Welcome to summer, New York! And what a lovable, stinking mess you are! No one knows if we’re rich or poor, if we should say “I do” or “I don’t think so,” if we should force ourselves to read about the ethnic strife in Macedonia or force ourselves to read James Wolcott’s furry new novel, if we can still get away with buying an S.U.V. or if it just screams 1995, if we should be happy our polygamous Mayor is leaving or if we should be terrified of what will happen to our beloved city if Mark Green gets elected in November … and here it is, not even July 4, and we already have two spectacular fashion victims: men in Timberland suede leisure clogs, and women who hack off their denim skirts above the knee …. But the real fashion victims were at London designer Matthew Williamson’s fashion show back in February, when a stack of audio speakers collapsed, cutting open one audience member’s head and rendering another unconscious (almost as bad as when that goat wandered off Miguel Adrover’s runway, or when Fran Lebowitz was accidentally clobbered by a PETA tofu pie at the CFDA Awards). Today, Mr. Williamson tries to redeem himself with an “intimate” cocktail party at Bungalow 8, the Moomba of the moment (which means you can kiss it goodbye in about a week), co-hosted by Vogue and attended by models Amber Valetta, Helena Christensen and Kate Moss (which means it will be about as intimate as the line for edamame in the Condé Nast cafeteria). Meanwhile, the already-tired Gotham magazine hosts a bash downtown at rapidly aging nightspot Veruka, where knobby-kneed Yankee Chuck Knoblauch and Veruka’s owner, Noel Ashman, celebrate their birthdays. Be sure to complement the birthday boys on the club’s redesign, which was done by Todd Oldham, who we think used to be a fashion designer ….
[Vogue, Bungalow 8, 515 West 27th Street, 8 p.m., by invitation only, 917-351-8613; Gotham, Veruka, 525 Broome Street, 9 p.m., by invitation only, 254-5678.]
More proof the East Village is the new West Village: Tonight there’s a “Sex and the 19th-Century City” benefit for the Merchant’s House Museum, with a sneak preview of their trying-really-hard-to-be-saucy summer exhibit, Bloomers, Bustles & Bustiers: 19th-Century Undergarments. We scanned the committee list for a name we recognized and came up with pixieish Time Out New York editor in chief Cyndi Stivers. “I think it’s a riot,” said Ms. Stivers. “It’s always really hot. Really steamy. Go as naked as you can stand. There’s always a band and punch; there’s always a drag queen or two. Henry Stern comes.” But will Parks Commissioner Stern bring his posse of creepy, pink-cheeked, Ivy-educated, blue-blazered young men who secretly prowl the city’s parks while the rest of us are sleeping? Meanwhile, at Spa-the nightclub that prohibits fur but likes it when ladies show their pelts-Saturday Night Live’s Chris Kattan, former Brooke Shields TV sidekick Kathy Griffin, thinking-woman’s sex object Colin Quinn and the tireless Janeane Garofalo do some funny “bits” for the Friends of Green Chimneys, an organization that provides services for children, families, animals and the environment-basically the whole world. Mark Green shows up, hoping for a photo op of himself coming down the chimney.
[Sex and the 19th-Century City, Merchant's House Museum, 29 East Fourth Street, 7 p.m., 777-1089; Canine Comedy, 76 East 13th Street, 7 p.m., 629-0392.]
Willya Wolcott? Into the great social void that is tonight, Vanity Fair hurls a book party for its star columnist, James Wolcott, and his new novel, The Catsitters …. Try as we might, we could not get any of our top-notch inside sources at Vanity Fair to tell us the party location; meanwhile, the representatives at HarperCollins just sounded scared. Consolation prize: a bonus dirty excerpt from The Catsitters! “Working my hands over her dress, I squeezed Amanda every which way, then released her and stepped back to give our bodies breathing room. She kicked off her shoes and reached back to undo her zipper. Her eyes were ready to ride. It was one of the rare times in my life I really felt I had a woman in my power …. Moments later, we were bouncing in bed like stagecoach passengers, her heels beating against my hips, her arms wrapped around me as if she were holding on to a barrel going over the falls.” Some guys have all the fun.
[Um-stay home with a nice iced tea?]
Another day, another dirty book: You all remember Chuck Palahniuk, who wrote the novel Fight Club, which was made into a movie starring Brad Pitt and Ed Norton, a move that your “intellectual” friends keep insisting is “profound,-Pauline Kael would have given it a rave”? Didn’t see it? Well, don’t fret-Mr. Palahniuk is back with Choke, about a man who trawls for action in sex-addiction groups. Bonus dirty excerpt! “Her tongue wrestling against my tongue, she’s wetting the head of my dog with the pad of her thumb.” Wait for the movie-we hear Mr. Pitt is still pretty available.
[Sound Factory, Level Four, 618 West 46th Street, 10 p.m., by invitation only, 782-8367.]
Don’t the wealthy leave the city in the summer to get away from street fairs? Well, it seems some street fairs are fairer than others-especially when they cost you $125. Today, the Family Service League is throwing a “Taste of the Hamptons” party at the Wolffer Estate in saggy Sagaponack, with food from Babette’s, Crazy Dog and Breadzilla, and wine from North and South Fork vineyards-which means, yes, you best gird yourself for your friends, after their sixth glass of merlot, marveling at how “Long Island wine is just as good as California!”
[Wolffer Estate, 139 Sagg Main Road, Sagaponack, 631-427-3700, ext. 255.]
Hamptons hump? Better hope you’re still out there on that sandy strip, because you’d be lucky to encounter so much as a street fair in Gotham today. (Be especially careful of all those people who say, “Oh, I just lo-oo-ove the city in the summer, you can finally get into Bungalow Ei-ii-ight.”) No sample sales either-we checked, girlfriends. It is National Bison Month-and by coincidence, actress Liv Tyler turns 24 today, giving her one more year to work that “strapping nubile” angle before she starts getting scripts about thick-ankled women who believe in a “cause.”
Get out the hummus! While we were sleeping (fitfully-we don’t have air conditioning), the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival quietly kicked into gear; tonight’s offering is Jazz on a Summer’s Day, Bert Stern’s documentary about the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, which should please film snobs and jazz snobs all at once! This purportedly mellow event actually involves the city’s entire complement of editorial assistants, blind drunk on screw-top jugs of sour white wine, clawing for picnic space and watching the brie melt. P.S.: No plastic sheets or tarps allowed.
[Lawns open at 5 p.m. for blankets and picnicking, film begins at dusk, 512-5700.]
Gen-X anxiety watch: Tom Cruise turns 39, but we’re not gonna make any silly jokes because, if you’ve noticed, Tom’s been running around suing every publication that doesn’t jump up and down and declare he’s a straight-shootin’ cowpoke, which he is …. Meanwhile, giantess Brooke Shields, who turned 36 on May 31, for some reason assumes the role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret, which means Mackenzie Phillips must be next. Fun thing to ponder: Brooke’s ex-hubby, Andre Agassi, getting whupped at Wimbledon. Stomp, stomp-kick! That’s showbiz!
[Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street, 8 p.m., 239-6200.]
Someone screwed up! See, Independence Day falls on a Wednesday this year, the exact middle of the week, throwing everyone into confusion: Was last weekend Fourth of July weekend? Or is it next weekend? One thing’s for sure: If you’re in town today, you’re in for some real fun: $200 cruises, fireworks-viewing on someone’s sooty East Village “deck” (roof). If you’ve got bats in your belfry, you could join political and economic historian James S. Kaplan at 2 a.m. this morning for a candlelight tour of Revolution-era New York. “For a while I was a co-leader, and then the other guy decided that he didn’t want to show up,” said Mr. Kaplan, 52, who is a tax and estate attorney by day. “We go up on the Brooklyn Bridge and discuss the Battle of Long Island at the beginning of the war: The Americans made their first major stand against the British and got completely creamed-that was a disaster! Richard Montgomery led the unsuccessful attempt to take Canada-if he’d succeeded, Canada would’ve been a part of the U.S. They came within a hairbreadth of succeeding; it was extremely nip-and-tuck.” Well, let’s try again! Who’s with us?!
[415-5500 for the insane details.]
Peel me an Ape? More proof that Fourth of July this year basically does not count. Usually there would be a big, cash-sucking black hole of a special-effects movie starring Ben Affleck released right about now, but that already happened (Pearl Harbor), and Planet of the Apes has been moved to the end of this month, so you are stuck today with Cats & Dogs, a talking-animal flick with Jeff Goldblum, and Scary Movie 2, starring the Wayans brothers, sulky Natasha Lyonne, creepy James Woods, freaky Tori Spelling-and former Conan sidekick Andy Richter! Meanwhile, Shakespeare alert in the West Village: They’re opening Edward III.
[Movies, 777-FILM; Edward III, Bank Street Theatre, 155 Bank Street, 8 p.m.]
Leave town! No good movies are playing, your little self-tanner experiment has left you splotchy, the deluded men of New York now think it’s O.K. to wear shower sandals on the street (can’t we import some of those single men from Alaska, who always look so earthy on TV?), and the fortnight’s second Shakespeare alert is throbbing in Soho: A Midsummer Night’s Dream! “We put a pop-culture-reality-cheesy spin on it,” said director Ronnie Koenig. “When the lovers go into the forest, it’s kind of like they go into Temptation Island; we’re going to do Survivor-type testimonies on TV monitors; the characters have theme songs, like on Ally McBeal.” Run, don’t walk ….
[Here, 145 Sixth Avenue, 7:30 p.m., 647-0202.]
Hamptons hump, part two: District-attorney-turned-author Nancy Geary gets a party for her book Misfortune at her sister’s house in Water Mill. The plot: A socialite gets murdered at a country club! “It’s a fictional club,” said Ms. Geary. “People will think it’s the Meadow Club, though.” Noo-oo …. “Everyone in the book hates Clio Pratt …. All have reason to want her dead, then she ends up dead.” Who are Ms. Geary’s literary influences? “I don’t read mysteries. I want the ideas to come from my head and me. I’m very interested in books on psychology and mental illness, some of which comes out in my writing. I like Joyce Carol Oates; I actually studied with her before I wrote this-” Click. Meanwhile, in Southampton, Reese Witherspoon-the poor man’s Alicia Silverstone-dolls herself up for the premiere of her new film, Legally Blonde, sponsored by Harry Winston jewelers (aaaah) and Hamptons magazine (uhhh … ). The plot: L.A. sorority girl follows ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law in an effort to get him back. “It’s kind of, like, a Clueless?” said a publicist. “Except a little bit older, and about hairdressers or something.” That’s why they pay the publicists the big bucks. Crash strategy: belly chains.
[Misfortune book party, somewhere in Water Mill, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 828-9753; Legally Blonde premiere, screening, United Artists Theater, Southampton, after-party to follow, Cabana at the Capri Hotel, Southampton, by invitation only, 917-251-8600.]
Couch, crouch, crotch: Wimbledon finals today! Let’s hope that dear, struggling Pete Sampras-the last player with class on the male tour-makes it this far. And while you’re on your knees, give thanks that blond hussy Anna Kour-nikova has pulled out of the tournament (though she threatens to remain, writhing, on the sidelines, drawing attention away from the actual athletes, like Jennifer Capriati). Under no circumstances should you venture to the Lower East Side, where the fortnight’s third Shakespeare alert is throbbing: a “highly sexual” production of Othello that a press release promises contains “full frontal nudity.” Gee, if Shakespeare had thought of that, he could have become, like, you know, really famous ….
[Wimbledon, Channel 4, 9 a.m.; Othello, Present Company Theatorium, 198 Stanton Street, 7:30 p.m., 420-8877.]
Thwack-enroe? If watching Wimbledon got you feeling all zippy, like your shorts are filled with happy fuzzy tennis balls, head to the Amagansett East Side Tennis Club, where the McEnroe brothers (genius, temperamental John and slightly less genius Patrick) are headlining some kind of round robin, which reminds us of too many summers up at WASP camp in Maine (bad memory involving Jade Jagger), but whatever …. It’s also Ladies’ Day at the aforementioned club, with clinics starting at 11 a.m., so put on your pom-pom socks, girlfriends, for team member Jan-Michael Gambill (6-foot-3, 195 pounds, one of People’s “50 Most Beautiful People”-who says this once-decorous sport, which used to involve ladies in long skirts flitting about with wooden racquets, is now just about beefcake?). Meanwhile, back in Gotham, Kimora Lee Simmons and her husband Russell host a private screening of Brother, starring the handsome Omar Epps. Warning: We hear the movie is extremely violent-the word “disembowelment” has been bandied about. Publicist Peggy Siegal will probably be there. Bring smelling salts.
[Ladies' Day, Amagansett East Side Tennis Club, 320 Abrahams Path, Amagansett, 11 a.m., 631-267-3460; Brother, Sony Screening Room, 550 Madison Avenue, 7:30 p.m., cocktails and hors d'oeuvres to follow, then another screening at 9:30 p.m., by invitation only, 966-5000, ext. 119.]
Last licks for Lenny: Are people still confused about Fourth of July weekend? That’s the only explanation we can find for the fact that the single most exciting thing happening today is the late Leonard Bernstein getting a commemorative stamp-our big-cheese editor is licking his lips-while the slightly consumptive beefcake violinist Joshua Bell fiddles a crowd-pleaser, the West Side Story Suite-the “classical” music equivalent of Nicole Kidman’s Moulin Rouge medley-in Central Park.
[The Great Lawn, 8 p.m., RSVP to 875-5700 for "special seating."]
Bad Shakespeare Alert spreads like a virus to midtown: The Spartan Theatre Company’s take on Much Ado About Nothing-which is frankly how we’re starting to feel about this whole summer-begins at the Trilogy Theatre tomorrow. The lovestruck Hero will look like she’s just come from the “senior prom,” according to a press release, while the villain will resemble an “evil Village hipster.” You have to love all these plucky attempts to “improve” the work of the greatest writer of all time-unless, of course, you include Chuck Palahniuk.
[341 West 44th Street, 8 p.m., 560-4302.]
-additional reporting by Alexandra Wolfe