Thursday, January 15, 2004

Bailing Out Salon.Com: The best thing about your office is that it has a door that you can shut. The worst thing is that the windows look east. East is the direction the sun comes from in the morning even when you are too hungover to be exposed to anything brighter than the red light on your desk phone reminding you that you have voicemail.

You aren't listening to voicemail today. You knew that the moment you picked yourself up off the floor of Grace at 6:45 this morning. Today was going to be hard enough without actually talking to anyone.

The phone rings. It rings again before your assistant answers. You count out nine seconds before the intercom buzzes.

"I've got Jann Werner on the phone, Mr. Wakefield."


"Jann Werner. Editor of Rolling Stone."

"Christ. Does he want a job? What's he doing these days?"

"Maybe you should talk to him. I think he's still editor of Rolling Stone."

"They don't still publish that do they?"

"I'm not sure. I think so. It's one of those that puts Britney Spears on the cover."

You're pretty sure that Rolling Stone went out of business sometime in the early nineties. You can't imagine what he could be calling you about if not a job, and then suddenly you can imagine. You remember exactly what he's calling you about. He wants to give you $200,000.

"Tell Jann I'm in a meeting until next Tuesday."

Three days ago you were throwing up off the back of someone's boat when you felt a hand on your back. "Are you okay?"

"Does this look like okay to you? Christ. Where'd you get that stuff? It's like something left-over from when George Bush was doing lines at Yale and decided that someday he was going to fuck up Iraq."

Jann laughed and then went and found a towel for you to wipe off your chin. The sun had just dipped down over the Palisades and was throwing Orange Alert across the sky. After the boat docked in the 57th street boat basin, you went for cocktails with him at Petrossian. He said he wanted to help out with Manhattan Transfer. You had no idea who he was, so you told him you weren't hiring. He said he was looking to invest not work.

This might be good news to most struggling internet ventures but investment would be disastrous for ManhattanTransfer. The purpose of Manhattan Transfer is an elaborate tax-shelter. It eats through hundreds of thousands of dollars a year—mostly spent on researching Manhattan decadence with Elizabeth, Maccers, Eurotrash and Hereitype. These losses are then used to off-set gains from other ventures. Investment at the level Jann was talking would destroy the loss-making potential of the blog.

The intercom buzzes again. "He says he's going to hold for you."

"Fuck it. Here's what to do. Transfer the call to David Talbot. His number is in the 'Internet Bust - Do Not Invite' rolodex. He'll take anyone's money."

"Will do."

Crisis averted. You pull the blinds down over the Manhattan skyline, pop a kgb pill, and go back to ignoring your voicemail.