Thursday, May 25, 2017

LIZ SMITH: In Quest of Class

A spread from Quest magazine's 30th Anniversary Issue.
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

In Quest of Class — A Glossy 30th Anniversary Issue Dazzles. Cher — You Better "Believe" She "Turned Back Time" at the Billboard Awards. Takes Matters of Heart Into Your Hands.


“LIKE HOLLYWOOD, but nowhere else, in New York you can find yourself around a table of people talking about the people you read about because here they know them, grew up with them, went to bed with them, went to school with them or whatever. Talk at dinner this night was mainly about four women; Pamela Harriman, Mercedes Bass, Jan Cushing and of course, Jackie.

That was the opening of David Patrick Columbia’s first Social Diary in Quest magazine, in October of 1994. (Jackie, as in Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, had passed away four months previously. Pamela Harriman would go three years later. Mercedes Bass and Jan Cushing are still very much with us.)
IT was fascinating to read this column, which is a part of the luscious current issue of Quest, its 30th anniversary celebration.

The entire magazine is a treat — a deluxe look at the yesterdays, today’s and even tomorrow’s of what still passes for “society” in a hopelessly crass time.  There are all sorts of throwbacks and remembrances of galas and charity events and parties just for the hell of it.  Fashion shows and weddings. 

We get eloquent little essays on Central Park ... Slim Aarons ... Diana Vreeland ... Brooke Astor ... Michael’s restaurant ... Dominick Dunne ... the New York Yankees ... The Metropolitan Museum of Art ... the retirement of the big yellow checkered cab ... George Plimpton, and on and on. 

There’s not a name or face who hasn’t made his or her mark on Manhattan as a glamour or charity figure (or both) who isn’t mentioned or seen. Why there is even a page devoted to a Texas dame named Liz Smith! (Page 135, not that I noticed!)
The work of every major photographer of the last three decades is represented.  Quest is masterminded by Elizabeth Meigher and her proud papa, Chris. (He is an old friend of Liz’s dating back to their Time Inc, days.) 

To subscribe to Quest (and its special Quarterly offering, Q) call 646-840-3404, ext 106.  Or visit info@questmag.com. I mean, where else can you find out all there is to know about New York’s new Canine Styles boutique on Lexington Avenue, or which fresh faces are on “The Young and Guest List”? 
LAST WEEK’s news was so exhausting, so ... astounding, that on Sunday night, I turned off the TV and decided to devote myself to a good book, or three.  Just having the set on, might lure me to one of the cable stations where I would be bombarded with facts, “alternative facts,” people smugly and foolishly calling for impeachment, others equally smug and foolish saying it is all a tempest in a teapot. Enough! 

However, just as I was midway through “The End of Eddy,” Edouard Louis’ slender and exquisite memoir, the phone rang. It was a friend reminding me that The Billboard Awards were coming on, and didn’t I want to see Cher?  “You wrote that you did!” said my pal somewhat challengingly.  I did, but I didn’t want to watch the rest of the show, trying to figure out who everybody was. Or know who they were and not care. “Call me back when Cher comes on!” I barked unpleasantly. I went back to the harsh beauty and lyric pain of "The End of Eddy."

My pal was as good as his word, although considering how I’d snapped at him, I was surprised. 

So, I did see Cher perform her two songs, “If I Could Turn Back Time” and “Believe.” I marveled over the strength of her voice; was amazed at her great figure and amused at how it was semi-revealed. (Was that a pastie, or a nipple — Cher, you bad girl!)
I was also impressed by the genuine emotion and good time the Billboard audience was having, the majority of whom were not even a glimmer in their parents’ eyes when Cher was on her first, second or third comeback.  Cher has not simply turned back time, she has made time a friend that everyone can appreciate. 

Most of all, I loved the simplicity and sincerity of her Icon Award acceptance speech. Cher at her best — simple, unpretentious, brief. She credited her career and longevity to “Mostly luck, and maybe a little bit of something else.”  And while Cher actually had a lot ‘of “something else” she is correct in giving luck a big hand.  Because no matter how talented somebody is, luck — the right person or place or time — plays the most important part in any career.

I was also abjectly pleased that she stayed off politics.  Cher is a lively presence on Twitter, and like everybody who is a lively presence on Twitter, she rarely thinks before she tweets, although her intentions are good.  She told Billboard magazine that Twitter is like “a drug.  It creeps into your life and you have to say, ‘Time to put a stop to this. I’m a grown up.’”  But Cher, still a sixteen-year-old at heart, never stays grown up for long.  That’s probably a good thing, for her.  (Others with an itchy Twitter finger need to embrace maturity.)

In this Billboard piece I also liked the star’s anecdote about her mother’s advice: “You should marry a rich man.”  Back came Cher’s totally sensible retort: “Mom, I am a rich man!”

And this — which explains why she endures, why her shows are so terrific, why she can convey such pleasure, still: “My idea, every night before I go onstage, is that this is a gift I was given, and can give to people ... they don’t have to think of anything else. It’s something that makes people feel good.  That’s all I do — make people feel good.”
"Mom, I am a rich man!”
DO you have a warm beautiful doctor? Well, I, Liz, am very lucky because I have one!

She is heart specialist Dr. Holly Andersen of NY Presbyterian Hospital. “Dr. Holly” is working with the launch of Hands Only CPR Week and believe it or not, this project suffers in NYC from a lack of “Bystander response to victims of sudden cardiac arrest.” Wouldn’t you think this big all-knowing city, of all places, would be the first place that people helped others?

Well, the Hands Only CPR campaign, kicking off June 1st, will encourage all of us to learn how to do this important thing. High-rise buildings and irritating traffic hold back would-be volunteers!
Liz with the beautiful mother/daughter duo, Holly Andersen and Alison.
Here are some concerned people joining to convince everybody to see the simple learning video. Broadway is offering to help, the Mets Stadium also, plus MSG, NHLBI, the Yankees, the Nederlanders, Barry Weissler, super agent Allen Grubman, the Governors Bill, Mike Bloomberg, Shea Fink, Ron Perelman, The NYPD, FDNY, all of Broadway are joined in this effort to offer the video and hope millions will follow the star Nicole Kidman, whose father died from sudden cardiac arrest and there was nobody near who knew what to do!

People can post their “Handpose” image linking to the video. And then you might save a cardiac arrest victim, or someone might save you! Calling EMS or 911 will not be quick enough for action. Please join the campaign. To learn more call the American Heart Association. 1-800-242-8721.

Contact Liz here.