Intelligencer: September 26 - October 3, 2005

It Happens This Week: September 26–October 3
• Happy 51st, Reverend Sharpton!
• Hoffman-as-Capote biopic bows.
• Lech Walesa at the 92nd Street Y.
• Another big Yanks-Sox series.
• “Grete’s Great Gallop” road race in Central Park.

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

‘Naked Chef’Cafeteria Duty
No more “donkey bollocks”for kids! Jamie Oliver’s on NYC schools recon mission.
Naked Chef Jamie Oliver is thinking of bringing his school-lunch crusade to New York. Earlier this year, he did a four-part TV show in England called Jamie’s School Dinners, during which he blendered entire chickens to show where nuggets come from and danced around in a corn-on-the-cob costume. Eventually, he got Tony Blair to set aside $536 million to improve school meals. “America’s kids have some of the worst health issues because of eating junk and not exercising,” he says. “I thought maybe we could help here. Help them eat real food instead of packaged lies. You know, turkey which is real turkey and not donkey bollocks.” Brokers at Mark David rented him a five-story West Village townhouse (at over $35,000 a month) as his headquarters for a monthlong recon of the city’s cafeterias (most of which are presumably far from Greenwich Village).
—Beth Landman

Please, Sir,May I Have Your Apartment?
Conrad Black divests.
Conrad Black’s former company, Hollinger International, has been forced to shed many prize assets—including London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper—as a result of the embattled press baron’s alleged financial improprieties. Now Sir Conrad, who has lost much of his fortune fighting the charges against him, is shedding a prize of his own. His 4,500-square-foot apartment at 635 Park Avenue, which boasts a circular gallery, a 30-foot-long living room facing Park Avenue, and four wood-burning fireplaces, is said to have been purchased by developer Marty Berman for the full asking price—$10.5 million. Though the apartment carries the whiff of scandal, one broker notes that “there are precious few apartments of this size in triple-mint condition,” and another admirer points out the “dramatic” moldings and calls the pad “so gorgeous I can’t even tell you.” Black has listed the co-op with old-guard society broker Pat Patterson of Sotheby’s, who declined to comment.
—S. Jhoanna Robledo

Boarding School of Rock
The Arcade Fire’s Exeter detractors.
Indie-rock sensation the Arcade Fire wowed Radio City Music Hall when the group performed with David Bowie at Fashion Rocks, appeared on Letterman, and ruled the CMJ Music Marathon with another triumphant, Bowie-bedecked set—all in the past month. It’s a long way from the Grill, Phillips Exeter Academy’s on-campus snack bar, where front man Win Butler (class of ’98) honed his skills to the general indifference of his fellow boarding-schoolers. “Somebody was always buying a Diet Coke or getting Doritos for an all-nighter while we’d be trying to perform,” recalls classmate Brittany Butler (no relation). These days, Exonians remain apathetic to Butler’s musical stylings. “What is ‘indie rock’ really, anyway? I’ve never heard of Arcade Fire,” says Steve Wolfe, a New York investment banker who lived in Abbot Hall with Win. (He remembers that the budding hipster’s concession to Exeter’s dress code was a duct-tape tie.) Butler’s sophomore roommate Sam Bradford now owns a software company in Syracuse. Says Bradford, “I don’t remember much about Win playing the guitar except that I wanted him to stop.”
—Rachel Dry

Photo: Everett Collection

‘Showgirls’ WithSock Puppets
Simulated sex inexact.
Showgirls is back—and this time Elizabeth Berkley’s character (“I’m not a whore, I’m a dancer!”) is wearing socks. Or, rather, she is a sock. Harvey Finklestein’s Institute of Whimsical, Fantastical, and Marvelous Puppet Masterage’s Sock Puppet Showgirls opens October 15. “We do all the essential bits, like the strip-club scenes and the goddess dance,” says creator John Shaterian. The highlight is the pool scene, although, he admits, “it’s close to impossible to mimic pool sex—especially with socks.” Still, all the pole-dancing female puppets are anatomically correct, and the Berkley character has big red lips, wild blonde hair, and many costume changes. “She doesn’t always make all of them in time,” admits Shaterian, “but it doesn’t really matter.”
—Shana Liebman

Eggers DitchesBrooklyn Lecture
Oh well—those college kids didn’t like his book anyway.
Dave Eggers’s memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius has entered the required-reading canon—at Brooklyn College, at least. Incoming freshmen were supposed to read it over the summer. But there were problems. Professors were warned that some Christian students were objecting to the book’s sex and vulgarity. Plus its plot was insufficiently linear. “I was like, ‘What the hell is he talking about?’ ” says freshman Alicia Broomes. It was all supposed to lead up to an Eggers lecture on September 8—but he canceled. (Professors and students were told his reason was that he couldn’t leave his pregnant wife.) Instead, BC showed a video of a two-hour Q&A session Eggers recorded at the school in August, with Eric Alterman there in person to answer questions in Eggers’s stead. Virtual Dave left ’em cold, though. “He did say some interesting things—they were just intercut with, like, a lot of ramblings about Bob Dylan and tobacco companies,” says a prof. Another said, “I gave [the students] a small quiz for extra credit to see if they went—simple questions like, ‘What color was his shirt?’ I think only four or five out of a class of twenty had gone.”
—Jada Yuan

Intelligencer: September 26 - October 3, 2005