Happy New Year, bitches
2005: New York
This years resolutions still TK. Any suggestions?
I've officially completed my party-crashing duties and am now safely ensconced in my Chicago childhood home for a week, forced to decorate trees and walk dogs and such. Fine. I don't care what I have to do, as long as it doesn't involve A) wearing makeup B) talking to strangers C) flirting with bouncers or D) waking up at 6:30 am. Okay, fine. waking up at any point in the AM ...
NO BAND, LITTLE BOOZE, BUT FOOD (FOR MUNCHIES?) AT WENNER PARTY
There was one last big blowout to catch before Holiday Party Season 2006 wound down: The annual Wenner Media extravaganza. With the bank busted on Rolling Stone's 1,000th-issue celebration in May, this year's holiday gathering was less glitzy in the past, with no big-name musical act slated to perform. But that didn't stop indefatigable party reporter Julia Allison. Her wrap-up — her final wrap-up of the season — is after the jump.
At one point bubbles — Christmas bubbles? — fell from the ceiling, but staffers were unimpressed. "This sucks," grumbled a guy who said he'd been at "hundreds" of Wenner parties. "Maroon 5 played one year." It seems the recent blowout 1,000th-issue bash left this party's budget lower than usual. "We only had money for food, basically," an event producer explained. It was good food, though: kabobs of various sorts; a sushi stand; and a chocolate fountain with marshmallows, strawberries, and Rice Krispies Treats. The liquor selection was apparently less impressive. "I asked for a single-malt scotch," kvetched one Rolling Stone editor. "I got Maker's Mark." (Judging by the sweet smell wafting from the VIP room, booze may not have been the big shots' inebriant of choice.) Even so, revelers looked happy. "This is ten times better than last year," said one. "Instead of congregating in cliques, people have to actually talk to each other." Jann and Janice were MIA — sick, said one guest; on vacation, said another — so we had to console ourselves with the "semi-credible rumor" that Justin Timberlake would attend. He never showed — and so he missed the gingerbread men frosted with "Wenner Media" given to guests on their way out. His loss.
Verdict: Food: 4; drink: 3.5; venue: 4 (if you like packed crowds; if not: 3); debauchery: 3.5; exclusivity: 3.5
With less than a week left till Christmas, company-holiday-party season is nearing its end. But for a last few fabulous nights, it keeps going strong — and naturally crasher extraordinaire Julia Allison is there. Last night she hit the Daily News do at the Copa and the Star shindig at Dirty Disco. Which one had a face-painter? Which one had only caffeinated vodka? Julia's reports await.
• The immense West Side dance club Copacabana seemed an odd choice for the employees-only Daily News holiday party. Did they really need that much space? Would they really use the enormous dance floor? Was someone really under the impression it was hip? ("His name was Morty; he was a mogul …"?) Actually, in the newspaper biz, one thing is most important: proximity to work. "In case we have to crawl back afterward," a Newsie explained. Neither Rush nor Molloy was sighted, nor editor-in-chief Martin Dunn — perhaps they'd already crawled back — but a 200-strong gang happily devoured dinner at several dozen tables while others washed down their meals by the large bar. A fedora-wearing face-painter made his rounds; only one employee — from the Brooklyn bureau — took him up on it, though that was one more than we'd have guessed. Later, as the lights were dimmed and the music turned up, a brave handful actually started dancing. "I'm not Latin, but I feel Latin being here," said one. We didn't feel Latin. We felt like we were at a bar mitzvah with old people and good food. Really good food. Did we mention the food? It was the best we've seen in our holiday-party-crash career: Three massive buffets held grilled veggies, couscous, chicken, lamb chops, fish, steak, and shrimp. And the desserts! Chocolate cake, apple pie, carrot cake, a selection of fruit — raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple — and a sundae stand. Columnist Michael Daly was chewing roast pork alongside colleague Denis Hamill. How's the party? "There's an old saying," yelled Hamill, still chewing his pork. "If it ain't jaded, it ain't journalism." Um, okay. Any favorite part? "The applesauce." He didn't so much as smile.
Verdict: Food: 5; drink: 3.5; venue: 3; debauchery: 3; exclusivity: 3.5
• Down on 14th Street, at Dirty Disco, we strolled easily past the velvet rope and bouncer and into Star magazine's party. At one point more than 200 people had crowded inside, we were told, but by 9:30 the party was clearly winding down, with just a few stragglers still dancing on tables to blasting hip-hop. (As we entered, it was "Promiscuous Girl." Hmm. Then again, the invite featured a winking, Santa-hatted Janice Dickinson.) Yelling was the only possible method of communication, and so adorable deputy New York bureau chief David Caplan had lost his voice — if not his holiday spirit — by the time we arrived. There were specialty drinks — "Star martinis," featuring caffeinated vodka — but nothing else for free at the bar, to not a few guests' chagrin.) There was also no food, so intoxication levels were high. Who was invited? Star employees, of course, but also: "Basically there was a list of haves and have-nots," explained Caplan, giggling. "I only wanted the haves." (See "high intoxication levels" above.) Apparently this included famous party-crasher Shaggy, who gave us some advice: "Just put one foot after the other." Britney Gastineau had arrived, clad in "full-on fur," toured around the party, took photos, and exited to meet Jonathan Cheban, waiting outside in a car. Bonnie Fuller, too, had been and left. Did she dance? "Bonnie was very sensible," Caplan said diplomatically. Fellow editor Jon Auerbach was less cautious. "Bonnie was crazy," he said, "doing the robot and the running man. She and Joe [Dolce] did the lambada!" He was also probably pulling our leg.
Verdict: Food: 0; drink: 4 (if you really like caffeinated vodka; if not: 1); venue: 3.5; debauchery: 3.5; exclusivity: 3.5
There's a general rule of thumb that work events are always held on Monday through Thursday nights, because Fridays are reserved for real friends or for family. Who could flout that rule? Rupert Murdoch, of course, who held the annual holiday party — and it's called a holiday party, not a Christmas party, Bill O'Reilly — for all New York News Corporation employees Friday night. It's a huge event, for everyone from HarperCollins editors to Fox 5 local-news guys to 20th Century Fox PR people to Fox News ideologues to all their associated sales teams and managerial staffs and all that. Naturally, Julia Allison was there, and after the jump she takes you on a tour of Rupert's world, with stops for frat-party booze and trans-fatty food. Yum!
We're not sure what we were expecting at News Corp.'s annual extravaganza for 6,000 of Rupert Murdoch's favorite employees (plus their plus ones), but it wasn't the bizarre menagerie that greeted us at the Sixth Avenue Hilton Friday night. The invite — not that we actually had one of our own — promised "a trip around the News Corp world without leaving New York City." How, uh, clever? We flirted our way past a security guard, arriving at the almost three floors taken over by what we can only say was the randomest party we've ever been to. Each ballroom was decorated to represent a continent, and each attempt was almost entirely unsuccessful. There was Australia, represented by a lifeguard. There was Asia, with video games. There was Africa — wait. Where was Africa? "It's an American, Republican, Fox view of the world," laughed one guest. "No Africa." Far away from hoi polloi, from a VIP section in the balcony above "Europe," Murdoch gave a brief toast, shook a few hands, then made himself scarce. Loaded onto a 50-foot buffet was the nastiest food we'd ever seen — mini hot dogs, fried chicken, meatloaf-burger patties reminiscent of White Castle, and something identified as Sheppard's pie. (As in, Shep Smith? Was that the joke? Ugh.) The bars — and there were many — held your typical frat-party liquor: Bacardi, Jack, something with orange juice. "In our defense," said one News Corper, "it's really hard to plan a party for between six and twelve thousand people." We saw his point. "And if you think about it, it's a pretty economical way to thank people." Ah, yes, thank the plebes! And, to be sure, although we searched for hours, we saw absolutely no boldfaced names — no on-air talent, no major execs. (Later, though, we were informed that HarperCollins chief Jane Freidman was there, freshly de-Regan'd and merrily singing karaoke with her colleagues.) When the clock struck eleven, the party was instantly disassembled. Merry Christmas, from Rupe.
Verdict: Food: 3 (if you like trans fats; if not: .5); drink: 2; venue: 2; debauchery: 3; exclusivity: 2.
The Forbes company likes its parties on home turf. Whether that turf is the yacht, the townhouse, or their venerated Forbes building, if they’re hosting a party, it’s probably going to be at one of them. So when Forbes Life, the “lifestyle supplement” with glossy ad pages headed by the cheerfully sardonic editor in chief Christopher Buckley, invited us to crash its holiday celebration last night, we weren’t surprised to read “60 5th Avenue.” And when we walked up to the offices, it seemed incredibly appropriate that, instead of a Christmas tree, there sat a shiny white Rolls Royce with an enormous red bow. Merry Christmas from the Capitalist Tools!
Inside the garland-and-tinsel-laden lobby, the 12 person editorial staff mingled with the business side, and both chatted up the advertisers. (Unlike most magazine’s holiday parties, they were warmly – shrewdly? – invited to join in the festivities.) A four-person brass band played from the stairwell, and the two front rooms held upwards of 60 guests, as well as a silent auction to benefit the Salvation Army, an ornament engraver, and a magician who did tricks with a dollar bill (of course). The building’s revolving doors were shut off to hold a makeshift bar, and the red-tablecloth’d buffet looked like a slightly bigger version of your family holiday party – carrot & celery sticks with dip, crackers & cheese, a ham, and a big tray of red and green sprinkled Xmas cookies. We almost missed the sushi station with fresh sashimi and California rolls because we were too busy staring at the eggnog. It was the first party we’ve been to that actually had eggnog, although it didn’t look like anyone’s actually sampled it. “I’m told it sits like a bowling ball in your stomach,” confided associate editor Taylor Antrim. “This is my third Xmas party and I’ve never had it.” Buckley thinks he knows why. “We put polonium 210 in there.”
Sartorially displaying holiday cheer with his bright red Christmas-tree tie, Buckley admitted that he’s been doing this whole “Forbes holiday party thing” for a while, and, he told us, “If I die tomorrow I want it on my tombstone: ‘I made it through 16 consecutive Forbes Christmas parties in the temple of capitalism.’ That’s enough for a posthumous bonus!” “This party is very calm,” said one staffer who we’ll refrain from naming, “The one that’s really good is facilities – security, kitchen, IT. It was on Monday and apparently it was WILD.” “You really can’t compare it to other outside parties,” explained senior editor Thomas Jackson. “You have to compare it to other FORBES parties. This is like a house party – it’s a known quantity.”
Just then we spotted Bob Forbes, President of Forbes Life (and brother of Steve and Tim and Chris). So, we asked him, why choose to have the party here instead of … “going to a really cool hotel in Singapore?” the eavesdropping Buckley interjected. “No,” we insisted, turning back to Forbes. “Instead of, you know, another space? Here. In New York.” “Well,” said Forbes, pretending to muse philosophically, “the reason is very simple: Scottish thrift.” Ah. That explains the Rolls! We snagged a gift bag on our way out – Amstel light glass, a Thank You for Smoking DVD, and Armani code cologne. Sometimes we love capitalism.
Verdict: Food: 2.5; Drink: 3 (If you like eggnog: 3.5); Venue: 2.5 (If you don’t work there: 3.5); Debauchery: 1.5; Exclusivity: 2
Re: the Marc Jacobs fete, really, nothing I write can possibly describe it. I spotted Mel Rose from America’s Top Model, who gushed, “this party is insane - a picture is worth a million words.” If she fucked up that axiom on purpose, she had every justification. In this case, I think she's right. Witness the below photo:
You can read the account of last night's crash here, or below ...
One part I left out (for their sake) - asking two inebriated New Yorker cartoonists, "Are you comedians who can draw or artists who can make jokes?" Their answer? “We’re losers who can drink,” one cackled, and both dissolved into giggles. Uh ... you said it, not me.
SUSHI WITH THE NEW YORKER, PAD THAI WITH ALLURE
Another December night in New York, another round of company Christmas parties. Last night our roving party reporter Julia Allison hit The New Yorker's annual fête — where she was allowed inside! — and Allure's far more subdued affair. After the jump, her reviews, complete with our four-category, scale-of-1-to-5, vaguely Zagatian party ratings. (Spoiler: The New Yorker won.)
• The New Yorker threw its annual holiday party at Lure Fishbar in Soho last night, and the venue was the perfect size — just crowded enough to feel celebratory but not crowded enough to suffocate. Tweed-attired literati mixed with young-Turk assistants, long-serving editors, perky ad reps, and loopy cartoonists, and everyone was in extremely high spirits, perhaps buoyed by the more-than-liberal flow of alcohol (or perhaps by the two separate oyster and sushi bars). "It's the only event the entire year where advertising and editorial get together in the same room," one guy noted. "We don't have much to say to each other." We spotted Malcolm Gladwell and his hair from across the room; he was dressed in a black suit and gray striped tie and clutching a glass of water. How did this party compare to his other holiday events? "I have nothing intelligent to say," he insisted. We were skeptical. "I haven't had anything to drink yet." Two convivial cartoonists who clearly had sat howling with laughter at a banquette. What would a cartoon of the party look like? "Beetle Bailey lying down, with Xs over his eyes and champagne bubbles from his lips," said one. Both dissolved into giggles. Anything noteworthy about the party? "I tried the clam chowder, but I noticed that as I ate the final clam, it turned to Wrigley's Spearmint gum," said the other. Talking to New Yorker cartoonists is like reading a New Yorker cartoon: It can be difficult to figure out what the joke is. One lanky guest said he'd just confessed his admiration to Lillian Ross. "She said, 'Do you? Because the last person who said that spilled an entire beer on me.'" The party's scheduled 10 p.m. end came and went, and still they partied on. "It's not like the dinner dances they used to have at the Plaza," sniffed a 30-year vet. "But it's pretty good."
Verdict: Food: 5 (if you like raw fish; if not: 1); drink: 5; venue: 3.5; debauchery: 4.5 (for nerdy types; for anyone else: 2); exclusivity: 4
• Over in the meatpacking district, beauty-tip loving Allure employees mixed at Double Seven, the same club that will host brother pub GQ later this week. (Did Condé — uncharacteristically — go for a volume discount?) With under a hundred guests — "80 percent women, 18 percent gays, and 2 percent me," said one apparently straight male guest — and strictly limited to employees, very little rambunctious behavior ensued. Indeed, some groused that it wasn't enough of a "scene." "It was a typical meatpacking-district, loungy bar, very dark," one Nastie said. "It wasn't crowded, and there were no celebrities — really just people who work at the mag." Editor-in-chief Linda Wells, perfectly blonde and perfectly dressed, held court while her staffers, apparently "not drinking much," munched on pad Thai and beef salad served in boxes with chopsticks. "It was very sedate, very mellow," said a guest. "Although it was a schmooze fest." Aren't they all?
Verdict: Food: 3.5; drink: 3; venue: 2.5; debauchery: 1; exclusivity: 3.5
My thought process was more or less like this:
I like parties.
I like the holidays.
I like New York magazine.
Therefore, I would like to write about holiday parties for New York magazine.
What I failed to realize was:
I would not be invited to (most of) these parties.
Oh well. It wasn't cold, so skulking outside for quotes produced only mild discomfort. At Hearst people were nice enough to talk, although "How was the party?" invariably ensured a host of really bland platitudes like "it was fun!" Great. You had a good time. I'm really happy for you. Now tell me who you schtupped in the bathroom after one too many white cranberry cosmos.
Vogue, on the other hand, was like The Cult of the Cigarette Smoking Bitches. I've been treated pretty rudely before, but never, ever, have I seen anything like that. (And I wasn't even wearing my Slutty Santa suit!) They didn't deign to acknowledge my presence with EYE CONTACT, let alone and "I'm so sorry" or "Anna Wintour will skin my alive like her minks if I talk to you." Even for the type of
women bitches drawn to Vogue, that level of insolence takes serious practice.
In other news, the PETA people were really nice. Sigh.