Friday, May 30, 2014

Lessening the stress

Thank god it's Friday. Photo: JH.
Friday, May 30, 2014. The very warm summery weather on Wednesday ended abruptly (like, in a few minutes) and turned ten or more degrees cooler in the early morning hours of yesterday, remaining that way all day yesterday. Sunny and cool (not chilly). Very pleasant New York weather.

Midtown traffic seemed unusually heavy on all the avenues and cross-streets. There continues to be a lot of major commercial construction going on in this area, including the world’s tallest apartment building. Trucks and construction equipment everywhere. Fifty-fifth Street between Park and Madison is a single wending lane border by construction fences. Very slow moving. This has been going on for months, maybe years. It’s easier to forget the time, lessens the stress.
As JH reminds us, there is also the "green" to lessen the stress ...
I was going down to Michael’s to lunch with Tomas Maier, the Creative Director of Bottega Veneta and his partner Andrew Preston, and Ellin Saltzman, the intrepid fashion reporter who covers the Fashion Weeks for NYSD. Ellin was carrying a large handbag that Tomas designed about 12 or 14 years ago for Bottega. One of those Bottega bags with the leather weave. Black. Beautiful, and as fresh looking as if it were new.

Ellin's Bottega Veneta Handbag.
We were talking about handbags and the phenomena of fashion and retailing today. Tomas remarked that the phenomenon is only that where handbags were always important among the fashionable and chic, now the interest has expanded to all women.

The thing about Fashion is it’s a serious business but it portends. Its participants and creative contributors who make fashion are interested in all kinds of things of which fashion is only one. There is the artist’s eye and sensibility always present and at work at some level of consciousness. So the talk went from books, to handbags, to movies (someone thought that Larry Kramer was at the next table waiting for Glenn Horowitz), and they’d just seen “The Normal Heart” on HBO, and ... and ... and ... it wasn’t Larry Kramer. The most sophisticated New Yorkers are fans too. (It was, I later learned from Tracey Jackson/Mrs. Glenn H., Vincent Virga who wrote Gaywit, one of Larry Kramer’s best friends.)

We didn’t cover the Kardashians although everyone at table saw the MailOnline coverage with its dozens of pictures of the wedding party arriving at Versailles for their ... something before the wedding in Rome. First Versailles and then to Rome. Talk about Love Among the Ruins!  When you think of it, the Kardashians – and I’ve never seen the show – but have seen the tabloidal quotidian coverage – are the video document of this moment in our world and our society. The froth, the ghee. I don’t write that with any kind of judgment, moral or otherwise. Their phenomenon is ours; they express what we now call Consumer Society.

Tomas Maier and Andrew Preston on Fifth Avenue.
The Kardashians are perhaps the most realistic description of “society” today in America, and maybe in the world. Looking at  the party arriving at the Chateau of the Sun King, the same Chateau from which Queen Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XVI were seized by the crowd who arrived there on that fateful day in October 1789, having trekked the fifteen miles from Paris on foot in the rain and the mud, with pitchforks and other sundry would-be weapons in October 1789; and now seeing Kim and Kanye arriving with the 21st century version of “royal” – albeit proletarian – flourish at this world monument to kingly extravagance, vanity and excess, this is history too, post-modern though it may be. You had to be there (in my head).

All this from a passing phrase at table, at Michael’s.

Meanwhile, back at Wednesday night. I gone to Michael’s to lunch on that day also. The Wednesday lunch with its roster of Michael’s celebrities and bankers and agents and media barkers. I had lunch with Jesse Kornbluth who is wrapping up (or has by now) his serial on rich kids from the Upper East Side in The New York Observer. He and I are never at loss for words. Jesse always has a story, an anecdote about many among the passing parade, and there isn’t a morsel without a moral or a denouement of laughter. Jesse also writes about books ( and reads a lot more than I do.

Wednesday night. Over at Jazz at Lincoln Center, they held the 4th Annual CollegeBound Initiative Celebration of CBI with 400 guests attending.

The CollegeBound Initiative (CBI) now has a 13-year track record of significantly increasing college enrollment and 4-year degree attainment for predominantly low-income, first-generation-to-college students in New York City high-need public schools.
Ken and Margie Blanchard with students.
They’ve helped make the dream of college a reality. More than 11,500 low-income students were served this year by CollegeBound Initiative (CBI), a comprehensive college access program run by Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN). 

Wednesday night’s CBI Celebration honored our college-bound students and their achievements. This year’s honorees were: Ken and Margie Blanchard, Co-Founders, The Ken Blanchard Companies; Victor Cruz, Wide Receiver, New York Giants; Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan, actors, writers, and philanthropists. These honorees showed the students that hard work and perseverance leads to tremendous opportunity, inspiring all of us to make a difference in our communities.
Victor Cruz and Ann Tisch with students.
CBI’s full-time, school-based college counselors guide students in the 6th-12th grades to overcome financial, cultural and personal obstacles to college access and success, while providing supports to families throughout the college application process. 

For thirteen years (Classes of 2001-2013), students served by CBI have achieved significant college-going outcomes: 94% average college acceptance rate; 70% into four-year colleges; 84% college enrollment rate; 75% enrolled in four-year colleges; $86 million in total financial aid awards; $12,700 average student financial aid package.

I first heard about CBI through Ann (Mrs. Andrew) Tisch who has been involved since the inception. It’s a very good example once again, of how women and men in New York can take a simple constructive notion of charity and turn it into a thriving enterprise for the community.
Tracy Pollan and Michael J. Fox with students.
Also Wednesday night, there was the annual Frick Spring Garden Party for Fellows. Like everything else the Frick does, this is an elegantly simple party, or as elegant and simple as it can be in and around one of the great remaining mansions from early 20th century New York. The Frick is always the allure.

Parmigianino, Schiava Turca, ca. 1531–34.
The world feels better, at least for the moment once you are on the grounds and in the house of Mr. Frick with his stupendous collection paintings, sculpture and furniture, not to mention décor.

This year’s party was named Sprezzatura. The name was taken from the famous and enigmatic portrait by Parmigianino, Schiava Turca, which is on loan to the collection through July 20th. The painting of the sumptuously costumed noblewoman epitomizes the “nonchalant grace” (sprezzatura) of Renaissance courtly behavior and fashionable style.

It wasn’t the warm night that it had been only a couple of days before, so the 500 guests moved into the mansion once the Sun began to set over Central Park across the avenue. In the 1935 Music Room The Bob Hardwick Sound had begun warming up the guests for the night of dancing and cocktails, champagne and hors d’oeuvres. A beautiful party in such an elegantly timeless environment. Here are a few photos of the evening. On Monday’s Party Pictures we’ll deliver a much larger collection of the guests enjoying the night.
The Garden Party atmosphere at The Frick.
Frick Trustee Aso O. Tavitian, Frick Trustee Ayesha Bulchandani-Mathrani, Chairman of the Frick Board of Trustees Margot Bogert, Frick Trustee Barbara Fleischman, and Frick Director Ian Wardropper.
Barbara Reibel, Sandeep Mathrani, and Frick Trustee Ayesha Bulchandani-Mathrani.
Sofia Blanchard, Frick Trustee Juan Sabater, and Marianna Sabater.
Frick Trustee Jean-Marie Eveillard and Jeremie Patrier.
One more once. As I was completing my rounds before heading over to Swifty’s for dinner with Quest publisher Chris Meigher and his wife Grace, I stopped by the Park Avenue Armory where there was a cocktail party in one of the newly restored clubrooms on the second floor. The point of the party, I learned, was to introduce people to the facilities – these club rooms, restored to their original beauty and grandeur, are excellent rooms for entertaining for philanthropic, cultural, and social purposes.
The Park Avenue Armory, Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.
One of the restored club rooms at the end of the cocktail hour.
Hostesses and supporters Immi Storrs, Nina Griscom, Wendy Belzberg, and Audrey Gruss.
More catching up from falling behind. Pilobolus, the world-renowned modern dance theater company, celebrated the kick-off of its annual New York City performance season at the 2014 Pilobolus Ball/NYC at Tribeca Rooftop this past May 22nd.

The evening was artistically chaired by Mary-Louise Parker, and included a special preview of Pilobolus’s newest dance work, On the Nature of Things, which is premiering this summer at the American Dance Festival and the Joyce Theater, along with other performances throughout the evening.
Pilobolus Dancers Ben Coalter, Nile Russell, Shawn Ahern, Eriko Jimbo, Derion Loman, Matt Del Rosario, Mike Tyus, Jordan Kriston, with Mary-Louise Parker.
The fundraiser ended in a dance party with the Pilobolus dancers.

Proceeds from the NYC Ball will allow Pilobolus to make new work, grow the company’s audiences, and reach more of New York City’s young people through Pilobolus’s education programs.
Pilobolus Board Chair Ed Klaris and Pilobolus Board President Anne Hubbard.
The Host Committee was Robert Aronowitz, Judy Brill and Danny Levinson, Marcy Epstein, Tim and Mary Lies, Michael Feder, Leslie and Greg Warner, Tara and Brian Swibel, John Truex.

The annual four-week engagement of Pilobolus Dance Theater at The Joy begins July 15 and runs through August 10. 
Suzan-Lori Parks and Pilobolus Board Member Howard Weinberg.
Richard Lambertson and Mark Proicou.
Lisa Cholnoky and Pilobolus Board Member Rich Levine.
Paul Shaprio and Alvin Ailey Executive Director Emerita Sharon Luckman.
Leslie Kaufman, Pilobolus Associate Artistic Director Renée Jaworski, and Robin Pogrebin.
Pilobolus Artistic Associate Jun Kuribayashi, Khaliya Khan, and Thomas Ermacora.
Doug Hamilton and Pilobolus Board Member Ciara Burnham.
An Umbrella Event at the 2014 Pilobolus Ball/NYC.
Also, one more:  The National Academy Foundation (NAF), founded by Sandy Weill, held its annual Gala a few nights ago  at Cipriani Wall Street. This year's event honored Alex Gorsky, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Johnson & Johnson.  
The NAF is a network of career-themed academies that open doors for underserved high school students to viable careers. For more than 30 years, NAF has refined a proven model that provides young people access to industry-specific curricula, work-based learning experiences, and relationships with business professionals.  NAF academies focus on one of five career themes: finance, hospitality & tourism, information technology, engineering, and health sciences. Nearly 5,000 business professionals volunteer in classrooms, act as mentors, engage NAF students in paid internships, and serve on local advisory boards. During the 2013-14 school year 70,000 students attended 565 NAF academies across 38 states, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 2013, NAF academies reported 96% of seniors graduated.
NAF honored Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson. NAF Board Member, Ron Williams, presented Mr. Gorsky with this award.
Mark Standish, Partner, Taursa Capital Partners, James D Robinson III, Executive Vice President of HP, John Hinshaw, NAF President JD Hoye, NAF Board Member Barbara Friedman, and Chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, Alex Gorsky.
Alex Gorsky and Ron Williams meet NAF students and alumni.
Alex Gorsky meets students from California's Palomares Academy of Health Sciences.
NAF President JD Hoye, with Norm Fjeldheim from Qualcomm, and John Hinshaw, EVP of HP.
Alex Gorsky meets NAF students and staff from Lancaster High School Academy of Finance.
NAF President JD Hoye with guests and NAF Board Member, General Partner and Co-Founder of RRE Ventures James D Robinson III.

Photographs by Christine Butler (Frick); Oriel Pe'er (Pilobolus).

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