Happy New Year

Upper West Side neighbors staying up late to ring in the New Year. December 31, 2010, 11:59 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, January 3, 2011. My friend Charlie Scheips insists that it is not: Two thousand-eleven, but twenty-eleven. His argument: You never heard anybody say: One thousand nine hundred ninety-nine, did you? Well.

None of this was an issue down in St. Barth’s
over the past week where, as has become the habit of the glitterati, cognescenti and not-so’s at this time of the year, quantitatively easing down where it was surf, sand and wall-to-wall celebrity-watching.

Just sitting there minding your own business you cudda seen at one place or another (that is, if you knew who you were looking at): Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas, Josh Duhamel, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Jon Bon Jovi, Salma Hayek, Jason Statham, George Soros, Ron Perelman, Graydon Carter, Harvey Weinstein and Georgina Chapman, Martha Stewart, Russell Simmons, Jimmy Buffett, P. Diddy, Macy Gray, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis, Peter Brant and Stephanie Seymour, Guy Oseary, Rupert and Wendi Murdoch, David Geffen, Roman Abramovich and Dasha Zhukova, Julian Schnabel, Vito Schnabel, Brian Grazer, George Lucas, Lorne Michaels, Patrick Demarchelier, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, LA Reid, Andre Harrell, Richard Meier, Paul Allen, Sergey Brin, Tamara Mellon, Frederic Fekkai, Aby Rosen and Samantha Boardman, Francisco Costa, Larry Gagosian, Francois-Henri Pinault, Jane Rosenthal, Andrew Saffir and Daniel Benedict, Johnny Pigozzi, Lawrence Bender, Todd English, Michelle Alves, Olivia Palermo and Johannes Huebl, and Nat Rothschild.

Too marvelous for words. Many, if not all, could be spotted hither and thither at the mega-parties such as: Larry Gagosian's party, Russell Simmons' party, P. Diddy's boat party, Paul Allen's pre-New Year's Eve party on his boat Tatoosh, Johnny Pigozzi’s party on his boat, or Ron Perelman’s on his boat, or Roman Abramovich's exclusive New Year's Eve party (with performance by Fergie & the Black Eyed Peas). Or they might have been lunching at Maya, Taiwana (the lunch), L’Esprit, Eden Rock, PaCri, Isola, Le Ti St. Barth, and the late night Yacht Club.
God melted the snow, so who's gonna remove the detritus?
Meanwhile back in the Big Apple, warmer weather melted a lot of the snow. This occurred only a day or two after everyone piled on Mayor Bloomberg about the slow snow removal. God obviously was listening. By God I’m referring to the Deity. Now there’s some piling on the mayor again about the sanitation removal since the storm, which has also been “slow.” They’re having the same complaints in London, incidentally. Because of the snow; not because of Mr. Bloomberg. Different snowstorm, however. God is my witness.

None of this, it should be considered, deterred a million people to go to Times Square New Year’s Eve for the dropping of the ball. It didn’t deter me because I have never gone to Times Square for the ball drop. I don’t mind crowds in New York, per se. But a million people? That’s not a crowd; that’s a small nation. For that they closed off streets, avenues, you name it. The city's Commissioner of Transportation who loves nothing better than closing off city traffic lanes musta died and gone to heaven.
I stayed home. That’s my idea of a great party on NYE. East End Avenue was very quiet – until about two when people started returning home -- especially the younger younger crowd who predictably made some noise. After all, it was still New Year’s Eve.

At midnight the fireworks went off in Central Park. I’ve only seen them once – from the apartment of JH’s parents, which overlooks that area of the Park where they’re set off. What I remember most of that evening was the night-sky to the south over Times Square and Seventh Avenue. Like pink and purple daylight. Friday night’s pyrotechnics were loud and clear over here on East End Avenue, eight blocks and less than a mile away as the crow flies.

Good news. Also over the weekend, a friend of Mercedes and Sid Bass remonstrated me for writing about the Rumor about the Basses’ marriage transition. The “untrue” Rumor as I printed it was that the couple was not going to be spending the year-end holidays together. The couple did spend the holidays together. What was different, if anything, was that some of the friends they have spent the holiday with in the past, did not join them. For whatever reason, it was not because they were breaking up, according to my source who is a loyal friend of the couple. Secondly, the couple also spent the New Year’s weekend together – with or without guests, I do not know – at their chalet in Aspen. So there.

Sid and Mercedes Bass.
One of the factors behind the Rumor was Mr. Bass’ alleged disinterest in the opera where his wife, who is mad about opera, has become not only a major donor but sits on the board. Mister, however, is said to be one of those guys who’d rather be doing something else. Like staying home. There are a lot of people out there who can relate to that, as we know. There are also a lot of people who attend the opera who would like to be doing the same but don’t want to tell their wives or girlfriends. Or boyfriends.

So that means that Mrs. Bass saw his point. They missed this past New Year’s Eve at the Met which was indeed a gala affair: Willy Decker’s new production of “La Traviata,” replacing -- at least for now -- the Franco Zeffirelli’s classic touch, followed by a glittering supper. High New York.

Incidentally, depending on how you look at things, I was incorrect in stating that at the beginning of the Basses’ affair many moons ago, they connected at a ball at Blenheim Palace given by the Alfred Taubmans. That was untrue. The ball was given by the duke of Marlborough, but probably somebody else. Sunny Marlborough is not famous for spending a small fortune of his hard earned cash on a palace ball, especially since he makes a small fortune renting out the hall to his fancier friends and acquaintances.

Howbeit, my printing of that Rumor (which was read by a number of people as the last word, although it was clearly stated as a rumor) has led a certain group of people, I was also told, to regard me as “dangerous.” Grrrr. Although probably not nearly as dangerous as spouses divorcing.

Divorce is now commonplace in our society and our culture. In New York, I hear about people getting divorced, or with marriages vulnerable, all the time. I also hear from people who would like to get divorced but can’t. Many are 20- and 30-somethings participating in this social process, although there are also the late-in-lifers.

Divorce seems to bring out the worst in people, not to mention the vulgar curiosity-seekers in ourselves. There’s a humdinger going on now where the hubby of 30-odd years ran off with someone half his age who evidently has given him passage to the Fountain of Youth. (Alas poor Ponce de Leon.) Understandable especially for a lot of us would-be immortals. The fly in this gilded ointment, however, is, of course, The Money. The man’s a tycoon. He became a tycoon after he married his present wife. Which means: half-sies. So, what’s half of two bill?

The would-be ex-wife thinks it’s fair. A billion here, a billion there, fair’s fair, no? Wouldn’t you? It’s only money. A lifetime of utter devotion to the point of what to some looked more like worship. Altars are priceless, no? And heaven-sent, to boot.

Uh-uh. In the land of the Big Bad Wolf, expensive lawyers who are often rightfully perceived as gilt-edged ambulance–chasers (and not by accident) are there at the ready. The upshot of this case is typical. Move the assets, hide the assets. Screw ‘em. Drag it out. Devastate. Destroy. Who needs tears when you can have evisceration? All performed with chaotic-seeming precision.

In this case the new not-quite-wife already has property in her name. And children – the New Age de rigueur in sealing the deal. Lucky kids, no? This sounds cynical, and it is. But it’s not my cynical. It is the way a lot of people do business today and it’s no secret.

This particular case also has the unfortunate circumstances of splitting the family. The adult child is now estranged from the mother. This is always unwise in the great scheme of life. Although we often have to live long to discover that. There was discussion of a “restraining” order against the mother, from the child, which may have been taken out by now.

It’s not always bad news, or what goes around ....
It should be noted that Sid Bass, when he divorced his first wife Anne, the mother of his children, more than 20 years ago, to marry Mercedes, left her a very very rich woman. Happy New Year.
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