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Scene Last Night: Ali, Mailer, Caro, Boesky, Dick Cavett

Norman Mailer Center
Andrew McCarthy, author of a new memoir, arrives at the Mandarin Oriental for a gala benefiting the Norman Mailer Center and the Muhammad Ali Center. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

As the Norman Mailer Center and the Muhammad Ali Center passed out cash awards to young writers last night, literary lions and scions pondered investing.

“Joel and I are always on the phone about our stock portfolios,” Robert Caro, author of “The Power Broker” (not about a stockbroker) said, grinning at Joel Conarroe, former president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

John Buffalo Mailer was not joking when he recommended investing in soybeans and water, as lamb cigars were passed around in the sunken lounge on the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental.

“Water, it’s more important than oil,” he said. “It’s an essential that is literally a matter of life and death. I take the sustained-life view.”

A son of the writer Norman Mailer, he got his “crash course” in finance acting in Oliver Stone’s movie “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”

Garrison Keillor, host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” said he delegates the task of managing his money. “Some Swiss, bald guy does it. I have faith in him because he’s Swiss.”

Also bridging the bookish and entertainment worlds was Andrew McCarthy, former Brat Pack movie star and recently published travel writer.

Chris Napolitano, former editorial director of Playboy, said he tried investing his money on his own. “I had a sister that worked at Goldman Sachs,” he said, offering his credentials. He lost it.

“The best thing for editors and writers is to not play that game,” Napolitano said. “It’s to go safe, with annuities, mutual funds.”

Playboy Googles

At Playboy, he did have a run-in with the successful initial public offering of Google Inc. An interview in the magazine with Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page threatened to delay the IPO, as a violation of the “quiet period.”

“Did I buy Google stock? No, I did not,'' Napolitano said. ``Our copy editor did.”

Investing in a gala ticket -- at prices ranging from $1,500 to $10,000 -- yielded high entertainment value. The program featured Alec Baldwin indicating with one four-letter word his feeling after the first presidential debate, and Dick Cavett recounting how Muhammad Ali, who sat in a chair nearby, slept in Cavett’s bed at his Montauk home, to the surprise of his wife.

Arty Armory

The Park Avenue Armory celebrated its fifth anniversary as an art space last night, with a glamorous arrangement of birthday balloons.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings got guests dancing, including art dealer Marianne Boesky, daughter of Ivan Boesky, the actor Patrick Stewart, and Strauss Zelnick, chairman and chief executive officer of Take-Two Interactive Software.

The first artistic director of the armory, Alex Poots, said he’s announcing his initial slate of programming in January, to begin in the spring.

“I’ve been listening to the space to figure out what will work here,” said Poots, who maintains his post as director of the Manchester International Festival in England.

One thing learned last night: The 55,000-square-foot Drill Hall makes a great party venue. Poots stayed on with the after-party revelers, a young crowd who flirted over the music of DJ Mick Boogie and snacked on Wafels & Dinges waffles.

Large screens showed videos of past performances in the hall, everything from Royal Shakespeare Company to Shein Wei Dance Arts to motorcyclists spinning around as they painted on the floor.

Members of the After Party Committee included Benjamin Lerer, partner at venture-capital fund Lerer Ventures and co-founder and CEO of Thrillist Media Group, and Uma Seshamani of Barclays Capital Inc.

“Hopefully we helped raise awareness around this amazing institution,” Seshamani wrote in an instant message this morning. “The space is amazing -- one of the largest in the city, unique in style, and the breadth of arts featured I think resonates with a varied crowd both in age and interests.”

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater and Lewis Lapham’s podcast.

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