WHERE THERE'S SMOKE, THERE'S FIRE? Cliff Kincaid's column on the Web site of the conservative press watchdog group Accuracy in Media is lighting a small fire - or at least producing some smoke. In the article "From Pot to Porn to AARP," Mr. Kincaid states that the American Association for Retired Persons hired Ed Dwyer, "an admitted former drug user and dealer as an editor of its 22-million circulation magazine." Mr. Kincaid goes on to note that Mr. Dwyer worked for High Times during part of the 1970s and has contributed to Playboy and Penthouse magazines. The editor of AARP magazine, Steven Slon, also once worked for Penthouse.
A spokesman for AARP, Marty Davis, told the Knickerbocker that Messrs. Dwyer and Slon are responsible and talented journalists who "have been in the business over 25 years."
"They have worked for mainstream media for all their lives including the Time Warner publications." Mr. Davis said the mission of any good journalist is objectivity, "which they have shown throughout their professional lives."
Mr. Kincaid's column questions the merit of a poll to be released by AARP this spring, which demonstrates support for medical marijuana by senior citizens. It also says that Mr. Dwyer, who is "emerging as a national spokesman for the magazine," helped edit an upcoming article on marijuana accompanying the poll.
Mr. Davis said, "We believe the [Kincaid's] article suggests something that is far from the truth" and "is filled with half-truths and innuendo." He added, "All research done in the AARP publications are done by independent national survey pollsters and researchers, which are supervised and reviewed by AARP, not the magazine." He said furthermore, "The findings are the result of independent research and analysis and not the opinion of AARP."
Mr. Davis said a highlight of the survey results is that older Americans - some of whom are AARP members and others of whom are not - "seem not to be in opposition to legal, medical marijuana," which many states have passed local laws allowing.
ELATED ELEPHANTS The New York Young Republican Club - America's oldest such organization - hosted its annual holiday party Wednesday at Katwalk on West 35th Street.
The e-mailed invitation encouraged its members to come to a bash where "We can celebrate W's victory without looking over our shoulders." The party was held on the mezzanine and was organized by NYYRC's chairman, Robert Alan Hornak.
Enjoying the party was a partner at consultancy Point of Impact, Peter Reznikoff, who portrayed George Washington in a play by Jonathan Leaf. Asked if he was related to Objectivist poet Charles Reznikoff (1894-1976), he said no, but added that they used to live in the same building, on West 69th Street.
Greeting many attendees was Steve Shaw, who is running against Mayor Bloomberg in the Republican primary. His campaign slogan is: "Lower Taxes. More Jobs. The Right Priorities."
There were many more political hopefuls in the room. The Young Republican Club's president, Paul Rodriguez, who once challenged Rep. Nydia Velazquez in the 12th Congressional District, is gearing up to run again.
He said of the congressional districts in the city, only one seat is held by a Republican, Rep. Vito Fossella, and that as long as Republicans control Congress, and as long as New Yorkers send Democrats to Congress, "We are going to be ignored."
Also seen was Robert Capano, who is a community relations adviser for the Brooklyn borough president. Mr. Hornak said Mr. Capano, a graduate of St. Edmund's Prep on Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn, is likely to run for city council in 2005 in the 43rd District in Bay Ridge.
Computer programmer Matthew Slavin is considering a City Council run in Manhattan. "I think New York is way overtaxed," he said. He went to school in Riverdale "where everybody around me was liberal." He recalled being one of the few in his class at P.S. 24 who raised his hand as supporting Ronald Reagan when the vast majority were supporting Walter Mondale.
Among others at the party were NYYRC's membership chair, Angeleque Vasilakis, who works as a women's wear buyer and a vice president at Greater Talent Network, Joshua Yablon, who ran against Gale Brewer in Council District 6 in 2003 and is a potential candidate in 2005.
The Knickerbocker talked with the Conservative Party Leader for the 81st Assembly District, Mark Goret, who is helping to plan the annual Ulysses S. Grant birthday celebration at Grant's Tomb in April.
The executive director of the Young Hispanic Republican Association, New York chapter, Aziza Fishman, stood by BethAnn Coppola, who works in marketing, and said she supports President Bush "150%."
One person who migrated upstairs to the party from the bar was Vilna Joven, who works in the music industry. Ms. Joven happened to be at Katwalk celebrating her birthday with about 20 friends. She came upstairs with a friend who signed up for the NYYRC e-mail list.
FOND FAREWELL A candelit birthday dinner for 75 in honor of auto dealer and philanthropist Nancy Curry O'Shaughnessy was held at the Library at Le Cirque on Monday, marking the last private dinner party at Le Cirque, which is closing.
LARRY, LAUREL, AND LEOPOLD Comedian and impressionist Larry Shaw has edited a film script tentatively titled "Leopold of the Shoe store," a farce in the style of Laurel and Hardy, "only it would have been censored back then." The main character, Leopold, is a shoe store clerk, whose boss is "the most pompous nobody who ever lived." The chief villain is named Eric, a burly guy with tattoos.
Mr. Shaw recently participated in a comedy evening at the Laugh Factory with Professor Irwin Corey, who said: "The secret to long life is to owe people money, because when you owe people money, they want to keep you alive so they can get their money back. So borrow money from everybody and don't pay back. Start with your friends and when you run out of friends, make new friends."
KNICK-KNACKS The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research will award the Irving Kristol Award in Washington, D.C., on March 2 to Mario Vargas Llosa.