Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lunch and then some

A leaf clings to a taxi cab's window. 2:20 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, November 17, 2011. Rainy day in New York. No big deal except it ties the traffic up more than usual (which is bad enough). However.

I went down to Michael’s for their Wednesday lunch. I go to Michael’s for a couple of reasons (if I haven’t told you before). It draws such a cross-section of media and media related people that it offers the possibility of something to talk about if I don’t have anything else for the daily Diary. I also like the look of the place. It’s light and soothing and the art enhances and adds another dimension to the creativity of the place.
I don’t eat the same thing everyday although I usually choose a couple of things from the appetizer column. I often have the soup although Michael’s features only four soups a year, one for each season and eventually ... I’ve had enough. However, I’m not there yet with their autumn soup which is a Pumpkin Squash combo with Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate. This was followed by the Farmer’s Market Beet Salad, Greek Yogurt, Granola, Lemon Zest. The soup was $17 and the Beet Salad was $19. It’s not a lot of lunch but it’s perfect after a late breakfast of a big bowl of oatmeal with berries, pastry and coffee.

Yesterday was a typical Michael’s day. I had a meeting there before lunch, arriving at 12:30. By one the place was filled and a lot of talk going around. This is another aspect of the place that appeals: the conversational activity.

In the room: Bob Friedman with David Carey; Joe Armstrong with Mort Janklow; Da Boyz, Della Femina, Bergman, Kramer, Imber; Geraldine Laybourne, Mel Karmazin with Alan Grubman; Fern Mallis, Vernon Jordon; Alex Hitz with Nikki Haskell; Ellin Delsener, Tony Hoyt, Lucianne Goldberg, Diane Clehane, Beverly Camhe (with Jeremy Weisen and Mary Clemente), Jon Meacham; Lynn Nesbit with Mercedes Bass; Gerry Byrne, Tom Brokaw, Richard Descherer, Diane Dimond, Debbie Bancroft; Freddie Gershon with Eden Collingsworth; Steve Rattner, Stephen Swid, Henry Schleiff, Nick Verbitsky; Chris Meigher with the irredoubtable, irrefutable Taki of; Steven Rubenstein with Elizabeth Spiers; Rose Marie Bravo and Howard Meitiner; Robert Zimmerman; Ariel Foxman and Meryl Poster; Andrew Allen and Maury Rogoff; David Sanford, Keith Meister, Jay Margolis, Harry Sloan, and on and on into the afternoon.  
Looking east across 55th Street, about a hundred yards from Michael's.
It occurred to me after finishing that (incomplete list) that you dear reader might not have a clue as to who most of these/those people are. “Who they are” in their world, in this world of Michael’s, are individuals who have some kind of a face of familiarity, the way we do in a village or a small town, but in this case it’s a city of many millions. It’s a microcosm of the way the world works.

The reason for that “face” however, is the result of a talent or a personality dynamic, not to mention a special charm or shrewdness (first cousins), that impels them into the mainstream that is the New York world of media, politics, society, the aspiring and the workerbees. However, you could Google most of those names and discover a lot of industry and innovative personalities.

This is not a measure of the man (or woman) but it is a measure of his or her modus vivendi. This is New York, and has been for more than a couple of centuries.
Treillage gets into the spirit.
Last night in New York. The French Heritage Society held their annual Gala Dinner Dance “Celebrating the Royal Families of Fontainebleau” at the Metropolitan Club.  The Society is in the business of funding restorations of French historical sites. The members also take some very interesting trips. Next October 2012, for example, the Chateau de Fontainebleau will be the site of the Heritage Society’s 30th Anniversary Gala Dinner and Ball. This trip will include a week preceding the event discovering the wonders of the Gascony region, following in the footsteps of the Three Musketeers and Louis XIV.

Last night’s Chairs were CeCe Black, Margo Langenberg, Mitzi Perdue, and Jean Shafiroff.
Elizabeth Stribling and Marjorie Reed Gordon. Margo Langenberg, Jean Shafiroff, Elizabeth Stribling, and CeCe Black.
The welcoming committee of the French Heritage Society last night at the Metropolitan Club.
Last week we covered a book signing for  Ellen Graham and her new book Talking Pictures; Photos by Ellen Graham. Over the past weekend I got a chance to sit down with it.

I met Ellen and her husband Ian years ago at a cocktail party at their house in Beverly Hills. I think I was first taken there by Lizabeth Scott, the siren of Hollywood’s film noir of the 1940s. Lizabeth’s portrait is in this current book.

Ellen had a room devoted to her photographs of mainly Hollywood people. Beautiful photographs but also people, many of whom she knew. So in a way a lot of them were photos of friends. But of course not just any friends. It seemed so perfectly Hollywood.
Sammy Davis Jr.
Gloria Swanson.
Ellen Graham’s portraits of movie stars did not look like ordinary people. Her style was borne of golden age of the studios where glamour was a given and the creative forces made it happen. Ellen’s movie stars came after that era but the memory lingered on. Even casual, these people look like they live on a different plane from the rest of us; and they do. Or did ...

Their portraits make them movie stars. Not everyone was pretty but all stars had strong images based on their creative or physical attributes. And they dressed the part. They look real, but real good. Gary Cooper Super Duper.
Truman takes the cake.
If you saw a Hollywood star in the audience of a Broadway theater or a famous restaurant, he or she looked like a movie star. They dressed for it. Even ugly guys who played monsters on the screen looked smart in their well-tailored pinstriped double breasted suits. That was the image enhancer that set them apart from the rest of the guys in the room.

These are Ellen Graham’s subjects. The photographs are all black and white. A treasure of Super Duper. You’ll be glad ya did.
Ellen Graham and her son Alexis. Click to order Talking Pictures. Ellen Graham and Mai Harrison.
Kathy Franklin. Solomon Asser and his lovely assistants.
Laura Montalban, Mary Hilliard, Edgar Batista, and Missy Prowell.
Christopher Spitzmiller, Mark Gilbertson, and Bruce Addison.
CeCe Black and Paige Betz. Martha Kramer and Neal Fox.
Charlie Scheips, Mary Hilliard, Edgar Batista, and Kenny Lane.
Diana Quasha and Ian Graham. Gina and James de Givenchy.
Ellie Libby, Yann Varin, and Melanie Holland.
Michael and Eleanora Kennedy. Oded Lenin and Jean Doumanian.
Maria Derossi, Dianna Cannon, Esmeralda Mosko, and Jane Klaris.
More Catching Up. Last Wednesday, a week, t the Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South they held the 2011 Martina Arroyo Foundation Gala  and honored Jennifer Raab, President of Hunter College, for her dedication to the arts.

The mission of the Martina Arroyo Foundation is to prepare younger singers in the interpretation of operatic roles through an intensive educational program that focuses on learning a complete role.
Midge Woolsey and Brian Kellow.
Paquito D'Rivera and Martina Arroyo.
Martina Arroyo, Freyda Lindemann, and Jennifer Raab.
Judith Zankel, Norman Benzaquen, Jennifer Raab, and Michael Goodwin.
John Lindstrom, Bernice Lindstrom, and Eric Owens.
Gregory Blimling and Trace Stout.
Elaine Malbin, Marcos Vigil, and Janet Stovin.
Barbara Stein and Joan Weinstock.
Robert Esteves, Donna Esteves, and Crystal Esteves.
Richard J. Miller, Jr. and F. Paul Driscoll.
From the Washington Social Diary, Stephanie Green reporting:

All that Fizz. Washingtonians “get” F. Scott Fitzgerald. Like his most famous character, Jay Gatsby, our politicians preen with their power, like to entertain and be entertained, and just when you’re figuring out who they really are, they go down in scandal-ridden flames.

So it came as no surprise that The Washington Ballet’s artistic director and man about town Septime Webre created a ballet based on Fitzgerald’s most famous novel, “The Great Gatsby.” The show made its return to the Kennedy Center last Thursday, November 3, after a warmly received debut last year.

Yanira Capparos and Roland Celette.
Effervescent flapper girls and dapper “old sports” danced and drank their way through Webre’s vision of the rollicking prohibition era. (Webre’s ingenuity has not been lost on the greater arts community as philanthropist par excellence Adrienne Arsht ponied up $ 250,000 last month so the Ballet’s annual production of i could have a live orchestra).

Figure-skater Michelle Kwan might have been the biggest star in the house on opening night, but the title of brightest star would have to be bestowed on society doyenne Pat Skantze who did her best Daisy Buchanan look in a striking white ensemble with her signature wide-brim hat. Who says big hats are only for the Virginia horse races?

Webre’s spirited opening night got the juices flowing just in time for the French Embassy’s annual Champagne Gala held last Saturday, November 5.

The 300 strong Francophiles indulged in bubbly from G. H. Mumm, Perrier-Jouët, Gosset Champagne, Champagne Henriot, Champagne Lanson, Louis Roderer, Moët & Chandon, Nicolas Feuillatte, Pol Roger, Pommery, Heidsieck, Taittinger, and Ruinart.

Are you feeling a little woozy?

Once the buzz kicked in, guests hit the dance floor to music provided by the Bob Hardwick Orchestra. The gala was organized by the embassy’s cultural attaché, Roland Celette, who scampered through the crowd sampling the champagne and made sure his guests were being entertained with his ubiquitous impish grin.
Samantha Pollack and Elisbeth Fager (photo: Alfredo Flores).
Whoever said the French never smile, has clearly never met the charming Monsieur Celette. He and his deputy, Charles Legette, tell me that the event raised some $40,000 for the French-American Cultural Foundation.

Speaking of intoxication, pianist prodigy Yoonie Han made her Washington debut November 2, at the Kennedy Center with such charm, sex appeal, and raw talent that drinks seemed unnecessary at the after party. The Julliard grad performed with Avanti, The Orchestra of the Friday Morning Music Club, in a slinky, fire engine red dress in front of a sold out crowd.

She confided to me that Franz Liszt was her favorite composer, although she chose Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 for the evening’s concert. “I’m a romantic," she gushed.

Photos by Annie Watt (Ellen Graham).

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