Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Column of Fire

Sitting on the David H. Koch Plaza Fountain along Fifth Avenue with the Tribute in Light behind. 8:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017.  A beautiful day in New York, sunny, clear and mild with temperatures in the low to mid-70s by day and the low to mid-60s by evening. School’s back and my neighborhood with its two girls’ schools a block apart now has mid-day activity of school buses, cars and taxis dropping off and picking up. Autumn’s here in Indian Summer.

It was a busy day on the social and fashion calendars. Late yesterday afternoon, the Oscar de la Renta Collection, designed by his former assistants Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, was shown before a large crowd at Sotheby’s. And then last night at 8 pm, Carolina Herrera’s Collection was shown in the Sculpture Garden of the Museum of Modern Art on West 54th Street.
A taste of Oscar.
Early in the evening, Liz and Jeff Peek hosted their annual “Back in Town” cocktail reception for lots of friends at their Park Avenue penthouse. A few blocks south, Erica Jong and Ken Burrows were hosting a book-signing party at their home for their friend Ken Follett and his new book “A Column of Fire.”
Earlier in the day Ken was filming at B&N in Union Square answering questions from fans.
Click to order "A Column of Fire."
While over Majorelle, Charles Masson’s new restaurant in the Lowell Hotel on 28 East 63rd Street, international interior designer Geoffrey Bradfield hosted a dinner for his friends Kai and Nick Spencer who are visiting from London.

There were 24 at table and a good time was clearly had by all. The delicious menu began with Asperges Vinaigrette, (Green Asparagus, Mustard Vinaigrette) followed by a main course of Cotelettes d’Agneau, Riz aux Amandes (Lamb Chops with Rosemary, Pilaf Rice with Almonds) and Crème Caramel for dessert.

Geoffrey is one of the last men (or women) standing who entertain their guests with a generosity and elegance that sets the tone and makes everyone comfortable and convivial. It was also a special night for the host who was born and grew up in South Africa, and was celebrating on this day his 40th anniversary of becoming a US citizen.
Geoffrey presiding over the table.
Charles Masson’s new restaurant was very busy. Among the guests were Reinaldo and Carolina Herrera dining after the showing of her collection, with their friends Emilia and Pepe Fanjul and Arianna and Dixon Boardman.

Yesterday’s Diary about “Kurt Vonnegut’s Commencement Speech at MIT” in the late '90s was very popular with readers but also brought the news that the speech was NOT by Kurt Vonnegut, nor was it delivered at a commencement at MIT. My friend Jesse Kornbluth first emailed me in the morning to tell me that the “speech attributed to Vonnegut was actually a column written by Mary Schmich for the Chicago Tribune. “But  everyone thinks he wrote it so no biggie.” Then yesterday afternoon I got an email from Anna Quindlen informing me that Ms. Schmich, the Chicago columnist (“and Pulitzer Prize winner”) actually wrote it. Then Sarah Simms Rosenthal filled me in with the details as follows:

“Mary Schmich's column Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young was published in the Chicago Tribune on June 1, 1997. In the column's introduction Schmich presents the essay as the commencement speech she would give if she were asked to give one.

Mary Schmich as a seven-year-old.
“In the speech she insistently recommends the wearing of sunscreen, and dispenses other advice and warnings which are intended to help people live a happier life and avoid common frustrations. She later explained that the initial inspiration for what advice to offer came from seeing a young woman sunbathing, and hoping that she was wearing sunscreen, unlike what she herself did at that age.
 
“The essay soon became the subject of an urban legend which claimed it was an MIT commencement speech given by author Kurt Vonnegut. In reality, MIT's commencement speaker in 1997 was Kofi Annan (then Secretary General of the UN) and that Vonnegut had never been a commencement speaker there. Despite a follow-up article by Schmich on August 3, 1997, the story became so widespread that Vonnegut's lawyer began receiving requests to reprint the speech. Vonnegut dispelled the legend himself, commenting that he would have been proud had the words been his.”

So there you have it. Thank you Mary Schmich; a great address anytime anywhere!
Last weekend in Southampton. LongHouse Reserve’s board of directors hosted their annual LongFellows event Saturday at the remarkable Southampton home of Jane and David Walentas — with a tour lead by their architects, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, principals of the TWBTA.  LongHouse’s founder, Jack Lenor Larsen, welcomed the group.  Jane Walentas sweetly invited the curious crowd to, “Look everywhere.  I know some of you are too polite to be nosey but today we’re happy to have you see everything.”  The remarkable glass, cement, and teak structure has a view of both the ocean and the bay, and includes an underground tunnel to the tennis court, a retractable atrium, and a built-in outdoor ping pong table made of poured concrete.
House View from the beach.
Jack Larsen greeting guests.
LongHouse Reserve is a 16-acre sculpture garden located in East Hampton, featuring pieces from Buckminster Fuller, Yoko Ono, Eric Fischl, and William de Kooning to name only a few. Founded by Jack Lenor Larsen, its collections, gardens, sculpture, and many programs reflect diverse world cultures to inspire a creative life. 

LongFellows are generous legacy patrons who have included LongHouse in their estate planning. Each year LongHouse celebrates their LongFellows at an event in at a distinctive private home.
Jane Walentas, John Imperatore, David Walentas, and Teri Whitcraft.
Steve and Sandy Perlbinder with Billie Tsien.
Bill Smith, Dennis Schrader, Dr. Tara Allmen, Steve Felsher, Larry Kimmel, and Sue Felsher.
Ivancica Tomicic, Billie Tsien, Tod Williams, Dr. Tara Allmen, and Sue Felsher.
Aaron Lieber, Barbara Slifka, and Bruce Horten.
Dr . Tara Allmen, Carol Mandel, and Larry Kimmel. Roger Ramirez, Octavia Giovannini-Torelli, and Tod Williams.
Tod Williams, Jane Walentas, Emma Katz, and Sue Felsher.
Neda Young and Lee Skolnick.
 

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