Tuesday, March 1, 2011

We all could use a little springtime about now

The last patch of snow in Central Park, now gone. 3:50 PM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011. Big rains forecast. High winds. Nada. Damp, not cold until late night. I think we all could use a little springtime about now. I don’t know about you; but for me this has been a distracting and at times disturbingly distracting past few weeks, in the world ... out there. We could say we are living in epochal times and this is what it looks like.

Last night I was invited to sit in on a forum at the Public Theatre where the topic was money. The Public Theatre has these forums from time to time around their productions. The Public’s new production of Timon of Athens with Richard Thomas is the focal point and the subject is money.

I confess I did not know about the play, and I was told it was one of his “problem” plays. Last night Mr. Thomas and Randy Cohen, who writes “The Ethicist” for The New York Times Magazine (his final one was this past Sunday), held a discussion about the play (which is about money). I didn’t hear the discussion because I was in the Green Room with the other two panelists, Bethany McLean, who writes financial stories for Vanity Fair, and Ben Smith, who writes for POLITICO, the hot Washington website.
Last night's cast: Moderator Jeremy McCarter, Ben Smith, Bethany McLean, and DPC.
I learned that I had been invited to join them because of something I wrote about Madoff several weeks ago and the business of who’s to blame and who’s responsible. Somewhere in there I expressed the opinion that we’re all responsible.

The subjects discussed were philanthropy, Washington, student loans. The audience was fairly imperceptible in the dark, from the lighted stage but theater looked to be close to filled. Once you’re seated there, on the stage and miked, and all these people are watching you, you know you owe them something (even if it’s making them laugh).

But ideally, someone or some people, or this person, will learn something from the experience. The problem with any of these forums is that are often too brief, disallowing the natural forces of conversation that can get lively for all.

The current crisis in the world is about money. Bethany McLean, who has written the book on Enron ... proposed that these financial troubles began 30 years ago with the breakdown in the rules and following them. Deregulate. I suggested it began with all of us with the credit card.

I remember the first time I got a credit card. It came in the mail from our bank (I was married at the time). We each got one. We actually looked at them as if to say: “what do you do with this. Because in those days, if you didn’t have the money, you didn’t spend it. Or buy it. Or eat it. You went without. If you were fortunate (or loaded) you wrote a check or the bill at the end of the month.

We never used our credit cards. I think we were afraid of what it would look like (“oh, they haven’t got the cash, tch-tch.”). This was the way of the world. I’m sure this was an ordinary experience.

Debt was not a way of life.

The values which reflect and require stability in any society or any group of individuals with shared interests have become anaesthetized by our overwhelming debt. You might call it a stupor: The self-deception that believes the lie. We do this; it is the nature of the beast. Now we must take care, of each other and of ourselves.
That Public Theatre commitment prevented me from attending the Museum of the Moving Image’s 26th annual salute, this year to Alec Baldwin over at Cipriani’s 42nd St.
The many faces of Alec Baldwin.
I knew this would be fun and have a good vibe. I don’t know Baldwin, never met him, but I’ve seen him around and he’s definitely a guy who likes a good laugh and has his heart in the right place (if not his Irish mouth). The lineup of presenters seconds that notion: Tim Curry, Edie Falco, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Michael Keaton, Lorne Michaels, Ron Meyer, Herb Schlosser, Ermenegildo, the Man, Jeff Zucker, Matt Blank, Ronald Doerfler, Bill Pullman, Mercedes Ruehl, Ben Stiller, and Alexandra Wentworth. You know it was a good time.

So last night my choices were: Laughs or Know-It-All, and I chose the latter. The comedy version of a fool and his money.
Tina Fey salutes Alec Baldwin.
The many faces of Patricia Clarkson.
Rochelle Slovin. Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley. Dylan Lauren.
Edie Falco. Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor. Mariska Hargitay.
Lorne Michaels. Carey Lowell and Richard Gere. Jimmy Fallon.
Amy Ryan. Tim Curry and Marcia Hurwitz. Mercedes Ruehl.
Also last night right up in my neck of the woods, the Gracie Mansion Conservancy held its benefit dinner for about 200 guests. There was a seated three-course dinner featuring a dynamic roster of some of the City’s most extraordinary culinary talent:  First Course: Le Bernardin; Second Course: Perry Street; Dessert: Locanda Verde.

The dinner was preceded by a cocktail hour featuring hors d’oeuvres and stations from restaurants in each of the five boroughs: Al di La in Brooklyn; Butter here in Manhattan; Carol’s Café in Staten Island; Cookshop, Great Performances, Nobu, Plaza Food Hall, Mitchel London; Pain D’Avignon in Queens, and a cocktail by The Liquid Chef in the Bronx.
Singers serenade guests outside Gracie Mansion.
The menu was accompanied by an array of outstanding wines from New York State, donated by Fourth Wall Restaurants. Cocktail wines were donated by Michael Lynne’s Bedell Cellars.

The Mayor, Michael Bloomberg was host. Benefit co-chairs were Stanley and Fiona Druckenmiller and George and Nancy Walker.

Mr. Bloomberg is the first mayor in many years to choose to live at his own house. Since then the 211-year-old house has undergone a major restoration, giving residents more accessibility as well as to City Agencies. Gracie Mansion is now more frequently used than any other time in its history. For example, in the past four years, more than 10,000 school children have toured the mansion. The Conservancy raises funds to preserve and maintain the house.
Todd Monaghan, Audrey Smaltz, John Vera, and Kenny the Magician.
Bob Jezowski, Irene Halligran, and Kenneth Mulligan.
Tucker York and Emily Kramer. Monroe Alechman and Nicole Vartanian.
Susan Rohan and Diana L Poutross.
Suzanna Lachs with Patty and David Silvers.
Lisa Cashin and Tom Kempner. Charlynn and Warren Goins.
Tom Daly and Mike Poutross.
Tom Daly and Vincent Rohan.
Lisa Wilf and Abby Halpern.
Andy Darrell, Bill Cunningham, Gail Grimmett, Trish Rumola, and Doug Ralph.
Susan Danilow, Louise Mirrer, David Halle, and Deborah Krulewitch.
Andrea and Jim Burns with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Steve Lessing (right).
The Mayor with Christine Galib and Todd Monaghan. Anne and Jacques Nordeman.
Zulema Wiscovitch, Katia Zastrow, Ed Fitzmaurice, Joseph Wiscovitch, and David and Jasmine Corona.
Wendy Deets and William Heyman.
Loulie Walker, Tom Gibbins, Lawrence Lessing, Caroline Mullin, Simone Bland,Carey Cunningham, and Tim Mullin.
Mayor Mike with Barry Schwartz, Belinda Lerner, and Chris Taylor.
Susan and Tucker York. Dr. Paul Wagner and Nina Freedman.
Diane Coffey and Mayor Bloomberg.
Howard and Barbara Bellin-Brenner with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Mayor Bloomberg with Jeff and Liz Peek.
Liz Peek and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Ralph Tragale, Trish Rumola, Mitchel Moss, and Mayor Bloomberg.
Micheal Suppa. Todd English and John Deluci.
Peter Nadosy , Jacques Nordeman, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Larry Mazeo, Mayor Bloomberg, and Eric Perry.
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Photographs by ROB RICH (Museum of the Moving Image); ANN WATT (Gracie Mansion).
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