Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tuesday in New York

Looking northeast towards lower Manhattan from Liberty State Park in New Jersey. 2:10 PM. Photo: JH.
Sunny and warm with just the right amount of breeze to wear a light woolen jacket. I went down to East 52nd Street off Fifth Avenue to lunch at La Grenouille with Patsy Tarr (NYSD House).

Patsy is a patron of the arts in the old fashioned European sense. But as a modern New York woman, she is also a dance philanthropist and publisher of 2wice, a semi-annual magazine of the visual arts that is like no other. The editions are collectors’ pieces. They are works of art in themselves. (

Jeff and Patsy Tarr
Patsy especially loves the dance, as if she has found the Zen in it. You often see her at openings at the New York City Ballet and the ABT, at the Joyce and elsewhere. She has a very underplayed manner although not diffident: she is gracious and very direct (or at least appears to be). She has a small slender frame like a dancer.

I often wonder if it’s The Dance that lends her that serenity. She is married (and a mother). Her husband, Jeff Tarr, does not share her terpsichorean passion. Nevertheless he takes enough interest to attend certain performances. After a couple of decades of this, he no doubt is well-versed about it in some way.

Aside from the incomparable Fred Astaire, I’m not a dance aficionado, having seen little of it. Patsy introduced me to Merce Cunningham’s company. I came away with two things: the pleasure of having opened my eyes to something I hadn’t seen before; and the overall age of the audience: twenty- and thirty-somethings.

That surprised me since Merce has been working for close to eight decades. From that single performance, I saw how Merce was way ahead of his time. Or his audience was. And perhaps still is.

Click to view the lunch menu at La Grenouille.
La Grenouille is, in the opinion of some, the most beautiful restaurant in New York. It is, in a word: chic.

If you close your eyes and imagine the visual impressions, they are: pinks (from the floral arrangements, red — from the almost scarlet red velvet banquettes) and gold. It’s menu is famous for its quality also. It was started by Charles Masson at the end of 1962.

His son Charles runs the restaurant today. Its style is elegance and it is thorough. You’re not liable to see someone amble in in jeans and a polo. If they do, they’re in the wrong place. Not surprisingly it is a magnet for Europeans, both tycoons and titled.

After lunch I walked over to Park Avenue to catch a cab. Everyone was loving the weather. Riding up Park in the taxi I grabbed some shots of the avenue’s islands which are now a-bloom and a blossom and carpeted with tulips and freshly mowed grass.
Cherry blossoms and tulips along Park Avenue in the Sixties.
Last night in New York: Over at the Louis D. Brandeis High School on West 84th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus, Publicolor held its 8th annual benefit, Stir, Splatter and Roll.

This is a different kind of gala. The ungala. People work. They pick up paintbrushes and change their world. The kids in the school do it and they’re assisted by the supporters and the visiting celebs. This produces a variety of results, all of which are positive and powerful. (NYSD Philanthropy).

Last night they honored Christo + Jeanne Claude, and City Councilman Robert Jackson, Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey, Commissioner Robert Doar, Commissioner Rob Walsh, Speaker Christine Quinn, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Paint leaders including Michael Kors, Mark di Suvero, Philip Glass, Peter Halley, Meredith Monk, Gaetano Pesce, David Rockwell, Kate and Andy Spade, Stanley Tucci and Massimo Vignelli.
Judy Price
Kip Forbes with Francine LeFrak and Rick Friedberg
Meanwhile down at the Forbes Gallery Judy Price and her National Jewelry Institute opened a beautifully staged exhibition of international contemporary jewelry design, followed by a dinner.

The Forbes Gallery, located in the Forbes Magazine Building at 12th Street and Fifth Avenue is a fascinating warren of exhibition spaces containing many of the interests of the late Malcolm Forbes. Mr. Forbes’ had a boy’s love of toys, especially boats and toy soldiers, especially complete imperial armies with the king’s coach et al. The National Jewelry Institute’s exhibit is nearby and holds the same fascination, but this time for boys and girls.
From National Jewelry Institute's exhibition of international contemporary jewelry design.
After the exhibit, with no time to waste, Jeanne Lawrence and I walked over to Union Square to grab a subway uptown. Far cheaper than a taxi at that distance, and far far faster. Jeanne was going to Swifty’s where Allison Mazzola was having a birthday dinner for herself in the back room of the restaurant.

Jeanne, who NYSD readers know for her San Francisco Social Diary dispatches, has sold her Park Avenue duplex, rented an apartment farther up the avenue for a couple of years, and will now spend at least half the year in Beijing and/or Shanghai (with occasional hops back to San Fran). The reason for this change: It’s there, it’s what’s happening, and she wants to be there.

El Museo invite.
Meanwhile a few blocks up Park Avenue, Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera and Isabel and Ruben Toledo hosted a party at the apartment of Yaz and Valentin Hernandez. All three couples chair the upcoming El Museo Gala 2008. Among last night’s guests were Jeffrey Banks, John Bartlett, Kelly Bensimon, Amy Fine Collins, Maria Cornejo, Christian Cota, Jonathan and Somers Farkas, Agnes Gund, Gemma Kahng, Paul and Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, Zang Toi. The Latin galas in New York have their own charisma and harken the glamour of a far different era in New York.

And then: over on Fifth, in her palatial apartment overlooking the Met, the goodtime glamour girl/business tycoon, Georgette Mosbacher and her sister Lyn Paulsin hosted a birthday buffet for Jolie Hunt (yesterday’s Diary’s opening picture) who turned 30. Her boyfriend, the author Christopher Buckley, in part of his toast, praised the occasion because he would no longer have to refer to his girlfriend as 29 to his quite a bit more than 29.

This was a comparatively smaller Mosbacher shindig where the apartment is usually jammed with guests, with probably forty guests. This was just the birthday girl’s friends and fans. They came from London, from Washington, Boston and California. About 8:30, the hostess dimmed the chandelier for a second and everyone congregated around Mr. Buckley who toasted Ms. Hunt with praising phrases of a girl beyond compare.
Christopher Buckley, left, toasting the birthday girl, Jolie Hunt, at Georgette Mosbacher's last night.
The birthday girl is one of those people who has the gift of friendship. She shares that right away. I met her when she was the head of communications for the Financial Times. Now she’s moving over to Reuters. She likes writers, editors and media and there were quite a few there last night including Richard Johnson of Page Six with his wife Sessa. 

The birthday cake came in the form of a cupcake (well, cupcakes) Everyone sang Happy Birthday. Jolie thanked several of the people in the room. One male friend stood up to make a toast and delivered a short (not brief) autobiography of his relationship with the birthday girl. Another guy who referred to himself as the birthday girl’s ex-boyfriend, read a bit briefer paean to her. Conclusion: besides inspiring friendship Jolie Hunt inspires self-expression when it comes to the men in her life. She’s the muse to amuse. Made me think of:

If I were Lord Byron
I’d write you sweet siren,
A poem inspirin’,
A killer-diller-oo.
Too bad I’m no poet;
I happen to know it, But anyway, Here’s a roundelay
That I wrote last night about you.
You are to me, Everything ...

—Everything I Love, Cole Porter.
Marilyn Crawford and Rita Cosby
Diana Biederman and Allison Butler
Connie and Randy Jones
Robert Zimmerman, Lyn Paulsin, and Tomaczek Bednarek
Georgette's ruby King Charles
Sherrile Rollins and Sara Nelson
The birthday girl and her BF, Mr. Buckley ...
... with her hostess Georgette Mosbacher
Chris Buckley, Monie Begley, and friend
Dennis Neale and Courtney Dolan

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