Tuesday, June 28, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Adieu for now

Liz with Bill Cunningham and Peter Duchin at the 2009 Living Landmarks Gala.
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

The New “Independence Day” Is Good Enough For Me! ... ”Game of Thrones” Goes Off With a Bang (and an icky meat pie!) ... and WE take a Vacation!  But don’t relax — we’ll be back!


“PUT AWAY the books, we’re out of school/the weather’s warm but we’ll play it cool/We’re on vacation, havin’ lots of fun!”

So sang the great Connie Francis on her 1962 hit “V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!”
WELL, here’s a note to our faithful and adored readers — even the ones who are not faithful and don’t adore us!

The LizSmith/DenisFerrara column is taking a “v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n!” It is much needed. The first six months of this year have been stressful. (I don’t know if we’ll be “havin’ lots of fun,” just decompressing. Or, decomposing?)

We are moving our “international offices” from 160 East 38th Street in NYC where we have resided and dished out our dish for 40 years.
"Why can't I have a private life? Why must they torment me? Quick, where's my lipstick?
This means, among other things, saying a farewell — at least on a daily basis — to the wonderful El Rio Grande restaurant that occupies the ground floor of this building. No more of those delectable fresh tostadas, or those gasoline-fueled Margaritas. (If I were younger I might say that the latter deprivation is a good thing, but ... I am NOT younger and one only lives once, or so I am told. If this is not true, I’ll be sure to come back as — a Margarita!)

I will miss the wonderful and always generous El Rio managers, servers and bartenders. Bye, Jimmy! (Jimmy is El Rio’s famous bartender, aka excellent musician, Dirk Kennedy.)
Mary Jo McDonough, the hardest working woman in show biz!  (Doesn't her expression say it all?  "Uhhh ... there's WORK to do, upstairs, you guys!")
We will return on July 18th. Lucky us, right in the middle of the dog days of summer! But, as my colleague Denis Ferrara remarked, “Liz, it’s a vacation now or a stake through the heart.” I said he shouldn’t speak of doing himself in. He replied, “Did I say into whose heart the stake was going?” So, vacation now.

Our new professional email address—for items and invitations, compliments or condemnations — will be Liz@denbru.com and/or Denis@denbru.com (Those of you who read us here on The New York Social Diary can continue to email LizSmith@newyorksocialdiary.com.)
Very Special Honorable El Rio Attendees — Theater's Diane Judge and Archaeology's Professor Iris Love.
Again — we return on Monday, July 18th hopefully invigorated and ready to face the future.

Since we will be away, have a happy 4th of July. Please remember what that day actually means.
Denis — Last Stand At El Rio Grande, with an unusual prop — a cup of coffee! (Yes, I was really drinking it. Cynics.)
IT IS an unhappy thing to depart for vacation and also report of the death of the great New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham. Another Manhattan monument gone. That is not an exaggeration.

Bill and Liz.
He has been cited as a “fashion photographer” and he was, but Bill was much more; he was a man of the people a man of the streets (how often I, and hundreds of others caught a glimpse of him riding his bicycle, uptown, downtown, always going where he might find his open-minded, independent ideas and view of “fashion.”) What he was really doing was photographing people and eras.

His most intimate and perhaps beloved photos were his “street fashion” shots, but he was also omnipresent at all events that New York represented as “high fashion.” Bill lived simply and worked simply. He also disdained the idea that everybody had descended into slovenliness.

A few years ago he told an interviewer — “It’s ridiculous, there are marvelously dressed women you see at a quarter to eight, going to business. When people say fashion is no more, they are wrong. It’s as good as ever.”

Perhaps it was as good as ever through the lens of Bill Cunningham. Now? Not so much, I think.
AFTER an up and down season, “Game of Thrones” ended this year’s fantasy melodramatics in fine style, although hardly to the complete contentment of rabid “GOT” fans, many of whom have relied on the books written by George R.R. Martin. Suffice to say ice-cold Cersei blew up a lot of enemies, and became queen ... tiny blonde bombshell Daenerys and her dragons are finally headed for war (don’t get too used the crown, Cersie!) ... Jon Snow still looks awfully depressed and uncertain even though that badass little girl queen declared him King of the North ... and Arya Stark’s storyline finally moved her onward in her kill-everyone-who-wronged-me, mission, thank goodness! (For Arya, revenge is a dish best served best as ... a casserole! I say no more.)
Although visually nothing compared to last week’s epic and uncomfortably realistic “Battle of the Bastards” there was fun to be found, most especially in Cersei’s revenge on the holy woman who had tormented her, and the queens’s “confession” to the poor lady was brilliantly rendered. (“I killed my husband because I was tired of him and it made me feel good, I fuck my brother because it makes me feel good, I lie about fucking my brother because it makes me feel good.”)
Also on fire, for another brief but important scene was Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) joining forces with Cersei’s enemies (many of Olenna’s family were blown to smithereens by Cersei.) Rigg is divine.

And now that winter has finally come, we wait another whole year for the next round of sex, gore and chilly zombies. I know this show is expensive, but there are plenty of good sitting-around-throne-room scenes that the producers and writers could expand a bit and give the audience 15 or 16 episodes per season? Eh, I say that every year.
I KNOW I don’t stand entirely alone, but many critics have not been kind to “Independence Day: Resurgence” and it is struggling at the box-office. I loved it. Maybe it’s not as good as the first one (which was not exactly “Citizen Kane” for heaven’s sake) but it’s a big, mammoth cheese ball of implausibilities, over-stuffed plotlines and great CGI. Perfect summer fun. I always ask, what do people expect of a movie like this?
Jessie T. Usher and Liam Hemsworth as the eye-candy in “Independence Day: Resurgence."
I did miss Will Smith, but Jessie T. Usher and Liam Hemsworth were just fine as the male eye-candy. It was also good to see so many of the original cast back and in fine fettle — Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, Bill Pullman, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox.

Looked to me like it was left open for a sequel. Which I would definitely see, if it doesn’t take another 20 years to make.
Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, and the gang are back and in fine fettle.
OH, before we go off for a couple of weeks, a correction on “The Originals” TV series we wrote of yesterday. There have been three seasons, with a fourth being readied. I only saw two during my Netflix binge. Obviously, I hope Netflix soon airs the third. I am anxious to know who stays witchy, wolf-y, and/or vampirically undead.

See you on July 18th!

Contact Liz here.