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We Can Do It


Have grandmother -- and everyone else in the extended family -- over to your place for Thanksgiving. If relatives insist that it would be "so much easier" to do it elsewhere, explain that it would help "so much" to repair your wounded pride -- and the city's -- to host them here.

Three mental-health experts offer their advice for staying sane:

1. Robert P. Franks, National Center for Children Exposed to Violence

"Give yourself a break from the news. And if you are a parent, remember that your children take their cues on how to behave and react from you. Show them that in the aftermath of tragedy, you have the courage to live your life."

2. John Draper, Mental Health Association of New York City

"Because of the enormity of the event, you may think you have no coping mechanisms that can work in this situation. But you should return to ones you've relied on before -- and maybe just use them a little more intensely, whether that's exercising, spending time with family and friends, or just listening to more music."

3. Thomas C. Neylan, medical director of the Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder program at the University of California-San Francisco.

"Sleep. The best way you can be supportive to your loved ones is to be alert and attentive."

Every other year, it seems, there's a campaign to save Broadway. But this time it actually needs it. Five musicals have already shuttered -- The Music Man and The Rocky Horror Show among them. Others are barely hanging on. "Unless you're The Lion King or The Producers, you need help," says one theater publicist.

Pay tribute to the casts of Les Miz, Phantom, and Kiss Me, Kate -- who have taken whopping salary cuts of 25 to 50 percent so that their shows may go on -- but don't forget that the stylish 1997 Tony-winner Chicago could also use some help.

Plays always have a tough time standing up to the megamusicals. Our picks for this season? Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, starring Kate Burton; August Strindberg's Dance of Death, starring Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren; and Michael Frayn's Noises Off should all be terrific. "There's a sense of community on Broadway that I haven't felt in a long time," says Noises Off's Peter Gallagher. "I think this can actually be a real romantic time, because it's hard to sustain the bullshit when you're faced with these realities."

Buy any Broadway ticket right now and five bucks goes to the Twin Towers Fund (rescue workers, firemen, policemen, and their family members can get tickets for just $25). You can also buy tickets for any Off Broadway show (including The Vagina Monologues and Havana Is Waiting) and get a ticket to another for half-price, through October 31. It would be a shame if the late Jonathan Larson's sensational (if now somewhat unfortunately titled) autobiographical musical Tick . . . Tick . . . Boom! and the irreverent satire Reefer Madness had to close before they got the chance to become cult classics.

No Bob Hope-style entertainment for us. But downtown nightlife is back, under duress: Body & Soul, the long-running dance party at Vinyl, reopened this past Sunday, even though promoter John Davis's apartment, located right next to the World Trade Center, was severely damaged. The disaster has actually brokered an unlikely alliance between cops and clubbers. "The 1st Precinct will sign off on ticketholders and band names so that they can drive in with equipment," says Guy Compton, spokesperson for the Knitting Factory, which opened all its stages last Wednesday. "I think they understand that they need us to survive and we understand that we need them too." The Knitting Factory is donating 10 percent of its box-office to the FDNY for the remainder of the year.

What if you created a sleek Philippe Starck stage set for Manhattan's beautiful people -- and nobody showed up? That's just about what's happened in the hotel business since the disaster. "The industry has taken a body blow," says Emanuel Stern, who owns both the Tribeca and SoHo Grand. "Not only aren't tourists coming, but business people are making do without meetings in New York."

Fall is usually the most expensive time of year to stay in the city. But now that occupancy rates have dropped to as low as 12 percent, some top hotels have, for all intents and purposes, become bargain destinations. So it's your patriotic duty to take a little second honeymoon -- you can travel by subway. The Tribeca Grand (212-519-6600), not surprisingly, has dropped its rates dramatically; a room that went for $309 per night on September 10 is only $199. A $395 room at the Mercer (212-966-6060) can be had for $300. The W (212-755-1200) has a special "We Care" package for $199 (down from $295).

In midtown, the Drake (212-421-0900), with its new Q56 restaurant and buzzing cocktail scene, has dropped its $259 weekend rate to $179; the Dylan (212-338-0500), which houses the restaurant Virot, has reduced $355 rooms to $199; and the Hudson, which has seen more celebs pass through its doors this year than the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, is offering a special crisis rate of $245, down from $310. The Bentley (212-644-6000), at 500 East 62nd Street, currently has a sweet deal of $125 per night, reduced from $265.

So sleep while you can -- it may be a while before we see these prices again. "This week, we've actually seen people making, not just canceling, reservations," quips The Four Seasons' Leslie Lefkowitz.

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