The social circuit, plowing along heedlessly, the party monster sick, literally and existentially, from a regimen that would kill more sentient beings. A reception at the Doral Hotel for the South Florida International Wine and Food Festival, both ballrooms crammed with our favorite concept: free food and alcohol. Booths from various area restaurants A Giacosa, Janjo's, Florencia, the Foundlings, Restaurant St. Michel A and wine from all over the world, ranging from Bodega San Telmo of Argentina to Louis Jadot of France to Piper Sonoma of California. The usual frenzy, the hordes mixing cuisines with an alarming eclecticism, key lime pie followed by steak, that sort of thing. The guests including attorney I. Stanley Levine, speculating on the revival of the Beach ("I can't believe what we created here; it's beyond my dreams, maybe even too much already ...."), and various food-world types, many seeming rather unaccustomed to wine. People stumbling out into the night with glasses, an obnoxiously loud guy leaving with a bottle ("Jesus Christ, I picked up a bottle of water instead of wine ....") and one wretched woman mixing it up with security guards: "Leave me alone! I'll find my husband by myself."

That whole wretched excess thing a recurrent theme throughout the weekend. A Krug champagne luncheon at Max's Place. A Rave For Life benefit for the People With AIDS Coalition at Van Dome, featuring various door prizes and an art auction, with work from Bobby Radical and Roly Chang, among others. A nice crowd, a nice time, a great cause. Feeling uplifted, and naturally compelled to trash our finer sensibilities at Rebar, staying on till last call and wallowing in gossip with various patrons. David Lee Roth, out on a not-so-quiet spree, stumbling out of the bar, bouncing off his bodyguards like a pinball. A tale about a soap opera star cum singer at another club, in town for public service work with the anti-drug organization D.A.R.E, doing coke off a credit card, laughing about the hypocrisy of it all. A local club owner suddenly vanishing in the face of retribution, having scammed his partners. The debasement of beautiful women, a pervasive epidemic on the Beach, reaching new depths with Paul Montana of The Whiskey walking into Rebar at 4:00 a.m., openly fondling his companion's breasts at the bar. A story about Mickey Rourke, deeply in love with Carre Otis, sitting in a hotel room and pulling out a pistol, with a curious Barfly proposition: "If we don't get married, one of us is gonna die tonight." Wedded bliss, happily enough, coming shortly thereafter. La Donna E. Mobile.

Slices of fickleness here, there, and everywhere. The debut of Z Lounge at Paragon, the new politically correct straight pickup place. The South Beach A-list being primarily gay, plenty of dueling sexual aesthetics, the straights dancing below obliviously, the A-list clinging to the safe harbor of the upstairs reception, instinctually trying to climb even higher and crash Rachel Herschfeld's party in the Mile High Club. A truly wonderful opening show, with a Bahamian marching band, fire twirlers, lasers spelling out "Z," the odd drag queen, and a twenty-foot-tall dancing puppet mounting a girl pinned down on center stage. A good group, gays and straights mixing happily for once, featuring Sabrina Crews of Plus Models, Interview photographer Patrick McMullan (working on his autobiography A Complimentary Life), and promoters Louis Canales, Susan Ainsworth, Anthony Addison, Andrew Roosevelt, and Lou Ramirez.

Sinatra Bar for the arrival of Eddie Murphy, in town promoting a new album, wearing one of his trademark post-Super Fly outfits. Murphy escorted by a battalion of bodyguards and a posse of white girls, remaining aloof and a tad camera shy, no doubt attuned to the sensitive issue of his upcoming wedding, set for next month. Riddled with power, seemingly unable to enjoy anything, in the way that French kings were once forced to kill peasants and invent increasingly decadent sexual games to satiate their jaded palates. Sensibly enough, Murphy spending most of his time with the best-looking woman in the place, club employee Pressley, having a nice long, pleasant chat: the average day of a superstar, the difficulties of mingling with the public. Another personal low established, getting too close to the flying wedge of glamour exit, finding ourselves knocked back into a rather sharp house plant by a phalanx of horny girls. The next night, Murphy turning up again with even more women at Warsaw, after dining with Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago. Terminally bored and sipping orange juice, his bodyguards insisting that no one A except for the girl sitting beside him A could smoke in his vicinity. There's something to be said for obscurity.

On to a cocktail party at the beautiful and truly hip family home of Brian Antoni, most recently owned by the notorious Dr. Orlando Ramos, a traumatologist by trade, who shot his wife and himself several years ago at Shooter's. A bizarre Spanish Revival/Medieval fortress construction, with a stagnant Sunset Boulevard pool, Santeria shrines, collages of Ramos's wife, self-help books such as Men Who Love Too Much, and a tower where the mistress of the house would be locked up for infractions of the heart. Everything left perfectly intact, in brilliant decay. The crowd equally on-target, encompassing Robert Antoni, author of the novel Divina Trace, Esther Percale, and Tereza Scharf, who's doing the new Aqua restaurant with the Z Lounge gang and Mark and Holly Leventhal. Open bar, hand-passed hors d'ouevres from Aqua, intelligent conversations. If only life were one big adult cocktail party.

A drastic social segue, an evening at Cafe Iguana in the Town & Country Centre mall, deep in the hinterlands of Kendall. The mall itself offering the diversions of a surrealistic rock-pit lake and clubs like Studebaker's and Charcoals ("There's a five-dollar cover for the lounge, pal ....") with a polite frozen yogurt kind of crowd. Cafe Iguana turning out to have several pronounced advantages over the Beach: attitude-free service, unfamiliar faces, and very tasty, very resonable food and drink, enormous cocktails and three-dollar dinners at happy hour, roughly equivalent to the price of tap water in the district.

The 12,000-square-foot club cranking up early with the after-work set (people with jobs being another cultural oddity of Kendall) and lots of diversions: four bars and beer-tub girls, dancing, pool tables, and whistle-blowing party animal bartenders. A Key West outdoor patio theme created by Mark Coltrane, tin roofs over the bars, wooden decking and menus on paint cans, accented with attitudinal Iguana-theme videos. An interesting group of patrons, with a couple who met at Tony Roma's ("We never go out. Is this a good place?") and a spokesman for the John Doe set: "These people kiss ass all week long at work and they just want to forget and have a good time while they can." Our own good time coming during a conversation with a pretty club girl, escatic over her new social horizons: "Now I don't have to drive over to South Beach every weekend." The encounter terminating with the arrival of a guy who had the cachet of just having purchased his very own double-wide house trailer. No matter where the social beast may travel, there's always somebody ready to ruin a great time.

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Tom Austin