Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A beautiful late Spring day

32 East 64th Street on the corner of Madison Avenue is considered one of the prime residential co-ops on the Upper East Side. It was built a century ago (1900). Ten stories, only twenty large and spacious apartments, for years it was the home of Kitty Carlisle Hart, also Vincent Astor's second wife (pre-Brooke) Minnie Cushing Astor Fosburgh as well as fashion designer Kasper. 4:10 PM. Photo: JH.
May 26, 2010. A beautiful late Spring day, yesterday in New York. Plus almost almost a full moon in the New York nighttime sky. Riding home last night my cab driver told me “everybody is out; very unusual for a Tuesday night.” June, Moon, Croon.

At lunchtime I went down to Swifty’s to meet Renee and Alvaro Domingo and Yaz Hernandez and Jon Marder to hear about tomorrow’s night El Museo del Barrio Gala benefit at Cipriani 42nd Street.

This will be a pull-out-the-stops gala Latin-style, as supporters of El Museo, Latins especially, are coming from all over the world to attend. Everything will be gala. Furthermore, they’re honoring the great Placido Domingo with their Lifetime Achievement Award.
An Interview with Renee and Alvaro Domingo for the Tenor’s Commemoration at El Museo Del Barrio.
Also Tony Bechara will be presented with the El Museo Special Leadership Award honoring him for his brilliance as a leader. During more than a decade as Chair of El Museo’s board of trustees, Mr. Bechara has guided El Museo as it evolved from a struggling small museum to a thriving mid-sized institution with a stellar international reputation.  And honey, they’ve only just begun.

It’s interesting to watch this kind of activity in the city. A century ago, the rising economic and political voices were the Irish. Today they are Hispanic. The presence of Latin American-bred men and women adopting, acquiring positions of influence and power in matters of culture and philanthropy in New York speaks volumes about sensibilities of our future leadership.

El Museo Gala 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010, 7:00 pm
Cipriani 42nd Street
Honoring Plácido Domingo
Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award
An upshot of all this is their parties. The Bob Hardwick Sound is playing and you can be sure there will more than some garnish of Down Argentine Way. And for a moment or a few hours, the dance floor will be ablaze with jewels, silks and taffeta, tango and arriba!

We’ll show and tell more after the facts.

Meanwhile back at Swifty’s lunch: Renee and Alvaro Domingo were interesting to meet. The Domingo family is generations of musical and there is an air about them of belonging to a special class as if graced with some kind light, almost the way clergy can seem. Or once could.

Alvaro, for example, is his father’s road manager, and father is a very busy man with a full work schedule all over the world as well as in Washington and Los Angeles where he is director of their opera companies. Placido Sr., Alvaro’s older brother (by three years – 45 and 42) is a composer. Their mother is a singer. Their grandparents were musicians/singers. Their life is classical music but most specifically opera.

Being the son of a great opera star and working closely with him while he performs, conducts, directs, Alvaro’s musical ear far exceeds the average listener. You can tell just by listening to him talk about it. And when he talks about it, it’s with the same natural enthusiasm (and in the same fashion) that a sports fan might discuss a ballgame.

We were there to talk about the upcoming gala but it was more interesting just to listen to them talk about their lives. People who can make a living in the world of music, I believe, are some of the happier people on the planet. That may just be my fantasy, but I can understand why.
A sidewalk jewelry emporium on Madison Avenue in front of the Giorgio Armani store.
Crossing 64th Street at Madison Avenue, 3:45 pm.
In the first decades of the 20th century, Madison Avenue in the 50s through the 80s was the preferred residential neighborhood for many of the city's more affluent members of the Social Register. Many of their large brownstones and townhouses remain today, long converted into retail shops, often with small sundry flats above, their rooflines remaining as reminders of earlier domestic architectural styles in the city.
There were all kinds of things going on last night, that beautiful night. At La Grenouille in the private dining room upstairs, Francie Whittenberg gave a “belated” birthday dinner for her pal Amy Fine Collins, topped off with an elegant turn of Cole Rumbough singing Cole Porter with Peter Duchin on the piano. You can almost hear the rattle of the taxis and the rumble of the subway trains, just thinking about take-me-back, and Cole Porter singing “I Happen To Like New York ...”

With that and the La Grenouille menu (and flowers), it was pure vintage, maybe immortal, Noo Yawk Noo Yawk. The 1930s was a time that our birthday girl adores. Not that she was around then. Time remembered is often more mollifying than time spent.

Also, over at the Paris Theatre, they were having
an invitation only screening of Sex In the City 2 with a private gala dinner afterwards next door at Bergdorf Goodman.
The cookie in a basket by the front door of the McLaughlin townhouse for guests as they left Mika Brzezinski's book party.
Meanwhile I started out the evening at a book party for Mika Brzezinski hosted by Barbara and Kevin McLaughlin in the garden of their townhouse. The McLaughlin’s townhouse is located on one of those rare East Side blocks that has a large open park-like garden behind which everyone on the block shares. It was a perfect spot for a beautiful almost summer evening in the city with ample drinks and trays of just-one-more hors d’oeuvres from Swifty’s.
This building is a block from me on 83rd Street and York Avenue. I've been wanting to get this shot for a long time because I admire the creativity that went into decorating the exterior of an old Upper East Side small apartment building. What would otherwise be an ordinary century-old building has been transformed by an artist's wit and imagination (and brushes).
Mika Brzezinski, if you didn’t know – and even I the non-tv watcher knows – is a cohost on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. I’m still sleeping at that hour so I asked her what they talked about. Politics, the economy, etc. With Joe Scarborough. He was maybe going to show (never saw him).

I told her, when I asked, that I never watched TV, that I’d got out of the habit for so long (because of work) that I never turn it on. She said she didn’t either. She just never turns her TV on. Probably because she’s either not home or reading or sleeping and looking after her family, and there’s no time left. Her book, All Things At Once, is about herself, a memoir in progress. I could tell from our brief meeting that she is very honest and forthright but right thinking too. I could tell she’s a sensible mother. She’s very easy to talk to and to like.
The author with her book. Click to order. The host Kevin McLaughlin with his brother and business partner, Jay McLaughlin.
Susan Sawyers and Jane Wong. The hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Kevin (Barbara) McLaughlin.
From the McLaughlins party I went a few blocks over and down to 62nd Street and Park where Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos was hosting a book party for Peter Canova who has just published Pope Annalisa; Book One of the First Souls Trilogy. The ad states: “A new vision of what it means to be human.”

The Kanavos apartment has a special memory for me because it belonged to our late great friend Judy Green who died three days after 9/11. This apartment was the venue of hundreds of parties over the years because Judy reveled in her revels, and knew a cross-section of New York that gave everyone something (and somebody) to talk to and about. There was music (Sinatra was often on the sound system but also at times in the room); there were libations, pass the champagne, Vincent Minuto’s (Hamptons Domestics) culinary traps (couldn’t stop eating), and laughter, and hijinks. All that in one memory.
The author, Peter Canova. Click to order. The author with the creator of the Nautilus Book Award, Marilyn McGuire (
The Kanovoses made some changes with the sage advice and chic of Juan Montoya (see NYSD HOUSE). They have young children whereas Judy Green had house guests in from all over. But the place still has many of the same hallmarks, and the fun that occurred there is still in the room. Although the younger couple are, ironically, actually more low-key.

Mr. Canova, the author for whom the party was being given, has had years of extensive research and personal experience with spiritual phenomena, and has written a thriller that explores a genuine, near-lost spiritual traditions. He is also Winner of the 2010 Nautilus award and the 2010 Independent Publishers Award. The hostess told me she is a big fan of his work.

Meanwhile, rewind; more books. The other night Ashley McDermott, along with Peggy Bitler, Kristen Fealy, Susan York and Jennifer Creel hosted a launch party for Ned and Sue Hallowell’s 18th book called Married to Distraction. No doubt a lot of people in that room were relating. Mr. Hallowell is a popular writer about families and child-rearing. Ashley told me his “wise” books on ADD and the pressures of young wives and working mothers has helped so many.
Peggy Bitler, Ned Hallowell, and Ashley McDermott.
Ann Coley and Danielle Ganek.
Peggy Bitler, Ashley McDermott, and Kristen Fealy.
Kitty Sherrill and Carole McFadden. Serena McDermott and Nancy Jarecki.
Married to Distraction, click to order.
More rewind; more parties. Last Monday night down at the Core Club Renee and Richard Steinberg hosted a "spring fling" party for 120 friends and associates, with entertainment (burlesque, Broadway singers and a contortionist), all from "The Box" in the East Village. A blast is what they had.
The room.
Richard and Renee Steinberg.
Burlesque duo Brian Gillespie and Lori Barber. Singer Nikki James.
Adrienne Silver and Spencer Sherman.
Roberta Kozloff, Susan Ross, and Barbara Rothschild.
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