Monday, October 12, 2015

The nourishing pleasure of love

Enjoying the mid-autumn weather. 12:00 PM, Sunday. Photo: JH.
Monday, Columbus Day, October 12, 2015. Mild autumn weather over the holiday weekend in New York. Temps feeling a bit chilly in the mid-sixties when the Sun was clouded over, and warmer when it was bright, with nighttime in the low 50s. 

In case you missed it, the Sunday New York Times  ran a story by Judith Newman in its Style section about Tracey Stewart, the wife of Jon Stewart, who has written a book about the animals in her life (our lives), “Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their lives Better.”

Click to order “Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their lives Better.”
This is a memoir. I  haven’t read the book obviously, since this is the first I’ve heard of it, so I don’t know what Ms. Stewart’s “life story” is, but what piqued my interest was the book’s title. Coincidentally, at dinner on Saturday night with two friends, we fell into conversation about dogs. My friends had invited me to visit them in the country and I responded (typically) “I can’t because I have dogs.”

“I have dogs” is true and also a kind of excuse, a way to say “no thank you but I’d rather stay home.” Garbo-and-all that. The reality strikes me as funny, amused by my self-isolating on weekends. It’s not new in my life; if I have time I’d rather stay home. And it’s not that I don’t like the company of my friends  because I value them highly.

However, I’m getting off-topic: that invitation to visit led to a conversation about their dog (a pug) and my dogs (shih-tzu and fancy mutt). And of course I could bring my dogs. We ended with discussing the dogs’ intelligence, and how much they understand (just about everything that’s reasonable — there’s the rub). And of course we talked about the pleasure and joy of their company.
Tracey Stewart at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Photo: Heather Ainsworth for The New York Times.
I’ve had dogs (and cats) just about all my life, so I am used to them. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’m more aware of how I treat my animals. Which is, firstly, never to take them for granted. I was never cruel or unkind although I am a quick erupter temperamentally and can yell very loudly at the drop of a bowl. (I get over it quickly fortunately). At this time in my life, I’m nicer, kinder, more patient and always wallowing in the pleasure of their dependence on me. For they are dependent creatures since we’ve domesticated them eons ago. But that dependence is a gift. To us. Attending to it, you get to know them well, and see their unimpeded respect and loyalty toward you. This is a rich gift; priceless really. It is the feeling of that affection toward them that is our greatest reward. It’s the pure natural, nurturing, nourishing pleasure of love. And a better world for all of us, at least for that moment.

Tracey Stewart is on that track. Here’s the link to the Times piece.
Tracey and Romy.
Catching up in Paris. Last month — September 24-26 — the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet (AFPOB) welcomed in Paris a group of 30 American philanthropists at the occasion of the most glamorous event of the year: the gala opening night of Benjamin Millepied's first season at the Paris Opera Ballet. The evening was co-chaired by Olivia Flatto, Pamela Joyner, Karine Journo, Ulla Parker and Sutton Stracke, and sponsored by Dior and de Grisogono.
Palais Garnier.
Benjamin Millepied and cast for "Clear, Loud, Bright, Forward."
The evening’s program included a new creation by Millepied, Thème et Variations from George Balanchine and the famous “grand defile”, a unique and powerful signature from the Paris Opera including the whole company (154 dancers), as well as the school (140 students from 8 to 18 years old).
Scenes from the gala performance at the Palais Garnier.
The “grand defile."
After the performance, a dinner prepared by four Michelin-stars Chefs (Inaki Aizpitarte – Le Chateaubriand, Bertrand Grebaut – Septime, Adeline Grattard – Yam’Tcha, Pascal Barbot – L’Astrance) was given in the stunning Foyers of the Palais Garnier, and followed by an exuberant after-party where guests danced until 3 a.m. The gala evening was attended by the President of France, François Hollande, celebrities and artists from all over the world.
The Grand Escalier at Palais Garnier.
"Dances are just flowers, and flowers grow without any literal meaning, they are just beautiful." — George Balanchine
Rotonde des Abonnes.
The Grand Foyer of Palais Garnier set for dinner.
Benjamin Millepied with The Etoiles.
Ulla Parker and Cyril Karaoglan. Alexis Mabille and Sutton Stracke .
Olivia Flatto, Jean-Louis Beffa, Flavia Gale, and Benoit Jossier.
Pamela Joyner and Olivia Flatto. Serena Lese, Hall Witt, and Laure Vienot-Tronche.
Benjamin Millepied and Natalie Portman.
Donna Corbat and Pierre Audi.
Olivia Flatto, Rob Ashford, and Marie-Agnes Gillot.
Juan Pablo Molyneux and Valentine Firmenich.
Shaikha Paula al Sabah and Patrick Firmenich.
Patrick Firmenich and Dina De Luca Chartouni.
Benjamin Millepied, Stephane Lissner, President Francois Hollande, Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin, and Bernard Stirn.
In addition to the gala evening at the Palais Garnier, the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet were invited to a luncheon at the American Embassy hosted by the American Ambassador Jane Hartley. They also toured the new Philarmonie de Paris and attended a Masterclass at the Palais Garnier. They were hosted at a lunch with the Opera de Paris Musical Director Philippe Jordan; and attended a special performance with New York based pianist and incredibly talented composer Nico Muhly at the Mona Bismarck American Center in Paris.

Among the Americans in attendance in Pareis were: Lisa Bayot, Pia Bayot Corlette, Elizabeth and Ralph Brown, Noreen Buckfire, Noriko and Ahmet Cakmak, Marina Couloucoundis, Dina De Luca Chartouni, Fe and Alessandro Fendi, Olivia Flatto (Chairman of the American Friends of the Paris Opera Ballet), Stephanie French, Judith Hoffman, Julia Koch, Serena Lese, Helen Little, Christina Lyon, Andrew Martin-Weber; Helen Marx; Marianne Rash Rowe; Judy Trunsky, Steven Tacopino, and Laure Vienot-Tronche (Executive director of the American Friends of the Paris Opera Ballet).
Ambassador Jane Hartley and Olivia Flatto.
Lee Radziwill and Benjamin Millepied.
Fe Fendi, Stephanie French, Benjamin Millepied, Pamela Joyner, and Alessandro Fendi.
Donna Corbat, Karine Journo, Noreen Buckfire, and Judith Trunsky.
Olivia Flatto, Nico Muhly, Judith Hoffman, and Andrew Martin-Weber
Sutton Stracke, Andrew Martin-Weber, and Jennifer Tilly.
Pamela Boulet, Len Blavatnik, Emily Blavatnik, and Benjamin Millepied
Helen Little and Marina Couloucoundis.
Lisa Bayot and Pia Corlette.
Serena Lese and Flavia Gale.
Christina Lyon, Judith Hoffman, Donna Corbat, Shaikha Paula al Sabah, and Laure Vienot-Tronche.
Nico Muhly, Jane Hartley, Benjamin Millepied, and Olivia Flatto.
Pamela Joyner, Fred Giuffrida, and Olivia Flatto.
Hal Witt, Lee Radziwill, Jane Hartley, and Benjamin Millepied.
Marina Couloucoundis and Christina Lyon.
Peggy and Ralph Brown with Marianne Rash Rowe.
Melody Van Deventer and Donna Corbat.
Olivia Flatto, Noreen Buckfire, Judith Trunsky, and Helen Little.
Stephanie French, Nicolas Luchsinger, and Helen Marx.
Olivia Flatto and Donna Corbat.
Steven Tacopino and Andrew Martin-Weber.
Olivia Flatto, JC Agid, and Dina De Luca Chartouni.
Shaikha Paula al Sabah, Serena Lese, Helen Little, Marina Couloucoundis, and Olivia Flatto.
Last week, our friend, the photographer Rodney Smith, reported that he has completed a retrospective of his work ready for publishing. We got this notice from him, as he’s raising money to publish his book:

“We have reached our minimum goal and we will be able to print the new Rodney Smith book. Thank you to everyone has donated so far. If you would like to help us raise the money to fund the complete cost of the print, donate $75 to our Kickstarter campaign, and receive a signed copy of the new Rodney Smith book (click here to donate).

This monograph includes a retrospective look at 45 years of Rodney Smith’s photography, with over 175 photographs. The book is ready to be printed. So join in and help support one of American’s last classical photographers.

Donate $75 and receive a signed copy of the Rodney Smith book (domestic shipping included).

Contact DPC here.