Swelter 15

On to other delights and diversions, tainted and tortured by talk of fame. Uptown circles, a female reporter bringing back the private side of Roseanne from Hollywood: Television's favorite she-beast sharing a just-us-girls moment, revealing her private collection of rubber fetish wear. In this instance, standard lingerie might qualify as sufficient perversity. Some suburban mall or another for a screening of Nine Months, an insult to the brain, not that it really matters in the cute campaign A ladies, let's all coo on cue. Tobacco Road and the slap of real life, some hustler in the parking lot hawking tokens of athletic glory, baseball memorabilia, at 1:00 a.m.: "How about some Babe Ruth cards, worth hundreds of dollars, for a couple of bucks each?"

And then it's the pop pageantry of South Beach, ruled by the couple-of-bucks principle: the end of the ride, the exhale of life, but we're still clinging to the modern order. The weekend, a photo-op alignment of the old and new, the play of district history. Dennis Britt, club pioneer and bongo hero, playing with West Indian at Rose's Bar & Music Lounge. At Lua, Billy Baldwin, the star of Curdled, turning up for the film's wrap party. Let's all go Hollywood.Out of the house for another Saturday night on the town, joining the lesbian nation at the Kremlin, the patrons ("Girlfriend, put your mouth where the honey is") keeping things light. In his own quiet corner of insanity, some street faun -- the chic of exposed underwear, shirtless to no avail -- dancing obliviously in the Sapphic matrix. Being a magnet for lunatics, our newest stalker materializing in the men's room for a male-bonding session, posing the age-old question: "Do I look all right?" At the point of screaming the obvious -- it's a dyke bar, you idiot -- and then weakening in the face of abject emotional poverty, gushing the appropriate you-look-so-fabulous sympathies. As if we know anything.

Thrills, chills, and circles of hurt, the sociological circus winding down with an A-gay affair, immersed in endless food, drink, and forced jollity, touched by the dark whisper of boredom. Amid all the techno poses and cutting remarks, falling into a strange discussion of ennui through the ages -- the saving grace of historical relativity -- a philosophical friend to glamour having made a study of nightlife's paradigmatic ailment. Samuel Johnson's deep cynicism, all human endeavor -- from romance to empire building -- nothing but a futile attempt to "fill up the vacuity of life." From there, a dollop of the Marquise du Deffand, the reigning social addict of the Louis XIV era: "I am left to myself, and I couldn't be in worse hands. An ennui such as to extinguish all light from the mind." Arthur Schopenhauer's idea that mankind eternally struggles between need and boredom, a limited capacity for pleasure vying against a vast talent for pain, malaise descending after the basic needs of survival are met. Our pal, a man of many worlds, illustrating the principle in layman's terms: "Boredom is this -- need is why I had such a great time at the Boardwalk last night, playing with all the strippers."

Inevitably, a bleak turn of conversation winding down with Friedrich Nietzsche: Boredom coming as a "disagreeable windless calm of the soul, necessary for lesser natures," a vital prelude to achievement and good cheer. Hope in the ruins, Nietzsche, as it happens, also something of a party boy, his rueful summation of social seduction in Human, All Too Human still holding true: "Why do we feel pangs of conscience after ordinary parties? Because we have taken important matters lightly; because we have discussed people with less than complete loyalty; because we did not jump up and run away. In short, because we behaved at the party as if we belonged to it.

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