Friday, February 26, 2010

Snow-sodden New York

Looking east across 86th Street from West End Avenue, 1:45 am. Photo: JH.
February 26, 2010. It snowed all day yesterday in New York, although the temperature was above freezing and none of it was sticking. By late afternoon the snow on the trees was thick and heavily wet. In Central Park, a man walking through the park was killed by a snow-sodden branch breaking off and falling to the ground. “It was a direct hit,” according to the New York Times. Another branch fell and hit a bus, and another a car.

Then last night about 9 o’clock the winds began to pick up, and the temperatures dropped. The snow blew in like a blizzard that was sailing through the night till the dawn.
East End Avenue and 84th Street looking north at 3 pm with snow coming down steadily but not sticking.
East End at 84th Street looking north. 2:15 AM.
From yesterday’s Diary: A reader clarified the man I referred to as Lisa Falcone’s escort at Versailles. His name is Zaldy Gocco and Mr. Gocco was not her hair cutter or makeup man as I imagined. However, I was not totally off target because he is a creative individual, artist, and is a well-known Costume Designer. He recently was the designer of Michael Jackson’s scheduled “This Is It” show in London. Alas, that show never happened but Zaldy’s designs are on display in the traveling exhibition of Michael Jackson memorabilia currently in London, as well as in the DVD of Michael’s “This Is It.”

Ghislaine Barbara Martin wrote to me on Facebook about the Diary piece: “Kudos to Lisa - she is a very beautiful, elegant lady who does marvelous things for her community. I applaud her for not losing her true identity in navigating the NY social scene, and it is true, there will always be those who accuse and malign if you do not fit 'the mold and/or have a strong personality. I would say to her pay no heed, but that is not necessary - I think she already knows that.”

Lisa Falcone and Zaldy Gocco
I would add that it appears that Mrs. Falcone may not fit the mold but she does have a strong personality and can take care of herself.

From the Conning Tower.
Another friend of mine told that she had had business dealings with Mrs. Falcone “who always treated everyone graciously and courteously.” Her interview in the New York Times revealed a very assertive yet sensitive woman. What is always intriguing is how that combination motivates a person.

Mrs. Falcone, among other things, decided to put herself into the public life in the city. That is what society today is all about. For all of its polish and vermeilled splendor, it isn’t really much different in spirit if not style, from the days when that ante bellum Alabama upstart, Alva Vanderbilt tossed that almost-Knickerbocker Mrs. Astor aside with her effrontery. Alva carried on for more than twenty years before she tired of the whole thing and decided she was going to be The Suffragette instead. Mrs. Astor faded away into her memories and eventually died. Alva lived on building castles and liberating women’s consciousness. And telling people what to do. In society, girls with real ambition and drive are just passing through on their way to larger spheres of interest on larger stages.

The night before last, before the snow really started,
over at Elaine’s, there was a “going away” party for Bobby Zarem. Isn’t that a great name? Say it out loud: Bobby Zarem. What does that sound like? Kind of an exotic zoom, no? Or the title of a novel by Faulkner. That’s how it struck me when I first heard it and always thereafter heard it for years before I actually met the man, Bobby Zarem.
Bobby Zarem and Elaine Kaufman Bobby Zarem, Diane Passage, and Ken Starr
For those who don’t know, and there must be legions, Bobby Zarem is famous in his sphere of interest, even legendary. Which is/was New York, theater, show business, nightlife. And he has spent a good part of his life operating as one of the last of the Broadway/Hollywood press agents who operated in a magical world of glitter, gold, shambles and scandals. With late night drinks at Elaine’s five nights a week engaged among the Manhattan literary crowd.

I can’t remember when I met him but it was because he recognized in me a person who might be useful in his business of publicity and public relations and keeping the team psyched. A writer/a columnist. The messenger. Bobby Zarem in person is a big guy with a Runyonesque personality that is so Noo Yawk that it’s hard to believe he was a kid from Savannah. Which is where he’s going back to live a little more quietly for a time.
Bobby Zarem and Maria Cooper Janis Bobby Zarem, Kathy Sloane, and Harvey Sloane
I don’t know what he’s thinking about it all, but I know that he’s giving it a lot of thought. New York for a man like Bobby Zarem is an integral part of the person. Like the belly. New York is a state of mind. And a compulsive habit, and a shock, and an anxiety, and endlessly astounding. And stimulating. People who come to visit always remark on the “energy.” People who live here, people who’ve made their lives and livelihoods here; people whose energy actually energizes the city like a weaver creating his fabric, these people are like the park benches or the lights of Broadway. There are not a lot of them, but there are a number still operating as New York. Bobby Zarem is one of them.

The email I got inviting me to the party (I didn’t make it, incidentally) said it wasn’t a going away because he’ll be back from time to time, but right now he’s gonna take a break. It made me laugh to think of it: everyone can use one who lives full tilt in this town.
Bobby Zarem, Pamela Shaw, and Elliott Kastner Bobby Zarem and Paula Fisher
Bobby Zarem and Richard Johnson Davien Littlefield, Chris Corbert, and David Brendel
Frank DiGiocomo, Bobby Zarem, and Paul Beirne Bobby Zarem and Graydon Carter
Patty D'Arbanville and Bobby Zarem Paula Froelich, Bobby Zarem, and Ben Widdicombe
Griffin Dunne and Dan Algrant Janice Rolland, Bobby Zarem, and Shannon Treusch
Terry McDonell and Bobby Zarem Bobby Zarem and Josh Lucas
Art Garfunkel, Kathryn Garfunkel, and Bobby Zarem Gene Parseghian and Angela Carbonetti
Bobby Zarem and Griffin Dunne Bob Wallace, Lisa DePaulo, and Bobby Zarem
Lisa Salomon, Joan Jedell, and Diane Passage Dolores Barclay and Jocelyn Novec
Last night I went down to the Hotel Indigo, on 127 West 28th Street because a woman named Farah Moinian (whose husband owns the new hotel) was giving a book signing reception for Anne Ford and her third book (with John-Richard Thompson), A Special Mother, with Foreward by Judy Woodruff.

Anne’s subject is learning disabilities. This came about because her daughter Allegra was born with learning disabilities. When Anne was made aware of them she was confronted with something she didn’t even want to look at. Her personal experience of facing her realities, however, gave her the opportunity to learn more about herself and to gain strength from it.

For a long time she was actively involved in the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and, along with Carrie Rozelle and a few others, built it into an influential organization that has made enormous strides in teaching us what learning disabilities are, and how common they are among us. A century ago people with serious learning disabilities were often locked away in institutions. Today people with serious learning disabilities lead independent, constructive lives.
Anne Ford and her new book, A Special Mother. Click to order. Alina Pedroso and Tina Sloan McPherson.
Anne Ford learned that. The story she has to tell today is a story in all our lives. Last night her editor Esther Margolis read a passage from this book about Anne’s discovery of herself as a mother when confronted with reality.

While she was I was thinking about this “Special Mother” Anne as a mother and how she regards and treats her children (direct, yet gentle; supportive, understanding) (really). This is her underlying message about Learning Disabilities but also about parenting, and families, and a better world. It was a good message to fortify us before we went back out into the storm.

I was thinking how she is also an amusing lady with a surprisingly acerbic sense of humor and what at first appears to be a low key personality. Both she and her sister Charlotte have lived their international lives mainly in New York, and as younger women they led a very public glamorous existence that almost belied the fact that they grew up in Grosse Pointe. However, they still exude that Midwestern sensibility in their presence. These books have come out of that sensibility – neighborly, useful, and optimistic.
Esther Margolis, John-Richard Thompson, Anne Ford, and Farah Moinian
Meanwhile. I’m behind on this, but on the Saturday after Fashion Week, I ran into Amy Fine Collins who was lunching with Lars Nilsson, the designer, at Swifty’s.

Whenever I see Lars, which is not frequently, I’m always reminded of the last Romanovs. I don’t know why that is. It must Hollywood’s effect on my imagination because Lars does not look like Nicholas II. Or the Prince of Wales. But he does look like he could be. So is my fascination for the fact that he’s a fashion designer.

After a stint in the States working for Bill Blass, he’s now in Paris and has just completed his debut collection of “Mr. Nils,” his menswear collection.

“A creative urban preppy with a love of the great outdoors,” is the man the designer has in mind and its aesthetic is highly influenced by the designer’s native Sweden. And made in Italy in the workrooms of exclusive manufacturers.

Here is a brief look at the new Mr. Nils collection.
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