Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yesterday was Mayor Bloomberg day

Street vendor on the corner of 60th and Fifth Avenue. 10:30 PM. Photo: JH.
September 30, 2010. 2 a.m. Tropical storm Nicole expected in our neighborhood by the morning.

Yesterday in New York was Mayor Bloomberg day from this reporter’s point of view. Although I should add that everyday is probably the mayor’s day because he’s at the center of it all.

It started down at the Metropolitan Club where there was a luncheon for the Henry A. Grunwald Award For Public Service and benefiting Lighthouse International. This year’s recipient was The Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg, 108th Mayor of New York.

Louise Grunwald.
This is an annual luncheon that was started nine years ago when Mr. Grunwald (who died in 2005), the legendary Time Magazine editor and Ambassador to Vienna (his hometown), then in his eighties, was suffering from macular degeneration and became involved with the Lighthouse.

His experience with the Lighthouse inspired him and his wife Louise to “do something” to help the cause. They succeeded with this reporter and no doubt thousands of others. We became aware of sight impairment and how it affects all of us, or can affect all of us, and the great work the Lighthouse does to assist the millions and millions of us who do, including those of us who have little to no sight. Henry wrote a book about it as the issue began to threaten to dominate his life. It was called “Losing Sight, Gaining Insight,” and it’s a bit of wisdom that is helpful to any of us anytime.

I only knew the man, and then again very briefly, at the end of his life. His wife Louise is one of the most talented hostesses in New York. Her guest list, her menu, the conversation and pleasure of everyone’s company are impeccable. And rare. Simply put, the guest has a good time, is well fed, and well-amused.

Henry, being the thinking man, the writer, the editor, the ambassador, the “opinion-maker” attracted interesting people to his table, a table where everyone got to have something to say. Louise composed those evenings for him. I mention this aspect of their relationship because yesterday’s luncheon, like all those that came in the years before, reflected Louise’s influence. In her husband’s honor.
Liz Smith speaking to the luncheon guests introducing Mayor Bloomberg at the Metropolitan Club. 1:05 pm.
The Henry A. Grunwald Award For Public Service has become one of those “important” luncheons on the charity circuit. Co-chairs were Alice and Tom Tisch, and Candace and Jonathan Wainwright. Vice chairs included Mary and David Boies, John Daley, Joan Ganz Cooney and Pete Peterson, David Geffen, Arthur Loeb, Steve Rattner and Maureen White, Ambassador Felix and Elizabeth Rohatyn. Prominent donors including Louise Grunwald, the Tom Tisches, the Pete Petersons, Katherine and Jerry Speyer, Debra and Leon Blackm, Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis, Tom Lee and Ann Tenenbaum, the Bill Acquavellas, Arlene and Alan Alda, Mica Ertegun, Marlene Hess and James Zirin.

That’s just a few of a very long list of New Yorkers who support this luncheon benefit and Lighthouse. The names are the ultimate network for fund-raising and building, and they reflect the Grunwalds’ ongoing contribution to the cause.

Liz Smith introduced the Mayor who told us he first became aware of the Lighthouse back in his “first career” (running Bloomberg when his offices were across the street and he’d look out his window and wonder what it was all about). One day he paid a visit and became familiar with the work of the Lighthouse and became a contributor. He told us how the city is developing ways to be more helpful to the needs and safety of those of us who are seriously sight impaired.
Kathy Steinberg, Sarah Rosenthal and Gayfryd Steinberg share a laugh before lunch.
I was seated with several members of the family including Louise’s sister Audrey Matson, her daughter Claire, Lisa Grunwald and her daughter Kate Nintzel as well as Helen Sonnenberg Tucker, a friend. Among the guests: Graydon Carter, Doug Cramer and Hugh Bush, Charles and Clo Cohen and his parents Gloria and Sherman Cohen, Nora Ephron and Nick Pileggi, her son Jake Bernstein, Terre Blair Hamlisch, Cynthia Boardman, Wendy and Henry Breck, Margo Catsimatidis, Somers Farkas, Harry Evans, Tom Fallon, Amy Fine Collins, Beth DeWoody, Kate Gubelman, Sharon Handler, Warren and Olivia Hoge, Carol Sutton Lewis, Sharon King Hoge, Linda Janklow, Lynn Nesbit, Donald and Catie Marron, Peter Melhado, Enid Nemy Lorry Newhouse, Hannah Pakula, Sydney and Stan Shuman, John Dobkin, Joy Ingham, Kathy Lacy, Fran Lebowitz, Elaine Wynn, Elizabeth van Merkensteijn, and that’s just for starters.

Another aspect of this event that helps maintain its popularity is it gets started about noon, guests are seated about 12:30. By quarter to two speeches and awards are completed, as well as the main course of lunch and dessert is being served. Many are already leaving to get on with their day.
Audrey Matson. Henry Grunwald's daughter, Lisa.
Ben Brantley, drama critic for the New York Times, and Liz Smith.
Claire Matson and Kate Nintzel.
Roger Goldman, Margo Catsimatidis, and Somers Farkas.
Sherman and Gloria Cohen with their son Charles.
Last night some of the same cast of characters moved up to East 73rd Street between Lexington and Third for the annual Fete de Swifty, which is a big, friendly, fund-raising block party under a tent. The recipient is the Mayor’s Fund.

This is a fun party with lots of food of many varieties right down to the popcorn, pretzels, hot dogs and hamburgers, as well as the hors d’oeuvres, and the seafood and buffet tables; the DJ, the amusements and most of all, the people. It’s the ideal after work cocktail party.
Liz Smith, who is New York’s Ex-Officio ambassador of Glamour, Glitz, Gossip, Good Will and Good Works (yes, all of that and then some), introduced the mayor. The Mayor’s speech was short and meant only to thank the guests for their contribution and to praise the cause. After that, it was back to the business of being at an enormous cocktail/buffet/drinks party with several hundred guests. Even the mayor stayed on with his significant other, Diana Taylor, gnoshing and chatting with everyone.

The Fete de Swifty is a recipe for success for New Yorkers after one of our hectic weekdays, and it was a success: they raised more than $500,000 for the Mayor’s Fund and its work assisting underserved families in New York City. Ann Watt, the photographer and I took a lot of photos. Here are a few. We’ll have a lot more on Friday’s NYSD.
The Mayor arrives ...
Peter Rogers, Liz Smith, and Iris Love. George Gurley.
Emma, Michel Witmer, Barbara Regna, and friend.
Dr. Pat Allen, DPC, and Gillian Miniter.
Michael and Eleanora Kennedy. Jon and Lizzie Tisch.
Peter Rogers, Liz Smith, and Iris Love.
Ethan Hawke.
Cece Black. Denise Rich and Bill Rudin.
Diana Taylor, Liz Smith, Mayor Bloomberg, Robert Caravaggi, Gillian Miniter, Stephen Attoe, and Blaine Caravaggi.
Mayor Bloomberg with Junior Leader Chairs Mia Morgan, Keri Ingvarsson, and Mike Muse.
Barbara and Kevin McLaughlin. Donald and Susan Newhouse.
Irene Aitken and Mimi Stafford.
Polly Onet, Mark Gilbertson, and Diana Oswald. Anna and Michael Safir.
Blaine and Robert Caravaggi.
Iris Love and Mimi Strong.
Cynthia Olsen, Liz Smith, and Lionel Larner.
The crowd.
Cece Cord with Peter and Jamee Gregory.
Stephanie Krieger, Brian Stewart, and Margo Langenberg.
Nancy and Joe MIssett with Mayor Bloomberg.
Parker Ladd, Jackie Weld, and Arnold Scaasi.
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Photographs by ANN WATT (Fete).
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