Swelter 43

Back to true, as opposed to cinematic, reality, sliding through all manner of semigracious vignettes. An ordinary evening at a suburban movie theater, and suddenly there's David Letterman goof-adjunct Larry "Bud" Melman, in tow with a real looker -- a truly cheering spectacle. Melman commuting back and forth from New York, joining last week's Super Bowl VIP list, featuring everyone from Jesse Jackson to O.J. Simpson attorney Robert Shapiro, given to controversial sun-kissed weekends away from the trial of the century. The very new Nemo restaurant trendy at birth: Antonio Banderas at the bar, a woman reminiscing about Simpson's attractions, thankfully not fatal.

Club news, as ever, mounting steadily. Andrew Sasson of Groove Jet off to New York's very hip Bowery Bar, Gary James leaving the Frenchified Amnesia with All-American pomp. Brian MacNally A of "44," the club Trog in Prague, and the upcoming Delano Hotel A coming down from New York shortly to look at possible bar spaces with Austin Harrelson, riding the tide of fortune. Friday night, missing the soft opening of "A.A." on Washington Avenue, co-owner Adam Devlet turning his homage-to-surfing bar, the former Lucy's, into a Nell's-goes-bordello lounge with partners Jimmy Franzo -- formerly of Groove Jet -- and Conner Lumpkin, the team going for a "warm, fuzzy, and nice" look. Fairly whimsical stuff, Alcoholics Anonymous being the unpleasant destiny of many nightlife creatures, clubs operating on the drink-or-die principle.

Coconut Grove, the truly sober Arnold Schwarzenegger showing up at Planet Hollywood, the chain of celebrity cauldrons eternally hyped by a series of let-us-now-praise-fabulous-people investors. Schwarzenegger allowing himself to be witnessed by the press and stoking the publicity furnace, coming to town to meet with local suits and to discuss bringing his Inner City Games Foundation to Miami, looking to stage citywide competitions in sports, academics, and "entrepreneurial programs." Step right up and check it out, the wayward Olympics geared toward making good citizens out of violence-and-drug-prone youngsters, all the disagreeable personal qualities that make a Saturday night on South Beach such an unsavory prospect. To set the proper booster tone, the action hero noting that he'd had a great time while here shooting True Lies: But then, a schedule of limited public appearances keeps anyone cheerful, the temple staying sacred and profitable.

Wrapping up the whirl with the life of the mind -- well, sort of anyway -- overcoming the seductions of despair and having a grand time. Saturday night, a real-people party for Jill Eisenstadt -- author of Far Rockaway and Kiss Out. Eisenstadt visiting from New York with her husband Mike Drinkard of Disobedience fame, the acclaimed novel about Los Angeles, City of Angst. The gathering hosted by friends Elizabeth Lichtenstein and poet Campbell McGrath, responsible for a collection of his work with our absolute favorite book title, American Noise. Lots of talk about neo-Hollywood and the literary brat pack: Drinkard's personal copy of Disobedience signed by everyone from Eric Stoltz to various young writers, in the manner of a hip high school yearbook. Eisenstadt, along with four other writers, working on an information superhighway novel, an on-line project, Mr. Showbizz, commissioned by Microsoft: each writer, in turn, forced to write one chapter a week. Falling into a reverie of journalism -- going on-line on death row may be the only way off the treadmill -- literature suddenly looking very attractive. The couple charting a flat, disaffected national landscape, and yet, like their friend Bret Easton Ellis, remaining perfectly sweet and nice. Go figure. Our companion in glowing gloom rousing himself, lobbing the ultimate question: "So, you two are like happy and everything, right? Let me ask you -- how did you do it?

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