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Tabloid Headlines: Nora Ephron Bitchslaps Erica Jong!

Like we said, “tabloid headlines,” people. The actual, verbal smackdown wasn’t quite so dramatic, but it did send a roll of chuckles/gasps through the auditorium at the 92nd Street Y, where folks gathered last night for a panel talk with HuffPo bloggers. The catfight in question ensued when an audience member broke the news (someone so didn’t follow instructions to turn off all cellular devices) that Caroline Kennedy had removed herself from the New York Senate “race,” and asked for reactions from the panelists.

Erica Jong — somewhat predictably — immediately rose to Kennedy’s defense, asking us whether we could truly know how much she had sacrificed, raising a family under intense scrutiny and sheltering them, instead of perhaps, you know, forging a political career that might have prepared her for a seat in the Senate. After Jong howled that Kennedy naysayers were sexist, Ephron leaned into her mic to dryly reply (also: fairly predictably), “Oh come on. Not everything is sexist.” Just as fur began to fly on stage, panelist Paul Rieckhoff — who happens to be the founder and head of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America — gamely swept in to redirect the conversation. Yes, it took a former Army lieutenant to end a spat between two 60-something women.

The discussion on whole was one big Obama love-fest, with Arianna Huffington and her fellow panelists extolling his virtues and their hopes to a huge room of Democrats. “Preaching to the choir,” and all that, yes; but find a few other takeaway moments worth sharing after the jump.

African-American author Trey Ellis on his reaction to Obama’s election: “I’m thinking it’s a great time to be a skinny, middle-aged black man.”

Reickhoff on getting shut out of the Inauguration, despite having a purple ticket: “I guess they underestimated the number of people coming? But then, I dealt with that in Iraq, too, so…”

Jong on what she called the Obamas’ “role-model of a marriage”: “I feel sorry for them that they’ll have very little time alone in the next four years.” (wink, nudge.)

Reickhoff on the state of the economy: “It’s so bad, the Army and Marines are having no trouble recruiting!” Enlistment is actually up for the first time since 2004.

Ellis with his cultural predictions for the year ahead: “The rise of the black nerd.” (Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, also present, then hoped aloud to break out his pocket protector once more.)

And then Arianna made some ya-ya commentary (really, she’s super excited to have a grandmother in the White House), warned us about Aristides the Just, an ancient Greek ruler exiled from Athens once people got sick of hearing how great he was, and a lady from Ohio (she drove all the way here!) thanked HuffPo for convincing her of her own sanity amidst her extremely conservative neighbors.

Stay tuned for more coverage of the 92nd Street Y‘s new “In Residence” program, of which this was the first.