The Bush Twins, Ready to Rock
In the wee hours yesterday morning, reporters were on the hunt for the real rock stars of the Republican convention -- those irresistible Bush twins -- and found them hanging out with a posse of pals in the DJ booth at Avalon, a 1846 Episcopalian cathedral-turned- dance club. (It used to be called Limelight and was a notorious drug den for trendy New Yorkers.) Not quite as quiet as church mice, thirsty young GOPers packed the place to the rafters to hear the southern rap-rock stylings of Kid Rock, who also covered what might be described as "awesome" tunes by Led Zeppelin, Queen and the Allman Brothers Band.
We are privileged to report that we saw one of the Bush daughters pumping her fist during Mr. Rock's performance, but we couldn't really tell which one. Other details come from the grueling stakeout conducted by People mag and posted on its Web site yesterday:
Jenna Bush, in a "lacy white shirt," drank Miller Genuine Draft and, in evident violation of New York's prohibitive smoking rules, "lit up and shared cigarettes with friends as she danced." Meanwhile, sister Barbara, wearing a "black silk dress and pearl necklace," clapped along to the tunes.
While that news was happening, we headed to B.B. King's Blues Club, where a former member of the Allmans, Dickey Betts, churned through some classics from the Jim Beam-and-quaalude era with his Great Southern band. We walked in during the kind of ear-punishing drum solo that should have died with the 1970s, but the weirdest deja vu was yet to come. The 3 a.m. headliner turned out to be Super Diamond, a Neil Diamond tribute group, whose sequined and sideburned members would never be mistaken for the real thing. Perhaps the idea was to drive the crowd from the club. Mission accomplished.
Now He's Singing a Different Tune
* Christian Josi may work for a Washington PR shop (Dezenhall Resources), but his purpose at the Republican convention was far more entertaining: He sang swing-era tunes at two parties and even got to sit in with the legendary guitarist Les Paul. Another highlight: "I got to serenade Katherine Harris at Grover Norquist's tax reform party," he told us excitedly yesterday.
With a vocal style that reminds fans of Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick Jr., Josi, 34, recorded an album 10 years ago but then went to work in conservative politics. "All my worlds collided here," he said. "I've seen clients with their mouths agape who didn't know that I did singing, and my old political friends, and my musician friends from New York who were just amazed to find themselves in a roomful of drunken Republicans, myself included."
Andre 3000: Kast Your Ballot
* Nonpartisanship is so cool: Trailed by a documentary crew in the halls of Madison Square Garden earlier this week, OutKast's Andre 3000 had a thoughtful conversation with Rep. David Dreier of California, who expounded on the Republicans' plans to tackle urban blight. Mr. 3000, aka Andre Benjamin, came to New York to do interviews for the HBO film he's making about his conversion to political activism. (The 29-year-old has never voted.) Being down with "Declare Yourself," a nonpartisan voter registration campaign aimed at young folk, Benjamin worked the Democratic convention as well, but perhaps his crew got a bit too close to the action in New York City: Two of them were arrested while filming protesters near the World Trade Center site.
On Wednesday the fashionable hip-hopper interviewed Jenna and Barbara Bush. He told the Associated Press that the twins surprised him by mentioning OutKast in their convention speech, adding: "If you're on the team of the Republicans, I think it was smart to do. 'Cause some people, they don't care. They're just like: Hey, I want to go to where all the cool people are." To which we say: Hey, ya.
Live From New York, It's John McCain
* News flash: John McCain is getting more attention.
He was, of course, at the center of it again Wednesday night at a bash he threw for himself at Cipriani, a Manhattan restaurant. McCain joined comedian (and Frank Sinatra impressionist) Joe Piscopo in a rendition of "New York, New York," which the Arizona senator culminated with a leg kick. Piscopo, who's toying with a run for governor of New Jersey as an independent, also serenaded McCain with "John McCain's Way." Now we know what Joe's been working on all these years: his singing!
Many of the 1,500 guests were McCain's closest friends -- which is to say, members of the media establishment, including NBC's Tim Russert and Tom Brokaw, and Time's Joe Klein. Also on hand, reports The Post's Mark Leibovich, were Fred Thompson, Henry Kissinger, Rudy Giuliani and "Saturday Night Live" regular Darrell Hammond -- who isn't running for office so far as we know but could win over voters on both sides with his killer impressions of President Bush and John Kerry.
* Conservative radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh, 53, who announced his separation from his third wife, Marta, in early June, is dating CNN anchor Daryn Kagan, 41, a spokesman for Limbaugh has confirmed to us. The two were spotted at a party Limbaugh co-hosted at a New York restaurant, where guests included Vice President Cheney, New York Gov. George Pataki and Sen. Bill Frist. The coupling came as a surprise to some friends who consider the Atlanta-based Kagan part of the liberal media axis and a feminist -- but, then again, opposites attract. Kagan, who has been with CNN for 10 years, hosts "CNN Live Today," which airs from 10 a.m. to noon, ending just in time to catch her sweetie's three-hour radio show.
* Hey, you, you're off-message: A convention worker stripped some Florida delegates of their signs advocating "Jeb '08" Wednesday night, and a CNN producer had one wrestled away from him by an angry delegate. Says a network spokeswoman: "We were going to use them in a shot and were completely startled when they were taken away." Evidently, Gov. Jeb Bush, who's in Florida dealing with yet another hurricane, didn't authorize the premature boost.
With Anne Schroeder