With the Sussexes lying (relatively) low, Donald Trump’s compulsive attention-grubbing turning into a kind of white noise, and George Santos—where is George Santos?—gone M.I.A., an opening has presented itself for someone else to dominate this competition. And Elon Musk has charged right through it. His unasked-for medical opinion on what might have caused Bronny James’s health scare helped vault him into the top spot last week, with 33.3 percent of your votes. The ubiquitous Barbie was second, at 22.4 percent, followed closely by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—another one to watch—at 16.4 percent, and, at 14.4 percent, Ron DeSantis, who’s clearly learned from the Sussexes that doing every single thing wrong can bring its own rewards, at least attention-wise.
The nominees in this week’s edition of the Attention-Whore Index Poll are …
Speaking of the defending champ … X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, reinstated the account belonging to Ye, the artist/anti-Semite formerly known as Kanye West, which had been suspended in December for inciting violence. Musk also feuded with San Francisco building inspectors over a new X sign atop his company’s headquarters, a bright, flashing intrusion the city said was installed without a permit—and that was finally removed.
HARRY AND MEGHAN & DAVID AND VICTORIA
We said the Sussexes are lying relatively low. Their close friendship with the Beckhams is reportedly over, a tragic victim of the ersatz royals’ suspicions that the Beckhams had leaked stories to the press—“an accusation The Mail on Sunday has been told left David ‘absolutely bloody furious.’” The newspaper described the supposedly banished Beckhams as merely the latest Sussex chums to have been “Markled.”
KETANJI BROWN JACKSON
The newest justice followed a Supreme Court tradition by announcing, a few months into her first term, that she’d signed a lucrative book contract. Such deals are legal, and she doesn’t yet need to disclose the financial specifics, but The New York Times just reported that it was “worth about $3 million.” Nice work if you can get confirmed. The newspaper also noted that Jackson “joined … Justices Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor in securing payments that eclipse their government salaries,” which are $285,400. Sotomayor’s multi-book deal has earned her “about $3.7 million.” But the real beauty part: Court staff members can help research and promote these books.
ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.
Whined about not having Secret Service protection he claimed to be entitled to but actually isn’t. “Since the assassination of my father in 1968, candidates for president are provided Secret Service protection,” he tweeted (or x’d). “But not me.” And then lit into the Biden administration accordingly. In fact—a concept that is proving elusive to Kennedy—protection is provided to “major presidential and vice presidential candidates … one year prior to the general election,” according to the United States Secret Service. In other words, if, 92 days from now, Kennedy finds himself a major candidate, he will be eligible.
It wasn’t enough being instantly identified as “Co-Conspirator 1” in the Trump indictment, and then ranting about U.S. special counsel Jack Smith in a video clip (“You don’t get to violate people’s First Amendment rights, Smith, no matter who the hell you are, no matter how sick you are with Trump derangement syndrome! This isn’t the first time you’ve acted like an unethical lawyer,” said the recently self-acknowledged unethical lawyer.) No, we also needed those transcripts from Noelle Dunphy, the former employee suing him for sexual abuse, in which Giuliani is apparently on tape telling her, “Come here, big tits. Come here, big tits. Your tits belong to me.... I want to claim my tits. I want to claim my tits. I want to claim my tits. These are my tits.”
This week’s accidental A.W.I. candidate. The determinedly publicity-shy former First Lady was the subject of a long, detailed profile in The New York Times about how intensely private she is—the sort of person, in other words, who dislikes long, detailed profiles in The New York Times. Then Newsweek reported that in 2018, when many White House officials were talking about quitting over Trump’s border policy, that “one attendee asserted that FLOTUS would actually consider leaving her husband if enough key officials quit.” Finally, reports addressed Melania’s supposedly frosty relationship with Ivanka Trump, which is a pity since the two apparently share one important interest: having as little as possible to do with Donald.
Speaking of … Another week, another criminal indictment, and this one’s a doozy. But it’s not about him, he’ll have you know: “Their only hope is to try and send me to JAIL for the rest of my life. Even after 3 indictments, I will continue to stand in their way, because the fate of our nation hangs in the balance in the 2024 election. It’s not just my freedom on the line, but yours as well — and I will NEVER let them take it from you.”
And now for this week’s Diary …
Oh, you want to actually see Beyoncé? That will cost you. For the singer’s recent concert at MetLife Stadium, in New Jersey, Ticketmaster was selling no-view seats, “several feet behind the stage to the left-hand side … just above the top of two Portaloos,” as The Times of London put it. Advertised as “No view of show — listening-only seat,” these went for $157 apiece—far less than the average price of more than $500, but still. Partially obstructed-view seats have been around a long time. Now comes the era of eclipsed-view seating.
The Czech Republic is suing Russia for unpaid rent. When Czechoslovakia was a Soviet satellite, its government made decisions “under the guns of Russian tanks … which to this day allowed Russia to use large tracts of land on our territory for free,” said a Czech minister, according to Euronews. “Unauthorised profits from the use of these lands must not be used to support the current occupation of Ukraine.” Some of the real estate is still used by Moscow diplomats, and the lawsuit claims that Russia has profited from “unjustified enrichment” of more than $2.2 million in the last three years.
Child-free weddings are becoming increasingly popular in Greece, according to Kathimerini. “Some people mention esthetic reasons, ‘to get the children off the dance floor’ etc, but also safety reasons if there is a swimming pool,” a wedding planner told the newspaper. One lawyer balked at the unnecessary cost the fidgety, noisy guests would have added to her wedding. She also—and who can blame her?—was disinclined to hire clowns to entertain the tiny celebrants.
And a breaking story. Officials at the zoo here have been denying that one of its Malaysian sun bears is actually a human in costume after a video gone viral raised eyebrows. The bear—no quotation marks yet; it’s ursine until proven guilty—does appear to have an … unusual posture and rather lanky proportions, and sits down on rocks as if it’s settling into a BarcaLounger. Our view: until someone spots the AirPods, it’s a bear.
Local residents at two southeastern Spanish resorts, Torrevieja and Benidorm, are securing beach real estate in the pre-dawn hours, before British tourists can arrive and commence turning beet red. “Early risers plant their claims at 5.30am after council cleaners have finished their shifts,” reported The Times of London. “One Torrevieja local dug his parasol in the red and yellow of the Spanish flag into the sand on the popular family beach at Playa del Cura. Another planted a mini Spanish flag on his parasol and stood with his arms crossed defiantly as if he were ready to defend his territory against any invaders.”
It’s not clear whether any of the combatants at Torrevieja and Benidorm are suiting up in facekinis, but here they are normal street clothes. “Facekinis — full-face masks with holes for the wearer’s eyes and nose — separate sleeves to cover arms, as well as wide-brimmed hats and lightweight jackets made out of UV-resistant fabric, have become especially popular,” said The Guardian. “Many female consumers in east Asia favour fair skin, and sun protection products are also popular in neighbouring countries such as South Korea.” —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