Thursday, October 30, 2008

Overcoat Weather

Union Square. 12:00 PM. Photo: JH.
10/30. Rainy and cold in New York yesterday; the first day of the new season that I wore an overcoat. I went down to Michael’s early to meet Kipton Cronkite, a young banker here in New York who a few years ago launched a project called KiptonART.

I got to Michael’s about twelve-fifteen. The place was nearly empty. Ten minutes later they began pouring in. Ten minutes after that the place the decibel level ramped upand then took off for near pandemonium. I know that sounds like an exaggeration. The scene is an exaggeration. The essence of what you might imagine a New York lunch crowd to be. Jane Fonda was there again, second day in a row. I’ll bet she liked the energy. Jerry Seinfeld was in the bay right within eyeshot of most of the room. And you know, even the most “sophisticated” love catching a glimpse of a star, what’s more a household name. Or names, as was the case yesterday. At the table next to us was former Governor George Pataki and Chrystia Freedland of the FT.

On the other side of us Peter Brown was lunching with Frank Bowling, the urbane once-upon-a-time general manager of the Carlyle, then the Bel Air in Los Angeles, and now waiting for the opening of the ne plus ultra Montage, opening anytime now in Beverly Hills. Next to them, Joe Armstrong was lunching with Jamie Niven, executive v-p and auctioneer at Sotheby’s. Jane Fonda was lunching with Pat Mitchell of the Paley Center for Media. Also in the room, Kate White, editor of Cosmo; Herb Siegel, the legendary Chris-Craft tycoon, with Jason Flom; Parker Ladd and Arnold Scaasi, Irving Azoff; the boys who go way back: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer; Judy Price, Christie Hefner, producer Elliott Kastner, Martin Puris, Matt Blank of Showtime, and more and more and more.

After my meeting with Kipton Cronkite, I was joined by Sassy Johnson Connor and Dr. Sarah Simms Rosenthal whom I used to refer to as my friend the sex therapist until she clarified for me that she is simply a therapist and sex is always ... well, you know ... there. Mainly I did it because I knew I could get a laugh out of her hearing it. Sassy and I are old friends (Sarah and Sassy met through me and are now longtime friends). When I first met Sassy back in the 70s she was running Halston’s couture which was then located up on 68th and Madison. Halston was already deeply into his coking and clubbing and the temperament was volatile, predictably unpredictable and a nightmare to work around many times.

It was Sassy with whom I saw "The Devil Wears Prada” and we laughed over the scene where the editor’s office gets the call that she’s on her way into the office and her staff goes nuts with fear and hysteria. That’s exactly what it was like at Halston, according to Sassy. They’d get a call that he’d just left his house (four blocks away) and the whole place went into a tempest trying to look busy. Anything to avoid his vile temper. One day amidst this hysteria, Sassy took refuge in a closet as the designer was entering the office. As it happened the first thing he did was open that closet door and lo ... there she was ... And he said: “what are you doing here?” And she said: “I don’t know.” Life in the fast lane. And the last lane, as it turned out for Mr. Halston.

Carolyne Roehm and “A Passion for Blue and White.” Click image to order.
Last night, rains stopped, very cool, more overcoat, I went down to the 57th Street aerie of Carolyne Roehm who was having a cocktail party reception to celebrate her new book “A Passion for Blue and White.” Carolyne had just come back from San Francisco where she lectured and talked about her book. She was pleased to see that the mood in San Francisco was the somber she’d left in New York. San Franciscans loved having her and bought lots of copies.

The Roehm apartment has a double height living room (see NYSD HOUSE) which is very grand, yet warm and very comfortable. The height lends a feeling of light and space that flatters the self. She loves grand full length portraits and has the walls for them. So there you are, high above the city and the traffic in this environment of artisanship, craftsmanship and beauty, soft but bright enough lighting, lots of candles adding some glow and a lot of people enjoying conversation with others. It’s New York the way many might imagine in it.

I saw Pauline Boardman and her constant companion, Jerry Seay, Sharon Hoge, John Dobkin, Suzanne Cochran, Felicia Taylor, Mish, Mario Buatta and Tom Schaffer, George Farias, Dick Jenrette, Marion Javits, Robert Rufino, William Ward, Ann Bass, Eddie Ross, Jaithen Kochar, Lynn Nesbit, Catherine Moellering, Katherine Bryan, Libby Mavrolean, Simon Pinniger, Ms. Roehm’s frequent companion; Jim Brodsky, Patricia Duff, Toni Goodale, Charlotte Moss, Todd Sowers, Byrdie Bell and her father Ted Bell, who’s “Tsar” has been on the New York Times best-seller list for five weeks; Christy Ferer, Robert Couturier, CeCe Cord, and many others whom I did not know.

At about eight-o’clock, when the party was scheduled to end, Carolyne got up on the second floor balcony overlooking the living room to address her guests. She said that her mentor had been Oscar de la Renta – for whom she once worked – and whom she credits with her creative career, first as a designer and later as editor/designer/tastemaker with eight books to her credit. Mr. de la Renta who was there with his wife Annette thanked his hostess and told the gathering that from the very beginning of their work relationship, when Carolyne came into the studio, it was like “jingle bells” going off and all kinds of ideas poured forth.
Peggy Siegal, Mario Buatta, and Tom Schaffer Jaithen Kochar and Eddie Ross Jerry Seay and Pauline Pitt
Helen O'Hagan George Farias and Dede Ferguson Pauline Pitt and Toni Goodale
William Ward and Robert Rufino Mish Mark Gilbertson, Lisa Arliss, and Victoria Lindgren
Michael Clinton listening amused Duane Hampton holding an Obama doll Dick Jenrette and Marion Javits
Jim Brodsky and Catherine Moellering Alexandre Wolkoff, Volga Wolkoff, Boris Wolkoff, and Sylvie Becquet (Mrs. Wolkoff) Carolyn Roehm and Sandy Hill
Libby Mavrolean and Sandy Hill Simon Pinniger and Felicia Taylor Ted Bell and daughter Byrdie Bell
John Dobkin with Katherine Bryan and Toni Goodale
Pierre Durand, Lynn Nesbit, Robert Couturier, and Todd Sowers Sharon Hoge, Joe Armstrong, and Alice Mason
John Dobkin, Cece Cord, and Christy Ferer The Roehm dining room set in her favorite white and blue combination Robert Couturier and friends
Yesterday was Breast Cancer Research Foundation luncheon day in New York, particularly over at the Waldorf where the Symposium began at 9:45 and ran till 11:30, after which everyone met for lunch in the Grand Ballroom. There were 1200 guests. Nearly $35 million in grants were awarded to 166 international researchers to support scientists at leading medical institutions worldwide, conducting the most advanced and promising breast cancer research, towards the Foundation’s goal of prevention and a cure in our lifetime. They also raised $1.8 million. So far since the BCRF’s inception fifteen years ago by Evelyn Lauder, they’ve raised more than $220 million and they’ve made enormous in-roads into the detection, treatment and care for victims of the disease.

At the luncheon, the Jill Rose Award for outstanding research excellence was given to Robert A. Weinberg PhD, of Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research for his research in discovering the first human oncogene and the first tumor suppressor gene. More recently, his group has succeeded in creating the first genetically defined human cancer cells.
Dr. Annette Stanton, Robbie Franklin, and Angie Simmons Marisa Renee Lee, Myra Biblowit, Liana Guzman, and Robin Roberts
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation luncheon in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf.
The Humanitarian Award was presented by Bernadette Peters to The Honorable Michael Bloomberg, in recognition of his leadership as Mayor of the City of New York and private philanthropist; and his healthy living, eating and smoke-free initiatives. To date, he has donated more than $1.4 billion to a wide variety of causes and organizations through Bloomberg Philanthropies, the umbrella group that comprises his personal, corporate, and foundation giving.

The force behind this astounding achievement is one woman, the amazing Evelyn Lauder who gathered her resources, her family’s resources, with the power of purpose and persuasions and directly impacted the lives of millions of people with her work as a friend, an executive and a crusader for a noble cause. Congratulations to Mrs. Lauder and all who lent a hand.
Laura Lassman Evelyn Lauder and Arlene Taub Marcellus Wiley and Robin Roberts
Jeanette Wagner, Susan Mukasey, Evelyn Lauder, Myra Biblowit, and Muriel Siebert Dr. Gabriel Hortobagyi
Jennifer Mann and Margaret Stewart Myra Biblowit Evelyn Lauder, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Bernadette Peters
Evelyn and Leonard Lauder with Dee Ocleppo and Tommy Hilfiger Evelyn Lauder
Danielle Ganek and Marcia Mishaan Dee Ocleppo and Tommy Hilfiger
On Tuesday night, over at the Waldorf, the Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth Gala, they celebrated their Silver Anniversary. The Gala fundraiser was created by the late movie star’s daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan. Since its inception they’ve raised $50 million for Alzheimer’s Research. The evening was underwritten by Rolex Watch USA.
Also on Tuesday night, the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Rights Project honored five outstanding women at its annual benefit, Stand Up for Choice, at the Rubin Museum of Art.

Each honoree has done tremendous work over the years in the fields of gender equality, reproductive rights, sexuality education and social justice:

Ann Cook is the co-founder and co-director of New York City’s Urban Academy High School. Working with Angela Maresca, physician’s assistant and director of the Mount Sinai School-based Health Center at the Julia Richman Education Complex (JREC), Ann and Angela ensure that the school’s diverse students get the health care they deserve.

May Del Rio devoted 21 years to supporting reproductive rights at Planned Parenthood of New York City and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. May has served for the last three years on the board of directors of the NYCLU.
Ann Cook, Marcia Ann Gillespie, May Del Rio, Angela Maresca, and Eileen Fisher
Eileen Fisher is the chief creative officer and founder of EILEEN FISHER INC. Her company’s philanthropic efforts support women through social initiatives that address women’s well being. EILEEN FISHER INC., leads by example by practicing business responsibly with absolute regard for human rights.

Marcia Ann Gillespie has been dedicated to affirming the human potential for good and challenging inequality through her work as the editor-in-chief and driving force behind two of the nation’s most important women’s magazines, Essence and Ms.

The NYCLU’s Reproductive Rights Project (RRP) is the only New York State-based legal organization that focuses on reproductive rights.
Two days ago when Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska was found guilty of all felony charges, I asked Carol Joynt of our Washington Social Diary if she’d give us a idea of the reaction in Washington. Coincidentally, about the same time, a friend of mine who has known or known of the senator for many years shared an observation about the matter with me.

Carol’s memo, 10/28:
In the end it may just be a footnote to these tumultuous times.  Who would think other news could trump a jury finding a United States Senator - and the Senate's longest serving Republican - guilty on seven counts of perjury? Alaska Senator Ted Stevens conviction today did make news, but it wasn't the big story. Actually, it was very nearly anti-climactic. Why? Probably because a lot of people felt his chances weren't great, even though he had the best possible legal team in Brendan Sullivan and his crew from Williams & Connolly.  Big news would have been the jury finding him not guilty. But, and this is a big but, the prosecution was thought to be sloppy, and this case that could well be decided ultimately in the appellate court.  

Senator Ted Stevens
For now, it's a political saga. Will he stay in the race for re-election? Will the voters of Alaska give him another term or send him packing? Not:  If he does win he can serve because in the U.S. Congress that's okay. According to the AP, "there is no rule barring felons from serving in Congress."

Of course, if he goes to prison that could get a little dodgy. Most of all, it has Democrats' mouths watering over the prospect of being one seat closer to a filibuster-proof Senate majority.

As Washington watched the trial from the sidelines there was the usual tut-tutting from the peanut gallery about Stevens claims he was unaware that the company renovating his Alaska cottage was not charging him what regular folks would have to pay. When he said he left it to his wife to handle, it seemed he'd thrown her under the bus. There was sympathy; it just wasn't a lot of sympathy.  

Whenever a member of Congress goes down in disgrace, whether it's a House member sending lewd email to boys or an esteemed Senator getting petty about what things cost, there's always some dismay, even in a politically cynical town like Washington. Hell, we know they all think they're above the law, but ... we ask the same questions. Why? What was he thinking? Doesn't he watch the news? Didn't he see what happened to the last guy?  

For now, keep an eye on whether he stays in the race and if he drops out you might Google Mark Begich, the Democratic challenger, who could be Alaska's next senator. 


End memo.
From the NYSD Peanut Gallery. A friend of mine has known and liked the Alaska senator for many years. I’m not sure what the connection was although it might have been business. My friend wasn’t shocked by the matter at hand, inured as he is, as are so many of us, to the greed and dishonesty that we naturally associate with politics and business in these times. My friend pointed out that in some ways, the Stevens charges were a small matter in the scheme of things but again, they also indicate an attitude amongst a lot of our politicians of being “above the law” in so many ways, as if that’s a natural right. It’s not a national issue, it’s just a plain old issue. When people get (political) power and money, which often become interchangeable, they are confronted, or maybe the better word is tempted, to ... help themselves to whatever it is that lures them. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil goes the prayer. When it does.

Stevens’ is the great American success story. A poor boy from a then poor little town of Manhattan Beach, just south of Los Angeles, growing up in the sunburnt hardscrabble Depression out there in the land of John Steinbeck.

A hardworking, good student, Stevens went to Stanford on full scholarship and then to Harvard Law where he graduated top of his class. Working for a law firm in Washington he saw the opportunities that Alaska held and so he packed up and went there.

In the opinion of some, Ted Stevens has ruled and dominated that world ever since, for more than a half century. My friend who knew him laments that after all these years, this is what his legacy will be rather than something more noble and worthy. The senator could easily appear to some as having a certain arrogance that was part of his personality, possibly part of what transported him from humble circumstances to the corridors of power. Some speculated that it was the result of an inferiority complex related to his beginnings, which was disguised by that “arrogance,” and a lot of bravado, and harshness, bordering on meanness.

Phtographs by DPC & Ann Watt (BCRF).
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