Swelter 7

An unsavory publicity pitch, followed by the usual twinge of nonexistential nausea, fleeing the She Beast for a reconnaissance mission. Real estate agents, the new Beach noblemen, drooling over the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses property, the congregation allegedly making a tidy earthly profit on the sale of their church. Dinner amid the nostalgic splendors of Embers, a reprieve from modern insanity under an array of vintage publicity photos, staying in character with hearty steak-and-potatoes fare rather than picking through the New American cuisine selections. Back to the office on Sunday night, strolling past gay cult figure Sandra Bernhard at Pacific Time, missing the festivities attendant to a group of homosexual journalists from Europe, brought in by the City of Miami Beach to promote the new Mykonos.

With all the choreographic coincidences of Busby Berkeley, an unbelievably perky television producer calling from London -- dear God, a cry for help from across the waters -- the BBC coming to town this weekend to film segments for a gay and lesbian newsmagazine show. An hour or so on the phone, for free, hooking up a series of local candidates for the "Ideal Homo," profiles of the velveteen mafia and their homes. No remuneration attached, alas, except for international glamour cooperation and a planned invoice to the Miami Beach city fathers for our continuing efforts as a goodwill ambassador at large. Here at command headquarters, charm, the most critical human virtue, still counts for something.

Charm, of the golden youth school, turning a tad twisted at a dinner party, a bright young thing full of tales from Los Angeles. Naturally, O.J. Simpson, everyone's favorite obsession, leading the charge: "One of my friends -- she's seventeen -- went out with him, and he got her to do coke and everything. He liked her, was nice to her, but her parents weren't too happy A they had to take her out of town." And then table conversation coming to a standstill at the mention of Erik Menendez ("not the one with the hairpiece"), our fellow guest visiting Menendez in jail regularly. Rather absorbing material, the visits presented in a casual, strenuously hip manner, parenticide reduced to an amusing anecdote: "He's nice A although it wasn't nice when he went back and reloaded A very intelligent and intellectual: Reading a lot of Ayn Rand, doing a science fiction novella, writing poems, and composing music. He's also working on a documentary movie about his life. Erik's a spoiled rich boy, but you can't judge him."

All of us leaping on her, judging at once, the brave face of the future remaining equitable, defending situational ethics from a curious moral position: "His mother locked him in a closet and made him play tennis, or whatever, and his father abused him. But he couldn't leave; he wanted the money, and he was going to be disinherited.... Let's face it, L.A. is a great place to get away with murder.... It wasn't me or my parents he killed, it has nothing to do with me...." And on it goes, the creeping of the void, all of us floating loose from every mooring, rushing toward the blank expanse of infinity.

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