In 1888, Edwin Booth, the famed Shakespearean actor, along with Mark Twain, General William Tecumseh Sherman, and a slew of other distinguished American notables from the nineteenth century, formed their own club where they could hang out and smoke cigars and sip brandy and yap about the dramatic arts. They also created a fund to help struggling actors. They called themselves "The Players," and their club was run out Booth's old townhouse at 16 Gramercy Park, where it is still in operation.
In the past few days, the club's picturesque Stanford White façade, facing the tony private park, has been partially blocked by a sight uncommon in this quiet residential neighborhood: the union rat. It's a sign of lingering troubles within.
Our favorite celebrity sighting of the week was, of course, Lindsay Lohan at Peter Luger on Tuesday night — that’s because we saw her with our own eyes. Of course, we can’t be everywhere and see everyone, so as usual we’ve combed the gossip columns for other stop-ins. We’re sorry we missed Tracy Morgan at the Plumm, shirtless and offering to father babies as usual, and boy do we wish we were a fly on the wall when partners Ken Friedman and Taavo Somer, along with David Chang, dined with Stephen Starr at Buddakan. Is there a Spotted Buddafuku in the works?
Astoria: Sunswick is having an Abitas beer promotion on Sunday with drink specials, but if you’re less concerned about game day, you could check out the renovation at Il Bambino. [Joey in Astoria]
Carroll Gardens: Naturally Delicious caterers, who also did this blogger’s wedding, will deliver a V-Day menu that includes baked oysters, lobster bisque, tenderloin, a cheese plate, and a Valrhona flourless chocolate cake to those who want to stay in but aren’t able to whip up our sexy stash of recipes. [A Brooklyn Life]
Flatiron: City Bakery kicks off its monthlong hot-chocolate festival tomorrow, which highlights rotating "additional flavors, from Caramel or Banana Peel to the Chili Pepper or even Beer varieties." [Restaurant Girl]
Midtown East: If you show up at Sakae Sushi and find that it’s closed for a couple of days, you can stop into nearby Yakitori East on 44th Street. Just remember: The winter specialty shirako that their menu dubs as "soft cod roe" is "rather beige globules of sperm sacs." [Gothamist] On February 12, eliminate "menstrual and sexual health concerns" through food at D’Or; let’s hope there’s chocolate involved. [Love Your Femme via Gridskipper]
Union Square: Mesa Grill impresario Bobby Flay just got back from Greece and would fly there again for all that "delicious Greek olive oil and some lemon and some potatoes and Greek salad," but if he would just stay in New York, maybe Mesa Grill would have been able to hold on to more of its stars. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Don’t be put off initially by the austere, quiet nature of Sky Hirschkron’s You Called Me, an endearingly sad little film about a young Japanese man bouncing between two girls over the course of a day.
As the election has morphed, so has New York's comprehensive Electopedia. It's now Obamafied! It's got everything you needed to know about the Illinois senator but never thought to ask, like: Who is his worst enemy? How often does he go to church? And just how rich is he? Answers to those questions are already in there for our hometown senator, Hillary Clinton. But now, as battle gets heated (okay, stays heated? Gets scorching?), don't forget to use the handy guide to figure out how they stack up on the issues they don't talk about on TV.
Since the writers' strike has been keeping us from passing judgment on what's real and fake on Gossip Girl, we took the debate to the street at last night's celebration for the New Old Navy. The minute we saw Chace Crawford and Blake Lively, we of course asked them whether they read our awkwardly obsessive coverage. Both seemed politely interested (though previously unaware) of our weekly recaps. "Oh my goodness! I'm flattered!" laughed Lively, while Crawford asked us to show it to him on the red carpet, and told us that even though he "isn't a big Internet blogger," he'll check it out. OMG! Did you hear that guys? They're such liars. Even we Google ourselves and check to at least page three, and we're not famous. But anyway, we know it's standard stalkee procedure to pretend your stalker has no effect on your life. While talking blogs, we also dug into the carefully guarded identity of Gossip Girl herself. Lively laughed off the rumors of it being Eric, saying "I personally think it's Chuck," and real-life Gossip Girl narrator Kristen Bell took the more cerebral route: "She's just that eminent being in the back of your head, the little devil on your shoulder all the time." It felt like a good high-school gab session when Lively bragged to us about how she's the best Guitar Hero player in the cast (hello! Just like on episode eight!) and her Crumbs cupcake routine ("I cut them into fours and love the peanut-butter and red-velvet ones".) But as it turns out, we aren't the only ones feeling that Serena and Nate are Just Like Us: "While we were on set, these very Upper East Side–ish kids came up to me and said, 'We are, like, you guys, in real life.' But I was like 'I am so sorry to hear that, I would not wish that upon anybody, our lives of debauchery and scandal.'" Wish it upon us, Chace. Wish it upon us every Wednesday night, please! —Amy PreiserHear more from the New Old Navy Party, with quotes and pictures of Heatherette, Kirsten Bell, and Sophia Bush!And we know you need more Gossip Girl, so just get it over with and click here.
Every time we read about fantastic food events in faraway places (like, say, Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey), we fume at the fact that we are only reading about them. Why must we be, like Mr. Duffy in James Joyce’s A Painful Case, “outcast from life’s feast”? Such was our mood when reading Wednesday of the bacchanalian “beefsteak” banquets being held in New Jersey, but then, toward the end, we were reminded that New York has its own beefsteak coming up. It’s Beacon’s Beefsteak, of course.
At the GQ party for up-and-coming menswear designers last night, André "3000" Benjamin wasn't the musical entertainment, but rather one of the celebrants. His Benjamin Bixby label — a small, American-football-influenced line — made its quiet debut in a hotel room on Tuesday night, and even Her Vogue-ness Anna Wintour came by to offer good advice. "She liked it," Benjamin said. "She was saying she hopes I get the right investors that believe in what I'm doing."
Sean John last showed in February 2003. So how can the designer bring his name to the forefront this Fashion Week? Casting all African-American models is a good start. Novelist and New York correspondent Brian Keith Jackson took our cameras to the Sean John open call in midtown yesterday afternoon. Watch the video to check out the hot competition.
Video: Sean John Open Call [NYM Video]
Big snuggly papa bear Julian Schnabel isn't mad at Sean Young for drunkenly heckling him during his speech at the Directors Guild Awards the other night. He just wants to press the Blade Runner star, who has subsequently checked into rehab, to his frontal afghan and make it all better. "It was fine. It was really fine. I'm sorry she got taken out of there," the Schab, who has surely witnessed worse behavior from substance abusers in his day, told USA Today. "If I had a couple of minutes with her, I could have brought her up on stage and we could have worked it out." Now that would have been an award-winning show.
Schnabel: No hard feelings [USAT]
Earlier: Sean Young Learns Not to Mess With the Schnabel
The Palm, having launched satellite steakhouses everywhere from Atlanta to Atlantic City, will soon have a third restaurant right here in the 212. The restaurant confirmed a tip that a third Palm is coming to the financial district — Chambers Street, to be exact. We’re still working on the address but thought you would like to know, because there aren’t enough steakhouses popping up in Manhattan these days.
Related: Can Downtown Support Another Steakhouse?
With Super Bowl Sunday looming, football pundits worldwide are typing their fingers to the bone predicting who will step up, who will choke, and which commercials will be the most buzz-worthy. Sure, football is a group sport and there's no "I" — or "Eli" — in "team," but we can't help boiling down the big game to its most fascinating matchup: the budding legend versus the legacy kid. How do Tom Brady and Eli Manning stack up, and more important, which one looks better in spandex? Let us be your guides.
TABLOID APPEAL: Tom Brady has been all over the rags this year, thanks to his baby-mama drama with Bridget Moynahan and his ensuing photo-friendly relationship with Gisele. Whereas we only know from Wikipedia that Eli Manning is engaged; "Giants QB Really Digs College Sweetheart" probably won't move any magazines unless he knocks her up with some baby joy. At Tom Brady's house.
Advantage: Tom. Unless you prefer keeping your private life private, but where's the fun there?
• William A. Ackman of Pershing Hedge Funds got everyone freaking out about bond insurers by issuing a report yesterday afternoon predicting that MBIA and the Ambac Financial Group might just lose $24 billion on mortgage investments. “Here comes Ackman at the 11th hour upsetting the apple cart,” Douglas M. Peta, chief market strategist at J.& W. Seligman & Company, told the Times. “I don’t think anybody has really thought it all through, but we all understand the implications of real trouble in the bond insurers could be far reaching.” [NYT] Related! MBIA announced a $3.5 billion write-down this morning. [CNN]
• Wharton is still the number-one place in the universe to pick up an MBA.
• Following in the steps of other CEOs with giant mortgage-related losses, Merrill won't give its top brass any bonuses. But they will give them stock options "to promote the continuity of the management team as they continue to navigate through challenging market conditions in 2008." That's one way to hang on to staff. [Reuters]
Though fashion is full of men and their muses —Yves and Loulou, Marc and Sofia, Isabella and Phillip — rarely do female designers cop to having a special lady of their own. But corsage-crazy moppet and noted destroyer of women's fashion Patricia Field is apparently the exception. “Sarah Jessica Parker has the best body that I have experienced and probably will experience in the future," she rhapsodizes in today's Observer. "Because I mean, she’s just got great proportion, great tone, great movement, grace,” she continued. “She’s got long legs, a high ass. She’s miniature, but it’s all perfect.” Yeah, nothing like that hulking Germanic horse Meryl Streep.
How Patricia Field 'Experiences' Sarah Jessica Parker's Body [NYO]
Oh, no, she didn't! While talking about her costume designs for The Devil Wears Prada this past weekend at the New Yorker Festival, Patricia Field committed the ultimate woman-on-woman crime: "No way I was going to apply Anna Wintour's look to Meryl Streep; it would have been a mess," she told the audience, then explained why: "Meryl Streep is a German, big-boned, different woman." Oh, dear. In lady-speak, calling someone big-boned is like calling someone Rubenesque, or curvy, or basically, an outright lardass. Patricia better send Meryl some chocolates — no, flowers! — right away.
Redesigning the Crowd [WWD]