Thursday, September 18, 2008

Put at Rest

Looking south along Hudson River Promenade towards the Financial district. 9:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, 9/18. Yesterday was the third bad news day this week on Wall Street. The matter has already begun to hit home with those who work in the financial industry. For those who do not and who depend entirely on the television and the tabs (and the Times and the Sun) for their information, it has barely begun. This is the story that will dominate hundreds of millions, maybe billions of lives for a long time to come. By the end of the day, after witnessing the fall of Lehman, Merrill and AIG, the financial community became informed of serious problems with Washington Mutual (Wamu) and Morgan Stanley. Nouriel Roubini has predicted that before this is over, there will be no independent broker-dealers at all. Those surviving will have, like Merrill Lynch, saved themselves by being acquired. Gold, which has lost 25% from its high several months ago, rose more than 80 points and regained almost 30% of its previous decline.

The industry is witnessing a meltdown. There are men and women whose annual earnings were running in the high six, seven and even eight figures who are losing their jobs. What may come as a surprise to many, a lot of these people have very little to fall back on. Their expensive life-styles with two and three homes, the cars and drivers, the two or three or four children in private school at thirty and forty thou a pop, their travel, those private jets, the titanium AmEx card have been eating all of it and more. Many men don’t even want their wives to know. So they are currently just going on, as if ... as if something will change.

Cathie Black
These do not sound like especially sympathetic situations: having it all and spending it too. But they are no different from a lot of Americans with five and six figure annual earnings who are in the same rowboat. The failure of these institutions is putting at risk the welfare of all of us now. There will be very few exceptions who will not be affected.

Nevertheless, the sun’ll come up tomorrow ...
Meanwhile down at Michael’s, being Wednesday, it was jammed with and all setar cast of characters. In the bay a group of New York media women including Liz Smith and Ellen Levine, Deb Shriver, Joni Evans, Donna Hanover, Andrea Wong and Lisa Caputo were convening to celebrate the paperback publication of Hearst Magazines’ president Cathie Black’s how-to/memoir: “BASIC BLACK: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life).” Ms. Black who has been very successful in her business, is a well known powerhouse around the office. I don’t think she throws things when something goes awry in the office, but it’s been said people duck anyway. This book, which I have not read, should be required reading for any woman (or man, for that matter) who wants to make a solid successful career in the magazine business. And we know there are a lot of you out there. Ms. Black tells you how. That’s why she wrote the book. She wasn’t kidding.

Around the room: Gerry Byrne, Eileen Ford who started the Modeling industry, Vartan Gregorian with Morley Safer. Gerry della Femina, Jeff Greenfield, Dr. Gerry Imber, pundit/playwright Michael Kramer. These guys have been meeting for lunch every week longer than many of you have been breathing, and they never run out of things to say (or laugh about). Onward: Pamela Keough; Joe Armstrong with Jack Myers and Mike Drexler; across the way: Cindi Lieve with Bob Durst, Jim Mitchell with Kay Pick, Chris and Elizabeth Meigher with Nancy Ellison and Bill Rollnick; Elle Décor’s Margaret Russell, in a cast, by the door; Stephen Swid; beauty table: Stephanie Winston Wolkoff with the beautiful Melania and the beautiful Rachel Roy. Keepin’ on keepin’ on: Felicia Taylor with Victor Neufeld; Randy Jones with Jeff Sharp; Judy Price, Beverly Camhe, Mort Janklow, Jamie Niven, Bill Taubman, Alice Tisch, Marvin Traub; Ed Rollins and Bob Bradley.
James and Ellen Marcus Suzanne and Bill McDonough
Last night at Lincoln Center. Black tie. The New York Philharmonic “Opening Night and Lorin Maazel – a Grand Finale.” The opening of the Philharmonics 2008/2009 season.

A trip to Lincoln Center, black tie or not, is always a solace. This was a fundraising evening. Sir James Galway was the Guest Artist. The program: Berlioz Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9 (1843-44); Ibert Concerto for Flute and Orchestra (1932-33) with Sir James and his flute. After the intermission the orchestra returned to play Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36 (1877).

Tchaikovsky who lived from 1840 to 1893, lived an emotional tortured life every bit as intense as his rapturous music. The year this symphony was completed, the composer had gone through a roller coaster of relationship including a marriage. At issue with the man was his homosexuality. After completing the work, he described what it was about to his patroness Nadezhda von Meck, to whom he also dedicated the piece: “This is Fate, i.e., that fateful force which prevents the impulse toward happiness from entirely achieving its goal ...”
The dining tent after the concert and when it was seated.
I’m tempted to guess that it was also the impossible social aspects of his relationship to his sexual inclinations. The irony is how different it would have been if he had been born into Western society a century later. Had that been, you could also speculate that his Symphony would have had a far different mode. And sound.

Sitting there in the Avery Fisher Hall, considering the day just passed and how there were many people in the audience who have direct connections to the financial industry (including Alan Greenspan and William McDonough, the former head of the Fed here in New York), many minds must have been put to rest at least temporarily; we were in a kind of paradise. Silent. Listening. Beautiful music swelling, singing.

Afterwards there was a beautiful dinner set in a tent over Walter Damrosch Park next to the Met. I got some pictures of it with its interior draped in purple. There were almost 1000 guests. They raised $2.8 million. Maestro Maazel who ends his position with the Philharmonic this year, told the audience that some people had raised $900,000 and had told him they were going for a million. He put the last $100,000. The action has inspired him on a new fund-raising project. If the people raise $1.8 million, he’d contribute another $200,000.
The table setting. In the bowl, the first course: Chilled Yellow Tomato Soup with Tarragon Flan and Brunoise of Red Tomatoes. Plus the Field Greens with Roasted Pistachios and Lemon Truffle Oil and Warm Goat Cheese Croustades. So good.
The Gala Chairmen were Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Hassell, Mr. and Mrs. C. Robert Henrikson, Mr. and Mrs. Yasunori Yokote. Co-chairs were: Mr. and Mrs. Karlheinz Muhr, Mr. and Mrs. Ira Leon Rennert.

A culture crowd, the likes of which you’d expect for the New York Philharmonic. Such as: Elaine and Sara Wolfensohn, Sue Ann Weinberg, Stan and Sandy Warshawsky, Karl Wamsler, Caroline Wamsler, Susanne Wamsler, Svetlana and Herbert Wachtell, Shirley Lord Rosenthal, Emilia Saint-Amand and Fred Krimendahl, Jim and Anne Sitrick, Maurice Sonnenberg, Paul and Daisy Soros, Michael and Judy Steinhardt, Asheet and Zarin Mehta, Frank and Lolita Savage, Gillian and Sylvester Miniter, Andrea Mitchell (Mrs. Alan Greenspan), Nazee and Joe Moinian, Louise Mirror, Sylvia and Edmund Morris, Frank and Elizabeth Newman, Cheryl and Philip Milstein, Diahn and Tlm McGrath, Jim and Ellen Marcus, Linda and Sandy Lindenbaum, Ken Lipper, Peter Lyden, Dietlinde (Mrs. Lorin) Maazel, Noel and Harriette Levine, Bruce Levingston, Karen and Richard LeFrak, Eugene and Barbara Kohn, Paul and Alice Judelson, Peter and Jamee Gregory, Diane and Paul Gunther, Charles Gasparino, Debbie Bancroft, Kevin Krier, Joanne and Roberto de Guardiola, Elizabeth de Cuevas, Donald and Barbara Tober, Alexis Clark, Joyce Brown and Carl McCall, Susan and Richard Braddock, Lyn Paulsin, Caroline Bechtel, Rene and Robert Belfer, Jamee Rubin and Christiane Amanpour, Rand and Jessie Araskog, Dixon and Arianna Boardman, Ambassador Donald and Vera Blinken.
Liz and Jeff Peek Joe and Nazee Moinian with Tom McGrath Jessie Araskog and Mrs. Cohen
Diahn McGrath and Karlheinz Murh Karen LeFrak and Peter Lyden Alexis Clark Emilia Saint-Amand
Maestro Lorin Maazel Debbie Bancroft and Kevin Krier Caroline Bechtel and Lyn Paulsin

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