Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Losses and Gains

Deli flowers. 9:00 PM. Photo: Jeff Hirsch.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014. Cloudy and warm yesterday with occasional light rain beginning in the late afternoon and continuing off and on throughout the evening. Cooling temperatures, continuing a lovely summer.
The artist and his subject (on the northeast corner of 70th Street and Lexington Avenue) Monday afternoon, 2:15 p.m. Photo: DPC.
Ewerdt Hilgemann's Habakuk (Homage to Max Ernst), 2014, on the northern island of Park Avenue and 67th Street, one of seven of the sculptor's "Implosion" sculptures now gracing Park Avenue from 52nd Street to 67th Street.
These last couple of days brought the sad news of the deaths of Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall, and Richard Marshall, the curator and art historian who died “unexpectedly” at 67 (according to the notice in the New York Times) at his home in La Jolla, California.

Richard Marshall.
The world now knows about the loss of Williams and Bacall, both of whom were world famous. Richard Marshall did not possess that kind of fame (I have a feeling he wouldn’t have wanted it either), but he was very highly regarded in the Art World for “his connoisseurship, prescience and kindness.”

He was an LA boy who got his education out there and then came East where for twenty years (1974 – 1993) he was Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art where he organized many Biennial exhibitions.

I met him several times because of our mutual friend Beth Rudin DeWoody. His art history knowledge and worldliness were apparent when you conversed with him, but he had a natural laid back California gentlemanly manner that was friendly, pleasant and kind, as if you’d just met a friend.

I have no doubt that many who knew him, who did business with him, who socialized with him were very saddened to hear the news. He leaves a partner of more than twenty-five years, William Georgis, the architect, and a sister and her family. There will be a memorial for him at the Whitney at a later date. To read the entire Times obituary, go here.

Betty Bacall — pure Hollywood.
Back in NYC.
I never knew Betty Bacall -- as she was known to her many friends --  who died just one month before her 90th birthday. She was famous among her good friends for her thorny, outspoken personality which had its own charm – if you knew her – and public charisma, which she had in spades. The voice was her hallmark but her drive and ambition was her guardian angel.

She had a very large presence in New York and I’d seen her around town for most of the years that I’ve lived here – on the street, in restaurants, at social events. In the past several years I saw her most frequently – albeit infrequently – shopping at Zabars on a Friday or Saturday.

New York was her hometown, as it was Bogart’s (he grew up on Riverside Drive, she in the Bronx). After Bogart died, Bacall had the wisdom to leave Hollywood and come back home where she bought an apartment in the Dakota and her star never waned. It was that move, in my opinion, that kept her up there in the stratosphere of the public consciousness for the rest of her long life and career.

In the 1960s, newly established here, she was famously fashionable, with her comings, goings, luncheons, dinners and fashion statements always in the pages of WWD along with the fashion swans like Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness, Gloria Vanderbilt, the Duchess of Windsor, as well as the columns of Liz Smith, Eugenia Shepherd, Suzy, Dorothy Kilgallen and Leonard Lyons. Her favorite designer was Norman Norell (at least she was often photographed in his designs). She was chic and smart looking, with a commanding eye for fashion that matched her commanding personality. Here in New York she became a big part of the established theatrical community as well as the film society, so she worked, and continued to “stretch” -- they say --  her acting talent, and earned the distinction she acquired as an actress as well as a movie star.

Meanwhile, back in the swim, last night there were two receptions bringing out the friends and fans. Jeanne and Herb Siegel gave a book party for Ed Klein and his #1 New York Times Bestseller “Blood Feud; The Clintons Vs. The Obamas” at the Four Seasons restaurant. A book reception at the Four Seasons, incidentally, is its own crowning literary moment in New York.

Book party hosts Jeanne and Herb Siegel.
Mr. Klein has garnered a great deal of editorial as well as critical coverage on this book, besides far outselling the recently published memoir of Hillary Clinton who is the hot topic with much of mainstream media these days, at least here in New York.

The main subject continues to be “will she run…?” It sure looks like she is seriously considering it, to put it mildly. Also according to an interview she gave to Jeffrey Goldberg on MSNBC,she lobbed a couple of political opinions into Mr. Obama’s sphere of interest (conducting a Presidency) which is being reported with some gravity and being read as part of the campaign to separate herself from the President’s current reputation in the polls.

Although, Mr. Obama is so frequently attacked by so many different people in the know (or those who think they are) that by now, anything from anybody’s mouth must be for him, like the din of traffic on the freeways of Southern California – distant, inevitable, unending and one long dull roar. That last sentence, incidentally is not an opinion or judgment in favor of, for, or about either the President, the former Secretary of State or anybody else. Rather, it’s a realistic assessment of the situation in national and international politics.

Click to order “Blood Feud; The Clintons Vs. The Obamas."
However, Mr. Klein’s suggestion -- of a “feud” between the two couples – has now been made more credible, perhaps affirmed, by Mrs. Clinton. For what it’s worth – which is to be determined later, maybe much later.

What I find interesting about all of it is the assuredness that the mainstream media and the talking heads, not to mention the politicians, have about who will, and who will not be the Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party (or the Republican Party for that matter) more than two years before the election. That kind of self-confidence would ordinarily rely on a practical and socially and economically and environmentally stable world, which is not the world the human race is living in these days.

What is appalling about all of this – and the mainstream media and their “experts” only exacerbate it – is that no one in the world of leadership seems to be considering the possibility of solving some of our problems living together practically and realistically and humanely, so that we can live. Everything everywhere seems to rely on an idea that can only bring catastrophe to all of us.

The happy couple.
Meanwhile, back in little ole Manhattan last night, at the same hour, up at the D&D Building 7 blocks north and 2 blocks east of the Four Seasons restaurant, in the Stark Carpets showroom, Stark and Iris Apfel held a 100th birthday party for their friend, her husband Carl Apfel, the man behind his wife, the contemporary fashion legend.  

Mr. Apfel, you might not know, founded the famous fabric house Old World Weavers which was acquired by Stark in the 1990s back when the man was still a kid of 80 with a much younger wife of 70. Among the guests delighted to be celebrating with the couple were Naeem Khan, Linda Fargo, Margaret Russell, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper, Carlos Falchi, and many many more just like ‘em.
Iris Apfel with her husband Carl Apfel last night at Stark Carpets showroom to celebrate Carl's 100th birthday.
And the night before, speaking of movie stars and New York and lastingness – known in some circles as longevity, this past Monday night over at Swifty’s Arlene Dahl, one of the few remaining (there are others, don’t forget) movie stars from the great age of the Studios, and in Arlene’s case Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, celebrated her 89th birthday with her husband Marc Rosen (they’re celebrating their 30th anniversary next month), Arlene’s daughter Carol and her husband Philippe de Louvrier; Arlene’s son Stephen Schaunn, Liliane Montevecchi, Donald Stannard and Simone Levitt. A good time was had by all and as you can see, you’re only young once, but for a very long time if you know what Arlene knows. Happy Birthday Arlene, my Leo friend (she’s also a very good astrologer).
Arlene Dahl and her daughter Carole Holmes de Louvrier celebrating Arlene's 89th birthday at Swifty's.

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