Broken Windows and Lonely Pretzels
Dodging and weaving this week: Ben Goggin, Chris Miller, Taylor Lorenz, Nick Lichtenberg, Matt Lynch, Joe Coscarelli, Jayson Buford, Delia Cai, Chris Cox, Andrew Rice, Jay Bulger, Noah Hurowitz, and many more…
It’s the dog days of summer, anyone who can has gotten out of town, and more people are showing up to softball fields than offices, but we’re still tracking the remaining stuff of life around the city this week.
OUT AND ABOUT
On Saturday, NBC News deputy editor for technology Ben Goggin celebrated his birthday at the Spritzenhaus Bier Hall across the street from McCarren Park in Williamsburg. When The Fine Print arrived around 4:30 p.m., about half an hour after the slated start time, it looked like the party might be a bust. Goggin, in a shirt with Portland airport vibes, was sitting alone at one of two reserved tables with his fiancé Chris Miller, a senior director for media relations at NYC Health + Hospitals, and a pretzel.
But guests soon started trickling in, including Washington Post technology columnist Taylor Lorenz (who was rebuffed by FedEx when she tried to ship some furniture from her storage locker to California), Fortuneexecutive editor for news Nick Lichtenberg (“I love some messy media drama,” Goggin told The Fine Print, “so you and Nick being together, that’s so fun.”), Insider correspondent and former Fine Print reporter Julia Black, Goggin’s Fire Island friend Josh who works for Kimbal Musk (“The long game, according to Josh,” Goggin said, “is to terraform Mars”), Gizmodo tech news deputy editor Blake Montgomery (“I was sleeping with this guy for a while who would only text on Signal and I was like, ‘Bestie this is not — we don’t need to text on Signal,’” he said. “He was like, ‘No, I don’t send nudes because of how the internet works,’ and I was like ‘Don’t be boring! Just accept it. Our nudes are out there. They’re not exciting enough for anyone to steal.’”), NBC senior reporter Ben Collins, Teen Vogue senior entertainment editor P. Claire Dodson, NBC tech and culture reporter Kat Tenbarge, Insider digital culture reporter Connor Perrett, BuzzFeed News internet culture reporter Kelsey Weekman, and deputy communications director for the January 6th committee Hannah Muldavin who was visiting Brooklyn for the first time.
This was only the first stop on Goggin’s birthday circuit. On Sunday, he was planning to go to DJ Ty Sunderland’s Ty Tea party in East Williamsburg. “I used to go out a lot more, and now that I’m over 30, it’s hard to rally the troops to go out,” he said. “So for my birthday weekend, I was like, this is the perfect occasion to be like, ‘Okay, we’re going to a real party.’” On Monday, the actual day, he and Miller were planning to have dinner together.
When Goggin mentioned that a friend from high school who’d made their engagement rings had just walked in, Montgomery asked why the rings weren’t on their fingers. “He’s remaking them. I got Chris the wrong size,” Goggin said. “How do you get the right — without being like, ‘Hey, what’s your ring size by the way?’” Montgomery asked. Goggin explained that he did it while Miller was sleeping. “I had a sizer, but I didn’t want to leave the room, so I woke up and was like this is the perfect moment, so I did a rough measurement with my own fingers,” he said, “and I just got it so wrong.”
Towards the end of the night, Black asked Goggin if he had any birthday resolutions. “I want some viral articles,” he said. “I think for me and my reporters, that’s the goal. Not in life, but for this year I think that’s what we’re looking towards.”
The second softball game of the season between Vanity Fair and New York brought two very enthusiastic groups of players to the field at James J. Walker Park in the West Village on Monday. No one could remember the exact score of the last game, but it was close, and players couldn’t resist the rematch, no matter what else they had going on in their lives. Vanity Fair executive editor Matt Lynch had just come off of paternity leave but was there munching nacho cheese flavored sunflower seeds and scoring runs. New York Times culture reporter Joe Coscarelli celebrated his birthday by playing for New York. “That’s why I’m here,” he said. Vanity Fair player Jayson Buford split the difference with his other commitment of the night by watching the Yankees game on his phone between plays. Vanity Fair staff writer Delia Cai had just come off a course of antibiotics after a month of being sick, but she felt like she had to be there. “I invested in a bat for our team, the girl bat, when we had more girls show up, because all the others are too unwieldy,” she said. “I made an investment in the team, now I feel committed.”
Fellow staff writer and team coach Dan Adler pulled Cai aside for an off-the-record pre-game conference. “That’s the part I love most, being coached, because I need so much structure in my life and this is the only place I can get it,” she later said. “I’m not a sporty person. I played softball in middle school and high school. I was literally the benchwarmer. I was the diversity hire, and it was so bad. But I started coming to this last year because I started in the summer, I didn’t know anybody, and I was like, ‘Oh, the quickest way is to go to this.’ I thought it was going to be for fun, but all these guys take it pretty seriously.”
New York contributing editor Chris Cox, a former top editor at Harper’s and former captain of The Paris Review team, was playing for the first time since the summer of 2015 when he faced off against The Nation with his Harper’s teammates. “I was actively in the running for the editor-in-chief job at Harper’s and Rick MacArthur was pitching like he always insists on doing,” he recalled. “He takes it very seriously and Harper’s had a terrible record that year, but this was the first time Rick had played that year. I remember there was a moment in which I was playing centerfield and it was basically bottom of the ninth. We were up by a run and we were closing out the inning and someone hit a pretty solid fly ball to center, right to me. I remember reaching up, getting my glove ready for the ball, thinking, ‘If I drop this, I’m not saying Rick is not going to make me editor because of that, but it’d be a lot better for me if I did catch it.’ And I caught it, and I think that’s why I got the job.” He didn’t get a chance to lead the Harper’s team the following summer because MacArthur fired him that February.
Cox was joined in the New York dugout by fellow contributing editor and harbinger of The Fine Print’s party reporting, Andrew Rice, who had also done a stint on The Paris Review team. “They had a pretty open membership policy,” Rice recalled. “You were more legit than anyone because you had just published something in the magazine,” Cox said. Their talk turned to former teammates, like Paris Review and Driftpitcher Joshua Pashman, who beat The New York Review of Books 10-2 with the latter team on Wednesday. “Pashman’s connection to the team for years was that he was working on an interview with Norman Rush. I don’t know if it ever ran,” said Rice. “It ran,” said Cox. “That’s the long game: ten years of interview prep and ten years of softball.” Rice recalled Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Radhika Jones playing on The Paris Reviewteam back in the day, too. “I don’t think she played,” said Cox. “I think she just watched.” On this day, she wasn’t spotted in the vicinity of the Vanity Fair dugout.
This was Rice’s second game with the New York team this season, following the first matchup against Vanity Fair, but he’s gotten plenty of ballgames in elsewhere this summer. “We just started the Little League in Montclair this year, so I was helping to promote it and get it off the ground,” he said. As one of three grown-up coaches for the media suburb’s kids team, he was in familiar company. “There’s a guy who’s on the business side of The Times who is one of the coaches,” he said. “I’m not even a very good Little League coach. I’m more the guy who writes the email to all the parents about how the game went.”
The two teams were neck-and-neck until the eighth inning. Vanity Fair’s batters seemed calm when asked if they were feeling any pressure to break the tie. “I don’t think I’ve set expectations very high,” said Cai before scoring a run. By the end of the inning, Vanity Fair had racked up an astonishing ten additional runs. New York’s chances weren’t looking great. Their team conferred in their dugout and Coscarelli hustled The Fine Print away, protecting their strategy from publication. “We do best when we’re down,” New York softball stalwart Noah Hurowitz summed up his team’s attitude.
That inning was hard to top as the highlight of the game, but New York’s Jay Bulger managed to hit a ball out of the park and through the second-story window of a neighboring townhouse. “I was working and I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to finish this, and then I’m going to have dinner,’ and then boom,” said a long-haired and mustachioed resident of the house, who stood just beyond the fence glaring at the players with his small dog. “There’s glass everywhere.” They’d chosen to live next to a ballpark and, according to the resident’s mother-in-law, there had been two or three other incidents where balls had come sailing through their windows. Bulger, who earlier explained with a mouthful of sunflower seeds that he writes for New York occasionally to secure his spot on the team and who starred as Hunter Thompson in Bobby Kennedy III’s surprisingly watchable film Fear and Loathing in Aspen, bristled when he was informed that the resident was hanging around the field. “What does he want? Money from who?” he said. “It was a force majeure. It was a natural disaster. I don’t know what to tell you.”
The game ended 17-14 in Vanity Fair’s favor. Vox facilities manager Kermith Alayon was left to mollify the owners of the broken window while writers hurled taunts and soccer players spilled out onto the field. “Send your mother-in-law down here and then we’ll talk!” shouted Hurowitz.
➾ 7 p.m. New York’s softball team will face off against a team from The Problem With Jon Stewart at James J. Walker Park in the West Village.
➾ 7 p.m. Teen Vogue sex and love columnist Nona Willis Aronowitz will be discussing her book Bad Sex with former Teen Vogue executive editor Samhita Mukhopadhyay at Books Are Magic in Cobble Hill.
➾ 6 p.m. The two top-ranked teams in the New York Media Softball League, Chartbeat and High Times, will play each other in McCarren Park.
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