Friday, May 29, 2015

Looking after the child

An afternoon outing. Photo: JH.
Friday, May 29, 2015. A bright, warm, slightly humid, sunny day, yesterday in New York. With storm clouds passing us by adding some drama to the scene.

Today would have been the 98th anniversary of the birth of our President John F. Kennedy, who was murdered in Dallas fifty-two years ago this November by someone. You probably know all this, or have heard it or read it. It was a very sad day in America. Anyone who was alive then (and not a small child) was affected by it. Mr. Kennedy, whatever his shortcomings, was a beacon of hope to the new generation; the post-War generation. Looking out, from looking back, it wasn’t a single incident; it was the future, on the way to the past.
I went down to Michael’s for the first time this week to meet with the editorial staff of Quest, and the publisher Chris Meigher. Michael’s was jammed like a Wednesday.

I don’t go to Michael’s every lunch time although I give that impression. I do like to go for all the reasons I’ve written here before and before that. It’s a place of business for many and I am one of them. It’s a good place to conduct an “interview” because it’s loud enough that everyone has to work a little extra harder to be heard clearly. And there’s always a lot of conversation with people who are Out There in the world in one way or another, creating, affecting, paying the rent, etc.

Last week I was there three days running. That seems like a little much but each was a new and different day. Three different women, two working; another a worker. On Tuesday I had lunch with Eleanora Kennedy who now spends a good part of the colder months in West Palm with her husband Michael Kennedy. When she’s back, she’s working on park projects of the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy. Those are the girls who are the park’s Mother. No better word for it/ they get the job done: Looking after the child. All 843 acres of it in the middle of the most expensive neighborhood maybe on the planet.
I forgot to have our picture taken at Michael's, but here I am with Eleanora (in red) at a luncheon in 2012 for the late Oscar de la Renta. That's the beautiful Stephanie Seymour on the left and Jennifer Raab, President of Hunter College, having a good laugh.
Which brings us to Eleanora’s current project.  The Perimeter Association. Her committee is in charge of the maintenance of the grounds just outside the park proper – the sidewalk to the curbstone. Keeping it cleaned, swept, shoveled; keeping the walls unfettered by some fetterers, and in general keeping it up to the standards of the Conservancy. This seems like a minor matter except it’s about fourteen miles long all around. And it sits on the edge of a real estate of the dearest prices, sold for those prices precisely since the VIEW is the diamond as big as the Ritz just across the street from their front windows.

But like everything else in this village of several million and umpteen million passers-thru everyday, it costs to pay for the labor. Keeping fourteen miles of high rent glorifying is time consuming and therefore costly. Contributors pay $1500 to $5000 a year to keep “their” section of the cross-the-road walk.
The perimeter once looked like this before the Perimeter Association took charge.
The perimeter around the park is as elegantly natural as the park itself. It’s a wide promenade of brick and stone, with benches along the way where a wide variety of New Yorkers, old and young, large and small, rich and poor as well as brisk and even muddling through.

It’s a good place for a respite watching the heavy Fifth Avenue traffic (or Central Park West), all on their way to somewhere, likely in a hurry, and here you sit on a bench underneath a tree in the Park (that’s a Larry Hart lyric from an early Rodgers and Hart show):

Meet me underneath our little tree in the park!
No one else around, but you and me in the dark!
Just five minutes from your door-step,
I’ll wait for your step to come along!
And the city’s roar becomes a song!

In a way, it’s not really like that, at least not these days; maybe never. But it’s still like that inside a lot of us, or was, or might be.
That was my lunch with Eleanora.

The next day, Wednesday, I had a reunion with an old friend of mine from Los Angeles. Sara Romilly. Sara is British and she came over to Los Angeles about the same time that I moved to LA, working for a major (at the time) film producer as his exec assistant. Which is a little like throwing someone to the lions.

Sara is primly British, meaning she’s just across the page from the ribald and wicked sense of humor. She’s a post-production executive these days. Has been for years. She freelances, has worked for all the great (directors, producers, editors). One of those highly efficient pros you find behind the scenes in that industry. The people who put all the pieces together to produce the masterpiece (or whatever).
DPC and Sara Romilly at Michael's.
We became close about 1980 when I moved into a house she and two friends from London (also in the industry) were renting. The two friends went back to Europe. It was a big house, spacious and rangy. I joined them later on that year with another friend, rounding the new number off to four.

It became, in retrospect, a communal residence. Two men and two women, all unrelated, all working in the industry, living like a family of 30- and 40-somethings. It wasn’t Life with Father but whatever it was those who passed over the threshold remember life there as supremely domestic, comfortable and stress-free — professional matters notwithstanding. Several others passed through those doors and took up residence briefly or occasionally temporarily, or house-guesting. The cast of characters changed from time to time. Eventually everyone who resided there in this nuclear-age family Hollywood-style left to changes in their lives. Except me. I stayed there by myself in the last few years, departing in 1991.

In retrospect, it was a secure place for each. A home.  There was a social life. We entertained. I cooked. Another one of us cooked. We ate those great California meals, heavy on the veggies, the grains, the chicken the pasta, the fish. Meals were normal hours, the fridge was always stocked. Dinner parties were frequent and on holidays we held seated dinners and/or buffets for those who wanted the company on that day.

The housekeeper came on Tuesdays. It was orderly and heavenly for this writer on the grind of seeking and finding (a job — a sale), as well as everyone else.

So at lunch, what did Sara and I talk about? The house and its occupants and their lives all these years passed. Then Sara went to make a matinee of “Something Rotten ...”, which she loved.

The next day I had lunch with Mary Hilliard. If you don’t know Mary, you know her work. It’s beautiful, interesting and the personality is in the picture. The lady behind the lens makes a simple, classic appearance. She’s lived in New York most of her adult life (she grew up in Miami where her father was a doctor). Married, two sons, divorced. I think the love of her life was Leonard Harris, writer/actor/journalist/television on-air critic with whom she lived for thirty years, who died four years ago at 81.
DPC and Mary Hilliard at Michael's.
JH and I both got to know Mary on the philanthropy gala circuit where all the photographers appear. She is very understated, just dresses simply, classically, without fanfare, and elegant. For a number of years Mary shot parties for Vogue. She also freelances and always has for event planners  as well as weddings and private parties including occasional European junkets.

That’s a lot of parties, a lot of characters, a lot of anecdotes and observations. Mary has a lot of them and a lot of them in photographs. She took one of me a number of years ago – probably 20 or so – at some party. I didn’t know she was taking the picture and she forgot about it until several years later when she was putting together a piece for the NYSD and happened to find it.

It cracks me up: looking like the Prince (who’s really the pauper) fawned over by the diamond lasses. I don’t remember it at all, so I don’t remember it at all. I think there was a lot of vodka in that glass I’ve got in my hand, and looking at it carefully, it’s occurred to me that it’s not me they’re all paying attention to, but instead the guy on the right — Roberto di Guardiola. That makes more sense.
Catching up (with more to come): More than 150 attended Lenox Hill Hospital's17th annual Healthy Give & Take Luncheon earlier this month at The Metropolitan Club. The event was sponsored by The Auxiliary of Lenox Hill Hospital and the theme was Breakthroughs in Technology: Revolutionizing Patient Care.

The luncheon featured lively discussions on important topics in health and provided an opportunity for the audience to engage in a lively "give & take" with the speakers.
Panelists at the Healthy Give & Take luncheon with moderator Jane Hanson. Susan Robertson is at the podium.
Jane Hanson leads the question and answer session with Healthy Give & Take Luncheon panelists.
Jane Hanson, Emmy award-winning television journalist and media coach, moderated a panel of North Shore-LIJ Health System staff — Ken Court, Director, Clinical Information Systems, Department of Neurosurgery; Alexander Hellinger, Executive Director of the Lenox Hill HealthPlex; David Langer, MD, Chief, Division of Neurosurgery; Susan Robertson, MSN, RN, Vice President of Clinical Information Systems for the North Shore-LIJ Health System.  

Proceeds from the annual Healthy Give & Take Luncheon support a wide array of Auxiliary programs that promote the hospital's unwavering commitment to the health and well-being of patients, staff and community.  
Sander Duncan, Manager, North Shore Ventures, North Shore-LIJ Health System; Sue Robertson, Vice President of Clinical Information Systems, North Shore-LIJ Health Systems; Elaine Rosenblum, Senior Associate Executive Director Lenox Hill Hospital; Dennis Connors, Regional Executive Director, Lenox Hill Hospital;   Michele Jeffery, Auxiliary Chair, Lenox Hill Hospital;  Ken Court, Director Clinical Information Systems, Lenox Hill Hospital Neurosurgery; David Langer, MD, Chief Neurosurgery, Lenox Hill Hospital; Moderator Jane Hanson, and Alex Hellinger,Executive Director of the Lenox Hill HealthPlex.
Michele Jeffery, Chair of the Lenox Hill Hospital Auxiliary and Auxilian Robin Waxenberg.
Peg Butler, Assistant Vice President, Marketing and External Relations, North Shore- LIJ Health System; Auxilian Susan Schulman; and Gus Costalas, Regional Chief Financial Officer, Lenox Hill Hospital.
Auxilians Diane Hutchins and Diane Denoyer.
Healthy Give & Take Luncheon co-chairs Donna Ramer (left) and Beth Corman (right) present Auxilian Ruth Silverman with her raffle prize.
Dennis Connors, raffle winner Carol Nickell, and Donna Ramer.
More than 150 guests enjoyed the Healthy Give & Take Luncheon at the beautiful Metropolitan Club.
And last Monday a week, The Child Mind Institute hosted it 2015 Spring Luncheon featuring ABC News Correspondent Dan Harris, bestselling author Dr. Gail Saltz, Child Mind Institute Clinician Dr. Allison Baker, and Director of Imaging Dr. Cameron Craddock.

The panel discussion focused on the health benefits of mindfulness for children and adults. During the discussion, entitled “The Science of Mindfulness,” Dr. Saltz, Harris and CMI’s own Drs. Allison Baker and Cameron Craddock discussed the practice of learning to quiet one’s mind and participate in each moment fully without judgment.  Mindfulness has been shown—as supported by neuroscience—to reduce stress for adults and help children with emotional and behavioral challenges.  
Dan Harris, Dr. Allison Baker, Dr. Harold Koplewicz, Dr. Gail Saltz, and Dr. Cameron Craddock.
Harris, who has written extensively about mental health in his best selling book 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge and Found Self-Help That Really Works – a True Story, shared his powerful personal story about how he dealt with a career setback through the discovery of his mindfulness practice. 

"Mindfulness is the ability to see what's going on in your head, " Harris said. "Combined with the ability to not get carried away with it."

The reason to practice it, he noted, is that “most of the things that you are most embarrassed by in your life come from mindlessness: Finding yourself with your hand in the refrigerator when you’re not hungry. Checking your cell phone when your kid is trying to talk to you. Losing your temper when it's strategically unwise."
Vanessa Cornell, Christine Mack, Brooke Garber Neidich, and Kate Young.
Being mindful, Harris said, is essentially getting out of your own way. “Your thoughts may continue to be agitated and anxious, but you have the ability to step back and interact with them differently," he said.

Dr. Baker, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute, spoke on mindfulness as an effective treatment for children with anxiety disorders. Dr. Baker, who has expertise in the evaluation and treatment of a variety of psychiatric disorders affecting children and young adults, led the 150 guests through a mindfulness exercise.  Additionally, Dr. Craddock, the Director of Imaging for CMI and an internationally recognized neuroimaging researcher, reflected on the neuroscience of mindfulness.
Dr. Harold Koplewicz and Debra Perelman.
The luncheon came on the heels of the release of the Child Mind Institute’s inaugural Children’s Mental Health Report, which found that 17.1 million kids in the US have or have had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. That’s more than the number of kids with asthma (7 million), peanut allergies (7 million), and diabetes (200,000) combined. Less than 35% of these kids will receive treatment. Funds raised at the luncheon will go toward mental health care and research for these children.

The event was hosted by Jeanne Andlinger, Stacy Bash-Polley, Ellen Cohen, Barbara Eig, Desiree Gruber, Tania Higgins, Tammy Levine, Christine Mack, Valerie Mnuchin, Amy Tucker Meltzer, and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff. 
Elizabeth DePaolo, Robin Luce, LeAnn Waldron, Gloria Pichler, and Eileen Riano.
Desiree Gruber, Jane Rosenthal, and Cynthia Germanotta.
Also this past Tuesday, from 6:30 to 7:30 at the El Museo del Barrio on 1230 Fifth Avenue, the Boys' Club of New York held its 2015 Music Concert featuring pieces from all different genres including works by Billy Joel, Ed Sheeran, Bastille, Bruno Mars, and Mark Ronson, plus a special tribute to B.B. King and Ben E. King. Special guests included several BCNY alumni. All proceeds go directly to support BCNY's programming.
The reception at El Cafe of El Museo del Barrio.
Amy Griffin, Stephen Tosh, and Jackie Williams.
Friederike Biggs and friends.
Tatiana and Thorne Perkin with Kathy Irwin.
Thorne Perkin and Alex Robertson.
Bill and Kitty McKnight.
Ed Rappa and Bill McKnight.
Marina Purcell and Anjali Melwani.
The Music Concert begins.
Kathy Thomas.
Uptown Funk.