Thursday, June 6, 2013

On the Road Again

Central Park greenery. 3:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, June 6, 2013. Beautiful, sunny late Spring day in New York. The fresh lush green filling the park.

Traffic was terrible. But this is nothing new. Congestion and gridlock everywhere. Between the construction on the midtown side streets, the newly constricted avenues where one lane has been turned over to bicycles (rarely seen – I know: someday, just you be patient), bus lanes now prohibited for cars (yesterday riding down Fifth, the bus lane was empty because of construction so there were buses in the two lanes that are designated for cars). Then there are also the lanes designated for turning only; no turning this way or that at certain times of day.
At ten yesterday morning, New York City’s Fund For Park Avenue and the Cancer Research Institute planted first-time flowers Dragon Wing Begonias for the first annual “Cancer Immunotherapy Awareness Month” at 66th Street and Park Avenue. pictured are Cancer Research Institute (CRI) CEO Jill O'Donnell-Tormey and Fund for Park Avenue President Barbara McLaughlin, along with Andrea Mendell and Lauren Veronis. The white flowers, grown locally at Van de Wetering Greenhouses in Jamesport, NY, now adorn Park Ave.
The cab trip to Michael’s used to cost me eight bucks and two dollar tip. The fares went up and it was twelve bucks plus tip. Now it’s eighteen to twenty not because of a fare hike but because traffic moves so slowly.

I’m told by those who “know,” however, that traffic movement in the city is better than ever despite the fact there is less road space to accommodate a greater number of vehicles, and that many of the bicyclists follow no rules and are often a menace to both pedestrians and motorists. Chaos reigns. One cheerleader told me that New York is one of the three fastest moving cities on the planet now since these new “rules” and “constrictions” have been put in place, planned by the “world’s greatest experts on traffic control.”
More urban greenery.
Meanwhile down at Michael’s it was back-to-back, and belly up to table. Super-agent Boaty Boatwright was at Table One with Christine Lahti. Micky Ateyeh was right next door with Reem Acra, the brilliant fashion designer. And next to her Mayor-a-Michael’s Joe A was lunching with David Zinczenko who’s off and running with his new media firm Galvanized Brands. Across from them, Da Boyz, Imber, Della Femina, Kramer, Bergman and Greenfield; Peter Solomon with Rich Rail; Diane Clehane with Liz Vaccariello of Readers Digest; Bob Friedman with Michael Gross who has just completed his next book about -- 15 Central Park West, due out next March; Jimmy Finkelstein with George Green; Chris Meigher of Quest with real estate exec Howard Lorber; Debra Shriver with Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Stan Shuman of Allen & Company; Jack Kliger of TV Guide; Carol Mack with Annette Tapert; Anne Fulenwider, the new Editor-in-Chief of Marie Claire; Wednesday Martin with Kelly Klein; Ed Herlihy Esq, of Wachtell Lipton.

1,000 visits and counting ...
More: Lally Weymouth with Palitha Kohona, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN; Mark Fortier with Tina Bennett; PR honcho Lisa Linden with Patrick Murphy; Tom Goodman of Goodman Media; Bob Gutkowski, Sports tycoon (former President of Madison Square Garden); Oglivy & Mather President Shelley Lazarus; Miss Peggy Siegal recently returned from Cannes with a tale to tell; Alexandra Trower of Estee Lauder; Andrew Stein; Ellin Delsener; Newell Turner of Hearst; Alice Mayhew of Simon & Schuster; Gerri (Mrs. Charles) Koppelman; Ben Lambert; Josh Sapan of Rainbow Media; Sanford (of the WSJ) and Stein; Jonathan Estreich; and Alice Mason, the legendary private residential real estate broker who changed the face of exclusive co-ops in the city, and could write a book about it all (but won’t).

Last night at the Four Seasons: a brilliant new idea for fund-raising in New York, the first in a series of “Cabaret for a Cause” with Willie Nelson and family playing a one-night-only gig to benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) and the military men and women of our nation. The Series is the brainchild of Susan (Mrs. Jack) Rudin and Marketing and Events executive Wendy Kleinman.
Willie Nelson's tour bus parked on East 52nd Street in front of the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram's Building last night at 8:30.
Looking across the plaza of the Seagram's Building at two great New York architectural classics -- McKim, Mead & White's Racquet and Tennis Club (completed September 1918) and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill's Lever House (completed in 1952).
They sold 150 tickets at $1000 each for table seating, $150 for bar seating and special “meet-and-greet” tickets at $1200 for those arriving last minute.  The objective is to assist in a drive to raise $100 million for the construction of nine Satellite Centers at military bases around the country designed to provide new hope for those suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). They will be providing medical care for service members without having to separate them from their unites or leaving their families for extended periods of treatment.

Susan Rudin and Wendy Kleinman.
Last night’s cabaret earned $60,000.

Dan Rather
introduced the star, referring to Willie Nelson as a legend, an icon and a great American. Rather reminded us that he’s written hundreds of songs, recorded hundreds of songs and hundreds of albums in his career. He’s a favorite of mine and millions of others, as you know. You can’t resist that unique country basso-baritone (did I get it right?).

I’d never seen him perform in person although the intimacy that you feel just listening to him or seeing him on a screen, is even more off-handedly charming and magnetic in person. He turned 80 this past April 29th and he’s still a powerful performer, the last of the country troubadours, talking to all of us through his songs.

The concert started right on the dot of nine. He sang straight through for an hour, including many of his hits (including “Crazy,” “On the Road Again,” “Always On My Mind”) and finished the set with Irving Berlin’s “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.”

It doesn’t matter what the song is, it’s Willie Nelson singing it. Like no one else.  They gave him a standing ovation at the end and he came back for one encore “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die…” A very special evening for a very special cause.
The bar in the Four Seasons, with guests assembling before the concert.
The stage platform in the Grille Room, set up for Willie Nelson and family's performance. 8:45 p.m.
Willie Nelson takes the stage at 9 p.m.
Willie Nelson singing his encore: "Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die."
Outside the Four Seasons last night after the performance. 10:20 p.m.
That big tractor trailer carries all his equipment. Those two massive machines travel in tandem.
The view of the towers along Park Avenue, looking from Lew Rudin Way (East 52nd Street) last night at 10:20 p.m.

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