Monday, October 29, 2012

Whither thou goest, there will be the rain

Stocking up. Sunday, 5:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Latest on the storm. I went down to the river at 10:30 this morning. It's not raining and not very windy. A lot of people out checking the high tide which, as you can see, is very high. People are talking about the storm surge which is not expected for another eight or ten hours. Parts of the FDR are underwater right now.
Lots of neighbors have come out with their dogs and families to look at the high tide that has gone over the walls and flooded parts of the FDR roadway. This section is the northbound lanes at 81st Street.
The flooded FDR, looking south.
Same view, looking north.
On a normal summer day: Blackwell Island Lighthouse on the the northeast tip of Roosevelt Island.
Today, at 10:30 AM.
Monday, October 29, 2012. Whither thou goest, there will be the rain. So spaketh the weatherman all weekend long.  The winds started late Saturday night as light breezes rustling and slapping the leaves about (and off the trees). By early afternoon on Sunday they were stronger but still gentle zephyrs. By eight o’clock they were starting to blow and bend the trees.

Yesterday, the oncoming storm was already calling the shots. I went to Gristede’s in the morning to pick up some things. There was a long line, longer than anything I’d seen there before. So I left and went a few blocks over to Eli’s. At Eli’s you don’t see the line at the registers until you’re checking out. It was longer than Gristede’s. JH told me later he’d done his shopping at Zabar's. Same story. Same everywhere.

That set the mood/the one. The mayor and the governor both made public announcements about closing down the public transportation, etc. I don’t recall that ever happening before a rainstorm that was hundreds of miles and more than a day away, so that added to the drama.
Looking south on the East River, yesterday afternoon at 2:30 PM.
I went down by the river at about 2:30 yesterday afternoon to see what the ocean was sending in. At that moment, the tide was going out and the steel-grey water looked serious, and strong, waiting for nothing and no one.

In a way, maybe because it was the end of a weekend, a Sunday, everyone seemed rather relaxed about the moment. Unlike so many people who have called from all over the country asking about what it’s like. It was like ... nothing. Grey skies, wind, and crisis managing over at the supermarket.
The same view four hours later at 6:30.
I went out again about 6 to look at the river. The same, except the lights were beginning to come on. And those banks of rolling grey clouds way up above looked neutral and unfazed.

At 8 PM the AccuWeather man gave Sandy’s location at 380 miles East Southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina or 485 miles South Southeast of New York City where wind gusts of 77 mph were measured. Outside my window the gusts had begun to hum and sing intermittently.
On the other side of town, JH took a late afternoon walk along Broadway and headed to Riverside Blvd on his way to the Hudson River Promenade, setting his digital to dramatic tone ...
Aside from Sandy the storm, New Yorkers are getting ready for the most popular holiday besides Christmas: Halloween. Certain neighborhoods are transforming themselves into abodes for the Wicked Witch of the East and all kinds of other goblins, with warnings on their doorsteps of the ghosts inside.
Friday night Kathy Sloane gave a birthday dinner at La Grenouille for our friend Alice Mason the legendary private residential real estate broker here in New York. Grenouille is Alice’s favorite. It is, for many, without peer; and Friday night attested to that – it was full.

Their Dover Sole is an especial favorite with the clientele. They say it’s the best in New York. The Mushroom Risotto is highly prized also. As is just about everything on the menu. But it is not just the menu; it is the room, the light, the flowers, the ambience, the vibe, all which come together to deliver the personal experience of elegance. Suddenly luxury is real because you are in its thrall, rather than like some lovely item purchased for a price. All of this is the mastery of its proprietor and host Charles Masson and his impeccable staff.
DPC, Charles Masson, and Alice Mason on Friday night at La Grenouille. 7:45 PM.
Dominique Richard, Charlie Scheips, and Carmen Dell'Orefice
Joe Armstrong and Dominique.
Kathy’s guests were Mario Buatta, Carmen Dell’ Orefice, Charlie Scheips, Dominique Richard, Alice’s daughter who came in from Chicago for the occasion; Joe Armstrong who has been away, deep in the heart of Texas (his home state) for the past few weeks, plus the birthday girl, the hostess and this writer.

Everyone at table knew everyone else. Some of us first met at one of Alice’s famous dinners. So the conversation moved all around and across the table. Furthermore it was lively as it often is with several of the guests.

We talked about the Presidential race as has everyone I’ve been around in New York right now. Although on my side of the (round) table I was between Alice and Kathy Sloane who is one of the top residential brokers here in Manhattan. We talked about Louisville where Kathy’s husband Dr. Harvey Sloane was once mayor and later Congressman from that part of the country. So Kathy has been a political wife for much of her life and her recollections of the experience and the people she’s met and known.
Carmen takes a photo with her iPhone.
Charlie speaks, Carmen laughs, and Mario considers it ...
Alice is retired now from the business although all her friends think she should write a book. However, aside from her business, Alice was renowned for the past four decades for her dinner parties. At their zenith in the '70s and '80s, she created a private event once a month (except the summer) for sixty guests, cocktails and sit down, and the world came to those tables.

Dinner at Alice’s meant the mix of guests – famous, talented, prominent, doers, movers, writers, diplomats, bankers, publishers, interior designers, agents and socialites, all met at Alice’s. In a very real way, these dinners were a boon to her business because it heightened her public profile. However, if you knew Alice, she gave them because she liked being involved, being part of, having a voice, in the community that is New York. And she did. That interest, that source which Alice cultivated and nurtured, articulates her essence as a person. It was at table Friday night. The conversations moved swiftly around the table and were mainly just about friends (of Alice) enjoying that camaraderie she served up to her hundreds of guests over the years.
Mario, Kathy Sloane, Charles Masson, and DPC.
Alice and the cake.
When we got up to leave more than three hours later, we discovered that another Presidential candidate, from a previous campaign, Senator John Kerry and his wife Theresa, were seated right behind us, wondering “what” we were talking (so much) about on at that (our) table. Answer: Everything.

Coming out of the restaurant and onto East 52nd Street at 11, it was still mild out, and not cold. Carmen said she wanted to walk home (she lives on Park Avenue in the 70s). So Charlie and I walked her home, the three of us, arm in arm, fresh from dining at La Grenouille. These two guys walking this disarming and charming glamorous gal up Park Avenue.  Just like in the movie. What movie? You know, the one that Cole Porter wrote the song for ... “I Happen To Like New York ...” That one.

Contact DPC here.