Retiring type: James BRADY'S BUNCH

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With the Spice Girls breaking up, "Seinfeld" off the air, and Ginsburg the Lawyer sacked, where are the constants in this whirling, ever-changing universe? Where are our emotional anchors in times of angst?

Publisher Julie McGowan of Food & Wine reports its 16th annual Aspen "pig out" (my term, not hers) was an enormous success. The June 12-14 event drew more than 5,000 food lovers who paid $500 a head just to get in. Top foodies like Jacques Pepin, Emeril Lagasse, the great Patricia Wells and top wino Frank Prial were among the experts on hand.

Deborah Fine, who publishes Bride's, says the August/September issue will be the biggest for those months in the mag's 64 years. It'll carry 770 pages of ads compared with 692 a year ago.

Good House has a new director of sales development. She's Jeanne O'Donnell, who moves over from Hearst Group.

Just about everyone cashed in on Seinfeld. TV Guide reports those four Seinfeld covers by artist Al Hirschfeld (of the series' four major characters) sold half a million copies at newsstands over the average issue.

At Elaine's the other evening where Graydon Carter and Vanity Fair toasted Gail Sheehy and her latest book ("Understanding Men's Passages"), the old New York magazine gang held an alumni reunion. Clay Felker (Gail's husband, of course), Marie Brenner, Walter Bernard, Dick Reeves, Aaron Latham and like that. Just back from Texas, filmmaker David Brown ("Deep Impact" is his latest winner) told me Helen Gurley Brown did three things she'd never done before during their trip: "rode a horse, fired a gun and climbed a tree." Before I recovered from this astonishment, Helen informed me, ". . . and I skinny-dipped." Is there no limit to this woman's daring?

Tom James, longtime ad sales ace for Ad Age, retired with a swell party atop 30 Rock in Manhattan's Rainbow Room.

They're celebrating at Nickelodeon, the monthly for kids that just marked its fifth birthday by raising the paid rate base guarantee to 875,000 from 700,000 a year ago. Laura Galen is editor in chief.

The September number of Rodale's Backpacker carries its annual apparel guide, an issue I for one always look to with eagerness.

Longest average one-way commute in the country? It's New York, says a new in-car radio listening survey.

Last of the oldtime Hollywood press agents, Lee Solters, apparently doesn't much like Larry King. Lee writes that Larry blundered in asking Time Editor Walter Isaacson if Sinatra's funeral mass would be "a front page," when everyone knows magazines have "covers."

Men's Health (Rodale) promoted Joyceann Shirer to senior consumer marketing director.

A new stage version of "The Jazz Singer" with Sam Harris as Al Jolson is headed to Broadway in December. The great Samson Raphaelson wrote the original play.

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