Monday, January 11, 2016

Another party at holiday time in years gone by

A deflated elderberry. 3:15 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, January 11, 2016. Poured buckets for a couple of hours in the early early morning’s light Sunday morning. Leaving us with the grey and the fog, and temps in the high 50s by mid-afternoon. The Sun wandered through the clouds by late afternoon and the temperatures plummeted into the 30s by midnight.
Looking southwest towards the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge from the East River Esplanade. 3:20 PM.
Looking northeast from the same point.
I was searching a name on the web yesterday and an old Diary from December 29, 2009 came up. We’ve published thousands of Diaries in the past fifteen years and once archived, they’re forgotten by this writer as well as JH.  I counted the names on the guest list we published. There were eighty-four but those were only the names I remembered. There must have been a hundred more I didn’t remember or even know.

Judy Green at one of her annual Christmas parties.
This was about another party at holiday time in years gone by. It was held on December 19, 2000 at the Park Avenue apartment of Judy Green. I made a reference to Judy and this particular party in a Diary a couple of weeks ago but I’d completely forgotten I wrote in length about it fifteen years ago.

We’re re-running it on today’s NYSD for the fun of it – like the Kitty Miller party last week. This, like, Mrs. Miller’s New Year’s dinner dance is a kind of New York party that really doesn’t exist anymore. These kinds of parties require a personality in order to to be very successful.

It’s not just about spending the money and having the digs to accommodate it. Both Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Green had one of those personalities. Both women were naturally gregarious, smart with a witty edge to keep everyone awake (and imbibing) and always had a wide array of people in their lives.  Both women had a “show business” factor in the guest lists also. And, coincidentally, they both lived on 62nd Street and Park Avenue. Kitty Miller was on the southwest corner and Judy Green was on the south east corner. 

This was Judy’s. Looking at the guest fifteen years later: about 15% of those listed are no longer with us, including our hostess, but leaving sweet memories. The other 85% still are, so it’s curious (and fun) to see ourselves back when we were all young and (sort of) under age sixty.
December 19, 2000. Last night in New York. Judy Green held her Christmas Open House in her great big Park Avenue apartment with pine-paneled living room, the blood red library with the big red, black, and green Rothko hanging over the sofa and the Andy Warhol silkscreened quartet (of Mrs. Green) over the the bar.

Steven Aronson and Judy Green
I was at Judy Green's for about an hour-and-a-half and remember seeing the following: Sidney Zion, Dominick Dunne, Patricia Duff, Karen Moline, Dennis Basso, Michael Cominotto, Tommy Corcoran, Sam Michaels, Ann Rapp, Chris and Grace Meigher, Mollie Wilmot, Sharon Sondes and Geoffrey Thomas, Ian and Ellen Graham, Dolores Smithies, Edgar Battista, Pierre Cossette, Pierre Scapula, Charlie Scheips, Tom Graf, Marina Pignatelli, Pauline Trigere, Christina and Lloyd Gerry, Ann Downey, Steve McPherson, Paul and Jo Hallingby, Boaz Mazor, Sharon King Hoge, Peter Rogers, Lisa Fine, Jackie Weld and Rod Drake, Heather Cohane, Steve Aronson, Vicky Ward, Jamee and Peter Gregory, Mimi Strong, Iris Love, Joan and Joe Cullman, Jan Amory, Peggy Siegal, Annette Tapert and Joe Allen, Kenza, Mary McFadden, Maria Cooper Janis, John Galliher, Alice Mason, Dominique Michaud, Dr. Patrick Stubgen and Dana Hammond, Christian, Tim Lovejoy, Marty Bregman, Demi Gates, Somers White and Jonathan Farkas, Taylor Stein, Felicia Taylor and Dylan Brown, Jim Power, Ann Barish, Bob Marx, Joe Pachetti, Dr. Sherrell and Muffie Potter Aston, Kenny Lane, Anthony Haden-Guest, Jean Harvey Vanderbilt, Rae Crispin, Deborah Mitchell, Couri Hay, Pat Kerr Tigrett, Kathy Sloane, Edwina Sandys and Richard Kaplan, and Lionel Larner.
The hostess with Felicia Taylor.
Mrs. Green loves Christmas almost as much as she loves giving parties. A fire blazing in the fireplace, the mantle decked with Christmas beads and boughs of holly, the big tree in the corner, and in the dining room — tables laid out with a buffet of tea sandwiches of Vincent Minuto, part-time chef to the rich and the famous (and the savvy).

The party always begins at 6:30 and like a rocket, just runs on into the night. People go on their way to somewhere else and get delayed because there are always all kinds of people, and a lot of talk. Although not a lot of talk around the buffet tables because of Vincent Minuto's tea sandwiches. Except for people who talk with their mouth full.

These are nothing little sandwiches — itty-bitty squares on whole wheat and/or white, crusts trimmed away — so small, and so light. But! Each one's got the thinnest spread of chicken salad or egg salad or ham salad, or watercress or cucumbers. You can't tell what you're getting until you've popped one in your mouth. And you don't give a damn anyway, because you never feel like you're eating too much. And all you want is to eat another.

The most sophisticated have been known to stand by the table with a drink in one hand and the other hand operating like a kind of steam shovel — table-to-mouth, table-to-mouth — over these sandwiches. There are also Christmas cookies and brownies, but people eat them only to pretend to themselves they're through with the sandwiches.

The other good thing about Mrs. Green's parties is that the mix is so DIVERSE, and so crowded that you're forced to talk to people because you're already pressed up against them.

And what do they talk about? It's interesting to watch Dominick Dunne. Everyone wants to talk to him. You could imagine them telling him all kinds of secrets. He wends his way about the room, always a glass of Perrier in one hand (he doesn't drink), deftly and quickly, pausing to say hello and then, before you know it, someone's telling him something.

Tonight Patricia Duff, who's really seen a lot of the world Dominick writes about, was giving him an earful. I have no idea what they were saying. I was just watching over the crowd. They may have been talking about how hard it is trying to find a taxi, although I prefer to think it was a lot more intriguing. The beautiful Mrs. Duff has "that subtle charm that makes young farmers desert the farm," as Cole Porter once wrote. And that is no understatement. Meeting is believing, believe me.

Her divorce from Ronald Perelman is like old used chewing gum, so they probably weren't talking about that. But you never know what else is new in this woman's life. The first time I ever heard of Bill Clinton was in Los Angeles in 1987 when Mrs. Duff (then Mrs. Medavoy) had a reception for him (and a lot of other Democratic potential-candidates). He was just this young governor from Arkansas, of all places. Who thought he'd be President in five years? No one. Except Mrs. Duff of course.

I also heard lots of talk about Mrs. Green's recently completed piece interviewing a number of New Yorkers about Brooke Astor for TALK magazine. Now she's doing the same thing on Liberace which ought to be a jaw-dropper. And bittersweet.
In the Entry way.
In the living room.
In the dining room.
What else? Some social types were discussing a very ambitious woman who is bringing out all the major artillery to establish her place in the New York scheme of things. A drop-dead dinner party in a drop-dead new apartment — but a comme-ci, comme-ca group of would-be's, should-be's, won't-be's and could-be's, according to the analysts.

The talk continues about the great reversal of fortune of Saul Steinberg et famille, chronicled in the latest Vanity Fair. The story itself is old news. I alluded to its encroaching reality more than two years ago in one of these columns. What is more interesting now are the stories going around in sotto voce fragments about other well known individuals about to hit the same rocky shores. These are the stories we'll be reading in 2002. We're in a sea-change, the kind that impact these parts of New York, often wiping the social slate quite clean. La change, tout de meme.

Meanwhile Judy Green will be putting up yet another tree and Vincent Minuto will be stacking up those tea sandwiches on the buffet, and the cognoscenti, the movers, the shakers, the rich, the chic and the shameless, will be back for more, and glad to be there.
Bob Marx and Christina Green Gerry Pauline Trigére
Lloyd Gerry and Charles Mirotznik DPC and Peggy Siegal
Somers White and Dennis Basso with Patricia Duff and Dominick Dunne in the background Ian Graham and Maria Cooper Janis
Sharon Sondes, Kenny Lane, and Iris Love with friends
Patricia Duff and Dominick Dunne Christian Peltenburg-Brechneff
DPC and Demi Gates Charlie Scheips and Maria Cooper Janis
Pass the Piper please ... Grace Meigher and Steve McPherson
John Galliher Peter Rogers
Peter Rogers and Ellen Graham Tim Lovejoy (right)
Jo and Paul Hallingby talking to Jim Power Producer Pierre Cossette
Joe Pachetti (left) and friend Vicky Ward
Lisa Fine, Boaz Mazor, and Heather Cohane
Jim Power and Ann Rapp Dominique Richard smoking in the library
Bob Marx and Ann Barish Sidney Zion and Dominick Dunne
Ann Rapp and Mimi Strong Karen Moline and Charles Mirotznik
Sam Michaels and Felicia Taylor Muffie Potter and Sherrell Aston
Geoffrey Thomas discovers Annette Tapert
Alice Mason Mary McFadden

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