Monday, February 23, 2009

And the winner is

Miss Liberty as seen in the wind from Battery Park. 10:30 PM. Photo: JH.
February 23, 2009. One of those dreary, rainy winter weekends in New York where it’s nice if you can stay put and spend some time around the house.

Last night, of course was Oscar Night,
which is a good night to do your laundry if you live in a large apartment building and want the place to yourself.
Elaine Stritch is mad about Oscar last night at the Carlyle.
Over at the Carlyle many New York-based members of the Academy including past Oscar nominees and winters gathered for a dinner and a private viewing of the 81st Annual Academy Awards. Among those attending were: Geoffrey Rush, Tovah Feldshuh, Patricia Neal, Cynthia Wade, Shirley Knight, Rip Torn, Burt Young, Celia Weston, Denis O’Hare,  Tina Louise, Elaine Stritch, Lisa Eichhorn and Sylvia Miles. 
Eileen Fulton and Richard Barclay Shirley Knight Geoffrey Rush and Neil Armfield
Tara and Louis Cortes Alyssa Saden, Tess Millard, and Stepfany Desari
Patrick Harrison, Cynthia Wade and Matthew Syrett Larry and Elizabeth Silk Mary Carver and Elaine Asch
Patrick Harrison and Lisa Eichhorn Wanda and Duke Neat
Mitchell Lichtenstein, Rip Torn, and Celia Weston Patricia Neal and Lisa Eichhorn
Tina Louise LD Napier and Doug Claybourn Geoffrey Rush and Arthur Manson
Arthur Manson and Carole Caska Hunt Slonem and Sylvia MIles
David Spaltro and Lisa Eichhorn Heather Watson and Steven Strick Dr. Lawrence and Mrs. Kessler
Saturday night I went with a friend down to the Waverly Inn, where you more than half-expect to see a famous face or three or ten. If you can recognize them. It was packed although the only famous faces I was aware of were some of the “Gossip Girl” cast at one of the banquettes a couple tables over. I did not see them; I was told this. No doubt there were others of the boldface ilk whom I did not see in those cozy, tavern-like rooms with the enchanting Ed Sorel murals and the lighting that flatters and adds a scent of mystery.

Most people know by now that the Waverly Inn is owned by a partnership which includes Graydon Carter, the editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair who is alsoa marketing force in the world of international celebrity. When they opened for business a couple of years ago or so, reservations were hard to come by unless you knew someone connected with the restaurant.

It was said at the time that this method of getting a rez was set up to give the creators the opportunity to fine-tune the business before really opening up to the public. I don’t know about that, but what it definitely did give them was the opportunity to fine tune their public image. Which is about as gilt-edged as you can get in the restaurant business.

Early in the last century that little old tavern on the corner of Bank and Waverly was patronized by the locals during the heyday of Village when it was an artists’ and writers’ bohemia. Now it is a hip yet exclusive cozy little old tavern (fireplace and all) in the 21st century.

The food is the cosmopolite’s comfort food, tavern-chic and very tasty. With good, relaxed service. I had the Rocket Salad and the Dover Sole broiled. Plainly excellent, all in that atmosphere of then and now.
Ralph Rucci and environs
Backtracking. Friday afternoon I went down to the Tents in Bryant Park for the Chado Ralph Rucci show. I sat next to Charlotte Moss, the interior designer who is a big Ralph Rucci fan. His clothes are for the sophisticated and chic woman of discerning tastes.
It was SRO in the main tent with at least 1500 in attendance, and for certain dresses and ensembles there was a lot of applause. A winner, we have a winner!
Hamish Bowles and Fabiola Beracasa Linda Fargo and friends
Patrick McDonald and Emma Snowdon Jones Bill Dugan and Nancy North with Ralph
Denise Rich Fern Mallis Michael Musto
Pamela Fiori, Linda Wells, and Margaret Russell Somers Farkas
Virginia Smith Meredith Melling Burke Irina Pantaeva and Robert Verdi
Tragedy. A 17-year-old boy jumped to his death from the 11th floor dance studio of the Dalton School this past week. He died on impact. There were younger school children having a recess within a few feet of where he landed on the cement with a sound like a gunshot in front of the school on East 89th Street between Lexington and Park Avenue.

A man I know who was walking his dog, had just passed the spot a few seconds before. The boy’s body remained uncovered for the first forty-five minutes, for any and all to see the horror life had wrought for the young man. Or rather, the horror the young man had somehow been feeling about his life.

It was later reported that the boy had first been discovered by a teacher after the Third Period on his way to the 11th floor school dance studio. When questioned as to where he was going, he responded he was just going to hang-out for a while. The studio was unoccupied at that moment – something he must have known, for when he got there he removed one of the bars over one window, removed his schoolbag and his jacket and exited through the window.

He was the son of a single parent, a woman who brought up him and his brother without father. That morning at home he was in good spirits and even asked his mother to save some of the night before’s leftovers for when he came home from school.

He was a good looking boy, an excellent student, some say a genius; a science wonk who in some ways was so advanced that in one of his classes, the teacher learned something from him. He had invented a rubik's cube that was so complex even his teachers couldn’t figure it out and had to be shown by him. He was also a member of the school’s varsity football team and the creator of its web site – all qualities of the highest order and most idealistic in the teen-age academia.

How many of us would have liked to have had that combination of assets at his age. Every boy’s dream; we like to think. For this boy, however, as it often can be, there was also an unobserved and unknown burden.

The only question arises: why? Would anybody know? Maybe a shrink -- if there had been one. But maybe not. Maybe the mother had an idea. Or someone close to the boy. But only maybe. Because from all I’ve learned, there was no sign of distress in his behavior before he left for school that morning. If anything he seemed to be anticipating the future of the day. Yet obviously he had already considered the possibilities of that studio room and those windows on the 11th floor at that hour in the school day. There was most likely some consideration of it beforehand, maybe many times beforehand.

Our dreams and aspirations and disappointments at that age are often a combination of our own and somebody else’s. It is the latter that most often sets us up for self-disappointment or the sense that life or one’s self is either hopeless or worthless. It is easy to make a guess what the burden might have been for this boy, but they are only guesses.

What we do know is that this is the fourth suicide to occur in the past year in the private school system in New York. All four were boys. Suicide is a consideration that at times occupies the thoughts of many of us over the course of a lifetime, as well as in our youth first experiencing the turbulence of growing up.

This boy was attending one of the top (and most expensive) private schools in New York, and so he was by socio-economic standards, a very privileged child compared to most of his contemporaries. He was also growing up in what is a highly competitive and highly materialistic environment. Everything is about the winning. In short time there is little or nothing left for the pleasure of the experience of learning or playing the game. No stopping to smell the roses. Or even the coffee. Yet it is not without irony that in this sphere of economic privilege, at least for some, there is a decided disadvantage cast most ominously upon the bloom of youth. Having it all does not mean having it all, no matter the age.

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Photographs by Ann Watt (Oscars) and DPC
Comments? Contact DPC here.