5 Questions with Phoebe Eaton


Phoebe Eaton, has been writing features for New York magazine, The New York Observer and Harper’s Bazaar. FishbowlNY caught up with former deputy editor and features editor at New York to ask her about the media fishbowl:

FishbowlNY: Tell us a little bit about your average day.

Phoebe Eaton: If there were such a thing as an “average day”, I wouldn’t be doing this for a living. That said, certain patterns emerge.

Eaton: Scene One of The Average Day opens with four newspapers: The New York Post is read first, the Times, last. Assuming there are no action-figure, on-location interviews requiring the wearing of a responsible-connoting suit: Enter Author, wearing lima-green scrubs, the legacy of a surgeon exthat still has fellow condo tenants shooting knowing, respectful glances in the elevator, having decided that the Author must be “on call,” or “just off shift,” which is why she is occasionally spotted making 1 a.m. trips to the convenience store across the street in the emergency-room get-up.

Eaton: Then: Phone calls. More phone calls. The leaden tedium of transcribing interviews cut by intermittent lurking on Gawker and YouTube and Facebook. Using Dragon Naturally Speaking software, one can speak an entire interview into a microphone and it appears as if by magic onscreen, thereby saving one’s dainty, manicured, harpsichord-ready hands from carpal-tunnel syndrome.

Eaton: But among its (many) flaws, Dragon perversely has no ear for profanity, rendering “Bullshit” as “Bull ship,” and “fucking asshole” as “talking asphalt.” There is no way around it: Transcribing is a necessary, albeit super-major drag.

Eaton: Lunch in, if on deadline: Sushi from Teriyaki Boy — better than it sounds. Truly.

Eaton: Lunch out: Michael’s (invariably).

Eaton: Scene 2: See Scene One.( If you want dramatic tension, visit a newsroom instead.) When in writing mode, Author works from 8 a.m. till 1 a.m. generating 1,000 to 2,000 eminently printable paragraphs a day.

FishbowlNY: What’s the best thing about your job?

Eaton: Enrolling in a crash course on a subject for a few months and then: Onto something else entirely. The ability to write something startling and creative and true because you are not shackled to a beat and are therefore uncompromised and can take risks. Also: Hanging around with an ever-changing cast of fascinating people. And not being padlocked into some bourgeois two-weeks-a-year vacation structure working for The Man.

FishbowlNY: What do you like most about the city?

Eaton: Its epicenter quality.

FishbowlNY: Hardest part of your job.

Eaton: Transcribing (see above). An epic time suck, except for that one story that was needed in such a hurry, the magazine paid to have it done by some ancient woman in Hell’s Kitchen with a rubber chicken hanging in her window. (Heaven!)

FishbowlNY: Is there any particular story that you did that you are particularly proud to have got out?

Eaton: The (entirely unexpected) Mrs. Hyde side of superficially genteel New York Senate candidate K.T. McFarland.

(image via JT via nysocialdiary)