Thursday, May 24, 2012

The top man at his craft ...

USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) gliding down the Hudson. This is the first ship named to honor both Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. 12:45 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, May 24, 2012. Occasionally overcast but no rain, with sunshine in the late afternoon and very mild temperatures making for a beautiful Spring day in New York. With very heavy traffic.

Media madhouse at Michael’s yesterday. The decibel level was almost like being at a rock concert. The effect is not dissimilar. Juices get going. There’s only so much room in the place and it’s often filled for lunch, but yesterday’s seemed like overflow.

Early in the lunchtime, The Glad GirlsJoan Jakobson, Barbara Ascher, Jeanette Watson, Helen Houghton, Barbara Sargent and Ann Wazzelle gave the patrons an impromptu concert of their version of  “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” A cappella. Up and Adam. Suddenly the roar of the crowd halted and you could hear a pin drop. Or at least a cinder block.
The Glad Girls take a bow for Steve Millington and the Canon PowerShot: Barbara Ascher, Jeanette Watson Sanger, Helen Houghton, Betty Sargent, Anne Wazelle, and Joan Jakobson.
He was a famous trumpet man from old Chicago way
He had a boogie style that no one else could play
He was the top man at his craft
But then his number came up and he was gone with the draft
He's in the army now, a-blowin' reveille
He's the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B…

They brought down the house with that one (and when they finished, sent it straight back to the clatter and the tumult). That’s vintage Michael’s Wednesdays. I don’t know; do they do that sort of thing at lunchtime back home in Indiana?

At Table one in the bay, The Glad Girls; Jeanette Watson, Barbara Ascher, Betty Sargent, Helen Houghton, Ann Wazelle, and Joan Jakobson. They were joined by Alex Sanger (husband of Jeanette), and occasionally (he had his own table also) John Jakobson

Were they planning their next gig? Vegas? An HBO Special? They’ve played Doubles (the club) and the Burden Center for the Aging, and now Michael’s Wednesdays. Maybe YouTube’s next? All will be revealed in due time.

Meanwhile, back at the madhouse, moving around the room: Matt Rich with Ava Roosevelt who has a new book, a novel, “The Racing Heart,” coming out next week. At the corner table, Linda Wachner and Mica Ertegun; next door Joe Armstrong with Cynthia Brill and Sarah Simms Rosenthal. Keep moving: Barry Frey, Gerry Imber wit da Boyz, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer, Andrew Bergman; nearby: Freddi Friedman; Cindy Lewis with Micky Atteyeh, Fran Weissler and Marcia Levine; Michael Lynne and Bob Shaye (founders of Newline Cinema); Deborah Norville and Susan Magrino; Nancy Murray; Euan Rellie; Judy Slotkin; Andrew Stein; Nick Verbitsky; Stan Shuman; Jay Fielden and Don Lalonde; Michael J. Wolf; Fern Mallis with Tom Florio, Gil Schwartz, Diane Clehane with Debi Wish; Vin Cipolla; Catherine Saxton and Marianne Strong; Hugh Freund, Jack Kliger of Alpha Media; Anderson Cooper and Orin Snyder; John Jakobson and Patrick Murphy, Bob Guccione Jr with Mark Leavitt. And, scores more just like ‘em. Finally, after the tumult and the shouting died down to a dull roar, Michael himself sat down for lunch with wife Kim and son and son’s friend.

Cornelia models her day bag in front of Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture on 55th and Sixth.
I was lunching with Cornelia Guest. Horsewoman, animals activist, events planner and caterer, cookie (chocolate chip) (betcha can’t eat just one) baker/distributor, designer of handbags (animal-free materials in the making), Cornelia has a new book coming out called “Cornelia Guest’s Simple Pleasures; Healthy Seasonal Cooking and Easy Entertaining." Cornelia is busy. She divides her days between an apartment here in the city and at Templeton, the Guest family house in Long Island.

There’s a thread that runs through everything Cornelia does in her life and in business. The animals. A percentage of earnings from her cookies, for example, go to the Humane Society where she is on the board and participates in many programs to raise funds for them.

The handbags are “animal-free accessories.” She was carrying one of her handbags – a day bag – yesterday. A woven soft faux leather. Black. Beautiful. Tailor-made for Cornelia and active women like her, it also contains a clutch inside that “makes it easy to go from desk to dinner” or to “travel confidently with a simple, chic wallet, pouch, handbag and tote.” The one-time debutante of the year is as practical as she is industrious, combined with an eye for beauty and a love of nature and its creatures.

Her new book is full of vegan recipes. The word doesn’t draw me in immediately (although I do eat a lot of vegetables and not much red meat) but after looking through the book, I was thinking that this summer, when there’s a little more time, would be a good time to try them out. Everything looked delicious.
closeup of the animal cruelty-free, soft faux leather bag. All bags are under $300 and you can find them at Bloomingdale's, or learn more at
I was also thinking: wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your own vegetable garden. Vegetable gardens were popular all over America during the Second World War, and they remained so up into the mid-1950s when everyone went the way of the Supermarket. Looking at Cornelia’s book, I realized that which I took for granted as a kid, must have been a beautiful sight to the adults around me.

The book is also a look at Cornelia’s life, her house, her surroundings, her resident animal friends – dogs, cats, horses – and her gardens. It’s beautiful, inspirational and practical, like the author.
Kim McCarty and Michael settling down for a post-luncheon lunch with their son and a friend of his from Bard where he recently graduated. Michael always tackles the menu after every business lunch hour.
Last night Mark Gilbertson hosted his annual Spring cocktail party. This is always one of the best parties and kind of caps the season in New York. Mark has been giving these parties ever since I met him here in New York about twenty years ago. The only difference now is a lot of the guests have got older (and lots of new ones who are younger), and the spaces have grown larger (to accommodate).

The host gets himself all worked up about it, especially on the day it’s happening, nervously wondering if people will come. You have to tell him to calm down, knowing that hundreds will show up. And then when his guests arrive he’s anxious about everyone meeting everyone.

The hors d’oeuvres menu is smoked salmon, shrimp tempura, pigs-in-a-blanket, sushi rolls, spring rolls and little crabcakes. All the stuff that you shovel down like candy. I do and I did.
Tiffany Dubin and Mark Gilbertson. Hilary Dick and Maria Villalba.
There were more than a hundred guests, maybe more than two. The party began at 6:30 and was planned til 9, so people were arriving and departing  throughout. When I got there at 7, some were leaving and when I left at 8:30, more were arriving. Possibly because Mark frets over the details at the outset, the whole thing comes off casually and comfortably. A lot of people talking. New Yorkers. And a lot of fun just enjoying the company.

I talked to Rachel Hovnanian who has a sensational show (according to the word) at the Leila Heller Gallery in Chelsea. It’s been a very successful installation. The virtual café that Rachel created for guests to “partake” of the exhibition is such at hit it’s going to be in the Los Angeles Art Show. I haven’t seen the show yet but I’m going next week as it closes the week after.
Mary McFadden with Marc de Bary and Eric Javits. Polly Onet and Rachel Hovnanian.
On departing, it was a beautiful night outside, as well. Walking up Park Avenue, I caught this shot of the Citicorp building at its most dramatic luster – bathing in the pink light of sunset. That particular junction of Park Avenue and 53rd Street where I took the shot is also the location of three of the greatest landmarks in New York – Skidmore, Owings and Merrill's Lever House on the northwest corner, McKim, Mead and White's Racquet and Tennis Club on the southwest, and across the avenue Mies van der Rohe's Seagrams Building, all treasures in the perfect soft pink evening light. This is New York.

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