Swelter 38

Musing back on the social time line, high and low circumstances blending imperceptibly together. Steel, set in the former Ajaxx space on Washington Avenue, opening with all due metallic pomp and postindustrial pleasures: Frank Welde's welding-as-performance art bouncing off the walls; the silver people dancers being vaguely provocative on the catwalks; a topless vixen cruising overhead on a swing. Fairly intense stuff, partners Ron Bourne, Pino Piroso, and Eric Lefkowitz putting a smattering of everything into the mix, the promised midget doorman unfortunately not in evidence. From there switching tracks with a series of civilized little gatherings, sort of crashing a curious party at the La Gorce island home of Alfredo Beracasa and Elizabeth Ann Kane. The music switching from Frank Sinatra to salsa, the guests even more eclectic: art dealer/former Warhol-crowd-regular Holly Solomon, Latin socialites and models, more Egon and Donatella, and social juggernaut Manuel Gonzalez, curating a show at the South Florida Arts Center. Essence of Euro throughout, our companion running into a gentleman who'd traveled with him aboard the King of Bhutan's yacht. It's a small world after all. Bracing for trouble, the hostess making a beeline in our noninternational direction, then very sweetly taking our picture and heartily welcoming us aboard the S.S. Glitz.

What with the season being so daunting -- so totally, splendidly, completely there -- a brief reprieve in the Bahamas seeming like a perfectly sensible idea, flying into Freeport for -- what else? A yet another party. A long climb up from our last trip to the island twenty-odd years ago, all about the cruel absurdity of high school. Three feckless lads, squandering their funds on one lavish meal, eventually reduced to stealing food and sleeping on the beach. One fateful rainy night, our two companions -- who'd demonstrated no prior signs of being in love -- slipping off together for a night of circle-jerking, as we huddled alone under an upturned boat. In one bleak evening, the male code of buddies-united-together shattered forever. Naturally, back home in Coral Gables, our shotgun stature in the automobile pecking order no longer holding fast, a certain tension creeping into a trio of formerly inseparable pals.

Life's eternal rotation holding true once again, more rain and chaos theory, although this time around the accommodations proving slightly more agreeable: an oceanfront mansion, just down the beach from the site of that watershed evening, Jules et Jim revisited meets High School Confidential! Since those happy days, the Bahamas taking on moneyed oddities and new travel sensations, a surrealistic landscape floating somewhere between One Hundred Years of Solitude and Boca Raton. Major homes adorning the island, dominated by an enormous Disney World-style castle in the bush, built by a drug dealer. Polite society composed of a hundred or so people, endlessly moving from party to party: lots of frolics with the decadent children of the English aristocracy, even taking a nostalgic toke from a bong one deranged night. Jet-set fever concluding with four hours of airport anxiety, planes arriving and departing randomly, no one quite grasping the running-late-for-glamour concept. In a terminal tizzy, finally settling in on the last plane out, thinking of cozy Bahamian society and the price exacted for remaining in your hometown. And then it's the splendor of Miami, leaping to the tarmac and nearly kissing the sweet earth of America, ready once again to embrace the City of Oz.

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