Thursday, April 12, 2007

Names and faces

The perfect Hudson River view from Richard Meier's Perry Street Towers. 4:40 PM. Photo: JH.
Names and faces. This has been Peggy Siegal week in the New York world of publicity. Tuesday night it was the book party and dinners for Alfred Taubman

Down at Michael’s yesterday she staged a luncheon in the Garden Room for 85 women, hosted by iVillage.com president Deborah Fine along with Arianna Huffington the biographer/political commentator, for the launch of iVillage Cares, “a global initiative focusing on women’s issues” and the paperback release of Mrs. Huffington’s book “On Becoming Fearless.” It must have come to a surprise to a lot of people that Mrs. Huffington was ever fearful, for she is a woman who seems to go right after whatever it is that she wants – a very attractive quality to a lot of women although not necessarily to a lot of men (when it comes to women).

iVillage Cares is a national advocacy program designed to build awareness and support for causes of concern to women. An online forum at iVillage.com/iVillageCares will highlight key issues ranging from childhood obesity and breast cancer research to homelessness and the environment, bringing these issues to the forefront, giving women an opportunity to connect through common causes, become informed and take action.  

Stopping to say hello to Jim Mitchell and Angela Kumble on our way to the Garden Room
“On Becoming Fearless” is Mrs. Huffington’s 11th book, written with her two teenage daughters in mind, hoping that they will learn how to lead fearless lives.  For the author, fearlessness is not the absence of fear but the mastery of fear.  And overcoming those fears is always easier when we have a tribe -- a village. This is a subject discussed at my luncheon table the day before, using the word community instead of “tribe.”

Big name guest list: Maria Cuomo Cole, Amy Fine Collins, Arlene Dahl, Rachel Roy, Fran Drescher, Beth Dororetz, Joni Evans, Somers Farkas, Barbara Guggenheim, Zoe Baird, Marisa Acocella, Joan Juliet Buck, Nancy Novogrod, Clara Bingham, Jean Doumanian, Peggy Drexler, Pamela Gross, Katie Ford, Karenna Gore Schiff, Joan Rivers, Barbara Kopple, Dayle Haddon, Sandy Golinkin, Cindi Leive, Fern Mallis, Georgette Mosbacher, Sharon Bush, Lauren Bush, Kristin Chenoweth, Cristina Greeven Cuomo, Nora Ephron, Judith Ripka, Deborah Roberts, Priscille Ratazzi Whittle, Annette Tapert, Georgina Tapert, Debra Winger, Naomi Wolf, Alexandra Wolfe, Perri Peltz, Atoosa Rubenstein, Cynthia Rowley, Darryl Roth, and that’s just for starters.

I went in to take some pictures before they sat down but left before any of the business began so I don’t know what was said. Some of these women are well known for their political persuasions, and they run wide, both left and right, and are firmly opinionated. Fearless, many of them; at least it seems so.
Mrs. Huffington has been on both sides of the political aisle, which has exposed her to widespread skepticism in some circles. She even had a brief foray as a candidate. She is now what’s known as a Liberal, albeit also a member of the intelligentsia. No matter what you think of her opinions, you have to acknowledge her quickwittedness and willingness to fearlessly tweak the boys in power. And some of the girls too, like Hillary.

Mrs. Mosbacher, on the other hand, is a Republican and therefore conservative. Tweaking the boys in power is not so much her style. Charming them maybe, but not tweaking. However, the room yesterday was full with women of strong motivations and opinions as well as the energy to exercise them.

Convocations of women are nothing new since Emmeline Pankhurst and her girls took up the banners of women’s suffrage about a century ago. But they are only now just beginning to gain a foothold on equal political power in the community. In business they can be as cutthroat as men, maybe even moreso at times. But they are less likely to be a sisterly to their sisters as the boys are to their brothers. In business.

Out in the front room of Michael’s. A lot of the regulars in the media, publishing, banking and business worlds: Herb Siegel, Esther Newberg, Marc Rosen, John Josephson, Stan Shuman, Henry Schlieff entertaining Lynn White, Rosanno Scotto, Jane Handson, Penny Crone; Helen O’Hagan with Stanley Tucker; Jesse Kornbluth, Wendy Goldberg with Marshall Cohen, Ron Meyer, Suzanne Gluck, Donald Trump Jr., Marlene Hess, Jim Mitchell with Angela Kumble; Scott Greenstein, Nick Rubenstein, Susan Lyne and Charles Koppelman. I was lunching with Charles Stevenson.
Nora Ephron and Peggy Siegal
Arianna Huffington and friend
Karenna Gore Schiff and Patty Sellers
L. to r.: Joan Juliet Buck, Jane Hanson and, Nancy Novogrod; Judith Ripka's Gravlax starter; Joan Rivers and Steve Milington.
Annette Tapert Allen, Priscilla Rattazzi Whittle, and Georgina Tapert
Fern Mallis, Georgette Mosbacher, Sandy Golinkin, and Cindy Weber Cleary
In lieu of flowers, JIll Krementz and their daughter Lily Vonnegut would like donations made to The Turtle Bay Association, 224 East 47th Street, New York 10017 (Photograph ©by Jill Krementz)
In Memoriam. 4.12.07 - Kurt Vonnegut died two nights ago here in New York. I saw him only several weeks ago at the birthday party of his wife Jill Krementz (see NYSD 2.20.07). I was a big fan, reading all of his books. I hadn’t read anything of his in years however, until last night when I saw an excerpt from “Slaughterhouse Five” on http://www.atrios.blogspot.com/.

So I started reading, and of course I found myself laughing out loud, and finally reveling in the pleasure of pure Vonnegut (who somewhere within is pure me, or something like that).

I had the pleasure of the man’s presence a number times because of his wife who has published some of her compelling photojournals on the NYSD. However, I cannot say I ever really had the pleasure of his company. I found him somewhat intimidating and highly uninterested in me, and so I was both cowed and in awe. This tells you a little more about me than it reveals about him, of course. I could see from observing those whose company he kept that he was as revered and amusing  an individual as he was a writer of books.

I should add that despite my own diffidence in his presence, I never wavered from my sense that I was in the presence of a brilliant man, a humanist, an ironist; an artist and a humble giant.

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Photographs by DPC/NYSD