Christmas looming up, the time when WASPs begin to feel cozy, expansive, suicidal, and the mood is, as a German friend of ours used to say, "so schtincky." Time for the I-Cover-the-Waterfront beat.
Warsaw has apparently finalized a deal to take over The Building in New York, according to co-owner George Nunez, with Warsaw-the-Sequel opening on January 18: "It'll be the same concept, with a certain amount of adaptability." In typical club Rashoman style, one of The Building's owners insists that there is no contract "at this very minute." Within the next few days, Gary James and partner Mickey Rourke should be previewing The Spot in the old E.S.P. space. The concept is, according to James, "diner food and bar with American memorabilia, bikes, movie posters." James will also be doing an Avenue A-type one-nighter at Egoiste, commencing January 17, which will replace Norman Bedford's faltering Four Five Five night and undoubtedly raise the tone a bit.
The night beat continued over a dinner of cocktails and apple tart at The Foundlings, the private women's club on Lincoln Road, with a taste of the edge ("Why don't you say hello to him on the beach? Boyfriends of friends should be nice to each other") and a smattering of trashy behavior all around. (The club has recently decided to accept a few select auxiliary male members as of January 1; we can only hope our most recent dining companions will be deemed beyond the pale.)
Another dinner at Carino's, on the upper reaches of Biscayne Boulevard. Rick Carino, the hardest working man in the industry (reportedly he personally handed out flyers at the Hipodrome opening) -- bringing together a bewildering array of elements, a series of colliding worlds. The old war-horse Italian restaurant, hanging vines and clutter, now open, tasteful, art-littered. Trucked-in models mixing with North Miami Beach witches ("You look good, baby, and I'm not just saying that.... Sheila, you are a fuck -- how dare you shit on my parade") and hipster Realtors, as some lounge singer gamely chews on one of Frank Sinatra's classic tunes, "Summer Wind."
From there, flying high as a kite, oh, those days and nights. Yeah. A field trip to the Grove. The Miami Light Project opening event, Shimmer, a monologue written and performed by the very talented John O'Keefe. An endurance test staged in the Elizabeth Virrick gym, rife with attitude, incompetence, smug culturati types, and horrendous acoustics. Being brain damaged, we often have trouble following Barney Miller repeats, but this was truly an incomprehensible mess, a nightmarish blur that came out sounding something like Allen Ginsberg's Howl performed backward: "Pow, pow, hard and fast...Uhhh...Ohhh...potato beetles!...I piss into the void of my mother's milk, the dark festering holy womb...Yabba, dabba, dooo...Fuck, faaaaa...blunk...pow, pow, pow." On to dinner at Big City Fish, industrial chic, Gulf Coast seafood gone upscale. Oysters. Soft-shell crabs. Po' boys. A much needed Cajun martini and a table of nice people, a class we don't run into all that often. Refreshed, out into the night. La Clef, a one-nighter at the Village Inn that flowered for one evening. The premiere of another one-nighter, Razba ("Take a Mind Bending Trip...experience the ultimate in modern music") at the new 32 Grand in the old Grove Cinema: eighteen and over, mostly Latin teen-agers, cartoons playing, techno-reggae, and smoke machines spewing out rock-concert atmosphere. An evolution into a kind of club. In three weeks, a descent from high-toned movies like The Rapture to this, young Lotharios holding their dicks. Really, the entire history of Miami culture, embodied in one small outpost of civilization.
Another evening at Havana Club, which will be featuring Olga Guillot this weekend, an old-fashioned nightclub with the Big Room complex. High rollers ordering bottles of Chivas Regal and plates of Masitas de Puerco Orienta. Lots of leather, feathers, fuck-me heels, and big draped collars. Disco mirrored balls, tables with little lamps, a la the Stork Club. Men mock-boxing with each other, being courtly with their dates, kneeling beside tables and exchanging confidences. Bathroom attendants. Madly grinning merengue bands, synchronized dance routines, and blaring horns. No slumming Anglos. People fighting to pay, rather than avoid, the bill. It might not be old Havana, but it's definitely somewhere else.
Going somewhere, anywhere, else. Jon-Jon Bubblegum's one-nighter Elementary School Massacre, a tribute to James St. James, the "exiled King of Manhattan." Norma Jean Abraham's fashion benefit for the Up with Down Syndrome Foundation at Club Deja Vu. Ronnie Laws at South Beat. The ultra-official opening of the Butter Club, the real thing at last, the engines cranked up and the uptown-downtown gestalt of the place in full swing. Last visit, a smallish private party, upper-Beach ladies negotiating ultimate hip -- men and women sharing the same bathroom -- and encountering little tastes of South Beach, people like Boomerang owner Paul Gabay: "It's so fancy here, so chichi. Really nice. But I don't know, I guess I like dumps." This time, the full assault, the hordes outside, and inside, the A-regulars, all the people you know and love: Duchess of Seville, Jonathan Lewis, Louis Canales.
It was a long way from the Beach, but a recent encounter with ex-Miami home boy and current Washington Post "Style" reporter Joel Achenbach, at Washington, D.C.'s Willard Hotel, proved to be just the right kind of aesthetic leap. Ambiance-wise, everything was in accord amid the Beaux Arts splendors of the 1850s landmark: the acres of marble, the velvet settees, the presentation of various savories. To attract the press, Mark Twain used to parade back and forth across the lobby. Since then various eminences have stopped in for one thing or another, from Warren G. Harding to the Queen of Thailand, and now it's Achenbach's turn. Why Things Are, the book drawn from his syndicated column, has been a resounding success, and the prospects are good for Son-of-Why-Things-Are.
"No one's ever stopped me on the street and said, `Aren't you the Why guy...?' But it's done pretty well. It's not a reference book or an answer book, really. More a hint of what's going on around us, with a whisper of insight. It's the kind of book that's ideal for skimming; it's meant to be glanced at periodically, rather than read straight through. Maybe tweak a few neurons.
"Mostly, the questions are things I'm curious about. Why are there more negative emotions than positive ones? Why don't apes evolve any more? Why is humor funny? There's a whole industry now with this info-tainment thing; people seem to want information presented in an entertaining fashion. The next one? I'm thinking of calling it Glorious and Repellent Truths. Or maybe just More Great Bathroom Reading.
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