Swelter 24

A combination of inertia, stone loony grandeur, and the hell of other people backing up the schedule from there, other skirmishes on the front going astray. Michele Pommier Models, Inc. and Runways, Inc. throwing a party at Bash to celebrate the partnership Runways at Pommier, an odd invited-by-protocol pair, Louis Oliver and Kenzo turning up in modelville. And then it's a banal Saturday afternoon of grossly unflattering sunshine, neglecting an offer to cruise up to North Miami aboard Take a Chance, the yacht of National Enquirer scion/new Miami player Paul Pope. Ten six-footers, sixty running feet of models, making the Gilligan's Island jaunt to the Miss Hawaiian Tropic contest at Shooters. As it happens, Striptease co-star Armand Assante aboard a neighboring yacht at the marina. In the end, all roads lead to women.

That same evening, the actresses of Striptease -- including stripper Pandora Peaks, last spotted at an erotomania convention -- did a just-us-girls number at Max's South Beach. The district on a weekend night is the land that time and fashion forgot, and even as a scholar of the barbarous, it would take Jack Nicholson -- conveniently shooting Blood and Wine here in mid-October -- the actual Pope, Joey Bishop, and the second coming of Elvis to lure me into South Beach. But the night's also wired with information, of both a commercial and spiritually instructive nature. The late Stephen Talkhouse morphing into Moe's Cantina, principals from the departed club AA involved in the deal -- there's a metaphor in there somewhere. Across the street, Boston money opening the dance palace Carbon in early November. On Washington Avenue, the boulevard of broken dreams, the former gas station/rotating restaurant space (most recently Greenwich Beach and Le Sud) may well reincarnate into Chez Pascal, Robert Pascal -- formerly of La Voile Rouge -- and partners hoping for a Bowery Bar effect. Lately restaurants have the same shelf life as whipped cream, and maybe it's me, but Miami itself is starting to resemble the lobby of the Grand Hotel: People come, people go, nothing ever happens.

But there are always absurdities in the chaos, rife with cruel illumination and short-order poignancy, both comic and studiously unfunny. The Estefans are involved in a boating accident -- within juicy news-bite days of their recent triumph -- and tabloid television is calling from Los Angeles. The same assistant producer, a certain young Jennifer, who formerly inquired about the safety of Gloria singing in Cuba -- I felt compelled to point out to her that a military escort to Guantanamo is hardly dangerous -- worrying over Gloria's well-being in the most recent media tragedy. A man died, for God's sake. But at a certain stage of the game, it's impossible to dredge up enough real human feeling, the appropriate theater of the irate. It's an odd life, this business, and to survive it's not wise to take anything personally.

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