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The Big Chill

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With Christmas and Hanukkah but a distant memory, with the seven days of Kwanzaa finally over, the last Nutcracker of the season performed, and the revelry of New Year’s Eve concluded in bibulous fashion, New York could no longer ignore the grim words of the poet: Winter is iccumen in, Lhude sing Goddamm! Not even Wall Street’s year-end bonuses were enough to dispel the enveloping hibernal gloom. The mood among the enriched traders was said by one insider to be “either sullen or mutinous, but never quite happy.” Liza Minnelli took a possibly drunken fall in her Upper East Side apartment (it could happen to any of us) and had to cancel her big New Year’s Eve show in Miami. Sirio Maccioni closed Le Cirque. Bernie Kerik called the man who accused him of running a corrupt Department of Corrections a “lowlife,” thus exemplifying a defense mechanism that psychoanalysts term projection. Guy Velella returned to Rikers Island to discover that his first meal would be Salisbury steak and his new jailmate would be a rapper and Sean Combs protégé known as Shyne. City movie audiences, tired of being subjected to a barrage of noisy ads after paying $10.50 to see a feature, reportedly began scattered protests by shouting obscenities at the screen. Yet a few bright notes intruded on the winter of our discontent. Leading hawk couple Pale Male and Lola inspected the elegant stainless-steel structure designed by two collaborating architecture firms and installed on the apartment house at 927 Fifth Avenue so they could rebuild their nest. They seemed pleased. Homicides, deaths by fire, and deaths overall in the city were headed for historic lows. And the Amazing Kreskin revealed that the Yankees would sign Randy Johnson and regain the World Series title in 2005. Sadly, though, they will have to do it without longtime Yankee Stadium organist Eddie Layton—the inventor of dun-dun-dun-DUN-da-DUN . . . CHARGE!—who died in his seventies after a brief illness. Also dead, at the age of 71, was the woman who epitomized the romance of the New York intellectual as no one ever will again. Earth, receive an honored guest, Susan Sontag’s laid to rest.


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