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Watching the Watchdog: Celebrating HuffPost's Birthday

Posted: 05/24/2012 9:47 am

Company parties are wondrous things.

You go to them partly because there's free food and drink but mostly because you hope you'll meet important people there.

People who will be enormously impressed by your charm and talent and offer you large amounts of money to write stuff so you can take vacations where the sun shines down like honey and the living is easy.

Or, at least, pay next month's rent.

Last evening I was invited to Huffington Post Canada's first birthday party.

There was free food and drink (three bars on two floors) -- enough to keep an army of celebrants stuffed and tipsy for a month.

But nobody offered me large -- or even small -- amounts of money.

Hey ho, these things happen. There's always the next party. And the next.

HuffCanada's place is exactly what I expect.

Everything's open. Glass-walled offices, lots of exposed brick, great big monitors on crowded desks. Surprisingly, not all the computers are trendy Mac.

And the people. Lots of bright young men and women who come straight from whatever society pages bright young people inhabit these days. More beautiful people than I can remember at any recent event I've been to. Although to be truthful, most of the gatherings I'm invited to are filled with dour, everything's-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket-these-days journalists of a certain age.

Food was served by impossibly lovely young women who flirt demurely, even with this journalist of a certain age.

And the artist. One T. Hugh, draws caricatures of anyone who dares. He made the women look like movie stars. He made me look like a mad prophet on a weeklong binge even though I started by offering -- hoping he'd handsome me up a bit -- to go get him a drink. He declined.

Balloon sculptors twist balloons into impossible shapes that women, for some strange reason, wore as bracelets.

Everywhere, is the sound of revelry by night.

I've never met Danielle Crittendon who is a famous writer and HuffPost Canada's Managing Editor of blogs. Which makes her my boss. So I ask one of the staffers to find her and introduce us.

When I was half a room away Danielle recognized me from my tiny black-and-white column picture, interrupted her conversation of the moment and embraced me. We did the two-cheek kiss like old friends.

Danielle looks sexy in something reddish and says nice things about my Watching the Watchdog column which runs on HuffPost's front page two or three times a week. Then she takes me off to introduce me to her stepfather, legendary journalist, former Toronto Sun editor and fervent HuffPost blogger, Peter Worthington.

Funny thing about hanging with important people -- just being with them makes one feel important too.

Which takes me to the next act.

Arianna Huffington arrives looking like Hollywood royalty.

She's the queen bee of Huffington Post which she recently sold to the American Internet service provider AOL for $315 million. Which makes her a very rich and powerful person indeed.

I never get to meet my boss of bosses because there are for more important people who want her ear. But I hang around Arianna's periphery for a while and soak in the adoration. It reminds me of coming across Pierre Trudeau at a gathering. The air's sucked out of the room. Only one person matters.

Well, that's not quite true. Conrad Black, Baron Black of Crossharbour, PC, OC, KCSG to you, is there and delivers profundities to admiring throngs with admirable cool. If anyone asks him about his recent travails, I don't hear.

Nearby is Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty, who is half Black's size but holds Canada's financial future in his hands and attracts his own admiring crowd.

I marvel at the easy, patient power of really, really important people when they mingle with such as us.

Not everything works. When Arianna gets to speak, oddly, for such a cool company as HuffPost, the microphone doesn't work. Only admirers in the first couple of rows hear her. I'm some six feet away and again don't catch an Arianna word.

I have no doubt that she welcomes us all, speaks highly of her staff and predicts a glorious future for Huffington Post generally and Huffington Post Canada in particular.

The fact that almost none of the guests hear Adrianna's speech, I guess, means that even someone who has $315 million and controls one of the most powerful and important media companies on the globe, is just as liable as the rest of us to get screwed by technology. Even when she owns it.

Makes me feel a whole lot better about problems with my usually splendid MacBook Pro.

 

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