Friday, January 24, 2014

Getting Around

Exiting the Metropolitan Opera House. 11:20 PM. Photo: JH.
January 24, 2014. It was sunny and bright and very cold, yesterday in New York. I finally bought one of those woolen knitted caps to cover my head. Ten bucks, on the corner of 56th Street and Fifth Avenue by the Abercrombie & Fitch store.

It still wasn’t weather to go out in if you don’t have to, because getting around New York is more difficult than ever, no matter the weather. It is even more difficult because the snowplows cannot accommodate many details of that new street design provided by the Bloomberg Administration.  So there was a bigger mess after Tuesday’s snowstorm. The new mayor de Blasio is evidently being blamed for this in the press but the aforementioned street design is a complete disaster for New Yorkers who want to get around in a taxi/car. Evidently they never anticipated the complications that would arise from something like a snowstorm.
Leftover snow up above.
However, I was happy to venture out to Michael’s to lunch with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in a couple of months. He and I always have fierce (more on my part, not his) conversations about the economy, the financial world, the political world and society and culture. Sounds very intellectual in the recounting. It’s not. It’s often as pedestrian as “is that a fly in my soup?”

However, they lead all over the place, provide amazement, shock, awe not to mention laughter. We’re both students of irony. My friend shares many of my thoughts and inteterest but comes to the subjects with a somewhat more bemused point of view. Not a bad idea, as Shakespeare has demonstrated best for the past half millennium.

The thing about life in New York is that you’re exposed to all the elements of nature and man including the cultural, political and financial — en masse. Remember, so many of the players, those who inhabit the corridors and the gardens of power in America, and often in the world, are right here before your very eyes (sometimes) and ears (also sometimes), on the street, in some restaurant, at some club, some charity gala, some dinner table. The Degree of Separation between you and half the world is often no more than two or three degrees, at most.
The schmutz underfoot.
Michael’s was back to its old busy self. The coatroom was jammed with heavy winter coats and scarves. So the town’s back out again. Former police commissioner Ray Kelly was lunching with another man at Table one. Ralph Lauren was at the corner table. The ubiquitous Micky Ateyeh was lunching with Ruth Shuman, the lady who created Publicolor and got thousands of New York kids to paint the interiors of their schools (to freshen and liven them up).

The Publicolor projects introduce many young people to the pleasure of commitment and personal accomplishment, That in turn has motivated many of these young people to set their sights higher than their socio-economic environments might provide. It’s a heroine’s work in my book.
Ruth Shuman at home (see NYSD House).
Today is also the birthday of another old friend of mine, Peter Rogers. A boy from Hattiesburg, Mississippi who had an after-school job as a window display designer in the local department store when he was in high school. The store’s owner was so impressed with the boy’s creativity that he advised the him not to go to college but to go to New York and get into the advertising business.

And so the boy did. He ended up owning his own agency. Perhaps his most famous advertising campaign is the “What Becomes a Legend Most…” for Blackgama furs. All those famous glamour girls were Peter’s choices. Some of them, like Joan Crawford, Claudette Colbert, and Ethel Merman became good, close friends.

Peter Rogers with two of his great friends, Liz Smith and the late, great, much missed Ann Richards.
But Peter’s life has been blessed with many many good friends. He and Liz Smith have been best friends since the 50s and are still in frequent communication. He’s not one to suffer fools (unless they’re really good at it — although eventually he gets the message), but he’s very outspoken in terms of expressing his likes and dislikes — and boy, he has ‘em. That’s his special charm. That and his inimitable critical opinions about people, places and things. He loves dogs too.

A few years ago after a half century as a New Yorker and man about town, he upped and sold his apartment and his fabulous house that he designed for himself in Litchfield County, and moved to New Orleans. Why New Orleans? Well, because when he was a kid, that was “the city” that he went to get his fix of feeling like a grownup. And in some ways, Peter’s never grown up. Just kidding, of course. Sort of.

Anyway, today marks the end of the eighth decade of this fabulous life the boy’s had. And still living like a prince down there in the French Quarter. So Happy Birthday Peter from all those of us who know you and like you, even love you! The Legend who became the Most.

Peter shares his birthday with such immortals as Emperor Hadrian, John Vanbrugh, the great British architect who designed Blenheim Palace, Frederick the GreatEdith Wharton, not to mention Oral Roberts (remember him?), Maria Tallchief, and John Belushi.  And many others too numerous to mention.
The birthday boy Peter Rogers at his former Litchfield County home (see NYSD House).
Last night was a busy one in New York. I started out at the Park Avenue Armory where the Winter Antiques Show was celebrating its 60th season with a gala benefit for East Side House Settlement. This is always a beautiful evening, and the benefit is well-attended. There was a big crowd and the dealers’ stalls are full of wonderful treasures.

I go to these benefit evenings with the primary objective of getting some photos of New Yorkers out at the show. And to cover it for the readers to see. But this year the aisles were so packed with guests that I focused on the stalls.

Here’s a taste of what and whom I saw, we’ll be running a lot more on Monday’s NYSD. It’s a perfect weekend visit if you’re in town. There’s so much to see, so many extraordinary objects, paintings, furniture, jewelry, alluringly displayed. You can even have a perfect  small lunch and make a day of it. In the warmth.
A very crowded aisle last night at the opening preview of the 60th Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory.
One of the bars at the show last night. And at one of the hors d'oeuvres tables.
Iris Apfel. Brian Stewart and Stephanie Krieger.
The special exhibition from the Peabody Essex Museum, at the entrance to the Winter Antiques Show
Fom the Peabody Essex Museum.
Nathaniel Hawthorne by Charles Osgood at the Peabody Essex Museum exhibition. Peter Finer, London, England.
Bruce Shostak and Craig Fitt.
Keith Scott.
Kentshire, New York, NY.
Sheila Kotur. Sheila's brooch.
Frank and Barbara Pollack American Antiques & Art, Highland Park, IL.
Suzanne Courcier • Robert W. Wilkins, Yarmouth Port, MA.
Jo Hallingby and Larry Kaiser. Kathy Sloane.
Diamond, emerald and pearl necklace at A La Vieille Russie.
I left the Winter Antiques Show and got a cab going south on Park Avenue and went over to Sutton Place where Diane and Stephen Volk were hosting a reception for our new Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and his wife Rikki Klieman.

Commissioner Bratton and his wife Rikki Klieman last night at a reception given for them by Diane and Stephan Volk at their Sutton Place apartment.
Still friends: Leonard Lauder and Linda Johnson.
I got there just as the Brattons were speaking to the guests about his job in the city and her commitments to supporting her husband by getting involved in projects assisting children, particularly working with the Police Athletic League. There is a uniqueness in their marriage partnership because they have both had long professional careers in law and law enforcement. As a couple you can see they’re a team, but both are by their professional ethos, separate. Rikki Klieman’s commitment to the PAL exemplifies it.

I met another old friend, Beth Rudin DeWoody (we made plans in advance) there and afterwards we went up to Sette Mezzo for dinner. One the lips of many of yesterday was the story in New York Post  by Kirsten Fleming about Leonard Lauder who is regarded by not a few as the hottest catch in town. Mr. Lauder, who was widowed two and a half years ago on the death of his wife Evelyn. Last Fall it looked as if there would be a new Mrs. Lauder in the person of Linda Johnson, the executive director of the Brooklyn Public Library.

That relationship didn’t quite make it and it was announced publicly last December that the couple had decided not to tie the knot.

Meanwhile, last night at Sette, several people mentioned the item to me (there was a quote by me in it) and discussed what they thought. This is how New York is like the neighborhood in a small town. There was speculation on the what’s and why’s of the Lauder-Johnson relationship. The same way we speculate on the life of stars whom we basically know nothing about. Nevertheless it provides that grist for the pleasure of the mindless mill we all know and love. Coincidentally, and again, this is what I mean about the neighborhood, when Beth and I were leaving the restaurant, Linda Johnson herself was dining with three friends at a table by the entrance.
The cookies, which never last long, at Sette Mezzo.
This week is a real merry-go round of art and antique fairs. Wednesday night, The METRO Show, opened at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. Now in its 3rd year, this show packs a visual punch with a dazzling array of fine and decorative arts. From ethnographic to abstract art, from outsider to Pop Art, folk art to decorative arts, the fair's message is one of inclusion — that great ideas, great art and great design are best when presented creatively side by side in an integrated fashion. This year they’re featuring METRO Curates, where each dealer is presenting individual exhibitions or single-themed presentations based on their specialties.

Those who braved the frigid temps to check out the goods were Jerry Lauren, John and Joan Schorsch, Stephen Earle, Mark Lurie, Barbara and John Wilkerson, Arlie Sulka, Ellie Cullman, Geoffrey Bradfield, Roric Tobin, Justin Concannon, Dennis Rolland, Harry Heissmann, Sandra Nunnerley, Jeremy Broderick, Ronald Brick, Michael Hill, Caroline Sollis, Eide Rita, Robert Young, Elle Shushan, Hrag Vartanian Robin Cembalest, Veken Gueyikian, Warren Weitman and Eve Reid, Vyna St. Phard, Erica Raphael, Mark Lyman, Michael Franks, Ann Mezko, Carol Pulitzer, Clinton Howell, Ann Harris, Caroline Kerrigan Lerch, Shawn Henderson, and the ubiquitous curateor of the art, antiques and the antiquaires, Wendy Moonan.
Carl Hammer, Amy Finkel ,Tim Hill, Mark Lyman ,Sam Herrup Caroline Kerrigan Lerch, and Frank Maresca.
Beck and Bo Alexander.
Vyna St Phard.
Amanda Schneider and Bo Joseph.
Jerry Lauren.
Michael Malce and Jolie Kelter.
Michael Franks, Matti Franks, and Jette Franks.
Barbara and John Wilkerson.
Josyane and Robert Young.
Caroline White, Ellie Cullman, and Sarah Depalo.
Stephen Earle.
Caroline Kerrigan Lerch and Carol Pulitzer.
Eide Rita, Carol Sollis, Ronald Brick, and Michael Hill.
Michael Hill, Barbara Ostrom, and Ronald Brick.
Patricia Call.
Shawn Henderson, Simone Joseph, and Robert Greene.
Erik Thomsen and Cornelia Thomsen.
Charles Snider and Kate Westfall.
Robert Frank and Robin Jaffee Frank.
Jennifer Norton and Betsy Pochoda.
Mark Schwarz and William Martini.
Michael Lackwood and Paris Pickett.
Dennis Rolland.
Ann Harris and Clinton Howell.
Sandra Nunnerley and Jeremy Broderick.
John Eason and Damon Crain.
Roric Tobin, Geoffrey Bradfield, and Justin Concannon.
Ellen Marsteller and Ellen Parker.
Robert Greenberg, Marie Samuels, and Neville Wisdom.
Josh Lowenfels.

Photographs by Annie Watt (Metro)

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