Quelle Daum-age! Gamin personal essayist and Vassar grad Meghan Daum, 30, a kind of literary Meg Ryan (without the Dennis Quaid Russell Crowe baggage), follows a long journalistic tradition (think Walter Kirn or Lily Burana) of people who decide they are simply unable to bear the ambition and money in the big, bad city one single second longer, so they flee to crumbling farmhouses in the “simple” Midwest, from which they continue to drop the occasional woolly freelance musing in our laps . But, like most of this bunch, Ms. Daum can’t resist returning to Manhattan for a nice book party. Bonus excerpt from her debut collection, My Misspent Youth: “Carpet makes me want to kill myself. Wall-to-wall carpet anywhere other than offices, airplanes, and Holiday Inn lobbies sends me careening toward a kind of despair that can only be described as” Slam! Literary “ladies’ man” Thomas Beller has an imprint, Open City Books, which is publishing Ms. Daum’s book and will host tonight’s party in relatively carpet-free Soho. And then it’s back to rural Nebraska, toots.
[69 Greene Street, fourth floor, 7 p.m., by invitation only, 696-7317.]
Wanna be a Milla-ionaire? Goody-bag whores and who among us is not? head for Chelsea to mill about with ubiquitous party wench Milla Jovovich, who is co-hosting a “futuristic” party with Kidada Jones and Aaliyah to launch (kerboom!) a new line of fancy specs, Sama Eyewear. We hope the “futuristic” theme does not mean that Ms. Jovovich will arrive starkers in a space capsule as she did in the futuristic flick, The Fifth Element. And speaking of trembling, unclothed actresses, what’s going on with Isabella (Blue Velvet) Rossellini? Well, Lancôme dumped her for Juliette Binoche, but that’s O.K. Ms. Rossellini rebounded with her own makeup line, touchingly named Manifesto (who says Communism is dead?), and tonight she hooks up with Mikhail Baryshnikov in Brooklyn at a benefit for the Mark Morris Dance Group. Who’s on the committee: Sandra Bernhard, Sandy Hill, Anne McNally, Isaac Mizrahi! And believe us, it’s gonna cost you.
[Sama Eyewear, Drive In Studios, 443 West 18th Street, 9 p.m., 917-351-8600; Mark Morris Dance Group, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m., dinner to follow, Mark Morris Dance Center, 3 Lafayette Avenue, 718-624-8400.]
So hos slurp cocktails and shop for schlock made in Swedish sweatshops! H&M, the famous discount store that wears us down, opens in Soho, finally sealing that neighborhood’s inevitable fate as a splendid, gigantic Eurotrash mall!
[558 Broadway, 8 p.m., by invitation only, 358-9963.]
Accordion files: If you’re like a certain Elle editor we know and you wear glam-rock pants but secretly yearn to play the accordion, today’s your day, honey, as the indefatigable CUNY Grad Center hosts a symposium called “The Accordion as an Icon of Italian-American Culture.” “It’s a shindig, let’s call it that,” said professor and free-reed-instrument expert Allan Atlas. “Look, we’ve all seen all these cartoons where the guy is going to hell instead of heaven, and down there there’s an orchestra of accordions playing and this is what he’s gonna have to listen to for the next 10 million years, but here are millions and millions and millions of people who play.” Does he squeeze? “I play the concertina.” This shindig just gets jiggier and jiggier.
[Baisley Powell Elebash Recital Hall, 365 Fifth Avenue, symposium, 3 p.m.; concert, 7:30 p.m., 817-8215.]
Two E! channel antidotes! Face it, you’re going to waste all of tomorrow glued to the E! channel watching that Super Bowl of stylists, the Academy Awards pre-show . So get some culture today, either at 1) the Small Press Book Fair, including a seminar on Edith Wharton; or 2) a “Wall to Wall” Miles Davis music marathon at Symphony Space (that’s for all you self-assured hetero 40-year-old bachelors who are starting to realize with terror that maybe you’re not quite the “catch” you were at 36 because, frankly, you’re starting to get a little gamy and spooky, with your “hobbies” and your arcane knowledge about obscure blues musicians and your “favorite diner because they treat me really well there .” Can you say “male spinster” or minster?).
[Book fair, Small Press Center of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, 20 West 44th Street, 10 a.m., 764-7021; Wall to Wall Miles Davis, 2537 Broadway, noon, 864-5400.]
Wall-to-wall red carpet! It’s Oscar time, which never fails to bring to mind our errant intern Oscar, son of Dame Edna, who went to get us a fruit smoothie one day, never to return . Maybe now that his talented drag-queen daddy writes for Vanity Fair, Oscar will turn up as a mascot at that magazine’s big party in Los Angeles? And who exactly does Graydon Carter’s hair for this event? Just a thought . Back in Gotham, Entertainment Weekly’s grizzled but studly editor, Jim (“Dancing Queen”) Seymore, herds the city’s remaining B-list celebrities Angie Harmon and Jason Sehorn, Reba McEntire, Paul Schaffer, Alan Cumming and the inevitable Sopranos cast member (Aida Turturro) for the annual party at Elaine’s. If you’re like us, you’ll stay home, eat an entire pizza and root for soulful Benicio Del Toro, who must still be washing off the drool from his Talk magazine interviewer, Holly Millea.
[Entertainment Weekly, 1703 Second Avenue, 6 p.m., by invitation only, we’re not even invited and we used to work there, so pursue crash strategy at your own risk, 522-5600.]
Our life just hasn’t been the same since Comedy Central canceled Strangers with Candy, so we called Amy Sedaris (see new gamin image!) to find out what the heck happened. “Well, hello!” she said from her Greenwich Village one-bedroom. “It got canceled because it didn’t have the ratings that South Park had.” But she’s been keeping busy: “I’m trying to name this stuffed animal I just got. I collect Steiff toys, and it’s a little rabbit Steiff. It stands up and it’s got a little skirt on. I have a Steiff puppet named Dr. Penny Nickels, and I wanted to name the other puppet after money if it were a guy, [I’d] name it Buck so I’m thinking of Coquille, which is a scallop-shaped French coin.” How’s her live rabbit? “She’s kinda put on some weight, because she loves alfalfa and it’s kind of fattening . I just decorated for Easter last night. Got all her stuff out. Just things I’ve had for years: old metal rabbits, rabbits made out of paper, Easter lights, little old eggs that light up and a big rabbit cut-out.” How’s her cheese-ball business doing? “It’s not thriving. Gourmet Garage wanted me to sell them there, but I never had time. I’d have to hire a bunch of Mexicans, you know what I mean? Which isn’t a bad idea.” We asked about the new play, The Book of Liz, she’s doing with brother, humorist David Sedaris. “It’s about this woman and she works in Paris, her name is Sister Elizabeth she’s not a nun or anything, she works in Paris and makes cheese balls and then one day she decides to leave. She goes and works at this restaurant, and it’s filled with alcoholics and just like a cult. And so it’s about her journey. And all I can think of is it’s like a journey for me, too. We have a costume designer for the first time; she’s making beautiful things. I’m always like, ‘I wish I could sew,’ and then people are always like, ‘I wish I could cook!’ And I say, ‘All you gotta do is get high!'” Tonight is opening night. Bring Ms. Sedaris a cupcake: She turns 40 next week.
[Greenwich House Theater, 27 Barrow Street, 8 p.m., 239-6200.]
Cocktail shaker vs. Calypso! Bar owner Sebastian Junger reads from his new work, Lion in Winter, a report on Ahmad Shah Massoud (the guerrilla military commander fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan) at his bar, Half King. Bring Meghan Daum? Meanwhile, ageless wonder Harry Belafonte hits a benefit for the Center for Cuban Studies.
[Sebastian Junger, Half King, 505 West 23rd Street, 7 p.m., 462-4300; Harry Belafonte, Avery Fisher Hall, 7:30 p.m., 721-6500.]
90’s revival watch! Are we still living in Prozac city? It seems that just before the current economic dip, a flock of Elizabeth Wurtzel era depressed Gen-Xer’s somehow overcame their phobias, their malaise, their angst and their overwhelming sense of the fragility of all that lives, and managed to sign up hardball agents and cut sharp book deals for themselves . Strapping blonde Nell Casey takes time from her day job as book editor at Self to moderate a panel at the Housing Works Used Bookstore Cafe inspired by her anthology, Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression. The panel will consist of her sister, Maud Casey, author of a novel, The Shape of Things to Come (their pop is novelist John Casey). Also on the panel will be Joshua Wolf Shenk, a freelance writer and author of a forthcoming book, The Melancholy of Abraham Lincoln. What, no Meghan Daum? Bring industrial-strength St. John’s Wort.
[126 Crosby Street, 6:30 p.m., 334-3324.]
Boxer brief: We’re simply too exhausted and disheartened all right, depressed to supply details of the big Bonnie Fuller bash at the Natural History Museum today; tune in next week for details of the Glamour editor’s soiree! Instead, use today to stock up on your boyfriend’s natty unmentionables . Yes, it’s the conspiratorial-feeling, city-wide Calvin Klein underwear sale . Men across the land sit taller next week.
[At Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor c’mon, you know where those places are!]