At the National Magazine Awards ceremony in Manhattan's Marriott Marquis hotel ballroom, famed New York Magazine editor Adam Moss took the stage with chocolate on his face, almost certainly from the Chocolate Pot du Créme dessert course served only minutes before. It had gotten into the stubble under his lower lip in a smear that covered a goodly part of his chin, giving him the appearance of a man casually accepting an award for Best Magazine Section just after being punched repeatedly in the mouth. The three sizable television screens placed at the back of the stage enlarged Moss's chocolatey visage so that it could be clearly seen from the back of the room. Though his cacao calamity was the subject of many whispers amongst the assemblage, its existence did not appear to register in the consciousness of Adam Moss whatsoever. He left the stage without incident.
[IMPORTANT UPDATE: We have been reliably informed by New York Magazine that the smear on Adam Moss's face was, in fact, a scab that he obtained recently in a minor accident. I am forced, therefore, to withdraw my assertion that Adam Moss took the stage with Chocolate Pot du Créme smeared into his stubble. If Adam Moss did, in fact, have chocolate on his face last night, it was in the same place as the scab, and we are unable to independently confirm which would have been responsible for the dark markings so visible to the crowd. It was merely the scab, in all likelihood. This ignoble departure from our storyline is particularly disheartening for me, given that this trifling bit of detail was the most colorful anecdote I managed to wring out of last night's ceremonies. I can't promise you better things to come in this recap. Still, you've made it this far. Why not continue?]
Several less interesting things also happened.
"The Ellies" (or the "Oscars of the Magazine World," or one of "The Most Boring Nights of the Year If You Are Not Personally Receiving One of the 817 Awards") get moved around every year now, it seems. They used to be held at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Now they are held in the number one-rated dental convention hotel space in Midtown. It makes me feel bad for mocking their genuine glamor, back when they had it. The defining feature of the eighth-floor Marriott Marquis lobby, where the pre-awards cocktail hour was held, is that it is wrapped like a donut around a massive hole through which high speed elevator plunge. Metaphors, they call them in the magazine business.
Graydon Carter was mingling. He looks portly. "Hashtag Ellies," explained someone to someone else. One man sported visible monogrammed initials on the back of his dress shirt collar. A GQ staffer—or, perhaps, the opposite of a GQ staffer? I don't know.
We, the media reporters, sat in the very back, as is the custom. There are very few media reporters left these days. About five, I'd say, in America. I texted one (former) media reporter to ask if she was attending. "Not this year. Have fun!" I texted another. "Fortunately no," he said.
The roof of the ballroom sported, at regular intervals, undulating white crystal-studded styrofoam sculptures that resembled the egg pods from which Aliens spring to life. There were female magazine editors with well-toned arms and male magazine writers with well-groomed beards. Sometimes they spoke to one another, but not much.
We were assured by our host that "Magazines are thriving."
The Excellence in Women's Magazines award went to Oprah's O Magazine. "She [Oprah] makes things inspiring even when she doesn't intend to," said the magazine's editor. Oprah was not in attendance. The voiceover for the Columns and Commentary award nominees included the phrase, "Joel Stein is a cultural anthropologist..." Joel Stein did not win. Thank god. Instead, Chris Hitchens did. Thank —-.
Vice Magazine was nominated for an award this year. Their representatives kept stopping by the press table and telling the reporters to come to their afterparty. Their afterparty, they assured us, would be much cooler than the current party we were attending, which sucked. "We're glad you guys are over here," a Vice staffer told us. "We're making a lot of pithy quips over at our table, we wouldn't want them to get out. We're not very nice." Vice did not win an award.
Everything stopped for a while we ate dinner. It was chicken. At 8:15, NBC's Brian Williams, the celebrity host, took the stage. He made a lot of pithy quips about how everyone must keep their acceptance speeches to one minute. These were funny because last year the National Magazine Awards were so god damn long that I can't even tell you how long they were because I and a large group of reporters snuck out as Tom Wolfe was still giving his Lifetime Achievement in Lengthy Speeches award acceptance speech. "If you publish a magazine in America, even desktop publishing, you're going to win an award tonight," joked Brian Williams. It was funny because there are a lot of awards given out at the National Magazine Awards. Twenty goddamn awards, actually. I counted in the program.
But I can't honestly describe them all to you because I left after the fifth award, Personal Service, which went to Glamour for a story about Relationship Violence, which kills a lot of women every year, and in fact Glamour editor Cynthia Leive said in her acceptance speech that this award is dedicated to a specific woman who was killed, and her sister is here with us tonight, and by the way tonight is the exact two-year anniversary of her death, and everyone got quiet for a few seconds to reflect on that. Cynthia Leive definitely talked for more than one minute, but they didn't turn on the music to "play her off," which seemed like the right choice.