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Janeane Garofalo, Mellower With Age

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A diminutive, slightly disheveled, and seemingly mellowed with age Janeane Garofalo officially returned to standup last night -- and had her first headlining gig in years -- at Comix, the new comedy club in the Meatpacking District. “Don’t ask to borrow any money from me,” the notoriously angsty and self-deprecating comic said. “It’s not like that now. My career tanked in 1998. After Mystery Men it was over.” She went on to talk about her dilapidated co-op (an impulse buy circa 1996), her herniated disk (a 2000 injury endured after drunkenly falling off a golf cart), and her decision to quit drinking entirely (see previous parenthetical). She said she now spends her time taking copious notes while watching the History Channel, ruminating on the Big Bang Theory, finding Rachael Ray’s $40 A Day “horribly offensive,” and swooning over any and all incarnations of Pride and Prejudice’s Mr. Darcy. (“I’m not made of wood, people. Come on!”). And Garofalo has even discovered beading; she tossed out handmade necklaces to the eager yupster crowd. —Rachel Wolff

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Although We See More Potential for Murder and Mayhem at Atlantic Yards

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Award-winning mystery writer S.J. Rozan's latest book, In This Rain, is about — isn't everything these days about? — New York's redevelopment. A standing-room-only crowd turned out last night at Partners & Crime, in Greenwich Village, for a launch reading of the book, set squarely at the intersection of developers, activists, and City Hall in the gentrification of Harlem. (A large portion of Rozan's research, she said, apparently involved consuming sticky goods at Wimp's Bakery on 125th Street.) So who gets a cameo in this whodunit? "There's a character who's Bloomberg, and people keep telling me they see him in the book," commented Rozan. "But they also keep seeing Rangel. Poor Rangel! I didn't mean to have him in there." No word yet on whether Harlem's most presidential neighbor gets a role — or whether people think they see him there. — Lizzie Skurnick S.J. Rozan [Official site]

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‘Grease’ Reality TV: There Are Worse Things They Could Do

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Grease is, of course, the word. It is also the raison d'être for a new reality show that premiered on NBC last night. In Grease: You're the One That I Want, we the people, American Idol–ly assisted by three judges — one a well-known professional, one an industry insider, and one a producer with a cold manner and a British accent — will cast the roles of Danny and Sandy for a new Broadway revival of the Travolta–Newton-John musical. After the premiere ended last night, New York's theater critic, Jeremy McCarter, and Daily Intel's Jesse Oxfeld fired up the Instant Messenger to discuss the show, its stars, and whether this can possibly be a good way to pick two Broadway leads. Here, their Angus McIndoe–ready post-show banter:
Oxfeld: Did you have chills?
Oxfeld: Are they multiplying?
Oxfeld: I presume, actually, that you're indignant — as you are wont to be — about the Hollywoodization/populist-ization/etc. of the Great White Way.
McCarter: Me, indignant?
McCarter: Actually, I'm not. Not as much as many seem to be, anyway.
Oxfeld: Do people seem to be?
Oxfeld: I mean, after all, it's, well, Grease.
Oxfeld: It's hard to get worked up about disrespecting its highbrow legacy.
McCarter: That's how I feel. But the general reaction seems to be that the Temple of the Muses is being desecrated by the barbarians, etc.
Oxfeld: So, having now seen the premiere, is it more or less desecrating than you were expecting?
McCarter: I don't think it desecrates it at all, actually. It's kind of tawdry and exhibitionistic, and I frequently wanted to look away. But, hey, it's Broadway.

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‘New York Was His Town, and It Always Would Be’

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The Film Forum's three-week Woody Allen marathon is winding down this week, ending Thursday with a double feature of Crimes and Misdemeanors and Deconstructing Harry. But this weekend's show was Manhattan, and, well, if you haven't seen that opening sequence recently, take another look. It's yet one more reason to love New York. Manhattan Opening Sequence [YouTube] Essentially Woody [Film Forum] Reasons to Love New York Right Now [NYM]

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Emerging Artists Not as Interesting as Established Artists

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If there were ever a love child spawned by Vince Vaughn and Dave Matthews — just go with us here — he was performing last night at Joe's Pub. Nicholas Barron, a Chicago-based singer-songwriter, kicked off the New York Times' "Emerging Artists" series with an intro by, of all people, James Taylor. The launch of a new monthly concert series is only part of the Times' annual "Arts & Leisure Weekend," running through Sunday, which this year features a slew of artistic heavyweights (Joan Didion, Mikhail Baryshnikov) singing, reading, and talking about being great, being artistic, and being great at being artistic. The tradition began in 2001, either in celebration of the paper's 150th anniversary or in competition with The New Yorker, which began hosting a similar event the year before. But last night, Barron and his backing band (including a bassist who looked like Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter movies) were busy emerging as artists. Barron has been jailed for busking on the streets of London and Chicago, and he founded the Coalition for the Advancement of Street Arts. Barron's family supports his endeavors, and Joe's Pub was filled with kin, right down to a third cousin, twice removed. For the remainder of the weekend, Joe's Pub will host other performers like Morley and Martin Luther. The artists (and critics) who have already emerged — like New York's own David Edelstein — will be interviewed or sit on panels at the Graduate Center at CUNY. You might be better off there. —Jocelyn Guest

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Playboy TV Finds Naked, Happy New Yorkers

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Andrew Einhorn — the self-described "erotic photojournalist" who published the books Naked Happy Girls and Bubble Bath Girls — takes pictures of naked New York women for his new show on Playboy TV, but he insists he's not a pornographer. "It's much more on an artistic documentary track," he says. Each episode of the thirteen-installment series will follow Einhorn on two photo shoots. So how does he do it? "Everything I do in life, I'm looking for women to photograph." he says. "I'm a great schmoozer, and when I first meet somebody, I think I'm observant and I can comment on their belt or shoes or hair or try to guess their ethnicity." Then he moves in. "I may say, 'Oh, I'm a photographer. Can I show you my pictures because I'm always looking for new people?' And you can kind of tell by the reaction when they see your card whether it's interesting to them or out of the question." He says about one in ten potential subjects displays "a pretty big interest," and about half of them go through with it. Most of the happy girls live downtown, but the Playboy TV producers asked him to try the Upper East Side, too. "We got about fifteen no's before we found one. We ended up doing a great shoot at her father's apartment while he was out of town. Had some of his Scotch or brandy at the end too." The series launches January 13. —Lori Fradkin

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Harold Dieterle, ‘Top Chef’ Winner and Health-Code Violator

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Bravo's America's Next Top Model-in-the-kitchen hit Top Chef returned from its three-week hiatus last night. To the immense pleasure of obsessive fans (not, um, anyone we know, of course), that meant last year's winner, Harold Dieterle, who's currently gearing up to open the restaurant Perilla in the West Village, returned to blogging about it. We like the guy, but his thoughts on the hazing of a current contestant in the new episode made us reconsider whether we really want to dine at his eatery.
It really amazes me the amount of hatred directed at Marcel.... I mean, you're around these people all the time, and look, there were times when there were people that I didn't want to be around, but my decision was to go and lock myself in the bathroom. That was my quiet time.
That's how he got through the show? By hanging out in the bathroom? Let's hope he remembers employees must wash hands before returning to work. CORRECTION, Jan. 4: An earlier version of this item suggested Top Chef was still on hiatus. Harold's Blog [BravoTV.com ]

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‘Times’ Couplets: Poetic Truths in the Paper of Record

Wherein we arrange headlines from the Times in rhyme to bring you secret communiqués from the center of the universe. Today's message: Remember the greediest. Pfizer's Ex-Chief to Get Full Retirement Package BlackBerry Maker's Profit Beats Forecast $14.8 Million Bonus at Bear Stearns; A Boom Year for Mergers and a Furious Pace for Law Firms Fidelity Makes Restitution in Gifts Case: Generosity on Display — An Artful Give and Take Surviving These Blessings Is, Hey, Another Blessing Comfortable Shoes Recommended

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One Day More Is the Bitch of Living

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Do you hear the people sing? Well, you'd better get used to it, because they're going be singing "at least through the summer of 2007." That's right: The allegedly limited-run revival of Les Misérables has been extended, according to a press release out yesterday. The current production of the eighties megamusical opened at the beginning of November, a mere three years after closing its original sixteen-year Broadway run, and despite bad reviews it's doing boffo box office: Last week it ran at 83 percent capacity. Meantime, Spring Awakening, the groundbreaking, enthralling, and critically adored new rock musical — "the new indie-rock treatment of Frank Wedekind's play about hormonal adolescents has just about everything going for it," says Jeremy McCarter— is freshly opened and has been struggling: Last week it only filled 60 percent of its house. (And that was an improvement.) Which means that shows about revolutions are bigger draws than revolutionary ones. Vive, it seems, l'ancien régime.

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Sean Lennon Has Sensitive Eyes

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"He's got sensitive eyes," said a man in fingerless leather gloves into his walkie-talkie. The black-clad, tattooed security guard at Bowery Ballroom last night wasn't having a sentimental moment. He was answering a colleague's question: How strictly should the no-flash-photography rule be enforced? Very strictly, it turned out. But despite the guards' best and sometimes brusque efforts, Sean Lennon's concert was all flash photography. For reasons that have nothing to do with — and are perhaps unfair to — him, Sean's shows have an invariable tinge of a get-photographed-with-Santa session (or, as it were, Son of Santa). His curse is that he looks less like a child of John and Yoko than like an "If They Mated" Photoshop job — even, or especially, with the current wild-man beard.

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Urban Achievers Celebrate ‘Lebowski’ in Queens

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New York has a reputation for tamer costumes. That's what we learned from Lebowski Fest co-founder Will Russell, who started celebrating the not-so-underground Coen Brothers movie The Big Lebowski with a day of bowling in Louisville in 2002. For the third contiguous year, the New York event (mirroring those in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Austin) was at Cozy Bowl in Jamaica on Sunday. But if New Yorkers don't dress like the Jesus, they are delightful in their minutia: People were dressed as the amputated toe, the board the Dude nails to his front door, and a Moses and a Sandy Koufax, together spanning 3,000 years of beautiful Jewish tradition.

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‘Times’ Couplets: Poetic Truths in the Paper of Record

Wherein which your faithful correspondent assembles Times headlines in rhyme to bring you secret bulletins from the paper of record. Today's message: The World Needs a Cold Shower. The French Riviera Is an Adult Playground, With a PG Side— The Netherlands: Iron Rita Sidelined; Legislators Vote for Gay Unions in N.J. Commendatore, Where the Devil Are You Taking Me? Spies, Lies and Noir in Berlin— A Woman Who Wore Couture Like a Second Skin— Albania, Europe's Rough Corner, Loosens Up Hofstra Women Starting to Think, 'Why Not Us?' Administration to Drop Effort to Track if Visitors Leave High-Speed Colonoscopies; The Cost of an Overheated Planet? We're Glad You Love Us; Don't Overdo It.

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Creepy Old Guy Day in Publishing!

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Between Judith Regan's just-announced Mickey Mantle smutography and Walter Mosely's forthcoming novel, the "fabulously filthy" Killing Johnny Fry, it seems to be Creepy Old Guy Day in the publishing world. A Radar Online interview with Moseley reveals that the novel touches upon "a melange of insatiable sex — anal intrusion, double penetration, priapism, golden showers" — and that he has figured out what college freshman everywhere know: invoke Camus, and you can get away with anything. To wit:
Existentialism theorizes that people wander between choice, freedom, and angst. Please help me understand the term sexistential.
Well, this is primarily an existential book. Cordell is looking for meaning in his life. Who am I? What am I? Why live? These are very basic questions. And the path that Cordell takes to find that meaning is a path of sexuality. The Stranger is probably my favorite novel. 100 Years of Solitude is pretty good, too. As far as I'm concerned it's a very similar book, about a guy who is set free by events and goes looking for himself through the act of fucking.
Elsewhere in the Q&A we learn that Killing Johnny Fry contains the line "You feel his cum splashing on her ankle" but without the supporting freshman-lit defense. Oh, come on, Walter. Can we get a Kierkegaard? Heidegger? Anyone? Gulp Fiction [Radar]

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Christmas With the Wainwrights

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Rufus and Martha Wainwright opened their childhood living room to Carnegie Hall last night for an evening of family Christmas music. It was a typical scene — if you're used to having Lou Reed pop in to sing "White Christmas" and "Silent Night" and Laurie Anderson stop by for "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "We Three Kings," rendered as haunting dirges. The crowd — for the most part, either gay or NPR types — was bemused by Jimmy Fallon, who came off like the stranger your aunt awkwardly brought to the first Christmas after her divorce. He got better later, somewhat, cracking up through his "Baby, It's Cold Outside" duet with Martha Wainwright. Rufus mentioned a few people had complained about the lack of Hanukkah songs in last year's show but said that, after a thorough search, he'd found "there are no good Hanukkah songs." Instead, he sang one in Hebrew. "But I'm not going to sing it with an Austrian hat on," he joked, doffing his red Alpine mountain cap. David Byrne was a promised appearance who failed to show, but a surprise visit from Antony more than satisfied. He sang "Blue Christmas" like an underground Elvis and then contributed, alone, "Snowy Angel," a stirring, wistful ballad written, Antony said, by the East Village performer Baby Dee. Martha Wainwright complained to her brother for placing her after Antony; Rufus joked that following her was just as bad. But it wasn't, as his performance of "O Holy Night" in its original French rendered everything else nearly forgettable. —Aileen Gallagher

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‘High Fidelity’ Breaks Up With Broadway

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News came late yesterday that High Fidelity, the unloved Broadway musical adapted from the loved John Cusack movie based on the loved Nick Hornby book, will be closing Sunday, after opening just last Thursday ("The score consisted of the vague Broadway-rock wash that sounds authentic only next to other pop musicals!" —New York's Jeremy McCarter). That's a total of only 14 performances, outdoing even this season's painful Bob Dylan–Twyla Tharp musical, which lasted a whopping 28, and the spring's David Schwimmer–led Caine Mutiny Court-Martial revival, which kept itself revived for 17 shows. A quick spin through the Internet Broadway Database — yes, we've also lost track of how many different kinds of geeky we are — proves that Fidelity is not, in fact, the shortest-running Broadway show of the young 21st century. A Macbeth starring Kelsey Grammer ran for 13 performances in 2000, Martha Plimpton's Broadway debut, Sixteen Wounded, did a dozen in 2004, and the Suzanne Somers vehicle The Blonde in the Convertible stalled after just 9 last year. And then there's Ellen Burstyn's one-woman The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. It closed after opening night in 2003. Now It's Die, Fidelity [NYP]

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Magical CD-R Warps Indie Rockers', Bloggers' Minds

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The flow of cultural history has accelerated into a — what? — a fire-hose spray. Williamsburg indie rock has its own relics now; the discovery of one such sacred object — an early demo by that grizzled vet Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs — is prompting some primo psychodrama in blogland, as recounted today on Stereogum. As the tale begins, a seventeen-track CD-R was found in the old apartment of TV on the Radio guitarist Dave Sitek and, naturally, posted on MySpace, from whence it spread like E. coli through a gordita. The band expressed horror, with Karen herself e-mailing the leaker with a curt "What the fuck were you thinking?" The penitent finder-keeper then e-mailed the mp3 blog Stereogum, ceremonially donning the hairshirt: "I feel like a total dick." (The level of discourse in this whole flap, we must say, leaves much to be desired.) Finally, the rightful owner of the CD itself — Dave Sitek — posted an unbelievably florid message to the leaker on the TV on the Radio site, reading, in part:
thank you. i am due to learn a new kind of forgiveness. a kind that all of of humanity will need to learn as we betray eachother , hurt eachother, steal from eachother to fill the "content void" that has become the worldwide networks, our worldwide lives.
Within hours, Sitek himself turned penitent and updated the site with an apology ("I freaked out"). Apparently everything is a Zen lesson in Sitek-land, however: "By flipping out I connected with something I had lost ... how much of an ass I can be." Sounds like everyone's a winner. The Story Behind the Karen O Demo [Stereogum]

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The Book Reviewer's Song

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In all the brouhaha over Christopher Hitchens's paean to poop jokes in the new Vanity Fair, you might have missed the Proust Questionnaire with literary warhorse Norman Mailer. The venerable writer-cum-political agitator dishes on his hatred for Reagan, Bush, Hitler, and — oh, yeah — Pulitzer-winning Times book critic Michiko Kakutani:
What is your greatest fear?
That I will never meet Michiko Kakutani and so not be able to tell her what I think of her. She has an unseemly haste to rush into print with the first very bad review of any book I write. She does this ahead of publication. That is a strategy. If the first review of a book is dreadful, an author needs at least three good ones to change that first impression.
Hitler, in comparison, gets off easy. Not that we're surprised: We hear he thought pretty highly of The Naked and the Dead. Proust Questionnaire: Normal Mailer [VF]

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New York Critics Honor ‘United 93,’ Doom Its Best Picture Hopes

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New York Film Critics Circle has picked Paul Greengrass's United 93 as the best picture of the year. ("Should Hollywood be in the 9/11 business?" wondered New York's David Edelstein, one of the Circle's 27 members, when the film came out. "Only if it can make movies like United 93." He went on to call it "brilliant, tightly focused, and momentous.") But here's the question: Does the picture — a stark, minimalist retelling of the passenger revolt that brought down the flight — stand a chance at the big awards show on the other coast? For now, we can only go on the Circle's track record.

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Malcolm Gladwell, 4-Year-Old Sheriff

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So we happened past New Yorker scribe Malcolm Gladwell's blog today — don't ask; we have no good excuse — and we were struck by what we found there. It seems Gladwell is in a big ol' blog fight with professional conservative Steve Sailer, and the argument has driven the extravagantly coiffed author — heretofore known for his incisive journalism, his best-sellers, and, well, his exuberant coif — to adopt another claim to fame. Perhaps, from now on, he will be known as the Internet sheriff who saddled up on his blog and roped one errant hive-mind contributor like a straggling baby calf:
Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that Steve Sailer doesn't allow readers to comment on his posts. Can you believe that? Here we have the aggrieved Steve Sailer, donning the cloak of victim as he decries my attempt at censorship. Here we have the allies of Steve Sailer, speaking out on behalf of the virutes [sic] of the free exchange of ideas, the importance of confronting one's critics, the necessity of fighting the good fight in arena of free speech. And all the while their leader is cowering behind the gates of a comment-free blog. Oh my. Is it possible that in addition to everything else, Steve Sailer is also a chicken?
See? That's what's so revolutionary about the Internet: It can turn a dude with a camera phone into a photojournalist, some dorky grad students into billionaires, and, it now seems, Malcolm Gladwell into a 4-year-old. Imagine My Surprise … [Gladwell.com]

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Michael Chabon, Defender of the Acknowledgment

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Last week, Times books reporter Julie Bosman took a swipe at Norman Mailer's Aeneid-length acknowledgments. In today's letter column, Pulitzer-winning novelist Michael Chabon presents a defense:
Here's a crazy reason your article did not mention for including an acknowledgment at the end of your novel: to acknowledge. If there is some kind of old-fashioned virtue in concealing one's debt to and gratitude for the hard work of others, it's difficult for me to see where it lies.
But of course Chabon approves of the public airing of private gratitude. He's married, after all, to novelist Ayelet Waldman, who famously published a certain delightful bit in a March 2005 "Modern Love" column. What did she have to say?

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