Thursday, April 2, 2015

Like life

Looking east towards 1060 Fifth Avenue from inside Central Park. 4:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, April 2, 2015. A beautiful, sunny although chilly day in New York with temps reaching up to 50 degrees.

Sunset over 72nd Street (looking east) at Park Avenue. 7 p.m.
I had lunch with Erica Jong at Sette Mezzo. Erica, who is prolific, is publishing her 24th book, “Fear of Dying” (St. Martin’s Press) on September 9th.  We didn’t discuss it although I learned that it too is a novel, and whether or not it’s related to “Fear of Flying,” her debut novel which was published forty-two years ago in 1973, the first Fear…”’s main character Isadora Wing re-emerges in this new novel. She is not the main character but she knows the main character.

Like life.

Erica and I talked about writing. This sounds fatuous, I know, but the psychomechanics of the process – the way we think, the way we convey, and the doubts that accompany so much of the experience – are very real yet otherwise boring for anyone not involved in it. With Erica, I can “tell her everything.” She’s like that too; very open about herself and freely expresses her personal opinions with gentle matter-of-factness. It doesn’t matter if you don’t agree with her, or like what she’s saying. It’s her opinion – and often well-considered.

Erica and I have known each other for several years. I can’t remember how we met. We rarely see each other: she is as daily active in her work as I am in mine. Although she, like me, lives in the New York social life where one can have a lot of pleasant relationships which really are acquaintances, and often with people who are doing interesting things in their lives. And then there are the close friends whom we are at home with, like extended family.
Erica and I lunching in 2006.
Erica and I are somewhere in between those two classifications (New York relationships are often like that). That is to say, if we had more free time from our labors and pursuits and saw more of each other, we’d know each other more.

She’s a New York girl. Born and bred. Her maiden name was Mann, and it was often said that she was the granddaughter of Thomas Mann. An interesting connection, but I learned from her that it was untrue. It did add to the mystique. Educated here, she has the intellect that is associated with her craft and her thinking. She’s obviously a very industrious writer, but she also travels, lectures, spends a great deal of time with her grandchildren and her daughter, the writer Molly Jong-Fast, as well as her life with her husband Ken Burrows – and often dinner with friends.

Mother and daughter Jong.
This new novel, “Fear of Dying” was something she’d been thinking about and working around for quite some time. She’d been planning another historical novel and was about to begin when this “Fear…” emerged.  Like life.

The social calendar is beginning to fill up with far more than I can tell you here. Just last night in New York at the Mandarin Oriental the New York Mission Society hosted its 2015 Champions for Children gala. They honored Colbert Narcisse, Managing Director and Global Head of Alternative Investments at Morgan Stanley, and Hollis Russell, Partner of the law firm Ackerman Levine. Jean Shafiroff chaired the evening. Honorary chairs were Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller and Stanley Rumbough. Corporate chair was Barclays.

Meanwhile, down at the Frank Gehry-designed IAC headquarters on 555 West 18th Street the Bone Marrow Foundation held its annual Be A Lifeline gala. This year’s award recipients were Dr. Stephen D. Nimer of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Andrew Talley, Head Coach of the Villanova University Wildcats, founder of the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation, and Donor/Patient Advocate; and the Dolan Family, business leaders, philanthropists and long time champions of the healthcare community. Savannah Guthrie and Jonathan Alter were masters of ceremony for the black tie evening.

While up Park Avenue John and Denise LeFrak Calicchio hosted a kick-off cocktail party for the Caron New York 2015 Annual Gala which benefits Caron’s Patient Scholarship Fund. The gala will be held at Cipriani 42nd Street on Wednesday, May 13th. The honorees this year are Mick Jones (of Foreigner) and Petra Levin. Mrs. Levin has been active in civic and community affairs here in New York, although now she focuses on South Florida where she lives with her husband Stephen Levin. She founded and chaired the Caron Renaissance Gala in Palm Beach which has raised more than $10 million for scholarships for young adults.
John Calicchio, Elaine Langone, Denise LeFrak Calicchio, Ken Langone, and Petra and Stephen Levin last night at the Calicchio's kick-off party for the upcoming Caron Gala.
Which speaking of LeFraks, Denise’s sister Francine LeFrak earlier in the week organized a clean-up in Central Park in honor of the Rwandan tradition “Umuganda” which means a “coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome. Ambassador Eugene-Richard Gasana Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the UN; Miss Teen USA, and Miss Teen New York supported the project in Central Park.
Henry Furniss, Francine LeFrak, Miss Teen USA K. Lee Graham, Tamara Laine, Miss Teen New York, and Miss New York.
Francine LeFrak, Miss New York, Rick Friedberg, Ambassador Eugene-Richard Gasana, Miss Teen USA, and Miss Teen New York.
Then this past Monday night,  Ballet Hispanico raised more than $1.1 million in support of the company's artistic and educational work in New York City and around the country at their 2015 Gala at the Plaza. 

They honored Ballet Hispanico Board President and President and COO of Palladium Equity Partners David Pérez and Milena Alberti-Pérez, SVP and Head of Global Corporate Finance at Penguin Random House, with the Civic Inspiration Award.  Ben Rodriguez-Cubeñas, Chair of Ballet Hispanico's Leadership Council and program director for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, was honored with the Nuestra Inspiración Award.
Cocktails at Ballet Hispanico's 2015 Gala at the Plaza. 
The evening, themed "Noche Cubana,"  attended by 470, featured live salsa music by Grupo Irék along with performances by the Ballet Hispanico Company and students of the Ballet Hispanico School of Dance and P.S. 87M. 

Among those attending were: Event chairs Jody and John Arnhold, Kate Lear and Jon LaPook, Marcos A. Rodriguez, and Greidys Gil and Luis Zaldivar; Event Vice Chairs Herb Scannell and Charles Wortman and Laura Baldwin; and Julia Arnhold, Paul Arnhold, Tony Bechara, Lorea Canales, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Vin Cipolla, Ben Rodriguez-Cubeñas, Diana DiMenna, Anita Durst, Joan Finkelstein, Wes Gordon, Lane Harwell, Jacqueline Hernández, Cynthia López, Jim McCoy, Sharon Luckman, Scott Pelley, David Pérez, Jessica Rodriguez, Ann and Richard Sarnoff, Mikki Sheppard, Linda Celeste Sims, Marta Tellado, David Ushery, Jorge Daniel Veneziano, Eduardo Vilaro.
Gala Honoree Ben Rodriguez-Cubeñas. Gala Honorees David Pérez and Milena Alberti-Pérez.
Guests in attendance received the exclusive announcement that Ballet Hispanico is naming its Education & Outreach branch Puentes.

Puentes inspires students in classrooms, on stages and in the community - ultimately connecting everyone to the past, present and future of Latino cultures - and celebrates artistry, engagement and personal growth.

Last year, Puentes programs provided culturally relevant dance educational experiences for over 8,000 students, families and communities in New York City and nationwide. Students in kindergarten through 12th grade, college, parents and seniors are reached through the Puentes program. 78% of New York City public school students served by Ballet Hispanico's Puentes programs were of African, Latino, or Asian descent, and 70% of these students qualified for free or reduced-price lunches.
Ballet Hispanico Company and BHdos dancers with Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro.
Each year Ballet Hispanico offers more than $150,000 in need-based scholarships to students, some coming directly from the Puentes programs. Good job.

Since its inception in 1970, it has been recognized as the nation's premier Latino dance organization. Led by award-winning Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro. The Company has performed before more than three million people in 11 countries and on 3 continents. The Company's commitment to contemporary repertory has produced world-class, multifaceted performances that have featured master works by Nacho Duato, cutting-edge premieres by Cayetano Soto and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and live music collaborations with renowned artists such as Paquito D'Rivera and Ruben Blades.

For more information, visit
Event Chairs Luis Zaldivar and Greidys Gil. Eduardo Vilaro and Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.
Jody Arnhold with Gala Honorees David Pérez and Milena Alberti-Pérez (and Alberti family members).
Lee Koonce, Diana DiMenna, and Eduardo Vilaro. Event Vice Chairs Charles Wortman & Laura Baldwin.
Vin Cipolla and Celine McDonald. Event Chair Marcos A. Rodriguez and family.
Jon LaPook with Jane and Scott Pelley.
Eduardo Vilaro and Linda Celeste Sims.
Performance by PS 87M students.
Performance by Ballet Hispanico Company.
Post-ceremony dancing.

Contact DPC here.