Is Nick Denton going soft? Even his cutbacks are sentimental these days. In the old days, Denton, the publisher of Valleywag and 14 other Gawker Media blogs, would simply shutter blogs. These days, he worries first about finding them nice homes. Such is the velvet-glove treatment he's giving Gridskipper, Wonkette, and Idolator, his blogs about, respectively, travel, politics, and music. The three blogs amount to less than 3 percent of Gawker Media's traffic, he says. Fine, so why keep them around in any form? Silicon Alley Insider has the details on their new owners. More evidence of Denton's increasing namby-pambosity: Instead of threatening to fire leakers, he's encouraging us to post the internal memo announcing the move. Darling bossman, that's no fun. But also no reason to keep the memo from you, dear readers:
Would you read a tell-all book from two former concierges at Chicago's upscale Four Seasons Hotel? Well, you can't: Random House/Three Rivers Press has canceled Great Reservations: Two Concierges Dish About Outrageous Requests, Celebrity Encounters, and Guests Behaving Badly at a Luxury Hotel. For making it all up? No, it's because they were "legally banned" from writing about said experiences by signing a confidentiality agreement with their former employer. Gotta read the fine print, gals! (The book had "anecdotes on such celebrities as Madonna (who had a 'phobialike aversion' to air conditioning) and Sir Anthony Hopkins," reports the AP.)
Sex and tech writer Melissa Gira and new Gawker writer Nick Douglas are two of the confirmed famous-for-the-Internet people who'll be at Valleywag Friday today, starting at 4 p.m. and continuing through maybe 8 or 9 at Moose's in Washington Square. Some of Gridskipper co-conspirators may be there, too. Valet parking available.
The best coffee in the city now has seating. Blue Bottle Coffee, a staple of the Embarcadero Farmer's Market and jaunts through Hayes Valley has finally opened a real coffee shop on a SoMa side street near the Moscone Convention Center. Go drink drip coffee (or sample some java from its $20,000 siphon bar) and be happy.
Today's Examiner features a front-page story on Moose's, the recently remodeled North Beach bar-with-a-very-nice-restaurant-attached that Valleywag has taken over as our Friday happy hour spot. Co-owner and bar dominatrix Valen "rhymes with Van Halen" West lets Owen park his PowerBook right where 20th-century gossip legend Herb Caen's typewriter used to be. I'll be there, too, with a couple extra pairs of sunglasses in case you forgot yours. 4 p.m. until Owen's corporate card maxes out. 1652 Stockton Street on Washington Square. Valet parking for Valley people, or the 9X/30/45 lines for Munitards. (Photo by Jason Steinberg/San Francisco Examiner)
Here's a "1979 ad for Pakistani Airlines promoting its flights to New York City." Can't you just picture a young, fresh-faced Khalid Sheikh Mohammed stumbling across this in a Baluchistan newspaper, some dim flicker of a terrible plan taking hold, just before he books his own flight to the US for his formative education? Yes, it really would explain a lot—if it weren't for the fact that we all know CHENEY DID 9/11. Still: eerie. [AdRants]
New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni is "a sucker for overpriced candles," is currently obsessed with Travis' second album, The Man Who, and loves the New England Pats. Also! Sometimes he eats baguettes so hard that "I sometimes have to change my shirt afterward because of the jam stains." Mignon! [Refinery 29]
Periodically an advertiser gives us (well, someone here!) a lot of money to run a contest. This time around, the advertiser is the sketch comedy show, The Whitest Kids U'Know. Since issues of race are interesting to us anyway, we were happy to create a contest. We're asking you to send a photograph of (wait for it) the whitest kid you know. A couple of things: First, you must actually know this person. We won't accept photographs of, for instance, Sir Harry Evans, unless you actually know Sir Harry Evans! Secondly, the person doesn't have to be white. Race is a social construct. Whiteness can be interpreted in any way you wish. But just like in college, your reading of whiteness must be bolstered by robust argument! Thirdly, you can be the whitest kid you know. Entirely possible, possibly likely! Also, there's a prize and rules.
Southwest Airlines, newly returned to SFO, recently redesigned its gate area to make it more friendly to kids, parents and business travelers. Now, Consumerist tells us that parents are upset that they and their younglings have to board after Southwest's A-List flyers — the "first class" of SWA — rather than boarding first, as they did previously. Rumor has it that full-fare business passengers were ticked at giving up the good seats to budget-minded families and the boarding-order switcharoo should increase business travel. Southwest says they have no plans to change the policy. Peeved parents have started an online petition against Southwest. We should start a petition for Southwest to keep the policy. Those brats belong at the back of the line. We have biz-dev deals to do when we land. (Photo from Ack Ook)
Southwest Airlines, newly returned to SFO, and a big tenant at the Bay Area's other airports, has rolled out a fancy new gate-area design and boarding process. Instead of the A/B/C boarding groups of old, you'll be assigned a number like A27 based on when you checked in for your flight. When your number is up, you get on the plane and sit where you like. No more queuing up an hour before departure to ensure you get an aisle seat. The best news? Southwest is also redesigning the gate area with comfy seats and a counter with lots of power outlets to charge your cell phones and laptops.
Apple is continuing their retail expansion with a new store on Chestnut Street in San Francisco's Marina District. ifoAppleStore reports that Apple overcame neighborhood opposition to destroy a previously existing building with historical tiles. Please. Like a few historical preservationists are any match for Steve Jobs's retail designs. A mere 2.8 miles from the Stockton Street flagship, the store gives us another place to get iPhones repaired instead of having to wait in the chaos of the Stockton location. But there's another, smarter option for getting your Apple fix.
If you ever wanted to know which countries limit access to the great bountiful flow of information we call the World Wide Web, you only need glance at the gaping black holes in the above map. Reporters Without Borders has compiled the following list of 15 countries that restrict the Internet: Maldives, Tunisia, Belarus, Libya, Syria, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Myanmar/Burma, Cuba, Turkmenistan, and North Korea. I don't know; some of them sound like marvelous vacation spots. And the lack of Internet access? Bonus.
This afternoon, a memo went out from New York Times Magazine head Gerald Marzorati. It seems that staffers and freelancers have been flying business and first class while on assignment. Clearly this cannot stand! Although, why not? The magazine and those money-minters T, Play, and Key are raking it in for the business. (Seriously. The issue of T: Women coming out this Sunday is the biggest issue of a Times magazine since 1984. 183.3 pages of ads! Surely that can pay for a flight or two to Milan!) No matter! They have to find some way to pay those juicy word count rates. Approval to fly business class will only be granted after being run past Times Managing Editor John Geddes or Assistant Managing Editor Bill Schmidt. Got that? The full memo follows.
The Bowery Hotel is, gasp, on the Bowery. Down there, apparently, the close proximity of poverty and luxury raises some hairy questions. One of the questions it probably doesn't raise is the one Denny Lee chooses to ask in the Times: "So what if you might have to step over a few vestigial bums to get there?" Yeah, so what? Also enjoyable is Lee's characterization of Midtown as a "glassy city on a hill" while the East Village resembles "a dim valley of grimy walkups." On the bright side, better the hotel be in Travel than the much more widely-read-by-jerkfaces Styles section. That way, that vestigial bum might have a few more moments slumber before the onslaught of city-on-a-hill transplants flood the lobby.
An apartment-hopper writes in to say that s/he is being tortured by the Hearst building. (Hey, how do you think Helen Gurley Brown feels?) "I'm temporarily staying at an apartment in midtown whose bedroom window faces the ginormous monstrosity that is their new headquarters and those bitches never turn off their lights! Rows upon rows, floor after floor, it's like a greenhouse of squandered fluorescent energy. Unfortunately the window shades are sheer, and it's not my apartment! They have a video about how the tower is 'NYC's first green building' but how can that be possible when they're using energy all night, every night, for nothing?? Please make them shut off the lights! Even if it's only for five minutes.. I need to get some sleep!" Please enjoy your stay in midtown, friend, and then quickly return to whatever crazy blacked-out rural borough in which you reside.
More news on that whole Meatpacking District vs. Hotel Gansevoort billboard story! Someone on the inside says a number of local businesses will join Keith McNally in the boycott of reservations coming from the Hotel Gansevoort because of the hotel's hideous billboard. Last week, a meeting of local business owners convened, hosted by McNally, that included David Rabin of Lotus, folks from The Waverly Inn and 5 Ninth, and most likely The Spotted Pig's Ken Friedman, to compare notes and mock the owner of the Gansevoort.