Thursday, May 31, 2007

A look at a New York day and night

Last night's book party for Danielle Ganek at the Guggenheim Museum. Photo: DPC.
Another beautiful Spring day in New York, right on the edge of too hot.

Connections. Michael’s was its Wednesday loaded, practically a circus. Something for everybody. At one table Patricia Duff was holding forth with her pals Debbie Bancroft and Tiffany Dubin. While right across the aisle (“hi!”) Ms. Duff’s ex-husband before Ron Perelman was her ex-husband, producer Mike Medavoy was lunching with Alan Grubman. Right next to Ms. Duff et al, Peter Brown was lunching with the beautiful Renee Fleming, Next door was Gerry Schoenfeld with guest; and across from them the Texas Missus Becca Thrash was entertaining, while across from her the old Texas boy Joe Armstrong was entertaining Jane Hartley and Sarah Simms Rossenthal (or vice versa).

Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf in La Môme
Next to them Cynthia McFadden of “Nightline” was hosting the First Lady of the State of New York Silda Wall Spitzer with Children For Children's (Ms. Wall Spitzer’s charity) Margo Jones. And then at my table: Geraldine Fabrikant of the New York Times and Shelby White.  We were visited by Lynn Nesbit and a client of hers who’d just come from the new Shelby White-Leon Levy Greco-Roman wing at the Met. While next to us Jerry Inzerillo of the Sol Kerzner hotels was lunching with Bob Pittman. Also: Euan Rellie with Ben Elliott of Quintessentially Yours; Ron Linlau with Camila Sparv. Across the room: Neil Shapiro with Charlie Rose, Meredith Viera with Al Roker; Gerry Byrne, Ellen Futter, Toni Goodale; Jim Zirin with Tom Pulling,Bobby Zarem, Alan Patricoff, John Huey of Time, Cindi Lieve with Dorothy Kalins; Henry Schlieff, Cheri Kaufman, Debra Shriver. You could hardly hear yourself think.

While farther up the avenue, Liz Smith  and Susan Gutfreund hosted a luncheon for Marion Cotillard “in celebration of her performance in Picturehouse’s “La Vie En Rose” (the extraordinary story of Edith Piaf. At the Gutfreund residence, very grand, very sumptuous, very French (decorated by Henri Samuel) and very comme il faut, as only the French know how.

“A swirling, impressionistic portrait of an artist who regretted nothing (‘Je Ne Regrette Rien’), written and directed by Olivier Dahan; a blazing performance by Mlle. Ctillard “the tragic story of the world-famous chanteuse worthy of a 19th century novel by Zola or Balzac. From the mean streets of the Belleville district of Paris to the dazzling limelight of New York’s most famous concert halls; a constant battle to sing and survive, to live and love.” Passionate romances with Chaplin, Cocteau, Yves Montand and Dietrich (Marlene). Gerard Depardieu co-stars. The star, the hostesses, Joan Juliet Buck, Dave Karger, Peggy Siegal, Caryn Zuckers, Shirin von Wulffen, Barbara Cirkva, Carolyne Roehm, Alex Hitz, Amy Fine Collins, Robert Couturier, Jennifer Creel, Marian Koltal-Levine, Annette Tapert, William and Deeda Blair, Jean Doumanian and Hamish Bowles.

Click cover to order.
Nightfall; Actors and authors and artists and such. Still daylight at 7 pm, I got into a taxi and asked him to take me to 89th and Fifth. “The Guggenheim?” he asked.  Uh-huh. “Something big going on there,” he informed, having just been up in that neck of the woods. A book party, I told him (all I knew) for a new novelist, Danielle Ganek and her book “Lulu Meets God And Doubts Him.”

Even the taxi driver knew: “That must be some book.” I knew little. Except: Mrs. Ganek is the wife of David Ganek, the protégé of hedge fund wizard Steven Cohen (who last week bought the Warhol “Lemon Marilyn” for $80 million — you still with me?). And the Times is doing a piece on the authoress. Mr. Ganek runs a hedge fund called Level Global. And in his spare time, he and Mrs. Ganek collect art.  Hence the Gugg. I guess. And no doubt, the Times, since hedge fund managers are the new rockstars/ tycoons/ circus acrobats in this world of more and more. And more.

In the meantime, incidentally, my taxi driver was more interested in the Yankees and the Mets and couldn’t stop talking about Roger Clemens deal which pays the pitcher $28 mill for the year, which my taxi driver said works out to $1 million per game as starting pitcher. In this world of more and more. And more.
Danielle Ganek
Money, money.  Meanwhile at the Gugg, the place was (having started an hour before I arrived) mobbed, quite mobbed for a book party. I could assume that a lot of these people were in the hedge fund business (but that’s second guessing) and supporting their friend. I found the authoress (who got a very good review in Sunday’s NY Times Book Review) busily signing book after book.

I asked her how long it took to write. She told me she’d been writing all her life. But this book? “Three years,” she said. Three kids, a husband and a novel. You have to hand it to her, no matter how much they’ve got in the bank (or the market). A real achievement.  I got a couple of shots, as you can see. Someone told me Tory Burch was giving her a dinner party later that night. This is her moment.

Leila Heller
I hightailed it out of there and headed down to the Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller Gallery on 72nd just west of Madison and her “At the Beach” show of artists including: Milton Avery, Richard Bruce, Alexander Charriol, Jonny Detiger, Jean Dufy, Kimberly DuRoss, Eric Fischl, Helen Frankenthaler, Josepha LaPiana, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Longo, Patrick McMullan, Pablo Picasso, Fairfield Porter, Foreydoun Sardari, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Massimo Vitali, Albert Watson, Tom Wesselmann, Dirk Westphal and Martin Saar. Big crowd in a small gallery. Very comme il faut too. As only the gallery owners know how.
Dana Hammond Stubgen next to a painting by one of her favorite artists, Mary Minter
Artist Martin Saar ...
... and with Gallery director Mary Morris
L to r.: Liliane de Lesseps; Kimberly DuRoss in front of one of her works; Laura Codman.
Back out on 72nd Street, some Ralph Lauren staff were embracing some male mannequins (all business of course) and transporting them from there to ... there.  I headed up the avenue to Tom and Diahn McGrath’s where they were hosting a dinner party for the new Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Dr. Asha Rose Migiro from Tanzania.
Lauren window design staff in action
A local artist transporting his work down Fifth
The McGraths, both lawyers, always have interesting dinner parties for this New Yorkers because the guest of honor usually evokes table conversation that involves everyone. This is, surprising, unusual (at least in my experience) because most dinner parties involve conversation with your partner on the right and then your partner on the left. Even if the conversation is informal, etiquette requires changing from one side to the other after each course.  At the McGraths’ it usually begins with some remarks from the hostess, and the host, and somewhere into the courses, the guest of honor is asked to speak. 

Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Asha Rose Migiro and Ambassador Charles Stith
There were fourteen or sixteen (I’m guessing here) at last night’s table, some of whom I knew (or knew of) and others whom I met for the first time, including writer/editor Lewis Lapham who has started a new quarterly; George Soros, Georgette Mosbacher, former Clinton Ambassador to Tanzania Charles Stith and his wife Deborah, former Clinton Ambassador Carl Spielvogel and Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, former Ambassador Donald Blinken and Vera Blinken, Phylicia Rashid, Bartle Bull, former Ambassador Robin Duke, as well as those I’d met so quickly I didn’t get their names.

As dessert was being served, Tom McGrath asked the guest of honor, Madame Deputy Secretary General to tell the guests about herself and her country (which the McGraths have been involved in through philanthropy for some time). Madame Migiro had visited New York before, but never lived here. She talked about the problems facing developing countries such as Tanzania, including HIV, which is a very major problem. By the time she finished, the conversation at the table opened up to the United Nations.

Lewis Lapham told us about being a ten-year-old in San Francisco in 1945 when the UN had just been formed. The War was not yet over; the bomb had not been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Lapham’s grandfather was the Mayor of San Francisco at the time, and the grandson recalled the day that President Truman arrived by train from Washington for the opening of the United Nations meetings. Truman’s arrival, he said, brought out the largest crowd ever assembled in the state of California (to this day) to see him.

Because his grandfather was mayor, the boy of ten was taken to see that arrival, and later taken by boat out to visit the fleet where Admirals Nimitz and Halsey were awaiting their new Commander-in-chief (Franklin Roosevelt had died only two months before). Sixty-two years later, at table last night, Mr. Lapham could recall the high spirits of the creation of the United Nations, and voiced the opinion that he still believed the UN was possibly the best hope for the world’s future together.

From those remarks arose a spirited conversation at table about the state of the world and the country today with several expressing their opinions, observations and conclusions. Very spirited and very stimulating; there is probably nothing greater that can happen in “social” New York at a gathering such as this than exposure to these diverse and different opinions, expressed by individuals of accomplishment, achievement and experience, all with frankness and without hostility or rancor (for, if nothing else, we were guests at someone’s table). While not unique, it is, generally speaking, unusual, especially in these times. Interestingly, no one brought up the subject of the 2008 Presidential race, nor the names of any of the candidates from either party.

Photographs by DPC/

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