Print and Go Back ESPN.com: 2004 [Print without images]

Thursday, August 5, 2004
Updated: August 7, 6:03 PM ET
The Party Report

By Tim Struby
EXPN.com

The good news: I made the plane. But then things started to go downhill.

The first bad omen was my seat. I changed it so I wouldn't have to bump elbows with a grouchy old lady, only to discover that my original seat was tucked next to a very cute, bored-looking blond.

The second sign? Instead of watching a fat Kurt Russell portray 1980 Olympic hockey team coach Herb Brooks in "Miracle", I decide to take out my pen and scribble notes. My pen explodes. Casualties include my lone pair of clean pants and my favorite red-and-white-checked shirt. Plus I think I saw the cute blonde snickering at my misfortune.

Third? I discover I'm not booked at some sleek, hipster haven, but at the Biltmore downtown. True, it's around the corner from the Staples Center and half the entire ESPN staff is there, but the place is a cavernous monolith (creepy). It's downtown (lame). Telling people from LA that you're staying there is like saying you live in Transylvania. But considering I'm not footing the bill, I comply.

So there was only one thing that would make me feel better. A party.
Four reasons why I love covering the X Games this week.
By 8:20 that evening, my editor and I are on our way to the T-Mobile bash on some rooftop. A-List they tell me. Get there early. Since my editor has rented a purple minivan, I force us into a cab, and begin a Cuervo-fueled ranting about the evils of celebrity.

We arrive at 8:45. The place is on the Hollywood outskirts, and it's some sort of mall/parking garage. I can't really tell, but all I know is that the public bathroom has an attendant. With mints and cologne. Yikes.

It turns out to be a parking garage, and upstairs, on the roof, the place is a mad house. Not yet open to revelers, three-hundred-plus people are corralled behind a metal barricade. It looks like some sort of WTO riot in the making, but instead of masks, the protesters were wearing Prada.

I slip through the crowd and find myself staring down a table of list-wielding flacks. I recoil in horror, collect myself, then give my name. "Sorry," says the little harpy, peroxide oozing from her roots. "Your name's not here."

"It's very important," I say with a smile, and sprinkle my lie with bold-faced names and reference to my venerable body of work. She couldn't care less. Then I realize I know her boss from my days as a flack. Bingo ...

We stroll quickly past the cadre of paparazzi to find ourselves on a garage rooftop. On one end, there's a massive stage set up for tonight's performers, The Black Eyed Peas. In the center, surrounded by a cage, stands a mini-halfpipe filled with skaters. There are couches and chairs sprinkled throughout the vast rooftop like my cousin Tommy's basement. And there are three bars. OPEN bars. We head for the bar.
Hmmm ... new T-Mobile phones. Yes, very interested. Yes, please show me all the new features ...
Since the roof hasn't filled up yet, I beeline for one of the wife-beater-clad T-Mobile gals "displaying" the latest phones. I rant about hocking phones, capitalist exploitation, Trotsky and, I vaguely recall bringing up 'the revolution.' She smiles at me and says she's from Brazil. I head back to the bar.

By 10, the place is pumping. Wall-to-wall flesh—legs, mid-drift, cleavage—reminds me of Mike's Deli on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. I grab some flesh for myself - one of the charbroiled, double hamburgers they're passing out as snacks—and look for famous faces.

Turns out I can't swing a dead cat without hitting a celebrity. Street star Eric Koston politely ordering drinks at the bar. Spider-girl Kirsten Dunst sits chain-smoking in a fetching black dress. There's Leelee Sobieski, Owen Wilson, the guy from that HBO Entourage. I sit on a couch with skater/snowboarder Shaun White.

"All these actor dudes look like they guys from Lord of the Rings," he says laughing between bites of his own burger. "I keep going up to them and I'm like, 'Hey, weren't you that elf guy?'"

I'm not sure what he's talking about, but I nod and go along with it. Then he points.

"See?" he says. "There's that agent Cody Banks guy."

I jump up and hurry over to Cody, Malcolm, a.k.a. actor Frankie Muniz. He's smallish, sporting a non-hipster oxford shirt. We make small talk. I hope I pronounce his name right. He's disinterested until I point out the swirling meat market around us.

"I don't know where to start," he says as two half-naked baubles strut by. "I'm just going to stand here and hope they come to me."

I don't think hanging out with Agent Cody Banks will help my rap (which is non-existent to start with) so I search out my editor, who, at middle age, might be accused of being a narc. A moment later The Black Eyed Peas hit the stage. Loud and lively, the music draws a crowd, which means no lines at the bar. I saddle up and find my editor. He demands I take a photo of Agent Cody Banks. I flee to the bathrooms.

A dozen porta-johns sit in one corner of the rooftop. They're not the hideous Ozz-fest types that have been baking in the sun. They're roomy, with sinks and mirrors. Sadly, they're nicer than the bathroom in my NYC apartment. Even sadder, there's a HUGE line. A mob. And the line isn't moving. Suddenly a porta-john opens, but out of nowhere Paris Hilton in some blue silky dress cuts the line and locks the door. People are pissed. I start chanting "At-tic-a," but the vapid LA crowd doesn't pick up on it.

Finally I relieve myself, and saddle back to the bar. The bathroom took so long I notice the Black Eyed Peas have finished. Kirsten Dunst has left. They're out of beer. I size up the tequila. I look at my notes—illegible—like a computer's 'windings' font. I know that I have to write my story at some God-awful early hour, and then spend the day inside the exclusive Athlete's Lounge. I turn back to the tequila. Good-bye my friend. I'll see you tomorrow ...