Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Asia Week in New York

Before the rains came; on the steps of the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew on 86th Street and West End Avenue. Photo: JH.
March 22, 2010. A grey and slightly chilly day, yesterday in New York; and then after nightfall, the rains came, along with some thunder.

It is Asia Week in New York. Last night the Asia Society hosted A Celebration of Asia Week: AllThingsArtASIA beginning with a cocktail reception for several hundred at the Society and Museum on Park Avenue and 70th Street. NYSD readers may recall Jill Krementz’ recent photojournal on the Museum’s exhibitions Arts of Ancient Viet Nam: From River Plain to Open Sea and Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art. It was there last night for the guests to partake of.

The New Yorkers. I met Valerie Tocci just as I was about to leave last night's reception at the Asia Society. She told me that she'd been a reader of the NYSD since we launched in late 2000. Valerie, a lifelong New Yorker who is now a matrimonial lawyer, starts her weekday morning in the office reading the New York Times, the NYSD and Gawker. For which we are all grateful. Thank you Valerie. And good morning.
This event is also the Asia Society’a major annual spring fundraiser. Mira Nair, Vivienne Tam and BD Wong were honorary chairs. The reception at the Asia Society museum featured Asian fashion designers and artisans as well as music and “culinary delights” created by guest chef Michael Bao Huynh.

It was crowded when I arrived at 7:30 an hour an a half it started. I saw Richard Meier across the room, and Inger Elliott and Dinda Elliott, George Wayne, Lucia Hwong Gordon, BD Wong, model Irina Panteva, Fern Mallis, John Liu, Eiko Assael and Sandra Ripert.

Benefit chairs for the evening were Stephanie and John Foster, Ruth and Harold Newman and Lulu Wang. Co-Chairs were Carolyn Hsu-Balcer and Rene Balcer, Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky, James J. Chin, Betsy and Edward Cohen, Lisina M. Hoch, Ida Liu, Mrs. Arthur Ross. Vice Chairs were: Yung Hee Kim, Helen and Will Little, Susan E. Lynch, Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt.

It is only in the past fifteen years and especially in the last five that we have seen the Asian influence on the culture of the city increase noticeably. It has been slow in developing but it has now taken hold. It is fascinating for this New Yorker to find himself in rooms where ethnicity is a given instead of a rarity or a miracle. The miracle has occurred. What we passengers will do with it remains to be seen, but it’s important to be hopeful and informed by learning.
Fashions of the designers last night at the Asia Society reception.
The Asia Society was founded by John D. Rockefeller III (father of the Senator from West Virginia) in 1956. Evidently Mr. Rockefeller developed a passion for all things Asian as well as its art, at a young and impressionable age. Eventually he developed or came upon the foresight of creating the Asia Society, which in the mid-50s and at the height of the Red Scare in this country, was either courageous or the idea of a profoundly confident man. With the force of the Rockefeller name and interest behind it, the Asia Society was able to draw many prominent and curious New Yorkers.

Mr. Rockefeller’s activities were a personification of universal philanthropy, the likes of which is rare – although thankfully not entirely obsolete in this current age of egomania. His idea behind the founding of the Society was to create a vehicle to foster greater cooperation between Asia and the United States. It was an almost unheard of notion, a borderline pipedream at the time. Today, more than a half century later it is an ongoing and influential project in this complex world of ours. It was a pleasure to witness its effects last night at the Asia Society.
The party.
Mr. Rockefeller, if you didn’t know, also created the Population Council, reconstituted the Japan Society and set up the United Negro College Fund, which was an exponent of his grandfathers (the first John D’s) funding of Spelman College in Atlanta.

After the reception last night there was a dinner at Guastavino’s, overseen by Chef Huynh with dessert by chef Pichet Ong, along with dancing and an auction conducted by Sotheby’s Henry Howard-Sneyd.

Asia Week runs through next Sunday. There are all kinds of interesting exhibitions around town. On today’s NYSD Art Set, Wendy Moonan reports on her discoveries of the art and artifacts now on exhibition here in New York. Also for more information on events and exhibitions, visit: www.asiaweeknewyork.org.
Susan Shin, Thuy Diep, and Lies Maculan Eiko Assael and Keiko Eida
Sandra Ripert and Jassel Lizardi Ida Liu, Ling Tan, and Diana Hsu
Irina Pantaeva, Lucia Hwong-Gordon, and Elga Wimmer Sir George Wayne
Gale Harold, Fay An Lee, and Christiane Knoll Inger Elliott and Dinda Elliott
Shayne Doty, the new VP External Affairs for the Asia Society Christiana Knoll (2nd from left), Fay An Lee, and BD Wong
Lies Maculan, Susan Shin, and Fern Mallis Ji Lee and Clarina Bezzola
Kissing Cousins of Asia Week. Last Monday night, still recovering from our 24-hour journey from Amsterdam into terrible hurricane like weather the previous Saturday night in New York, I was too tired to make Euan Rellie’s birthday party on the Ides of March. I regret it only because Euan is one of those fellows with a natural joie de vivre and it’s a pleasure to see him in action.

He’s one of those who loves people – all kinds of people. He told me he wishes he had a salon – “the literary kind, not the hair kind.” Although he’d probably like the latter as much, considering all the info that buzzes around those rooms.  

Lucy Sykes Rellie and Euan Rellie
He and his wife Lucy Sykes enjoy the New York living/working life. "Brits are the new blondes," Euan says to affirm the point. "We have more fun."  He is an investment banker, although he is quick to tell you he’s not your “typical” investment baner. His firm, Business Development Asia LLC, better known as BDA, has a decent client list of Fortune 500 companies growing in China and India.

Every year Lucy throws Euan a birthday party at a restaurant and invites his crew of friends and acquaintances. Always on the fifteenth of March. The format is drinks and chats and more drinks and more chats and then seated for dinner and then Euan around and about glorying in it all.

This year, the party took place at Macao Trading Company, an exotic faux opium den. "My pals Billy Gilroy and Alan Rish run a couple of amazing restaurants. Macao Trading is elegant and sultry, with an unspoken promise of debauchery, and decent rum and ginger cocktails. My kind of joint." That’s Euan’s plug. Er, I mean review.

Most of Euan's friends come from fashion or journalism. He says "bankers sometimes take themselves too seriously.” Obviously he knows of what he speaks.

Of all the guests this year, the most popular hands-down was Joey Jalleo who runs the Boom Boom Room. “I had the whole restaurant practising 'je suis sur la liste de Joey,” Euan told me. That’s because the Boom Boom Room is hot these days, spectacular in every way. The place to see and be seen. If you go with Euan, you can always get in. Sur la liste de Joey, he is. Sur le toit aussi, as it happens.
Din din at Macao Trading Company.
Stewart Reyes, Euan Rellie, and Boykin Curry.
Milly de Cabrol and Euan Rellie.
Mary Harris and Nathaniel Kramer. Bettina Zilkha.
Euan Rellie and Patrick McMullan.
Euan Rellie and Amanda Ross. Joey Jalleo and Euan Rellie.
Alex Kelloff, Katie Zorn Hand, and Boykin Curry.
Amanda Ross and Bonnie Morrison. Shaine Gilroy and Rob Krueger.
Annmarie Nitti and Miguel Alves.
Jennifer Ohlsson, Alan Rish, and Rie Rasmusen. Kristian Laliberte and Bonnie Morrison.
Melissa Whitworth, Euan Rellie, Sean Mahoney, and Ann Caruso.
Miguel Alves and Annmarie Nitti. Ren Grady and Melissa Whitworth.
Billy Gilroy, Dushan Igor, Patrick Fahey, Henry Lafargue, and Egor Hadzismajic.
Rie Rasmusen and Peter Davis. Doug Hand and Katie Zorn Hand.
Jeffrey Slonim, Sara Ruffin Costello, and Ann Caruso.
Tim Schifter and Jennifer Ohlsson. Anna Goodmen and Joey Jalleo.
Doug Hand, Milly de Cabrol, and Jason Dempsey.
Sean and Lenore Mahoney.
Last Week’s Diary about the dog someone left tied to a traffic sign pole, outside the High Line benefit on 10th Avenue and 16th Street, evoked a lot of mail. Among the emails was one from a former New Yorker now living in Europe. I share it because he explains for those of us who are unaware, what the issues are in the business of leaving your animals tied outside on the street – any street.

Hi David,
You did a great service about warning people about tying their dogs and leaving them even to run into Starbuck’s for a coffee to go. Many are oblivious about what can and often does happen.
The singular incident that remains frozen in memory of when I lived there was when I saw the empty collar and leash left at a tree in front of our building. The doorman told me that the “goons” had taken the poodle who lived down the street and presumably sold it for medical research or for “pit bait.”

Subsequently, I was told by many shopkeepers in the area that a new cottage industry had started up on the West Side of Manhattan: “dog harvesting.”  It made me nauseous to even think about the stark, dark reality of it.

Last Thursday night outside the Equinox Gym on 10th and 16th Street, someone left her dog tied up and was gone for more than a half hour before a friend came out to stay with the dog.
Here in continental Europe, dog-napping simply does not exist except — perhaps — in some very, very poor E-EU countries. And the UK, I gather.
Apparently the nasty business is full throttle in Midtown West, aka Hell’s Kitchen — especially Ninth Ave and Tenth Ave between 59th and 42nd Streets. My doorman told me that the NYPD said they could do nothing about it since animal theft/murder had to be referred to the ASPCA — no idea if that is accurate info or not.

— Brian Byrne

In the case of the dog last week, fortunately a friend of the owner came out of the party eventually and stayed with the pooch until she returned. I see it often. A couple of weeks ago outside Eli’s on 80th and Third, a Corgi was tied to a post.

I waited until someone came out for the dog. It was the housekeeper of a family here in New York. I suggested to her that she NOT leave the dog outside. She told me that her boss insisted she take the dog with her when she went food shopping so that the dog got walked. Killing two birds with one stone. Killing one dog with one walk.

I asked her the name of the family. She told me. I’d print it except I happen to know that the lady of the house can be nasty with her household staff. So it didn’t surprise me that she was oblivious enough to insist on sending the dog on the shopping rounds. I do believe, however, that those of us who neglect or abuse our charges should be called out, be they child or animals since neither can protect themselves from these idiots.

Doghouses and Cathouses Together.
One day last week I got two different “cat” pictures in my email. One from my friend Colette Harron up in Essex, and the other from JH, who has acquired a feline, courtesy of his fiancée who grew up in a family that had cats. JH’s cat is just a kitten, a rescue from the streets. He’s fulla beans and the senior member of the household, the celebrated Mr. Oliver is less than enchanted with his new housemate. However time will provide the bonding. I’ve had both cats and dogs at the same time and they all got along famously.
Colette Harron and her brood of felines.
JH's Oliver with his new (sort of) pal, Leo.
Our newcomer (last June from the ASPCA) Jenny-Jen-Jen, our old timer (a year ago last October from the Humane Society). Mr. Byrone (he snores).
Mr. B. alongside his old pal the Dowager Dawg Missy aka Madame, the boss.
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