons color wars get started. It is only clear that when they end is after the Hamptons Classic. Showmanship is an extension of the art and spirit of philanthropy and social revelry in the Hamptons. If event planners and designers are going to do their part in creating the perfect backdrop, then the least that I can do is choose my colors appropriately. (Photo: Anne Hearst, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Amanda Hearst & Randy Hearst at the BLUE Benefit.)

Img_0675_14 When I was 10 years old, my parents sent me along with my brother Gregory to Summer Camp. Camp Good News is located in the Sandwich area of Cape Cod. The campgrounds are situated opposite Otis Air Force Base. Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are only a short Ferry ride away. My summers were very Kennedy’esque even though they were spent on grounds which were far more humble than the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport. We too, however, we learned the spirit of competition, sportsmanship, the importance of our maker and the values of responsibility, respect, honor and community. What was most memorable, however, from those summers in New England, was color war. Color war was an annual ritual which was symbolic of the values building experience of the Camp.(Photo by: CL, Jay McInerney, Anne Hearst, Kerry Kennedy & Laurie & Larry David) 

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Almost upon arrival at Camp shortly before Independence Day the buzz among experienced campers or "old timers" (those for whom this was not their first summer) was about color war. Competition was sized up in all athletic endeavors from the softball field, the lake and the rifle and archery ranges. "Wow you can really hit, I hope you end up on our team this summer." Color war is an event where the camp was divided in two teams to compete in sports, spirit, and sportsmanship over the course of three days, culminating in an awards ceremony. At my camp, we never knew precisely what day it would begin. The exact date was kept a secret but we were advised that it would begin with a bell being rung followed by the rallying cry "Odie Baloney let’s go" on a loudspeaker by our Head Counselor who was known as "Oakie" for obvious reasons. Let’s just say he was not a New Yorker. I can still remember went that bell first went off. It was approximately 4:30 a.m. before the crack of dawn. We stumbled out of our bunks, cabins emptied and ran to the reporting line in PJ’s, shorts and t’s, sweats and in some cases just underwear. When everyone finally made it to the line, the team that got its whole team together first was awarded the first points and got to give their rallying cry. My brother’s team won."Give me an L, give me a yell, give me a good successful yell…and when we yell we yell like a bell and this is what the heck we yell aleman aleman alemande agle sandy eagle …baby in a high chair…who put him up there…ma…pa…sis boom ba…. Iguana’s Iguana’s rah rah rah" (Photo: Roopal Patel, Frederick Andersen, Lorraine Bracco & Douglas Hannant)

Img_0658On Saturday, August 13th, Anne Hearst & Lorraine Bracco hosted The Riverkeeper’s Blue Benefit overlooking a gorgeous east end backdrop from the grounds of Anne Hearst’s Watermill Estate, Ash Grove Farm. On a humid afternoon, spacious open white tents were surrounded by a thematic display of Periwinkle “Blue” table clothes atop white cocktail tables and chairs situated on perfectly landscaped grounds, with deep green grass. Amanda Hearst, Riverkeeper’s junior committee chair co-hosted the event. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. was among the featured speakers. Celebrity guests included Larry David & Lorraine Bracco. The utter perfection of this thematic blend of classic colors with those of the environment was not lost on me nor was the effort undertaken to make it so; kudos to Linda Shapiro and her team. Proceeds from the event and the private dinner party held afterwards at the home of Lorraine Bracco raised $150,000 for both Riverkeeper and Peconic Baykeeper. (Photo: R Couri Hay, Pamela Fiori & Roger Webster)

P8134134 Whereas other events might have wilted in such heat and humidity, the Passion of a Kennedy, combined with the beauty and hospitality of the Hearsts made this evening one of the more special and memorable ones for me in the Hamptons this summer. Anne and Amanda Hearst are two of the most charming and approachable people of American Aristocracy. (Photo by Richard Lewin: Luigi Tadini, Amanda Hearst & Christopher London)

It has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with politics. One need not share Mr. Kennedy’s political agenda environmentally to have a profound appreciation for the passion and conviction coursing through his veins. To have an opportunity as I did to listen to a Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. speech within reaching distance was a privilege I will always remember. His emphasis that our values as a people are tested in the choices that we make in terms of preservation of our environment and water ways in the face of modernization and development is one I am very much in agreement with. Listening to Mr. Kennedy’s impassioned and well reasoned pleas to take meaningful steps and actions towards preservation of the environment one cannot help but think of the historical significance; the travesty it has been for this country and our people as a whole to have been robbed of what many consider America’s elected royal family, a family that has devoted it’s life to public service, from the White House, the Congress to serving as an agent of change for the people. Without public servants of this ilk the important works of a generation may not even ever get pursued, much less accomplished. To that end I salute Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. for remaining in the game on an issue of importance to our ultimate health and survival as a people.

Just a few weeks before, admidst a backdrop awash in Lavendar on the grounds of the Simmons East Hampton Estate for the Art For Life Benefit over $1.35 million was raised. Lavender which was the chosen color to collaborate with nature and the guests did their part to blend in. Contrast that with the Southampton Hospital’s 47 Annual Party, “Summer Safari” which used Safari colors to raise more than $1.5 million. The 3rd Annual White Party Clambake for the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund on the dunes of Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett cast a sea of white on the shores of one of the Atlantic’s most pristine beaches with the American Flag blowing in the wind. If nothing else is clear it seems that color themes are ultimately very much a part of the bottom line when swimming in the social game of philanthropy out east. To see photos from these events click here

Gjp_1829 Better to be fashionably late, than never. It is clear that you must know your colors and wear them appropriately. Speaking of being fashionably late, another one of the more colorful benefits was the Young Friends of the MIPC Hawaii Five-0 Summer Party to benefit Dr. Robert Cancro and the NYU Mental Ilness Prevention Center at the Estate of Anna Anisimova which attracted a beautiful crowd of Wall Street Professionals, models, socialites and Hamptons players. The event was Co-Chaired by my friends Ron Sylvestri and Nichole Wright, among others. Gregory captured the essence of that event. To see photos from that event, click here. (Photo by Gregory Partanio: Ana Anisimova & Dr. Robert Cancro)

Thank you for reading my column in Social Life Magazine this summer. For those of you back in Manhattan please note that on September 22, 2005, I will be Co-Hosting along with Allison Weiss and Chad Burkhardt “The Most Unique Cocktail Party & Auction” at the Forbes Galleries to raise money for the Community Coalition. For more information, go to www.thecommunitycoalition.org Tickets are still available. Please call 610-415-1167. Hope to see you there. All Photos by Manhattan Society.com photographers, Gregory Partanio (PrinceGregory@manhattansociety.com /718-614-7740 ) & Christopher London except as otherwise noted.