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Social Media Entrepreneur Sean Parker Marries

Social Media Entrepreneur Sean Parker Marries


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Looks like another relationships status is changing on Facebook

Napster founder and former Facebook president Sean Parker was married to his longtime love, singer-songwriter Alexandra Lenas, in a ceremony at The Ventana Inn in Big Sur, California on June 1, according to People.

Rumors circulating in the days before the nuptials stated that Parker and Lenas would wed in an extravagantly crafted, woodland-inspired ceremony, speculations which did not disappoint as apparently the construction of man-made ponds, cottages, and stone gates for the big day reportedly ended up costing the groom around $9 million, a worthy expense for the entrepreneur whose net-worth is estimated at $2 billion.

Ngila Dickson, an Academy Award winning costumer designer, dressed all the guests along with the couple’s daughter, Winter Victoria, while the bride opted for a dramatic Elie Saab gown. The 300 guests dined on food catered by Paula LeDuc and cake from Perfect Endings amidst floral arrangements from designer Preston Bailey, lending a romantic air far more reminiscent of a fairy tale than the technological dramas of The Social Network—although a little Justin Timberlake wouldn’t have hurt the ceremony.


The story behind Sean Parker's redwood wedding

Earlier this month, it emerged that Internet entrepreneur Sean Parker had agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a series of Coastal Act violations, stemming in part from his elaborate wedding at a campground in Big Sur.

Parker's event company had constructed rock walls, stairways, a stone bridge and a dance floor, among other structures, on sensitive habitat around the Ventana Campground, without proper permits.

Much of the public and the media responded with outrage, including me.

I wrote: "To the outside observer, Parker's actions look like contempt for the piddling rules that we non-billionaires can't buy our way around."

I said less kind things, too.

Parker makes a compelling case that much of the press coverage mischaracterized the events and his role in them. In the days since his wedding, the Napster co-founder and early Facebook executive has been, as he put it to me, "focused on correcting the record."

He said that the "exaggerations and mistruths" in press accounts have taken a significant personal toll, leaving a stain on his wedding.

'Connection to forest'

The central facts of the early accounts, based on the initial news release and report from the California Coastal Commission, remain true. The construction did occur without proper approvals, and there were environmental risks.

But, at a minimum, it appears Parker's wedding was not the reckless trampling of a redwood forest that reports suggested.

Parker took conscious steps to limit environment damage, starting by consulting with the Save the Redwoods League early in the process, he said. It was that conservation organization that directed him to the Ventana Campground precisely because it was privately owned and partially developed, he said. The group's director of science advised the landscape architect on appropriate guidelines for the construction.

"Two people do not go to enormous lengths to get married in a redwood grove only to run roughshod over it," Parker wrote in an e-mail to me. "They do so out of respect, because they love the redwood forest, feel a connection to the forest, and want to share that with their friends and family."

Of potentially greater importance, Parker insists that he explicitly and repeatedly asked whether permits were required for his event and said he was definitively told no. Ventana Inn and Spa also didn't disclose any of the relevant land-use restrictions, he said. If that's all true, it suggests much of the outrage should have been directed toward Ventana.

Even if he had known he needed approvals, "I didn't have legal standing to get permits, since I wasn't the landowner, nor did I have a lease," he said in an interview.

Resort's role

A spokeswoman for the Coastal Commission said they have no way of knowing whether Parker knew about the permit requirements and restrictions. Ventana declined to comment.

It certainly is clear that Ventana wasn't above violating the Coastal Act. It did so years before it had any interactions with Parker.

After the Coastal Commission discovered the wedding construction, it also became clear that the campground, which was supposed to be open to the public, had been closed since 2007.

Ventana was required to continue operating the site as an affordable campground, per a decades-old land-use agreement that granted the company the right to expand its luxury hotel on the site.

The question raised by all this is, why would Parker pay such a hefty fine if he did nothing wrong? That act looks like an admission of guilt and is surely why the media coverage went the direction it did.

Parker said he had signed agreements indemnifying the hotel against any unexpected costs related to the event, and found himself stuck with the choice of paying for the infractions or canceling a wedding that was 20 days away.

"You find yourself in these situations in life where you're trapped between a rock and a hard place," he said. "It was pretty clear the hotel was going to shut me down or the Coastal Commission was going to shut me down if I didn't cover those liabilities."


Fairy-tale wedding will cost tech billionaire about $10 million

SAN FRANCISCO — Even in the annals of over-the-top celebrity weddings, Sean Parker’s planned nuptials may take the cake.

The Facebook Inc. billionaire who also co-founded Napster is dropping nearly $10 million on a fairy-tale wedding in Big Sur that includes a whimsical fantasy world featuring faux ruins, waterfalls, bridges and a gated cottage, a person familiar with the plans said.

Just the stone dance floor in the woods surrounding the Ventana Inn & Spa will set the 34-year-old back $350,000, according to the website TMZ. The plants and flowers will cost $1 million.

After a two-year engagement, Parker is marrying Alexandra Lenas, a singer and songwriter with whom he has a 2-month-old daughter, Winter Victoria.

Parker’s June wedding will be in stark contrast to that of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who married longtime girlfriend Priscilla Chan in a simple ceremony in their Palo Alto backyard in May 2012 in front of 100 guests who dined on food catered by the couple’s favorite local restaurants.

Parker’s guests will stay at the Ventana Inn and will dress in custom outfits designed by Ngila Dickson, the Academy Award-winning costume designer from “The Lord of the Rings.”

Save-the-date emails were sent out in March in the form of medieval-looking scrolls. “As you might imagine, this will not be a run of the mill wedding,” the email read.

Parker has denied the wedding garb will have a medieval or “Game of Thrones” theme as some speculated. The outfits, he said on Facebook, will be “modern suits and dresses with some elements of Victorian flair and whimsy.”

“This is NOT a theme wedding and there will be nothing ‘medieval’ about it,” he wrote.

Parker, who served as Facebook’s president in its early days, has been a prominent figure in technology circles since he co-founded Napster in 1999 with Shawn Fanning. He rose to superstardom when he was portrayed by Justin Timberlake in “The Social Network,” the 2010 film about Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook.

Last year Parker teamed again with Fanning to create Airtime, a much-hyped video startup. Despite a splashy, celebrity-studded debut, Airtime failed to gain a following. Parker has moved the company to New York with the goal of relaunching it.

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How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Start by turning off the lights (yes, that includes you, Mr. Phone) and saying your prayers. Then you can move on to more newfangled techniques.

Jeff Bridges’s “Dreaming With Jeff”

In 2015, the actor Jeff Bridges made a spoken-word album, “Dreaming With Jeff,” a project for Squarespace, that reached No. 2 on Billboard’s New Age chart and raised $280,000 for the No Kid Hungry campaign, for which he is the national spokesman. He collaborated with Keefus Ciancia, the composer and music producer, on a truly weird collection of quasi-bedtime stories, musings about death and also a humming song, with Mr. Bridges’s familiar gruff voice and all manner of ambient sounds that many listeners found more alarming than sleep-inducing.

“I don’t know where this is leading,” Mr. Bridges said the other day, “but I’m steeping myself in the subject. We’re working on something called Sleep Club, which will be sort of a hub for all things sleep related.”

“Dreaming With Jeff” made me anxious, as did “Sleep With Me,” a podcast by Drew Ackerman, a gravelly voiced librarian in San Francisco, whose “boring bedtime stories” are designed to cure insomnia and are downloaded at a rate of 1.3 million a month, as The New Yorker reported last year. I’m more drawn to the thousands of “songs” in Spotify’s Sleep Sound Library, particularly “full gutters” and “office air-conditioners,” and I have a white noise machine. But recently, desperately, I craved a more substantial intervention, perhaps a cure for the 3 a.m. fretting that has plagued me for years.

Mr. Mercier sent me his Dreem headset, a weighty crown of rubber and wire that he warned would be a tad uncomfortable. The finished product, about $400, he said, will be much lighter and slimmer. But it wasn’t the heft of the thing that had me pulling it off each night. It skeeved me out that it was reading — and interfering with — my brain waves, a process I would rather not outsource.

I was just as wary of the Re-Timer goggles, $299, which make for a goofy/spooky selfie in a darkened room. My eye sockets glowed a deep fluorescent green, and terrified the cat.

The Ghost Pillow, $85, has “patent-pending thermo-sensitivity technology” designed to keep your head cool. It is wildly comfy, but when I read what it is made from, a polyurethane foam, I lost sleep. I bought a Good Night Light LED Sleep bulb, $28, which comes with its own “patented technology” to support your body’s melatonin production. I can’t tell if that’s what happened, but since the bulb is too dim for my middle-aged eyes, I struggled to read my go-to sleep aid, a worn copy of “The Pursuit of Love,” by Nancy Mitford, and knocked off a good half-hour earlier than usual. I was up again at 3 a.m., however, as my new Sense pod alerted me the next day, through an app on my phone. And again at 5 a.m., when the cat swatted the pod off the night stand and it glowed red in protest. “There was a noise disturbance,” the app explained.

My so-called sleep summary, as provided by Sense, was both compelling and off-putting. Why is my air quality “not ideal”? And how comfortable am I sharing my sleep habits with a Silicon Valley start-up?

Ms. Rothstein, the sleep ambassador, is less bothered by privacy concerns than by the temptation to wakefulness that phone interfaces pose. And nearly every gizmo seemed to have one.

“I’d like to have a survey done to show how many people are also reading their texts while they’re tracking their sleep,” Ms. Rothstein said. “If you want to improve your sleep, you have to make some changes. Your Fitbit and your Apple Watch are not going to do it for you. We’ve lost the simplicity of sleep. All this writing, all these websites, all this stuff. I’m thinking, Just sleep. I want to say: ‘Shh. Make it dark, quiet and cool. Take a bath.’”

Ms. Rothstein taught me her relaxation recipe, a practice that mixed gratitude with body awareness and breathing. Start with your toes, she said, and thank your body parts for their hard work. (My favorite: “Knees, I know it’s not always easy for you. You can rest now.”)

Deep Rest “Class” Audio at Inscape

Still, the best sleep I’ve had in weeks cost $22, and lasted 33 minutes. It was a Deep Rest “class” at Inscape, a meditation studio in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan designed by Winka Dubbeldam, the sought-after Dutch architect, to evoke the temple at Burning Man, and other esoteric spaces, and created by Khajak Keledjian, a founder, with his brother, Haro, of Intermix, which they sold to the Gap for $130 million in 2013.

Mr. Keledjian, a meditator, aims to make the practice both secular and modern: a “mindful luxury,” he said. Though there are human “facilitators” in each class, who gently touch the feet of snoring attendees if they get too loud, the practice is guided by a recording made by an Australian female member of Mr. Keledjian’s company. “We call her ‘Skye,’” he said. It was lunchtime on a rainy Tuesday, and I settled onto a soft mat outfitted with a bolster, a pillow and a cozy fleece blanket. “Skye” urged me to stay awake, and then delivered a script like Ms. Rothstein’s, in mellifluous antipodean tones. I drifted once or twice, and from the muffled snorts of the other attendees, they did too. That night, I slept until dawn.


This massive growth over the last decade, for both Zuckerberg and the company, didn't come without hiccups and controversies, including instances of misuse of user data and the spread of fake news on the platform.

In 2018, Zuckerberg testified before Congress about news reports that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had misused user data to target voters ahead of the 2016 US presidential elections.

The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $5 billion in 2019 over user privacy violations.

It was the largest penalty ever imposed on a company for violating consumers' privacy and almost 20 times greater than any previous privacy or data security penalty worldwide, per the FTC, as well as one of the largest penalties ever given out by the US government. The same month, Facebook reported $2.6 billion in net income for its most recent quarter, which would have been even higher without a $2 billion legal expense related to its settlement with the FTC.


Event Designer and Decorator Ken Fulk’s House in San Francisco

Event planner, interior designer, and bon vivant Ken Fulk is a master of maneuvering between the various spheres of San Francisco society, from blue bloods to newly minted Silicon Valley tech titans—and beyond. He can’t help but grin as he notes that his design studio was formerly a bondage-leather shop or recounts the time a few years ago when he infamously flew in burlesque performer Dita Von Teese to writhe around on a velvet-upholstered mechanical bull at a party for fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. Indeed, the charismatic Fulk is known for bringing diverse groups together and making special things happen. In 2012 he orchestrated a Halloween fundraiser for the Strand Theater that shut down an entire city block for a four-course dinner and a private Stevie Nicks concert.

When it’s time to go home, though, the style maestro retreats to a perch above it all. "Welcome to my tree house!" he announces at the entrance gate to his hilltop residence in Clarendon Heights. It’s an appropriate description for the dwelling, considering it’s constructed largely of old-growth redwood and located in San Francisco’s highest neighborhood. Wearing a bow tie and a bespoke suit, Fulk leads a tour through his Zen-inspired garden and into the house, a 1950s design by prominent Bay Area modernist Warren Callister. The structure is composed of two perpendicular volumes topped by boatlike arched roofs. The smaller single-story section contains an office and bathroom, while the other features the bedrooms and entertaining spaces, including a dramatic triple-height great room where a 27-foot-tall window frames picturesque views of the city, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.

The 3,200-square-foot house was commissioned by Dr. Cloyce Duncan, a former head of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. As with a number of residences designed by Callister, it blends midcentury modernism and traditional Japanese elements.

In 2011 Fulk learned that Duncan’s widow, Gwendolyn Evans, was considering selling the house and arranged for a walk-through. Intrigued by his initial daytime visit, he requested to return and see it at night, and he found himself sitting in the great room in silence for an hour. "San Francisco looked like Oz down below," he says with a sigh. "I thought, I am supposed to buy this house." Not that it would be that simple.

Evans announced that she was seeking a buyer who would fully respect the home’s integrity. So Fulk embarked on a letter-writing campaign to assure her that he and his husband, Kurt Wootton, a classically trained pianist, would be gracious custodians. "I told her the house had a soul and was meant to be this way," he says. "It’s an architectural jewel."

Duly convinced, Evans sold to Fulk in late 2011, and soon afterward the decorator began a sensitive update, restoring original materials—wood, glass, concrete—and undertaking modest changes that remained true to the spirit of Callister’s design. Matching redwood was brought in to replace linoleum floors and aluminum door frames, while he took out the kitchen’s redwood island and installed a larger concrete version and refurbished the wood-burning stove. "In 50 years they hadn’t changed a thing—not a hook, not a single knob, nothing," he says. "They treated it like a museum, and rightfully so."

Known for his use of vibrant colors and eye-catching accents, Fulk reined in his flair here, emphasizing subtle textures, richly veined stone, and objects with bold character and patina. He did allow himself a few flourishes, including several of his hallmark taxidermy animal heads. (Most come from the famed Paris shop Deyrolle, which sells vintage mounts and ones made from animals that died in zoos, circuses, or game reserves.)

Fulk’s favorite piece of furniture is the office’s daybed. It was designed by Callister for Duncan’s patients to use when they saw him at the house, and Evans gifted it to Fulk. "But now, of course, it sports a leopard-print mattress and bolsters," he notes.

To store his extensive wardrobe, Fulk transformed the guest room into a walk-in closet. Instead of hanger rails, his clothes—which are kept in individual monogrammed garment bags—are hung on racks that he converted from British Colonial hospital screens sourced in Mumbai. Vintage retail displays featuring glass-front compartments contain his shoes and stacks of perfectly folded shirts. "I get dressed up every day," he explains. "It’s part of my gig."

Fulk oversees a staff of 48 employees at his studio (in the South of Market neighborhood), which he refers to as "the magic factory." He has cast his spells all over the Bay Area and beyond, designing two of San Francisco’s latest hot spots: the Cavalier, an English-themed restaurant, and the Battery, a private club where Fulk serves as creative director. And last summer he collaborated with event designer Preston Bailey on the high-profile wedding of social-media entrepreneur Sean Parker and singer Alexandra Lenas, conjuring the ambience of a medieval fairy tale—the 350-plus guests wore outfits specially made by the costume designer of the Lord of the Rings trilogy—in the woods of Big Sur. "It was the most beautiful event I’ve ever witnessed," Fulk says. "It brought tears to your eyes."

When it comes to entertaining at his own home, Fulk keeps things low-key, never inviting more than eight people for dinner. After meals the group typically decamps to the great room, where, seated around the fireplace, they can talk and gaze out on the glittering city lights below. The scene always reminds Fulk of the last thing Evans said in the letter she wrote to him agreeing to sell the house. " ‘Welcome to the highest point in San Francisco’ was the final line," he recalls, before adding, "Isn’t it fabulous up here?"


Contents

Choe was born in Los Angeles, California. His parents are Korean immigrants and born-again Christians. He spent his childhood in Koreatown, Los Angeles. [4] He has been spray-painting on the streets since he was in his teens and briefly attended the California College of the Arts. [5]

In 1996, Choe self-published a graphic novel titled Slow Jams he claims to have made only 200 copies and given them away at Comic-Con in 1998, hoping to interest a publisher. In 1999, he submitted Slow Jams for the Xeric Grant and was awarded $5,000 to self-publish a second, expanded edition of 1,000 which came out in 1999 with a cover price of $4. [6]

In 2008, with Harry Kim, he made an autobiographical documentary, Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe. [7]

He accepted mural commissions from Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss and from the founders of Facebook. After holding several solo shows in San Jose and San Francisco, he was offered a solo exhibit at the Santa Rosa Museum of Contemporary Art in 2005. [8] He held his first New York solo exhibit, "Gardeners of Eden," in 2007 at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in Chelsea, [9] and in 2008, he had his first UK solo exhibition, "Murderous Heart," in both the London and Newcastle locations of Lazarides Gallery, simultaneously. [10]

After being approached for his artwork by Gavin McInnes and Shane Smith, Choe was recruited to write and do artwork for Vice magazine.

For an online series called Thumbs Up! with Vice, [11] which has three seasons, Choe and Harry Kim were filmed hitchhiking and freight hopping from Los Angeles to Miami and Tijuana to Alaska, and then hitching across China from Beijing to Shenzhen and the gambling mecca of Macau. [12] A fourth season, in which Choe and Kim travel from San Francisco to New York, was 'released' on Snapchat and Instagram. [13]

Recent: 2013-present

In 2013, Choe began hosting an online lifestyle and entertainment podcast with adult film star Asa Akira entitled DVDASA. In a March 2014 podcast, Choe recounted an instance where he sexually assaulted a masseuse. [14] He later released a statement to clarify that the story he recounted was fiction and should be viewed as an extension of his art.

He has also become recognized for his watercolors, which exhibited in his solo show at the Museo Universario del Chopo, Mexico City in 2013. [15] [16]

After receiving extensive therapy and treatment, he reemerged in 2017 with a new body of work and an exhibition in Los Angeles that presented heavy themes of trauma, self-reflection and hope for recovery. [17]

In 2005, internet entrepreneur Sean Parker, a longtime fan, [18] asked him to paint graphic sexual murals in the interior of Facebook's first Silicon Valley office, [19] and in 2007, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg commissioned him to paint somewhat tamer murals for their next office. [20] Although he thought the Facebook business model was "ridiculous and pointless," [21] Choe chose to receive company stock in lieu of cash payment for the original Facebook murals. His shares were valued at approximately $200 million on the eve of Facebook's 2012 IPO. [21] Had he held the shares without liquidating them, they'd be worth more than $1.3 billion.

Since 2008, Choe has dedicated many of his works to charity and has collaborated with foundations to support their local causes, including fundraising for Haiti with Yle Haiti, a foundation founded by Wyclef Jean [22] painting with the children of The LIDÈ Haiti Foundationl and painting with children of South Central LA at APCH. [23]

In the early 2000s, Choe was reportedly arrested in Japan, where he was taking part in an art show, after an altercation with a police officer. Various sources cite the year as 2003 or 2005 and state that Choe spent two or three months in prison. [24] [25] [26] [27]

Choe commented in 2014 on his DVDASA podcast that he had engaged in "rapey behaviour" with a masseuse. He defended his comment by explaining that the podcast itself is essentially a work of fiction. However, after he was commissioned to paint the Bowery Mural Wall in 2017, he was met with protest from other artists, including street artist Swoon, who issued a statement against his inclusion in the mural project. Another artist, Jasmine Wahi, co-organized a performance in front of the mural and stated "Our aim is to provoke widespread rejection of the continued normalization of rape culture by bringing visibility to the topic." Additionally, the mural was quickly defaced by graffiti artists. Choe responded by again publicly denying any history of sexual assault or rape, and by apologizing for his original podcast comments. [28] [29] [30] [31]


HPV vaccination is critical for boys, too

Justin Timberlake, left, and Jesse Eisenberg star in"The Social Network." "We lived on farms, we lived in cities, and now we're living on the internet," Timberlake's character says. Research has found liberating yourself from social media is healthy. Merrick Morton

Most of the attention for the HPV vaccination is focused on girls, since it does a great job of protecting women from cervical cancer. But let's not forget that HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (nearly all sexually active people get infected with HPV at some point). Besides protecting against penile cancer in men, the vaccine protects against genital warts and anal, tongue, tonsil and throat cancers in both women and men.

So let's not forget that boys should be vaccinated too. As of 2015, only 49.8 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 had gotten at least one of the recommended doses, while 60 percent of girls had. Since the odds against having a serious problem from the vaccine are 40,000 to 1, we suggest that you take the HPV vaccination opportunity now.

Take a social media break

In the movie "The Social Network," a fictional depiction of the founding of Facebook, tech entrepreneur Sean Parker, played by Justin Timberlake, remarks, "We lived on farms, we lived in cities, and now we're going to live on the internet!"

Turns out, living on Facebook isn't as healthy as living on a farm - not by a long shot. Two recent studies found that the more time people spent on Facebook, the more symptoms of depression they had. Researchers discovered that the reason for this was that people who were Facebook fans spent more time comparing themselves to others - and worrying that they came up short.

But now a new study shows that you can reverse the emotional damage done by all that time on social media: Just take a break. Researchers divided study participants into two groups. The first kept up its usual Facebook activity, while people in the second quit Facebook for a week. After that time, people who had been heavy Facebook users and then stopped reported a better overall sense of well-being and life satisfaction, and folks with "Facebook envy" were especially rewarded with a better mental outlook.

So if you find yourself on social media frequently, especially if you cannot imagine an hour without checking it, take a break. Deactivate or delete the app from your phone. Taking a week to enjoy the countryside, to meet face-to-face with a friend (or friends) or to read a good book can do wonders for your self-confidence and happiness.

Q: My doctor told me that I should lower my non-HDL cholesterol level. I've heard about LDL, the bad cholesterol, but what exactly is non-HDL, and what is a healthy level?

Judith L., West Lafayette, Indiana

A: Don't let the phrase "non-HDL" confuse you. ("H" is for "healthy.") Your goals are still the same: to protect your heart, brain and sex life by lowering your lousy cholesterol levels, no matter what you call them. Your first step is to make lifestyle adjustments, such as losing weight if you need to, getting in 10,000 steps or the equivalent daily and ditching the inflammation-producing Five Food Felons (all trans and most sat fats, added sugars and syrups, and any grain that isn't 100 percent whole). Your second is to take a modern statin (atorvastatin or rosuvastatin) if lifestyle changes don't do the trick.

But what does "non-HDL" mean? Well, very simply, it means all the blood lipids (fats) you have that are not attached to HDL, the good-for-you-because-it-transports-cholesterol-out-of-your-body lipoprotein.

The lousy LDL cholesterol you hear so much about isn't the only artery-clogging, heart-damaging lipid. There are VLDL (very low density lipoprotein), IDL (intermediate density lipoprotein), and small dense LDL particles - and let's not forget triglycerides. All those various non-HDL lipids contribute to blocked arteries and heart disease. So knowing the total non-HDL level, according to a study out of Dr. Mike's Cleveland Clinic, is a better predictor of heart woes, and lowering that level is a better predictor of reduced cardiovascular risk.

What's your goal? We think you should aim for a non-HDL level of less than 130 mg/dL (30 above our recommendation for LDL and triglycerides). To figure out your non-HDL level, subtract your HDL level from your TOTAL cholesterol level.

But wait! For folks with cardiovascular disease plus diabetes, or cardiovascular disease and poorly controlled risk factors (like smoking or being overweight), metabolic syndrome or acute coronary syndrome, the target should be 100 mg/dL or lower.


Agency settles dispute over Sean Parker wedding

MENLO PARK, Calif. — It was bad enough that his multimillion-dollar wedding became a symbol of Silicon Valley excess. But then billionaire tech guru Sean Parker was blasted in the headlines as an environmental menace over party preparations that had allegedly damaged Big Sur’s storied redwoods.

The Napster co-founder and former Facebook president wed singer-songwriter Alexandra Lenas on June 1 in a campground owned by the posh Ventana Inn & Spa. To set the scene for their fantasy, the couple trucked in plants and flowers, dug an artificial pond and erected a stone bridge and elevated dance floor amid the old-growth forest.

The one thing they did not do was apply for a permit.

The California Coastal Commission on Friday agreed to a $2.5-million settlement with Parker and Ventana, a payment that will go toward enhancing access to Big Sur’s coastline, trails and forests. After the vote, Chairwoman Mary Shallenberger had harsh words — but not for the 33-year-old and his bride. In fact, Shallenberger said she was grateful to Parker for exposing a public wrong.

It seems that to get commission approval for an expansion more than 30 years ago, Ventana had agreed to keep the nearby low-cost campground open to all visitors. But the inn, where room rates can run as high as $4,000 a night, closed it in 2007 in violation of state law.

“I thank Mr. Parker for having his wedding there, so we discovered all the violations and the six years where the public has not had access,” Shallenberger said.

In their first joint interview on the controversy that has generated online threats, Parker and Lenas said Tuesday that their wedding was magical and environmentally sensitive.

“It’s really sad how little old-growth is left,” Lenas said.

According to Parker, the couple enlisted the Save the Redwoods League for help in finding a suitable locale to tie the knot. (He previously had donated $250,000 to the group.) The league suggested the Ventana campground, Parker said, because it was partially paved and out of service.

“Save the Redwoods League sent their chief scientist down to look at it and provide us with a plan to do this in an eco-sensitive way,” Parker said. “So much of the press accused us of eco-trashing.… We couldn’t have been more conscientious about our approach. We went out of our way to do this the right way.”

Parker and Lenas leased the campground in November and began building an elaborate set for the wedding in March — at a cost of about $4.5 million.

Then, less than three weeks before the big event, the Coastal Commission called Ventana, Parker said. And Ventana called him.

“They said we needed to stop work and couldn’t go on with the wedding,” he said, sitting with Lenas in a Menlo Park location that they requested remain undisclosed. (The couple postponed their Bora Bora honeymoon to deal with the hubbub.) “I had never heard of the Coastal Commission at that point. I hadn’t heard of the Coastal Act of 1976. I wasn’t around in 1976.”

So Parker hired attorney Rick Zbur, chairman of the California League of Conservation Voters, and worked toward the settlement with the commission. Lenas called the days leading up to the wedding “devastating.”

“This was a very agonizing 20-day period,” Parker said. “For most of it, we thought the wedding wouldn’t happen at all.…The Coastal Commission quickly discovered the hotel was not in compliance and that became the focal point.” After that, the couple got clearance from the panel to proceed with their ceremony.

Parker said that he and Lenas — who is in the process of changing her last name — felt as if they were caught in the middle. They had worked with the hotel for months, he said, but the Ventana Inn staff never said any permits were needed. And their contract included a provision that Parker indemnify the hotel for any costs related to the wedding.

“If I hadn’t been a high-profile person with resources,” he said, “I wouldn’t be held up for … something I didn’t do.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Parker will pay $1 million to address the liabilities related to the unpermitted construction.

Lisa Haage, the commission’s chief of enforcement, told the panel Friday that “the environmental damage from the wedding-related construction work was less serious than we had originally feared, in part due to the fact that the large majority of the development was performed on a campground and existing road, not in a virgin forest.”

In addition, Parker will pay “a minimum of $1.5 million” to fund online conservation or public access efforts as a way to mitigate Ventana’s six-year campground closure. One possibility, McLendon said, is a statewide mobile device app akin to the one focused on Malibu’s beaches.

And Ventana Inn has agreed to reopen the campground no later than October 2014.

Jeffrey Haber, an attorney for the inn, on Tuesday defended Ventana’s actions, saying that the campground had been ordered closed by the regional water quality control board and the Monterey County Department of Environmental Health until a malfunctioning septic system could be repaired.

Yes, he acknowledged, “we did not apply for a specific permit to close the campground. But the Coastal Commission staff was aware that the campground had been closed.”

Coverage of the wedding attended by more than 325 guests (Sting, Emma Watson, Sean Lennon and Democratic notables like Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris were said to have been there) has been uniformly snarky.

Guests were dressed in fantasy-themed attire — the couple stressed that it was not Medieval — and dined on venison, salmon, chicken and porchetta.

“Tech titan gives industry bad name,” blasted a headline in the New Zealand Herald about Parker, who was played by Justin Timberlake in “The Social Network,” the blockbuster about Facebook’s early days.

“Tech titan gets pouty over all the bad press,” was the San Francisco Chronicle’s offering, above a story that began: “The billionaire tech entrepreneur just wanted to have a multimillion-dollar wedding in one of the most beautiful and protected ecosystems in the world, and everyone’s being so mean to him.”

But one that most bothered Parker was a piece in the Atlantic’s online edition: “Nothing says, ‘I love the Earth!’ quite like bringing bulldozers into an old-growth forest to create a fake ruined castle,” the Atlantic wrote. “And to build this fantasy world on a spot that should have been open to regular old middle-class people: That makes it even better.”

The Atlantic later published Parker’s lengthy email reply (there was no castle) and a sort-of correction under the headline: “Sean Parker Responds to Redwoods Wedding Criticism, and His Defense Is Actually Pretty Convincing.”

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Maria L. La Ganga is a Metro reporter for the Los Angeles Times. She has covered six presidential elections and served as bureau chief in San Francisco and Seattle.


Facebook Billionaire Sean Parker Hates The World He Helped Create

This summer, tech billionaire Sean Parker, better known as Justin Timberlake in The Social Network, got married. It was a lavish affair that involved outfitting himself, his bride, and all of the 300+ guests in Lord of the Rings-inspired attire and transforming a Big Sur hotel's redwood-filled backyard into a fantastical forest sanctuary for the ceremony. People like to criticize weddings. People especially like to criticize costume-party weddings that involve famous people that result in the newlyweds paying a $2.5 million fine to Mother Earth/California regulators. So there's been a lot written about the Parker nuptials in the weeks since the June 1 affair. And Parker is not happy about it.

Not content to let the story be pushed out of the news cycle by the NSA, Parker penned a 9,000+ word piece -- that's 20 pages single-spaced in Microsoft Word -- for TechCrunch, defending his wedding, explaining his deep love of Tolkien and the redwoods, criticizing the press for mis-characterizing the damage done to the forest, and generally lamenting the state of journalism and privacy in the age of social media. The last bit is worth parsing for readers of these pages.

[B]logs attack you, do their damage, and then move on to their next target. Now, because of the permanence of the Internet and the ease of Google, these vicious online attacks leave behind a reputational stain that is very difficult to wash out.

This is true. If you do try to wash it, you may make it worse. This guy, for example. After being named (but not ultimately prosecuted) in a reputation-tarnishing criminal case, Phineas Upham spent thousands of dollars on a company that promised to fix his online footprint with fake glowing news articles and websites, but the money was wasted because those articles and websites resulted in Upham's becoming the focus of a long New York Magazine piece on "black ops reputation management." It led a writer at Techdirt to admonish famous people who try to scrub their reputations trying to push the delete button on the Internet is a lot like trying to wash a silk stain with water -- it makes it spread more.

We chose a setting for our wedding that was a literal expression of our search for sanctuary: a place that was safe, private, and intimate. We chose a remote location (Big Sur), invited no press, and did our best to conceal that location from the press. We didn’t court attention – quite the opposite, we asked guests to check their cell phones and cameras at the door and we didn’t sell our photos to tabloids.

If they wanted a really private wedding, Parker should have looked to his Facebook partner-in-crime, Mark Zuckerberg, who held his wedding in his backyard and kept it a secret from the guests until they arrived. Once you invite tailors to hand-craft elven costumes for your guests, it becomes difficult to control those privacy settings.

Parker says he is not oblivious. He realizes that, as an early force behind Facebook, he helped lead the way into a less-private world, and that he friended many a Ben Franklin as a result.

Economically speaking I came out on top. I have been one of the greatest individual beneficiaries of this seismic shift in media. I have made, quite literally, “a billion dollars,” which, as I’m constantly reminded by the media, is “cool.” But I’m the first to admit that this shift away from a centralized, top-down media towards a decentralized bottom-up media, did not come without a cost. At some point in time everyone, whether they engage actively with these new mediums or not, will experience a violation of their privacy, will find their reputation besmirched publicly, and may even find their sanity challenged by some combination of these factors.

Yes, one of those Facebook photos will come back to haunt you one day. And unlike Parker, you won't necessarily be able to tell yourself that at least you made a gazillion dollars as a result.

Regardless, I can’t escape the feeling that there is a kind of cosmic irony at work here. Readers of this publication are likely familiar with my career in the technology sector. I have spent more than a decade creating products built on the premise that the democratization of media was a good thing, that self-publishing, the free sharing of information, and the removal of the media “gatekeepers,” would all lead to a freer, more open media—with the implied assumption that this was a “better” media. I practiced what I preached, both talking about and designing systems around the core belief that empowering people with the tools to more freely access and share information – be it music, links, photos, text, or any other form of media – could only make the world a better place.

It certainly makes the world a less-private place. Transparency has been a virtue espoused by the social networking set for years. 'Sunlight is the best disinfectant' is an oft-cited motto. The new transparent world order makes it much harder to control information, which is great, until it happens to you.

Though Parker raises this, his problem is not that information he provided spread beyond his control. Instead, it was a document provided by a California regulator that described the settlement Parker reached and damage to the redwoods that necessitated the fine. So, this is a little apples and oranges in terms of privacy violations.

Gossip is hardly a new phenomenon. What Facebook (and blogs and Twitter) did facilitate was a faster and wider dissemination of information. Parker complains that social media and the easy-to-publish platform that is the Internet contributed to the spread of false information and meant that he was unfairly bullied by the media and by online orcs. He laments the fact that forcing people to do so under their real names and identities did little to curb that bullying.

No thanks to the moderating powers of identity and accountability, users of these mediums are happy to attack me publicly, in plain view, using their real names and identities, no veil of anonymity required.

Now that that's out the window, Parker advocates for something different.

In its present form, social media may be doing more harm than good. [W]e need to consider stronger privacy laws here in the US, a basic right to privacy along the lines of the laws enjoyed by the citizens of most Western European nations. We are all at risk of becoming “public figures” in a world where the media has expanded to include nearly everyone. In such a world, our defamation laws need to be updated to provide individuals with the protection from public persecution that they deserve. We also need to reinforce our personal privacy by beefing up the intellectual property laws that govern the personal content that we generate and share via services like Facebook.

Sean Parker is a little late to the privacy party, but his rough ride in the gossip circuit this month seems to have gotten him there. People have been struggling for years with what is public and what is private and how many of their photos migrate out of Facebook and into more public spheres. The example this week is Chelsea Chaney, the high school student who posted a photo of herself in a bikini standing next to a Snoop Lion cut-out to Facebook it was grabbed by a school administrator and then used in an "Internet Safety" presentation. She decided to sue the school for invasion of privacy -- which backfired from a privacy perspective in that the many news reports written about the suit have republished the photo, making it go viral. The difficult thing about privacy -- as seen by Chaney, Upham, and likely Parker, with this article -- is that trying to protect it after it's already been violated often makes things worse.

Parker suggests that the U.S. strengthen intellectual property and copyright laws to give us more control over the content we create and make it harder for other people to nab a photo or video from our Facebook page and republish it. While that would be a nice privacy fix, it's a terrible one from a freedom of speech perspective, and an ironic proposal from the mastermind behind Napster.

He also criticizes the TOS world we live in, which requires us to abide by small print in privacy policies and terms of service agreements around the Web. This is not the strongest part of his essay:

The ubiquitous license agreements and privacy policies that online services force their users to enter into should be scrutinized by the courts around the principle of adhesion, and if the courts are unwilling to reconsider the status quo then congress should intervene with legislation limiting the scope and enforceability of these agreements. We also need to be willing to consider that only congress can prevent the abuse of governmental power that is used to coerce online services into to turning over data in a wholesale manner.

I think that basically translates to: "companies shouldn't put sketchy things in their privacy policies." (It's a bit convoluted. It could also be a slap to the companies named as being part of NSA's PRISM program. As this was 9,000 words in, he may have been getting a little delirious on the fumes of outrage and the virality of his nuptials.) Though he doesn't mention Airtime, the Chatroulette-like service that he launched which seems to have turned into Deadairtime, its privacy policy wasn't free of sketch. Many people are under the misimpression that a site having a privacy policy means that your privacy is protected. In fact, privacy policies exist to explain just how limited your privacy is.

Parker is right that we live in a challenging world when it comes to privacy and reputation. Information -- and misinformation -- moves very fast. There's no going back from this.

As Parker acknowledges, technology moves faster than the law. A fix from Congress may be as fantastical as Parker's wedding costumes. The tech entrepreneur might be better served to funnel energy and parts of his billions to technological fixes for privacy. Or he can celebrate the fact that in this brave, new, hyper-public world, when one is defamed, platforms for defending one's reputation abound. If you're very lucky, you can get a tech blog to let you run a Lord of the Rings trilogy length rebuttal.

Alternately, someone wishing to escape all this can find a deep, dark cave free of other people, mobile devices, Facebook and the media and huddle over their privacy, Gollum style.


Watch the video: Sean Parker how Facebook and Social media went wrong 2018 Magyar felirat Közösségi média (May 2022).