Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why Women Should Rule The World

Looking north towards Central Park from high above 55th and 6th Avenue (The white ball on the left hand side of the Park is a hot air balloon). 1:30 PM. Photo: DPC.
August 14th. A beautiful night, last night in New York. Temperatures in the low 70s after a warm sunny summer day. At twilight on the Promenade off Gracie Square, there was a cool ocean air setting in from the East River, reminding me of the end of a hot sunny day near a beach on the Cape or in the Hamptons.

In the park (Carl Schurz), John Pizzarelli and his father Bucky, the virtuoso jazz guitarists were giving a concert. The “stage” is the plaza at the top of the 86th Street steps. White folding chairs were set up so that the audience sees the treetops of the Park as a backdrop, and the performers look out at the panoramic of the bridges, Roosevelt Island, and Queens about a quarter mile across the water.

Bucky and John Pizzarelli
The concert was scheduled for 7. Many had already taken the seats by 20 of. Many were still arriving from farther down the Promenade, carrying cushions, blankets, and what all. There were cyclists and jogger running into the concert foot traffic. There were dogs, and infants in prams and toddlers in strollers.

It was still daylight, and joyous. I stood with the dogs by the railing by the water, just to watch. I couldn’t stay but wanted to take in some of it. A couple of musicians and sound and video people were setting up. About 15 yards south along the walk, the little dogs were roughhousing in their special run. The scene evoked deep nostalgia. I remembered the summertimes at that hour in boyhood; boyhood when summer is bright and full of freedom. Sometimes at night there would be concerts on the town green, or in the park. And the people gathered. We’d join them. A momentary glimpse of We, the People. It was very nice.

At noon I went down to the Alliance-Bernstein Building
on 1345 Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) where Paul Beirne was hosting a luncheon for Dee Dee Myers, the former Clinton White House Press Secretary, who has written a book called “Why Women Should Rule The World.”

Readers have often seen Paul’s picture on the NYSD. Or read about him. He is a player in New York, and elsewhere. He’d laugh as if it were funny if he heard me say this, but it’s true. He’s an odd combination of low-key and Out There. He knows and socializes with a wide variety of people, quite diverse types, and often all altogether if he has anything to do with it.

Paul Beirne and Dee Dee Myers. Click image to order.
From observation, it would seem that he doubles as diplomat, rainmaker, culture captain and bon vivant whenever the opportunity allows. And friend. He’s a friendly fellow, gracious as a host, and always conscious of his guests comforts. He’s one of those people who greets you with a smile that is also in his eyes. I don’t know if he’s perfect, but he’s a very good guy.

He’s also has somewhat active in political circles and had a long relationship with the Clintons (he started out as a Reagan Republican). Ms. Myers and Paul have known since they were at university together, and have been friends ever since. I could be wrong but it could be that she was an influence in his changing party affliliation.

As an aside, Paul Beirne is an example of what, in my opinion gives New York its allure and mystique. The man, not a native, has a broad and sweeping connection to many aspects of city life. He has a large personality, which is needed, to be capable at it. Because of that, it’s a big, interesting life, but lived by someone who is energetic, ambitious, curious and seriously focused. That to me, pretty much defines what makes the dynamism of New York.

Now that we’ve raised Paul to the Pantheon of the NYSD gods, a few words about his friend Ms. Myers.

She’s an Indiana girl, so she’s got that Hoosier friendliness that resembles what used to be smalltown America. She was signing books when I arrived. Behind her, however, was a spectacular view of Central Park, and everything east, west, and north of it, way beyond the George Washington Bridge. (We were on the 41st floor.) The first thing I did was try to get a picture of it. It always gets to me.

The luncheon was called for 12:30. There were about forty guests. By one people were heading for the buffet where the menu was sandwiches and pasta. About 1:20, Paul introduced the guest speaker.
Susan Blond, Paul Gunther, Steve Byckiewicz, and Henrika Taylor
She looks like a businesswoman, dressed in a smart navy suit with a simple round necked jacket. Brown hair with some streaks, very simple, smart cut. Because I first saw her when she was Clinton’s Press Secretary, she still looks pretty much the same, maybe somewhat more sophisticated or metropolitan in her style.

She’ll be forty-seven on September 1st. I mention her age because her book is really about authority and women’s relationship to it, and she seems like she’s earned it.
To hear her tell it, things really have changed since the Women’s Movement that took hold in the first decade of Myers’ life. She pointed out that the fourteen women senators, from both sides of the aisle and opposing opinions, all get together for lunches or dinners and discuss the issues and the problems at hand. This is something, she pointed out, that the men senators do not do. After that, you kinda wished they would.

Dee Dee Myers believes that women solve problems differently. She even implied they might be more level headed. She said that they handle things differently, and that their contribution to motherhood forms the society that we live in.
DPC and Patricia Duff. Cindy Farkas, Paul Beirne, and Patricia Duff.
I asked her about women in the executive suite and how they are often highly competitive with their sisters, and often not very kind to their underlings (The Devil Wears Prada). What’s so great about that kind of leader? She answered that she believes a lot is changing as more and more women take their places in the positions of power in both business and politics. Maybe. Pride, ego and humility does not a smoothie make, however, no matter the gender.

She told us her book came about because she had a contract and hadn’t got very far with her original idea when she heard the title in her head. Why Women Should Rule The World. That was, she said, the entire pitch to her editor who immediately okayed it.

This is what you could call an optimistic book. Dee Dee Myers has an optimistic message. It is a message of an intelligent woman. While she was speaking, I was thinking about some of the things that trouble me in our day-to-day world, the matters in the news and matters that should be. I was thinking how Dee Dee Myers ‘intelligent optimism is always what’s needed. In expression it seems very maternal. From a man’s point of view, that’s the paradox, the good news and the bad. But as Myers said, good mothers are natural leaders. Even bad mothers probably too, no? If Myers keeps up this sort of thing, she could be running for office too. I’d vote for her.

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