Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Synchronicity with Phyllis Ryan

Phyllis Ryan wrote a few very funny pieces for The New Yorker, most of them of the catty "female psychology" type. In this one ("Evening of a Lady," from December 3, 1927) she describes a particular woman's thoughts about a party between 9pm and 3:30am. It's a predictably cynical, but it's still funnier than the average "guy talking to the bellhop" sort of New Yorker stuff.

When she first arrives at the party at 9:00pm, the woman has this to say:
You were discussing what, Mr. McNulty? "Ulysses?"...My God, so it's that kind of party! I've never read it. Is it good? Has it lots of plot? I adore a book with lots of plot, don't you? ... Why, certainly, I'll excuse you. There he goes. Goody, goody, it worked again. Surest way to clear my side of the room of the young intellectuals.
Yes, another moment of synchronicity. In any case, this is my favourite moment:
1 A.M.

I am not shrieking, Jerry Twombly. And if you were the really correct sort of host you'd encourage your guests to shriek and shriek and shriek. Like this.
1:00am really IS the best time at a party.

2 comments:

thinkulous said...

Hilarious. I do love the good old days at the New Yorker, when minor illustrators such as Charles Addams careered around parties, in his dinner togs, on a tiny child's tricycle, balancing a martini in one hand -- and so on. The glory days of intellectual fun.

The bit about Ulysses is just precious.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

I was an obsessive reader of The New Yorker in the late '90s, and I really loved it.

The '20s version is a very different sort of animal -- it's pretty much 20% sports coverage, 20% art review, 40% goofy observations & jokes, 15% shopping/travel/nightclub tips, and 5% actual journalism.

That's not including the ads for jewelry, cars, furs, beauty treatments, men's clothing, hair removal, ankle-minimizing stockings, and ankle-protecting booties.

I really do prefer the "serious" side of The New Yorker that I enjoyed in the '90s (and the Cryptic Crossword!), and I hope that the '20s magazine starts moving in that direction soon, but once in a while a truly funny piece like this pops up.

Charles Addams on a tricycle? I can picture it!