Friday, June 21, 2013

Those summer nights

2:00 AM. Photo: Jeffrey Hirsch.
Friday, June 21, 2013. Beautiful day, yesterday in New York. Sunny, warm and mild. Today is the First Day of Summer, the Summer Solstice. The Sun is at its highest point straight overhead the Tropic of Cancer. This is the longest day of the year (because of the Sun’s position over the Tropic of Cancer) and for some as long as sixteen hours.

I remember as a kid I celebrated this day – not in a formal sense of course – but with a child’s awareness of and enthusiasm for the summer that lay before us. No School. Barefoot. Swimming (when we could). Ball games. And play all day til dark. Life was innocent in the boy’s imagination, and the anticipation this “first” day that provided (longest daylight) made it glorious (my word now for my feeling then).

“The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers….” William Wordsworth wrote in one of his Sonnets, 211 years ago and published in 1807 on the Eve of the First Industrial Revolution. The poem reflected his belief that humanity must get in touch with nature in order to progress spiritually. God knows what he’d write today considering that the world must get in touch with nature in order to survive. Although not everybody seems to know this.
Enjoying the first day of summer. Photo: JH.
Meanwhile, back at humanity. I lunched four times this week at Michael’s. This is the result of an obsessive/compulsive personality on one hand, eternal curiosity on another, and the fact that habits are security blankets that we all need for one reason or another (to keep warm).

The big day of course was Wednesday because for some reason that is the center of the Michael’s week of people and their professional politics. That is the day that people go there if they want to be seen. “To Be Seen” is important if you are “out there” professionally. It’s also not a bad idea even if you aren’t. It may provide a lead, even get you a job, introduce you to someone you’d like to meet. “Friending,” to use the Facebook word, is an operative term in Michael’s except it is far more serious than adding another address to your list. Michael’s role is that of an important social venue in the media industry.

Nina Griscom and daughter Lily on one of her exciting excursions.
So, Wednesday, I went to lunch with Nina Griscom whom you may know from her travel pieces to Africa and Paris that she’s done for NYSD ( Nina has lived a kaleidoscopic New York life; rich and colorful and transforming. Born and bred here. Model, television personality, socialite, writer, mother (daughter now in college), and wife (more than once, or thrice). If you see a picture of her, you see a wry smile – in the eyes too – an almost devilish grin. If you get to know her, the grin is often accompanied by a throaty laugh, a champagne chortle, because she’s one of those women who has the ability to take it all in and enjoy. When Auntie Mame exclaimed that “life’s a banquet…!” well, that’s Nina’s MV. If she read this, and she might, she’d probably and say “he’s crazy, he doesn’t know the half of it” because she’s a woman whose mind is working all the time. And you know that kind of mental full-time activity isn’t about paradise. Except when it is.

So the occasional times we meet for lunch we put all that on the table, along with several plates off the Michael’s menu of 45 items (small plates).

Meanwhile, while we were there chortling away, William Lauder was at Table One with Alan Quasha, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Quadrant Investment Management. The presidential level of politics knows Mr. Quasha as well. At the table in front of them, Washington, D. C. attorney Robert (“Bob”) Barnett – you’ve read about him before – Rita Braver’s husband who is even more important than she is famous (in that business). After Mr. Barnett was finished, Lucy Danziger, Editor of SELF and gallerist Alexandre Chemla.

Moving along. Stan Shuman of Allen & Co.; two frequent Michale’s lunch partners, longtime pals, entertainment/media tycoon Herb Siegel and Frank Gifford; across the way, more longtime pals, Duh Boyz: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman. On the other side of me and Nina were Deb Shriver of Hearst with the Fred Siegel; just beyond Michael’s Brenda Starr, Diane Clehane with Christine Irvin, Laurel Kamen, Judy Twersky, Jennifer Bristol. 

Around the corner, father-son Jann Wenner and Gus Wenner; across the way Alice Mayhew at her table with one of her distinguished authors Jenny Conant;  Jimmy Finkelstein with mega-art collector, Apollo Management’s Leon Black; next table: Steve Ratner; Star Jones with her best chum Dr. Holly Phillips; Marc Rosen with Bob Bradford; Dorothy Kalins with Kristina Stewart; Wednesday Martin with Louise Mencbhe. Around the room: Barry Friedberg, Ralph Destino Sr.; David Sanford and Lewis Stein; Helene Fortunoff; Joan Gelman with Robert Zimmerman (they talk about politics non-stop); Alexandra Trower; Fern Mallis; Jordan Ringel; Andrew Stein; the WashPo’s  Jonathan Capehart and Joe Versace; PR guru Maury Rogoff, the Chuck Pfeifer; Susan Blond; Elle Deoor’s Michael Boodro with interior designer Elaine Griffin; Risa Drabinsky; Adam Lubin; Howard Bragman; and dozens more just like ‘em.
Tuning up. Photo: JH.
Re-wind.  A week ago Tuesday, Bunny Williams and John Rosselli hosted a booksigning at Treillage for artist Christian Brechneff who lived on the Greek island of Sifnos for thirty years, and has written a book about it: “The Greek House” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). He didn’t live there all the time for the past thirty years because I’ve known him for the last twenty here in New York. But Christian and his partner, painter Tim Lovejoy, are people who have a zest for life and a talent for living the good life. That is not to say that live in the lap of luxury all the time. “The Greek House” was not that. But it was evidently a domicile where the man “came of age,” well fortified with that aforementioned talent for living.
The author, artist Christian Brechneff; booksigning at Treillage.
When I was reading this book, I could only think this is the kind of life that a lot of us dream about as wonderful but impossible to achieve. I mean, you’ve gotta work, etc. But even without the reality, it’s an excellent thought to lend yourself to.

He tells us about his relationship to the Greek island of Sifnos. He went there for the first time when he was 21, a painter then aspiring, on a search for artistic inspiration, a quest, like a good 21-year-old artist. It’s basically the story of the of this love affair with a place, and how it changed and how he changed by following his heart, and how it ended.
The book. Click to order. The artist at work in his house on Sifnos.
Christian's portraits of Sifnos including view from his window.
Jill Lynne writes: Blissed out. Earlier this month at Carnegie Hall, there was a concert “Lang Lang and Friends: The Inaugural Annual Benefit Concert and Gala." The sounds of the Chinese-born globally acclaimed pianist Lang Lang – a true magic-man-of-music –  accompanied by celebrated soprano, Renee Fleming, virtuoso musician John Legend, edgy Danish-born vocalist Oh Land, and renowned violinist Joshua Bell, was simply transporting.

The evening was produced in support of Lang Lang’s International Music Foundation dedicated to motivating the next generation of classical music appreciators and performers.  Based on the conviction that music is indeed a universal language, the Foundation aspires to develop youth as leaders in bridging cultural differences.
One of the evening’s highlights was the performance of the nine-year-old pianist Johnson Zhongxin Li.  Though short in stature he is towering in sound – a burgeoning genius.

The gala was attended by, among many prominent New York music lovers, many elegant women and men in black tie, who had flown in from Beijing and Shenzhen, in support of Lang – who was also celebrating his birthday.
Internationally acclaimed Chinese pianist Lang Lang performs with friends, musician John Legend, soprano-star Renee Fleming, Danish vocalist Oh Land, and the talented musical children who are the grantees of The Lang Lang International Music Foundation.
Lang Lang at the Piano accompanied by nine-year child-star Johnson Zhongxin Li and John Legend.
Birthday boy Lang Lang with soprano Renee Fleming. Alec Baldwin and his lovely pregnant wife Hilaria Thomas Baldwin.
Violinist Joshua Bell who also serenaded attendees. Lang Lang with the very social Chiu-Ti Jansen (also of YUE Magazine).
Also, late last month (via Jill Lynne): I attend the Tribeca Film Festival to support what I consider an important New York institution and because I think Film is a great and powerful Art form created by filmmakers who are deeply devoted artists.

My film genres preferences are quirky: life affirming unusual plots, infused with curious characters and engaging twist of fate. Gratuitous action, violence, angst-ridden conjured disasters, foreboding sci-fi futurism, digital stars subject matter, and most emphatically – the themes of rehashed relationship neuroses – the too-oft-told tales of failing marriages and families, hold no interest for me.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg (who plays a major role in bringing film production to NYC) with Katherine Oliver, his Director of the Office of Film, at Variety's posh private soiree for Theater and Broadcasting (the oldest film commission in the USA).
Early Indie scene filmmaker Whitney Ransick holds article profiling his maverick 1990's Shooting Gallery days with pals forecasting the rise of independent cinema. Terry Lawler, Executive Director New York Women in Film and Television, showcasing interesting upcoming Events for achievements of Industry Women.
Of the most outstanding among the 20ish films I screened and 100-plus surveyed this year, these, are my favorites: The documentary GORE VIDAL: THE UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA, and the narrative, A BIRDERS GUIDE TO EVERYTHING.
To date, neither of these fine examples of filmmaking nor any of the additional worthy films noted, have distribution – a convoluted process that may take years. Gratefully, now, multi-platforms of Internet, on demand, mobile devices and the app world do increase the probability of all being seen.

GORE VIDAL by Filmmaker Nicholas Wrathall, focuses on the 20th century’s brilliant writer and commentator, whose life, essays, novels and incisive verbiage succinctly covered literature, film, politics, and culture. Based in intimate quotable interviews with personal insights offered up by the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Mikael Gorbachev, William F. Buckley, Norman Mailer, and Dick Cavett, the film creates a longing to have known the man himself.
The brilliant Gore Vidal as he is interviewed in the fascinating Documentary GORE VIDAL: THE UNITED STATED OF AMNESIA.
From the Documentary, Gore Vidal with Mikhail Gorbachev, one of his many intriguing associates.
A BIRDER’S GUIDE is a charming narrative, refreshingly focusing on a small group of “good” teenagers who are devoted to the art and adventure of bird watching.  Filmed in Chappaqua, New York, while avoiding the saccharine, the film is infused with goodness. Directed by the talented Rob Meyer, BIRDER’S stars Ben Kingsley, and the terrific teens – Kodi-Smit-McPhee, Alex Wolff, Katie Chang, Michael Chen, and Daniela Lavender.
From A BIRDER'S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING, talented Director Rob Meyer with Lead Actor James Le Gros.
In the most charming A BIRDER's GUIDE TO EVERYTHING, Master Birder (Ben Kingsley) leads his talented young Birders on a special quest.
The four enthusiastic and talented teens in A BIRDER'S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING.
BIG JOY: THE ADVENTURES OF JAMES BROUGHTON brings to life a wonderful groundbreaking pan-sexual poet/filmmaker, whose film THE BED was a 1970's cult-classic influencing not only my art, but perhaps the films of Andy Warhol. With an unlikely “marriage” to Pauline Kael, James’ story and his intimate relationship with many seminal art figures of the time, is amusingly recounted through vintage footage and interviews with poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, artist Jean Cocteau, author Armistad Maupin, and Stan Brakhage.
Dressed for the opening: The "Sisters," including Co-Director Stephen Silha and Producer and Co-Director Eric Slade, of the delightful documentary BIG JOY: THE ADVENTURES OF JAMES BROUGHTON.
I didn’t know of Herb Block, the legendary Washington Post syndicated cartoonist, whose very imagery is said to have changed the trajectory of history. Aired at TFF, HERBLOCK: THE BLACK AND THE WHITE is the tale of this important Imagist and recipient of three Pulitzers and The Congressional Medal awarded by President Bill Clinton. Both loved and feared, Block’s important cartoons are credited to have had a pivotal influence on Richard Nixon’s Presidency and the resignation of Senator Joe McCarthy. The fascinating documentary was created by the award-winning father and son team of Michael and George Stevens Jr. (Recipients of 19 Emmys and an Honorary Oscar).

The story is told by Jon Stewart, Tom Brokaw, Bob Woodward, Gwen Hill, and Ben Bradlee.
From the Documentary HERBLOCK: THE BLACK AND THE WHITE — the amazing story of syndicated Washington Post legendary Cartoonist Herbert Block, recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Filmmaker Michael Stevens — who with his father (the renowned George Stevens Jr.) have won 19 Emmy Awards and an Honorary Oscar — comments on HERBLOCK.
I knew nothing of the RED OBSESSION – about the new Chinese obsession with Bordeaux wine as a fantastically priced status symbol. The film takes on an extraordinary journey from Bordeaux to Beijing, from the passionate art of the vineyard to the notorious counterfeit markets of the Far East and their billionaire homes and Bordeaux collections.

Narrated by Russell Crowe, and written and directed by Warwick Ross and David Roach, with Francis Ford Coppola and Prince Robert of Luxembourg, this promises to be an eye-opener!
As pictured in the surprising RED OBSESSION (narrated by Russell Crowe), traditional Chinese aspire to create grapes for their imitative Bordeaux wine.
The star-studded TRUST ME is the story of the seemingly proverbial ingénue Lydia (well acted by newcomer Saxon Sharbino), whose talents entice a down-on-his-luck agent Howard Holloway (Clark Gregg). Interesting, cynical, the film also presents great performances by Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Sam Rockwell, and Molly Shannon. Written and directed by Clark Gregg himself, one can only hope this does not mirror his personal experiences.
From the star-studded, albeit a bit cynical narrative, TRUST ME, agent Clark Gregg comforts newcomer actress Saxon Sharbino.
THE DIRECTOR, a film by Christina Voros, and produced by James Franco, spans 18 months, exploring the behind-the-scenes creative process of Gucci's powerful Creative Director, Frida Giannini. In this intimate portrait we witness the intricacies and convolutions of exactly what is involved in the development of a total fashion collection for the renowned Florentine-label, Gucci.
Filmmaker Christina Voros, who with James Franco premiered THE DIRECTOR, an insider's fashion documentary chronicling Gucci's Creative Director Frida Giannini. Surprisingly unaffected, Frida Giannini surveys Gucci's newest colorful Collection.
Catching up: On June 11th, Art Lovers gathered in Kensington Gardens for an exclusive preview of the celebrated Art Antiques London Fair (which closed on June 19) to benefit Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity.

Guests including the HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex, society magician and card sharp Drummond Money-Coutts, MP Michael Portillo, television and radio presenter Claudia Winkleman, ex MP and author Lord Jeffrey Archer and Mary Archer and model and photographer Sasha Bailey enjoyed a champagne reception and special first viewing of the extraordinary array of art and antiques on offer.
Michael Portillo. HRH Countess of Wessex and Lady Wolfson.
The evening ended with a glittering dinner hosted by presenter and pundit Gyles Brandreth, held in the restaurant 1851, run by the Admirable Crichton. A live auction with Jeffrey Archer at the gavel saw heated bidding for prizes including a week's stay for ten guests in a palazzo in Umbria, tickets to Ladies' Finals day at Wimbledon, and a year of fine dining.

The event raised over £300,000 for the charity to support vital child health research and the development of breakthrough treatments for children.
Anna Haughton and Prof Martin Elliott. Claudia Winkleman.
Art Antiques London director Anna Haughton said: "We're delighted to be supporting Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity this year. It's wonderful to launch Art Antiques London by raising much-needed funds for such an important cause. We'd like to thank everyone who gave so generously on the night to help the charity make a real difference for young patients and their families."

One of London's most stylish arts and antiques fairs, Art Antiques London brings together some of the world's leading art dealers. This year the fair welcomes new international exhibitors, including Maastricht based gallery Roell Fine Art and Milanese jewellery dealer Sabbadini. New participants from the UK include John Mitchell Fine Paintings, William Thuillier Fine Art, Richard Ogden Ltd and Sylvia Powell Decorative Arts.
Dame Mary Archer and Lord Archer. Dame Mary Archer and Lady Wolfson.
More catch-up. This past Monday, Executives and guests of New York's Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) visited the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to celebrate its 150th anniversary. To mark this occasion, HSS CEO Louis A. Shapiro rang The NYSE Closing Bell. Shapiro was joined on the podium by Kendrick R. Wilson III, HSS Co-Chair Board of Trustees and member of BlackRock's Global Executive Committee, and Chairman of BlackRock Alternative Investors, Inc. and Dean O'Hare, HSS Co-Chair Board of Trustees and Retired Chairman and CEO of The Chubb Corporation.

Hospital for Special Surgery is the world leader in hip, knee, and surgical arthritis patient treatment, education, innovation, and research. HSS is the only hospital in the nation specifically dedicated to musculoskeletal conditions, performing more joint replacement procedures than any other hospital in the country. This experience, combined with the unique and comprehensive services available at HSS, provides patients with the highest quality of care, from diagnosis and treatment to rehabilitation and wellness. For more information, visit
On June 12th, CancerCare held its Annual Spring Gala, attended by more than 250 guests at the Plaza Hotel, raising over $420,000 for the organization's free support services available to anyone affected by cancer.

The event was hosted by CBS This Morning's Anthony Mason and honored Miranda Schiller, Partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP for her outstanding support of CancerCare's mission.
CBS This Morning's Anthony Mason hosts the Spring Gala. CancerCare Board President Susan Smirnoff presents Honoree Miranda Schiller with the Help and Hope Award.
Guests enjoyed a cocktail reception, silent and live auctions with Sotheby's Auctioneer Courtney Booth, and dinner.

The emotional highlight of the evening was the debut of CancerCare's video highlighting three courageous clients. Heidi, Robert and Fred shared their deeply personal stories and how CancerCare was there to help them cope with the emotional and practical challenges of cancer.
Founded in 1944, CancerCare® is dedicated to helping people cope with, and manage the emotional and practical challenges of cancer. CancerCare is a national nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization providing free professional counseling, support groups, educational programs, resource referrals, practical help and financial and co-pay assistance. All services are provided by professional oncology social workers and are offered completely free of charge. To learn more, visit or call l-800‑813‑HOPE (4673).

A couple of weeks ago, The Ronald McDonald House of Long Island kicked off the reconstruction of New Hyde Park's own Ronald McDonald House with a celebration at New York City's Newel Art gallery. A partnership with Kravet and New York Cottages & Gardens, the project features over 20 designers who will redesign the original 18 bedrooms of the House for families that stay at the facility while their seriously ill children receive medical treatment at local hospitals. Creative Director of the project, Anthony Baratta, was present at the fête along with Ann Felstein, interior designer Lisa Kravet, Newel Gallery Director Nicole Kapit, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island Matt Campo and more.
Front row: Anthony Baratta Ann Feldstein, Ellen Kravet, Beth Greene.
Back row: Jennifer Nicholson, Matthew Campo, Cary Kravet, Lisa Kravet, Scott Kravet, Nicole Kapit. Photo: Hoon Sohn

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