Friday, September 25, 2009

The roads to midtown

A beat up bug. 4:30 PM. Photo: JH.
September 25, 2009. Very warm, yesterday in New York; partly cloudy partly sunny.

The roads to midtown were a little more navigable than they have been all week, although by East 57th Street, from Sutton Place to Park Avenue, the blocks were either totally or partially closed to regular traffic at one in the afternoon, the top of the business day. At 57th Street and Park, the Avenue was closed to traffic midday all the way to the Waldorf.

We live in a world where the prevailing attitude among the leadership and its bureaucracy is that they (not we, obviously) are somehow under threat and risk of danger. Why else would you close off whole blocks of streets in the center of the city that is the center of the world so that a few people can travel around town? After you’ve seen enough of this sort of traffic diversion or prevention, it’s not hard to imagine that the “leadership” likes the privilege of keeping all of us little people away while they glide unimpeded from breakfast to lunch to Barney’s to wherever.
Looking west on 57th Street between Second and First Avenue. 1 PM, yesterday.
Looking west on the next block between Second and Third Avenues. Here they have marked off one separate lane for the VIPs, although the block was still closed off to traffic.
One of the upshots of this intense concern for the physical safety of our world (and local) leaders in New York is that if you are just an ordinary taxpayer and caught in a real emergency (health, etc.) in New York on these days, on the East Side of Manhattan, well, isn’t that just too bad. God knows what would happen to us if there were a real attack like 9/11. Well at least the Big Boys would have a chance to get back to business safely.

The irony is that the UN has been in New York for more than a half century, and for most of those years, for decades, the leaders of the world came and went without taking over whole streets. The irony is that these men and women who are being “protected” from whatever or whomever, have not made the world safer for us, the citizens who foot their bills, including security. To put it mildly.

Never mind.
By last night it was almost over. The Big Boys had mostly moved on to Pittsburgh where no doubt they closed down parts of the town to help any of these high mucky mucks from getting any unwanted boo-boos.
Looking south along Park Avenue from 73rd Street. 8:35 PM.
By last night the warm day had cooled off a bit and I headed down to Holly Peterson’s Park Avenue apartment for a cocktail reception to hosted by Peterson and David Beitzel to celebrate the birthday of Darren Walker (see The List) who turned 50 August 28th. They were celebrating a month later because so many of Darren’s many many friends were here there and everywhere during the final weeks of summer.

Holly Peterson and Darren Walker with David Beitzel
In professional life, Darren is vice president of The Rockefeller Foundation leading the Foundation’s work in the U.S., specifically in New York, New Orleans and national policy. A Texas boy who attended the University of Texas at Austin and graduated in 1982, the U Texas Law School graduating in 1986, his professional background extends from law to banking and Wall Street to heading up the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a faith-based community development organization in Harlem where his efforts eventually led to the development of a 1000 units of low- or middle income housing.

He has a joint appointment at the NYU School of Law and Wagner School of Public Policy where he teaches housing, law and urban dvelopment and is also a Fellow of the Institute for Urban Design.

Aside from the CV which is daunting and even intimidating if you think about it, Darren in person is one of those big and effusive personalities that you might imagine could be a professional party-giver, or -goer. His and his partner David Beitzel’s parties are always jammed and full of interesting as well as amusing conversation amongst very industrious professionals and artists. You can’t help wondering where he gets the time.
Darren eyeing his birthday cakes (Holly Peterson standing behind him on a chair).
David Beitzel, speaking last night about when they met, made it clear he does not live on the same 24/7 business and social schedule. Darren on the other hand picks up friends and followers wherever he goes, and then at parties like last night, many are in the same room together and full of camaraderie.

I arrived midpoint thinking I’d take some pictures of the birthday boy and the hosts and then get out of there. I made slow progress. Too many interesting people to say hello too.

After Holly introduced the guest of honor to the crowd of the converted, out came the “birthday cake” in the form of four trays of 16 cupcakes each (there must have been two more somewhere in the mix) while the crowd sang “Happy Birthday.”
Some of the guests.
On the top of each cupcake was a likeness of the Number One member of the Walker/Beitzel household, Beulah the Bulldog. I don’t think Beulah was there last night. So much for being Number One at home, right Beulah?

While waiting to catch a shot of Darren blowing out the candles, I was wondering if he was one of those who “makes a wish” before blowing out all the candles. Where I come from the “wish” comes true only if you blow out all the candles at once. That is, if you’re into wishing.
Courtney Dawson, Holly Peterson, Joel Schumacher, Darren Walker, and Agnes Gund
I can’t tell you if he made a wish because as soon as they were completely lit (most were when the trays came out), Darren leaned in and very quickly one by one and blew out the flame (mostly) with one breath per tray. There were, however, a couple of little cakes on each tray with the candle still burning. Darren paid no attention; he already was on to the next. Darren obviously isn’t into wishing. Doing is more like it.

At fifty he still has an exuberance that makes him a youthful guy. He’s so casual about himself that any importance obviously come from outside, not within. Within he seems to be the kind of fellow who loves his friends, loves having friends, and wants to have as much fun as possible. That aside, in the outside world, the man personifies leadership. Not the kind that blocks off 57th Street to get to the barbershop, but the kind who builds housing in the community and the world is a better place for it. Happy Birthday Darren and many many more to you and us present at the occasion.
Betty King and Faye Wattleton Angela Westwater Thelma Golden and Erana Stennett
Marty McLanahan and Darren Walker The twinses: Leigh Lauder, Yvonne Durant, Fredericka Lauder, andYvette Durant
Charles Atkins, Ashley Schiff, Giuseppe Lingmano, and Mike Ramos George Farias and Debbie Bancroft
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Meanwhile, more pictures from Wednesday night’s 6th Annual Fete de Swifty ...
Strong man Stephen Attoe shows off to Patricia ...
A balancing and juggling act.
The crowd at the Fete.
Under the tent that spanned the length of an avenue.
A post-Fete dinner at Swifty's.
The carnival was the theme this year although they dispensed with the Bearded Lady, the Sword Swallower and of course the Tattooed Man who’s now become almost as ordinary as sliced bread. Instead however, were the games, the hot dog stand, the cotton candy, the juggler and of course the buffet and the cocktails. Everybody was happy and by the time it was tallied up, they had a bigger turnout for number six.
Mimi Stafford and friend Barbara de Portago, Marianna and George Kaufman, and Gillian Miniter
Lesley Stahl and Liz Smith Tobie Roosevelt Somers and Jonathan Farkas
Anka Palitz, Mark Gilbertson, Cece Cord, Muffie Potter Aston, and Dr. Sherrell Aston Margo Langenberg
Robert Pounder and Iris Love Sessa and Richard Johnson with friends
Martin and Jean Shafiroff with Miss Liberty Diana Oswald, Countess Luan de Lesseps, and Polly Onet Stephen Attoe, Jean Shafiroff, and Robert Caravaggi
Stephanie Krieger, Brian Stewart, and JH
Mayor Mike with Miss Liberty; Chris Meigher; Joan Jedell with her granddaughter
Adrienne Gaffney Iris Love Tom and Patricia Shiah
Peter Rogers, Liz Smith, Spencer Hoge, and DPC Beth Amorosi
Jeanne and Herb Siegel Mauro Maccioni  
Mimi Strong Michel Witmer, Mary Hilliard, and Roger Webster
Gary Holmes and Cheri Kaufman Zita Davisson and Gary Lawrance Drew de Carvalho and Len Buschmann
DPC shoots Michael Safir and Anna Kennedy while Eleanora looks on Anna Kennedy and Michael Safir

Photos by Ann Watt and DPC/
Comments? Contact DPC here.