Who Owns “Society”?

Webster’s dictionary defines society as follows.

so·ci·e·ty
1: companionship or association with one’s fellows: friendly or intimate intercourse: company
2: a voluntary association of individuals for common ends; especially : an organized group working together or periodically meeting because of common interests, beliefs, or profession
3 a: an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another b: a community, nation, or broad grouping of people having common traditions, institutions, and collective activities and interests
4: the fashionable elite

As the Editor and Founder of ManhattanSociety.com, considering the definition referenced above, I would define Society in a more inclusive rather than exclusive manner, as the people in our community who influence the social, artistic and creative under current of the metropolis, often for philanthropic reasons, usually related to preservation of local cultural and charitable institutions. Often these folks come from the gilded, privileged and well heeled classes who have a strong affinity for or longstanding roots in the community that have allowed them to develop and forge relationships with those of similar values who seek to preserve, maintain and improve the existing character of their local community with a special benevolence towards the less fortunate, the poor and the elderly. While financial means is not necessarily a pre-requisite, in rather expensive regions of the country, like Manhattan, where the cost of survival is high, society circles are often comprised principally of those who have more time free from labor to invest in networking within the community on boards and committees, but even so arguably this is even too narrow a definition. Viewed more expansively, society itself is comprised of many sub-sects of which, so called high society, is but one that is often somewhat politically defined.

Whether the distinctions between ‘affluence’, ’society’ and ‘celebrity’ are always accurate is open for debate. This is especially true considering, in recent years, the infusion of affluence and celebrity culture into what have traditionally been society charity events. The blurring of the lines of these worlds has been largely due to the efforts of publicists seeking more publicity for fundraisers and their sponsors, outside the closed circuit of society to nationalize or internationalize branding from these exclusive events for their clients, and perhaps development directors seeking more dollars for their foundations. Alec Baldwin and Robert DeNiro, who are local artists that have achieved global success and recognition and thus are ‘celebrities’, transcend labels because of their long standing relationship with and commitment to the metropolis and community organizations that recognize them as ‘Super Citizens’ by their local activism and contributions to civic society.

Today, I read a New York Observer piece entitled, Society-Mag Smackdown. This article is interesting and entertaining if only because it illustrates some of the rather ridiculous ego’s that exist in New York Society. There are some who seek for business purposes, their own business purposes mind you, to define Society rather narrowly in a highly exclusive manner as consisting of the same 5-10 Waspy Ralph Lauren’esque families of the Upper East Side and the occasional philanthropic Jew who does not ruffle the old WASP culture’s feathers. The ultimate irony in striking these Ralph Laurenesque poses, Ralph Lauren is in fact Mr. Lifshitz a Bronx born Jew who created or perhaps encapsulated what is considered by most the classic All American WASP look and lifestyle under his banner, and it seemingly this lifestyle which some of these publications emulate. One can only wonder is it art mimicking life or life mimicking art? Often in these publications, you will see the same 20 people in it month in and month out. Unfortunately, it is perhaps that mindset which makes New York less interesting and not more interesting.

As stated by Mr. Columbia:

“Quest and Avenue, Mr. Columbia asserts, are the authentic society magazines because they are put together by members of the world they cover. The Meighers, for example, are part of the New York and Palm Beach society,” said Mr. Columbia, who himself grew up middle-class in Massachusetts. “Elizabeth and Georgina grew up in New York and went to private schools here. All their friends belong to this world.“With the great bubble of prosperity, you had all these aspirants to that world,” Mr. Columbia continued. “But since they are not part of it, they’ve actually created their own world—a satellite world which they call society, which it absolutely is not.”

It is a rather interesting phenomenon when society journalists morph into society gatekeepers through narrowing the definition of society, to suit or justify a certain publishing agenda and thereby lend a special exclusivity to their brand and authenticity to their claims. Nevertheless, ask any development director of any major charitable or cultural institution whether ALL of the glossy publications and social websites, regardless of their relative level of societal authenticity, assist in making the New York charitable world a tad more interesting, hence leading to more ticket sales to their events and fundraising and the answer is an unequivocal yes. To the old guard who promote rather effectively this illusive concept of a club that nobody is good enough to belong to (unless DPC covers it), perhaps if your coverage stretched a bit more widely than the handful of folks you (or your colleagues) went to prep school with, then the world of philanthropy would be a bit more appealing to a wider cross section of the population. Or as aptly stated by a friend who is herself an expatriate of the Manhattan Society scene, “If some of these folks would open their eyes and admit to the insanity of it all then they would not be living behind the facade of that which they brilliantly created for others to fawn over them.”

It is rather incredulous to me in these times that we are living in that a society journalist like Mr. Columbia would hide beyond the accomplishments and social standing of others who’s shoulders he is admittedly standing on and engage in this rather blind self promoting snarky elitism which amounts to little more than, “we are society, you are not.” One can only wonder if he understands the meaning of society. This is what is wroing with those who start believing in the hype of their significance. Perhaps in the eyes of folks like Mr. Columbia, the rest of us are living in a satellite world and those that I cover are “not” part of New York Society. C’est la vie.

My suggestion is that Mr. Columbia do some research, like this “Bridge & Tunnel” born New Yorker has and what you will discover is that it is the “middle class” that gives the greatest percentage of their earnings to charity. With all due respect to Mr. Columbia, you were not even born in New York City. And yes there are some folks in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island who will never hit your radar screen who are quite charitably minded. Those folks are a part of my world. That you see no interest in covering those folks speaks volumes of whom you want to hob nob with for financial purposes. That there are folks reading Social Life Magazine, ManhattanSociety.com, GuestofaGuest.com, Panache Magazine, Uptown Magazine, and/or Jason Binn founded Niche Media publications as well as Tia Walker’s The Quest for “it” blog. just reflects what consumers want to see, which is a different take on our existing reality. Personally, my bible is the New York Times, but I read the Observer, New York Post, Wall Street Journal, Cityfile, The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post and all the other angles on this metropolis. They all have their take, and they are ALL VALID. Last I checked nobody had an ownership interest on New York Society, whatever that means. Try telling that to my friends at The Society, that they are somehow not a society or part of any society. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia believes that, all these magazines purporting to be society magazines: “They’ll be wiped out. There almost all going to go.” Frankly what needs to go is the mindset of Mr. Columbia.

The CIRCUS Came to Town in Southampton & The CLOWN wore ONE Glove

Over the weekend, the CIRCUS came to town in Southampton, New York. CIARA did not show up, despite reports and claims to the contrary, but a CLOWN named MICAH wearing ONE glove and a MICHAEL JACKSON inspired outfit sure did.

For those of you whom are fans of MicahJesse.com, the social gay blogger (who does not actually write, but just captures images of his “Amazeballs self posing and sucking up to random Celebutards of varying degrees), please do note that the site will be relaunching soon and if you are like us, you may be wondering what will be Micah Jesse’s second act? Will this not ready for prime time player follow the Michael Jackson theme and light his hair on fire? Now that, I might actually watch. Much like Pepsi, he does after all claim to be the choice of a New Generation. Excuse me if I am on pins and needles as to what will be the Next Generation of a guy who is only relatively famous among the Twittering class for going to parties and lunging at celebrities.

I know…..its all so “AMAZEBALLS”, as Micah would say, that GuestofaGuest.com, the web site of golden goddess Rachelle Hruska, was there to document all the excitement as did BlogHamptons, and you were wondering whether you were missing any excitement out east? Probably not if this is what passes for social news.

It should be duly noted that this blog should not be interpreted as expressing some profound or deep rooted contempt for a rather harmless fellow. Throughout history, silly people often appear in serious times. To me, Micah Jesse is much like a Court Jester without much of a serious agenda, other than being a Super Fan of celebrity culture. His appeal is largely to the twittering class of lower intellect people, making him on some level a reigning Queen of the Ridicutards.

UPDATE: The Battle of the Social Gays in the Hamptons Over CIARA….it gets better

It appears that perhaps Micah Jesse of MicahJesse.com, the New York based social gay blogger who is originally from Atlanta, Ciara’s home town, may have misrepresented, was misinformed or straight up fabricated the scheduled appearance of Singer Ciara, as his headline guest at his so called White Hot Birthday at the Day & Night Restaurant Beach Club at the Capri Hotel in Southampton. Perhaps the hope was that if Ciara came to terms on an agreement to travel to the East End of Long Island for an appearance at the Watermill Estate of Social Life Magazine to celebrate her cover, she would stop by his party first. “No dice.”

Micah Jesse claimed to me on Saturday shortly before the start time of his party that he got a call from Ciara’s publicist and that she was on Long Island, eating lunch and that she would stop by his party after she was done eating lunch. Really now? The party was held between 1-3 p.m. and Ciara was no where to be found, either at Micah Jesse’s party, on Long Island or even in the state of New York. Perhaps the reason Ciara did not show up was due to Social Life Magazine’s inability to strike a deal to lure Ciara from Atlanta to Long Island. Did booking issues result in her blowing off the Hamptons entirely? And if so why was Micah fibbing until the very end that she was on her way to his party?

It may appear that in the long running fame battle of the Social Gays that Micah, the recent Hofstra University graduate from Atlanta was attempting to eclipse his rival, Columbia University graduate from Nahant, Massachusetts, Kristian Laliberte who writes (gossips) for Stylecaster and a asmallworld.com and was briefly affiliated with Social Life Magazine in 2009. Early on Saturday morning it was overheard at the Bridgehampton Starbucks, although no official confirmation has been received yet from Social Life Magazine, Editor in Chief, Devorah Rose, that her former sidekick, Kristian Laliberte—the self promoting social gay publicist is OUT at Social Life Magazine. Seems like a lot of drama by two white queens over a beautiful and talented Nubian Princess.

In the grand scheme of things it hardly matters, and probably it belongs in some ridiculous paragraph about the inner workings of the brain of a Real Housewife from New York, the ongoing dialogue that Ramona “Crazy Eyes” Singer has with herself or one of Jill Zarin’s multiple NIP/TUCKS so she can eat more “Diet Chocolate”. But in the social cesspool of vacuous individuals who swim about the current social landscape, this ironically and sadly passes for social news.