An Uncivilized Action

When it comes to Al Goldstein and harassment troubles, once may not be enough.

On Feb. 19, the New York Post sent reporter Denise Buffa to Brooklyn Criminal Court to cover the trial of Mr. Goldstein, founder of Screw magazine, who’s been indicted on 12 counts of aggravated harassment.

For those who haven’t been reading the tabloids, Mr. Goldstein stands accused of harassing his former personal assistant, Jennifer Lozinski. Ms. Lozinski claimed she quit her job after Mr. Goldstein yelled at her because he had to wait in line for a rental car that she had arranged for him. After Ms. Lozinski left Screw ‘s offices, Mr. Goldstein allegedly continued to berate her by phone, all the while accusing her of stealing thousands of dollars.

Given Mr. Goldstein’s legendary lack of reserve, the trial was practically guaranteed to be entertaining–Mr. Goldstein has already had one courtroom freakout–but after the first day, the Post ‘s Ms. Buffa decided she’d had enough. On Feb. 20, the paper sent reporter William Gorta, who’s written about it ever since.

The reason? According to one Post source: “Basically, Al Goldstein grabbed her ass and said a bunch of lewd things. She was uncomfortable doing the story. She asked for somebody else to do it.”

Ms. Buffa did not return a call for comment, but according to a spokesman for the Post , “Al Goldstein was rude and offensive. When we found out about the incident, we took Denise off the story.”

Mr. Goldstein could not be reached for comment, but Chip Maloney, an editor at Screw , told The Transom: “Al has never conducted himself inappropriately with any females, just me.”

–Sridhar Pappu

Just Remember This On Feb. 21, 79-year-old fashion designer Pierre Cardin presided over the present and the past at Maxim’s, his Art Deco time capsule of a nightclub on Madison Avenue.

The party was ostensibly to fête the launch of a music compilation called Maxim’s de Paris as well as to celebrate Mr. Cardin’s 50 years in fashion, though not everyone seemed to be with the program. “Is Pierre Cardin alive or dead?” Alice Sykes, 29, the youngest of the trendy Sykes sisters, was overhead saying at the event.

Such are the vagaries of the time. Or is it fashion? Anyway, inspired by Ms. Sykes’ question and the evening’s hermetic environment–Maxim’s has been closed for some time now–The Transom decided to ask the evening’s revelers what they hoped the historians of the future would recall about them.

“It’s a really difficult question,” Ms. Sykes said. She was drinking vodka with a splash of cranberry juice. “I need other people to tell me that kind of stuff. I work for Lulu Guinness, that’s what I do. She’s an English handbag designer. And I moved here to, like, bring Lulu Guinness to the masses!”

Earlier in the evening, Ms. Sykes had met novelist Jay McInerney, but the encounter had left her in another quandary.

At issue was not whether Mr. McInerney was breathing, but rather whether he was working. Ms. Sykes had no idea what Mr. McInerney did for a living.

A friend told Ms. Sykes that Mr. McInerney had written Bright Lights, Big City , but the author had complicated the issue by, she said, introducing himself as a “pedophile.”

“And then he told a really bad joke,” Ms. Sykes recounted. “He said, ‘Well, you only look about 13.’ I was just really confused. I was like, ‘That’s not a very funny joke for a really clever guy.’”

Mr. McInerney was sitting at a table with two blondes, both of whom looked of age and seemed very focused on him. One of the women was a model, Daniela Novak.

“I’m a very deep guy, but I like being [at] superficial parties like this,” Mr. McInerney told The Transom.

The sultry Daniela took a drag off her cigarette. The Transom stopped paying attention to Mr. McInerney.

“See why I feel life is still worth living, even if you have writer’s block?” the author said. “Writing a good sentence and having two girls like that bat their eyes at me are two very different things that I live for.”

By the bar but not drinking was David Patrick Columbia, who runs the society Web site newyorksocialdiary.com. He said he’s considered a social chronicler and social historian of this time in New York. “But the operative word is ‘considered,’” he said. “It remains to be seen–not by me or you or anybody who’s alive today–whether or not that’s really true.”

What did he make of the scene at Maxim’s? “It’s a promotional event; it does not have historic virtue,” Mr. Columbia said. “Nor does it have gravity. Or brevity. But it does have levity.

Mr. Columbia checked out the crowd, which included Salman Rushdie, Lauren DuPont, Nicky Hilton, Alex Von Furstenberg and designer Zac Posen. “I would call this the working Eurotrash with a little American salt and pepper,” he said. “Eurotrash means rich mommy and/or daddy or a gilded sycophant. It means they’re jazzy and they drink a lot, do drugs, have sex a lot, sleep late and go to lunch.”

“The reality is, come to a place like this, this confronts you with the question what life is all about,” Mr. Columbia said. “What’s it all about, Alfie? Nothing. It’s all about nothing.”

Mr. Columbia was starting to frighten us, so we moved on to financier Steven Greenberg and his young Asian date.

One hundred years from now, what should people know about him? “A hundred years from now, they’re going to be able to ask me that same question–about the following hundred years,” said Mr. Greenberg, who bears a resemblance to the more-than-200-year-old founding father, Benjamin Franklin.

The Transom asked Mr. Greenberg how he was planning to live that long.

“Plastics,” he replied.

–George Gurley

Elvish: Live in N.Y.C.

“No one knows this yet,” said Lord of the Rings screenwriter Fran Walsh. “But we need to get it out, because the fans are going to be really upset by it.”

Ms. Walsh stood in the back room of Michael’s restaurant on Feb. 22. Around her milled other members of the creative team that had produced Oscar’s most nominated movie. The film’s director and Ms. Walsh’s companion, Peter Jackson, was padding about, as were the musical composer, Howard Shore; actor Christopher Lee, who plays Saruman the White; New Line co-chairman Bob Shaye; and LOTR ‘s executive producer and the head of Fine Line Features, Mark Ordesky.

Ms. Walsh, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Shore each glowed with Oscar’s kiss, but seeing that Ms. Walsh was itching to spill her guts, The Transom stuck with her.

So what exactly was burning a hole in the screenwriter’s hard drive?

“Shelob is not going to be in part two,” she said.

For Tolkien neophytes, this may sound like news from a different dimension. But for pale-skinned Lord of the Rings nuts who have spent an estimated $700 million on tickets to the first film, it’s big news.

“I checked [the fan site] One Ring, and there’s a poll about what they’re most looking forward to in the second film,” Ms. Walsh said. “They all say Shelob!”

Shelob is the evil spider-like creature that plays a pivotal role at the end of The Two Towers, the second part of Tolkien’s trilogy.

“Of course Shelob is a major villain, and once Sam and Frodo get past her it’s basically one plot … we needed to add something, so we simply moved the Shelob bit to the third film,” Ms. Walsh said.

Mr. Jackson loped by with actor Matthew Modine in tow, and Ms. Walsh sighed. “I call him ‘shaggy chic’ because he has no style,” she said of her companion. “And he has the most unruly hair.”

Although Mr. Jackson is known for his propensity to go barefoot and wear the same shorts and T-shirt for days on end, he had dressed for the luncheon in a button-down shirt that strained against his prodigious gut. The diminutive director wore weathered sneakers and walked on the balls of his feet. His brown hair was long and scraggly.

Ms. Walsh said that Donatella Versace has offered to make Mr. Jackson an Oscar suit, but that his initial response was ” Aaaaaaah !”

“He was screaming in terror,” she said. But Ms. Walsh added that her partner will “grudgingly acquiesce.”

“Oh, wait,” the screenwriter said. “Better not say ‘grudgingly.’ Just ‘acquiesce.’ No, no, not ‘acquiesce’–’embrace’! He’ll embrace it!”

Mr. Jackson was going to be doing a lot of embracing in the next 12 hours. Later in the evening, the crowd was headed to a swanky dinner hosted by directors Barry Levinson and Martin Scorsese and writers William Styron and Norman Mailer. The dinner had been arranged by publicist Peggy Siegal to introduce the contingent of New Zealanders and Brits to an eclectic group of New York’s cultural cognoscenti, albeit one that could also double as the cast for an It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World remake. Guests at the dinner included actress Kyra Sedgwick, comedian Billy Crystal, essayist Stanley Crouch, director John Sayles, actress Sigourney Weaver, journalist Lally Weymouth, germ-warfare expert and anthrax target Judith Miller, writer Gay Talese, publisher Nan Talese, author Salman Rushdie, and Early Show host Bryant Gumbel.

But first there was lunch. “This is worse than the Carnegie Deli. How am I supposed to eat all this food?” said Mr. Lee when his salad was put in front of him at Michael’s.

Mr. Lee looked more like Sherlock Holmes than Saruman. He was dressed impeccably in a checked jacket, olive vest, bright green tie and mustard corduroys. A red silk handkerchief poked from his jacket pocket.

In an earlier chapter of his life, Mr. Lee had been a military sleuth, searching for Nazi war criminals as part of Britain’s Central Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects. “I have seen man’s inhumanity to man,” he said softly.

The actor, who said he’ll “be 80 in May–hopefully,” seemed miles from Michael’s as he described meeting Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien in an Oxford pub.

“He was a devout man, no question about that,” said Mr. Lee, who has reread The Lord of the Rings every year since its publication.

Suddenly he erupted in what sounded like gibberish.

” Ash nazg durbatulúk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulúk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul !” he said, in an accent that was heavy on the rolled R’s.

Mr. Lee was merely reciting–in ancient Elvish–the inscription found on the ring that’s at the center of Tolkien’s trilogy.

“I’m not very good at these things,” said Mr. Lee of the event. “People misunderstand what I’m saying. “

–Rebecca Traister