What you really want to do, if you’ve spent two years disputing the closeness of your links to the late sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein over the course of a 20-year friendship, is form a new company with a banker who’s been accused of touching a female colleague inappropriately. That’s if you’re Prince Andrew, anyway: you consider the situation, mull a bit, and say, in effect, Sounds good to me! (Or, if you’re feeling particularly self-satisfied, Sounds good to us!)
While at Coutts, the private bank, the prince’s new partner, Harry Keogh, “was accused of touching a woman’s groin while demonstrating the site of an injury. His behaviour was said to be so toxic that some female staff refused to work with him,” said The Times of London. In 2015 Coutts was investigated “and the chief executive recommended [Keogh] leave, according to The Wall Street Journal. It was decided that he should stay, but he was disciplined and eventually resigned in March 2018.” A friend of Keogh’s told The Wall Street Journal that the financier denied the allegations. Meanwhile, the Duke of York, once again drawing on his uncanny ability to anticipate how things are likely to play with the general public, will join Keogh in a venture called Lincelles, said by The Times to be “a vehicle for Andrew’s family investments.”
Can you tell a real Chanel handbag from a fake one at a glance? A week-long course at the Extraordinary Luxuries Business School in Beijing will show you how, for just 15,800 yuan (about $2,400)—a mere trifle in the context of China’s four-trillion-yuan ($617.7 billion) luxury-goods business, and of its similarly booming counterfeit-luxury-goods business. And not just bags: according to the South China Morning Post, the school promises to produce “luxury appraisers” also trained to detect suspicious “belts and garments for dodgy serial numbers, stitching and logos.” Here’s one tip to get you started: “The lining of a black Chanel handbag must be pink.”
This city, which has more than 15,000 restaurants, brasseries, cafés, and bars, about 80 percent of which have outdoor space, might soon be charging for what it had been giving away for free. Extended alfresco seating helped keep businesses afloat during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. And then, last November, the Élysée Palace ordered all restaurants closed. But now that things are opening up, Paris sees an opportunity to exert some control (street-noise issues, etc.) and rake in a few E.U.-edition francs in the process, by charging restaurants for use of their sidewalk space. Currently, residents’ groups, district mayors, and industry representatives are engaged in what are optimistically, or maybe euphemistically, being called “consultation workshops.”
They’d better be consultating ferociously. What if an additional charge ended up, say, being defrayed, directly or indirectly, by a surcharge to customers? Watching the passing parade with convincing insouciance will be that much harder if, in a sense, the meter is running.
When Cleo Watson, who was a colleague of Boris Johnson’s gnomish onetime political shaman Dominic Cummings, left 10 Downing Street for greener—or, anyway, pulpier—pastures, the P.M. reportedly noted that “government’s loss will be erotic literature’s gain.” So, presumably, Whips!, Watson’s soft-porn roman à clef about the British government, will not come as a total surprise to Johnson when it’s published next year. According to The Times of London, “friends say she has been spending her weekends penning the work of ‘erotic literature’, featuring sex scenes that are ‘a pretty decent notch up from Jilly Cooper’. The book is likely to be studied by Westminster-watchers seeking to identify the oversexed ministers, MPs, special advisers and journalists portrayed.” One friend of Watson’s described Whips! as fiction but “heavily drawn from Cleo’s own experiences and stories from the whips’ office and urban legends around Westminster.” In other words, as another friend noted to the Daily Mail, “it is likely to give the lawyers a lot of work.”
A new invention has left paella cooks in this region of Spain collectively stirring a meditative pot as they contemplate their future. “Set the programme, load the sofrito, rice, stock and seafood, leave it alone and the robotic arm, which is hooked up to a computerised stove, will do the rest,” reported The Guardian. The paella robot is a collaboration between Br5 (Be a Robot 5) and Mimcook, a paella-stove manufacturer, and hotel and restaurant chains have shown interest. Enrique Lillo, Br5’s founder, told the newspaper, “At the end of the day, it’s an assistant. I like to say it’s a bit like the orange-juicing machines where you put oranges in the top and get juice out of the bottom. That’s a robot too — people just don’t realise it — and so is a coffee-vending machine. No one looks at those and goes: ‘Crikey! It’s stealing jobs from people!’ No. It’s elevating human capacity.”
In 2016, immediately after he was sworn in as Uzbekistan’s second leader since the fall of the Soviet Union, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev gave a speech in which he sought to draw sharp distinctions between how his authoritarian predecessor, Islam Karimov, had governed and how he intended to—talking of human rights, fiscal responsibility, transparency, and so forth.
Well. “Within weeks of the speech, Uzbek state-owned companies embarked on a secretive project” about 60 miles from Tashkent, according to a recent investigation by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “an exclusive mountain compound, including a new reservoir, that was built for Mirziyoyev’s use. The recreation complex is … located on a protected biosphere reserve and sealed off from the public by roadblocks and security personnel.” (Mirziyoyev’s office did not respond to R.F.E./R.L. inquiries.)
Listen, it’s not as though he doesn’t have certain role models in the vicinity, though just how Putin-esque Mirziyoyev might be turning won’t be clear until he starts stripping to the waist and scoring hockey goals by the bushel.
Out with the bathwater! Joshua Wolf Shenk, the much-honored author, essayist, curator, arts leader, lecturer, keynote speaker, editor in chief of The Believer, and artistic and executive director of the literary center the Black Mountain Institute, has resigned from those last two positions. Silver lining: to his c.v. he can now add “mesh-shirt-wearing Zoom flasher,” for a net loss of just one achievement. Shenk apologized for the “lapse in judgment” he exhibited (as it were) when he stood up in a bathtub during an online meeting with his staff while wearing only that mesh shirt. (He had reportedly been soaking in Epsom salts to relieve nerve pain.) In his farewell letter, Shenk, to his credit, also seemed to acknowledge the problem of that mesh shirt, alluding to “a dumb, reckless choice to disregard appropriate setting and attire for a Zoom meeting.”
Although the incident happened in February and the resignation came in March, the story was just recently reported in the Los Angeles Times, and in the days since, an open letter from anonymous current and former staffers posted on Medium noted, “We do not view Shenk’s act of exposure as an isolated incident or rare lapse in judgement. We view it as an act of sexual harassment. We see this act as the culmination of a years-long pattern of inappropriate and disrespectful behavior.” Whether that’s accurate or not, at least one conclusion can be safely reached: if you must multi-task, multi-task sensibly.
George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for Air Mail