I think most music writers secretly wish they could spend a little more time in Manhattan’s stuffy, dress coded, Scotch-and-soda-fueled literary scene. You know what I mean: Attending parties in libraries and landmark hotels in Midtown instead of dark Lower East Side basement bars. Cocktail piano instead of the new Sleigh Bells single. Mints and linen napkins in the bathroom instead of graffiti and piss-stinking floors. It’s healthy to stop imagining you’re PJ Harvey and fantasize that you’re Dorothy Parker every once in a while. So when I heard that my friend, the veteran writer George Gurley was throwing a party at the Doubles lounge below the Sherry Netherland Hotel on 5th Avenue, I instantly began to imagine what life would be like if this were the early 60s, cigarettes were good for you, and Truman Capote was my best friend.
“It was nice, for a few hours, to pretend to be Holly Golightly.”
George tends to bring that out in people. I’ve never seen him sober and I’ve never seen him without a jacket and tie. When I see George, he’s slumming in my world of loud jukeboxes and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Now to help him celebrate his hilarious and bracingly honest memoir about couples therapy and life in New York, George and Hilly, I would slum in his. I pulled my LBD out of the dry cleaning bag, applied some red lipstick, and got a cab uptown. I instantly felt like I was entering a Whit Stillman afterworld, full of salon-perfect blowouts, bowties and icy protestant angst.
George was already weary of being feted by the time I arrived and took the microphone long enough to thank everyone for coming, quickly re-propose to Hilly, and describe in detail locations for all three of the party’s after-parties, beginning with fuel up at Pop Burger. But as waiters in jackets and ties served tuna tartare and goat cheese with fig compote hors d’oeuvres, nobody wanted to let go of the patrician illusion so quickly. “They’re going to kick us out of here,” George warned. It’s always hard to be the host at a release party. George couldn’t finish a sentence without someone shoving a book in his hands to sign and I was sure to buy my copy and get his signature too because it just seemed so perfectly antiquated in this digital world: A real human hand inscribing a message onto real paper. “Dear Lizzy,” George wrote. “I’ve met you twice but feel like I’ve known you for … two years.” Then he reminded me to follow him across the street to Pop Burger.
When I spotted my friend Chris Wilson, notorious ex-Page Six reporter and tireless carouser, I had visions of a very late night in parts far less quaint and charming and Bored to Death-like than this place. So I slipped away, not wanting to ruin the dream. In the freakishly balmy mid-winter night, I strolled downtown a few blocks past Tiffany’s before getting a cab downtown. Tonight I’ll no doubt be drinking well whiskey in the East Village mourning the loss of yet another gross but great writers’ water hole (Holiday Cocktail Lounge RIP) with diseased bathrooms and sticky bar stools. But it was nice, for a few hours, to pretend to be Holly Golightly. Thanks, George.