Vital Moments

It’s Gala Season! Plus, a Wedding and a Newborn

In this week’s social column: Nadja Spiegelman, Jackson Howard, Kay Gabriel, Betsy Sussler, Mitch Moxley, Joe Bernstein, Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, Kat Stoeffel, Adlai (but not Stevenson), and more…

Just how many nights can a social columnist go out in a week? Turns out every night is a bit much. This week, while The Fine Print took things a little easier, New York media didn’t. Everybody’s either launching something new, celebrating an anniversary, or entertaining donors — sometimes all three simultaneously. Here’s some of the stuff of life that was lived the past week…


Last Thursday, April 7, Astra, the new magazine of international literature, celebrated its first issue with a party in SoHo. It was raining hard, and a conclave of umbrellas formed by the door. Inside, editor-in-chief Nadja Spiegelman presided over a packed room of literary types mingling under a disco ball, among them writers Carina del Valle Schorske (who The Fine Print checked in with on Thursday), Krithika Varagur, and Paul McAdory, Harper’s assistant editor Lake Micah, FSG editor Jackson Howard, and a pair who looked an awful lot like New Yorker writer Ian Frazier and deputy editor Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn. Howard was proactive when it came to the rain. “I had a big ass umbrella,” he told The Fine Print. “Then we booked it around the corner for more drinks, and I just kind of camped out under an awning for what felt like two hours.”

Poet Rachel Rabbit White woke up at 4 a.m. last Friday to fly from Memphis to New York for The Poetry Project’s 55th anniversary gala at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery. During the dinner portion of the night, she saw fellow poet Eileen Myles and shared a table with Red Scare co-host and filmmaker Dasha Nekrasova. Still, she struggled with balancing the imperatives of the occasion. “I was like I need to smoke so much weed,” she told The Fine Print. “I was listening to poetry while I was trying to be fancy, cutting my food. I realized I’m a bitch who’s down for cutting some meat when I’m talking to people, but if I have to be presentable and then try to take a little bite, I have to be stoned for this. It’s just too ridiculous.” She pulled it off, according to her tablemate, writer and artist Audrey Wollen, who called her “a genius.”

Kay Gabriel read poems at the after-party, dropping read-out sheets to the ground, and Yaz Lancasterdeployed a hypnotic violin. “I’m one of the readers for the low-budget part,” Gabriel told The Fine Print. At the center of the semi-attentive crowd stood actress Chloë Sevigny and Please Kill Me co-author Gillian McCain, who bopped around in distinctive red-framed glasses. The New York Times spotted designer Telfar Clemens, while one poet noted that poets tend to dress better than journalists. The poets didn’t make it through the night entirely unscathed, however. “Poetry’s not getting less embarrassing,” noted one attendee around midnight before stepping out for a smoke. “I’m never going to stop making fun of poets.” 

On Tuesday, FSG’s Howard attended The Paris Review’s Spring Revel at Cipriani in four-inch heels. “It was a blast. It felt kind of old school media publishing energy, but there was a lot of excitement,” he said. “[Paris Review editor] Emily Stokes knocked it out of the park, and it was very exciting to see the magazine have so much new energy.” Novelist Zadie Smith acted as master of ceremonies and fellow novelist Jamaica Kincaid was the marquee honoree. Kincaid’s speech particularly struck Howard. “She made a very important and pointed comment about the Review previously awarding that prize to Richard Ford and the whole incident with him and Colson Whitehead,” he said. “She did a good job of interrogating the institution.” Also present were novelists Darryl Pinckney and Andrew Martin, Drift co-editors Kiara Barrow and Rebecca Panovka, and Paris Review art director Na Kim, who recently redesigned the magazine. The festivities lasted late into the night. “When I left the after party at about 1 am,” said Howard, “many people, including people who I did not think would still be out given their age, were still there drinking and having a ball.”

On Wednesday, the art magazine Bomb hosted its 40th anniversary gala at Capitale. “It was a wonderful, joyous, and rather magical evening. Everyone was very happy to be together once again in person,” co-founder and editor-in-chief Betsy Sussler told The Fine Print. It was also gratifying to host their first gala since 2019 because the gala is where the magazine raises about 40 percent of its operating expenses in a typical year. There were about 350 people there for the dinner, among them gallery representatives from Pace, Gagosian, and Ortuzar, but fewer writers than in previous years. Still, points of continuity were emphasized in a video on the magazine’s history. “The running thread throughout was me reading from a manifesto that I had written, I don’t even know when, but it was written on a typewriter,” Sussler said. “It’s Bomb’s mandate: We deliver the artists voice. We’re where artists can speak their own mind, and that theme really ran through the entire night.”

Also on Wednesday, Penta magazine senior editor Mitch Moxley and Bloomberg Businessweekcontributor David Gauvey Herbert hosted the sold-out first edition of The Night Editor, a series of storytelling, readings, and interviews at The Malin, a co-working space in SoHo where they both go to work. “I had hosted something similar for Roads and Kingdoms back in the day, when I was an editor there, and it was really fun and it was a great way to bring people together,” Moxley said. “We wanted something that was going to be, hopefully, a community building event and we wanted it to be pretty interactive, so people felt comfortable to ask questions, talk to one another and hang out and have drinks.” The roughly 50-strong audience took in presentations from Harper’s and Vice contributor Amdé Mengistu, Vanity Fair writer May Jeong, and Moxley.

As it happened, the event also doubled as a birthday party for Moxley: After the show, he and some attendees moved on to an Irish pub nearby The Mailin. “It wasn’t just this thing where you come, and everybody goes, and you don’t meet anybody. I feel like a lot of bigger events can be like that. If you ever go to The New York Times talks — I don’t want to knock them or anything because they’re cool — but you’re not meeting people at those things. They’re not really social,” he said. “A bunch of us, we ended up staying out till like two in the morning.”


On Saturday night, BuzzFeed News senior reporter Joe Bernstein and writer Atossa Araxia Abrahamian attended the wedding of BDG features director Kat Stoeffel and Jake Keyes. Abrahamian was pregnant, but they didn’t think the birth was imminent. “Atossa wasn’t due for another couple of weeks, so we thought we would have a night of fun before everything started,” said Bernstein. “Then she woke me up at 6:30 in the morning, she poked me in the ribs, she said I think something is going on, and we had a baby less than three hours later.” At 9:19 a.m. on Sunday, they welcomed their second son, Adlai. The household has not slept steadily since. “Every baby is unhappy in his own way,” Abrahamian noted.

Bernstein clarified that they didn’t choose their new son’s name in reference to failed presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson. “Atossa just thought it was really beautiful. She’s from Switzerland, and so I guess she didn’t have as strong of a connotation with American politics,” he said. “But she did love the fact that Adlai Stevenson was a great internationalist and the common knock on him is he was too smart to be president. So, we’re hoping that this Adlai will also be too smart to be president.” Asked if that meant Adlai would also be too smart to get into New York media, Bernstein laughed. “If we put any sense into him,” he said, “yes.”


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