Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Co-workers spill about sex

I was standing at the mirror, combing my hair and listening to a sex addict describe an "average" day in a radio interview. It was as stomach churning as you might expect, but then the interviewer said the addict's name. My hand froze in mid-air as I stared into my own shocked eyes.

Hey! I worked with that dude at my last newspaper! He was a sex addict? And he wrote a book about it?!

Not only did he write a book -- "America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life" -- but he's the third journalist I worked with at that paper to spill their sexual business so publicly.

The first was a real jaw-dropper: The book "Mozart in the Jungle: Sex Drugs, and Classical Music." The author worked at the paper less than a year and had been gone awhile when the book editor urgently called us over to her desk to see the galley proof that arrived, unannounced, in the mail. Yeah, we knew this chick was a little kooky, but we had no idea that her past included ... ahem, quoting Publishers Weekly:

"By age 16, the author of this alternately piquant and morose memoir was dealing marijuana, bedding her instructors at a performing arts high school and studying the oboe. Later, her blossoming career as a freelance musician in New York introduced her to a classical music demimonde of cocaine parties and group sex that had her wondering why she 'got hired for so many of my gigs in bed ...' "

Yeah. WOW. You never really know the people you work with, do you?

Then last year the paper's former movie critic penned "Accidentally on Purpose: A One-Night Stand, My Unplanned Parenthood, and Loving the Best Mistake I Ever Made." The book title says it all. I danced with her "mistake" -- a beautiful infant boy at the time -- to "I Will Survive" at a wedding.

But if baring the raw truth that her child was the result of sex with some random bar dude wasn't enough, she continued True Confession Time with a Modern Love essay for the New York Times. Entitled "Sexy Ribbon on the Buyout Package," in it she spilled about an affair she had with a co-worker that began when they met over drinks to discuss buyouts.

E-mails, texts and phone calls blazed across the country between present and former co-workers, primarily because, even though she didn't name the reporter, the description left no doubt as to who he was. Under subject lines and comments such as "OMG!" "WTF?" "Oh no she didn't!" and "They did it in the back seat of his car! Nasty!!" were discussions about the timing (Had he already filed for divorce when it started? Wait, was she the reason he filed?) and her state of mind (What was she thinking? Was this revenge? Why?)


I guess the easy answer would be "because they can." You could say that's what journalists do: inform readers by telling good stories. That these stories were their own might make them more compelling.

I suppose it's what Alicia and I do, on a much less dramatic note: we try to engage and entertain readers by writing about things we've experienced, and maybe inspire rumination and conversation along the way. Truth is that A) my name and picture are on this blog, B) I have to face blog-skimming co-workers every day, and C) at my core I'm a good Southern girl who doesn't want to shame her mama. I might push the boundaries a little -- broken condom fears, talking about my friend Trouble, and my friend Gabrielle's visit to an orgy, among others -- and I'm sure I'll push them even more. But will I tell all, like my former co-workers? Nah. I still believe in the allure of mystery.


Anonymous said...

You sound a bit naive on this one.
Who would know better than a journalist that sex (real or made up) sells. You and anyone who asked "what were they thinking" probably just missed the $$ signs!

Adrian DeVore said...

I read that book about the reporter who viewed her child as a "mistake" and found it to be an unreadable mess that I didn't even bother to finish. Also, in her "buyout sex" essay, she was actually dumped by her former co-worker.

Anonymous said...

My question is why is this even on the Observer's web site? Although considering their tail spin, it is clear.

Anonymous said...

Addiction is addiction; period. Would you be saying these horrible things about people addicted to food, or shopping, or anything else? It's compulsive behavior. How dare you! And how naive. I bet you call yourself a Christian as well. You should sign your articles "Ms. Judgmental"

Why is the paper printing this dribble when they are laying people off? Maybe they should repurpose the two of you proof readers; obviously the Observer could use the help.

Anonymous said...

Please get this stuff off the FRONT PAGE of the website. The Observer has turned into Cosmo.

Anonymous said...

well, it's common knowledge that all journalists are sex addicts. they have a certain ego that constantly needs affirmation, and the only way they can find that is through a public persona, name in print, photo on the page. often this isn't enough, and they resort to physical gratification. i'm not trying to be judgmental; i think it's rather normal.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the 'Mozart in the Jungle' girl would have been fun to hang out with.

Anonymous said...

And "so", what's your point ?

Just because someone's sex life differs from yours or the so called "norm" doesn't mean it's wrong. This country is so screwed up and pathetic when it comes to sex, nudity or drugs. Travel a bit, America is boring and extremely guilt ridden. Your religion is all to blame.

Anonymous said...

Faith is an addiction in it's simpliest form. What makes addiction to Christianity more or less moral than addiction to sex? or fast cars? or cigarettes? or chinese food?

Anonymous said...

To those who ask "Why is this on the web site?":

Isn't it obvious? It gives you something to comment on.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 12:01. Please get this off the front page. This is a far from "news" as you can be.

Anonymous said...

"co workers spill about sex", what else is new?
Your line of work is writing so co workers write books about themselves and their sexual experiences.
Singers sing songs and write songs about themselves and their sexual experiences .
Movies are made about movie stars or celebrities and their sexual experiences.
On and on with famous or not so famous tell all books or other ways of telling all in public, people telling their private (made up or true) sex stories for attention. Allot of times or most times so boring and out of boredom or desperate they may have been written.
Yet, like this blog today with writing about these books or "co-workers spill about sex", people react and respond for awhile with attention before becoming also bored.
Then they usually return to 'good' movies and songs and books instead with or without sex included in the stories told.
People who want to talk about themselves or write about themselves and their sexual experiences usually don't have many to listen to them or read their books for long, ya think?
They may think their private sexual stories are interesting enough to tell, usually they are not.
Sex does make the world go round and round though and can be written about and always will be written about enjoyable or not so enjoyable!

Anonymous said...

The newspaper is NOT all about "news"...have you read the Living Section or the Sports section lately?....It's great to put a topic on the online front page that elicits discussion..and sex certainly does that...you folks who don't want to talk about sex in a blog like this..probably aren't getting any...so therefore it is a bit of a sore spot for you...hey for the rest of us who follow our genetic instincts and have sex on a regular basis, this is an interesting subject..I enjoyed reading about it...but I must say this story is tame compared to some of the "sex addiction" stories I'm aware of (the married guy who has 5 (yes 5!) women outside of his marriage that he keeps sexually happy!!)....so it's OOOOO KKKKKKK.....to have a little online banter about sex on the front page fo the Observer online...relax...

Anonymous said...

... zzzZZZzzz... huh?...

Anonymous said...

I could not believe I was reading such a trashy article. This isn't an editorial piece, just a piece of trash. Guess the managing editors lost their jobs because I can't believe a true journalist would allow something like to be printed.

Anonymous said...

"It was as stomach churning as you might expect..."

Maybe I missed something. What was it that made your stomach churn?

Blair Tindall said...

Deirdre, you made me very sad with this, as I always tried to be gracious and respectful of you and your work. With your comments, I can't believe you actually read my book, "Mozart in the Jungle," which was about the rise of culture in the late 20th century, told in the form of memoir. It seems that, like so many newspaper writers, you took out one of the few salacious sentences -- meant jokingly -- that every other reviewer did.

But many did read it; The New Republic recently lauded it, while the reviewer in The Daily Telegraph (London) wrote,
"Alas, Tindall doesn't live up to her titillating title. There's very little about Mozart in these pages, even less about the jungle. The sex is desultory, the drugs are Class C. But what makes the book well worth reading is its intelligent analysis of the state of classical music, emanating from someone on the floor, actually making the noise, rather than a pundit or academic."

This was not a book about sex or drugs -- it was about a mythologized arts industry and the hard-working people hidden inside it. It's now been or is being published in six foreign countries and has been optioned for a television drama serial. You'd be surprised at how little sex actually sells if there's not a greater story behind it.

And by the way, I've been nominated for a Grammy Award (and have been a voting member for 15 years), played with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, performed a solo recital at Carnegie Recital Hall, published major features in the New York Timess, taught at both Stanford and Berkeley. The entire time I was at the CC Times, I was often rushing off to play with the San Francisco Symphony or solo with the SF Contemporary Chamber Players. But those things, all in the book, seem to escaped your notice. But thanks for the coverage anyway.

Lane Savant said...

You a-holes don't read much, do you?
Do you even know how?

AmyB said...

How dare you make such a vivcious comment about Blair Tindall and her book without taking the time to mention what the book was actually about! Who in the world do you think you are? Self righteous is an understatement!
The only reason I am even here is to let other readers know, there's much more to the story, and they should take every word you all write with ample grains of salt.
This was my first and last visit to your blog. I hope you take some time to think about how your comments make YOU sound, which is worse than anyone you have mentioned in this piece. It only reflects poorly upon you, fortunately.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of us are not so shocked. Blair just has the guts to tell the truth. I don't.