And more from our Liz: Justin Timberlake is a movie star … America’s politicians are children … and Harry Benson’s unseen pictures of chess champ Bobby Fischer
“ALL I ever cared about was music. If my career should die right now, I would go to Vegas and be a lounge singer. I’d do that every single night for the rest of my life and I would be completely happy…
“I’m not a great singer. People are very throwaway with their words these days. If someone comes out and they’ve got hoop earrings and a big bum, it’s like ‘She’s a diva!’ You have to earn these things. Not from other people, from yourself. You have to earn your own respect.”
That’s Amy Winehouse, who actually was a great singer, dead at 27 after she had earned five Grammys. She had been briefly celebrated as a major musical star, on the cusp of a long and fruitful career. The legendary Tony Bennett admired her. She might have changed the face and sound of popular music had she lived long enough. As it is, she left one amazing album, “Back to Black” and a few recordings to be released as her “last album, sometime in the future.
Of all the self-destructive music stars who have left the stage at the age of 27 — Janis, Jimi, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain — Amy’s catalogue is the briefest. And that might be the greatest tragedy, as it seems the tragedy of her death simply could not have been avoided.
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ALAS, Miss Winehouse’s death seemed much less significant — except to her grieving family and friends — in the wake of the horror in Norway, and the mind-blowing absurdity of Washington “politics.” To watch our elected officials pout and posture and point fingers like teenage girls in a high-school hallway, while the country is about to default is mind-boggling. The worst — and no surprise — was presidential aspirant Tim Pawlenty, who blasted President Obama for not having a “plan” and then dared him to come out of the White House and present one. “He’s a coward. He’s a chicken!” Pawlenty puffed. In Pawlenty’s case, the political mudslinging devolved from high school to 4th grade.
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ON A happier weekend note, a tip of my hat (or fluff of my hair?) to Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis who are simply adorable in the new movie, “Friends With Benefits.” Although it has a slightly different vibe from most of the current “rom coms,” it hardly breaks new ground. But the chemistry between Kunis and Timberlake is sensational. They are two great young charmers.
I recently read an article that asked plaintively, “When Will Justin Sing Again?” As far as I’m concerned he can put his vocal chords away forever. He has made an amazing transition — boy band lead singer, hot adult solo artist, actor. It is the latter career he should nurture.
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HAVE you had your Rupert Murdoch schadenfraude “fix’ for the day? Here’s a tidbit.
Wendi Deng Murdoch is now being called “Tiger Deng” for her effort of standing between her husband and a pie thrower. Her former teacher Jiang Limo in her hometown of Xuzhou, China says: “I taught her how to do that. It was the same action as a volleyball spike … I taught her how to spike the ball and taught her well, because it was a very forceful strike. I thought what she did was incredible. It was such a courageous thing. She’s brought a lot of pride to China.”
Teacher Limo recalls the Wendi of 23 years ago. He says she was the “thoughtful type, not aggressive as a teenager … well-behaved.”
Ms. Deng is now called “Tiger Wife” in China after the best-selling author Amy Chua’s book ”Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” Wendi and the author are good friends.
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Here’s a tip for these hot days of summer, if you’re in New York. Go to Swifty’s restaurant on Lexington between 72nd and 73rd streets. Sit down and order the curried chicken salad with its complement of sliced bananas, avocados, chutney and peanuts! The greatest.
The other night what was left of “sass-iety” was in Swifty’s backroom for dinner. There was the jewelry designer par excellence Kenny J. Lane with the tall, handsome widow Alexandra Schlesinger. Also nearby the famous photographer Harry Benson with his delightful Texas wife Gigi, plus hostess with the mostess Alice Mason and Aileen Mehle, the last of the great international society columnists left to us.
Incidentally, lensman Benson was handing out big handsome copies of his latest book on chess expert Bobby Fischer, circa 1972. Photos never seen, never collected before. The book was signed by both Fischer and Benson and has a “first day” cover that will make it extra valuable in the future.