Thursday, December 6, 2012

Guiding lights

Looking west across Central ark towards Central Park West. 9:00 PM. Photo: JH
Thursday, December 6, 2012. A warm, sunny day at noontime. Warm in the Sun but cold without it. I took my overcoat just in case.

It was Wednesday and what’s better than Michael’s for a reporter in Manhattan than where the midday biz buzz biz is. Yes, I know, but I couldn’t resist. It was the mood I was in. It was not easy getting around town, so it’s go nuts or get over it. Roads jammed. On Fifth Avenue there’s no turning right or left in midtown until after New Year’s. Someone’s idea of keeping the traffic flowing. Or slowing, guess which? I finally got  out of the car at Park and 55th, after waiting through three light changes and still no turning, and walked the two and a half more city blocks to Michael’s. Late of course.

Busy atmosphere with cozy holiday overtones beginning to roll in, it was almost as jammed as Park and 55th.  The familiar-ist faces such as: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jerry della Femina and Andrew Bergman (sans Greenfield, Kramer).

Right next door At Table One, Cheri Kaufman was celebrating her birthday with a group of gal pals like Lucia Hwong-Gordon, Karen Klopp, Janna Bullock and Kathy Sloane, the Brown Harris real estate broker to the stars, masters of the universe and daughters of Presidents. Judy Taubman stopped by to bid the birthday girl a happy happy.
Seated: Irene Schwartz, Kathy Sloane, Valerie Sabet, Ellen David, the Sadge birthday girl, Cheri Kaufman and Janna Bullock. Standing: Lucia Hwong Gordon, Karen Klopp, and Jan Chipman.
Right next door to Duh Boyz and Les Girls was Joe Armstrong, the only Texan ever to be a mayor in New York. I didn’t say Mayor of New York. I said “a mayor in.” Joe is Mayor of Michael’s. I don’t know how the hell that happened because I’ve been going there for years and nobody ever asked me to vote. But he is.

He presides at the same table (#3) time and again, and often has some of the most interesting guests (interesting for a wide variety of reasons). You saw evidence of that on last Thursday’s Diary with a picture of him where he brought together Bill Clinton with Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Ann Richards, Liz Smith, Diane Sawyer et al. Joe has the only table where the daily floral arrangement is placed not in a glass vase but in miniature cowboy boot. Yesterday he had replaced it with a larger bronze one. It looks like gold. Like Texas.
Joe Armstrong organized this lunch at Table One in 2001: Billy Crystal, (the late) Ann Richards, Liz Smith, Joe, President Clinton, Robin Williams and Diane Sawyer. The personal inscription by Mr. Clinton reads: "To Joe Armstrong -- Thanks for the happy memory of our beloved Ann, the funniest person at the table that day -- Bill Clinton."
Yesterday Joe’s guests were David Zinczenko who up until very recently was the highly successful Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Health. Very telegenic and congenial, and an authority on his subject, that combination of personal qualities is probably what put the magazine on the map with the strong brand identity that the magazine’s competition is still trying for. You’ve probably seen Dave on Today or in the party pictures out in the Hamptons in summertime.

Joe’s second guest was Michael’s very own Brenda Starr, Diane Clehane who pens a column many, almost any Wednesday for She not only gets the picture in terms of who’s at what table but she often gets the scoop. At Joe’s table there are scoops. God knows what they were talking about yesterday but there wasn’t a silent moment from what I could see..

And next to them, in the corner were Tom Brokaw was lunching with Kati Marton, widow of Richard Holbrooke. Kati recently published a memoir, “Paris: A Love Story” about their fifteen-year marriage and her recovering from the shock of his death two years ago. Ambassador Holbrooke was a familiar face in Michael’s when he was in New York.

Across the way, Maury Rogoff was lunching with Barry Frey, Bob Friedman, Deborah Fine and Marshall Sonnenshien. Next table over, those morning media girls, Lynn White with Rosanno Scotto and Penny Crone; and over from them, more media girls: Joan Gelman and Joan Hamburg.

Moving around the room: Jolie Hunt, marketing and communications honcho at AOL was lunching with Randi Zuckerberg.

When we were introduced to Ms. Z, Jolie told me Randi had a Bravo show out in Silicon Valley. So I asked Randi what kind of show, a Housewives…? Sort of, she said, but with tycoons, billioinaires, entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley cyber wonks.
Then Emilia Saint Amand whom I was lunching with, said: “Are you related to Mark Zuckerberg?”
Joe Armstrong, Randi Zuckerberg, and Jolie Hunt.
I hadn’t put it together Zuckerberg/Zuckerberg. “Is he your cousin or something?” I asked before she could answer Emilia.

“No, he’s my brother.”

Brother and sister Zuckerberg.
Wow, goes the table. “So did he give you a billion when the company went public?” I joked (but wasn’t totally kidding).

“No, I wish,” she laughed. I later heard it was Jolie’s check, so who knows? Maybe not. Randi Zuckerberg was definitely the meet of the moment in Michael’s, at least for us.

I went to take a picture of them when out of nowhere, Mayor Joe shows up at the table. He’s got the political instinct, that’s for sure. To go with the brass boot. Even Bill Clinton doesn’t have a half billion followers a day. Joe gets the scoop and you’ll never know it. Hell, why not?

Keeping moving, around the room. Richard Belzer, Hampton Carney with Vanessa Friedman of the FT, and Paul Wilmot, Rich Gelfond with Betsy Gotbaum; Lucianne Goldberg and Bonnie Dudley; Tom Goodman, Peter Hunsinger, Debra Kenny of Harlem Village Academies; Scott Koondel; Wendell Brooks; Bill Tortorella of Warner Music Group; Wednesday Martin with Camille Massey; Lisa Linden with Eric Gazin; Steven Stolman and Barry Goralnick; Neal Boulton with Stu Zakim; Susan Silver; Michael Peterson, son of Pete; the one, the only, the Michael’s very own Montana man Chuck Pfeiffer; Larry Kramer of USA Today.  More Michael’s: In the Garden -- Anne Bass with Arlene Shuler, Paul Tripplehorn, Duncan Darrow, John Pyne, Andrew Shore, Stephen Sills; Charles Manger, Richard Ader.

After lunch, I walked with Emilia up Fifth Avenue, passing Bendel’s and Harry Winston and Abercromie & Fitch and Prada and Bulgari and Van Cleef and Arpels, and Bergdorfs. Busy busy; New York midday, midweek; chillier than when I left my house a couple hours before.

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