Sept. 13 2006 1:09 PM

A New Yorker "Talk of the Town" Piece
This event requires our Hackathletes to write from the facts. Sort of. Because it's an imagined event, Slate has taken the liberty of fabricating Donna Karan's quotations. She never said any of the comments attributed to her below. However, all comments about prostate cancer attributed to celebrities are the real thing, culled from a LEXIS-NEXIS search. The Hackathletes may proceed as if the celebrities spoke them at the party.


The Hackathletes are free to imagine trivial dialogue among the attendees as they compose their stories—not because we want to encourage fiction writing but because one of the great talents of a hack is to get people to say what he/she wants them to say.

Also, Hackathletes are free to imagine decor, dress, and events.
The Event
Karan's group, the National Prostate Cancer Coalition, held its three-tier event at the estate of U.S. News & World Report owner Mortimer Zuckerman on Nov. 15. A first-tier donation of $5,000 got donors into Zuckerman's living room to sip wine with Barbra Streisand, James Brolin, Deepak Chopra, Demi Moore, and Bruce Willis. The second-tier ticket was a little less glamorous—a $1,000 dinner in Zuckerman's remodeled barn. The cheap set sprang for the $200 ticket for a dance after dinner. The event raised $224,000. A total of 700 people attended. Entertainment was provided by phallocentric actor Mark Wahlberg, who fronted a rock and swing band. Wahlberg was introduced by Karan rival Calvin Klein. He performed a medley of rap tunes from his "Marky Mark" career and compositions from the Boogie Nights soundtrack.      

The wine session was closed to the press, but the dinner and dance were open to their prying eyes. The press attempted to bushwhack Barbra Streisand and James Brolin as they left, but came up empty-handed. (Streisand wore a pewter off-the-shoulder fitted-bodice Donna Karan velvet gown.)
The Guests
Jann Wenner arrived via limo with boyfriend Matt Nye. Barry Diller parked his yacht at Sag Harbor and he and Diane von Furstenberg motored to the estate. Michael Milken, prostate-cancer survivor, flew in from Los Angeles with fellow Deepak worshiper Michael Jackson. Other attendees included: Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn; prostate-cancer survivor Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf; Carolyne Roehm; prostate-cancer survivor Sen. Ted Stevens; David Geffen; Patrick Ewing; Susan Lazar; Bianca Jagger; Jerry Della Femina; Pete Hamill; Carolina Herrera; Ruth Messinger; Anna Wintour; Maya Angelou; Simon & Schuster Editor Michael Korda, author of Man to Man: Surviving Prostate Cancer; Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw; Susan Molinari; PR maven Peggy Siegal; Edgar and Clarissa Bronfman; Mortimer Zuckerman (hell, it's his place); prostate-cancer survivor Sidney Poitier; Ron Perlman; prostate-cancer survivor David Koch; Lally Weymouth; prostate-cancer survivor Bob Dole; Ralph Lauren; Princess Yasmin Aga Khan; Janet Jones Gretzky; Linda Ellerby; Dan Rather; prostate-cancer survivor Harry Belafonte; Mark Morris; James Toback; and others. Not attending were Frank Zappa, Joseph Papp, Bill Bixby, and Telly Savalas, all of whom died of the disease.
The Scene
At the gate, protesters from PETA shouted anti-fur slogans at the fashion community as they drove into the compound: "Leather is prostate cancer for cows!" "It takes diseased balls to hurt animals!" "Take the cure for cruelty!"

In keeping with Karan's exotic spiritual beliefs, Zuckerman's barn was decorated as a meditation garden, complete with power-crystal displays. Tibetan prayer wheels spun outside the structure. Buddhist monks burned incense and bowed at the guests as they entered.


Working the room were the gossip columnists: the New York Observer's Frank DiGiacomo, the New York Daily News' Liz Smith, and USA Today's Jeanne Williams. All the celebrities fled PR maven Peggy Siegal, who fell face-first in the mud chasing Bianca Jagger.

Holding the hand of her very supportive husband, sculptor Stephan Weiss, Karan told the dinner crowd that she became aware of prostate cancer last summer when DKNY lead designer Twombley Beck was diagnosed with the disease. Also, her guru, Deepak Chopra, educated her about the disease after helping junk-bond genius Milken drive his prostate cancer into remission. She pledged all the profits from her new line of yoga clothes to the cause.

Free bottles of her new perfume, Chaos, were distributed to the crowd. Karan's daughter Gabby hosted the dessert party.

Deepak Chopra led the donors in a wordless meditation ceremony. Guffaws from Mark Wahlberg's bandstand disrupted the mood.
Imagined Quotations From Donna Karan
Prostate cancer isn't a man's disease, it affects all of us. These are our fathers, our brothers, our sons, our husbands, our boyfriends."


"We sell beauty and glamour. We don't sell disease. This is not what our customers think about when they think about the fashion industry. But today we make an exception. Today we sell the disease to end the disease."

"We can beat prostate cancer with Eastern medicine, good nutrition, research, and meditation."

"Women are light years beyond men in their capacity to feel and intuit. We hope that we can help them reach out and touch their disease and find a cure for it. Women freely discuss their ailments. Men cut themselves off from the discussion."

"I think we're going to find out that the heavy-fat diet is one of the main causes of the disease. You must eat healthy to be healthy. New York City's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is testing that theory. Try the carrot sticks and the low-fat yogurt dip."


"We need to reduce the stigma of prostate cancer. There's no reason to hide from it. It's not a loathsome condition. For far too long, doctors have had the power over disease. We must take the power over the disease out of the hands of the doctors and place it into our hands."

"It's not hard to find a poster child for AIDS or breast cancer or leukemia. But prostate cancer? Most of those who have it are middle-aged guys. Face it, they're not very photogenic."

"They need to do what women did. Years ago, the federal government spent nothing on breast cancer. Now it spends $550 million a year. There's a federal Office of Women's Health. Why not an Office of Men's Health, too?"

She urged all men over 40 to get an examination, either the PSA blood test or the conventional physical exam.
Prostate-Cancer Survivor Michael Milken (all this is true!)
Milken founded the Association for the Cure of Cancer of the Prostate (CaP Cure) in 1993. CaP Cure has given $25 million in prostate-cancer-research grants in the past three years.


Milken treated his prostate with hormone therapy to shrink his cancer, then had radiation therapy. As everyone knows, Deepak helped him beat the disease, too. Milken energizes his immune system with a daily massage and meditation. His special prostate-cancer fighting drink is a pink and frothy thing containing strawberries, soy powder, orange rinds, and ground-up green tea leaves.
Real Quotations from Chairman Milken
When you find out you have cancer, it is such a devastating feeling. And I think in order to cope with it, I needed to have a plan that I was going to beat cancer. Two weeks after I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I went to a scientific conference to try to understand what was the state of therapy and treatment for prostate cancer. And four or four and a half years ago, it wasn't very promising. There was no cure for prostate cancer, and there was very little research going on. So I was determined to get with others and form an organization where we could get research. And so, the forming of CaP Cure was an outgrowth of trying to set an organization in place that could quickly address prostate cancer."

"What gives me hope, and it should give every cancer patient hope in this country and around the world, is the technology that's available to us today if we had the commitment to use it to solve the problem of cancer. And I believe the solution lies only a few years ahead."

"I eliminated almost all fat in my diet and increased intake of soy and tofu, which appears to slow the growth of cancer."
Real Quotations From Prostate-Cancer Survivor Harry Belafonte
More black men get the disease, and more black men die from the disease. ... Somehow I felt quite omnipotent. Just untouchable. And then when my doctors told me I had it, it gave me a huge pause to focus in on what that really meant."
Real Quotations From Prostate-Cancer Survivor Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf
For me, it was like war," Schwarzkopf says of his diagnosis. "First thing you do is learn about the enemy."

"I'm not a type-B personality who knows I have a cancer growing inside of me and can live with the knowledge," he says. "I go into a kung-fu attack position when I go through the door of a hospital."    

After Schwarzkopf's prostate surgery, the chief of pathology visited him and said, "Good news. We looked at your cancer, and it was very slow-growing. We have 100 percent of your cancer in a jar."
Real Quotations From Prostate-Cancer Survivor Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska
Stevens on why there isn't more federal research on prostate cancer:      

"Suppose you walk out of a hearing about funding medical research and there are 150 attractive young women waiting in the hall. And they're buttonholing you about breast-cancer research. They'll have an impact.      

If you had 150 men waiting there," he continues, "they would be older than 50, not as aggressive, not as organized. And they wouldn't want to talk about it, anyway."
Real Quotations From Prostate-Cancer Survivor Michael Korda
Men would be better off if they knew even half as much about prostate cancer as women know about breast cancer."    

"Men may have to change what their idea of sexuality is."

"There is definitely sex after prostate surgery," Korda says. "It may not include erection and penetration. The most important message is the ability to exchange erotic feelings is not damaged by this surgery."
Prostate-Cancer Facts
The standard test for prostate cancer is the PSA test, which measures the blood level of a protein produced by all prostate cells. A PSA count under 4 indicates that cancer is unlikely. Between a count of 4 and 22, the probability of cancer increases. A score of over 22 is almost a certain sign of prostate cancer.    

Prostate cancer mainly strikes older men, so as more and more baby boomers fulfill their biblical threescore and ten, more and more of them will get the disease.      

African-Americans have a 37 percent higher chance of getting the disease.      

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among men.      

One in nine U.S. men is expected to develop prostate cancer.      

Conflicting theories on how to treat prostate cancer pit interventionists who like to cut against the wait-and-see camp who believe that older men who have been diagnosed with the disease will die of other causes before the cancer kills them. Said Dr. Harold Sox, president of the American College of Physicians: "The side effects of prostate-cancer treatment are more frequent, more long-lasting, and more serious than the treatment of cancer of the breast or colon."      

Last year, 317,000 Americans were diagnosed with prostate cancer and 41,000 died from it.      

About $1.8 billion has been spent on breast-cancer research since 1990; in the same time, prostate-cancer research got about $376 million.      

Medicare does not cover the special PSA blood test for prostate cancer.      

Therapies include complete removal of the prostate gland, radical prostatectomy, which can result in incontinence and impotence. Radiation treatments sometimes destroy the cancer. Cryotherapy freezes the cancerous prostate cells.

At the age of 50, about four out of 10 men have some cancerous cells in their prostate, but only 3 percent will die of prostate cancer.
Donna Karan True Facts
Founded a decade ago, the wildly successful Donna Karan International went public in June 1996. Since then, it's been hard times for the company as it overextended from high-fashion and business clothing for women to men's apparel, accessories, and beauty aids.      

The company expects a pretax loss of $100 million for the full fiscal year.      

Hoping to cut costs, Karan's company, Donna Karan International, fired 15 percent of its staff (285 jobs) this week. It hopes to save $10 million a year starting in 1998.

Former Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. executive John Idol assumed the day-to-day control of the company four months ago; founder Donna Karan remains chairwoman.