Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend

Looking east towards Riverside Drive from within Riverside Park. 1:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, November 29, 2010. A long, restful holiday weekend in New York, quiet in the nabes, busy in the shopping areas of midtown and along Broadway and Times Square. Chilly but mainly sunny. I was thinking wouldn’t it be great to have some snow. That was the mood I was in.
Reminders. I love this picture (below) which is the face of a holiday card from the Humane Society. Kippy (the dog) was adopted from the Society October 16, 1995. The following Spring Kit Kat appeared at the door and was adopted by Kippy. Both have since gone to Dog & Cat Heaven, but their legacy of immense joy remains and reminds.

NYSD readers know that I love these little ones who give us so much love just from their presence in our lives. My little Byrone came to join us from the Humane Society three years ago and not a day or even an hour goes by that he doesn’t make me laugh or smile with his affection and sweet devotion.

Pals forever from the Humane Society of New York.
The message on the card gets right to the point:

The past few years have brought hardship to many and more animals than ever to the Humane Society of New York.

Please help us care for a dog or a cat in need. Your contribution, large or small will help underwrite veterinarian care for a sick or injured animal in our Clinic, for a pet who brings affection and comfort to a lonely elderly person on a very small income. Or it could help feed, medicate, and neuter a dog or a cat in our adoption center.

If you have a well-loved pet, think of all the homeless animals who long to have the same good fortune.

One thing we can all do during this holiday season is to give outside ourselves to help other lives in need. Five bucks or five hundred, it all makes a big difference. You can do that. Maybe even adopt. I’ve done that many times and it makes a huge difference to all of us.

The Humane Society is on 306 East 59th Street. 212-752-4840 or visit their website;
A gaggle of babies at Paige Peterson's party the night before Thanksgiving.
The weekend. The night before Thanksgiving our friend Paige Peterson, who lives on Central Park West near the launch pad of the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, hosts a party for friends who come to see the setting up for Thanksgiving morning.
Devon and Heidi Geist with Imogen Lloyd Webber and Brianna Geist.
Jon and Martha Orton. Karen Collins, Jesse Kornbluth, and Helen Kornbluth.
Dick and Nancy Clement with Susan Calhoun Moss.
Jack and Jeff Sharp. Richard Conway and William Cart.
Gaspar Del Castillo, Alexandra Peterson, and Jen Barnhart.
Kerri and Chase Renouf. Lena Tabori and Louise Nicholson.
Susan Calhoun Moss and Annie Clements.
Peter Cary holding Devon with Joe, Heidi, and Brianna Geist. Peter Heywood, Shirley Lord Rosenthal, and Betsy Gotbaum.
Susan Calhoun Moss with Doug, Jack , and Jeff Steinbrech-Sharp.
John and Carolina Josephson. Paige and David Peterson with Michael Heumann and Marc Antonio Mei.
Peter Cary with Jack.
Neesia Pope, Sylvia Martins, and Jesse Kornbluth.
Bruce Levingston and Gail Karr. Greta Weil, Signe Conway, Gussie Conway, and Alexandra Peterson.
Kholood Albakr, Majed Alissa, and Paige Peterson.
Georgia Shreve, Jesse Kornbluth, Charlie Moss, and Nancy Clements.
Michael and Lisa Schultz. Nicholas Wapshott and Louise Nicholson.
Greta Elgort, Alexandra Peterson, Marc Antonio Mei, Michael Heumann, Sophie Elgort, and WIlliam Cart.
Jane Friedman, Suzanna Touzet holding Nicolas, Sebastian Cwilich, and Jack and Jeff Sharp.
Then on Thursday morning, Paige’s festivities continue at her friend Peter Brown’s apartment where from the perfect perch the gang takes in the parade getting underway.
Headed for the parade!
On the Street headed for Peter Brown's balcony.
Floats lined up getting ready to go.
Our host, Peter Brown.
Chase and Kerri Renouf. Heidi Geist and Imogen Lloyd Webber.
Watching the parade from high above Central Park West.
Carolina and Sophie Josephson. From Peter Brown's perch where Paige took most of the pictures.
On Thanksgiving Day this year, I went to two dinners. I started out at a family dinner at the home of friends. There were sixteen at table: host, hostess, children, in-laws, mates, aunts, uncles, grandparents/great-grandparents – a real old fashioned Thanksgiving dinner.

My hostess is a brilliant chef, and non-pro, too. She started two days before, preparing three turkeys, making the stuffing, the pecan pies. Dinner was called for one. We sat down at one long table in the dining room about two, and by 3:30 people were finishing up.

David and Helen.
I went from there down to the Four Seasons restaurant where for the past several Thanksgivings, including last year, I had dinner with David and Helen Gurley Brown. David died earlier this year in his 94th year, and although he had been in robust health and professionally active almost to the end of his life, he had been ailing for about a year before he died.

Helen had always arranged these dinner dates months in advance in the past. Because she hadn’t done so this year, I assumed her plans had changed and so I accepted the aforementioned dinner invite. However, Helen called me only a week ago, inviting me to join her for a date at 5 in the afternoon at the Four Seasons. I knew I wouldn’t be hungry but it was more important to be Helen’s guest under the circumstances.

Just a little girl from Little Rock.
The Browns had been together or about fifty years. They were an exceptionally devoted couple, always together and always interested in each other’s careers despite both being hugely successful on their own. Their devotion was a pleasure to observe and share in; it was true partnership. David was courtly but admiring of Helen, and Helen was always flirtatious but admiringly respectful of David.

We were joined at table this year by Helen’s caregiving attendant, and a friend named Charlotte. Helen and Charlotte have been friends for more than sixty years. They met in Los Angeles in the late 1940s when Helen was working as the private secretary to a man named Don Belding who was partner in the advertising agency of Foote, Cone and Belding. Charlotte had applied for a job as a file clerk for the firm, and Helen had hired her.
My second turkey dinner at the Four Seasons.
It was at Foote Cone that Helen got her first big professional break as a copywriter. Don Belding’s wife Alice was fond of Helen and often invited her to join them socially. Helen’s ambition was to become a copywriter, and it was Alice who persuaded her husband to give Helen a chance. She was given an assignment to write some copy for their Catalina Bathing Suits client. She was so successful that she was promoted to copywriter and her friend Charlotte took over Helen’s job as Don Belding’s private secretary.

Charlotte told me over dinner that one day Don Belding made a presentation for the account of Max Factor makeup (very big in those days). Helen had written the copy for it. Max Factor (the man himself) came in for the presentation. He turned it down although he liked Helen’s work. He took his business to Kenyon & Eckhardt with the proviso that they hire Helen to be the copywriter on the account.

Somewhere in there, Helen met David Brown who was then story editor over at 20th Century Fox Studios under Darryl Zanuck. Love bloomed, of course, and a few years later they married. Helen was 37. In the early 1960s, David suggested to Helen that she write a book about her adventures as a single woman with a career. She did. It was called “Sex And the Single Girl.” It sold millions of copies and Warner Brothers made it into a film starring Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda, Lauren Bacall and Mel Ferrer.

Helen Gurley Brown in the art department at Cosmopolitan, shortly after she took over as editor of the magazine in 1965.
Me and Helen at Literacy Partners.
Helen got so much mail from readers about her life (all of which she personally answered) that one day David suggested she make a magazine out of the material. Cosmopolitan, or Cosmo, as we know it today, an old Hearst title that was about to be put out to pasture, was given a new life. Helen ran Cosmo for more than 30 years and for many of those years, the magazine was the main income earner of the Hearst publishing empire.

One of the remarkable qualities of Helen and David Brown was their natural sense of modesty and humility. There was never an expressed sense of self-importance. I can think of very few people I’ve known who created such fame and financial success for themselves where ego didn’t interrupt the process.

Today at 90 Helen’s memory doesn’t serve her sharply in many ways. You can mention the name of an old friend, and she may have no memory of that person.

However, there were a number of people who came to the table to say hello, including the legendary advertising mogul George Lois and his wife, both friends – and fans, all of whom she had never met before. With everyone, Helen was her sweet self, gracious, soft-spoken and kind, and with a ready smile and gratitude for their greeting. She looked especially lovely and even youthful.

Helen was always a famously thrifty individual, never forgetting her humble beginnings as a little girl from Little Rock, and never impressed into extravagance by her own financial success. During all the years she ran Cosmo, she took the bus to and from the office even when a limousine was provided by the company. She would never opt for a cab at any time if there was convenient public transportation. One night, only a few years ago, she and David celebrated an anniversary at Per Se. It was a very expensive meal, of course, and the cost was hard for Helen to digest.

When they left the restaurant on Columbus Circle, she insisted they take the bus up Central Park West to their apartment. David felt differently of course and insisted, in the name of celebrating, on “splurging” on a cab.

This year, however, when the check arrived, with the assistance of her attendant, without reaction, she totaled up the bill and signed the check. It was a big one -- $770 plus a $150 tip for the four of us.

The Four Seasons was packed for the five o’clock dinner. Two tables over from us was the succeeding generation’s women’s media tycoon, Martha Stewart, entertaining a table of eight. Nearby also Casey Ribicoff was hosting a table of eight friends.
The Christmas tree outside Le Cirque restaurant in Beacon Court looking toward the Bloomberg offices.
New York has a lot of pavement entrepreneurs collecting the re-cyclables assiduously. They are hard working men and women toiling around the clock, enduring hardship to make use of what is available to create income for themselves
Preparing the holiday decorations outside Lexington Gardens at 73rd Street.
A closeup of the Lexington Gardens window.
Part of the results.
John Rosselli's Treillage right on the corner.
Looking north toward the East River on East 83rd Street.
An energy supply tanker making its way up the East River, 4 pm, Friday.
The John Finley Walk by the East River, 4 pm.
From Jill Krementz, NYSD's Associate Editor

Thanksgiving weekend provided many pleasures for which to be grateful.

There was a screening on Black Friday at the Director's Guild Theater of a much buzzed-about movie, The Fighter. Featured last week as a segment on 60 Minutes, it is a film based on a true story of two Irish boxers, brothers from Lowell, Massachusetts (portrayed by Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale). Micky Ward (played by Wahlberg), trained by his brother (played by Bale), became the world lightweight champion in the 1980s. The film is directed by David O. Russell and features Melissa Leo and Amy Adams. Scheduled to open next week, I predict we'll be seeing this fine cast walking many red carpets in future months.
Oscar nominees will also include Colin Frith and Geoffrey Rush who star in The King's Speech. The Cineplex at Union Square was jammed when the film opened this weekend and the audience was treated to a special Q&A with the film's director, Tom Hooper conducted by Huffington Post's Marshall Fine. The film, as you know, is a historical story about King George VI's impromptu ascent to the throne following his father's death and the speech therapist who helped the new monarch deal with his stammer.
Film critic Marshall Fine interviews Director Tim Hooper after The King's Speech.
Tom Hooper is an English director who began making films when he was thirteen years old. He directed two acclaimed TV miniseries: Prime Suspect starring Helen Mirren (the initial segments) and John Adams with Paul Giamatti. He also directed the film The Damned United, a dramtized account of 44 turbulent days in the life of an English football manager.

In addition to answering the usual questions about rehearsal time (three weeks) and how many takes (generally five), he told us something I doubt anyone knew: that the monarch's therapist Lionel Logue died within a year of the King, so devastated was he by the loss of his beloved friend.
The Strand is only a block away from the Cineplex so I was able to buy a copy of An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin. I have now read it from start to finish, stopping only long enough to get a few hours sleep. Martin who has been an avid art collector for years knows the art world inside out and his young protagonist, Lacey Yaeger, starts out at Sothebys. It's the art world's version of The Devil Meets Prada except in this case it's galleries, museums, auction houses and Miami Art Basel. In order to avoid all the silly guessing games Martin shows his hand: there are walk-ons by Peter and Brooke Schjeldahl, Larry Gagosian, Bill Aquavella, John Richardson, and even a train-encounter with the late John Updike. I loved being able to see the 24 four-color art reproductions sprinkled throughout the book, relevant to the artwork being talked about. i.e. when Lacey springs for Warhol's “Flowers” we get to see it right there on the page.
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