Last night I went to the 150th (!) birthday party for The Atlantic, that magazine that you never quite reach the end of. The bizarre party setup featured about 250 VIPs– governors, authors, Moby, me– on stage in an auditorium sipping free drinks and mingling, and the general public– students, retired people, homeless people, etc.– sitting in the chairs in the auditorium, gazing up at the cocktail party.
Luckily, an actual program manifested itself. P.J. O’Rourke, who is probably the funniest Republican of all time, moderated a weird panel of various, unrelated cultural figures, discussing “The American Idea.” The first point of agreement was that “The American Idea” was a pretty stupid theme. After that, Arianna Huffington read four haikus, Mark Bowden of “Blackhawk Down” fame talked about the media’s problems, writer Jeffrey Goldberg discussed how Iraq is going to hell, Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld (why?) discussed why politics are going to hell, and Moby admitted to being the dumbest guy on stage, before discussing how the music industry is going to hell. Then Christopher Buckley made some appropriately dry, upper class-targeted witty remarks.
Perhaps the highlight of the night was the surprise appearance of rock legend and all-around badass Patti Smith, who played two ridiculously good songs after deriding her own guitar skills. If anyone would like to see an authentic cell phone picture of Patti Smith along with the back of some guy’s head, please e-mail me and we’ll discuss payment arrangements.
1. This party setup is probably an experiment that will not be repeated.
2. Arianna Huffington’s popularity is at least 30% attributable to her accent.
3. The Atlantic is not going out of business any time soon.
4. Do not be surprised if James Fallows pens a 17,000 word analysis of this party and its depressing ties to the Bush administration’s incompetence.