Thursday, December 13, 2012

Natural flow

Park Avenue and 69th, looking across the way at the Union Club. 9:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, December 13, 2012. Sunny day, yesterday in New York; not warm and not so cold. It was about the traffic. Midtown was gridlock, mainly on the side streets where turning right or left is prohibited preventing all natural flow.

I could rant on. If you live in New York there’s always an opportunity to freak out because of the traffic. That can include pedestrian traffic too. People often don’t know what’s in front them because they’re looking at their cell phone screens. Then there are the traffic planners, but we’ll leave that one to the gods.

Yesterday's traffic lasted through the night.
I understand the compulsive habit with the phones because although I rarely use mine, I do the same with my desk computer. Although as time passes, I look less frequently. For many it’s the companion they never had. In the metropolis, it boils down to too many cellphones and too many cars. But that’s Welcome to the 21st century.

I got to Michael’s late. I’m always late, or so it seems. Five, ten, fifteen minutes. This is not by intention but consistency would challenge that statement. I was having lunch with Jackie Weld Drake, a writer who is very patient and has written among other things, a fascinating biography of Peggy Guggenheim. Jackie is also a big supporter (and force) of Literacy Partners and Casita Maria.

When I arrived she was talking to the table next to us: Anthony Shriver, his wife Alina, the great Latin American artist Romero Britto, and Richard Zieglasch who had been a long time supporter of Shriver’s “Best Buddies” organization.

If you didn’t know, Anthony Shriver started Best Buddies in 1989 to help people with intellectual disabilities, through friendship, jobs, and mentoring. Best Buddies now reach more than 700,000 people in 51 countries. Shriver’s father, the late Sargent Shriver, was the founding head of the Peace Corps, under President John F. Kennedy, the brother of Anthony’s mother, Eunice.

Anthony Shriver as a child, top, in Palm Beach in a 1972 photo with his family Mark, Maria, Sargent, Eunice, Robert and Timothy.
The Shriver family includes Anthony and Alina with children, from left, Eunice, Carolina, Francesca and Teddy.
Shriver was inspired by his mother’s founding of and work on Special Olympics which touches more than 2 million people. His brother Tim Shriver has taken over their mother’s charity. Another brother, Mark Shriver, is one of the heads of Save the Children. Brother Bobby Shriver worked with Bono on the Red campaign to help people with AIDS in Africa.  Sister Maria helps with Alzheimer’s which their father suffered from.

These activities are the signature of the Kennedy family that infiltrated the American consciousness during JFK’s Presidency. Many members of the family’s third generation have taken up the mantle, and continue to focus on assisting the community in a wide variety of ways. All the Shrivers, it would seem, are completely committed to helping children develop productive, independent lives.

Later Anthony Shriver stopped by the table and I asked him a little about his work. His mother was the inspiration. “And she was just one person,” he added, underlining that that was all it took to eventually help millions. That’s Shrivers’ main message: YOU can do it. It only takes one.

The Wednesday Michael’s lunch was wall-to-wall.  In the scene: Jaret Keller, Sam Frieder, Fred Davis, Patricia Chadwick, Tom Goodman, Phil Scaturro, Gerald Imber with Jeff Greenfield, Andrew Bergman, Jerry della Femina and Michael Kramer; Pamela Keogh; Joe Kernen; Amy Kliger;Alice Mayhew; Norm Pearlstine; Kay Pick, Mary Cossette, in from Los Angeles; Henry Schlieff;  Bill Schlight and Cheri Kaufman; Heart’s Deb Shriver, who has a new book just out “In the Spirit of New Orleans;” Mickey Straus; Stephen Swid, Rick Kaplan, Donna Soloway, Susan Blond with Bryonn Bain; Esky’s David Granger, CNN’s Piers Morgan: the Christy Turlington; Anthony Westereich; Lally Weymouth, Jolie Hunt with Courtney Dolan, Marc Rosen, Judy Twersky,  Adam Schweitzer and Christoph Waltz (won an Oscar for “Inglorious Bastard,” and is in the new movie “Django Unchained.")

Brooke Neidich and Dr. Harold Koplewicz.
At six I went down to Cipriani 42nd Street where the Child Mind Institute was holding its annual gala. Talk about traffic gridlock: 42nd Street all the way across the island. The CMI is a fairly new organization. I know about it through Brooke Neidich who was one of the co-founders with Dr. Harold Koplewicz.

The organization was put together several years ago at NYU. It has now transitioned into the big time: I never saw Cipriani 42nd Street so crowded for a dinner, as it was last night. There must have been a thousand or more people. It was an evening of speeches, a dinner of rack of lamb, and a collegial sense of success in the room. Many there were parents of young children. These guests were making the difference. I don’t know how much they raised but it had to be in the millions. More on this on another day.

Because of it I missed a cocktail hosted by Dr. Doug Steinbrech and producer  Jeff Sharp at the Fifth Avenue apartment of Chris Brown. Steinbrech and Sharp are very popular fellows on the social scene; they’re very nice guys.

sharp and Steinbrech.
Huge turnout. T’is the season. Among the many millions of Annabelles and Lillians:  Boaty Boatwright, Adelina and Bill Eitelson, Alina Cho, Allison and Jay Aston, Alex Hitz; the Manger bros, Stewart, Bill and Charles; Dave and Violet Nugent, Debbie Bancroft, Holly Peterson, Graziano de Boni, Frances Schultz Ditmar, Geoffrey Bradfield,, Jim Kohlberg, John and Nina Richter, Rachel Hovnanian, Rod Winterrod, Susan Magrino Dunning, Susan Minot, Fred Anderson, Elizabeth Saint-Amand, Emily Smith (of Page Six), Leslie and Andrew Heaney, Di Peteroff, Christopher Mason, Brad Comisar, Anne and Basil Goulandris, Bettina Zilkha, Felicia Taylor, Guy Harley, Holly Peterson, Monie Begley, Philip and Lisa Gorrivan, Peter Breown, Martha and John Glass, Mary Hilliard, Melanie Holland, Kiki Langham, Luke Parker Bowles, Mark Gilbertson, Scott Currie, Susanna Styron, Jane Friedman, John Barrett. And thousands more just like ‘em.  Six to 9:30 it ran, and they stayed and stayed, I was told. New Yorkers love real cocktail parties (not promos), and they get very little of them.

Catching Up: Last Saturday afternoon over at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, the New York City Ballet and The School of American Ballet joined forces, once again, for The Nutcracker Family Benefit – one of New York’s favorite holiday events for families.

The Benefit began with a performance of the timeless classic, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™. After the performance, guests proceeded to the Theater’s Promenade to enjoy a holiday party decorated with gingerbread houses and plenty of good cheer.

The Sugarplum Fairy, her Cavalier, Candy Canes, Chinese Tea, Marzipan Shepherdesses, and children from the cast were on hand to sign autographs and mingle with the guests.
Honorary Chairman Sandra Lee, Event Chairmen Julia Koch and Joyce Giuffra, NYCB Principal Dancer Sterling Hyltin, and Event Chairmen Pauline Reyniak and Amy Griffin.
Among the guests: Honorary Chairman, Sandra Lee, Benefit Chairs: Joyce Guiffra, Amy Griffin, Julia Koch, Pauline Reyniak Guests included: Muffie Potter and Dr. Sherrell Aston, Michele Barakett, Donya Bommer, Diana DiMenna, Stephanie and Andrew Finch, Agnes Gund, Tania Higgins, Darci Kistler and Peter Martins, Alexandra Lebenthal, Kate Levin, Julie Macklowe, Judy McGrath, Jenny and John Paulson, Ashley Schiff Ramos, Alexia and Baird Ryan, Peggy Siegal, Mary Snow, Amy Tarr, and Ann Tenenbaum. Mary Hilliard photographed.

This benefit, The Nutcracker Family Benefit is a critical source of support for New York City Ballet’s Education Programs, which serve thousands of children and families in the metropolitan area. The Benefit also provides a vital source of support for The School of American Ballet’s Scholarship Fund. The fund ensures that students studying at the School, many of whom are the most talented young dancers in the country, receive crucial scholarship funds. All good for all students and audiences alike.
NYCB Board member Clarke Murphy, wife Whitney Murphy, and family.
Julie Macklowe and her daughter. Benefit guests posing in front of live trees on the Promenade of the David H. Koch Theater.
NYCB Principal Dancer Tiler Peck signs autographs for Benefit guests.
Lydia Carlston and John Paulson. Muffie Potter and Sherrell Aston with their daughters.
Sarah Swanson Brown, Libby Karmely, and Jenny Paulson.
Agnes Gund, Kate Levin, and Alexandra Herzan.
School of American Ballet cast members of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker with Benefit guests.
Leelee Brown and her daughter. NYCB Principal Dancers Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild with NYCB Board member Donya Bommer and her son (R) and Laura McVey with her daughter (L).
NYCB corps de ballet member David Prottas with Benefit guests.
Peggy Siegal, Event Chairman Julia Koch, and Peggy Flesher.
NYCB Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins with School of American Ballet cast member of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Alexandra Lebenthal and her daughter.
NYCB corps de ballet member Sara Adams signs autographs for Benefit guests
NYCB Principal Dancer Sterling Hyltin signs autographs for Benefit guests
School of American Ballet Board Member Liz Armstrong and family.
Gingerbread house centerpieces on the Promenade of the David H. Koch Theater.
More catching up. Delia von Neuschatz reports: Gretchen Mol, star of HBO’s hit series, “Boardwalk Empire” and Alexandra “Pookie” Burch, co-hosted a 1920’s-themed bash to benefit Animal Haven, the Soho-based animal shelter.  The venue was the private downtown club, Norwood, which had been turned into a speakeasy for the night, complete with lively sets played by Boardwalk Empire’s orchestra, Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks. Tory Burch, Sandra Bernhard, Nate Berkus, Sabrina Soto, David Colbert, Harold Smith and John Bartlett among others, turned out in support of the evening which raised more than $45,000 through ticket sales and a silent auction. 
Christian Sullivan, Sylvester Rowe and Jacob Dunn. Christian adopted his dog, Hank, from Animal Haven and the proud papa was quick to take out his smart phone in order to show me what the beautiful Labrador looks like. He couldn’t say enough good things about the adoption process at Animal Haven which involves several visits to the shelter. Staff members want to make sure that you are able to care for the animal and that you truly want to bring a cat or a dog into your life – that this is not just an impulse “purchase.” All you need in order to walk away with an animal from a pet store, by contrast, is a valid credit card. There is no vetting process whatsoever.
Founded in 1967, Animal Haven is a nonprofit organization which works to find homes for abandoned cats and dogs. The raised funds will help Animal Haven recoup some of the costs it incurred as a result of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath. Animal Haven, located in Lower Manhattan, was directly affected by the storm. The shelter was without power for five days. Unable to evacuate its animals due to the pressing needs of other shelters and the public, Animal Haven ran operations at capacity without lights for nearly a week. The shelter is still operating over capacity as a result of the storm. If you’d like to help, or for more information, go to:
Lawrence Selevan and Jo Kosewski. Lawrence and Jo didn’t adopt their puppy from Animal Haven, but they bring him to the shelter’s weekly play group for small dogs.

Contact DPC here.