Let's party Like It's 1999
August 3, 2009 5:53 AM   Subscribe

It was the media party of the decade. It was planned by the king of parties, Robert Isabell, who died last month. Although thrown to celebrate the birth of Talk Magazine, little did the attendees know, that this was the night print media began to die. “I was aware it was a historic night,” Ms. Brown said. “We were on a boat and I was with Natasha Richardson. We were talking and laughing, looking at the lights of the twin towers. And then a big wave came over the side of the boat and soaked us both. Now Natasha is gone, the towers are gone. It’s very, very sad, but I am very excited by this new world we are heading into.”
posted by Xurando (22 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I can't remember if I cried
When I saw the Web that's WorldWide,
But something touched me deep inside
The day print media died.

So bye-bye, newspaper supply
Goodbye to tabloids, broadsheets, spikes
Jumplines, tombstones for the eyes.
All the A-list guests were drinking champagne on ice
Thinking the new media world would be nice...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:25 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Ugh. Really? I kind of understand this reminisce, but it's just like. Here's a story:

A company I worked for hosted a large party for farmers who grew a certain popular commodity and a bunch of New York media folks. There were chefs cooking with this food and this food had a large ad campaign behind it. There were gift bags at the end. Someone screwed up and there weren't enough bags.

The response? They actually told the farmers, these good salt of the earth, work until you drop dudes, "Sorry, these are for the media people".

Fuck that. It's when I decided to get out of that field altogether. These media brats hemmed and hawed about how thin these bags were compared to party x and event y.

I can only hope most of the New York magazine media sinks into the ocean. It's a cesspool of spoiled brats supported by the hardwork of thousands of people who never get so much as a Tank You. Good riddance
posted by GilloD at 6:55 AM on August 3, 2009 [8 favorites]

God, the "New York media elite" are an insufferable bunch, aren't they?
posted by decoherence at 6:58 AM on August 3, 2009

They are indeed. I've heard Anna Wintour, who is editor-in-chief of Vogue, refuses to share an elevator with anyone. I'm not all that worried about the demise of print media. The Internet has better content any day, and it's often produced by amateurs who have more talent and more dedication to what they do than any member of the media.
posted by orange swan at 7:12 AM on August 3, 2009

What do you think Anna Wintour does in elevators? Someone should tell her she's on camera in there, picking her nose or farting.

Anyway.. did anyone else think, "Finally! An industry that welcomes --and even celebrates-- my unabashed narcissism! Oh but it's already over." Anyone? No. Okay... *slinks off*
posted by beingresourceful at 7:44 AM on August 3, 2009

God, the "New York media elite" are an insufferable bunch, aren't they?

So a few months ago, I took the afternoon off from work just to enjoy a spring day. Walking around midtown, I had to stop due to a line of people. Some woman who looked frightening strutted out of the building, between two lines of people, and got into the waiting limo.

I was in front of the Conde Nast building, and some woman got a bunch of people to stop foot traffic so she could get to her limo without being bothered.

Insufferable doesn't quite reach. We may need a new word for it.
posted by mephron at 7:46 AM on August 3, 2009

The real problem was that it was 1999 and they were partying like it was 1989. That Talk lasted 3 years is the most amazing piece of info in the article. I never, ever saw the damn thing and didn't know anyone who read it.
posted by grounded at 8:31 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Robert Isabel made really nice perfume. It's hard to find now.
posted by contessa at 8:35 AM on August 3, 2009

"We were on a boat . . . ." Lame but somehow germane (and also NSFW).
posted by barrett caulk at 9:02 AM on August 3, 2009

I couldn't make it through the first page of Brown's reminiscences of the party. "A velvet, sexually charged darkness engulfed the partygoers"--great, let's have an orgy at Mount Vernon next.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:04 AM on August 3, 2009

I can't remember if I cried
When I saw the Web that's WorldWide,
But something Batman touched me deep inside
The day print media died.

posted by rusty at 9:17 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

My memory may be faulty - but I think it was that same stupid party that was being referred to by the same Tina Brown in a serious piece she wrote just a couple of months after 9/11.

She was describing bumping into another incredibly high status NY media person one evening in the days following 9/11 and how they both exchanged bittersweet memories of that "king of parties" back in 1999, and agreed how that night now seemed part of another very distant gilded age.

The piece ended with a kicker designed, I guess, to encapsulate the fragile poignancy of the moment. It went something like:

"My glamorous friend laid her hand gently on my arm and asked in a low, broken voice: "Who were we then, Tina? Who were we...?" .

(It's stuck in my craw ever since).
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:38 AM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

Personally, I live in dread of the day that the New Yorker or Harpers stops publishing. The web may be great and full of content and all, but it's also full of noise, as we all know. It doesn't subsitute for the best of print journalism in any way; it can complement it, but not replace it. IMO.
posted by jokeefe at 10:06 AM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think we can all agree that the writers, if not the publishers and editors, of the New Yorker or Harper's are indispensable and are otherwise probably not included in these variety of hijinks. Maybe? (Please?)
posted by GilloD at 10:15 AM on August 3, 2009

This feels a little weird for some reason, but I am actually going to defend Tina Brown.

I've spent the past couple years fruitlessly pitching stories to places like the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Slate, Salon, etc. I have never so much as received a response from an editor at any of these places, probably because I don't know any editors at those places since I'm a social worker in Philly and not a media person in NYC. I don't know anyone who roomed with any of these editors at Yale. This is my general sense of how you get an article placed at these outlets, I could be way off. Shit, in fact, I have never even received a response from an editor at the Philly Inquirer, nor Philly Magazine. I mean, not even a "Thanks, but we'll pass" from anyone in my hometown. Sometimes it really sucks being an outsider.

The Daily Beast actually approached me out of nowhere and asked me to start writing for them. That totally blew my mind, it was like the last thing I ever expected. I was told that they are trying to find new voices outside the NYC bubble to bring into the fold, especially people they can turn to for interesting regional coverage they can't produce in-house. They were also trying to find someone who could do gritty urban stuff; I'm honestly shocked that I was anywhere near the top of that list for a place like the Daily Beast, let alone at the top of it.

After one of the pieces I wrote did sort of extraordinarily well in terms of web traffic Tina sent me note saying she loved the piece and looked forward to working with me again in the future (they did, running a follow up piece not long after). She didn't really have to do that and I thought it was really cool that she did. As the David Carr story notes, they pay their writers and they do pay promptly, which for the web is like completely unheard of.

Of course, they have their crazy stable of celebrity contributors, but I think they also realize they need them in order to generate money to take risks paying unknowns like me to do stories they find appealing from a purely editorial stand point. That's one thing I've heard stressed by the people who know Tina, that whatever you think of her media elite status, she didn't start the Daily Beast as a vanity property like Huffpo, she is actually a really good editor, and I think it shows when comparing her site's content to other aggregator type sites.
posted by The Straightener at 10:34 AM on August 3, 2009 [6 favorites]

I don't really have a problem with Tina Brown, it's the whole. Self-absorbed, narcissistic culture of NYC media-brats that drives me crazy. Brown seems like an archetype, but I'm rather fond of her work "modernizing" the New Yorker
posted by GilloD at 11:06 AM on August 3, 2009

Off-topic, but I'm compelled to remark on just how GOOD The New Yorker is. I can quibble with their choice of fiction (hey, another story about privileged white people mooning about listlessly!) but the most recent issue was chock-full of interesting stuff, from Ian Frazier's Siberian travelogue to Denby's review of "Funny People". I will subscribe to that magazine as long as they keep publishing it.

When I began cleaning out my mother's house, one of the things I had to deal with were stacks and stacks of old magazines. Evidently she never met a publication she didn't like. Amidst the clutter of Family Circle and Elle and Saturday Evening Post issues I found pretty much every copy of Talk magazine. I kept them. They'll probably never be worth anything, but I couldn't bear to throw them away. Leafing through a few issues was enough to convince me of how badly that insular bunch miscalculated. They completely missed the boat. It's an awful magazine: just awful. I liked Tina Brown's tenure at The New Yorker, but Talk was such a bloated pile of suck. I guess she started believing her own press.

It's worriesome, though, to imagine a future without The Nation, The Atlantic, Harper's, or The New Yorker. Long-format investigative journalism hasn't made the transition to the web very well ( or maybe it has and I just don't know where to look for it).
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:10 AM on August 3, 2009

Straightener, I love the context of the story: You feed something called "the daily beast" and Tina Brown thanks you. How poignant.
posted by geoff. at 11:12 AM on August 3, 2009

Well, I will say it's kind of brutal telling people in the neighborhoods I'm writing for "the Daily Beast," the name raises all kinds of suspicions and it doesn't exactly help to explain that there's this British lady in NYC who's a big fan of this writer Evelyn Waugh and haven't you read Scoop?
posted by The Straightener at 11:20 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

> I am actually going to defend Tina Brown.

This is a nicely balancing anecdote.

It's still amusing that the backers of Talk apparently thought that George just hadn't been sufficiently parochial... or that what was needed was a magazine for People Whose Personal Assistants Already are in Contact with Each Other.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:20 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow. Today I have learned that there are people who read Harpers. This has always been something of a mystery to me.

FWIW, GilloD, the only Harpers writer I've ever met was a woman I had to work around for a few days a few years ago, who was utterly self-absorbed, charmless, completely ungrateful (my employer was letting her use the office for a few days as a favor, which she took to mean that everyone was there at her bidding) and otherwise the shining example of the stereotype presented here. So no, I won't exclude Harpers' writers from this treatment myself. (Though I, too, love the New Yorker.)

The only thing I remember about Talk was that awful ad that Miramax put in with their previews in the late nineties where Tina Brown was talking about how it was going to be just the greatest magazine in the history of magazines and it all came off very much like a restaurant that was pitched to investors on the basis of a decorator - but didn't have a chef.

It sounds like maybe my first impression from that video was correct.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:14 PM on August 3, 2009


I think we can all agree that the writers, if not the publishers and editors, of the New Yorker or Harper's are indispensable and are otherwise probably not included in these variety of hijinks. Maybe? (Please?)

You do know that Tina Brown is the former editor of the New Yorker, right? And certainly many of the media elite that were at that party were her writers, likely including her chosen successor, David Remnick.
posted by Maias at 3:30 PM on August 4, 2009

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