alexa BlackBook: Flight of Fancy: Why The Wing — NYC’s Buzzy Club Just for Women — is Taking Off

 

GIVE credit to The Crown for schooling us on the anachronistic culture of gentlemen’s clubs. The show’s depiction of the Thursday Club, of which Prince Philip was a member, is all squeaky chairs and sexual impropriety that reeks of unreconstructed masculinity. But what would a women’s equivalent look like today?

Now we know, thanks to the Wing, an all-female club and co-working space, with branches in New York and DC, that’s responding to the #TimesUp moment by creating a safe environment in which women can network and socialize.

“When we think of a gentlemen’s club or even contemporary social clubs, we imagine these dark places, filled with smoke, taxidermy and dark leather,” explains 30-year-old Audrey Gelman, a former Hillary Clinton press aide, who founded the Wing with Lauren Kassan, also 30. “We wanted to take that idea and turn it on its head.”

 

Founded by Lauren Kassan (left) and Audrey Gelman (right), amenities at the chain of NYC and DC clubs include colorful libraries, cheery cafes, notable art, lactation rooms and high-profile speakers, including Hillary Clinton.

 

The results are clean, brightly lit spaces filled with midcentury-modern furniture and amenities including free blowouts and a lactation room. (Not to mention celeb guests like Hillary Clinton herself, who popped by last week for a talk.) The design is “sophisticated, smart and intelligent, but unapologetically feminine,” Gelman tells Alexa.

Whether the best way to respond to gender segregation is with more gender segregation is about to be tested, after the New York City Commission on Human Rights launched a “commission-initiated investigation” into the Wing’s membership policy (which excludes men from joining) last week.

But, as Gelman points out, dedicated women’s spaces are nothing new. “The idea for the Wing was really inspired by the women’s club movement of the 1890s and early 1900s,” she says. “These spaces made a huge impact for women, who could come together and organize during times of political and social change. Here we are, a hundred years later, in another time of change, and we wanted to create a space where contemporary women could do the same.”

She and Kassan aim to cultivate an environment where the aesthetics match their ethos of empowerment. With the help of designer Chiara de Rege and curator Lolita Cros — who fills the locations with works by acclaimed female artists like Marilyn Minter — the two have produced what Gelman calls a mix between “a color-coded women’s college library and the cool Danish apartment of a girl with whom you’d want to be friends.”

 

The Wing’s just-opened space in Dumbo, Brooklyn, offers members a strictly women retreat, intended to foster female empowerment.

 

The Wing is more focused on community and inciting a cultural movement than it is on advancing women’s careers — although that’s also a perk for members, who network with one another and learn valuable lessons from a variety of panels and events held at the space.

“The community aspect of the Wing is the heart and soul of it,” says Gelman. “It’s a space where women can get together, make friends and share ideas — then hopefully create some real, tangible change.”

 

Photos by Bilyana Dimitrova

 

How to Party Properly in Washington, D.C.

I earned my hangover by partying like a rock star. It made sense to recover from it like one, too, so I nursed my self-inflicted wound in the most baller hotel room I’ve ever stayed in at the W Washington D.C. hotel. They call it a "Wow Suite," but the expression my wife, Jenn, uttered when we walked in began with the word holy. Wow Suite 606 had a dining room table, a curved couch, a trippy chandelier, red LED lighting, two flat-screen TVs, two bathrooms (one was like a spa), a bar, and a massive bed. It was a corner suite, with views past the Washington Monument all the way to National Airport on one side, and the U.S. Treasury on the other, with the White House just beyond it. Supposedly there are snipers on the roof of the Treasury that keep a close eye on on the hotel’s windows. I didn’t notice any, but if they were there, I hope they enjoyed the show, as proper hangover recovery requires a holistic approach. Here’s how we got there. 

The Setup

What ended up being a weekend of serious and successful partying started innocently enough. We wanted to carve a mini-vacation out of the requisite family Christmas visit to Northern Virginia. I cashed in a bunch of reward points from my Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card on the room for the weekend (the upgrade was a pleasant surprise) and looked up a couple of nightclub contacts in DC. Just like that, two New Yorkers became temporary residents of the District of Columbia for 48 hours with no responsibilities other than feeding our own ids. And so we did.

POV Cool

Point of View

Our first official stop after unpacking was P.O.V. Lounge, on the top floor of the hotel. The point of view up there was even more striking than from the room, with a breathtaking panorama of the city as the sun set on the winter solstice. We toasted the deep freeze with tumblers of Blackstrap Snap (rum, ginger, fresh-squeezed lime, blackstrap molasses, nutmeg) and Washington Apple (bourbon, fresh-pressed apple, maple, smoke, Pork Barrel Aromatic Bitters). The world didn’t end, and our wild night was just beginning. Like the W itself, P.O.V. is a chic yet comfortable space. A large, high-ceilinged barroom is designed with views in mind, both of the city and the comely staff. Booths by the massive windows are low to the floor, while some interior tables are elevated, ensuring that your gaze never rests upon an unpleasant sight. I’ve not been everywhere in town, but I’m reasonably confident in saying that if POV doesn’t have best sunset cocktail experience in DC, it’s easily in the top 5. During the warm weather months, the large outdoor area must be sublime.

Bubbles

Upon returning to the suite, we noticed that a bucket of ice containing a bottle of champagne had appeared. Pop!

Lost and Found

And then we took a taxi to a fun and fancy steakhouse called Lost Society, where we met Tony Hudgins, owner of the new nightclub Capitale (our next stop) and a couple of his friends. For those who love steak but crave a bit more style than the corporate-card set can handle, Lost Society is a great choice. It’s trendy like some sleek Soho tapas joint but a thousand times more satisfying, food-wise. My steak was a perfect medium-rare, my wife’s scallop entree was flawless, and we massacred the fried Brussels sprouts side. The music rose, the conversation got louder and weirder, several rounds of shots appeared, followed by dessert, which included some gooey, decadent chocolate thing that the table went nuts over. The celebrations were well underway, and there were more toasts to surviving doomsday, until it blissfully passed as a topic of conversation. A quick stop at the bangin’ bar scene upstairs got us even further in a party mood (e.g. more shots).

Capitale Photo

Venture Capitale

It was time to finally head to Capitale, so we piled into taxis and giddily watched the ropes part for us. Tony and his business partners opened Capitale a few months ago in the space that formerly held the K Street Lounge, and it’s a sensory overload in all the best ways. A Hogwarts-meets-Hollywood aesthetic (oil paintings and book-lined walls) gives it a smart, cultured vibe, but the thundering sound system and lightning-fast bar staff keep the energy level sky-high. Good thing I’d heard about the massive tilted columns dividing the room in advance, as things were starting to look a little sideways to me by that point. A bottle service setup appeared and I helped myself, though on reflection I’m not sure who it belonged to. But we were all having fun and Jenn was looking sexy and we danced and drank and talked to strangers as you do at a proper party until one of us had the good sense to grab a taxi back to the hotel. My memories of Capitale, hazy as they may be, are of a fun, lively spot with great music, a young, attractive, multiracial crowd, dynamite drinks, and cool, interesting decor. Recommended for anyone wondering if DC knows how to party. (It does.)

The Hangover

I woke up first at around 6:30 to go to the bathroom and drink some water, then slept blissfully until 10:00. Jenn was still asleep when I got out of bed and explored the scene. Our clothes were scattered across the room. A container of fancy pretzels from the minibar sat open on the table. My head pounding, I texted Tony to see if I had anything to apologize for (all clear), then pulled on my outfit from the night before and headed out to get some air. I came back a half-hour later with a hangover-busting haul of coffee, juice, Gatorade, and some crepes from some nearby creperie. Jenn got up and we drank coffee and munched on crepes as warm sunshine filled the room. I crawled into the shower, still feeling awfully grim but enjoying my hangover, and turned the dial until warm water flowed from the rainfall shower head. Over the next 20 minutes, I must have done every position on the evolutionary chart until the purifying waters and fancy soaps, gels, and shampoos finally brought me to back to modern homo sapien. Jenn went to the W’s SWEAT fitness center for a run. I took a nap, then another shower.

Keytar

The Recovery

By about 2:00 in the afternoon, we were mostly recovered, and realized that the day was getting away from us. With more dinner and nightclub plans ahead of us, we had just one opportunity to do something cultural with our time, so we could tell people we did something other than party on our trip to DC. (Basically, we needed a cover story.) We bundled up and headed into the cold, walking past the Washington Monument and heading to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Let me tell you, it’s the best place to walk off the remaining pains of a trenchant hangover. We saw the Greensboro lunch counter, the Emancipation Proclamation, a soul-crushing pair of shackles used for child slaves, Abraham Lincoln’s top hat, Dorothy’s red slippers, a stoneware rum jug, Kermit, and a U.S. Army Jeep from World War II. I took a picture of Jenn standing in front of a keytar.

Back At It

We’re beer enthusiasts, so we had dinner at a beer-centric restaurant called Birch & Barley, which we loved. Our waiter, Carl C., was extremely well-versed in all the different varieties of beer they had, both on draft and in bottles. We ordered a cutting board of charcuterie, which included various different pork products from a whole pig they butchered in-house, and was delicious. And we were delighted to be able to order four-ounce pours of a bunch of different beers. It would be folly for me to recommend any one in particular, just tell your server what kinds of beers and tastes you like and they’ll sort you out as Carl sorted us out.

Heist 1

Thieves in the Night

Soon it was time to hit another nightclub, a posh spot called Heist. Heist used to be called Fly Lounge, but it’s been redone spectacularly to resemble a hideout for jewel thieves. Heist is the brainchild of partners Timothy Sheldon, Patrick Osuna, and Charles "DJ Dirtyhands" Koch (all three with interesting and varied backgrounds, look them up), and it’s a rather small room, comparable to something like Mister H in New York. But whereas Mister H has decor reminiscent of a Shanghai speakeasy in the 1930s, Heist is all about modern luxury with a soupçon of international intrigue. Design details beg to be dissected over a cocktail or two. In various recesses of the space you’ll find a collection of stolen art, a teddy bear stuffed with diamonds, and a suitcase with handcuffs attached to the handle. The bar itself is riddled with bullet holes. Closed circuit TV footage of actual robberies plays on a continuous loop on three small monitors. A gold-dipped water buffalo skull hangs on the wall behind the DJ booth. (Of course it would be the height of irony if Heist itself was robbed, but they’ve probably taken that into account.)

The result is a fascinating subterranean spot to sip a cocktail like the Gold Rush–whose flawless ice cubes sport beveled edges–and feel a bit dangerous yourself. We were among the early shift, drifting in at around 10:30 to chat with the owners. The real spenders started showing up at midnight, as Dirtyhands brought the beats (Biggie mixes, among others) and young women wearing short dresses served trays of vodka shots in crushed ice as sparklers lit their way through the silvery darkness. Heist seems to draw an upscale, sexy crowd of bottle buyers who love good tunes and ample eye candy. Compared to Capitale, which was a big-room blast of high-wattage fun, Heist is a more intimate environment, a chillout spot for the city’s coolest cats. Both are perfect when the night calls for them, and either would thrive in New York City, competitive with the sleekest spots in Manhattan or Brooklyn. As the crowd at Heist grew wilder and sequins and stilettos started slicing through the dance floor, we took our leave and scooted back to the W in yet another taxi. (DC has ample cabs, at least downtown.)

What Happened?

Armed with a late checkout, we slept in again the following day, sipping coffee and snarling as the mood struck, finally packing our bags and heading back to the real world in the afternoon. It was officially a whirlwind weekend of food, cocktails, music, dancing, socializing, danger, fun, and even some culture, and looking back from a week’s distance it’s impossible to pick a highlight. My recommendation: for lack of a better itinerary, do DC like we did: W Hotel – POV Lounge – Lost Society – Capitale – Smithsonian Museum of American History – Birch & Barley – Heist. You’ll love it all. And to my fellow New Yorkers, I heartily recommend Washington, D.C. as an easy weekend getaway. It punches well above its weight entertainment-wise, yet has a wonderfully laid-back vibe. And the hangovers are spectacular.

[Related: BlackBook DC Guide; listings for W Washington, D.C., P.O.V., Lost Society, Capitale, Birch & Barley, Heist]

Washington, D.C.’s 5×5 Project Pairs Cherry Blossoms With Cutting-Edge Contemporary Art

After a limp, snowless, utter failure of a winter, residents of Washington, D.C. are reveling in the beauty of spring, a clearly-defined season marked by the spectacular blooming of 3,000 cherry blossom trees that line the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park. It was 100 years ago this year that the people of Tokyo, Japan presented the trees to Washington as a gesture of friendship, and the city is marking the "Centennial Celebration of the Gift of Trees" with parades, performances, fireworks, and other festivities. But 2012 offers more than just pretty pink flowers to capture your attention. This year, the Cherry Blossom Festival coincides with the 5×5 Temporary Public Art Project, a citywide outdoor art fair that features 25 temporary public art installations at places like the Library of Congress, the National Building Museum, and the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Both festivals get started this weekend, and while the cherry blossoms are a sight to behold, the art will take your brain to another dimension entirely. 

Among the artists featured is Wilmer Wilson IV, who has staged numerous performances throughout the city even though he’s still a student at Howard University. He’ll be participating in the 5×5 Project with a work of performance art entitled Henry "Box" Brown: FOREVER (pictured). The performances pay tribute to the historic 19th century figure Henry "Box" Brown, a slave from Wilson’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia who mailed himself to freedom in the north in a wooden crate. For the performance, Wilson will cover himself with three grades of postage stamps and walk into area post offices, asking to be mailed. (I think that as long as he doesn’t represent anything "liquid, fragile, perishable, or potentially hazardous," he should be in good shape.)
 
Wilson’s work is just one of many fascinating 5×5 projects, so if you happen to be in our nation’s capital between now and April 27, check it out. And if you’re not nearby, consider visiting. Writer Jack Krajewski will be taking in the opening weekend festivities and will provide a full report for this site on Tuesday. 

Washington D.C. Opening: America Eats Tavern

Perhaps akin to the resulting bafflement should Radiohead suddenly announce that they’re going “folk,” the curious reality of wildly experimental chef Jose Andres helming a restaurant so guilelessly monikered as America Eats Tavern has foodistas rather taken aback. But worry not for his avant-garde credentials. In fact, AET is fittingly conceptual.

Specifically conceived to coincide with the National Archives’ thought-provoking exhibition What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government’s Effect on the American Diet, the restaurant will be shut down in early 2012—with only a mini bar by Jose Andres then being retained within an entirely new, yet to be determined dining concept by the chef. Got that? In the meantime, the godhead of molecular gastronomy will offer his take on trad American dining, amidst cheeky vintage food propaganda posters and his own antique cookbook collection scattered about. Overhead beams have been painted red, white and blue. Rouse your inner-patriot with everything from Hush Puppies to Pickled Sturgeon with Caviar.

image

Our Favorite Hotel Escapes

With warmer temperatures beginning to remind us what spring used to feel like, we here at BlackBook have begun to plan our next serious getaway. Since we’re already spending so much time trying to reminisce our way out of the office (hey, it was a long week), I forced our edit team to share what travel destination they’ve been secretly daydreaming of on the clock.

image Ben Barna, Associate Editor Hotel Pick: The Drake City: Toronto

image Nadeska Alexis, Editorial Assistant Hotel Pick: The Mondrian City: Miami

image Nick Haramis, Executive Editor Hotel Pick: Sunset Marquis City: Los Angeles

image Victor Ozols, Senior Editor Hotel Pick: The Belvedere City: Mykonos

image Megan Conway Hotel Pick: The Jefferson City: Washington DC

Our Favorite Hotel Escapes

With warm weather slowly creeping into our collective consciousness, our minds are naturally wandering to summer plans. To be more specific, we’re already plotting our next getaway. Since we’re already spending a great deal of time trying to wish our way out of the office via reminiscing about travel plans past, I forced our edit team to share what travel destination they’ve been secretly daydreaming of during the workweek.

image Ben Barna, Associate Editor Hotel Pick: The Drake City: Toronto

image Nadeska Alexis, Editorial Assistant Hotel Pick: The Mondrian City: Miami

image Nick Haramis, Executive Editor Hotel Pick: Sunset Marquis City: Los Angeles

image Victor Ozols, Senior Editor Hotel Pick: The Belvedere City: Mykonos

image Megan Conway Hotel Pick: The Jefferson City: Washington DC

The Newseum: A Museum for People Who Get Bored at Museums

During our mini-vacation to Washington, D.C. last weekend, my wife and I only had time to do one proper touristy thing, but we chose well with a visit to the Newseum. Now, I don’t want to sound like a philistine, but even at the most spectacular museums, I’m good for an hour, tops, before a sense of general malaise sets in and I start to get cranky and wish I had checked my coat. More Picassos? I think I’ll go see if the cafe has beer. But the Newseum is truly a destination for the modern traveler, because it finds a way to capture your attention at every turn.

The Newseum opened the doors to its super-high-tech building on Pennsylvania Avenue in April, 2008, but it still feels brand new. This is partially because one of its main exhibits is brand new every day: the Today’s Front Pages gallery features the updated front pages of more than 80 newspapers from around the world, which takes the Rashomon idea of different perspectives on the same event to the extreme.

The rest of the museum takes all the best ideas of modern museum science in presenting the history of news in a way that’s surprisingly engaging, touching, and sometimes infuriating. The Berlin Wall Gallery features the largest section of the wall outside of Germany, along with a three-story guard tower that brings the paranoia and suffering of the former DDR into sharp relief. The Great Hall of News has a Bell Jet Ranger news chopper hanging in the middle as a live ticker brings the latest headlines and a high-definition media screen brings home the images of the world as they happen. A selection of theaters, including one that shows a “4-D” film called I-Witness, provide plenty of opportunities to take a load off and enjoy the show. And exhibits on Hurricane Katrina, the FBI, and the First Amendment will show you how much you didn’t know but thought you did without making you feel like a dummy.

Our personal favorite spots were the Pennsylvania Avenue Terrace, with spectacular views of the city, and the News History Gallery, where we spent a solid hour exploring the history of news gathering with newspaper and TV clips and historic items like an old CBS News camera (pictured). And if the weight of the coverage of everything from Lincoln’s assassination to World War II to Watergate brings you down, there are several monitors showing footage of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert riffing on the topics of the times. Arianna is probably not pleased that Colbert’s bit on the Colbuffington Re-Post is given such prominence, but sometimes biters get bitten.

Some parts of the museum will rip your guts out. Jenn had to avoid the September 11 exhibit and I don’t blame her, since she still has the key to her old office. And I bailed out of the Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery early because I couldn’t bare to confront that Oklahoma City Bombing photo with the firefighter cradling the dead child again. But it’s not a mistake to have such exhibits there. News, at its best, causes us to celebrate the triumphs of life and deal with its tragedies. People say they’ll never forget certain events, and that may be true for the emotions they felt, but memories fade and history gets distorted. There’s no substitute for the words and images created as events unfold.

We stayed until closing time, rolling through the gift shop and snapping up three packages of Astronaut Ice Cream for ten bucks, before heading out into the chilly D.C. evening. There was plenty to talk about over beers.

The Hidden Charms of Generic, Low-Budget Corporate Chain Hotels

For our recent Presidents Day weekend getaway to Washington, D.C., my wife and I had originally planned to stay in some trendy boutique hotel – the kind with designer furniture in the rooms, modern art on the walls, and a sceney restaurant and bar filled with the city’s movers and shakers. After seeing the holiday weekend rates for a few of those trendy hotels, however, the idea of cashing in credit card points for a cheap corporate chain hotel suddenly became much more appealing. And that is how we wound up at the Four Points by Sheraton Washington D.C. Downtown. It was as cookie-cutter and bland as they come, but it was also worth every penny Starpoint.

Before I go on, a bit of disclosure: I used to have a freelance gig writing for thelobby.com, a blog run by Starwood, the hotel’s parent company. (Sue me, it paid well.) A corporate shill no more, I’m now free to dish on any hotel in the Starwood portfolio – Sheraton, W, St. Regis, Westin, Aloft, Le Méridien, etc. – without having to use the word “rejuvenate.” But I have nothing bad to say about the Four Points D.C. other than the ice machine on our floor didn’t work, which was a minor inconvenience since I brought along a cooler full of beer and Perrier. Because it actually ended up being a spectacular place to party and chill in D.C. for a couple of days.

Four Points is supposed to be the most downscale of the Starwood brands, geared toward convention attendees like Ed Helms’s character in Cedar Rapids, but the D.C. iteration is actually quite spiffy. They let us check in at noon, giving us a tidy room on a high floor (room 718) as we requested. The room was clean, decent-sized, and well-appointed. The bed was big and comfy, there was free wifi (which more expensive hotels tend to charge for, weirdly), a flat-screen TV with cable (on which we watched the latest episode of Shameless), and a nice framed black-and-white photo of the White House on the wall. It really wasn’t very different than our room at the much more upscale St. Regis Washington D.C., where we stayed over Independence Day, except the Four Points D.C.’s bathroom was a bit smaller and sadder and lacked a Mirror TV.

But the best parts of the Four Points D.C. were found outside the room. The fitness center, which we actually used, had well-maintained stationary bikes, elliptical machines, and treadmills, each with its own TV. And the Capital Grill restaurant, where we had lunch shortly after we arrived, had much better food than a chain hotel restaurant needs to have (try the pulled pork), along with the Best Brews program – a selection of five draft and seven bottled microbrews like Small Craft Warning Über Pils and Burning River Pale Ale. I had a pint of Rogue Dead Guy, which was a great start to the weekend.

Up on the roof, which would be the tenth floor if it was a floor, there is an indoor swimming pool, where we went after waiting the requisite 20 minutes after eating. The pool’s great, especially since so few people seemed to know or care about it. It’s glassed in like a greenhouse, allowing the winter sunlight to warm our lounge chairs (pictured), which were set among tropical plants. And it’s not a three-foot-deep pseudo-pool like you find at some hotels these days. The depth of the Four Points pool ranges from four to six feet, so even if you were drunk enough to dive in head first, you probably wouldn’t wind up paralyzed, not that I recommend that. I cannon-balled in without so much as dipping a toe in the water first. In an instant, I entered vacation mode.

Of course it’s still a little slice of shopping-mall America in the midst of Our Nation’s Capital, a fact that the 200 or so high school volleyball players staying there for a tournament wouldn’t let us forget. But they were having fun and so were we, acting like it was a five-star resort and spending the money we saved on a fancy dinner at Bibiana and expensive souvenirs from the Newseum. After 48 hours, we came to the conclusion that the generic nature of the Four Points by Sheraton Washington D.C. Downtown isn’t a bad thing at all. It means the hotel is a blank slate. It’s as cool as you make it.

Mirror TV: A Ridiculously Unnecessary Luxury I Now Can’t Live Without

Fourth of July at the St. Regis Washington, D.C. Early evening. Near triple digits outside. AC blasting. Feeling rich from cashing in some credit card points. My better half lounging on the enormous bed, flipping through a complimentary copy of Town & Country magazine—Donna Karan says it’s not about me, it’s about we. She’s wrong. It’s all about me as I polish off my shower beer and shave before dinner at Zaytinya. There’s a remote control on the counter between the sinks, but where’s the TV? Power on. An image magically appears in the middle of the bathroom mirror. The TV is inside the mirror! So ingenious, so unnecessary, so … wonderful. I find the channel broadcasting the Independence Day concert taking place down the street. There’s some Muppets, Jimmy Smits introducing Gladys Knight, and I’m shaving and watching TV at the same time without cutting my lips off. It’s amazing, and I’ll suffer greatly when I’m once again forced to shave with a non-TV-impregnated mirror. O luxury items. How you vex me.

Apparently these miracles of technology started popping up in fancy hotels and affluent homes last year, and there’s really not much to them. They’re just flat-screen TV’s hidden behind a pane of carefully polarized glass. But the thinking behind it gets at the heart of the luxury market: the rich should never want for anything, ever. Plasma TV next to the mirror? Forget it, turning your head is for poor people. Every moment of a millionaire’s life should be absolute perfection. Physical activity should only be undertaken when unavoidable: a backhanded wave to dismiss a waiter offering a tray of hors d’oeuvres at an embassy party; an eyes-closed, mmm-I’m-so-worth-it smile amid the sybaritic pleasures of a hydrotherapy treatment; a knowing nod to the croupier at the baccarat table. But looking away from your pretty reflection just to check the five-day forecast? Not in this tax bracket.

Alas, the memories of my brief encounter with the Mirror TV in room 716 will surely fade as I melt back into my quotidian existence as a New York salaryman, but it almost makes me pity the creators of these outrageous luxuries. They must now begin to dream up the next labor-saving, pleasure-giving doodad for hedge funders to smirk at, amused, then disregard like so many insider-trading regulations. In the meantime, at least I don’t have to worry about Big Bird popping up to conduct the National Symphony Orchestra while I’m putting in a contact lens.