The New National Magazine Awards

What Everyone Is Talking About Today

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NEW YORK ( -- Watercooler was all thrown off yesterday. After attending at least 10 years worth of National Magazine Awards luncheons at the Waldorf-Astoria, conveniently located mere blocks from our cubicle, we found ourselves having to get all the way across town to a new venue in the evening, and in black-tie dress. But we managed. And the new locale, the Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Time Warner Center, was lovely in many ways (we particularly liked the fact we could do some light window shopping while the escalators up to the theater).
The National Magazine Awards were held in the Frecerick P. Rose Hall in Manhattan's Time Warner Center.
The National Magazine Awards were held in the Frecerick P. Rose Hall in Manhattan's Time Warner Center. Credit: AP

The West Side of Manhattan, after all, is much more convenient for most of the major publishers: Conde Nast has left Madison Ave. for the bright lights of Times Square, Hearst's and Time Warner's shiny new buildings are just blocks away from each other, and Hachette Filipacchi is still tucked in behind Broadway. Really, just about the only Manhattanites who had to schlep across town would have been the Meredith crowd (but we're not even sure any of them showed up, given that they weren't really playing this year) and the Rodale crew, and we know they're all in excellent shape. (Although, thanks to Backpacker's Jonathon Dorn, we now know none can hold a candle to Men's Health Editor David Zinczenko.)

Watercooler missed out on the Elletinis, the signature cocktail of the night, but we did snag a piece of sushi or two before the crowd all moved off into various stairways to funnel into the auditorium. The cocktail hour was a bit more difficult to navigate than the Waldorf's two-room approach, what with people gathering on several levels around the theater. Cutting out the eating portion of the awards meant that none of the speakers had to compete with the sound of 500 salad forks hitting plates. And unlike the Oscars, the jazz ensemble set up on stage behind the presenters did not play over anyone's acceptance speeches, meaning folks were allowed to thank everyone down to their assistants for helping to get their honored magazines out the door.

We were glad to see several winners seemed to take to heart some suggestions our very own Media Guy gave for improving the awards, especially his point that the awards only go to the editors even though certain categories, such as reporting, should really go to the, um, reporter. New Yorker's David Remnick, New York's Adam Moss, and Esquire's David Granger all alluded to the belief that the writers should be standing with them on stage. (Sadly, Media Guy, we heard no calls for salmon loaf, but that doesn't mean food wasn't on people's minds: During cocktails, several folks remarked they better snag as many hors d'oeuvres as they could since there would be no other food. And Mark Whitaker, outgoing ASME president and Newsweek editor, ended the night by noting it was 9:20 p.m., and everyone could still make their 9:30 dinner reservations.)

Unlike the Waldorf waiters, notorious for their zeal to do their job no matter what the wishes of the diners are, the staff at Rose Hall was exceedingly polite. But the Waldorf can take solace in their superiority in another area, the coat check. The end of the night turned into an out-of-control coat-check mob descending upon one little window and four hapless attendees. The attendees' leader at one point yelled, "While we are grateful for your impulse to generosity, tipping is not allowed. Please do not leave dollar bills on the counter." We're not sure who ended up taking home the unclaimed strays, but here's hoping they were used to buy Atlantic Monthly's staffers a drink or two, given they were honored eight times for being nominated, but didn't go home with even one Ellie.
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