New York World

112805 article world New York WorldFan Slightly Injured At Aimee Mann Show

A fan of singer-songwriter Aimee Mann was very slightly injured on the night of Nov. 20 during a show held as part of the “Wall Street Rising” free concert series at the Borough of Manhattan Community College Tribeca Performing Arts Center.

A general seating policy may have led to the extremely mild injury, according to the victim. The incident was dimly reminiscent of the tragedy that took place at the Cincinnati Riverfront Coliseum on Dec. 3, 1979. There, prior to a concert of the rock band the Who, 11 eager ticket-holders were crushed to death in a scramble for seats. As at the “Wall Street Rising” performances, the Who concert had an open seating policy.

At the Aimee Mann concert, Tish Stevens, a Brooklyn bookstore employee, stepped on the foot of Rob Pitwick, a graduate student from Hoboken, N.J., as they vied for a seat in the second row of the 800-seat hall, roughly an hour and a half before Ms. Mann took the stage with her well-crafted songs concerning ambivalent, melancholic souls trapped in somewhat abusive relationships.

After having stepped on Mr. Pitwick’s foot, Ms. Stevens immediately apologized. According to eyewitnesses, each party then offered the open seat to the other. When neither would take it, each walked toward the back rows, mumbling further words of apology.

Backed by a four-piece band, Ms. Mann, dressed in a sleeveless red T-shirt and blue jeans, played a congenial 90-minute set that steered clear of “Voices Carry,” a 1985 MTV hit that she sang in a previous incarnation, as front woman for the rock band ’Til Tuesday. The show drew heavily from material off her latest release, The Forgotten Arm, a concept album chronicling a doomed relationship between a small-town girl and a drug-addicted boxer.

“I didn’t enjoy the show as much as I’d hoped,” Ms. Stevens said. “I kept thinking about that guy’s foot. I was so embarrassed. I belong in the back row, anyway. I don’t know what got into me. I don’t even like to clap that much, and what if Aimee saw me just sitting there? That wouldn’t have been real good. But maybe I just think too much about stuff like that. I mean, do performers even notice if you’re clapping or not? But I just get so tired of banging my hands together. It seems futile—not that she wasn’t great. I’m just saying the whole clapping thing bugs me.”

“I was just stoked that she played ‘Ray,’” Mr. Pitwick said, referring to Ms. Mann’s 1998 ballad. “I’ve been checking set lists online, and that song is pretty much a rarity. I was thinking maybe she was favoring us, like she’d developed a special rapport with this audience, so she was all there like, ‘I know—I’ll give them “Ray.”’ But do performers really get different vibes from different crowds? Probably not.”

Balladeer Keren Ann opened the show, applying her stately alto to moody songs that borrowed from Leonard Cohen and Chet Baker. No incidents were reported during Ms. Ann’s set.

As for Mr. Pitwick’s foot? “It hurt a little,” he said. “She stepped on it pretty hard. But once Aimee launched into ‘Wise Up,’ I was barely thinking about it.”

Cocktail Hour

To mark the opening of its new boutique on the third floor of Bloomingdale’s last week, the Lilly Pulitzer company threw a cocktail party and invited 2,000 members of the New York Junior League.

“It’s a perfect fit,” said Michael Wallace, the company’s vice president of wholesale. “The Junior League is our target consumer. It’s important to introduce the New York store to them.”

The space was full-assault Lilly. The walls were accessorized with vintage photographs of the company’s septuagenarian namesake, and the room was packed to the gills with Connecticut-mom regulation wear, all flounces and embroidered lobsters and frog prints. The Junior League’s alpha girls showed up in pink cashmere sweaters and Lilly Pulitzer scarves in lieu of headbands. The waiters were outfitted in pink-and-lime-green bow ties.

The only element that didn’t blend in was a sheepish, friendly-looking duo standing by a pillar in the shop’s northwest corner. Anita Perez, 65, and Lana Gomez, 59, were drinking white sangria and munching on hoers d’oeuvres straight from Ms. Pulitzer’s new book about holiday entertaining.

“We were in the lobby, and they told us at the information booth there was a party,” said Ms. Perez, a retired secretary with short blond hair. She helped herself to a crab cake from the coffee-table book’s ill-timed Mardi Gras chapter.

The two friends, both avid theatergoers, said they live near each other in the East 60’s and have a ritual of visiting department stores before seeing a play. Sometimes they just walk around and people-watch, and sometimes they hit the party jackpot.

“Bergdorf has them sometimes,” Ms. Gomez said with a knowing nod.

“The clothing here confuses me,” said Ms. Perez, who was wearing a black-and-green-striped sweater, black pants and black sneakers. “I like that pink shirt, but it’s really more for a resort.”

“It’s good when you go on vacation in the Caribbean,” said her friend, a stock trader. She had on a black leather jacket, and her black hair was pinned up in a bun. “It’s not really for Manhattan—Miami, maybe.” She turned to a waiter carrying a tray of plastic spiders and pastry shells filled with pumpkin salsa from the Halloween chapter. “Thank you.”

A couple of nights later, a meet-and-greet with clothing designer Robert Rodriguez was held on the second floor of Bloomingdale’s. The event drew a much smaller crowd than the Lilly Pulitzer one.

Ms. Perez was standing alone, sipping a glass of champagne and waiting for her friend. When she signaled to a waiter that she would like one of the bite-size lemon tarts that were being passed around, the waiter reluctantly outstretched her arm and mumbled, “She’s already had one.”

Ms. Perez took the last dessert on the tray and smiled. “I liked the other party better,” she said.

—Lauren Mechling

No Lap-Dance from Princess Leia

These are good times for the fans of fantasy, science fiction and comic books. Harry Potter rules in movie theaters, where previews of Superman, King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe prompt giddiness and gasps from the grown men in the front row.

Still, nothing really fires the imagination of a fantasy fanatic like a Star Wars hero making a rare autograph-signing appearance. That is just what Carrie Fisher, a.k.a. Princess Leia Organa, did on Saturday afternoon at the Penn Plaza Pavilion, where she starred as the main attraction in Mike Carbonaro’s Big Apple Conventions. The kinetic Mr. Carbonaro spent much of the afternoon racing up and down a snaking, rowdy line to assure everyone that their time with the princess was near.

“I’ve been waiting 10 years for this,” said Mr. Carbonaro, interrupting himself to call for security backup on a Secret Service–style wire that hung from his ear and which did not work. He wore a bright yellow-striped shirt under an oversized gray suit that looked downright bland next to the man in the Spider-Man costume or the couple dressed in white Imperial Storm Trooper uniforms sharing a pizza at a nearby Sbarro. “Carrie Fisher is in the back, fellas!” Mr. Carbonaro reminded the line.

But inside, the fans learned they would have to wait just a little longer to get a glimpse of Princess Leia, as her agent informed Mr. Carbonaro that she was taking an hour-long break. That news met with dismay from convention veterans like Stanley Lozowski, 62. “Jimmy Doohan—he played Scotty on Star Trek—at shows he’d sign 3,000 autographs. He was the greatest. You put a glass of scotch in front of him and he’d sign for hours. My son took his empty glass home as a souvenir.”

To kill time, Mr. Carbonaro suggested that the fans peruse the convention’s other treasures. Framed comic book art of Batman, Catwoman—and Batman making out with Catwoman—hung from the walls. At a desk covered in a plastic pink tablecloth, Veronica Taylor, “the voice of Ash on Pokémon and April on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” played Barbie dolls with her daughter. Nearby, a swarthy-looking fellow named T.J. Glenn hawked his video, Secrets of the Swordmasters, and explained that, without daggers, zombies were “just cliché.”

But diehard fans wanted more than these trifles. So they headed upstairs to meet the second-tier sci-fi stars like Matthew Lewis, who plays a young wizard with a taste for herbs in the latest Harry Potter film. He listlessly shuffled a deck of blue cards as he sat next to a Staten Island Advance reporter who runs a Harry Potter fan club and a vampish 17-year-old named Jessica. (“I was just downstairs playing with knives,” she whispered to Mr. Lewis, who wore a Che Guevara patch on his camouflaged pants.)

A few seats down, and also selling autographs for about $20 a pop, sat Richard Hatch, who once wore suede vests, à la Han Solo, on Battlestar Galactica. Peeling the wrapper off a melted Ghirardelli chocolate and moaning while his girlfriend massaged his head, Mr. Hatch defended convention-goers, who he said were often unfairly portrayed as “a bunch of weirdoes.”

“These people are smart. They are into the space program. This is one of the few places where a whole family can hang out together,” he said. Peter Tork, formerly of the Monkees, put down his white guitar a few seats down to lecture a little girl in a pink coat that “Most people are into horrible things. They hate nice things.” As the little girl started to walk away, he told two other fans how he was angry at “the authority structure—they are trying to scare us out of taking LSD.” Meanwhile, an aging Playboy Playmate with glossy, billowing lips who was signing autographs nearby tried not to pout as the young woman next to her, “#1 East Coast Import Supermodel Jasmine Mai,” attracted a line of men anxious to plop down cash to have Ms. Mai plop down on their laps.

An announcement alerted the fans that Ms. Fisher was back from her break. “Today is about Carrie Fisher,” said a man dressed up like the Star Wars bounty hunter Boba Fett; he had painstakingly copied every scratch the character bore in the film onto his costume. “She’s one of the big three from the original,” he said, before heading downstairs.

There, Mr. Carbonaro nervously ran his hand through his unkempt mop of salt-and-pepper hair, pleading with fans to wait their turn outside a heavy crimson curtain. Behind it, in a dim, hushed room, Ms. Fisher—wearing dark sunglasses, a blazer and diamond rings—spoke on a cell phone while signing autographs for $30 a piece.

All of a sudden, a short Asian man named Philip burst into the room, alarming the two security guards, Kenneth and Gordon (“I’m the armed guy”), before explaining that the dozen or so photos Ms. Fisher had signed for him before the break—at considerable cost—were deeply flawed.

“You didn’t dot the I’s on my name. You must make sure to dot all the I’s!” Philip said, resubmitting the photos of Ms. Fisher wearing a space suit, chatting with Han or confiding in R2-D2. Visibly bemused, Ms. Fisher obliged and dotted the many I’s. Then she carefully extracted a hamburger from its bun and wrapped it in a paper napkin.

The next woman on line said she greatly admired one of Ms. Fisher’s lesser-known movies.

“Yeah, well, they fucked it up,” said Ms. Fisher, putting down the pen to take a bite of the meat patty.

—Jason Horowitz