Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Spring hints

Looking east across 8th Street. 8:50 PM. Photo: JH.
February 11, 2009. Open coat weather. Yesterday a warm Tuesday in New York. Spring hints. Invitations in the mail are for the shows with Fashion Week almost upon us. The whole production picks up New York even if it’s for ten minutes. And people are already looking for some pick-me-ups.

Ladies and Gent.
There were three destinations on the list for me last night. The first was the Fifth Avenue apartment of Mitzi Perdue who was holding a reception for her former Radcliffe classmate, Leslie Crocker Snyder, who is seeking election for New York County District Attorney.

Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder and her hostess and former classmate, Mitzi Perdue.
Judge Snyder who is a quarter century younger than Robert Morgenthau, the current District Attorney, ran against Mr. Morgenthau five years ago when he was 85. There were those who thought Mr. Morgenthau might have thought of stepping down after nine terms ... However, Mr. Morgenthau had other ideas like: I’m staying, sorry.

And so it was. Well, Judge Snyder is still interested. She’s had spectacular career as a lawyer and assistant D.A., then a Judge of the Criminal Court. She’s one of those girls who was resourceful and ambitious from the time she was in grade school; one of those young women who grew up to take on marriage, motherhood and what has turned out to be a distinguished 30-year career in the criminal justice system of New York.

She’s that modern breed of New York women actively engaged in the community and public affairs. Resolute to lead. Ideally these people can help mold a better community.

Our hostess, Mrs. Perdue is also the designer of the ostrich egg purse in the photograph I took of them. She creates and decorates the purses herself. She often contributes the Faberge-inspired to charity auctions here in New York. Last night’s, she announced, was a contribution to the upcoming campaign of Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder.

The coatrack outside Mrs. Perdue's Fifth Avenue apartment. The sign on the apartment door.
Second stop was twenty blocks down the avenue to West 44th and the New York Yacht Club where there was a party for Erica Jong and the publication of her new book of poetry “Love Comes First.” Her friend Daphne Merkin reviewed it thus:

“The collection as a whole shows a ripened, generous, and wise spirit, less consumed with eros and more cognizant of death’s shadow. These are poems that speak directly to the reader, without artifice (contrivance) but with an unshowy artfulness that leads on in, unresistingly. More pensive than celebratory, Jong speaks about serious things – loss and death and aloneness – with a kind of casual lyricism that belies what is at stake.”
The New York Yacht Club, built in 1901, designed by Warren and Wetmore, who designed nearby Grand Central Station. One of many display cases of boats in the vast and fascinating Model Room of the New York Yacht Club.
Those words also describe the Erica I have come to know in the past few years. Since that first explosion on the literary scene (Fear of Flying -- which eventually sold 12 million copies), by the Jane Fonda of the New York Literary Scene (well, something movie star-ish), Erica has been prolific with her poetry, her non-fiction and her novels. And her life and loves. A decidedly literary personality who would have been such in any age, a disciple of eros and Aristotle (I’m making this up as I go along), Erica is also what would, if she were a man, be called a mensch. So for the sake of this story, she’s a mensch. And a poet.

She’s a grandmother now too, and I have a feeling it has moved her onto a new level of imagination and consideration, and no doubt ripe for poetry.
Erica Jong autographing her book of poetry. Erica holding a copy of her Love Comes First book of poetry. Click to order.
Erica's red plaid slippers with diamond clasps.
There was a big crowd in the Model Room of the New York Yacht Club and the mood was warm and friendly. First of all, going into the New York Yacht Club, stepping inside its portals, is worthy of the trip, no matter where you’re coming from. If you love boats, if you love sailing, if you love history, if you love architectural grandeur of New York in the Gilded Age, if you like the romance of the seas, landlubber and all, you’ll love the New York Yacht Club. The child is the father of the man once again. It’s fantastic. It’s monumental and reeks with beautiful adventure and history.

Did he like it?

Erica gave a reading of her poetry for her guests who numbered about 200. Then there was a lot of chatting it up and Erica signing and people laughing and enjoying themselves. Being inside the immense Beaux Arts-takes-on-the-Spanish-Armada room is suddenly, yet subtly reassuring. Far from the madding crowd, the confounding cosmos’ that sort of thing.
A vista of the Model Room which demonstrates its proportions. The photograph fails to convey the warmth and cameraderie of the room.
Love takes many forms and this particular form was in abundance last night at the book party.
You realize that this place has been here on 37 West 44 Street, like this, in this solid shape, for more than one hundred years. Is there hope? By god, it says, there is. So you feel better.

I stayed longer than I had expected to because of that, and because it was a great get together of people who did and people who didn’t know each other. Everyone somehow knew Erica and her husband, Ken Burrows, and her daughter, Molly Jong-Fast, and aside from her legendary literary status, she’s like her poetry. And a mensch. Buy the book, you’ll see. And if you ever meet her, you’ll see why. She can make you laugh too.
Sidney Offit, Avram Ludwig, Naomi Wolfe, and Erica Daphne Merkin and Molly Jong-Fast
Barbara Sieg and Suzanne Maas Ginger and Matt Dontzin David Vigliano
From the Yacht Club it was uptown to Elaine’s where Interview was celebrating Patrick McMullan’s 20th anniversary with the magazine. From 8 to 10. That’s a not common time slot. Usually 8 is the end of the party. Almost always uptown anyway. But Elaine’s, while uptown, is really downtown before there was even a downtown, and 8 pm is mid-afternoon at Elaine’s is Elaine’s. That’s downtown. Patrick is like that downtown but uptown. With a similar clock. He’s the city that never sleeps. But downtown. And Hollywood. And St. Tropez and Rio.

Patrick McMullan, the Man of the Hour.
Wherever, Patrick started out as a kid from Huntington, Long Island with a camera and hanging around Andy Warhol and since then he’s photographed more than he even knows he’s photographed and now he is an industry. That’s what New York is ultimately about for many of us denizens. That is also what makes New York unlike other metropolises. Patrick is it.

The hosts for Patrick’s party were: Marisa Berenson, Mary Boone, Helena Christensen Alba Clemente, Cornelia Guest, Pat Hackett, Debbie Harry, Lydia Hearst, Jane Holzer, Iman, Tama Janowitz, Christophe de Menil, Aileen Mehle, Liza Minnelli, Tatum O'Neal, Allison Sarofim, Kimora Lee Simmons, Anne Slater, Liz Smith and Wendy Stark and many others.

Were they all there? They might as well have been even if they weren’t. It was mobbed when I arrived at nine o’clock and mobbed when I left at ten. I tried to get some pictures of the crowd. It was a crowd that liked hanging around itself. And in Elaine’s, which has already been explained. It was a munchy comfy party of the downtown and hardly uptown uptown. Pretty and not so; gorgeous sometimes, sometimes ehh. And all around.

This is a part of New York that is becoming, in a way, the Old Guard of the Warhol Art Crowd. It encompasses a huge number of people, many of whom were born after Andy, but all of whom are still, in one way or another, under his spell, in his sphere of influence. And it was influence.
The scene outside Elaine's with Patrick talking to Agnes Gund while Michael Musto observes.
So it was everything you might think a New York party of the artful and the hipsters and the internationals and fashionistos in the legendary and still jumpin’ Elaine’s might be like.

If Hollywood knew how to make a perfect cocktail party for The Crowd. If only. But until then you’ll have to stick with this: Patrick McMullan knows how, that’s for sure.
Bruce Levingston and friend Adam Schneider Anne Slater, John Cahill, and Sam Bolton
Patrick McMullan James Reginato June Hayes
Johannes Huebl and Olivia Palermo Enter Daniel Benedict
Charlie Scheips and Alice Judelson Scott Currie and friend Tom Cashin and Jay Johnson
Starlite Randall and Marisa Berenson Sylvia Miles
Fabiola Beracasa and Lydia Hearst ... Alice Judelson and Danniel Rangel
Cornelia Guest, John Demsey, and Todd Romano LuAnn, Countess de Lesseps/Princess Rufflefeather and Patty Raynes
Madame Brigid Berlin Lynn Yaeger and Richie Rich Anita Sarko
Frederick Anderson and Geoffrey Bardfield Patrick McDonald Richard Dupont and Patty Raynes
Steve Aronson Debbie Bancroft and Douglas Hannant
Kimberly Duross Alex Zabak and Anthony Haden-Guest, together at last Marisa Berenson and Debbie Bancroft
Len Morgan, Andrew Saffir, and Valesca Guerrand-Hermes Rick and Kathy Hilton
George Wayne Bettina Zilkha Elaine

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