Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gala Pickin'

Pumpkin lineup. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, October 10, 2013. A beautiful, iffy day in New York. Temp in the 60s, some breeze, some Sun, more clouds, maybe rain, maybe not. And so it was.

The season is picking up. It’s not important except for me and how I figure out my day in this business. The activity increases and the challenge to cover it increases with it. This has been my beat now for more than 20 years in New York. Two things: It is in a constant state of change: and, some things never change.

The “social life” as it exists in early 21st century New York is centered around the “gala.” Without it, the community would be completely at odds. A benefit, a fundraiser. The gala is the Craigslist for New Yorkers on the rise, and thereabouts. I know that might sound cynical.  I don’t mean to be; it is honest and sincere – the now.

The “gala” is how connections are made on a certain socio-economic strata. This is a natural response to an important aspect of New York. This is a town of ambition and ambition needs rewards. The “social” aspect is an important part of the reward. A large part for many people. And it can be very interesting, egos aside. Nothing new here; history is written from it.

All of that goes into what I am looking at and how I keep myself interested in what, like anything else, can become the same-old, same-old. One of the things I like about it is that it keeps challenging.  I, as now of this late if not great age, am in the midst of the fray that is New York. And although it is more than any one man or woman could consume and comprehend at once or even ever, it’s rejuvenating, stimulating and enervating, no matter what.

It was the Michael’s lunch yesterday. Wednesday. I was having lunch with my friend Tracey Jackson who has a daily blog which we’ve published. At the moment she is in the midst of writing a book with Paul Williams, the famous singer-songwriter. Tracey is prolific and a Southern California girl, a child of Los Angeles and the entertainment industry professionally, and so we are never at loss, and there is no silence at the table.
Michael’s was busy, mostly regulars. The garden room are the bankers and the hedge fund operators. In the front room are the media and the literati and glitterati – which includes its marketers and purveyors: Jerry Inzerillo, Joan Collins and Percy Gibson, Ally Magrino and Jennifer Gordon Keil, Luke Janklow, Joe Armstrong and Dorothy Kalins, Chris Meigher and Lily Hoagland (Quest managing editor), Boaty Boatwright, Sharon Bush, John Catsimatidis and Eric Anton, Fern Mallis, 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft, Gerry Byrne, Dah Boyz, (only three): Imber, Bergman, and della Femina; Henry Schleiff with Robert Zimmerman, Tom Goodman and Scott Novak (Sports Illus), Cindi Berger, Barry Frey and TV Weeks’ Chuck Ross; Bob Friedman, Dave Zinczenko and Marnie Cochran, Diane Clehane with Ross Ellis; Suzanne de Passe, Susan Blond, Peter Gregory, David Poltrack, Charles Schueler, Stan Shuman, Alexandra Stanton, Kay Koplovitz, Steve Rubenstein.
Last night, Sharon and John Loeb hosted a cocktail reception and black tie dinner in celebration of an exhibition: “Danish Paintings from the Collection of Ambassador John Loeb Jr.” at Scandinavia House, the Nordic Center in America at 58 Park Avenue and 37th Street.

Ambassador Loeb who was ambassador to Denmark during the Reagan Administration is a long time collector of this art. If you don’t know it (and I didn’t know it), you do – you just haven’t seen these works. I am not equipped as an art historian to describe what I am seeing except to say that it has an emotional power in its beauty that draws me in to want to see more, and to know.
The exhibition, as you can see by the invitation to last night’s dinner “Danish Paintings from the Golden Age to the Modern Breakthrough” opens on Saturday, October 12th and runs through January 18th, 2014.  It’s a beautiful collection, dreamy, yet earthy, serene and soothing.

This was an especially good dinner party in New York. There were more than a hundred guests. The menu was Danish, prepared (even the bread and butter) by a man who has a farm upstate. The décor was Danish simple but elegant. The flowers, as you can see, were hung from the ceiling. It was one of those evenings where about 80% percent of the guests knew, or knew of the other guests; and 20% were new -- which made it interesting for everyone.
Ambassador John Loeb and Sharon Handler Loeb.
Summer Day, Harald Slott-Moeller, 1888. Collection of Ambassador John Loeb Jr., New York. To view Ambassador Loeb's entire collection, visit: www.loebdanishartcollection.com.
John and Sharon Loeb have a talent for making great large dinner parties. Several years ago they celebrated his 75th at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Gloucestershire, UK. It was spectacular, not only because of the venue (a woefully ordinary and inadequate word to refer to this early 18th century English ducal palace) but because the room was filled with people of interest and curiosity, as well as history. This is a reflection of John Loeb’s great interest in history and the history of tradition.

As a couple, the Loebs -- when it gets to the actual event, in this case, last night’s dinner, the focus is on the guests and their comfort and personal interest. That is created not only by the mix, but by the hosts’ devotion to their guests. A wonderful evening midweek in autumn in New York.
Mario Buatta, Mai Hallingby Harrison, Audrey Gruss, Susan Gutfreund, Sharon Handler Loeb, and Edward Gallagher.
Guests finding their seats at dinner. That's Jackie Weld Drake sitting and talking to Prince Dimitri. The man to Jackie's left is prominent interior designer Stephen Sills.
Ed Gallagher, President of the American-Scandinavian Foundation, addresses the crowd.
Ed Gallagher, up close. Ambassador Loeb addressing the guests about the collection which will be on exhibition beginning Saturday through January 18th, 2014.
The guests at dinner as the dessert is being served.
The dessert up close.
 

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