Swelter 22

The moment of quality time immediately followed by a descent into hype, working publicists everywhere at once. China Grill kicking off with all due fanfare in early November, Dennis Max working on the Astor Place restaurant within the very beautiful Astor Hotel. In the old Barrio space, Digby Leibovitz, designer Rolf Seckinger, and assorted partners opening the Swirl Shop in October, a kind of adult playground: light food and real liquor, cabaret, sandboxes, a liquid bar, drinks floating down a built-in trough. In other late-breaking reports, we're the last person, apparently, to catch the chic 411. The Paloma Picasso divorce, her ex-husband flipping the fashion icon through his close uberpersonal friendship with a man given to impersonating telenovela queens. The teen tycoon of Animal Farm/Pervert clothes, Don Busweiler, chucking it all for the rapture of religious cultdom -- the only way out of this game, save for AA, death, or suddely becoming last week's news.

From there wafting through sound bites ("The only things people won't give you on this Beach are money, blood, and the truth") on the way out to the streets, torturing cab drivers and taking a nightcap at 821. Once there, pondering the possibilities of an act billed as the Supremes: From the glory-days lineup, one's dead, one's solo, and call-me-Miss-Ross hasn't done club dates in some time. After an endless wait, the faux Supremes -- all gold teeth and sad-ass stories -- finally arriving around two a.m., complaining about the traffic and puncturing another illusion of the night. No original members from the group, of course, a guitarist addressing the legal ramifications ("Why you asking me? I ain't no lawyer") as one of the singers gaped at Hotshots magazine.

None of them quite got it together to go on -- their tapes got wet, the dog ate their homework -- and we all entered the netherlands of contented dementia, talking with social pioneer Curtis DeWitz, now backing Andrew Delaplaine on his new-order mayoral quest. In the end, it's a nutty little world. On to the pitiless five a.m. fluorescence of a fast-food dump, and then the sanctity of sleep, gurgling like a happy baby amid a rich nocturnal wonderland. For some curious reason, Miami is the only place where we dream any more.

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