And the nominees for this week’s edition of the Air Mail Attention-Whore Index Poll are …
Harry and Meghan
Expectations, always high, spiked when in the Netflix trailer Harry intoned, “No one knows the full truth. We know the full truth”—two sentences that would seem to contradict each other. And Episode One did not disappoint. This retiring, spotlight-averse couple is tough to beat any week, but this week—forget it.
His gift for getting attention continues to grow: “Jewish people, forgive Hitler today. Let it go. Let it go. Stop trying to force it on other people.”
A former and would-be-future president calling for the “termination” of the Constitution earns major points in a competition like this. But has he now played one of the last remaining aces up his ill-tailored sleeve?
The royal family of oversharing, and their own subcategory. This week Khloé was Top Kardashian, posting about her baby spitting up on her (“It comes with the territory… Mom life”), offering relationship advice (“You can’t make someone love you by giving them more of what they don’t already appreciate”), and revealing that she was late getting onstage at the People’s Choice Awards because her zipper had “popped open.”
A dark horse—who’d heard of him six weeks ago?—but now that he’s swimming with publicity sharks, he has had to step up his game: he started giving interviews.
An uncharacteristically buttoned-down week: “The Constitution is greater than any President. End of story.” Yawn. But wait! Here’s news that his medical-device company, Neuralink, is under investigation for possible violations of the Animal Welfare Act, with accusations that his demands for speed have increased the casualty rate among lab animals. The beginnings of a surge here for Musk?
Cast your vote here for who should be this week’s supreme Attention-Whore!
A block of apartments near Berkeley Square owned by Hugh Grosvenor, the seventh Duke of Westminster and Prince George’s godfather, is a hotbed of antisocial behavior, alleges a neighbor who has filed a $2 million claim against the duke’s company. Peter Clifford, who lives in a $5.4 million house nearby, has cited “raucous three-day parties, drug dealing and prostitution to the extent where his master bedroom was rendered ‘uninhabitable’ by noise from outside,” according to The Times of London, and added that “on one occasion a prostitute’s ‘pimp’ once stood just three meters away from his window”—presumably closer than what is considered the socially acceptable distance for pimps to stand outside one’s window in Mayfair.
Read it and weep? Some 4.3 million views later, a TikTok tutorial from Zoe Kim Kenealy, a beauty buff, has created a global viral trend of makeup designed to achieve the same effect as a good cry, reported the South China Morning Post. “‘You know how we look good when we cry?’ Kenealy says at the beginning of the tutorial. ‘Anyways, if you’re not in the mood to cry, here’s how to get the look with make-up.” Anyways—and, incidentally, we are in the mood to cry—the newspaper pointed out that vulnerability on social media has become popular, with Bella Hadid, Lizzo, Drew Barrymore, and Dove Cameron all having gone public with their tears.
A group of women and girls has been meeting secretly twice a week at a private home in Kabul to train in Tae Kwon Do, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “Since the Taliban regained power, we are not allowed to do sports, get an education, or have a job,” one of the participants said. Another added, “Our message to the Taliban is that they should recognize women’s human rights.” The Taliban recently shut down all of Kabul’s female-only gymnasiums.
Hair of the dog: “Apples … harvested from abandoned Soviet orchards and the gardens of those still living on land affected by the [Chernobyl] nuclear meltdown of 1986 … have now been made into a schnapps-like spirit called Atomik.” The nuclear schnapps is perfectly O.K. to drink, reported The Times of London: “The distillation process removes radioactive elements such as caesium and strontium, leaving the final beverage safe by EU standards.” Atomik, at $55 for the half-liter bottle, is “a Social Enterprise,” according to its Web site. “At least 75% of profits will go to helping rebuild communities in Ukraine impacted first by Chernobyl and now by the war.”
For these cities, being popular is too much of a good thing. According to The Guardian, during peak summer “about 16,000 holidaymakers each day were making the arduous climb up to the Acropolis.” Greece was the world’s third-most-popular tourist destination this year, “with visitor numbers poised to come close to 30 million — nearly three times the nation’s population.” There are 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece—and that’s not including that little bakery on the road to Milopótamo, if it’s even still there—and there is concern within and without the country about not ruining everything.
And starting in the spring, Amsterdam will undertake what the Daily Mirror calls “a ‘discouragement campaign’ to put off ‘nuisance’ British tourists” with new restrictions. Among those being considered, according to Dutch News: banning smoking cannabis on the street, cracking down on stag and hen parties, moving some brothel windows to a new “erotic center,” doing away with organized pub crawls, encouraging “mediocre quality hotels … to convert to homes and offices,” and so on.
The young couple were introduced by a matchmaker, engaged three days later, and split up 33 days after their wedding—which cost $72,000, especially lavish by central-Chinese-province standards. The groom, surnamed Hou, and his parents had paid for the wedding by borrowing and taking on work, and he now wants (partial) reimbursement of $20,000. “Hou kicked off his refund campaign by hanging a banner on his car and using a loudspeaker to call out his demand for compensation outside the home where his estranged wife, surnamed Li, lives with her parents,” reported the South China Morning Post. “The story of the couple’s marriage breakdown has triggered heated online discussion in mainland China, where surging wedding costs, particularly in smaller cities and rural areas, are an increasingly large financial burden for many families.” Hou filed for divorce after Li moved out but “was refused in June after Li claimed they were happily married.” Well, happiness is relative, right? —George Kalogerakis
George Kalogerakis, one of the original editor-writers at Spy, later worked for Vanity Fair, New York, and The New York Times, where he was deputy op-ed editor. A co-author of Spy: The Funny Years and co-editor of Disunion: A History of the Civil War, he is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL