The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, April 23, 2002  


In a brief “Q&A,” perfectly titled “Buddhism Is the New Black,” New York magazine’s Robert Kolker chatted with the newly enlightened James Truman.

Truman, who bears the vague and amorphous, yet prestigious and lucrative, title of editorial director at Condé Nast, is back from a month in the sticks. In the interview with Kolker, Truman says he spent a month in a cabin near Woodstock, N.Y., with two Tibetan Buddhists.

It was not an escape, the diminutive Truman insists. “To the contrary, it was about giving up the familiar escape routes: no entertainment, no Internet, no shopping, no gossip, no drinking, no parties, no tiramisu at Da Silvano.”

Truman was searching for “[a]n end to the boredom of tired routines,” which is no surprise given the lifestyle he just described.

Apparently everything we’ve heard about Condé Nast is true. The waifish Truman says his days in the office are “driven by drama -- the succession of daily crises.”

So we've heard: frantic fashionistas calling HQ because they have too much luggage to get on the plane back to New York from Milan and would it be okay to book a separate flight for their bags; young staffers in a snit because a certain prominent editrix has banned all food from the magazine's offices; and brothers of top management calling to beg for high-level jobs.

And Truman -- in a moment that he will surely some day regard with considerable embarrassment -- relays that he badly missed Condé Nast’s notorious cafeteria. We wonder whether it was the food or the cat fights at the yogurt stand.

The little guy grew in Woodstock. Asked how Condé Nast might benefit from a touch of Buddhist awareness, Truman said: “My experience of New York, and the media-fashion world in particular, is that it offers a seductive invitation to get lost in the distractions of glamour and status and nonstop work. Until you step outside it, you can forget the benefits of fresh air.”

And reality.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |