Last night upstairs at “21,” Anne Hearst hosted a book party for her friend Jay McInerney and the publication of his seventh novel The Good Life.
More than 20 years ago, the gods gave Mr. McInerney a flight to the moon with his first novel, Bright Lights, Big City, bringing him fame and fortune and a throbbing media image akin to a space age Scott Fitzgerald.
As it often is with fame and the famous as well, fate or the gods (and in the case of writers -- the book reviewers) then began slapping the man around. Although he was sustained by the columnists of the boldfaced world and his natural need to keep on writing, the following novels came, often with great fanfare followed by authoritative disappointments.
Jay McInerney signing and posing
Yesterday’s New York Times (written by Michiko Kakutani) took a swipe at his latest literary venture and this week’s New Yorker (written by the brilliant Louis Menand) praised him with certain reservations. Reviewers are a power unto themselves. The last time I read a review that panned a book, I picked it up because I liked the author’s previous book. In fact, I loved the author’s previous book. I loved the author’s new one too.
Last night’s party was full of bold-faced names and full of novels yet to be written (along with a few biographies for the not-so-fainthearted). The place was mobbed with friends, fans and book party veterans (and so was the restaurant down below). “21” has cachet and atmosphere and fables for anyone. It’s one of the few places in New York that not only glorifies the customer but also allows you to step back and harken up the Big Town that once feasted on Ernest Hemingway and John O’Hara and Broadway, Holllywood and café society. When “21” opened on that block in 1931, there was the old William K. Vanderbilt mansion down on the corner of Fifth Avenue and otherwise a speakeasy behind every single brownstone door on the block all the way to Sixth Avenue. Today there are no brownstones left, save for “21” and now two museums – including the next door neighbor the Museum of Television and Radio, and major skyscrapers occupy the gin mill locations.
At the party: Anne Hearst was there, naturally, along with her once so famous sister Patty and Patty’s beautiful daughter Gillian, and husband Bernie Shaw. The Hearst girls wear their name and now legendary wealth like a comfortable old jacket and they are always fun to be around because nothing is required but good company.
In the mix: Nina Griscom and Leonel Piraino, Uma Thurman and Andre Balasz, Martha Stewart, Lorraine Bracco, Moby, Judy Taubman, Milly de Cabrol and Jeffrey Podolsky, the fabled beauty Carmen dell'Orefice, Tiffany Dubin, Debbie Bancroft, Ross Bleckner, Jamie Figg, Caroline Dean, Susan Magrino, Pamela Gross and Jimmy Finkelstein who came with Judith Giuliani, Mark Gilbertson, Michael Gross whispering the latest dish into the ear of the always listening Dominick Dunne, Richard Johnson and Sessa von Richtofen, Ghislaine Maxwell, Erica Jong and Ken Burrows, the author’s brothers -- Mark and Chris McInerney; Georgette Mosbacher with Peter Lance and her sister Lynn Paulsin, Patty and Marty Raynes, Steven and Kimberly Rockefeller, Patricia Duff and Arthur Altschul, Peggy Siegal, Jay Snyder, Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Bettina Zilkha, Patrick McMullan, Richard Johnson, George Rush, Eddie Hayes, Charles and Bonnie Evans.
Georgette Mosbacher and Peter Lance
June Haynes and Richard Turley
Allison Mazola and R. Couri Hay
Gillian, Patty, and Anne Hearst
Carmen Dell'Orifice and friend
Arthur Altschul and Patricia Duff
Erica Jong and Ken Burrows
Richard Kirschenbaum, Martha Stewart, and Bettina Zilkha
Enter Judy Taubman
Nina Griscom and Leonel Piraino
Anne Colley greeting the author
Stacks of The Good Life. Click image to order.
Jonathan Farkas and Ghislaine Maxwell
Jay Snyder and Debbie Bancroft
Steven Rockefeller and Peggy Siegal
Kimberly and Steven Rockefeller
With feet on the ground: Kimberly Rockefeller, Peggy Siegal, and Steven Rockefeller
Dominick Dunne and Michael Gross trading gossip
About quarter-to-eight, I was back out in the (light) rain and hiking it over to 55th and Fifth to the St. Regis where the Atlantic Monthy magazine and Boykin Curry were hosting their 3rd annual State of the Union dinner. This dinner which is a developing tradition was created as a fun forum for a diverse group of New Yorkers to watch the Presidential address, dine and drink well, and then discuss the results. Or rather, evaluate the results. There were boldfacers there too, although the atmosphere was decidedly more serious in nature, if not in tone.
The Atlantic Monthly which is owned by a man named David Bradley and was for many years since its inception published in Boston is now headquartered in Washington, D.C. The dinner last night is part of its promoting and positioning itself in the media environs of New York, Washington, and now also, as of last night, Los Angeles. Mercedes-Benz, a magazine advertiser was also part of the deal and probably picked up a nice chunk of what must have been a hefty guestcheck. To keep the homefires burning, Mercedes also had parked and spotlighted right next to the red carpet outside under the St. Regis marquee, a brand new gunmetal silver-grey “S” class sedan for your perusal (and your wildest dreams if you’re like me – no dough, just dreams).
The party was held in one of the hotel’s cream-and-gilt and chandeliered private dining rooms with six large plasma screens positioned around the rooms so that everyone at the seven or nine tables had a good view of the speech.
On the guestlist: Confirmed participants this year: Andrew Jarecki, founder Moviefone & director, Capturing the Friedmans (and brother of Eugene Jarecki whose documentary Why We Fight was covered in the NYSD last week), the droll and witty (and sometimes searing) internet political pundit Andy Borowitz (The Borowitz Report), Barbara Walters, Betsy Gotbaum, Public Advocate of New York City, Beverly Sills, Celerie Kemble, wife of the host (his father and mother Mr. and Mrs. Ravenal Curry were also in attendance), Christine Quinn; the now famous lawyer David Boies, Ed Rollins, the Reagan political advisor; Georgette Mosbacher with Peter Lance.
Boykin Curry and Celerie Kemble
Harvey Weinstein was expected although I didn’t see him; James Fallows, the former speechwriter for President Carter who writes frequently for the Atlantic (as well as the New York Review of Books, among other publications and is considered one of the smartest men in Washington). Mr. Fallows has written three of the top five best-selling cover stories in the history of the magazine; Judith Shapiro of Barnard College; actress Julia Stiles; mega-money manager/investor Michael Steinhardt, Moby, Richard Meier the architect, Peggy Siegal, Roger Hertog of Alliance Capital. Mariska Hargitay was expected although I didn’t see her, as well as Linda Fiorentino. Also attending, Ted Roosevelt, former Massachusetts governor William Weld, Michael Sheehan, political columnist Joe Conason, Rachel Sklar of mediabistro.com, Ken Wheaton, columnist for Advertising Age, the ubiquitous Patrick McMullan.
Mr. Fallows hosted the evening. All guests were given electronic pads at their place settings to answer polling questions. The first one he asked was Party preferences to determine the mix of the room. About half identified themselves as Democrats and the other half were either Republican or Independents.
He started out the evening (over dinner) by pointing out some interesting bits of history of the State of the Union Addresses. George Washington gave the shortest, the first, in 1790 – 6 minutes. Calvin Coolidge (Silent Cal, he was called) gave the first to be on radio in 1923. Harry Truman was the first on TV. Lyndon Johnson gave the first one in the evening – geared to the TV audience. In 1997, President Clinton shared his address with a split screen to deliver the OJ Simpson verdict to the TV audience. Mr. Clinton also gave the longest one in 2000 – 89 minutes (Zzzzzzz). George W. Bush gave the first to be a live webcast. In 2003, his speech was interrupted a record 76 times. And last night his speech lasted for a non-record-breaking 70 minutes.
After the speech there were comments from Mr. Fallows, who as a longtime professional Presidential speechwriter felt worthy of rating Mr. Bush’s speech. He gave it a pretty good rating – felt that it had a significant impact – at least for his base – and considered it a success.
After that there was a brief, not quite heated discussion of some of the issues that were mentioned in the speech. Then Mr. Fallows took some more polls. I’ve never been polled before in any way. Most of the questions were about modern media’s favorite subject: The Future. What Do You Think Will Happen? (Why not ask an astrologer or a psychic?) Anyway, it was interesting to see that my answers were entirely related to my wishes, hopes and dreams and had nothing or very little to do with realistic evaluations.
One of the most interesting aspects of the evening was sitting next to the host’s mother, a lovely Southern (South Carolina) lady, Mrs. Curry who was telling me that yesterday was also the day that her other son (younger), Marshall Curry was nominated for an Academy Award for his documentary Street Fight about the New Jersey mayoral race that pitted two African-American candidates Cory Booker and Sharpe James against each other and led to contesting notion of who was the most authentically for his own race.
We were out at 10:40 and outside the rain had stopped falling on the beautiful silvery-grey “S” class Mercedes (I can dream, can’t I?) and I caught a handy yellow cab (a Ford) home.
Writer Annette Tapert (The Power of Style, Slim: Memories of a Rich and Imperfect Life, and Swifty: My Life and Times) recently became a new member of the board of Phoenix House, the drug and alcohol treatment and prevention center.
Fresh blood brings fresh ideas and Tapert was motivated. With the thought that “no one is immune from drugs and alcohol issues” – be it personal, through friendship or in family -- She formed Friends of Phoenix House to interest others.
Dr. Mitch Rosenthal
“Drugs and alcohol don’t know from race, class or privilege,” she thought, and so she decided to call on people she sees in her everyday life. So with Tina Brown and Beth DeWoody, two longstanding board members of Phoenix House, she threw a luncheon at her Fifth Avenue apartment, inviting a lot of young women (many who are wives and mothers) to introduce them the organization and its work.
Dr. Mitch Rosenthal, who founded Phoenix house 38 years ago and still runs it today, was on hand to speak about the work of the organization which now has 6000 people in its programs across the country getting treatment from Phoenix House. He very eloquently made the point that not only addiction but also PREVENTION can start at a very young age. Then his wife, Sarah Rosenthal, herself a private therapist spoke about another Phoenix House program called Impact in which kids and their parents to go deal with the problem. “What happens to a lot of people with garden variety issues with drugs and alcohol,” she said, “is that they don’t want to deal with it until there’s a problem. That’s when they call Mitch and Phoenix House. However, prevention can save lives, save communities and save people.”
Then one of the women attending, a friend of many in the room, was motivated to get up and speak of her experience with the addiction of her husband (from whom she is now divorced).
“If it hadn’t been for Phoenix House, my son would not have a father today,” she told the group. “He had been in and out of rehabs and could not get cured. He went through his inheritance in the process that failed him. It was only at Phoenix House that he was able to rehabilitate himself and pull his life together. If you think you are privileged because you are wealthy,” she reminded her listeners, “you are crazy. Because it can happen to anybody.”
If you want to learn more about Phoenix House, go to:
Annette Tapert, Dr. Mitch Rosenthal, and Milly de Cabrol
Beth DeWoody, Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, and Marcia Mishaan
Chris and Elizabeth Meigher
Jennet Connant and Tina Brown
Paige Peterson, Bettina Zilkha, and Debbie Bancroft
The luncheon guests
Colette, the international multi-media/performance artist who has been a presence on the New York Art scene since the early 1970’s, opened up her studio on Pearl Street for a bon voyage party to celebrate her trip to Germany where she will be a part of the Haus der Kultur’s Pop/Reverse Pop exhibition in the city of Burgbrohl.
The art show will include two themes: “Pop,” featuring works by major artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, and "Reverse Pop," dedicated to Colette.
Colette holding her archives
Colette’s work is complex and encompasses many concepts that stretch the notion of art. She explores the role that artists play in our times -- the female persona in art, and the line between fine and commercial art and fashion. You have to see it – best in her Maison Lumiere as she calls her studio - to understand.
Among those dropping by for a kiss, a glass of champagne, or a look at vintage videos of the artist with such celebs as Jeff Koons, or to see her new portrait of Gabriel Byrne in his fascinating incarnation as the hostile alcoholic Cornelius Melody in Eugene O’Neill’s A Touch of the Poet at Studio 54, were director Jason Grant and Sylvia Miles, who had just voted for the films and actors to be considered for Academy Award nominations.
Also at the party were film makers Walter Falcon and Paul Tschinkel, who will premier his film on Robert Mapplethorpelater this year, style writer Michèle Gerber Klein, columnist David Noh, fashion photographers Christophe von Hohenberg and Sigrid Rothe, Bjorn Ressle, Claudia Steinberg, Adrian Dannett, Peter Marangoni, artists Anton Perich and Dennis Oppenheim, Dennis Elliot, art consultants Joyce Pomerantz Schwartz and Thomas Knapp and Miss Leah, who performed in Colette tableau as a bare breasted odalisque. It was a touch of heaven.
Leah and Colette
Colette and Paul Tschinkel
Portrait of Gabriel Byrne
Sylvia Miles and Thomas Knapp
Christophe von Hohenberg
Recently, Allison Weiss was the guest of honor at a holiday at Van Cleef & Arpel's Bal Harbour store to celebrate her upcoming marriage to business analyst Chip Brady.
Allison’s family is well-known for their Say Yes to Education Foundation. The foundation was recently featured on the front cover of The New York Times when it was announced that it would be sponsoring the college education of more than 450 students in Harlem. Say Yes to Education has also sponsored students in Philadelphia, Cambridge and Hartford.
Joining Allison at the party were her mother Diane N. Weiss, sister Debbie Weiss, owner of the Wonderful World of Animation Art Gallery in LA, as well as childhood friends Beth Hennessy, Tiffany Watkins who is the Deputy Campaign Manager for Senator Jim Talent of Missouri, Jill Viner who is co-owner of the NHL Florida Panther's hockey team, White House staff member Olga Arguello, TV Guide television producer Caroline Waxler, jewelry designer Caroline Streep, and Miss Florida 2004 Kristen Berset.
At the party, guests were greeted with champagne, sushi and delicious chocolate, and played the "Pawn the Yankee" game, where each guest won a prize ranging from compact Van Cleef & Arpel mirrors flown in from Paris especially for the event, scented candles, and perfume. The mother of the bride won the grand prize, and snagged a white gold Alhambra charm necklace.
In lieu of an engagement gift, Allison asked her friends to donate to the Marine Corp's Toys For Tots, an organization close to her fiance's heart.
Weiss and Brady will be married in the spring, with a reception in Palm Beach aboard the Forbes yacht The Highlander.
Allison Weiss, Valrie Scanavino, and Kristin Berset
Diane Weiss, Allison Weiss, and Debbie Weiss
Feeling out the goods
Kristin Berset and Allison Weiss
February 1, 2006, Volume VI, Number 20
Photographs by Jeff Hirsch (McInerney) & Lucien Capehart