Back to School-Gird for Cold Showers, New York!

Remember last autumn, when New Yorkers felt omnipotent? We had the Subway Series, a frothy, yeasty Dow, frilly, feminine fashions, serious steaks at restaurants, a Mayor who was boldly stepping out with his mistress (how French!). We were playing handball inside our lofts, the better half of Hollywood was relocating to Tribeca, women in their mid-40’s were popping out babies, and the political climate was about to be dominatrixed by the smooth, competent, sexlessly reassuring Gore Girls.

Well, this fall already feels like a bracing cold shower. Rudy Giuliani isn’t going to take care of us anymore; fashions have turned dark, bohemian, ugly; last year’s toys seem malevolent (S.U.V.’s); suddenly David Dinkins is popping up everywhere, rebuttoning those double-breasted suits he wore like armor as the city despaired in the early 1990’s. The less said about the Hamptons, summer 2001, the better; ditto for the Mayoral primary. Word from the city’s private schools is that the Ivies weren’t biting this year; meanwhile, the first effective Schools Chancellor we’ve had in years is being hounded out of his job by the bureaucrats at the Board of Ed. The New York Post , often the guilty dessert of many a Manhattan sophisticate, has developed the loud, hacking laugh of a barroom smoker. Silicon Alley is a punch line; Hillary and Bill have moved in like obstreperous, big-eating, out-of-town guests; those saucy, hard-core Bush Girls are in ascendance, while the Gore Girls’ dad stumbles darkly around the country, looking like Raymond Burr with beard, plummy oratory and ballooning beer gut. And if there’s a New Yorker who feels a drop of resonance with the man in the White House, we haven’t met him or her.

There’s been no sign of that vast movie studio Robert De Niro promised for the Brooklyn waterfront; the thought of a 2012 Olympics in New York fills most of us with dread; HBO’s latest hit series isn’t about madcap mobsters or boy-crazed Manhattan bimbos–it’s about a dysfunctional family that runs a funeral home. Other giddy decades have sluiced into despair, but this is a particular kind of hangover: New York’s energy and zest depends on optimism and a sense of inexorable youth, and the vividly narcissistic generation that troughed down through the 90’s and early 00’s has woken up and found itself creased, weary, saggy and gray. Not to worry–there are salvage signs on the horizon.

First, the city is filled with recycled celebrities ready to create a flea-market frenzy of nostalgie : The Michael Jackson revival at the Garden has a funhouse-mirror giddiness, and there’s nothing the Lamest Generation likes like self-regard. Second, the coughing stock market hasn’t lost its amusement factor, any more than baseball did after the Black Sox scandal–the bulk of Manhattanites became addicted to getting rich, and the idea that they’ll give up that remembrance of things giddy is no more realistic than believing Don Juan gave up the idea of one more conquest the morning he found himself in Hell.

Third, Rudy Giuliani’s not going anywhere, much less to another area code: He’s perched, waiting, delirious at the prospect of a Mark Green administration. Just imagine one of those furry-necked turkey-vultures in Warner Bros. cartoons watching a parched Elmer Fudd crawl across the desert, and you’ll see Mayor Giuliani waiting for the prospect of running against Mayor Green in 2005.

Lastly, this is a city for which the crisp snap of cold September is a near-aphrodisiac tonic. If autumn is the real new year, waving us into new business, new work, new school semesters as a bracing reconsecration, so it drives us deeper and closer to facing winter and the real business of New York with wit, strength and resolve. And just as Will Rogers pointed out in 1931 that we may have been the first country in the history of the world to drive to the poorhouse in a new car, so we can say, in this autumn of 2001, that we are the first city to drive away from our own sunny day lit by the cold halogen headlights of a black Mercedes S.U.V.

5: If you’re like us, you need a vacation from summer …. Well, buck up, and try not to obsess over the fact that your analyst decided over the August break that he’d look good in a Caesar haircut . Meanwhile, is Salman Rushdie furious? You’d be steamed, too, if your new novel, Fury, got whacked by the literary establishment (negative Kakutani review in New York Times, no Booker Prize nomination). Tonight Mr. Rushdie toasts his New York-themed novel. Bonus dirty excerpt! “… his hand caressing one small, finely wrought breast …. ” Speaking of which, the Lolitas of the Brearley School march back to class tomorrow in their knee socks , and Collegiate, Spence and Chapin hit the books and sneak a peak at Elle Girl , another publication aimed at peppy Generation Y, launching tonight at the Roxy.

6: Remember last fall , when that odd species, ” dot-com millionaires ,” prowled New York? Gone! Now we’re all crawling back to our puny rental apartments, just like we did in the early 1990’s … or how about the 1890’s ? Tonight, Aerin Lauder, Blaine Trump and friends trudge over to Sotheby’s to celebrate 100 years of House & Garden . Meanwhile, downtown, model and yoga entrepreneuress Christy Turlington –shortly to join in eternal frog pose with actor, director and J.F.K. Jr. loft buyer Ed Burns –co-hosts a party for Conscious Style Home , a book by 24-year-old Danny Seo . “It’s about being resourceful and having a sense of quirk,” said Mr. Seo. “I like to just collect bunches and bunches of dandelions in huge arrangements–it’s embracing something that people consider a pesky weed!” Oh, you maniac!

7: As if the economic downturn weren’t depressing enough , soiled King of Pop Michael Jackson will barely get to perform at his tribute tonight, there are so many stars in attendance. Upon hearing that silver-screen legends Celeste Holm and Esther Williams are among the presenters, our big-cheese editor almost ponied up the $2,503.50 for a good seat …. Instead, go see Bounce , a documentary following the lives of five burly bouncers in New York and London. “There is enormous competition for jobs; they take big pride in it–yet the hours are lousy, pay is low, it’s very dangerous, a lot of them have incredible hospital bills,” said Steven Cantor, the film’s director. Why does this sound like our job? Meanwhile, the bohemian tykes of Friends Seminary straggle back to school.

8: More proof that New York , while it may be getting a bit soft and namby-pamby , hasn’t lost its “edge”: 500 babies –count ‘em, five hundred! –compete for the title of ” Fastest Crawler ” in the first-ever New York-New Jersey Baby Faire (sic), the perhaps inevitable aftermath of all those bridal expos. “It’s like a Consumer Reports for a new or expectant parent,” said American Baby Group publisher Bob Davidowitz, who expects 15,000 parents. Things are no saner at Lincoln Center , where live sheep are being shorn in the first of the season’s rash of craft festivals. Where’s PETA when you need them? Oops–having a gala, naturally, at the Waldorf with Paul McCartney .

9: Fashion Week, one of this fair city’s more terrifying events (unless you’re a model, fashion publicist or drug dealer), technically began on Friday with Tommy Hilfiger’s show in the Bryant Park tent, but kicks into high can-can mode today with Tulles of Seduction , a runway show of “intimate apparel”–basically an excuse for men to ogle models in thongs. At lunchtime, nonagenarian fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert , whom we’re sure is never caught in anything less dignified than bikini briefs, has her customary open house–closed to us, and probably you as well.

10: The limousine liberals at Fieldston and Dalton roll back to school, and limousine liberal Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton shakes her groove thing and chats up donors for her 2004 Presidential bid at the Redbook Mothers and Shakers Awards luncheon–perhaps learning some yoga poses from fellow honoree, the aforementioned Christy Turlington. Later, Mike Nichols (directed The Seagull , the summer’s most annoyingly “hot-ticket” event), Sarah Jessica Parker (“hot” actress) and Graydon Carter (edits Vanity Fair , fancies himself quite the dancer !) co-host a benefit for Friends in deed at Christie’s; bid on a skating lesson with Scott Hamilton! Meanwhile, Mr. Carter’s colleagues, Condé Nast’s spry editorial director James Truman –no one knows what this man actually does for a living, mind you–and Lucky lady Kim France , fight materialism with a cocktail reception for Housing Works.

11: Wake up and realize that you’ve been in huge denial: Rudolph Giuliani is not going to take care of you forever. Today is Primary Day (mass confusion over at Condé Nast as they realize they live in a democracy). If you’re a Democrat , pull the lever in one of the city’s rickety 19th-century voting booths for either Mark Green (has orange face), Alan Hevesi (squishy), Peter Vallone (hairpiece; means well) or Fernando Ferrer (two words: Al Sharpton ). If you’re a Republican , you can vote for the billionaire or the Badillo . Not happy? Don’t worry, Bill Clinton is leering at 2005 .… Meanwhile, let’s hope Mariah Carey has pulled it together in time for the release of her album Glitter , and that your boyfriend’s father fits into his cummerbund for opening night at the opera ( The Flying Dutchman !) .

12: If you thought you were going to get rid of Christy Turlington that easily, think again (what happened to them good old days when retiring supermodels would head to Montana to raise horses?): Her scratchy-voiced fiancé, Ed Burns , is premiering his new flick, Sidewalks of New York , in which he stars with ex-girlfriend Heather Graham , tonight. If you can’t crash (crash strategy: wear natural fibers, say you’re Christy’s yoga teacher), ree- lax , there’s a festive Grape Stomp down at the World Trade Center. Who says Manhattan is turning into a Rhode Island crafts fair?

13: Walter Kirn, the novelist who likes to rail against the “arrogance of the urban elite” on his Web site from his domestic idyll in Livingston, Mont. , somehow stomachs said arrogance just long enough to enjoy cocktails tonight at an urban-elite party thrown in his honor by GQ editor in chief Art Cooper .… Meanwhile, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter pulls out all the stops to fête General Electric’s outgoing poobah, Jack Welch, in the Four Seasons’ Grill Room, that naughty den of power which Mr. Carter used to satirize in his younger, less liquid days .… If you like your men on the ambisexual side –and who doesn’t?– Alan Cumming , whose Anniversary Party was the only decent movie last season, shows up at Barneys to celebrate Kiehl’s 150th birthday .

14: If The New York Times turned 150, would anyone besides The New York Times care? Find out today, as Arthur (Pinch) Sulzberger Jr. and family turn on the juice for the paper’s sesquicentennial. You can look forward to an Arts and Leisure Weekend: free admission to more than 100 museums, discounted admission to Broadway shows, lecture by the likes of editorial-page editor Gail Collins –but only if you clipped the special passes in last week’s Times Magazine .… Also –mirabile dictu – Fashion Week manages to contain itself to eight days, collapsing across the finish line today with the New York debut of the First Lady’s fave designer, Michael Faircloth .

15: If the sight of thousands of women in spandex shorts frightens you , steer clear of the rolling green hills of Central Park today, as thousands of fitness freaks flock to Self magazine’s “Workout in the Park.” There will be scores of sinewy females power-boxing, rock-climbing, Pilates-ing, cardio-boxing and funk-aerobicizing, all accompanied by much grunting and guzzling of bottled water–as their men bicycle lazily past with Kiehl’s products in their baskets, having thus won the battle of the sexes when no one was

looking .…

16: Guggenheimlich maneuver! So you know how branches of the Guggenheim Museum have been multiplying like Banana Republics around town? Today they were going to open another branch in that hub of high art, Las Vegas –slot machines next to the de Kooning ? a craps table next to the Pollock ?–but the project has been delayed until Oct. 7 because of “unusual and demanding construction materials.” So it’s to the Bronx on a free shuttle bus, because Wave Hill is staging Sensing the Forest , an exhibit exploring our physical, experiential and spiritual relationship to trees . Who says New York is turning into a cut-rate Sedona?

17: Yep, she’s still gay! Unlike some of us …. While her spooky ex-girlfriend Anne Heche was gettin’ hitched to spooky cameraman Coleman (Coley) Laffoon and bopping around town promoting her memoir, Call Me Crazy, Ellen DeGeneres –who’s still gay–takes the high road: Tonight, her new sitcom, The Ellen Show –about a dot-com casualty who moves back to her hometown to become a high-school guidance counselor–debuts at 9:30 p.m. on the “stodgy” network, CBS, before moving on to the deathly Friday 8 p.m. time slot. When her previous unfunny sitcom tanked, she blamed homophobia. Stay tuned .…

18: Farrar, Straus and Gi- who ? If you missed the excerpt that ran in last week’s edition of the salmon-hued sheet you currently hold, brush off your tweed jacket with the elbow patches and go to Farrar, Straus and Giroux’s book party for boutique-celebrity author Jonathan Franzen and his challenging new tome, The Corrections ; Mr. Franzen will be one of several men in the room with thick heads of hair, black-rimmed glasses, slight cleft chins and 2.3 days of stubble .… And ladies, a word to the wise: These guys like to talk … about themselves … a lot . Meanwhile, Naomi Wolf –the “feminist” author who changes her priorities in eerie synchronicity with the marketplace–gives birth to Misconceptions : Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood .

19: Computers are out, books are back! Or is it boots ? New York tries valiantly one more time to become Book Country , as grizzled authors pop up at street fairs–how about a Dave Eggers dunking booth!–and well-known people such as actress Julie Andrews , prosecutor Linda Fairstein , lawyer Caroline Kennedy and gross-out writer R.L. Stine don their “serious glasses” and wax poetic. Tomorrow, well-heeled writer types really get excited–no, Bulgari is not dishing out more cash for product plugs. Instead, Manhattan finally becomes Boot Country , as the Ferragamo store in Soho finally opens with cocktails and a private dinner. Crash strategy: come as your favorite cobbler.

20: Mutter, may I? Sure! Bombshell violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter , who looks like she wouldn’t be averse to a nice pair of thigh-high boots , opens a tribute to New York Philharmonic music director Kurt Masur tonight with a program of Beethoven and César Franck .… If you’re more on the low-art side of things , you can go see Liv Tyler’s lippy dad, Steven Tyler , who is scheduled to perform with Aerosmith at Yahoo’s music awards. Ask him to sign a copy of Liv’s mom’s (i.e., Bebe Buell’s ) mesmerizing tell-all book, Rebel Heart –though he might get miffed, since Ms. Buell writes that the most chart-topping sex she ever had was not with Mr. Tyler but with Elvis Costello , he of the fat can and pork-pie hat.

21: 12,450 bananas and 600 volunteers making sure the peels get picked up: The Avon Breast Cancer three-day walk , a worthy 60-mile trudge from Bear Mountain to New York City, kicks off today, though conditions are perhaps not as brutal as the hikes at our WASP summer camp , where we were tormented by Jade Jagger . There will be catered hot meals , hot showers, two-person sleeping tents (N.B.: This is a co-ed walk), massage tents, a general store and nightly entertainment–what is this, Disney World? But send a check, and then climb into your leotard and go to Chelsea: It’s the dance world’s answer to the Oscars–the Bessies.

22: Welcome to fall, the favorite season of the thinking person. Wrap yourself in a leopard pelt and go see leotard-lovin’ magicians Siegfried and Roy ham it up with our increasingly bizarre outgoing Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, as they serve as Grand Marshals at the German-American Steuben Parade. Autumn arrives officially at 7:04 p.m., and New York women who know what’s good for them finally tuck away those midriffs with a sigh and brace their bellies for a forthcoming three solid months of cocktail niblets .

23: Knopf, Knopf …. Who’s there? It appears it’s still Book Country, so today Knopf poetry editor Deb Garrison –who is pretty and darn near perfect –moderates a gathering of 10 poets who will each recite a favorite New York poem. If that doesn’t appeal, you can risk a Monica Lewinsky sighting at the Knit-Out & Crochet festival in Union Square Park … or put on a cha-cha skirt for an International Latin Dance competition at South Street Seaport .… Or if you want to improve the world, as opposed to merely sucking up oxygen and small meat hors d’oeuvres, why not hop on a bike and circle the periphery of Manhattan for a good cause: the fight against multiple sclerosis. It’s also a good way to avoid running into anyone you know .…

24: The freeloading foodie flock alights on the Whitney Museum, which is clearing out Wayne Thiebaud’s delectable paintings of little cakes to make room for some actual victuals: Former (and –ahem– much missed) New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl , now editor in chief of Gourmet , celebrates 60 years of that magazine with a “tasting of the decades.” In a sort of sweet attempt to be “hip,” they’ve hired actress Chloë Sevigny’s brother Paul to be the D.J. Where’s Peter Duchin when you need him?

25: Who knew Jerry Seinfeld’s wife, Jessica Sklar, was such a bawdy broad? Tonight, Ms. Sklar adds her boutique celebrity to the crowd attending a benefit tribute to Eve Ensler ( The Vagina Monologues ), proceeds going to Safe Horizon. (Don’t you get the feeling that The Vagina Monologues will eventually supersede The Fantasticks as the city’s longest-running show?) Not to be outdone, the men get their very own ode to their private parts, as previews begin for an Australian play, Puppetry of the Penis , described as “genital origami.” “It’s more performance art than an actual play,” said performer David Friend. “We create interesting shapes–landmarks, animals, foods– out of genitalia.” Who says New York is turning into a German cable-TV show?

26: There may not be any parties planned for today –yet–but this is still a showbiz town! Jennifer Jason Leigh has taken over for Tony winner Mary Louise Parker as the math whiz’s daughter in Proof , and up in Morningside Heights –which we always thought was a brunch restaurant but is apparently a whole neighborhood!–they’ve revived Arthur Miller’s 30-year-old The Creation of the World and Other Business , which is about God. (Extra bonus points for you if you managed to conquer his Raphaelite-tressed, Daniel Day Lewis-betrothed daughter Rebecca’s book of short stories, Personal Velocity ….)

27: It’s Yom Kippur, the fasting holiday, when our Jewish friends walk around looking rueful and slightly peaked; our friends who pretend to be Jewish scoot out of the office three hours early with self-righteous expressions on their faces ; and the rest briefly consider signing up for a Gyrotonics class–a mixture of Kundalini yoga, dance, swimming and gymnastics that is apparently more taxing than Pilates– but then go home and watch TV instead .…

28: If you’re like us, and you never quite warmed to the Palm Pilot– with its little plastic stylus and cute faux-alphabet–take heart, because today is the New York City Pen Show … and can you believe it, it’s already sold out ! See the pen Abraham Lincoln used to sign the Homestead Act of 1862; see the pen Bill Clinton used to appoint Cabinet members. ( Guess Monica gave it back. )

29: More tchotchkes ! Last night you may have previewed the International Art and Design Fair at a swish benefit for the Museum of Modern Art, which would have cost you almost–but not quite–as much as the hourly fee of one of Lizzie Grubman’s lawyers .… Today, the lovable grimy public can brush up against Calder tapestries, Picasso pottery and Cartier clocks for a mere $15. Equivalent event for those who have already resigned themselves to suburban momdom: the Outdoor Art Show in Armonk!

30: Did you know that Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, is the new Upper East Side? G wyneth Paltrow was recently sighted there, which means lovesick Ben Affleck , once he’s sprung from his fancy rehab stint in Malibu, is sure to follow. Today all hell breaks loose as Cobble Hill hosts “Atlantic Antic” : floats, bands, clowns, vintage cars, smug young media couples pushing strollers …. Meanwhile the old Upper East Side opens its pearly sidewalks to a 92nd Street Y street fair. One more month until everyone gets sensible and stays indoors!

Guide to September 2001 Calendar

Please call ahead. Many events are by invitation only.

9/5 Salman Rushdie, Italian Wine Merchants, 108 East 16th Street, 9 p.m., 940-7771; Elle Girl , the Roxy, 515 West 18th Street, 7 p.m., 560-7106.

9/6 House & Garden centennial, Sotheby’s, 1334 York Avenue, 7 p.m., 286-3177; Conscious Style Home book party, Smith & Hawken, 394 West Broadway, 7 p.m., 334-1060, ext. 65.

9/7 Michael Jackson, Madison Square Garden, Seventh Avenue between 31st and 33rd streets, 7:40 p.m., 307-7171; Bounce , Angelika Film Center, 18 West Houston Street at Mercer Street, 995-2000.

9/8 Baby Faire, New Jersey Convention & Expo Center, Raritan Center, 97 Sunfield Avenue, Edison, N.J., 9 a.m., 877-959-BABY; Autumn Crafts Festival, Damrosch Park, Lincon Center, Columbus Avenue and 64th Street, 11 a.m., 973-746-0091; PETA, Waldorf-Astoria, 301 Park Avenue, 6:30 p.m., 757-622-7382, ext. 1356.

9/9 Tulles of Seduction , the Pavilion, Bryant Park, 41st Street, 247-9299, ext. 14; Eleanor Lambert open house, somewhere on the Upper East Side, noon, 754-3045.

9/10 Mothers & Shakers Luncheon, Grand Promenade, Avery Fisher Hall, Broadway at 65th Street, 12:30 p.m., 649-3363; Friends in Deed, Christie’s, 20 Rockefeller Plaza, 6 p.m., 675-1800; Lucky , Housing Works Thrift Shop, 157 East 23rd Street, 6:30 p.m., 645-8111, ext. 110.

9/11 New York City Opera Opening Night Gala, New York State Theater, Lincoln Center, 6:30 p.m. reception, performance and dinner to follow, 685-1095.

9/12 Sidewalks of New York , Loews Cineplex E-Walk, 243 West 42nd Street, 7 p.m., party to follow, Bryant Park Grill, 25 West 40th Street; Grape Stomp, Austin J. Tobin Plaza, World Trade Center, 11 a.m., 566-6700.

9/13 Walter Kirn party, Da Silvano, 260 Sixth Avenue, 6 p.m., 286-6823; Jack Welch party, Four Seasons Grill Room, 99 East 52nd Street, 6 p.m., 286-7623; Kiehl’s party, Barneys, Madison and 61st Street, 7 p.m., 901-1100.

9/14 Arts and Leisure Weekend, call 866-NYT-1851 for late-breaking details; Michael Faircloth, the Studio, Bryant Park, 41st Street and Sixth Avenue, 11 a.m., 633-1400.

9/15 Rumsey Field, Central Park, 10 a.m., 888-844-SELF.

9/16 Guggenheim Museum, 423-3500; Wave Hill, 675 West 252nd Street, Bronx, 1 p.m., 718-549-3200.

9/18 Somewhere in the West Village, 6 p.m., 741-6900, ext. 277.

9/19 New York Is Book Country, events around town, http://www.nyisbookcountry.com for updates; Ferragamo Soho store, 122 Spring Street, the party is tomorrow at Thom’s, 60 Thompson Street, 917-351-8600.

9/20 Anne-Sophie Mutter, Avery Fisher Hall, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, 7 p.m., 875-5700; Yahoo Internet Life Magazine Online Music Awards, Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th Street, 8 p.m., 696-8935.

9/21 Avon Breast Cancer Three-Day Walk, Bear Mountain, New York, 888-784-4777; the Bessies, Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, 6:15 p.m., 924-0077.

9/22 German-American Steuben Parade, Fifth Avenue from 63rd to 86th streets, noon, 843-8065.

9/23 Knopf poetry, NYIBC Main Stage, 3 p.m., 572-2091; Knit-Out & Crochet, Union Square Park, 17th Street, noon, http://www.knit-out.com; Latin Dance competition, Pier 16, South Street, 1 p.m., 866-896-1812; M.S. Bike Tour, World Trade Center, 6:30 a.m., 463-9791.

9/24 Gourmet party, Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Avenue, 7 p.m.

9/25 Eve Ensler benefit, Union Square Ballroom and Lounge, 27 Union Square West, 6:30 p.m., 577-7726; Puppetry of the Penis , 450 West 42nd Street, 8 p.m., 239-6200.

9/26 Proof , Walter Kerr Theater, 219 West 48th Street, 8 p.m., 239-6200; Creation of the World , Theatre of

the Riverside Church, 91 Claremont Avenue, 7:30 p.m., 870-6784.

9/28 New York Hilton, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, 10 a.m., 718-434-3713.

9/29 International Art and Design Fair, Seventh Regiment Armory, 67th Street and Park Avenue, 11 a.m., 642-8572; Armonk Outdoor Art Show, North Castle Community Park, Exit 3S off Route 684, 10 a.m., 914-273-5708.