Thursday, June 1, 2017

A good old-fashioned one

Rubber duckies. Photo: JH.
Thursday, May 31, 2017. A bright, sunny day, yesterday in New York, and warmer than it’s been recently. Clouding over by sunset, we had a few raindrops too and temps dropping to the mid-60s.

Last night, Jeanne Lawrence, who NYSD readers know from her dispatches from San Francisco and from Shanghai, gave one of her rare cocktail parties at her Park Avenue apartment.
Jeanne Lawrence. Roric Tobin.
This was an old-fashioned one: a good bar, a frequent passing of the hors d’oeuvres that you can’t resist such as pigs-in-a-blanket and little cheese puffs, and a great guest list. And what would make a great guest list in New York? A lot of familiar faces, friends and acquaintances and many who aren’t, all together chatting up a storm, moving around catching, picking up conversations and just enjoying the twilight of the day (it was still very bright out at 6:30 when I got there). By 7 p.m. the apartment was crowded and with more getting off the elevator to join us.

Jeanne is a great hostess. Her doorman told Steven Stolman that “when she throws a party, she really throws a party!” There must have been fifty or sixty in the crowd including: Sharon Bush, Mario Buatta, Liliana Cavendish, Lorna and Larry Graev, Barbara and Donald Tober, Lauren Lawrence, April Gow, Dame Jill Sackler, Charlie Scheips, Felicia Taylor, Debbie Bancroft, Tiffany Dubin, Geoffrey Bradfield, Mary Hilliard, Sharon Hoge, Hunt Slonem, Randy Jones, Pax Quigley, Christopher Mason, Cornelia Bregman, Susan Gutfreund, John Dizard.
Charlie Scheips and Carmen Dell'Orifice.
Charlie and Carmen playing kissy-face.
I brought my camera along but I feel self-conscious at times taking photos of people in a private cocktail party, so I didn’t. However, Steven Stolman did, and he sent me the following. Steven also took a photo of me and Mary Hilliard although when he first asked I told him I didn’t like having my picture taken and neither did Mary. Typical of photographers, I said. Steven won out, however, although you can see from both Mary and my expressions, we weren’t wild about the idea, but I’m glad he did.
Geoffrey Bradfield and Felicia Taylor. DPC and Mary Hilliard.
Last Thursday night, my friend Paige Peterson threw a book party at her Central Park West apartment for her friend Judy Collins whose new book is called “Cravings; How I Conquered Food.” 

I’ve been a big fan of Judy since the early ‘70s or maybe before. Her rendition of The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress always comes to mind when I think of her and her voice, which writer Nathan Bernstein accurately described perfectly as “nearly vibrato-less, silvery, and equalized in all register.” It is a calming, comforting and kindly to the listener. And beautiful. Joan Baez once said half of Judy’s songs are a call to activism while the other half serve as a means of escape from the social and political injustices of the times.
Craig F. Starr, Beth DeWoody, David Croland and Judy Collins.
I’ve known Judy for sometime now although like a lot of relationships along the way in New York, I know her more closely from her work. To be in her company, to converse with her is reassuring because as little as we know about each other, she is open and there, and you’re talking with a friend. I know more about her career and her work than about her private life, although she is fairly open (especially for a famous person), so that a bond can be easily forged if you are open, too.

I’ve seen her perform several times, more recently at the Café Carlyle when she plays both the guitar and the piano, and like a friend, may invite you to join her in song. At Paige’s party someone asked Judy to sing. And so with everyone gathered around, without accompaniment, she began to sing Both Sides Now encouraging the guests to join in.
The Judy behind that presence, that talent, that beauty, is not surprisingly a deeply complex artist, devoted to her work and burdened by her compulsions. Like so many of us in these modern times, in one way or another. With public personalities as serene as Judy Collins, it never occurs to one that behind that is someone struggling — like many of us — with her own demons. Judy, however, an activist by nature, takes on the struggle.

In the opening pages, she describes “Cravings” as a memoir of my long struggle with an eating disorder. It is also the story of a search for a spiritual solution to my problems with food. As an active, working alcoholic with a easting disorder, I yearned for serenity and was tormented for much of my life by longings, addictions, and painful crises over food: bingeing bulimia, weight loss and gain. I was determined from an early age that I would never get fat. I would rather die.
Judy signing books.
The particular subject she writes about is not one that I happen to share. Nevertheless, she drew me into it immediately and kept my interest in the same way that her voice in song draws me in every time. That is her power of which at this point in her life, she is probably aware. There is something for everyone in this story.

Paige's son, Peter Cary Peterson, was there with camera in hand to capture the spirit of the woman and all her fans and friends.
Rachel Epp and Katherine DePaul. Paige Peterson and Judy Collins.
Sandrine Lee and Ron Chernow.
Alaina Monblatt and Alana Jae.
Emily Rafferty, Judy Collins, and Jane Friedman.
Katherine DePaul, Sandrine Lee, and Robin Siegel.
Margo Morrison, Suzanne Vega, and Louis Nelson.
Bert Pogrebin and Louis Nelson.
Paige Peterson, Beth DeWoody, and Christy Ferer.
Christopher Cerf, Charlie Moss, Lorraine Boyle, and Susan Calhoun Moss.
David Croland and Judy Collins. Alaina Monblatt.
Sheila Weller, Judy Collins, Katherine DePaul, Rachel Epp, Paul Mills, and Suzanne Vega.
Susan Calhoun Moss and Peter Cary Peterson.
Helen and Jesse Kornbluth. Marjorie Wolfe and Judy Collins.
Dale Ryan and Patricia Harty.
Kristin Lowman, Silvania Duchuna, Lora Drasner, and David Croland.
Ron Chernow, Alana Jae, Alaina Monblatt, Paige Peterson, and Christopher Cerf.
Susan Cheever, Harris Yullin, Paul Mills, Suzanne Vega, and Kristin Lowman.
 

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