Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Real Feel close to Zero

New Jersey Turnpike. 2PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013.  Very cold in New York. Last night it dipped into the low teens, the lowest we’ve felt around these parts so far this season, with the Real Feel close to Zero.

There’s a grey and black striped cat with a white bib which I sometimes see from my window very late at night. She usually comes around the corner off 83rd Street, crossing eastward heading toward the park. She’s a beauty, and smart.

I happened to see her the other night just as she was coming onto the avenue about eleven-thirty. The avenue was almost empty although just as she was about to cross, she spotted headlights a couple of blocks up, and moved back under a parked car to wait. 
DPC & friends, l to r., Sparky, Sweet Pea, Polo and under my right foot, Mr. Rum Rum, Beverly Hills, 1982.
She moves quickly and conceals herself much of the time from anyone’s gaze. I was standing in front of my apartment building with the dogs about that time one night when I caught a glimpse of her crossing over to my side of the avenue. I tried to get closer but she darted silently out of sight.

I don’t’ know where she takes shelter. I’ve left food for her under a car around the corner a few times, hoping she would smell it and find it. So I have no idea if she gets it. I hope so. I left something out about the late 11 o’clock hour (when I usually see her).

My housekeeper told me the other day that there are “a lotta cats with no homes” around her neighborhood in Hoboken. She said her husband feeds five or six of them every day. He puts food out on their front porch early in the morning and then they come. 
JH wiith his 2 cats, Ewok (top left) and Sophie, and dog, Teddy. NYC, 2012. Ewok was a feral kitten rescued by Jeff's mother-in-law Kathleen Berger in New Jersey, and now in fulltime residence with Jeff and Danielle. Ewok has the loudest cat purr I've EVER heard.
They have no homes because someone threw them or their forebears out, abandoned them, whatever; the things humans do with life. Some people don’t like cats. They usually refer to the animal’s independence and self-reliance in its relationship to people. Lucky them that they have the wherewithal to withstand the vagaries of the humanoid.

I’ve had cats (and dogs) from childhood. I took five cats and a dog with me when I moved to California. Later after they were gone and I had adopted a Jack Russell, I avoided getting a cat or cats because of the him. I often think of it, but right now three dogs is enough for one man in a limited space. But I love cats. This one I’ve been seeing for the past year is a beauty (from a distance). She’s not unhealthy and she’s lithe, moving fast, and with the grace and stride of a lioness.

I love this weather despite its harshness. But I also worry about my fellow humans and their little’ ones who are not sheltered. And the cats, and the dogs. You can help: NYC Feral Cat Initiative.

Cynthia and Dan Lufkin at the National Audubon dinner.
Last Wednesday night I went to one of the few gala benefits I’ve heard about this month, and a spectacular success it was: The National Audubon Society’s annual Gala Dinner at the Plaza. I first heard about it from Dan Lufkin when we ran into each other at Michael’s a couple of weeks before.

I already knew that he and his wife Cynthia were very involved with the National Audubon Society. I didn’t know this dinner would also mark the Dan W. Lufkin Prize for Environmental Leadership being awarded for the first time. The Lufkin Prize is $100,000.

This dinner also presents an Audubon Medal -- although not necessarily annually -- which is given in recognition of outstanding achievement and influence in conservation and environmental protection. First presented in 1947, among its distinguished recipients are Laurance Rockefeller, William O. Douglas, John D. Rockefeller Jr., Ted Turner, Rachel Carson, Robert Redford, John Chafee, Stewart Udall.

This year’s recipient was Louis Bacon, a well known New Yorker in the financial business (he founded Moore Capital) and equally as well known among his peers and partners in interest, as a great conservationist and supporter of ecological interests.

He’s a rich man, with a reputation preceding him of being “brilliant,” and has lots of land in different parts of the country. Last year he donated 167,000 acres of the Blanca Trinchra Ranch in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains bordering the San Luis Valley in Colorado to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which will protect the land and its wildlife in perpetuity.  That’s a tall order, but a noble start. This is not the first major donation of land from Mr. Bacon. There have been several others, all for conservation easement and habitat restoration.
Robert Kennedy being interviewed on camera before the dinner.
Billy Bancroft and Debbie Bancroft.
Marion Heiskell and Cynthia Lufkin. Leonard Lauder arriving at table behind his dinner partner, Arielle Moskowitz.
He’s known to have a lifelong passion for the land and water conservation. Passion has become an overused word for intensity of interest. Bacon’s work may have a romantic notion to it in concept, but it is deeply sensible: the conservation of that from which all human blessings flow. It is necessary. Mr. Bacon is an outdoorsman by nature. When you hear him talk you see it’s his purest self. Twenty years ago in 1992 he set up the Moore Charitable Foundation. That foundation has also been a big supporter of the Society.

I first learned the name Audubon in the Fourth Grade with Miss Lesniak. She presented big ideas in a storybook form to this little boy. John James Audubon was a man who lived (in the olden days) and loved the outdoors so much he painted it. It was an adventure. His images of birds especially became the most reliable for study. This was before the camera, of course.
Sydney and Stan Shuman.
Kari Tiedemann and Nina. Sharon Handler Loeb and John Loeb.
Mr. and Mrs. Ed Ney.
As a child, I was impressed – as was intended – with beauty and the wonder of these miraculous creatures that Audubon painted. Of course part of our lesson was drawing our favorite birds. For many years after it never occurred to me, nor did I learn that there was a greater objective in those lessons. I see now that among those of us sitting in that classroom, some or someone would take something away with them that would grow and develop into something proactive. Therein lies the passion.

Mr. Bacon was introduced by his friend Robert Kennedy Jr. who has long been involved in water conservation issues including through his Riverkeeper organization. He and Louis Bacon see eye-to-eye and their issues are Common Sense for the health and life of all of us.
Holt Thrasher, Chairman of the National Audubon Society, welcoming the guests
Tom Brokaw, the evening's emcee.
Dan Lufkin introducing George Archibald and his work.
The audience listening.
The man himself, being presented his Award by its namesake and sponsor.
Dan Lufkin introduced George Archibald, the winner of the first Lufkin Award. He is the founder of the International Crane Foundation (ICF). Mr. Archibald and a fellow Cornell graduate student Ron Asuey, started it inn 1973.

Cranes, you’re thinking? They were close to extinction when Mr. Archibald and Mr. Sauey began their venture, and all because of their failing ecosystems. Our ecosystems. Their work has led to reversing the crane population.

The ICF has successfully bred 14 of the 15 species of cranes, both for reintroduction and educational purposes, established research and conservation leadership training programs in several African countries, China, Russia, India, Vietnam and elsewhere.
George Archibald communicating with a crane from a video on his life's work.
The evening's ceiling ...
Mr. Archibald has been described as “a true conservation ambassador who uses his unique brand of crane diplomacy to work in sensitive places, persuading countries and people to work together on habitat and bird protection efforts.” These efforts involving a variety of political and cultural points of view “connects unlikely allies through the magic of cranes, and leverages people’s interests into effective worldwide conservation actions.

Tom Brokaw emceed the evening. Holt Thrasher, Chairman of the Board of the National Audubon Society, and David Yarnold who is President and CEO welcomed the guests (it was sold out -- 560  people). Among the guests: Uma Thurman and Arki Busson, Allison Rockfeller, Marianne and John Castle, Veronique and B ob Pittman, Larry and Lorna Graev, Hilary and Wilbur Ross, Elaine and Kenneth Langone, Gabrielle (Mrs. Louis) Bacon, Cynthia Lufkin, Wendy Carduner, Mark Gilbertson, Stephanie Foster, Carl and Kari Tiedermann, Debbie and Billy Bancroft, Nathaniel Pryor Reed, Juliet Thrasher, Dr. Lucy Waletzky, Leonard Lauder, John Loeb and Sharon Handler (Mrs Loeb), Irene Aitken, Lucy and Frederick Danziger, Stan and Sydney Shuman, Mayor Bloomberg and Diana Taylor, Maya Lin, Jane Alexandere, Ambassador of Panama Irene Delgado, Sonia and Paul Tudor Jones II. They raised more than $2.4 million.
Louis Bacon holding his Audubon Medal, and during his acceptance speech.
After dinner, after all the business of the awards and the speeches were over, The Divine Miss M, herself a grand conservationist as all New Yorkers and everyone knows about her New York Restoration Project, Bette Midler came out to entertain the troops.

Midler’s just got that way about her that makes you smile, even laugh. It’s her eternal smile, her tootsie strut, and then when she sings. Because of the night, she told us, all her songs would be about birds. There were three: “Skylark” by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael, “When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob-bob-bobbing Along,” which we were invited to sing along with on the reprise of the lyric and, and I can’t remember the third tune, except Midler made it famous and it’s beautiful. That was the night. A good one. Good to know, good to learn.
"Skylark, have you seen a valley green with spring ... where my heart can go a journeying ... over the shadows and the rain ... to a blossom covered lane ...?
When the Red Red Robin comes bob-bob-bobbing along, along ... They'll be no more sobbing when he comes singing his old sweet song.
When she introduced her first song she told us she had "CRN -- Can't Remember Nuthin'" -- and so she was going to make sure she didn't leave a word out, using that little sheet of yellow paper you see (she pretty much remembered it)
Midler breaking up the house.
The National Audubon Society mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity. For more than a century, the Audubon Society has built a legacy of conservation success by mobilizing the strength of its network of members, 465 Audubon Chapters, 50 Audubon Centers, state offices and dedicated professional staff to connect people with nature and the power to protect it. Audubon is building on its legacy to become a transformative force for conservation in the 21st century, bringing together a powerful combination of science, education and policy expertise in efforts ranging from protection and restoration of local habitats to the implementation of policies that safeguard birds, other wildlife and the resources that sustain us all—in the U.S. and across the Americas. The Audubon Society is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. For more information or to become a member, please visit

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