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Cartel Watch: Penitents, Pedophiles, Poets, Movie Stars, Silversmiths, and Drug Lords of Taxco, Mexico

The Daily Beast

WINNER: 2017 NEW YORK PRESS CLUB JOURNALISM AWARD

Few today are familiar with TAXCO, the quaint colonial village anchored by a blushing pink cathedral where JFK honeymooned with Jackie, the love child of Santorini and Córdoba, clinging to a steep hillside, all whitewashed walls, red-tiled roofs, and potted geraniums. It's where the Lost Generation liked to get lost. But some of its history is dark indeed: a lingering drug-cartel presence and a closet pedophile who put the place on the map when he spearheaded the lucrative local artisanal-silver movement. The town is now best known for one of the most lurid annual Holy Week rituals of atonement, drawing penitent narcos in addition to pilgrims from all over Mexico. 

(The first story to chart the waxing and waning drug-cartel presence as reflected by a religious spectacle enacted here since the 16th century. And also first to plumb the town’s dirty secret, the child sacrifices made to maintain a fledgling economy in the years it was Mecca for Hollywood types.)

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You Can't Always Get What You Want: The Untimely Death of L'Wren Scott

GQ (UK)

The mysterious life and death by suicide of fashion designer (and live-in lady friend to Mick Jagger)  L'WREN SCOTT. The definitive literary whydunnit about an entirely reinvented character who uneasily made both London and New York her home.

Atlantic Monthly Highlights in Pop-culture Writing pick.  Most-read article of the week on the Longform app.

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Where Billionaires Run Free: Gaudy Gilded Gstaad

The New York Times T Magazine

GSTAAD is the Galt’s Gulch of billionaires where from the road, every chalet is obliged by law to look pretty much the same and they talk about Russians the way people used to talk about Jews in Darien, Connecticut. 

"The Times’ T Magazine this month published a laugh-out-loud essay offering a snapshot of the frozen-in-amber Alpine resort Gstaad and its poor little rich girls and boys. With an arch tone and many amusing turns of phrase (“drunk on the glühwein of power,” to name just one), writer Phoebe Eaton presents a town in conflict with itself, where an idealized image is bedeviled by the modern scourge of commerce, celebrity and consumption."  —Orbmagazine

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Ivanka Trump Plays Queen of Diamonds

Harper's Bazaar

For years, her dad, a self-styled expert on the ideal female's specs, has owned a modeling agency and the Miss Universe pageants. IVANKA TRUMP says he's been after her to stop slouching on The Apprentice. She admits she has "a big ego," a requirement if one's dad is a bit of a game player, always testing his children. "Even though he knew I always wanted to go into real estate, when I got an offer to work at an incredible fashion magazine, he would be like, 'Oh, that's so cool. Are you sure you don't want to go and do that?' For a while, I was getting a little discouraged! 'Do you not think I have what it takes?!'" the straight-A Wharton real estate major says she was thinking. Donald announced on The View that if he weren't Ivanka's father, maybe he'd be dating her.

"I think it's the human condition to be frequently embarrassed by your parents," Ivanka says.

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Grand Old Class War: KT McFarland and the GOP Senate Race

New York magazine

In one of the stranger races in recent memory, helmet-haired East Side matron KT MCFARLAND (Donald Trump's short-lived deputy national security advisor-turned-failed-Singapore-ambassador nominee) and a former Yonkers mayor John Spencer are in a mud fight for the soul of the New York GOP. 

(After exposing McFarland's recovered memories of abuse and dramatic handwritten letters cutting off both parents and a brother dying of AIDS, the picked-up story occupies the cover of the New York Post  for several days running, earning repeated follow-up from the New York Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, the Associated Press, et al.

In a run that should have been a cakewalk, McFarland fails to secure the GOP nomination or even win the primary.)

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Revenge of the Weinsteins: Harvey and Bob Disconnect From Disney

New York magazine

Divorced by Disney and having lost all rights to the Miramax name, old-school movie producers HARVEY AND BOB WEINSTEIN reboot operations.

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Chris Blackwell: Old Mon and the Sea

The New York Times T Magazine

Entrepreneur and record man CHRIS BLACKWELL, the now very, very rich big daddy cool of the Island Outpost group, is careful to avoid any implication that he has become the Mon in this wander about Jamaica.

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Katie Couric's Prime Time

Harper's Bazaar

KATIE COURIC made history as the first female solo evening-news anchor and for peeling Sarah Palin like a raw carrot on issues of foreign policy and the economy.

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Anthony Weiner, in Mayoral Run, Models on Koch

The New York Observer

Riding shotgun with ANTHONY WEINER on the campaign trail. His paid advisors have been advising him to drop the stand-up shtick and start sounding more like someone with concrete running through his veins. 

(The story that broke the suicide of Weiner's troubled older brother Seth, who, intoxicated, walked into traffic one morning just after being sued over his massive credit-card debt.)

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Terry Richardson's Dark Room

The New York Observer

Who in fashion hadn’t heard about the spontaneous sexcapades that occasionally rattled fashion photographer TERRY RICHARDSON's sets? His photography exhibition "Terry World" would be Mr. Richardson’s own reality show, but with the basic plot line varying little from episode to episode. Big on blow jobs, Mr. Richardson seemed to want everyone to know that he had more spume in him than a creature out of Melville. 

(In October, 2017, Condé Nast International banned all editors from hiring Terry Richardson—and his work was banished from Hearst magazines, too. This is the first news story anywhere to discuss Richardson's hyper-sexualized photo shoots, the affair with his college-intern "muse" Alex, and Richardson's history of mental-health issues.)

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The Hollywood Beast Roars

The New York Observer

Barely visible above his collar is a five-inch scar, a fault line in that ruddy football-coach neck. In March 2001, screenwriter JOE ESZTERHAS was diagnosed with throat cancer. It was now or perhaps never to release Hollywood Animal, his 736-page monster truck of a memoir.

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Cannes-Do Guy Charlie Finch

The New York Times Magazine

One of the French Riviera’s most reliable characters is London's own p.r. powerhouse CHARLES FINCH, a month-of-May migrant worker who jets in for the Cannes Film Festival, bunking at the stately Hôtel du Cap with the show folk and other noteworthies toasting their outrageous fortune here with $40 Bellinis.

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How Much is that in Rubles? Enter the Oligarchs

New York magazine

A $550,000 summer rental. A $10 million Time Warner aerie. Diane Von Furstenberg’s $23 million Village townhouse. Her tycoon daddy has been very nice to ANNA ANISIMOVA, New York’s first Russian-American princess.

(The first story published in the U.S. wherein an oligarch's family was interviewed, revealing the quiet invasion of these extravagantly rich Russian biznesmeny of dubious pedigree.)

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Who is Jimmy Choo?

The New York Times Magazine

The stilettos were out at the JIMMY CHOO shoe brand in this story of two families, British and Malaysian, and their fight over a start-up that bloomed into a mega-millon-dollar international business success. 

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The Art and the Deal

New York Magazine

With friends like Jeff Koons, properties like Lever House and 40 Bond, and a giant collection of Warhols and others, Aby Rosen has done more than anyone else to broker the marriage between art and real estate. Does he have taste? Maybe, at this level, it doesn't matter.

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The Continuing Education of Mrs. Ross

New York magazine

The charter school ROSS GLOBAL, opened by Time-Warner CEO's Steve Ross's widow COURTNEY ROSS, is holistic, organic, Ayurvedic, artistic, and evolutionary. Even for a charter school, the Ross Global has an unusual—even loopy—vision: a Metropolitan Museum ambience wreathed with the joss-stick smoke of the New Age movement. But when you’re building an educational utopia, there are going to be some casualties. {Ross Global was ejected from Manhattan's Department of Education building and closed for "poor performance" and epic levels of teacher attrition/principal sackings within 3 years of this story.]
 
"Evenhandedly negative…..[Eaton is a] talented writer" -- Gloria Steinem

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Tommy Mottola Faces the Music

New York magazine

Why was TOMMY MOTTOLA—the industry's most flamboyant mogul, and one of its most powerful—pushed out of Sony's beleaguered music division and replaced with NBC head Andy Lack? The real story behind Sony’s musical chairs. 

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Mouth and Mouthpiece: Attorney Gerry Shargel plays Defense

New York magazine

ATTORNEY GERRY SHARGEL faces a number of problems defending murder suspect Danny Pelosi. Chief among them? He talks too much. 

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Abe, Mel, and the Christ

The New York Observer

ABE FOXMAN sat in his office suite with its expensive United Nations view, wondering when the WNBC camera crew would get there. The afternoon would soon be spent: It was Friday, and the national director of the Anti-Defamation League was ending phone calls with the words “Shabbat Shalom.” The next day he was jetting to Rome, where he would appeal to Vatican officials to do something about that whatshisname and his movie, The Passion of the Christ, the film that cost Mel Gibson $30 million of his own money and already had civic and religious leaders lunging for the microphone.

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The New Queen of Conspicuous Consumption: Kimora Lee Simmons

New York magazine

Happiness is a Franck Muller diamond-platinum watch, the late Gianni Versace’s personal china, the biggest mansion in all of New Jersey. Long ago, KIMORA LEE SIMMONS, dynamo director of Baby Phat fashions, realized that if she couldn’t be the most popular girl in school, it might be fun to be the girl everybody talks about. Only now she’s not so sure. The self-styled World’s Biggest Collector of Louis Vuitton is trying not to brag these days, but it’s hard: There’s just so much to show off. “I am a fly bitch!” the 29-year-old says, sounding slightly exasperated.

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Whipping Boy: Max Mosley and the Misunderstanding

Men's Vogue

MAX MOSLEY took Friday afternoon off. The postcard stretch of apartment houses along London's Chelsea Embankment, with their vestigial porter bells, was a mere five minutes' ramble from his home, and he paid no attention to street numbers as he unlatched the country-village gate and rustled down a spiral staircase to the basement apartment. From the minute-and-a-half-long video documenting the occasion, a viral Internet phenomenon now viewed by millions, one instinctively concludes the motor-sport mogul  had been to Flat B before.  

(The only journalist to figure out this wasn't a Nazi-themed orgy at all but merely a prison-sex fantasy long before Mosley, who was giving no interviews, made this same argument in his successful privacy lawsuit against the British tabloid The News of the World. Born right at the start of WW II, as an infant, Mosley was regularly taken to see his famous Nazi-sympathizer parents in London's Holloway jail.) 

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The Sixtysomething Upstart and the War to be Manhattan's Next D.A.

New York magazine

Every campaign trail has its indignities, but this year’s RACE FOR MANHATTAN D.A. has more on the schedule than most. BOB MORGENTHAU is 85 years old. That Jack La Lanne jazz about him cycling, skiing, playing tennis, cannot obscure the fact that however compos mentis—and many say that he’s as sharp as he’s ever been—Bob Morgenthau is an old man. A very old man who doesn’t walk, he shuffles. His left ear, his good ear, is cocked in the direction of JUDGE LESLIE CROCKER SNYDER. Sometimes he sits with his finger jammed right down the auditory canal, listening to her rail about his “stale” operation as her pearly pink manicure hatchets the air. Tonight, when his own turn comes, he’ll reach for the back of a chair to steady himself—and miss. His hearing aid will decide it is time to hum an aria. On the way out, he’ll misplace his coat. He is a Mr. Chips who is not yet ready to say good-bye, and there’s pathos to his protest.

"In the 3,500-word New York magazine feature, Phoebe Eaton also followed Ms. Snyder through the city's political-club circuit. The candidate, Ms. Eaton wrote, is hard to miss: "spray misted with diamonds and done up in satin-collar suits and tweedy trumpet skirts, a buckle of cleavage occasionally visible under a lacy camisole as she drags the man off the porch by his Brooks Brothers lapels."  —The New York Sun

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Bachelor No. 1: Tim Jefferies Has Some Etchings He'd Like to Show You

The New York Times Magazine

He is among Britain's most gossiped-about nonroyals. And if one is going to be gossiped about, one might as well dress for one's public. With his tennis-pro good looks and souped-up suits seemingly welded to his 6-foot-2-inch frame, TIM JEFFERIES is the anti-Beckham.

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The Hippies Take a Hike: Ibiza

The New York Times T Magazine

A NEW IBIZA is emergent, a place where British Prime Minister David Cameron and Yahoo C.E.O. Marissa Mayer holiday, children in tow. Where the white-whale yachts of the billionaires Lakshmi Mittal, Roman Abramovich, David Geffen and the Saudi royal family are impossible to miss. It was a beautiful coming of age story, obsessively chronicled by the paparazzi this summer...

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Ivana Trump, Empress of Excess

Harper's Bazaar

The hair, an elegant patisserie swirl of butter cream, is as remarkable as the gingerbread slab riding the head of IVANA TRUMP's equally celebrated ex-husband. Never look a day over 28, Donald Trump famously admonished his then-wife. She recalls this, adding ruefully, "It's going to cost me a fortune." And, though she has a bad back from the competitive skiing that proved her lift ticket out of Communist Czechoslovakia, she is on her way to Aspen for the holidays-and St. Moritz after that. "I can ski backwards on one ski. And foldblinded!" she exults. "But I don't go through moguls very often." This could be an apt metaphor for her love life: She recently announced that after four months of marriage, she'd filed for separation from her fourth husband, Rossano Rubicondi, an actor-slash-model-slash-arm-charm 23 years her junior.

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The Madame Defarge of the New York Post

New York magazine

The spectacle of the city’s high-profile court cases provides a tabloid newspaper with much opportunity for wit, savagery, and increased sales. ANDREA PEYSER is the local Madame Defarge, shaking her fist as the tumbrels roll by, the Post’s class warrior, channeling populist rage and unleashing it on the likes of Donna Hanover, Hillary Clinton, and those who would countenance the idea of gay marriage. “A rabid New Yorker” is how Post editor-in-chief Col Allan describes her (though many New Yorkers might not appreciate the association). The smiling photo accompanying Peyser’s column was recently replaced with one of her wearing a scowl. 

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The Nutty Marquesa: Hello! Magazine's Fixer in a Fix

The New York Times Magazine

Though she lives in the upper registers of less-fashionable Fulham, the MARQUESA DE VARELA has Prince Ernst of Hanover as a neighbor and doesn't hesitate to say so. She knows things like that. She has to in her line of work: the snaring of celebrities and royals for the pages of Hello! magazine, pornography for a certain caste that wishes it could reliably pronounce the word ''Gstaad.'' Between ''The Wedding,'' ''The Baby,'' ''The Heartbreak'' and, inevitably, ''The Divorce''—the points of Hello!'s compass -- there was always an opulent new residence to behold, a flurry of designer clothes blowing around every hard-won featurette stamped with the quirky signature, 'Co-ordination: Marquesa de Varela Int. Ltd.''

''Erin Brockovich has nothing on this,'' she is saying to somebody on the phone. The marquesa, 61, speaks in the swooping dialect of the Republic of Charo. ''All the craziness! All the lyings!''

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L'Wren Scott Rocks

Harper's Bazaar

There are a few bankable certainties at a L'WREN SCOTT fashion-show luncheon. One: The editors in attendance will liberally partake of the white wine on offer but barely touch the chicken pot pie in the interest of maintaining fighting weight. Two: Mick Jagger, L'Wren Scott's boyfriend of almost a decade, will show, schedule permitting. Three: After nine seasons, the audience has learned to coolly ignore L'Wren Scott's boyfriend as he dashes about in a violet blazer and sneakers, documenting on a minicam the very spectacle his rock-star presence threatens to upstage.

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No. 1 Bestseller: Ralph Lauren

Harper's Bazaar

Ralph was the first designer to go West and find something distinctly American worth repeating on a runway, which others then repeated and repeated. RALPH LAUREN: the very name has its own dictionary entry in pop culture. He never felt the need to skateboard through Studio 54, prove his cut-crystal edginess to anyone. Never had the urge to snap a string of ponies around a polo field like a hairy-chested Argentine playboy (though he admits he once played cowboy polo with a broom). "I'm very private. I'm not hangin' out all over the place. You've read about me. I'm boring," Ralph says, throwing down a challenge. Does he think he's boring? He is certainly weary of journalists poking at him with their pens, sniffing out his Rosebuds, teasing some neurosis or other out of his modest Bronx boyhood. So in case anyone's wondering, "I'm not an unhappy, bitter man," he volunteers. "I like myself."

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Va-Va Valentino

Harper's Bazaar

He looks energetic and trim, and his skin is the deck-chair brown of legend—but then, VALENTINO GARAVANI has always known where to find the heat, in the fashion business and in pleasure. Right now, he's mad about Rio. ("The Brazilian people have unbelievable bodies," he says.) A score of straw bracelets climbing up one wrist are apparently all the rage in Brazil, and he says he never takes them off, not even to shower.

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Candace Bushnell on Top

Harper's Bazaar

In her new book, Sex and the City's CANDACE BUSHNELL spends much time diagramming a vastly revised social order: The fluff bunnies and Mr. Bigs who monopolized her best sellers Sex and the City, 4 Blondes and Trading Up are about to be upstaged by a trio of Ms. Biggers, two house-husbands and an obedience-schooled billionaire boyfriend.

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Brother Gifford Croons, Buddy, Can You Spare a Vote?: Speaker Miller's Mayoral Run

The New York Observer

“Bloomberg is going to run over you like a, crush you like … like … the Russians crushed the Central German Unit!” the man outside of Western Beef was saying to A. GIFFORD MILLER.

“So it’s going to take him four years and cost him 20 million people?” asked Mr. Miller, a history buff.

Mr. Miller waited for his next potential convert and took a Johnny Carson–style golf swing as several locals stopped to shake hands with Leroy Comrie, their Yogi Bear of a councilman, who was introducing Mr. Miller around. They looked over at the guy that Mr. Comrie was endorsing for Mayor with a narrow squint, as if he were a snakehead just fished out of their water supply.

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Blockbuster: Gay Talese

Men's Vogue

How tennis, martinis, and a Xerox machine helped the master reporter turn procrastination into perfection.

Having grown up in a house sideswiped by disappointment, author GAY TALESE was always fascinated by failure. That said, Talese seems fairly relieved he is one of life's winners...

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Split Personality: Tom Ford

Harper's Bazaar

TOM FORD is leaving his twin mistresses Gucci and YSL Rive Gauche. What he really wants to do is direct. Looking for clues in an interview with the designer less than two weeks before he quit.

A Champagne-carbonated party, ritual foreplay at every Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche fashion show, was getting underway, even if the host was nowhere to be seen. But he was all anyone talked about: What would become of Tom Ford. the impossibly young, impeccably groomed, conspicuously talented, shamelessly flirty, sexually outrageous, verbally courageous, always tan, always deliberately stubbled, always unbuttoned-down-to-there guy who had upended two major fashion houses and then presumed—yes, presumed—to design for both labels at once? 

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The Marquis de Mod: Karl Lagerfeld

Harper's Bazaar

KARL LAGERFELD was now commuting to New York, a ponytailed action figure shooting ad campaigns and magazine spreads. He can be the Simon Cowell of high fashion when he's in the mood, and the names of tabloid superstars make for some acute free-association.  Angelina Jolie: 'Stunningly beautiful. She has the kind of mouth other people pay to get." Jessica Simpson: "Ecch. I'm not that impressed. I'm not that interested. I'm not that impressed."  The Olsen twins: "They still have to make the movie everybody remembers."

Karl was back in town, ready for anti-depressants after a layover in Las Vegas. For starters, there was that garish ceiling-mounted blown-glass umbrella over the lobby of his hotel, the Bellagio, which he called "the height of bad taste." 

"I never saw so many big men and big women in unbecoming T-shirts and ugly shorts," says Karl, stretched across a white canvas couch and twirling a leather lanyard trailing from his designer jeans seemingly sewn by a Sasquatch. "They were monsters. Monsters!"