Kanye West headlined a very intimate gig Saturday night: playing the wedding singer at a reception for the grandson of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Dude reportedly picked up $3 million or so for the night, TMZ said , and according to the New York Times , young guests snapped photos with the rapper in the background and uploaded video of the performance. All that after a red-carpet arrival. Business as usual, right? Not so fast. Also PHOTOS: Private concerts, public controversy Kazakhstan has a bad reputation when it comes to human rights, including freedom of speech, one of West’s favorite things. And Nazarbayev has been in charge for 23 years now, since before the fall of the Soviet Union, which counted the country as a member. “Kazakhstan is a human rights wasteland,” Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation , said Tuesday in a statement. “The regime crushes freedom of speech and association; someone like Kanye, who makes a living expressing his views, would find himself in a prison under Nazarbayevs rule. This particular dictators ruthless behavior includes kidnapping the families of dissidents to his rule and abusing judicial systems across the world in persecuting his opponents.” Garry Kasparov, chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, said in the statement that the money West was paid “came from the loot stolen from the Kazakhstan treasury.” In 2011, Sting backed out of a concert in the Kazakh capital, Astana, after being advised by Amnesty International of conditions in the country, particularly those surrounding an oil workers strike, which according to HRF left 15 dead and more than 100 injured by national security forces. “Hunger strikes, imprisoned workers and tens of thousands on strike represents a virtual picket line which I have no intention of crossing,” Sting said at the time, according to BBC News . “The Kazakh gas and oil workers and their families need our support and the spotlight of the international media on their situation in the hope of bringing about positive change.” More recently, Jennifer Lopez was thrust into the playing-for-dictators spotlight when she crooned “Happy Birthday” to the president of Turkmenistan during a concert put on by China National Petroleum Corp.
Kanye West gets schooled on croissant-patience by French Bakers Association
hurry up with his [bleep] croissants.” The line appears on Yeezy’s often hilarious track “I am a God,” off his new album, “Yeezus,” and it seems multiple French pastry chefs are offended by the notion that a delicacy such as the croissant should be made hastily for anyone — even for Kanye West. “The croissant is dignified — not vulgar like a piece of toast, simply popped into a mechanical device to be browned,” the complaint reads. “No — the croissant is born of tender care and craftsmanship. Bakers must carefully layer the dough, paint on perfect proportions of butter, and then roll and fold this trembling croissant embryo with the precision of a Japanese origami master.” It continues: “We implore the patience of all those who order croissants … You may be familiar with the famous French expression, ‘A great croissant is worth waiting a lifetime for.’ We know you are a busy man, M. West, but we believe that your patience for croissants will always be rewarded.” The amazing letter, which you can read in full on Billboard , goes on and on, referring to Kanye’s new daughter, North, in the French “Nord,” and inquiring as to why, if Kanye is a god, he can’t simply make the croissants appear at will: “From the other lines in the song, we have come to understand that you may in fact be a ‘God.’ Yet if this were the case and we, of course, take you at your word we wonder why you do not more frequently employ your omnipotence to change time and space to better suit your own personal whims. For us mere mortals, we must wait the time required for the croissant to come to perfect fruition, but as a deity, you can surely alter the bread’s molecular structure faster than the speed of light, no? And with your omniscience, perhaps you have something to teach us about the perfect croissant. We await your guidance and insights.” Finally, the letter is signed, “Salutations cordiales, Bernard Aydelotte, Association of French Bakers.” Perhaps it was the earnestness with which the letter was composed, or maybe most American news outlets are run by people who believe French bakers spend a lot of time listening to new rap albums while baking. Either way, as the letter went viral on various news websites this week, it was repeatedly reported that the French Bakers Association really wrote the thing. Just one problem: There is no French Bakers Association. There is, however, a very funny writer named David Marx out there in Twitterverse, and he posted a link to the piece weeks ago — right after he wrote it: Unfortunately for David Marx, the letter’s awesomeness overshadowed its writer’s talent.