NY Mirror

And there are no 'mos in World Trade Center either (though I did catch a quick shot of a leering tranny hooker). We've been singed out of the apocalyptic day just the way Mark Bingham's sexuality was notably absent from United 93. Instead, you get the straightest story ever told—about two guys left in the wreckage who happen to be great cops, terrific fathers, and top-notch survivors. (Only OLIVER STONEcould be contrary enough to make a feel-good story out of 9-11.)

After Stone decided that even the whittled-down gay element of his Alexander ruined it at the box office—I guess he didn't notice that Brokeback Mountain went on to rake in almost 13 times its cost—he's retreated to family values and the joys of the human spirit (as written by others). Over heart-tugging music, the characters—adrift in a Samuel Beckett wasteland of mangled metal and shattered dreams—hallucinate Jesus coming at them with a water bottle and declare sentiments like "It's as if God made a curtain out of smoke shielding us to what we're not yet ready to see!"

Still, I found much of the film powerful and feel NICOLAS CAGE does his best work when he can't move. And Stone does include some realistic gay baiting when one cop gets badgered by another for wearing colorful shorts. ("Do they make those for men too?" the harasser says—and the whole incident turns out to be a product placement for Target, by the way!) At the end, a dewy-eyed marine—in white undies, no doubt—vows that we're gonna have to get some good men out there to avenge this thing. Maybe in the sequel, they'll show us bombing Iraq instead.

I should mention that Kiki—the previously discussed broad with the baritone— isn't thrilled with the new no-liquids rule at hyper-vigilant airports. "Kiki DuRane without her sports beverage?" she deadpanned. "You don't know terror."

Speaking of good men with avenging weapons, I hear—late-breaking news—that the West Side Club will supposedly be a goner soon, so pack up your greasy towels and run for the showers. But bachelorettes can rejoice. DANNY THE WONDER PONY—the saddled guy with the bit in his mouth—recently ponied up to Happy Valley to ride people to freedom. Where's he been all these years? Shedding? "I've had an exclusive booking at Tequila Joe's in New Jersey," Danny explained to me, braying, as I glanced down to see if he's hung like a, you know.

But there's one less promoter at the Valley these days. Scene star Sophia Lamar had been bad-mouthing the place's bracingly mixed Tuesday-night party, which is my second home (third, if you count Duane Reade). That irked hosts KENNY KENNY and SUSANNE BARTSCH, a/k/a Mrs. DAVID BARTON, who encouraged Lamar to take a chillaxing vacation. She ended up quitting ("I didn't get paid enough to keep my mouth shut," Lamar tells me) and found that her Barton Gym membership had been as terminated as my last parasitic crotch visitor. But Lamar swears she hasn't done voodoo to get back at Bartsch. That's good to know. Now I go do doo-doo. I hope the seat is clean.

musto@villagevoice.com

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