Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Haves and the Have Nots

7:45 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, June 19, 2014. A very hot day in New York, humid with temperatures in the high 80s, dropping to 81 degrees by the midnight hour. 

With the summer heat comes, more or less, the end of the institutional part of the social season. The private schools have let out and many of those who can, are moving to their summer places such as the Hamptons, of course, and Newport and Nantucket, and Aspen -- which is now the favorite destination for many New Yorkers who own or rent houses there. They like the mountains where it’s sunny, dry and 80 degrees in the day time, and 60 degrees at night. The Aspen Institute draws a wide array of major personages from a variety of interests and sources. The art scene is active and museum building. The social scene is the old fashion kind where people entertain in their houses (like Americans who live in the West). And the demographic includes a lot of people from Texas and California. It gives the New Yorkers among them a jolt of fresh air and attitudes. That’s what I’m told by friends who’ve forsaken the Hamptons for Aspen.
Chinooks flying over.
Then of course, there’s the yachting set, also a growing demographic in these heady days of overnight billionaires, and the prime location remains the Mediterranean. Cruising around the coasts and the islands of the ancient lands surrounding, is not new at all. It is perhaps the greatest luxury in so many ways. What is new is the increasing numbers of Americans -- New Yorkers, Hamptonites --  who are spending a few weeks away from their villas on Gin Lane and Ox Pasture, away from those glad madding crowds, just dallying about the deep blue sea and surrounded by all those other yachts, and ports and islands, like Capri and Sardinia and Corsica and then on to St. Tropez. Who needs the Bathing Corporation or the Maidstone?

Soon-to-be newlyweds Michael Shnayerson and Gayfryd Steinberg.
Meanwhile back among those stalwart clubs by the blue Atlantic, the talk this season is about not divorce or real estate lottery tales, but instead, real Good News -- about a wedding. Invitations went out this week inviting the recipients to attend the marriage of Gayfryd Steinberg and Michael Shnayerson on Sunday, August 10th at the Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor. This is a real romance story, pure and simple. You almost can’t believe it. They’ve both been married more than once, raised children, made solid lives for themselves lasting, and now this.

If you witness it, you’re watching something that reminds you of when you were young and naturally intensely passionate. And romantic under the most ideal circumstances. Well, this is it. I’m not kidding. A mutual friend told me she saw the bride-to-be the other day and commented on how this naturally beautiful woman looks more beautiful than ever. My friend recalled the moment in awe. “It can only mean one thing," she said: "she’s very happy." You’re going to be reading more about this event and its players because it’s a bright light and something for everyone of a certain age – middle and up -- to consider.

All this and Michael’s too ... Yesterday was Wednesday. So ... Michael’s was full up but that clatter chatter that sometimes creates momentary deafness was not operating. A little more reserved. A lot of the regulars. In the bay, Table One, Diane Coffey was hosting a lunch in honor of her friend Bob Tierney of the Landmarks commission. This was a table of friends and political chums.

Diane Coffey was hosting a lunch in honor of her friend Bob Tierney.
At the table next to mine Nikki Haskell was lunching with Michael Klein, an old friend from Beverly Hills. In the corner David Zinczenko, writer/publisher magazine editor/TV reporter, was lunching with Barbara Fedida, SVP of talent at ABC Television. Across the way: Dr. Imber, Mr. Della Femina, Mr. Bergman and a young woman who had their ears, and their smiles.

Next to them: Diane Clehane, the Brenda Starr  of Michael’s as well as a lunch journalist for mediabistro.  Diane was lunching with Dini von Mueffling. Dini is a seasoned PR consultant, a lifelong girl from up on Park Avenue, naturally philanthropic and always enterprising. Among Dini’s new clients, according to Brenda/Diane, is Monica Lewinsky. Well, why not? Who needs anonymity in the world of Twitter and Instagram.

PR in New York is serious business. It may be because the client wants to promote a product, or create a public image (and maybe eventually become a “brand” – seriously, I’m not kidding – or promote a charity or a business. It’s all business at the end of the day).

Diane Clehane with Dini von Mueffling (via Mediabistro)
It may be that the client just wants to be “famous.” For what; who cares; you ask?  Fame is its own aphrodisiac. They think. The Kardashians turned it into an income generating business. All through the magic of PR – their own creations or a professional’s.

Back at the tables; around the room: Charles Shuler with Kristin (Mrs. Jim) Dolan;  John Arnhold; Bob Towbin; Stan Shuman; Elizabeth Musmanno; Tracey Jackson  with Diane Nelson; Glenn Horowitz (Tracey’s husband) with another guest; Brian Grodin; Jerry Inzerillo of ForbesTravelGuide.com; Jack Kliger; Shelly Palmer; Kay Pick with Jim Mitchell; Henry Schleiff with Kerry Kennedy; Scott Singer; Leslie Stevens with Jesse Kornbluth; Michael Appelbaum; Michael Perlis of Forbes Media; George Malkemus, the Manolo man, with Michael Atmore of Footwear News; TV anchor Lynne White; Sarabeth Shrager; Lawrence Stuart, and Penny Bianchi, an old friend of mine from Montecito whom I met through the internet and the NYSD.
Catching up. This past Monday afternoon, Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation’s 22nd Annual Hedi Kravis Ruger Memorial Golf Invitational at the Century Country Club in Purchase, New York. The benefit raised more than $1,1 millioin to help fund fund dystonia and Parkinson’s disease research. Willie Geist, co-host of NBC’s Today’s Take and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, served as emcee. Willie and his father Bill Geist, who is host of CBS’ Sunday Morning, recently co-authored Good Talk, Dad, after Bill was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

The theme of this year’s event was Stepping Forward Towards a Cure, focusing on recent advancements in dystonia and Parkinson’s research, and the challenges ahead in finding better treatments and cures.
Golfers take off to their starting holes.
The full-day, invitation-only event started at 11 a.m., and included a buffet lunch, Pro-Am golf tournament, cocktails, a live auction, concluding with dinner. Jamie Niven, Chairman of Sotheby’s, once again hosted the live auction, which featured one-of-a-kind items such as a private dinner for 10 with actress Blythe Danner, a decadent dinner for 12 prepared by celebrity chef David Burke; a golf outing hosted by a club member at the esteemed Shinnecock Hills Golf Club; and a week’s vacation at the Villa Avalon in St. Barths, among other luxurious items.

The live auction raised $160,400, the Foundation’s most successful auction in six years. 
Barrie Damson, Golf Pro Tish Certo, Arthur Levitt, and Edgar Wachenheim.
Emily Frick, Ann Pyne, Edith Tuckerman, Barbara Israel, and Nelson Long.
David Barton, Laddie Sanford, Lance Spacek, Jason Spacek, and Tony Fabrizzio.
Susan Cullman, John Kirby, Golf Pro Kammy Maxfeldt, Jack Gage, and Debbie Hodes.
The event attracted top CEOs and executives who joined forces to help raise much-needed funding for dystonia and Parkinson’s disease research. In addition to Charlie Collier, president of AMC, notable guests included Thomas W. Strauss, chairman of Ramius, LLC and vice chairman, Cowen Group; Jason Spacek, managing director in the Alternative Asset Group at RBC Capital Markets; and others. 154 people participated in the golf portion of the event, and prizes were given out to the top teams, who competed in four categories:

• Men’s Low Net: Dave D’Anna, Joe Falgaras, Mark Mennit, and Wayne Silberstein took first place with a score of 52. They played with golf pro Jessica Carafiello.

• Women’s/Mixed Low Net: Susan Harrison, John Patin, and Kim Smith Spacek took first place with a score of 48. They played with golf pro Donny Jarvis.

• Men’s Low Gross: Mark Bezos, Michael Boxer, Sean Miller, and Jeff Schwartz took first place with a score of 57. They played with golf pro Rob Labritz.

• Women’s/Mixed Low Gross: Rob Burch, Liz Clyman, Peter Rackoff, and Josh Sandbulte took first place with a score of 58. They played with golf pro Paula Slavinsky.
Bonnie Strauss, Susan Cullman, and John Kirby.
Jay Goldberg and Tom Strauss.
Mark Standish and Tom Strauss.
David Janes of the US Japan Foundation, Ann Johnson, Tom Johnson, Timothy Ryab, and Morris Offit.
Willie Geist of MSNBC's Morning Joe and NBC's Today's Take.
Jamie Niven, Chairman of Sotheby's.
Gohei Nishikawa.
The evening program featured an inspirational speech by 16-year-old Ben Collier of Darien, the son of Kristin Collier and Charlie Collier. An avid tennis and piano player, Ben noticed something wrong with his right foot last year. It was turning in at an odd angle and he began experiencing pain and loss of balance.  He was ultimately diagnosed with dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that causes uncontrollable and, at times, painful spasms in one or more parts of the body. It affects an estimated 500,000 men, women, and children in North America alone, striking more people than muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s disease, and Lou Gehrig’s disease combined.

Soon after his diagnosis, the disorder began to spread to his left foot. Although discouraged when he learned that he had dystonia, Ben has refused to let it interfere with his life. Today, he takes medication for it and continues to live the life of an active, involved teenager. He also acts as an advocate for other teens with dystonia.
Kristen Collier, Ben Collier, and Charles Collier.
 

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