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Today's Observer has a FASCINATING examination of the rise of downtown DJ (or whatever he is) Moby as the latest socialite accessory. What better to carry to the latest fundraiser than an interesting, bespectacled "hip" fellow? Hell, he even compliments your new Judith Leiber frog minaudiere! A sampling of our favorite bits, in which we've taken the liberty of boldfacing the important parts:

· While Moby the musician peaked some six years ago with his breakout album Play, Moby the aging hipster has become a popular commodity among New York s junior charity leaguers. Increasingly, they ve begun recruiting him for their boards and benefit committees, and a handful of bouncy gal-pals and an occasional boy-pal have adopted him as a "close friend" and regular charity companion, a sort of New Society Pet.

· "[Moby is] just so smart and cute and cuddly," [Stacey Bendet] added, as if describing a favorite stuffed animal.

Oh, there's plenty more condescension where that came from...

· Every few years, it seems, the well-groomed girls of the fashion-and-philanthropy set light upon some lucky young man as their new favorite mascot and B.F.F. (best friend forever). They drag him to benefits, introduce him to friends, bring him to dinners and occasionally date him though that tends to be rare; the male mascot (or "walker," as he was once known) is usually chosen precisely because he is unthreatening sexually: ambiguous, ambivalent or just plain gay. The late Jerry Zipkin, known as the "First Walker" because he accompanied Nancy Reagan to all her f tes and functions, perhaps defined the role best. More recently, we ve seen stockbroker (now perp-walker) Peter Bacanovic and dirty-dancing Fabian Basabe. And now there is Moby.

· "He has kind of a nerdy look going on," [Patrick] McMullan said.

· And when [Moby] takes his uptown pals below 14th Street, it s to play Scrabble at his cutesy tea shop, Teany, on the Lower East Side, or to hear the faux-glam rock band Ren Risqu at the yipster hang-out Joe s Pub. It s kind of like slumming from the safety of a Hummer.

· "Until I was 18, I was the only poor person I had ever met," Moby said in his quiet staccato. "I think it s always given me a perpetual sense of inadequacy. I think regardless of what I accomplish, I ll probably feel like a second-class citizen until the day I die."

· "He has this incredible way of being extraordinarily passionate in whatever he s involved with, be it the fact that he s a vegan or whatever it is, but he never forces his views on anyone," Ms. Bendet gushed. She remembered the night when she first thought, Wow, this is going to be one of my best friends. "I was wearing a fur coat, and I was like, Does this bother you? "

We're bothered, but not by the fur. We suspect Moby feels the same.

The Moby Dames [Observer]