Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fear Free

The 1931 tree at the Rockefeller Center construction site.
Thursday, November 30, 2017. Temperatures reached the mid-60s yesterday in New York although it oddly did not feel warm. By early evening it had dropped to the low 50s and later on down to the low 30s by the wee hours.

Over at Rockefeller Center, the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony hosted by the NBC Today staff Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Hoda Kotb took place before the eyes of millions, not mention a massive crowd at the site. Matt Lauer, the Today host who was fired as of yesterday  morning, did not appear. After the lighting there were performances by Brett Eldridge, Jennifer Nettles, Leslie Odom Jr. Pentatonis, Gwen Stefani and The Tenors.
Last night's tree lighting at Rockefeller Center.
I did not brave the crowd, thank you very much, although what with the mild temperatures, there were tens of thousands attending, including visitors from around the world, and especially children, in awe of the 75-foot Norway Spruce covered with 50,000 lights and a 550 pound Swarovski star at the top. The 12 ton tree came from State College, Pennsylvania.

This is the 85th time a Christmas tree has been displayed. The tradition began in 1931 when Rockefeller Center was under construction. Workers decided to pool their money and buy a 20 foot balsam which they put up on the unfinished site, decorating it with a handmade garland made by their families.
The first tree lighting in 1933. Photos via Rockefeller Center
The planned television ceremony was overshadowed yesterday morning when it was announced that Lauer had been fired. I first heard about it when I went down to Michael’s to lunch with Brooke Hayward and Alex Hitz. Michael’s was its high decibel-Wednesday, and no doubt the news was on the lips of a large number of guests.

The rumor of Lauer’s expected firing was already going around last week. There’s a continuing list of “names” including some big surprises – if indeed they are true – that are still being rumored about. I don’t know the man and had never heard anything about his sexual activities, or anything else about his personal life. However, like so many cases involving celebrities, the stories it turns out were everywhere in the workplace where the most vulnerable victims are.

Weinstein and Lauer at Michael's in 2012.
The thought of some of these guys’ now documented “activities” are kind of hilarious: a woman walks into an office and her boss pulls his pants down fully exposing himself (or exposing himself fully). Think about it if you saw such a scene in a movie. Other than the Ewwww, it would crack you up and he’d look like the local idiot who needed to be sheltered from his own storm.

I asked a woman friend of mine yesterday, a friend of many decades, if she’d ever been harassed and her response was matter-of-fact: “oh many times!” Then she added, “almost every woman has!” Many women are outraged by it but seem to accept it as typical male behavior.

Last night I had dinner at Sette Mezzo with an old friend, Joan Kingsley who is in from London for a couple of weeks. Professionally Joan is a “Consultant Clinical and Organization Psychotherapist with a private practice in London. She works mainly with senior management in business organizations and is co-author with Paul Brown and Sue Paterson of The Fear-Free Organization, an “alternative path to organizational success with neuroscience insights into why using power, threats and scare tactics is a huge corporate mistake.”

Because this kind of behavior now hitting the headlines is so common and widespread, Joan explained, a woman going to work in any organization of any kind is naturally afraid of what they’re walking into. “A girl whose gone to graduate school, become an expert in her field, looking to make a professional life for herself is well-aware of the danger that could confront her in this abusive male behavior. One incident could ruin her career if she didn’t handle it very carefully.”

I asked Joan what she thought this was leading us to, as the situation itself is another cultural change. She wasn’t sure but she felt it was definitely going to change the way men in business relate to women in business. Then the conversation veered into the business of the differences between the male and the female and their relationship to sex. It could have gone on for hours, except it was getting late.
DPC and Joan Kingsley at Michael's discussing The Fear-Free Organization.
Catching up. With the plethora of charity galas, special concerts, dinners and cultural events, a really interesting one was the American Hospital of Paris Foundation’s gala at the Plaza. They honored The Honorable Jane D. Hartley, Howard H. Leach, Charles H. Rivkin and Craig R. Stapleton, each a former U.S. Ambassador to France. 
Ambassador François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, presented each honoree with an engraved petite Tourbillons crystal vase, compliments of Lalique.

The lively evening was attended by more than 150 guests and supporters who came from all parts of the country including Houston, Palm Beach, Washington DC, the tristate area – and Paris. 
Among those attending were the Foundation’s Co-Chairmen Barbara Cirkva Schumacher and Henry P. Davison, II as well as distinguished Board members and Dinner Committee Members. Koji Abe, Deputy Chief of Mission and Deputy Consul General of Japan in New York; Lorenz Baumer; Violaine and John Bernbach, Donna and Max Chapman, Jérôme Deana, Development Director at American Hospital of Paris; Amandine and Stephen Freidheim, Audrey and Martin Gruss, Frank and Joan Ginsberg,  Sharon Jacquet, Francine LeFrak and Rick Friedberg, Ulla Parker, Kalliope and Michael Rena, Gretchen Leach, Ralph Schlosstein, Susan Tolson, Deborah and Marshall Wais,  Laura and Mark Yockey, Strauss Zelnick and Wendy Belzberg, and representatives from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, which is the AHP and AHPF’s international affiliate hospital, were some of the guests in attendance.

It was a dazzling evening with a French flair, held to support the American Hospital of Paris, a unique institution founded in 1906 for Americans living in Paris. It has grown and thrived for more than a century.  More than 100,000 patients from 100 countries pass through the Hospital’s doors in Neuilly-sur-Seine each year.
Ambassador François Delattre, Howard H. Leach, The Honorable Jane D. Hartley, Charles H. Rivkin, and Marshall Wais. Photo Credit: Jay Ackerman 

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