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It's New Year's Eve. Run for Your Life.

Well, folks, we were back for a moment, and now we're gone again. But never fear, Daily Intel will return with a vengeance on Wednesday (and for good. We have no vacation written into our contracts — we just had to stop last week because our fingers, and souls, were bleeding). Since we know you've probably already left work and are going on to whatever horror you've got planned for this evening, we're going to leave you with a bunch of heartfelt wishes for New Year's Eve. While we would normally recommend getting the hell out of the city on this wretched night, we know you all, like us, are still here, and that you, like us, still allow yourself at your age to be bullied by some latent high-school-era belief that tonight should be the most fun night you have this year, and not only that, but the most fun night of your entire life thus far! We sure hope you won't be disappointed! Here's to that! And along with that we'd like to bestow upon you the following well-intentioned toasts… May you… • Know more than eight other people at the giant open-bar party that you paid $200 to get into. • Be so entertained by friends and merriment that you don't have to watch any New Year's Eve special on any major network, including MTV because God help you if you do. • Not have to give a midnight kiss to that only semi-cute person you were sandbagging at the beginning of the evening in case no one hotter came around.

We're Back!

Sean Connery
Welcome back to us, that is. Like many of you, we spent most of the last ten days or so in the isolation tank that is our homes, eating butter and sugar by the fistful, drinking, and willfully ignoring the outside world; the only newspaper headline that passed in front of our bleary eyes was one that said, "War Hero Harry Bailey Returns to Bedford Falls." We were happy, and all was right with the world. That is, until this morning, when we were cruelly deposited back into the cold, cookie-less world we lived in before, blinking, five pounds fatter, and approximately ten times stupider. We thought some of you might be in the same position, so we've quickly pulled together a list of what we think might have happened last week while we were napping. •Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup all got foreign money in their Christmas stockings. •Serena and Dan started dating in real life, sending our Gossip Girl Reality Index numbers flying off the charts. •Benazir Bhutto was killed.

FreshDirect Admits That Something Has Turned Sour

Hey, remember before Christmas when we told you about how FreshDirect was out of many basic products and was having trouble offering prompt delivery times? And how it might have been because of an exodus of illegal immigrant workers after a Homeland Security probe of the company? When we asked a rep for the popular grocery service about the issues, we were cryptically told to "plan ahead and to double-check available times." Now, though, FreshDirect brass are finally addressing the problem. Regular users with e-mail logins were sent a letter late yesterday telling them that this month, the company is "going to have a harder time meeting your food needs" than usual. The letter explains the labor issues and employee shortages they've been battling. Which is all well and good, but if it means we are going to have to carry an entire spiral ham on the M14 bus back from Whole Foods tomorrow, we might just have to move back to the suburbs.

New Year’s Resolutions for the Best New Yorkers

Recently, we were watching John Waters's 1998 movie Pecker, which starred all kinds of great people like Martha Plimpton and Lily Taylor and Edward Furlong, before he got weird and started getting arrested and dating his manager. Anyway, as in all John Waters movies, there were about five really brilliantly funny parts in it, one of which was a game the characters played called "Shopping for Others," in which they'd go to the supermarket and sneak things into the shopping carts of fellow shoppers when they weren't looking. (Like a long phallic gourd in the cart of a mousy single woman or a stack of Depends for a smarmy dude in tight jeans, etc.) Anyway, we got to thinking: How about if, this year, we make New Year's resolutions for others? We've never made New Year's resolutions ourselves — it's weird, every year New Year's Eve rolls around, and we realize we're still kind of perfect! — but we've always felt we were missing out on that great American tradition. Not to mention, frankly, there are people that could use our assistance. So. To celebrate the great New Yorkers who make this blog possible and to help them continue their gloriousness into 2008, we've generously ginned up some resolutions for their benefit.

PETA Shakes Up Anna Wintour

The folks at PETA are really outdoing themselves this year. First, there were the Hairy Kate and Trashley dolls. Now, they've reverted to their old standby, Anna Wintour, whom they've stuck in a snow globe this holiday season — you know, so you can "shake some sense into her." Inside the virtual globe, fearsome opera plays as Anna drifts through a fiery netherworld inhabited by workers in Karl Lagerfeld glasses whose job, it seems, is to skin shrieking animals and toss their carcasses into a massive pile for "pelt pusher" Anna's future coats. It's creepy, of course, but it's still kind of fun to shake the globe and watch "Anna" bounce around in the snow. Until you realize that, whenever she falls, her neck bends at a disturbing angle. PETA's Holiday Snow Globe [PETA]

A Very ‘Gossip Girl’ Christmas

Our mind-shatteringly detailed guide to what in this week's episode of Gossip Girl could pass for real-life New York experience, what seemed kinda fake, and what really put the "Jesus Christ" back in our Christmas.

We Ask Shoppers Whether They’re Spending Like Good, Patriotic Americans

The Times reported earlier this week that nationwide sales of women’s clothes are “unusually bleak” this holiday season, thanks to the slowing economy and weak fashions. As with most everything else, we wondered whether this “ominous” sign for year-end retail revenue applied to those great American exceptionalists, New Yorkers. And so we put some questions to them — plus a couple of bargain-hunting Euros — as they shopped. —Kendall Herbst

FreshDirect Snafu Endangers Cookie Plans, Livelihoods

Fresh Direct
Perhaps, last weekend, you were thinking of making some cookies for your officemates. You were going to give them out this week, before everybody left for the holiday. So you woke up on Saturday morning and you logged on to FreshDirect to order the ingredients. Except, to your surprise, they were out of chocolate chips. And nearly out of flour. And running low on sugar. And then, when you tried to schedule a delivery time, you learned that the soonest they could get your modest ingredients to you was four days from then. You may have been irritated. You may have been outraged. You may have even gone to the grocery store. See, readers, this week there's something amiss with FreshDirect, and it's going to get in the way of your food planning. They're out of many of their staples, and they don't have any available delivery openings. It may be the holiday season, but it's practically unbearable. What could be worse?!

Hello, Kettle? This Is Bonnie. You're Black.

Bonnie Fuller
We're a little confused by Bonnie Fuller's Huffington Post tirade about Lynne Spears. Just a month ago, Fuller wrote a column on the Website thanking celebrity moms for making real moms feel better about themselves. "Every time that our girl [Britney Spears] cluelessly tries to whitestrip her toddler's teeth instead of brushing them or runs a red light with the court-appointed monitor and her two sons all strapped in her car," the tabloid queen wrote then, "working moms across the continent can set back our own personal guilt-meters about our mothering skills." Aw. Perhaps that's a little demented, but we can appreciate the sentiment. But today she no longer loves celebrity mothers. She hates them. Specifically, Britney's mom, Lynne, whom she accuses of not properly teaching her daughters about the birds and the bees, and inadvertently causing her young daughter's pregnancy. "Were you too busy pushing their careers to ever have this heart-to-heart with them?" the Star editorial director demands. "Were you too tied up lining up meetings with record company executives, TV networks, publicists and tour managers to check on whether you were instilling personal values and self-esteem in your daughters?"

Happy Holidays, From the Fox Business Network

When we received this card from the Fox Business Network today, our first instinct was to recoil in horror. Lord, have mercy! we said to ourselves (because sometimes the voice in our heads sounds a little like a southern grandmother). That pack of dogs is trying to tear that poor, defenseless Christmas tree limb from limb! Then we realized, They're not dogs. They're foxes! For Fox Business News! So does the tree then symbolize CNBC? Wow, that is sick. Look at that long, horrible tongue on that one — Oh. That's not a tongue. That's a…bugle? Finally, we got it: The foxes are supposed to be, like…angels. Which makes the golden Fox Business logo at the top…God? Then, slowly, we opened the card…

‘New York Weddings’ Wants You to Relive Your Happiest Day

Hey there, happily married readers. This is a post that's just for you. Bitter singletons, don't bother continuing to read. For once, we're not pandering in your direction. Okay? Cool. Now, you couples: We know that since your wedding, you've maybe caught yourself now and then remembering back to that joyous day, with a fond smile on your face. Wow, you think to yourself in those quiet, personal moments. Why the hell did I only get that one day? How come, since then, there hasn't been a time when everyone devoted all of their attention to you? After all, that was the only time anyone oohed and aahed over a Website full of pictures of just you and your spouse. And lately, nobody has been getting up onstage to read drunken speeches about how pretty you are and how many tequila shots you kept down on your bachelorette party. What the hell? Being married is the hard part. Being engaged was cake. Here at New York, we have some comfort to offer. We're looking to shoot and poll married couples (the only restriction is that they be New Yorkers, and we'd love a range of ages) for story in our Weddings issue. We want to (wait for it) hear all about your wedding! We can do the polls via e-mail or in person at the shoot (and, of course, all answers or quotes that may be a little too honest can be kept anonymous!). We'll probably do the photo shoot in mid-January.

They Steal Christmas Trees, Don't They?

Xmas trees
It’s that time of year again. Pine trees have sprung up along the sidewalks like forests on the concrete and asphalt, and although most of the trees are appraised and bought by happy homemakers, some meet a darker fate. Yes, in the criminal-justice system, there is one seasonal crime that is considered especially heinous: Christmas-Tree Thievery. It's an issue that plagues sellers, who often work alone or with a partner, with a large, difficult-to-keep-track-of stock, year after year, and dealing with the misappropriation of trees has become as much part of the job as enduring the sleet, snow, and rain. But although they have come up with a few ways to foil potential tree-snatchers (tying together those trees out of the stand operator’s view, or, for the more well-to-do, setting up an elaborate network of surveillance cameras), thievery still abounds. Surprisingly, one operator on Avenue A reported, most trees disappear during the day, although there are occasions of alcohol-emboldened theft that happen after dark. Danny Velastegui, a tree seller who works at a stand on Essex Street, described a scene in which his colleague spied a man, “probably drunk,” helping himself to a pinecone, festively spray-painted and covered in glitter, before hailing a cab. He chased the man to the car, demanding payment, but the thief got away with his prize. For Velastegui and his comrades, for whom trees are their livelihood, tree-stealing is an abomination. “It’s like stealing a cross,” he said, mournfully. “What are you going to do, pray to it?” —Ellen Moynihan

MoMo Isn't Exactly the New Seeing-Eye Dog, But He Sure Is Cute

Yesterday and today, the technorati gathered at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for the Interactive Telecommunications Program's famed Winter Show. Among the assorted bots and light displays was a decidedly homespun-looking creature, wrapped in a red, fuzzy sweater. MoMo, an egg-shaped, handbag-size creature made of metal and wood, is billed by its creators as a “haptic navigation device." Imbued with a sort of GPS system, moMo leans in the direction of wherever its user wishes to go, its beating heart speeding up as they get close to their destination. The kinks are still being worked out, as is its purpose — since it won’t stop you from walking directly into buildings, fountains, or the path of careening taxi, so it's not exactly the sort of thing that will help the blind. Right now, it's more like a strange companion for solo travelers. “Think of it this way: If you’re lost in the city, oftentimes someone will just point in the right direction and that’s enough to get you where you’re going,” said 28-year-old Che-Wei Wang, who created moMo with fellow student Kristin O’Friel. Knit-capped moMo certainly seemed like friendliest exhibit yesterday at Tisch, where there was also a beautiful if disorienting “Infinity Mirrored Room” and a creature called “Robbie the Racist Robot.” But it doesn't always seem so benign. "I walk around the streets with it a lot, and I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me if it’s a bomb,” said O’Friel. “So we gave it ears.” — Christine Lagorio

‘Happy Is the Lawyer Who Dwelleth in the House of Unroch's Blog’

You remember William Unroch. He's the lawyer representing possible transsexual Maximilia Cordero in her lawsuits against Jeffrey Epstein and the Post; a blogger; a sometime Daily Intel correspondent; and a genuine crazy person. William read our post earlier on the Wall Street Journal's story about the large percentage of lawyers who suffer from depression and the Websites that have sprung up to help them, and he decided to put his two cents in on the subject.
Lawyers are Sad because they do not read Unroch's blog The Spirit World (you known the site). Guilt and misery are common byproducts of most lawyers. Vicious is as vicious does. The Spirit world will cleanse them. Happy is the lawyer who dwelleth in the house of Unroch's blog.
Hm. Actually, lawyers are depressed because they have insane billable-hour quotas and are constantly fighting with people. That said: Unroch's musings on "dead pig vapor," "Devil Midgets," and Mike Huckabee ("Sounds like a good guy. But does he accept the Space Pig?") do make us smile. Happy holidays, lawyers! William Unroch's Blog [Attorneys NYC] Earlier: Daily Intel's coverage of William Unroch and Maximilia Cordero

Trying to Save Part of Edward Hopper's New York

When much of Greenwich Village was landmarked in 1969, the low-rise sprawl of humble Italian-immigrant groceries and tenements southeast of the neighborhood, along Sullivan and Thompson streets and even Seventh Avenue South, didn't make it inside the designated historic safety zone. The area, while not full of great monuments, has its own quiet claims on history. The artist Edward Hopper lived there most of his life, and his paintings like Early Sunday Morning were set there. On December 10, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and the local community board convened more than 100 people inside Our Lady of Pompeii Church to figure out how to get the city to landmark the area to keep its Hopperness intact. GVSHP's Andrew Berman points out that it's filled with gems like Macdougal Street's Provincetown Playhouse, which launched Eugene O'Neill, and a nearby rowhouse where Louisa May Alcott may have worked on Little Women. Parts of the façade are all that remains of Edgar Allan Poe's house on West 3rd, which NYU subsumed into a big new building, raising alarms.

‘Project Runway’ Star Has New Video, May Have New Show

So, during last night's D.E. Shaw holiday party, recently withdrawn Project Runway star Jack MacKenroth was telling us about his relationship with Dale Levitski from Top Chef. Even though they are indeed seeing one another, they've only been on like four or five dates, MacKenroth explained. But Bravo producers are already exploring a reality show about them. Which may be why even though Jack is no longer on Project Runway, he is so happy in the above video (click to view). And by "happy," we mean GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY. Jack Not Letting Project Runway "Shocker" Get Him Down [Towleroad] Related: The 'Top Chef'-'Project Runway' Mashup We've Been Waiting For [Grub Street]

Nancy Redd Sees Vulvas Everywhere

Growing up, Nancy Redd had a poor relationship with that part of her body that rhymes with Mulva, as Seinfeld famously noted. "I grew up in southern Virginia, where you're lucky if it's referred to as a hoo-ha," said Redd, 26. Then she majored in women's studies at Harvard, won Miss Virginia 2003 and placed in the top ten at Miss America 2004. With a postfeminist résumé like that, it was probably inevitable that she would write Body Drama, a version of Our Bodies, Ourselves for the self-image-addled teen girls and young women of Generation Z, coming out December 27. Covering everything from woes about lopsided boobs and personal smells to serious health issues, it's full of un-retouched photos of buck-naked everyday women, all New Yorkers whom Redd found over Craigslist — including a centerfold of 24 vulvas that gives new meaning to the term "full spread." Redd recounted that shoot to Tim Murphy.

Queens Congressman Gary Ackerman Has a Problem With Santa

This year in Washington, Iowa State Rep. Steve King introduced a resolution saying Christmas is important. Really. The measure called for the House to recognize that "on December 25 of each calendar year, American Christians observe Christmas, a holiday of great significance…celebrated annually by Christians throughout the United States and the world," etc. It was silly and obnoxious, but it passed by a landslide on Tuesday; either because everyone in Congress fears the wrath of Bill O'Reilly or because, well, duh. But there were a few souls who stood up to Big Santa and his Midwestern minion. Nine out of the 381 members of Congress who voted, voted against Christmas; and, naturally, two of these heathens are from our own godless city: Yvette Clarke, from Brooklyn, and Gary Ackerman, from Queens. We caught up with Ackerman and asked him why he hated Christmas. "We don't get presents," said the congressman, who is Jewish. "Nobody wished me a happy Purim!" But seriously, he said, he voted against the resolution for a couple of reasons. One, he doesn't really think Christianity needs special recognition at the moment. "Forty-four out of 44 presidents isn't a bad record," he said, referring to the fact that every president ever has been Christian, although, in actuality, there have only been 43 of them, but never mind. There's also that whole First Amendment thing. "For the Congress to spend time talking about the coming of the Messiah really broaches the wall of separation of church and state," Ackerman says. So, his Christmas message to Christians who worry for his soul? "Light a candle for me." —Drew Armstrong

Viacom Freelancers Continue to Protest Despite Love From Above

Exactly seven minutes before their scheduled 3 p.m. protest today, Viacom freelancers received a memo from HR's JoAnne Griffith saying that the company had decided to let them keep their old health-care plans (although the controversial Aetna plan "has certain advantages that may make it the preferred option for many of our freelance and temporary employees," the memo said — as if!). When the e-mail arrived, "there was a palpable sense of relief," said one freelancer, "however, we are still missing several key items that we had before," including the company's contributions to their 401(k) and paid holidays. So it was back out to Times Square and chanting, and someone even started a blog for True Life stories of Viacom freelancers, such such as this one, titled "Engaged and Underpaid":
"My girlfriend and I recently got engaged and set a date for the fall '08 for our wedding, but [getting on her health-care plan] will cost us a huge chunk of what we had been saving for our wedding. So much for getting married in ’08. THANKS VIACOM!"
Another protest is planned for tomorrow, where the Viacom freelancers will be joined by members of the Writers Guild East, who are on full-time, as opposed to teatime, strike. In Major Reversal, Viacom Returns Healthcare to Freelancers [Gawker]

Intel Road Tests World's Most Expensive Perfume: How Do We Smell?

"The message was brutally simplistic: Don't care about the cost," said Clive Christian at Saks Fifth Avenue this past Saturday afternoon. He was at the department store to celebrate getting into the Guinness World Records book for his fragrance, called No. 1, the world's most expensive perfume. Back in 1999, when he took over Britain's Crown Perfumery, the company's noses instructed him to disregard the sustainability of ingredients and the expense in creating the No. 1 scent. He wound up creating a perfume of Indian jasmine, mandarin, and sandalwood that costs $865 for 10ml and is favored by Katie Holmes, Elton John, the Beckhams, and assorted royalty. We doused ourselves in No. 1 and asked midtown holiday shoppers how classy we smelled.