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Media fêtes still aren't the lavish, champagne-soaked penthouse affairs they used to be, but with the economy (sort of) recovering and advertisers (sort of) returning, some say that the media's 2011 holiday celebration circuit is showing signs of a comeback. WWD's John Koblin wants to be hopeful. Remembering Condé Nast's first Four Seasons luncheon in four years a few weeks ago, he exclaimed, "The holiday magazine party was back!" -- if only for a moment. Then again, there are plenty of signs that the world is teetering on the edge of an economic catastrophe; one Citigroup analyst even compared the worst case scenario to the fall of the Roman Empire. Surely, magazines would want to save a few bucks in case they have to revert to printing on papyrus next year.

We basically disagree. It's not so much that we have an opinion on whether of not the media industry is or isn't doomed. Plenty of publications, mostly fashion titles and Internet successes, are doing quite well this Christmas season. But the idea that a good media holiday party must reflect the color of the company's bottom line is pure balderdash. It ought to reflect the attitudes, hopes and desires of the staffers and -- if they're lucky -- staffers' significant others that it's serving! So we made a quiz. It's not really an attempt to say who throws a better party, but rather a warm-hearted attempt to test your knowledge of the people you read. 

The instructions are pretty simple. We've listed the names and whipped up brief descriptions of the various holiday party venues for as many publications as our Atlantic Wire spies could sniff out. (We don't really have spies but it sounds more fun that "reporter". And remember, this is fun.) With the exception of one publication, we stuck to the parties happening in New York City, and if the venue happens to be the office, we've been vague about the name of the building. We also did our best to include either an image of the venue or a peek at the invitation. And then you can guess! Obviously, this is a multiple choice quiz, and the answers are at the bottom of the post. Plus, the funniest commenter wins a prize.

The Manhattanites

We have high expectations for the party potentials of New York City-centric publications: Gawker, The New York Observer and New York magazine. (Yes, we realize NYO also publishes a salmon-colored paper that old ladies on the Upper East Side like to read.) We also have to admit that this is the easiest category, because, well, we like to poke fun at our fellow bloggers!

The Wooly. - If a super exclusive members-only gentlemen's club and your hilariously eccentric aunt Maureen's house had sex and produced a baby bar, it would look a lot like The Wooly. It's downtown and when it's not packed with hipster-looking media types, it's keeping bankers busy on their lunch breaks. It's apparently very trendy, and we'd like to stop by more often and try to elbow our way up to the rooftop or backroom or wherever it is that the cool kids are hanging out. But based on the sometimes weird, often unnerving stories we've heard about the place, it might be a bit too snarky for our taste. Guess who partied there two Fridays ago…

A. Gawker
B. The New York Observer
C. New York

W.i.P. This place is actually called Work in Progress, but you usually hear people refer to it as the three-letter abbreviation. It's in the basement of a eco-friendly nightclub called Greenhouse. We've heard that Greenhouse isn't as cool as it used to be and while we have our criticism, a recent facelift serves as an encouraging sign that the venue is on the up-and-up. We managed to snag a copy of the invite the publication sent out about the party and can definitively say it doesn't really offer any clues about what to expect. On top of that, there aren't really any pictures of W.I.P. online, so we can't offer you that hint. The mystery is somehow fitting, since the publication that partied there last Wednesday is known for covering the you-won't-even-know-we-were-at-the-party-until-you-read-about-it-the-next-day beat in New York.

A. Gawker
B. The New York Observer
C. New York

Tacombi at Fonda Nolita. If you've ever spent much time in NoLIta -- which is a fake neighborhood, a ploy to raise real estate prices and a lovely place to buy art supplies -- you'll understand why this publication picked a bar in this part of town for their holiday party. It's now fairly well known and prosperous, but it wasn't always like this. Back in the day it was really edgy and cheap. Now, it's all fancy, full of high-rent names and attracting more national attention as the place to be. As you can see, Tacombi is trying to keep it's hippie roots alive with that Volkswagen. Next thing you know they'll be comparing Occupy Wall Street to the 1960s.

A. Gawker
B. The New York Observer
C. New York


The Poachers

The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal are all self-identified newspapers, and while you might disagree with a website stretching to claim that designation, you can't deny that these three publications want to be competitors. Sure, for readers, but from our vantage point, the real competition is over staff. Everybody knows that Arianna loves making news by hiring real journalists from real newspapers, and the volley of journalists zipping back and forth between WSJ and NYT is better than a good game of table tennis. (We just love a good game of table tennis.) These three certainly aren't competing for the best party, though.

Skylight West. We heard this place -- not to mention the publication it hosted on Wednesday night -- is outrageous. You can tell by the photo that it's huge and full of lots of different colors. It looks less like a party venue than a SoHo loft waiting for a startup to move in and start filling tables with underpaid kids working on laptops. Nevertheless, this much space so close to Herald Square and the new media corridor in the Flatiron District, so it couldn't have been cheap to rent all of it out. We also heard that the staff even got free sweaters! From J. Crew! This publication must have money.

A. The New York Times
B. The Huffington Post
C. The Wall Street Journal

 

(No venue needed.) This publication did not have a big all-hands holiday party. Money must be tight.

A. The New York Times
B. The Huffington Post

C. The Wall Street Journal

 
 
 
 
 

(No venue needed.) This publication also didn't have a party. Knowing the larger corporation of which they are a part, however, it was certainly not because they couldn't afford it. They could, however, probably do without the risk of scandal that these Christmas themed boozefests tend to present, thought. But who knows. Maybe they're just really hard-working.

A. The New York Times
B. The Huffington Post
C. The Wall Street Journal


The Condé Nasties 

Bloggers love to toss around the term "Condé Nasties," mostly because they're bitter they don't work at earn the fat cat salaries the publishing house is still coughing up out. We already mentioned that Four Seasons luncheon, and once you see where the night-time fun is happening, you'll realize that good times are only getting better for the folks at 4 Times Square.

Boom Boom Room, at the Top of the Standard. Ok so. Picture the most lavish, most fashionable, most amazing space with the most amazing view and filled with the world's most beautiful people. This place looks like it was purposefully built as a place where wealthy influentials could go and constantly be reminded of how wealthy and influential they are. The rest of us can't even look in the window because it's at the top floor of a massive hotel. It's also the city's hippest, most lavish, most amazing, insert superlative, insert superlative. You can, however, gaze longingly at all of the ads.

A. Wired
B. Teen Vogue
C. Vogue

Cienfuegos, on Avenue A. Now, take everything about the above venue and taylor it the requirements of a fourteen-year-old girl with rich parents and a not-so-secret love for fantasy novels. Violá. Welcome to Cienfuegos.

A. Wired
B. Teen Vogue
C. Vogue

 
 
 

Toloache Restaurant, in Midtown. This category is incredibly easy. If the combination of clues above haven't led you to the answer by process of elimination, you clearly need to see The Devil Wears Prada seven more times. We recommend playing the Hooray Anne Hathaway! drinking game. It involves mixing up some of Toloache's memorable Ectocooler-like margaritas (pictured to the right) and taking a swig every time Meryl Streep does her fantastic impression of Anna Wintour's icey smile. (Spoiler: This drinking game will not get you very drunk.) Still not getting it? Which Condé Nast publication is nerdy enough to throw a holiday party at a bar that serves drinks that looks like something whipped up by the Ghostbusters?

A. Wired
B. Teen Vogue
C. Vogue


The Boxers

There's a missing verse from the famous Paul Simon song that ends repetitively, "We are more or less the same / After changes we are more or less the same." Though each publication has evolved, there are really two pairs of publications that have been duking it out for decades with very similar footwork. Time versus Newsweek is the classic ink-and-tree rivalry. Salon versus Slate is the Internet equivalent.

That Fancy Frank Gehry Building, in Chelsea. We can't tell you the name of the building or it would give the whole thing away, but there's a killer clue in the fable behind  how it ended up there. Apparently, this billionaire was at a cocktail party and bumped into the famous architecht Frank Gehry. (He's the one that makes buildings look like torn up Coke cans.) "You're the guy that can make buildings look like torn up Coke cans right?" the billionaire said. "Well I can do pretty much anything," Gehry replied. "How about designing the headquarters for my new media company?" asked the billionaire. "That sounds fine. What would you like?" the architect wondered. "I would like it to look like my yacht," said the billionaire, definitively.

A. Time
B. Newsweek / The Daily Beast
C. Salon
D. Slate

That Shiny Expensive-Looking Building, near Lincoln Center. A lot of people wondered what kind of message this newsweekly sent when it constructed a giant skyscraper on what's arguably the best piece of real estate in New York City, just a block away from its biggest competitor and filled the shopping mall on the bottom two floors with two of the priciest restaurants in the world and all sorts of extremely over-priced, unnecessary stores. (Seriously, who buys his razor at The Art of Shaving?) Like that competitor, this publication decided to throw its holiday party in the office. But judging by the looks of it on the outside, it's probably like the set of Star Trek Deep Space Nine on the inside.

A. Time
B. Newsweek / The Daily Beast
C. Salon
D. Slate

New Offices, on 36th St. Most people don't think of this company as a New York company but with a new loft-like office with creaky hardwood floors, two levels and a spectacular staircase (or so we're told) it looks like they're here to stay. We couldn't acquire a picture of the offices, so instead we included a picture of one of this publication's most celebrated contributors. You've probably seen him on MSNBC talking about Bradley Manning and trying his best not to look to curmudgeonly. We also understand that this writer spends the majority of his time in Brazil, in part because America sucks at respecting civil liberties.

A. Time
B. Newsweek / The Daily Beast
C. Salon
D. Slate

Nom Wah Tea Parlor, in Chinatown. This publication must be catching up on the criticism that it caters a little too much to the kind of folks that drive Volvos sporting Yale stickers to steak dinners sipping Starbucks, listening to NPR and thinking about the influence of Rudyard Kipling's poetry on the way. David Brooks wrote a whole book about these people. Perhaps the editors who picked the spot thought about this. Or maybe they just wanted some really delicious tea. Tuesday's the day for drinks and dumplings.

A. Time
B. Newsweek / The Daily Beast
C. Salon
D. Slate


The Bookworms

Now it's time for the brass-buttoned, horn-rimmed, text-heavy group of writers -- where do they like to party? Pretty weird spots, it turns out.

1920 Bunker Club, in the Meatpacking District. The name of the venue alone is a multi-layered paradox worthy of its own short story. It's interesting, like the publication that threw its holiday party there on Wednesday night,  because it's both literary and historical and up-to-the-minute at the same time. It's also, like the magazine, a place where you wouldn't be surprised to bump into somebody famous or totally unknown telling an amazing story about how the ceiling reminded them of the underground bars in Eastern Europe, when they were covering a story about an obscure deposed dictator who set up a leper colony deep in the Ukranian wilderness after his people forced him into hiding. It will take you 3 hours to get through the whole story but there will be an amazing twist at the end.

A. The Atlantic
B. The New Yorker
C. McSweeney's

Long View Gallery, DC's Shaw Neighborhood. This venue represents a curious juxtaposition: a very old building filled with very contemporary art hosted this publication's company-wide holiday party last Friday. While you might think of this publication as fairly buttoned-up or at least civilized, it has a history for pretty wild holiday parties. So crazy that a large portion of the company ended up closing down a Jamaican dance hall club around sun rise, last year. One employee told us he only remembers having an amazing time, dancing his face off and, for some reason, waking up to find a puppy in his bed. (True story.) This year's was no less exciting, but our lips are still sealed. This is a good metaphor for the publication in general. Sometimes unexpected, often unusual, but typically memorable.

A. The Atlantic
B. The New Yorker
C. McSweeney's

A Yurt in Chinatown. First things first: "A yurt is a portable, bent wood-framed dwelling structure traditionally used by Turkic nomads in the steppes of Central Asia." (Thanks Wikipedians!) Those are them inside the Warby Parker HOLIDAY SPECTACLE BAZAAR. The whole thing looks like some sort of misplaced post-post-modern art project that you desperately want to understand because it's just so cool! So different! So… difficult to understand sometimes. Well all good art that set out to be, like this publication, unique and appealing to people with uniquely refined taste. If the references are too obscure, you can go read n+1.

A. The Atlantic
B. The New Yorker
C. McSweeney's

 

 

VERY IMPORTANT FOOTNOTE: Just in case you were wondering, the photo of the Hunter S. Thompson type at the top of this post is not a journalist. He's just a fun-loving fellow who happened to get his picture taken at a startup's holiday party last year.

Answer Key: ABC / BAC / CBA / BACD / BAC

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