The Holidays Are Here
The holidays are upon us and holiday cards (they used to be called Christmas cards — or X-mas cards) are arriving in mailboxes daily. In the past few years, the personalized card — with pictures of the family or the children, or the dogs, or the cats, or everyone combined — has become de rigueur in certain social circles.

However, the annual holiday card of Mary Lou Whitney, the former Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney and now Mrs. John Hendrickson, is without peer. Mrs. Whitney, as she is still known by her thousands of friends and fans, always aims to invoke the holiday spirit with a smile or a laugh, or at least give people something to talk about.

This year’s card which measures 7” x 10” and is four pages is an authentic hoot. In fact, it even features a hooters bar on the cover. As you can see for yourself.
On Wednesday night, Alice Mason held her annual Christmas dinner for sixty guests. Mrs. Mason who once upon a time gave one of her legendary dinners once a month (with respite in summer) for some of New York and the world’s most prominent and/or famous, and/or powerful, rarely entertains these days. Her last big party was around this time last year for Bill Clinton.

Alice Mason and her daughter Dominique Richard
Black tie, of course, among the guests was Woody Allen and Soon-Yi. Mr. Allen is one of those actors whose off-screen presence does not appear to be much different from the on-screen. And seeing him at a private dinner in black tie is therefore fascinating, simply because he has such a strong individual identity which includes his casual manner of dress.

Mrs. Mason, as I’ve written here many times before, has a style of entertaining that is intimate and very organized. The woman seated on my right, a friend of mine, told me after dinner that the man on her right – someone she’d never heard of or met before – told me afterwards that she and he had many people in common. She wondered about the great coincidence. I didn’t wonder; I was certain that our hostess had already figured it out. For Alice Mason, who is one of the most successful Manhattan private residential real estate brokers of the past almost half century, figures it out.

So it was a stimulating evening for all, with lots of talk, lots of information being passed, lots of insights, and lots of fun.
Peter Duchin at his booksigning on Wednesday night at The Strand.
Also, on Wednesday night, The Strand Bookstore had a booksigning for Peter Duchin and his new mystery Good Morning Heartache, written with award-winning mystery writer John Morgan Wilson.

This is the second in a series of the genre about a society band leader named Philip Damon (P.D. — like another P.D.), the first being “Blue Moon.”

Click on the bookcover to order Good Morning Heartache.
Alice Mason dinner guest list

• Soon-Yi and Woody Allen
• Paul Beirne
• Patricia and Michael Bral
• David and Helen Gurley Brown
• Mario Buatta
• Carmen
• Claudia Cohen
• Mona Ackerman and Richard Cohen
• David Coiro
• Elizabeth and Joe Conason
• Betsy and Walter Cronkite
• Alex Donner
• Dominick Dunne
• Gaetana Enders
• Anthony Haden-Guest
• Roz Jacobs
• Connie and Randy Jones
• Jennet Conant and Steve Kroft
• Jacques Leviant
• David Margolick
• Boaz Mazor
• Aileen Mehle
• Diahn and Tom McGrath
• Nora Ephron and Nick Pileggi
• Diana Quasha and Francois Khawam
• Ann Rapp
• Bridget Restivo
• Dominique Richard
• Joy Rosenthal
• Courtney Ross
• Herbert Sambol
• Charlie Scheips
• Drew and Karenna Gore Schiff
• Victor Shafferman
• Kathy Sloane
• Maurice Sonnenberg
• Serena Stewart
• Nan and Gay Talese
• Rica Tarnoff
• Marica and Jan Vilcek
• Laura and Will Zeckendorf
L. to r.: Michelle Oka Doner; Noel and Harriette Levine; Peter Pringle, Eleanor Randolph, and Phillip Howard.
L. to r.: Ms. Bass with Jim Wildman and Duane Hampton; Alexandra Howard; Nancy Bass and Elliot Kastner.

On Thursday night we went down to Brooke and Peter Duchin’s where they were having their annual Christmas Party for the New York City Opera. Although Peter wasn't there this year because he was down in Dallas playing a big party. The closely-knit group of sixty or seventy were members of the board or various directors’ councils of the organization, along with wives, husbands, partners. Here's the Gang ...

Never Gonna Dance!
Noah Racey as Lucky Garnett and Nancy Lemenager as Penny Carroll
Based on the Astaire/Rogers film “Swing Time,” the new Broadway musical which opened last week at the Broadhurst Theater, is the story of a handsome hoofer who vows to give up dance for the woman he loves. That premise, along with Rogers and Astaire were enough for millons and millions throughout the 1930s. The score for the film was by Jerome Kern and Oscar Harbach and includes such stunning standards as “The Way You Look Tonight,” “A Fine Romance,” “Never Gonna Dance,” and “Pick Yourself Up,” plus the producers of the show added several other standards.

The show was directed by Michael Greif who directed “Rent,” choreographed by Jerry Mitchell who did “Hairspray,” costumes by William Ivey Long who has so many shows running on Broadway now, you need to Google him, and of course a score composed by the now immortal Kern.

I haven’t seen the show but Liz Smith wrote in her column in the Post this past week:

So what have we here? Why, another big and beautiful audience show. And the dancing is unbelievable, glorious and glamorous and oh, wow, how in the world can they ever keep doing this night after night?!
Deidre Goodwin as Velma and Eugene Fleming as Spud
Karen Ziemba as Mabel Pritt, Nancy Lemenager as Penny Carroll, Noah Racey as Lucky Garnett, and Peter Gerety as Alfred J. Morganthal
Karen Ziemba, Noah Racey, Nancy Lemenager and the Never Gonna Dance Company. Photos ©2003 Joan Marcus.


Every day the United States Post Office receives hundreds of letters to Santa.
These letters are often from very poor and homeless children and their families.  
Through "Operation Santa Claus" the Post Office makes these letters available to the public.  This year you can visit the James A. Farley Building at 33rd Street & 8th Avenue from now until the  24th of December.  The hours are weekdays from 8 AM to 4:30 PM (Thursday until 7 PM) and Saturdays from 9 AM to 4 PM. Tel. 212-330-3002.

Read the letters and take away as many as your kind hearts and generous pocketbooks will permit.

Once again, as an added feature, the Post Office will accept phone requests at this special number only 877-840-0459.  Letters will be sent to those who cannot make it to the main lobby. This will now permit anyone in the United States and beyond to participate in this wonderful crusade!
You can be a "Secret Santa" by sending:  gift certificates of any kind- A & P, The Gap, McDonalds, Toys R' Us, etc.; clothing; or toys to these needy children.  Take only as many letters as you can answer... this may be the child's only chance

Give with your heart.  A little bit will mean so much to these children.  
THANK YOU SO MUCH - and have a wonderful holiday!

Photographs by Jeff Hirsch/


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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/