|A hawk surveys the scene from high above. Photo: JH.|
|Friday, June 15, 2012. Beautiful sunny day, yesterday in New York. Obama here for a tour of the World Trade Center site and the brand One World Trade Center, and some fund-raising.|
|The logjam of traffic on Fifth Avenue at 63rd Street last night a 7:45 PM. President and Mrs. Obama were making an appearance at a fund-raiser at the Plaza Hotel.|
|Last night in Central, the Wildlife Conservation Society held is annual gala benefit, this year theme “The Coasts of Patagonia.” This is a lovely festive affair. Black tie with cocktails around the seals’ domain. Guests get to see them at their feeding and their frisky sweet best. The honorees for the evening were Dr. Steven Sanderson, out-going President and CEO of the WCS, and Dr. Juan Carlos Castilla, Professor of Ecology at the Catholic University of Chile.
Tables of ten, beautifully decorated; dinner, dancing and then at ten, the after-party for mainly the younger set. This year the after-party was a sell-out – 900 young women and men, dressed for an evening surrounded by the forests of Central Park and the skyline of the City. More to come on Monday.
|The theme of the evening was "The Coasts of Patagonia."|
|The After Party began at 9:30 around the Seal Pool.|
|Wednesday night, after the Cornelia Guest book party at John Demsey’s townhouse, many moved a few blocks to another book party given by Zibby and Jim Tozer, and Katie Tozer in honor of Frances Osborne and her new novel Park Lane.
Her new book is the story of “two determined women forging their own lives in socially constrained Edwardian London. A Housemaid and a Debutante. The kind of women who might have been part of party weekends at “Downton Abbey.”
Mrs. Osborne, whose husband George Osborne is currently the Chancellor of the Exchequer under Prime Minister David Cameron, has written a book about that generation of aristocrats, and her descriptions had the guests bolting for the books neatly stacked and waiting in the Tozer gallery.
Among the guests were Evelyn Tompkins, Daryl Hall (yes, the very same), Sonny and Gita Mehta, Elziabeth Mayhew, Barbara Goldsmith, Mark Gilbertson, Susan Hensahw Jones, Christopher mason, Mai Hallingby Harrison, Phil Geier, Frederike and Jeremy Biggs, Barbara Georgescu, Amanda Foreman and Jonathan Barton, Vicky Ward, Marvin and Mary Davidson, Wendy Moonan, Ellery and Marjorie Reed Gordon, John and Joan Jakobson.
|Click to Order Park Lane.|
|Walking up Fifth Avenue from Michael’s, the sidewalks were jammed with tourists (and regular New Yorkers) out in the Sun. Passing Bergdorf’s I spotted the lady below.
I recognized her by her dogs,as well as her sign design and handwriting. I first saw her a couple blocks south in January 2011. She was reading a book. With the dogs by her side sleeping, very cute and well clothed for the cold; and with a big baby belly. The sign said she was “7 months pregnant” and needed money to get home. She didn’t say where. Ten months later I saw her again, propped up against the Henri Bendel building. Same sign, same dogs; and the big baby belly. Still “seven months pregnant.”
|She’s better to her dogs than a lot of people I know who have dogs. She’s a reader. Big thick books, hardbound. Not sure the genre, but I’d guess the Brontes or de Beauvoir, or Gibbons’ “The Rise and Fall…..”
She was blonde, and looked somewhat homespun, like originally a country girl. She now sports a new look. Still, a good eye for fashion. Also, quite a few tattoos. On her right arm is what looks like a big fresh scar, like a healing from a burn. Did she remove a tattoo maybe?
The makeover is Rebecca gone post-Punk. The toenails and fingernails are freshly manicured and polished. The fingernails had designs on them. Maybe she’s an out of work fashion coordinator who's got an expensive rent down in Tribeca? Really.
Whatever it is, now she sits pavement and begs with the phony sob story. I don’t know why. It could be several things. It could even be that she’s deeply troubled and can’t take care of herself in any other way. Whatever it is, it’s an act.
Beer-bellied, clothes stained from dirt and wear and weather, he was ruddy-faced, bright-eyed, and a jolly personality. He’d first give you a quick monologue out of Shakespeare, or T.S. Eliot. And always with a smile. You’d give him more than a quarter simply because he’d made you smile with his words. Receiving the gift, his eyes would light up as he accepted. He’d thank you and be on his way. Cheerio. To the nearest ginmill. But you knew that when you first saw him before he spoke.
In the mid-70s, there were people down and out everywhere. They remained in numbers visibly through the 90s. The problems were thought to be drugs, alcohol, mental health. When Reagan was President and cut budgets on state care for people who were mentally disturbed or impaired, there seemed to be even more on the street. This went on until Giuliani became Mayor, and eventually the streets seemed to be vacated.
I felt sorry for the verbal troubadour who asked for a quarter. I knew his fate was out of his hands, at least for the moment. There were hundreds more all over the city in that situation, although hardly as engaging. The Bowery was well-populated with them. Women too. There are more women out there now -- from the gypsies wheeling their strollers, and the quivering, barely clothed African-American girl who sits, half crouching against a church wall, looking like she’s dying of consumption; and any minute. Except she’s been at it for years, so you know it’s not fatal, and very possibly very lucrative.
I don’t doubt the desperate need of many people because I personally know a lot of people who are close to that, and have jobs. But the main difference between the 60s, 70s, 90s and now, is that now it looks like a lot of these people are just workin’ it. No one has to participate, of course, if they don’t like what they see. But now I often get the feeling that what we’re seeing is post-modern panhandling, the Business School model. Well-educated, healthy resourceful people who see it as a revenue stream. Money talks and nobody walks.
This creates a terrible dilemma for all of us, because it’s a symptom. The first time I saw her, I was worried about her, about the health of her “unborn child,” and the little dogs. I gave her twenty bucks. No big deal; it didn’t leave me without. But then she turned out to be a false alarm. In a world where many feel increasingly gamed by those who are making it up for their own personal gain. It’s a social epidemic. Which leaves the question: What will be the cure?
Contact DPC here .