The Frank Decaro headshot has been removed from the wall of Quiznos #4286 on 14th Street.
Arrive at Marquee and coast past doorman on the coattails of a buddy from Fox & Friends – eager to celebrate the 100th episode of a show I’m not familiar with.
Large-breasted nymph lets door close in face.
Marquee’s excellent design has anyone entering the club immediately fighting through everyone waiting at the bar. As all of humanity stands before us and a drink, a decision is made to head to the back and go upstairs.
The cleavage-to-pretension ratio is 1:1. Crowd is comprised mostly of high maintenance poseur females and low-wattage poseur males. Clumsy and armed with size 13 feet, I scuff and stumble my way though the unforgiving masses.
The crowd is generally slow and/or unable to budge, but sprinkled with aggressive types who aren’t afraid to manhandle people out of the way. Two attractive women who I wouldn’t like to speak with plow through us as if we were in a burning Shanghai train station. I have brush-up sex with approximately 34 men and women on the way to the staircase.
The music stops and a comedian with a shrill voice begins to address the crowd. The shrill voice is amplified by Marquee’s in-house audio system which is designed to maximize the Tweeterist aspect while minimizing the Wooferbility. The end result is a high-pitched, ear-curdling whine that no one seems to be listening to.
The shrill comedian swears a lot and kicks the sponsor in the crotch: “How about a hand for the sponsor of this party, Old Navy? Ironic, because none of us would be caught dead in their stuff!” The audience laughs and I look around for a grimacing sponsor.
Once upstairs I am able to eat something that passes by on a tray. It was on the end of a skewer.
The long line for drinks means I have time to speak with my neighbors. I chat with a gay guy about the acoustics of the place. He tells me the crowd is Reality Show Wannabe. He’s right on the money, and I realize all gay guys are sassy like Mario Cantone.
Some guy is standing so close behind me that I’m either having my wallet stolen or being gently sodomized.
The shrill comedian stops talking and the TV monitors begin playing a celebrity tribute to Best Week Ever. The crowd breaks into laughter when a morbidly obese, worn out Sally Struthers appears and congratulates the show on its 100th episode. She looks like death warmed over, re-battered and fried.
I finish my tepid white wine. “Do you mind if I leave?” I ask my friend. “No,” says some girl.
The tribute ends and the DJ kicks in. The too-loud stereo system begins blasting a mix of Usher and Nirvana. Or maybe Pearl Jam. Whatever it was, it was a good get me the hell out of here theme.
We begin fighting our way back downstairs.
We pause momentarily, but the crowd is too unbearable and the lines too long to consider fighting for another drink. Some brute with Landis levels of testosterone plows past. We decide to leave.
I notice that the party theme is Best Party Ever.
As we exit we’re handed a gift bag consisting of Old Navy flip-flops, a coupon for free Old Navy Jeans and a VH1 CD of artists I’m unfamiliar with – with the exception of Nelly Furtado and the girl who has an album at Starbucks.
The concept of a velvet-rope nightclub with Nazis on the door has never appealed to me as I dislike arbitrary rejection as much as I dislike Nazis. I do not wish to be told that my shoes aren’t black enough, my teeth not white enough or that I need a better watch. I avoid all such clubs, and happily so, because they contain the kind of people who want to be in them. I believe Zappa called them plastic people.
But when invited, sure I’ll go.
After getting the RADAR magazine launch party invite, I RSVPed as requested and hoped they wouldn’t mind if I brought my wife.
I have only been to Marquee one other time, again only because I was invited. It was an affair for opportunist Rachel Hunter. It was for Playboy and it was interesting in the sense that any party for Playboy is a sad freak show worth observing from a distance.
It took Gawker to make me realize that this particular event was actually an after-party. The real launch party was from 7-10 somewhere else. For VIPs. It had celebrities, that horrible PR girl, literary heroes like Al Sharpton and presumably hors d’oeuvres. The Marquee party was more for the non-VIPs. The littler people. Regardless, it was an invite and as such an opportunity to bypass the velvet rope.
How our taxi driver made Saturday night memorable.
1. Driver’s last name was “Goldfinger”, which is unusual.
2. Driver was American, which is also unusual.
3. Driver had a thick New York accent, which is amusing.
4. Driver was smoking, which is illegal.
5. Driver flew down Broadway and Seventh with his hand on the horn, braking abruptly and cussing like a sailor, which is uncomfortable.
6. Driver said “I wanna chop someone’s fucking head off tonight” which is disconcerting.
7. Driver launched into tirade because another taxi stopped to pick up passengers, which is illogical.
8. Driver was very mad at “niggers” for making him go around their garbage truck, which is objectionable.
9. Driver claimed “The bigger the nigger the smaller the radio” was a common expression, which is peculiar.
10. Driver pulled up to a woman and offered to throw us out of the car if she got in, which is awkward.
11. Driver ranted about “bitches”, which is disagreeable.
12. Driver overshot our destination by a few blocks and didn’t turn off the meter when going back, which you don’t complain about under such circumstances.
In this tiny village in the Polish countryside, entertainment options are somewhat limited. There is one bar, no restaurant and the movie barn burned down over a decade ago.
So, New Year’s Eve – called “Sylvester” here – is a big event; an occasion to get dressed up for a night on the hamlet. I haven’t asked exactly why it’s called “Sylvester” because I immediately assumed there’s a Saint Sylvester and he was given 31 December because he liked to party.
At any rate, this is a big event and all the guys break out their tie.
THE EARLY STAGES
Nobody really expects their baby to arrive on the due date, which is why the night before it’s perfectly normal to go out and have many adult beverages with your friend while your wife stays at home groaning with pregnancy-related pains and annoyances.
That said, you should not be surprised when she calls you at 2:15am the date of expected delivery to tell you she doesn’t “feel well.” This is in fact woman-code. Rather than alarm the male by screaming “It’s happening!” the female has learned over thousands of years to simply hint at being “unwell” so as to encourage the male to finish his mojito, pay his bar tab and return to the domicile.
Unlike movies and television suggest, the beginning of labor is not an occasion to rush to the hospital at 100 miles per hour. Rather, it is time to prepare oneself mentally for the coming event: the $24 taxi fare. It is also not unusual for impending parenthood to cross your mind.
Childbirth classes encourage those in early labor to mill about the house, take a long stroll, do laundry or even as we’d been told with a straight face, “see a movie.” Unfortunately for us, Alien vs. Predator was not playing anywhere near us in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Instead, my wife cleaned the kitchen while I repeated “Are you sure? Are you sure?” until I was able to catch a quick nap, its quality greatly reduced by the aforementioned adult beverage consumption.
Eventually there will be a moment when your wife believes, quite strongly, that it is time. No matter how much the male asks “Are you sure? Are you sure?” the answer becomes and stays “Yes!” delivered with an increasing amount of confidence and belly-holding. At that point, no matter how much of a nap he is wanting, the male must concede defeat and assume that his partner really is sure. To the male this means he is soon to be a father. To the female it means she is soon to be a mother, married to a drunkard.
My original plan was to retire with the wife and cat shortly after a particularly exhausting American Idol, but the last-minute opportunity to attend a party hosted by the premiere publisher of masturbatory journalism is too tempting. Additional pressure to attend comes from the fact that Hugh Hefner is no spring chicken. No telling how much longer the Viagra and adrenalin shots can shore up his mortal coil.
On a side note, assuming he’s already spent the last 50 years in heaven, where does he go from here?
My friend with the invite, a veteran of such events, gave me the rundown before we went in to the Marquee club on 10th. He quite accurately described the crowd as women who want to be in Playboy and the men who want to be in those women. He was dead on.
There was little room to maneuver, and my elbows frequently found themselves meeting with unnatural resistance as they struck the many bosoms that were heaving about the place. Women danced. Men leered. The music was at a decibel level that reduced most communication to shouting and gyrating. A woman performed a dance where you kiss a guy’s crotch for a long time. Not sure what you call that dance, but it sure was classy.
Apparently the party was to celebrate the latest issue of Playboy which offers, amongst a few articles, pictures of model Rachel Hunter naked. Rachel Hunter clothed was seated upstairs, surrounded by women who didn’t think she was so hot, and guys who did. People apparently stand near the famous person table, looking at the famous person. Perhaps famous people like such things, but it seems like it might be tiresome. Of course, if you get naked in a magazine I have to assume you want people to look at you.
Mayor Bloomberg’s smoking ban was ignored, most likely because the smoke police weren’t on the guest list.
Getting a drink was like getting France to cooperate. Speaking of France, there were a lot of Frenchmen. I’m not sure if that’s because of the club’s French-sounding name, or because it was a nudie-mag party, but I heard a lot of Gallic jabber. My vodka tonic was an outrageous $12.
There was a man in a kilt. Wearing a kilt in Scotland is fine. No problem with kilts in Scotland. When you wear them to a nightclub in New York on a snowy winter day, you belong to Clan MacLoser.
Aside from Ms. Hunter, who had to be pointed out to me, I didn’t recognize anyone. Not that I’m particularly good at that anyway. There were a lot of people who wanted to be recognized, which would explain why they wore kilts or dressed like they were attending an open call for Dirty Debutantes Volume 237.
Because of the abundance of attractive, kind-of attractive, and all-out whorishly-attired women, the only one I really noticed was middle-aged and dressed like she had to open the library in the morning. She stood alone near the front door, probably waiting for her daughter to stop doing that simulated fellatio dance.
After the second outrageously-priced vodka tonic and a nice shoutversation with my friend, we made the rounds, screamed goodbye to a few folks, and headed to coat check.
Coat check was like Haiti, but with more chaos. Silicone and testosterone vied for a space at the window. The harried coat-checkers ran up and down stairs. They were often barked at and visibly flustered. When we finally got to the window I found out why: they had no idea what the hell they were doing.
My claim stub (Yellow #404) netted me a lovely Ralph Lauren long coat. Quite beautiful. Not mine. After I discovered this error, we had to get back into the line, fight our way to the window and request the correct coat. I refused to return my new Lauren jacket until my not-as-nice one was found. They didn’t like this much, but in such chaos I wanted nicely tailored collateral.
Ultimately, I was brought into the bowels of the beast and asked to search for the coat myself. A harried coat check (a Czech, no less) searched through the coats with me. I learned that they had a 200 coat capacity. Unfortunately for them, me, and everyone waiting, there were several hundred coats. Twenty minutes later I found my jacket, hanging with a different claim stub (Blue #404). This meant someone else would have a similar problem retrieving their coat. I returned the lovely Lauren jacket, though God knows if it will ever make it back to its master.
Hopefully they’ll sort out the coat check issues before tomorrow night’s party; apparently being hosted by one of the N’Sync guys. Not the boob-grabbing one.
The discovery of an old folder of notes prompts the recollection of a summer spent with celebrities, many moons ago.
In the summer of 1989, I had a gig as an intern at a TV production house in Los Angeles. A student at the time, the concept of working for absolutely nothing was acceptable if it provided you the opportunity to work in the industry you were studying for. Since I was film major, working in TV was the next best thing to working in film. My interest in film was already on the wane, courtesy of my film professors who had completely politicized our school’s program and sucked the enthusiasm out of our collective marrow.
The company I worked for specialized in doing quick interviews for channels such as VH-1 and M-TV, and any TV shows that might require a no-frills shoot and run. For example, if M-TV had booked a sit-down with Eric Clapton, they would typically contact a company like ours and hire us as camera and crew for the job. A typical crew was a cameraman, sound guy, producer, and someone like myself as grip/driver/assistant. A peon, if you will. We’d shuttle about from location to location in Los Angeles, set up shop, interview the celebrity, break down, and head to the next venue. It was fast-paced, interesting work, especially if you had a short attention span.
Our office was a little hole in the wall, tucked in a bland corner of LA’s bleak, industrial wasteland. It was well guarded, as it contained a gazillion dollars in video equipment. We interns were allowed to sleep, free of charge, in the upstairs apartment; a faux-wood-paneled, shag-carpeted, swanky number straight out of a low-budget “Austin Powers” set. There was nothing in the neighborhood aside from a bar that opened at 6:30 in the morning, which we never had the time to patronize.
We had a cute receptionist whose claim to fame was that she was friends with the daughter of Tommy Chong. In retrospect, a whoop-de-frickin-doo is in order, but at the time we thought it was cool. She’d regale us with stories; how she went to Tommy Chong’s house for Tommy Chong’s birthday, stuff like that. Very Los Angeles.
She presided over a dry-erase board that had the month’s interviews scheduled. In particular: who was being interviewed, where, what show it was for, the crew assigned and the equipment they’d need. There were a few teams at the company. Naturally, the head of the company and the veterans got to pick and choose the gigs they wanted to crew on. In most cases, I got the scraps; an interview of a policeman for “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” for example. Occasionally they’d throw me a celebrity bone, either because they were nice or had a scheduling conflict.
These are the bones:
It’s not often I am invited to anything, much less anything interesting, so attendance of the Michael Stipe & Friends Christmas party Saturday night was a no-brainer. To give you an idea of the schedule-altering power of celebrity party invitations, we had planned our own Christmas party for the same night but shelved it for the opportunity to attend the Stipe fete. Plus, most of our friends were out of town so our party would have sucked.
We initially fretted over the dress code. The invitation specified several colors. Unfortunately, I have nothing silver, gold or resembling an animal. Nor do I have much in the way of green, white or red. The invite wasn’t clear as to if your entire outfit had to be these colors or just part of it. In fact, the invite didn’t even say what time the party started. I was left to search through a closet stocked mostly with the official colors of New York: black, dark black and light black.
We met some other partygoers at the W Hotel bar beforehand. If the bar has a name I don’t know it. It’s the W Hotel Bar to me. Our friends introduced us around. I met a Fred and later realized he was Fred Schneider from the B-52s. My brain immediately cued up Love Shack. When I meet musicians I have the annoying habit of playing their songs in my head. I’ve done this ever since 1989 when I worked on an TV crew interviewing bands. During a segment with the Beastie Boys, Brass Monkey cued up and stayed in my head for the duration.
We headed over to the party, a stone’s throw from the hotel, and stood outside while our names were checked. Some guy came to the door and called Mr. Schneider in. The guy was dressed head to toe in bright red and made me worry that my burgundy shirt wasn’t enough to pass muster. I think he might have been an R.E.M. guy but I don’t know their names nor do I know what they look like, aside from Mr. Stipe.
Eventually our names cleared and we were let in. There were plenty of open bars. In retrospect I never waited more than 10 seconds to get a drink. That’s good hosting. Food, lots of it, was available in the back room. The wines were good wines, and the bartenders refused to accept tips every single time.
Mr. Stipe was immediately recognizable. He looks the same to me as he did in the summer of 1987 when I was first acquainted with his band and tried to mend a broken heart by deciphering the lyrics from Life’s Rich Pageant. Upon seeing him my brain cued up Exhuming McCarthy as it will do.
The dress code was wildly interpreted. Some folks went all out, others had a splashes of the required colors. Others wore all black. All my fretting had been for naught, as usual.
At a party thrown by a famous person with famous people in attendance there’s a certain energy in the air. Everyone is assumed to be a somebody whom you either don’t recognize or who is a behind-the-scenes somebody. It doesn’t occur to you that, such as in my case, they could be nobody in particular. Folks spends the majority of their time looking around, trying to figure out who’s who. I would be the world’s worst gossip columnist because not only do I not know who’s who, I make things up. When four black guys walked in and were warmly received my thought was they must be famous rappers. I don’t even know what the people in White Stripes look like, but I saw two effete English guys and simply assumed they were famous musicians from that band. A band I know nothing about. I continued to make wild assumptions like that all night long.
On a few occasions I did recognize people. I saw Ed Norton. And the girl from Spiderman was pointed out to me. Even though I never saw Home Alone I immediately recognized an older Macaulay Culkin because my TiVo had recently recorded the E! True Hollywood Story about his chaotic family life. According to one of the security guards I chatted up, he’s a real nice guy.
While I was talking to a dental surgeon about children, I looked over to find that my wife had made an almost immediate new friend of Ethan Hawke to the point where I thought maybe they knew each other. They had a lengthy discussion and she returned concerned that he seemed down. She became very motherly and told him he was too skinny and needed to eat better – so she had invited him over the house for dinner. He told me that he was in Henry IV on Broadway which we had just bought tickets to. I was surprised to learn this, but in retrospect should have kept my surprise to myself. You’re in that? I had no idea! is not what actors want to hear. He was very pleasant, regardless. The wife remains genuinely worried about him not eating well which I find very sweet, if not a little alarming.
Other celebrities were mentioned as being present, rather than me actually seeing them which wouldn’t matter because I couldn’t recognize or name them anyway. Such was the case with the girl from The Secretary and a guy from Saturday Night Live. And there were others. It occurred to me that celebrity types must get upset if they look at a gossip column and aren’t mentioned when everyone else in attendance was. It makes me want to be a gossip columnist solely so I could report on events that P. Diddy was at and deliberately not mention him.
While smoking a cigarette outside I gave directions to Darryl Hannah. My brain couldn’t immediately conjure up her name and instead my inner voice said it’s that lady from the swimming movie. More alarming than the fact I could not remember the name of a blockbuster film and thought it was about swimming was the fact that I was smoking. I don’t smoke. This is usually an indicator that I’m reaching my limit with regard to alcohol. I had, because it was good and it was free, and the excellent service insured there was no delay in getting another glass.
At some point I decided to call and invite my one celebrity friend, John Mayer. I thought it would be cool of me to invite him to something of this nature in a Hey I’m here and you’re not kind of way. As if I were cool. I tried to track down the doorman to have his name added which turned out not to be necessary. When he showed up he simply strolled in and was immediately whisked away to be introduced to other famous people. The cruel irony here is that next year he’ll probably be invited to this thing and I won’t.
After her quality time with Mr. Hawke, the wife decided to adopt Moby. I recognized him because I had seen him on Dennis Miller Live once. He came across as very dry and smart on that show, so I knew I’d like him assuming we never talked politics. My brain cued up Praise You but seemed to be stuck on the dih-dih-dih-dih-dih part. I have since learned that Praise You was actually by Fatboy Slim, so I internally cued up the wrong artist. They talked about something, though I do not believe she invited him over the house for dinner. Probably a good idea, because cooking for vegans is traumatic.
At somewhere around three in the morning she decided it was time to go. I had outlasted her, which is quite unheard of. I had also consumed two bottles of wine, at least. Before we left I ran into a friend I knew from Athens, Georgia who I had not seen in nearly a decade. I had forgotten about his past connection with R.E.M. and didn’t realize he had moved to New York, but the moment I saw him it all came back to me. He introduced me to Mr. Stipe who subsequently had to suffer through me trying to articulate, quite poorly, that I liked Life’s Rich Pageant and had tried to decipher the lyrics. This was something he did not need to know but my brain was running on Cabernet and had regrettably decided it was essential to share the anecdote before departing.
We had passed on all the lovely food offered at the party, but decided that the night was not yet complete without a stop at the not very glamorous, non-star-laden 24-hour pizzeria. We apparently enjoyed our slices on the sofa, where I awoke alone at 9:30, covered in crumbs and with the Mother of All Headaches. The party was officially over.
New York’s Fashion Week was last week, which means the city was filled with intolerable models and the people who employ them. I was in possession of an embossed, obviously expensive, terribly hard to read invitation to the Y & Kei fashion show. Y & Kei is a Korean label with Prada prices. I’d never been to a fashion show, so I was quite interested in what it all was about. And I was very excited about the potential for free food and drink.