Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Avoiding the heat is the news

The view from Interstate 81. 2:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015. The heat is the news. Not really. Getting out of it away from it, avoiding it, is the news.
The view later that evening from the Upper West Side. 7:25 PM.
Last weekend JH and his wife Danielle joined his mother, father, brother, and sister on a trip to the north – to Ithaca where his father went to college, and to visit some of the wineries and vineyards in the Finger Lakes. The reason: it was his mother’s birthday and she thought it might be nice to spend it up in the country with her family. The family returned to New York yesterday afternoon probably relieved from the long drive but with the pleasant memories of being together.
JH took this photo of them, minus Pop, at one of their stays. That’s Mom – Rochelle – in the center, flanked by Stefanie and Jason, JH’s brother and sister.
And here she is with her husband, David, of 41 years.
And the rest of the gang, including JH and his wife Danielle, at Sheldrake Point winery on Cayuga Lake, NY.
My weekend was spent mainly at my desk. You don’t need to hear about it. It would only make you continue scrolling. And the heat was in residence also.

Yesterday I went to lunch at Michael’s with Linda Fairstein, the novelist whose 17th of the Alexandra Cooper detective series “Devil’s Bridge” will be published on August 11th. Seventeen – one a year; awesome. Not only awesome but there’s a whole world out there who follow Alexandra Cooper. Those that do will be happy to learn, she and her partner Mike have finally gotten together after office hours and in “real” life. 
DPC and Linda Fairstein at Michael's.
The Devil’s Bridge that figures in the title is the George Washington Bridge. I’ve driven over it countless times as well as by it possibly thousands of times over the years.

Othmar Ammann in front of "Devil’s Bridge."
I knew nothing about its building until this year when I read Donald L. Miller’s fabulous book “Supreme City; How the Jazz Age in Manhattan Gave Birth To Modern America.” Nor would I have ever imagined reading an entire chapter on the history of its construction, but I did in this book. And, call it sentiment or over-reaching but I wept at the end of it. It is a great accomplishment and achievement for its builder Othmar Ammann, and for its travelers not to mention New York City.

Ammann was a man of great sensibilities, common sense and intelligence. Never heard of him? Neither had I until I learned the effect this man had on my life, your life, all our lives in New York. Le Corbusier on seeing the finished bridge (it opened in 1931, same year as the Empire State), described it as fire-forged steel raised to art.

So that is Linda’s locale for this new crime mystery. And that’s all I know right now. In two weeks, I’ll have the details.
The dinner scene at The Robert Kennedy Human Rights Gala in Monte Carlo. Photo: Harry Benson.
Meanwhile, I got the following note from Gigi (Mrs. Harry) Benson about a trip they took to Monaco  for the Robert Kennedy Human Rights Gala. Gigi sent us a few photos that The Master, Harry took at the gala where his iconic photographic images were sold at auction to raise money.
Here is Gigi’s message, dated last Friday:

Dear David,

The Robert Kennedy Human Rights Gala last night in Monte Carlo was really quite fabulous.  Wish you had been here. The event raised a substantial amount for the human rights projects  spearheaded by Kerry Kennedy.

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco
was the honored patron, beautiful Kerry Kennedy, lovely in white, was the co-hostess with the elegant Lia Riva. The Gala was held in the Riva Tunnel where Riva boats were perched on lofts above our heads.  Master Chef Gualtiero Marchesi served Risotto Milanese topped with a golden crest; lobster in cream with sweet peppers, and Italian meringue, all served with Veuve Clicquot and Bianco Passito 2012.

The live auction of Harry's photographs of Robert Kennedy and also of the Grimaldi family was a highlight of the evening and the bidding was enthusiastic.
Up for auction: Harry Benson's photograph of Princess Caroline of Monaco (1986).
Also auctioned off: Harry Benson's photograph of Bobby and Kerry (1966).
Prince Albert was delightful and greeted everyone who approached him, posed for photographs and even bid on several of the photographs himself.

Documentary film maker Alan Friedman was master of ceremonies. Francois Tajan was the auctioneer speaking in Italian, French and English at the same time.

Opera tenor Frencesco Grollo enthralled with his performance. Eddy the magician entertained and the Gypsy Queens belted out songs from the '50s and '60s.

Guests came from all over the world for the evening and they weren't disappointed.
Kerry Kennedy and H.S.H. Prince Albert. Photo: Harry Benson.
Lia Riva. Photo: Harry Benson.
Gualtiero Marchesi. Photo: Harry Benson.
Gigi Benson. Photo: Harry Benson.
Catching up.  Early last month, our friends down in Nashville, held the 53rd annual Swan Ball, one of the South’s most prestkgious white tie charity events benefiting Cheekwood, Nashville’s beloved botanical and art treasure.

Swan Ball 2015 Co Chairmen Kathleen Estes and Barby White (Kathleen in Christian Dior pale pink satin couture, and Barby in Rubin Singer blue hand draped Baldachin fabric splashed with brightly spun gold).
The Ball design, created by internationally acclaimed, New York-based David Stark, was inspired by Cheekwood’s timeless elegance. The gorgeous evening was set in Cheekwood’s lush botanical gardens with florals cascading in a neutral palette of classic and elegant shades of pale pinks, creams, ivories, blush and buff, dotted with the ever present time symbol of clocks. 

Adding to the magic was the unforgettable and timeless performance of Jennifer Hudson, who stole the crowd’s hearts with a fabulous hour long set of her own hits and covers from some of the greats including Aretha Franklin and the late Whitney Houston

Approximately 925 Swan Ball guests — and the younger Late Party set (under 35) — along with the Swan Ball Auction held in May 2015, helped raise more than $1 million for Cheekwood.

Guests also were treated with a view of Jaume Plensa’s “Human Landscape” exhibit on display throughout the historical grounds of Cheekwood.
Swan Ball Designer David Stark putting final touches on the décor for the 53rd Annual Swan Ball in Nashville.
One of the pieces from the Jaume Plensa "Human Landscape" exhibit at Cheekwood.
The Swan Ball 2015 Co-Chairmen were Kathleen (Mrs. Alec Thomas) Estes and Barby (Mrs. Govan Davidson) White.

The Honorary Chair was Mrs. Jane Anderson Dudley. Auction Co-Chairmen: Cathy (Mrs. Van P.) East III and Carolyn (Mrs. T. Stephen Cameron) Taylor. The official jeweler of the evening was Paolo Costagli.

Founded by Mrs. Jane Anderson Dudley and celebrating its 53rd year, The Swan Ball is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful events. The fundraising efforts of The Swan Ball annually benefit Cheekwood, a nationally recognized destination renowned for its distinctive beauty, historical significance and excellence in art and horticulture.
Govan White with wife Swan Ball 2015 Co Chairman Barby White. Swan Ball 2015 Co Chairman Kathleen Estes with husband Alec Estes.
Laura Niewold, Julie Haley, and Lisa Manning. U.S. Rep. (R) Marsha Blackburn with husband Chuck.
Kevin Doyle, Auctioneer with Sotheby's New York, looks over Swan Ball Live Auction lots with Swan Ball 2015 Auction Co Chairmen Cathy East and Carolyn Taylor.
Fabrizio Venuta and Britt Steele Venuta. Collie Daily and Elizabeth Dingess.
Doug and Sylvia Bradbury with Laura and Charlie Niewold.
Dorothea and Andre Churchwell. Jack and Barbara Bovender.
Swan Ball 2015 Featured Jeweler Paulo Costagli and Leigh Reames view the fabulous jewelry collection presented at Swan Ball 2015.
Bill and Sissy Wilson. Nan and Tom Cox.
Tony Rose, Swan Ball Honorary Chair and Founder Jane Dudley, and Scott Borchetta.
Cheekwood President Jane MacLeod presents the 2015 Swan Award posthumously to Ann and Monroe Carell accepted by their three daughters Julie Stadler, Kathryn Brown and Edie Johnson.
Swan Ball 2015 Headline Entertainer Jennifer Hudson.