12:03 pm Aug. 14, 20121
Each day, the New York tabloids vie to sell readers at the newsstands on outrageous headlines, dramatic photography, and, occasionally, great reporting. Who is today's winner?
Taylor Swift's big move
The news that Swift had bought a house in what's called The Kennedy Compound (though she does them one better: she bought it from a family that was there before the Kennedys) is being played differently in different places, but for the most part it is, to everyone but Vanity Fair, a moment in her love-match with Conor Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the recently deceased Mary Richardson Kennedy.
She's 22, he's 18; and while Swift's romantic life has been carefully dissected by fans (often from codes she puts in her songs) her actual romantic life has been, if anything, younger and more innocent than you might expect of a 22-year-old. Relationships with a Jonas Brother, Taylor Lautner, John Mayer and Jake Gyllenhaal have all lasted less than half a year. What is perhaps older and more adult than you would expect is that the little love token she has acquired to up the ante in her relationship with 18-year-old Conor Kennedy, the sort of thing you might expect to be expressed in a ring worn around the neck or, nowadays, even a tattoo, after scant six months in love, is actually a $4.9 million house in the Kennedy compound.
Just how unlikely is Swift as a Kennedy wife? Not very, actually. In addition to her prolific charity work, her public image is both glamorous and innocent. Kennedy mère's love for her might make the whole thing creepy to a non-Kennedy; but her approval has actually been impossible to muster for many of her son's wives.
Her parents, while not American royalty, each come from several generations of successful commercial families. Her father has his own bank that's a subsidiary of Merrill Lynch and is the third generation of his family to run it, while her mother, also a former banker, is the scion of an oil family that ran rigs in Southeast Asia during her childhood. Swift has been educated in private schools, and was successful on the horsey circuit as a girl. Getting noticed by the record companies for Taylor Swift was accomplished in part by dint of her father's friendship with a manager for the Phillies, who allowed her to sing the national anthem to an audience of more than 20,000 in 2008. And far from being a slight little country-music thing, Swift's songwriting, which she does herself, has garnered praise from Robert Chrisgau, Neil Young, Dolly Parton, and the list goes on and on and on.
The only problem with making her the front page is that this news broke on Friday, with the local NBC news affiliate in Boston, and has been carried excessively on all the celebrity and real-estate blogs ever since. In other words, it isn't news.
The News tries to get around this in part by pretending to offer an "EXCLUSIVE PHOTO" of the house, though if I gave them the exclusive rights to the photo of the Empire State Building that is on my iPhone, that would be an exclusive, too. Here, for instance, are nearly 20 photos of the house, including interiors and bedrooms, published almost exactly a year ago on Curbed. Situated as it is right between Ethel Kennedy's house and the main house shared by all the Kennedys, and indeed in front of it if you take the picture from the water, it's actually among the more photographed houses in the vast international private rich-people resort universe. Inside, a two-page spread shows the whole neighborhood with giant arrows pointing to each of the houses; it's more like a late infographic than any kind of exclusive. Pictures of the interior are credited to Zillow.com but they are just scrapes from the same broker website Curbed got them from ages ago. Pictures of Swift with Conor and his father at the compound date to last week when she was there visiting, and were widely publicized on the web. (That polka-dot bikini top was a topic of conversation way back then.)
Weird crime makes up the rest of the News front. A detail that is not at the forefront of any of the accounts of Chadwick Lange's unfortunate loss of his expensive Maserati to two thieves who outsmarted them is that the incident occurred at 47th Street and Broadway at 4:40 a.m., when he, supposedly driving up the street, recognized a friend and pulled up to the sidewalk to chat. Can you remember the last time you were driving up Broadway at 4:40 a.m. and saw your buddy in Times Square out the window? No judgment here—I've lost a thing or two after a night out myself. But never quite this spectacularly. Two guys gawking at the car, which he had left in neutral but with the keys in the ignition, asked if they could take photos with it. He said sure, and they jumped in the car and rode off. Neither they nor the car have been seen since, and we don't seem to have any description of the thieves.
GONE IN 60 SECONDS! reads the amazed headline. "Duped driver's $150G car is swiped in Times Sq.—while he looks on!
RPatz steers clear of KStew in publicity bash
In more recent teen-heartthrob news, Robert Pattinson is in two days of appearances in New York right now, which began last night as he arrived to be interviewed for "The Daily Show." He kept quiet about his breakup with Kristen Stewart, which is providing the tabloids with lots of much needed celebrity love-spat drama. We've been here before; Pattinson looks just as hot on the cover of the Post as he did when he got spat out of that maze after Voldemort iced him years ago in a Harry Potter movie, and just about as sad-eyed. "RPatz hits NY without Kristen" reads text on the upper left; then, "STEW U!" The celebrity-mashup name for the couple—the terrible "Robsten," which sounds like something that Taylor Swift and Conor Kennedy might name their first daughter—is no more.
Porno for perfusionists
So a woman who worked at Mount Sinai sued the hospital last week for hostile work environment; among other things, she was told that she could not get promoted because she couldn't do the work without male genitalia, she was called a "Jew bitch," and her coworker watched pornographic videos on his cellphone while assisting in open-heart surgeries. The latter, obviously, is the thing that makes this a big tabloid story. How big? "Gal's open-heart porn shock" is the headline, and there is a picture of the plaintiff. It's billed as an "exclusive." It's a one-day doctor-shock story.
Observations: Here's one way for the city tabloids to just dive off a cliff: To fight over yesterday's national celebrity gossip on the front pages.
But Colin Myler's News of the World sensibility is liberating the News to come out of obscurity; no longer the house organ for the boroughs working-man, the News, both online and in print, seems to be getting aggressive about selling papers with celebrity faces, something that was more the province of the Post these recent years.
One nice way to think of the old entente between the Post and the News was to use the sports section: The Post always wrote from the owner's box, the News from the bullpen. But choose the wrong celebrities, or use them too much, and the Post loses its substantive punch with the power elite. How much, after all, do New York's masters of the universe care about teen pop idols? There's a kind of celebrity gossip that takes the paper downmarket, which is something the Post can't do. But the News can.
It'll be interesting to see how far over the ledge Myler is able to lead his old drinking buddy, Post editor Col Allan. For today, the answer is: Pretty far.
When it comes down to it, both editors have gone today for a mix of national celebrity splash and crazy true-crime stories. On the former, the Post wins: It's news from last night, not last week, and it's local. Though Taylor Swift is the better character, and the Kennedy angle makes her a little more upmarket, it's a matter of too little too late. The stolen Maserati has more glamor and just as much shock value as the pornographic open-heart surgery room, but it's not enough to overcome those sad RPatz eyes.
Winner: New York Post.