Thursday, June 2, 2011

The city gets hotter than most places

Looking towards lower Manhattan from Jersey City. 8:20 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, June 1, 2011. Yesterday was an oppressively hot summer day in New York where the muggy air looks heavy, and white-grey (because it is); and overcast blocks out the sunshine. A strong, sorta cool breeze coming off the river after sundown.

On my way home from Michael’s, I couldn’t get a cab so I walked (still no cabs) a couple of miles too. By the time I got from midtown in to the UES neighborhoods, people looked harried, as if they hadn’t slept the night before. That’s us. Summer is three weeks away.

I do not have air-conditioning, as longtime NYSD readers know. Nor have I ever. I don’t want it. Recently a newer friend in learning of this non-sectarian dilemma, offered to buy me an a/c and even added that I didn’t have to have lunch with her.

When I got home, my apartment was cool -- by which I mean, not hot. I do have a couple of columnar fans, and they do the trick. They’re unobtrusive and simple, even elegant the way things go these days. Mind you, I don’t dress for 60 degrees when I’m alone. And when it is really mid-August hot, I take a cold shower or two for four or five minutes.
Books under control and neat thanks to Thomas Graf. On the left if you look hard you'll see some boxes. Five more for the NYPL. On the right you see the fan which rotates. Midnight, Wednesday/Thursday.
Many feel they cannot live without the a/c. Although, notwithstanding the past 75 years or so, the entire human race has lived without it for millions of years. I recall the summer heat growing up in Massachusetts where sometimes nights were so warm that the thunder and lightning cracks rolled in, adding menace to the discomfort. Heat storms, they called them. There were sometimes tornados too; occasional but rare. (Springfield, just ten miles from my home, had a tornado yesterday afternoon).

Few in those days (mid-20th century) had more than a fan or two, if that. In the 1960s, it became fashionable to have an a/c in master bedrooms, or the den (later TV) room. But that was real luxury. The rest of us made do. On hot summer nights people would sit out on their porches until after dark. Their houses would be dark too. Until someone finally went in and turned on light. These were quieter times, innocent and unaware.

The city gets hotter than most places because of all the steel and mortar, limestone and brick, glass and macadam, heating up day after day. After dark the lights are on in the apartment buildings. When I stand out on my terrace I can hear the looming heavy industrial hum of a thousand air conditioners blasting cool.

I do like air conditioned restaurants, subways, buses, taxis, stores, theaters and just about everything else including other people’s houses. I do ask if I’m kidding myself. If I had it, would I use it? I’ve thought about that. No. He says.

Gael Greene, keeping her familiar anonymity (as a food/restaurant critic), albeit hatless. That's Frank Gifford in the background.
Click to order Delicious Sex.
I do like my terrace, too. It’s my quick access to the outside. In warmer weather I keep the door open to it when I’m home, letting in the “fresh” air. In summer I plant some flowers in pots and then it’s my private little park. Sweet potato plants are popular because they grow fast and extravagantly, have sweeping soft green leaves and jazz up the bricks and mortar. You have to live creatively in New York.

Michael’s was its bustling-Wednesday’s self. Quite a few of the local gentry. Lynn Nesbit was lunching with Mark Whitaker, the former Newsweek and NBC News editor. Joan Tisch lunching with Candace Leeds (who is a Tisch public relations operative) and Gael Greene and Marcia Stein. Marcia runs the now legendary Citymeals-on-Wheels which was started way back when in the last century by Gael and the late James Beard and their friends.

I didn’t recognize Gael without her signature hat (which she always wears when she’s out reviewing restaurants). She explained the obvious but I wanted to take her picture hatless. And so I did, as you can see. She told me they’d just re-issued her Gourmet Guide to Pleasure: DELICIOUS SEX; a book for Men and Women who Want to Love Them Better. Gael knows. The girl has lived; and lived to talk about it. All the while achieving a great gift to her fellows. This is what greatness really is.

Plus, that same table: Joan Tisch is a major philanthropist in New York and volunteer. This isn’t hyperbole; I mean she gives generously not only financially but of herself. All the time. Good works, it’s called. She is one of the lifelong angels of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, as hands-on and active as her colleague, the late Judy Peabody. I tell you all this while trying to put two and two together on why these four ladies were lunching. It wasn’t just to pass the time, I know that. Cooking up something good for New York.

In another corner Rick and Kathy Hilton were with their daughter Paris's manager. Paris's show debuted last night on Oxygen. They’ve got eight shows in the can. Tuesday night Paris and Kathy were on the Piers Morgan Tonight, as you may have seen; and then yesterday they were on The View.

Rick and I talked about the first time the world was becoming aware of his famous daughters – in Southampton in the mid-90s. Paris and Nicky, newly teenagers were “on the scene,” photographed everywhere in the young Hamptons nightlife. Paris was a center of controversy then (in a very small elite community).

Piers and Paris.
What transpired, incredibly, was a career -- playing herself. Even more incredibly she’s made millions in the part that she’s expanded. Whatever your opinion of her, you’ve got to give her credit: she made her life into a career.

I didn’t see the Pier Morgan show on Tuesday night. In fact I’ve never seen a Paris interview – although I’ve been interviewed about her. She was the original “It” girl of her generation. Her influence is everywhere in her contemporaries’ culture. And, sixteen years later she is still raking it in with this “career.” Life as Social Media, and Paris as entrepreneur.

Around the room: Herb Siegel and Frank Gifford. Both these guys have had extraordinary careers in the wonderful worlds of Show Business, professional sports and broadcasting.

Continuing: Mary Higgins Clark et all; Jason Binn the dynamic creator of Niche Media; Esther Newberg & company; Beverly Camhe, Gil Schwartz with Les Moonves, Jack Myers, Judy Price, Pat Schoenfeld, Matt Blank, Richard Bressley, Nick Verbitsky, Stan Shuman, Connie Anne Phillips of InStyle, Francine LeFrak; Lloyd Grove with Andrew Cockburn, Euan Rellie, Alexandra Trower, Steve Rattner; Diane Clehane with Kira Semler and Vi Huse; Matt Higgins of the Jets with Jeff Wilpon of the Mets; Jolie Hunt of Thompson-Reuters.

Literacy Partners hosted another one of their great Literary Lunches at Le Cirque yesterday, with Erica Jong as the guest author interviewed by Jackie Weld. This was a great lunch. Erica relates. Anita Sarko was there and will file her report on tomorrow's Diary. Here's a taste ...
Erica Jong.
Judy Ney, Brenda Johnson, and Lois Nasser.
Ellie Cullman and Jackie Weld Drake. Kathryn Berry.
Mercedes Levin and CeCe Black.
Last night over in Central Park at the Naumburg Bandshell, from 7 to 11, was a perfect summer night for the Central Park Conservancy’s annual Taste of Summer benefit. A thousand guests (uh-huh), 40 famous New York chefs, a VIP Café hosted by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group; dancing to Tom Finn the DJ who can get anybody on the dance floor because they can’t help it. From 7 to 11 on the Manhattan starry skies. Ann Watt was there shooting away, so we'll have lots more to show on Monday.

The host committee looked like this: Gillian Miniter, who stepped down a few days ago as the President of the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy; James Andrew, Muffie Potter Aston, Ashley Baker, Edward Barsamian, Mario Buatta, Ashley Bush, Lauren Bush, Sharon Bush, David Patrick Columbia (who ever hearda him?), Dave Davis, Peter Davis, Andrea Greeven Douzet, Somers Farkas, Suzanne and Woody Johnson, Kristy and Jonathan Korngold, Jill Lafer, James LaForce, Alexandra Lebenthal, Peter Max, Patrick McMullan, Vanessa Noel, Yesim Philip, William Rondina, Hunt Slonem, Felicia Taylor, John Truex.
Under the tent at the Naumburg Bandshell.
This al fresco event is held in a tent in front of Naumburg Bandshell (mid-Park at 72nd Street). The restaurants and chefs participating: Asia de Cuba – John DiLeo; Bice Ristorante – Silverio Chavez; BLT Market – Laurent Tourondel; Brasserie Cognac – Florian Hugo; Brasserie Les Halles – Carlos Llaguno; Bridgewater Chocolate; The Carlyle Restaurant – Jacques Sorci; The Central Park Boathouse – Fred Mero; China Grill, Inc. – Bradley Day; Ciao Bella Gelato – Danilo Zecchin; Columbus Tavern – Phil Conlon; Ed's Chowder House – Ed Brown and John Miele; Geisha – Richard Lee; GILT – Justin Bogle; Ivy Bakery – Daniellan Louie; Junoon – Vikas Khanna; Le Cirque – Craig Hopson; Maya Restaurant – Richard Sandoval; New Leaf Restaurant & Bar – Scott Q. Campbell; Orsay – Antoine Camin; The Palm Court at The Plaza – Willis Loughhead; Park Avenue Summer – Kevin Lasko; The Plaza Food Hall by Todd English – Mike Suppa; Quality Meats – Stratos Georgedakis and Scott Tacinelu; Serafina – Freddy Duarte; Serendipity 3 – Stephen Bruce; South Gate at Jumeirah Essex House – Kerry Heffernan; STK Meatpacking & STK Midtown – Adriano Ricco and Humberto Leon; SUSHISAMBA – Fernando Navas; Swifty’s Restaurant – Stephen Attoe; Thalassa Restaurant – Raphael Abrahante; Trattoria Dell 'Arte - Brando De Oliveira.
Danny Meyer and gang.
The Central Park Conservancy is a private, not-for-profit organization founded in 1980 as a public-private partnership with the City of New York to restore Central Park to its former splendor. The Park we have today begins with them. After decades of neglect, they took on the task to manage and preserve it for present and future generations. Thanks to the generosity of many individuals, corporations, foundations, and the City, the Conservancy has invested over $530 million to date into the Park, transforming it into a model for urban parks worldwide. Any Park-goer knows this without knowing it. Through events like this, the Conservancy is able to provide 85 percent of Central Park’s $37.4 million annual budget. For more information on the Conservancy, please visit
Sharon Bush, Alexandra Lebenthal, Muffie Potter Aston, Gillian Miniter, Somers Farkas and girls.
Last week, Christie’s held a private cocktail reception honoring interior designer Michael Simon at its New York Rockefeller Plaza headquarters on May 25 to promote French Classicism: Selections from the Private Collection of Michael Simon, a special feature within its June 7 sale of 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe. The unprecedented Simon sale offers a rich variety of over 30 superb examples of French furniture and decorative arts of the Ancien Régime, including a Louis XVI grey-painted canapé by Jean-Baptiste Bernard Demay; a Louis XV white painted canapé by François Reuze; a Louis XVI ormolu, rock crystal and cut-glass 12-light chandelier; as well as such outstanding works as a Russian ormolu, clear and amethyst cut-glass lantern.
Michael Simon. Norman and Alicia Volk.
Michel Cox Witmer and Matthew Patrick Smyth.
Mr. Simon, who is acclaimed for his knowledge of decorative arts spanning the centuries, is also famous for creating exquisite interiors for his discerning patrons across the United States and overseas. The New York-based designer and frequent lecturer is an antiques authority on the rise.

Ever the passionate, globe-trotting antiquaire, Simon remains extremely fond of the works for sale but said he is “editing the collection and will continue to acquire a diverse range of the best in the decorative arts.” William Strafford, Christie’s Senior Vice President and Head of European Furniture and Decorative Arts said, “Christie’s is proud to offer an exceptional opportunity for collectors to acquire works that have met the exacting taste of such a connoisseur as Michael Simon.”
James Andrew. Christie's Will Russell. John Scolaro.
Christie's Stefan Kist, Michael Simon, Will Russell, and Gail Karr.
At the private preview, fine art and antiques expert Michel Cox Witmer was among the guests who enjoyed the first look. Witmer said “the items are superior” and promised to contact collectors who would bid. Others in attendance included art and culture enthusiasts Alicia and Norman Volk, interior designer Matthew Patrick Smyth, fashion blogger and interior designer James Andrew, and Christie’s specialists Will Russell and Stefan Kist.

Meticulous attention to detail, craftsmanship, and beautiful fabrics are all hallmarks of his interiors, which are rich in historical expression but express a modern sensibility. These are the same qualities that characterize the pieces from Simon’s evolving collection being offered in Christie’s sale.

For more information, please visit or
Estimate 15,000 - 25,000 U.S. dollars
The guilloche-carved frame with columnar uprights, covered in hammered silk satin weave on column-carved legs
68 in. (173 cm.) wide
Estimate 10,000 - 15,000 U.S. dollars
Each with berried scrolling acanthus handles, possibly formerly with a cover, the Chinese style bodes incised with peony vine
11¾ in. (30 cm.) high (2)
Estimate 40,000 - 60,000 U.S. dollars
CIRCA 1790
With berried leaf cast wheels and diamond chains, with amethyst glass vase and corona, hung overall with amethyst and clear glass drops, the central flame finial possibly with some alterations
31¼ in. (87.5 cm.) high, 18 in. (46 cm.) diameter
Estimate 10,000 - 15,000 U.S. dollars
CIRCA 1750
With foliate-carved cresting, upholstered in crimson velvet, inscribed 11384 in black marker to cross strut
56 in. (142 cm.) long

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