everything is never quite enough (mikeijames) wrote,
everything is never quite enough

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the light in the darkness in new york.

Parties, Events, Entertainment!

You've got to do something fun this week! First, relationship planet Venus enters Leo on July 28, when all the love in the air makes everyone want to get out of the house. Later that same day, communicative Mercury enters efficient Virgo and opposes dreamy Neptune, when talking about your dreams can yield amazing results. Finally, the new Moon in Leo on July 30 receives so many planetary aspects that you'll have plenty of choices (and lots of input) for anything you're planning. Keep an open mind!

well, at least i know this part works. i could try to say that my reason for not updating has something to do with the outage of livejournal or the difficulty i've had in editing previous posts, but anyone who has read this journal this year knows that the frequency of my updates have gone down by quite a bit since my return from peru. however, lots to report even since i deigned to pour it into a post: while my post sought to derive its torque from the week in the haute couture and menswear fashion, the world has once again changed: the arab spring has gotten pushed to the margins as the world reels from a horrific terrorist attack perpetrated not by a middle eastern muslim, but a blonde scandinavian christian; talks of a government shut down have evaporated under the threat of an outright default of the full faith and credit of the united states; and the unexpected news of osama bin laden's death has left the headlines in favor of the all-too-predictable death of one of my favorite soul crooners, amy winehouse.

well, i guess i should get to the good parts first, and yes, i've met someone. potentially the new someone. the first someone i've met like this since the exsomeone. and i can describe it as electric with an asterick. somehow, in my thirties, i've noticed -- or well, maybe, it's just now manifested and always been there -- that i've formed quite an attraction for attraction. i've developed a romance for romance. i've fallen in love with falling in love. it's hackneyed. it's cliché. but i have to put it out there so that if it all goes down the garbage disposal, i can look back and say, "see there, that's it." but right now, i'm not discounting what i feel and i refuse to become so cynical that i write off someone i'm physically attracted to who has a personality i like because someone accuses me of "settling" as my sister has tried to write off my current relationship. i just think that perhaps my sister has a skewed perception of my so-called standards because i castigate her so much for taking refuge in a relationship with someone who she admits she's not physically attracted to. and why does she have so much opinion? well. it's been a while since i met someone on plentyoffish.com since the last person i met off that site i had to relegate to all but a figment of my imagination. however, i went in with trepidation because i found myself very attracted to one picture of my potential new someone and very turned off by the other picture posted. so it stood as a fifty fifty chance. we had texted back and forth about when we should initially meet and we settled on two saturdays ago (the sixteenth) between five and six. easy enough. then my sister had the bright idea of needing to buy an outfit for a new facebook profile picture. this is what i have to deal with. so, being a good brother, i agree to go to the mall with her telling her that i'll have to leave because i'm supposed to meet my potential new someone between five and six. well. of course, this got completely overlooked once we found ourselves in the midst of a retail frenzy when i started getting text messages back confirming the time and place. and so. i improvised and drove my sister's car from the mall to starbucks and she went shopping at target while i got to know my potential someone. my sister thought my potential someone a bit odd, but you know i would act a bit odd if i met a potential mate with that potential mate's sister. no pressure. but once we found ourselves alone, our conversation really did expound on all the things that i love -- travel, snobbery, and general foolishness where it helps, of course, that the potential mate, which i guess i should call the brazilian, since, you know, the potential mate hails from brazil -- yet has absolutely none of the stereotypical attributes one would account to someone called brazilian (since the brazilian's family emigrated from lebanon) -- has traveled extensively and speaks three to four languages, has gone to school, and has a wit near-equal my own resulting in that never ending conversation where we talked and talked and talked and talked and eventually after an hour i felt bad for my sister who turns out to have just sat in her car in a adjacent parking lot to afford us privacy writing in her own (actual, physical hard bound) diary which she has taken to carrying around. anywho. after that date, i knew that the brazilian liked me, but i felt unsure if i wanted to pursue anything. i don't know. i think hanging around my sister has made me into even more of a cynic since she has still not moved on from someone who broke her heart last year who she has obsessed over for almost three years even while she has refused to exit the relationship with the man for whom she has no physical attraction. i feel like these two threads have to get interwoven in this context becauase the situations remain so different and i see it, but it bothers me that she has whitewashed them under the same brush. anywho. after our hour long exchange, the brazilian sent me a text message and over the next few days, one thing lead to another and we arranged to have dinner on wednesday. we originally had intentions to go to a thai place near the brazilian's apartment, but i re-routed us to red mesa. i haven't been to red mesa in a hot minute, but i had an excellent meal of shrimp and scallops and then the brazilian suggested drinks and we went to the dirtiest dive bar i've been to in quite some time and afterward, we closed our date with a drive back to my car and a long kiss goodnight. from there, i found myself, as they say, "sprung" and after that date, our texting never ended and although i will once again decamp on one of mny trips this weekend, we had our third date on monday, and afterward, we went back to the brazilian's place. we watched some silly sitcoms on cbs lazily lying in each other's arms. and then we fucked our brains out.

then again, i've found myself in one of my endlessly horny streaks the past few weeks. even before i went to miami, i found myself in as a series regular on websites on which i only like to make cameo appearances and while i think i've made a couple of friends of sorts -- a golfer on the one hand, a boating doctor on another, a masseuse (i know) on yet another, and an older something-or-other in the end -- i really didn't act on anything until after i got back from miami. the week before i left for miami, i spent some time with my sister re-newing my love affair with the late nosh at cassis, a day of shopping the zara sale, and a midweek viewing of "x-men: first class" -- where i found myself spellbound by january jones and who could've possibly sired the love child she has growing in her demure little belly -- and then that weekend, i did my yearly homage to participating in my community and daytime drinking by volunteering with the kevin beckner campaign in the parade and i saw my old high school friend on the sidelines and i saw the figment of my imagination (although i pretended like i didn't) and the exsomeone and one of the managers at my job and i kind of met a lawyer as we walked the entire parade route just chatting away, but afterward, i met up with the p.r. girl's friend who i've hung out with before -- i saw thor with this character -- and we drank and drank (and i saw the figment of my imagination and had a conversation with the figment of my imagination which lead to even more drinking) and when i ran out of money, the p.r. girl's friend bought me a couple of rounds and the next thing i know, my sister is banging on my door, waking me up trying to get me to go out because she needed to get out of the house and i did not even know what i had done because i clearly had just emerged from outright blackout drunkeness. so we went to the only bar in town -- since i found myself STILL drunk -- and i made one lap and we left to go to hiro's where my sister had an out-and-out panic attack over the fact that she might see the bartender she knew despite the fact that going to that very place remained her suggestion in the first place. we stayed and ate and after arguing it out -- a habit of ours -- we went home and the night ended quietly. the next weekend, i jetted off for miami to spend a week with my old favorite coworker and her fiancé and a couple of days in fort lauderdale with my friend sara who i last saw in new york over st. patrick's day weekend. well. friday night probably lit the fuse on my libido as i arrived at her new south beach apartment -- with all of the charm that implies -- and then caught up over a bottle of wine at a local wine bar/shop. later, we went to another neighborhood bar up the street -- where i donned a banana republic military shirt and ysl skinnies -- and my oh-so-glamourous former co-worker immediately had the men all over her while i rounded up a bar tab and after a while, i found myself deep in conversation with a gregarious french canadian who left a boyfriend behind in montreal and i couldn't read the signals -- all those canadians are so nice, aren't they? -- until we decided to leave and the french canadian and i decided that making out would be the best way to end that exchange. if only i had picked up on that scent earlier. while waiting outside the bar, we caught this threesome of near douche types that could easily appeal to myself or my friend given our inclinations for the evening and we struck up conversation and wound up at finnegans two where my glamorous coworker got a little to close to the argentenian while i batted my eyes at the columbian and exchanged sharp barbs with the french one. we then went to the shelborne hotel, but we ran off -- literally, i'm told -- because my glamorous co-worker started getting uncomfortable. overall, fantastic night. and when we got home, we had to spend the night lying to her fiancé about what we did. as these things go. after all, latin fiancés are nothing if not jealous fiancés. the next day, we went shopping on collins and the club monaco had one of those sales that i dream about. we then grabbed a late lunch at this asian place on lincoln -- where everyone bought something from the britto store -- and i had a couple of drinks but then we had to jet because we were going to mansion -- i mean, where else? with cover at the door soaring to two hundred a pop, the most economical option won out -- so yeah, we went to seee steve aoki and it's probably the best house music i have ever ever heard in my lifetime. and it got magnified by some particular party favors that i did not even expect going into the night. well, as all epic nights go, the consequences can turn out devastating and not only did mansion double charge me for a bar tab -- they put one hundred dollar holds for each -- but i walked out of the club to notice that i had all but lost my entire sense of hearing. all of it. seriously. so the next morning between getting money wired to me and coming down over a "my big fat gypsy wedding" marathon, we had a slow boiling panic about not being able to hear. AT ALL. sunday in miami remains a huge beach day so we eventually made our way down ocean and went to the most flamboyant stretch of the beach after a quick lunch outside the hotel victor -- where we had front row seats to a drag queen high kicking her way in the middle of ocean drive during a performance. seriously. it caused a traffic jam. that night, we squeezed our way into nikki beach for absolutely free and each swallowed five or six thirteen dollar well drinks and then took off to a pizza parlor, some on-the-street shouting matches, and an early night to bed. on the fourth, we spent most of the day at the flamingo lounging by their pool -- where i picked up quite a bit of color -- and then i had to catch the two longest bus rides of my life -- one that went allllllllll the way up collins to aventura mall and then another allllllll the way to the fort lauderdale airport -- and met my friend sara who just touched down from a long island holiday. we went to tijuana taxi to unwind and catch up and then went back to her apartment where i watched true blood until i fell into an unmoveable sleep. the next morning, she went to class and i caught up on my e-mail and then we went shopping at sawgrass mills which certainly did not stand up to aventura or bal harbor and i will never go there ever again although they did have a fifty dollar pair of pants at the prada store and we had a funny episode in the theory store as everyone started twittering about when the casey anthony verdict came over the wires. that night, we did the "las olas" thing by getting a bite at sushi rock -- blah -- and then went to yolo which was basically a tampa bar on steroids and then we went back home and turned in since i had to be at the airport at six in the morning with nothing but a beach bag so i could try to avoid the silly carry on fee that spirit charges. and i eked it out.

but as i indicated, after i got back from miami, i've found myself on quite a streak: as soon as i got back, i found myself inundated with invitations from sites i'd rather not name, and i indulged a couple: first, upon my return, i re-capped my miami vacation with my sister over jazz and cocktails at mandarin hide that wednesday and then a quick bite at ceviche where i over-consumed just a bit before convincing her to take me home where i made the bad choice to venture off again to the only bar in town where i got two offers to go home and took the very wrong one and got fellated somewhat regrettably before jetting back home to a horrific hangover and then, that friday, i met up with this characater from that website i rather not mention who i've talked to for at least a year and we had quite a good time so much so that it's inspired a chapter -- should i ever get around to penning it -- and i kind of hope for a repeat performance but then, after i worked that weekend, on monday, i went on a coffee date with a car salesman which was just an bold fail not to mention a waste of a new shirt and so i started this sexting thing (i suppose i'm trying to assert my modernity) with a professional masseuse, and that friday, my sister and i went to "the grape" where she read from her diary and i drooled over our sommelier so obviously that i believe i over tipped to off set my poor behavior and then we went to ceviche in tampa and i had an entire bottle of wine by myself and then came home and i had such an insane red wine hangover that i gave up atkins for the foreseeable future, and then, to cap off my month-long harlotry bender, i, very very regrettably, after my date, and after i downloaded with my sister over drinks and dessert at cassis which would've been great had it stopped there -- i mean, i can't knock four espressotinis with bar patrons ranging from disaffected eastern seaboard types and scottish divorcees -- but we went to ceviche where i augmented with some sangria and then bolded over to vintage where i did whiskey shots with these ridiculously chic lesbian bartenders -- one could've easily have posed in the latest fall/winter dolce and gabbana campaign in one of those sleeveless vests and cropped pants and the other would've looked gangbusters in a safety pinned balmain number as she totally gave the girl with the dragon tattoo a run for her money -- and then, my sister took me to the only bar in town because i'm sure i insisted although my memory fades in and out at this point, but once i got home, i hopped online, and very regrettably met up with this dirty something or other who i had hooked up with the morning before my great aunt's funeral -- yeah, i know: feels just as bad now as it did then and before -- and came home and truly passed out.

besides that, life has become more calm with the insertion of the brazilian who i hope to soon call 'my steady' since when the exsomeone called just yesterday, i felt myself for the first time -- well, since the figment -- in a long time really not feeling anything at all really. except some odd friendship carved out over all these years. but we'll see how i fare in columbus with the boys although it'll be on a shoe string given my side trip to st. louis to see sade and the flat tire i got just this morning when i went to pick up my dry cleaning.

June 25, 2011
Behind N.Y. Gay Marriage, an Unlikely Mix of Forces

In the 35th-floor conference room of a Manhattan high-rise, two of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s most trusted advisers held a secret meeting a few weeks ago with a group of super-rich Republican donors.

Over tuna and turkey sandwiches, the advisers explained that New York’s Democratic governor was determined to legalize same-sex marriage and would deliver every possible Senate vote from his own party.

Would the donors win over the deciding Senate Republicans? It sounded improbable: top Republican moneymen helping a Democratic rival with one of his biggest legislative goals.

But the donors in the room — the billionaire Paul Singer, whose son is gay, joined by the hedge fund managers Cliff Asness and Daniel Loeb — had the influence and the money to insulate nervous senators from conservative backlash if they supported the marriage measure. And they were inclined to see the issue as one of personal freedom, consistent with their more libertarian views.

Within days, the wealthy Republicans sent back word: They were on board. Each of them cut six-figure checks to the lobbying campaign that eventually totaled more than $1 million.

Steve Cohen, the No. 2 in Mr. Cuomo’s office and a participant in the meeting, began to see a path to victory, telling a colleague, “This might actually happen.”

The story of how same-sex marriage became legal in New York is about shifting public sentiment and individual lawmakers moved by emotional appeals from gay couples who wish to be wed.

But, behind the scenes, it was really about a Republican Party reckoning with a profoundly changing power dynamic, where Wall Street donors and gay-rights advocates demonstrated more might and muscle than a Roman Catholic hierarchy and an ineffective opposition.

And it was about a Democratic governor, himself a Catholic, who used the force of his personality and relentlessly strategic mind to persuade conflicted lawmakers to take a historic leap.

“I can help you,” Mr. Cuomo assured them in dozens of telephone calls and meetings, at times pledging to deploy his record-high popularity across the state to protect them in their districts. “I am more of an asset than the vote will be a liability.”

Over the last several weeks, dozens of lawmakers, strategists and advocates described the closed-door meetings and tactical decisions that led to approval of same-sex marriage in New York, about two years after it was rejected by the Legislature. This account is based on those interviews, most of which were granted on the condition of anonymity to describe conversations that were intended to be confidential.

‘I Have to Do This’

Mr. Cuomo was diplomatic but candid with gay-rights advocates in early March when he summoned them to the Capitol’s Red Room, a ceremonial chamber with stained-glass windows and wood-paneled walls.

The advocates had contributed to the defeat of same-sex marriage in 2009, he told them, with their rampant infighting and disorganization. He had seen it firsthand, as attorney general, when organizers had given him wildly divergent advice about which senators to lobby and when, sometimes in bewildering back-to-back telephone calls. “You can either focus on the goal, or we can spend a lot of time competing and destroying ourselves,” the governor said.

This time around, the lobbying had to be done the Cuomo way: with meticulous, top-down coordination. “I will be personally involved,” he said.

The gay-rights advocates agreed, or at least acquiesced. Five groups pushing for same-sex marriage merged into a single coalition, hired a prominent consultant with ties to Mr. Cuomo’s office, Jennifer Cunningham, and gave themselves a new name: New Yorkers United for Marriage.

Those who veered from the script faced swift reprimand. When Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell, an openly gay Democrat from Manhattan, introduced a same-sex marriage bill in May without first alerting the governor’s office, he was upbraided by Mr. Cohen. “What do you think you’re doing?” the governor’s aide barked over the phone.

Mr. Cuomo’s hands-on management was a turning point not just for the marriage movement, but also for his long and fraught relationship with the gay community. Advocates groused that he had waited until 2006 to endorse same-sex marriage, years after many leading New York political leaders did so. And many of them still remembered his work on his father’s unsuccessful 1977 bid for mayor of New York, which had featured homophobic posters aimed at Edward I. Koch.

Over time, however, championing same-sex marriage had become personal for Mr. Cuomo. He campaigned on the issue in the race for governor last year, and after his election, he was staggered by the number of gay couples who sought him out at restaurants and on the street, prodding him, sometimes tearfully, to deliver on his word.

The pressure did not let up at home. Mr. Cuomo’s girlfriend, Sandra Lee, has an openly gay brother, and she frequently reminded the governor how much she wanted the law to change.

Something else weighed on him, too: the long shadow of his father, Mario, who rose to national prominence as the conscience of the Democratic Party, passionately defending the poor and assailing the death penalty. During his first few months in office, the younger Mr. Cuomo had achieved what seemed like modern-day miracles by the standards of Albany — an austere on-time budget and a deal to cap property taxes. But, as Mr. Cuomo explained by phone to his father a few weeks ago, he did not want those accomplishments to define his first year in office.

“They are operational,” he told his father. Passing same-sex marriage, by contrast, “is at the heart of leadership and progressive government.”

“I have to do this.”

A Democratic Surprise

Nobody ever expected Carl Kruger to vote yes.

A Democrat from Brooklyn, known for his gruff style and shifting alliances, Senator Kruger voted against same-sex marriage two years ago, was seen as a pariah in his party and was accused in March of taking $1 million in bribes in return for political favors.

Some gay activists, assuming he was a lost cause, had taken to picketing outside of his house and screaming that he was gay — an approach that seemed only to harden his opposition to their agenda. (Mr. Kruger has said he is not gay.) But unbeknown to all but a few people, Mr. Kruger desperately wanted to change his vote. The issue, it turned out, was tearing apart his household.

The gay nephew of the woman he lives with, Dorothy Turano, was so furious at Mr. Kruger for opposing same-sex marriage two years ago that he had cut off contact with both of them, devastating Ms. Turano. “I don’t need this,” Mr. Kruger told Senator John L. Sampson of Brooklyn, the Democratic majority leader. “It has gotten personal now.”

Mr. Sampson, a longtime supporter of same-sex marriage, advised Mr. Kruger to focus on the nephew, not the political repercussions. “When everything else is gone,” Mr. Sampson told him, “all you have left is family.”

With Mr. Kruger suddenly a possible yes vote, the same-sex marriage organizers zeroed in on the two remaining Democrats who had previously voted no but appeared open to switching sides: Shirley L. Huntley and Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., both of Queens.

Senator Huntley, a close friend of Mr. Sampson, had privately assured him that she would support the marriage bill, largely out of personal loyalty to him and fellow Democrats.

Persuading Senator Addabbo proved trickier. Same-sex marriage advocates had nicknamed him the Counter, after he told them his vote would hinge entirely on a tally of his constituents who appealed to him for or against the measure. By mid-May, Mr. Addabbo sent word to Mr. Cuomo that the numbers were not there for same-sex marriage.

Until then, members of the same-sex marriage coalition had deliberately refrained from inundating Mr. Addabbo’s office with feedback from supporters of the bill, fearing it might alienate and offend him. But now, the advocates received a message from the governor’s office: Open the floodgates. Brian Ellner, who oversees the marriage push for the Human Rights Campaign, called the head of his field team, who had compiled an exhaustive list of supporters of gay rights in Mr. Addabbo’s district.

“Bury him in paper,” Mr. Ellner said.

Over the next week, the field team collected postcards signed by 2,000 of Mr. Addabbo’s constituents who favor same-sex marriage, twice as many as he had received in the previous few months combined.

When his final tally was completed in early June, he had heard from 6,015 people — 80 percent of whom asked him to vote yes. “In the end, that is my vote,” Mr. Addabbo said.

Republicans Resist

In a private room at the Fort Orange Club, a stately brick manor in Albany where the waitresses still wear French maid uniforms, a pollster laid out the results of his research on gay marriage for Senate Republicans in early June.

There was little political rationale for legalizing it, the numbers suggested: statewide support did not extend deeply into the rural, upstate districts that are crucial to the state’s Republican Party. And with unemployment at 9 percent, the issue was far down the list of priorities for voters.

Many of the Republicans wanted to avoid ever taking a vote on the issue — a simple strategy to carry out. As the majority party in the Senate, they could block any bill from reaching the floor.

But the caucus — a group of 32 senators who had seized control of the Senate in the elections last year but held just a single-seat majority — was far from unified. And, crucially for same-sex marriage advocates, the Republicans’ relatively untested leader showed no interest in forcing them to reach a consensus. “My management style,” the Senate majority leader, Dean G. Skelos of Long Island, had told lawmakers, “is that I let my members lead.”

Mr. Cuomo was determined to exploit the leadership vacuum by peeling off a few senators from moderate districts.

A major target was James S. Alesi, a Republican from suburban Rochester, who seemed tormented by his 2009 vote. Cameras in the Senate chamber captured him holding his head in his hands as the word “no” left his mouth.

The coalition approached him from every angle. The Republican donors invited him to a meeting on Park Avenue, telling him they would eagerly support him if he backed same-sex marriage. “That’s not the kind of lily pad I normally hop on,” Mr. Alesi recalled.

The advocates collected 5,000 signed postcards from his constituents and nudged a major employer in his district, Xerox, to endorse the bill.

And Mr. Cuomo called him, over and over, to address his objections and allay his fears. He told Senator Alesi that as the first Republican to endorse same-sex marriage, he “would show real courage to the gay community.”

On June 13, aides to the governor left urgent messages with same-sex marriage advocates, who had just left a meeting in Mr. Cuomo’s office, to return there immediately, offering no explanation.

As the group assembled around a conference table, the governor opened the door to his private office and peeked in. “I want to introduce the first Republican to support marriage equality,” he announced.

Mr. Alesi walked into the room, which erupted into applause. In emotional remarks, he apologized to them for what he called his “political vote” against same-sex marriage in 2009.

The next day, Bill Smith, a lobbyist for Gill Action, a gay-rights group, turned to the governor and asked, “How many rabbits are you going to pull out of the hat?”

Outgunned Opponents

It was befuddling to gay-rights advocates: The Catholic Church, arguably the only institution with the authority and reach to derail same-sex marriage, seemed to shrink from the fight.

As the marriage bill hurtled toward a vote, the head of the church in New York, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, left town to lead a meeting of bishops in Seattle. He did not travel to Albany or deliver a major speech in the final days of the session. And when he did issue a strongly worded critique of the legislation — he called it “immoral” and an “ominous threat” — it was over the phone to an Albany-area radio show.

Inside the Capitol, where a photograph of Mr. Cuomo shaking hands with Archbishop Dolan hangs in the governor’s private office, the low-key approach did not seem accidental. Mr. Cuomo had taken pains to blunt the church’s opposition.

When he learned that church leaders had objected to the language of the marriage legislation, he invited its lawyers to the Capitol to vent their frustration.

Mr. Cuomo even spoke to Archbishop Dolan about the push for same-sex marriage, emphasizing his respect and affection for the religious leader. An adviser described the governor’s message to Archbishop Dolan this way: “I have to do what I have to do. But your support over all is very important to me.”

By the time a Catholic bishop from Brooklyn traveled to Albany last week to tell undecided senators that passing same-sex marriage “is not in keeping with the will of their people,” it was clear the church had been outmaneuvered by the highly organized same-sex marriage coalition, with its sprawling field team and, especially, its Wall Street donors.

“In many ways,” acknowledged Dennis Poust, of the New York State Catholic Conference, “we were outgunned. That is a lot to overcome.”

With the church largely out of the picture, the governor’s real worry was the simmering tension in the Senate Republican delegation. Its members met, for hours at a time, to debate the political and moral implications of allowing a vote. But each time new arguments arose. Some questioned whether homosexuality was genetic or chosen. Others suggested that the same-sex marriage legislation be scrapped in favor of a statewide referendum.

Mr. Cuomo invited the Republicans to visit him at the governor’s residence, a 40-room Victorian mansion overlooking the Hudson River, just a few blocks from the Capitol.

There, in a speech the public would never hear, he offered his most direct and impassioned case for allowing gays to wed. Gay couples, he said, wanted recognition from the state that they were no different from the lawmakers in the room. “Their love is worth the same as your love,” Mr. Cuomo said, according to someone who heard him. “Their partnership is worth the same as your partnership. And they are equal in your eyes to you. That is the driving issue.”

In the late hours of Friday night, 33 members of the State Senate agreed with him.

Danny Hakim contributed reporting.


A.G. Supports Effort to Overturn Federal Defense of Marriage Act

John Caher


Just days after same-sex marriage became legal in New York, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is taking steps to shield the new law from potential federal intrusion.

Mr. Schneiderman yesterday announced that he has asked a U.S. court for permission to submit an amicus curiae brief supporting a lawsuit targeting the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

The 1996 law empowered states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, and established a federal definition of marriage as a union between "one man and one woman as husband and wife."

Mr. Schneiderman argues that DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and represents an "unprecedented intrusion into the power of the states to define marriage." He also contends that DOMA improperly intrudes on the historical role of states in defining marriage.

DOMA "literally redefines the term marriage, and it does so in a blunt, across-the-board manner that has no connection to the particular contexts in which federal laws rely on marital status," according to the attorney general's memorandum of law. "This interferes with New York's exercise of its sovereign authority to define marriage and to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation."

Mr. Schneiderman said in a statement that New York's history of recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages "and the enactment of the Marriage Equality Act further cements our state's position on this critical civil rights issue."

Yesterday, Mr. Schneiderman filed an unopposed motion for leave to submit an amicus brief supporting the plaintiff in the Southern District case of Windsor v. United States, 10-cv-8435. The plaintiff, Edith S. Windsor, lived with her same-sex partner, Thea Spyer, in New York City for more than 40 years. In 2007, they married in Canada, a union recognized in New York.

When Ms. Spyer died two years later, the U.S. government invoked DOMA in refusing to recognize the marriage and in taxing Ms. Windor's inheritance as if the couple were unrelated. Ms. Windsor responded with a federal action attacking DOMA and seeking a refund of the estate taxes she was forced to pay.

Mr. Schneiderman, who has long opposed DOMA and who had promised during last year's campaign to challenge the law, maintains that DOMA has taken on particular significance since the state last month enacted the Marriage Equality Act and sanctioned same-sex marriage.

"The federal statute at issue in this case…undermines the full promise of New York's law by discriminating among legally married couples based on sexual orientation," the attorney general argues in the state's memorandum, written by assistant solicitor general Simon Heller.

Roberta A. Kaplan, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, which represents Ms. Windsor, said the plaintiff welcomes the participation of Mr. Schneiderman.

"Given the fact that this case was filed in the Southern District of New York, and given that the case is about the federal government's failure to recognize marriage of same-sex couples in New York, the views of the New York attorney general on the very weighty constitutional issues in the case are very much appreciated, and we think will be very much appreciated by the court," she said.

Windsor v. United States took an unusual twist in February when the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend DOMA against constitutional challenges. That prompted Republicans in the House of Representatives to convene a meeting of the chamber's Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which voted to defend DOMA.

The House is represented by Bancroft, led by Paul D. Clement, who was traveling yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

@|John Caher can be contacted at jcaher@alm.com.

Copyright 2011. ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved.

"thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).

The Shoes at the Chanel Couture Show Lit Up
7/6/11 at 09:50 AM

Karl Lagerfeld is one of very few people who could get away with scheduling his fashion show for 10 p.m., especially during the relaxed couture schedule. At that hour, everyone is supposed to be out at a party in celebration of the launch of a postage stamp or ice cream bar or whatever else the industry has decided needs to be celebrated that evening. But last night, everyone fabulous — Anna Wintour, Andr! Leon Talley, Diane Kruger and her husband Pacey, Alexa Chung, and male model wonder Baptiste Giabiconi — went to the Grand Palais at ten to watch the fall 2011 Chanel couture show. Karl — whose previous elaborate fashion-show sets have included an iceberg, a barn, and a volcano — turned the Palais into the Place Vendôme, replacing the Napoleon Bonaparte statue with one of Coco Chanel. The Kaiser is said to have wanted the space to be awash in moonlight. But in case that didn't pull through, he had backup illumination, and it wasn't just the famous people: At the end of the show, as the models stood for the finale and Karl took his walk through the set in acceptance of the usual outpouring of admiration, the boots the models had worn in the show lit up.

The clothes had a forties flavor to them, with jackets nipped at the waist and the shoulders big. The long skirts we saw everywhere on the ready-to-wear runways for fall carried over here. Many were quite slim, often stopping at the ankle or hanging all the way at the floor. While the practicality of this cut is questionable at best for daytime, for couture it obviously doesn't matter. It's not as though the women buying that stuff have to deal with the elements anyway.

Paris Haute Couture: Chanel autumn/winter 2011 [Telegraph UK]


Paris Haute Couture: Chanel autumn/winter 2011
The Chanel show started at ten pm because, rumour has it, Karl Lagerfeld wanted the venue - the vast glass Grand Palais - to be flooded with moonlight.

Ladies, listen up. It's all about the skirt. Karl Lagerfeld has spoken and when you see the pictures, you will agree.

Only Karl Lagerfeld could get away with staging a fashion show at gone ten o'clock in the evening during haute couture, which usually allows you to clock off for cocktails at 5pm (at the latest).

Paris Haute Couture: Chanel autumn/winter 2011 in pictures
The rumour was the pony-tailed lord of fashion required the show venue - the vast steel and glass Grand Palais originally constructed for Paris' Universal Exposition of 1900 - to be flooded with moonlight.

Given the heat in Paris yesterday, by day this would have been unthinkable.
Alors! Chanel had transformed the Beaux Art-style interior into the Place Vendome using fluorescent tubing, which lit up a trompe l'oeil effect outlining the famous Parisian square. The floor meanwhile was covered with a granite-like black surface which twinkled to resemble rain soaked pavements. (Weirdly enough as guests entered the building big splodges of rain had started to land on pavements - had Chanel organised this too?).

In the centre, on top of a Perspex plinth identical to one in Place Vendome, stood not Napoleon, but a glass statue of a hatted and suited, Coco Chanel (oh, Karl you are so naughty!).

This hinted at what would come next. From the first to the last outfit, Lagerfeld played out a story of the skirt suit; beginning in familiar salt- and-pepper tweed and always worn with the same style of schoolgirl-ish hat (even the bride in the finale wore one).

Given part of the Chanel legacy is the 'don't-you-know-who-I-am' unmistakable tweed jacket (which is arguably the biggest status symbol known to womankind) you might have been forgiven for thinking this was the star.

For autumn/winter haute 2011/12, Lagerfeld proposed a new shape: nipped in at the waist with a pronounced stiff peplum, rather Forties in style with - wait for it - big shoulders.

But it was the skirt, slimmer and increasingly longer, growing from pencil to fishtail, that ultimately held the look together.

Then came the bling. Although this still felt very much like a celebration of daywear (as Captain James T. Kirk might say, these were skirt suits, but not as we know them) tweed jackets and skirts in inky blues, black, browns, and greys were infused with glittering beadwork that shone like the aurora borealis.

Trendspotting at Paris Haute Couture

Then suits grew more avant-garde and darker in spirit; swathed with taffeta, bestrewn with an almost Victorian funereal plumage and additional ruched, pleated silks. Sometimes an additional fishtail created from silk peeped from beneath skirts, adding yet another dimension.

Jackets morphed into long tweed dresses eventually becoming dresses which acted as yet more showcases for the incredulous talents of the Chanel atelier.
As models rejoined the circular stage for the finale, the collection in its entirety made sense. Just as you were thinking this was a show devoid of gimmicks, suddenly the lights dimmed and the blunt toecaps of the models flat boots - which, like the hats had been worn throughout - lit up. Love. Love. Love. Torch toe caps!

Instantly, the 'Veruca Salt' inner fashion voice lurking within two hundred grown-ups present, I swear, shrieked ("Mummy. I reaaaally neeeed a pair of those LED Chanel boots, NOW!").

Ah yes. There's nothing like a Chanel haute couture show to remind you that there really is nothing like a Chanel haute couture show.

Chanel Couture Fall 2011
PARIS, July 5, 2011
By Tim Blanks

Karl Lagerfeld recently acquired a full set of stills from 1927's apocalyptic sci-fi classic Metropolis, signed by the film's director Fritz Lang to its young star Brigitte Helm. It was sheer coincidence, however, that there was a Metropolis feel to the set for today's Chanel haute couture show. Or was it? The backdrop for the presentation was a neon-limned mock-up of the Place Vendôme, with Napoleon replaced at the top of his column by a robot Coco. (In Lang's movie, a mad scientist makes a robot replica of Helm.) The set was dark and glistening, like rain had just fallen. A perfect film noir atmosphere, in other words. And Lagerfeld had the perfect script for it—Coco's own life story.

At least that was one way to look at a collection that seemed to chop through time. It clearly wasn't a chronological arc. The show opened with Chanel tweed suits, which didn't make their appearance until the twenties, and it closed with "lamp shade" evening silhouettes that echoed the work of Paul Poiret, the early twentieth-century Parisian designer whom Chanel helped render irrelevant with her innovations. Michel Gaubert's soundtrack, meanwhile, created an aural equivalent of the temporal mash-up by following new English pop with bursts of Stravinsky (he was Coco's lover in the twenties). But Lagerfeld had already prepared us for this when he called the collection Les Allures de Chanel. Plural—he wanted to emphasize her multifacetedness.

But, if the clothes themselves were any guide, he also wanted to preserve Coco's mystery. The collection was so dominated by shades of black, gray, and midnight blue that the odd accents of fuchsia looked like less-than-happy accidents. Even when Lagerfeld used white, he defused it with a drizzle of dark beading or a shadowy veil or even a glittery black tank. The mood felt like an organic follow-on from the dystopia of the Fall ready-to-wear show. As with that collection, the lack of compromise, particularly with the tricky peplum-over-narrow-skirt silhouette, could challenge brand fans. But the somber luxury of the wardrobe Karl Lagerfeld is proposing for dark times is immensely seductive.

"and the Light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" (John 1:5)


Givenchy Menswear Spring 2012
PARIS, June 24, 2011
By Tim Blanks

Riccardo Tisci always wanted to be a surfer when he was a kid. He could never have known that the biggest luxury conglomerate in the world would one day wave its wand over his wish. And so it came to pass that Tisci got to create a collection of clothes that turned his childhood fantasy into an elaborate, provocative reality.

That's been the story of Tisci's life since he was taken on by LVMH six years ago to reanimate Givenchy. Fairy tales do come true. And truer. After establishing himself as the embodiment of fashion's dark night of the Catholic-Gothic soul, Tisci has gone into the light with his new menswear collection. It was dawn in Givenchyworld—tropical-flower prints, crystals and sequins sparkling like dew on leaves, and white… so much white, banishing every trace of the black that has been Tisci's trademark up to this point. More to the point, it was a triumph.

Who knows why all the elements that have looked so contrived over the years of Tisci's stewardship of Givenchy should suddenly fall into place as logical, seductive revisions of fashion orthodoxy? Perhaps everything looks better when the sun shines. Maybe when it was dark and serious, it somehow seemed like a big old fashion-student cliché. Whereas here, it was simply unabashed and celebratory. Men in skirts? Get used to them. It's warriorwear from years back. Besides, Tisci wasn't about to get so literal with his Hawaiian subtext that he was going to show grass skirts.

Common sense dictates that it's a rare retailer who'd be moving substantial amounts of Tisci's pleated little numbers (even if, in white, they looked like Wimbledon wonders). But the upbeat energy of the collection animated its more sober components. Team Tisci's sporty staples—the bombers, baseball jackets, sweats, tees, and shorts over leggings-were juiced with the bird-of-paradise prints. And his tailoring looked fresh in ivory and army green. That freshness was all promise, but everything about an exuberant post-show Tisci suggested he was ready to deliver.


June 29, 2011
In Paris, Sensuality Saves the Day

PARIS — MAYBE it’s too many hours on Twitter that causes people to reduce fashion shows to a check-off list of essentials, but whatever it is, writers at the spring men’s collections here were ticking the appropriate boxes: globalism, gender games, the new sobriety.

This approach doesn’t seek to explore fuzzier sensibilities, or even brewing passions, so much as it surrounds them with a garnish, something that any good host knows to do when the plate looks bare. A few collections did seem ruggedly global in their cultural reach....

At Givenchy, the feeling of sensuality came from the absurdly wacky bird of paradise prints that appeared on crisp T-shirts, skirts and trousers, and that for evening were glazed with sequins. Against the white and mint backgrounds of suits, which also came in solid hues, the tropical pinks and greens were just irresistible.

I haven’t been a fan of Mr. Tisci’s men’s collections mainly because, in their mixture of religious symbolism and post-punk rage, they project a fake aggression. (I have a hard time buying that pose from a luxury label.) But this time the clothes celebrated life.

With the passage in New York of the marriage equality bill, sensuality seems a particularly valid form....

Tags: decadence, exsomeone, foundation, just me, marriage, new york, nightlife, sister, the brazilian, the longhorn, the stars, travels
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