Intelligencer: July 18-25

It Happens This Week
• Mets vs. Padres
• 2006 FDNY Firefighters calendar launch in Times Square
• Shoot ’em up, scavengers! Gangster-themed treasure hunt in Little Italy and Chinatown
• Boricua Festival! at Prospect Park band shell
• NYC premiere of Gus Van Sant’s Kurt Cobain–inspired ‘Last Days’

DeanhamptonFalls Flat
Plutocrats stay away from Howard-hosted fund-raiser.
Where are the Hamptons Deaniacs? Some of New York’s wealthiest Dem contributors were no-shows at a $5,000-per-couple Amagansett DNC fund-raiser Howard Dean hosted at the home of Margo and Robert Alexander on July 9—prompting worries that the donor elite are shutting their wallets to protest Dean’s shoot-from-the-lip party leadership. Sources say big-shot supporters Hassan Nemazee, Robert Zimmerman, Carl Spielvogel, and Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel played hooky. “Dean grew up in the Hamptons, and it was his first time back as chair, so he should have filled the room,” concedes a DNC official. “DNC staffers were really disappointed. It spoke to the lack of confidence in Dean among the donor leadership.” DNC spokesperson Karen Finney responds, “It was wonderfully successful and gave the governor a chance to really listen to what people had to say. Unfortunately, due to other plans, those folks couldn’t attend.”
—Greg Sargent

Photo: Glen Weiner/Ipol/Globe Photos

Is Mel Gibson’s‘Passion’ a Tool to Convert Jews?
Nearly two years after it was labeled anti-Semitic (before it even came out), The Passion of the Christ might actually be converting Jews to Jesus. Take rapper 50 Shekel, who found notoriety with “In Da Shul,” a moderately clever parody of a 50 Cent hip-hop track (the Washington Post featured Shekel in a piece about being “Young, Jewish and … Cool”). He recently announced that he has found Jesus—inspired by the movie, which he calls “the most Jewish film ever made. They were calling Jesus ‘Yeshua’ … After seeing Mary sing ‘Ma nish-ta nah,’ I was like, ‘Oh, so this is the Messiah. It all makes sense now.’ ” Shekel, whose real name is Aviad Cohen, even renamed his album, from Get Righteous or Die Trying to For His Glory. Cohen’s Website now proselytizes for Jesus. Susan Perlman, associate executive director of Jews for Jesus, says Cohen’s not the only one to find Jesus via Mel Gibson’s film, which she considers a powerful tool to bring Jews to her faith. “Now that the movie is on DVD, more Jews are watching. I think a lot were afraid to go to the theater to see it.” Gibson’s publicist, Alan Nierob, had no comment on the DVD as conversion tool.
—Shana Liebman

Slow Houseboat toReykjavik
Björk wants to set sail!
There might’ve been more to Björk’s famous swan dress than just an oddball publicity stunt. She apparently wants to live a sort of swanlike life herself, paddling around on the water with her boyfriend, artist Matthew Barney (whose self-transformative fantasies tend more toward being a goat-man). Björk recently told the German paper Süddeutsche Zeitung that the couple, a fixture on New York’s downtown art scene, plan to abandon their meatpacking-district loft for the houseboat life. “Then we could go all over the place in our boat to work,” chimed the pixie chanteuse. Barney’s gallery said that Barney “would prefer not to comment.” But his most recent work, Drawing Restraint, features the couple aboard a Japanese whaling ship that dodges icebergs on its way to Antarctica.
—Alex Mar

Is the ‘Times’Too ‘Frasier’ for Stella?
The stars of the new Comedy Central series Stella are stalwarts of the downtown performance scene, so their friends took it as a personal attack when Times TV critic Virginia Heffernan wrote that the show doesn’t “yield simple, genuine laughs.” She even tried to prove it by quoting a friend of hers who said, “I watched that thing as if my face was palsied, that’s how not laughing I was.” “If Ms. Heffernan opened her sampling up to even five other people, she’d find at least a couple who think Stella is one of the most original and, yes, funny shows around,” says John Hamburg, who wrote Meet the Parents. Stella made him laugh so hard, he spit up his beer. “It’s just stupid-funny,” says comedienne Sarah Silverman, who thought Heffernan might favor Frasier; Stella “may be too intimidating” for her. Comedy writer Ryan Iverson sees larger critical issues: “Does it make any sense to heap sarcasm on ‘focus-grouped’ sitcoms and then complain about Stella being too ‘idiosyncratic’?” Heffernan is undeterred. “I’m glad they’re so powerful and cerebral. I just wish they were funny.”
—Shana Liebman

NightclubGoes Intellectual
Can culture make Lotus blossom once more?
Lotus has long since lost its exclusive grip on meatpacking-district A-listers. So to keep the club from sliding into nightlife irrelevance, the owners have decided to appeal to a more cultured crowd. On Thursday, July 7, at 1 A.M., a partially clothed man lifted a woman over his head in the middle of the dance floor, and the two performed ten minutes of strange acrobatic dance. “At first, no one noticed what was going on, and I don’t think people ever really knew what it was,” says Elizabeth Fort, spokeswoman for the Joyce Theater, which supplied the dancers (members of the Pilobolus troupe). “People were saying, ‘What is this?’ It was sort of just like, surprise!” Expect more of this, says Lotus part owner David Rabin, who seems to have in mind a more intellectual audience than normally stands behind the neighborhood’s velvet ropes. They’re even “talking to some people about doing some readings at Lotus of books-in-progress.”
—Emma Rosenblum


Intelligencer: July 18-25