Cast back your minds for a moment to June, and to our most recent A.W.I. poll. We can now report that perennials Harry and Meghan won that one, with 40.5 percent, followed by the pre-emptively defensive Samuel Alito, with 29.7 percent, and lifetime over-achiever (in this context only) Donald Trump, with 16.2 percent.
Now a special tip of the hat to Yevgeny Prigozhin, who, though doubtlessly aware that the A.W.I. was on a two-week break, nevertheless used the downtime to—there’s no other way to put it—march on Moscow with a rebel army. Even though he must have known it wouldn’t count toward this competition. Now that’s an attention whore.
The nominees in this week’s edition of the Attention-Whore Index Poll are …
HARRY AND MEGHAN
The Sussexes also stayed in A.W. fighting trim during the hiatus, getting further dumped on by Hollywood in the wake of Meghan’s podcast cancellation (“Just because you’re famous doesn’t make you great at something,” noted the head of United Talent Agency), watching Harry’s London court case grind toward its conclusion, and enduring speculation in the press regarding the shakiness of their finances and whether, professionally, Meghan might be better off without Harry. (Yes. Or, possibly, no.)
ELON AND MARK
There was apparently serious talk of a Musk-Zuckerberg cage match. Before anyone even had time to banish that disturbing image—the two of them, wearing way too little clothing, sweatily kicking and punching each other in some enclosed space in Las Vegas—Zuckerberg launched Threads, an app that has already delivered a roundhouse kick to Musk’s Twitter by hitting 100 million sign-ups in its first week. Musk threatened to sue, and the trash talk intensified. Suddenly, what we hope might be called “Muskerberg 2023: The Ultimate Battle, for Now!” is looking like a relatively dignified option.
The photo of a murdered transit officer the mayor of New York says he’s kept in his wallet for decades is, according to The New York Times, a fake, “created by employees in the mayor’s office in the days after Mr. Adams claimed to have been carrying it.” The photo had been found on Google and “made to look worn as if the mayor had been carrying it for some time, including by splashing some coffee on it.” An Adams spokesman, sounding as determinedly distressed as the photo, rejected this “fabricated narrative” and accused the newspaper of “feeding its obsession with dissecting every single moment of Mayor Adams’ life”—but did not respond to questions about whether the photo was authentic.
Having been accused by his former girlfriend, the professional surfer Sarah Brady, of being “emotionally abusive” and controlling, the actor began selling merchandise branded “Complete Unrelenting Control” on his health-and-wellness Web site.
The tactile president even got touchy-feely with King Charles during his visit to London—back touch, arm grab, handshake, bro hug. Did no one remind him that Charles, never mind being King, is English? Then he boarded Air Force One for the NATO summit wearing Skechers and no socks. Oh, and announced he was supplying cluster bombs to Ukraine. Busy week!
Ahoy! Sure, he’s a disgraced and exiled former king, but let’s not forget that he’s also an avid sailor and will return to Spain at the end of this month to take part in a regatta in Galicia. Furthermore, it’s rumored that should conservatives win the general election—just a few days before the regatta—Juan Carlos’s return will be permanent. Close attention will be paid to how much clothing he packs before leaving Abu Dhabi.
Gone retro: Oppenheimer, a movie about the father of the atomic bomb and victim of a subsequent 1950s Communist witch hunt, and Barbie (born 1959), the summer’s most controversial film—at least in the Philippines, because a map that appears in one scene reflects China’s disputed territorial claims in the South China Sea—both open later this month. Not to be outdone, the Supreme Court has been handing down decisions that are driving the U.S. back to the same era. Are conical bras next?
And now for this week’s Diary …
Villa San Martino, the 70-room mansion that belonged to the late Silvio Berlusconi and which Italy’s former prime minister had filled with works by Titian and Rembrandt and many, many portraits of himself, might be turned into a museum. Given that the villa was also the site of Berlusconi’s notorious “bunga bunga” sex parties, one wonders what the docents would be required to wear.
Photos of Vladimir Putin’s $75 million armored private train were published by the Dossier Center, the Kremlin-tracking Web site run by exiled Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Along with the requisite movie theater and communications center, the 22-car train features a “sports-health wagon,” (a gym), a “fancy shower” with “aroma foam,” and, said CNN, “a full cosmetology center … furnished with a massage table and all manner of high-end beauty equipment — including, according to a leaked document, a radio-frequency machine used to enhance the tautness of skin.” The Kremlin has denied that the train, which looks like any other from the outside but is said to be untrackable, is Putin’s.
Awful: a 46-year-old woman drowned when she was swept away by the current in South Korea’s Hongcheon River, after having jumped in to see whether her dog would save her.“The woman was reportedly camping by the river with three friends and her dog when they jumped into the water to see if ‘a dog will help if a person gets into a dangerous situation,’” said the Daily Mail.
The French government loves a consultant. A new report from the Court of Audit has criticized the Macron presidency for being overly reliant on well-paid foreign firms for work it could be doing itself. “Spending on consulting firms by the French state has risen sharply over the past 10 years,” said Le Monde. “From around €11 million [$12 million] in 2014, expenses rose to €103 million [$113 million] in 2018, then to €200 million [$220 million] in 2022,” with “no comprehensive explanation” for the increase, according to the report. Perhaps they should hire someone to look into that.
In keeping with a 230-year-old harvest ritual meant to bring good fortune, the mayor of this Mexican village was married last week to a caiman—a smaller relative of the alligator—which in this traditional re-enactment represented a princess of the Huave Indigenous people, albeit in reptile form. The groom wore a white shirt and dark slacks; the bride, a traditional white wedding dress, with a bit of precautionary string wound around her snout. —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