Vital Moments

Taking the Plunge

In this week’s edition of our new social column tracking the ways lives are lived… Kate Lee, Sam Adler-Bell, Ari M. Brostoff, Dana Brown, Emily Nussbaum, Alex Shephard, and plenty of cake

We’re back with our still pretty new social column, Vital Moments, but first, another reminder that we’ll be hosting our first party for subscribers, sources, and friends on Wednesday, April 6, at 7 pm at Greenwood Park in Brooklyn. It’s free to get in (with a cash bar) and anyone can just show up, but we’d appreciate it if you would RSVP here to give us a sense of how many people to expect. Now, on to other people’s parties…



Last Saturday, in a converted carriage house on the Lower East Side, “that guy Adam” who works in tech, hangs out in literary circles, and, according to poet Rachel Rabbit White, “always has good coke,” threw a 30th birthday party. Spotted among the attendees were Harper’s associate editor Elena Saavedra Buckley, writer Krithika Varagur, Paris Review web editor Sophie Haigney, reporter Jake Bittle, Gawker managing editor Jocelyn Silver, and a cat widely believed to be a lynx. But Rabbit White couldn’t make it: “I had to leave town when the landlord of Caroline Calloway’s apartment — which I was subleasing — tried to call the law on us,” she told the Fine Print, “but I saw videos of the party from my friends who went … my friend Chariot Wish gave everyone lap dances.” Not spotted was “Adam,” though there was cake.

That same night, in a more low-key affair, former Stripe head of publishing Kate Lee and Quartz co-founder and CEO Zach Seward hosted a party at their Upper West Side apartment to celebrate Lee’s birthday. Among the attendees were Gawker founding editor Elizabeth Spiers and Sloane Crosley, author of I Was Told There’d Be Cake. There was indeed cake, specifically chocolate.

Also on Saturday, the weirdly over-hyped, purportedly heterodox but heavily right-wing new magazine Compact hosted a launch party at KGB Bar in the East Village. Sam Adler-Bell, a writer and co-host of the podcast Know Your Enemy, went out of curiosity. “Those guys invited me, I guess, out of magnanimity, even though, of course, I’m constantly criticizing them in my work. They’re trying to be ideologically promiscuous with this project so having some out socialists in the crowd is probably something they wanted to do to cultivate that mystique,” he said. “I like a party and I think that those people — right-wing Conservative Catholic Social Democrats — are real, real big freaks who are really, really wrong and I hope they don’t take power. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not interested to hear what they have to say over a few whiskeys at KGB Bar.”

Despite his ideological discordance with the hosts, Adler-Bell had an okay time. “It was uneventful, but so are almost any of the media parties you’d go to. So it wasn’t any less lame,” he said. “Compared to most of the media parties I go to, nobody asked me anything about the DSA, so that was an improvement.”

On Wednesday evening, in the backyard of Nostrand Avenue Pub in Crown Heights, Jewish Currents culture editor Ari M. Brostoff and n+1 threw a party to celebrate the publication of Brostoff’s essay collection Missing Time. “This party was supposed to happen in December, and then something got in the way; I can’t remember what it was,” n+1 co-editor Mark Krotov told the crowd, which included his co-editor Dayna Tortorici, New York book critic Andrea Long Chu, writer Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, New Republic staff writer Alex Shephard, Bookforum senior editor Namara Smith, writer Sarah Resnick, Adler-Bell and his Know Your Enemy co-host Matthew Sitman, Jewish Currents newsletter editor and Diplomacy czar David Klion, newly minted New Yorker staff writer Molly Fischer, her husband, committed Deadhead Sam MacLaughlin, and Grid reporter and Fischer Tooze-bro source Matt Zeitlin. “I’m going to try not to cry,” Brostoff said before reading an excerpt. “I’m grateful for everyone in my life, and I’m feeling very sentimental about New York right now.” After the reading, the crowd parted to allow cake-bearers, singing “happy book day” to the tune of happy birthday, to process. The title of the book was embossed in bright green on the cake with candles dotting the “i” s.

Also on Wednesday, at the Waverly Inn (of course), former Vanity Fair editor-in-chief, current Airmail co-editor, and Waverly Inn owner Graydon Carter hosted a party for former Vanity Fair deputy editor Dana Brown to celebrate Dilettante, Brown’s memoir of working as Carter’s assistant at the magazine. Puck co-founder and Vanity Fair veteran Jon Kelly had been looking forward to going. “I was meant to go but had to bail last minute for another event that went long,” he told The Fine Print. “Very sad about that.”



Not present at the parties, we hope, were journalists who picked up Covid on their perambulations. Axiosmedia deals reporter Kerry Flynn tested positive after returning from South by Southwest. The New Yorker’s Oscar night reporter Michael Schulman tweeted, “I seem to have left Oscar weekend with a swag bag full of COVID.” New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum also got it over the weekend, though she only watched the ceremony at home. “Oddly feel BETTER than normal though, just from getting sleep,” she tweeted.



Last Saturday, New Republic staff writer Alex Shephard went to The Russian and Turkish Baths on East 10th Street in the East Village for the first time since they reopened. He’d been a regular since about 2014 and, just before everything shut down, decided to take the plunge and buy a pass for six admissions on Boris shift days. “I like to be as hot as possible, and the Boris days were the hottest in New York as far as I can tell,” he told The Fine Print. “I certainly was aware of the novel coronavirus when I purchased this pass, but at the time, as I recall — I don’t want anyone to sue me — they did advertise that the baths could kill the virus, something that I do still believe.” 

On his return, Shephard was impressed by the renovations at the baths. “You used to see cockroaches running around there,” he said. “They’re moderately nicer now.” But he was dismayed when his pass was turned down, and he had to pay roughly $130. “They’re only honoring this pass Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,” he said. “These are just frankly not days to go to the baths, you know what I mean? Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday — those are bath days.”

He’s not sure if he’ll go back. “I have to decide how mad I am about this pass business,” he said, “because I do like how hot it is there. I’ve been talking to some other bath aficionados about some other options.” There are a couple of also-rans: “Brooklyn Banya, which is in Ditmas Park is fine, but it’s merely just okay. The Fulton Street one’s fine, but there’s just too many bankers there.” The best options, though, seem to be the Russian baths on Gravesend Neck Road in south Brooklyn. “Maybe I’ll be a Neck Road guy now,” Shephard said.



Tuesday: The National Magazine Awards will be presented at Brooklyn Steel in Williamsburg, starting at 5:30 pm.

Wednesday: In case you missed it up top, The Fine Print’s party for subscribers, sources, and friends will be at 7 pm at Greenwood Park in Brooklyn. There will probably not be cake.

Thursday: Astra, the international magazine of literature, will be celebrating the launch of its first biannual print issue at a private event in SoHo. Their public launch will be at McNally Jackson Seaport on April 14.

Next Friday: The Poetry Project will host its 55th Anniversary gala at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery. Rachel Rabbit White will be back in New York to co-host the after-party. “There’s going to be DJs, a dance floor, and some poetry,” she said. “I’m co-hosting along with a committee of some other poetry stars like Juliana Huxtable, Precious Okoyomon, Hannah Black, Andrew Durbin & more.”