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Park Avenue Café Waiter Says He Was Discriminated Against for Not Drinking Wine

Parke Avenue Winter
A little over a week ago, we broke the news that Park Avenue Café (currently Park Avenue Winter) is being sued by employees who claim they were forced to participate in illegal tip-pooling and discriminated against because they were South Asian. The Sun now reports that a court has allowed former employee Mohammed Rahman to bring a suit on behalf of nonwhite employees at Park Avenue Café, but stopped short of allowing a class-action suit against parent chain Smith & Wollensky. One of the reasons Rahman claims he was given a hard time, and eventually fired, is that he didn’t drink alcohol and so couldn’t taste wine — which has to be the first time someone has been canned for not drinking on the job. Related: Park Avenue Winter Experiences Legal Discontent

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John Thain Keeps His Cool, Continues to Be Hot

Thain
Our new boyfriend, Zeppelin-loving new Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain, seems to be keeping his cool remarkably well, despite his firm's announcement yesterday that it was writing down $14.6 billion and lost nearly $10 billion, which caused its stock to drop 10 percent and fueled the growing perception that the economy is, or is about to be, in the shitter. But why shouldn't he be calm? After all, "I didn't cause this problem," he told the Journal today. But he does plan to solve it: by expanding international operations, and adopting some of the hierarchical strategies of his former employer, Goldman Sachs. Thain's hired Noel Donahue to run risk management and hopes to hire former Goldman co-head of sales and trading Tom Montag (no relation to Heidi). "The problem is not a zero, but it is for the most part behind us," Thain told the Journal. Can Thain, with his Clark Kent good looks and cool-headed fixer attitude, transform into Superman, steer Merrill back on course, and save us all? We kind of think maybe. Oh, and there's good news for media Chicken Littles, too: The Journal didn't bring up the poop incident, which we take to mean that Rupert Murdoch hasn’t wrapped his soft hands around their editorial coverage just yet. Merrill's Risk Manager [WSJ] Related: Setting The Story Straight On The Merrill Bonus Rage [Dealbreaker] Related:Who Is NYSE CEO John Thain? [NYM]

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The ‘Post’ Has a Giant, Crazy Crush

New York Post
Okay. We love the Post. We really do. And not even just the ironic way we "loved" it yesterday when a homeless person in a wheelchair was masturbating on the subway while we were on our way to work, and his shoe fell off and nobody on the train even noticed. Like, we actually look forward to the Post every day. But we have to say, there's something a little demented about its Giants coverage. At the beginning of the week, the tabloid devoted its entire cover to a Jessica Simpson look-alike, who they claim distracted Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo into losing Sunday's game (Romo, for those of you lucky enough not to know, is dating the real Simpson and she's been credited with giving him bad luck when she attends games). This one stunt wasn't enough, though. They took the poor girl to New York this week on a victory tour, with an online video on Tuesday and another article on Wednesday. And now today, the paper has another superstitious trick up its sleeve. After reports that the manager of a TV station in Green Bay, Wisconsin, will yank Eli Manning's favorite show, Seinfeld, from the airwaves while the Giants are in town to play the Packers, the Post talked Jerry Seinfeld himself into sending the Giants quarterback a complete DVD set. Seinfeld said he'd also be "dispatching George Costanza to be the new traveling secretary for the Packers." (Those of you who are fans of the show will get the reference.) It's funny coverage, sure, but it's just kind of getting lazy at this point. In fact, one of the "Giants fans" they quoted at the end of the article works for the Post. Come on, guys. Isn't there a brilliant pun headline you could have come up with instead of all of this? Or maybe a Photoshopped picture of Tom Brady's head on McLovin's body? YADDA YADDA YADDA [NYP] Related Which Episode of 'Seinfeld' Should Eli Watch Before He Loses to the Packers? [Vulture]

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Leaked: More Nonsense From the Mars Volta

It's definitely too early in the morning to effectively judge the merits of a new Mars Volta record, but suffice to say that anyone who's still interested in these guys probably knows what he's in for.

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Bobby Fischer, Eccentric Chess Champion, Dies at 64

Bobby Fischer
The story of international grand chess master Bobby Fischer has a lot of New York highlights. Fischer grew up and learned chess in Brooklyn, and for those not old enough to remember his iconic role in the Cold War, the Washington Square Park scenes from the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer are a cultural touchstone. In his later years, while living in exile, he turned against the city and America. After the September 11 attacks, he announced on the radio: "This is all wonderful news. I applaud the act." When Fischer died yesterday, at age 64, it was far from his childhood home, in Reykjavik, Iceland. "The tragedy is that he left this world too early, and his extravagant life and scandalous statements did not contribute to the popularity of chess," chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov said of him. "He single-handedly revitalized a game that had been stagnating under the control of the Communists of the Soviet sports hierarchy." Chess Champion Bobby Fischer Dies [Guardian]

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Chefs Relax in Bruni's Absence; Chinese Seafood: Now With Fewer Drugs!

Frank Bruni is out of the city until January 23, or maybe January 31. Either way, chefs at new restaurants will be breathing a little bit easier until he returns. [Eater] The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies has released a report saying that cloning causes suffering to animals, making it unjustifiable to clone them for the food supply. [NYT] Top Chef winner Hung Huynh was spotted in Las Vegas at Company, the same restaurant where Season Two contestant Marcel Vigneron works as a cook. It’s no coincidence, though; they’re buds from cooking school. [Eater L.A.]

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Penélope and Salma Took Photos They Don't Want Anyone to See

Salma and Penelope
Penélope Cruz and Salma Hayek had their camera and laptop, respectively, stolen while on vacation and are now worried about pictures getting out. In yet another Scientology video, Tom Cruise takes credit for saving the lives of fireman in the aftermath of 9/11. CNN's chief national correspondent, John King, is converting to Judaism to appease the father of bride-to-be, congressional correspondent Dana Bash. Michael Keaton's real name is Michael Douglas, but he changed his surname to Keaton to avoid confusion. Chris Martin attacked a paparazzo who was shooting him and Gwyneth Paltrow leaving Mount Sinai hospital.

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Coming Soon: ‘Edible Manhattan’

We’ve been longtime fans of Edible Brooklyn, a very cool magazine we wrote about a while ago. Edible Brooklyn doesn’t publish restaurant news as much as articles and essays about the life of the borough’s food culture, written by the people who love it. And now Manhattan will get the same treatment in Edible Manhattan, which will come out bi-monthly starting in the fall and is already accepting subscribers.

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Huckabee Is Inside Our Heads, Vice Versa

Huckabee's Brain
Everybody seems to have Mike Huckabee on the brain today. As he pulls up nearly even with John McCain in South Carolina leading up to the primary there tomorrow, political writers are trying to understand what voters are thinking about the Baptist bass player. Do the Evangelicals matter? Don't they? Will they even vote for him? It's a Huckanundrum! • David Brooks reminds us that it can be looked at pretty simply: "It is no accident that the major candidates in the Republican field are a pastor, a businessman and a war hero. These are the three most evocative Republican leadership models." [NYT] • But Rich Lowry says that this appeal as a pastor has begun cooling with non-Evangelicals. And now that it's becoming clearer that he lacks the planning to impress voters with his policy ideas. [NYP]

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Rosie O'Donnell's Broadway Awakening?

Rosie
Rosie O'Donnell has started rehearsals for a one-woman show, directed by Michael Mayer of Spring Awakening, Cindy Adams says this morning. Well, that's what we think she said since, as usual, we needed special decoding glasses to read her column. It seems that Rosie wrote the as-yet-untitled show after leaving The View, and like her book, Find Me, "It's based on her life story," Cindy says. "Her first one. She's lived many lives." It also may not be a one-woman show in the traditional sense. According to Cindy, "An actor or two onstage with her may include Tom Hulce." Hulce, the Tony-award-winning actor who played Mozart in Amadeus, is very good. But we can't help but worry for him: It seems like Elisabeth Hasselbeck would be a very challenging role. Everything Rosie Coming Up [NYP]

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Chef Eric Ripert Starts the Day With Chocolate, Ends It With Chorizo and Tequila

Eric Ripert
There’s a reason Le Bernardin was ranked No. 1 (one of just two five-star restaurants) in the Platt 101. During lunch and dinner every day, chef-owner Eric Ripert samples a half-spoon of each of the twenty-odd sauces his chefs prepare, tests most of the mise en place (everything from string beans to mashed potatoes to polenta to guacamole), and then takes bites from dishes before they go out to the dining room. “Every day I have ten different fishes — a piece of tuna, snapper, monk, cod, himachi … It’s about 60 or 80 things I try.” To make up for this, he tries to eat light and takes 45-minute walks to (and sometimes back) from work through Central Park. But that doesn’t mean he won’t indulge in his daily breakfast chocolate.

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Video: Backstage at Ford's Supermodel of the Year Competition

Ford Supermodel of the World
Ford's Supermodel of the World competition last year launched model Chanel Iman (who was a runner-up) into the freezing, barely breathable atmosphere of the modeling world. Since then she's modeled for Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler, and Derek Lam, among many others. She was also featured on the cover of Vogue last year in an homage to fashion's new supermodels. So anyone who says the annual Ford contest isn't a ticket to stardom is just plain wrong. Click above to view some backstage video of this year's competition and model interviews with New York's Jada Yuan. Ford Supermodel of the World [NYM Video]

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