Swelter 8

Saturday night, taking a turboglide run on the conversational high road, Cathy Booth, the Miami bureau chief for Time magazine, hosting a splendid going-away party for photojournalist Anne Day, of the Washington Post, and Spencer Reiss, who formerly headed the local Newsweek bureau. The couple leaving Grub Street behind for the cold fray of commerce, the new horizon of Marin County, Cyber-California, Reiss taking the lifestyle trend beat to the bank. In conjunction with partner Rick Smolan, Reiss setting up a multimedia publishing company called Against All Odds, the operation working on a interesting array of CD/ROM projects. A joint effort with the MIT Media Lab, A Day in the Life of Cyberspace, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the cutting-edge lab. Passage to Vietnam and another upcoming CD/ROM work, Alice to Ocean, based on the college girl cult novel Tracks, the coming-of-age memoir of Robyn Davidson, who rode a camel across Australia to escape madness. A vehicle with true legs, the movie rights to Davidson's book having been bought by Julia Roberts. With funding by Paul Allen of the Microsoft fortune, the company also doing a synergistic book, CD/ROM, television special, and Internet project about sixteen-year-olds, one of our more absorbing anthropological interests.

For the occasion, an intelligent mix of reporters and businesspeople on hand, a warming reprieve from the daily grind of cubicle angst. Over mojitos and an appetizing buffet, our colleagues sympathetically feeding the great maw of newsprint with pertinent sex bites. Booth talking about an A-guest at one of her previous parties, Al Goldstein, former Fort Lauderdale mayoral candidate and founder of the Screw magazine empire, showing up with a young bimbette: perhaps the same girl he once derided ("Fuck you, you thief and whore") on his cable-TV pornucopia fest. Day reminiscing about the Eighties a-go-go era, walking into Bill Blass's office one day and uncovering a chain-smoking Nancy Kissinger, naked save for pantyhose, awaiting her couture fix. Not a pretty picture.

On to one low dive or another, ugly beyond measure, a fellow student of darkness brimming with tales of the English underbelly, an after-hours club called Trade housed in a nonventilated sub-basement. The combination of intense post-techno music, advanced synthetic drugs, poppers, and general exhaustion resulting in constant casualties ("Two guys died in one night"), the patrons dropping like flies by midafternoon: "The music's faster, the drugs are stronger, and everyone dances hard on the beat. And the whole scene's coming here." If and when the sexual bloodbath arrives, we want to be well out of dementia city, dead and gone, launched into the new frontier of celibacy cyberspace.

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