Swelter 18

Clubs are all about anticlimax, though unusual intelligence at work within the Church: great music of the I-walk-the-line school, Robert Mapplethorpe-meets-vintage-erotica slide shows, and a surprising screening room, some hip-hop boy/film buff pointing out the intricacies of Luis Bu*uel's Un Chien Andalou. A nice enough milieu, but still, seizing on one of the promoters for something, anything, revolting in a thrilling sort of way, the ringleader lobbing a conundrum: "Some guy was supposed to get branded tonight, but he called in sick." For chrissakes, the man's getting branded like a longhorn steer -- how ill could he have been?

From there, sifting through the detritus of summer, an ad hoc curator of unnatural history. The gang passing on the new fog-theme parties -- first it's foam fun for everyone, and now this dance before the precipice (one of the A-gays likening the gestalt to Auschwitz with a cover charge). Milling around on Washington Avenue, a Jim Jarmusch movie come to life. Quietly descending into ugly hubris, two recent honors having come our way. A celebrity supermodel stint for the upcoming Children First-WPLG-TV benefit at Turnberry, as well as flattering recognition from academia for our pop apocalypse scholarship. Truly we're not worthy, one of the boys suddenly noting our resemblance -- out-thrusted cigarette, swollen carcass, brassy manner -- to the late Totie Fields, in her pre-amputee glamour-gal days. God bless our honest friends.

On to an ostensibly upmarket soiree, more or less a glorified nightclub, the absurd intruding on what's left of our personal space with their trivial woes, naked ambitions, unseemly personal habits, and penchant for distasteful self-revelation, psychotics making the better guest lists. After-hours vermin, the pantheon of those without a grip, infiltrating the playgrounds of the rich. One delusional thug, no doubt wanting to go out in glory like Jerry Garcia, smoking heroin in the bathroom. Another burnout case -- afflicted with dementia, among other problems -- hitting on a doctor for free Retin-A, the miracle drug apparently useful as a balm for stretch marks. Talk about sweating the petty: Vanity, thy name is horror. Trash theater mounting inexorably with a charter member of the fringe chewing us out over long-forgotten A though no doubt gratuitous A column fodder. Happily enough, blind items often strike a dozen sinners simultaneously, most mortals being pretty much guilty of everything and nothing at once. At the end, standing before the pearly gates, let's all hope that the gods of judgment aren't gossip columnists.

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