It’s true that marijuana is legal in Colorado and in Washington, and is gradually being decriminalized elsewhere, but still–was it really a good idea for Gawker owner Nick Denton and music producer Scott Storch to suck on cannabis ciggies while they were giving interviews to The New York Times and to Details Magazine?
From a public relations standpoint, we were agape. But then Orbmagazine is in many ways so Last Century, if not the one before. (It seems only yesterday that Robert Mitchum spent two months in the hoosegow for taking a toke at a party in Laurel Canyon.)
But getting back to Nick Denton, let’s let Jonathan Mahler, a media reporter for The Times, set the scene:
“It was a mild spring evening, and Mr. Denton, the 48-year-old founder and chief executive of Gawker Media, was standing on the fire escape of his SoHo loft in a long-sleeve T-shirt and jeans, smoking a joint and drinking a glass of red wine with his husband, Derrence Washington; Tommy Craggs, the executive editor of his media empire; and me.”
Stop the presses, you must be saying to yourself, am I reading that right? Did he say Denton was smoking a joint with me? “Me” being The New York Times?
Yes indeedy. The minute the article hit the web, an enterprising reporter for Gawker (they eat their own), queried Denton “to see if Mahler inhaled.” Denton replied, “He only had a puff—and probably just to encourage me. A modern journalist at work!”
Mahler confirmed the transgressive inhalation: “Nick’s recollection is correct. (I thought I made that clear in the piece, no?).”
So there you have it: The reporter smoked pot with the subject. The reporter recorded the deed in his story. His editor published it in The New York Times.
ORB SAYS: Abe Rosenthal must be kvetching in his coffin in Westchester Hills Cemetery, where his gravestone reads: “A. M. ROSENTHAL 1922-2006. HE KEPT THE PAPER STRAIGHT.” (Thank God Abe is dead; this would’ve killed him.)
To be fair to Denton, he didn’t see it coming. Back on the fire escape, the weed kicking in and Denton babbling on, Craggs had warned his boss that the reporter would write about the chronic. “He can’t use that,” Denton replied. “You can’t use that–I mean, realistically, in The New York Times.”
Craggs insisted the reporter could and he would, and bet Nick $50, later collected. Mahler writes in the article, “Mr. Denton should have known better. After all, he has probably done more than any individual to loosen up the mainstream media. His various websites have stood for nothing if not the proposition that decorum should never stand in the way of entertaining readers.”
Why was The Times’s Business Section doing a big piece on Gawker? Because of the threat, possibly fatal to the company, posed by a lawsuit filed by “an angry, litigious 6-foot-7, 300-plus-pound ex-wrestler named Terry Bollea, a.k.a. Hulk Hogan“. The complaint alleges Gawker violated his privacy when it posted a videotape of him having sex with the wife of a friend, a radio deejay named Bubba the Love Sponge.
Gawker posted the secretly made tape, which it had somehow obtained, and refused Hogan’s entreaties to take it down until it had generated five million clicks. The case goes to trial next week in St. Petersburg, Florida, not far from Hogan’s hometown. Hogan is suing for $100 million in damages. Cases like this are usually settled, but Hogan is hanging tough. Denton says he is nervous that the jury might be inclined to view the defendant as “mean, bitchy Gawker bloggers run by someone who will probably be portrayed as a New York pornographer.”
Very very scary. No wonder Nick needed the cheeba to chill out.
Let’s move on to Scott Storch. He’s the guy in Miami who racked up $70 million in the mid-2000s producing hip-hop tracks for people like Beyonce, 50 Cent and Chris Brown and then pissed it all away on cars, cribs, chicks and coke. It’s all gone now–nobody wants to speak to him, much less work with him, but he managed to promote a profile in Details magazine, on the theory that any publicity might be helpful to a drowning man.
Wrong. Matt Hendrickson writes:
“It’s not just the beats that are amiss: today you can see his eyes. In his glory days, Storch was never seen without his oversize, oh-my-God-what-a-douchebag aviators as he flaunted his fleet of 20 luxury cars, 18,000-square-foot mansion, and yacht; when he had Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton or Lil’ Kim on his arm; when he was high-fiving hard-partying bros like celebutard Brandon “Greasy Bear” Davis; when he rolled up to the MTV Video Music Awards. It was great theater: the shlubby wigga bathed in diamonds and flashbulbs, his bling-era excess reflected in the shades.”
But every cautionary tale comes with a Caution:
“Now Storch’s eyes look tired and sad and very bloodshot. In the course of a three year Tony Montana-esque cocaine bender, he hoovered his way through $30 million [70 altogether] before filing for bankruptcy and entering rehab early this year. He’s back in the studio trying to recapture his mojo [working for C-list talent, not stars.] Storch, wearing faded jeans, white sneakers, and a pink T-shirt–a Jacob the Jeweler watch his lone vestige of bling–pulls a Ziploc bag of weed from his pocket and begins rolling a joint on a nearby speaker.”
Gucci Mane, “an up-and-coming Atlanta hip-hop artist best known for beating a murder rap in 2006”, comes over and says, “Yo, is that that California shit? That shit fucked me up last night.” A few minutes later, Storch decides he needs another spliff.
It doesn’t help things. The article continues, “The instrumental tracks pulsing from the speakers are vintage Storch, but the overall effect is a little dated, a little tired…Soon Storch grabs a two-foot bong and lights a bowl. The hit makes him cough so hard he has to step out into the sultry Miami night to get some air.”
The article is delicious schadenfreude, but let’s cut to the beginning. “The singer Eve had introduced Storch to Dr. Dre, who tutored him on the finer points of studio work. With Dre’s blessing, Storch set up shop, founding Tuff Jew Productions, and the work poured in.”
He began a romance with Paris Hilton, who wanted him to launch a singing career for her. While working with Paris on an album she planned to call “Screwed”, Storch got to know her parents Rick and Kathy Hilton. When the album flopped, Paris flew out the door of his gaudy mansion. Ditto the parents.
Storch touchingly describes the Good Old Days: “We’d be at a club and I’d decide to call a Gulfstream to take everyone to Las Vegas. Do more coke, fuck a bunch of girls. Be up for two days and decide at 11 in the morning to go buy a Rolls-Royce. I probably bought 10 cars when I was high.”
Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? The article continues, “After a bong hit, Storch loosens up a bit and the conversation turns to his sexual conquests. Tops among them? ‘Kim Kardashian–she was amazing’.” Dear Kim, she leaves ’em wanting more.
BOTTOM LINE: When a journalist comes calling, bust out a blunt. As we have seen, it makes for a much better story.