The Idea of the Upper East Side

Our final FEED event in conjunction with ELECTIVE AFFINITIES explored the “idea of the Upper East Side”. What outside and inside influences would make Alice Hauptmann? FEED brings together a fascinating duo of guests: Justin Davidson, Architecture and Classical Music Critic for New York magazine and Jay McInerney, author of Bright Lights, Big City, considered by many to be the quintessential New York novel of the 1980s.

Each author has written a seminal article that we used as a jumping-off point: McInereney’s article The Death (of the Idea) of The Upper East Side and Davidson’s article The New York Apartment: A Biography.



JUSTIN DAVIDSON is the architecture and classical music critic of New York Magazine. Previously, Davidson was the classical music and architecture critic at Newsday for more than a decade, during which time he won a 2002 Pulitzer Prize in criticism for work published in the newspaper. Since 1994, he has been a freelance writer, contributing to The New YorkerSalonSlateLos Angeles TimesOpera NewsIconART and Travel & Leisure, among other publications. He has appeared on WNYC’s “Soundcheck” and “Brian Lehrer Show” and contributes a monthly music column to the subscription-based Web site, E-music. Davidson received a Doctorate from Columbia University in Music Composition and a Bachelor’s from Harvard University, and has taught Humanities courses at Columbia and writing workshops in an NEA-sponsored fellowship program for professional arts journalists.

 SARA FISHKO (Moderator) is a native New Yorker whose radio features –“Fishko Files”—are a staple of cultural programming at WNYC, New York Public Radio. She was producer and host of the “Jazz Loft Project Radio Series” for WNYC and NPR. Fishko is known, as well, for her hour-long programs with the likes of Keith Jarrett, Dave Brubeck and Henry Butler. Her award-winning work has been heard on many of Public Radio’s signature programs including “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” Studio 360,” “On The Media” and “Performance Today.”

 JAY McINERNEY is the critically acclaimed author of ten books – eight of which are works of fiction. Time Magazine cited his first bestselling novel, Bright Lights, Big City (1984), as one of nine generation-defining novels of the twentieth century. Translated into more than 20 languages it has irrefutably achieved the status of a contemporary classic. “Each generation needs its Manhattan novel, and many ache to write it” noted the New York Times Book Review, “but it was McInerney who succeeded”. His other novels are Ransom (1985), Story of My Life (1988), Brightness Falls (1992), The Last of the Savages (1996), Model Behavior (1999) and The Good Life (2006). Described as “McInerney’s most fully imagined novel as it is his most ambitious and elegiac” by The New York Review of Books, McInerney’s most recent novel The Good Life also received the Grand Prix Literaire at the Deauville Film Festival in 2007. How It Ended (2009), a collection of short stories spanning his entire career, was named one of the 10 best books of the year by The New York Times. McInerney has written for numerous literary and popular publications including New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Guardian, Corriera della Serra, The Times Literary Supplement and The New York Review of Books. Since April 2010 he has written a wine column for the Wall Street Journal.  From 1996 to 2007 he wrote a monthly wine column for Conde Nast’s House and Garden. Many of those columns were collected in Bacchus and Me (2000) and A Hedonist in the Cellar (2006). In 2006 McInerney won the James Beard MFK Fisher Award for Distinguished Writing for his food and wine work. Again, successfully straddling genres, McInerney wrote the screenplay for the critically acclaimed film Gia for which Angelina Jolie won a Golden Globe and which launched her acting career. He also wrote the1988 United Artists film version of his novel, Bright Lights, Big City, which starred Michael J. Fox. Josh Schwartz, creator of Gossip Girl and the OC has optioned the rights for a contemporary remake of Bright Lights, Big City, which is currently in development. A quintessential New York voice and persona (and in the spirit George Plimpton), McInerney has performed in two cameos on the television show, Gossip Girl (2010 and 2011). Favorably comparing his work to that of F. Scott Fitzgerald and J.D. Salinger, The New York Times describes it as the “voice of a generation.” In 1989 McInerney was named a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library. McInerney is the father of two children, Barrett and Maisie, and is married to Anne Randolph Hearst. He divides his time between Bridgehampton, New York and New York City.

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