The Breakfast Table

News About Fluff


Meeting’s over and I’m waiting for corn chowder to be delivered by The Daily Soup. (See last week’s complaints about agoraphobia, or rather, TimesSquaraphobia; it’s just before curtain time on matinee day in the theater district and the stampedes are about to start.)

My colleagues are passing by my office. I know what they think. I look like a little lazy, a little brain-damaged, pawing through the New York Observer and smiling. It feels and smells like a newspaper, but Candace Bushnell’s “Sex in the City” column got its start here, as did “The Monica Diaries,” the hilariously misspelled, obtuse scribblings purported to be lifted from the journals of Monica Lewinsky. As an ultimate tribute, the Observer’s columnist Ron Rosenbaum was recently satirized in the film “You’ve Got Mail” as a hyperintellectual Luddite played by Greg Kinnear. This week Rosenbaum writes about “the great unsolved Nixon mystery”–did he or didn’t he order the break-in at the Watergate? “Could it be that I’m the only one who cares?” the writer frets with the delicious whininess that is the hallmark of this paper.

But not its only hallmark. The best global description of the Observer’s front page articles I can muster is the sex lives of the lawyers of the rich and famous. There’s a lot of airing of dirty political laundry, entertainment mogul laundry, real estate mogul laundry– no starch, please. But what I really love is “Off the Record,” on the goings-on in the media. This week, reflexively enough, the column leads off with an item about gossip–the difficult birth and uncertain esteem of the New York Times’s year-old “Public Lives” page. The Observer devotes more than three columns to this little section: Do publicists value or despise it? Do the city’s gossip columnists admire or scorn it? Do Times staffers appreciate or ridicule it? We never learn what readers think. And I’m eating up every word.

Should I feel guilty?