"It's stupid to be homophobic," mused a guy working in a downtown bar last night. "And it's really stupid to be homophobic if you're in the restaurant business. And it's really stupid to be homophobic if you're in the fashion business." The subject of his rant: Taavo Somer, the 35-year-old owner of faux-rustic LES hipster haven Freemans and faux-nautical bar The Rusty Knot and proprietor of his own fashion line of $88 t-shirts. Somer was anointed by New York magazine this year as "the next groovy thing," the embodiment of forward-thinking hipster cool. But this ex-employee was of the opinion that Taavo is an ass [UPDATE: Even more opinions now, below!]: According to this guy—who worked at one of Somers' places for an extended period of time—Somer is not just a homophobe; he is dumb. I believe the approximate descriptor was, "big, idiotic bigot." He described Somer as an "idiot savant," able to build successful restaurants while being, simultaneously, "one of the stupidest people I ever met." He also said just about everyone who's worked in Somers' establishments can't stand him. The conversations, he said, go like this: "Oh, you used to work at Freemans?" (*Shakes head in dismay*). Of course, Taavo can always escape to his upstate estate if things get too negative in the city. Just one ex-employee's opinion! Feel free to email us a rebuttal, Taavo. UPDATE: We've received two additional notes about Taavo. The first comes from restaurateur Ken Friedman, Taavo's business partner:
We dislike giving any unnecessary PR to [bad designer], the L.E.S. twit who duped the free NYC paper Metro into putting him on its cover for a racist publicity stunt about a (probably nonexistent) attack by a pack of young black girls on a poor "victim" wearing a [bad designer] t-shirt that said "OBAMA IS MY SLAVE." But sometimes it's important to give coverage to those shining beacons of stupidity among us, so that we all know how not to act. Jewish Week tracked down [bad designer, who's Jewish] for an interview about his bad reputation. Sample: "'I've received death threats on the phone, especially from black people,' [b.d.] said. How did he know, over the phone, their ethnicity? 'They sound African-American.'" There's more!
Tatum O'Neal, the child actress who won an Oscar at age 10 and then got heavily into drugs, booze, and self-destruction, was arrested last night for trying to buy coke not far from her Lower East Side apartment. Her situation is sad—she's struggled with serious addiction for a long time, but has reportedly been clean for two years. The second thing to be said, though, is: A veteran wealthy druggie was "spotted handing money to a street dealer," seriously? That method is far too gauche for the sophisticated cokehead.
How will high-powered members of Viacom's corporate family like Sumner Redstone and Les Moonves be spending some of the days freed up by not having to deal with the boring details of a contract negotiation with the WGA? By heading off for some much-needed head-clearing time early next week at Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa, an executive-pampering Xanadu located in picturesque, improbably named Carefree, Arizona. And when they finally return from their well-earned post-holiday break, they'll hardly even remember why all those rude people in red T-shirts are walking in circles in front of their studios. [United Hollywood]
Rarely has an inhabitant of Manhattan's most hipster-ridden neighborhood ever wished for more bustle. In MTV's virtual recreation of the Lower East Side, however, the emptiness can be disturbing. "My earliest explorations were like starring in my own personal version of I Am Legend," writes a Times reporter. "The streets were mostly empty and I found myself wandering cavernous, depopulated simulacra of the Dark Room and the Mercury Lounge." Pictured here, a view of Houston Street, outside Katz's Deli. Last year, Gawker sent its own correspondent to explore the online hipster playground.
Stacey Snider may have jilted Universal to go shack up with DreamWorks, but she's still got 10 months left on her contract. So either Paramount's lawyers find a way to spring her (read: $$$), or she suffers the horrible indignity of being paid ridiculous sums by Universal to vacation until her pact expires at the end of 2006. [Variety]
It's not exactly news that American Idol has staggering ratings, but holy shit: 33 million people tuned in to see the final half hour of last night's 90 minute show. [THR]
Not all pre-Oscar parties are pointless, celebrity-packed orgies of decadence; in fact, many soirees in the coming days are celebrity-packed orgies of decadence that benefit charities. [Variety]
· Rob Lowe and fellow West Wing alums Mary-Louise Parker, Gary Cole, Tim Matheson, Marlee Matlin, Anna Deavere Smith, Timonthy Busfield, and (deep breath, almost done) Annabeth Gish will stop by the Wing to say goodbye in its final run of episodes. [THR]
· Shortly after the announcement that CBS is suing Howard Stern, Big Les responds to a Stern attack in inimitable Moonvesian fashion: "The good news is that not as many people will hear him as would have a year ago." [Variety]