Adages: No hanging chads in this election, but there are plenty of loose lips

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It was a sodden election night outside 13 Little Devils, a sweaty bar in the dark depths of the Lower East Side of New York, and Kate Duyn, the reigning Miss Rheingold, was sucking on a cigarette. "I've had my turn," she said, as the rain drizzled on her silky tresses, "now it's someone else's." Kate was once famously photographed bathing in a tub of Rheingold brew in a poster campaign for the brand. Were the suds chilly? "No way," she said. "It was warm and sticky, and it smelled awful." But still, she added, it was great being the beer queen while it lasted.

A crowd had gathered at Devils to hear who would take the crown as Miss Rheingold 2004. Dani Marco, a Devils barkeep, was among six finalists who had been campaigning for the title for several months. The winner would be decided in an online vote that was being counted that night.

At 9 p.m., the bar began to fill. A small man in a tan Oxford shirt arrived. It was Rheingold CEO Tom Bendheim. He was exhausted and wet, after having stopped at four bars to let the other candidates know they hadn't won.

The crowd applauded as Tom announced above the din of the bar that Dani was the winner. What happened next surprised even Dani. Kate threw her arms around the diminutive brunette and did what she later described as a "faux-Madonna"; in other words, she went into lip-lock with the girl, a gesture that-Adages fears-is destined to replace the simple handshake and pat on the back at award shows and elections.

If you can't win 'em, rob `em

Meanwhile, Powell, Rheingold's ad shop, which came up with the idea of reviving the ages-old Miss Rheingold contest for the newly resuscitated brew brand, was burglarized Halloween weekend. Missing were a handful of laptops, digital cameras and five One Show Gold Pencils-awards the shop had won for various campaigns during the boutique shop's three-year existence. Neil Powell, president, is a stoic type who hails from Kentucky, where he grew up on a pig farm, so it's not unusual that sordid behavior like this really doesn't faze him. "But I don't understand why they took only five pencils," he said, drolly. "They left 13 others behind."

So far, the NYPD has no leads, but they have fingerprints.

The inside rope-a-dope

Felix Dennis, president of Dennis Publishing, dropped by the offices of Ad Age recently, with Don Atyeo in tow. Back in 1975, Felix and Don co-authored "Muhammad Ali: The Glory Years." Miramax Books has just reissued it, complete with a few new chapters and a stunning array of photographs, many of them silvertone, of the former champ's bouts in and out of the ring. This big bruiser of a book proves once again that Felix is no slouch. To research it, he and Don followed Ali around the world from Vegas to Zaire, and to write it they holed-up in a remote cottage in the English countryside and hammered away at dueling typewriters, facing each other.

"We swore off drugs and women," said Felix. "And that could get pretty boring, so we brought some boxing gloves to get into the spirit of it. All I can tell you is that Don weighed more than me, and it was a very bad idea. Because you'd start off just tapping around to break the boredom of writing and then of course someone would land a half-lucky punch."

Don, who said he floored Felix several times, replied: "They weren't lucky at all."

Take a jab at rlinnett@crain.com

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