Seinfeld, the top-rated, quintessential New York sitcom much praised for its skewed observations of everyday trifles, has long offered its viewers a rich, practically mythic inventory of catchphrases, in-jokes and goofy trends. In fact, powerful feedback effects of Seinfeld mania can often occur. A recent episode about an irritable, dictatorial soup chef (the "Soup Nazi") has caused queues to form along West 55th Street outside the small takeout shop of one mightily peeved Al Yeganeh, the real life "fascist" (brisk trade notwithstanding, Yeganeh has taken none too kindly to his new nickname). It's common knowledge, too, that the main Seinfeld characters have their own actual models: crabby George, for instance, mirrors the series creator Larry David; the rubber-limbed, bouffant-haired layabout Cosmo Kramer, is based on David's one-time neighbour, Kenny Kramer. As his fictional counterpart would lead you to expect, the real Kramer is a natural when it comes to get-rich-quick schemes. Last year he launched a "Kramer's Reality Tour" of New York - for $37.50, you get to go on a three hour ride past Seinfeld- related sites (tickets still sell out every week). And now, furthering the phenomenon of public office as publicity stunt/postmodern spectacle/big joke, Kenny Kramer is running for Mayor. The New York Observer claims that his announcement has sparked some concern among New York politicos. "The scary thing is not that Kramer is running in the primary," a secret memo-in-high-places reportedly reads, "but the fact that he could actually win".
Mere weeks after filling the Royal Festival Hall, Neil Hannon - aka the Divine Comedy - swanned over here, minus orchestra, for a cosy, acoustic mini-tour. In a tiny, low ceilinged club last week the unplugged Hannon wowed a small crowd of New Yorkers with a repertoire of songs that, stripped of their orchestral paddings, held up surprisingly well. That said, judging by the number of straight, earnestly appreciative faces, his dripping irony was lost on some. The befuddlement reached a surreal peak when, for an encore, Hannon burst into a spirited rendition of his equine paean, "My Lovely Horse".
You just can't get away from movie nostalgia these days. Even the new movies are decidedly backward-looking. Two current films about high-school reunions are, in fact, barely disguised nostalgia fests. Grosse Pointe Blank, starring the underrated John Cusack, is actually tremendous fun - a deadpan comedy about a hit man at his 10th anniversary reunion (tunes from A-ha, Nena and the Violent Femmes). In Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, two once-unpopular girls return, all cool and Californian to their dreary Arizona home town. Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow star; soundtracks highlights: Bow Wow Wow, the Vapors and Wang Chung.