Mediabistro's Dessert & Discourse, ilili, New York
October 5, 2009
As I write this, I'm thinking about the F.T.C ruling on disclosure. I like the idea of spelling it out for impressionable readers who are easily swayed by others' potentially dishonest opinions. In the land of the rich getting richer and celebrities shilling for brands because they get swag for free, I especially like the necessary disclosure from celebrities. I hope bloggers/tweeters/whatevers see this for what it is: protecting the consumer and keeping the rest of us honest. I also hope that you trust me. It seems like a great time now to assure you that when I blather on Twitter, the opinions are strictly mine and they're not sponsored or paid for. Who would pay for that crap anyway? And when I'm talking to you here - in this column, if I like something (like a delicious mini burger [oh hey! When will someone introduce the mini manwich!]) or hate something ("don't you know who I am?!" types) no one is telling me to like or hate it. In fact, the day someone tells me my opinion is the day I make good on that promise to start a transvestite wombat farm/rodeo. Now, on with the show!
Last night I attended "Dessert & Discourse: Mediabistro's annual event for senior-level women's magazine editors with Panelists Michelle Adams of Lonny, Caroline Little of Gaurdian New and Media, Caroline Miller of Newser, Jennifer Salant of Glam Media, and Nicole Stagg of Hearst Magazines. In chicks-for-chicks style, the program was shades of pink. One of the sponsors was Conair, and the napkins were wrapped in a sparkly hairband (I am a 12-year-old girl inside and am still attracted to sparkly objects). The location was the swanky ilili, which, when you yell it at two octaves higher than your normal voice, sounds like a mating call. Ilili is the home of Chef Philippe Massoud, who also had his biteables up for sample at Flatiron Chefs. Dear ilili, you employ the most courteous, friendly, and appropriately snarky staff. Please give all servers from last night a bonus. They never rudely pushed through the clog of women and always moved aside to let guests by first as they waited, laden with trays of beef shawarma, the oddest mini burgers ever (meat on a crostini), baba ganoush, and other bite size yummies. Like I said - bonus.
I ran into some familiar faces like Jen Moses and Katie Smith Adair from Morris+King, Nichelle Stephens, editor of Pepsi We Inspire, and lone testosterone cowboy, PRNewser's Joe Ciarallo. He must have missed the estrogen memo. Babe Rizzuto from Conair was mingling about in her sparkly zipped jacked while Amanda Earnst, Fishbowl NY writer, Carmen Scheidel, mediabistro's mistress of education, and Michelle Adams, founding editor of Lonny, hovered near the blowdryers. Michelle Madhok, CEO & Editor-in-Chief of She-Finds Media and the adorably coiffed Allison Braham of Hearst Digital entertained my haircut fawnings. I can always tell when I'm freaking people out. They back away slowly and start looking for other eye contact. You have no idea how hard it is for a gal to find a referable haircut in this town! Joanne Newborn, Marketing Manager, Wines North America and Rebekah Polster, Account Manager at Gregory White PR flanked another guest while sipping creamy beverages and Trisha Blackmar, Senior Editor at Sports Illustrated smiled along with Allison Mezzfonte, Sr. Editor at Home & Garden. Keeping an eye on the evening were Mediabistro's Tatiana Ridley and oft-volunteer Carmen J Cox.
At my table, which I stalked as the servers set up our desserts of Essmalieh, a Napoleon of Kataifi and Achta topped with orange blossom simple syrup, Awaimat, a Lebanese beignet with orange blossom simple syrup, and "milk flavored" homemade Lebanese ice cream ("milk flavor" explains the indefinable blandness, which isn't a bad thing), I met Randi Bernfeld, Senior Editor at WowOWow.com and Kristin Fritz, Deputy Managing Editor at WowOWow.com. When asked by tablemate Allison Mezzafonte what they do at WowOWow.com, both women answered, "everything!" because the pub is still in startup mode, where everyone has more than quad roles. To my left was Lauren Waterman, freelance writer all over, including Teen Vogue. Lauren is very "American-Psycho"-proud of the business card her fiancé designed for her - he's a man very into type.
I left early into the panel due to two things. One, the initial question focused on the done to death challenge of print vs. digital. I know that women are the softer sex and all that (have you seen John Goodman lately though?), but this question and answer is not only expected but tired. I know it's because I've covered 10+ "Future of publishing/media/print/unbiased journalism," that I react this way, but I hope it's safe to assume that the women in attendance have read the previous thoughts on, or at least discussed among their peers, this challenge. If they haven't, they shouldn't be in senior editorial staff.
I did check Twitter later and saw tweets about other topics covered like monetization, which is another popular topic. Mediabistro always does a great job with cocktail parties, and this was no exception, I'd just like to see the women-centric panels injected with the same sort of electricity and vinegar as the more male dominated panels I've seen. And in general, I'd love to hear more about risks taken, bridges burned, and honest dissection of worst practices to learn from. But hey, it might just be me - what about you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
The second reason I left was because a woman sitting behind me was making sick dirty love to a lozenge. I'm talking tooth clacking, tongue sucking, throat soothing moisture tango. How can you not be aware of that sound? I'm going to write a book on mouth noise coaching. It will be distributed with an underground title like "how not to induce vomiting in others" or something. Sheesh.
Sweet pictures are up on Flickr! (check back in an hour for more!)
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