Vital Moments

Holiday Slide

Reveling this week: Hannah Zeavin, Alex Colston, Mark Krotov, Lisa Borst, Marco Roth, Lila Shapiro, Blair McClendon, Kay Gabriel, Hussein Omar, Alana Pockros, Medaya Ocher, Bela Shayevich, Matthieu Aikins, Jon Lindsey, Allie Rowbottom, and many more…

It’s the end of Vital Moment’s first year. In the 32 columns we’ve published so far, we’ve covered everything that makes the New York media community a community outside of work: engagements, weddings, births, voyages, pets, games, birthdays, more softball than some readers appreciated, and plenty of parties. We’re closing it out with the story of a party that brought the city’s little magazine community together and concentrated the stuff of life.


There was no point in wiping your glasses on the way to the launch party for Parapraxis, the new magazine of psychoanalytic writing, at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery on Friday, December 16. The rain was relentless and blinding, but the warmth inside the church, which has hosted The Poetry Project since 1966, dispelled any awareness of the inhospitable weather. “We’re standing in a place I’ve known my whole life because of the community events,” founding editor Hannah Zeavin told The Fine Print late in the night as the DJ queued up tracks. “I’m about to dance really hard.” After the party, she was looking forward to spending Hanukkah in the city with her husband and small child. “We’re both from New York and we both have two families, so four families,” she said. Were there any Hanukkah presents she was hoping for? “It’s turned around,” she said. “Now it’s all about the kids. He really likes Candylab cars, which are so expensive.” Deputy editor Alex Colston’s holiday plans were more in line with the night’s festivities: He was heading home to Pensacola, Florida. And what does one do in Pensacola? “I drink heavily, mostly.” Whereabouts? “The Handlebar and then The Wis,” he said. “It’s called the Wisteria, after the flower, but they call it The Wis because you get drunk and you just piss in the backyard because it’s warm and it’s Florida.”

The party was co-hosted by n+1, which celebrated its 44th issue. Co-editor and publisher Mark Krotov has been trying to pace himself through this year’s holiday party onslaught. “My wife went to the Paris Reviewparty instead of me and she had a good time,” he told The Fine Print. “I was like, ‘That’s great. I think this works out well.’ I watched a movie.” He and his family are heading down to Atlanta, where he grew up, for the holidays. “I have a bunch of friends who moved back who now have these prosperous lives. I’m just like, ‘Amazing. Yeah, let’s talk about your mortgage’ — extremely foreign,” he said. “But they also have kids, so there’s this nice element of total dissociation.” Was there an age when they started moving back? “Basically right in the mid-30s,” he said. “I didn’t think it was gonna happen with my cohort, but the big thing is they have family around. They have child care on call all the time.”

In deference to a longstanding n+1 tradition, the beers served up by current and former interns cost three dollars. “Those are inflation-proof. I feel like even if we end up literally losing money, throwing cash away, we’ll never give them up,” mused n+1 web editor Lisa Borst. “Some magazines are fancy enough to just have free drinks — that’s cool. But then, if the alternative is like a $21.50 cocktail at the Public Hotel, I know where my loyalties lie.” (Disclosure: Zeavin unloaded a pocketful of drink tickets on The Fine Print. This reporter was grateful, gave away as many as he could but quickly turned inarticulate.)

n+1 co-founder Marco Roth was ready, as ever, to dance, but he paused to chat about the Lisbon earthquake and his holiday plans. “I’m doing goyish Christmas with my goyish girlfriend, like a real New York Jew,” he said. “So, I’m going to be like, ‘Well, Chinese food for Christmas dinner.’” Is he going to be able to fit in the traditional trip to the movies? “Well, she has her own weird family movie Christmas tradition called ‘Animals Run Amok,’ so we thought we might watch Cocaine Bear.” Doesn’t that come out next year? “It’s got to be out by Christmas.” Even if encounters with Cocaine Bear were ultimately some ways off, who did Roth recognize in the room right then? “Maybe my old analysts will be here,” he said. “I think the funny game is: Who in this room is actually a psychoanalyst?”

Among the non-psychoanalysts (as far as we know) in attendance were New York magazine features writer Lila Shapiro (notebook and recorder in hand), n+1 contributor and editor of the 2022 film Aftersun Blair McClendon, Artforum and The Cut contributor Jasmine Sanders, New York Times contributor Audrey Wollen, Semiotext(e) editor Janique Vigier, poet Kay Gabriel (“I’m a Jew who loves Christmas, and I’m going to throw a party on the 25th for all the gay orphans,” she said. What’s her New Year’s plan? “Here’s the thing, Pride, Halloween, and New Year’s, they’re only big party days for civilians. If you’re a head, then you don’t care that much because that’s when the normies are out.”), Brooklyn Rail fiction editor and novelist Will Chancellor, New York Review Comics staffer Anika Banister, New York Review of Books copyeditor and fellow Ann Douglas-head Sam Needleman, Adroit Journal editorial manager Matilda Berke, Accidental Gods author Anna Della Subin, there with her husband Baffler contributor Hussein Omar (“We just moved back to New York a month ago,” Subin said. “We were living in Dublin for his job and then we got back and it’s been so chaotic”), n+1 and Guardian contributor Aaron Timms, Vanity Faircontributor Tom Kludt, and New Republic staff writer Alex Shephard. Somehow, the latter three seemed to be in the midst of the same conversation about the World Cup every time The Fine Print swung around over the course of several hours. However, they paused long enough for Kludt to compare Shephard to American Top 40 DJ and the voice of Scooby-Doo’s Shaggy Casey Kasem. “It’s because I’m short!” Shephard protested.

Also representing more literary than psychoanalytic impulses were Baffler web editor Zachariah Webb(comparing tattoos: “I have an Eames textile design on my arm that’s now on everything.”), Know Your Enemy podcast co-host and legal-letter subject Sam Adler-Bell, there with Harper’s contributor Hannah Gold, American Prospect PR specialist Tisya Mavuram, Paris Review engagement editor Camille Jacobson, Nation engagement editor Alana Pockros (who assured The Fine Print that The Nation’sholiday party last Tuesday skewed younger than the magazine’s most recent appearance in this column), Parapraxis contributor Max Fox, Drift fiction editor Zain Khalid, Jewish Currents senior editor Ari Brostoff and editor-in-chief Arielle Angel (whose Hanukkah party The Fine Print tapped out of after about 15 minutes the next day because of a shattering hangover coupled with an overdose of Avatar: The Way of Water awe. Quality gelt, though!), Pitchfork and The Nation contributor Hubert Adjei-Kontoh, novelist Matthew Binder (“I have to get up super early to fly to Washington. My girlfriend’s family lives there.”), Paris Review reader and softball player Owen Park, n+1 contributor Andrew Eckholm, New York Times Magazine contributing writers Carina del Valle Schorske and Rozina Ali.

Krotov stood chatting with Medaya Ocher, former managing editor of Astra, and Bela Shayevich, writer and translator of Nobel Prize-winner Svetlana Alexievich. Shayevich had been a classmate of Krotov’s at Columbia, though she was in grad school while he was an undergrad. “I was in grad school, and guess what? I’m in grad school again. I’m getting an MFA in nonfiction at Iowa,” she said. “I’m doing New York andMFA.” Krotov summarized: “New York, MFA, J.E.W., U.S.S.R.” Shayevich nodded: “Important letters.”

How long had Shayevich been at Iowa? Ocher asked. “I’ve been there for a year and a half and I have a year and a half left, which is a very long time for a single 37-year-old woman,” Shayevich said. “What are the Iowa romantic possibilities?” Ocher asked. “Are there any?” “No, no, no. I have such high standards: It has to be someone who’s over 30 and single. That’s a very big ask. There was one cis het single man in my entire program this year and he is a Mucinex user. I don’t know if you know about this, I didn’t. He’s wonderful. He’s very smart, very sweet, but very spacey, and the way he manages it — the Adderall he’s prescribed makes him unable to sleep, so the way that he’s managing it is if he seems a little spacey today, it’s a Mucinex day. Every other day he takes Mucinex,” Shayevich said. “He’s wonderful, but then his last workshop piece this semester, he revealed that he lost his virginity last year at the age of 32.” Was it the Mucinex that slowed him down? “You put the information I give you together however you like.”

“Do you have a nemesis?” Ocher asked. “I’m trying to decide whether I have more than one. Let me quickly and charmingly tell you a story about my nemesis. She doesn’t hang out; that’s lame,” Shayevich said. “I think that hanging out is the most important thing that you can do with your time. I don’t understand anything else. I don’t see value in doing anything else. Especially not waking up every day at five o’clock in the morning and crying because you haven’t been published by The New Yorker yet and then running seven miles? Every time she sees me, she’s so weird, and I’m like, ‘Don’t fucking talk to me that way.’ I hear you, you want me to die, okay, fine.” “She’s just like ‘You are so impressive?’” Ocher asked. “Yeah. Like, I’m fairly well known as a literary translator and so I’ve published in some places, but in this room, it’s not —”

“I don’t care about any of that,” Shayevich continued. “It’s just because when I came over to her house one time, she had somebody come over, doing a photo shoot of her, and ignored me for an hour while I stood awkwardly in her kitchen by myself. She had invited me over but had double-booked me with somebody who was coming over to take her portrait,” she clarified. “I stood, approaching the verge of tears, because it’s like what am I supposed to do with myself? I didn’t know how long it would go on. Then, after the hour is up and the guy leaves, the doorbell rings and it’s Thai delivery and she ordered food just for herself at dinner time. Then it was 9 p.m. and at 9 p.m. it’s almost five o’clock in the morning, so it’s time for her to go running. This is what I mean: It’s just that she literally doesn’t know how to hang out.” She concluded: “You really have to fuck up to be my enemy because I love everybody and I just want to hang out. That’s actually the most important thing about me.”

New York Times Magazine contributing writer Matthieu Aikins has been on a non-stop run of parties since returning from his latest trip to Afghanistan. “Tripledemic and partying every night,” he said, enthusiasm seemingly limitless. What’s been the best party so far? “I was at the Berlin holiday party last night,” Aikins said. “The bartender was doing Iggy Pop album covers, and there was an open bar. No one from the media world showed up.” He’ll get a reprieve when he returns home for the holidays. “I’m going to Nova Scotia to ice skate with my family,” he said. Also enjoying the outdoors over the holidays will be novelists Jon Lindsey and Allie Rowbottom. “We’re going to the swamp,” said Lindsey. Any swamp in particular? “We’re going to rural Georgia. My godmother lives down there. She’s a dog trainer, and, weirdly, my dad also lives down there in a trailer,” Rowbottom said. “They have dirt bikes and quads,” Lindsey added, looking forward to leaving town on the 23rd.

In the meantime, Lindsey and Rowbottom were off to the next party. “We’re going to a pajama party tonight,” Lindsey explained. “Hence the pajamas, though I already got wine on mine,” said Rowbottom, gesturing to her mostly champagne-colored duds. “Jon has matching pajamas under all of this.” Lindsey noted the matching sets were a gift from the pajama party’s host, “Gutes, that girl who used to run The Drunken Canal.” Others at St. Mark’s were plotting different trajectories. Some were heading to Slate politics writer Alex Sammon’s birthday party in Ridgewood, The Fine Print joined a migration to Sharlene’s, and the crowd dissolved into the weekend haze.


Rest and oblivion. Happy holidays! See you next year!


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