Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ma Nature and More

An unexpected visitor on JH's windowsill. 12:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Raining as I write this late Tuesday night. Wet and cold; Spring cold, but the kind you half-don’t mind and half-think get on with it Ma Nature.

I never left the house, getting edit in order and also preparing for a breakfast  this morning at the Lotos Club where the  Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy are having a breakfast and I am the “speaker” (read: entertainment) and JH is the interviewer.  The subject is Central Park. Obviously. But from the point of view of this reporter under the guise of social chronicler or vice versa.
JH thinks this is what the Red-tailed Hawk was looking for ...
Coincidentally, speaking of Central Park, I’ve been reading a new book called “Supreme City; How Jazz Age Manhattan Gave Birth To Modern America.” I’d half-looked at it more than once in the bookstore but didn’t bite. Then I saw it for a third time at the bookstall in front of Zabar's on the weekend and thought what-the-hell.

Click to order "Supreme City."
It’s a history I’m ready. Although that doesn’t mean I’ll remain for the ride. Good cover, style-wise. But the title led me to believe it would be academic somehow. The guy who wrote it, Donald Miller is a professor at Lafayette. A professor writing a history of New York, now that’s interesting. And he’s not even of New York. That’s more interesting too.

It’s also 700 pages and I’m slow. And the print is not big which to me means it will take even longer.  So how could I get through a history under those circumstances having very little spare time for pleasure reading as it is. But I got it, brought it home, opened it for a look and was hooked.

This one is Very Good. And it’s in Technicolor. And it doesn’t upset you about the state of the world we’re all living in. In fact, it gives you pause for thought about It All.

Professor Miller focuses on individuals. This is the paint he uses for the portrait. You’ve heard all the names. You think you know all about them. Maybe you do, but in this context you see another side. He got me with Mayor Jimmy Walker whom I’d always heard about and even written about (as a reporter of history I had found). This Jimmy Walker, Beau James, Gentleman Jimmy was a very charismatic fellow, son of an Irishman.

Mayor Jimmy Walker walking down a street. ca. 1925-1935.
You couldn’t not love him. You didn’t even mind if he was on the take a little. You got to see So-was-everybody-else. And you get introduced to the New York in which I’m writing this today. I could go on because it’s like a new chapter of this experience we call living in New York. And it’s full of my own family’s humble background and a time I heard about growing up, but never witnessed -- so not all that far away historically.

Central Park. Jimmy Walker had a nightclub in Central Park. It was called the Central Park Casino. They opened it in 1925. He went every night he could with his girlfriend (he had a wife also) in his pinched waisted tuxedos with the polished lapels (his invention).  It was Prohibition and the club was the center of New York high life the early days of café society. Peter Duchin’s father Eddie Duchin got his start to stardom there. In Central Park. Robert Moses had torn it down in 1934 with a good riddance to the act which many read as an act of vengeance toward Gentleman Jimmy (who was defeated in his next election, followed by Fiorello LaGuardia).

Last night I went with Charlotte Ford to a book party given by Anna Chapman and Ron Perelman for Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman who has written a book – “Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry.” 

Jeffrey, who is a friend through Charlotte, is Chairman of Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the recent past President of the American Psychiatric Association. The critic from the New York Times Book Review gave it a very favorable write up. Jeffrey has some apparently contrary ideas about what it’s all about. And they are pleasing to hear.
Jeffrey Lieberman inscribing a copy of his new book "Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry" to me. Click to order.
The man himself has a very pleasant open personality. He clearly loves his work and he’s one of those shrinks (I don’t think he practices) who really likes people, and all kinds of people. His wife Rosemarie is like that too.  That is the primary way you can meet a lot of nice people and interesting people in New York.
Ron Perelman with his wife Anna Chapman and the author.
Patty Tang, Caroline Hyman, Rosemarie Lieberman, and Charlotte Ford.
I didn’t spend much more than three-quarters of an hour at the Perelman/Chapman residence because I was going down to Cipriani 42nd Street for the annual Paris Review Revel.

I’ve written about this before so I’ll try to be brief. It’s a big party there must have been four or five hundred guests. A LOT of writers of note. For example, the table Writer Hosts were Elif Batuman, Toni Bentley, Emma Cline, Joshua Cohen, J. D. Daniels, Angela Flournoy, Richard Ford, Rivka Galchen, Jon-Jon Goulian, Philip Gourevitch, John Guare, Zoe Heller, Ishion Hutchinson, Susanna Kaysen, Lewis Lapham, Ben Lerner, Tao Lin, Sam Lipsyte, Larissa MacFarquhar, Wyatt Mason, Daniel Menaker, Claire Messud, Ben Metcalf, Ceridwen Morris, Anka Muhlstein, Joseph O’Neill, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Katie Roiphe, Leanne Shapton, Akhil Sharma, Gary Shteyngart, Scott Spencer, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Gay Talese, Hannah Tennant-Moore, Tiphanie  Yanique, Adam Wilson.  And those were only the table hosts. The room was full of writer.
The Tables for the Paris Review Revel dinner set with the starter which was some kind of something that was undetectable. Not a hit.
However, I took a closeup of the table centerpiece and the now antinque portable typewriter. All the tables had them. They look like they work. I loved my first typewriter which was a small Smith-Corona my mother gave me on my 11th Christmas. So you see, the keyboard is a very old and very best friend.
The cocktail hour.
The Paris Review was run for years, kept alive really, because of George Plimpton who, among his many pursuits and projects, kept it in the literary game in New York. That was one of George’s talents. A special kind of marketing.

The Revel is a very civilized dinner where the guests and mainly literary people of one sort or another and specifically a great man writers. The attire is casual, comfortable depending on how one feels comfortable. The women wear cocktail dresses but practical. It looks like a sort of prosperous academic crowd. Or your neighbors next door or down the hall. The atmosphere is very comfortable too.
The Paris Review Editor Lorin Stein opening the evening. Hilary Mantel introduces the awardee of the George Plimpton Prize for Fiction ...
Atticus Lish, who also last night was awarded the 2015 PEN/Faulkner Prize for fiction. Author Donald Antrim introduces the winner of the Terry Southern Prize for Humor, Mark Leyner.
Mark Leyner's acceptance quite seriously hilarious denouement.
There is a cocktail hour and then dinner and then the welcoming speech by Lorin Stein who is the editor of the Paris Review. His intro was brief and he introduced Hilary Mantel author of “Wolf Hall.” Ms. Mantel is presented the Plimpton Prize for Fiction to Atticus Lish. It so happens that on this same day the New York Times reported that Mr. Lish has won the 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction for this first novel “Preparation for the Next Life.”

Then The Terry Southern Prize for Humor was present to Mark Leyner by Donald Antrim. Mr. Leyner who you can see in the photo I took of him at the podium is a rather serious looking fellow, accepted his award with a simply depressing consideration of what “humor” is and off-handedly turned it into a hilarious moment.
James Wood, English literary critic, essayist and novelist presenting the Hadada Award to novelist Norman Rush.
And then dinner was served. A half hour (or less) later, James Wood the author came to the podium to present the Hadada Award to novelist Norman Rush.

And right after that I had to excuse myself from the table of my hosts James and Toni Goodale so that I could get home at a decent hour to finish this Diary so I could get a good night’s sleep in order to keep my eyes open this morning at the Lotus Club.
Novelist Norman Rush accepting his award. The Hadada is a bird whose existence fascinated George Plimpton enough to name a literary award after it.
Catching up. This past Monday night, Libby Bonbright, Candace Bushnell, Jay McInerney, Holly Peterson and Carole Radziwill co-hosted a celebration in honor of Mariel Hemingway and her new memoir “Out Came the Sun” at Edward J. Minskoff Equities office at 37 East 12th Street.

Will Cotton, Karen Duffy, Morgan Entrekin, Craig Hatkoff, Edward Hemingway, LuAnn de Lesseps, Terry McDonnell, Judith Regan, Felicia Taylor, Laurie Waters, and Bobby Williams were also in attendance to commemorate the launch.

The backdrop for the evening was one of the luxurious flats in the 37 East 12th Street residences.
Candace Bushnell, Libby Bonbright, Mariel Hemingway, Jay McInerney, Carole Radziwill, and Holly Peterson.
Holly Peterson, Casey Jennings, and Susan Mercandetti.
Dorinda Medley, Karen Duffy, Candace Bushnell, and Luann De Lesseps.
Libby Bonbright and Luann De Lesseps. Laurie Waters and Dorrit Morley.
Morgan Entrekin, Richard Cohen, and Eric Rayman.
Ben Greenman and Mariel Hemingway.
Judith Regan, Mariel Hemingway,and Bobby Williams.
Geoffrey Bock and Edward Hemingway. Julie and Edward Minskoff.
Kurt Andrews and Lucas Whittmann.
Bob Morris, Carson Griffith, and Jay McInerney.
Click to order "Out Came the Sun."
 

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