A Report From GQ's Fiftieth

Kanye West, Diddy Combs, Jay-Z and More

By Published on .

GQ may have celebrated its 50th anniversary last night, but it was crotchety old Adages that was feeling the effects of time. I started the evening off at a cocktail party for the James Beard Foundation held at The Four Seasons. The event was to kick off the Taste America Tour and was notable, from my point of view, for its lack of free-booze-and-grub swilling media types. The publishing world was sort of represented, however. Foundation President Susan Ungaro, CFO Marilyn Platzer and Executive Assistant to the President Nancy Kull all worked at Family Circle in their previous lives.

Apparently there were a number of food journalists and food bloggers on hand. The only one I said more than two words to was the Daily News' Danyelle "Restaurant Girl" Freeman (who says she never even reads Gawker, which has developed an unhealthy fascination with her).

The cocktail hour was sponsored by Plymouth Gin. The last time I tangled with gin was in a Baton Rouge parking lot back in 1997, an evening which included a performance by Cool and the Gang and ended up with me barbecuing pork ribs at 3:30 in the morning. Still, if I had my druthers, I would have planted myself at The Four Seasons for a sit-down meal and wine.

Instead, it was off to GQ's 50th for cocktails, noise and whine (by me). First of all, I hope it's for financial reasons (cheap, big spaces) that businesses hold these major-league parties out in the dark bowels of western Manhattan. Surely, it can't be to keep the celebrities from the gawking of the unwashed masses -- considering the amount of unwashed Euro trash and celebuwannabes that cruise around these shindigs. There's nothing a non-celebrity crank like me hates more than being surrounded by a bunch of Z-list celebrities and, worse, not recognizing any of them because my TV habits are limited to football, the Food Network and Battlestar Galactica. And, also, I'm getting old.

Peter King Hunsinger, P Diddy, LA Reid, Jim Nelson, Kanye West, and Jay-Z
Peter King Hunsinger, P Diddy, LA Reid, Jim Nelson, Kanye West, and Jay-Z
Of course, there were media heavyweights and celebrities to be seen. GQ Editor in Chief Jim Nelson and VP-Publisher Peter King Hunsinger. Richard Beckman, president of the Conde Nast Media Group (and a former GQ publisher). Time Inc. Managing Editor Jim Kelly. Cindy Crawford. Half the cast of Saturday Night Live. And Gene Simmons from KISS. Gene, I actually approached.

Me: "Hi Gene. I interviewed you last year for an article in Ad Age."
Gene: "Oh. I'm sorry for that. By the way, this is my sister." Points to a tall blonde. "Obviously from another mother."
Blonde: "Hi."

I just moved right along to the bathroom at that point.

The big event of the evening was to be a performance by Kanye West. I was silently praying that the whispers would hold true and the hip-hop diva-boy would cancel for some reason. Not only would it be a great story, I could go to bed early! But alas, he showed. And after only two and a half hours, he was introduced by GQ's Jim Nelson, who said the "music industry ought to thank God for Kanye West." (And, I assume, Fifty Cent.) He also said something about Kanye caring as much about "the music" as GQ does about style -- a line so ripe for multiple levels of mocking that I actually pulled out my notepad to set about mocking.

I didn't know where to start. The hot lady-musicians in silvery dresses. Kanye's hunch-backed stomping about the stage. The so-called diamond sign that Kanye convinced his audience to make with their hands. (It's not a diamond sign, people.) That and the fact that I thought I'd have an epileptic fit -- either from the strobing lights or so many white people jumping up and down.

Then the music got to me. Then I noticed Jay-Z, Diddy, Beyoncé and L.L. Cool J bouncing up and down and singing along as well. Jay-Z and Diddy Combs, mind you, were supposedly just fresh from recording a remix with Fifty Cent.

Still, despite my age and codgerly nature, I found myself becoming the ultimate in clichés -- taking video with my phone to send to my younger, cooler brother a thousand miles away.

That Kanye kid just might make it yet.

Aside from keeping me out past midnight on a weeknight, the event was also notable for importing an L.A. fad that's entirely too late in getting to New York -- street-burgers served after the event. Good work GQ. Happy birthday.
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