Thursday, August 20, 2015

Likes and dislikes

The view from Riverside Blvd (outside Trump Place Apartments) towards the Hudson River Promenade. 7:30 PM. Photo: JH.
August 20, 2015. A very warm day in New York although by early evening the temperature had dropped to 80 and there was a soft breeze coming off the river. A relief at the end of a hot day. I took the dogs down to the Promenade just as the lights were going on the RFK Triboro Bridge. There were quite a few people out, taking in the cooler evening air coming in.
Lunch at Michael's with Steve Candland, who is a partner in Angela Mortimer, the professional and personal staffing service with main offices in London. Angela Mortimer – which is the name of the founder – you may have noticed, is an advertiser on the NYSD.

The Michael’s Wednesday Lunch List

David Sanford

Lewis Stein
Ellen Levine
Holly Peterson
Francine LeFrak
Mitch Rosenthal
Mickey Ateyeh
Michael DelGuidice
Denise Deluca
Jery Inzerillo
Robert Kramer
Chris Meigher
Joe Armstrong
Dan Scheffey
Stan Shuman
Ruth Shuman
Andrew Stein
Elizabeth Weymouth
Chuck Whittingham
Charles Whittingham
Montel Williams
Tom Rogers with
“Morning Joe”
Cindi Berger
Tom Florio
Jack Myers
Herb Siegel with
John Veronis
Gus Oliver
Steve Candland
I never had an opportunity before yesterday to talk to them about what they do. It is an interesting world, a people world, but an inner part – those who work for those with wealth and very often political power in the world. It is a class by itself without peer, beyond peer. But that’s a subject or two or three for another Diary. But we’ll tell you about that at another time. Mr. Candland was very informative about how the world of domestic management works. A good staff makes good management. It is a business matter. With a backstory.

Likes and dislikes. A reporter named Marissa Charles called me last week about an article she was writing for the New York Post on Melania Trump (as a future First Lady). She wanted to know if I knew her and if so, what was she like.

Melania.
I don’t “know” Melania Trump, nor does she know me. I know who she is and vice versa. We see each other from time to time at Michael’s, and as it happens she is often seated at a table next to my regular table. So we say hello and maybe exchange a few words about the day. I like her. She is impossible not to like.

New York is like this: almost like the neighborhood in a small town (like the one I grew up in) where you know who lives in almost every house, and you know something about their daily lives, and just from the way they communicate acknowledgement of others, you know a little something about them. A little something. It may be far from the whole story, and even off-base mainly, but nevertheless you feel like you know them as much as you need to know them so they’re not strangers. You’re acquaintances. It’s a very nice thing.

Melania Trump. I told Ms. Charles at the Post, from that, what I can see and have experienced, Melania is a very gracious lady. Her style is understated, although she is always well-dressed. There is a properness about her costume, and, I should add, a glamour. She is not casual under these circumstances (New York, luncheon hour) although neither is she fancy. She is a sophisticated, worldly woman, and relaxed about it. She is a remarkably beautiful woman. She is tall and slender and carries herself gracefully but with certainty that reflects self-confidence.
That’s how I know her. It may be all I will ever know about her. And it is enough. With her husband she is automatically a public person, a kind of celebrity. It is a challenging situation although it is never thought of that way.  Famous and ordinary at the same time. Think about it. What is “is”?

The Trumps are not “out there” in a social way. So I don’t see them very often at many of the galas I cover. (That doesn’t mean they were not present.) I get the impression that if Donald doesn’t have to be somewhere at the end of a day, he likes the company of his home and his family. Melania gives a distinct impression of being a family person herself. His children know who he is, and what he expects of them. Good news.

This past Tuesday, a producer from CNN contacted me about the friendship between Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump. The story was aired Tuesday night on the “Erin Burnett Out Front” program. I was not aware of that friendship but I also don’t know either woman, so why would I be.
I had the pleasure of being a dinner partner of Ivanka a number of years ago when she was just out of college or just finishing.  She is also a woman with a good deal of self-confidence. She too is a very good looking woman. She is ambitious like her father, and like her mother. It is evident just from her conversation. She is well read, a good conversationalist and a serious businesswoman as well as a wife and mother. From the brief experience of her, I imagine a woman who is self-possessed, directed, hardworking, (disciplined), and focused.
I don’t know Ms. Clinton. I’ve seen her a few times in public. I once went up to her at a dinner after a ballet opening and told her how much I admired her mother. I felt that way at the time. She responded that she felt the same way. I don’t doubt her. She seemed self-possessed too, although most of what I read about her these days has to do with her sense of “privilege” and her professional life that never seems to have got off the ground of privilege. She is in a challenging position being the only child of her mother and father. It is a life unlike life for most of us.

It is not a unique position as in my lifetime there have been Presidential children always living under the shadow of an historical parent. Roosevelts, Kennedys, Trumans, Eisenhowers, Johnsons, Nixons, Fords, Carters, Reagans, Bushes, and Obamas. All visited by the accumulation of privilege, if not power. Some have stood out more than others, but almost all fade from fame in time, commensurate with their parents’ fame.
Chelsea with husband Mark Mezvinsky in Sardinia earlier this week where they were guests on the yacht of Barry Diller and Diane Von Furstenberg.
Chelsea exploring the area with Barry Diller.
It’s an odd situation, and without knowing anything about the relationship between Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump – if indeed there is one – they both have much they can share and learn from each other. And being peers in a very real way it may be a fresh and interesting friendship.

Thinking of these people, some of whom I know casually, others whom I’ve met and even others whom I’ve known, the mantle of celebrity is just heavy in many ways. There is a difference between the fame and the famous. The former is the prize and the latter is the puzzle. Young John Kennedy exemplified that, and handled it with aplomb, charm and gut reality.

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