Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tabloidal lives

Washington Square Park. 4:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, July 21, 2011. Very hot in New York with temperatures dropping from the 90s to the 70s in the mid-evening. Much better.

Ernest Hemingway was born on this day 112 years ago, in Oak Park, Illinois. I loved Hemingway when I was in college although I didn't like his treatment of Scott Fitzgerald in "A Moveable Feast." Their mutual friend John O'Hara didn't like it either. But my favorite Hemingway book is not his but rather a biography by his friend A. E. Hotchner. This was my real introduction to Hemingway. He blew his brains out less than three weeks before his 61st birthday in 1961, in Ketchum, Idaho, after a full, rich, privileged life.

Yesterday was Wednesday and Wednesday is the Michael's lunch. Big day at Michael's. David Zinczenko of Men's Health et al re Rodale and Ronan Gardiner, MH's publisher; Melania Trump with Pamela Gross, Joan Gelman and two other Gelmans, Josh and Gregg; Charles Grodin with Bonnie Timmerman, Randy Jones; da boyz, Della Femina, Imber and Bergman, Paul Beirne, Josh Harlan; Nick Verbitsy; Judy Price; Peter Price, Chris Meigher; Ed Victor with Will Schwalbe; Chuck Pfeifer; Maury Rogoff with Gerry Byrne; Diane Clehane with the Murphys, bro and sis, Patrick and Mary; Mickey Ateyeh; Mickey Drexler, Joe Armstrong with Sara Nelson; David Sanford of Hearst; Martin Puris; Richard Descherer, Stan Shuman; Stephen Swid; Mauri Perl; Susan Zirinsky with David Emanuel (who designed Princess Diana's wedding dress); Henry Schleiff; Patrick McMullan, up at his crack 'o dawn, with Paul Turcotte; Michael Fricklas of Viacom; Connie Ann Phillips of InStyle; Cindi Berger with Queency Mateo; Ambassador John Loeb was lunching with this writer; and hundreds more just like 'em.

Rupert and Wendi at this year's Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A lot of people were discussing Mr. Murdoch and his performance before Parliament the previous day. Remember, Mr. Murdoch to New Yorkers is a New Yorker. He and his wife Wendi Deng and their children, live at 834 Fifth Avenue in a huge triplex that he bought from the Laurance Rockefeller estate; and he owns the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, both of which are very popular papers even with those who disagree or disregard their political slants. He also owns Fox TV.

Tabloidal lives. The Murdochs have never made much of a social presence here although his influence (read: power) is recognized for what it is and respected. Part of that is probably the almost nomadic nature of their lives. If either one of them wanted to be a part of the social scene, it would be open to them. Like many of the older set here who wield great influence and in some cases tremendous financial power, they prefer a smaller coterie of influential friends and high level gossips.

All of these people like gossip remember, often more than most, and the stuff they hear/exchange, the inside is often very high up and NEVER printed. A lot of it always has to do with sex, along with all the spice that accompanies in the culture of greed and venality.

Last night. I didn't get over there, but Alexandra and Philip Howard gave a book party for their friend Amanda Foreman and her book "A World On Fire" about the British private citizens involvement in the American Civil War.

I haven't begun to read it (I probably will this weekend) but it is a great, even awesome achievement for any writer or historian. Amanda's previous biography about Georgina, the Duchess of Devonshire who lived in the 18th century and was a friend of Queen Marie Antoinette, among others, was a serious chronicle and study of a woman's life at the time in the world of political and financial power. And a page turner. "A World On Fire" expands the scope and the breadth of the worlds of political and financial power.
Amanda Foreman. Click above to order A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War.
Amanda Foreman. If I didn't know who she is, or what she does, and I saw her on the street or at a party, or even had a brief conversation with her, I would have thought she was one of those British female executive assistants (or even CEOs) who are famously efficient and thorough, and also look like they've got a brood of five at home, a husband who works, and everything is being managed brilliantly.

Oh, and they're often very pleasant almost as if docile on meeting. Which they are not. Tina Brown is another. Anna Wintour is another. So is the now infamous Rebekah Brooks. These girls start on the bottom rung and Rise to the Top through their ingenuity and political/ professional acumen. They're very smart and very well informed about their business. They're kind of a marvel to observe because they handle a lot and keep moving forward no matter the load. And they're around words and wordsmiths and moviemakers and newsmakers a lot.

That's what Amanda Foreman might seem like, from the outside. Then if you get to know her just slightly, as I have, you find that she is indeed all those things, and also turns out enormous, highly fascinating historical volumes and biographies. You can't help being awestruck – if you're a writer anyway.
L. to r.: Tina, Anna, and Rebekah.
These women are not, incidentally, babes in the woods, or Mary's little lamb; and definitely not the type you'd want to meet in a dark alley (of the mind). Nevertheless, fascinating, all; quite charming, some; ruthlessly focused, all; and the stuff of fiction and fact. You see it in their actresses also, you see it in the performance; a kind of inbred assuredness, a knowing the lay of the land. (No pun intended). They're very dynamic.

Thinking of this and considering their American counterparts, there is a difference. I don't think it's just the power of the British accent over the American ear. American women have a different way of presenting themselves. Dowdy in America means dowdy minded. A false impression to be sure, but a strong one. American women also prefer coming in from the place of a title. They now prepare for that place. They dress the part. They know how to use their feminine wiles, almost always a power point in a world of men. They like meeting eye-to-eye. It's very American. Democratic. They even start out at places like Goldman nowadays, and at times pull down big bucks. When it happens they welcome it. That's the movie.

Clockwise from top: The Brontes; Jane Austen; Rebecca West; Vita Sackville West.
You rarely get the feeling the British girls feel entitled (although God knows, why not?). Although you do often get the feeling they could be sharks. American girls, on the other hand, brilliant and all, are only three generations from the Midwestern farmgirl, culturally speaking. Used to putting up with whatever. Until they don't have to. Perhaps because of that, they can be vulnerable and mistake male behavior with power. But that is changing too -- they can also be Martha Stewart. So move over Hercules.

The British girls are descendents of the sisterhood of the Brontes, Jane Austen, George Elliot, Rebecca West, Vita Sackville; except as offspring today's women are the story. Margaret Thatcher affirmed it for once and for all. And nobody ever called her dowdy. At least not to her face.

And, while we're on the subject, lest we forget: what about Her Majesty The Queen? Bomb-threats and all, she donned the green and set foot in Eire. With the handbag, the hat, and the smile. Is there anything else we need to know about womanhood, courage, stability and the progress that can follow?

Amanda Foreman is one of those amazing British women (although I think she might be half or 100% American by birth). Her new book "A World On Fire" is an enormous tome about the Civil War from a vantage point never really addressed in American history and lore. Her research was vastly detailed and labyrinthine. Not surprisingly it is also going to be a gargantuan series for television, possibly HBO (she told me and I forgot). It is a book that sweeps you up as if with the currents of that time.

Charlie Rose, Martha Stewart, ?
Charlie Rose and Martha Stewart
Which speaking of Martha, her birthday is coming up on August 3rd. Martha and I were born the same year and within a week of each other. I'm the older. I've been in her presence a million times, chatted with her a few times and photographed her whenever I had the opportunity. I've looked at her television work, and although it's not my interest, I was fascinated by her ingenuous ability to draw me into her interests. It is a great performance and delivered by the master.

Aside from that, as the world knows, the master started things baking cookies and selling them out of a closet in Westport, Connecticut and turned it into a billion dollar media business. That's what Real job creation is.

She doesn't seem that much different off-camera, at dinner. I have no idea what she's like around the factory, and I do know that she's a stickler for getting everything the way she wants it. However, those whom I know who've worked for her loved it and saw that she worked as hard or even harder than they. She's got a million irons in the fire. She even Tweets. I asked her one day how many she had following her. I think she said 12 million. It was millions. Geez; I can't even get myself to Tweet.

She was graced by the gods with vision. It looks effortless but usually when it looks that effortless, there are thousands of concealed hours and practice behind it. Not to mention the Martha energy. She earned her money the hard way; you know the rest.

Anyway, encomiums aside, Martha's daughter Alexis Stewart threw an early birthday party for her mother this past Monday night at her Manhattan apartment.
Alexis Stewart, Arianna Huffington, Martha Stewart, Agapi Stassinopoulos
Alexis Stewart, Arianna Huffington, Martha Stewart, and Agapi Stassinopoulos
?, Karen LeFrak
Karen LeFrak
Betty Landreth Lebenthal, Jim Lebenthal
Betty and Jim Lebenthal
Christopher Niquet, Tory Burch, Zac Posen, Carolina Herrera, Christopher Obetz
Christopher Niquet, Tory Burch, Zac Posen, Carolina Herrera, and Christopher Obetz
Arianna Huffington, Martha Stewart, Diana Picasso, Linda Fargo
Arianna Huffington, Martha Stewart, Diana Picasso, and Linda Fargo
Richard LeFrak, Clive Davis
Richard LeFrak and Clive Davis
Andrew Eccles, Sarah Stathas, Marvin Dorson
Andrew Eccles, Sarah Stathas, and Marvin Dorson
Doug Newhouse
Doug Newhouse
Thom Browne, ?
Thom Browne and friend
Lily Mei
Lily Mei
Peter Michaelis, Muffin Dowdle, Frank Zilucca
Peter Michaelis, Muffin Dowdle, and Frank Zilucca
Victoria Michaelis, Jim Lebenthal, Betty Landreth Lebenthal
Jim Lebenthal, and Betty Landreth Lebenthal
Steve Kessler, Martha Stewart
Steve Kessler and Martha Stewart
Diane Picasso, Klaus Biesenbach
Diana Picasso and Klaus Biesenbach
James Dowdle, Muffin Dowdle
James and Muffin Dowdle
Carolina Herrera, Clive Davis, Martha Stewart
Carolina Herrera, Clive Davis, and Martha Stewart
Daniel Boulud, Martha Stewart
Daniel Boulud and Martha Stewart
Jill Dienst, Hannah Nillman, Richard Pandiscio
Jill Dienst, Hannah Nillman, and Richard Pandiscio
Linda Fargo, Zac Posen
Linda Fargo and Zac Posen
Carolina Herrera, Pamela Fiore
Carolina Herrera and Pamela Fiore
Ian Warburg, Jane Green Warburg
Ian Warburg and Jane Green Warburg
James Anderson, Steven Gambrel
James Anderson and Steven Gambrel
Larry Shire, Lisa Gersh, Dr. Gerald Imber
Larry Shire, Lisa Gersh, and Dr. Gerald Imber
Jay Diamond, Alexandra Lebenthal, Alan Schwartz
Jay Diamond, Alexandra Lebenthal, and Alan Schwartz
Kevin Sharkey, ?
Kevin Sharkey and friend
Tory Burch, Stefano Tonchi
Tory Burch and Stefano Tonchi
More birthdays. This past Monday night Hunt Slonem celebrated his 60th, a mere baby, at his new Slonem Studio on 34th Street. The 18th is his real birthday and he was surrounded by scores of his friends, admirers and collectors including Beth DeWoody, Francine LeFrak and Rick Friedberg, Law & Order's S. Apatha Merkerson, Sylvia Miles, Nicole Miller, Lady Liliana Cavendish, Chickie Ruger Fay, Robert Verdi, Frederick Anderson and Douglas Hannant, Angele Parlange, Tatiana Platt, Stewart Lane, Keith Langham, Geoffrey Bradfield, Sam Botero, Guy Clark, Fern Mallis and Marlyn Sexton and her daughters Nicole and Tracy.

Of all the studios where Hunt has painted over the years, the new studio has the highest ceilings, and appears endless, though filled with his extensive Gothic furniture collection and 25 parrots (Amazons and Macaws) and doves.
Margaret Luce, Tatiana Platt, Hunt Slonem, Nell Yperifanos, and Dezia
Perky, Slonem's yellow napped Amazon, actually sings the Happy Birthday song.

Another individual, like Martha, with huge energy as well as a collector of homes and interiors. Hunt's greatest paradise I take it is a plantation in Louisiana.

Vendome is coming out with an oversized monograph on him in October, and the stack of uncorrected proofs by the door appeared too heavy for a body builder to carry.

Ann Dexter-Jones was wrapped up in seed pearls of her own design and generously brought Hunt a supply of striped socks from Paul Smith.
Frederick Anderson, Hunt Slonem, Douglas Hannant, Bill Anderson, and friends
Monique Van Vooren, Baroness Katrin Frankenstein in the Warhol horror film, brought her cook book for the painter, The Happy Cooker. Guy Clark, who was wearing a prototype from his new collection of bow ties, and Skyla, the server from Lips Restaurant, which catered, in short shorts, full drag and a giant feather headdress. The cake was decorated with birds. It was a steamy night, and hot chicks Fern Mallis and Marlyn Sexton flew in for the party. Jimmy Neiderlander Jr. and Margo McNabb, traveling in Europe, sent the colorful balloons tied to the antiques.

And when the candles were lit, and Perky began singing, Steven Sebring, who directed and filmed the Patty Smith documentary, took out a hand held film camera and began shooting. Happy Birthday Hunt!
Hunt Slonem and Victoria Wyman
Dick Fay, Chichie Fay, Hunt Slonem, and Ted Vassilev
S. Apatha Merkerson
Hunt Slonem and Keith Bloomfield
Patrick McDonald
Guy Clark, Cynthia Maltese, Carolyn Rosenberg, and Tony Maltese
Sylvia Miles and Fern Mallis
Feiga Martinez
Jeffrey Slonim and Mara Siegler
Nicole Miller
Guy Clarke, Monique van Vooren, and Harrison Clark
Angele Parlage, Hunt Slonem, and Frances Schultz
Kim Hatchett, Shahrazad Khayami, and Mariam Azarm
Nico Kean, Angele Parlange, Hunt Slonem, and Bill Smith
Christopher Obetz, Sandra Long, and Kevin Walz
Hunt Slonem and Sue Jackson
Steven Seabring and Alex Campana
Felicia Taylor, Keith Bloomfield, and Ann Dexter Jones
Angelica Compagno, Mark Mullett, Keith Bloofield, Natasha, and Kuam
Mark Mullett, Hunt Slonem, Liliana Cavendish, and Keith Bloomfield
Rick Friedberg, Francine LeFrak, and Michael Pacca

Comments? Contact DPC here.