Thursday, October 5, 2017

Friends and acquaintances

Looking south along Park Avenue from 53rd Street. 7:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, October 5, 2017. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm autumn day yesterday in New York. Temps in the mid-to-low 70s, cooling off into the low 60s at night.

It was Wednesday and I went down to Michael’s. Traffic was very heavy even on East End Avenue (where there is a lot of major construction hogging lanes). I took the new Q  from 83rd Street to Second Avenue which is only three citywide blocks. If I make the subway, it’s an 8 minute ride to the 55th Street and Seventh Avenue location.

However when I arrived at the platform, this is all I could see.
The spanking new 86th/83rd Street Station for the Q on Second Avenue.
At first I wondered if they were all in prayer or something ...
. And then I went around to the other side and saw ...
On my subway travels I like to survey the car’s passengers. This is basic New York on a weekday. For example, I often count the number of riders in my half of the car, and then count the number looking at their cell phones. The trip is short, so I have to be quick. Inside the car yesterday, of the twelve in my purview, 11 were doing something with their phones. And so it was.

Michael’s was its typical buzzing enterprise. Full up, front to back. In the front: NBC’s Jill Martin; Messrs Sanford and Stein; Jeane Siegel; Bill Stanton; Deborah Krulewitch with Joan Jakobson; Diane Clehane; Lisa Linden of Planet PR; Chris Perez of the NY Post; Peter Brown; CNBC’s Ron Insana; Lisa Rosenblum, Cablevision Sr. VP; David Stern; Alan Wurtzel (NBC); Len Blavatnik; Merin Curotto with Rex Reed; Stan Shuman; Andrew Stein with Judy Miller; PMK’s Cindi Berger; Jill Brooke with Jennifer Gould Keil (NY Post) and Caroline Hirsch (Caroline’s on Broadway); Drew Reed (Fox Entertainment); Nick Verbitsky (United Stations); Joshua Schulman (President of Bergdorf Goodman); Lawrence Perelman;  Judy Price and this writer; and Rebecka Belldegrun in from L.A.

Mark and his nephew.
Mark Gilbertson hosted his annual cocktail reception last night at private club on the East Side.

Mark’s list usually runs in the hundreds and I would guess 80-90% of them know many if not all the people in the room, and at least half, it not more have known Mark for the past 35 years or more. He’s a very social fellow obviously, famous in this group for his big benefit parties at the Museum of the City of New York.

They were known as the younger crowd twenty years ago. They’re not quite as young anymore but you cudda fooled me lots of times. And so, Mark is also in the business of people, a profession that is rare because of its nature but perfect for an executive-in-charge who has a lot of longtime friends and acquaintances.

I always think of these annual receptions as a class reunion even though a lot guests see and have seen each other frequently for a long time.
The crowd.
A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a “Hilary Knight.” The only Hilary Knight I knew of was someone I’ve never met and wasn’t even sure if he were still living in the neighborhood. I’m talking about “Eloise’s” creator. You know, the now immortal Eloise of the Plaza, immortalized as the hotel’s international celebrity.

The email was about a party at Lincoln Center that Hilary Knight was having in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and starring Liliane Montevecchi, dedicated to Marguerite Gordon with music provided by Peter Mintun and celebrating the man himself, Hilary Knight’s Stage Struck World an exhibition of his work over the decades since he started in 1965.
The invite.
The party was last night. I just a feeling it would be fun to see. I was right. This was a party for civilians to catch a glimpse of “old Broadway” because of Miss Montevecchi, Carmen Delle’ Orifice, Carmen de Lavallade and Marti Stevens, and of course Mr. Knight, star of the show running at the NYPL for the Performing Arts in the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center at 40 Lincoln Center.
Standing outside the Library doors, too tall to be a doorma but tall enough to charm the children and even some grownups.
The Hilary Knight illustrated directions to the collection with his likeness of Liliane Montevecchi leading the kicks ...
Standing before the sign for photographers, Hilary takes out his iphone to get a selfie of Liliane beig photographed.
It was Carmen who gave Hilary my email addressed. She was wearing a blouse made of fabric designed by Michael Vollbracht for her.
And there is the maestro, Peter Mintun, keeping the music of Broadway in the room.
Marti Stevens comes by to see her friend. I don't know what Carmen is saying but she looks good.
The two Carmens, de Lavallade and Dell'Orefice.
Peter Mintun’s piano was turning out and show tunes from Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Berlin, and many more while photographers snapped photos of the principals. There were delicious hors d’oeuvres and a good bar. But mostly there was Miss Montevecchi and her friends, Mr. Knight and company having a reunion before the public.  The atmosphere was totally New York, and Lincoln Center, and NYPL, and yet it was also not unlike a get together you’d see of old friends in some small town. That’s the secret of New York, and how it keeps its people.
Some of these examples of Hilary Knight's work were in cases, but they are not only a history of his career but of the last seven decades of Broadway and New York.
I left the party kind of carried off into the magic that is Broadway and New York, and how despite all the mediums, the giants of the stage and its artists really get to your heart. Up on East End Avenue, getting out of the cab it looked like a Full Moon rising over the East River.
Leaving the Library party, I sauntered, still quietly enthralled, over to the Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center. It was 7:30 and the Geffen Hall and the David Koch Theater were filling up. And all around above were the lights of New York New York, if-you-can-make-it-here-you-can-make-it-anywhere ... New York New York.
Stephen Sondheim's "But Ahh Paree!" performed by Liliane Montevecchi in a concert of "Follies" in 1985.

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