Fucking Articulate: Arianna Huffington’s Book Party

Not everyone stuffed into MTV Networks chairman Tom Freston’s East 66th Street townhouse on April 12 wanted to say how they’d made a fool of themselves recently-even though the party was for Fanatics and Fools: The Game Plan for Winning Back America, Arianna Huffington’s 10th book.

Her publisher at Miramax Books, Harvey Weinstein, declined to comment on any instances of his foolishness or fanaticism.

“I’m retired,” he said, before turning his attention to investment banker Steven Rattner, whose smile clearly meant “no comment.” Mort Zuckerman, the third man in the pow-wow, came through, sort of. “How much time do you have?” he asked.

Twenty seconds?

“Not enough time.”

“If you don’t embarrass yourself every once in a while, then you’re not loose enough,” Al Franken chimed in. “So I’m trying to think hard. I know-I made a couple mistakes in Lies and Lying Liars. All of it came from British intelligence. For example, I wrote that Sean Hannity lived up Newt Gingrich’s ass from 1993 to 1998-I got that from British intelligence. Turns out Sean took residence up Newt’s ass only in early ’94, early January of ’94, so that was embarrassing.”

Soon, Ms. Huffington picked up a microphone and started riffing on President Bush.

“George Bush was supposed to be here tonight, but he just sent a little note saying that the directions were not specific enough,” she said.

There followed many hearty chuckles and a few “ho-ho-hos.”

“He said he knows we gave him the time and the address, but there was no cross street,” Ms. Huffington continued to even more laughter. “And he said, ‘If there had been a cross street, he would have moved mountains to have been here, but without a cross street, what can he do?”

Silence.

Ms. Huffington moved on to more serious matters.

“We can win in a landslide!” she said, before adding that “when the house is on fire, this is not the time to talk about remodeling. This is the time to put the fire out. And after we put the fire out and send George Bush back to Crawford, Tex., where in any case he seems to prefer to spend his time … until then, we can’t talk about remodeling.”

Later on in the sumptuous townhouse once owned by Andy Warhol, swanning among such guests as Kurt Vonnegut, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Tina Brown, Barbara Walters, Barry Diller and Katrina vanden Heuvel, Ms. Huffington said she made a fool of herself back when she was a Republican.

“That was a very bad idea,” she said. “But I think there’s a statute of limitations because, you know, when I was a Republican, Dennis Miller was still a liberal-he’s still funny. And Michael Jackson was still black. You know, it’s a long time ago, but I did make a fool of myself. Hi! Welcome! This is [former Howard Dean consultant] Joe Trippi-you can ask him.”

Having a smoke outside was Tony Newman, a bearded 33-year-old originally from the Bay Area who is now the communications director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization that Ms. Huffington has worked closely with to end the war on drugs.

“We have drugs all over our society,” Mr. Newman was saying. “We got weed, cigs, Prozac, Viagra, steroids, everything. But only certain people are going to jail for certain drugs. I smoke weed on the streets of New York every fucking day, and you know how many times I’ve been stopped by the cops?”

He pulled out some printouts from a new Web site of his, http://www.whatifIwereblack.com, which featured photographs of Mr. Newman sparking up all over midtown Manhattan. “You would think that it’s easy to smoke weed in New York, but 60,000 get arrested for fucking smoking weed in the city,” he said.

Mr. Newman called his friend Ms. Huffington an “amazing woman.”

“Not only is she a great writer, she’s a great organizer,” he said. “She basically pulled together a whole fucking range of people tonight-super big shots, grassroots organizers. She’s a connector. You know what, she did it incredibly well when she was conservative and worked with Gingrich-ouch! But we have respect, ’cause she knows how to fucking do it, and now that she’s willing to come over …. “

Mr. Newman lit up again and went on, talking about a shadow convention that Ms. Huffington had helped put together to address issues that were missing from the platforms at both parties’ conventions in 2000.

“Arianna put together an important segment,” he said. “She put together activists in the fucking media world. She pulled together activists working together on issues like drug-policy reform like myself. She pulled together these people and said, ‘You know what? Basically the house is on fire,’ I heard her say, ‘it’s not time to fucking remodel.’

Basically, the fucking state of the world is in our hands. There is something exciting about that. We got seven months: We gotta fucking bring down George Bush. This guy is a drunk driver behind the wheel and he is going to take us off the cliff. We gotta fucking remove the fucking drunk driver, man. This shit, this is fucking serious. You know, Arianna is gonna continue doing her thing. She’s going to go to fucking cities around the country, she’s gonna talk to local media, she’s gonna talk to campuses. She’s fucking articulate. She can articulate our vision.”

Back inside, a dozen or so people were surrounding Ms. Huffington.

“He’s fantastic,” she said of Mr. Newman. “We worked together at the shadow conventions; he was press secretary for my campaign. We were working together on the drug war. Do you have a copy of my book? If you look at the ‘New Contract for a Better America,’ one of the items is the need to stop fighting this war on drugs.”

She had to introduce someone to Joe Trippi and drifted off.

“She’s connecting, she’s connecting,” Mr. Newman said

-George Gurley

Here, Pussy-Pussy

“That girl is a scandal,” Vogue magazine’s majestic editor at large, André Leon Talley, once said of Texan super-noodle Erin Wasson. “And she has got to learn how to walk.”

Though Mr. Talley has ruled over the fashion world with a steely gaze and finger-snap that left many a model a little wobbly on her turns, the spotlight is now turning on his clever clogs, with his stage debut at the Martha Graham Dance Company’s City Center revival of The Owl and The Pussycat on April 14. (The piece was originally narrated by Liza Minnelli in 1978.)

And what do you know: The gatekeeper of poise, style and sartorial je ne sais quoi has-how do we say this? Two. Giant. Left. Feet.

As the narrator of Edward Lear’s 1871 nonsense ode, Mr. Talley’s molasses-coated enunciation provided the backdrop for the Graham Company’s dancers (a diminutive pussy performed by Virginie Mécène, Tadej Brdnik’s buff-chested owl) as they leapt and slid effortlessly above the footlights at an open studio rehearsal on April 8.

“The ooooowl and the pussseeecat went to sssssea,” he intoned over the jingly-jangly music that always seems to accompany Ms Graham’s esoteric compositions. And then, in his trademark Manolo Blahnik spats-thud! plonk! stomp!-he strode around the makeshift stage.

It’s possible that his large strides and massive clodding was meant to add some gravitas to the rather flitty business going on about him.

“What a loverrrly pussssseeeee you arrrre, you arrrrre. What a loverrrly pussssseeeee you arrrre.”

STOMP! PLONK! THUD!

After the performance, Mr. Talley brushed off the idea that he was maybe a little out of his depth with all this prancy modern-dance stuff.

“Oh, nooooo,” he said with a flick of the hand. “I feel so good. I’ve learned how to breathe better. I’ve learned how to stand, I’ve learned how to speak slower, and I’ve learned to relax in my rich delivery. I always speak so fast, almost like ticker tape or like typing on the computer board, and it’s just a whole world that’s opened up to me.”

At tonight’s performance, the neophyte performer’s fashionista friends-Oscar De La Renta, Ralph Lauren, Anna Wintour-will get to see that new world of Mr. Talley’s for the first time.

“Martha Graham was all about grace, gratitude and giving,” he told The Transom. “I call it the ‘three G’s.'”

-Shazia Ahmad

It’s Curtains for Tyco

On Nov. 25, jurors in the trial against former Tyco chief executive L. Dennis Kozlowski and former chief financial officer Mark Swartz were shown a videotape of the interior of Tyco’s corporate residence at 950 Fifth Avenue.

They craned their necks and cooed as they caught glimpses of the infamous $6,000 gold-threaded shower curtain and $15,000 umbrella stand that became potent symbols of Mr. Kozlowski’s corporate excess. But those baubles may now be history.

According to a source who recently toured the 4,500-square-foot duplex, which is listing for $24.99 million, the extravagant items have been removed from the apartment’s ornate interior.

“My client and I were looking for them. We started laughing when we didn’t see any shower curtain at all. It doesn’t have the accouterments that it had before,” the real-estate source, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

The 11-room apartment is represented by a quartet of brokers from Brown Harris Stevens, including Elizabeth Sample, Jean Meisel, Amy Katcher and Brenda Powers.

Ms. Meisel declined to comment or acknowledge any details concerning the interior of the apartment. Her partners on the $24.99 million listing didn’t return calls for comment.

So where was the infamous curtain? Could it be that the expensive curtain was actually considered a turnoff in Tyco’s bid to sell the apartment and recover some assets out of the whole Kozlowski-Swartz scandal?

“A lot of people would do the same,” The Transom’s real-estate source opined. “When a person is there to buy the apartment, they’re there to see the apartment, not the decorations.

“It was source of embarrassment,” the source continued. “Why have [the shower curtain] in there?”

A Tyco spokeswoman declined to comment on the whereabouts of Mr. Kozlowski’s former baubles or to confirm, if the items were sold, that the proceeds would be returned to Tyco coffers.

“In anything related to that apartment-because it relates to matters that are pending litigation-it is inappropriate for us to comment at this time,” said Gwen Fisher, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey– and Bermuda-based conglomerate.

Mr. Kozlowski’s lawyer, Stephen Kaufman, was traveling and unavailable for comment.

If Tyco did sell off some of Mr. Kozlowski’s ornate decorations, the cash would come in handy, as the company hasn’t seen any from the apartment. In November, Tyco listed the 11-room spread for $28 million-a sum viewed as outlandish by real-estate watchers, and one that indeed failed to garner interest among potential buyers. After three months and no sale, Tyco slashed $3 million off the asking price in March, hoping to lure a flush tenant. The apartment has yet to find a purchaser.

Perhaps the apartment’s more modest maquillage will help to win over reticent buyers.

-Gabriel Sherman

Mile-High Club

Three days after the final episode of Average Joe: Adam Returns, Adam Mesh and his chosen one, Samantha Trenk, could finally walk down the street together.

On Thursday, April 8, the lovebirds were walking hand in hand through midtown. “It’s a good thing we’re not married,” said a scruffy-faced but smiling Mr. Mesh, holding the hand of his chosen one. “Everyone says congratulations and good luck …. We feel like we’ve been walking around with just-married stickers on our backs.”

That’s because 10.9 million people watched as the two paired off in the final episode of the Average Joe sequel. But filming had been completed three weeks before-and the two were not allowed to contact each other in the meantime, lest office betting pools all over America about whom Ms. Trenk would select be spoiled.

How did they ever bear the time apart?

“We talked on the phone everyday,” said Ms. Trenk, her head peeking out of a chunky turquoise scarf.

Mr. Mesh was more specific.

“Phone sex,” he said. And then, face reddening-as if sensing he’d said something that might get picked up in Star-he added lamely: “I’m just kidding.”

The couple only saw each other once for a photo shoot while the show was on television. All they had left to remember each other by was that last plane ride at the end of the final episode, where the loser (Rachel Goetz) drove away in a limo and Mr. Mesh and Ms. Trenk ascended the steps of the jet, which flew off into the sunset.

But Mr. Mesh, who was the loser himself on the first season of Average Joe, didn’t even get to relish his maiden voyage with the mile-high club.

“The plane wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, right?” he said, casting a conspiratorial eye upon Ms. Trenk. “I mean, it’s like-a plane! We went half an hour away, and then instead of [flying] a half-hour back, we got off and drove three hours back.”

Ms. Trenk rolled her eyes and added, “Yeah, it was like 4 o’clock in the morning. We could’ve just sat on the plane for a few minutes, then gotten off.”

No pun, The Transom thinks, intended.

-Alexandra Wolfe

The Transom Also Hears …

That if you work for Missy Elliott, you’d better be prepared to have her on your back 24/7. At the April 13 launch of her clothing line, which will be produced by Adidas, the hip-hop star revealed that her signature logo-a queen’s crown above the words “Respect M.E.”-can be found on birthday suits as well as her new track suits. “I took my dancers yesterday to go get them tattooed,” she confessed at a press conference on April 13. “All my dancers are getting it on their backs-Claudine, where you at?” The rapper then brought onstage product manager Claudine Joseph, who gamely pulled up a pant leg to show off her newly inked ankle (the dancers were off rehearsing for the “Ladies First” tour, which also features Beyoncé Knowles and Alicia Keys). “Aww, she’s so dedicated!” Ms. Elliott purred. “The crown is fitting for a queen, and ‘Respect M.E.,’ of course, is the name of the line. Oh, and the M.E., that’s me-Missy Elliott!”

-Noelle Hancock