Friday, October 2, 2015

Up and down the Avenues

Park Avenue looking south from 54th Street. 10:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Friday, October 2, 2015. A lot cooler in New York with daytime temps in the mid to low-60s and moving down into the 50s by mid-evening. And rain; with more in the forecast for the next few days.

Catching up: I made it to Michael’s this past Wednesday for the first time in more than a week, mainly because of the difficult traffic related to the Pope’s visit as well as UN Week. It was a typical Wednesday back-in-town. People were also talking about another restaurant in the news. A new one, just in the designing stages.  Charles Masson is opening his own – which is as it should be – still unnamed, in the old Post House next to the Lowell Hotel on East 63rd Street between Park and Madison. It is a perfect location for Charles and for many of his clientele, all of whom hope it will be ready for business sooner than later.
Charles Masson will soon be back doing what he does best (and better than anyone).
It was a typical Michael’s crowd. Media, marketing, business, advertising, banking and of course publishing, editing. And the movies.

Wednesday’s guest was Shirley MacLaine who was with her friend Andrew Stein.

Shirley went to the theater Wednesday night where she saw “Hamilton.” The show’s word-of-mouth has gone beyond sensational, pacesetting, spellbinding, sensational, to transforming for a stage musical.

Everyone who has seen it – all ages, types and sizes – raves about. Raves. The tickets are prohibitively expensive (for ordinary income earners), but it doesn’t matter, and it’s sold out.

Shirley, according to Joe Dziemianowicz in the Daily News, loved the show, and was said to have said to someone at the theater “I haven’t had this much fun since 1776, I mean the year 1776, I was there.’”

Shirl sure gets around. Of course she’s a best-selling author as well as a movie star, but if you’ve ever seen Shirley dance with the boys in the chorus, it’s an image you’ll never forget. That must be her karma, no?
Shirley MacLaine (center) in Bob Fosse's "Sweet Charity."
Back to business. Wednesday night. Early in the evening, Susan and David Rockefeller Jr. hosted a book party for Leslie Zemeckis in celebration of her newest book, “Goddess of Love Incarnate; The Life of Stripteuse Lili St. Cyr.” I haven’t read the book yet although when I was a kid – always reading about Hollywood, that faraway magic land, Lili St. Cyr famous across America for being a stripper, but in Hollywood.
Leslie Zemeckis with her book. Click to order. Kelly Rutherford and Susan Rockefeller.
All those actors, stars, characters you love watching on Turner Classics were there when St. Cyr was there and she was the talk of their town. I think she played a famous nightclub on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood called Ciro’s (I could be wrong about this) – a building which still existed when I lived out there in the ‘80s  -- then a Comedy Club – between Queens and Kings Road. St. Cyr was as much a glamour queen as many of the movie stars of era (the 1950s), but with an edge (she stripped in public); she was out there in her entirety. Lili had class, with a capitol K. That’s all I knew about her and will until I read this biography of a culturally transforming era in the film industry and ultimately in American life.

Among those in attendance at the Rockefellers’ party were the author’s husband director Robert Zemeckis, Tony Bennett, actress Kelly Rutherford, burlesque artist Angie Pontani, Cameron Silver, author Amy Fine Collins and musician Brian Newman.
Left to right: Tony Bennett with daughter Johanna, Leslie Zemeckis, Robert Zemeckis, and Susan and David Rockefeller Jr.
Also, just a few blocks south of the book party, Alice Mason was hosting a dinner party at her East 72nd Street apartment. This was a small dinner for Alice –only  twenty-four guests,  at three tables. This was actually the smallest dinner party she’s given in the past fifty years. Alice has been at it that long. For the last four decades Alice has been hosting dinners for 60 in this same apartment, at least ten times a year since the early 1960s.

Long ago these parties became famous in New York for the guest list which was Alice’s version of “select” – that being people who interested her. Media, publishing, politics, finance, authors, CEOs, ambassadors, presidents, tycoons, actors and society, Alice had hundreds of names on her “list” and varied it thusly. Although at different times there were certain individuals, such as Norman Mailer, Malcolm Forbes, Alexander Haig, Mike Wallace who made it known that they always liked to be included, and frequently were.
Alice Mason and Carmen.
Alice’s secret  -- besides her guest list -- was the table, the seating and the conversation. She purposely used a round table for six to seat eight. The closer together the easier the conversation. Conversation was the treasure discovered at her tables. Wednesday night was no different in that way: the dining room was rife with voices and chatter and a lot of laughter.

Among her guests was Carmen, the world famous international model, who at 85 continues to work. She started when she was 13 when a friend took her to Vogue and suggested they use her. And that was amazingly 72 years ago. She continues to work to this day. Although she has taken a break for two knee replacements and more recently a hip replacement. She pointed this out when I asked her if she’d been traveling very much lately for her work.

She smiled and shook her head, and said, gently grasping her left hip, “no because I had to replace her three months ago, after replacing her – indicating her right hip “last year.”

I remember going to Carmen’s 70th birthday that friend hosted for her at the old Café Nicholson. I remember thinking: “geez that’s old ...” although she didn’t “look it.” Ha! That’s what I thought. Little did I know what "old" is. Now I look at Carmen and she just looks like Carmen, like she’s always looked. While it’s all the result of genes and good healthy living and taking care, with Carmen there is something else. The only word for it is Spirit. She’s one of those one-foot-in-front-of-the-other girls. Wednesday night she brought her iPad and after the table was cleared for dessert, started photographing the groups.
Carmen photographing the guests with her iPad. Carmen taking a break with Charlie Scheips.
Today is the birthday of my partner in New York Social Diary, Jeff Hirsch. JH to many readers. We met when he came to work as my assistant at Avenue magazine back in 1998. In  2000, he joined me in founding the NYSD. We’ve just completed our 15th year on the web and those of you who have been following us can see that we’ve grown into a web magazine about the social culture of New York and many parts of the world. In my humble opinion, it’s a beautiful site and easy to read for those of us who who suffer from focus-fatigue. I use the word “humbly” because all of that beautiful is the creation of my esteemed partner.

Happy Happy Birthday Jeff.  And here’s to many more. Where would the NYSD be withoutcha?
DPC and JH discussing logistics from across the table.
Two events next week you may want to know about:  Upcoming events to bear in mind:

On this coming Wednesday, October 7th, “An Evening with Christopher Gray” will be held at the Union Club of the City of New York.  Mr. Gray, whom I have never met was always the first thing I read in the Sunday Real Estate section of The New York Times. They remain at a loss without his wonderful stories about the history of New York and its architecture. 

Christopher Gray has been researching and writing about New York City’s buildings for four decades.  His “Streetscapes” column, ran in the Times from 1987 to 2014.  A weekly column, he wrote with researcher Suzanne Braley revealing the hidden stories behind buildings many New Yorkers thought they knew. His pieces were enlightening, entertaining and enhancing to one’s sense of this great city. If this interests – and it is fascinating,  to purchase a ticket or contact Jenna Smith at 212.995.5260 or by Friday, October 2. That’s today, obviously. Go for it; you won’t be disappointed.
Christopher Gray.
Then also coming up this week, On Thursday, October 8th, Julie Andrews, supercalifragilistic musical and movie star, and – maybe you didn’t know – an avid rose gardener; and Stephen Scanniello, Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden Curator, will be honored at The New York Botanical Garden’s 25th annual Rose Garden Dinner.

This is a beautiful evening, at the Garden. The Chairmen of this year’s event are Friederike Biggs, Maureen and Richard Chilton, Janet and Tom Montag, Wendy Keys Pels, Katharine and William Rayner, Marjorie and Jeffrey A. Rosen, Gillian and Robert Steel, Nonie and John Sullivan, and Julia and Hans Utsch. The Honorary Chairmen are Mary and Marvin Davidson, Anne and Tom Hubbard, and Eliot and Roly Nolen.
This evening features cocktails and exclusive tours in the world-renowned Rose Garden, which will be followed by an elegant dinner and dancing in the Garden Terrace Room.  Proceeds from the Rose Garden Dinner will go to support the Fund for Horticulture and the continued preservation and development of the historic Rockefeller Rose Garden. 

Tickets are still available. Please call Anita Hall at 914-579-1000 or e-mail for reservations.

Contact DPC here.