Busy New York days and nights

The Committee for the Museum of the City of New York's “New York After Dark,” sponsored by Graff and J. Mendel.

It was a beautiful Wednesday in New York. With traffic. Cabdrivers complaining. The UN. I left the house to go down to the East Sixties off Park Avenue where Wendy Belzberg was giving a book luncheon for her friend Lynn Sherr who has just published “Outside the Box: A memoir.”

It was billed as a “ladies lunch” although they were making an exception for me (and for Lloyd Grove of the Daily News, it turned out). I had another lunch date but stopped by to have a look-see, get some pictures, especially of the author and her book. The food smelled good too. Asian.

Lynn Sherr

Lynn is very popular in New York and highly regarded in cultural circles as well as media because she participates and shares her wealth of knowledge. Every year in the Spring, for example, she moderates the American Museum of Natural History’s Environmental Luncheon – one of the best events of its kind (maybe the only event of its kind?).

She’s also a charter member of what you could call media society (a lot of its members were present at the luncheon) which is a very vital part of the New York social scene today. Her guestlist for the luncheon reflects it – a lot of authors, reporters, agents, journalists as well as entrepreneurial women. Many of them know each other and as a group, and even as individuals, there is a lot of influence and power wielded by this group. Although I’m not sure they’d agree with me because most of them are wise enough to know that power comes and goes (and lovely is the rose). Access is the operative word. And intelligence. No dumb bunnies amongst this crowd. And staying power: Lynn opened her remarks to the guests by revealing that yesterday was the official 30th anniversary of literary agent Esther Newberg’s joining ICM.

Odd as it sounds now, a generation ago, there were no female television news anchors or reporters. They were all men. Lynn Sherr was one of the very first to break through the gender-barrier. She was the first to anchor a primetime TV network news series. She covered Geraldine Ferraro’s campaign when she ran with Walter Mondale for the Presidency (and Vice-Presidency) in 1980. She covered the space race and nearly made it to being part of a space launch herself.

Among the guests were Lisa Belzberg, Juju Chang, Pia Lindstrom, Shirley Lord Rosenthal, Jurate Kazickas, Alexandra Lebenthal, Jennifer Raab , Liz Robbins, Susan Newhouse, Hannah Pakula, Judy Licht, Esther Newberg, Kayce Freed Jennings, Faye Wattleton, Ellen Levine, Ellin Saltzman, Joan Hamburg, Paula Zahn, Stacy Schiff , Gail Sheehy, Diane Sokolow, Binky Urban, Claudia Cohen, Nora Ephron, Gerry Ferraro, Ellen Futter, Connie Chung, Caroline Hirsch, Donna Hanover, Betty Rollin, Diana Williams, and Lulu Wang.
Clockwise from top left: Caroline Hirsch and Ellen Futter; Toni Goodale and Vera Blinken; Shirley Lord Rosenthal and Judy Licht with a friend.

Lynn Sherr and Wendy Belzberg

Pia Lindstrom and Cornelia Foss
Geraldine Ferraro

I left the luncheon at quarter to one to walk the twelve or more blocks (plus two and half city-wide blocks) to Michael’s where I was meeting Joe Armstrong for lunch. Joe, who is known as The Mayor of Michael’s is a veteran New York media man having been the publisher of such influential periodicals as Rolling Stone and New York magazine.

He’s equally famous for his connections, which as it is with a lot of media people, extends into other areas of the New York social scene. I was worried about being late but Joe was later thanks to the traffic that he got stuck in coming from Patricia Kennedy Lawford’s funeral at St. Ignatius Loyola on 82nd and Park Avenue. This was the same church where they held the funeral service for Mrs. Lawford’s sister-in-law Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who was also a very close friend of my lunch partner Mr. Armstrong.

Pat Lawford who had been in ill-health for a long time, had been a New Yorker most of her life, except for that time during the 1960s when she was married to Peter Lawford the actor and lived in Los Angeles. A less durable spirit might have given up long before she did, but Pat Lawford was a fighter.

The backpage of the Lawford service program was “A Philosophy for Living” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

To Laugh often and love much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of
Children; to earn the approbation of honest critics and endure
The betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give of one’s self;
To leave the world a bit better whether by healthy child;
A garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with
To know even one life has breathed easier because yo lived,
This is to have succeeded.

Joe also brought along the program for the funeral service for our friend Ann Richards down in Austin, Texas. There were “reflections” on Ann by Liz Smith, Henry Cisneros, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ms. Lily Adams. The great Jessye Norman sang as did the Wesley United Methodist Church Intergenerational Choir. He raved about Liz eulogy for Ann. I’d heard the same from others also. Peter Rogers, also a friend of Ann’s (and of Liz’s) said that she brought Ann right by her side with her words.

Joe said that Hillary Clinton’s “reflections” were Hillary at her best. She’s very good speaking without notes almost anytime, but Joe said she was very relaxed speaking about Ann whom she’d known for many years since they were in neighboring governors’ mansions.

Ann Richards was one of those women whom everybody loved to be around. She was funny and warm and direct and always had a smile for you. She was full of wisdom and common sense and had the facility for getting to know people very quickly. And she was always ready to help. There was an excitement about her. And she was smart. You could ask her a question about politics (either side of the aisle) and she could explain like a professor what the situation was. Joe, who’s a Texan, reminded me today that until Ann Richards was elected governor of Texas, no woman in Texas had ever come near that position of power. And Texas women, as many of us know, are not shy little wallflowers. If they look like a cream-puff, why, then that’s their style. But cream-puffs only if you’re talking steel, as in tough as.

Which while we’re on the subject, two tables away from us a group of young women were celebrating the birthday of Lisa Bernbach. Ms. Bernbach wrote the Preppy Handbook and sold a million copies. She was celebrating with Barbara Liberman, Maria Cuomo, Kay Matschullat, and Suzanne Maas. I couldn’t resist a picture, when passing by with the Digital. Steve Millington, the general manager and daily director of who’s where and what of Michael’s volunteered without being asked to be the only guy in the picture.

Also lunching at Michael’s: Jim Mitchell and Konrad Kessee, Broadway’s Gerry Schoenfeld; Lynn White with Henry Schleiff, Rosanna Scotto, Penny Crone. Around the room: Al Roker, Dave Zinkzenko, Christie Hefner, Harriet Weintraub, Linda Janklow, Herb Siegel, Steve Rubenstein; Keith Kelly with Chris Taylor; Heather Cohane, Chuck Pfeiffer, Elizabeth Harrison with Marion Gulbrandson, Alyce Alston of DeBeers, Joanna Coles, Kate White, Jonah Bloom, Gerry Imber with Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer, Jeff Greenfield.

L'Oreal and Joana

Maria Cuomo, Kay Matschullat, Lisa Bernbach, Barbara Liberman, Suzanne Maas, and Steve Millington

Last night in New York there were all kinds of things going on. Over at Asprey, the American Associates of the Royal Academy Trust had a kick-off cocktail party which was hosted by Rufus, the Earl of Albemarle who is the Honorary Chairman of this year’s gala. Up at the Museum of the City of New York, they were holding their annual autumn dinner dance. This one was very casual (for this crowd anyway) and titled: “New York After Dark,” with dress “after dark, no ties.”

I started headed for the pre-Museum cocktail party Cynthia and Dan Lufkin were hosting with Rachel and Ara Hovnanian at a restaurant called Lollipop which must be in a space as thin as a lollipop because I couldn’t find the place even tho it turns out it was right next door to Serafina on East 61st Street. Then I headed over to East 63rd Street to the apartment of Gaetana Enders to have a glass of champagne with her guest of honor Alice Mason. We were soon joined by Dominick Dunne, Mario Buatta, and David and Helen Gurley Brown.

Gaetana Enders, Alice Mason, and Dominique Richard at Gaetana's apartment for a small dinner in Alice's honor.

And then I left to go over to the Supper Club at 240 West 47 (between Broadway and 8th) for the opening night American debut of the international chanteuse Arielle Dombasle, one of the most famous singer-actresses in France today. Mlle. Dombasle is also the wife of one of France’s most famous writer/philosopher/journalists, Bernard-Henri Levy. They are perhaps France’s most famous couple. Dombasle’s album Amor Amor has been a big hit in France, selling more than 650,000 copies. Along with this American appearance she is releasing her new album C’est Si Bon.

She was born in Norwich, Connecticut, the child of French parents. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Mexico where she lived until she was 18 when she went to live and study in Paris, which has been her home ever since. She has the style of the French chanteuse but there is something almost exotically American about her. We stayed through several songs, including “As Time Goes By” followed by Cole Porter’s “C’est Magnifique.” There was a big crowd and enthusiastic crowd at the Supper Club, including a couple of American Frenchman (or so it would seem), Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper whom we last ran into off the quai Voltaire in Paris last week.

Arielle Dombasle last night at the Supper Club
After JH got his shots we headed uptown to the Museum of the City of New York at 103rd Street and Fifth Avenue, just to get some shots of scene, the UES version of “New York After Dark.” This is the world of The Director’s Council of the Museum. They’re a crew that is always well turned out, the once-upon-a-time junior crowd that has gained seniority and turned up the heat in supporting the museum. The evening was sponsored by Graff, the purveyors of the world’s most astonishing diamonds, and J. Mendel. This is one of the first parties of the autumn season and for a lot of the guests it was a kind of first back-home-for-school (for their kids now) reunion.

Stephanie Slick wears yellow and white diamond jewelry from Graff

Corinne Russell wears Graff diamonds and a 30ct Graff diamond ring
Chairmen for the evening were Sara Ayres, Phoebe Gubelmann, Heather Mnuchin, Valesca Guerrand-Hermes, Celerie Kemble, Jill Roosevelt, Kristina Stewart Ward, and Eleanor Ylvisaker.
A warm welcome; Adrian Cleary and friends.

Wendy Carduner with Sylvester and Gillian Miniter

Peggy Siegal, DPC, and Carole McFadden
Tara Rockefeller

Grace Hightower, Alexis Clark, and Muffie Potter Aston

Allison Rockefelller and Mark Gilbertson

Elizabeth and Amanda Meigher

Heather Mnuchin and Nina Davidson
Steven Mnuchin and Mitch Davidson

Amy Hoadley (right)

Alison Minton and Michel Witmer
Chappy and Melissa Morris

Cricket Burns, Julie Dannenberg, and Leslie Stevens

Cynthia Lufkin and Valesca Guerrand Hermes with Kristina and Arthur Ward

Cynthia Lufkin and Mark Gilbertson

Kate Allen
Michael Gross, Amy Hoadley, and Roy Kean

Roger Webster

The best in the biz says JH
Rachel Hovnanian and Samantha Topping

John Barman, Melissa Feldman, and Kelly Graham

Calvert Moore with Kristina and Arthur Ward


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September 21, 2006, Volume VI, Number 146


© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/NewYorkSocialDiary.com