Recently Tina Brown eulogized party-planner Robert Isabell, fondly recalling her decadent Talk launch party he organized in 1999, a party she modestly labeled, "the last social celebration of the pre-9/11 celebrity decade." Now David Carr's offering a sad remembrance.
The party, or "The Party" as it has come to be known by some, remains famous for it's over-the-top flamboyance, and since Talk was partially funded by Miramax money, Harvey and Bob Weinstein served as co-hosts for the event, leading the New York Observer to headline their coverage of the night's festivities, "Weinstein Brothers Revel in Vulgarity, Glory of Manhattan."
In her Daily Beast post eulogizing Isabell dated July 12th, Tina Brown reminisced about the illuminated-by-Japanese-lanterns soiree on the electricity-less Liberty Island to bring in the now-defunct magazine. She spoke wistfully about the plethora of stars she shipped in on an ark to genuflect at her altar, The Statue of Liberty, for the evening. Here's the money quote:
Guests, who included Madonna, George Plimpton, Demi Moore, Tom Brokaw, Kate Moss, Christopher Buckley, Helen Mirren, and Jerry Seinfeld, disgorged one after another from the Liberty Island ferry that Buckley immediately re-christened the "Star Barge." Like an A-list Noah's Ark, it motored slowly toward the tiny island where the Talk staff waited to greet the 800 guests in a warm August dusk.
Brown's piece must have triggered the memory of the New York Times' David Carr, as he dedicates his Monday "Media Equation" column to the Talk launch party, only his take on the event isn't so much a fond remembrance as it is a look back at what he now views as an event marking of the beginning of the end of an era of excess. Noting that the ten years that have passed since "The Party" have seen the death of many established titles as well as a dramatic drop in ad pages, Carr, who says he's "still ashamed to admit that I wasn't one of the lucky 1,000 people invited to the party," writes:
Too bad nobody saw the sharks circling in the harbor. Rather than the culmination of a century of press power, the Talk party was the end of an era, a literal fin de siècle. Flush with cash from the go-go '90s and engorged by spending from the dot-com era, mainstream media companies seemed poised on the brink of something extraordinary. But that brink ended up being a cliff. partied
Ten years ago, journalists, long the salarymen of the publishing economy, began gorging on big contracts and options from digital start-ups like shrimp at a free buffet. With coveted writers commanding $5 for every typed word into magazines that were stuffed to the brim with advertising, there was a fizziness, some would say recklessness, in the air. The industry was drunk on its own prerogatives, working a party that seemed as if it would never end.
Carr goes on to note that Tina Brown's Daily Beast launch party in 2008 was held at Pop Burger in the Meatpacking District, where assembled guests munched on miniature burgers and hot dogs until about 8:15 or so, when the food sadly ran out. Indeed, that's quite a remarkable contrast. But hey, there was an open bar, so it couldn't have been that bad, right?
Finally, all of this brings to mind the words of a certain eccentric American prophet who, speaking about partying in the year 1999, once said, "Life is just a party and parties weren't meant to last." And really, all things considered, is that such a terrible thing?