Vital Moments

Peals and Illuminations

Lighting up the social column this week: Rebecca Greenfield, Daniel Hurwitz, Laura Helmuth, Rebecca Traister, Bhaskar Sunkara, Amanda Kludt, Tom Bissell, Michael Tomasky, Taylor Lorenz, Charles Duhigg, Ben Smith, and many more…

There was a lot to process going into the holiday weekend. The Supreme Court had just sent everything topsy-turvy and the billionaires were getting ready to jet off to Sun Valley. New York’s media community had its own itineraries. This week we follow the life that coursed out of the city and across the country around the Fourth of July. 


On Sunday evening, Rebecca Greenfield, co-host of the Bloomberg podcast The Pay Check, married writer and director Daniel Hurwitz at Rule of Thirds in Greenpoint. They initially met through a mutual friend but reconnected three years later on Tinder. “I love the summer, particularly in New York City, so knew I wanted to get married during my favorite season. July Fourth was a long weekend so that felt right,” Greenfield said. That said, fireworks were the furthest thing from their minds on the wedding day. “I forgot to even look into it,” Greenfield said.


Laura Helmuth, editor-in-chief of Scientific American, spent the Fourth of July holiday kayaking under the watchful eyes of swooping osprey and a bald eagle on the Monocacy River, north of D.C. The birds were representatives, she said, of “species that were almost wiped out by DDT but that are now thriving, thanks in part to the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act.” Afloat on the water, she maintained a focus on earthly concerns. “I thought a lot about how good policy can make the world cleaner and healthier and safer for people and other living things,” she said, “and how a theocratic Supreme Court majority more interested in the afterlife than this life can ruin all of it.” With that vital fervor on board, she paddled out to where the Monocacy flows into the Potomac.

Some people whose work is more closely associated with politics spent the holiday trying to think of anything else. “I spent the day picking field strawberries on the farm in northern Maine where my mom grew up. It was super hot, and my fingernails are still stained,” said New York writer-at-large Rebecca Traister. “Mostly, my personal quest on the holiday was to think about anything except work and the news. So, I mostly just thought about strawberries.”

The Nation’s president and Jacobin founding editor Bhaskar Sunkara and current Jacobin top editor Micah Uetricht spent the day on Coney Island watching baseball and fireworks with friends from New York DSA. “I don’t think I thought about politics the entire day,” said Uetricht, “but I did think a lot about hot dogs.”

However, people who professionally think about food were still thinking about it. Vox Media group publisher of Eater, Popsugar, Punch, and Thrillist Amanda Kludt celebrated the holiday at The People’s Beach at Jacob Riis Park. “The beach was absolutely slammed on Monday. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jacob Riis this crowded, and it was … actually wonderful. Towels up against each other, battling sound systems, lots of chit-chat between groups,” she said. “One family passed around zongzi from a massive cooler they brought after an especially fried old lady behind me asked what they were eating. It was lovely.”

Some writers were stuck working through Monday. Tom Bissell, New York TimesHarper’s and New Yorker contributor, co-writer of The Disaster Artist, and co-creator of the Apple TV+ show Mosquito Coast, was supposed to spend the Fourth on vacation in Europe with his family. Instead, because of “a professional emergency,” he was at home alone, writing. “I literally did nothing but slap at keys all day,” he said. “Not a very exciting day for me, I’m afraid!”

New Republic top editor Michael Tomasky thought he would see some fireworks, but work ended up being the highlight of his day. “My daughter wanted to go to the fireworks. Then she changed her mind, and that was that,” he said. “In the morning I wrote a column attacking the conservatives on the Supreme Court. I guess that’s the most American thing I did.”

Daily Beast culture reporter Helen Holmes was looking for the bright side. “I have to work July Fourth, but then I get a flex day,” she told The Fine Print last Friday. “It’ll be alright. I’m going to New Hampshire. I’m going to go swimming.”

Others made it out West. Washington Post technology columnist Taylor Lorenz was at home with her family in the Colorado mountains. They watched the docuseries (Un)well, “which is about people with medical issues turning to the wellness industry because of our broken healthcare system and lack of affordable healthcare. It felt like the type of doc that could only be made in the U.S.A.! Nothing more American than rampant individualism and crushing healthcare debt,” she said. “I also befriended a butterfly.” 

New Yorker writer Charles Duhigg had a less harmonious animal encounter on the far shore. “We had a few friends over to our place in Santa Cruz, California, for a barbecue, and then our dog got sprayed by a skunk, and so everyone went inside while my wife and I shampooed the dog outside,” he said. “I have no idea what that says about the Fourth, this year, 2022, or anything at all — but it was fun, until it smelled really bad.”

New England saw more than its fair share of celebrants. Spike’s New York editor Dean Kissick was at New York Times breaking news reporter Alex Traub’s parents’ home in Connecticut, though he said he was “too hungover to really get into the spirit.”

Harper’s Bazaar fashion news director Rachel Seville Tashjian returned from Europe, where she was at work on “a top-secret story,” to spend the holiday with her fiancé, Artforum executive editor Lloyd Wise, at her parents’ place on Cape Cod. The Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra performed, but “the fireworks were canceled because of a nearby colony of endangered piping plovers,” she said. When The Fine Print verbally blanched at the lack of fireworks, Tashjian showed that, like Helmuth, her loyalties were with the birds: “Protect the piping plovers at all costs!!!!!!!”

There were plenty of fireworks to go around elsewhere. Insider tech editor Tekendra Parmar watched the show from Venice Beach in L.A., and Semafor co-founder Ben Smith had a traditional Fourth upstate. “I shot off some fireworks!” Smith told The Fine Print several hours after his interview with Tucker Carlson on Thursday. 



7 p.m. On the softball fields in Central Park’s North Meadow, Harper’s Magazine will face historic rivals The New Yorker.

7 p.m. Former Paris Review captain Lauren Kane is set to play against her old teammates as a co-captain of The New York Review of Books team when the two literary magazines face off at the East River Park softball fields. “My loyalties are now split between nostalgia and my new workplace,” she told The Fine Print in June.


7 p.m. Zain Khalid, a contributor to The New Yorkern+1, and The Believer, will be talking with novelist and essayist Alexander Chee to celebrate the launch of his debut novel Brother Alive at The Strand in the East Village with an afterparty to follow nearby.

7 p.m. In the financial news bout of the softball season, The Wall Street Journal will play Forbes in Riverside Park.

7 p.m. The New York Review of Architecture will throw a party to launch their 30th issue, the last to be risograph printed, at the a83 gallery in SoHo.