Monday, June 15, 2015

The Real Feel

Broadway Street fair. 11 AM. Photo: JH.
Monday, June 15, 2015. A very warm, sunny weekend with humidity upping the Real Feel into the high 90s, although cooling to the high 60s by late evening.
Saturday late morning, the river was busy with oil tankers moving very slowly, pushed by tugs upstream and down. I'm always fascinated by the sight of them, their vastness and what they represent in our world. They are much larger than they look in these photos. It's only possible to grasp the scale if you have someone on deck to indicate the proportions. However, trailing behind the red tanker "Adelaide" was what looked like a luxury yacht moving up channel. And when there was enough space between the two giants, the yacht put on some speed.
You can see by this photo the proximity. The tanker makes the yacht look small, but in the next shot ...
... as the yacht passes "Adelaide" you can see she's ample. And sleek. I think that's a Canadian flag she's flying.
A beauty moving ahead.
And here's the "Adelaide" on Sunday morning, moving upstream again.
Thursday. I had lunch at Michael’s with Vincent Minuto. Vincent has a business called Hampton Domestics which supplies staffs for private residences as well as other commercial areas for the same clientele. Vincent is very much an under-the-radar kind of guy although he knows all the right people from Vanderbilts and Whitneys to hedge fund moguls. He is also an advertiser on NYSD and has been since JH and I created it fifteen years ago this September.

I first met Vincent when he used to “cater” dinners and parties for the late Judy Green. Judy, who died of pancreatic cancer at age 66, three days after 9/11, was probably the last of the great party-givers here in New York. The city came to Mrs. Green’s doorstep. Everybody had a good time, and nobody loved it more than Mrs. Green. Vincent used to make tea sandwiches for her cocktail parties. They were set out ad infinitum on the dining room table, and if there were 100 guests (as there often were — or more), 35 or 40 of them would have been hanging out at the watercress and  cucumber sandwiches table, pretending not to glom. I know; I was one of them. I don’t know what it was. Simply little things (on whitebread with no crusts), and you couldn’t stop eating/inhaling them.
DPC and Vincent Minuto of Hampton Domestics at Michael's.
Vincent describes himself as a Sicilian kid from Brooklyn. And indeed, that is his heritage. His family was in the trophy-making business. His mother, who is 86, still works two or three days a week making trophies at the factory. Vincent, however, as a very young man went to work for a man named Donald Bruce White, the one and only “private” caterer whom Society and their exponents hired for their cocktail parties, weddings, dinners. Mr. White was without peer. As the years wore on, however, he was also not without a bottle of booze nearby. He long worked for Judy at her parties until one night he was so drunk, she threw him out.

Judy Green at one of her annual Christmas parties that was catered by Vincent.
Leona with Vincent Minuto and Trouble (her dog).
Judy Green. I’ve never written much about Judy since she left us almost fourteen years ago. But she is often in my thoughts as well as the thoughts of many others. As Vincent said to me at lunch: “I think of her everyday.” She had such a strong and (sometimes) controversial presence that for many of us, it's as if she just left the room, and will be right back. But that’s a story for another day.

After getting the beginning of his culinary education at the Culinary Institute, Vincent started out in the food and service business at “21” ordering the caviar. The Sicilian kid from Brooklyn learned a lot about it. He quickly acquired a lifelong taste for it. From “21” he was hired by Donald Bruce White. When Mrs. Green gave Mr. White the heave-ho, Vincent succeeded. And produced.

He’s had a long career in the food business ever since. He’s owned restaurants in the Village, as well as a once famous gay bar out in the Hamptons (now defunct), he’s worked as a private chef (for among others, the late Leona Helmsley – whom he liked very much “she was a very lonely woman”). He continues to this day to “cater” for his longtime clientele which include Vanderbilts and Whitneys (remember them?). But mainly his business today is the Hampton Domestics.

Which speaking of eating, I hadn’t seen Vincent in a couple of years, maybe more. This time Vincent had put on some weight. In fact quite a bit. The kid in the picture with Mr. Sinatra is not so skinny anymore. He’s on a diet now, however, put there by his doc. And he’s lost five pounds with forty-five more to go. So we discussed diets (very) briefly.

He told me that one of the most delicious drinks was cucumber and mint and water. You take a bunch of mint, and cut up a cuke and put them at the bottom of a pitcher. You boil the water and pour it over the cukes and mint (put a metal knife in the pitcher when you pour  -- to absorb the heat and save the glass from breaking).  Then you let it sit to room temperature. It is the healthiest drink in this hot season. Or any season. It might be subtly addictive. And unlike so many other habits, it can’t hurt.

Vincent with The Voice.
This picture of Vincent with The Voice was taken when he was a skinny little thing, in his mid-20s, working the catering world in Southampton where the Sinatras were frequently guests of Ann and Morton Downey.  Vincent used to cook and organize the kitchen for the Downeys’ weekends. Vincent said Frank was always good to the staff, not only in his tipping but in the way he treated them. It wasn’t condescension; it was a natural empathy.

But, Vincent added, “I wouldn’t want to be around him when he’d had a long night of drinking ....” And we laughed. Sinatra was loved and admired by not only his fans but by his many friends. He also had a very hot temper which could flare up, explode and then disappear. But he was paternal, or maybe it was maternal, in his sensitivity to the needs of others, be it financial or health or death.

His relationship with Morton Downey was also a matter of status for him, as Morton was a great star on the radio when Frank was starting his career. Frank’s mother Dolly Sinatra idolized Morton’s singing (Irish tenor) voice. Being a friend of his mother’s singing idol, counted. He was always who he was.
This past Thursday was National Seersucker Day. You knew that, right? It so happened when I went to Michael's to meet Vincent, I was wearing a grey and white seersucker jacket that is now as old as the hills. However, at Table One, there was a table full of them, all men except for the hostess Lauri Haspel. Haspel, men's suits. Get it? Lauri's grandfather or maybe it's her great-grandfather, Mr. Haspel down in Louisiana got into manufacturing men's suits. For all seasons. And he came up with seersucker for those hot summer days. It makes you look cool, even to yourself. It was even seersucker day in our nation's capital, as you can see by this photograph. Dressed in Seersucker suits are Senators (front row l. to r.) Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Thad Cochrane and Shelley Capito; (back row l. to r.) John Isakson, Diane Feinstein, Mitch McConnnell, Amy Klobacher, and Roger Wicker at the U.S. Capitol Building on June 11, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Haspel).

You must admit they all look very cool (as in not quite cold), and considering the circumstances, they are probably sitting in an air conditioned room that may even feel refrigerated, but ... nevertheless. They look cool too. Seersucker, get it while it's hot.
This past Thursday night, the Wildlife Conservation Society held their annual dinner at the Central Park Zoo and honored three champions of the oceans at this evening's Gala 2015: Turning Tides.  WCS Trustee and philanthropist, Barbara Hrbek Zucker; New York real estate developer, Donald Zucker; and executive director of The Monterey Bay Aquarium, Julie E. Packard, were honored for their commitment to ocean conservation.
Riding in a cab through Central Park on Thursday afternoon, we passed this young woman who is holding a cellphone in her right hand. As she was moving along, she began taking a lot of photos (or video selfie). A bit wobbly on the roadway in her onehandedness, she was mainly on a road with many cars, horses and carriages, runners, other bicyclists in limited space. A couple of times she almost lost control because she had her right arm extended above her and was looking UP instead of looking at the road. Beautiful young woman, ripe for sudden changes, maybe even fatal. Was she an asshole, or what?
This year's gala highlighted WCS's role in ensuring a healthy future for our oceans, their incredible marine biodiversity, and the human communities that depend on them. The evening also focused on the transformation of the WCS New York Aquarium and its new exhibit – Ocean Wonders: Sharks! – which, when completed, will inspire nearly 1 million visitors each year to care for the oceans and will serve as a resource for local marine conservation and science education.

Mr. and Mrs. Zucker are prominent New York philanthropists whose leadership gifts to the Campaign for the New York Aquarium, announced a challenge gift of $2.5 million. Their generosity will ensure the success of the new Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit.  It will ultimately help educate visitors about the importance of conserving marine wildlife and habitats.
Checking in at the Wildlife Conservation Society dinner at the Central Park Zoo, Thursday night, 7:30.
A maquette of the a-building New York City Aquarium in Coney Island.
The scene at cocktail hour. Patrick McMullan is standing to the left of me, waiting presumably for Bill Cunningham of the Times to get his shot, before Patrick will get his shot of Melanie Wambold.
The table setting. I was a guest of Allison and Leonard Stern. The centerpiece reflects the theme of the evening: marine life. The starter, already on the table looks like a bouquet of mushrooms. I never saw this particular mushroom before. I'm not wild about mushrooms -- although I eat them. I thought this one was a bit much. However, it was 8:30, I was hungry. I dug in. They are called "coral mushroom" and it was served covering maitake, cauliflower couscous, toasted nori, preserved Meyer lemon. And it was actually delicious.
Guests entering the tent for their tables. The man wearing dark glasses is Tommy Tune.
Julie E. Packard is the founding executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and is dedicated to advancing ocean conservation. The Monterey Bay Aquarium's commitment to marine conservation efforts through exhibitions, education, science, and technology has had a profound impact worldwide. Ms. Packard is also a trustee of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which has been a significant supporter of WCS and its marine programs since 1995.
Cristian Samper, the President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, opened the evening.
Ward Woods, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the WCS, introducing honorees Barbara and Donald Zucker.
Barbara Zucker making her "acceptance" speech. Mrs. Zucker and her husband have been very active and generous with the WCS. Mrs. Zucker's words were impassioned and sensible but it turns out that she is active in many philanthropic activities in New York and the world. You can tell by the way the woman describes her activities that she's a person who gets things done.
Mr. Zucker, who is in the construction business, talks about their philanthropic work in terms of how fortunate they are to be able to Do Something for the world and for life. Mr. Zucker is also keeping a close eye on the construction of the new aquarium which he believes will be the most innovative in the world when it is completed.
Ms. Packard started the Monterey Aquarium. She's a California lady, and as smartly dressed and business-like as she is in talking about her conservation work and the aquarium, she's got that West coast, matter-of-fact casualness to her work. She's also got the added confidence of having succeeded with the Monterey Aquarium.
WCS conservationists work in nearly 60 nations and in all of the world's oceans. The New York-based organization's marine program is committed to ocean protection, sustainable fisheries, and marine species conservation across the waters of 23 countries and all five oceans. The longstanding marine expertise of WCS will infuse the new exhibits at the New York Aquarium, shape educational programs, determine strategies to protect New York's threatened marine wildlife, and help to identify important coastal and open-ocean areas for protection.
Marlene Hess, Jim Zirin, Lisa Schiff, Jim Simpson, Sigourney Weaver, and David Schiff
Cobie Smulders
Priscilla and Ward Woods
Howard and Sandy Tytel
Cristian Samper, Adriana Casas, Robert Menzi, Barbara Zucker, and Donald Zucker
Sergio Furman, Cristian Samper, and Robert Menzi
Sergio Furman and Sara Marinello
George Wambold, John Wambold, Melanie Wambold, and John Wambold
Christa Conway, Bill Conway, and Julie Packard
Kim Schmid, Tom Schmid, and Alex Schmid
Boo Grace and Jill Nicoll
Steven Grapstein, Linda Argila, Mona Manahi, and Wally Zeins
Cindy and Ladd Willis
CeCe Cord and Lia Reed
Linda Argila
Wally Zeins and Mona Manahi
Dana Schiff and Ann Hale
Melanie Wambold, Allison Morrow, and Cindy Willis
Mary and Howard Phipps
CeCe Cord
Ann Tisch and Andrew Tisch
Stephen Shapiro and Dr. Amy Attas
Charles Z. Bornstein and Joan Jedell
Ann Hale, Tyler Thors, Pricilla Thors, Dana Schiff, Susan Kittenplan, Scott Fulmer, and Scott Schiff
CeCe Cord, Mary Phipps, Allison Stern, and Muffie Potter Aston
Robert Zimmerman and Nancy Silverman
Robert Ouimette and Anne Keating
Allison and Leonard Stern
Julie Packard, Donald Zucker, Barbara Zucker, Cristian Samper, Adriana Casas, Priscilla Woods, and Ward Woods
Mark Schwarz and Averell Satloff
Muffie Potter Aston and Dr. Sherrell Aston
Sue Ann Weinberg and Allison Morrow
Mary Snow
Lily Hoagland
Courtney Thompson Friel and Patrick Friel
Conor Sutherland, Grace duPont, Peter Wilson, and John Danello
Tom Connor, Caroline Connor, Garrett Virtue, and Peter Kiernan
Susie van den Berg and Pieter van den Berg
Viviane Arias and Stephen Moeller
Claudia Gaissmaier and Thomas Gaissmaier
Tina Nikari and Arthur Campbell
Cristian Samper, Allison Stern, CeCe Cord, and David Patrick Columbia
Dr. Sherrell Aston and Muffie Potter Aston
Cat Dewey, Chris Lentz, and Rebecca Regan
Mary Snow, Ian Snow, and Perri Peltz
Tory Burch and Alex Robertson
Alejandro Santo Domingo, Virginia Tomenson, Topper Mortimer, and Hayley Bloomingdale
Charlotte Wellesley, Sasha Leviant, Maria Atriveri, and Andres von der Goltz
Billy Cooling and Amanda Starbuck
Caitlin Lyons, Anya Cekauskas, Caroline Connor, and Alex Manfull
Tiffany Frasier, Trisha Guillen, Nadalyn McNichols, Sarah Esserman, Aisling Donnelly, and Ali Bono
Carolyn Conner, Ali Mangione, Victoria Breining, Ida Peterson, Chrissy Rault, Samantha Shlopak, Lily Moore, and Caroline Benedetta
Patti Ruiz Healy, Samuel Leeds, Amy Pompea, Andrew Lam, and Mia Hamamoto
Nilsa Toppe and Rae Scheer
Nadalyn McNichols, Sarah Esserman, Ali Bono, Tiffany Frasier, Trisha Guillen, and Aisling Donnelly
Matt Tigh and Caitlin Branca
Cayte Grieve and Eiseley Tauginas
Julias Schweren and Megan Hearst
Allison Sheats and Beau Allen
Alexandra Chunn and Tiffany Frasier
Andy Fleming, Jessica Hevenstreit, Peter Reid, Alison Hevenstreit, and Kyle Fleming
Ashley Platt, Alexandra Burchfield, and Emily D'Antonio
Hannah Gershenson and Marvin Thomas
Meggie Kempner and Patrick McMullan