Thursday, September 18, 2014

Accommodating to our needs

Down by the (Hudson) River. 4 PM. Photo: Jeff Hirsch.
Thursday, September 18, 2014. Yesterday was another beautiful day in New York. Now people are starting to remark on what an incredible summer we have had in New York, weather-wise. With all the worries that we have going on as individuals and as a nation and as people, Mother Nature has graced New Yorkers with beautiful weather. Low 70s now with temps dipping into the high 50s by late night. Many of us don’t remember a Summer more accommodating to our needs and the needs of the environment.

Arthur Loeb with his brother John Loeb.
I’ve been remiss in getting this out earlier because I didn’t want to get it out too early, But ... Next Tuesday, September 23, 2014, they are holding the Arthur L. Loeb Cup Bridge Tournament to benefit Lenox Hill Neighborhood House (at the House on 331 East 70th).

The invitation says “Master Points in all sections. Hand records and analysis by Bridge Expert.”  I don’t know what that means  but all my friends who play do. For more information please call Virginia Pitman at 212-218-0474 or email bridge@lenoxhill.org.

Virginia is very clear and helpful. She’s the engine that keeps the day to day things running in this wonderful organization that does so much for the neighborhood(s), for so many children, so many citizens, so many of the impaired or elderly everyday  that is sounds like a miracle.

They’re honoring Arthur Loeb because he has long been an angel to the cause. Mr. Loeb is a member of a very distinguished New York family. His grandparents were Lehmans and Lewisohns, all names prominent in major philanthropy. Like others in his family, he is one of those philanthropists in New York, a rara avis in that world today -- who probably wouldn’t even think to call himself a philanthropist but has actively contributed to lives and to charity with caring, empathic munificence all his adult life.

Like Virginia Pitman, Arthur Loeb is a miracle that has graced the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. Many New Yorkers still remember him for his wonderful Madison Avenue Bookshop. His great philanthropy, however, his natural generosity, remain mainly unknown to the world, but much much greater in their effect.

More philanthropy, more munificence. I got a call yesterday morning  from Bonnie Strauss who was exhuberant over the news that the Bachman-Strauss Dystonia and Parkinson Foundation was making a partnership with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Bonnie, who became afflicted with Dystonia after a pregnancy, created the Bachman-Strauss Foundation in 1995 with Louis Bachman. Dystonia, which is still very low on the public awareness scale, is a debilitating movement/neurological disorder that affects more than a half million Americans -- men, women and children of all ages.
Paula Stein, DPC, and Bonnie Strauss at Michael's.
Dystonia causes painful, uncontrollable spasms, twisting movements and irregular postures, affecting many parts of the body. Because few physicians are familiar with the symptoms of dystonia, many patients suffer for years before getting a diagnosis. Dystonia has a close connection to Parkinson's disease, which affects 6 million people worldwide. Some 40% of people with Parkinson's disease also have dystonia.
Bonnie Strauss’ objective/goal has been to fund research to find drugs to treat it, to control it, if not cure it, and ultimately to find a way to cure it. She has raised tens of millions for research since starting the foundation. The Michael J. Fox Foundation partnership will pool their resources and expertise to hasten help for the millions afflicted.
The Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation window display at 10 Rockefeller Center.
Right now, The Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation is featured in a large window display at 10 Rockefeller Center throughout the month of September, showcasing its call to action — "Help Raise Awareness and Get Proper Care."  This opportunity to inform the public about dystonia was made possible by a generous donation from EHE International. 

The exhibit presents facts and statistics about dystonia and Parkinson's disease as well as descriptions of everyday challenges facing dystonia sufferers. It also demonstrates the Foundation's commitment to supporting research to develop improved therapies and cures. A large television monitor will outline how different types of dystonia affect various parts of the body and how dystonia, compared to other movement disorders, lacks awareness and research funding.  The window display was designed and installed by Fashion Institute of Technology alumnus Sean Madden (Visual Presentation and Exhibit Design). 
To help officially recognize September as Dystonia Awareness Month, sign the petition here: bitly.com/DystoniaPetition
Yesterday I didn’t get to the Michael’s lunch because my date canceled. I usually revel in cancellations especially if there’s a lot going on later in the day. Although I like seeing the crowd on Wednesdays because it gets an added zip to the turnout. Not infrequently stars – all kinds, political, business, media, movie, tv – appear and jazz up the atmosphere especially on Wednesday.

So I wasn’t there, but I got a list from Steve Millington, the general manager, that gave me the rundown. A lot of familiar names to this reporter and probably to you too if you’re a regular reader even if you don’t know who the hell they are. I often don’t know either. Except New York works like any other neighborhood – if you see them around enough, and then you eventually hear a word or two about them or even meet them, and suddenly you “know” them.

Gregg Gelman as seen on NYSD House.
Yesterday’s lineup looked like this. Joan Gelman and sons Josh and Gregg (Gregg is on our HOUSE); Nikki Haskell and Rikki Klieman; next to them were Shari and Ed Rollins with Robert Zimmerman at Table One. Just at Joe Armstrong’s usual table (he’s in Texas for the week) were Duh Boyz, Dr. Imber, Gerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman. At their usual table – next to the one they were at – was Linda Fairstein who was celebration her wedding with her pals Lynn Scherr, Esther Newberg, Faye Wattleton et al. Meanwhile at my usual table was Wednesday Martin with a gang of producers, Jason Binn of Du Jour  was right next door. Moving around the room: Tom Goodman with Jack Kliger; WSJ’s David Sanford and Lewis Stein celebrating Stein’s Seven-Oh day (which is today)(still a kid); The Countess, LuAnn de Lesseps with Lisa Shannon; Andrew Stein, Diane Clehane with Bianc de la Garza; Mitch Kanner with Dana Miller; David Massey; Pamela Ford with Allison Pataki; Liz Wood; Kevin Wall; Micky Ateyeh; Gerry Byrne with Bob Friedman; Maury Rogoff; Catherine Saxton, Carlos Sousa of Valentino; Mark Rosenthal; Alice Mayhew. As I said, I wasn’t there, but I’ve been there so many times and seen so many of the same faces, many of whom I now know and most of whom I have met, that it’s almost like being there which is probably how it is for so many patrons of Michael’s and on Wednesdays. I figured it out: it’s a club. I’m not a club person but if this is, it’s my kind of club, a kind of pulse on New York. You probably figured that one out a long time ago.

Last night I was the official host along with the beautiful Judy Collins for a booksigning and reception for Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson. Their book is called “Gratitude & Trust; Six Affirmations that Will Change Your Life.” Paul, as you may know, has a story to tell that includes a trip down the rocky road to addiction and alcoholism. When he was at the top of his game.
Jane Friedman and Sandi Mendelsohn. Paul Williams, Joe Petrocik, Tracey Jackson, and Myron Clement.
I met Paul through Tracey when they were first working on this book. It’s really about what Paul (and Tracey) learned in getting his life back together and making the most of it. I saw him perform at Café Carlyle last year. If you ever get chance to see this guy in cabaret, it’s a trip and a treat. He’s written so much great stuff and so many familiar songs (and commercials) and he knows how to entertain.

Unlike many performers and actors who have more than one side to their personality depending on their environment, Paul is always One. I didn’t know him in his heyday of fame and fortune, or when he was battling demons when he may have had other sides to what he presented. Now he’s one, and great to know. He and Tracey have been friends for a very long time (she’s an LA girl born and bred) and may have worked together before. She does not have, has not had serious issues with addiction. She does have intense interest and they are simpatico. And she is the writer. It’s an excellent collaboration and it can only come with great empathy (that word again).
Taken from across the room with a zoom and terrible light. Paul, Judy and Tracey.
From out of the shadows Steve Millington appears with this enormous birthday cake. What?
On the table and ready -- it's a surprise for Glenn. At first he's so agog he stares at it until Tracey yells "blow out the candles!" Oh. He does. Everyone applauds. It was a party.
So there was this party at Michael’s. They took over the entire restaurant from six to eight. At eight three quarters of the guests were still mingling, conversing,  There were about 150 or more. The Michael’s hors d’oeuvres or whatever you call them are exotic, spicy, sweet, and irresistible. There were a lot of familiar faces as Jackson and her husband Glenn Horowitz, the real host – who was also having a birthday – have a lot of friends from all walks of life (often meaning media and publishing).

Despite the mixture and unfamiliar faces, it was a very en famille event. Judy Collins, who is an old friend of theirs and Paul’s, spoke about her own experience with recovery from addictions. I’m always amazed when I’m in the room with her, or even actually talking to her, because she still -- under the circumstances of reality -- is like a kind of goddess in my eyes. I know that sounds a little much, like some boy besotted, but there is nevertheless an air, a quality about her that makes you feel you’re in the company of someone who really has risen above it all. This could be sheer madness on my part but it feels good, and so I think it, and I love it when she sings.
Paul speaking to the guests about where, what, when and how but with the wryness that is his signature, and a sense of survival that underscores it all. Everyone's enjoying the (brief) talk.
I don't know what's going on here. I went for a long shot of the room so you could get an idea of the crowd. Gay Talese was there, Ivana Lowell, Christopher Mason, Carl Bernstein (the white hair in the picture), Anne Hearst and Jay McInerney, Debbie Bancroft, Jane Friedman; a lot of conversations going on before and after the brief speeches.
This is what Tracey looks like when you make her laugh. This is what Tracey looks like a lot of the time -- working ...
The room from another angle, looking at the entrance. The red painting is a man's suit (Michael's) painted by his wife Kim McCarty. On the opposite wall out of view is her portrait of him (from the back) in the red suit. Now you know.
A few looking toward the Garden Room. That's a Stella print lighted on the wall to the left of center.
A man named Sugar and Dovanna Pagowski.
Authors at work. Author at work/author getting a bear hug from a friend.
Back to the point. More of the same. Click to order.
Gay Talese and Joe Petrocik.
Walking up the avenue on the way home ... the window at Harry Winston: Everything's coming up roses, but where's the girl's best friend?
The shoes in the window at Bergdorf's. These are the most engaging windows in town as they can be interpreted-- like a work of art -- or they can be enjoyed purely for the superficial point: something to own, to have, to wear, even maybe ...
Diagonally across the avenue from Bergdorf's is the Apple Cube or what you could now call Apple Cube Park. It's a scene. I took this picture about 8 p.m. Offices had emptied, stores closed (The Apple Cube excepted) but there is a crowd sitting in chairs along the sidewalk, at chairs and tables on the plaza. There is frequently a cart selling food or sodas, sometimes live entertainment performed on the pavement on a nice weekday afternoon, as well as other purveyors of business activity, all providing a bit of downtown city life way uptown by the Plaza fountain.
Riding home in a taxi, we stopped for the light at 67th and Park. I was surprised to see a line outside the Park Avenue Armory, waiting to get into the New York Art, Antiques and Jewelry Show which opened last night.

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