Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pentimento

Big goings on last week… Lots of parties, fancy fare, lovely weather and strolling the streets of the city to put together my shopping and eating guide. Oh, and I spent time doing frivolous things as well.
The life of one extraordinary Southern woman has kept me company while going from party to party, boutique opening to downtown wine tasting (the subways and taxis kill ya’, otherwise). Ms. Lillian Hellman and her “Pentimento”—no, not a misspelling of Jamie’s famous cheese spread, but her literary work of personal portraits—make me wish for a longer commute and fewer holiday fetes.
“Old paint on canvas, as it ages, sometimes becomes transparent. When that happens it is possible, in some pictures, to see the original lines: a tree will show through a woman’s dress, a child makes way for a dog, a large boat is no longer on an open sea. That is called ‘pentimento’ because the painter ‘repented,’ changed his mind. Perhaps it would be as well to say that the old conception, replaced by a later choice, is a way of seeing and then seeing again.
That is all I mean about the people in this book. The paint has aged now and I wanted to see what was there for me once, what is there for me now.”
 To revisit life and see with the utmost clarity who influenced you, who really loved you, who betrayed you and irrevocably marked your soul and your character…
I’m young(ish) and impetuous and want that vision NOW.
Was New York and all its players for naught?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Jay

“He looks like the kind of guy that could sit on a toilet for hours,” she whispered.
“What?” I moved my gaze from her face to that of Jay McInerney’s. Up there, seated on the dais with Candace Bushnell, poised to read erotic passages from his novels, he looked more wizened and worn than his crisp prose and youthful witticisms betray. He sipped his vodka drink and leafed through his books and those of Bret Easton Ellis, never letting a wry smile leave his face. That’s it—he looked naughty. Jay loves the stage and, to my eyes, looked far more comfortable there than he would on any toilet.
“Can’t you just see him with the ‘Times’ splayed out, a sports magazine or two by his feet occupying a bathroom for at least 90 minutes?”
Hmmm, Jay in a night shirt with his boxers down around his ankles… not so sure. But, we all know that he can do no wrong in my eyes. I’ll always think of him as the enfant terrible of the “Odeon” and its surrounding territory. All he needs is a good farm girl to make an honest man out of him. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.
“And then his wet fingers parted her… plunging inside, he… she fell off him…” Jay spoke into the microphone with obvious pleasure, hoping to offend someone, anyone. But, of course, the New York literati, socialite crowd found it all to be fabulous. Everyone gulped their drinks and laughed.
Finally, at the witching hour—the time when Fabian Basabe decides to sniff out a new venue—Jay walked toward me. I thrust my hand in his direction and took full advantage of the fact that I blocked the one major exit way.
“Mr. McInerney, I’m a huge fan. I carry “Bright Lights” and the “Last of the Savages” with me at all times. And I…”
So I got a little carried away. But he was kind and listened and talked books and, unlike so many of the men I’ve met in the city, asked about me. Sure, his vowels were a bit curious-sounding but every icon has his hiccup.
“You are the kind of guy who always hopes for a miracle at the last minute,” McInerney wrote in “Bright Lights, Big City.” And I’m the kind of gal that believes miracles happen all the time. Here’s to Tuesday night, vodka cocktails and conversation with Jay.
Oh, and I didn’t see him leave the room once to use the bathroom.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Good Times With the Parkhurst Family

Seems that Brooke "Belle in the Big City" Parkhurst was none too pleased that we'd called her sister out for writing a puff piece about Brooke in Bella Pensacola magazine. Turns out, her sister didn't actually write the story, which we apparently would've known if we'd had a print copy of the mag on hand—anyone?—because the mistake only appeared online. Brooke herself emailed us, sniffing,
"i would like a correction on y'all's part but i'm sure that's too much to ask."
Nope, Brooke, not too much at all! See, what happened was that Brooke's sister, Sloane Stephens Cox, usually writes the cover stories for the magazine, and her name automatically comes up when a feature goes online. Whew. We sure are glad that's been resolved.

For those of you who missed what we just said: No, Brooke's sister didn't actually write the piece about her; she just writes the cover stories for the magazine that profiled her. But what's a little conflict of interest when it's all in the family?

We also heard from Ms. Cox herself:
Your post yesterday claims that I, Sloane Stephens Cox, wrote an article about my sister Brooke Parkhurst. Check your facts before hitting the keyboard. The author is Kimberly Blair. Feel free to verify it at http://www.bellamagazine.com/story_hostestdiva.shtml. By the way, you don't have permission to run one of the News Journal's photos. I'm going to report it to our executive editor.
We'll set aside the fact that the online byline did read "Sloane Stephens Cox," and just say, happy Thanksgiving, Parkhurst-Cox-whatevers! The good cheer must run in the family.

[via Gawker]

Monday, November 20, 2006

From Southern Belle to Hostess Diva


Pensacola native Brooke Parkhurst
PHOTO BY BEN TWINGLEY
To say that Brooke Parkhurst is an epicurean, or as she calls herself, “a foodie,” is an understatement. While most children’s milestones are measured with stories of first steps, first words and school accomplishments, the 26-year-old’s life is measured by food-related achievements.

At age 3, when her toddler peers were munching macaroni and cheese, she was savoring succulent lobster that she ordered herself from the menu at the Pensacola Country Club.

“She couldn’t pronounce some letters, so she said, ‘Wobstah, please,’ ” said Suzanne Parkhurst, Brooke’s mom and food muse.

“When she was four or five, we’d go to the Dainty Del (restaurant) after church, and she’d order fish,’’ said Suzanne, a Pensacola native who now lives in Blowing Rock, N.C. “She very politely asked the waitress, ‘Pardon me, ma’am. Is the fish fresh? Is it filleted?’”

So it is no surprise to Suzanne or to anyone else who knows Brooke that she is grabbing headlines as a New York dinner diva. Nor is it unexpected that she has found fame with a popular blog and is wrapping up a debut novel about her exploits in the Big Apple, while penning an entertainment and cooking guide with boyfriend James Briscione — a Pensacola-native-turned-gourmet-chef.

“Brooke has a natural flair for cooking beautiful meals and presenting them at the table,’’ said Suzanne, who admits that covering the food beat during her 20 years as writer for the Pensacola News Journal helped nurture that natural talent. “It looks very artistic, and I didn’t teach her that.’’

During an interview from her SoHo apartment in New York City, Brooke said she believes her new cooking and entertaining guide, “Fresh Affairs,’’ will help transform 20-to-30-somethings into naturals at throwing big-city soirées even if they initially lack the savvy and creativity to pull it off.

“It’s about how we live and how we entertain,’’ Brooke said about throwing what her friends say are “unforgettable parties.’’

The guide combines her passion for entertaining, decorating and wine with James’ flare for creating simple, succulent meals.

A Washington High School graduate, James taps into 10 years of combined experience as a chef de cuisine at Birmingham, Ala.’s premier Frank Stitt’s Highlands Bar and Grill and as a banquet chef at New York’s Daniel — one of the nation’s most prestigious restaurants — to create recipes for the book of “food that focuses on pristine local ingredients, streamlined preparations and bold flavors.’’

“I really like simple, country-style food like you’d see in the countryside of France,’’ the 26-year-old said during a phone interview while taking a quick break at the busy New York restaurant. “They live with what they have, and that breeds seasonality into their food that I really love.’’

Tips in the guide reflect Brooke’s “anti-Martha” philosophy.

“I think that cooking and entertaining should be about having fun and making mistakes, and memorable, yet sometimes messy, food,’’ she said. “I did the prim and proper thing before I knew better. Now, I mix it up. Serve foie gras with grits. Dress up mullet with a reduction sauce. Pass out the week’s saucy newspaper headlines to your mother’s mannerly Sunday brunch friends (that’ll get the conversation going). In that way, I’m a ‘high/low’ cook and entertainer with a saucy sense of fun.’’

Brooke’s childhood friend Lacy Harrell-Phillips agrees.

“We got to be with them last Christmas in Seaside,’’ said Phillips, 27, of Dallas. She grew up with Brooke in Pensacola. “They (Brooke and James) have such chemistry between them in the kitchen. They’re very sophisticated, but fun. They’re lighthearted with cooking, but they pay attention to the ingredients and how they are preparing food.’’

FACT-BASED FICTION

Because entertaining comes so naturally, writing the guide has evolved instinctively, Brooke said.

“It’s much easier than fiction,’’ she said. “With fiction, it’s just you and a blank piece of paper.’’
She should know. Brooke’s first tome, “Belle of New York,” will be published by Scribner Publishing, a division of Simon & Schuster, and was inspired by her popular blog, “Belle in the Big the Apple.’’

Similar to the blog, according to the industry newsletter Publisher’s Lunch, the book reveals the “musings of a beautiful Southern debutante who comes to New York and lands a job in the mosh pit newsroom of a highly conservative cable network while reveling in the hedonistic pleasures of the city.’’

You guessed it: Food or at least high-profile dates at some of the ritziest New York eating establishments are central to the theme.

Although it’s fiction, it’s based on Brooke’s real-life experience as a production assistant at Fox News headquarters, an experience that ended in “total disillusionment,’’ and about the news ethics of the company.
“I quit at age 23 and began my life as a temp worker,’’ she said.

All her life, she had planned to follow the journalism paths of her mother and sister, Sloane Stephens Cox; and that of her late grandfather, Braden Ball, 30-year publisher of the News Journal.

“And then suddenly, I’m a temp, and I’d go home after an empty and fruitless day,’’ she said.
That career derailment steered her onto the promising book-writing track.

Brooke sold her first book before it was even written, thanks to her hip blog posts that caught the attention of media such as Gawker, Wonkette, Salon.com, the BBC, Corrierre della Sera and the New York Post.
“Belle’’ is expected to hit book stores in the fall of 2007.

“Her novel sale was indeed quite a unique triumph, because new writers almost always have to show a full manuscript in order to even get editorial consideration in publishing houses,’’ said Brooke’s agent, Bill Contardi, of New York-based Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents.

“What worked in Brooke’s favor were her ongoing blog and the distinctive and entertaining voice of that blog,’’ he said.

Although “Fresh Affairs’’ has not been submitted to Scribner, “It has been discussed by them with enthusiasm, and they are poised to consider it as soon as ‘Belle’ is finished and the proposal is ready,’’ Contardi said.

“Scribner has an excellent track record with cooking and entertaining books, (such as) ‘Joy of Cooking,’ ” so Brooke’s youthful and Southern slant to the cuisine of living and loving will be in stellar company. It really has potential to be the beginning of a Brooke brand — both in fiction and nonfiction.”

Friday, November 17, 2006

“Southern Belle, Hostess Diva”

dinnerdiva.jpgI ate lobster before I could pronounce it. I planned the family’s southern road trips around food exits (peaches, pecans, turkey farms). Summers in Europe were more about markets, vineyards and specialty food stores than museums.
And then I met my Chef…
Y’all know I’m an hopeless foodie but I bet you had no idea this mild obsession began at such a young age. Check out Bella magazine’s, “From Southern Belle to Hostess Diva” for embarassing tidbits about my childhood (Mamma does an impersonation of me before I could pronounce my “r’s”–thanks Mom) and an inside peak into my cooking/entertaining guide, “Fresh Affairs.”
I think Mamma did me in when she packed pate’ de foie gras for our road trip to Disney World…

Thursday, November 9, 2006

A slow day over at “Gawker…”

betty&veronica 2.JPGA slow day over at “Gawker…” So slow, in fact, they had the column space to make me an “item” and dig up a 2 year-old snapshot of me from the National Book Critics Circle Award party. I prefer last night’s picture…My forehead is big and beautiful, isn’t it?
 Oh, and for those of you that weren’t aware, Ms. Allison and I have been annoited the “Betty & Veronica” of media parties…

I “Spy” a Billionaire

I love Ellen Barkin and that brash, soulful, sexy, more-than-a-little-tough thing she does on the big screen. “Sea of Love” convinced me to put away the altar girl robes for a spell and invest in a slinky black number and a passable set of highlights—Mr. Pacino, are you out there? Time for our close-up. But it was this October when she unceremoniously dumped $15 million of wedding baubles— and any lingering sentiments for ex-husband Ronald Perelman—on the Christie’s auction block that I became mildly obsessed with Ms. Barkin and her bravado. The “purging of the [Perelman] union” was one heck of a move. Brassy dame. [End scene.]
“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” Off the silver screen and somewhere on Lafayette Street, I fielded the aforementioned line from the ex Mr. Barkin—corporate raider, billionaire and blonde aficionado. Ronnie (this is my site, I’ll call him what I please) smelled vaguely of tea tree oil and menthol; his hat was the orange of a traffic cop’s vest and his line of vision met my décolletage straight on.
“Pardon? Oh, no, I don’t think that we’ve ever met.” Original, I know. Not to worry. I followed that line of vanilla with a request for one of those adorable mini bottles of “Moet.” We were standing at the bar of the “Spy” magazine book launch party, after all. A girl needs something to occupy her nervous fingers. But before I could wrangle my bottle of bubbly, a photographer came over to take our picture—me, Ronnie and my favorite sex columnist, Julia Allison. Such a happy–ridiculously mismatched– trio.
Within the next two minutes and with the aplomb of, well, Ronald Perelman, he informed me of his profession—“CEO and chairman of the board of ‘Revlon’”—and his religion, “I’m Jewish, you?”
My Lord, this was the most straightforward Manhattan bar pick-up transaction that I had ever experienced! Was this how the media elite operated? I had just sipped a drink next to Anna Wintour, spoken with Kurt Andersen, admired the coiffes of Graydon Carter and Harvey Weinstein… Clearly I was way out of my league.
Ronnie and I parted ways and I wondered what it would feel like to wrestle a fifteen carat diamond over the ring finger of my left hand. Pretty uncomfortable, huh?

Friday, November 3, 2006

Twenty-six Was Going To Be Wonderful

I’m leaving the city. Just for a spell. I need an undefined number of days (months if I had it my way) to see the last colored leaves cling to their branches, to look out at an ocean that I rarely see (except when I’m flying ‘coach’ class), to breath and not smell ambition and trash.
This year has been hard. New York is hard. You think that if you stay in the city just a little bit longer, you’ll crack the code. So I’ve stayed and I’ve stayed and I haven’t taken trips, like the smart people, to warmer climates, to undiscovered pockets of pristine countries. I haven’t even seen my beautiful niece. She’s turning into a little person, wearing cowboy hats, eating avocadoes—I’ve missed all that. Instead, I’ve sat at my small kitchen table, stared through the burglar bars on my window and tried to write a book. There have been too many dinners out and emotions kept in. I walk the same path to Union Square and back and forget about Carnegie Hill, the Boat Basin and museums where I can lose myself and the minutiae that crowd my everyday thoughts. I’ve forgotten the rest of the world.
The ‘even’ years have always been good to me. Age 22, 24… and then, age 26 came along. My grandfather died. It was the first month of the year. I should have just given up then, crawled into bed and slept for eleven months. Maybe I could have asked my sweet mother to wake me up with a bowl of black-eyed peas (good luck down South) on New Year’s Day, 2007. But, of course, I didn’t do that. My grandfather was dead and I tried to compress my sadness—the black hole, the grief, the despondency—into a week of ceremonies and dinners. I nodded my head and smiled and everyone was really very lovely. I was cured. Twenty-six was going to be wonderful.
Ah, yes, but I had forgotten that the promise of Pappy (my grandfather) carried me through so many of my New York days. He was my fairytale, the guarantee that all was well, the assurance that men—or even just people—like him existed. And then he died and the dream went along with him.
I’ll be back soon, fresh and new and with a little faith restored (let’s hope so, anyway)… 

Monday, October 23, 2006

Discipline

“Discipline is remembering what you want.”
Just as the first glass of Barbera was poured–before I even had a chance to order myamatriciana–my friend Megan and I were off, talking about love and the choices women make. You see, many of our girlfriends have enviable resumes, Rolodexes and 401k’s but just can’t seem to get it together when it comes to men. Professionally brilliant, emotionally stunted. Without the brilliance or the 401k, I can be that woman as well.
New York City breeds this dichotomy in the fairer sex; we fight through our days on the asphalt and in the cloud-skimming skyscrapers and then throw up our hands come twilight. We can’t be “on” all the time. We don’t want to have the same discipline with our boyfriends that we have with our careers. In some aspect of our lives, we want to be naive, trusting, loving–blindly confident that everything is going to work out despite the spreadsheet numbers and facts.
There, sitting, listening on the banquet at “Lupa,” I heard Megan utter one of the most emotionally intelligent–and Big City, in your 20’s relevant–expressions I’ve ever heard. “Discipline is remembering what you want.”
We women have to be proactive to accomplish our professional and sentimental dreams. Don’t sit back and wait for him (Would you sit back and wait for a job?). Remember the full life that you want, and always go after it.  
(And if you need something to warm you on these chilly, October nights, stick to this warm chowder instead of any ol’ warm body…  I promise the soup won’t cause an awkward ’morning moment…’)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Caviar at “Christie’s”

“Matador”—a brilliant red shade of “Chanel”— coated the bottom of my chopsticks. My short black wool dress, angle-grazing velvet coat and gray suede Christian Dior heels were a bit much for late night sushi on a Tuesday but, it had been one of those “Uptown/Downtown” evenings that needed to be digested—alongside an order of fried oyster maki roll— before washing off the war paint and crawling into bed. (Note to self: always buy a copy of the “New York Observer” before going solo to a SoHo sushi counter—the leering Italians can ruin any girl’s appetite.)
Last night’s agenda (ahem, before the fried Japanese fare): “Simon & Schuster’s” party for “Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women” at the very elegant Flatiron-district “Sapa” and then off to Rockefeller Plaza and “Christie’s” auction house to celebrate a certain adolescent French queen’s killer fashion sense (“Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution”). The former and the latter required very different garb—book parties tend toward the stuffy and the tweed whereas “Cartier”-sponsored events at famous auction houses can make such time-intensive wardrobe requests as “18th Century Chic.” Powdered wigs and “Dangerous Liaisons”-like decolletage (remember Glenn Close’s bosom?!) were encouraged. My god, what’s a girl from the Redneck Riviera to do?
Neither party disappointed nor did one completely fall into clichéd territory. The “Simon & Schusters” were fashionable, young and loving the champagne and mojito bar. And, “Christie’s”…well, all right, one friend wryly observed the “octos and anas” were out in full force (the octogenarian men and their nutritionally-starved socialite counterparts). But everyone was sweet and gracious and the scene… lordy.  I digested a week’s worth of cholesterol (foie gras toasts, caviar points, beignets) whilst perusing the main gallery’s wares—the objets d’art and the objects of men’s affections. Just how much did these husbands spend on their lovely lady’s ensembles? The hair stylist, at-home makeup artist, cumbersome jewels, yards of silk, throws of fur… Is it gauche to ponder such things? Sorry. A fete down South (at least on the Gulf Coast) is a mullet-tossing competition that requires cut off jeans, a bathing suit and slather of 30 SPF.
My very fashionable, very down-to-earth date for the evening had to get back to her two babies on the Upper East Side. Did I want to stay behind? she asked. Enjoy a few more flutes of champagne? Nah… I just needed a few fried oysters—hopefully from Appalachicola—and then to get back to the real world.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Test Kitchen

Do you cook? Would you like to help me perfect the Country Farm Egg Salad with Pancetta, Parsley and Frisee? I’d love it if any of you home chefs would test the recipe and send me your thoughtful feedback.
Click here–Farm Egg Salad–for the recipe and step-by-step photos.
I think you’ll find it to be a wonderful, super simple brunch dish that’ll impress friends or visiting dignitaries (aka, mom & dad).

Monday, October 9, 2006

There Were 3 Women in a Bar–2 Single, 1 Taken

Gorgeous, crisp, cool Sunday. Liver toast, French wine and girl time at the “Spotted Pig” (yummmm, I swear you’d love Batali’s take on the classic pub fare). Gossip, career advice and big laughs from our sun-dappled corner table. Set to the back, we were in perfect position to spy on Jimmy Fallon eating his eggs and hash, check out the Catherine Malandrino and Stella McCartney runway show streaming through the door (trust me, you’ll always leave “The Pig” feeling slightly frumpy) and then quickly resume our private conversation.
And, then? Our table for three began flirting with their table for two. Girlfriend 1 can be described as nothing short of ballsy (any other word would shortchange her bravado)—she teased and taunted the neighboring table until they were totally flustered AND smitten. Girlfriend 2 introduced herself into the conversation but in her own coy, flushed-cheek manner.

And, then? Then, there was me… I’ve never been the “attached girl,” the one with a boy back at home, watching NASCAR, turning the apartment into a smokehouse while he sautees pancetta in the cast-iron, devising as many swine-centric recipes as possible for our cookbook proposal. To tell you the truth, I had wasted a bit too much brain space trying to imagine the scenario and gauge my subsequent reaction.
But, there I was, lounging on the banquet, sunlight playing across the table and the handsome men’s faces… wanting to be home, watching my boyfriend flip his baseball cap around when he’s in serious “chef mode,” kissing the top of a head that smells a lot more like a butcher shop than a bottle of shampoo, remembering how long I’ve wanted to be in a serious relationship (and seriously in love).
“I’m gonna go. Call me later,” I mouthed to my friends, slipping out of the table and single Manhattan on a Sunday afternoon. Chef and I met up on the corner of Lafayette and Broadway and strolled through late afternoon cityscape, watching the water towers fade into Houston Street’s twilight sky.
(Dinner, you ask? The fruit of his copious notes and bacon grease-splattered kitchenette: Country Farm Egg Salad with Pancetta, Parsley and Frisee. A bottle of Sancerre. A Balthazar baguette. When Chef is good, he’s very good…When he’s bad? I have girlfriends that are even worse…)

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Job Security

Fabio? Si, ho detto Fabio. Once-upon-a-time Emma was one of those highly specialized models that couldn’t do runway (too short), wasn’t right for print (still too short, asymmetrical features) and didn’t quite measure up for lingerie work (read: flat-chested, white girl’s rear). The gray area in between? Carefully ripped bodices and prairie skirts whilst straddling a horse and falling helplessly into Fabio’s arms. For verisimilitude, they fell in love and moved in together.
Whose life is that anyway?
That, of course, was after she and A.Z. had a brief flirtation back in the early 80’s. This dalliance, affair—call it what you will—was the reason she landed the 6-figure “marketing director” position with A.Z.’s company. Back in the day, if she coughed, he came running. Now, the tables were turned. Emma wasn’t a nubile 21 year-old and A.Z. was a self-important “husband of” that had begun to build his hip hotel empire from wifey’s Rolodex. Suddenly, he was someone. 
But, Emma had a long memory— and videotapes—of the early days so she was comfortable, an office fixture that would never be updated for a younger, sleeker model. Forget contracts and professional performance: Emma soon showed me (patience, dear readers) that in the Big City, VHS tapes are the best job security of all…

Monday, October 2, 2006

The Minnow and The Marlin

It was one of those minimalist spaces—lines, lines, lines, no comfort— that I had seen in big Hollywood flicks and Scavullo fashion layouts. The plasma screens, refrigerated pyramids of Sancerre, black and white shots of a naked Nadja Auerman (legs, legs, legs) and strangely shaped furniture both mesmerized and bewildered this new Manhattanite. I had just come from swivel chairs, mice along the floorboard and cheap coffee (fake creamer, generic “Sweet & Low”). Now this. SoHo and trendy office spaces were a long way from 6th Avenue and the conservative’s budget.
“He’s in St. Barth’s recouping. He requires 2 faxes a day—morning and night—and an evening phone call. Tell him everything is smooth as silk and we can’t wait for his return. Bastard. Breaks his leg skiing in Aspen so he takes downtime in ‘the islands,’” the diminutive blonde said, adopting a posh British accent for the conclusion of her diatribe. “In by 10:00 out by 7:00 and lunch runs about an hour. You can go out or order in—lotta great places around here. Most of us just get take-out and watch movies on the flat screen, you’re more than welcome to join.”
Her name was Emma and I’d grow to adore her, trust her. The state of Mississippi, “Studio 54,” and Fabio were the major influences in her life. She was like no one else in the office and gave me a run for my Confederate money with her accent and occasional use of double negatives. Between her blonde, silken bob and tales of racy sex with Fabio on their romance novel cover shoots, she pulled off the fish-out-of water shtick with élan. Once again, I was the minnow trying to keep up with the trophy Marlin. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Hotelier

He was a famous New York hotelier—flagrant with his affairs, drug use, bisexuality, homegrown pornography (up here, tomatoes aren’t the only thing cultivated at home) and propensity to talk down to anyone and everyone. But, when he spoke, he did so with his head bowed in modest submission, his voice lowered. In his mind, the tall balance that he had accrued with his actions was to be paid off by the humble stance of his short, muscled body and hushed, I-can’t-believe-the-Concord-has-been-retired tone. His wife’s office—and namesake empire— was just across the narrow SoHo hallway, within earshot of the conference room where he dabbled in so many of his Big City sins. Ego maniacs and kept husbands think differently than you and I.
I worked for this man right after the News Channel, just before my writing classes (and myriad other temp jobs). Why? 25$ an hour. That, and I had to believe in something. My New York was humid and moody and persistent—I didn’t think that I could handle it all alone.
This story will be told just so. There won’t be one post, but many. Let’s call the “Hotelier” a mini-series in the cinematic life of Belle. What didn’t kill me, made me… well, you know.
“I have a very important job. And, from what I see, you might just be perfect for it,” the short, Jewish “head hunter” said, perusing my face, hair and jacquard suit. She resided deep in cubicle nation, high in the sky. Of course, Karen wasn’t an actual head hunter—she was a mere staffing company gopher that dealt in the currency of starry-eyed young things from Alabama and Iowa. The girls came to the city, the plan didn’t pan out, they made their way to Karen or someone like her.
“You’d be working for A.Z.” she said with the lift of a brow and a look of both intense expectation and satisfaction.
Never heard of the man. How was I supposed to react? Karen waited for a gush and toothy grin. I had nothing.
“I’m sorry, who?” I asked, trying to quell my bewilderment, feign excitement.
“Well, I suppose he is only known in certain circles,” she replied, splaying her fingers against the paltry expanse of her chest. “He’s the wife of K.D.—head of her namesake agency, “D Models.”
Interesting indeed…
“A job like this will require the utmost discretion. Do you think you can keep those pretty, red lips sealed?”
What an inappropriate question… and fascinating proposition.

Monday, September 25, 2006

24

“All of us struggle; all of us respond to struggle. In our secret being we are all tormented by the uncertainty, seldom more than in the glowing victories of youth: What if I fail? What do they do when they find out I’m me?”                                                                                           (Willie Morris)
(Monday blues… sad and feeling sorry for myself. I’ll try for something more upbeat tomorrow…)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Daniel’s Disciple

I adore the guinea hen stuffed with creamed spinach,carefully wrapped in tin foil. I love the little cups of chocolate souffle that rest on the top refrigerator shelf. I hate his hours.

(Chef’s whites and clogs tucked away in his bag, Jamie leaves for his first fourteen-hour day at “Daniel”)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Gloria, Jane and a New Kind of Radio

Rita Cosby and I talked television: Murdoch, censorship, fashion (red is best for blondes on-air). I marveled at Jane Fonda’s commanding presence, delivery and habit of wearing dark glasses inside. Gloria Steinem smiled, I followed suit and one of Patrick McMullan’s minions took our picture. A rousing Steinem speech brought down the house.
I met the brightest of feminist stars at Greenstone Media’s launch party held at the Museum of Television and Radio. The goal of these estrogen dynamos? Give Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern a run for their money. Give the women of America other women to listen to on the radio. The dials have long been dominated by testosterone-charged diatribes and agenda-pushing rants. Instead of a forum to discuss strippers and Strom Thurman, Greenstone hopes to provide an alternative environment for open, honest discussion—apolitical at that.
I didn’t tuck any business cards into my clutch (I’m not quite that professional) but I did manage to bring a small, spiral-bound reporter’s notebook. After a few glasses of Chardonnay, I stopped talking shop and started getting real–taking down the email addresses and phone numbers of the young, professional women that made the evening. And let me tell you, this is rare for Manhattan. We women usually end up exiting events with catty comments tucked away, a desire to lose ten pounds and the sudden urge to blow our next paycheck on Madison Avenue (gotta keep up with the Jones’). But, somehow, this evening was different. I left with a wonderful sense of female community and support. Let’s hope the station can make me feel the same way… Check them out and let me know what you think.

Monday, September 11, 2006

“7th on Sixth” Fashion Orientation

Date: Monday, September 11th
From: Belle Style Support
To: Fashion Week Immigrant
Subject: “7th on Sixth” Fashion Orientation
Welcome, Fashionista, to the seven-day orgy of the sublime, superficial, sexy and cerebral that is New York’s Olympus Fashion Week! Whether you hail from a fly-over state or the heart of St. Germain, you’ve purged like a pro, procured your passes, packed your bags—God willing, Louis’ and Goyards—and somehow made your way to New York City, the style capital of the world (give or take a few cities). The extravaganza has begun—do you know what you’re wearing?
Consider “The Tents” your sartorial home base. Inside this chic oasis, the rules are simple: no white triangles, tushes or toying with straps. Unless you’re Beyonce, Christina or Delphine (bien sur, Bernard Arnault’s daughter can dress as she pleases), you’re going for understated elegance. Case in point, slacks over skirts. If you’re lucky enough to get anywhere near the front row, you don’t need paparazzi shots of your nether regions cloaked in white lace La Perla popping up on the pages of “Vogue.” Trust us—it’s happened before.  Save yourself the embarrassment and cloak your comparatively elephantine lower appendages in light gabardine or silk trousers. Lagerfeld and Malandrino (Club Monaco and H&M if you’re poor) are making lovely ones this season.   
Every so often, though, you may have cause to venture outside the cozy protective bubble of Bryant Park, whether for a shopping expedition or a night on the town. By all means, go for it! New York is a vibrant, colorful and most of all fashionable city, and your own aura of unshakable confidence is your most important accessory. But a word to the wise: stylistic landmines litter the terrain.
Do not be alarmed. Below, you’ll find reputation-saving hints on how to make your way—or fake your way—through five of the most fashion-conscious corners of the city. You can thank me later.   
Midtown:
The key to the Midtown wasteland of track-suited tourists and comatose office workers is staying on your fashion game. Although you’ll be tempted to shed your stilettos and Hermes Birkin 40cm for a fanny pack and Ohio State sweatshirt, stay strong and style-savvy. Channel “Bright Lights, Big City” not fluorescent marquees and fighting cabbies. Remember, you’re coming from the greatest show on earth—they’re just going to see the “Lion King.”
Nothing says sophisticated Midtown comfort like cashmere. Layer a Brunello Cucinelli camel-colored cardigan or black shawl over your wisp-of-a-blouse for the cool restaurants and showrooms. Your Malandrino slacks will love you for it! Keep things sensible with large, practical accessories like the aforementioned Hermes or the Prada “boat and tote”-style bag. Your glamorous (and under-eye-concealing) Oliver J. Peoples sunglasses and Barney’s makeup stash will fit inside as will your Blackberry, Mont Blanc pen and notepad and JP Tod loafers  (a quick change from your Manolos; perfect for cross-town walking).
Finally, fashionistas, I beg you to think larger proportions and pared down maquillage. Save the sexy attire for south of 14th Street. This means no tight pencil skirts, open-toed shoes, overly fitted blazers or extreme makeup allowed! You’ll look like Anna Nicole Smith pre-Trim Spa (swollen ankles, puffy face), post awards show (black eyes, smudged lips).
SoHo:You’re in the center of it all and somehow lost. SoHo is the geographic heart of the downtown scene yet still a little removed from the pulsing lifeblood of the city’s youngest and most hip. What is expected of you? Something between Meg Ryan pre- plastic surgery and Sofia Coppola post “Lost in Translation.” Spice up your staple trousers with a jewel-toned “Dear” silk top (from Thompson Street’s “Legacy”), a fun Parisian topper from “The Hat Shop,” “Me & Ro” gold and diamond bangles, a pony-skin Chanel bag.
Meatpacking:Whatever you do, put away the Midtown Manolos. The cobblestone streets of the Meatpacking District and neighboring Chelsea have ruined more expensive footwear than Lapo Elkann (Fiat heir, womanizer, cross dresser). Now is the time for Chanel ballet flats or, if you’re really desperate, dispensable “9 West” 2-inchers. Sneak into the bathroom of Pastis and slip into a Catherine Malandrino cocktail-length dress. Exchange the bangles for some serious vintage “Renee Lewis” diamonds and put on your best, devil-may-care Ellen Barkin smile.
Lower East Side:
If you can borrow a mutt puppy for the afternoon, you’re golden. But if cleaning up Puggle poo is not your idea of a glamorous afternoon, consider shedding the pricey jewels, donning plastic accessories (earrings, belt buckles, jelly shoes) and pulling out the pair of leggings that you wore in 8th grade. You’re angling for the sweet, depressed look of Zooey Deschanel and the hopeless aura of one of Moby’s girlfriends. Understood?
Upper East Side:
We’re back north of 14th Street and trying to go into permanent debt via our college-issued credit cards. Thank God VISA just raised your credit limit. If you have gym-toned or lipo-sucked upper arms, by all means show them off with a “TSE” silk knit sleeveless top. Your cashmere is always welcome in the bistros and gem stores of Madison but why not have a little fun with a “Ralph Lauren” Black Label cropped, linen canvas jacket? Rent a driver for the afternoon (what’s an extra $150 at this point?) and make sure he follows you at a respectable distance. Affect a look of annoyance and disdain—channel Nan Kempner 1969.
Williamsburg:You’re over the river but by no means in the fashion woods. In Brooklyn, you can let down your Fekkai-highlighted hair (that hopefully hasn’t been washed in a day or three—greasy is good ) and have some philosophical fashion fun. Slip into a faded, distressed tee (Pac Man, Poison) that reflects your once-upon-a-time, cushy suburban upbringing or don a cotton, tissue-thin American Apparel tunic dress. Just put away the brands! Williamsburg attire represents ideas, not cash flow.   
**A Q&A session will be held on the rooftop of the SoHo House this evening at 11pm. Please join us if you have any lingering questions about appropriate Fashion Week attire or etiquette (i.e. Should mini Veuves be consumed with a straw? Open-air drug use? Is it okay to corner Karl at the after-party and kiss his papal ring?

Friday, September 8, 2006

Across the Hall

You’re not supposed to know your neighbors in the City. That’s the rule, I’ve heard. They should be strangers— an across the hall, up the stairs, down the corridor annoyance that is tolerated, not embraced. But it was Easter and I saw that someone new had moved across the hall so I deposited a pot of tulips and a plate of brownies at the doorstep. Trying out my latest, most politically correct character, my note wished the stranger(s), “Happy Easter/Spring/ Holy holiday of your choice. Whatever your religious beliefs, I hope that you like chocolate! Welcome to the building!”
Now, 4 years later, I doubt I would ever do such a thing. Leave food, flowers and my china plate on some unknown’s welcome mat? It’s like an offering to the gods but extended toward mere mortals—so much time, kindness and thought expended… But, I didn’t know any better back then because I was so, so green.
There were two of them that moved in—an Irish Catholic and a Sephardic Persian.  How did they pair up? How did an actress from Long Island and an Iranian émigré in finance meet and move into my corner of SoHo? I’d ask them dozens of times to tell me their story. This is one of life’s most interesting riddles, you see: the process of meeting your other half, coming together, making something whole.
Our time to talk and drink was after her auditions…

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The New Me!

Here I am–prissy, fun-loving, poetic, temperamental, questioning, loving, cruel, stylish…an outsider always looking in. Please check out all my pages and write to my new email address!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

On the Fashion, RADAR



"South of 14th Street, West of 8th Avenue, north of 57th Street, east of 2nd Avenue—the list of Manhattan fashion fault lines is longer than Darya Werbowy’s limbs. You move from leg warmers to clam diggers, stove-pipe jeans to bespoke trousers, polyester tunics to cashmere turtlenecks in a matter of miles. So how does a newbie pilot the perilously unpredictable New York terrain, full of switch backs and blind corners?"

As RADAR magazine's newly annoited style contributor, I will be composing other groundbreaking, life-altering pieces like the one above. At left, your intrepid reporter and blogger trying out Upper East Side fashions south of Houston.

Now, to pull a Gael Greene and turn a life of delicious excess and crazy hats into a viable career...

Stop laughing.

Indecision over at "Gawker" (as of 8/24/06)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Digestif

“Cousin Brookey, what about stoppin’ at a ‘rub and tug’ to help me digest my General Tsao’s?”
–Alabama Cousin exiting”Joe’s Shanghai” in Chinatown
(The reason for the blog hiatus: 5 visiting cousins, 1 aunt. Sorry for the lack of posts! Back next week!)

Friday, August 4, 2006

Charm & Know-How

“Briscione and Parkhurst also are in the process of writing a book proposal for ‘Fresh Affairs,’ an essential cooking/entertaining guide for 20- and 30- somethings… ‘Think Southern charm, New York City know-how and a lot of great food!’”

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Tales Into The Blue

It was probably better when I was afraid of New York. Then, I observed and appreciated everything. When you’re petrified, you don’t opine or pose or spend time wishing you were elsewhere. The present consumes you. I would have written pages upon pages about this cloying, dangerous heat instead of staring blankly at a screen wishing that I were by the sea with all the lucky people.
But, now, a breeze of reality, naivete. A fresh perspective is moving to New York in the form of my completely unspoiled, small town boyfriend. He’s THRILLED to be here in August, not thinking twice about far-flung islands—Egadi, Balearics—in the blue.
“I thought that when I get up there on Sunday we could do some planting,” he says, his voice heavy with anticipation.
“I don’t do flowers. And I really don’t garden in August.” I sigh, cradling the phone to my right ear, rewinding “Il Postino.” Third time this week. Maybe I could write there, I think, on the island of Salina. Pablo Neruda’s character in the film was quietly invigorated by the isolation, uninterrupted sky, sequined sea, simplicity.
“Herbs, honey! What if I did a great-big window box full of basil, rosemary, thyme, chives, mint—you name it. Think of my roasts, your caprese salads, Mom’s mint iced…”
Five years ago I tasted the capers of Salina, drank the sweet Malvasian wine and sunbathed on the sand where Massimo Troissi courted Maria Grazia Cucinotta. Thinking, thinking, thinking while Jamie is busy making plans for the two of us, our kitchen, OUR New York.
“We’ve come a long way, baby,” he says, cutting off my thoughts and reminding me of those cigarette ads.
He’s right. We’ve done well over the past year. And I want to think that this time—tonight—when I watch my postman court his country girl, I’ll plan a trip for both of into the blue.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Sendoff

I knew that he was Alabama good… but was he New York perfect? He left me in the morning and I was tired and reluctant and trying very hard to be a mother. Why? It’s easier to imitate a role than to invent one.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Four Stars

My Honey, forging his way up, up and away into the culinary stratosphere…

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Never a Harsh Word

“Southern women are never guilty of saying anything lewd or crass. As long as we stretch out our words to three syllables or more, it all sounds just lovely…
“You could say shit but why would you when ’shee-y-it’ sounds so much better? Jesus, or ‘Jyee-suy-sus.’ And then we have damn or ‘daa-yam-muh.’
“Y’all think I’m on to something?”
(A little cocktail talk I picked up during my North Carolina vacation… Flying back to the City tomorrow evening…)

Friday, July 14, 2006

East Egg

Heading out to East Egg this weekend… Fine, fine, everyone else calls it East Hampton but when Fitzgerald’s descriptions still ring so true, “[it was a] slender, riotous island which extends itself due east of New York… jut[ting] out into the most domesticated body of salt water in the Western Hemisphere, the great, wet barnyard of Long Island Sound,” why not evoke the lush, lost era of the Roaring Twenties instead of the clumsy, tasteless 21st century (strip malls, fast food, Geraldo Rivera)? I’m much more likely to run into Billy Joel or Howard Stern than a Rockefeller or a deposed aristocrat but a girl can dream…
Bare minimum—a little bit of sun and a chilled glass of white by the pool. Jay Gatsby and the scions of industry can wait until another weekend.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

This Is Now.

So what is different? What has really changed in the two years since I checked my email at a cheap Times Square café, temped for a real estate company high above 42nd Street, made pilgrimages to “Virgil’s Barbecue” for one satisfying taste of home?
Not much. And that’s why I can still taste the fear of the ordinary, feel the numb desk legs from too much time doing spreadsheets, answering phones, filing inane memos, remember the humiliation of taking sandwich and coffee orders from the pasty, pot-bellied executives that got loaded on summer Fridays. My modified job description after their 4 martini excursions to “check out a new property?” A patient, naïve, smiling, $20-an-hour psychiatrist forced to nod and sympathize with their plights as over-paid, over-fed (on the company credit card, of course) suits with dissatisfied wives and needy, materialistic girlfriends. Was it really my job to advise George and Frank about the “It Purse” of the season for their new lover?
Wake up, Dixie Dorothy! You’re not in Oz anymore!
That’s fine. That was my education. That was my world tour. It was as if I were backpacking around the globe with the rest of my college friends, learning about myself, my limits, my place in the world, a notebook tucked away in my back pocket. From south of Houston to 42nd Street, I feel like I’ve crossed the river, breached the gates and come to a place that often feels like hell but sometimes—on the really good days—transcends it all… a little bit like heaven and Oz.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

That Was Then…

Times Square. Monday. Mid-afternoon. Dizzy and clear, that’s how I am—off kilter from the lucidity of my memories. Has that ever happened to you? The past invades your present with such precision and credibility that you’re scared of it. “That was then and this is now,” like the title of that book we all read back in middle school…
The 42nd Street internet café—“$1.99 an Hour!”— was my home base once upon a time, “Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum” flanking one side, “Applebee’s” the other. Without a working computer or internet access in my apartment, and the “Kinko’s” and downtown café’s costing about as much as my hourly temp wages, I needed the cheap rates of that foul, halogen-lit space to write home, construct resumes and compose long, foolish letters to Spanish and Italian men that never really loved me. Look right, look left: a man logging on to his usual porno site, a blonde, back-packed Swedish couple checking airline rates to get back home.
And there I sat.

Friday, July 7, 2006

The ‘Fitting’ Explained

(a recap for those of you just tuning in…) 

“A fitting? Are we talking about your bridesmaid’s dress again?” Confusion and warm wine—tasting of jam, minus the childhood satisfaction—were my companions after a day of literary solitude in the apartment. PAGING: Algonquin round table. PAGING: New York intelligentsia. Where are you? 

“Not a dress, a guy—my new guy. We’re discussing my new guy,” she said, looking exasperated. 

“So what’s a ‘fitting’?” 

“You know…” she said, peering into the great jammy depths of her cheap Australian import. 

The wide eyes and pursed lips meant that she was either searching her liquid crystal ball for a modicum of restraint or about to start in on her favorite subject—sex.
“The guy in the white shirt at the table wants you to have this,” the waitress interrupted, slamming down a Corona and lime on the table in front of me, effectively ‘singling out’ about 17 men in my direct vicinity. It didn’t matter—the cool carbonation was a godsend. I needed to get to the bottom of this “fitting” phenomenon without drowning my confusion in buckets of warm Shiraz.
“So is this a Long Island thing or something that is sweeping the nation?” I queried, leaning back in the high metal chair, hoping my sarcasm would inspire a concise reply.
“Where have you been? No, this doesn’t have to do with the Island—this is about dating in the city and making sure that everything is… no one wants their ‘number’ to go up so… there are things that gotta be…”
“Come on girl, you can do it, you can do it…” My God, what was I doing? Eliciting poop from a puppy?
“You’re going to make me explain it?” she said downing the last of the wine. “First date, dinner. Second date dinner, half a dozen cocktails and a ‘fitting.’ Third date, back to his apartment. You don’t let the latter happen if the former isn’t juuuuust right.”
Visions of Goldilocks and a different kind of porridge—“pourage”—crept into my mind. Is this what had happened during the year that I had been off the Manhattan meat market cum dating scene?
“He can’t be too big because that’s just no fun. Too small and it’s pointless—hello, I gotta ‘Rabbit’ in my bedside table! Somewhere in between is what we’re all looking for. And why wait too long to find out? I for one don’t want to fall in love with a gherkin—”
Slam. Another Corona and another waitress with an apologetic look on her face. “He told me to keep ‘em coming ‘til—”
“Until I’ve had approximately six beers, nothing is too hot or too cold,” I said, veins popping, face reddening, “and I want some ‘pourage’— that side of a gherkin, this side of seedless cucumber?”
“What? The guy says he knows you from the gym.”
Right. Too many mixed metaphors for one night. Time for bed. Alone.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Morning Lightness

“You ever gonna have one of these up in the city?” my sister asked me as she lay in mother’s four-poster bed. Dozens of paper white pillows were stacked behind her, arranged to the side of her, on top of her. “Oh, come on, la vie metropolitaine and a baby of your own… you could teach it all those languages that you speak.”

She made a grand gesture, mocking me. Her arm gently descended on the pillow as her voice faded. Slowly, slowly… she almost fell into a quiet slumber before I had crossed the room. Pregnancy kept her eyelids perpetually swollen, the blue irises always searching for the next nap behind padded lids. Lying in that cavernous bedroom strewn with mismatched teacups and saucers, floral sheets twisted and discarded miles from the bed, yellowed book jackets waving like daisies under the fan’s breeze, she looked like a nymph in mother’s overgrown garden. I pried open the three windows that Zeola had been so careful to close and waited for a breeze. The scrub oaks and pine trees that surrounded the house and lake were still and lifeless. The azalea bushes drooped, sun-bleached and shriveled from the summer drought. Five hundred acres of tawny, overgrown grasses stretched before me. I wanted to cry and curse and sneeze all at the same time.

My life in New York was a sham, mother was a mess and the mattress atop the family’s fabled bed was fifty years old and full of dust mites.

“Do you think Mamma minds that I’m laid up like this?” she asked, her eyes still closed.

“She likes having people dependant on her—hell, look at Daddy. You don’t worry about a thing, all right?”

The bed was one of the family’s prized antiques, a golden creation of polished oak, delicately carved pinecones gracing each of its four posts. Having learned of S.’s pregnancy, Mamma decided that S. had to rest in that particular bed throughout the entire gestation period.

“Pinecones are powerful symbols of hospitality and warm reception. As such, we welcome this first, unborn grandchild into our family.”

Asinine.

I felt responsible for livening up her goose down and lace solitary confinement.

I had to rouse her; I had to play my role. The familiar pattern of our conversation would reassure me. Her brow did look smoother and her expression was more relaxed, even playful. The thought of leaving her like that, just so, crept into my mind. I walked over and pressed my palms against the slant of the roof above the dormer window. I stared out the glass panes and squinted.

“What does today’s sunlight remind you of? Can I tell you what I think of?”

“Tell me, lil’ one,” she said, her voice assuring me that things were good this morning. We both had moments of ease, days of madness. Mamma called it an imbalance of humors (“...too much damn Tabasco sauce when I was pregnant with you two girls”). Slowly, my sister smiled and tilted her head to the side. A hand rested on her large belly and she submitted to the morning light, allowing its warm rays to rest on her broad, ivory cheeks.

“Duh duh duh da!” I held up my arms and turned my torso toward the window, to the door and finally to my sister in bed like a gymnast saluting the Olympic committee. “For my very privileged audience of one, in list fashion, I give you, ‘Morning Light!’ Chicken feathers, fresh laundry, Mamma’s golden arm hair, the sheen of a fresh catch of grouper, the reflection pools outside the courthouse and last but not least, the glow of my lovely sister’s smile after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl!”

She gave me a smile, broad and lazy. She was good, I was good—we were both trying very hard to be good in the white, morning sunshine. I stepped toward the window again and looked out.

Decaying grandeur.

I kept my eyes on the property and waited for Miss Havisham to walk up the flagstone.

(... and she had a beautiful baby girl. Happy 1st Birthday to my little niece!)

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

"Page 6"


April 26th and I’m almost feeling good. The Burberry jacket is a step up, I muse. And I certainly feel more at ease in the 6th Avenue milieu of hyper paper pushers, diamond dealers and town car smog this time around. But the building—that god-forsaken white monolith—still makes my tongue twitch and my throat constrict—like someone high on the 17th floor had force-fed me a spoonful of sodium from the non-existent News Corp cafeteria.

Hadn’t they done their research? Didn’t they know who they were interviewing? Didn’t everyone check into “Gawker” on their lunch hour? I am the enemy—the tell-all blogger “Belle” that slaved away at their affiliate news station—and yet my name persists in bold type in their Outlook.

BROOKE PARKHURST: 3PM INTERVIEW
POSITIION—“PAGE 6” STAFF REPORTER.

I’d be the “fourth chair,” replacing Jared Paul Stern, Fernando Gil, Lisa Marsh and Christopher Tennant. A few friends were excited by the prospect of my potential day job—elated, really, “Think of the perks! The drinks, the dinners, the PARTIES! We’ll have CARTE BLANCHE!” We? Then there were the few trusted advisors that simply asked, “Why check your baggage onto a sinking ship?”

But, it was PAGE 6.
It was the dapper Richard Johnson.
It was the rag that jumpstarted my mornings, giving me a Gatsby glimpse into how the other half lives.

I had declined Richard’s lunch invitation, instead favoring a trip to company headquarters. We’ll call this my Russian Roulette. I like taking chances. I like that nauseating, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. More than anything, I relish the thought of running into one of my old producers by the elevator bank. I see this scenario as saying that, in a few short years, I had moved from peon to personage… But, how the hell would I explain my presence back inside the computerized gates?

One limp handshake later and it was too late. The elevator sucked me and Richard up to the high floors, back into the world of Murdoch, madness and shady deals…