20 Real New Year’s Eves

It seems that now, on New Year’s Eve, everything shifts east. New Jersey stumbles into Manhattan; Manhattan’s riffraff ends up in Brooklyn. (The Transom isn’t sure yet where Brooklyn goes. Hauppauge? Copiague? Nor does it really care.)

But where do the real New Yorkers end up? Although a union spokesperson wouldn’t comment, Transit Workers Union Local 100 president Roger Toussaint was surely out riding the rails all night—and not in that I’m-going-skiing-on-Craigslist way, either. Mariah Carey was boobs-out at Cipriani—well, more on that below. Socialite Lydia Hearst-Shaw was down in Miami, at the Setai party—and strangely, Noah Tepperberg was there, too, instead of at Marquee’s party up in Manhattan, a venue that he, like, co-owns.

It’s all just so odd now. Surely The Transom had no choice but to get on the horn for the skinny on what, and who, went down.

Jo Piazza

Gossipista, N.Y. Daily News—Pretty lady!—Most likely to kiss the gays

Young Ms. Piazza’s eve was spent in a stalwart struggle against fun. “Well, as you know, I do kind of despise the concept of New Year’s, it being contrived fun and all. So I went into this New Year’s determined not to enjoy myself or engage in any of the fake revelry,” Ms. Piazza told The Transom. But that didn’t slow her down. “I kissed a bunch of different boys at midnight. I was a bit of a kissing bandit,” she recalled, adding that the list included a “chaste” kiss with her cohort, fellow News ie gossip Chris Rovzar.

“Well, I had forgotten until now that we kissed at midnight,” Mr. Rovzar said, when asked for confirmation. “But it really adds something to the evening, which I began with a whole list of cute boys to kiss and ended by spooning and shivering, fully clothed, with an old female college friend.”

R. Couri Hay

Hamptons society editor—Publicist—Knower-of-things

“New Year’s Eve in Switzerland was amazing,” said R. Couri Hay over the phone. “They’ve had more snow here this season than they’ve had in 10 years at Christmastime, so the skiing is amazing.” Whee! “People are flying in private jets and helicopters,” he added. “Everyone ends up at the Palace Hotel, which is the symbol of Gstaad.”

That reminds us: Just who is “everyone” these days? “Paris Latsis was there! You remember Paris? He was going out with the other Paris!” Amanda Hearst was also about, said Mr. Hay—and “a lot of big billionaires.”

How could we all have missed midnight at the Palace? Everyone was there! “And all the big money and all the rich kids,” said Mr. Hay, “and all the kind of European aristocratic social group and the Greek zillionaires all end up in Gstaad, and then you know, all the big Russian money …. ”

Marc Bouwer

Fashion designer—Mariah’s boy—PETA-approved!

Mr. Bouwer’s night was spent as sartorial sidekick to Mariah Carey, who sang in Times Square. Mr. Bouwer not only designed her evening’s attire; he also altered her dramatic white gown on location. Sitting in a trailer after her Times Square appearance, he hacked it from diva-length to danceable with a single snip of his scissors. Ms. Carey could have changed into another dress for the Cipriani event but, recalled Mr. Bouwer, she looked so splendid in her performance attire that she decided to lose the dress’ train rather than wear something else.

“It was just so beautiful, so festive—it was something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Mr. Bouwer gushed of the Times Square scene. “Everything went so amazing. The hardest thing was keeping the dresses from getting wet on the floor. Even though there was carpet, there was all this gray-brown street stuff.”

Paula Froelich

Page Sixer and toasty Post ette—Leggy and nonsmoking!—Girl wonder

Ms. Froelich’s eve was aglow, thanks once again to the magic of Mariah. On the afternoon of Dec. 31, Ms. Froelich said, “I interviewed Mariah for an hour or two hours at the Soho Grand. She’s my new girl crush—no, my renewed girl crush. She’s great!”

And speaking of crushes, Ms. Froelich later laid eyes on Christina Applegate’s new boyfriend while watching the ball drop at Bungalow 8. “That Alaskan fisherman …. God, is he hot! I think everyone should go to Alaska and get a fisherman,” she gushed. A New Year’s resolution, perhaps?

Less than crushworthy, however, was the late-night scene at Cipriani, where Ms. Froelich was back on the clock for CBS’s The Insider.

“As I got there, five people were being dragged out for vomiting,” she said. “They’d been serving these people drinks since 9 p.m. without food.” Ewww, bag their faces!

Trip Gabriel

Editor, Thursday and Sunday Styles sections, The New York Times—Trendy sociologist—Rob Petrie???

The editor most likely to identify a trend story spent Dec. 31 on paternal parole, waiting up for his partygoing spawn to come home safe. “My New Year’s was pretty boring. I have a 13-year-old son who went out for New Year’s, and mine was spent vicariously following his progress,” said Mr. Gabriel. How did he while away those patient hours? “We sat by the fire, drank some champagne, listened to fireworks from the neighbors.’” We’ll believe it when we see it in print, sir.

Arianna Huffington

Archpundit—Blogstress—Queen of the Huffington Post

Ms. HuffPo spent her evening at the Aspen home of POM-magnates (yes, the juice) Lynda and Stewart Resnick, along with her two teenage daughters and Senator Dianne Feinstein. “We wore silly hats and had lots of streamers and whistles and everything,” recalled Ms. Huffington. But the partying pundit had her mind on graver matters, too: a New Year’s resolution to clean her office.

“I’m a pack rat, and my office is a nightmare of papers and disorganization, and I actually spent New Year’s Eve—before the dinner—reading this book I got called Organizing from the Inside Out,” she said by phone on Monday afternoon. A few hours later, she sent The Transom a startling fact from the book that fueled her clutter-busting: “Americans waste 9 million hours per day searching for misplaced items, according to the American Demographics Society!” she e-mailed. If that figure drops in 2006, well, tip your party hats to Ms. Huffington.

Billy Zavelson

Publicist, the Karpel Group—Tall and slender—Huge Rolodex!

Mr. Zavelson turned it out for a Frenchy frolic from Florent to Pastis. Florent’s theme du soir was Aquarius, and Mr. Zavelson supped while enjoying “the most unexpected performances. There was a guy who was doing a whole French striptease routine on the bar.” Which is pretty much what The Transom expects to see at Florent, but hey.

What did his festivities lack? Mr. Zavelson could think of only two things: Nancy Reagan and gay boys. Last New Year’s Eve, the proprietor of Florent (read: Florent) dolled himself up as the former. And the latter? “I’m bitter, because I was with all straight people,” Mr. Zavelson sighed.

Lizzie Grubman

PoweRGirl—Extreme blonde—Runs with dogs!

America’s most notorious publicist spent her evening looking for someone’s lost dog in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Spooked by the fireworks outside, the wayward canine had bolted into the tropical night, and no one could find it.

“It’s actually a very sad story, because I have a dog—I have a couple of Yorkies—too,” Ms. Grubman lamented. In the background, The Transom could clearly hear sharp little yips. “Every time I think about it …. ” She trailed off, clearly shaken. “I almost brought my dogs down to Mexico!”

Earlier in the evening, Ms. Grubman had enjoyed dinner with a few dozen friends and family members. Despite her busy night, she and her boyfriend, Chris Stern, made it to bed by 12:30. “Shockingly so, I am an early bird,” she said. “It’s a big figment of everyone’s imagination that I stay up late.” Figment!

Beth Rudin DeWoody

Mega-collector—Cha-cha-cha’er—President of the Rudin Family Foundation

Ms. DeWoody’s New Year’s Eve was probably warmer than yours. “Hi, I’m in Brazil,” Ms. DeWoody blithely told The Transom on Tuesday. “I can’t really talk.”

Chrissie Iles

Co-curator of the Whitney 2006 Biennial—Video lover—Brit survivor of the Saatchi Era

Ms. Iles performed a pond-hopping extravaganza. “I started off the day in the English countryside with my family, and ended up in Manhattan, where I saw in the New Year with caviar and champagne, with Catherine, Nick and Jeremy Orentreich, and fell asleep mid-movie from jetlag,” she e-mailed.

Danny Meyer

Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Café, Shake Shack—BBQ lover—Family man!

According to his flack, the king of Madison Square Park’s night was spent quietly, celebrating his mother’s belated birthday. Umm, adorable?

Ira Silverberg

Literary Agent, Donadio & Olson—East Village legend—Oft mentioned as boyfriend

New Year’s Eve was the climax of an impromptu surfing trip to Rincon, Puerto Rico, for Mr. Silverberg, one spent with boyfriend and Times Style section columnist Bob Morris.

“Bob called it the ‘Catskills of the Caribbean,’” mused Mr. Silverberg. “It’s really funky, so underdeveloped, so much about the surf culture.” Neither of them had ever surfed before, but some friendly teenagers shepherded them through their first waves.

And come New Year’s Eve, they learned to party like surfers, too.

“We went to all the bars of Rincon and ended up at this big party, which Bob thought was a rave, but I wouldn’t go that far,” he said with a laugh. “We found this bar between the beach and the mountains that was projecting movies onto I don’t know what.”

Mark Lisanti

Editor of Defamer.com—CAA’s Most Hated—Secret New Yorker

Mr. Lisanti spent his evening relaxing with his girlfriend at Thor, the hotel on Rivington’s new not-so-Norse restaurant.

“We just had a quiet night there—as quiet as you can have in a super-trendy restaurant in a super-trendy hotel. I kind of felt like we were back in L.A., because of all the people wearing black dresses and black suits,” said Mr. Lisanti, who, yes, is a New York transplant to L.A. (Aren’t they all?)

The stroke of midnight, at least, delivered some New York flavor, specifically the proud postmodernism of the Lower East Side.

“They had no TV’s, so we had to listen to the Z100 recounting of the ball dropping,” Mr. Lisanti recalled. “Usually you have that exact moment when you know it’s the New Year, but we just listened until people who were listening or paying attention started cheering. We had no sensation of the ball dropping.”

Is it therefore possible, The Transom asked, that the ball didn’t drop?

“I really wouldn’t know,” he said. How’s that for absolute empiricism? “This is kind of the first time I haven’t watched the ball drop.”

Molly Jong-Fast


Ms. Jong-Fast’s eve was thrifty! “We calculated that it would cost like $40 an hour to have our nanny work on New Year’s Eve, so we stayed home and watched television, and we’re very happy with all the money we saved,” said Ms. Jong-Fast, who spent the night with her husband, Matt Greenfield, and 2-year-old son, Max. “I was actually really horrified by how stupid the cost was,” she confessed.

What other horrors did New Year’s hold? Try Dick Clark.

“I felt terrible for Dick Clark’s family. He sounded awful,” she said. “He needs time to recuperate. Let him have a year off! He just had a stroke. It was a little bit sadistic.”

To add insult to injury, Ms. Jong-Fast recalled, she’d paused the Times Square coverage on her television and unwittingly entered the TiVo zone. When she finally watched the ball drop … it was between 10 and 15 minutes after the fact.

“I’d paused it because I was terrified after watching Dick Clark!” she said, exasperated.

James Toback

Screenwriter—Former very bad boy—Director

Mr. Toback’s very real New Year’s Eve was erased with sleep.

“This year, I fell asleep at 10:30 and woke up at 4, so I was about as far away from consciousness as I could get short of being dead,” said Mr. Toback, who is 61 years old and hasn’t celebrated New Year’s Eve since he was 12.

What ruinous rupture wrecked his holiday so many years ago? Mr. Toback explained that he had accompanied some older—but perhaps less mature—friends to a party. Then he watched them get plastered.

They were, he recalled, “vomiting a lot, laughing at things that weren’t funny, slurring words, repeating themselves so that a 3-year-old would have been bored. One guy, who I regarded as a great wit, kept repeating the same joke and getting the words out of sequence. And I kept thinking: ‘What has brought him to this depth?’”

O innocence, diminished with each passing year! For Mr. Toback, the loss hit early, hard and in a cinematic style.

“There’s that scene in Splendor in the Grass?” he suggested. “Where Pat Hingel is completely demythologized in front of his son by falling apart at this party.”

Cindy Adams

Original gangsta— New York Post columnist—Another dog-lover!

Ms. Adams’ night did not raise Arizona.

Ms. Adams was partying at the Westin Hotel in Phoenix with James and Charlene Nederlander, but found herself so bored by “small talk with men who are squat and have comb-overs and ask me what do I do” that she begged the couple to bow out with her around 10:30 p.m. “We left the party after she spent 15 hours dressing,” said Ms. Adams, referring to Ms. Nederlander. “She’s disgusted with me,” Ms. Adams said.

So how did this fairytale end?

“We came home to their huge mansion; I ended up with a tuna sandwich and a glass of milk, watching the New York ball come down,” Ms. Adams moaned. “I had to go all the way to Phoenix to watch the New York ball come down!” That’ll learn ya!

Stanley Crouch

Columnist, Daily News—Jazz at Lincoln Center co-founder—Troubled non-queen

Mr. Crouch traversed three continents’ worth of culture in an evening: There was the Italian-Brazilian dinner at Samba-Le, followed by live jazz at Sweet Rhythms on Bleecker Street. “John Hicks was playing piano, with Buster Williams on bass and Louis Hayes on drums,” Mr. Crouch recalled rapturously. “They played exquisitely, and everyone was having a good time over there.”

The Transom has never heard of Italian-Brazilian cuisine. “Nor have I, but it’s very delightful,” said Mr. Crouch.

Silvio Amori

70-year-old grad student—Restaurateur—Ceiling-adorer

Mr. Amori’s night was spent entertaining guests, including Mr. Crouch, who is one of his Columbia University professors, at Samba-Le, the Italian-Brazilian restaurant that he opened last month on Avenue A.

“I hope he said nice things about the food,” said Mr. Amori of Mr. Crouch. So what’s Italian-Brazilian like? “We have some Brazilian dishes and some Italian dishes, and some Italian dishes with Brazilian flair.” Uh-huh!

And what was an Italian-Brazilian New Year’s like?

“Everybody was very happy, because it’s a very festive place! The décor is very festive—it’s cozy, it’s warm. We have a very interesting ceiling made of Brazilian wood, with some lights coming through it,” he said.

Ricky Van Veen

CollegeHumor.com co-honcho—Rich in flat-screen TV’s—T-shirt mini-mogul!

Mr. Van Veen was very nearly defaced at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater-folk party in Chelsea. “I have long held a theory,” he e-mailed, “that if two random people are flirting with each other and you ask them to pose for a photo and say ‘Do something memorable,’ more often than not they’ll kiss. Ever the matchmaker, I was generously putting this strategy to use for strangers at the party. Unfortunately, there was a variable I didn’t factor into my stupid little hypothesis: If the couple flirting both have significant others that aren’t each present, they wouldn’t want to be photographed. Moreover, they would feel pretty strongly about this privacy. Ultimately, my desire to validate my theory, coupled with liquid courage for both the photographer and his subjects, almost had me ringing in 2006 with a broken face.”

Jonathan Ames

Novelist—Comedian—Friend of Mangina

Mr. Ames’ night hit a fever pitch when a friend’s daughter karaoke’d the Black Eyed Peas’ “Where Is the Love?” at a Park Slope party.

“The girl who sang it was blond and cute and wore braces and is 10 years old,” Mr. Ames said.

But it took him a while to feel the music. First he had to eat.

“There was a lot of food there; I was starving. I came in, got a plate of food, ate and didn’t talk to anyone for the first half hour,” he said.

But then, of course, he sang. “‘I’m a natural woman,’” he said. “You know, that song with ‘you make me’?”

—Jessica Bruder 20 Real New Year’s Eves