Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Late December cold

Looking north along Riverside Drive towards the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, at 89th Street. 1:15 PM. Photo: JH.
December 23, 2009. A beautiful, cold, sunny day in New York.

When I was a kid this day meant TWO more shopping days till Christmas. It matters not anymore in that department but it was of great import then. Santa Claus was coming to town. So far away from that age, I need to remind myself, and need to remind many others that this is the time for the kids who know what true delight is without knowing the word, and who are exercising dreams and wishes, all the while hoping, but without knowing the power of dreams. And wishes.

It is almost midnight at the hour of this writing. It’s late December cold out. The slush in the roadways is hardened ice. The avenue is quiet with nary a car passing. I’d gone to Swifty’s for dinner with my neighbor and friend Charlie.

Swifty’s was chock-a-block at nine but very quiet by 10:45. Two women and a man came in and took the table next to ours just as we were about to leave. One of the women was very attractive and looked like Shirley Jones. I’d met Shirley Jones a few times god knows how many years ago in California but I couldn’t remember her enough to identify her. (It wasn’t).

Today is Wednesday but the town is now evacuating in that holiday-way that New York does. By tomorrow afternoon, most of the people we’ll see on the street are those whom we might see on the street on Friday. Or Saturday or Sunday. Everyone else will have fled to Connecticut, New Jersey, the hometowns across the nation, Palm Beach, or Idaho. Leaving the place to us stay-at-homes. To which I say Yippee!

Tonight I’m going to a friend’s apartment for cocktails (a holiday reception) and then to Swifty’s (yet again) as a guest of friends for dinner. Tomorrow we’ll publish a (short?) diary and our annual Christmas and Holiday card collection, and that’ll be it for a couple of days to which we’ll also say Yippee!

One thing JH and I never contemplated or imagined before we actually launched the NYSD in September of 2000 was our deep sense of obligation to you, dear reader. We knew you were out there, and we knew that perhaps more and more of you would come to check us out. But we didn’t know how much we would feel obligated to make the trip worth your while.

Perhaps it was our lack of experience in publishing. Or perhaps it is the nature of the journalistic life. It may sound self-serving but we feel an obligation to you who comes to the NYSD. That, thanks to you, provides the challenge, and the challenge is like a cornucopia of learning and experience. So we thank you. Again and again.

Citylife. Monday night I went to an “office” Christmas/Holiday party for Quest magazine where my name is on the masthead and where the the Social Diary column can be read monthly (cutting to the chase-version — sort of). The publisher and his wife, Chris and Grace Meigher give this little party every year in their East Side apartment.

I’m not attracted to office parties, per se, and even less so if I’m a “featured” fixture as at said party, especially since my contribution to Quest in no way matches that of our managing editor Georgina Schaeffer who is, as they used to say, a brick. I don’t know if the term used to apply to a woman, but if not, it does now.

The party itself is actually painless, and even fun because there are a lot of nice people there who love working in magazines, journalism, etc. and the Meighers are very sociable and have two young (grown) daughters who bring in their crowd; and there are good drinks and excellent hors d’oeuvres such as pigs in a blanket, candied bacon, mini-cheeseburgers. You’ve got a problem with that?

I had a problem with the candied bacon which I had told myself I would take just one of. But didn’t. I chipped the veneer off of one of my front teeth while trying to disconnect the remnants of the “hors d’oeuvre” from the back of my tooth. Leaving the dental equivalent of The Jagged Edge. (My dentist, the brilliant Dr. Carmen Shuller made it all better yesterday afternoon. Quickly.)

Taki Theodoracopulos and Chuck Pfeiffer
But I’m digressing (no kidding). My point in telling this story is to get to this picture which I took of two of the guests as we were getting our coats off the rack out of the Meigher’s Albert Hadley decorated bedroom (I shudda taken a picture of the bedroom, right?). Taki Theodoracopulos and Chuck Pfeiffer.

You may know the former as simply Taki, the international columnist of the rich, the chic, and the gadfly. Chuck on the other hand you may know because you’ve seen in him any number of films, sometimes playing himself and if you’re old enough you remember his image when he was the image of a famous cigarette ad. Or even younger when he played football for West Point. Or after his stint in Viet Nam.

Taki is very outgoing while Chuck, who is just as personable, tends to be somewhat reserved, comparatively. They’ve been pals for a long time, sharing many mutual interests in and out of the high life. You can see it in this picture. Chuck is all American and Taki is what he likes to refer to as the Poor Little Greek Boy (he’s rich, having inherited from his rich father).

I’ve never spent an evening with them but I imagine there was a time maybe a decade or more ago when they crawled and trawled the town and maybe ended up at Elaine’s settling down with drinks and the camaraderie that is Elaine’s – literary, Noo Yawk, media, movies, literary.

So I took their picture. Two old chums still ready to party (although that night Taki was going on to a dinner and Chuck was “going home”).

Taki, if you don’t know him is one of the funniest, most infuriating, appalling, witty, literate chroniclers of contemporary life of the rich, the chic and shameless of the last half century. I’ve been reading him in (British) Spectator for many years. Many times he has outraged me with his clearly right-wing opinions and his almost slanderous slurs of those whom he disliked. Yet, I’d run for the Spectator every month JUST to read Taki.

Because he’d also make me laugh. The way a best friend who really knows you can make you laugh. Taki can do that. If you’re a certain kind of person, I suppose.

Now all these years later (I think I’ve been reading him for about thirty), Taki is a mite older (73), still young but no longer the brat, the Rich Little Greek boy. He has very strong opinions both socially and politically. He is quite well informed and we won’t give him credit for knowing everything but he is not stupid to put it mildly. He doesn’t outrage me anymore because time has winnowed the wine, so to speak, (and I’m older and does the moon care when the dogs bark?) and the right-wing folderol has transformed into something that seems to this writer more sensible and not without wisdom. But I read him just as eagerly because I learn (and am still often amused and sometimes outraged).

Writers, at the end of the day, want to charm, in one way or another. Taki does that.

He has a web site now called Taki Magazine. He told me the other night that his daughter Mandolyna had joined the site and will be taking over. Mandolyna I met more than ten years ago when she was a very young woman in Southampton in summertime. She’s very bright, very congenial and unlike her father, she would never outrage. And she is a riot when she writes about her father. A chip off the old block, is she.

The Fairmont was the place to be for the young crowd in San Francisco on Friday night. The San Francisco Social, an annual event in its fourth year that benefits the de Young and Legion of Honor museums, drew an attractive and well-heeled bunch. The event was founded by Anderson Pugash and co-chaired by Kelly Landers and Peter Oberndorf. An open bar and desserts ensured that attendees were adequately sated, and DJ Chris Harnett provided musical entertainment. The crowd mingled between the roof garden and the party inside. Afterward, a smaller group headed to Otis, a lounge in Union Square, for the afterparty.

The event is unique in its focus in engaging young adults to get involved with supporting the arts, as well as its breadth in bringing together the philanthropic-minded from San Francisco, Marin and Woodside. The benefit rotates causes every two years, to spread its support among deserving charities while also aiding these charities in attracting the awareness and involvement of a younger generation. Involved are some of San Francisco’s most prominent young adults including Kelly Cregg, daughter of Huey Lewis, Brandon Hanson, actor and son of Scott Hanson, movie producer and art gallery owner, and Maxx and Trevor Traina, to name a few.

--- SD for NYSD
Gillian Windsor, Adam Tetenbaum, and Julie Miller Mignon Hills, Julius Rosenthal, and Jessie Chamberlin
Seth Metsker and Courtney Robinson Sam Dangremond Paige Spincin and Doug Warner
Dan Kodner, Julius Rosenthal, Sam Dangremond, and Billy Smith Anderson Pugash and Kelly Landers
Claire Herr and Beatrice Greeland Julius Rosenthal, Billy Smith, and Dan Kodner
Patrick Dowd, Eric Grossman, and Mignon Hills Joshua Parish and friend
Myles Danielson and Emily Shaw Jake Ramey and Anderson Pugash with friends
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