Why is this interesting? - The Monday Media Diet with Kaitlin Phillips

On writing, hating sentimental Twitter, and amazing female authors

We first linked to Kaitlin Phillips (KP) in an early iteration of WITI, where she railed against the tyranny of the news peg, particularly when it comes to arts and culture coverage. It was an insightful take that informed how we now approach WITI. She’s a fun follow on Twitter, one of our favorite voices in NYC media, and a Lucien regular. Following Foster’s shout-out a few weeks back, we thought it would be fun to have her on the page and she doesn’t disappoint. Have a good week. -Colin (CJN)

Tell us about yourself.

I'm a publicist. Most people know me as a writer, but I hated writing. On the other side of the aisle, I get all the benefits of being a writer—being friends with writers, spending all day on Twitter, drinking—without having to write or going broke. 

Describe your media diet. 

Twitter-driven. Off the bat, I'd say follow @maxlakin, @nobody_stop_me, @joecoscarelli, @jacobwgallagher, @IANCOGNEATO, @blackleftaf, @patriksandberg, @interpretantion, @SomersErin, @SSION, @arnoldfriend6. They're all a little snarky. I hate sentimental Twitter. 

I read the internet pretty much from 9-5. I read articles by my friends and anything they link to. But I also follow a lot of editors and read whatever work they're pushing. This is technically my full-time job, figuring out who is writing for whom, how well, how long the copy runs, and with what frequency they're turning around stories, and whether or not they're writing with any venom or perceived grievances. I probably have a 100% clickthrough rate with Willy Staley and Bill Wasik at the Times, Rory Satran and Cody Delistraty at WSJ, Durga Chew-Bose and Haley Mlotek at SSENSE, Thessaly La Force at T, Namara Smith at Bookforum, Andrea Whittle at W, Lloyd Wise at Artforum (he also tweets a lot about bird watching, which I enjoy), Ari Brostoff at Jewish Currents. On the horizon: Rahel Aima is going to be editing BXD, a new journal of criticism for BIPOC writers. I'm looking forward to reading it. (Rahel is biased in the best possible way like it's almost as if she hates the art world. Hope she doesn't mind me saying that.) 

It's impossible to list the writers whose work I never miss. But...Jay Bulger and Alex Vadukul on New York. Olivia Nuzzi on Washington. Dean Kissick on art. Tiana Reid on people. Natasha Stagg and Harron Walker on life. Dan D'Addario and Doreen St Felix on television. I suppose I'm always waiting for the women that write for the LRB to publish, Helen Dewitt and Sheila Heti most of all. I wish Charlotte Shane and Sarah Nicole Prickett were publishing more—a lot of our best writers are women who don't let us see what they're writing. Yeah, I can't make this list, sorry! 

I would say the three newsletters with the most information are Nick Pinkerton's, on film; Rachel Tashjian's "Opulent Tips"; and Blackbird Spyplane. I read Foster Kamer's column, Fostertalk, and Nate Freeman's Artnet News column for the gossip. My name appears in both irregularly, so I'm sure that's a factor. 

I'm on Instagram a lot. For downtown news, I like @sickysab and @walterpearce (even though he just selfies with his dog); for uptown news, @michaelbargo; for art news, @sirsargent, @lol_prosciutto, and @maryymanningg; for old school glamour, @isatoledo; for new school glamour @rowanblanchard; for rich people news, @gracehmurdoch, Wendy Murdoch's daughter, Yale '25. 

If I listen to the radio it's Montez Press Radio. And I'm a Will Menaker/Chapo fan. 

What’s the last great book you read?

Daddy by Emma Cline. No one else is writing as well or cleverly about rich people. Not even close.

What are you reading now?

I'm on a lot of Percocet this week because I have what my OBGYN described as a "childbirth-level injury"—so I haven't been reading books, just watching TV and scrolling on my phone. But I was halfway through Harmony Ideology: Justice and Control in a Zapotec Mountain Village by Laura Nader.  It's a book I started and stopped this summer, but I picked it back up over the holidays because people were mad at me online. I just felt like what I was witnessing on the internet was the opposite of harmony ideology, and I wanted the language to describe it in case I write about it. So it was more of a note-taking endeavor than a pleasure thing.

While under quarantine, I did take the opportunity to read two "boring" books about lonely people in the countryside. Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner and All for Nothing by Walter Kempowksi. Both books go off the rails, which is what happens to city people in the country. Also to people in quarantine... you get it. 

I am also reading Wagnerism by Alex Ross on my iPad. But my iPad is always dying. 

What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?

Over the years, I've had a lot of magazine subscriptions, but now I just go to my favorite deli and pick up random magazines. I prefer to mix it up and get a range. Usually 5-10 per month. It's a tax write off, so I don't really skimp. This month, I picked up Racquet, Apartmento, Vogue, GQ (I'm a big fan of the "new" GQ). I often get back issues of World of Interiors, which they always have lying around. 

I only subscribe to the New York Post in print. I go front to back and skip anything "boring." Artforum has me on their list to get the issue each month, otherwise, I'd subscribe to them. I'm a big Artforum stan, especially the David Velasco era, and not just because we're friends. 

Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?

(1) Sam Mckinniss, the painter, is one of my favorite writers. I think he writes better than he paints, which is an absurd thing to say: google his paintings. (2) Rebecca Curtis. Start by googling "fish rot n+1." (3) Christine Smallwood. Her first novel is about to come out. Like Elif Batuman, Christine is a triple threat: Ph.D., long-form journalism, and fiction. (It's always the women, isn't it.) And she wrote what I considered to be one of the best long-form profiles in the past five years, on Caveh Zahedi. (4) Tobi Haslett. For one, he's never wrong. 

What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone? 

I don't use non-famous apps, but Find My Friends is definitely my favorite app. My friends are always lying about how close they are to restaurants, I lie about that too, but we all share our locations, so we just look at those instead of texting, "Where the fuck are you." 

Plane or train?

Plane. But my passport expired during Covid. So I'm mostly walking around when I'm not flying to Los Angeles. 

What is one place everyone should visit? 

Montana, where I'm from. Stay at Many Glacier Hotel in Babb and Chico Hot Springs in Pray. The food is bad, but the views are great. (And you can drink in the hot springs.) You need a car though, they're pretty far apart. 

Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into. 


Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Kaitlin (KP)

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