Hail to the Chiefs
The Axl and Slash of newsletters is calling all spin doctors, recovering one-hit wonders, and vicarious divorcées for a round of varsity Twister
What would make the perfect women’s magazine? Juicy yarns, big ideas, deeply personal examinations of women’s lives—and none of the advertiser obligations. Welcome to the Spread, where every week two editors read, listen, and watch it all, and deliver only the best to your inbox.
Tell us, what is your safe space? Ours involves a snowy white cloth, an array of delicately stemmed glassware, and a list of foods (printed on actual paper, s’il vous plait, don’t even come near us with that QR code BS) that some other human being has planned, purchased ingredients to make, expertly prepared, and will whisk away once consumed. And if you can believe it, Jessica Blankenship wants to take this safe space away from us…and give it to a bunch of children. The nerve. She writes in Bon Appetit about the recent kerfuffle over a New Jersey establishment known as Nettie’s House of Spaghetti—which, OK, does not sound exactly like the safe space we just described—that is absolutely over its marinara-splashing, ruckus-making youngest patrons, and recently laid down the law: Children under 10 are officially non grata. Blankenship, a mom herself (who, just so you know we’re fair and balanced, wrote this excellent and very transparent meditation on Fleishman-ism, our favorite topic), comes down hard: Bringing kids to restaurants is part of the social fabric, she declares. “The contrast and even the friction between different people—young and old, loud and quiet, all existing in the same space—represents a restaurant at its best….tolerating other people’s kids in restaurants so they can learn to be people in the world is the last remaining expression of community-centered child-rearing.” Jessica, how do we, as fellow parents of young diners, put this gently? HARD NO. When you write that “accommodating kids in a restaurant setting requires certain things from everyone involved,” the reaction at Spread HQ is visceral: We do a lot of accommodating in our daily life as parents. Sometimes it feels like accommodating is all we do. Enjoying a delicious meal in a zone that is either kid-free or in which we feel certain that any child present will be ably managed (what’s the old chestnut, seen but not heard?) is the whole reason we put on lipstick and left our couch in the first place. With exceptions for Mother’s Day brunch, the Official Spread Policy on Children Eating Out is that tots should be welcomed—even encouraged—to dine in restaurants whose names include “tavern” or “bar and grille” or “Mc-,” the kind of place you might find crayons on the table, where the baseline noise level is loud enough to cover non-calibrated children’s voices. (Really, parents, who wants to bring an unruly kid to a quiet, classy establishment? We can’t imagine a more exhausting way to throw money down the drain.) Other than that, please, we beg you, call the sitter.
Interestingly, while Spread HQ is in lockstep on the child-restaurant issue, we find ourselves deeply divided on a related champagne problem: kids in first class. Maggie, whose hindquarters only vaguely recall the cushy comfort of those rarified rows, would be horrified to find herself seated next to any human under the age of 25, were she to splurge on the rare upgrade. Rachel, who years ago somehow got the right credit card that gets her upgraded all the time (which Maggie is not mad at, not at all, what are you even insinuating) feels that everybody needs to chill out—let the babies enjoy their dang mimosas and heated assorted nuts and legroom and extra blankies, OK!? Toddlers’ rights are human rights or something like that.
Tell us, gentle readers, whether you have kids or not—and we’re betting the childless among you have feelings on this: Where do you fall on these all-important swing issues?
First class or bust,
Rachel & Maggie
PS: We’re doing things nice and easy this week, resisting the urge to hold forth as per usual and instead delivering you a straightforward reading list. (Maggie’s children are on winter break.) Tune in next week—probably Wednesday?—for the full Spread, overflowing with the spicy-sweet takes you crave.
PPS: Did you know the Spread is on Instagram? Well, we are—and we’re actually starting to, um, use it! Join us here and please help us spread the word.
PPPS: Queen Maggie’s book, The Kingdom of Prep: The Inside Story of the Rise and (Near) Fall of J.Crew, will be released into the wilds of bookstores everywhere in exactly two weeks! You can pre-order it here or here.
Spinderellas: Among our favorite subgenres of the modern magazine profile: A New York magazine portrait of a Public Relations Whiz. See: Vanessa Grigoriadis’s 1998 classic about the Lizzie Grubman set; Brock Colyar’s more recent hang with “indie publicist” Kaitlin Phillips. Now, Shawn McCreesh has given us a feature on crisis queen Risa Heller. It’s more delicious than a quiet night at Nettie’s Spaghetti. Read “Get Me Risa Heller!” here.
Speaking of favorite subgenres! Condé Nast’s Them has a fun comeback profile on Rebecca Black, by Juan Velasquez. The singer—who at age 13, in 2011, brought us the world’s most disliked viral YouTube video, “Friday”—is now 25 and giving pop another go. Read “Rebecca Black Isn’t Here to Redeem Herself” here.
Spiritual hunger: Writer Paul Ford’s lifelong battle with his weight may have ended when he started a prescription injection called Mounjaro (a cousin to much-chattered-about weight-loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy). For WIRED, he writes movingly about the upshot, so to speak—raising existential questions about science’s ability to save us from our sins (in his case, self-described gluttony). Read “The Post-Appetite Era” here.
Inside job: We recently threw a party to celebrate the fact that everyone and their grandmother seems to have stopped calling themselves a “creative director.” (It was very well attended.) According to AirMail, the title of chief of staff—which in our estimation is equally ridiculous but much more useful!—is swooping in to take its place. Apply to be the Spread’s chief of staff, an unpaid but highly spiritually rewarding position, here.
Up stream: Because we are old, we knew YouTuber Emma Chamberlain not from YouTube, but from her Arch Digest-featured “Deeply Personal Los Angeles Home”. That is, until she got the Talk treatment in this week’s New York Times magazine, wherein she reveals the nitty gritty about feeding the online video beast, her internet-induced anxiety and depression, and her new business endeavors (coffee, podcasting). Read “YouTube Made Emma Chamberlain a Star. Now She’s Leaving it Behind” by David Marchese here.
A tale of two Vogues: At fashion’s mothership, the more things change, the more they stay the same—and we gotta say, we’re into both new and old. Stateside, you know times are a-changin’ when you see Erykah Badu get a long overdue Vogue cover. Maggie started out at Vogue back when Erykah Badu first came around, and she can tell you—this would not have happened in the olden days. Rejoice! Then, from across the pond, British Vogue gives us Rihanna, in evening wear, on a windswept beach, with the horizon, her babe, and her man—notably located a few critical steps behind the queen—a lovingly retouched, fully CGI’d cover image that has Old School Power of Vogue written all over it. Buh-BAM!
An enameled Købenstyle casserole, whose lid serves as a trivet, in brilliant red or turquoise? We’ll take it. We audibly gasped when we read that housewares brand Dansk originated in Great Neck, Long Island. And, second gasp, when we realized the brand had been acquired by Food52! Just a few of the heart-racing details—OK, that’s subjective—in this profile of a Mad Men-era label that came to epitomize mid-century modern, a look and a whole way of living that we all (subjective, again) assume is a superior way to consume, decorate, be. Read the New Yorker’s “Dansk and the Promise of a Simple Scandinavian Life” here.
Speaking of hot pots…Which one will Pamela Paul not stir these days? We shared a few weeks ago the furor around the New York Times opinionator’s rather randomly timed rethink (of sorts) of the American Dirt controversy. So we almost had to laugh when last week we spotted, “In Defense of J.K. Rowling.” This past summer, Paul was accused of “laying the groundwork for a mainstream case for trans exclusion”; a few weeks ago, she wrote that fatal “gotta hand it to Ron DeSantis” line. Choosing to wade back into the trans issue at the very moment when the Times’s coverage of the transgender community has come to the fore among writers and editors? Hoo, boy.
The Break Up: Last week, we told you that Brooklyn moms and their regional wannabes were mourning Cup of Jo founder Joanna Goddard’s divorce. A couple of days later, Spread VIP Karthryn Jezer-Morton pubbed the interview you were waiting for with Jo herself. So really this is just an opportunity for us to say, Told you so. Read it here in the Cut.
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