When I saw a tall, dark-haired, model-esque woman sliding through the pre-awards crowd at the National Magazine Awards in the Rose Ballroom on 60th St. last night, my canny journalistic sixth sense kicked in. "She sure doesn't look like a magazine writer," I thought. Later, she strode out on stage during the awards ceremony. It was Padma Lakshmi, supermodel. "Fiction. It can...raise fire in the loins," she purred. Half of the audience shifted in their seats. "The sharpest weapon an editor has at her disposal is her pen. (Pause). Or her tongue." It really drove home the primary question in everyone's minds: Isn't this supposed to be, like, a magazine thing? What the fuck are all these famous people doing here? And Julia Allison? An attempted explanation, and some terrible, terrible cell phone pictures to sum up the night, after the jump.
I guess if you want to get technical about it, Julia Allison is employed by a magazine. But her main occupation is fameball. So when I saw her, in a white dress, dramatically posing for photos as if she was getting married, it made me question whether these magazine awards were supposed to be some sort of society event. Apparently so! The following people showed up to present awards, for no discernible reason whatsoever:
- Anderson Cooper. Who did not say anything gay.
- Former New Yorker editor and current Clinton family stalker Tina Brown. "She looks like Hillary," someone whispered loudly when she appeared.
- The aforementioned Padma Lakshmi. She said some stuff about her food show, too.
- Former baseball star turned investor turned magazine publisher Lenny Dykstra. Though he can't be 50 years old yet, he shuffled, mumbled, and spoke with his mouth an inch from the mike in a disquieting impression of Muhammad Ali in the throes of Parkinson's disease. Or maybe it wasn't an impression.
- Obama girl.
- New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Who, after the ceremony, was deep in conversation with New Yorker editor David Remnick. A conversation I imagine going like this:
KELLY: Congratulations on the award.
REMNICK: Thanks. Coincidentally, we're going to be doing an investigative piece on the NYPD soon.
KELLY: You are under arrest.
- Judah Friedlander and two other people from 30 Rock. They also made awkward, jokey attempts to somehow tie their show to the magazine industry. Not their fault, though. My guess is they were just as mystified that they were there as anyone else.
- Charlie Rose
The "Nick Denton Could Make This A Metaphor" moment of the night: Portfolio editor Joanne Lipman, after receiving an award, tried to walk off stage the wrong way, and had to turn around and double back.
And here, the night in poor pictures. I'm having some trouble aligning them correctly, so I will put the captions here, and the pictures below. 1. The view from the ballroom, and also what this crowd of media honchos controls: the world. 2. Here, Anderson Cooper, live on stage! It's really him, I promise! 3. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly walks away from me in fear after I challenge him to a debate on media consolidation laws. 4. Fameball Julia Allison and New York Magazine writer Vanessa Grigoriadis, whose article about this site was nominated for an award last night. They're both very personable!
That's about it.