Marc Weingarten, The Guardian, September 2, 2005.
It was a story meeting to generate some provocative ideas for New York, the Sunday supplement of the New York Herald Tribune. Clay Felker, the magazine’s editor, had mentioned that the New Yorker, great literary magazine of his youth, had become deadly dull.
“Well, Clay,” general reporter Tom Wolfe suggested, “How about blowing up the New Yorker in New York?”
Felker loved the idea, and it was timed perfectly. That year, 1965, was the 40th anniversary of the New Yorker, and the magazine was going to throw a big party for itself at the St Regis Hotel. The culture of the New Yorker was shrouded in mystery, particularly the identity of its editor, William Shawn. Wolfe called Shawn for an interview anyway, and was warned off. But there were sources closer to home. One contributor gave Wolfe a trove of great stories regarding the New Yorker’s byzantine editing process. But the best material was to be found at the magazine’s party. It was an invitation-only affair, but no one stopped the New York reporter when he walked in…