This Is the Way Condé Nast Ends, Not with a Bang But with Tap Water

While the dreaded McKinsey recommendations are still weeks away, Conde Nast is in full cost-cutting mode. Examples: Graydon Carter is now lunching in the cafeteria with commoners and the free Fiji water will soon be replaced by tap water. Yeah.

In a great piece titled "The Gilded Age of Conde Nast is Over," The Observer's John Koblin reveals a slew of shocking goings-on at Conde that almost makes the purging of the company's receptionists pale in comparison. Below are a few of the choice cuts, starting with the horrifying revelation that Graydon is now being forced to lunch with the peasantry in the Frank Gehry-designed space pictured above.

"I saw Graydon in the cafeteria this week!" said one business-side insider, last Friday. "In all my years here, I've never seen him in my life there. He was behind me in the line at checkout with his little swipe card! He was milling around uncomfortably with the commoners."

Now obviously, if the Conde overlords are being forced to sacrifice some of their luxuries, you just know that the underlings are getting screwed, and they are. On that subject, two words people: tap water.

"When I started, there was this little refrigerator, and it was stocked with amazing drinks!" said one ad-sales source. "Pellegrino, Orangina, Red Bull. And like the water wasn't Poland Spring, it was like Fiji. I remember when I started working here, I emailed everyone I know and I was like, ‘I have to tell you about the drinks!'"

But then in December, a few months after Condé Nast ordered publishers and editors to cut 5 percent from their budgets, the drink supply emptied out. That Fiji water turned into Poland Spring. Worse, instead of the fridge, the water bottles were stowed in a warm closet.

And then: "I just found out today that we are on our last batch of Poland Spring," said the source. "We won't have any more after this. We have to start drinking tap water."

Tap water! At Conde Nast! Are you kidding me?! Among the article's other cutback revelations: no more expensed lunches at Nobu, no more take-out from Balthazar, no more free spa treatments, no more fresh flower deliveries to the offices of top editors — the list goes on and on.

But perhaps the most surprising (Or maybe not) detail in Koblin's piece is the revelation that Conde Nast's claim about there are no untouchables within the company is complete bullshit. The New Yorker is the one sacred cow not to be meddled with.

Two well-placed sources said that Condé Nast's chairman, Si Newhouse, reached out to (Editor David) Remnick shortly after the McKinsey announcement was made and told him not to worry about anything-the magazine would be just fine, and neither McKinsey nor company executives would be mucking with his editorial costs.

Go read this piece, if only because, as Choire Sicha pointed out on his Twitter, the story's punchline is among the best you'll ever read.