I wrote this in 2004. Didn’t really have my heart in this one. May be why it never ran. I had a great time that night mainly because I interviewed Lou Reed for the first time, albeit for only 30 seconds,. I’d been terrified about this possibility ever since listening to a tape of him berating a disc jockey. I knew he hated journalists and if he snarled at me it would have fucked me up. No, it’s not an honor when Lou Reed snarls at you or hangs up on you. You’re cursed after that. Read More
In 1997, not long after he was hired at Spin magazine, Marc Spitz saw space rock band Spiritualized play at Windows on the World. Taking advantage of an open bar, he got shitfaced and had an epiphany looking out from the 106th floor: “I was getting older,” he thought. “I’d be bald by the time I was 30. … Life was short. … I was 29. This was the time to fuck shit up. This was the time to rock the fuck out. … There was no reward for good behavior in this business. … What was the worst that could happen? I’d lose my job. I’d die? … What would Lester do? What would Jesus do? No, no forget that. What would fucking Batman do?” He decided to become “a rock writer superhero.” Read More
Finding an unpublished George Gurley piece is like opening a perfectly written time capsule. In May 2001, New York City was preparing to say farewell to a term-limited Rudy Giuliani and welcome anyone from Mark Green to Freddy Ferrer to Michael Bloomberg as its first new leader in eight years. An intrepid young Observer reporter named George Gurley hit the party scene to ask prominent New Yorkers what they thought would happen to the city. He wrote it up and then … it disappeared.
The Observer never published Mr. Gurley’s observations, captured first at the annual benefit for the African Rainforest Conservancy, held at the Park on 17th Street and Tenth Avenue and the second was for the tenth anniversary of the Paramount Hotel.
Twelve years later, as we approach another change of guard at City Hall, Mr. Gurley got to thinking about that piece. When he realized it hadn’t seen the light of day, Mr. Gurley, still an intrepid young Observer reporter, brought it to our attention. Read More
The Observer is born. I was still in college. In the summer I interned at CV (Career Vision) magazine, which was started by my then-stepfather, Shelby Bryan, and Marian Salzman, the editor in chief. I fact-checked and interviewed Frank Zappa and Mary Stuart Masterson. Also did some caddying and drinking. No interaction with The Read More
Right now, No. 8 is the most exclusive club in New York, unless you count the Zodiac, which consists of 12 male blue-blood WASPs, one of whom has to die before a new member can join. While more diverse and democratic, No. 8 does have a strict door policy. To get in, it helps if you’re famous, or know owner Bobby Rossi of LDV Hospitality or “brand partner” Amy Sacco, or preferably all three.
In his New York Times profile of Ms. Sacco (“The Empress Is In”), writer Bob Morris captured the scene at No. 8 on opening night last May, noting that patrons in the upstairs “rec room” were selecting old records and handing them to “a bearded deejay.”
I knew that had to be DJ Uncle Mike, who stopped shaving in 1990 and used to spin at Bungalow 8 and said things like “psyched,” “groovy,” “cool,” “groovy cool,” “joyous,” “happy,” “beautiful,” “lovely,” “blessed,” “lucky,” “good time,” “all good” and “life’s good.”
When Bungalow closed in 2009, along with Siberia and the Beatrice Inn, nightlife began to suck for me, especially after I found myself being picked up by two bouncers at Kenmare and bounced headfirst onto the sidewalk. Shamed, I fled to Park Slope. Soon, I felt so estranged from humanity I could only connect with my geriatric cat. Why don’t we all join the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement and return the Earth to the critters? I thought. Read More
To many people, the name Ayn Rand is a punch line, an occasion for a little eye-rolling, a superior cackle or a dismissive tweet (crazy Russian bag lady/right-wing hypocrite/home-wrecking lunatic, etc.). When Rand was alive—a small, feisty woman who chain-smoked and spoke in a thick Russian accent—she was condemned by intellectuals across the spectrum. To the left, she was a reactionary, a fascist, a capitalist pig who advocated for a complete separation between government and economics, limitless individualism and the virtue of selfishness.
To the right, she was an atheist; to moderates, an absolutist. Her books were often dismissed as over-the-top, Nietzschean romance novels for alienated adolescents, and her philosophy, Objectivism—which Rand described as “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute”—is ridiculed to this day.
Not that any of it made a dent in her legacy. Before her death in 1982, she declared, “I will not die, it’s the world that will end.” Turns out she was onto something. Unlike a great many of her contemporaries (e.g., James Gould Cozzens), who scarcely register today, Rand is still selling books—more than 800,000 a year, on average, for a total exceeding 25 million. Read More
Until recently, I was a ding-dong when it came to the Met’s institutional history (opened in the 1870s, big King Tut exhibit a century later, that’s it) and knew more about my own: Smoked my first cig around back in seventh grade; drank Michelobs on the steps in eighth; and used to skateboard by the Read More
At the Wildlife Conservation Society benefit at the Central Park Zoo last Wednesday, June 10, the main attraction was the Alison Maher Stern snow leopard exhibit, located between the koala bears and the otters. As the black tie event got under way Ms. Stern, who provided the three leopards with their new habitats, was on Read More
George and Harry: Our Special Correspondent Gets the Royal Stiff-Arm at Star-Studded Manhattan Polo Classic
I’m not a big fan of dressing up like a prepped-out Hamptons dork.
Yet, there I was, sporting the obligatory blue blazer, linen shirt, khakis, and suede moccasins, desperately trying to fit in with the stuffy upper-crust crowd watching British scion Prince Harry take on Argentinean stud Nacho Figueras at the Read More
When the Mega Millions lottery got over $225 million recently, I went into the deli and bought a New York Post. See, I don’t like the idea of just buying a lottery ticket—feels sketchy, low rent. So as I was paying for the paper, I said, “Oh, and give me a Mega Millions, too, thanks.” Read More