Poets and politics: With our elected leaders on both sides of the war distressingly tongue-tied -whoever dreamed George W. Bush would get the rhetorical upper hand on the Democrats?-the country’s poets are getting into the art of punditry. Tonight, Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker ( The Color Purple ) reads from Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth , a collection of poetry inspired by our current political climate. A few years back , she was the woman behind our missing a question on the English A.P. exam (the answer, for the record, was ” Sofia “) …. Pro-war or anti-war, is anyone really surprised the French want to sit this one out and watch it on le TV? We’re talking about a country that just can’t be bothered …. (see: “bidet.”)
[92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue, 8 p.m., 212-415-5500.]
First day of spring, so bring it on: toe cleavage , coat check goes the way of Charlize Theron, your sister calls to announce she’s decided to become a born-again virgin and “this time she’s serious” -and, like carbon monoxide seeping into your convertible two-bedroom, the ho-ho-Hamptons start to creep upon us. Today at Doubles -that mothball-and-martini-scented, subterranean WASP hangout in the Sherry Netherland hotel-there’s a bash to raise cash for East Hampton’s domestic-violence shelter . Benefit “angels” include Revlon honcho Ron Perelman and the Seinfeld Family Foundation (now a bigger family, thanks to new baby Julian). “Business attire” is suggested. (Can you still call it “business attire” when the woman wearing it doesn’t actually work?) If you’re looking for something with fewer headbands, get thee downtown to the faux-seedy environs of Ludlow Street, where astrologer/comedian Harry Listig is lecturing at Collective Unconscious. In his one-man show Astro-Discrimination! , Mr. Listig examines bias against various zodiac signs ( hate those Aries!) “I start with the signs, but then I have to pause, because couples start hitting each other,” he said. “There’s a lot of finger-pointing and accusations and revelations, a lot of: ‘That’s you!’ Then I go into generations, and it really gets wild.” Oh, yeah? “Your generation, the 70’s, is concerned primarily with aesthetics and justice. The last generation concerned with aesthetic truths was in the 1730’s -your twin generation-with Edmund Burke writing about the sublime and the beautiful. Then came the 80’s, and that generation became scorpionic: little Martin Scorsese characters going around shooting each other.” Mr. Listig once worked as a night librarian at Princeton University. “You know who I worked with? Peter Guthrie, the inspiration for Rain Man. He worked in the library sorting the magazines. He also went around asking people what day they were born! You’d give him the year and the date and he’d tell you what day of the week it was.” Anything else? “Well, there was Mark Rockefeller begging me to waive his library fines so he could eat dinner that night.”
[Hamptons in the Springtime benefit, the Doubles Club, the Sherry Netherland
Hotel, 781 Fifth Avenue between 59th and 60th streets, 6:30 p.m., 631-329-8715;
Astro-Discrimination! , Collective Unconscious, 145 Ludlow Street between Stanton and Rivington, 8 p.m., 212-254-5277.]
Pre-Oscar moments? Nothing will ever top the statues being stolen in 2000 and dumped in the trash like Oscars the Grouch. But you can’t blame the Academy for trying: New York City events director Patrick Harrison tried to sell us on today’s delivery of two seven-foot Oscars to Le Cirque 2000. “Last year, we drove them to Le Cirque in a Hummer!” he said excitedly. “When we drove down Broadway, it stopped Times Square. So this year I’m trying to figure out another stunt. It’s the 75th anniversary, so you have to go all out.” If that doesn’t do it for you, promenade downtown, where there’s une
petite fête to celebrate Paris Commune . “It’s a play set in 1871, when the Commune took over the city of Paris and much hoo-hah occurred,” said co-author and composer Michael Friedman. “Now it’s kind of a funny time to do this , given the current state of things, but it seemed like a great idea when we came up with it last year …. I mean, we won’t be pouring French wine down our sinks, but perhaps we should change the name. We could call it … what is it that they’re calling the fries, now? ‘Freedom fries’? Maybe we could change it to Freedom Commune ! ” In a dizzying nod to schizophrenia, the production features nine performers playing over 120 roles, so bring a scorecard. And a bidet.
[Oscar’s Arrival, Le Cirque 2000, 455
Madison Avenue, 11 a.m., 310-247-3090;
Paris Commune reception, residence of
Jeff and Julia Lazarus, “a striking loft in Chelsea,” by invitation only, 212-613-0333.]
A man who knows terrorism up close and personal, author Salman Rushdie , hoofs it up to Columbia University tonight to be interviewed by Columbia president Lee Bollinger. And in what we hope to be a last gasp of Midwestern, Hooters-style “fun” in our otherwise civilized city, men shaped like upside-down triangles partake in an arm-wrestling contest called the Big Apple Grapple. “It’s an open championship,” said Gene Camp , president of the New York Arm Wrestling Association. “Think of it as the New York marathon of arm-wrestling.” Keep an eye out for the Fortuna family (the Gyllenhaals of the arm-wrestling world): Dan, Dina and 15-year-old daughter Amanda are competing, and the Queen of Arms, Cynthia Yerby, will defend her title for the fourth year in a row. “She’ll take on challengers, too. I’ve seen her take down sportswriters.” Anyone can compete regardless of age, sex or weight, but contenders with skinny pipes beware. “There’s been about seven or eight arm breaks through the years,” Mr. Camp said. “It can happen if they’re not properly warmed up, or if there’s some sort of deficiency with the bones or marrow.” Meanwhile, William Shatner turns 72 today. We hope he secretly blasts his infamous rendition of “Rocket Man” all day long in his car.
[Salman Rushdie interview, Columbia University, Altschul Auditorium, International Affairs Building, 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam, 1:30 p.m., 212-854-5579; N.Y.C. Big Apple Grapple XXVI, Intrepid Sea-
Air-Space Museum, Pier 86, 12th Avenue and 46th Street, 12:30 p.m., 718-544-4592.]
The high colonics have all been administered, the jewelry that no one cares about has all been borrowed, and every pharmaceutical known to humankind is flowing through the veins of Hollywood’s biggest stars …. That’s right, it’s Oscar night. We’re rooting for Nicole and Jack (looking more and more like a Dr. Seuss character all the time). Tune in for the Iraq references and the knowledge that ABC execs are shouting, “Cut the feed! Cut the feed!” Good times. Here on the Right Coast , the Academy has its big fat annual party at Le Cirque 2000 . We bothered Mr. Harrison again to find out what they’ll be noshing on. “It’s the 75th anniversary, so the chef was looking back at the first Academy Awards banquet dinner for inspiration. But when you think about what they ate back in 1928, we just don’t eat that anymore! I think there were just some carrot sticks and celery out on the table.” So instead, there will be desserts inspired by the Best Picture nominations. Chicago gets two chocolate gams, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers becomes two cream-filled chocolate towers, The Pianist inspired a chocolate piano, Gangs of New Yor k gets (oh, my) a chocolate likeness of Daniel Day-Lewis’ head , and The Hours gets a three-tiered something or other constructed of “panes of glass” made of caramelized sugar. Then there’s always the Entertainment Weekly party at the incomparable Elaine’s, inevitably subdued this year thanks to a) the upcoming smoking ban, which means the faces of the media elite who embrace Elaine’s will no longer be kindly camouflaged by clouds of smoke, and b) the recent ousting of beloved EW editor Jim Seymore ….
[75th Annual Academy Awards, WABC-7, 8:30 p.m.; Le Cirque 2000, 455 Madison Avenue, 6:30 p.m., by invitation only;
Entertainment Weekly party, Elaine’s, 1703 Second Avenue between 88th and 89th streets, 5:30 p.m., by invitation only.]
Tonight’s forecast? A little Wendy! The playwright also known as Wendy Wasserstein -who’s made more money off plays about furriers and single women than you’ll see in six lifetimes-breezes into a benefit at the City University of New York Grad Center along with Columbia University visiting scholar Marlene Barr. Bring your dog-eared,
[Child Development and Learning
Center Benefit, CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street, 6:30 p.m., 212-817-7177.]
Incongruous birthday alert! Eileen Ford (modeling-agency maven, purveyor of the idea that women’s bodies should resemble golf pencils ) and Gloria Steinem (could have been a model but became feminist icon instead) turn 81 and 69 , respectively, today. As if on cue, local cultural institutions bang the drum for National Women’s History Month : The New-York Historical Society offers Enterprising Women , an exhibit celebrating 250 years of women in American business; and the Museum of the City of New York unpacks Roaring into the Twenties , all about the end of Victorianism and the beginning of women being empowered by dressing like a fi’- dollar ho.
[ Enterprising Women , the New-York
Historical Society, 2 West 77th Street at Central Park West, 11 a.m., 212-873-3400; Roaring into the Twenties , Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, by pre-registration only on Tuesdays, 10 a.m., 212-534-1672.]
Ladies, this may be your last night to land one of those cigar-chompin’ Wall Street “bulls” you’ve heard about, since in a few days their stogies are gonna be all wet …. Tonight, New York Smokers (aka Team Cancerstick) lights up at the Regent Wall Street Hotel for an end-of-an-era smoking blowout called “The Last Smoke.” We called team captain and hotel president Christopher Knable , who promptly asked, “Do you smoke?” Does secondhand count? “So I can’t offer you a big fat cigar?” We’ve heard that line before, Mr. President. Tonight, guests will pack themselves into the Regent ballroom ( site of Liza’s wedding reception ), where they’ll dine on tuna wrapped in tobacco leaves and exchange yellow grins. “We’ll be smoking cigars and [pause] whatever else people bring,” Mr. Knable said. “We’re encouraging people to wear smoking attire. We’re going to send the smokers out in style.” That’s good-usually they just go out in an ambulance.
[The Last Smoke, Regent Wall Street Hotel, 55 Wall Street at William Street, 6 p.m.,