The date: Aug. 22, 2007
The venue: The Yard at the SoHo Grand Hotel Courtyard, New York
The crowd: The CITY staffers and art aficionados kind of blended together ... perhaps because neither group possesses a wardrobe with colors beyond black and white.
The food: An inspired mix of highbrow and lowbrow -- grilled mushrooms on flatbread for the haughty tastes, mini-Reubens for those with heartier appetites.
The bar: The bar was open, but once we noticed the boisson du soir was Grey Goose with Citron lemonade, we had no need for anything else.
The swag: Since Damien Hirst wasn't present to dole out mini-replicas of his $99 million diamond-encrusted skull on display of CITY's 50th issue, we had to settle for a free copy of the magazine's milestone.
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Fellow Freeloaders, take note: Before you get too excited about your next RSVP, be sure you've given your invite a proper once-over. Learn from Freeloader's most recent mistake, which occurred last night in anticipation of CITY magazine's 50th issue party in the outdoor yard of the SoHo Grand Hotel. The invite contained the words Damien Hirst (our favorite avant garde Brit artiste) and "$99 million diamond skull," a sure-fire party combo if ever there was one.
But within five minutes of arriving at the low-key affair, scanning the artsy crowd for a waistline wider than 32 inches (there wasn't one), we suddenly remembered how the rest of the sentence containing those promising words went: "Inside the issue is a candid interview between [photographer Sante] D'Orazio and Damien Hirst, whose $99 million diamond skull graces the cover of the special edition issues."
In an instant, our dreams of hobnobbing with big-ticket artists in front of a skull tricked out with more ice than a full-size freezer came crashing down. Lesson learned: Don't get too overexcited about a party's prospects when it's scheduled for the last two weeks of August.
But as in any party situation where the event doesn't turn out to meet our expectations, we turned to the next best thing: free booze. And oh what free booze it was. CITY shelled out the big bucks by circulating trays full of Grey Goose-and-Citron lemonade cocktails, guaranteed to take the sting off any party letdown. It's been awhile since Freeloader drank someone else's Grey Goose, so we'd forgotten how deceptively smooth the top-shelf vodka goes down, particularly when paired with a delightfully tart mixer. Makes being stuck in the city in late summer almost worth it.
Therefore we saw no harm in downing two of the drinks as we thumbed through the pages of CITY's 50th issue. Having unfairly written off CITY as yet another New York-based monthly mag whenever we eyed it on the newsstand, Freeloader admittedly never picked up a copy of CITY prior to the party. After all, our coffee table can only overflow with so many copies of New York, The New Yorker, Time Out and Paper -- to say nothing of the Times, of course -- before it cries out for a Los Angeles or even a Midwest Living just to break up the geographic monotony.
But since CITY is more in the vein of an Interview or a Black Book -- monthly, arty mags with more of a pan-metropolitan focus -- we began to regret not picking one up sooner. Any magazine where a Bob Colacello-Zac Posen Q&A resides just pages away from a fashion spread in which an eyeball is seen poking out of a Burberry handbag (seriously) is worthy of a spot in Freeloader's living room.
Unfortunately, the magazine's party failed to intrigue us as much as the issue, so we quietly exited after downing our second Grey Goose-and-lemonade. Frankly, without a key Damien Hirst exhibit to entertain us, we were a bit bored out of our (non-diamond-encrusted) skull.