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Daniel's Bernard Vrod Serves Presidents, Gets Wife Free Meals

An ex-pat of gloomy Brittany like so many classic French waiters, Bernard Vrod has been working under fellow farmboy Daniel Boulud for sixteen years, first as a waiter at Le Cirque and, these days, as a maitre d' at Daniel. We asked him to take us into the latter's hallowed halls and got tales of Secret Service shakedowns, fowl on the floor, and marriage proposals nearly gone awry.

Seek and Ye Just Might Find

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It's only two days since Mayor Bloomberg vowed — for the second time — to devote more attention, time, and manpower to sweeping lower Manhattan for 9/11 debris, including human remains. And today brings a brutal reminder that more than mere conscience-cleaning formality is at stake: Three more victims were identified from remains found at ground zero. The city released the names of two; one of them, miraculously, turned out to be Karen Martin, a flight attendant on American 11 stabbed by the hijackers for putting up resistance. The other, Douglas Stone, was a passenger on that same flight. Their families had submitted DNA samples back in 2001 but hadn't heard anything in years; their reactions, as told to the Daily News, betray mostly surprise. "This is really nice," said one relative. "This comes out of the blue," said another. So why isn't the Bloomberg administration trumpeting this news as a major forensic success and a large step toward closure — all thanks to our managerial mayor? Because the city appears to have had all the pieces of the puzzle in place for quite some time -- the remains and the families' DNA samples -- without bothering to do anything about it. Oh, wait. The Bloombergians are trumpeting it anyway. We'll spare you the unseemly chest-beating, but read the last paragraph of the News article if you just can't help yourself. More 9/11 Vics ID'd [NYDN] Earlier: Bloomie Promises a Thorough Search, Again

A Japanese Gastropub and Other Openings; KFC's New Recipe Tastes Like Chicken

• More on "Japanese gastropub" Zenkichi, Lower East Side brick-oven pizzeria Cronkite, and others; Antoine Bouterin packs it in. [NYT] • Taste-testers prefer trans-fat-free KFC. [NYDN] • Cuozzo presses Michael Lomonaco for 9/11 memories, likes the drapes at his new place. [NYP] • Guss's in a legal pickle. [NYP] • Patsy's, too, fights for its name. [NYS] • Park Slope sandwich and gelato spot Tempo Presto's latest locale. [NYS] • Vendy victor is doing brisk business. [NYDN] • Emily Sprissler blows the whistle on "rat-trap" conditions (and Padma's cellulite) on the "Top Chef" set. [Chow]

Daniel Under Attack! (Again)

You may remember this Intelligencer item, from earlier this summer, about the face-off between Daniel Boulud and an activist group called the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York. (Coincidentally, we just responded to an article quoting an ROC spokesperson.) Well, the advocacy group is once again on the attack: The group protested Daniel's allegedly discriminatory employment practices outside the restaurant Tuesday night. A well-groomed Johnnie acting on behalf of the restaurant handed out flyers printed with, "Two, four, six, eight, Daniel does NOT discriminate!" and other lines defending the restaurant. It was signed by Daniel De La Rosa, a captain who has been with the restaurant for ten years. "This is all over four busboys who make over 50,000 a year," Brett Traussi, the restaurant's director of operations told us. "For the ROC to pick on a high-profile restaurant like Daniel to increase their exposure is regrettable." No doubt. But watching the parade of aged grandees walking in between the Scylla and Charybdis of a ROC representative and De La Rosa was a spectacle we wouldn't have missed.

Looking for Love on a Listserv (Or, in All the Wrong Places)

We're all familiar with the almighty alumni listerv — that source of mild e-mailed irritation, delivering a steady stream of requests for apartment leads, neighborhood advice, and, inevitably from a onetime rush chair, attendance at a really! fun! drinks night. For j-school alumni — like, say, those who attended Northwestern University's Medill — that standard stew is further flavored with discussions of journalism ethics and occasional pleas for help finding sources. Which is why an inquiry to that list yesterday stood out:

From: Mandy Stadtmiller
Date: Nov 1, 2006 2:35 PM
Subject: Looking for love in NYC, okay on the apt situation
To: [MedillNY listserv]

Any leads send them my way — thanks!

Mandy Stadtmiller
BSJ '97
Was Stadtmiller — a features writer at the Post — really using her alumni list as a no-fee Nerve personals? (Online dating is sexy; online dating with journalists is sexier?) Or was this maybe — please! — just a gimmick for a story?

Mark Foley on Screen; Brad Pitt in His Boxers

Before Mark Foley discovered IM, he discovered acting. (Straight to DVD, natch.) Brad Pitt is pissed he's on the cover of Vanity Fair in rain-soaked skivvies. Angry Tiki Barber is retiring at the top of his game? Blame his wife! Lydia Hearst was denied entry to Scores, partied elsewhere. Sharon Stone backed out of a Children Affected by AIDS Foundation benefit over an ill-designed Barbie doll. Weatherman Dave Price might be the next host of The Price is Right. Bill Clinton sang "Happy Birthday" to his assistant. Elle Macpherson bought 200 iPods. Bette Midler threw a Halloween party; guests dressed up. A bunch of Truman Capote memorabilia is up for auction. For the love of God, "Page Six," we get it: You guys beat the Daily News in circulation. Back to the real gossip, please?

Bette and Joy's Happy, Raunchy Halloween

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How does Bette Midler celebrate Halloween? If her tenth annual Hulaween Gala at the Waldorf the other night was any indication, by lacing into a string of good-natured obscenities to browbeat other celebs into supporting her New York Restoration Project, which cleans up, replants, and maintains neglected city parks. It was a crowd of well-heeled, big-drinking nature lovers, all of whom had enough money to buy some fabulous costumes, like the man dressed as a Christmas tree covered in ornaments and the half-dozen Andy Warhols roaming about, including an unrecognizable Michael Kors, who'd added a prosthetic forehead and nose to his face. "What are you, Golda Meir?" Harvey Fierstein, dressed as John from Peter Pan, asked Midler's co-emcee, Joy Behar. "No! What? I'm the Queen!" she replied, hitting his arm. "I'm the blues," said Willie Nelson, dressed in a black suit and looking exactly like Willie Nelson. "I'm Flora, the goddess of the garden," said Midler, her thoughts trailing off. "Who are you?" she continued. "Oh! It's Shalom. Goodness, what are you, dear?" Shalom Harlow, in a bikini, satin robe, Afro, and abdomen full of bullet wounds, said she and her date were dressed as Scarface. As she reached to say hello to Midler, she spilled a sizable amount of "coke" all over the Waldorf's pristine carpet. Midler laughed. No one bothered to clean it up.

It's Springtime for Hitler Kid

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• You've got to hand it to the Hitler Kid: After getting ejected from school for donning the costume on Halloween, yesterday he wore it again — this time for the media, and purely in protest. This is quickly turning into the lamest ACLU case ever. [NYP] • You do not cross American Girl Place. The Mattel-owned dainty emporium has filed a complaint against Actors' Equity that says AEA has been goading its employees to unionize. This is going to be like On the Waterfront, except with Barbies. [NYDN] • ExamGate! Staten Island high-school administrators may have tampered with grades on Regents exams and directed teachers to do it as well. A whopping seventeen science teachers came forward with the accusations. Better late than never, we suppose (the exams were administered in June). On a lighter note, but on the same theme, a Brooklyn high-school principal has distributed a pie chart explaining her new grading system — with the slices totaling more than 100 percent. [NYT, NYDN] • A Bronx man is DOA at St. Barnabas after a police shootout. According to the cops, two plainclothes officers clearly saw the gunman armed and assaulting another man; the DOA fired first. [WNBC] • And, it's beginners' luck for the Knicks, who eked out their first win (against Memphis, 118-117) under coach Isiah Thomas. In a more disturbing portent, it took them three OTs to do so. [amNY]

Movies, Movies, and Statesmen

Tonight's boldfaced parties:Casting Society of America Awards. Caroline's, 1626 Broadway, nr. 50th St., 4:45 p.m. Presenters include John Krasinski, Swoosie Kurtz, Bob Martin, Annabella Sciorra, and Joe Pantoliano; the lifetime-achievement prize is going to casting director Juliet Taylor for her work on Annie Hall, Taxi Driver, and many other films. We're skeptical: Wouldn't those movies have been better if De Niro and Allen switched roles?

Even With Big Circ, ‘Post’ Gets Sued

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Plaintiff: Christopher Capanelli Defendants: NYP Holdings, doing business as New York Post; K. Rupert Murdoch; Joseph Vincent; Lloyd Vasquez Accusation: It's a lovefest at the New York Post this week, but, as always happens, someone is trying to ruin the party. In a lawsuit filed October 25 in Bronx Supreme Court, Rupert Murdoch and his Posties are accused of launching an aggressive campaign of intimidation to squeeze out the Pressman's Union.

The Ham That Drives Men Mad

New York Magazine has gone Spain-crazy this week. Adam Platt sates his bottomless hunger at Boqueria, and Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld interview Spain's most illustrious chef, Ferran Adrià of El Bulli. Let Grub Street pile on, then, with talk of the secret society of Spanish pork. This society may be unofficial, but we belong to it. It is made of men and women who have tasted the meat of the celebrated pata negra, or black-foot pig, and will do anything for more. "Once you taste ibérico, you can't compare it to anything else," Bar Jamón chef Andy Nusser has said. The society's holy grail, though, remains tantalizingly out of reach for Americans — even ones with a deep affinity for Spain.

Doctors and Lawyers Look Beyond Burgers Around 72nd and Second

Strollers crisscross with lawyers and Lenox Hill Hospital workers in the micro-micro-neighborhood centered around 72nd Street and Second Avenue. Indian and Mexican food are noticeably underrepresented, but you can still find damn good diner eats, tasty burgers, and above-average Chinese takeout.

Luc Sante Prefers ‘Linner’ to Brunch

Name: Luc Sante
Age: 52
Job: Writer
Neighborhood: Ulster County (but formerly Park Slope, Lower East Side, Upper West Side) Who's your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional? Bartleby the Scrivener. What's the best meal you've eaten in New York? Salt-and-pepper shrimp at a place on the Bowery below Canal, the name of which I no longer recall. In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job? Put together sentences.

Ellen Barkin Did Not Sleep With George Clooney, Probably

Ellen Barkin claimed she slept with George Clooney; she was kidding. Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton went to a party together. Shaquille O'Neal saw The Departed, groaned loudly. If Diddy (Puffy? Sean? whatever) gets married, it'll be to Kim Porter, he says. Denise Richards sleeps with her dogs. Mort Zuckerman fired Lloyd Grove to save money. The Shah of Iran's son got a phone number at the Plumm. Steven Spielberg's self-proclaimed niece dropped his name for fashion-show tix, didn't get them. Luke Janklow had a party, made stair-climbers remove their shoes. Demi Moore will be the face of Helena Rubinstein cosmetics. A Mets fan got beat up at Dodger Stadium, and Tommy Lasorda called him to apologize. Cialis advertises on Keith Olbermann's show. (We don't understand how that's news.) Lowell Weicker is leaving Connecticut. Club owner Michael Ault, with his mom but without Alex Haley, is going to Europe to research his roots. No one sang at El Morocco, apparently. Random women dig Dave Navarro. Nora Ephron feels bad about her hair, too.

Mr. Nasty Throws Open the Phone Lines; Mr. Hospitality Throws Punches

In today's dining dirt, Spain comes to Manhattan, barbecue comes to Fort Greene, and Mr. Hospitality brings the pain. • Danny "Mr. Hospitality" Meyer ponders hugs, serves up a knuckle sandwich. [Esquire] • Gordon "Mr. Nasty" Ramsay opens up the lines; a feeding frenzy ensues. [Eater] • Pushcart-prize finalists announced. [Street Vendor Project] • Picholine buddies open up a Fort Greene smoke joint serving up "real NYC barbecue." Whatever that is, exactly. [Strong Buzz] • On a sobering note, Michael Pollan forecasts the dangers of centralized food production and the specter of increased regulation in the veggie world: "Food poisoning has always been with us, but not until we started processing all our food in such a small number of 'kitchens' did the potential for nationwide outbreaks exist." [NYT]

One More Thing About the Pirros: Al Wants Counseling

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When Jeanine Pirro's campaign for attorney general is over — or, to be cruel but precise, once she loses — she'll be going straight into marriage counseling, at least if her husband has anything to do with it. New York's Steve Fishman profiled the Pirros' increasingly confounding marriage for this week's magazine, and he found Al Pirro, Jeanine's wayward husband — by all accounts a screamer, a bruiser, a brusque alpha male — surprisingly wounded and therapized, talking about his anxieties. Al knows he needs to be flattered, to be reminded that he makes more money than Jeanine, to feel generous (Fishman zeroes in on his compulsive need to pick up the check, even for parties of 30). He denies the infidelities that drove Jeanine up the wall (and into the dubious confidences of Bernie Kerik) while readily admitting something even more hurtful to a relationship: that he needs outside female companionship, be it platonic or not, because he doesn't feel encouraged, admired, or appreciated at home. And he knows the couple needs to work on these issues. "He was essentially stewing," Fishman says. "He feels that he's been shut out, silenced, and attacked, both by the campaign and by his wife personally." Is there enough therapy in the world to get the pair past all that? Maybe, Fishman says. The real turning point for the relationship, he says, was Al's tax-evasion conviction. "But it was never a fake marriage. There's a basis of deep mutual admiration — hell, love." Can This Marriage Be Saved? [NYM]

‘Izakaya’ Boom Hits Chelsea; Japanese Chains Plant Flags Uptown

If you still don't know what an izakaya is (or haven't lately been to St. Marks Place, where most of them are clustered), enlighten yourself at Izakaya Ten, the latest iteration of the space that was the French-Korean D'or Ahn, and then, for a nanosecond, the sushi restaurant Anzu. Owner Lannie Ahn has hired a veteran of Morimoto and Nobu to supplement the raw fish with a selection of small plates of the home-style Japanese fare one finds in a sake bar or pub — not your basic mozzarella sticks or buffalo wings but more exotic tidbits like natto omelettes, ginger pork belly, pan-seared rice balls, and the ever-popular chicken-meatball skewer.

Bloomberg and Schwarzenegger, Up a Tree

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• Now this hasn't happened in a while: Rapper Fabolous is in stable condition at Bellevue after getting shot in a Manhattan parking garage. The would-be assassin and his three friends, who fled in a vehicle, were quickly arrested after running a red light. Update: Now Fabolous is under arrest as well. Developing, needless to say. [AP via amNY] • The Gubernator toured Bloomie's turf yesterday, not two weeks after the mayor's Cali visit. Says the Times in the vintage Times deadpan, "The two men seem to be genuinely fond of each other." We know they're both post-ideological moderate Republicans and all, but this love-in is giving us the heebie-jeebies. [NYT] • You may remember Dean Faiello as the guy who allegedly (a) impersonated a doctor, (b) botched a cosmetic surgery, (c) killed the patient to cover it up, and (d) buried her under his New Jersey house. Well, feel free to remove "allegedly" from that litany. Faiello pleaded guilty in exchange for a twenty-year prison stint. [NYDN] • Queens assemblyman and union leader Brian McLaughlin is expected to surrender today to federal corruption charges. The rap is a rather shopworn classic: contractor bid-rigging, with a side of possible expense-account abuse. [WNBC] • Finally, in case anyone cares, and some of you must, Rangers 4, Devils 2. Oh, come on, people, it's one of the most storied rivalries in all of sports. Or so we're told. [Fox Sports]

James Truman Leaves MacBain, Hasn't Heard From Si, and Will Stay in New York

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James Truman, the Condé Nast wunderkind who rose to become Si's second-ever editorial director and then resigned at the start of 2005 after Newhouse said no to his pet project, an art magazine, resigned today from his job as editorial director of Louise MacBain's LTB Media, a publisher of art magazines, which he joined about a year ago and where he recently launched a travel mag for well-off aesthetes, Culture + Travel. "I was never going to do it long-term," Truman told the New York Observer, which broke the news this morning. "The project interested me because I tried so long to get an art magazine at Condé Nast." New York's Carl Swanson — who has written about Truman's Condé Nast departure and his LTB arrival — checked in with him this afternoon for some elaboration.

Jane's Carousel Spins With No One to Ride It

There's something almost novelistic about Jane Walentas's well-documented obsession with a wooden carousel. The wife of the man who built Dumbo first found the quaint thing in Ohio in 1984, at an auction for a belly-up amusement park; she's been repairing it, piece by piece, ever since. During those twenty years, her husband turned a shady warehouse district into one of the city's more enviable addresses and something close to a personal fiefdom — but it still doesn't have a place for Jane's carousel. The Walentas' ultimate goal is to mount it in the Brooklyn Bridge park, but for now a kid-free indoor installation during the Dumbo art festival will have to do. And no, you still can't ride it. But you can — thanks to the kind bloggers at Gowanus Lounge — at least take a spin on the YouTube. Jane's Carousel Debuts in Dumbo [Gowanus Lounge]