Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Full autumn night

Halloween ready. 6:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012. Yesterday was a mild overcast day with light rain leaving the damp streets and sidewalks. Lovely weather, autumn in New York.

I got married on this day 48 years ago. Which now seems like a week and a half ago. Here in St. Thomas More Church on 89th between Madison and Park. I remember that day vividly. From beginning to end. We divorced in 1973. It was painful for both of us but not recriminating, so all these years later we are still close in our thoughts.

Wedding Day. October 24, 1964.
Ironically, I remember this date, October 24th with the same subconscious gravity that I remember my birthday: a good and seminal date standing on its own. In certain ways my life took a turn, a leap, in fact, on that day where it became a new life.

We all have these experiences in observing our growth and transitions, some more stressful for others, and many fortuitous. I’m not one who thinks about luck or believes in “lucky days,” yet nevertheless, this day remains one of them all these years later.

Yesterday I went down to Michael’s to lunch with Nan Swid. Nan is a longtime New Yorker who hails from Kansas City or thereabouts. She’s lived here most of her life, however, married to a native New Yorker Stephen Swid who is a well known businessman/entrepreneur; and she is also a mother and a grandmother. She lives in that New York world populated by wealth and prominence and social connections. She herself maintains the Kansas City sensibilities she brought with her.

Nan is an artist. Her professional background for years was as a businesswoman who with a partner had a company called Swid-Powell. Michael McCarty told me yesterday as we were leaving the restaurant, that his first restaurant -- which was located in Denver -- was stocked with china, flatware, glasses, all from Swid-Powell. Michael collects art. He’s not a hotshot collector, he’s an art collector and been at it for years. The way he said Swid-Powell was with the voice of a collector’s authority. But Nan is an artist. She recently launched her own web site, where she exhibits some of her work. She’s been asking me for some advice about web sites. It’s not hard to get me started. Mr. Know, that’s me.
Nan Swid in her studio.
One autumn weeknight in New York. There was a lot going on in the social-charitable-art scene. Impossible to cover everything, I decided to briefly take in four.

My choices included: The Boys' Club of New York Fall dance at 583 Park Avenue.
Liz and Jeff Peek. Mark Gilbertson with Fran and Ros L' Esperance.
Alex Rose taken by surprise ... Jim Torrey with Jackie and Gene Williams.
Sara Ayres gets the full story.
Tory Burch. Carol Mack, Leslie Stevens, and Todd Romano.
Dennis Basso, MIchael Cominotto, and Sarah Ayres. Rachel and Ara Hovnanian.
Dan Quart and Louis Rose. Nathalie Kaplan.
On the dance floor getting read to take their seats.
The room at 583 Park Avenue.
I didn’t get down to the Prince George Hotel Ball Room where Penny Marshall and Lorraine Bracco were the Honorary Chairs for the 5th Annual Journey of Hope Gala presented by the Brain Injury Association of New York State.

At Cipriani 42nd Street David Crosby and Graham Nash were among the many celebrities at TJ Martell’s NY Honors Gala. The T.J. Martell Foundation’s gala is famous for its famous guests, especially music performer. It objective is to raise funds for cancer and AIDS research.   
Up at the University Club Fred Krehbiel, Aileesh Carew and Kate and Robert Bartlett hosted a reception for Ballyfin Demense, the historic Regency house in Ballyfin, Ireland which is now a luxury hotel. I met Mr. Krehbiel several years ago on one of the American Friends of Versailles junkets. He is a passionate supporter of historic restoration and Ballyfin is a special prize. You can look it up in Relais & Chateau. I wasn’t there last night so I don’t know who was or what went on.

In the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf they were holding the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth Gala with Robin Meltzer, Gala Chair. It was my first stop last night, arriving for the cocktail hour. They get a big crowd every year and many enthusiastic returners. Sometimes when I walk into a big crowd I get a little shy about the camera.
Michele Herbert and Princess Yasmin Aga Khan. Veronica Webb and Chris Del Gatto.
Dr. Sherrell and Muffie Potter Aston. Brooke Shields.
The Rita Hayworth Girls ...
Nikki Haskell and Bill Kapfer. Bryant and Hilary Gumbel.
Mitch Moinian and Nazee Moinian. Joan Jedell and Karen Love Esq.
The dining room getting last minute touches.
Down at Gotham Hall, Aperture Foundation was holding its sixtieth anniversary gala dinner and photography auction.

Over at the Plaza, they were holding the 2012 Hadrian Award Gala hosted by the World Monuments Fund.  The Hadrian Award was presented to Kenneth I. Chenault. The Watch Award was given to His Grace, The Duke of Devonshire kcvo, cbe, DL. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg was doing the presenting.
New sculpture on the plaza of the Seagram's building.
Looking east on the corner of Park and 53rd. A preview shot of the new Sirio's which opens tonight in the Pierre hotel.
Mrs. Schlossberg’s aunt, Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, is the younger sister of Caroline’s father John F. Kennedy. “Kick” was very popular among her contemporaries. She evidently had a charm and humor that captured many hearts. My late friend Lady Sarah Churchill was a contemporary and close friend of  Kick Kennedy during the days of her father Joseph P. Kennedy’s Ambassadorship to London just before the War with Germany erupted. 
Sarah always recalled with a lingering sadness at the loss only a few years later..
In 1943, Kick married, against her parents’ wishes (for religious reasons), William Cavendish, the Marquess of Hartington, heir to the Duke of Devonshire. Four months after their wedding, Hartington was killed in action.

Had he lived, he would have become Duke and the Cavendish line presumably would have joined the Kennedys. His younger brother Andrew succeeded. Andrew’s wife is Deborah, nee Mitford, the prolific writer, now the dowager duchess, and mother of the present duke who was there last night at the World Monuments. You with me?

As it happens the duke will be busier than originally planned on this trip across the Atlantic for tonight he will be honored at the American Associates of the Royal Academy’s annual fall dinner at the Pierre.

The original guest for this gala benefit was Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra of Kent. But the princess is under the weather and was advised by her doctors not to make the trip. Probably that cold that’s going around. So anyway, the Duke of Devonshire will be heard again, much to the pleasure of all available Anglophiles and lovers of history.
The Plaza Grand Ballroom last night at the World Monuments benefit dinner honoring the Duke of Devonshire and Ken Chennault.
Wait a minute, there’s more. New York is nothing if not More.  Also last night over at the Stanford White designed palazzo style clubhouse whose identity shall remain nameless, on Park Avenue across from the Seagram’s Building, the also prolific and also charming Hugo Vickers was the featured speaker for the St. George’s Society’s Semi-Annual General Meeting. Hugo is a great and impassioned gatherer of facts and lore of the British as well as other country’s royals, elite and upperclasses. He’s written and edited copious volumes on this world and its characters – swains, scoundrels, princes, dukes and charming chambermaids, not to mention a mad dowager or two or ten. His lecture for the SGS was “The Queen.” You can be sure everyone was charmed as well as intrigued and informed.

All the while up at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, The New York Women’s Foundation was celebrating its 25th Anniversary hosted by Connie Chung, Soledad O’Brien, Raymond and Ginny and Sean Day, with a Special Performance by Sarah Jones.

Over on the Upper East Side, Susan and David Rockefeller were hosting book party at their apartment for Jennifer Skiff, author of “The Divinity of Dogs: True stories of miracles inspired by man’s best friend.”

I couldn’t make it but that gets my vote.

For collectors and art history mavens Bill and Jessica Koenigsberg were hosting a Celebration of “White Light, A monograph" on the work of Heiberg Cummings over at Horizon Media on 75 Varick. I didn’t make it but the dress code on the invitation was “black.”  

And up at the Galerie St. Etienne on 24 West 57 Street, they were holding the opening of an exhibition of “Egon Schiele’s Women” celebrating the publication of the the new book, the first on the subject by Jane Kallir.

This is New York. Aren’t you glad you stayed home and put your feet up?
Barbara Cook greets her audience.
Libra Birthdays .... Barbara Cook returned to Carnegie Hall to celebrate her 85th birthday last Thursday night, with a special performance in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage. For Barbara Cook's 85th Birthday Concert at Carnegie Hall, Lee Musiker and Tedd Rosenthal served as musical directors. Miss Cook performed songs from her most recent album, Loverman, including "Let's Fall in Love," "Makin' Whoopee," "I've Got You Under My Skin," and "I Got Rhythm," among others.

After an unamplified encore of John Lennon's "Imagine," Miss Cook was surprised by special guests: John Pizzarelli and wife Jessica Molaskey singing "I Want to Be Happy/Sometimes I'm Happy." Opera star mezzo-soprano Susan Graham next surprised Cook with "Till There Was You" from Meredith Wilson's The Music Man, a role originated by Cook in 1957. Ms. Graham then introduced Pulitzer Prize winning lyricist Sheldon Harnick who serenaded Miss Cook with a personalized version of his "She Loves Me" from the musical of the same name which also featured Cook in the premiere. Finally, Josh Groban entered the stage singing Sondheim's "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd and then leading the audience in a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday."

Afterwards, special guests and friends surprised Miss Cook in Carnegie Hall's Rohatyn Room with a birthday party. New York Loves You Barbara Cook ...
Miss Cook singing "Imagine."
Music Director and pianist Lee Musiker, Jessica Molaskey, and John Pizzarelli performing "I Want to Be Happy/Sometimes I'm Happy."
Lyricist Sheldon Harnick singing "She Loves Me."
Jessica Molaskey, Susan Graham, Sheldon Harnick, Josh Groban, John Pizzarelli, and the audience join in for "Happy Birthday."
Barbara Cook joined by surprise special guests Josh Groban, Susan Graham, John Pizzarelli, Jessica Molaskey, and Sheldon Harnick for a post-concert surprise birthday party.

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