March 23 – March 30, 2005

Wednesday 23rd

Technically speaking, it’s spring (even though we’re still sleeping under flannel sheets and using our unlimited MetroCard to creep about underground), and we’re beginning to see signs of seasonal stirrings: punning headline writers crowing (sorry) about Pale Male knocking up his bird; brightly colored trench coats and bathing suits on display everywhere (as the pressure to lose the back fat steadily mounts); jackass guys dumping their winter girlfriends (cuddly yet chubby) in favor of long-stemmed bulimics with fake accents (these guys don’t know what they’re in for); and hobgoblin Lizzie Grubman on our television trying to Jedi-mind-trick us into worrying about Fourth of July parties in the heinous Hamptons ( quick note: has anyone noticed that Ms. Grubman is sounding more and more like Selma on The Simpsons?). Bring it, spring! Meanwhile, the shiny monthly magazines are shaking off their winter doldrums with events aplenty. First up, the bun-blasters at GQ throw a private reception for the opening of their month-long exhibition Life During Wartime: A Soldiers’ Portfoli o, featuring photographs taken by soldiers serving overseas. “We wanted to publish a photo essay on the Iraqi war, and because digital cameras are relatively new, this has become the first war you can really document. We’re seeing the war through the soldiers’ eyes,” said photo editor Greg Pond, who started on this project over six months ago when he wrote a memo to the Army Times newspaper requesting soldiers’ photographs. “The next night, I turned on my computer and I had over 200 e-mails,” said Mr. Pond, who ended up with over 10,000 photographs to choose from. “This is not your typical Condé Nast affair,” said Mr. Pond, blithely slagging his corporate bosses. “We bought all the frames at Pearl Paint and kept things basic. We didn’t want to put a slick gloss on this.” Tonight, some soldiers will mingle with the slick and glossed gents of GQ (hands off the privates, you GQ guys!), presided over by the always nattily dressed Jim Nelson. Further uptown, fellow Nastie rag Vanity Fair boozes it up with the announced winner of a Vanity Fair essay contest which challenged readers to “explain the character of the American people to the rest of the world.” (What, does Vanity Fair suddenly think it’s Foreign Affairs? Please, a better topic for VF readers would have been “Explain why Vanity Fair’s covers are looking more and more like Maxim’s.”) No word on whether the silver-haired fox will show. And, for the ladies, there will be a lot of highbrow yakkin’ at Elle magazine’s “Uncommon Women” panel, as Liz Smith (by law, one must refer to her as “gossip doyenne”) and celebrity publicist Leslee Dart (who has bounced back admirably after being pushed out by former Tom Cruise rep Pat Kingsley) will be asked questions by Wendy Wasserstein, who we hear is writing a new play about a furrier, a pickle man and a nervous mohel who likes mackerel, and the three Upper West Side sisters they’re dating.

[GQ  presents Life During Wartime: A Soldiers' Portfolio opening-night reception, 209 Elizabeth Street, 7 to 10 p.m., by invitation only; Vanity Fair Essay Contest party, Montblanc, 598 Madison Avenue, 7 to 9 p.m., by invitation only; Elle magazine's "Uncommon Women" panel discussion, Le Bernardin, 155 West 51st Street, 6 to 8 p.m., by invitation only.]

Thursday 24th

Lord of the Ring: Watch out for giant elephants tromping down Seventh Avenue today (and we’re not even making a Kirstie Alley joke!) as the self-billed “Greatest Show on Earth,” Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, wheels into town to scare the crap out of your kids for the 135th year. P.T. Barnum has given the world innumerable gifts: the word “jumbo,” a healthy taste for freaks and-as many of us can attest-an unshakable, lifelong fear of clowns. “Well, clowns are strange-looking-that’s what makes them clowns,” said current clown of the big show, Bello, who Time named “America’s Best Clown” (hold your Presidential jokes, folks) but prefers the term “comic daredevil” (sigh). ” Look, you bring your kids to see Mickey Mouse in Disneyland, and it’s just a six-foot rat, O.K.? I don’t think it is the kids’ fault. Often it’s the parents who take the kid and shove it in the clown’s face. We hear parents all the time saying things like, ‘ The clown’s gonna get you!’” Bello is a circus aristocrat hailing from a family that boasts seven generations of circus freaks, er, performers. “My father never forced me to go into the circus,” said Bello. “He just asked me to give it a try for 30 or 40 years!” Bada-bing! But seriously, folks …. “Clown makeup isn’t what makes you funny,” the comic daredevil, who has naturally red hair and wears minimal makeup, informed us. “If you or I put on a lab coat and stethoscope, it wouldn’t make us a doctor.” O.K., great, now we’re even more scared of clowns-turns out they’re masquerading as doctors in the daytime!

[Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, Madison Square Garden, http://www.thegarden.com.

Friday 25th

Anyone else bothered by this cinematic trend where Hollywood hijacks classic high-quality work and shellacs it into shiny new garbage? How else to explain Guess Who, opening today, a racially reversed “retelling” of the 1967 classic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? starring Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy and Sidney Poitier? In this incantation, the brilliant Bernie Mac is the disapproving father and the Poitier role is played by possible Demi Moore–impregnator Ashton Kutcher.  High jinks ensue! What’s next- Lindsay Lohan in The Philadelphia Story with Justin Timberlake as Cary Grant? Ack! Thankfully, the Lower East Side’s Landmark Sunshine Cinema gives us another option with The Ballad of Jack and Rose, a new coming-of-age indie flick from talented Arthur Miller spawn Rebecca Miller. Starring in the film is Mr. Rebecca Miller, Daniel Day-Lewis, and the ever-lovely Catherine Keener. Let’s hope for some risqué scenes! If you’re one of those tousle-haired types who has an insatiable need to maintain your “edge” because you have no core, the newest band you must pretend to love and claim to have been listening to since you saw them in Leeds, the Kaiser Chiefs, return to New York City after having every wank publication out there dub them the latest and greatest band ever. We’ll admit to being charmed by the lead singer, who is delightfully English and cheeky … and looks as if he may wear eyeliner. Take that, Canada!!!

[Guess Who, for showtimes and locations, http://www.moviefone.com; The Ballad of Jack and Rose, Landmark Sunshine Cinema, 143 East Houston Street, http://www.moviefone.com; the Kaiser Chiefs, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, http://www.boweryballroom.com.

Saturday 26th

“People hurt each other, and love keeps on happening. The longer you live, the more you know this to be true,” said Craig Wright, author of the Off Broadway play Orange Flower Water, which starts a two-month run this evening. The play, he said, is “about two couples. Two of the ones who are married to other people fall in love with each other, and they decide to have an affair. The affair ends up with the destruction of both marriages.” Uplifting! “It’s not depressing,” Mr. Wright insisted. “It’s serious and ugly and sad. But I think it’s optimistic. I’m very interested in how to be optimistic and realistic at the same time.” It was sentiments like these, and having Alan Ball see this very play, that got Mr. Wright his current job writing for the wonderful HBO drama Six Feet Under. “This is the last season. I’m sad,” said Mr. Wright, who has been with the show for three years and will be taking his talents to ABC’s Lost next year. “It’s been a great experience. For a pretty depressing television show, it’s really fun to work there.” Mr. Wright refused to answer our burning questions: Is Nate secretly dead? Will George end up chopping Ruth up in the basement? And, most importantly, will we get to see Brenda whore out again like she did in Season 2? But he did provide another reason for theatergoers to go to his play. “There’s a 20-minute live-sex scene,” he offered. Cool, and chances are it’s a great play, but dude, we got to tell you: That title’s a bit pretentious, no? Why not just title the play Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana? Ha-that kills every time!

[Orange Flower Water, the Theater for New York City, 155 First Avenue, 212-868-4444.]

Sunday 27th

Peep Show! Get out your pastel sweater sets, fake pearls and pink Peeps (and yes, the many rows of eyes of Peeps are silently judging you) …. It’s Easter! If you’re feeling Eastery, and the urge to do something for the holiday beyond the lamb and mint-jelly eating and eye-rolling at dinner, head to the Carlyle hotel for some Upper East Side brunching-likely accompanied by some hoary WASP’s swillin’ martinis-followed by a good old-fashioned Easter-egg hunt. Bemelans Bar hosts a puppet show ( meep). Happy Easter, everybody!

[The Carlyle, Madison Avenue and 76th Street, 12:30 p.m., for more times and information, 212-744-1600.]

Monday 28th

Dance, drag queen, dance! Did you ever put thumbtacks into the heels of your shoes in order to do a quick kickball-change step on the linoleum floor? No? Well, regardless, the American Tap Dance Foundation celebrates itself with cocktails and a buffet dinner on the Upper West Side this evening. Footage of the late, great Gregory Hines will be shown, as well as archival films of legendary tap stars. Remember that movie White Nights, where Hines has a dance-off with Mikhail Baryshnikov? Why don’t the geniuses that are probably planning to remake Vertigo staring Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom put their heads together and come up with something like that? Moving on, if frothing over Chinese furniture is more your thing (no judgment here), there’s a private reception at the William Lipton gallery of 27 Objects of Virtue-which somehow sounds like cheeky Victorian porn-and features furniture, sculpture and other works of art. Quite a different crowd will be found way west as Marquee’s new Monday-night party, Charm School, kicks off its opening night. Expected to attend: all the eccentric kooks we love, such as drag artist Amanda Lepore, Boy George and the best thing to come out of Baltimore, John Waters. There’s a rumor the still-smokin’ Debbie Harry will be in the house. Bring glitter, mace and smelling salts.

[The American Tap Dance Foundation, O'Neal's Cafe, 50 West 65th Street, http://www.atdf.org; 27 Objects of Virtue private reception, William Lipton, 41 East 57th Street, eighth floor, 5:30 to 8 p.m., by invitation only; Charm School party, Marquee, 289 10th Avenue, 10 p.m., 646-473-0202.]

Tuesday 29th

March Sadness: As if being a long-suffering Knicks fan wasn’t hard enough , our Observer co-worker coerced us into participating in a National Invitation Tournament pool. For the uninitiated, the N.I.T. is basically the tournament of crappy teams that didn’t quite make it to the NCAA’s. Therefore, there’s no safe bet in this thing-instead, you might perplexingly discover, as we did, that you’ve picked Western Kentucky University to go all the way. Tonight, two schools you most likely have never heard of will fight for some tattered glory on the sticky Madison Square Garden floor. Go, Big Reds!

[68th National Invitation Tournament, Madison Square Garden, http://www.thegarden.com

Wednesday 30th

Bark! The Herald Angels Sing! Oh, television. Every time we become slightly ashamed of how much we love you, you go and think up something even more enticing for us to watch. The Bravo network has stepped up to the plate and has given us Showdog Moms and Dads. A follow-up to last year’s Showbiz Moms and Dads (which was akin to watching a car wreck through splayed fingers as horrible stage moms dragged their suffering kids around to talent agents and made them sing songs in the mall parking lot), this “docu-series” (which is a much classier way of saying “reality TV”) focuses on the “dogged determination” (heh) in the world of dog-showing. Though without Chrisopher Guest at the helm, we’ll have to see. All together now … woof!

[Showdog Moms and Dads, Bravo, 10 p.m.]