The passing of Ronald Reagan may have saved John Kerry from certain defeat in November: Out of deference, the candidate canceled a planned “Kerry for President” benefit concert by Barbra Streisand , a terrifying event which would surely have driven more than a few Democrats into Ralph Nader’s waiting arms …. If you’re split on whether to read Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton or Us Weekly , try Jay Mohr’s swell new memoir, Gasping for Airtime ,chronicling histwoyearsat Saturday Night Live between the thumb andforefingerof Lorne Michaels . Today, the handsomeboy-man signs copies and recounts stories like the time Chris Farley heeded nature’s call out a window at 30 Rock ….
[Jay Mohr book signing, Borders, 10 Columbus Circle, 7:30 p.m., 212-823-9775.]
The new school hangs out uptown and the old, downtown? We found the Robert Miller Gallery in Chelsea preparing for a long, hard summer with its exhibit of nonrepresentational work entitled Ground, Field, Surface , by a bevy of artists including Milton Resnick, Robert Greene, Mark Rothko and Yayoi Kusama. We called the gallery and quizzed Chris Miller about the peculiar claim that the “artists included in this exhibition have made or make works which have no specific focal point.” No specific what ? “These pieces deal with the imaginary and physical surface of the canvas-the plane it exists on,” he explained helpfully. “Most of these pieces tend to have a textural surface, as opposed to those aspects of a painting one might be drawn to more intuitively, like composition, contrast or color. It’s the textural quality that creates the dynamic.” As it were. And what of the artistes? “Milton Resnick” -around whose work the exhibit centers- “is one of the most talented and underappreciated artists around.” So start saving up your pocket money instead of blowing it on an iPod. Uptown , at Throckmorton Fine Art , Colombian fashion shutterbug Ruven Afanador embraces the silver gelatin prints of yesteryear and delivers the bastard child of Paolo Roversi and Robert Mapplethorpe with his dirty, gleaming collection of new photos. Meanwhile , now that Julia Roberts is preggers, the question looms as to who will speak first- one of the twins or that mute husband of hers? Ms. Roberts was skipped over this year by the MTV Movie Awards for her sole cinematic effort ( see Mona Lisa Smile -no one else did! ), but that’s not stopping The Real World / Road Rules set from showing up to watch busty newbie Lindsay Lohan host the affair. (Crash strategy: pretend you have a feud with Hilary Duff.) Toe rings will be wrapped around presenters like Halle Berry , Kirsten Dunst (pronounced ” Keer-sten “), Scarlett Johannson (pronounced ” overrated “), SNL castaway Jimmy Fallon and Tobey Maguire (the old Jake Gyllenhaal ). There’s a category for “Best Action Sequence,” so how about an award for the Paris Hilton video, the Zapruder film of the Condé Nast cafeteria generation? And in a bit of macabre auctioneering that’s sure to draw out the city’s secret pirates, Guernsey’s gavels off relics from the Titanic as well as liners like the Luisitania at the South Street Seaport Museum . Hundreds of remnants will be hoisted on the block, including china, chairs, menus and lifejackets. Overhear pissed-off Spence girls asking why they’re not auctioning off “the shirt that Leonardo wore …. ”
[ Ground, Field, Surface , Robert Miller Gallery, 524 West 26th Street, 6 to 8 p.m., 212-366-4774; Sombra , Throckmorton Fine Art, 145 East 57th Street, third floor,
6 to 9 p.m., 212-223-1059; ” Titanic and Other Legendary Liners” auction, South Street Seaport Museum, http://www.guernseys.org.
Over at The Today Show , whose hosts have succeeded in making New York look as dopey as the rest of the country, Kid Rock (kind of a less intelligent version of Time Square’s “naked cowboy”) reminds us all what he did before Pam Anderson . Meanwhile, Good Morning America does a good deed by co-opting Bryant Park on behalf of Stevie Wonder , who recorded Songs in the Key of Life and a shelf of other priceless records-and what the hell have you done lately?
[Stevie Wonder, Bryant Park, Upper Terrace, 42nd Street at the Avenue of the Americas; 7 a.m., http://www.bryantpark.org.
Whirl on over to Coney Island, where a host of artistes also known as the Dreamland Artists Club, under the aegis of artist Steve Powers, have taken Coney Island back to its glory days with all sorts of signs, murals and so forth. Mr. Powers, who has displayed a considerable penchant for madras and designed clear sneakers for Nike , said: “The first thing I did when I moved to New York from Philly 10 years ago, after I dropped my bags, was to hop on the train to Coney Island and get on the Cyclone.” He added that he loves Coney Island because “it’s tough and unsentimental. It’s a hustling kind of place: the id of Brooklyn. It keeps all of its fantasies alive, the pleasant as much as the not-so-pleasant.” If you’re part of that group that’s swarming, cicada-like, eastward, stop by Southampton’s Parrish Art Museum, where a weekend program of “Landscape Pleasures” includes a symposium where East Enders can learn about the region’s ecological history they’ve so happily destroyed with their real-estate pissing contests …. If, on the other hand, you kept your dignity by passing on that shabby Westhampton share , and the line for the frogs exhibit ( rrribbit ! ) has wrapped itself twice around the planetarium, hippity-hop on the E (N.Y.C.’s most timely subway!) and head to Alley Pond Park in Queens ( not the new Brooklyn) to learn about backyard bugs like the aforementioned cicadas that are heading our way.
[Landscape Pleasures, the Parrish Art Museum Concert Hall, 25 Job’s Lane, Southampton, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., 631-283-2118, ext. 33; Backyard Bugs, the Nature Center at Alley Pond Park, noon, 311; Dreamland Artist Club, Coney Island, tours every half hour beginning at 2 p.m., http://www.creativetime.org.
Speaking of monkeys: Guys who’ve felt guilty spanking it to photos of the Olsen twins can breathe a little easier knowing that the lasses turn 18 today . The moppets will soon straddle this city with all their simian force, causing every N.Y.U. male to think twice before pinning up that “Got Milk” poster on the off-chance that they might, ya know, stop by sometime. In other news, it’s the Algonquin Round Table’s 85th anniversary , and it’s hard not to feel some misty nostalgia for a time when the city had real humorists in our midst getting stinking, instead of stinkers getting humored …. Meet in front of the Gonk at noon for a walking tour, which means at least two hours of physical exertion before you, too, will be able to sit down and climb into a bottle of port.
[Algonquin Round Table Walking Tours, the Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street, noon, 646-435-2799.]
Will you Murray me? National Poetry Month has long since passed, but the aftershocks continue: Registering 4.9 on the kooky scale is the Poets House ninth annual “Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge.” Galway Kinnell will recite Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” before the likes of former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins and Sandra Alcosser , who’s apparently the poet in residence at the Central Park Zoo (the members of the audience there can be real animals). Later, stanza stallion Robert Bly -the truth of whose mocked 1990 book Iron John , with its diagnosis of the country being afflicted with soft, squishy, indecisive men, can be seen nightly in Williamsburg and on the Lower East Side -scoops up the Elizabeth Kray Award for Service to Poetry . Actor Bill Murray (poetry in motion!), who could probably get just about any piece of tail he wanted in New York right now, will be on hand to keep this event from getting too wiggy …. Later, Edie Falco , Brian Stokes Mitchell and Christy Carlson Romano invade the suddenly besieged Bryant Park to hit the high notes and try to get people to give their regards to Broadway .
[Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge, 6:30 p.m., 212-431-7920, ext. 15, http://www.poetshouse.org; Broadway Under the Stars, Bryant Park, Sixth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets, 8:30 p.m., http://www.nycvisit.com.
His baloney has a first name, it’s B-I-L-L …. But first : Le Cirque’s ringleader, Sirio Maccioni, kicks off his autobiography as plenty of big shots (Ricky and Kathy Hilton, Denise Rich, Kathleen Turner, Barbara Walters, Sydney Poitier) gobble his caviar figs, prosciutto and some “Tuscan magic” (now why does that sound dirty?). Uptown, gam-tastic hoofer Bebe Neuwirth chats about her new show, Here Lies Jenny . Ms. Neuwirth plays Jenny, a onetime saloon singer who’s been ridden hard and put away wet. Speaking of Bill Clinton , today he shows up for breakfast near his office in Harlem to celebrate the Harlem Renaissance Day of Commitment, and maybe scout for a pied-à-terre he can keep hidden from you-know-who . The former President and O.J. pal Johnnie Cochran are being honored, and Maya Angelou will wax poetic. One of the underwriters, the Abyssinian Baptist Church , counts Vogue’s large editor-at-large André Leon Talley as a member. “I’m a big, big, big, big, big, big churchgoer!” said Mr. Leon Talley from Hastings-on-Hudson, where he was in the middle of moving houses. “This breakfast is a big moment for my church!” What’s he going to wear? A beige Richard Anderson suit and Manolo Blahnik shoes. “I have never, ever walked into my church not wearing a suit -well, maybe a fur coat or two – but I only wear my best and finest … whatever I can afford,” he said. “Last year at this breakfast I was being honored, and I rode over there with Manolo. I’d picked him up at his hotel, and we got stuck in traffic! Everyone thought we were trying just to be fashionably late -but we weren’t, and I felt awful!”
[ Sirio: The Story of My Life and Le Cirque book party, Le Cirque 2000, 455 Madison Avenue, 6 to 9 p.m., 212-822-8171, by invitation only; Bebe Neuwirth discusses Here Lies Jenny , Makor, 35 West 67th Street, 7:30 p.m., 212-601-1000; the Harlem Renaissance Day of Commitment Leadership Breakfast, the Great Hall, Shepard Hall on City College Campus, 138th Street and Convent Avenue, 7:30 a.m., 212-368-4471 ext. 440.]
Modigliani’s minxes: Italian news scribe and Modigliani biographer Corrado Augias talks about “Modi” tonight at the Italian Cultural Center. Mr. Augias rang us from Paris (which was unfortunately “too hot”) to speak with us about the “true story of this unhappy boy”: “At the beginning of his career , he was considered a great artist in his home because he was good in an old way of painting. You must understand that this was because the wind of the avant-garde had not yet arrived in Tuscany! He had a real Jewish mother , one who was passionate and careful, and she sent this well-elevated Jewish child to Paris . Of course, there he was confronted with so much novelty that he nearly lost his head: He began to drink , consume drugs and turned into a kind of debauchee.” It didn’t make things any easier, said Mr. Augias, that Modi was “a beautiful man and very pleasant to look at.” Yes, that sucks. If your life is far too interesting and you want to be bopped over the head with boredom, Madonna brings her “Re-Invention” tour to town this evening. Instead, make a bee-line for the Park where Madame Butterfly flutters onto the Great Lawn to explore the exploitation of the East and its women by the masculine, imperialistic tendencies of the West. The timely opera will be conducted by Julius Rudel, who holds the honor of being principal guest conductor of the Palm Beach Opera.
[The “Re-Invention” Tour, Madison Square Garden, 8 p.m., http://www.ticketmaster.com; Modigliani: L’Ultimo Romantico , Istituto Italiano di Cultura, 686 Park Avenue, 6 p.m., 212-879-4242; Madame Butterfly , the Great Lawn, Central Park, 8 p.m.]