Friday, May 11, 2012

Sunshiny day in New York

Everything's coming up roses. 5:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, May 11, 2012. Yesterday was a beautiful, sunshiny day in New York. Today it’s supposed to be followed by another, says the weatherman (I check Accu-weather).

Irving Berlin was born on this day, May 11, in 1888. When he died 101 years later, he was the greatest popular American lyricist/composer of his age -- admired, loved, revered and adored by his colleagues, family and fellow Americans.

Irving Berlin.
First radio performance of "God Bless America," sung by Kate Smith on November 10, 1938.
Irving Berlin was born in Russia as Israel Isadore Balline. His father took his family and fled the pogroms of Czar Nicolas II, making their way to New York. He published his first song, “Marie From Sunny Italy” in 1907 when he was 19, and his first hit “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” four years later in 1911 at 23. That song was still popular and being recorded and performed a half century later.

Irving Berlin wrote more than 1500 songs in his 60-year career. More than 25 of them hit the top of the charts and dozens more, all now part of the American Songbook, have been performed and recorded ever since by scores of famous singers.

In the first 60 years of the 20th century, the name Irving Berlin was a household word, as famous as the Statue of Liberty, and in fact representing a musical personification of Miss Liberty’s meaning to the millions who first arrived in New York harbor, having emigrated from their distant native lands. (He even wrote a score to a show called “Miss Liberty.”)

In his brilliant career, he also provided the music and lyrics for 19 Broadway shows and 18 films. His 1942 show This is the Army featured a young actor named Ronald Reagan. It was in that show that Kate Smith sang Berlin’s “God Bless America,” which she’d first sung four years before. George Gershwin called him “the greatest songwriter that ever lived.” Composer Douglas Moore compared him to Stephen Foster, Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg as a “great American minstrel – someone who has  caught and immortalized in his songs, what we say, what we think about, and what we believe."

Irving Berlin and his wife and family lived in New York. He and Mrs. Berlin lived at the end of his life on Beekman Place, in a large townhouse overlooking the East River.

Yesterday in New York, another non-stop. During the lunch hour yesterday, over at Rockefeller University in the Caspary Auditorium, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, the President of Rockefeller University – formerly the Chief Scientific Officer at Genentech – hosted the Women & Science Annual Lecture and Luncheon on the York Avenue campus.

Frederic Malle, Leslie B. Vosshall, Marc Tessier-Lavigne at last year's Lecture and Luncheon.
This is a very important annual event in New York although it gets less play than most – perhaps because it is entirely serious in providing understanding and knowledge of modern Medical Science. The title of this year’s lecture: "When Good Genes Go Bad; Deciphering the Cancer Gene.” The prologue to the lecture was thus: “Many young women who will graduate from high school this June were born in 1994, the year that scientists identified the first hereditary breast cancer gene, BRCA1. How has researched progressed since then?”

The speaker was Titia de Lange Ph.D., the Leon Hess Professor at RU. She is regarded as a world leader in cancer cell biology.

The lectures are always presented on a level of comprehension for us non-professionals. Afterwards there is a lovely lunch in the Garden of the University which was begun by John D. Rockefeller in 1901 as the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research.

The attendance of the event is made up of men and women, mostly women of course, many of whom are prominent or well-known New York names who are active in the arts and culture of the city. Attendance marks the interest. It is a fund-raiser. $500 a ticket. Sold out.

Also yesterday lunchtime, the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club held its annual Purses and Pursenalities luncheon at Cipriani 42nd Street and honoring Nanette Lepore.

Over at Lincoln Center in the David Koch Theater last night, the New York City Ballet hosted its Spring Gala, A La Francaise. The evening began with cocktails at 5:30 followed by the Performance at 7, followed by the black tie Supper Ball at 9.  The ballet company presented two World Premiere Ballets as well as Symphony in C with music by Georges Bizet and choreography by George Balanchine. Everything is beautiful at the ballet; it’s true. Thankfully.
Benjamin Millepied, Natalie Portman arrive at New York City Ballet's Spring Gala.
Also on last night’s: The Honorable Philippe Lalliot, consul General of France in New York, and the American Friends of the Louvre held the “Musee Mondial/Musee du Louvre,” the Young Patrons Circle’s Annual Benefit celebrating the Louvre as a global museum. 

While up on Park Avenue Ann and Andrew Tisch hosted a party at their home to celebrate Camp BroaderWay – a performing arts camp for young women in metro New York for underserved girls, many of whom also go to Ann Tisch’s Young Women’s Leadership School.

Ann and Andrew Tisch.
The camp was started by Idina Menzell, the star of “Wicked,” and her husband Taye Diggs. Menzel and Diggs were also on hand last night to perform for the guests with Maestro Marvin Hamlisch accompanied them on the piano.

This year’s Camp BroaderWay, will take place at Belvoir Terrace, a well-established performing arts camp with state-of-the-art facilities, in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Same time, over at the Pierre, in the reception rooms on the lower level, Lighthouse International was holding it “Kicks-Off” 40th annual POSH Fashion Sale. Featuring Deep Discounted Fashion. Names names names: Chanel, Chloe, Derek Lam, Dolce & Gabbana, Judith Leiber, Eric Javits, Gucci, Hermes, J. Mendel, Jimmy Choo, Judith Ripka, Peter Som, Prada, Pucci, Stella McCartney, Todd Oldham, Brooks Brothers, Geoffrey Beene, Joanna Mastroianni, Tory Burch, Velvet Eyewear.

Plus other contributors, donors, etc. For example, one supporter – an individual, not a business – donated 38 fur coats. And underscored the fact that they were not going to be a “tax deduction.” And you weren’t told, you’d never know they’d left the salon. But as someone said of this contributor: “She still won’t catch cold in wintertime.”
The shoppers and the POSH volunteers celebrate at last night POSH's preview at the Pierre.
I’m an impatient shopper and so I go there every year to replace some of the neckties I’ve ruined while talking too much and spilling too much olive oil – on my rolls – at Michael’s -- my favorite ties. The best of the best here at much better prices.

I took several shots of the action as well as the merch which will be updated and added to over the next couples days. Today and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday and Monday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. $10 admission. All proceeds go to the Lighthouse International which is watching out for all of us, believe it or not. Tickets are available for purchase online or at the door. For more information, please call 212-821-9445 or visit,
The action and merch at POSH ...
This past Tuesday night, at the Greenwich Village home of Anne Hearst McInerney and Jay McInerney, oenophiles and literary folk alike celebrated the publication of Jay’s new wine tome, “THE JUICE: Vinous Veritas” (Knopf, publishers). The evening was co-hosted by Robert Thomson of The Wall Street Journal.

More than 100 attended, starting off the evening with a glass of bubbly Pol Roger Brut Champagne and graduating to McInerney’s expertly selected wines including a 2010 Droin Chablis "Vaillons" Premier Cru.

Click cover to order or buy at Archivia on 72nd and Lex.
Among the gatherers: Brooke Shields, f A.M. Homes, Dirk Wittenborn, Will Cotton with Rose Dergan, Ross Bleckner, Nicole Miller, Robert Wilson, Laurie Durning Waters, SNL’s  Jim Signorelli, Griffin Dunne, Sharon Bush, Debbie Bancroft, Judith Giuliani, Jamie Figg, George Farias, Sara Dodd-Spickelmeier, Gary Fisketjon, Hilary and Wilbur Ross, Karen Duffy, Diandra Douglas, Bettina Zilkha, Milly de Cabrol, Alison Mazzola, Muffie Potter Aston, Jennet Conant, Taki Theodoracopulos, R. Couri Hay, Janna Bullock, Steve Benson, Katharina and Nathan Bernstein, Sally Hershberger, Jeanine Pepler, Helen and Timothy Schifter.

The book, a collection of the author’s pieces (now a feature in the Wall Street Journal) “provides a master class in the almost infinite varieties of wine and the people, places all over the world, from the past to the present.”

Chefs, sommeliers and “juice” aficionados from New York’s top restaurants and wineries were there to toast their fellow wine enthusiast including Jerusha Frost of The Lion, The Lambs Club’s Jordan Lari, JeanGeorges’s Bernard Sun, and wine experts Beaver Truax, Aldo Sohm, and Daniel Johnnes.
Bob Wilson, Brooke Shields, Jay McInerney, Anne Hearst McInerney, and Griffin Dunne.
AM Homes and Katherine Greenberg. Judith Giuliani and Brooke Shields.
George Farias, Hilary Geary Ross, Diandra Douglas, Steve Benson, and Anne Hearst McInerney.
Lora Zarubin and Binky Urban.
Laura and Will Zeckendorf. Liliana Cavendish, Bettina Zilkha, and Katharina Otto Bernstein.
Paulo Oliveira, Jim Signorelli, and Dirk Wittenborn.
Milly de Cabrol and Jay Snyder. Sally Hershberger.
Robert Thomson and Jay McInerney.
Ross Bleckner and Will Cotton.
Don’t forget. Very very important. Next Wednesday, May 16th: City Harvest is hosting it 8th Annual On Your Plate luncheon with guest speaker Susan Fales-Hill, author of the upcoming novel “Imperfect Bliss,” at the Metropolitan Club at noon (11:30 registration). This is a great luncheon, in a great room, for a great cause – helping to provide food for our fellow New Yorkers and their families in need. There are still some seats left at the table. Go to and have a look:
Ethel Meman. Broadway legend was a star by age 24 in 1930 in the Gershwins' Girl Crazy, here 46 years later in 1976 at an Evening with the Pops of "Broadway's Best" singing Irving Berlin's "There's No Business Like Show Business," which she introduced in Annie Get Your Gun.

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