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OCTOBER 13, 1997:  BUTT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! Many years ago, in a sprawling metropolis far, far away, we happened across a T-shirt with the slogan, "Art may imitate life, but life imitates television." Ain't it the truth! we exclaimed as passers-by eyed us warily and stepped out of our way on the crowded sidewalk. We were reminded of America's allegiance to the cathode muse this past week, when all the talk on the street seemed to focus on a singular cultural phenomenon, captured in a slow, downward panning shot: Jimmy Smit's butt on last Tuesday's season premiere of NYPD Blue. The shot came late in the episode, before the bathtub scene with the character's on-screen girlfriend, and was rumored to "fill 20 percent of the screen with stunning clarity."

Here's what folks had to say about the experience:

Resident pop-culture specialist: "Jimmy Smit's butt is an excellent actor. It did a great job conveying the emotion of that scene. Everyone I talked to thought that it put his generally expressionless face to shame. I think his butt should get its own show."

Local architect: "Full-rear nudity--woo hoo!"

Staff member of an alternative newsweekly: "I don't want to know what cops are doing...even fictional ones. I don't want to know if they're real people. As far as I'm concerned, that uniform never comes off."

Over-night delivery service guy: "Was there a butt shot? Was it Dennis Franz? (No, it was Jimmy Smits). Oh, well...it's still not my thing, but at least that's more tolerable than Franz."

Local film critic: "Yeah, I saw his butt. I gotta tell ya, it wasn't such a big deal. First of all, I'm not a butt woman. I'm not moved by butts. I'm more likely to be moved by someone's upper body. It was quick, and who cares?!"

Law student: "I thought there would be more hair."

Rival prime-time TV viewer: "I didn't watch it. But (Thursday) on ER, they showed William Macy's butt...flopped over a bed. So maybe it's part of a larger phenomenon."

Thoughtful punk-rock cartoonist: "I think we shall not see the likes of Princess Diana ever again. She was a remarkable woman, and unlike that old frump Mother Teresa, she looked really hot in a dress."

Female friend of thoughtful punk-rock cartoonist: "I was watching the show with my parents. When it came on screen, it made me feel uncomfortable."

Resident neurologist: "Didn't they already show his butt once before? Why don't they ever show breasts? I've been watching that show religiously for four years, and not a single nipple! Now a breast shot...that would be something."

Anonymous: "If Jimmy Smits wants to come over to my house and show me his butt, then I'd be interested."

You heard it here, first.

HAPPY BOOK MARK: It's no small feat to create a business that outlives an entire generation, but that's just what local independent bookseller The Book Mark celebrates with the passing of its 39th anniversary. Regional literature, a complete selection of works by Tucson's ample supply of homegrown and transplanted authors are just two stand-outs at this friendly, full-service store. Stop by the shop, 5001 E. Speedway, between 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday, October 11, and visit with loyal patrons and more than 19 local authors. The festive gala features a slew of activities for all ages. See the City Week calendar for detailed information, or call 881-6350.

POET'S CORNER: Some of the UA's finest young talent steps up to the mike for the latest in the UA Poetry Center's ongoing fall reading series. Periel Ascherbrand, Andrew Coltrin, Jennifer Makowsky, Steve Mosher and Stephanie Smith have been chosen by faculty members and the Poetry Center Director for having "demonstrated a high level of achievement and focus in the discipline of creative writing." The free reading begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday, October 15, in the UA Modern Languages Building auditorium, UA mall east of the Memorial Student Union. Call 321-7760 for more information.

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