“I don’t think you’ll enjoy it. You’ll be very depressed when you read it, but we want to have it down for historic reasons.” So says Donald Trump about his planned book The Crime of the Century, which will address “the greatest hoax, heist … one of the greatest crimes in the history of our country.” It should go without saying that few details are available, except that it’s being put out, unsurprisingly, by Winning Team Publishing, which was co-founded by Donald Trump Jr. The imprint has published all of Trump’s post-presidential literary output to date—that is, a picture book.
Although Trump claimed last year to have “turned down two book deals,” the industry is skittish, to put it mildly, about signing him on as an author. “Books about Trump, his time in power and his refusal to admit defeat continue to be bestsellers,” noted The Guardian. “But Keith Urbahn, an agent behind many such books, told Politico: ‘It doesn’t matter what the upside on a Trump book deal is — the headaches the project would bring would far outweigh the potential in the eyes of a major publisher. Any editor bold enough to acquire the Trump memoir is looking at a factchecking nightmare, an exodus of other authors and a staff uprising.’”
Three seconds is how long it took for the doll to sell out—less, in other words, than it took you to read to this point. But the item was irresistible: a special Platinum Jubilee Queen Elizabeth limited edition of Barbie. “The doll’s face has been sculpted to look like the Queen’s, and Barbie’s famous blond hair has been replaced with a severe grey coiffure topped with a tiara based on the one she wore on her wedding day,” reported The Guardian. The doll sold for about $120—time, probably a little more than three seconds, will tell what it brings in the collectibles market.
Not Vogue the fashion magazine, Vogue the Cornish hamlet—you know, near Redruth?—and specifically the 200-year-old Star Inn at Vogue. But confusing the two—magazine and pub—is easy, or so lawyers for Condé Nast had concluded when they sent the Star Inn a cease-and-desist letter expressing “[concern] that the name which you are using is going to cause problems because as far as the general public is concerned a connection between your business and ours is likely to be inferred…. Please reply within seven days or we will take remedial action,” according to The Telegraph.
The absurdity might be self-evident, but the Vogue legal team was still marshaling its troops on the Donbas border, as it were. “Our company is the proprietor of the Vogue mark,” Condé Nast’s chief operating officer wrote, reported the newspaper, “not only for its world-famous magazine first published in November 1916 but in respect of other goods and services offered to the public by our company,” and requested that the pub owners provide more information about their business.
The Star Inn’s landlord, Mark Graham, thought the letter was a joke, said he intended to “crack on” as usual, and noted that the pub had been around nearly a century longer than world-famous Vogue. Following the predictable local uproar, Condé Nast backed off, admitting to Graham that “you are quite correct to note that further research by our team would have identified that we did not need to send such a letter on this occasion.”
An Indian couple invested $650,000 in their son’s wedding and, six years later and with no grandchild on the horizon, are now threatening to sue him. “Sanjeev and Sadhana Prasad say that they exhausted their savings raising and educating their pilot son and paying for a lavish wedding,” said The Guardian. “The parents also forked out $65,000 to get their son trained as a pilot in the US only for him to return to India unemployed.” The couple are giving their son and his wife a year to produce a child. They need to do like the proprietor of the Star Inn at Vogue and crack on.
Plus ça change: call them Yuppies 2.0, or Henrys (High Earners, Not Rich Yet), or yo pros (young professionals)—or maybe just “strivers” will do—but a new iteration seems, always, to walk among us. “The main signifier of a banking job in my day was a pair of Oliver Peoples glasses and a Hermès tie,” Mickey Down, the thirtysomething co-creator of the BBC TV series Industry, set at a fictional investment bank, told Samuel Fishwick in The Times of London. No longer. “The first rule of finance, Down says, is not to let the other guy see you sweat. A freshly ironed shirt delivered to the desk is therefore essential, a Kiehl’s facial mist a must. For women, Zara suits dominate on the trading floor … as well as & Other Stories, Arket and Karen Millen (via Depop), [though] Prada and Chanel bags and Burberry coats never go out of style.”
Silphium was it 2,000 years ago: the fennel-like plant was used as an aphrodisiac, medicine, perfume, even as a condiment. “Herodotus, Theophrastus and Pliny the Elder wrote extensively about the plant,” noted The Guardian. “Pliny extolled it as a cure for dog bites, snake venom and haemorrhoids. It could be used as a contraceptive and the plant itself was a prized vegetable.” But it grew wild only on a small strip of land in what is now Libya, and attempts by the ancient Greeks and others to cultivate it failed. Researchers at the University of New Hampshire now believe it was the victim of (ancient) urban growth and deforestation—and they warn, said the newspaper, “that we should heed the lesson of silphium or risk losing plants that are the basis of many modern flavours.”
Bob Dylan—that Bob Dylan—has been working with iron for years, and now Rail Car, a seven-metric-ton sculpture of a freight carriage, has been installed on train tracks at the Château La Coste vineyard, near Aix-en-Provence. Despite the dark-iron, industrial aspect, and the sheer tonnage—life-size, it’s Dylan’s largest sculpture—Rail Car is surprisingly delicate in appearance, a filigreed embodiment of one of his recurring songwriting themes: the rails. “Exposed to the elements, it features motifs of ladders, wheels and tools,” reported The Guardian. “Dylan said the artwork ‘represents perception and reality at the same time … all the iron is recontextualised to represent peace, serenity and stillness … It represents the illusions of a journey rather than the contemplation of one.’” Dylan scholars, you may commence parsing. —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