Today we want to deviate from our usual format to pass on our disappointment that esteemed New York Times "Big Deal" columnist (i.e., the Grey Lady's version of a celebrity real estate columnist) was laid off from the paper last week.

New York magazine reports that Barbanel, 57, was let go from the Times on Wednesday. A quick look at newspaper databases shows that he had written for the Times since at least 1977. Barbanel's wife, Times staff writer Anemona Hartocollis, remains on staff.

Our thoughts are with Barbanel and his family -- layoffs are of course horrible things -- but Barbanel's quite talented, and we look forward to seeing his byline again soon. There already are too few of us celebrity real estate writers out there; our small fraternity doesn't need to get any smaller. Here's hoping 2010 brings better things for Barbanel -- we're sure that it will.