Welcome to deep winter,with its preponderance of icky hand lotion and pale, hungry freelance writers …. Tonight, they gather like so many plucky streetwalkers at the Roger Smith Hotel, where Featurewell.com , an electronic marketplace that syndicates articles by more than 500 “top” journalists (Featurewell.com’s definition of “top journalists” includes Ed Koch and Thomas Beller ), is hosting a winter reading and networking event. “We see this as an opportunity to get freelancers out of the house, ” said Featurewell.com boss David Wallis. “There is a cash bar. Maxine Paetro is doing a wonderful piece called ‘Urban Birddogging’ -it’s all about her experiences catcalling men. And then there’s Eddie Dean , he’s sort of an interesting cat. Tina Brown , who has a history of being fickle, hired him as a contributing editor at Talk , but then kind of dropped him; to me, he’s like a young Michener or a young Agee. He’s a chronicler of Americana, and he’s reading about a bar.” Burp ! Their big headliner is David Margolick , a suave guy who has been on a date with every woman in New York over age 35 , and whose dishy O.J. Simpson coverage at The New York Times got him one of those plush gigs at Vanity Fair …. Meanwhile, out in frigid DUMBO , nine artists exhibit works about trees. “Trees have, like, a kind of a rootedness,” said curator Julian Jackson. “Everyone’s going through a lot of adjustment and pain right now, but trees are eternal and stoic.” Like Pat Moynihan.
[Featurewell.com winter reading, 501 Lexington Avenue, 7:30 p.m., reservations through email@example.com; Treehouse exhibit, Metaphor Contemporary Art, 6 p.m., 646-321-2370.]
Penn, Pfeiffer; Pfeiffer, Penn: We miss the days when Sean Penn was clocking photographers and drinking whiskey with Charles Bukowski, before he shacked up with that Princess Bride lady and began turning out a “serious” movie every five years …. Tonight there’s a special, super-exclusive screening of New Line’s I Am Sam , in which Mr. Penn plays a retarded parent (hel lo , Oscar!) and Michelle Pfeiffer a hotshot lawyer (question: Why are Hollywood female-hotshot lawyers always “fine-boned” ?); there’s a party afterward featuring live music from Chocolate Genius and Rufus Wainwright. We’re holding out for the big Britney Spears road-trip movie … and we bet Mr. Penn is, too.
[Screening, 7 p.m., party to follow, locations to be determined, by invitation only, 917-351-8600.]
Get out your muffs! Rudy Giuliani’s lady love, Judith Nathan -whom The New York Times still primly insists on calling “Mr. Giuliani’s friend,” as if they were bowling buddies-wore one to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s inaugural, and now you, sister girlfriend, need a muff for tonight’s benefit thrown by the American Friends of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. There’s a naughty exhibit, Behind Closed Doors , which gives you a gander at Russian erotica, followed by tepid vichyssoise at Doubles, the private hot spot for Upper East Side women in headbands.
[Exhibit, A La Vieille Russie, 781 Fifth Avenue, 5:30 p.m., dinner, Doubles, 8 p.m., 783 Fifth Avenue, 785-9445.]
Poppa’s no pansy! Yale American Studies majors don their finest flapper raiment and drive their buggies to the Y to hear George Plimpton, Norman Mailer and Mr. Mailer’s statuesque wife, Norris Church Mailer, act out a theatrical adaptation of the correspondence between F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway . (Let’s hope stormin’ Norman and Mr. Plimpton don’t come to blows! They’re both accomplished pugilists, ya know!) The piece was co-written by Mr. Plimpton and Brooklyn playwright-novelist-librettist-biographer Terry Quinn. Loopy, eh? “I was totally psyched ,” said Mr. Quinn from Brooklyn Heights. “We would each do separate drafts over a five-month period …. We had a number of sessions where we just sat in George’s office on [ censored ] Street and worked together, thrashing out our different opinions. ” But their thrashing had nothing on the great Zelda Fitzgerald–Ernest Hemingway spats. “She called him a pansy with hair on his chest,” said Mr. Quinn. “She said his stuff on bullfighting is bullslinging. Hemingway would accuse Zelda of actually getting Scott drunk, making him go to parties and seeing that he lost control so that he could not write. I think she had immense talent- she was a little crazy, but …. ”
[1395 Lexington Avenue, 8 p.m., 415-5500.]
On the five-month anniversary of Sept. 11 , a crew of New York’s edgy regulars- Laurie Anderson, Paul Auster, Jim Carroll, Joe Jackson, Suzanne Vega -gather at the Hammerstein Ballroom and perform at a benefit titled “Arts on the High Wire,” with proceeds going to the arts groups hurt by Sept 11. and its aftermath. There will be a high wire erected at the event; Philippe Petit, the fellow who tightroped between the Twin Towers in 1974 and currently resides in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, is planning to traverse it.
[Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th Street, 8 p.m., 366-6900.]
More, more, Maurice! Weekend with the kids? Skip the Museum of Television and Radio this time-after all, it’s no better than plunking them in front of the tube for a morning of cartoons-and haul the bundled-up, red-cheeked tots to the little-known Children’s Museum of Manhattan , which is opening a retrospective of the 50-year career of author and illustrator Maurice Sendak ( Where the Wild Things Are , which some argue is an allegory for the Dalton admissions process).
[Tisch Building, 212 West 83rd Street, 10 a.m., 721-1223.]
Never mind the bollocks, it’s Lee C. Bollinger! Today, the suave incoming president of Columbia University -don’t worry, Harvard, he ‘s not after your African-American Studies department, unlike those sneaky Princeton tigers ; though maybe he should be-addresses the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Members Conference. Conference theme: Voices … From the Source … From the Soul (we see flapping chiffon scarves, but Dr. Bollinger will probably stick to a simple Sunday suit and a decorous speech about the First Amendment).
[Hilton New York and Towers, Grand Ballroom, third floor, 2 p.m., 799-5515.]
Mother, Mehta? Why not! It’s a big night for “high culture” as: a) Zubin Mehta leads the Israel Philharmonic in an all-Brahms program with violinist Maxim Vengerov (see muff advice, above) at Carnegie Hall -proceeds benefit the orchestra, and springing $1,500 gets you dinner afterwards at the Plaza; or, b) you can make like our big-cheese editor and pas de chat over to San Martin restaurant, where Bebe Neuwirth is presenting the Martha Hill Award to ballet master Alfredo Corvino …. Meanwhile, c) Bill Clinton alert moves to DEFCON 3 on Convent Avenue in Harlem as the New York Festival of Song throws a benefit concert celebrating the Harlem Renaissance -lots of jazz, some Langston Hughes. It’s funny how just the potential presence of Bill Clinton somehow makes even virtuous high-culture events feel sort of trashy ….
[Zubin Mehta, Carnegie Hall, 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, 7 p.m., 697-2949; Martha Hill Award Gala, San Martin Restaurant, 6:30 p.m., 586-1163; New York Festival of Song Benefit, Aaron Davis Hall, 135th Street and Convent Avenue, 8 p.m., 646-230-8380.]
She’s ba-a-a-a-ack ! Just when you thought the art of obsessive, narcissistic “post-feminist” self-disclosure -with its loopy self-regarding prose, regular loony-bin trips, “outrageous” party behavior in pale imitation of Zelda Fitzgerald (see Jan. 10, above), nude photo spreads for European magazines-couldn’t get any gamier, Elizabeth Wurtzel ( Prozac Nation, Bitch ), the grande, er, dame of Ivy League literary, er, temptresses, is back, baby ! Tonight she reads, signs and engages in earnest-but-saucy Q&A about her latest effort, More, Now, Again , a heartwarming, all-American tale of her addictions to snorting Ritalin and cocaine and cutting herself. Bonus excerpt! “I will wax the floors with a sponge, on my hands and knees, if it means I can avoid writing …. That’s the nightmare of my life. I hate writing, but I can’t help myself.” Hey, we think you missed a spot ….
[Barnes & Noble, 675 Sixth Avenue, 7:30 p.m., 727-1227.]
Still more proof, despite the recent surge in civic pride, that if New York lets its guard down for a single second , it’s going to just roll over and become San Francisco : Tonight the “multi-disciplinary” theater company Capacitor comes to Soho with Within Outer Spaces , in which participants dangle from cables and bounce on bungees in a kind of performance-art-meets-Pilates extravaganza. We always knew that the gym and the American theater would find a happy meeting place ….
[HERE, 145 Sixth Avenue, 8:30 p.m., 647-0202.]