We could all see it coming. For weeks the It Couple of the moment has been ubiquitous (to put it mildly), and was at last honored properly: Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift won handily with 51.4 percent of your votes. Pig-eyed perennial Donald Trump placed second (25.4 percent), and energetic self-promoter Shaun King was third (14.7 percent). It would be no surprise if this poll were to engage with all of them again at some point, probably sooner rather than later.
The nominees in this week’s edition of the Attention-Whore Index Poll are …
The late Italian prime minister spent $20 million amassing an art collection of some 25,000 paintings that includes “paintings of Madonnas, vivid images of naked women and cityscapes of Paris, Naples and Venice,” the BBC reported. Great news for his heirs, one might think, except an art critic has declared the collection virtually worthless, with only six or seven paintings having any real artistic, and economic, value. “When he was younger, he bought at galleries and from dealers, but later in life he bought from TV auctions,” a friend of Berlusconi’s said. “He knew what he was buying was worthless.” Going, going … still going.
Finally claimed the coveted spotlight … by quitting the campaign: “This is not my time.” Pence’s former boss, who had once expressed support for hanging his vice president, said, “He should endorse me.” Naturally.
Twitter-cum-X, according to The New York Times, is now worth $19 billion, down from the $44 billion Musk paid for it a year ago. If someone would only give us the wherewithal, we’re confident we could lose $25 billion a year, too.
There are surely more star turns ahead for Santos—a criminal case, a House ethics investigation—but in the meantime he remained in our thoughts this week by enduring (and surviving) a Republican-led effort to toss him out of Congress. “This is a victory for the process,” he said after the resolution failed. “Due process won today. Not George Santos.” Extra points for referring to himself in the third person.
“We’re gonna have a great country,” he announced. “It’s gonna be called the United States of America.” The revelations didn’t end there. Trump, it turns out, was the first person ever to notice that the abbreviation for “United States” and the word “us” are—wait for it—spelled the exact same way. “I just picked that up. Has anyone ever thought of that? I just picked that up,” he said in New Hampshire. But will he ever get the credit for his amazing discovery? No way. “If we say something genius, they’ll never say it. They’ve never said, ‘Trump’s a great speaker.’” Off the campaign trail, he railed pre-emptively against Judge Arthur Engoron in a 2:00 a.m. post because his children were about to testify in court: “Leave my children alone, Engoron. You are a disgrace to the legal profession!” (Trump’s little ones are 45, 42, and 39.) And by the way, “Engoron is crazy, totally unhinged, and dangerous - Our Judicial System has gone to HELL.”
Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift
The coverage continues, somewhat abated, on the Liz and Dick of their generation, but it’s still on. At this point it’s probably not even their fault. Certainly not when People reports on what “totally giftable (and customizable!)” sneakers Swift was “spotted in” while hanging out with Kelce recently. In fact, it is said that the sneaker in question was the very style she was wearing when she was photographed kissing him on the cheek. Stop the presses!
And now for this week’s Diary …
A 62-year-old musician was found guilty of the attempted murder of his 93-year-old mother, having mixed rat poison into her food at her retirement home here last year. The unnamed man, a one-time first violinist of Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein Symphony Orchestra, was also found guilty of a lesser charge—“dangerous bodily harm”—for offering two musician colleagues rat-poison-laced garlic dip. (Wouldn’t straight garlic dip have been sufficiently lethal?) All three victims survived; the violinist was handed a six-and-a-half-year jail sentence.
We would be remiss if, as part of our continuing coverage of the popular French sport of pétanque, we failed to mention an uptick in the kind of alcohol-fueled hooliganism one has previously associated with soccer. “Boules referees are threatening to quit after one of them was strangled amid a surge in pétanque rage driven by drunken players,” reported The Daily Telegraph. “The image of the peaceable game for pastis-sipping French retirees has been shattered by a surge in ‘bouliganisme.’” Complicating the crisis is the recent push to make pétanque an Olympic sport, and with the Paris Games less than a year away it’s hard for anyone to muster a philosophical Gallic shrug about the bad press. “You get all sorts in this sport,” one referee told the newspaper. “The bad-tempered, the contradictory, the cantankerous, and the embittered.”
Tally-no: Ricky Gervais, Twiggy, and Sir Mark Rylance were among the signatories of a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urging him to ban children from hunting foxes. “Certain foxhunting groups start grooming children as young as four to chase foxes to their deaths,” they wrote. The Times of London noted that while foxhunting with dogs has been banned in England and Wales since 2004, drag hunting, “where hounds are trained to follow an artificial scent, or trail hunting, where the scent of real animals is used, are permitted.... Hunt leaders have previously said that attending hunt activities can be educational and that it is unlikely that children will see an animal dying.”
About seven million Italians aged 18–34—a solid two-thirds of that demographic—still live with their parents. That number will drop ever so slightly next month, following a successful lawsuit brought here by a 75-year-old woman against her two sons, who are 40 and 42. “The ‘children’ refused to move out while their mother was doing all the cooking and cleaning at her own expense,” Euronews reported. “The woman eventually grew so tired of the situation that she decided to sue her two sons, especially as both have jobs but apparently refused to help out with household chores or expenses.” The kiddies will be evicted and have until December 18 to clear out.
Two-time Wimbledon champ Andy Murray can build a wellness cottage at his new hotel here as long as it also accommodates the soprano pipistrelle bats roosting on the property. Bats are a protected species in the U.K., and permission for Sir Andy to proceed is contingent on “providing a suitable alternative area for the creatures and installing bat-friendly lighting and bat boxes,” said The Times of London. And indeed, “the new building will incorporate a reception area, a treatment room and shower facilities.” It’s just possible we’re misreading that, but it sure sounds like those pipistrelles are in for some pampering. Imagine—showers! —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 at Air Mail