Monday, September 28, 2015

The dangerous poison of praise and success

Partial eclipse. 9:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, September 28, 2015. Beautiful weather in New York. Temperature in the low 60s at night and just about 70 in the day, with frequent cool breezes. This was the weather that preceded and stayed with the Pope. It only enhanced the vibe that he brought with him and seem to imbue those hours.

“It was at the Spa that I enjoyed for the first time the dangerous poison of praise and success.” — from the memoirs of La Marquise de la Tour du Pin.
Waiting for the light at 81st Street and Central Park West to change Saturday afternoon at 1:30. I was drawn to the twin towers of Beresford which were occupied by David and Helen and Gurley Brown (on the left) and on the right, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson (at different times).
The penthouse of the building on 82nd and Central Park West, across the street to the north of the Beresford. I was fascinated by the signs of a serious garden, so I zoomed in for a closer look.
Still waiting for the light, looking west along West 81 Street toward Columbus Avenue and across from the American Museum of Natural History. (I was on my way to Zabar's.)
On my way back to the East Side on the 86th Street West side transverse which lets on to 84th Street and Fifth Avenue. We’re looking at the townhouses which are now the Marymount School, across the avenue from the Metropolitan Museum.
JH took this shot of Central Park West (looking north form 77th Street) last Friday afternoon a few hours before the Pope's procession through Central Park. The Park (along with Central Park West and Fifth Avenue) was closed from 59th Street to 81st Street from morning till night.
Looking south along Central Park West. You can see the big cue of ticketed guests waiting to enter the park.
The majestic sky later that evening.
Yesterday afternoon I was looking through my bookcases, challenging myself to find One book that I could give up. The challenge is based on the need to clear away some space for new books. The hoarder in me takes over. However, I noticed a very old volume among my books about 18th century France and the Bourbons. I didn’t recognize it so I pulled it off the shelf. Its title:

Recollections of the Revolution and The Empire. Edited and Translated by Walter Geer, Brentano’s New York, Publishers; 1920.
I didn’t remember acquiring this book. Furthermore it had been read, probably a long time ago. Coincidentally I’d been thinking of reading my copy of Stefan Zweig’s biography of Marie Antoinette. I have read other biographies of M-A, the most recent being Antonia Fraser’s. But I’d been told by more than one Francophile that Zweig’s is the best. So I looked at this aged but sturdily published volume of the marquise. I knew a little about her – she’d lived here in upstate New York during the French Revolution with her husband (whose father had met his end on the scaffold during the Terror). Up near Albany, on land given to them by a member of the Livingston family, they farmed – hands-dirty farmed -- and they loved it. So I opened it and reluctantly read the first 20 pages. I could have read the first 200 if I didn’t have deadlines. Like this Diary.

It was quite a week and weekend in New York. The Pope arrived on Thursday afternoon, as everyone knows. The traffic, especially on the East Side was very difficult for getting around. It was a busy schedule for me. I was co-hosting a cocktail reception “celebrating the 20th anniversary” of the Quest 400 List with Chris Meigher, the publisher of the magazine, this particular party has become a kind of tradition. It’s an old-fashioned cocktail party but in a space large enough to hold a 200 or 300 hundred comfortably, along with great service, hors d’oeuvres as well as central location.

However, I also was committed to the opening night of the New York Philharmonic at the newly christened (that afternoon) of the David Geffen Hall (formerly the Avery Fisher) at Lincoln Center. This was a black tie affair with dinner afterwards in the tent in Damrosch Park next to the Metropolitan Opera House.

I got to the Sherry where Doubles resides about 6:30 after a forty-five minute round-about cab trip where I finally got out at 59th and Third and hiked the four blocks over to 59th and Fifth. On arrival I learned that I’d just missed the Pope passing by on his way down Fifth Avenue to St. Patrick’s. I was told he was riding in a little black Fiat and had the light on in the car so people could get a look at him. The avenue had been closed off from 72nd all the way down to 49th Street. I don’t know how long that remained.
Elizabeth Meigher, Chris Meigher, and Grace Meigher.
Doubles had only a few guests by the time of my arrival, although  by 7 the place had begun to fill up to crowd numbers. There aren’t that many cocktail parties in New York anymore that aren’t a promo of some kind. Of course this was, in a manner of speaking, but really it’s a lot of people who know each other, or are friends, or know-of others, and so it’s a very good time.

I left about 7:10 – the performance was scheduled to begin at 7:30. Since there were no vehicles at all on Fifth, I walked quickly across Central Park South but was lucky to get a cab coming off of Sixth, and was up at the David Geffen by 7:25 when guests were heading for the auditorium.

I was a guest of an old friend, Emilia Saint-Amand, who had a box on the First Tier near the stage. And here is the view from my seat.
The orchestra in their seats, tuning up and awaiting the concert master, Frank Huang, and Alan Gilbert, the Musical Director, as well as Lang Lang, who was the guest of the evening.
The orchestra stands as Oscar Schafer, the new Chairman of the Philharmonic, addresses the audience. Mr. Schafer and his wife announced later in the evening that they had just given a gift of $25 million to the Philharmonic.
Orchestra and guests standing for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Lang Lang greeting Frank Huang. Lang Lang performed Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16. I’d never seen him play before. He was born and brought up in China where his father is also a musician. He tells the story that when he was two, he saw a Tom and Jerry cartoon episode “The Cat Concerto” in which Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody, No. 2 was played. It was the first time he heard Western music and it motivated him to learn piano so he could play it too. He won his first competition at age 11 in Beijing. The following year he won first prize at the International Competition for Young Pianists in Ettingen, Germany. At 14 he was the featured soloist at the China National Symphony’s inaugural concert. His first engagement with an American orchestra was conducted by Alan Gilbert. Since 2002 he has performed with the Philharmonic 54 times.
The great young maestro takes his bow after a stunning performance that captivated the audience.
It was a big turnout for the dinner. Mr. Geffen was there as were many of his friends including Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg and Marie-Josee Kravis.  The evening was co-chaired by Margo and James Nederlander, and Elizabeth and Frank Newman. The Executive Vice-chairmen  were Agnes and Gerald Hassell.
Guests moving across Damrosch Park after the performance on their way to dinner under the tent.
The table with the first course.
A close up of the flowers.

I was one of the first inside the tent and looking for my table I spotted a very familiar face a few tables away. She was also the first to get to her table. She looked very much like the Frenchwoman Christine Lagarde, who is the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). I wasn’t certain because Mme. Lagarde is French and for all I knew, she resided in France.

So I went over and introduced myself (with my camera) and asked if she were she. Yes she was/is. A very pleasant lady to speak with. I asked her why she was in New York: To attend UN Week (which is going on right now). She told me she lives in Washington. I asked her if she had met the Pope. She told me she had, the day before. Where? In Washington. And the occasion? A private audience with just the two of them. For an hour. And what did she think of him? Oh, of course, an amazing man.
Margo Nederlander, Somers Farkas, Jim Aman, and John Meeks.
James Nederlander and Nicole Miller. Marylyn Malkin and Patricia Clarkson.
Pope, traffic limitations, blocks closed, Quest's guests showed at Doubles and were happy to be there with all friends, new and old. Billy Farrell got most of the guests ...
Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera. Richard Gregory and Lisa Bytner.
Chris Meigher, Gerry Goldsmith, and Emilia Fanjul.
Hilary Block and Brooke Block. Eleanora Kennedy and Mark Gilbertson.
Richard and Renee Steinberg, Grace Meigher, and Ward and Nico Landrigan.
Brad Hvolbeck, MJ Hvolbeck, Sabrina Raquet, and Walter Raquet.
Jackie Drexel and Roy Kean. Amanda Meigher and Ellie Stover.
Guy Robinson, Cece Black, Elizabeth Stribling, and Lee Black.
Jeffrey Bradford and Norah Lawlor. Stephen and Nikki Field.
Mohan Gupta, Vineeda Gupta, and Geoffrey Bradfield.
Thorne Perkin, Tatiana Perkin, and Alex Donner. Susan Duffy and Jackie Seaman.
Geoffrey Bradfield, Georgina Schaeffer, and Michael R. McCarty.
Page Leidy and Nicole Hanley Mellon. Joan Jakobson.
Richard Johnson, Sessa von Richthofen, Lisa Crosby, Polly Onet, and Chuck Pfeifer.
Christopher Mason and Denise DeLuca. Anka Pailtz. Cece Cord and John Block.
Crawford Sherman, Nina Siegenthaler, Stan Ponte, and Bartek Sherman.
Jill Roosevelt, Mary Snow, and Sallie Giordano.
Mary Ourisman, Susie Elson, and Edward Elson.
Dennis Basso, Elizabeth Meigher, and Michael Cominotto. Joep de Koning and Camille Douglas.
Susie Elson, Cece Cord, Beth Hardwick, and Jackie Weld Drake.
Gerry Goldsmith, Emilia Fanjul, and Percy Steinhart.
Jamie and Casey MacGuire. Rcahel Hovnanian and Mary Hilliard.
Ann Rapp and iris Love.
Roman and Helena Martinez. Mark Gilbertson and Elisabeth Saint-Amand.
Carolina Herrera, Chuck Pfeifer, and Lisa Crosby.
Charlie Smith, Alex Travers, Lily Hoagland, and Amanda Meigher.

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