Botero with a shiny appendage

Michael Lomonaco always comes across as one of the nicest guys in New York, ever since my consort shot him in the wine cellar on 52d Street years ago. So when a friend and I found ourselves late on a Saturday night trudging up grim Eighth Avenue in the high 50s looking for a nightcap I suggested his latest place, even though it happens to be located in the dread TWC. We walked out $40 lighter after a glass and a half each, but was it ever worth it. Not only was the wine list adventurous (excellent Greek sauvignon blanc, Santa Ynez chardonnay) and the noise level set at “adult.” We actually got to hear two words I thought were obsolete before midnight in New York: Last call. I don’t claim to be a good reader of body language, but I got the strong sense why the grownups were battening the hatches. Barbarians were storming the Stone Rose gate across the mall hall. What made it all worthwhile, beyond realizing yet again what an anti-drag it is getting old if it means you can blissfully avoid that kind of pathetic scene, was that it helped me forgive myself for endorsing a blight with my patronage of a good part of it. It was exactly the kind of experience you would have in a big glassy shopping center in Hong Kong, another seductive city that exists on so many fascinating levels. Those silly people at our tourism agency missed the best slogan ever with all their thrashing around: New York — more un-American every day.