ink-stained wretches

The ‘Times’ Helps Us Keep Up With the Riches

The Riches

The Riches, clockwise from left: Alex, Frank, Nathaniel, and Simon. Photo: Patrick McMullan, Adrian Kinloch (Simon)

Summer can be a busy time. People are in and out of town, you’re on vacation, and everybody is just trying to relax. So it’s often hard to keep up with what your friends are doing (one weekend we thought our roommate was in Fire Island, and it turned out he was skiing. In Dubai.) But thanks to the New York Times, there’s one family we all grew up with whose summer activities are no mystery: the Riches.

You can never quite forget about the Rich dynasty. Papa Frank’s eloquent columns always take up slightly too much of your Sunday afternoons, and son Simon Rich occasionally surprises you when his contributions to The New Yorker’s “Shouts and Murmers” column turn it into something that actually makes you laugh. Stepmama Alex Witchel’s byline isn’t as common at the Times as it once was, but once in a while she will do something like change your entire TV viewing habits with one magazine story.

Still, reading their work is different from knowing what they are actually doing, which is a boundary the Times has helped the Royal Richenbaums cross this summer.

Frank Rich took nearly a month’s two weeks of vacation, from the end of July until early August. It would have been relaxing, except for while he was gone everybody started talking about how Obama was going to lose.

For son Simon, however, there was no rest for the weary. The summer is the only time cast members and writers (like him) of Saturday Night Live can really focus on side projects, so the young humorist took advantage of the past few months to work with Bill Hader to write an Internet series called The Line. The shorts co-star John Lutz, Joe Lo Truglio, and Jason Sudeikis, and are directed by Seth Meyers. Yeah. You went to Jones Beach one time, right? That must have been a thrill.

Oh, and Simon was also nominated for a Thurber Prize for humor writing.

Brother Nathaniel Rich spent some time exploring the city’s public pools because he missed the cooling effects of his summer-camp swims in Maine. (He continued to go every summer for years until he was a counselor, FYI.) He even treated Times readers to this particularly precious tidbit, which occurred moments after he plunged into the kiddie pool in Tompkins Square Park: “When I finally boarded the cross-town M14, wearing just my bathing suit and flip-flops, a young boy screamed and told me to put on my shirt. I’m pretty sure he was jealous.”

While he wasn’t freelancing for his father and stepmom’s paper, Nathaniel was working on some writing of his own. He’s crafting something that he tentatively is calling FutureWorld, which is funny, because the movie that everyone in Simon’s Internet series is waiting to see is called FutureSpace. Such Richian synergy!

Which brings us to today, when we learned that Alex Witchel recently spent an afternoon making burritos with Simon’s best friend Josh from high school. When they were finished, Simon came over to help eat them. After a summer of knowing exactly what the Riches are up to, readers are now invited to sit down and have dinner with them through the page. How fitting! It’s better than having to do it in person, because if you did that, you would instantly die of genetic shame.

The ‘Times’ Helps Us Keep Up With the Riches