SO THIS IS what you've been waiting for; Summer. You've bought those dodgy sunnies, practised holding in your gut for those Kodak moments and booked your holiday. Now you can get even more in the mood with a new exhibition starting tomorrow at Alphabet bar (Beak St, Soho - until July 3) called Traces of Turbulence - an exhibition of jetsam and flotsam from abroad. A tongue-in-cheek collaboration between creatives Rob Clarke and Simon Aboud from specialist ad outfit Magic Hat, it's a laugh, kind of a "visual diary" of their travels over the last couple of years. Clarke let me check it out earlier this week and it's entertaining, offbeat stuff. The 25 piece show includes a set of four soiled aeroplane napkins (the "Traces of Turbulence" themselves) a collage map of America made out of international boarding cards ("Goodbye London") and a plastic Lufthansa 747-400 in a plastic bag, titled "Aeroplane (keep it clean)." The artworks are for sale, although you'll at pounds 300 a pop for a dirty napkin (green thai curry though it may be) you could be forgiven for thinking they're taking the piss. Hell, I could go into the Meghna Grill and do it myself for a tenner.
Staying with the travel theme, there's a new womens mag (yes, yes, another one) which has just reached the UK. Verve is a quarterly, perfect-bound glossy magazine for the "new Indian woman" and Indiophiles in general. For those who don't know, the "new Indian woman" is career-driven and modern minded, but with values that would make a granny proud (Verve's words, not mine). The mag was launched in Mumbai in 96, and is edited/published by Anu Mahindr with the focus on arts, fashion, social and womens issues. The much-hyped opening party at Mayfair's Indian restaurant Chor Bizarre flexed the mag's serious social muscle with India Hicks, Shakira Caine and the Marquis of Bath all rocking up. Alas, the mag itself is less Vogue and Harpers, more Tatler and Hello! Still, the concept is interesting, and you can't knock a night on free champers. Subscriptions 0181 741 4418
On the Southbank, Dogstar is still playing it smart. The owners have just introduced a comedy dimension to the place - Top Dog Comedy & Cabaret - from Sundays to Thursdays on the revamped second and third floors. Launch night on Tuesday was rammed with the usual friendly, no-bullshit crowd. A bit of luvvie-panicking in the early stages set things back by half an hour, but hey, nothing wrong with a bit of anticipation. Steve Frost ("Who's Line is it Anyway?") compered and all three comedians whipped up the crowd with two hours of solid comedy. Regular nights include an open mike session on Mondays, for anyone brave (or pissed) enough to give it a go. Wednesday is alternative cabaret (sword-eating, glass-chewing; nutters basically) and Thursdays is an impro night from the "Whose Line is it Anyway?" lot and the Comedy Store Players. Harry Hill's in action on the 30th.
On the party front, you'll have noticed that we've entered the open cruise season. Firstly, congratulations to the Sancho Panza crew, who threw an awesome Thames boat bash last Sunday for 200 up-for-it partiers. Also to the Scaramanga boys who masterminded last night's raucous HMS bash. If you missed the boat this time, don't worry, Scaramanga will be taking their sound to the Notting Hill Arts Club from August and to their regular soundsystem at the Notting Hill Carnival. Scaramanga 0171 733 4506; Sancho Panza via Bar Vinyl 0171 681 7898
Those who caned it last night will appreciate the joys of today's National Cinema Day where you can go along to your local screen and pay pounds 1 (or thereabouts) to veg out. My advice, be gutsy and don't squander your money on watching 90 minute of Hollywood crap. Watch the beautiful Taste of Cherry, last year's Palme D'Or winner from Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (it's worth it); or for the less serious-minded, the demented Nowhere from Lala land's Greg Araki, the third and possibly most bizarre of his "Teen Apocalypse" trilogy (which includes Totally F***ed Up and The Doom Generation). Or do what you want, it's your life.
Foodwise, you may be interested to know that Mr Conran is officially opening another restaurant tomorrow, his tenth according to the PR lady at latest ristorante Sartoria. Location is Saville Row, hence the name (sartoria is Italian for "tailor"), and it's apparently decorated in the style of "Italian rationalism". All that black and grey looked very 80's Habitat to me but what do I know. Traditional Italian grub (roast suckling pig, risotto with rabbit) from whizz-kid Irish chef Darren Simpson (formerly of River Cafe) and an extensive cocktail/champagne bar will have the Soho set wetting themselves in excitement, while fashion types will love the bastes on the walls, donated by current Saville Row tailors.
Finally, I trotted along earlier this week to the preview of Brassed Off, the stage version of the 1992 film about a South Yorkshire colliery brass band. Opening night is tomorrow at the National Theatre and it's worth going along, even if it's just for the live brass band that joins the cast on stage every night. Rousing stuff.
Clockwise from top: Greg Araki's bizarre new film 'Nowhere', the final installment in his 'Teen Apocalypse' trilogy, now showing at the ICA and Metro; 'In Deep Water' (pounds 450), by Rob Clarke and Simon Aboud, part of the exhibition 'Traces of Turbulence' showing at Alphabet bar, Beak St, Soho from tomorrow; the latest Conran restaurant, Sartoria, on Saville Row which opens to the public tomorrow; and a comedian in action at the launch night of theTop Dog Comedy & Cabaret at Dogstar, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton