Tales of New York

Washington Square from side view mirror. 9:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, January 17, 2013.  Wet and cold-ish in the 30s, yesterday in New York with more of the same on its way.

Traffic on the way to the Wednesday Michael’s lunch was not heavy but occasionally chaotic anyway. A school bus drivers strike began yesterday, so at 6:30 in the morning there was a platoon of traffic cops gathered on East End Avenue to prepare the neighborhoods for the arrival of the students at the neighboring Chapin School and Brearley school by many more cars and cabs. The drivers want a job security clause put back in their contract. The mayor was quoted as saying their union's demands were “reprehensible.” In the meantime, students will be getting to school on subways, city buses and private cars.

It’s the latter mode of transportation which deliver many of the students to the two schools in my neighborhood (one on the opposite corner and the other down the side street by the river). Here you see the SUVs, the big shiny black Escalades and those half million dollar black Mercedes vans which I’m told are like traveling living rooms. As well as the cabs and the private drivers.
I often get a ride to midtown afterwards from one of those drivers.  These men are a fount of stories about their clients and their antics and temperaments. It’s amusing late morning fodder for this social observer. One of my favorites is about the two ten-year-old boys who are picked up on the East Side and driven over to their private school on the West Side every morning. One day one of the kids says to the other, “My father is a real asshole.” And the other kid says, “why?” The first kid: “Because I asked him for a raise in my allowance and he said ‘no.’ He said a hundred a week is enough. He’s a real asshole.” Dear old dad.

Then there’s the driver who has two little girls whom he picks up on the West Side and delivers them to my neighborhood. They’re both nice little girls and he’s never had any of those “not enough for me” stories. Except the driver is going to drop one of girls as a client -- because she’s a “pain in the ass” when her mother is around.

Evidently the mother often likes to ride with her child to school, and when she does, the child is obstreperous and throws tantrums. The driver told the mother that when she is not in the car, the child is very well behaved and pleasant. So the mother joined them less. Then the mother said the daughter “wanted” her to drive to school with her, and so she re-joined them. Tantrum city. Finally the driver quit the clients.

If you’ve been reading the NYSD for a long time you already know how I’m all ears. The children in these stories are often indulged – what’s popularly known as having entitlement issues – by the parents. Parents “spoiling” children is nothing new although perhaps more frequent in a community like this where there is often an abundance of wealth -- for example, Chapin's and Brearley's annual tuition in grades kindergarten through 12th grade run $36,000 and $38,000 respectively -- and which by its nature is competitive. The children often learn early how to exploit that parental competitiveness, and indeed take on their characteristics. And keeping up with the (little boys or little girls) Joneses.

It is also easy to assume that many of these children will grow up exploiting those characteristics and annoying their future relationships. Although I know a couple of young women, now in their thirties who attended these schools fifteen and twenty years ago when I was living here. I don’t know how or if they were carrying on back when they were school girls. However, they’ve grown up to be charming, intelligent girls (young women), two of whom in particular I like to lunch with when they can spare the time.

When that’s possible, we go to: Michael’s. Which is where I was headed yesterday in one of those cars with the driver who keeps me informed on the local mores and folkways.

Anita Sarko.
Michael’s was its busy self despite it being a cold, dull grey mild winter’s day outside. Inside, it was it double decibel Wednesday self. I was lunching with Anita Sarko who occasionally writes for NYSD and besides being an associate of Society Photographer Patrick McMullan is a veteran DJ of the New York club scene.

Anita is a downtown girl (to this uptown mentality). She’s encyclopedic about New York downtown nightlife. She grew up in Detroit. When she was a small child her mother and father loved to go to nightclubs to see major entertainers. That included New York and Las Vegas, and she’s been drawn to clubs every since. Although times have changed and so have the clubs. The subject now is: Where have all the clubs gone. Anita is always working, however. And always thinking too, so we had a lot to talk about and I had a lot to learn.

The Michael’s list looked a little like this: Barry Frey; Andrew Stein with Nancy Ross; Marnie Darren; Jane Hartley with Judy Berg; Neal Boulton; Suzanne Grimes and Wendy Goldberg; Hugh Freund; Peter Price with Jay Snyder who has been rumored to be a candidate for an ambassadorial post; Rick Kaplan, who is launching Fuse News in February with his lunch guests Alexa Chung and Matt Babel as co-hosts, along with producer Audrey Gruber; Philippe Salomon; Stan Shuman; Rob Wiesenthal who’s recently moved from Sony to Warner Music; the mayor o’ Michael’s, Joe Armstrong with Dave Zinczenko; Da Boyz:  Dr. Gerry Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer; DuJour‘s Jason Binn; Clear Channel’s Suzanne Grimes and Wendy Goldberg; Judy Price with Amanda Haynes-Dale.
Jennifer Miller, Hoda Kotb, Meredith Vieira, and Peggy Siegal, sitting under a David Hockney. Photos: Steve Millington.
Fox 5s Rosanna Scotto was with Dave Price; the governor’s companion, the Lady of the Kitchen, Sandra Lee was lunching with Jack Kliger, Janice Orefice Dehn, and Diane Clehane; Robert Zimmerman with Michael Barbaro of the Times; Michael Fuchs, the man who created HBO; UBS’ Areyeh Bourkoff;  Randy Jones; Wednesday Martin with Elizabeth Gordon; Star Jones with Jonelle Procope, president and CEO of the Apollo Theater Foundation; Julie Macklowe of vbeaute; Beverly Camhe with Frank Lowe. Beverly is heading out to the very cold for the Sundance Festival; Richard Leibner; Chuck Pfeiffer; Jane Hartley with Judy Berg.  And over in the corner of the front room there was a media ladies luncheon with Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford, Peggy Siegal, Savannah Guthrie, Meredith Vieira et al celebrating the publication of Hoda’s new book. See for yourself. They were having fun over there as I could tell from across the room – lots of laughter and applause.
The lunch guests with Al Roker stopping by. That's Kathie Gifford at the head of the table in blue.
 

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