Wednesday, January 9th

Why can’t WE have a caucus? Watching the good citizens of Iowa tromp through the snow and vote in cozy living rooms while sipping Sanka made us think, Wouldn’t it be a blast for New York City to have a caucus system? Think of New Yorkers crammed in 20 to each apartment, slugging back appletinis and making love connections, all while serving democracy! Until then, we’ll have to be content with watching the perverse spectacle of Hillary dissing Martin Luther King and comparing herself to Vietnam War monger LBJ—while Bill distances himself from her as fast as he can—“Ah barely know her!” … Now can someone please tell us, Is it really true that Stephen Colbert isn’t running? Meanwhile—holy cr*p it’s January! With black-tie benefits and store openings at a halt because the fancy people are in hiding on tropical isles after their holiday face-lifts, those of us who are sentenced to actual aging (our ranks are diminishing!) attempt to become interesting people by attending a panoply of readings, interpretive dance, ethnic film festivals and of course panel discussions featuring novelists from Brooklyn. First up, a reading from Otto Penzler’s anthology, The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps: The Best Crime Stories from the Pulps During Their Golden Age—the ’20s, ’30s, & ’40s. Mr. Penzler explained to us how he happened, in hispink-cheeked youth, upon a lifelong passion for mysteries that led him to start a mystery press, win two major awards and run the Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan for 28 years. “I was an English major and read a lot of very, very serious literature,” he said. “And when I came back home, I just wanted to rest my brain and read for fun. And I started reading mysteries and learned that they were a lot better than I thought!” (Keep in mind hi-def TV was probably not an option.) Pulp, he explained, refers to “largely fiction magazines published in the teens, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and they get their name from pulp wood, the cheap newsprint kind of paper on which they were produced.” Mr. Penzler’s new anthology—all 1,168 double-column pages of it!—is all “crime genre” pulp. Such tales were “generally aimed at blue-collar readers; it was not the sophisticated stuff you’d find in The Saturday Evening Post. It was mostly a male audience. The heroes tended to be macho private eyes or cops. The women were usually people who needed rescuing, or secretaries or girlfriends.” Well, naturally. Those still in need of edification after this history lesson can brave the 17th Annual Jewish Film Festival at Lincoln Center, which promises delights such as Making Trouble, a film about “funny Jewish women across three generations.” Our Big Cheese Editor, dialing in from Playa del Inglés in Maspalomas, says, “If they don’t include the divine Miss M, I won’t go near the theater!” And if you’re angry about Iraq and are find of artists, check out “Artists Against the War” at the Society of Illustrators. “Refreshments,” we’re told, “will be served.”

[The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps reading, the Mysterious Bookshop, 58 Warren Street, 6:30 p.m., 212-572-2428, invite only; New York Jewish Film Festival, the Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue, for times and tickets; Artists Against the War, 6 p.m., 128 East 63 Street, 212.838.2560.) ]