Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sweater fair

Riverside Drive at 100th Street. 4:45 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, November 3, 2011. Yesterday was fair and sunny in New York. Light wool jacket or sweater fair.

I went with my friend Pax Quigley down to Michael's for lunch. Pax and I go back to my early days in Los Angeles – 1980. She worked for Playboy in those days. They had small tower, maybe still do, on Sunset Plaza overlooking the city and the Hollywood Hills. Playboy.

Marketing, Public Relations. Special projects were Pax's assignments. Playboy was its own little world, Hollywood. It's own fiefdom. And rich. None of this up one day down the next life like so many other media/entertaintment entities in the neighborhood – including the actors.
DPC and Pax Quigley at Michael's.
There was nothing to compare to Playboy. It was a magazine but it was a way of life that was played out daily and nightly over on South Mapleton Drive in Holmby Hills at the Mansion. Everybody knew this. Even the readers. Certain executives had a look at the way things were done; had audiences with The Man, and were aware they were all dwelling in Its Own Little World. And the stories; great stories. Not for publication, however. Need to consult a lawyer first about that kind of stuff. They had fun.

That world included Hollywood celebrities and sometimes current movie stars. But mainly they weren't current. They weren't oldtimers either, but they were guys who were keeping themselves as young as possible over at the Mansion.

Hugh Hefner was once a cool guy, when I was a kid. He was waaaay ahead of his time. He got those guys who bought it at the newsstand for the centerfold to read the editorial, and it was top drawer. Top writers. The Playboy Interview was its own chronicle of the magazine's era.

Hugh Hefner.
He was a Real Liberal, Hugh Hefner. I don't mean the kind that get connected to a political party. He was a liberal man in many ways. Then Gloria Steinem got herself hired as a Playboy Bunny and wrote about the whole thing in, I think, Esquire. Or maybe New York. It's easy to find.

It put her on the map as a feminist. Ahh yes, but as a feminist spawned from the well-defined crypto-image that men were also chained to (and of course many still are), that Hefner glorified. Defining it all openly.

So who wudda thought: Hugh Hefner and Gloria Steinem: the Odd Couple of the post-War Liberation movement. I'm not trying to be clever here although it sure looks it.

By the time I grew up and was heading toward middle age, Hugh Hefner was still over there in the Mansion. After all those years and all those girls and those guys and those parties, it had taken on an air of almost "Sunset Boulevard," the straight male version of the Gloria Swanson part. With Shannon in the Bill Holden role.

Steinem went on to found her own female magazine called Ms., creating the (prefix) for all women that has entered the international language. No "Sunset Boulevard" for her. She, an anthropologist in reverse studying the woman in herself. The girl was more liberated than the guy. Hugh Hefner went to great fabulous fascinating mesmerizing lengths to make that point.

Michael's on Wednesday; the usual and not-so-usual suspects. Jammed, front and back. They were turning people away. One thing there was a big book party for William Boyd the British novelist in the backroom. Upfront among the masses there were Da Boyza Michael's: Dr. Gerry Imber, Michael Kramer, Andy Bergman, Jerry Della Femina; Maury Perl of Conde Nast; Steven Rattner; Nikki Haskell, Beverly Johnson and Morgan Fairchild all of whom are engaged in making an infomercial for a new product of Nikki's; Melanie Brandman, Lynn, Lady Rothschild, Diana Biederman, and Michael's very own Brenda Starr, Diane Clehane; Barry Diller; Herb Siegel; Kay Pick in from Beverly Hills; Jason Binn with Andrew Lauren; Joan Gelman and Joan Hamburg; Todd Meister; Edward Minskoff; Richard Bressler, Henry Schlieff, Leonard Lauder, Jolie Hunt with Jay Kriegel; Edward Minskoff, Diane Coffey, Kate Taylor, Ralph Baruch, Kurt Andersen, David Sanford of the WSJ; Lou Cona, Larry Aiken, Pamela Baxter, Joe Armstrong, Missy Godfrey, Tony Hoyt, Caroline Manzo of New Jersey Housewives or whatever it's called, everybody knows; Catherine Saxton; Ira Neimark and Marvin Traub. Bergdorf's and Bloomingdale's in a fashion and retailing heyday that is good but doesn't generate the excitement and day-to-day talk about "stores" that these two gentleman created and presided over.
I'm forgetting a few but it was a busy time.
Nikki Haskell, Beverly Johnson, and Morgan Fairchild.
Author William Boyd who is in town publicizing his latest novel, at a luncheon given for him yesterday at Michael's. Carine de Meyerre in from the Netherlands. Carine was lunching with Beverly Camhe. She is in New York to run in Sunday's Marathon to raise funds for building an interactive children's museum in the Netherlands.
Carine's Marathan entry paper.
Last night at the Plaza, the New York Landmarks Conservancy hosted its 18th annual Living Landmarks gala. This year's "Living Landmarks" were Lewis Cullman, David Dinkins, Louise Kerz Hirschfeld, Angela Lansbury, Danny Meyer, Regis Philbin. Some were "introduced" to the guests by another. Katie Couric did Regis, brother and sister Billy Rudin and Beth DeWoody presented the award named for their father, the late Lewis Rudin; and for the rest Liz Smith who always does the honors (and more than that, I'm sure because Liz works at these things).

Except for Rex Reed, who introduced his longtime friend Angela Lansbury whom he met when he was a reporter for his college newspaper in Louisiana and she was working on the film on location there, "The Long Hot Summer." Rex, who is full of stories and more than a few that are outright funny, told more than a few of these gems last night, to the point that Angela Lansbury could get a laugh out of it when she got up to the podium.
Angela Lansbury and Katie Couric. Mario Buatta and Angela Lansbury.
Elizabeth Peabody. John Rosselli. Mary McFadden.
Agnes Gund, Mildred Brinn, and Barbara Tober. Liz Smith and Lewis Cullman.
Miss Lansbury is everything Rex said she is, and everything you might think she is from the character she played so successfully on television. She also has a niceness about her. A pleasant, bright, kind, niceness. A lady, you might say, in the old sense of the word. But no prude, and no vulgar either. Dignified, yet gentle, soft, gracious.

She told us how she'd come here in 1940 with her mother and her twin brothers – one of whom, Edgar – was at her table last night. They were escaping the German bombs over England. They arrived in New York. She was 14 when she saw Broadway, the Great White Way, the first night. They stayed the first night a block away at the Algonquin on 44th Street, then a mecca for the great New York literary and theatre crowd.
Bob Perkins, Joni Evans, and Sam Peabody.
Mayor Dinkins, Katie Couric, Beth DeWoody, and Billy Rudin waiting for Liz to call them up to the stage.
The child fell in love with the theatre then and there. She concluded that memory stating that she had played in every Broadway house in her long career, and loved all of it, but now when she goes to the theatre and enters the lobby, people only refer to her as: "oh, there goes Jessica Fletcher."

No regrets from the star of "Sweeney Todd," "Mame," "Gypsy" and many others as well as her many films. After her husband of 53 years died, she decided to move back to New York, and so she did. Now out among us all, and so glad to be here in the city that never sleeps.
The Peter Duchin orchestra with Roberta Fabiano singing a Cole Porter tune.
Peg Breen, the head of the Landmarks Conservancy. Liz opening the show.
Bill Rudin and his big sister Beth DeWoody. Mayor David Dinkins.
Louise Kerz Hirschfeld Cullman. Katie Couric delivering a hilarious introduction of Regis Philbin.
Regis returning Katie's introduction with a little introduction of her.
Lewis Cullman talks about all the wonderful landmarks in New York that he's been involved with. Danny Meyer telling the audience how a kid from St. Louis planning to go to Law School found himself in New York and in the restaurant business, a dream come true.
Rex Reed describing to the audience how he's known Angela Lansbury since he was a kid in college and how he's been rewarded by a life long friendship with her. Angela Lansbury explaining how although she's had a lifetime career on Broadway and films, no matter where she goes, she's always recognized as "Jessica Fletcher."
It's a really great evening. A formula really, an entertainment also. The atmosphere, black tie though it is, is very almost down home. You get the feeling of a New York that is still a small town. Peter Duchin and his orchestra with his incomparable vocalist on the electric guitar, Roberta Fabiano, played. A lot of people danced. It was like being in a room filled with a lot of friends, even if you knew none of them, because that was the vibe coming from the stage, the great New York music, the honorees, the presenters and that incomparable Texas girl who like Angela Lansbury traveled from the west to the same spot on the Great White Way and became a New Yorker.

It happens all the time, and these two women are prime example of its possibilities.
The room last night at the Plaza for the New York Landmarks Conservancy's 18th annual Living Landmarks gala.

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