Granger goes grunge? Here’s how it works this office-party season: People are still having parties, but the way to do it is sort of quietly and abashedly, a not-a-party party, which always results in some interesting fashion choices. In other words, fancy New York companies are now having office parties that resemble office parties in Dayton, Ohio …. Tonight it’s Esquire magazine’s Christmas shindig , held under the flattering fluorescent lights of the magazine’s offices, with editor in chief David Granger “dressing down” in recession-appropriate flannel and senior editor A.J. Jacobs trying to liven things up in his trademark tight red velveteen trousers. Meanwhile, a mere block south, Entertainment Weekly scales back its holiday party-which used to be an extravagant-buffet, gyrating-under-the-disco-ball, interns-mashing-lips-in-the-corner kind of affair -to what the invitation says is an “intimate event” in an “upscale bar.” Suggested dress is “casual chic”-we don’t even want to try and interpret that …. (P.S.: How to tell if you’ve stayed too late at the office bash: If you find yourself doing karaoke in Koreatown, you’ve stayed too late.)
[Esquire party, 250 West 55th Street, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 649-4020; Entertainment Weekly party, Light, 125 East 54th Street, 6:30 p.m., by invitation only, 522-5457.]
Who’s the coolest theater of them all? For years, the city’s “cool” movie experience has been the Angelika , with its long lines of uptowners trying to look downtown by wearing clever little eyeglasses and gripping black satchels and unread copies of Henry Miller and trying very hard not to smile or show any pleasure …. Now the Angelika gets a rival , as the newly renovated Sunshine Cinema (formerly a Yiddish vaudeville house) opens tomorrow a few blocks east, with “art” flicks and perks such as stadium seating and honey-mustard wrap sandwiches and-in a telltale sign that the owners hail from L.A.- a Japanese rock garden. Tonight there’s an opening party for super-deluxe film snobs, with cocktails and a screening of the Miramax movie Behind the Sun (traveling circus performers hit the Brazilian badlands-does Miramax have a computer program that churns these things out?).
[143 East Houston Street, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 869-6702.]
New Age agonistes antiwar activists and perhaps a Self editor or two don shawls , light candles and slap that winter solstice into submission at urban shaman Donna Henes’ drumming ceremony in downtown Manhattan. “I’m asking people to look bright, you know,” said Ms. Henes, “because the whole idea is that the light has to come from within us, and that we will sort of pledge to partner with the sun. I have a ritual outfit that has a lot of Day-Glo orange in it, comprised of several multicultural layers. You can bring any kind of instrument or soundmaker; the idea has nothing to do with being a good drummer .” Buddy Rich, eat your heart out! Exact location to be determined; she’s still working it out with the authorities.
[1:30 p.m., Bowling Green Park, solstice occurs at 2:21 p.m., 718-857-2247.]
Shrinks analyze Sopranos ! There’s a big psychoanalysis symposium taking place at the Waldorf , and they’ve planned a Sopranos gabfest-which will surely consist of much harrumphing about what a terrible therapist Dr. Melfi is-but, alas, it’s not open to the public …. Here’s your consolation prize: New York Times reporter Sarah Boxer talks about her new book, In the Floyd Archives: A Psycho-Bestiary , at a “Writers and Psychoanalysts” panel with Sigmund Freud Archives director Harold P. Blum. Ms. Boxer, a Harvard grad in philosophy, first encountered Freud at age 15. “My dad is a Freud fan and he has a big shelf, and I liked the title The Ego and the Id and I just started reading it,” she said. Her book is a cartoon novel that follows the analysis of four animals: Bunnyman the rabbit, Ratman the rat, Wolfman the wolf and little Lambskin -what, no Pooh bear ? Perhaps one of the shrinks can confirm our suspicion that the annoyingly balmy weather we’ve been having this December is making everyone bonkers …
[Waldorf-Astoria, 301 Park Avenue, 9 a.m., 752-0450.]
The millennial boyfriend is like Jekyll and Hyde, isn’t he? Sipping green tea and prancing off to yoga in the morning, then chugging beer and sitting slack-jawed in front of the football game in the afternoon. Somehow this isn’t what we bargained for, is it, ladies? Maybe that’s why so many women seem to fall for “mutts” (male sluts ). You know the type: jazz-cat piano players, weedy short-story writers – men who are sleazy, but who seem to get points for being “charming” because they’re still a bargain compared with ambisexual, “nervous” Yale men ….
[Giants play Seattle, 1 p.m., FOX.]
Goy to the world! It’s Christmas Eve , and if you want carols, choruses, motets and Masses , New York’s got ‘em! Unless you’re Jewish, in which case you might choose the two-drink minimum, $15 cover, fried mozzarella sticks and yuks of the “A Very Jewish Christmas” show at the Gotham Comedy Club. Upper West Side comic Lenny Marcus , a former computer programmer who’s appeared in commercials for the Marriott and Wendy’s, is getting 15 minutes! We asked him for a joke. “No. No. That’s like going up to a dentist and saying, ‘Come on, fill my tooth,'” said Mr. Marcus. It looks to be a looong night ….
[34 West 22nd Street, 7 and 9:30 p.m., 367-9000.]
Proulx is in the pudding: It’s Christmas, and for months upscale New Yorkers have been claiming it’s going to be a “meaningful, non-materialistic” day …. Which means they’ll still spend a bundle, but quietly: “comfort food” (truffled mashed potatoes), “simple gifts” ($80 candles), “dressing down” ($125 designer jeans) …. Meanwhile, non-Christians head to the city’s movie houses, perhaps to see the cinematic version of Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News , with Kevin Spacey , Julianne Moore , Dame Judi Dench and future Dame Cate Blanchett -hel- lo, Oscar! …. See the film, so you can finally pretend with conviction that you really did read the book.
Why is it that British people- who, we assure you, can cook nothing except leg of mutton and are not exactly known for their “legs” in bed-are suddenly trying to be sex symbols and celeb-chefs all at once? See under Oliver, Jamie ( The Naked Chef ), and now meet luscious temptress Nigella Lawson , whose TV show will be here any day now and from whose book, How to Be A Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking , we offer the following bonus dirty excerpt -but only because it’s Boxing Day, that English holiday in which your Brit-expat pals in New York invite you over to celebrate their “charming” holiday and somehow you end up paying for all the food and drinks. Writes Ms. Lawson, “[W]e don’t want to feel like a postmodern, postfeminist, overstretched woman, but, rather, a domestic goddess, trailing nutmeggy fumes of baking pie in our languorous wake.” Bring air freshener ….
Still-and Stiller: Contrary to twee actor Ben Stiller, who has been getting way too much attention lately (though we love his dad), director Mauritz Stiller (no relation-we think ) is mainly remembered as a) the man who launched Greta Garbo and b) “the Swede who didn’t make it in Hollywood.” But that’s about to change, baby …. Today, that other Angelika alternative-the Museum of Modern Art -begins a fortnight’s festival of Stiller films that includes such early-20th-century gems as Vingarne ( homoerotic tale about a sculptor ) and Erotikon (another sculptor, this time tormented that his lover might have been unfaithful, though he doesn’t care that she has a husband). There will be live simultaneous translation and piano accompaniment , lending a sort of ragtime feeling to the proceedings. Bring your own flat breads.
[11 West 53rd Street, 2:30 p.m., 708-9400.]
White glove whiteout? If you ask us, a passel of curtseying debutantes in satin dresses on the Upper East Side is precisely what New York needs right now, but alas-and alack !-the organizers of the International Debutante Ball have decided to get Ball-sy only in even years, kind of like the Olympics. (And hey, aren’t those supposed to start soon? Where’s our memo?) Another thing New York needs right now is “modernized” Shakespeare, right? Right ? Which brings us to Midnight Brainwash Revival , a play by Kirk Wood Bromley on the Lower East Side. “Think Twelfth Night by Shakespeare, but totally modernized, goofy and Simpsons -esque,” said the playwright. “It’s just kind of this big, rollicking comedy that culminates in a bomb plot. I write in verse, but it’s not like ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ or ‘my lord’ and stuff … it’s more like modern poetry or rap . I call it more ‘downtown’ than ‘avant-garde.'” My lord.
[Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, 107 Suffolk Street, 8 p.m., 501-4528.]
Weekend with the kids? Put absolutely everybody in dashikis and head to the good ole American Museum of Natural History, which is having a big Kwanzaa celebration: gospel choirs, mimes, and the Hall of Ocean Life transformed into a bustling African marketplace filled with pottery, textiles and ( Bill Clinton alert ) special snacks.
[Central Park West at West 79th Street, noon, 769-6100.]
Baby Chaka? Who says we know absolutely nothing about the “music scene”? … Meet Sandra St. Victor , who has worked with three of our all-time favorite performers: Chaka Khan, Prince and Daryl Hall (of Hall & Oates). After a little trouble with Warner Brothers over her first album, Mack Diva Saves the World , she’s going it alone on her new one, Gemini: Both Sides . She sings songs from both tonight at Joe’s Pub. “They want you to fit into this niche,” she said, “and I have so much music in me that I always felt kind of stifled, like ‘Oh, dear.’ So what I decided, my perspective could be dark and introspective or light and peaceful, and I just decided to pick up those two sides of my Gemini personality. Chaka was like my sister and my mother and my friend all at the same time , my teacher and my mentor; she really took me under her wing and cared about me. Prince , of course, I respect him immensely. Well, he’s a genius-he’s a strange little fellow, isn’t he, but he’s brilliant.” Sort of like George Stephanopoulous ….
[425 Lafayette Street, 8:30 p.m., 539-8778.]
We dropped a dime to our “sources” about all the swish New Year’s Eve parties this year, and it doesn’t look good, honey … but let’s just take this opportunity to observe how many New Yorkers like to host something called a “pre-party.” No one actually wants to suck it up and have a real, honest-to-goodness New Year’s Eve party! So what you hear is, “We’re just having a few people over; people are just stopping by on their way to New Year’s Eve parties.” Our theory: There are no later parties … and the hosts of the “pre-parties” get the credit for hosting an evening without having to pony up for any real food or quality champagne, all of which will be served at the aforementioned, nonexistent “real” party …. Got that?
What’s less enticing when you’re hung over : a mad dash to the greasiest diner you can find for salty food and two milkshakes-or facing down a room of spoken-word poets? This year you have two rooms of poets from which to choose: the Poetry Project’s Marathon Reading at St. Mark’s Church , with “downtown personalities” such as Penny Arcade and Patti Smith and lots of people with proudly unwashed hair under plain black ski caps , and the Spoken Word–Performance Extravaganza at the Knitting Factory, with even more “downtown” types, such as the poet Sparrow. On the plus side, the Extravaganza is sponsoring a canned-food drive for City Harvest; on the minus, there’s an open mike- yikes ! Stay home and pull the covers over your head. But stay away from MTV or VH1; their new crop of V.J.’s is unbearable ….
[Poetry Project, St. Mark’s Church, 10th Street and Second Avenue, 2 p.m., 674-0910; Spoken Word–Performance Extravaganza, Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard Street, 4 p.m., 219-3006.]
Sayonara, sugarplums! This is how you know the lean, tough New Year is really here: The New York City Ballet kicks out The Nutcracker -and not a moment too soon, we might add.
[20 Lincoln Plaza, 8 p.m., 870-5570.]