Thursday, September 19, 2013

In the thick of it

One man's trash is another man's treasure. 12:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, September 19, 2013. Another beautiful barely Autumn day, yesterday in New York, with temperatures in the mid to upper 60s.

It was Wednesday. I went to Michael’s. It was busy, although quieter than the railroad station din and cacophony on some Wednesdays. Don’t get me wrong; I love it. You feel like you’re in the thick of it. Whatever that is.

Jesse with his wife Karen Collins out on the town.
I had lunch with my friend Jesse Kornbluth (who writes daily). He writes another column on the web also. In fact Jesse reads and writes more than anyone I know. He’s always at it which is authentically awesome. Therefore, there is always something to learn. Our conversations, however, are totally back and forth, and constantly being returned to the main subject after the distraction of some theretofore unknown fact or piece of information that appeared in the conversation.

Jesse, who has just finished a novel, has been at it for a long time in New York, having written some of the most memorable profiles in both New York and Vanity Fair. He’s been at it as a professional writer a lot longer than I (and he’s younger too). He has an excellent  sense of humor, alert to the ironies that pace our life stories. He is as well as the gilded possessor of  fascinating observations and anecdotal tales (sometimes known as good gossip) about many of the names that are familiar to us. Particularly in the world of what is called Media – which is practically everybody these days.

I also learned yesterday that Jesse regularly, even frequently posts on Facebook. It is always an opinion couched in something literary. I asked him why he did this. He said it was because it was a great opportunity to comment on the current state of things (and/or people) and when people find something they like, they re-posted it. The writer writes for readers.

When I got to the restaurant, fifteen minutes late, he was at the table re-reading “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting” by Milan Kundera who Jesse believes may just about be the greatest writer.  Before he closed the book, he had to share a sentence from Kundera: “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

That immediately launched our conversation about the current state of affairs in the world and some of the characters on the dance floor. From there we ascended and descended into numerous recollections and stories about them and others and us and others. I wanted to go home and read Kundera.

Meanwhile the place was full up. Next door to us at table one, Terry Allen Kramer was hosting a women’s lunch of her pals such as Margo Nederlander, Felicia Taylor and Mia McDonald. I have no idea what was passing conversation over there but I am sure it was interesting as all of these women are involved in their businesses and projects.

Also next door: the very dietarily irrepressible Nikki Haskell was lunching with prominent real estate broker Eva Mohr. Nikki spends a lot of time on the West Coast also, and has ridden several big waves in that storm with the best of them. And some others too. And next door to them Wendy Williams was lunching with her parents – which was interesting. Her parents are rather distinguished and conservative looking people. Her mother was very smartly dressed, a thoroughly modern matron. Her father, natty and proper also. You suddenly could see “the daughter” emerged from that great big television personality. Very sweet.

Also nearby: Steve Rubenstein, PR exec; Da Boyz, or rather some of them: Imber, Della Femina, Greenfield and Bergman. Across from them, Al Roker and guest; two tables beyond, Mrs. Roker, Deborah Roberts was lunching with Cosmo’s Joanne Coles. Around the room: Betsy Perry and literary agent Fredi Friedman; Documentarian Mary Murphy; Wednesday Martin with Kelly Klein; Tom Goodman with David Adler; Robert Zimmerman with Ken Schlenker and Pablo Cerrilla of Gertrude (art); Sanford & Stein were celebrating Stein’s bday; the Mayor’s lawyer (or so they say) Richard DeScherer; TV producer Joan Gelman and son Josh; Star Jones with her good pal  Dr. Holly Johnson; mega-agent Mort Janklow and television mogul Ed Bleier; celebrity PR guru Catherine Saxton with Graham Gaspar and Rhona Silver; Tad Smith of Cablevision; Nick Verbitsky of United Stations Radio; Julie Hayek, Michael’s very own Brenda Starr reporter Diane Clehane with Time editor Steve Koepp; BJ Coleman; Lulu Chiang; Andrew Stein; Beverly Camhe, Bill Keller of the New York Times with Deborah Kenny of Harlem Village Academy.; and many more just like ‘em.

Salon rose of the French Consulate in NY.
Catching Up. On Monday a week ago, the American Friends of the Paris Opera and Ballet, the Consul General of France in New York Bertrand Lortholary and Vacheron Constantin hosted a dinner in the beautiful salons of the New York French Consulate in honor of Benjamin Millepied and his new position at the head of the Paris Opera Ballet. The evening brought together 80 close friends and artists for a magical and surprise performance.

Among those celebrating Benjamin Millepied and wife Natalie Portman were H. E. Francois Delattre, French Ambassador to the United States; Olivia Flatto, Chairman of AFPOB; Hugues de Pins, President of Vacheron Constantin North America; Renee Fleming, Lily Safra, Lesley Stahl, Christopher Wheeldon, Judith Hoffman, Adrienne Arsht, Shen Wei, James de Givenchy, Laura Zeckendorf, Serena Lese, Tim Fain, Pamela Joyner, Carol Mack, Liz Peek, Sutton Stracke and Kinga Lampert among many others. 

Since its inception almost thirty years ago, the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet has been true to its mission of sharing the treasures of the Paris Opera directly with the American public, and to fostering artistic cooperation between the Paris Opera and the creative community in the United States. They have accomplished this through the support of U.S. tours of the Paris Opera and Ballet, appearances of guest artists, student exchange programs, and many productions at the Paris Opera that prominently feature the participation of American artists.
Benjamin Millepied, Christopher Wheeldon, Ross Rayburn, and Hugues de Pins.
Angela Thompson and Shen Wei. Ambassador Francois Delattre and Natalie Portman.
Judith Hoffman, James Marlas, Dina Chartouni, and Hugues de Pins.
Barry Friedberg, Patsy Tarr, Charlotte Moss, and Jennie Tarr Coyne.
Lesley Stahl and Olivia Flatto. Olivia Flatto and Kinga Lampert.
Timothy Fain.
Timothy Jessell, Renee Fleming, Benjamin Millepied, and Natalie Portman.
Flavia Gale, Renee Fleming, and Adrienne Arsht.
Marshall Rose and Maarit Glocer. Carol Mack and Arnaud Tronche.
Adam and Olivia Flatto with Benjamin Millepied and Natalie Portman.
Hall J. Witt, Yurie Pascarella, and Carl Pascarella. Pamela Joyner and Liz Peek.
Consul of France Bertrand Lortholary, and Benjamin Millepied.
Meanwhile, last Thursday, September 12th, Green-Wood Historic Fund honored two Brooklyn icons – Borough President Marty Markowitz and Terence Winter, Creator of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

The Fund was staging a benefit (with more than 200 guests) for a cemetery. Cemeteries are fascinating to visit. A couple of years ago, JH and I went up to one of the cemeteries in Northern Manhattan where several historical New York characters are buried.

Several years ago on a Sunday I visited a small cemetery with JH out in Southampton. Many of the gravestones dated back to the 18th and 19th century. Many surnames were familiar because there are roads in the general area bearing those names.
DPC roaming the cemetery in Southampton.
The more we looked at the various markers and monuments, we realized we were seeing the beginnings, the growth, development of the tiny village, all in a dozen or so key names. You could also see by the way the plots were laid out just who ranked within which family, and who outlived the rest. It seemed that often the spinsters generally had the longest lives.

You could also see how families intermarried until there was almost no one in this small but populated burial site who wasn’t in some way related to everyone else. That of course was a tiny village.

Clinton Memorial by Henry Kirke Brown, 1855, at Green-Wood Cemetery.
Over at the Green-Wood benefit, they raised $150,000. Proceeds from the 6th annual fundraiser will support a new visitors center, preservation projects, public programs and educational initiatives at Green-Wood, which is 175 years old and a national landmark.

DeWitt Clinton, the great 19th century New York Governor who is credited with having come up with the grid plan for Manhattan, is interred there. Clinton was also credited with the development of the Erie Canal which made New York the Hub for the developing territories in the Midwest and West. He was also a Mayor of New York, a State Senator, an Assemblyman and a United States Senator.

Amid alfresco dining in one of New York City’s most beautiful and historic landscapes, the evening’s highlight was the presentation of The DeWitt Clinton Award for Excellence to Borough President Marty Markowitz and to Terence Winter, Mr. Markowitz began his career in public service at the age of 26, by organizing the Flatbush Tenants Council which grew into the largest tenants’ advocacy organization in New York. Elected to the state senate in 1978, he represented Central Brooklyn for 23 years.
Green-Wood president Richard J. Moylan, DeWitt Clinton Award for Excellence honoree and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, C. Payson Coleman, Jr., Esq., chairman of The Green-Wood Historic Fund and DeWitt Clinton Award.
Richard J. Moylan, president of Green-Wood said, “For more than a decade, Marty Markowitz has been a champion of our great borough and he has done it with a style all his own. He is a true friend and an ardent supporter of Green-Wood, providing funding for our iconic trolley, as well as a major grant that will help restore the Weir Greenhouse – soon to be our state of the art visitors center. “

Markowitz said, “For nearly two centuries now, Green-Wood has been one of New York City’s most unique landmarks and one of Brooklyn’s top tourist attractions – and in a borough that is home to the Brooklyn Bridge, Prospect Park, BAM, the Brooklyn Museum, Coney Island, Junior’s cheesecake, Brooklyn Brewery, and so many other world-famous sights and sounds – that’s saying a lot.” Not to mention the Brooklyn Renasissance in real estate.
DeWitt Clinton Award for Excellence honoree Terence Winter, creator of HBO's Boardwalk Empire.
New York State Senator Eric Adams.
DeWitt Clinton Award for Excellence honorees Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President and Terence Winter.
Also receiving the Award for Excellence was Mr. Winter, the creator, headwriter, and executive producer of Boardwalk Empire was a writer and an executive producer on The Sopranos. A Brooklyn native, he’s the winner of four Emmys and three Writer’s Guild Awards. His feature films have included “Get Rich or Die Tryin’” and “Brooklyn Rules.” His next film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” was directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and will open nationwide this November.

Musical entertainment was provided by The French Woods Jazz Improv Ensemble. Auction items included a visit to the set of Boardwalk Empire; “Your Own Private Green-Wood” tour; “Who Do You Think You Are?” – a consultation with Green-Wood’s genealogy team and a full family history; “Sunrise, Sunset” – an overnight experience in Green-Wood for eight people; and more.
Guests at the cocktail hour.
Mr. Moylan extended his sincere gratitude to members of the Host Committee, including benefactors Michael C. Brooks, Payson and Kim Coleman, Adam and Lola Danforth, and Terence and Rachel Winter.  He also thanked the hard-working and dedicated staff at Green-Wood and all the generous sponsors and supporters for their valued contributions that made the benefit an outstanding success.

Past DeWitt Clinton Award recipients include Pulitzer Prize winner Debby Applegate; preservation advocates Otis and Nancy Pearsall; educator, historian and landscape preservationist Betsy Barlow Rogers; novelist, essayist and journalist Pete Hamill; and award-winning landscape architect Nicholas Quennell.
Green-Wood president Richard J. Moylan and writer, director, and producer David Chase.
THE GREEN-WOOD HISTORIC FUND was established in 1999 to maintain Green-Wood Cemetery’s monuments and buildings of historical, cultural, and architectural significance; to advance public knowledge and appreciation; and to preserve the natural habitat of one of New York City’s first green spaces. 

Incorporated in 1838, Green-Wood stretches across 478 acres and boasts extraordinary works of 19th-century art and architecture.  Home to hundreds of famous historic figures, historic Green-Wood Cemetery offers many tours of its grounds, concerts and events to the public throughout the year. Green-Wood has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior.  For more information about Green-Wood Cemetery, visit
Joe Caniano who plays Jake Guzik in Boardwalk Empire.
Also, this past Tuesday night, Gloria Steinem stopped by the Pierre Hotel to kick-off of U.S. Trust's event series for women clients, "Your Value(s) and Financial Future."

Attended by more than 100 women, the series is being led by U.S. Trust executives, including: (left to right, bottom row): Judy Slotkin, New York Metropolitan Market Executive; Gloria Steinem; Nancy Kistner, Wealth Strategist; and (left to right, top row): Edith Cassidy, Market Investment Director; Jane Schellens, Division Trust Executive; Tom Boehlke, Regional Executive; Lori Sieber, Market Trust Director; and Jean Fitzgerald, National Strategic Marketing Executive.

Contact DPC here.