Thursday, May 23, 2013

Warm and sunny spring day

A Spring sunset across the Hudson. Photo: Jeffrey Hirsch.
Thursday, May 23, 2013. Warm and sunny with temperatures in the mid-70s, yesterday in New York. Accompanied by the weatherman’s lurking predictions of thunderstorms and potentially high winds, now predicted for today.

I went down to the Wednesday Michael’s to lunch with Jamee Gregory who contributes to the NYSD from time to time, and has published two big coffee table books on New York Apartments and New York Parties.

No June gloom for Jamee.
Jamee, Chicago born and bred but a longtime New Yorker, just came back from visiting her daughter and son-in-law and grand-daughter, who live in Santa Monica. It was her daughter Samantha’s move to the West Coast when she married, and especially the birth of Jamee’s granddaughter, that has motivated her to spend more time in LA. And she’s loving it – granddaughter, L.A./Santa Monica, Southern California, and everything about the place. Well, almost everything.

Telling me about her latest trip – where she stayed at her favorite hotel on the beach, Shutters – and got up at six to have her morning walk along the beach walk – sparked a nostalgic conversation about living out there, life out there, the climate out there, and how much I loved living out there. But you’ve already heard that rap out of me before.

I haven’t lived out there in two decades, and from what I hear it is not the same as it used to be. (What is?) The First Complaint is: traffic. I “have no idea,” so I am told. People now don’t drive everywhere anymore because it takes forever. Bumper to bumper gridlock. A friend of mine who now lives here but lived out there when I did, just returned from visit a couple of weeks ago. She waxed on – briefly – about why we like it, but then ... the traffic. Staying on the West Side, one night she had a dinner date in West Hollywood. What used to be a twelve minute drive was more than a half hour when she realized she was only halfway there. She turned around and went back to where she was staying.

The cause: too many cars. It’s the same cry you hear in New York. The only thing that could change everything is lack of energy resource, i.e, oil. Although ... that’s another story.
The first streetcar system in L.A. dates back to 1874, when Judge Robert M. Widney convinced his neighbors that they needed a convenient way to get to the business section of the city. Subsequent horse-drawn streetcar systems were developed in other growing communities like Pasadena, Ontatrio, Santa Monica, and San Bernardino. A portion of the L.A. system along Pico Street was electrified in 1887, and expanded in 1890.
Los Angeles is the only great metropolis on the planet that came into being in the 20th century distinctly because of the automobile. There was a big moment back in the 1930s when the oil companies and the automobile and tire manufacturers conspired and bought up the mass transit companies and put them out of business – so they could own the market.

That was back when there were lots of still open fields running between the different towns of L.A. country – West Hollywood, Westwood, Hancock Park, Larchmont, etc., and very little of the San Fernando Valley that was settled. Back in those days people took the bus or the Red Car, a trolley that ran all the way from downtown Los Angeles to the beach. Then the Big Boys got in the picture and literally put a stop to it. What they ended up with was a massive urban sprawl that even under the circumstances is still a magnet for a lot of people (not only Americans) who respond to it as Jamee and I do.
Red Car at Baldwin Ave & Sierra Madre Blvd, 1908.
It sounds like they’re getting to crisis proportion, if not already there. Something will simply put a stop to it. Mother Nature probably has something in mind. She always does and she never tires, if you'll pardon my punditry. Southern California is still a gorgeous place to live and dream (and work, of course), however.

 A couple of weeks ago when I spoke with RJ Wagner at the Jazz at Lincoln Center annual gala, we were sharing a similar conversation about the place. Wagner and his wife Jill St. John now live mainly in Aspen, keeping only a condo in LA. “We saw the best of it,” he remarked.
The current state of Los Angeles traffic.
Michael’s was its busy busy self. Dan Rather put in an appearance, lunching at a corner table with Eliot Sptitzer. Right next door to them, Da Mayah of Michael’s, Joe Armstrong was present for the first time in many weeks, back from two months in Jerusalem working on one of Paul Newman’s special school projects, lunching with Dave Zinczenko and his partner who have just re-launched Men’s Fitness. Right next door, Donny Deutsch with two ladies. At Table one, the gang -- Bonnie Fuller, Gerry Byrne, Carlos Lamadrid were hosting a tableful of media and public relations honchos.

David Margolick's “Dreadful; The Short Life and Gay Times of John Horne Burns" will be released on June 4, 2013.
At a round table across from them where Da Boyz usually sit but were totally absent yesterday, Star Jones was hosting a cadre of women friends and execs. And next to her on one side Mickey Ateyeh. On the other side Joan Jakobson was with two old pals, Barbara Liberman and Suzanne Maas. Nearby: Wednesday Martin with David Margolick whose new book “Dreadful; The Short Life and Gay Times of John Horne Burns” is officially published on June 4th. Across from them Nikki Haskell was presiding.

Around the room: Andrew Stein; Nick Verbitsky of United Stations, Jonathan Wald, producer of Piers Morgan; Christine Taylor; investment banker Steven Greenberg, son of the late, fabled Hank; James Cohen, CEO of Hudson News; arts and antiques journalist Wendy Moonan; Jim Casella of Case Interactive; Hedge Fund owner/manager Jim Chanos;  Van Schley; Kevin O’Malley, V-P,, Publisher of ELLE; Richard LeFrak and sons Harrison and Jamie; Hamptons editor Cristina Greeven Cuomo, with Ralph Destino Jr.; producer Jean Doumanian; Warner Brothers VP Dave Dyer; Mark Healy; investor Ralph Isham; Mega Agent/Manager Wayne Kabak; Manolo’s brilliant partner George Malkemus; Ken Mehlman; Elaine Papas, book editor Rob Weisbach; Michael Cominotto; and scores more just like ‘em.

Last month in Paris, The American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet organized a Patrons’ Trip to Paris to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the creation by Louis XIV of the French School of Dance (the oldest dance school in the Western World). It was a very successful and elegant trip, great fun for its twenty subscribers. The daytime program included visits to private homes; a private lunch at the Maison Kraemer, antiquaires on Parc Monceau; an outing to Domaine Pommery in Champagne, and a fantastic gala at the Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera, where they were given a backstage tour including the rare privilege of seeing a dress rehearsal.
Regina Annenberg and Olivia Flatto.
Regina Annenberg and Mechthild Wild.
Olivia Flatto and Ambassador Charles Rivkin.
Marie-Claude Parnaud de Braganca, Betrand du Vignaud, and Denise Sobel.
Lisa Bayot and Pia Bayot Corlette.
The evening program included performances of ballets and opera at both opera houses – Garnier and Bastille. The opening night (Friday the 12th) included a reception at the Residence of the American Ambassador Charles Rivkin, to which a few French patrons, and Paris Opera' officials had also been invited.

It was an occasion to not only celebrate the "Tricentenaire" but also the French-American friendship, and to extend a special thank you to Regina and Gregory Annenberg for an exceptional gift.  The closing night was the black-tie gala (performance and supper) at the Palais Garnier chaired by Lily Safra.

These photographs give you an idea of just how fantastic a trip it was.
The performance at the Palais Garnier.
Views of the balconies at the Palais Garnier where dinner was served.
Officials : Brigitte Lefèvre, Berdanette Chirac, Aurélie Filippetti, and Valérie Trierweiler.
Ulla Parker, Cyril Karaoglan, Isabelle Sulpicy, Elie Chouraqui, Myriam Lafon, and Marie-Claude Pernaud de Brangaca.
Olivia Flatto, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Adrienne Arsht. Alain Delon and Lili Safra.
Christophe Danzin and Ulla Parker.
Denise Sobel, Robert Dewar, Bertrand du Vignaud, Christian Schirm, Marie-Claude Parnaud de Braganca, Ninetta Fix, Mr de Saint Vincent, Amy Papalexopoulos, Marina Couloucoundis, and Dimitri Papalexopoulos.
Lili Safra backstage with Les Etoiles.
Meanwhile, three days ago way down south along the Riviera at Cannes, Denise Rich (the former American citizen/heiress) hosted a dinner and after party on her yacht M/Y Lady Joy  in the old port of Cannes for her friends, producers James Toback and Michael Mailer, executive producers Alan Helene, Larry Herbert and Neal Schneider and their wives Marie Helene, Michele Herbert and Stacy Schneider after the premiere at the 66th Annual Festival de Cannes, of their film “Seduced and Abandoned” starring Alec Baldwin.

Hilaria Thomas and Alec Baldwin.
Mr. Baldwin was there with his beautiful and very enciente wife Hilaria, as were Paris Hilton and boyfriend/model River Viiperi, Brandon Davis, Grace Potter and Matt Burr, Fawaz Gruosi, founder of De Grisogono; Sir Cliff Richard, mega-agent Jeff Berg,  Anne McNally, Patricia Duff, Johnny Pigozzi, the inimitable Taki who, along with Pigozzi, has a part in the film; Loren Herbert , son of Michele and Larry; the Helene’s Daughter Hayley Helene; Stephanie Toback, wife of James, and their son Andrei.

It was an intimate dinner for 50 on deck. There were speeches and eloquent and otherwise “thank-you’s,” all encouraged by the fact that it was over, that they’d got this far – from concept to completion to Cannes. They’d come a long way baby, and it’s not a slap a tickle getting there. 

Shortly after dinner an after-party commenced and continued well into the wee hours of the night on the Mediterranean. Guests were in high spirits, thanks in part – according to a PR messenger I know – to a steady supply of U’Luvka Vodka and 100 cases of Perrier-Jouet. Over, and out. Yes they had a very good time. I don’t know about the morning after ...

The film features fascinating portraits of Martin Scorsese, Bernardo Bertolucci, Ryan Gosling, Jessica Chastain, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski, Berenice Bejo, Diane Kruger, James Caan, as well as interviews with Brett Ratner, Graydon Carter, Taki, Pigozzi, Ron Meyer and Diablo Cody. The North American television rights have been recently acquired by HBO.
Larry Herbert, Loren Herbert, Michele Herbert, Marla Helene, Alan Helene, Hayley Helene, Neal Schneider, Stacey Schneider, Michael Mailer, and Denise Rich.
Paris Hilton and River Viiperi. Fawaz Gruosi and Denise Rich.
Grace Potter and Matt Burr. Ekaterina Ganiyenko and Hayley Helene.
Anne McNally, Peter Cervinka, and Denise Rich.
John Bernard and Jeremy Thomas. Neal Schneider and Michael Mailer.
The after-party commenced and continued on the Mediterranean.

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