The Party Hop Won’t Stop
On the town this week: Katy Tur, Tony Dokoupil, Rashida Jones, Lindsay Lerman, Madeline Cash, Mitch Moxley, Sophie Haigney, Magdalene Taylor, Lake Micah, Cat Marnell, Dean Kissick, Ben Goggin, Chris Miller, and many more…
In a week so packed with parties, one might find themselves constantly asking tough questions: Which party should I go to? How long should I stay before heading off to the next one? Can the host tell that I’m weighing my options? Do they care? Why are there so many musicians everywhere? We have few answers (this is a social column, not an advice column) but plenty of glimpses of the lives that were lived across the city…
OUT AND ABOUT
On Monday evening, in the hard-to-find Pebble Bar tucked into a fourth-floor corner of Rockefeller Center, MSNBC host Katy Tur celebrated the launch of her memoir Rough Draft. Crowded into the tiny bar were Tur’s husband, CBS Mornings co-anchor Tony Dokoupil, CNN’s Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter, NY1 anchor Jamie Stelter, Atria publisher Libby McGuire, writer Rachel Sklar, memoirist Glynnis MacNicol, Atlantic newsletter writer and Daily Beast podcaster Molly Jong-Fast, Politico White House reporter Max Tani, former co-host of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast Aminatou Sow, Atria senior editor Nick Ciani, The Fine Print’s publisher and editor-in-chief Gabriel Snyder, MSNBC president Rashida Jones, chairman of NBCUniversal News Group Cesar Conde, novelist and podcaster Jo Piazza, writer Mattie Kahn, MSNBC anchor Alicia Menendez, and One Signal founder Julia Cheiffetz. Dokoupil gave a loving speech to Tur and led the crowd in a toast congratulating her on getting the book done on top of her day job. In her remarks, Tur thanked Jones for not taking her off the air when she appeared on a Weather Channel show Jones was executive producing. As Tur recounts in her book, “Two seconds after the shot was over, a voice in my earpiece: ‘Did you just say on my show, ‘I’m going to miss BJ’s’?’”
Later on Monday night, Forever Magazine hosted the launch of Lindsay Lerman’s novel What Are You at Russian Samovar in Midtown. “I think Times Square is an underrated zone,” ventured Forever co-founder Anika Levy while distracted from DJing before the event. “I had one job,” she said as the music stopped and she picked up her phone. She said she’d attended high school in a barn in congresswoman Lauren Boebert’s district but did not further identify the barn. “I think there’s a real aestheticization of white poverty happening, which I don’t have any problem with,” she observed. As the event got going, the hosts encouraged the audience to buy drinks to winnow down their tab. “This isn’t The Drift. We don’t have a lot of money,” said co-founder Madeline Cash, who has a story in the other magazine’s latest issue. (“The Drift is killing it. They have a really great paywall, we don’t have that,” she clarified, somewhat frantically, several days later. “I love The Drift.”) That didn’t stop them from choosing an opulent venue: upstairs from a Russian restaurant, beyond fur-lined curtains and a disco ball, a room lit by red lamps, filled with balalaikas, Russian books, and samovars. The bartender, who deftly popped open bottles with a wood-handled knife, fumbled for a description of the wallpaper. “Old world,” he concluded, “not so much Imperial, but old world.” One attendee described the decor as “babushka’s dining room.” Indeed, it does look a bit like a pastiche of this reporter’s babushka’s dining room.
Former Condé Nast permalancer Sophie Kemp read first, performing in a bathing suit and a blonde wig. “I just feel like readings are really boring, and I wanted to do what I would want to see at a reading, which is watching somebody having a seizure,” she explained afterward on a balcony overlooking 52nd Street’s marquees. She was followed by Steve Anwyll, author of the novel Welfare, who’d taken a bus down from Montreal. “I haven’t read in three years. This is my first time doing it not blackout drunk. And it’s my birthday,” he started his reading. In turn, he was followed by Mila Jaroniec, who’d come from Ohio. When The Novelist novelist and former Tyrant editor Jordan Castro took center stage in sandals, he led the crowd in a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” while Anwyll uncomfortably rubbed his face. Lerman read last, asking the audience, “What are you doing out on a Monday night?”
In the audience were Imaginary Museums writer Nicolette Polek, Fuccboi novelist Sean Thor Conroe (Asked what’s made him happy recently, he said, “I cracked my foot.”), Gizmodo and Atavist contributor Daniel Kolitz (“What the fuck, man? I went to a party on Saturday. I figured I can’t wear shorts because that’s not party attire. I show up at the party, and fucking everyone’s wearing shorts. I say I fucked up. Now, I’m here, and I’m the only fucker in shorts in the room.”), Wet Brainpodcast co-host Honor Levy, Lerman’s publisher, Clash Books managing editor Christoph Paul (who is originally from Florida but runs Clash from Troy, New York, of all places), and Laszlo Horvath, who played the new album from his band Laszlo and the Hidden Strength after the readings. “It’s folk music, but it’s post-post-folk,” he tried to explain. When The Fine Print said we didn’t know what that meant, Horvath admitted he didn’t either. “We’re actually a pretty noisy band,” he said. “We’re sort of like a cross between a punk band and some kind of strange prog thing, but the goal is pop.”
On Wednesday evening, Penta magazine senior editor Mitch Moxley staged reading of his Anthony Bourdain-inspired play, Last Room, at Caveat on the Lower East Side. He’d gotten to know Bourdain a little bit when he was a features editor at Roads & Kingdoms, where Bourdain was an investor, and he’d profiled the travel host for Maxim. “After he died, I felt like the tributes to him made him out to be kind of a saint,” he told The Fine Print before the show. “He was obviously a great, inspiring person, but I just felt like there was no curiosity about what kind of meaning there was to be taken from both his life and death, and especially about the inherent conflicts between wanting to spend two hundred days abroad but then also having a wife and daughter.”
Moxley started working on the play in 2018, around the time he began trying in earnest to resolve similar tensions in his own life. He’d spent six years in China, was always on the road for freelance assignments, and found that he didn’t quite know how to settle down. “I’d been freelance for a long time and it was just so rocky and up and down. You get the excitement and thrill of publishing something, and then look at your bank account and you’re like $15,000 in debt. It just got to me. I got so worn out. One day, I had a full blown panic attack and thought I was having a heart attack and went to the hospital,” he said. “It was around that time where I was just like this isn’t working out for me. I felt like I was constantly on shifting ground, and the industry sucked and it sucks even more now. So I’ve had to work hard to find a sense of stability.” The full-time editing gig has helped. “I’m as settled as I can be here,” he said. “I definitely don’t have the same travel urge anymore. I like to travel here and there, but pretty sparingly, whereas when I was younger, it’s all I wanted to do.”
Members of the audience, however, still craved the thrill of the road. “I got a Jaguar and just tore down the coast, all down Route 1,” said Harper’s contributor Sam Sussman of his recent trip to California. Others got their kicks in other ways. David Gauvey Herbert had a long story in the same issue of Esquire as his close friend Moxley. “That was just a lucky, happy coincidence,” said Moxley. Vice, The Ringer, and Marie Claire contributor Katie Gee Salisbury, Harper’s and New Yorkercontributor Michael Ames, and ghostwriter Sandra Bark seemed happy just to be there to watch the play and catch up. “I worked with Justin Timberlake on a big visual memoir, and that was fun because I don’t know anything about the music world,” Bark told The Fine Print as she set down a drink at a table with Salisbury. “I was suddenly in a studio being real cool. I think I was dancing, and no one else was.”
Gray skies and gusty winds lay beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows of the rooftop bar of the Public Hotel on Thursday night when The Drifthosted a launch party for their seventh issue. Paris Review web editor and Drift contributing editor Sophie Haigney, in a dress that evoked The Paris Review’s summer issue, greeted guests entering the line at the start of the night. A series of earpiece-equipped security guards led the rest of the way to the roof, where a crowd was starting to form. Present were the night’s readers, Drift contributors Erik Baker, Rose Nguyen, Jake Bittle, James Yeh, Forever’s Cash, Clare Sestanovich, and Hannah Gold, as well as ProPublica contributor Carol Schaeffer (who returned from reporting in Ukraine in April and is planning to go back in August), Jewish Currents newsletter editor David Klion (who wore a shirt with his own face on it), Motherboard staff writer Edward Ongweso, Politico’s Tani, Luke Brown, editorial director of the British publishing imprint Serpent’s Tail (who’s in town visiting his American counterparts: “It’s basically a spurious excuse for a holiday”), Mel Magazine staff writer Magdalene Taylor (“Jake Gyllenhaal is here and he told me that I couldn’t come to the party unless I wasn’t wearing a bra,” she said with a gleeful, spurious glint in her eye, “now I’m here without a bra and I can’t find him anywhere”), and plastic surgery reporter Suzy Katz. “I’m waiting for this to fill up,” said Harper’sassistant editor and Drift associate editor Lake Micah. “There’s an outdoor portion of the rooftop over on the other side of the elevators. I’m hoping we can get out there. I would hate if we had to turn people away.”
Even as the party got going, guests were thinking of the other gatherings they might have gone to or might yet go to. Writer Cat Marnell, who was standing with writer and producer Gabrielle Bluestone, had considered going to the party Emily Gould and Keith Gessen were hosting for Gessen’s new book Raising Raffi. “I didn’t even get motivated to go out until it was too late, and I couldn’t get to Emily’s thing. I love Emily and I’ve always wanted to meet Raffi, and I don’t think I’ve ever met Keith, but I love Emily Gould,” she said, though she had other commitments on her mind. “My real priority tonight is the NBA Finals Game 6,” she said. Her other priority was finding a place to smoke. Even the balcony was off-limits. “They’re pretty strict here,” said FSG editor Jackson Howard. “It’s like a tourist hotel, so they don’t fuck around.”
Spike’s New York editor Dean Kissick stood chatting with Paris Reviewassistant editor Olivia Kan-Sperling and New York Times city correspondent Alex Vadukul who had profiled the magazine in February. [Ed. note: catching up with The Fine Print’s profile of the little magazine from January.] “He’s actually revealing the truth behind his Drift piece right now,” said Kissick as he introduced Vadukul. “Was it a puff piece? Was he taking the piss?” Kissick hadn’t been sure that he wanted to come out after New York Times Magazine contributing writer Matthieu Aikins’s (off the record, but very fun) return-from-Afghanistan party the night before. “I left around midnight, did a couple of lines, had a couple beers, but I woke up feeling so — I had a nap today, actually, like a two-hour nap,” he said. “I wanted to stay in with Olivia and watch Portrait of a Lady.” Even so, he was thinking about where to go next. “The fashion kids, the beautiful young people are going to Nublu,” he said and introduced Dagsen Love, who would be DJing there later in the night, as “a 21-year-old model, It boy, Zoolander-type character, but kind of really smart, also kind of really stupid.”
“My publicist and my lawyer are outside. It’s Chief Keef’s publicist and Machine Gun Kelly’s lawyer. I’ve been a DJ for two weeks,” said Love. “What my PR guy told me yesterday, it’s really funny, he said, ‘Give me a list of ten famous women and I’ll get in touch with their people and set up some dates.’ So Dean if you have some names…” Kissick nodded. “Yeah, I can help with that list. Why do you have a PR guy?” he asked. “Because I’m a musician now,” Love said. “Music is really funny to me. It’s really easy. I quit my job last week.”
On the balcony outside, The Drift crowd mingled with guests of the hotel. “This is a finance party that’s masquerading as a lit party,” quipped one New York Times employee. “I think everything has been exhausted. Dimes Square has been exhausted. I helped exhaust it. I was the nail in the coffin, I mean part of it was timing out of my control,” said Nick Burns, the author of an infamous New Statesman article. “Crypto’s over, the economy is over, the vibe shift is also over, but that, in turn, is also the vibe shift. That’s dialectics.” That didn’t stop him from coming out to this party, however. “I did sneak a flask into here after experiencing the monetary impacts of the last Drift party’sdrink charges,” he said.
The sun was threatening to dip below the horizon over Lake Como on Monday. NBC News deputy editor for technology Ben Goggin and his partner Chris Miller, senior director for media relations at NYC Health + Hospitals, sat at the La Vista restaurant in Varenna, overlooking the lake, and watched another couple celebrate their engagement. Goggin had been carrying around a ring, looking for the right moment to propose to Miller since their arrival on the lake, and as he watched the other couple taking pictures, he knew the time had come. “It was triggering for me. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m gonna miss the moment,’” he recalled on Thursday while drinking a beer on a piazza in Florence. “The restaurant at that point had gotten sort of crazy. People were taking pictures. People were going up to congratulate the other couple. I was like, ‘Oh my God, okay, I’m just gonna make this crazier.’” Miller thought he was joking at first, Goggin said, “but I did get down on one knee, and then he said, ‘Yes.’ And then people cheered.”
Goggin and Miller met on OkCupid about five years ago. “We had a date at, in my opinion, a bad wine bar in Union Square, Pierre Loti, and we quickly moved to Nowhere Bar, which is a gay dive bar a few blocks away,” Goggin said. Part of what brought them together was their work. “We had pretty funny journalist-PR banter from the start,” he added, “but we also connected over sort of embarrassing things, like we both traded on Robinhood and were stock picking for a little bit. Chris still is.” Last year, they decided to move in together. “During the pandemic, while so many people left the city, we stayed, and we really bonded and got closer and decided to buy a place together,” Goggin said, “so we actually bought an apartment before we got married.” They’re putting off planning the logistics of the wedding for now but are keeping an eye out for potential settings while bobbing around Italy.
➾ 4:30 p.m. The Museum of the Moving Image will screen Sweet Smell of Success as part of its James Wong Howe retrospective.
➾ 7 p.m. Kyle Chayka and Daisy Alioto’s NFT and newsletter startup Dirt will host a party at Jadis on the Lower East Side.
➾ 7 p.m. The New Yorker will take on The Paris Review on a Central Park softball field.
➾ 6:30 p.m. Slate will host a combination podcast live show, panel discussion, and party at The Bell House in Gowanus. It will start with a taping of the Slow Burn podcast, with host Susan Matthewsinterviewing Political Gabfest host Emily Bazelon and lawyer Nancy Stearns, followed by a panel with Slate’s courts and politics team on the Supreme Court. New Slate editor-in-chief Hillary Frey will be in attendance.
➾ 7 p.m. A panel at McNally Jackson Seaport including Harper’s contributor Katie Roiphe, novelist Daphne Beal, New Yorkercontributor Alice Gregory, New York Review of Books contributor Laura Kipnis, and New York Times Magazine culture editor Sasha Weiss will discuss the work and legacy of Janet Malcolm.