Friday, January 28, 2011

Beautiful day-after snowday in New York

Looking into Riverside Park from Riverside Avenue. 2:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Friday, January 28, 2011. Beautiful day-after snowday in New York. The main roads were clear and wet black pavement with traffic moving well. There were also a lot less cars on the road. I asked a couple of my cabdrivers about business. Answer: getting around is very good on the road but many are still staying home.

Are New Yorkers wusses, or wot? No, I believe that any excuse to take a day off is manna from heaven, a moment of enforced downtime. New Yorkers don’t live in a downtime world.

In my neighborhood around noon there were lots of children with sliding disks, and lots of parents, all dressed for the weather, heading to and from Carl Schurz Park where there are some nice gentle hillsides perfect for the slide.
The snow-shrouded evergreens that fill the Pulitzer Fountain in wintertime with Bergdorf Goodman in the background. Yesterday 3:35 pm.
The snowbanks on the street, curbside and otherwise, are three and even four feet high. A lifelong friend who lives in San Francisco (and loves it), wrote to ask if “it was anything like the winters we knew as kids growing up in Massachusetts,” adding “(FUN FUN FUN!!).” Well, maybe not quite -- because we’re not kids. Although it’s kinda nice to be out because the beauty of the winter light and and the fresh cold is energizing. Not as easy to get around on foot, for example, and not for All Day. But people are taking their time, more careful to avoid falling or getting their feet soaked. And, the real kids I saw – 4 to 14 in age, I’d approximate – were having FUN FUN FUN!

On my way home after lunch at Michael’s,
I passed the Pulitzer Fountain in front of the Plaza and across the street from Bergdorf Goodman. This is one my favorite sites in New York for many reasons including its relationship to Mother Nature’s seasons. Beauty always results. Yesterday’s was stunning and you can look at it for awhile before you get the perfection of the composition: Man and Nature as One.

Then right across 59th Street at Fifth Avenue is Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ General Sherman statue. I’ve been looking at the general and the woman representing Victory leading the way all my adult life. In the early 1900s, before it was placed in that spot, the sculptor wanted to put it in front of Grant’s Tomb up on Riverside Drive. Both the Grant and the Sherman families objected, and Saint-Gaudens conceded. Other locations were considered and this one was the final decision. It was unveiled in May, 108 years ago.
The Augustus Saint-Gaudens sculpture of General William Tecumseh Sherman on his horse being led by "Victory." The sculptor had originally wanted to place this statue before Grant's Tomb. Both the Grant and the Sherman families objected and it eventually was unveiled on this spot in May 1903 before the fountain was installed and before the present Plaza Hotel was built. At that time the 153-room Cornelius Vanderbilt mansion (where Bergdorf's stands today) faced the statue.
When they re-gilded it in the 1980s, the brightness of the gilt was a little hard to take because time had provided its own effective patina. A Southern friend of mine told me recently that a lot of Southerners first visiting New York take one look at the man on his horse and see nothing but a legacy of desolation and devastation (and that’s for starters).

So there are many who see the general with perhaps a bitter taste in their mouths or psyches. I can see that. But the good thing is they move on and we are all living together. That, not so incidentally, is what is most important about New York in the world: We Live Together, this massive agglomeration of cultures, religions, customs, traditions, personalities. In relative harmony, all things considered.

For as brusque and harsh and annoying and cloying life among us can be, New York is full of friendly, warm people, and as a good, they are the majority. It’s a town and it’s a world. This is a miracle, and more apparent everyday. It occurred to me when I took that picture yesterday afternoon that the General Sherman statue carries that message.

Margo Howard.
Last night. I went down to Le Cirque to dine with Margo Howard who is in from Boston or Florida and doing something on GMA. Margo, the progeny of Eppie Lederer, known to the world as Ann Landers, has an advice column in It’s a chip off the old block and fun but interesting.

Margo lives in Cambridge now, married to her third husband (her second was actor Ken Howard). She grew up in Chicago but came out this way to go to Brandeis. This is a kind of return to her old stomping ground. She’s also lived in Malibu, in Washington and in New York and she likes people, so she knows a lot of them.

Her mother was like that. I saw her many times at dinner at Edie Goetz’s in Holmby Hills. I was surprised to learn how connected Eppie Lederer was. There is a “strata” of this world I write about where the Degree of Separation is brief – one or two degrees. Truman Capote once estimated that there are about 5000 people who all know each other or knows someone who knows each other. And with not a few show business and other professional types added in.

Most of these people are famous only to each other although fame is always intriguing and some people use their fame very shrewdly. Eppie Lederer was one of those, which is surprising considering the nature of her journalistic work which seemed “light.” She was a nice woman, and generous with her connections. Her daughter (and only child) is, as I said a chip off the old ...
Singer-actress Linda Purl last night at Feinstein's at the Regency for the second night of her cabaret act.
We had a seven o’clock reservation because we were going on to see Linda Purl at Feinstein’s at the Regency for and 8:30 performance. Le Cirque was packed at that hour. The bar, the restaurant in the bar and the main dining room.

Menu: A salad and fillet of salmon for me a cassoulet for her, a kir for her, a glass of Bordeaux for me. Excellent; and we departed at 8:20 for the Regency three blocks away (five, if by cab because of the directions of the streets).

Linda Purl, as you may have read on these pages, is the Finch alumna who was making her debut at Feinstein’s last night and the night before. She’s had a long career in television and films, although she doesn’t look like she’s been around long enough to have done so much, but she started when she was a teenager.
She’s made more than 40 Movies of the Week and appeared in recurring roles in several famous television series as well as Broadway, off-Broadway, with theatre companies and festivals. And she sings!

Tom Wopat, who’s on Broadway again in a new show, joined Linda in a duet at the opening of the act. They’ve worked together on stage before. It’s intriguing at first just to see two very familiar faces a few feet away from you, live on a stage together. You see how accomplished they are as performers outside of the characters they played with such regularity that we came to think of them as real. Linda Purl is one of those performers, and on stage she is right there with you. She was a hit. The audience loved her.
Slumming on Park Avenue at 63rd Street. Snowbound but pristine.
Yesterday, JH took a quick walk in Riverside Park and around the Upper West Side to bring more of the snow into your living room. Enjoy ...
G. Augustine Lynas beside his snow sculpture on Broadway. Click here to see more of his amazing creations.
Meanwhile. Every Friday on the NYSD we run a HOUSE interview which is done by Sian Ballen and Lesley Hauge with Jeff Hirsch (JH) photographing. I never see the interview until just before we’re ready to go online late Thursday night/early morning. I’m always amazed (and charmed) by the look into people’s lives and thoughts. I finish reading feeling I know that person, as if they’d shared their experience with me.

James Andrew on today's House.
This week’s interview is with a guy named James Andrew. I usually don’t write about these interviews in the Diary and this one I haven’t read as of this writing. But James Andrew, if you don’t know, is an interesting character – and character is the applicable word because that is what the man has created – a persona in the design world of New York. He has drawn attention to himself/his business through a blog called “What Is James Wearing?”

Long before I met him, I would visit his blog from time to time and for one reason: he really gussies up. I mean, talk about outfits! James is a connoisseur, with a kind of neo-Warholian splendor. And he writes about it, and poses about it. He’s an interior designer, as you can see, but he’s a clotheshorse too. It’s a big hit on the web, with a big audience especially outside the US.

I finally met him last year, one night at a charity benefit downtown. James is warm and forthright, which is its own charm. I also learned from meeting that What Is James Wearing is a marketing device from which the man has forged a solid reputation in business. This is 21st century entrepreneurship. Furthermore he has a personality of integrity.

It’ll be interesting to read what Sian and Lesley have extracted from their meeting, and what JH has seen with his camera.
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