Freeloader Likes When Someone Else Does the Parking

Lexus Celebrates Its LS 460 With Art Gallery

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The Event: Lexus' 460 Degrees Gallery Opening
The Date: Nov. 13, 2006
The Venue: 461 5th Ave.
The Bar: Two? Three? Maybe four -- we were so well-served by the wait staff, we don't remember.
The Food: Again, so well-served by the wait staff offering alcohol, we don't remember.
The Swag: Negligible: Wine Spectator special collector's issue, Lexus magazine, Lexus music CD
The Crowd: Twenty- and 30-somethings with wild hair, people who weren't celebrities looking like they should be, and one star-struck Freeloader.
Click to see entire invitation.

Question: How does a car inspire an art gallery? Answer: We don't have a clue, but that was supposed to be the idea behind the 460 Degrees Gallery Opening, the invitation to which proudly billed the availability of valet parking. What was promoted as a "Light and Speed" installation for a traveling gallery that started in Los Angeles and will also visit Miami and Chicago was the saddest excuse for an art show we have ever seen. Inside the two-story, open-plan venue was a massive construction of a wooden wave, set in contrast against gray walls, two small video installations and a DJ's mixing table. The car in question, however, was definitely worth feting.

The Lexus LS 460 -- yeah, the one that parallel parks itself -- was a gorgeous centerpiece in Freeloader's humble we-don't-own-a-car opinion. Some clever person even projected moving images on the car to suggest the very "light" and "speed" of the installation's title. At $75,000, the Lexus 460 is arguably at the lower end of the uber-luxury-car spectrum, but that's forgotten the moment you feel the buttery-soft leather interior or plop down in back seats that are more comfortable (and adjustable) than any Lay-Z-Boy you'll ever own.

Freeloader mingled with the likes of Jonathan Bond, founder and co-chairman of Lexus' PR agency, Kirshenbaum Bond and Partners' Lime. Also in attendance was the agency's brand experience director, Jonas Hallberg, who blended right in with the ultrahip crowd.

Ludacris showed up to give street cred to the event and actors Peter Sarsgaard and Paul Rudd -- whom we suspect may be fellow freeloaders -- were also in attendance, but keeping a low profile. Freeloader chatted up Rudd, but when the talk turned to this past weekend's Jets game -- the one where 35-year-old coach Eric Mangini led his team to victory over the Patriots and Mangini's coaching mentor, Bill Belichick -- we had to plead ignorance. Freeloader doesn't do sports that involve stopping the action to measure. To that point, Rudd suggested we were missing out on the exciting world of shot put, javelin and several other track-and-field events. But given that it's unlikely we're going to encounter a world-class shot-putter in our nocturnal hopping about town, Freeloader's OK with that.

Kudos go to whichever event planner or member of the wait staff figured out that, with only two bathrooms in the basement, those in the ever-growing restroom line were apt to get cranky. They paid close attention to the crowd, keeping glasses topped off and mouths full, and as you should have realized by now, Freeloader is happy at any party where we don't have to chase down the canapes.
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