Monday, October 18, 2010

Beautiful, sunny, quiet weekend in New York

Fall showing its true colors at Fairview Country Club in Greenwich, CT. 3:30 PM. Photo: JH.
October 18, 2010. Beautiful, sunny, quiet weekend in New York.

Friday night I had dinner with friends
at Sette Mezzo on Lexington and 71st. You don’t hear about it much from me but it’s one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants. I’m not alone; it’s almost always packed, as it was Friday for dinner.

For a lot of the guests, it’s also a neighborhood destination. Among Friday Friday night’s crowd: Tracy Ullman and friends; Caroline Kennedy and Ed Schlossberg and their daughter Rose; Henry and Marie-Josee Kravis, CeCe Cord and Maurice Sonnenberg, Ellen and Ian Graham; Casey Ribicoff with Adolfo and Alex Hitz; Jackie and Gene Williams. I had the Potato and Pumpkin Soup and the Fusilli al Pesto. This was followed by a table-shared Lemon merengue tart. Couldn’t be more perfect.
23rd and Broadway. Sunday at 3:00 PM.
12th Street and Fifth Avenue. 3:10 PM.
Saturday night it was dinner with friends at Chin Chin (on 49th Street between Second and Third) with one of those Chinese table spreads of dumplings, spring rolls, Grand Marnier Shrimp, Moghu Pork, Lemon Chicken, Broccoli in Garlic Sauce and Barbecued Spare Ribs. Delicious and doggie bag time.

Last night it was back to Sette Mezzo (a guest again). Packed again. I saw Shelley Mortimer with Joan Didion, Alice Mayhew with Hannah Pakula (a night of editors and their authors), Stuart Sundlin with Patricia Duff, Gale Hayman (who told me she’d been there the night before also). I had the Tomatoes and Smoked Mozzarella Salad and the Crabmeat and arugula risotto.
Saturday afternoon. A good one for a walk. I started out on the Promenade overlooking the East River et al at about 2:30. The cloud covers were beautiful with the bright blue skies.
Looking south into the sunlight, across the river to the Con Ed smokestacks and the Roosevelt Island apartment buildings, with the FDR Drive in view on the west riverside.
The FDR/East Side Drive from the Promenade at 82nd Street.
East 81st Street looking west from the Promenade. East End Avenue at 81st Street looking south.
A gardener's touch of autumn at 25 East End Avenue.
The church draped and scaffolded on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 76th Street. 2:40 pm.
Swifty's at Lexington between 73rd and 72nd.
Will and Julie behind the counter in Archivia, a regular stop for me when I'm in the neighborhood.
3:05 PM.
Back on East End Avenue, 4:15. There was a big Breast Cancer Cure walk on Saturday that culminated at Carl Schurz Park on the Promenade. With at least several hundred women of all ages, many of whom were met at the final stop by their families, spouses and children. At the end of the day there were buses and vans to get everyone back to their point of departure.
East End Avenue looking south on Saturday night at 7:30 PM.
This is the season at Archivia. Every week there are new books and many of them very tempting. I’m neither architect or interior decorator, nor could I afford almost anything that takes my eye, but I do love those coffee table editions on the subject, both contemporary and especially historical. This has always been true but somehow moreso than ever before. It is the fascination with The House and the lives therein, real or imagined.

David and Katherine Bradley
Debra Shriver’s Stealing Magnolias; Tales from a New Orleans Courtyard. Click to order or buy immediately at Archivia Books (993 Lexington Avenue, 212.570.9565)
I picked up some interesting volumes, including a copy of Debra Shriver’s Stealing Magnolias; Tales from a New Orleans Courtyard.

New Orleans as a place of residence came onto my radar prominently in the past year since our friend Peter Rogers (NYSD HOUSE) has deserted this neck of the woods for his old stomping ground and bought himself a house in the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Deb Shriver is the VP head of Communications at Hearst. I see her often at Michael’s although I know her because we have a mutual friend, Jesse Kornbluth. So when I opened her book, I already had a special interest in its contents.

Peter Rogers has been rhapsodizing about life in New Orleans for more than a year now but since he made the move this past September (and continues to rhapsodize about it), curiosity has been piqued.

Through Deb Shriver I learned that it’s a destination for a lot of New Yorkers. Tom Jayne and his partner have a getaway house there too, which we’ve covered (NYSD House).
The Napoloen House, a Chartres Street Landmark. Peter Patout's Bourbon Streeet courtyard.
However, aside from friends’ interest, I’ve really had no idea of what the city might “feel” like until I looked at Deb’s book. Nor did I know that she was a Southern girl (12th generation — Peter Rogers is from Hattiesburg, Mississippi). She’s also, it turns out, a Francophile, a jazz devotee and a preservationist. She and her husband have been visiting NOLA, as it’s often referred to, for a long time. Then one day while attending a dinner down there:

The more time we spent in New Orleans, the more I began to dream of a house ... I memorized its streets, studied its architecture, soaked in the pastel-colored cottages ... gazed past tall wrought iron gates into the lush foliage of semi-hidden courtyards ... admired the old Colonial and Greek Revival houses. Their ornate balcony railings, (with their) tumble-down bouquets of blooming bougainvillea and Confederate jasmine ... and eventually, almost as if I had willed it to happen, a house found us.

In Stealing Magnolias, she takes you with her on that dream adventure. You follow it and think: I could do that. I mean IF I could, I could. I even might.

New Orleans is a French city, the only one in the United States. Shriver describes it thusly: Although he never set foot upon New Orleans soil, never even sailed to America, the ghost of Napoleon Bonaparte is everywhere. He is city father in absentia, icon and overseer ...
The Shrivers' garconniere. Brass band, family and friends form a second line in this jazz funeral.
This book is a woman’s introduction to that city and all its frenchness, its exotic riches, history, and charm. It’s a tour, but a tour of what it feels like to live there, with its colors, it texture, its cuisine, its soul, and of course its antiquity -- restored and maintained alluring to the eye and the senses, because of the of its citizen devotees. This is it for Debra Shriver. She could convince you.

The garconniere: Behind the three stories of our house on Dumaine, lies an addition, called a garconniere. I first thought this to be some vestige of slave housing, but instead discovered that it was a small bachelor apartment, which, in the French Creole fashion, housed the dweller’s oldest son. The garconniere is its own respite, its own oasis. It is a room with no purpose, only a fantasy sitting room, an absolute extravagance for people like us who had been closely confined to condominium living for decades.

Our friend Jesse Kornbluth reviews the book on

Meanwhile, in Paris on this Monday evening Pierre Berge and the Fondation Pierre Berge Yves Saint Laurent is hosting a Vernissage de l’Exposition at 5, avenue Marceau for David Hockney and his “Fleurs fraiches; Dessins sur iPhone et iPad.”
The show is, I believe, Mr. Hockney’s first exhibition of new work in quite some time, and it is his first foray as an artist into technology. He started working with the painting app on his iPhone. The paintings, done with his index finger as his brush, were an exploration of the app’s qualities. Using the iPhone he’d then immediately email the paintings to friends across the world. A Hockney email message is one we could all do with to begin our day.

Our friend and neighbor Charlie Scheips, who has had a long association and friendship with the artist, has curated this show which runs through January 30, 2011, and then I think it will tour the world. It is a “first” all around and to the visitor, the pay- off is the unique sensibility of the artist whose vision is sharply focused, ironic, beautiful and charming, as you can see from this copy of the invitation ...
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Photographs by DPC and JH.
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