party lines

The ‘Atlantic’ 150th-Anniversary Party: A Play in One Act


Mayor Bloomberg apparently had time to talk with P.J. O’Rourke. Harumph!Photo: Getty Images

The curtain rises on an empty stage, set with just one large circular bar in the center, manned by four bartenders dressed in black. The house is empty, so the hundreds of red velvet chairs cast an eerie crimson glow on to the party. Revelers drift in, including the writer Tom Wolfe, Amanda Burden, Moby, P.J. O’Rourke and Atlantic editors. A Boy Reporter and Girl Reporter from New York Magazine drift in. In actuality, they had arrived at the party too early and had to go across the street to get drinks at a noisy club. So they are both a little sheepish. And drunk. The pair begins to look for famous people to interview and spot Mayor Bloomberg, who arrived on the same elevator as drag king Murray Hill.

Girl Reporter: Mayor Bloomberg, hello! We write for New York Magazine. Could we-
Mayor Bloomberg: I subscribe to New York Magazine. I pay your salary.
Girl Reporter: Oh, um, thanks! So, we were wondering… [Mayor Bloomberg walks away]
Boy Reporter: Good try!
Girl Reporter: Eh, let’s get a drink.

[An audience begins to trickle in. It’s mostly old people (though hot young NYU students were promised by publicists), and the crowd doesn’t quite fill the house.]

Boy Reporter: Maybe we should split up, you know? Divide and conquer? I’ll start by talking to Nick Denton and Andrew Sullivan over there.
Girl Reporter: You always go straight for the gays. That’s a cop-out.
Boy Reporter: Fine, fine. I’ll talk to Arianna Huffington. You talk to Tom Wolfe. [At that moment, tired of being bothered by people, Wolfe exits.] Or not.

[The Reporters split up. The Boy approaches Arianna Huffington. The Girl goes to chat with Observer reporter Doree Shafrir and Portfolio hottie Jeff Bercovici, because she is a wimp.]

[Stage right]
Girl Reporter [to Bercovici, inanely]: You look like your illustration on Portfolio’s Website.
Bercovicci: I’ve been told I look like the guy from Maroon Five.

[Stage left]
Boy Reporter: How do you feel about this setup? It makes me a little uncomfortable.
Arianna Huffington: The stage? The stage makes you uncomfortable? Being looked at while you are pahhtying?
Boy Reporter: Kind of. I sort of have a nightmare where I’m at a cocktail party full of famous people, and there’s an audience watching, except the audience isn’t even full.
Arianna Huffington: I find at parties that I tend to find people that have interesting conversations, that sometimes it just seems as though you are only one on one. There are people around you, but they are not really part of it. Like right now with you. Don’t you feel that way?
Boy Reporter: Well, yeah, I guess. I am just concentrating on you. [Boy Reporter is actually willing himself not to be distracted by Huffington’s sparkly necklace. As a gay, Boy Reporter is naturally riveted by all shiny things, but the necklace sits close to Huffington’s breasts and he doesn’t want to seem like a perv.]
Arianna Huffington: I tend to view parties one conversation at a time. [Huffington notices where Boy Reporter is staring.]
Boy Reporter: Um. Uh. Who picked out your necklace tonight?
Arianna Huffington: My necklace is very old. [Huffington tells a story of having her portrait painted and the artist picking out the jewelry for her to wear in it.]
Boy Reporter: I feel like every time I look at it, I’m looking in, um, the wrong place.
Arianna Huffington: It looks like many necklaces, but it’s just one necklace.

[Boy Reporter goes to the bathroom, notices that over one of the urinals there is an Atlantic cover of Condi Rice. Someone has added a giant speech bubble saying, “RELAX.” It does not make Boy Reporter relax. Meanwhile, Girl Reporter has drunkenly floated over to Moby, far stage right.]

Girl Reporter: Hi, Moby. We met a long time ago, you don’t remember.
Moby: I remember. Atlantic City, like four years ago. At the Duran Duran show.
[Girl Reporter dies, suddenly realizes how it is possible that so many women in New York have had sex with Moby, even though he is small and bald and actually from Darien, Connecticut. Moby talks about how he saw Duran Duran on Broadway and the first half was bad because it was all the new stuff but the second half was good….blah blah blah Girl Reporter notices long-haired woman loping by.]
Girl Reporter:
Hey, there’s Patti Smith! Ok, bye, Moby.
Girl Reporter: [To Patti Smith] Hi, Patti. So what do you think about the John Varvatos store moving into the former CBGB? [Internally: Ugh, that is the most predictable question ever. I am a moron.]
Patti Smith: I find it really disturbing. I mean, he is a good designer. But what’s happening with CBGB is symptomatic of a larger problem. We’re losing the cultural heart of our city. We have the museums, but the lifeblood of the city is the artists, and we’re losing the areas where artists can live and work. There’s no areas where young people can have a cheap apartment. Everything is being turned into condos … I don’t think cities should be the new suburbs. Cities should be a little gritty, a little dangerous.
Girl Reporter: Where do you live now?
Patti Smith: Soho. The Soho area. I was actually just looking at a loft in Philadelphia … [She catches the eye of Someone stage left.] Oh, I have to go.
Girl Reporter: [To Patti] Byeeee! [Internally: I was SO RIGHT ABOUT THE SIXTH BOROUGH. FUCK ALL THE HATERS!]

[Eventually, there is a panel discussion led by P.J. O’Rourke and Arianna reads some haikus. But it’s not that interesting except when O’Rourke said, “Let’s admit us having a party up here while you’re sitting down there is stupid … But it’s an appropriate kind of stupid.” Patti Smith performed, and Boy and Girl Reporters, now fully drunk, exit. On the way out, they encounter Observer publisher Jared Kushner.]

Girl Reporter: Hi Jared! Have you noticed we stopped writing about you so obsessively?
Jared Kushner: I hadn’t. I did notice that you said I was disdainful of you at the Fox Business Network party. I’m not disdainful.
Girl Reporter: Oh, we were just making fun of ourselves.
[Kushner steps into elevator]
Boy Reporter: Where are you going now?
Jared Kushner: I’m hosting another event.
Girl Reporter: You ARE! What is it? Why aren’t we invited?
Jared Kushner: Because it’s classy event. [Exits]
Girl Reporter: [Calls after him] I think you are being disdainful!


Earlier: ’The Atlantic’ Brings The Media Party to Its Gruesome, Inevitable Conclusion

The ‘Atlantic’ 150th-Anniversary Party: A Play in One Act