Entries Tagged 'Crime' ↓

3,990 Dead. 29,395 Wounded. $500 Billion Spent. $2.5 Trillion To Go. Happy Iraq 5th Anniversary, America.

Dead Soldiers

People always get the leadership they deserve.

Say ‘Ello To My Leetle Hippos.

Pablo’s hippos

Pablo Escobar (1949-1993), Medellín Cartel mastermind, the most notorious drug kingpin in history, and inspiration to an entire generation of rappers…had a soft spot for hippopotamuses.

Vanity Fair, and Ripping Off the Richly Rich

VF April 2008Yesterday, I wrote about my respect-recoil relationship with Vanity Fair magazine, as I felt “love-hate” was too flat to shade the nuances of my feelings about the publication. As I said then, what I detest is its racial myopia; a close focus on stories by, and about, white people. This is something basic to American media, “normal,” in certain ways, but increasingly glaring, for many reasons, at this magazine.

So what do I respect about Vanity Fair?

As a writer whose career has mostly been built around writing for magazines, I’m always struck by the editorial heft of Conde Nast pubs; the way good editing and design works to create an almost tactile reading experience.

I’ve said “of Conde Nast publications,” so this is their corporate quality, but Vanity Fair is the flagship. At the magazine, their features are practically oaken with the quality that substantial resources and vision can buy a publication. The writing is not only top-notch but standard-bearing; the photography is legendary. Typically, when I buy a Vanity Fair, I don’t even rush to read it. I know that the articles typically take a long view that will make good study a month, or three, or six, or a year later.

Last year, before blog—this past August, precisely—Vanity Fair ran big pieces on musical revolutionary Sly Stone and The Simpsons, both of which got covered elsewhere. (In fact, in the October issue, with the Nicole Kidman cover, VF posted a Simpsons letter-to-the-editor by this writer.)

VF August 2007 Continue reading →

C’mon: What’s $14,800,000,000 Between Family?

Prince JefriIn Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, Mark Maremont ran the numbers on Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei, right, and his alleged $14.8 billion bum rush of the small, oil-drenched, former British protectorate’s treasury.

You’ve heard of Brunei, of course. It’s located in Southeast Asia, almost completely enwrapped within Malaysia, a little smaller than Delaware. It’s head, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, 61, is the world’s wealthiest monarch, with a fortune Forbes estimates at $22 billion. He lives in a $1.4 billion (in 1984 US dollars), 2 million-plus-square-foot palace with 1,788 rooms, including 257 bathrooms. His personal fleet of automobiles is believed to number between 3,000-5,000 cars, including 531 Mercedes-Benzes, 367 Ferraris, 362 Bentleys, 185 BMWs, 177 Jaguars, 160 Porsches, 130 Rolls-Royces, and 20 Lamborghinis. (Take that, ballers.)

Prince Jefri—uh, Prince Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Paduka Seri Pengiran Digadong Sahibul Mal Pengiran Muda Haji Jefri Bolkiah to you—is Hassanal’s youngest brother, the 53-year-old baby of the sultan’s three bros.

Apparently, for a number of years, Jefri served as finance minister and chairman of the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), where his role was to sock away the nation’s money, not stuff it in his socks. As well, since the sultan is an absolute monarch—reportedly, he recently had himself declared infallible under Bruneian law—the nation’s money is his money. So, he’s more than a little pissed that

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