Thursday, October 13, 2016

Iconic shoots

The Central Park Bridle Path. 7:00 PM.
Thursday, October 13, 2016. It was a quieter day, yesterday in New York as it was the Yom Kippur holiday. Quieter weekdays in New York City are always welcome because it means wherever you’re going, you can get there faster. The weather was overcast but in the mid- to high 60s, so it was very comfortable getting around.

It was Wednesday and I went down to Michael’s of course to take it all in. Michael McCarty himself was there meeting and greeting, in from LA for the week where the original Michael’s (which opened in 1979) is located in Santa Monica. Michael was telling me that the Santa Monica restaurant had been closed for three weeks while they renovated even the menu, noting the changing times and changing food choices. For those of you in the nabe or planning on it, here’s the new menu:
Coincidentally, Michael's Santa Monica's new executive chef Miles Thompson is a native New Yorker. (Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times)
Michael’s New York was busy but without that clatter-chatter buzz that we’re used to. In the front room there was Matt Rich with Ava Roosevelt and Jean Shafiroff; Susan Magrino with her sisters Sarah Magrino and sister Allyn Magrino who is her business partner, celebrating Sarah’s birthday. Mickey Ateyeh was with Barbara Cutler, lawyer and Child Advocate, Special Master to the Judge for Homeless Children, Bisila Bokoko; Rick Kaplan with Kelly McGinnis; Cindy Lewis; Cathy Black; Lewis Korman; Chris Shipman; Eva Mohr; Keith Reinhard with Maureen Reide and Soledad O’Brian; Diane Clehane with Stefano Tonchi, editor-in-chief of W magazine; Robert Kramer; Michael DelGiudice of Millenium Partners; Dylan Howard with Diane Dimond; Brendan Cahill; Shaun Woodward.

Julie Christie and Warren Beatty in “Shampoo.”
I was lunching with Blair Sabol who is in town on her semi-annual visit from Arizona (or Zona as she calls it) and Gigi and Harry Benson. Blair and Harry had worked together in the ‘70s when they were both on assignment in Hollywood for Vogue. Harry was shooting a number of female stars, and Blair was interviewing them. This was during the years of Grace Mirabella and Blair recalled how you rarely saw stories of Hollywood stars (or characters) in the magazine the way you do today. It was more or less disregarded, fashion-wise. Harry did shoot Julie Christie who was starring in “Shampoo” at the time.

The talk turned to Warren Beatty, and Blair recalled meeting his parents who were very nice kind of all-American folk. She said Warren’s father looked like Warren; today; that they were very nice people. It turned out that although the assignment was completed, it was never run in the magazine.

That led to more conversations about Harry’s work because so many of his photographs are now iconic. He recalled the time he was taking photos of Henry Kissinger giving a speech on foreign policy when someone in the audience loudly interrupted him, asking how the world would have been different if someone had assassinated Kruschchev instead of John F. Kennedy. Without skipping a beat, the Nixon  presidential adviser responded that the one thing he was sure of, if that had happened, was Aristotle Onassis would not have married Mrs. Krushchev.

Harry’s great career began when he was a Fleet Street photographer sent to Paris to cover a concert by a new rock group called the Beatles. Harry at that time was traveling all over the world covering all kinds of personalities and events for the London Daily Express. After the concert that night, he was planning to then leave to cover political situation in South Africa when one of the Beatles’ management told them that their new record “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” had sold a million copies in the United States.
A few minutes later he came back and told them they were going to New York to be on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Harry was invited to join them. He already had the previous commitment to South Africa when his editor told him: You’re going to New York. And so he did, and so it was.

We were talking about some of his iconic shoots. The Beatles pillow fight occurred when John Lennon came into the room with a couple of pillows and started flinging them at the other three, and soon it was on. The pillow fight, Harry recalled, went on for about a half hour and Harry was just lucky to be there to shoot it. The photo where the Beatles met Cassius ClayMohammed Ali, Harry recalled, was the only time he ever photographed the champion.
He recalled the time he went sent to Buckingham Palace to photograph Queen Elizabeth II in her private  study. He said that he wasn’t sure what to say to Her Majesty to make light conversation. Knowing that she was very fond of dogs and so was he, he asked her if her dogs slept on the bed with her as his dogs did. “No,” she replied, “because they snore.” After the shoot, she departed the room but before he was quite ready to depart himself, the Queen came in again with several of her dogs to introduce them to Harry.

Willie Brandt by Harry Benson.
The photo of Willie Brandt was taken on August 13, 1961 in Berlin when Brandt was then Mayor. He was being interviewed by a journalist and Harry was brought in to shoot Brandt for it. During the meeting Brandt got a call from someone telling him that at that very moment, the Berlin Wall between East and West Berlin was being  put in place. So Brandt invited his interviewer and Harry to go with him to see what was happening.

Brandt told them on the way over to the site that he’d heard of the possibility of the East Germans putting up a wall between the East and West parts of the city, although he wasn’t sure what was going to happen. They were driven to a spot where it began with an official entry which became known as “Checkpoint Charlie.” When they got there, people on both sides of the line were being admitted only at that spot. Anyone crossing on any other part of the divide was shot on sight. Two days later the concrete wall up to 15 feet was begun.

The photo of Nancy and Ronald Reagan was taken for Vanity Fair during the early days of Tina Brown’s editorship of the newly revived magazine. It had not been doing so well at that new point and Si Newhouse was planning to close it after this last issue with the Reagans on the cover. However, the Reagan cover was so popular that the issue sold out and Mr. Newhouse decided to stay with it.
Harry met Gigi when he was on an assignment in Texas. Gigi grew up in a little town between Austin and San Antonio. Gigi had just finished University of Texas, and her father invited her to join him at a special dinner honoring a major political figure believing that she might find the honoree’s message interesting. She recalled her father also let her buy a white silk taffeta dress by Teal-Traina – then a popular Seventh Avenue design house. At some point in the dinner, her father brought Harry over to the table to introduce her to him. They’ve now been married forty-nine years.

As lunch was drawing to a close, I told everyone I wanted to take a photo of the table. Harry insisted he take the photo, and then Blair insisted she take the photo. I took out my camera and said “I’ll do it,” and soon we were all taking photos of each other. Then Gigi said, “I’ll take the photo of you three taking the picture.”
A new documentary, Magnolia Pictures’ “Harry Benson; Shoot First” by Justin Bare and Michael Miele and co-produced by Gigi Benson, Mr. Bare and Heather Silverman will have its premiere here in New York on December 1. It will be released in theatres, On Demand, on Amazon Video and on iTunes December 9th. This trailer will give you a taste ...
Catching up. A couple of weeks ago, The Horticultural Society of New York (The Hort) held its 4th Annual Green Family Circle Luncheon & Lecture at Midtown Loft and Terrace. This year's featured guest speaker was Dr. Lisa Miller, author of The Spiritual Child, Director of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, and founder of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute. Dr. Miller offered valuable insight to an engaged audience on the benefits of raising a spiritual family and how it translates into life-long thriving.

The Hort's Green Family Circle empowers New York City families to connect with nature in their everyday lives. The hands-on activities, educational programming, exclusive events and more, encourage healthy, active lifestyles that nourish the mind, body and spirit of kids and parents alike.
Dr. Lisa Miller and Deb Van Eck.
The lunch goes a long way in supporting the Hort's educational programming in underserved and under-resourced schools, as well as the Hort's broader mission to sustain the vital connection between people and plants.

The luncheon committee hosting the event were Alatia Bradley Bach, Meg Chamberlin, Alison Strong, Kamie Lightburn, Mary Van Pelt, Paige Betz, Holly Caracappa, Melanie Chisholm, Mary Minard Turner, Melanie Wright, Cherie Alcoff, Meagan Bonan, Nancy Coles, Lesley Dryden, Katherine Duckworth Schachter, Dr. Giovanna Dukcevich, Jennifer Garrett, Kristen Genovese, Joni Grossman, April Hardwick, Nancy Huh, Parisa Jaffer, Nyssa Kourakos, Cindy Ketchum, Brennan Koch, Vanessa Lilly, Gayle London, Catherine Makk, Lara Marcon, JoAn Monaco, Alexis Moses, Peyton Muldoon, Julianna Obeid, Kate O'Connor Gardner, Patty Riva, Margot Takian, Henley Vazquez, and Julia Weisbach.
Alexis Moses, Kamie Lightburn, Juliet Arrieta, and Lesley Dryden.
Giovanna Dukcevich, Nyssa Kourakos, Juliet Arrieta, Lara Marcon, Aylin Brenna, and Virginia Apple.
Henley Vazquez, Monique Thofte, Alatia Bradley Bach, and Lauren Jenkins Chung.
Julliana Obeid and Paige Betz.
Margot Takian, Geema Masson, and Rebecca Bagdonas.
Karen Amen, Brennan Koch, Nancy Huh, April Hardwick, and Elizabeth Littlejohn.
Rebecca Bagdonas, Lara Marcon, Geema Masson, and Shirin Christoffersen.
A week ago, Hilary and Wilbur Ross hosted cocktails at their Mario Buatta-designed penthouse to kick off the Centennial Campaign of the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club.

The Ross Penthouse.
Known as the model for all the Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, Kips Bay began a century ago on New York's east side, in the hope of keeping kids off the streets of what was then a teeming, immigrant neighborhood adjacent to the stockyards.

Now, with a comprehensive clubhouse in the Bronx and additional satellite locations, Kips Bay serves over 10,000 kids annually with programs in athletics, computer science, academic tutoring, fine art, music and dance, along with providing hot meals and a safe haven to not only the kids it serves but also their families. Their success rate is impressive, with most of their club members continuing on to college and impressive careers. Jennifer Lopez, herself a Kips Bay kid, said, "I don't know where I'd be today without the Club!"

Among those enjoying the soaring aerie overlooking Carnegie Hall: Kips Bay president James Druckman, Emilia and Pepe Fanjul, Eleanora Kennedy, Maribeth and Ellen Welsh, Steven Stolman and Rich Wilkie and Palm Beach architect Tom Kirchhoff.

For more info, visit
Daniel Quintero, Emilia and Pepe Fanjul. Nazira Handal and Dennis Scully.
Tom and Cat Kirchhoff with Rich Wilkie and Ellen Welsh.
Kevin Barba and Joshua Hill. Hilary Geary Ross and Eleanora Kennedy.
A couple of weeks ago, The Child Mind Institute hosted approximately 160 guests at a panel discussion about anxiety and the importance of early intervention featuring Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic and author of My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread and the Search for Peace of Mind. The event was moderated by Michelle Kydd Lee, the Chief Innovation Officer and member of the senior leadership team at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and also featured the Child Mind Institute's president, Dr. Harold Koplewicz, and Dr. Jerry Bubrick, senior director of the CMI Anxiety & Mood Disorders Center and director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Service.

The luncheon and other events like it are part of the Child Mind Institute's public education mission, giving families and professionals accurate information at no cost about mental health and learning disorders and how to find effective treatment.
Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic, Michelle Kydd Lee, Chief Innovation Officer, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Dr. Harold Koplewicz, founding President of the Child Mind Institute, and Dr. Jerry Bubrick, Senior Director of the Anxiety & Mood Disorders Center and director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Service at the Child Mind Institute.
"We're trying to educate America about how real, common and treatable these disorders are," Dr. Koplewicz said. "The most common set of illnesses in childhood and adolescence are mental health disorders. I don't think people can put their head around it because the number is so staggering: 17.1 million children in the United States under the age of 18 will have a mental health disorder. It is truly a public health crisis."

The luncheon Host Committee included Cori and Tony Bates; Agapi and Bruce Burkard; Stacy Drazan; Abby Durban; Eve and Ross Jaffe; Linnea Roberts; Allison and Dan Rose; Annie Ulevitch; and Amy Yang.
Tony Bates, President of GoPro, and his wife Cori Bates.
Helen Schwab, President of the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, and Laura Fisher.

Photographs by Kelly Sullivan/Getty images (Child Mind)

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