Thursday, June 11, 2015

The weather changes everything

Under the tent at the New York Botanical Garden's annual Conservatory Ball.
Thursday, June 11, 2015.  Beautiful weather, yesterday in New York. Sunny, bright, and warm. With more in the forecast – in the 90s today and just about the same on Friday.

The weather changes everything. Well, almost. The mood turns up, a little extra energy from the Sun adds optimism to the soup of the city.

Michael's List
Wednesday, June 11, 2015


• Judy Price
• Guy Trebay
• David Margolick
• Denise LeFrak Colicchio
• Audrey Gruss
• Gordon Davis
• Thelma Golden
• Nick Verbitsky
• Joan Gelman
• Joan Hamburg
• Tracey Jackson
• Judy Price with
Guy Trebay
• Bisila Bokoko
• Gerry Byrne with
Ed Bleir
• David Zinczenko with Kelly Choi
• John Hammond
• Charles Koppelman with Paul Scura
• Stan Shuman
• Howard Mittman
• Leonard Lauder with
Brad Grey
• Cassandra Grey
• John Needham
• Andrew Stein
• Stanley Moger
• Cindy Lewis
• Jack Kliger with
Amy Kliger
• Chris Phillips
• Lisa Linden with
Greg Wagner
• Stan Maker
• Alice Mayhew
Michael Kassan
• Joe Armstrong with
Warren Hoge
• Jolie Hunt
• Steve Rattner
• Jennifer Maguire-Isham
• Todd Berman
• Keith Meister
• Diane Clehane with
Paul Caine
• Jacki Kelley
• Sassy Johnson
It was Wednesday, I went to Michael’s where I had lunch with an old, good friend Sassy Johnson who professionally is a broker at Stribling. Her real whole name is Sarah Howard Johnson Conner (two marriages in there) but I and just about everybody else including her family have always known her as Sassy.

DPC with Sassy Johnson.
We met in the early 70s through our mutual friend Bob Schulenberg (whose sketchbook memoir is on today’s NYSD). We were both new again to single-life (after marriage and divorce). What developed over time was a deep friendship. The kind where you feel you can unload with close-ups and they remain in the room and on your side. This kind of friendship is a gift, and impossible to deny. Gratitude exhibited.

When we first met Sassy was working at Halston, running his couture department. I didn’t know Halston although I knew who he was in the social scheme as well as the fashion world. At that point in his life, he was the willing prisoner of the fast life of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. Anyone who was within six feet of him got the picture.

Sassy kept a Diary of those days back in the office/showroom when all the great fashion ladies, like Jackie O, Babe Paley, Elizabeth Taylor were regular customers. It was a fasten your seatbelts time. I didn’t ask her about it yesterday but I do know she’s working on turning it into a book about life with the Old Boy before the roof caved in.

Then last night I had dinner with another old, close friend, Philip Carlson. Philip and I met about 49 years ago (!) when we were both cast in a play by de Ghelderode (an avant-garde Belgian playwright), called “Christopher Columbus,” an off-Off Broadway production in a church (since demolished) in Brooklyn Heights. 

Philip Carlson with another "old," close friend, Steve Harrison.
In memory the most outstanding thing about the show is meeting Philip with whom I have been having an ongoing conversation ever since, even when separated by decades of communication. In retrospect, this very “avant” play was directed by the now distinguished Broadway director Marshall Mason, and included in its cast, the now distinguished playwright Lanford (Lance) Wilson.

Wilson and Mason went on to create Circle Repertory with Tanya Berezin and Rob Thirkield, and then on to Broadway. Philip went on to a Hollywood contract, and later a remarkable career as a talent agent, and I went on in search of myself in a variety of pathways, ending up where I am most at home on this Diary.

I tell you all this because Old Friends – and we are amused as well as shocked that the word applies to us – Old Friends are, like the song says: Gold. And the gossip is always first rate, too. There’s always gossip if there’s old friends.

So that was my very nice almost-summer day in New York.
Gala Chairman Alexandra Lebenthal, Gillian Miniter, Ann Johnson, Maureen Chilton, and Deborah Royce at the New York Botanical Garden's annual Conservatory Ball.
Last Thursday, a week -- June 4th, The New York Botanical Garden hosted its annual Conservatory Ball with more than 500 attending, alongside Gala Chairmen Carolina Herrera, Ann Johnson, Alexandra Lebenthal, Gillian Miniter, and Deborah Goodrich Royce, as well as Honorary Chairmen Friederike Kemp Biggs, Maureen K. Chilton, and Caroline Williamson. The event was sponsored by Carolina Herrera and additional support was provided by Mercedes-Benz Manhattan.
Carolina Herrera and Carolina Herrera de Baez
Anne Harrison and Patti Fast
This is an old-fashioned ball in New York, full of custom, tradition, reverence and a distinctive cause – the Botanical Garden. The evening is black tie. There is a cocktail hour in the gardens of the Conservatory Plaza where they were serenaded by a 10-piece all-female mariachi band (celebrating the Garden’s ground-breaking exhibition “ Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life – in the Enid Haupt Conservatory. Exclusive tours of a rare display of 14 original Kahlo paintings and drawings were also offered during cocktail hour.

This was followed by a dinner dance in the large tent erected footsteps away. The attire is long dresses/gowns for the women, and black tie for the men. The dinner, created by Stephen STARR Events, and the dancing to Soulsystems Orchestras, and the tent, the atmosphere created by DuJuan Stroud whimsically decorated with vibrant Mexican papel picado banners strewn over the dance floor, elephant ear leaves, cacti, and multihued floral arrangements throughout each table.  
Claiborne Swanson Frank
Emmy Rossum and Patricia Lansing
Connie Anne Phillips
Among the guests: Carolina Herrera de Baez, Patricia Herrera Lansing, Merilee and Roy Bostock, Isabella Boylston, Janna Bullock, HRH Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Di Mondo, Patricia and Eric Fast, Yvonne and Jay Fielden, Alessandro and Fe Fendi, Claiborne Swanson Frank, Cosby and Timothy George, Jamee Gregory, Pilar Guzman, Anne Harrison, Constance Jablonski, Hanneli Mustaparta, Pamela Ocampo, Alexandra Pethtel, Connie Anne Phillips, Marc Porter, Ariana Rockefeller, Emmy Rossum, Barbara Cirkva Schumacher, Michelle Smith, Vanessa Traina, Nicole Warne, and Dave Yowan.

More than $1.6 million was raised to support the Garden’s internationally acclaimed programs in children’s education and plant research and conservation. 
Amy Goldman Fowler and Cary Fowler
Andrea Fahnestock and George Hambrecht
Ann Johnson and Charlie Johnson
Barbara Cirkva Schumacher and John Schumacher
Caroline Williamson, Gregory Long, and Deborah Royce
Carolina Herrera and Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia
Jay Fielden and Yvonne Fielden
Fe Fendi and Susan Krysiewicz
Carolina Herrera, Gregory Long, Gillian Miniter, and Alexandra Lebenthal
Constance Jablonski
DeWayne Phillips and Caroline Wamsler
Hanneli Mustaparta and Di Mondo
Emmy Rossum
Henry Johnson and Susan Johnson
Jean Putzer and Kimberly Putzer
Guy Robinson and Elizabeth Stribling
Hamilton Kean and Edie Kean
Joseph Singer and Mish Tworkowski
George Stephenson and Sheila Stephenson
Isabella Boylston
Jamee Gregory
Kenneth Roman and Ellen Roman
Louis Black and Cece Black
Kerry Joyce and Jill Joyce
Ariana Rockefeller, Nadia Bartolucci, Elizabeth Kennedy, and Claire Weldon-Smith
Mary Davison and Susan Burke
Michelle Smith
Bob Gossett and Vera Aryeh
Sharon Hurowitz, Gillian Miniter, and Fe Fendi
Nicole Warne
Sharon Jacob
William and Joan Steere
Pamela Ocampo and Michelle Salas
Sabrina Forsythe and Walter Raquet