Batten down, Manhattan! It’s going to be a no-nonsense, don’t-screw-with-me kind of autumn. And thank goodness. We all need a bit of starch.
The summer of ’03 never really congealed: There was no great love affair, no memorable bikini, no lingering zinc-y aftertaste of scandal, the kind that makes you want to scrub your palate with baking soda for two or three hours. It was a summer of retrogression: First, the replacement of Howlin’ Howell Raines with The Times ‘ schoolmarmish new executive editor, Bill Keller. Take enough personal time with your family, he told the paper’s staff. All right, Bill! Obediently, moviegoers stood on line to see Finding Nemo , a movie we knew backwards before it was made. Rejected: bodacious, bemuscled power babes Cameron, Drew, Lucy, Angelina and Ahnold: Charlie’s Tomb-Raiding Terminators III . Last year’s theme parks. Then the lights went out, and Mayor Bloomberg instructed us to turn off the air conditioners. It wasn’t terrorism! Sweaty white collars exhaled, then trudged up stairwells to nap for the 4 a.m. spectacle of the West Side lighting up in a cartoon flash. The real action in this crazy world was elsewhere: dopey California, hot Europe, hotter Iraq. It wasn’t so much a hot, vicious New York summer as a season that never was. Remember Seabiscuit ? No. It was like that.
Then, like clockwork, Sept. 1. Cool rain, sweet sweep of autumn, dumb Presidential candidates. Sept. 11 looms, choked grief. Winding around it like ivy vines are the signs of life that only autumn in New York brings: new movies, mobs at the Gap, little girls in school uniforms. But there’s a tough, no-nonsense attitude that it will take to make it through this strange season. A year from now, Republicans in New York! Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh at the Garden. For now, just Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation , Christina Ricci in Woody Allen’s Anything Else , the Yankees in the Bronx, the soaked tennis courts in Flushing, a stern Mayor, a fizzy stock market, crisp mornings, long afternoons, the sun dropping, brisk and efficient. Hemlines are up. Glitzy galas are passé. People are eating sandwiches and chops. Right now, for once, it’s the rest of the world that seems nutty, jumpy, neurotic. For the first time in a long time, New York feels like … home.
Wednesday September 3
Pip pip Pipino! Nannies, man your ironing boards : The starched sisters of Brearley stalk back to school today, fresh from their Ivy League–baiting internships and screenings of the hot “troubled-kid” flick Thirteen …. Later, cue “It’s My Turn” as celeb hair stylist Ric Pipino -who infamously got the big chop from pneumatic Dutch model Heidi Klum – opens a new, eponymous salon in the Bryant Park Hotel with a party that a publicist assured us will be completely flooded with models … which means we can all kiss goodbye to our “summer boyfriends,” such as they were ….
Thursday September 4
Speaking of boyfriends -is yours the sort to read GQ , or does he just sit around idly scratching his private parts (i.e., reads Details) ? Well, the Condé Nast glossy’s new editor, Jim Nelson , who we hear is terribly smart if sort of wee , is celebrating his first full-fledged issue tonight with a snazzy affair, and a top-secret, very handsome source tells us that puppet-punching pr*ck Eminem-who is definitely on every “out” list now being compiled for 2004 (after all, when your fans include Anna Quindlen and Frank Rich, you should just pack it in)-may be the honored guest . Meanwhile, if you’re one of this autumn’s many plaid addicts (a.k.a. “plaiddicts” ): The British company Burberry , formerly known for its trench coats, is launching an accessory shop in our beloved Bloomie’s. Expected are Chris Rock’s wife Malaak and ageless beauty Dayle Haddon. Bring the latter’s sexy son-in-law, Christian Slater!
Friday September 5
Rich bohemians: The children of moneyed, guilty West Village liberal types toke up and head back to Friends Seminary today …. Meanwhile, “edgy” Williamsburg fits in another fancy furniture store, Make Room , masterminded in part by that dude Ken Courtney, who made the “I F*cked Paris Hilton” T-shirts that are rapidly wearing out their welcome. Back on the island : Comedian Orny Adams , a friend of Jerry Seinfeld’s , does stand-up! All in all, it’s enough to make any sane gal wish she were in London (preferably clad in a Burberry trench), where overhyped magician David Blaine is trying to make his fame reappear by climbing into a Plexiglass box suspended over the River Thames for a 44-day fast-the new Atkins, perhaps?
Saturday September 6
Perez the thought: Thwock … thwock … smash! Ah, the sound of athletic anticlimax . The overanalyzed but much-enjoyed U.S. Open winds up today with a big party for those madly-in-love thespians Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci , plus the squeaky Rosie Perez and Botoxed-looking, Clinton-alienating model Christie Brinkley . To be followed by the men’s and women’s finals . And while we sadly won’t be seeing much of Pete Sampras ‘ bristly eyebrows anymore, the late Frida Kahlo had the unibrow that keeps on giving: Never-ending Kahlo love (Madonna, Salma et al.) continues to flow at the Jewish Museum, which today mounts an exhibit touching on the Mexican artist’s famous “father issues.” Which should put her firmly in the camp of 99 percent of the women on Nerve.com.
Sunday September 7
Where’s Walter? That pixie of a former Time mag editor turned steamrolling one-man think tank, Walter Isaacson, pops up at the 92nd Street Y today to discuss his latest book, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life . “I think Ben Franklin would support America’s current efforts of fighting tyranny, but he would have injected more of a note of humility in dealing with our allies,” Mr. Isaacson said from Aspen, Colo. “Franklin put more emphasis on the appeal of America’s idealism as a constituent of foreign policy. He bequeathed to us the notion that tolerance is the key component of democracy.” Ah, big words …. There really is no going back from fall, is there?
Monday September 8
Glamour gamines pull on men’s tuxedo pants and a satiny camisole (“for contrast!”) and let the nipples just do whatev-ah as the mag throws a “Celebrating Survival and Strength” party to benefit Equality Now , an international human-rights organization. Alanis Morissette will wail something; Julianne (“I’m married!”) Moore and Meryl (“I’m still married!”) Streep will do their beatific-goddess thang, while Hilary Swank and Julia Stiles work the ingénue angle for one more season …. And speaking of ingénues, Spence girls tug up their knee socks and go back to school today-as do the gum-snapping tykes of Trinity and Dalton .
Tuesday September 9
Double feature?! Premiere No. 1: Dummy, a movie about ventriloquism and vehicle for floppy-haired Oscar-winner Adrien Brody -who, if you ask us, is just a poor woman’s Daniel Day-Lewis …. Also, an exclusive screening of Veronica Guerin , starring the scarily talented Cate Blanchett (should be getting Nicole Kidman’s roles!), about a reporter who exposes Dublin’s biggest drug lords and is later gunned down-which is exactly why we “just said no” to that job in hard journalism. Meanwhile, relentlessly peppy and secretly slave-driving telejournalist Katie Couric hosts Brooks Brothers’ 185th anniversary party, which will benefit colon-cancer research. Wynton Marsalis toots his horn before committee members Tina Brown (television hostess), Chris Heinz (ketchup heir), Bill Cosby (comedian), Tom Brokaw (anchorman/hottie) and Chris Cuomo (muscleboy/hothead).
Wednesday September 10
Billy, Kelly or Muffie? Dance with yourself -something we’ve been doing more and more lately because, let’s face it, eligible Manhattan men aren’t exactly surging out of the woodwork-at a concert given by 80’s relic Billy Idol … or join Time managing editor Jim Kelly at a fête celebrating the “Declaration of Independence Road Trip,” a civic-activism project; the guest speaker is Morgan Freeman , who played G*d in this summer’s Bruce Almighty and would probably make a damned fine governor of California . Or brush off your ball skirt with pillow-lipped former anchoress Deborah Norville at the Rita Hayworth gala chaired by Princess Yasin Aga Khan and Muffie Potter Aston (who, while not strictly speaking a princess, certainly seems very regal ) ….
Thursday September 11
Manhattan, interrupted: Two hundred children whose parents died in the attack on the World Trade Center two years ago read the names of the disaster’s 2,800 victims in a four-hour ceremony. At sundown, the controversial “Tribute in Light” returns for 24 hours. Also tonight, the second annual Cantor Fitzgerald fund-raising dinner at Jean Luc on the Upper West Side; proceeds go to the families of victims.
Friday September 12
Liv and let Liv? So much for solemnity : Scores of aspartame-hyped editors descend today upon Bryant Park for the first day of Fashion Week . Apparently, the “cool” thing to do is have your show in an undisclosed location. So if you’re looking for the likes of Marc Jacobs and Zac Posen , we can’t help you, ’cause no one tells us anything around here. But at the very least, we can tell you where Kenneth Cole -who was cobblin’ shoes in the 80’s, back when Zac Posen was having his bronzed-is having his show! Further uptown, actress Liv Tyler (who, speaking of cobbler, should really lay off it, if you know what we mean) helps Salvatore Ferragamo unveil his latest shoe store, as the city officially retires its flip-flops for the year. Ladies: burn them. Please.
Saturday September 13
It’s nothing against Spears, dears, but most of us have packed away our midriffs for the seasons. Then there are the bikini-clad models (them again) who today strut the runways of Rosa Cha, the Brazilian designer who, for a small fortune, will put your favorite picture on her swimsuits …. Meanwhile, Kimora Lee Simmons , the delightfully diva-ish wife of Phat Farm designer and musical impresario Russell Simmons, ratchets up her own career another peg ( can’t anyone just be a “wife” and “mom” anymore ?), showing off her new line of Baby Phat designs. (O.K., we admit it: We were glued to Ms. Simmons’ antics on America’s Next Top Model all summer long …. )
Sunday September 14
From divas … to divots! Out in the country, which is how New Yorkers think of Greenwich, Conn., it’s the clip-clopping of perky pony feet at Silver Hill Hospital’s Polo Classic …. Back in Manhattan, the closest you’ll get to the great outdoors is sitting in a ventilated tent, watching the little alligators on Lacoste shirts glide by . No, wait-this just in! You can hop on your 10-speed and circle Manhattan for a good cause: the 2003 Multiple Sclerosis Bike Tour. Better yet, go get yourself a Tasti D-Lite and make your tubby boyfriend pedal the bike-frankly, he could use the exercise ….
Monday September 15
Is everyone preggers? And what is up with New York women acting like getting knocked up is some kind of superhuman “accomplishment,” the equivalent of a Pulitzer or something ? Redneck chicks do it all the time and don’t feel the need to brag about it, ladies! Tonight, newly impregnated, triple-named thespian Mary-Louise Parker joins her man, Billy Crudup (just grand in Almost Famous , but what has he done for us lately?) in a frenetic display called the 24-Hour Plays : six plays written, cast, directed, rehearsed and performed in 24 hours. And speaking of “frenetic displays,” Fashion Week action continues today with Carolina Herrera (neatnik with annoying socialite daughters), Oscar de la Renta (who came rather late to the “de la”) and that super-kooky bohemian mom, Betsey Johnson .
Tuesday September 16
A brand-new Hugh ! And it’s about time, because if we heard one more peep out of Elizabeth Hurley’s floppy-haired, foppish ex, we were gonna hurl …. The Boy From Oz begins previews tonight, starring naughty Aussie Hugh Jackman as the Oscar-winning songwriter Peter Allen , who was discovered by Judy Garland and married her daughter Liza long before David Whatshisname-and yes, our big-cheese editor is polishing his spats …. Meanwhile, Woody Allen premieres his romantic comed y Anything Else , starring pie-humper Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci (has morphed over the years into one of those skinny lollipop actresses with a disproportionately large head). On the runways: minimalists Calvin Klein and Narciso Rodriguez; maximalists Bill Blass and Badgley Mischka!
Wednesday September 17
Well, hello, Dalai! The Dalai Lama arrives in town today-oblivious, one hopes, to the happy commingling of materialism and anorexia under the tents of Bryant Park, as Michael Kors (horsy), Nanette Lapore (ruffly), Anna Sui (sultry) and Diesel Stylelab (ambisexual Eurotrash) trot out their various fineries and fripperies.
Thursday September 18
Bespectacled deconstructionists going for the glam? It’s not a pretty sight. Go ahead, girls, take your esoteric allusions to the New York Is Book Country Gala , then find them rudely shattered when you find writers like mystery scribe Mary Higgins Clark, Irish author Frank McCourt -what, you thought he was going to go away?- and secretly saucy food critic Ruth Reichl shaking hands with fans. Us, we’re going to show our lit’ry appreciation by staying home with an advance copy of the new Toni Morrison novel , the aptly named Love , which we nicked from one of our poxy Knopf pals ….
Friday September 19
Friday frenzy: Could it be? Is the new Friday actually … Friday ? (Note to New York Times Styles editors: That was a joke . But you can use it for a feature story if you like-5 bucks.) Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and the Tents’ 10th-Anniversary Party at Gracie Mansion round out Fashion Week. Meanwhile, the must-read yet-let’s face it-often twitty and prancing New Yorker magazine is beginning its annual festival-basically a Burning Man for the Lovely Bones set- with a Fiction Night: readings from Michael Cunningham (likes Sapphic couplings), Jeffrey Eugenides (likes hermaphrodites) and Dave Eggers (likes masturbating). And as if that weren’t crazy enough, Susan Sarandon (watch out for her babe daughter ) and director Martin Scorsese are staging an evening with the aforementioned Dalai Lama, who receives a well-deserved Human Rights Award .
Saturday September 20
So Wang, so right: Is it just us, or is New York just one big bridal brouhaha ? Wedding empress Vera Wang addresses the affianced at the Wedding March on Madison , the prospect of which is basically sending us into a panic …. Meanwhile, the aforementioned New Yorker Festival goes into high overdrive with a bunch of celeb interviews , as if it were the Us Weekly Jubilee or something: Hilton Als chats with Björk (let’s hope he speaks “weird”). Susan Orlean interviews the deeply-troubled-seeming Nick Nolte , and Susan Morrison talks with comic actor Will Ferrell , who may be the last funny man in America.
Sunday September 21
Weekend with the kiddos? The New Yorker Festival- it’s sort of never-ending, isn’t it, like the war with the Middle East -continues with free sessions for tykes on storytelling and master classes taught by New Yorker artists. Also, historical preservationist Michael Henry Adams and twee Francophile Adam Gopnik lead a walk through Harlem, the latter making history as perhaps the first-ever New Yorker staffer ever to venture above 96th Street. Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama addresses New Yorkers in Central Park on how to develop compassionate thoughts, and then progresses to Lincoln Center for “A Concert for Peace and Reconciliation” presented by Philip Glass and the indefatigably sexy Richard Gere. C’mere, Gere!
Monday September 22
Hudson goes “Hollywood” : The indie-film industry hosts the Gotham Awards , New York’s answer to the Oscars, sans the dumbass red-carpet shenanigans . What to watch: Pieces of April , with Katie Holmes (keeping her shirt on this time, much to our male co-workers’ disappointment); Raising Victor Vargas , a “slice-of-lifer” about a Lower East Side Latino, with close-ups so extreme you can count pores; and American Splendor , with Paul Giamatti as comic-book writer Harvey Pekar, which you should have already seen, ya slob! Meanwhile, the Fashion Institute of Technology opens its Fashion Walk of Fame , which would be a lot easier to enjoy if some industry “genius” had never invented high heels-am I right, people?
Tuesday September 23
Krugerrands for Krugman! Are we getting warm? ‘Course not! It’s the first day of autumn, silly, so put on a big pill-y sweater, think “serious” and go hear thinking person Paul Krugman , resident bulldog of the New York Times Op-Ed page , discuss his new book The Great Unraveling , which is about-what else?-the terrible, terrible stuff that’s happening to the economy, and how we might make it right!. He’ll be moderated by moderate Times business editor Glenn Kramon. Is Mr. Krugman worried about hecklers? “If I was worried about having people mad at me,” he told us in low, authoritative tones, “I would have quit long ago.” Amen to that, Paulie boy!
Wednesday September 24
Westheimerlich maneuver: Before all those sassy Yale undergraduate sex columnists, there was Dr. Ruth Westheimer , and today the still-kicking horny grandma swings by the Museum of Jewish Heritage and waxes philosophic in a lecture titled “Kantian Neo-Liberalism and Machiavellian Ethics: A Polemic.” Just kidding- she’ll be talkin’ about sex, just like she always does! Meanwhile, thinking woman’s sex object Elvis Costello -former lover of Bebe Buell , current lover of crooner Diane Krall -stuffs his huge ass into a fancy suit to play Town Hall.
Thursday September 25
If you’re like us, you’re a huge Law & Order fan who’s sick of seeing Angie Harmon act like a ditz in those Neutrogena commercials-and have already back-ordered next month’s new book, Law & Order: Crime Scenes , which “goes home” with the characters, revealing the personal lives of the series’ various detectives and attorneys. (Alas, no full-frontal shots of Benjamin Bratt in the nude …. ) Tonight it all comes together, as real-estate maven Patricia Burnham (sold Connie and Maury their apartment in the Dakota) and producer Dick Wolf launch the tome at Elaine’s , and we are simply beside ourselves with glee. Now if we could just bag ourselves our very own Jason Sehorn to bring to the party ….
Friday September 26
At the ‘plex: Anthony Hopkins and the (how to put this?) almost nauseatingly ubiquitous Nicole Kidman open in The Human Stain , based on the pretty-good Philip Roth novel about an academic in crisis. “Philip Roth is not always a pleasant experience,” said screenwriter Nicholas Meyer . “However, he is always articulate, he is always grown up, he is always profound .” Has Mr. Roth read the script? “I thought, ‘Why should he read it?'” Mr. Meyer said. “Mr. Roth, after all, had done his part, and bore no responsibility for the final product. Maybe I shouldn’t see the movie for the same reason.” You’ve been reading too much Roth, fella!
Saturday September 27
Today is Rosh Hashanah -a happy new year for many, while others clomp over to Bryant Park, where they’ve blown out all the fashion stardust for a Writer’s Block Exhibition . Artist Sheryl Oring has collected over 600 old typewriters from the 1920’s and 30’s (clickety-clack!) and caged them in huge steel boxes as some sort of “I know why the caged word sings” statement about censorship and free expression.
Sunday September 28
Not in the mood for Sex and the City ? Good: It’s not on anymore, and frankly, we’re not sorry …. Instead, there’s K Street , a new HBO series about the Washington elite (isn’t that an oxymoron?), produced by Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney and generating more “buzz” than a Phish concert. If you’re out prowling the night , the late-night club Lotus, in the still-thrumming meatpacking district , has recently launched something called Suzie Wong’s Late Night Cafe to feed its patrons-who, to the best of our knowledge, subsist on Vicodin tablets, but whatever . It’s open till 3 a.m. (if you want to be safe, you’ll also bring some snacks in a paper sack) ….
Tuesday September 29
Lethem eat cake: Dark-haired, brooding author -and Brooklyn ladies’ man- Jonathan Lethem heads to Barnes & Noble to read from his latest thumping novel, Fortress of Solitude , which is supposedly gonna catapult him into the “august” company of those other dark-haired, brooding author Jonathans, Franzen and Safran Foer …. Bleary-eyed, we combed Fortress of Solitude for a juicy excerpt and found this: “That’s right! You don’t mess with Arrowman!” ‘Scuse us, but is this fancy lit’rature, or an outtake from 2 Fast 2 Furious ?!
Wednesday September 30
Who’s da boss ? Springsteen, of course! But it was Tony Danza who delivered our favorite moment in music history when he started rapping at last year’s People’s Choice Awards. Words simply cannot convey our delight. Between that moment, Alyssa Milano’s career in softcore porn, and the kid who played her brother later coming out of the closet – what other sitcom was actually more enjoyable after it ended? (Maybe Diff’rent Strokes , but you’re too young to remember that-Ed.) One can only hope Mr. Danza is similarly inspired tonight when he croons at Feinstein’s at the Regency. Meanwhile, we’re getting out our naughty-schoolgirl skirts and big boots and stomping around the office, ’cause it’s gonna be a bang-up October …. Oh, and by the way, ladies- bush is back. Shazam!