Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Like Late Spring

Last night at the Stephan Weiss Studio, ACRIA (the AIDS community Research Initiative of America) held its 13th Annual Acris Holiday Dinner. 9:00 PM. Photo: JH.
12/16. Yesterday in New York was like late Spring. In the high 60s by mid-day. I went out prepared for early winter temperatures and was over-dressed.

The topic of the day was the Madoff investment scandal provoking a lot of mail. One reader, former ABC news producer Mort Fleischer reminded us of the lyrics from “Fiddler on the Roof” where Tevye sings Bock and Harnick’s “If I Were A Rich Man”:

The most important men in town will come
to fawn on me.
They will ask me to advise them like
Solomon the Wise,
"If you please, Reb Tevye, Pardon me, Reb Tevye,"
Posing problems that would cross a rabbi's eyes.
And it won't make one bit of difference
If I answer right or wrong.
When you're rich they think you really know!

When you’re rich they think you really know. This is the crux of it for all of us. The victims of the Madoff catastrophe as well as the mighta-beens, wudda-beens, and scaredy-cats in between. This is the catch, the fly in the ointment. This is where we are all vulnerable to ourselves. All of us know that aphorism: when you’re rich they think you really know. We’ve all practiced it on one side or the other, some at length and for all times and some not so.

For all of those prominent individuals who lost huge sums -- sometimes great fortunes -- by parking their money with Mr. Madoff, there are many many more who were comfortable, sometimes well-off, often very old and unable to recoup, who not only lost everything but remain completely in the dark over it. This article on Bloomberg recounts just some of those stories.

Furthermore, the fall-out from this will be huge and for many it will be a lifetime in sorting out.
Outside the Stephan Weiss Studio.
Last night at the Stephan Weiss Studio at 711 Greenwich Street at Charles Street, ACRIA (the AIDS community Research Initiative of America) held its 13th Annual Acris Holiday Dinner hosted by Ross Bleckner, Bob Colacello, Francisco Costa, Donna Karan, Charla Lawhon and Martha Nelson and honoring Donald Baechler for his generosity and enduring support of the cause. Mr. Colacello was unable to attend, stuck in Los Angeles where he’s working on two pieces for Vanity Fair.

This is a wonderful party. It’s downtown and uptown folk and in a downtown venue. Everybody’s happy do be there. Mr. Weiss is the late husband of Donna Karan. It was his creative space and the space is large and clean, at-the-ready for new projects. Each year the tables are set up in different configurations and there is an overlying theme which is presented in different media. This year’s was the walls turned into screens of candles burning, flickering in the dark. ACRIA is those candles.
There must have been 200 there but it’s got a coziness to it. There is no New York attitude to be found in the room.
Sonja Morgan and Liliana Cavendish
Everyone is just glad to be there and glad to be able to participate. There’s a big silent auction of art donated by a lot of artists such as Ross Bleckner, Julian Schnabel, Kiki Smith, Herb Ritts, April Gornik, Donald Sultan, Joe Andoe, Brian Alfred. The evening is underwritten by InStyle magazine and the Urban Zen Foundation – which is Karan’s foundation, a memorial to her husband. There is also an Urban Zen store.

I saw Shelly and Vincent Fremont, Gillian Hearst and Christian Simonds, Robert Rufino, Doug Hannant and Fred Anderson, Jay Johnson and Tom Cashin, Beth DeWoody, Bob and Suzanne Cochran, Sam Bolton, George Gurley, Sonja Tremont Morgan, Liliana Cavendish, Paul Beirne, David Kleinberg, Marjorie Gubelman, Stuart Parr, Andrew Saffir and Daniel Benedict, Christian Leone, Brian Farrell, Kevin Baker, James Crespo, David Salle, Juliana Margulies, Adam Lippes.
The Georg Jensen table settings and the Jon Gilman menu.
ACRIA, since 1991, has contributed to the development of more than 10 drugs that have received FA approval, helping countless thousands live longer, healthier lives. Today ACRIA is involved in the testing of more than a dozen HIV medications and other treatments that promise to help alleviate the often difficult side effects of AIDS drugs.

ACRIA also operates TrialSearch, a unique, online, searchable database of drug trials across the United States. It is an invaluable resource for both patients and their doctors: www.acria.org.
Donald Baechler Roberta Amon with Tom and Suzanne Cochran Adam Lippes and Juliana Margulies
Daniel Benedict and Brian Farrell Gillian and Christian Simonds Maxi Moehlmann
Tom Cashin, Beth DeWoody, and DPC's right eye Ross Bleckner and Liliana Cavendish
Tom Cashin and Jon Gilman George Gurley and JH Sam Bolton and Mark Warfel
Sonja Morgan and George Gurley Robert Rufino
Douglas Hannant, Gillian and Christian Simonds, and Frederick Anderson and friends Liliana Cavendish and Angela Mariani
Todd Merrill and Liliana Cavendish Gillian Simonds' loaded shoes
Meanwhile some of the parties we missed: During Art Basel in Miami, Mirax Group, the Russian real estate company hosted a party for Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia to celebrate art of another kind: the art of extraordinary jewels. More than 200 attended the party at Casa Casuarina.
Alex Rodriguez and Prince Dimitri Allison Gorsuch and Wendy Stark Morrissey
Dimitri and Olga Lutsenko Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah, Ann Nitze, and Prince Dimitri
Prince Pierre d’Arenberg, Liliana Cavendish, and Todd Morley Nadia Swarovski and Prince Dimitri
Models wearing Prince Dimitri's Jewelry Bob Colacello and Princess Firyal
Anne Nitze and Bob Colacello Juan Carlos Arcila-Duque and Mine Kalpakcioglu
And, Publicolor hosted a DESIGN CRIT where some of the city's top designers reviewed designs with students who participated in this summer's Next Step Prep program.

Each summer, struggling students hone their literary and numeracy skills through Publicolor's unique program that uses product design as the scaffold. This past summer, the product was an original design of a tee-shirt.
Alex Shuman, Lily Gunn, Andy Spade, Nicole Miller, and Publicolor students.
Publicolor was created by an enterprising go-getter named Ruth Shuman who decided to help people find a solution for themselves. Today, what was once a notion is now a not-for-profit organization dedicated to engaging at-risk students in their education by involving them in the painted transformation of their struggling schools and neglected community facilities. Put ‘em to work in making a better world for themselves.

To date, Publicolor has transformed 105 school buildings housing hundreds of smaller academies, as well as 122 community sites such as homeless shelters, police precincts and neighborhood health clinics.
Andy Spade and Publicolor students.
Even more than that, the work of Publicolor impacts the daily lives of more than 300,000 students, teachers, and residents of low-income neighborhoods. Those engaging in the Publicolor programs have transformed schools; they have reported increased teacher attendance, lower rates of violence and graffiti, and a greater sense of pride and ownership among students.

Members of the t-shirt design crit jury included: Nicole Miller, Alex Shuman (Michael Kors), Lily Gunn (Michael Kors), Nancy Dorn (Parsons board), Nikki Kule of Kule Designs, Jeffrey Banks, Harold Koda (Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), Simon Holloway (Narcisco Rodriguez), Andy Spade (Kate Spade) and Pamela Bell (Kate Spade). Good works, good times, had by all.
Lily Gunn and Publicolor students.

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