Peaks and Bounds
Radiating this week: Benjamin Soloway, Malcolm Harris, Rebecca Panovka, Kiara Barrow, Lake Micah, Chloe Arnold, “bookstore guy,” Suzy Katz, Greta Rainbow, Thayer Anderson, Felix Gillette, John Koblin, Chris Rovzar, Joel Weber, Gilbert Cruz, Alexandra Jacobs, Sadie Stein, Ellen Pollock, Susan Berfield, Ashley Carman, Alexandra E. Petri, Chris Cohen, Devi Lockwood, Max Tani, Amy Padnani, Nicole Blades, and many more…
We skipped a social column last week, so there’s a marathon-length edition this time around, tracing the course of life in the city from sidewalks to high rises, from passed hors d’oeuvres to finish lines, and plenty of points between.
OUT AND ABOUT
For the most part, the faces were familiar at The Drift’s eighth issue celebration at Café Kitsuné in Boerum Hill on Thursday, November 3. The party, the first of the magazine’s events held in Brooklyn since last fall, was closer to home for many attendees than the previous two issue launches in Manhattan. But others had traveled a staggering distance to be there. “We came here from Phoenix for this,” said Daniel Mills. “He called me three weeks ago,” said his girlfriend, Norah Ybarra. “He’s like, ‘Hey, The Drift is having a release party. You want to go?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, obviously.’” For Mills, it represented a chance to see a more expansive literary community than he could at home. “I grew up in Phoenix, and I’ve always been interested and involved in the literary community there. Despite the fact that Phoenix is the fifth- or sixth- (it always kind of alternates) largest city in the country, the literary community there does not really reflect that. Everybody leaves Arizona,” he said. “Full disclosure: I’m not in any financial position to fly across the country to do these things, but I’m like, I have to take a risk and try to do the things I want to do that I’m not able to do in Phoenix.” They were almost repelled from the party at the last moment. “When we got here, the line was so long. For a moment, I thought we wouldn’t get in, and that would freaking suck,” said Ybarra, “but here we are, right?” The Driftcrowd seemed psyched about the Western arrivals. “I’m very excited about that as a Four Corners girl,” said New Mexico native and Drift and Harper’s associate editor Elena Saavedra Buckley. “I’m very happy to see desert people representing.”
Other attendees had also made treks to be there. “I’m a media motherfucker, I work at The Washington Post. You should put in your email that I came all the way from Washington to attend The Drift event, due to my passion for the magazine,” joked foreign assignment editor Benjamin Soloway, who was visiting friends in the city, “and I’m gonna tell everyone in Washington that this is the place to see and be seen in the media. I think daily newspapers should do this every day.” Also in town from D.C. was Malcolm Harris, a contributor to the issue and author of the forthcoming book Palo Alto. “This is a long ass line. There must be a shortage of parties in New York these days. Don’t these people have homes?” Harris said outside. “I mean, the magazine’s all right, but I didn’t know people like magazines like that.” This wasn’t the furthest he’d traveled recently. “I just got back from a week in California trimming,” he said. Did he come back with a backpack full of weed? “Hell yeah.”
Among the familiar faces were Drift co-editors Rebecca Panovka and Kiara Barrow, along with Barrow’s mom, whose name The Fine Print didn’t catch but who said she was attending her second Drift party. “I just went to the last one in Manhattan,” she said. “It was nuts, but I had a good time.” Harper’s assistant editor and Drift associate editor Lake Micah greeted The Fine Print with some news. “I am in the process of starting a trivia league across magazines,” he said. Isn’t bar trivia kind of hard? “What I’ve realized is it pays to be a normie,” he said, recounting how Harper’s had tried a solo test round. “There was a category on cars, and I was like, ‘Well, none of us can drive.’ We’re gays and nebbishes and city children.” If you’re good at Quiz Bowl, The Fine Print ventured, you’re usually bad at bar trivia. “What if you’re medium at both?” asked Gawker staff writer Tarpley Hitt. Then, maybe, you could be happy.
At about 10:30 p.m., the cops showed up to disperse the crowd drinking beers on the usually quiet sidewalk, but, according to one witness, they left when they figured out it was a magazine party. “The woman who called them six times, she didn’t say it was a literary magazine,” said the witness, who added the cops soon departed, telling everyone, “congratulations on your issue launch.” The party continued. One attendee sidled up close to The Fine Print’s recorder to ensure their insight would be memorialized. “If there’s one thing I recommend,” they said, “it’s yacking.”
Milling about on the sidewalk and crammed indoors were New York Times pop music critic Jon Caramanica, New York contributor Ross Barkan (“It’s been a very warm, balmy fall, which I like a lot,” he said. “I played three games of softball last week. It was Sunday, a playoff game, and I was in my short sleeves. It was sublime. So, climate catastrophe, but I’m here and I’m enjoying the sunshine until we all burn.”), Our Dark Academia author Adrienne Raphel, New York Times and Jewish Currents contributor Britta Lokting, too-many-affiliations-to-list Sid Mahanta (“With all that Zwirner money, couldn’t they have gotten a bigger spot?”), Grove Atlantic deputy publisher Peter Blackstock, Paris Review web editor Sophie Haigney, Cleveland Review of Books publisher Billy Lennon, Astra deputy editor Samuel Rutter, writer Noor Qasim, Motherboard staff writer Edward Ongweso Jr., writer Bobuq Sayed, newly appointed Harper’s production manager and designer Chloe Arnold (“Today is day number four,” she said. “I’m like, ‘I could stay here for 80 years and then die.’ That’s my thought on day four. Ask me on day five what I think.”), n+1 and Jewish Currents contributor Arielle Isack, the ever-reliable bookstore guy (“My feelings about The Drift are over-determined,” he said. “If this was a left-wing magazine, I missed it.”), and McSweeney’s deputy editor James Yeh. “Can I show you something?” Yeh asked and whipped out what looked like a vintage mass-market paperback from his tote. “This is the issue of McSweeney’s I just put together.” That issue, number 69, will be out in December.
Also present were Lapham’s Quarterly managing editor Will Augerot, literary agent Kent Wolf, writer Suzy Katz (“Last time I was here people were like ‘What do you write about?’ I was like, ‘plastic surgery,’ but now I can also say art. I work for Sotheby’s now.”), poet Kyle Carrero Lopez, Interview contributor Greta Rainbow (“People are really into the new Apple Watch, because it’s finally an Apple Watch that looks okay. But they’re ugly still, and I don’t want to know my heartbeat rate. I don’t want to know that information.”), Vanity Fair staff writer Chris Murphy, Daily Beast culture reporter Helen Holmes, Driftassociate editor Thayer Anderson (“In my day job, I do science research — computational epidemiology,” he said. “I went to visit some collaborators in Philly, the secret purpose of which was just to pick up deer poop to measure Covid in the deer population.”), Harper’s and New York Times Magazine contributor Wes Enzinna, New York and The Nation contributor Max Pearl (“Across from my house, a new weed store just opened and it’s this beautiful deli. The guys are really cool and I like to go say ‘Hi’ just because they’re neighbors. I don’t really smoke weed, but every time I go by, the guy’s like, ‘Want a joint?’ Now I have a collection of like eight joints in my refrigerator.”), Harper’s assistant editor Charlie Lee (attending his first Drift party), Rolling Stone contributor Noah Hurowitz (“I feel like a piece of shit with AirPods, but the one thing I don’t miss is that pocket tangle.”), Joyland managing editor Walker Caplan, Nation research director Samantha Schuyler (who just moved into a new apartment in Crown Heights), New York Times Magazine story editor Rachel Poser, Atlantic contributor Will Gottsegen, and Air Mail contributor Sophie Kemp. “I’m not here to perform in a bikini and a blonde wig, thank God,” Kemp said. “I’m so sad I missed that,” said her friend, New York Times associate writer Dani Blum. “I’m glad you didn’t see it,” said Kemp.
After midnight, the lingering crowd migrated to Brooklyn Inn, where British political scion Peter Huhnetried to defend his country’s prospects while Acts of Desperation novelist Megan Nolan trumpeted Ireland’s superior virtues. Meanwhile, a crew of poetic types attempted to recall the elements of the periodic table, succeeded in linking potassium to bananas, spotted SNL cast member Bowen Yang, and failed to summon the tune to “Modern Major-General.”
On the 28th floor of Bloomberg’s imposing and colorfully lit Midtown offices on Monday, Bloomberg enterprise editor and Businessweek feature writer Felix Gillette and New York Times media reporter John Koblin celebrated the release of their book, It’s Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO. Gillette had the eponymous competition on his mind. “Every time Gillette [the razor company] has a bad quarter, it’s like, ‘Come on man, pick it up! Add a sixth blade, dammit!’” he told The Fine Print. Koblin, meanwhile, was looking forward to having his nights and weekends back after the book tour wrapped up. He’d skipped his trip to Fire Island this summer, though he insisted he didn’t mind and introduced a friend standing nearby. “Zachary Woolfe, the classical music critic for The New York Times here,” he said. “Zach is the one who insists on Fire Island. I would do anything to get away from Fire Island. We skipped it this year, but we are returning next year.” Instead, Koblin will get his fill of another coast when he spends Christmas in L.A. “Have you been to Palm Springs?” he asked Woolfe. “My grandmother lived there, briefly,” Woolfe replied. “It was a couple of horrible visits.” Koblin pivoted back to more positive prospects. “I like New York in the next two months. I love New York during Thanksgiving. I love New York during Christmas,” he said. “January’s when things go south, and I’m still here.”
The Bloomberg employees in the room ensured their orange badges were always in sight. “If you don’t wear it, someone stops you, and it’s like, ‘Where’s your badge?’” explained Bloomberg Pursuits editorial director Chris Rovzar. “I used to work at Vanity Fair. When I came to work here, Graydon Carter was like, ‘You have to wear a name badge there every day, you know that right?’ And I was like, ‘That’s not true.’ And he was like, ‘It is, and the first day you’re going to send me a picture of you and your name badge.’ And I was like, ‘okay,’ and then I did because he was right.” Bloomberg Businessweek top editor Joel Weber noted how well-worn reporter Kim Bhasin’s badge was. “Yeah, fuck off,” said Bhasin. “You can get a new one any time you want,” said Weber, flashing his fresh one. “It looks like I work real hard,” said Bhasin. However, it seemed that Weber’s badge wouldn’t be in use for much longer. “On a personal note, I plan to retire after tonight’s Powerball draw,” Weber told the crowd before introducing Gillette and Koblin for the customary speeches. “I have the winning ticket in my pocket, and I fully expect to claim these billions all to myself.”
The best-dressed man at the party was New York Times books editor Gilbert Cruz, who took over the job from Pamela Paul earlier this year, wearing a spiffy suit and tie. “I’ve been wearing sweatpants for years, man,” he explained. “I’m also going to two things tonight. If I was going to one, no tie.” Besides, who wouldn’t take the chance to dress up for a night away from the media suburbs? “I live in Maplewood now,” Cruz said, “one of those suburbs.” Also representing The Times, if slightly less extravagantly dressed, were media reporters Michael Grynbaum and Katie Robertson (who’s looking forward to spending Thanksgiving in Mexico City with friends), book critic Alexandra Jacobs (wearing her completion medal from the New York City Marathon: “It seems like a custom that people wear the medal the day after and walk around midtown. Everyone’s like, ‘Why aren’t you wearing your thing?’ I was like, ‘Okay.’ So I put it on.”), book review preview editor Sadie Stein (What’s the best party she’s been to? “Child Magazine’s fifth-anniversary party when I was ten years old. They threw it at F.A.O. Schwartz, and I was the only child.” Wasn’t that lonely? “Actually, it was, and you couldn’t play that much. But in theory, it was great.”), business editor Ellen Pollock (who’s been admiring the leaves changing on her sorties through the Berkshires), staff editor Connor Ennis, and DealBook founder Andrew Ross Sorkin.
Navigating the impressively multitudinous servers offering an array of hors d’oeuvres were Businessweekcolumnist and Peter Thiel biographer Max Chafkin, Bloomberg reporter Max Abelson, Vanity Fair executive editor and softball stalwart Matt Lynch (“I could hit a triple right here if you want me to.”), Vanity Fair’s The Hive editor Michael Calderone, New York contributing editor Andrew Rice, recently appointed Popula editor-in-chief Tom Scocca (How have the first couple of weeks been? “We haven’t run out of copy yet.”), Atlantic contributor Sridhar Pappu, Gillette and Koblin’s Viking Books editor Allison Lorentzen, Fiasco podcast host Leon Neyfakh, Businessweek writer Susan Berfield (“I saw my daughter who’s in her first year of college last weekend, she’s at Smith. It’s a phenomenally beautiful campus and very cozy. They live in houses, there are no dorms. It’s houses with a living room and a dining room,” she said. “She grew up in Park Slope and essentially she found something that replicates her home: Creaky floors, probably bad plumbing, the whole thing.”), New Yorker staff writer Sheelah Kolhatkar, NewsGuild staffer Jack Dickey, and recently married Bloomberg reporter Rebecca Greenfield, and former New York Times styles editor Choire Sicha, currently of New York magazine, who wandered off from a conversation looking for Pollock. “I’m gonna harass Ellen, I’ve got to see the old biddy.”
Despite the glitzy setting for the party, Bloomberg podcasting reporter Ashley Carman had recently been somewhere that topped it. “I went to Long Island. I told Felix that, and he’s like, ‘Cool,’” she said, evoking Gillette’s vocal eye roll. “I took a tour of the Vanderbilt mansion — one of them, there’s a lot of them. This one was the Eagle’s Nest, which my boyfriend was like, ‘Isn’t that Hitler’s house’s name?’ And I was like, ‘It might be.’ But it was also that. It has a lot of things, like the largest whale shark in the world that they bought off of Fire Island. Some wild stuff. They saw a monastery in France and just bought it. The rooms are sized to the ceiling that they bought in the monastery in France. It’s so cool. It’s beautiful. I suggest a road trip if you have a car.”
Venting his spleen against the YMCA, H.L. Mencken once wrote, “I still begrudge the trifling exertion needed to climb in and out of a bathtub, and hate all sports as rabidly as a person who likes sports hates common sense.” But not all members of our semi-sensible profession agreed with him and avoided last Sunday’s New York City Marathon. The Fine Print spoke with several runners, and while they were all happy to have finished, many were slower than they’d hoped. Some were just happy to be able to say they kept running. “You’re very sweet how you keep saying running,” Alexandra Jacobs said at the It’s Not TV party. “I did run it, in fact. So many people stopped and walked and I refused. But my running pace is so slow that my watch was like I did four miles an hour.”
Most, at least in part, blamed the unseasonably warm temperatures for their slower times. “I walked down to the subway around 6 a.m. I had a really light coat on and was already starting to sweat,” said Los Angeles Times reporter Alexandra E. Petri (not The Washington Post satirist!). “I was like, ‘Ah, shit, this is a bad sign.’” This was Petri’s second marathon; she’d trained harder than last year but had to moderate her expectations on the day. “A lot of people have told me I make the marathon look fun, at least for the beginning, because I’m just a very loud and over-the-top person. I’m from Brooklyn. I grew up here. The race starts in Staten Island, but then you enter Bay Ridge, and that’s where I’m from. So it’s huge to me,” she said. “When I see people, I kind of blackout, and just get really excited and, I’m not kidding, sprint across the street, or sprint ahead and jump on people, and I just scream. I don’t even say anything, at least at the start, because I’m so happy. But then, at the end, like the last three miles, all the videos this year are of me crying. To every person I go up to, I’m like, ‘I don’t feel well.’”
In his third marathon, GQ wellness editor Chris Cohen slowed considerably from his previous fastest time of 3:05 to 3:54 this year. “I’ve never identified as someone who struggles in the heat, but now I do,” he said. “I think it more has to do with how smart you are. Your heart rate is just higher at a given heat for a given pace. So if you’re able to slow down slightly and avoid completely going into the red, you won’t set a new PR [short-hand for “personal record,” for those with Menckenian attitudes to exertion], but you won’t detonate like I did.” He’d also set himself up for another humiliation. “Ashton Kutcher did our real-life diet series with our columnist Joe Holder. The entire week, I was talking shit in the office, like, ‘Yeah, Ashton’s gonna eat my dust,’ because his goal was sub-four, and I had been pretty close to three recently,” he said. “Then he beat me by twelve seconds. I watched him finish.”
Philadelphia Inquirer commentary and ideas editor Devi Lockwood, who ran her first marathon this year, felt ready for the heat. “I was on my college’s rowing team, and we rowed in a lot of really weird conditions: Everything from snow to heat to sleet to hail to driving cold rain,” she said. Her father reminded her of that when she started talking about the weather. “I think his point was, ‘You’ve done hard things in hard weather before, so that mindset definitely helped.’” Lockwood was also super conscientious about staying hydrated. “The pacer, who I was running with for the first third of the race or so until I completely fell off that pace, was encouraging us to drink two cups of water at every water stop,” she said. “I think that helped me not faint because a lot of people were fainting at the end.”
Other runners cited other factors affecting their performance. Semafor media reporter Max Tani ran 3:44 last year and was 16 minutes slower this year. “Where those 16 minutes went is a mystery to me because I felt like I was running pretty fast,” he said. A big part of it was that he started the new job a few weeks before, and Semafor had to get its media newsletter out that night. “I was sending and answering emails and calls right up until the race time, and then we did the newsletter afterward,” he said. “Maybe we can blame Ben [Smith] for my time this year.”
New York Times obituaries editor Amy Padnani is the most seasoned marathon runner in this story — she’s run six — and the one on Sunday was her second this year. Five weeks before, she’d run the Berlin Marathon, and she hoped that that would prep her for a fast run this time, but that didn’t quite work out. “New York City this year was my slowest marathon ever,” she said. “From last September to this September, when Berlin was, I had two surgeries and I had COVID twice, so whenever I tried to run my body was like, ‘You want me to do what now?’”
Despite the challenging conditions, everybody managed to rally for celebrations on Sunday night. “My dad was in town, and we had a reservation at Fausto,” Cohen said. “Getting solid food into me was sort of touch and go until half an hour before, but I ended up having a nice meal there and then just sleeping for like 12 hours.” Tani went off to Sharlene’s and Lockwood to the Stonewall. “As a queer person, it was wonderful to make that pilgrimage because I’ve passed the outside but never been inside and so ended the night chatting with friends under a portrait of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera,” she said. Padnani took a break before celebrating. “I went home just because I wanted to soak in some Epsom salts and heal for a little bit,” she said, “then I did go out and meet some friends for dinner.”
Recovery’s been slow in the days since. “On Monday, it was rough. Walking down the stairs, your quads are just shot,” said Women’s Health and Runner’s World contributor Nicole Blades, who ran her first marathon this year, on Thursday. “Today’s the first day that I was able to go down the stairs without wincing.” Petri concurred that even the most basic of tasks felt massively more difficult. “My phone dropped on the floor of the subway and I was like, ‘That’s it, I’m not getting it. Fuck it, I’m leaving it there,’” she said. Padnani took Monday off. “I usually take the next day off from work, because I find that it’s beneficial to walk around as much as possible rather than sit at a desk,” she said. “So that’s what I did. I just ran some errands, did a little shopping, and got my booster.” Did she wear her medal around? “When I was walking around running errands I wore it, but I didn’t see anybody else wearing it, so I felt a little silly and I took it off. But in the evening, I saw a lot more people wearing them, and I put it back on.”
Are they going to run again next year? “Hell yeah, absolutely. I need to redeem myself — revenge run. Because I feel I need to prove to myself that I can get back to sub-four,” Tani said. “Next year, I’m gonna see if I can get out of newsletter duty and hopefully not start a new job two weeks before.” Though Blades can hardly believe it, she also thinks she wants to do it again. “The next day, a friend of mine said, ‘Would you do another one?’” she said. “As much as I was in pain, and laid up in bed, hoping my toenail doesn’t fall off, I was like, ‘I think yes.’” Petri, too, is planning on running more marathons, though she acknowledges that it’s a pretty irrational response. “When I first finished, I was hysterical crying, I couldn’t even tell you why,” she said, “but then I saw my friends and my family and got to hug them and celebrate with them. Once the relief passes, where you’re like, ‘It’s done. That is over,’ then you’re on a bit of a runner’s high. And then I was like, ‘I’m signing up for the Berlin Marathon. What are the other races I can do? I need to find a running coach because I’m gonna run it in three hours next time.’”
Lockwood is hoping to run the Boston Marathon next. “It was such a painful experience, I was very deep in the pain cave, but I really want to do it again,” she said. “I want to try to find a way to run Boston because my grandfather ran it decades ago. It’s close enough to where my family is that both he and other members of my family would be able to spectate, and it would mean the world to me, and I think to him, to be able to do that while he’s still alive.”
➾ 12 p.m. The Deadline Club will induct Gay Talese, Ken Auletta, Edith Lederer, Carole Simpson, and Anthony Mason into its New York Journalism Hall of Fame at Manhattan Manor in Midtown.
➾ 7 p.m. New York Times Magazine and National Geographic contributor Ted Conover will discuss his new book Cheap Land Colorado with novelist James McBride at McNally Jackson Seaport.
➾ 7 p.m. Allie Rowbottom will host a party for her new novel Aesthetica with Forever Magazine at the Georgia Room in Midtown. The flyer promises that “scammer” Caroline Calloway will read, and there will be pay-what-you-can botox.
➾ 3:30 p.m. The new magazine Strange Matters will celebrate its first issue at Blu Haus in Flatbush.
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