Opening Notes

Tanya Davies,D’Arcy Jenish August 23 1999

Opening Notes

Tanya Davies,D’Arcy Jenish August 23 1999

Opening Notes

Tanya Davies

The paparazzi go overboard on a royal chase

“Willie’s Fillies” is probably not the way any of them would choose to be known. It is, after all, a rather inelegant description of three lithe and lovely young women, two of whom carry with pride the double-barrelled surnames so favoured by the British aristocracy. But it is part of the price they have paid for the privilege of soaking up the Greek sun aboard the Alexander, a 120-m private yacht luxurious enough to boast 40 separate suites as well as a swimming pool on every deck. And for joining another passenger onboard—17-year-old Prince William, the handsome heir to the British throne. Since each was a guest of the prince, invited to join him and his family for a floating holiday, the women soon found themselves subject to unwanted, and certainly undignified, scrutiny.

The infamous London tabloids were at it again. For the past two weeks, the Alexander—dubbed the “Love Boat” by the

Sun—has been trailed by a veritable posse of paparazzi, close to 300 photographers in all, telephoto lenses in hand. All have been eager to capture on film any of the Alexanders passengers—Prince Charles and his longtime mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, for instance, or William’s boisterous 14-year-old brother, Harry. But the real prize would have been a shot of William in close contact with one of the Suns so-called Fillies: Laura Parker Bowles, 21, 17-year-old Amelia d’Elanger or, most tantalizing of all, Davina Duckworth-Chad, the 19-year-old art student who recently earned the sobriquet “Deb of the Web,” the result of a recent Internet modelling job. However, as the trip drew to a close last week, nary a photograph had appeared, not even a grainy snapshot. William’s guests may be, as the London Daily Mail asserted, “shapely shipmates.” But they also know a thing or two about discretion.

Bonj Bubba

Some good ol’ boys of the southern United States are making a new independence bid—and claiming inspiration from an unlikely source, the Parti Québécois. The Southern Party is a new U.S. political coalition that aims to win power in the South, and eventually declare independence for the states of the old Confederacy, much like the PQ in Canada. Its Web site pays homage to the PQ, and claims Southerners have been targets of “an insidious and incremental campaign of cultural cleansing not unlike that which has faced the people of Quebec.”

The Southern National Committee organized the party late last year when it became clear that President Bill Clinton was not going to be impeached over his affair with Monica Lewinsky. “That was the final straw,” says Jerry Baxley, the groups vice-chairman and an auctioneer near Richmond, Va. The party aims to promote “southern values”—it believes in low taxes and the right to bear arms and is against abortion—and is sensitive to suggestions that it might be a cover for white-power types, saying that everyone in the South qualifies as a Southerner, regardless of race. And they really want to end jokes about “white

trash” and “rednecks.” “Were the only group left that it’s politically correct to beat up on,” complains Baxley. “Bubba deserves respect just like everyone else.” As for the PQ, Southern Party organizers haven’t actually met with anyone from Quebec. “But we’d love to get together with the folks from the PQ,” says Baxley. “They haven’t given up, and neither will we.”

Opening Notes

Explorer

The bulwark bra

Forget pushups and leopard-skin prints, the must-have undergarment for the year 2000 is destined to be the

Techno Bra. Created by British designer Kursty Groves, 26, it offers comfort, support—and personal security against attack. How? Try a heart monitor, a global positioning system locator, a cellular phone and a recording device, all embedded in a three-millimetrethick, clear gel-like lining, which can be

removed during washing. The alarm is triggered by a sudden and abnormal increase in the heart rate—not accidentally, such as during exercise when the heart rate increases more gradually—or can be activated manually. Then the cell phone automatically dials the police while the GPS locator reveals where the woman is. Made of an electricityconducting material, the brassiere looks and feels like a regular padded bra, and comes with a fail-safe button, built in to the front clasp, to stop false alarms.

Groves, a recent graduate of the industrial design engineering course at London’s Royal College of Art, will work with several companies to get the bra to market by next year. She hopes to offer it in a variety of styles and colours, retailing for $120 to $240. “It is something,” says Groves, “that women can keep close to their chests to help them feel less vulnerable.”

Almost the smallest digital camera

In an age when most technology has “the shelf life,of a banana,” according to one Silicon Valley CEO, corporate marketing departments are welladvised to avoid superlatives when launching products. Hence the asterisk behind Fuji Photo Film Canadas claim that its new MX-2700 digital camera is “the smallest and lightest mega-pixel model available.” That was as of March, 1999, when promotional materials were written, and it held up until the launch earlier this summer. But now, Fuji marketing director Ken Jure concedes that one competitor, Canon, has since released a similar-sized product. “We tend to be careful about these claims,” Jure adds, “because sometimes the advertising is out there longer than the camera.”

All that said, the MX-2700 is small— the size of a Walkman and weighing a mere 240 g, it easily fits in a shirt pocket. And Fuji has outdistanced its competitors with a 2.3-million pixel sensor, the device that determines resolution and quality of the photos. But it isn’t cheap to be ahead of the digital pack: the MX-2700 retails for $1,199.

D’Arcy Jenish