The SIFF closing party (a dull affair) afforded me my first glimpse of the recently renovated, expanded, and altogether altered Space Needle, and I have some very bad news to deliver. The following report stems from a single late-night visit on an evening when the Needle was specially decked out for the party (thousands of gerbera daisies hung everywhere), so it should not be read as definitive. I also didn't see the restaurant, which I pray was left untouched. What I did see: an awful late-modernist glass cylinder jammed in at the base of the three structural members of the building; an over-large, asymmetrical curving ramp, glass-clad, which swoops around the base up to a small elevator entryway, ruining the continuous radial symmetry of the original building; a ground-floor gift shop that reduces some of the tacky excesses of the earlier, smaller shops (and I'm talking bad teal '80s excess, not preservation-worthy '60s crap), but expands the feeling of pure commerce surrounding the privately owned Needle.

Upstairs, the scene was worse: The top level has been stripped bare--gone is the penny-smooshing machine, gone too is the weird, small dive bar that gave the family-friendly Needle a little edge. The whole area has been completely swept clean, given dull industrial carpeting, and kitted out with a few soft, undistinguished living room couches. Structural steel that passes through the room has been clad in silver metal and light pine. The entire experience can be summed up in two words: the Gap. Minus the cute dancing models.


Excerpt from Jay McInerney blurb on back of Normal Girl, the debut novel by Molly Jong-Fast: "...a fin de siècle East Coast Less Than Zero from the female point of view."

What a fin de siècle East Coast Less Than Zero from the female point of view sounds like, in brief: "I push my finger down on one of my nostrils and suck in with the other nostril. Zap, bang, pow, the white powder disappears."

What distinguishes Normal Girl from Story of My Life, Jay McInerney's own East Coast Less Than Zero from the female point of view, summarized by its publisher thus: "Supported by her father's money, Alison Poole lives on New York's Upper East Side, spending her days visiting the tanning salon, inhaling cocaine and searching for true love--until life in the fast lane spins out of control!"? Nothing. Well, that's not completely true. Everybody's too scared of cancer to use tanning beds anymore. That's why it's fin de siècle.

Who will star in the movie? If we're lucky, Sarah Michelle Gellar. If we're really lucky, a freshly washed-up Britney Spears.


If you're reading this paper right after it hits the streets on Wednesday, go home and watch Survivor now! If you're reading it Thursday or later, you've now possibly missed four episodes of the most addictive, argument-inducing show on television. You know the setup: Fourteen people, divided into two tribes, given rudimentary tools, and stuck on an otherwise uninhabited island, competing against the elements and each other to win a million dollars. It's the apotheosis of Real World-style reality-based TV, it's nasty fun, and it's rich with meaning. Problem is, the way the game is going (and depending on your politics), the show seems to confirm either that the world is an irredeemably sexist, ageist place (of the three people thus far voted off the island, two were women, and the one man, like one of the two women, was old) or that male dominance is a positive, evolutionarily selected trait. Me, I'm splitting the difference by rooting for the fag.

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