Monday, November 24, 2014

The reason for last week’s calendar

Sunday at the Farmer's Market on Columbus Avenue. 1:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, November 24, 2014. A mild, not very cold weekend in New York with some sunshine throughout the day, mixed with clouds with the weatherman predicting 70 degrees today and then watch out for the (maybe) snow on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.

Mike Nichols, who died suddenly last Wednesday, often lunched at Sette Mezzo on Lexington and 70th Street. He had made reservations for both last Thursday and last Friday. The roses were placed on his table (which was kept open) on both those days last week, in remembrance of their friend and customer.
This is a bit of a let-up week for us NYSDers, along with most everyone else. Many will be traveling near and far for the holiday and Friday will feel like Saturday. I always think of the day itself as sleepy. Big meals, stuff yourself (you turkey!) and then watch TV and take a nap. I imagine this is what America does on this day.

I know when there are large family gatherings, there’s a lot of activity even if it’s the hand-to-mouth action while watching the tube. The Thanks we can all give – those of us who are fed and sheltered and maybe with ones we love – is having this day, this long week, to calm our brains, slip into alpha from time to time, and gather our forces for the upcoming month.

This week’s calendar was the reason for last week’s calendar – people packing in their events before the long upcoming holiday. For example, last Thursday night was a calendar-jammer. Over at the Mandarin-Oriental, Pratt Institute held its “Legends” evening, a scholarship benefit where they honored Iris Apfel, Kim Hastreiter, founder and editor-in-chief of Paper Magazine; and David and Sybil Yurman, the jewelers. 
Thursday night's Pratt benefit in the ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental on Columbus Circle.
Down at Cipriani Wall Street, The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation honored Senator Tom Harkin and Travis Roy at its annual A Magical Evening: Gala Benefit. Over at Metropolitan West the IDEAL School and Academy held its 10th annual gala, honoring trustee Kenneth Mehlman.

William Helburn's photo Red Canoe, "Summer, Supima, World's Finest Cotton" ad campaign, Barbara Mullen, model, shot in Gramercy Park, 1957. The cover of a book of Helburn's work, "William Helburn; Seventh and Madison" by Robert Lilly and Lois Allen Lilly, Thames & Hudson Publishers. Click to order.
While down at Staley-Wise Gallery there was a publication celebration for Thames & Hudson’s “William Helburn: Seventh and Madison”. This is a fabulous book. I couldn’t make it to the reception but I will be writing more about it as it celebrates an era of fashion photography now historical, as well as nostalgic.

There is nothing today that comes close, let alone surpasses the talents of photographers like Helburn, Penn, Avedon, Sokolsky, Kane (and many others). Digital photography does allow creating a lie but these photographers showed the truth as illusion.

The Main Event for me on Thursday evening was the American Museum of Natural History’s 2014 Museum Gala. More than 740 guests attended the black tie benefit which was emceed once again this year by the hilarious Tina Fey and honored Tom Brokaw, who has been a longtime supporter of the Museum.

This is possibly the liveliest of the top prestigious annual fundraisers here in the city, probably because of its demographic. The museum – which has the famous Teddy Roosevelt statue by James Earle Fraser on its front steps (and unveiled in 1939) – has its roots in the natural worlds of curiosity and learning. It is, according to the museum’s esteemed president Ellen Futter, the largest attraction for children in the city.
Chairman of the board of Trustees Lewis Bernard, Museum Trustee Tom Brokaw, Museum President Ellen V. Futter, and Museum Trustee Ted Roosevelt IV.
Although it is topflight in all of its programs and research, the path to learning for children is a strong focus (although not the only one) of the museum’s administration. (Mrs. Futter was once the president of Barnard). Children love this museum because it’s the hall of wonders and miracles for fresh unfettered brains and intellects. It’s not unusual for many very young children to learn at their earliest ages the names and characteristics of many of the displays.

Young parents know this. Many at the AMNH were once taken there as children themselves. So it’s a temple of learning, fresh and free. Many of the parents of its current museum-goers were at the Gala on Thursday night. There was a spirit of giving in the room, and you got the feeling that it was all in the name of the children, maybe their children.
Museum Trustee Tom Brokaw and Meredith Brokaw.
Tina Fey opened the evening. She was hilarious. This was not her first year at the podium but this year she seemed really at home with the crowd and with her material. There’s a Bob Hope comic sensibility and delivery but 21st century and female. She had hilarious comments on Kim Kardashian and her recent enhancements, as well as a funny monologue “revealing” the real Tom Brokaw whom she recalled when she was just working as a beginner in the same general area where Brokaw was The Star of the Nightly News.
Museum Trustee and Gala chair Tina Fey.
After the first course, Lewis Bernard, Chairman of the Board of the Museum introduced Theodore Roosevelt IV, also an AMNH board member who spoke of his ancestor and of the honoree whom he introduced. Brokaw, as many know, was a boy who grew up in South Dakota and went to university there as well. His background allowed a great naturalist to emerge. In his acceptance speech he talked about the thrill of standing on a ridge and observing the wild life all around.

He shared an affecting anecdote about once watching a mother elk in the distance lead her young ones across a stream when one of the “puppies” didn’t quite make it and instead was swept  downstream. The young one got itself out of danger and onto a shallow spot but kept having trouble finishing the crossing. Finally, Brokaw recalled, the mother, after watching her young one’s attempts from a distance with her brood, finally went and got the stranded one and led him to safety. Life in its purest, most divine condition. 
The cast of Saturday Night Live.
Brokaw’s words while interesting were matched by his eloquence. There was a poetry in his expression of his life experience, the words of a thoughtful man.

After our chicken pot pie, Ellen Futter took the podium to tell the guests about the year and the museum’s advancements. The numbers of museum attendance continues to grow, as do the programs for them. Then she introduced Alexander Gilkes of to conduct an auction.

Auctions at benefit galas are now part of every program. They are an additional fundraising device and they can be interesting and are meant with the best intent. But they can also be boring, provoking audible groans at times, and at times embarrassing when the audience response is so unenthusiastic that you fear nothing will be purchased. There are several people in the auction business who usually conduct these charity auctions. Each has his or her own style and all of it amounts to cajoling the guests to bid on something, on anything to raise the donations. The auctioneers are all polished and clever, and work hard at it. And theirs is all donated time and energy.
Auctioneer Alexander Gilkes, Paddle8.
Under ideal circumstances, they can be very successful.

Thursday night was one such case. Mr. Gilkes who is a tall and wiry young Englishman of thirty-five, well groomed, well-turned out, naturally well-tailored as the Brits can appear to be, he seemed like a pleasant fellow with a pleasant manner of speaking at table. (I was at his table and was seated next to his wife, the fashion designer, Misha Nonoo.)

When he took the stage to conduct the auction, that pleasant, reserved-looking fellow exuded a burst of fresh energy as he began the bidding that was disarming and charming. The first item was a place for 29 people on the steps of the Museum this coming Thursday for the Macy’s Day parade. The enthusiasm for the bidding quickly took the price up into the tens of thousands and soon Gilkes was accepting two bids, doubling the amount (close to $90,000).
Dinner in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.
There were three items and as the auctioneer conducted the bidding, he did something that I’ve never seen before (which doesn’t mean it hasn’t occurred with others). He thanked  each bidder each time on each individual bid. “Thank you! Thank you!” he shouted into the great room. His height and ranginess coupled with his well-groomed, well-tailored silhouette gave the event a kind of elegant but flashy, with-it drama. Fun even just to watch. Coupled with his individual “thank you’s” while pointing in the direction of each bidder, made it a great performance. Promise everywhere.

By the time Mr. Gilkes was finished (and he was brief), he’d managed to raise the evening’s total contributions by more than $1 million. I think they ended the night with a total of $3 million and the donors seemed really up for it.
Dinner was delicious, created by Mario Batali: Beet Salad with Baby Spinach and Coach Farm Goat Cheese; Chicken Potpie with Chard and Peas, Carrots with Cumin, Honey and Ancho Chiles, and Classic Apple Tart Tatin. I mention the menu because I noticed that everyone at my table finished every morsel. And fairly quickly. That is unusual. It was that delicious. A great menu can only enhance an already great evening.

After the main course came a performance by Bruno Mars. You know Bruno Mars? I didn’t; I’m so out of it in terms of current rock. He was on Saturday Night Live this past Saturday night with Mark Ronson performing their new track “Uptown Funk” and backed by a powerful horn section, backup singers. 
Bruno Mars performs.
I’d never seen or heard Bruno Mars before. He’s hot; a real dynamo entertainer who gives you a performance. With his musicians he gave the room some of that very good old R&B rock-and-roll but now, contemporary, loud and boisterous so that in very few minutes the joint – the vast Milstein Hall – was rockin’. I forget that the mid-life generation, parents and even grandparents of the young people and kids today – were all brought up on this. Soon many were up and out of their seats and dancing. Mainly women, but interestingly the men at table were really shaking to the rhythms in their seat. John McEnroe at the table next to ours was standing at his seat and moving to the razz-ma-tazz and the big ka-boom made by these scions of James Brown. It was fabulous. A great big wonderful party for grown-ups, and even old guys like yours truly.

The evening’s gala chairs were Jodie and John Eastman, Tina Fey and Jeff Richmond, and Alice and Lorne Michaels.  Among those attendees joining Museum President Ellen V. Futter and the Gala Chairs were: Cameron Diaz, Diana Agron, Eddie Redmayne, Catherine Keener, Seth Meyers, Laura Prepon, Benjamin McKenzie, Mike Myers, Darren Aronofsky, Colin Jost, Kyle Mooney, Taran Killam, Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, Steve Higgins, Vanessa Bayer, Beck Bennett, Adiy Bryant, Michael Che, Pete Davidson, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Moynihan, Jay Pharoah.
Lisa Guggenheim, Lewis Bernard, and Anne Canty.
Wait, there’s more! Sasheer Zamata, Matt Harvey, Claire Bernard, Derek Blasberg, Giovanna Battaglia, Stephen Daldry, Erin Fetherston, Naomi Campbell, Georgia Fowler, Hilary and Bryant Gumbel, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Jenny Conant and Steve Kroft, Ron Perelman, Questlove, Sean MacPherson, John McEnroe and Patty Smyth, Deborah Roberts and Al Roker, Cynthia Rowley, Bee Shaffer, Zadie Smith, Lara Spencer, Lesley Stahl, Jill and Alan Rappaport, Karen and Richard LeFrak, Kitty and Thomas Kempner, Roberto and Allison Mignone, Roger Altman and Jurate Kazickas, Ralph Schlosstein, Virginia Hearst Randt and Dana Randt, Jackie Bezos, Marlene Hess and James Zirin, Anne and Charles Mott, Judy and Archibald Cox, Laura Baudo Sillerman, Connie Ted Roosevelt, Ann Ziff, and Dr. Sherrell and Muffie Potter Aston. And that’s just a handful of the guests attending.

Proceeds from this wonderful evening  will help support the Museum’s educational and scientific programming.
Brandi-Ann Milbradt and Darren Aronofsky.
Karen LeFrak and Museum Trustee Richard LeFrak.
Gala Chairs Museum Trustee Tina Fey and Jeff Richmond.
Auctioneer Alexander Gilkes and Misha Nonoo. Giovanna Battaglia and Erin Hazelton.
Karin Luter, Museum Trustee Archibald Cox Jr., Judy Cox, Muffie Potter Aston, and Robert Zimmerman.
Lara Spencer. Trish Regan. Cynthia Rowley.
Museum Trustee Rebekah Mercer and Diana Mercer. Comptroller of the City of New York Scott M. Stringer and Elyse Buxbaum.
Zadie Smith and Nick Laird.
Museum Trustee Roberto and Allison Mignone. Museum Gala Chairmen Museum Trustee John Eastman and Jodie Eastman.
Al Roker, Questlove, and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson.
Allison and Jim Fuss. Gabe Saporta and Erin Fetherston.
Kyle Mooney, Bobby Moynihan, Beck Bennett, Pete Davidson, and Al Roker.
Museum Trustee Archibald Cox Jr. and Judy Cox. Hilary Quinlan and Bryant Gumbel.
Kate McKinnon and Taran Killam.
Museum President Ellen V. Futter and Questlove.
Laura Prepon. Benjamin McKenzie. Stephen Daldry.
Kirk Spahn, Bee Shaffer, and Colin Jost.
Jenny Conent, Marcia Mishaan, and Alice Michaels. Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson and Naomi Campbell.
Kathleen Ballanger, Dan Ballanger, Jonathan Besse, Melissa Besse, Allison Fuss, and Jim Fuss.
John Alexander, Steve Kroft, Lorne Michaels, and John Eastman.
Andrew and Zibby Right. Ben Mills and Georgia Fowler.
Elizabeth Hughes Eginton, Museum Trustee Chris Davis,and Allison Mignone.
Naomi Campbell and Eddie Redmayne.
Museum President Ellen Futter, Mitchell Silver Commisioner of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, and Mary Silver.
Aaron Latham and Lesley Stahl.
Kenan Thompson.
Seth Meyers.
Leslie Jones and Sasheer Zamata.
Dianna Agron.
Catherine Keener and Darren Aronofsky.
Museum Trustees and Gala Chairs Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels.
Cameron Diaz and Naomi Campbell.
Mike Myers and Kelly Tisdale.
Derek Blasberg and Claire Bernard.
Vanessa Bayer and Fred Armisen.
Then on Friday: At noon in the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza, CityMeals-on-Wheels gathered together hundreds of dynamic New York women as well a select group of dynamic New York men (who paid $10,000 a seat at table) and they honored Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services and dermatological surgeon and CityMeals Board member, Dr. Patricia Wexler at its 28th Annual Power Lunch for Women.” Co-hosts were Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. Money raised are funds needed to provide meals and companionship for New York’s Homebound Elderly.

Blythe Danner.
Blythe Danner read poignant letters written by CityMeals recipients in moving tribute to the organization’s work. James Earl Jones and Liam Neeson also attended. 

Among the women attending: Donatella Arpaia, Samantha Shanken Baker, Christine Baranski, Ariane Batterberry, Jennifer Baum, Aliyyah Baylor, Carol Becker, Betsy Bernardaud, Alison Lohrfink Blood, Samantha Boardman, Paola Bottero, Katherine Boulud, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Bobbi Brown, Sharon Bush, Anne E. Cohen, Patti Cohen, Misty Copeland, Donna Corrado, Cristina Cuomo, Ariane Daguin, Laura Day, Elisabeth de Kergorlay, Patricia Duff,Florence Fabricant, Linda Fairstein, Georgette Farkas, Tovah Feldshuh, Ruth Finley, Randy Fishman, Lynne Florio, Anne Fulenwider, Brooke Garber Neidich, Colleen Goggins, Yusi Gonzalez-Gurrera, Gael Greene, Carla Hall, Donna Hanover, Cecilia Hart, Caroline Hirsch, Dana Ivey, Rita Jammet, Suri Kasirer, Harriette Rose Katz,Rikki Klieman, Alexandra Lebenthal, Jennifer Oz LeRoy, Phyllis Mailman, Zarela Martínez, Julie Menin, Ruth Messinger, Margo MacNabb Nederlander, Liz Neumark, Fernanda Niven, Kristina O’Neill, Jennifer Raab, Abbe Raven, Ruth Reichl, Deborah Roberts, Betty Rollin,Daryl Roth, Gretchen Rubin, Paulette Satur, Peggy Siegal, Sophie Simmons, Dee Soder, Katy Sparks,Silda Wall Spitzer, Christina Steinbrenner, Marcy Syms, Diana L. Taylor, Vicky Tiel, Laurie Tisch, Lizzie Tisch, Barbara Tober, Nydia Velázquez, Lillian Vernon, Marja Vongerichten, Vera Wang, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Audrey Wilf, Tren’ness Woods-Black, Judith Zabar and Leslie Ziff.

The men attending who “were allowed the privilege of lunching with these powerful and famous women” at 10 grand a pop, (the $10K Men) were: Jeff Bliss, Daniel Boulud, Henry Buhl, Joseph Cohen, Bill Fischer, Mario Grauso, Robert S. Grimes, Rich Krawiec, Michael Lynne, Craig Pfeiffer, John Pomerantz, Dennis Riese, Michel Roux, John Shapiro, Bob Shaye, William T. Speck, Stephen Starr, Jonas Tåhlin, Jonathan Tisch, Donald Tober, David Wexler, Eugene Wexler, M.D. and Steven Zavagli.
Hoda Kotb, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam, Patricia Wexler, and Kathie Lee Gifford.
Friday night at the Mandarin Oriental, the New-York Historical Society hosted a History Makers Gala and honored Hillary Clinton with the 2014 History Makers Award. Mrs. Clinton spoke of her admiration for Teddy Roosevelt and broadly compared the time in which he was President to the time in which we are living. She was onstage with Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson and Wynton Marsalis.
Hillary Clinton in conversation with Walter Isaacson after receiving the History Makers Award from the New-York Historical Society last Friday night.
Also on Friday night, The Humane Society of the United States held their annual To The Rescue! Anniversary Celebration at Cipriani 42nd Street and honored Darren Aronofsky and Gus Kenworthy. 
Brandi-Ann Milbradt and Darren Aronofsky. Dylan Lauren.
Robin Macdonald, Wayne Pacelle, and Gus Kenworthy.

Photographs by D. Finnin/R. Mickens (AMNH).

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