Wednesday, February 8, 2012

In the mood to go out

A remnant from Halloween on a taxi window (The Whitney Museum is behind). 3:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Another sunny and mild winter’s day; yesterday in New York. The weatherman says we might get a little bit of snow tonight. This will be the third snowfall (light) this winter. Or fourth. None memorable.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”Dwight D Eisenhower

I read that yesterday on a financial blog called Jesse’s Café Americain.

Eisenhower was President when I was hitting adolescence. He was known as Ike. His campaign button/slogan was “I Like Ike.” He was already famous as a five star general who won the War in Europe. The first time I saw a televised inaugural of a President was Ike’s first term. It might have been the first nationwide television hookup.
Eisenhower presidential campaign in Baltimore, MD, September 1952.
Besides a war hero, Ike was a Republican. Richard Nixon was his Vice President. The quintessential Good Cop Bad Cop success team. Those of us who lived in a Republican family heard no criticism of him. Those of us who were Democrats called him the The Great Golfer (he played quite often) and regarded him as undynamic at best and a buffoon at worst.

The Eisenhower White House years are historically the American ‘Fifties,’ when the culture was as white bread as it was ever going to be, and prosperous with a growing middle class and a building boom. It was the Cold War, bomb shelters, Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Elvis and American Bandstand. It was a good time to be an American. Solid. Hardship was unknown to a lot of Americans who clearly remembered the Depression. Work was abundant. And Ike was our President. Radical changes were just around the corner but I’m speaking with the advantage of hindsight. At the time, few had a clue.

I had no personal evaluation of him as a political character. He looked like a President – quite bald and white haired with a nice broad smile and a dignified presence. He was a country boy from Kansas who went to West Point and became one of the great generals of the 20th century. When he spoke in newsreels, he was dignified and not interesting to listen to if you were a teenager.

This was the era of the Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming (Cold War threatening to heat up). The loudest politicians admonished and distributed fear regularly.

Ike did not. He was more circumspect about the possibilities. When he finished his second term and delivered his Farewell Speech, he made that famous reference to the “Military Industrial Complex,” (a term her coined) which he warned could bankrupt us and destroy our democracy.

People didn’t like that. Some people said his speech was written by a Commie sympathizer (not true but the only way they could redeem their beloved Ike). The matter was forgotten eventually because Ike had a geniality that was, well, dignified ... and so his “funny” warnings about military and industrial complex business were politely ignored and forgotten. Water under a bridge.
Mrs. Kruschev, Mamie Eisenhower, Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev, and President Eisenhower at a State dinner for the Soviet Premier at the White House, 1959.
Ike was the quintessential Republican of the 20th century. A towering figure in his country and in the world. A career general who brought the boys home from Europe (and later Korea). Two words Americans could associate with him: glory and humanity.

I think of Eisenhower often these days, especially with the campaigns heating up. An ancient to two generations, it turned out he was one of our greatest leaders, more than a man of his time. And still unheeded by those who decide.
U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower makes his farewell address, Jan. 17, 1961. (AP)
Yesterday I lunched at Michael's with my business partner JH and his wife Danielle so we could talk about this joint venture of ours.

Danielle had never eaten there before. We had a good time talking about a variety of subjects including two new or new-ish terms in contemporary society today.

These are clinical assessments that have been popularized to understand what’s going on. One is Body dysmorphia, also known as dysmorphic syndrome, in relationship to cosmetic surgeries and procedures that many women are apparently addicted to (probably some men too).
DPC & JH's Potato‐Leek Soup, Brussels Sprouts, Shiitake, Uni.
DPC's Local Organic Greens, Market Vegetables, Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette.
Joan Rivers always come to mind but I think Joan looks great and maybe a lot better than when she started out. Right Joan? She doesn’t look like a young woman but what she looks like is a very energetic, productive actress/writer/comedienne/ businesswoman/fashion commentator who ain’t no spring chicken but still has a lotta spring. Same with Madonna who has never looked better, as these things go.

Many other women in the community are not sufficiently assigned, however, and are still in search for something not yet clearly articulated in their mirrors. They just look like they’ve got an issue (with their tissue).
Danielle's Brussels Sprouts, Apple, Fennel, Goat Cheese, Cranberry Puree.
JH's House‐Cured Gravlax, Mustard‐Dill Aioli, Brioche Toast.
And the other topic is Adderall. The drug that Demi Moore is helping to make (more) famous. It is a combination of dextroaphetamine and amphetamine. It is used in treatment of ADD (attention deficit disorder). A lot of women also take it for weight loss as it kills appetite. It is a popular self-medicating drug in Hollywood, as we’ve been reading and hearing lately; but also here in little old New York. Those who self-medicate will eventually begin to show the side effects. And those side effects are front and center when they are showing.
DPC, Danielle Rossi Hirsch, and JH.
Last night at my favorite neighborhood bookstore, Archivia, there was a dual booksigning – Ali Wentworth, the actress/writer/comedienne, and Michael Smith the famous West Coast interior designer who has a big presence in private residences all over the world.

Ali’s book is “Ali in Wonderland; And Other Tall Tales.” They’re personal. In real life she’s married to George Stephanopoulos with whom she has two daughters. I’ve never met her before. I’ve heard about her, seen pictures of her, never saw her perform.

She looks like your standard blonde Upper East Side young mother and charity woman. Okay, writer too. I mean she looks very contemporary and of a certain socio-economic set. However, I saw last night just in that brief session taking pictures of her and Michael Smith, that she’s a natural born comedienne.
Michael Smith with his new book "Kitchens and Baths" (Rizzoli). Click to order or buy immediately at Archivia, 72nd and Lex. Ali Wentworth proudly displays her new book "Ali in Wonderland And Other Stories." Click to order or visit Archivia now.
I bet her mother knew it by the time she was three. The bookcover has a blurb by Jerry Seinfeld who I presume is a friend of Ali and her husband: “Everything that comes out of Ali’s mouth is funny.”

Michael Smith is droll, California style, which is just plain funny out East. He and Wentworth looked like they could do a double standup together. Michael who is known for his sophisticated laid-back traditional chic (I made this up but I know I’m close) decors is as low key as he is high profile. A kind of Renaissance man surfer type. (I made that up too, but again, close.) His book, published by Rizzoli is called “Kitchens and Baths.” If you win the lottery, or your ship comes in. Otherwise look and drool.
The authors celebrate and cajole and cavort and smile for the birdie ...
After my little photo session with Smith and Wentworth on Archivia’s double bill, I went down to 60th and Lexington to Le Veau d’Or, the once five-star French restaurant to have dinner with Liz Smith who also invited Iris Love and Tita Cahn, who is in from Los Angeles on her way to the DR to visit John Rosselli. Two degrees of separation all over.

I’ve only been to Le Veau d’Or once before and that was in 1991. It is regarded by many as of those who know to be one of the best French restaurants in the country. It’s been there since 1935 and is only on its second owner in 78 years.
The front window of Le Veau d'Or on East 60th Street between Lexington and Park.
It was not only excellent but listening to those three girls talk about show business and Hollywood and Broadway and baby, is like a busman’s holiday for a reporter. At one point they were talking about their friend the legendary Hollywood press agent Pat Newcomb who worked for the biggest stars and was the last person Marilyn Monroe was known to have spoken with before her death. That isn’t what Tita and Liz were discussing. They were just having a good time talking about a good old friend. So they called her on the phone in California and had one of those longtime coming catch-ups. More later ...

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