Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Very Warm For May

Looking up the face of a town house on the Upper East Side. 3:10 PM. Photo: JH.
April 28, 2010. Bright sunny day, yesterday in New York and quite cold thanks to the chilly breezes although the weatherman is predicting Very Warm weather is on the way. Very Warm For May.

The Michael’s lunch was crowded and included Candy Spelling lunching with Marilyn Sokol and friends, Zena Wiener and neighbor from Washington, Connecticut; Joan Kingsley from London with friend from New York, Linda Fairstein hosting a table; Barry Diller with Malcolm Gladwell; Roger Friedman; Shirley Lord Rosenthal and Lynn Nesbit, and dozens more of that ilk and stripe.

The Humane Society held its 3rd Benefit Photography Auction at the DVF Studio at 440 West 14th Street.
New York last night. The Humane Society held its 3rd Benefit Photography Auction at the DVF Studio at 440 West 14th Street. The Auction’s proceeds go to the New York veterinary clinic and Vladimir Horowitz and Wanda Toscanini Horowitz Adoption Center.

The Humane Society does an incredible job helping animals who have been owned by jerks (who should be spotlighted loudly and publicly for their cruelty towards the little ones). On the Humane Society’s website right now, for example, is the story of “Dixie,” a little poodle mix who had been dropped off by some “well-dressed, polite woman” who said she couldn’t care for Dixie any longer. Here is Dixie, almost dead on arrival and after the vets at the Humane Society went to work on restoring her to life.

Too bad we don’t have a picture of the hopelessly pathetic woman who owned Dixie just so you could beware of a real monster in full make-up. However, we can be thankful that the creep in full make-up at least brought little Dixie in, instead of just throwing her away. People do that too.

Thankfully the folks at the Humane Society and the ASPCA and Animal Rescue Fund, and so many other organizations of humane individuals, are doing everything they can to alleviate the suffering of the little creatures. Do you think Dixie’s former owner will ever find the kind of love little Dixie naturally provided? She certainly doesn’t deserve it. Go to: www.humanesocietyny.org.

Onward last night. Farther uptown at The Chinese Porcelain Company on Park Avenue at 58th Street, the clamoring crowds attended the Private Viewing of Francesca Visconti’s “Colorful Confections,” hosted by Pierre Durand and Conor Mahony. The Exhibition and Sale runs through next Tuesday, the 4th of May.

A Private Viewing of Francesca Visconti’s “Colorful Confections” hosted by Pierre Durand and Conor Mahony at The Chinese Porcelain Company.
While over on West 52nd Street at the Paley Center for Media, there was “An Evening with Joel Grey” with appearances by Jennifer Grey, Agnes Gund, Marvin Hamlisch, Mary Tyler Moore, Donna Murphy, Jane and Morley Safer and Gloria Vanderbilt. This was a great evening of anecdotes and entertainment – something the Paley Center is becoming renowned for.

Meanwhile, just a few blocks to the East and the South, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation filled the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria for its annual “Hot Pink Party” with a special performance by Sir Elton John who was celebrating a decade in concert with BCRF. The evening was emceed by Elizabeth Hurley and co-chaired by Bonnie Roche-Bronfman and Charles Bronfman, Marjorie Reed Gordon, Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Kinga Lampert, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, Jane Lauder, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, William P. Lauder, Cynthia and Dan Lufkin, Jeanne and Herbert Siegel, Ingrid Sischy and Sandra Brant, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, Vera Wang, and Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer.

The BCRF was found 17 years ago by Evelyn Lauder, dedicated to funding innovative clinical and translational research. Last October BCRF awarded $28.5 mllion to 173 sicentists across the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Australia.

Farther uptown, across the Park at the American Museum of Natural History the PEN American Center held its 2010 Literary Gala.

This is a incomparably stellar gathering of writers that this year included, live and in person: Margaret Atwood – who was awarded the 4th Annual PEN Literary Service Award, and Ken Auletta, Paul Auster, Carl Bernstein, Tina Brown (an Honorary Chair with Toni Goodale), Robert Caro, Susan Cheever, William Cohan, Michael Cunningham, Andrew Delbanco, Morris Dickstein, Sir Harold Evans, Jane Fonda, Henry Louis Gates, Peter Godwin, Paul Goldberger, Adam Gopnik, John Guare, Mark Halperin, Mohsin Hamid, Molly Haskell, Bob Herbert, Henrik Hertzberg, A.M. Homes, Siri Hustvedt, Erica Jong, Sebastian Junger, Jane Kramer, Jay McInerney, Walter Mosley, Bill Moyers, Sara Nelson, Susan Orlean, George Packer, Francine Prose, David Remnick, Salman Rushdie, Michael Scammell, Simon Schama, Patti Smith, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Gay Talese, James Surowiecki, Judith Thurman, Lily Tuck, Edward O. Wilson, Brenda Wineapple, Meg Wolitzer, Ron Chernow, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Hannah Pakula, Jennet Conant, Sarah Simms Rosenthal, Shirley Lord Rosenthal, Roxana Robinson, Annette Tapert (who was a co-chair with Laurence Kirshbaum and Steven Pleshette Murphy), Barbara Goldsmith who presented her annual Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award – this year to Nay Phone Latt, now imprisoned in Burma), and many others whom I’ve missed. Steve Kroft of “Sixty Minutes” was emcee.
The PEN crowd during the cocktail reception in the Planetarium lobby.
The Milstein Hall ready for the guests.
Salman Rusdie, Tina Brown, and Barbara Goldsmith waiting to present.
PEN’s stated mission is to defend free expression, to advance literature, and to foster international literary fellowship. It’s an organization of poets, playwrights, essayist, editors, novelists, translators and “others within the literary community who stand for ‘the principle of unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and among all nations.’ They pledge themselves ‘to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression in their country or their community.’”

Barbara Goldsmith, in delivering her annual award, reminded us that “PEN itself has log been recognized as one of the most effective human rights organizations in the world, representing over 15,000 members from 145 PEN centers.”
Barbara Goldsmith presenting her Freedom to Write Award to Nay Phone Lott in absentia. Patti Smith performing.
Patti Smith performing at the close of the evening.
Last night was the 24th time PEN has singled out a deserving winner to represent the more than 1000 writers in 100 countries whom PEN has made every effort to defend or protect in the past year. Of the 35 previous award winners who were in jail when they received the award, 31 have since been released and many within months of the award presentation.

This year’s PEN/Barbara Goldsmith recipient was a 29-year-old Burmese blogger, Nay Phone Latt who is serving a 12-year sentence for his online blog, which was widely read inside and outside his country. Burma has a dismal human rights record, which includes censorship and suppression of writers of conscience. Funny how those tough guys with all those medals (metals?) on their chests get so nervous about words and thoughts that oppose their own self-granted rights.

It always amazes me that those in polirixl power with their armies and police forces, which they use openly to protect themselves and their dictates, feel threatened by some individual with no weapons to kill, hurt, maim and incarcerate. Is it because the real source of the leadership’s power is only a façade concealing ultimate weakness?
Susan Cheever and John Guare. Shirley Lord Rosenthal, Paul Goldberger, and Adele Chatfield-Taylor.
Susan Cheever, John Guare, and Wendy Vanderbilt. Jenny Conant and Sarah Simms Rosenthal.
PEN raised more than $1.3 million for their cause last night. Patti Smith closed the evening with a couple of songs.

I spoke to one of the great defenders of Freedom of Speech and Human Rights, Bill Moyers, who is retiring from his television show as of this Friday’s airing. I asked him why he was leaving.

He told me that Walter Cronkite once told him that he regretted quitting at 65, realizing in retrospect that he could have run a lot longer. Bill pointed out that he is going to be 76 this June 5th, and so he’s had his “run.” Many would disagree and many are disappointed.
Annette Tapert. Bob Herbert of the New York Times and Bill Moyers.
Steve Kroft and Jane Fonda.
Sarah Nelson. Felicia Taylor and Carl Bernstein.
Jess Gibson and her mother Margaret Atwood and Nan Talese.
And last but far from least on our agenda:

For the sixth year in a row, City Harvest will hold its On Your Plate luncheon. I have been an enthusiastic supporter of this fantastic organization ever since I was introduced to City Harvest by my good friend Joy Ingham, who, along with Topsy Taylor, is an On Your Plate event co-chair.

As a long-time fan of City Harvest, I was privileged enough to be honored at last year’s event and was named an honorary chair for this year’s luncheon. Please, please, please donate to this cause.

Silda Wall Spitzer and DPC at Michael's.
This year’s luncheon will take place Tuesday, May 11th from 11:30 am to 2pm at the Metropolitan Club. The fabulous Silda Wall Spitzer, founder of Children for Children, will speak on the importance of service and encouraging the next generation to continue the missions of organizations in our city.

Silda will be joined by a panel discussion with select New York City students from public, independent and parochial schools about their experiences of service and their involvement with City Harvest.

City Harvest meets the immediate need for food while addressing the conditions that contribute to hunger in NYC. In 2009 alone, they rescued over 27,000,000 pounds of food to feed those of us (many of whom are children) in need. 

Their Healthy Neighborhoods program works to improve the access people have to nutritious food, especially fresh produce, in target low-income communities where diet-related diseases such as obesity and diabetes are common.

City Harvest’s Fruit Bowl combines deliveries of fresh fruit and low-fat dairy products to daycare programs that serve preschool-aged children (ages 2 ½ through 5) and afterschool programs (children ages 5 through 12) with uniquely-designed nutrition education lessons to teach children life-long healthy eating habits.

This is a great and important component of a strong and healthy New York for all of us and this luncheon is one of their major fund-raisers. There are still some tickets available to this elegant and interesting lunch in one of the city’s great dining rooms. One $500 ticket, for example, provides more than 750 punds of food to families in need. One $350 ticket helps keep City Harvest trucks on the road. Go for it; you’ll be glad you did.
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