SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
The Washington Post recently announced the winner of its “America’s Next Great Pundit” contest, and Kevin Huffman, (who Wonkette aptly described as “nothing more than a composite of all preexisting Washington Post op-ed writers, yet somehow even whiter”) took the gold. Almost simultaneously the Post unveiled what has to be one of the worst columns of all time: “The Party,” by Sally Quinn, in which Ben Bradlee’s wife “offers tips and advice on how to entertain with style.”
Here’s Quinn on the mission of her column:
We all entertain. You may not call it that. You may not like to think of it as that, but it’s the truth. Anybody who has ever had a friend over for a cup of coffee or a beer has entertained. The question is, how do you do it, and how do you do it right? Entertaining well is not about which fork to use. Anybody can go to the store and buy a book on etiquette, which will ease their minds on the details. What those books don’t tell you about is the spirit of entertaining.
This week Quinn is back with another column which will certainly be of interest to the 0.01 percent of the population that gives a shit about “the spirit of entertaining.” Here’s her two cents on the burning issue of whether a husband and wife should be seated together at dinner parties:
My answer is emphatically no. Here’s why: The whole point of going out to dinner is to meet people, make new friends, see old friends, learn something, make connections and share something of yourself with others, not to mention having fun. It’s very hard to do this if you are sitting next to your spouse. I find that it saps the energy from the table when spouses are practically in each other’s laps.
And the Post wonders why its readership is declining.
Note: Check out this delightful 1998 profile of Quinn by Harry Jaffe. “Sally Quinn has been floundering around for the last couple of decades, when she failed first as a journalist, then as a novelist, before emerging as a hostess in a Washington society that even she admits is in its death throes,” Jaffe wrote. “Which brings us to a central question: Who appointed Quinn as the mouthpiece for the permanent Washington establishment, if there is such an animal?”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”