Before we get to the events for the week, I want to try an anti-plug. This is a delicate operation because for hypemongers, all press is good press. The only way to really punish a bad writer on a book tour is to ignore her, but Lisa Schiffman's Generation J was simply too bad for that. A lot of books are bad, yeah, but this one was offensive. It claims to speak for me! Ostensibly a book about the young generation of American Jews, Generation J is a staggeringly solipsistic, pretentious, uninformed and ungenerous memoir. It's about Schiffman's intermarriage and her ill-advised writerly aspirations. In fact, Generation J has damn near nothing to do with Judaism at all. The book just uses Schiffman's quote-unquote heritage?which, as she explains it, amounts to blithe ignorance of tradition and skin-deep understanding of culture?as a marketing peg.
The cover image, of the author's naked back, on which an ornate star of David is tattooed, gives a pretty good indication of the mentality we're dealing with here. But just to embarrass Schiffman, as she should be embarrassed, here's a typical quote: "I close my eyes, run my fingers over my notes. I touch the words, touch myself. Skin touches skin?the skin of the page, the skin of my body. Page. Body. Word. Body. Judaism." Schiffman's in town for several readings this week, but to find out where and when you'll have to check the Listings, which start on the next page. Listings. Page. Dumbass. Page. Judaism.
Only slightly less annoying is all the hype about David Bowie. Okay, he still looks good in a magazine, but isn't it obvious by now that Bowie's most recent hits?e.g., "Blue Jean" and "China Girl"?were not good songs and he's only gotten worse since then? I'm almost 30, so I'm beginning to understand how that middle-aged slide into horribly bad rock can happen. My soft spot for Sebadoh seems increasingly questionable, yet I still stand by them. But to remain affectionate toward Bowie, enough to covet his current recordings, even after Tin Machine, after the Glass Spider tour, after Tin Machine II and Outside?that's deeper in the swampy morass of fandom than I'll ever sink. Looks good on you, though, tough guy. Bowie's hotly anticipated new album, hours? hit stores on Oct. 5.
Speaking of sinking into more ass, Monday, Oct. 11, is National Coming Out Day, and that's exactly what you'll be doing, tough guy, if you let the world know about your preferences. It's lovely the way the annual closet egressing ritual coincides with Columbus Day this year?just one more thing to get people who want everyone to help them reenact a Nick at Nite vision of America gnashing their dentures.
People of all ages and persuasions have all kinds of reasons to say, "I wanna know." But it's especially for young, sexually active people saying, "I wanna know" about their genitals?as in "I wanna know what this sore on my thingy is, and how I should treat it"?that the new website www.iwannaknow.org was created. It's nifty, and brought to you by the American Social Health Association, "Your Partner for Personal Health Since 1914." Betcha didn't know you had such a partner for so long.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Getting into the spirit, if not the letter, of this event is the very worst of the "modern rock" era's bumper crop of unskilled white-suburban rap bands, the Bloodhound Gang. These Howard-Stern-worshipping no-talents appear at Irving Plaza on Monday to support their new album, Hooray for Boobies. Bloodhound Gang also supports breast awareness, and even has something to do with cancer: they're exactly as funny as it. (10/11, 17 Irving Pl. at 15th St., 777-6800, $16.)
For real, though, you can help by taking a ride in the Chevy Venture Joe Boxer taxi. That's the specially decorated minivan cab from which 100 percent of all fares go to benefit GM's Concept:Cure program. It'll be around until March 2000, so you have time to find it and hail it. A less ridiculous benefit is Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, the American Cancer Society's annual walkathon, which will start and end in Central Park on Sunday, Oct. 17. (888-ACS-8899 to register.)
While I'm doing public service announcements, I want to make one especially for older New Yorkers. The MetroCard Van sells MetroCards at street level, so mass transit riders who prefer to take the bus don't have to deal with subway stairs in order to get a card. The hard part, now, is finding that confounded bus. So here ya go: On Coming Out/Columbus Day, the MetroCard Van will be at the corner of 72nd St. and Madison Ave. from noon until 3 p.m. On Oct. 20 it'll be at the corner of Grand and Essex Sts., from noon until 2:30 p.m. Call 638-7622 to learn more. This message was brought to you by Your Partner in Weekly Event Previews Since 1999.
On the eve of Coming Out/Columbus Day, Styx will play Hammerstein Ballroom. Styx is most notable in 1999 for their impassioned defense by Adam Sandler?himself notable for being the poor man's Howie Mandel?in the movie Big Daddy. Others know Styx as Your Partner for Pop-Charting Art Rock Since 1972. To the truly discriminating they'll always be regarded as the poor man's Marillion. It's just another Sunday night of disgust in Heimytown. Wait?I'm uncentered?let me go over my notes. I touch the words, touch myself. Art. Rock. Styx. Touch. Sandler. Judaism. My book deal. Flapjacks. (10/10, 311 W. 34th St., betw. 8th & 9th Aves., 307-7171, $35.90.)
Okay, feeling less cranky now, ready to share. Here's something that made me laugh, from the ET online preview of the new Harrison Ford/Kristin Scott Thomas action/romance, which opens Friday. Ford portrays "a tough minded internal affairs cop involved in a high-stakes corruption case," and so his character's name is "Dutch Van Den Broeck." I know it's not that funny, but I can't help but repeat: "Dutch Van Den Broeck." Even for the man who wore "Han Solo" and "Indiana Jones" with a straight face, "Dutch Van Den Broek" must have posed a challenge. I guess the studio figures that if audiences are going to accept yet another pairing of a senior-citizen leading man with a barely middle-aged woman, we'll accept anything.
But don't ask us to swallow fiction with our history! That's the consensus on another flagrantly bogus Dutch?Edmund Morris' new Reagan biography. No matter how Morris' book is received he'll stand as an inspiration to writers everywhere for generations to come, because the man finished several years past deadline and still got paid three million dollars. Truly awe-inspiring. Morris can be applauded when he reads from Dutch on Wednesday at Lincoln Triangle Barnes & Noble. (10/6, 7 p.m., 1972 B'way at 66th St., 595-6859, free.)
For history etched in stone, there's always (by which I mean until Jan. 9, 2000) "Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids" at the Met. It's huge, monolithic, withstanding the test of time as the noble camel withstands a standstorm?face first, neck unbowed, eyes open, stepping ever forward. It takes a long time to see the whole exhibition, especially with the crowds it's been attracting, and that situation is only going to get worse as holiday season approaches. This weekend might be the perfect time to go, as the Oct. 5 unveiling of two other special exhibitions?"Portraits by Ingres" and "Carleton Watkins," and the Oct. 7 unveiling of "Rodin's Monument to Victor Hugo"?will likely cause a temporary deconcentration of the omnipresent horde. So even if you're a busy, busy person, at least pop in and visit the current Met poster boy and girl, "King Menkaure and a queen." Forty-five hundred years old, just under lifesize, carved from a dark blue stone called graywacke, these two can really help a viewer achieve a sense of perspective. (1000 5th Ave. at E. 82nd St., 535-7710.)
Because that's what it's all about, isn't it, Rudolph? We all get so wrapped up in running the city, punishing the wicked, cleaning the scum off the streets and whatnot that we risk losing sight of the big picture. Let's count our blessings: no one is going to throw elephant poop at your mother, nor at God's. Well, that's but a single blessing, but isn't it enough? I found Chris Ofili's The Holy Virgin Mary to be among the least interesting works in "Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection," and Rudy's headline-grabbing reaction to it is hardly compelling, either. Yes, the state doesn't have to fund what the state abhors; but no, Giuliani is not the sole executor of the will of the state. It's hardly even a battle, as both the Mayor and the Brooklyn Museum of Art are getting exactly what they want: hype.
Above and beyond all that (and ignoring the audio tour narrated by David Bowie), Sensation has a lot to offer, with a nice mix of trendy crap and emotionally or intellectually challenging works. It's fun to decide which is which. The description cards go a little too far in articulating the questions the pieces supposedly pose, so be sure to let yourself react before reading. The hype obscures the fact that many of "Sensation"'s works are humorous?I say, go with friends and expect to laugh out loud. (Through Jan. 9, 2000, 200 Eastern Pkwy., right next to the Eastern Pkwy. 2/3 station, 718-638-5000, $9.75.)