Ah, the scent of November! Wood fires wafting up through chimney tops … the tacit agreement among New Yorkers to order dessert (everyone’s in dark, bulky sweaters, so who cares?) … the rise in anxiety as related to upcoming family events -all these conspire to make this fair city’s residents horny as hell. So brace yourselves for Instant Messages and phone calls from exes looking to “catch up” ( translation: sate themselves on your naked form and then never call again-hey, come to think of it … ). Those who manage to keep their pants on this month can follow the MTV saga of Ally Hilfiger and Jaime Gleicher’s plan to unseat the Newlyweds as the dumbest pair on television-or the queasy saga of Freddy Ferrer, Mark Green and city Democrats getting “pumped” and thereby reminding us why we all voted for Mike Bloomberg in the first place …. And don’t forget that it’s National Alzheimer’s Awareness month (shut up-someone had to say it), as blow-dried former Extra anchor Leeza Gibbons hosts a reception with “frooze” (free booze) to raise the green stuff for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Meanwhile, if you’re like us, your kitchen is the deli on the corner, and you thought of canned goods as a quaint notion for elementary-school children, who collected them once in awhile. Then the blackout happened, your “good-natured” deli guy quadrupled his prices, and all you found in your pantry was your college diploma …. Now you have a newfound respect for canned goods, so today grab your “jolly” Green Giant’s niblets and take them to the Can struction ( clevah! ) competition, where architects and engineers will use them like Legos to build structures before they all get donated (the canned goods, not the architects) to the Food Bank. It’s a “serious” actor smorgasbord, as couple Stanley Tucci and Edie Falco pitch in with Steve Buscemi , Oliver Platt and John Turturro.
[ Can struction competition, New York Design Center, 200 Lexington Avenue, 6 p.m., http://www.canstruction.org.
Husbands and boyfriends start practicing their best fake cough this morning, because tonight is “In Our Own Words: An Evening of Jazz and Poetry.” The ladies attempt “literary glam” (strapless tweed dresses, frown lines lightly penciled onto botoxed foreheads) and practice for next week’s National Book Awards. But maybe this will bring the boys out: Malaak Compton-Rock will co-chair and, who knows, maybe bring hilarious hubby Chris Rock . If not, bail out and crash the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at the Lexington Avenue Armory, and cross fingers for more shenanigans from PETA when Gisele Bundchen, Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum and their concave cheeks take to the runway. Bonus fun for the whole family : play “spot the straight guys!” (Hint: They’re the ones with a newspapers on their laps …. ) If you’d prefer a whole bushel of straight guys, head down to the Borders on Wall Street, where Nick Hornby ( About a Boy ) reads from his new collection of essays, Songbook . We found the author in his “work flat, around the corner from my regular flat” in Highbury, England, and asked him about the junk they’re playing on the radio right now. “There’s plenty to hate!” he agreed. “I do love the Outkast record, though-especially that song ‘Hey Ya!’ I’ve been playing it nonstop. That’s what I always do-put the song on repeat, and then it’s dead two weeks later.” What’s he been up to? “I’m still messing about with some screenplays. I’m working on a novel, but I can’t tell you what it’s about because once I hear the plot coming out of my mouth, it seems like the worst idea that anyone’s ever had and it takes me a month to recover. When people asked about High Fidelity , I said it was about a guy who works in a record store who just broke up with his girlfriend. Oh, the pitying looks I got from people! I couldn’t write for weeks.” Did he make the pilgrimage to see David Blaine? “I couldn’t really imagine anything more boring to do than throwing something at someone in a box.”
[Safe Horizon benefit, Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street, 6:30 p.m., 212-577-5095; Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, Lexington Avenue Armory, 26th Street and Lexington Avenue, 8 p.m., by invitation only; Nick Hornby, Borders Wall Street, 100 Broadway, 5:30 p.m., 212-964-1988.]
We’re broke, and no one is responding to the “tip if the service is excellent” jar we’ve put on our desk. So tonight we lay off the benefits and go hear Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham -the best-dressed lefty in town (except for Al Sharpton )-read from his collection of essay s , 30 Satires .
[Lewis Lapham, Barnes and Noble, 2289 Broadway, 7:30 p.m., 212-362-8835.]
“I have two beautiful kids and some not-so-attractive ones,” said the Emmy-winning comedian Jonathan Katz , whom you may remember from his Comedy Central series, Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist . Now living in Newton, Mass., with his wife of 23 years and their children, this morning he’s in town to speak about his experience of living with multiple sclerosis. “I have an M.S. act,” he told us. “It’s a very funny disease. There’s nothing funny about having it, but for me it’s a gold mine of material. When I was first diagnosed, my doctor told me, ‘You have to cut down on red meat, salt and alcohol.’ I asked, ‘What about sex?’ He said, ‘Sorry, I’m seeing someone.’ … I both entertain and provide a source of inspiration. I’ll have to remind myself that I’m not at a nightclub or opening for Garry Shandling ; I’m following some neurologist who, hopefully, isn’t funnier than me. I tell newly diagnosed people that there are drugs you can take. Every week I take a shot of a drug called heroin. It’s lovely …. What’s your drug of choice?” We’re an equal-opportunity drinker. “Yeah? I used to have a drinking problem. I discovered I couldn’t hold my liquor in the winter. I think it was the mittens. That was a cute joke-admit it!”
[Jonathan Katz, Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway, 9:30 a.m., 800-522-5185.]
There are two movie events tonight, and your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to crash them both. First up, a screening of the new film House of Sand and Fog , about the struggle between a formerly wealthy Iranian immigrant and the inevitable “troubled young women” over the control of a rural California house. ( Trading Spaces as film noir.) Stay and chat with co-stars Ben (“My grandfather was a spice trader in Zanzibar!”) Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly, who used to have the best breasts in Hollywood. Or, if you like your “show people” in the flesh, directors Robert Altman and Curtis Hanson ( L.A. Confidential ) glitter up the Directors Guild of America Honors gala as host Richard Belzer deadpans. S.A.G. prez and closet sex bomb Melissa Gilbert and Julianne Moore -who’s proven that an actress can flash bush in her career (Mr. Altman’s Short Takes ) and still be regarded as one of the world’s most respected actors-will hand out trophies.
[ House of Sand and Fog , D.G.A. Theater, 110 West 57th Street, 7 p.m., 718-784-4520; Directors Guild of America Honors gala, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, 301 Park Avenue, 6 p.m., 212-647-8765.]
The blind-date problem is solved! Take him/her (or both if it’s a she-male) to the Village tapas lounge Suba , where dinner will be served in the dark by waiters wearing night-vision goggles. City Harvest gets the proceeds. The raucous fun continues uptown, where women get tickled by champagne and their latest swain (“Oh, Zander! … “) at the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s fall gala. Ed Bradley (the hip one on 60 Minutes ) hosts as Schiffs (Drew, Karenna), Astons (Sherrell, Muffie) and Bronfmans (Andrea, Charles) kick up their $500 heels …. Meanwhile : Mayor Mike as “Boyfriend of the Year”? We picture him more the sort that’s always nagging you to quit smoking and does a mean “robot” on the dance floor, but whatever! Tonight, the Lower East Side Girls Club bestows that title on everyone’s favorite sidetalker at their annual Willow Awards. “There was a Boys’ Club with massive facilities, so finally we were like, ‘Screw this, we’re going to build a Girls’ Club!’” said Adriana Pezzulli, director of development. “For six years under Giuliani we tried to get land from the city, and there was, like, no negotiating with the Mayor. As soon as Bloomberg came into office, we got the land three months later!” Attire is “hi-lo couture.” (Think Bowery chic: guys wearing Chuck Taylors with a tux, ladies resurrecting that Jessica McClintock number they wore to the prom with their virginity on their sleeve and a tiara.) Actors Chloë Sevigny and father-to-be Billy Crudup will be there. Will His Mayorness? “We’re working on him!” If he does, ask him to be a good sugar daddy and loan you $750 for a ticket to the Actors’ Fund of America gala. Martin Richards and Meryl Streep each receive a “medal of honor.” (Please, this ain’t Iraq, people.) Michael Douglas climbs out of his Craftmatic Adjustable Bed ( whirrrrrr … ) and escorts hot mama Catherine Zeta-Jones.
[Dinner in the Dark, Suba, 109 Ludlow Street, 7 p.m., 212-982-5714, ext. 3; Girls' Club, Capitale Ballroom, 130 Bowery at Grand Street, 7 p.m., 212-982-1633; the Actors' Fund of America gala, Cipriani 42nd Street, 110 East 42nd Street, 6:30 p.m., 212-221-7300, ext. 129.]
What, no Oprah scandal or 16-year-old first-time author? Where will the “juice” come from in this year’s National Book Awards? Tonight, the camisolettes (the city’s budding number of female editorial assistants/would-be authors who have mastered the art of using their cleavage to land plum jobs at tweedy magazines ) show up as the award finalists read from their work at the New School. The fiction nominees are T.C. Boyle ( Drop City ), Shirley Hazzard ( The Great Fire ), Edward P. Jones ( The Known World ), Scott Spencer ( A Ship Made of Paper ) and Marianne Wiggins ( Evidence of Things Unseen ). None of which we’ve read because we’re still plowing our way through the insufferable Corrections , but our money’s on Edward P. Jones …. Less literary doings today at Grand Central Terminal, where a Holiday Laser Light Show meant for the kiddies instead draws a cannabis-befumed bunch of New York private-school teens .
[2003 National Book Award Finalists reading, the New School, Tischman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.,
Book editors suck it up as they bring their straying wives to the National Book Awards ceremony, hosted by mystery writer Walter Mosley . Stephen King gets a nod for his contributions to American letters and nightmares worldwide. Meanwhile, Clarins cosmetics-which makes a swell self-tanner , of which the aforementioned editors could use adollopor two-opens aposh boutique for the ladies of the
Upper East Side who believe a cream can melt that cellulite away. Meanwhile, our media reporter joins Time managing editor Jim Kelley and the rest of the Time Inc. crew for a public debate about who should be 2003′s Person of the Year . Some are saying Saddam Hussein, but we’ll bet you a new psychedelic $20 that it’s George W. Bush, who-if you believe the left-is Le Nouveau Saddam .
[National Book Awards, Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway, 6:30 p.m., 212-685-0261; Clarins Treatment Boutique, 1061 Madison Avenue, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., 212-980-1800, ext. 3064; Person of the Year debate, the Luce Room, Time and Life Conference Center, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, 11:30 a.m., by invitation only.]