Monday, August 21, 2017

Great gifts

The sun setting along Route 27 in East Hampton. 7:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, August 21, 2017.  It was a very humid/hot weekend forecast. 80s/Real Feel 90s thanks to the humidity. And so it was on Saturday. But Sunday gave us a surprise: low 80s but low humidity, a bright sunny day with a soft breeze in the air and then low 70s, no humidity, and a starlit sky.

I like the last: starlit sky. Takes us away from It All, including the weather. I drove out to East Hampton on Saturday morning. Traffic, like the weather, can be an obsession conversation-wise. I left at about 11 and had bumper to bumper traffic for the first hour. Moving, but barely most of the time. I got to my hostess’ house at quarter to three. Although the local traffic wasn’t so uncanny; fewer cars along Rt. 27 all the way into the town.
Long and the short of it: I left EH on Sunday morning at 8 o’clock. I got into my garage at 10:15.
More views out east ...
I rarely drive on highways anymore because I rarely go out of town. It’s become a habit – probably mainly attributable to age – that I don’t feel like going anywhere on the weekend, or maybe even talking to anyone. Just me and the dogs.

Part of it is the New York life and my occupation defined on these here pages. By the end of the week I feel a need for time just to think (get my bearings), to read, and to go to the hardware store. I go to the hardware store, to Zabars/Citarella, and Price Discount where I buy the  household supplies. This simple routine is High Pleasure for me. I feel like the kid who loved playing by himself with his toys. Now, coming home with my supplies, and maybe doing nothing but reading or walking around mindless for a few hours is part of that pleasure.
Although not really mindless. I am one of those “the world is too much with us” types. I love Wordsworth for that alone. I’m not politically inclined – although some would disagree with that – I don’t understand this “alt-left, alt-right” business. It’s all about being Right (as in, “you’re wrong.”) I am humanity-inclined. All of us. That could sound a bit much, and I know that. It’s a sensibility that somehow comes along with my work, what I do. Many times it doesn’t seem like work. It doesn’t necessarily seem like pleasure. But it always seems like “living” and I’m given the opportunity to observe it in action.
The world of so-called Society is one of those opportunities. Because having come from a world not  of Society, I see how we are, nevertheless, the same people. We are now living at a time when we are being confronted with ourselves and what we have wrought out of all the wonders that have blessed us. When I say “we,” I mean us humans who occupy this planet, and all the marvels and creations we have provided for ourselves. And we have. But frequently I’m reminded of a comedy group from L.A. in the 1970a, Firesign Theater, who made comedy records. One of their most popular was entitled “Not Responsible and Anything You Want.” In retrospect it seems prescient.

So Saturday morning I drove out to East Hampton. I used to make that drive frequently for several years. It was great for meeting a lot of wonderful people, interesting people, some gracious and very nice, others not so. I found my way with this “work” to philanthropy and what individuals can do. What we can do for each other.  When you look at the application of Philanthropy in our world, you see not only what we are capable of, but also what we can get from it personally.

I hate leaving my dogs when I have to go away. Another age thing probably. I fortunately have a very good friend who stays with them, however, and they love her. However, last weekend was the Animal Rescue Fund (ARF) annual “gala” (country gala) at their headquarters in East Hampton. ARF helps the animals. My little guy Ray who is 11 and came to live with me three or four months ago, came from ARF (via a kill shelter in South Carolina).
Tobey (ex-Bide-a-Wee), Lilttle Willy, and Rosemary (the boss), Shih Tzus from the Humane Society ...
He’s a shih-tzu and their dispositions (as long they’re treated fairly and kindly) touch me.  Ray is my fourth. The  other three came from Bide-a-wee and Humane Society respectively. All were intended to be shih-tzus although Ray’s the only genuine article. The others are genuinely Rosemary, Willy and Tobey and they all turned out not to be shih-tzus when I went to pick them up. They needed a home, however, and I needed to give them one.

They each have their own personalities obviously genetically inherited from mixing breeds. And they are all sweet little friends. They teach you. They make me laugh, sometimes confound me, sometimes -- particularly Rosemary -- annoy me or pull at my patience (and make me laugh at the same time). But so what, so does anybody you’d live with, if you’re lucky. And mainly, I like the way I feel about them. They are all sleeping right now under my desk as I write. It amuses me thinking of all that immense energy and appetite they display (for play and attention and treats), now at this moment so silent, and safe, and cared for.
My little guy Ray, who came from ARF (via a kill shelter in South Carolina).
That’s why I drove out to East Hampton, and drove back early Sunday morning. For them. To spread the word however I can. To find them homes and loving care. They give us the opportunity to think well of ourselves while caring for them who appreciate and provide the pleasure I just described. That is a great challenge for all of us.

The Bow Wow Meow Ball is an annual event which always takes place in August at the ARF center on Daniel’s Hole Road in Wainscott, just west of East Hampton. It’s always right on the premises where the dogs and cats live in a large dining tent. They sell out every year. I don’t what the final tally is but it was well into the thousands. They had an auction that Benjamin Doller conducted which raised more than $100,000.
Cocktails at ARF's annual Bow Wow Meow Ball.
Guests moving into the dinner tent.
They always get a good turnout of the. There were several hundred attending, many New Yorkers, who visit or rent or own out there. Kathy Rayner, who is a major benefactor of ARF and has five or seven dogs in residence herself,  had a table for thirty or more of her friends. Peter Duchin and his orchestra played throughout.

The dress code is summer evening casual, so it’s nicely dressed but comfortable. Color. No ties. Light, airy Saturday night dinner dance out in the country. The atmosphere is not only relaxed but it’s got a serenity about it. Event designer David Monn and interior designer Alex Papachristidis create an atmosphere that soothes and brushes your demeanor. Like the animals they are helping.
Guests seated for dinner under the tent designed by David Monn and Alex Papachristidis.
This year they were honoring the world famous fashion photographer Bruce Weber and his wife Nan Bush with the Champion of Animals Award. The Bush-Webers are longtime supporters of ARF, and they’ve often incorporated their love of animals into their photographic projects in both film and photography.  They were presented with their awards by last year’s honorees, Peter Marino and Katharina Otto-Bernstein who were equipped with walking billboards of animals photographed by the great photographer. There was also the presentation of some canine residents. Many of ARFs residents in need of a residence have been afflicted with a number of problems such as my little Ray whose eyesight is failing and he has other physical issues that sometimes afflict him.
Peter Marino and Katharina Otto-Bernstein wearing billboards of dogs photographed by Bruce Weber.
The back of the billboards.
Peter Marino, Bruce Weber, Nan Bush, Katharina Otto-Bernstein, and ARF Executive Director Scott Howe.
After the Awards and the parade of the canine residents, Peter Duchin and Roberta Fabiano and orchestra returned to the bandstand and the dancing begun. It was one of those evenings where everyone was dancing, all ages, all types. And having a good time. A Good Evening.
The parade of dogs.
The "stars" backstage.
Scott Howe introducing the canine residents.
About 15 years ago, JH adopted a mixed-breed guy named Oliver, with a blond coat like that of a lab. We were covering the event which is how Jeff came to see Oliver. He had no intention of adopting a dog at the outset. But something clicked. Ollie, as he came to be called, was about three and had been in three homes and returned by the three owners.  He was a boy with personality and little eccentricities.
The late beloved Oliver Hirsch.
He was loved and adored and he adored his master. Sometimes I’d take him when Jeff was going away, and when he returned and we waited in the street for his car, Ollie couldn’t wag his tail hard enough to show how his friend of all time had come back home.  The reward of having this experience is one of the great gifts.

This what ARF is about. This is what all animal rescue organizations are about.  A good thing for everyone.
The little beauties available for adoption at ARF ...
Peter Marino with a feline resident from ARF.
Kinsey Marable, Kathy Rayner, and Peggy Siegal.
Moana McReynolds.
Emilia Saint-Amand and Christina McDonald.
Georgina Hutchins, Alana McCarthy, Jane Warnock, Ned Pierrepont, and Janie McGraw.
Peter Marino and Jane Trapnell browsing the silent auction items.
Kate and T.J. Miller.
Alvin Valley with Berk.
Pamela Fiori, Sarah Simms, George Farias, Peter Duchin, Christopher Mason, and Ivana Lowell.
Jane Warnock and Abigail Donaldson.
Gigi Mahon, Doug Mercer, and Pat Mercer.
Sana Sabbagh, Lisa McCarthy, Michael Breault, and Gordon Hoppe.
Lisa McCarthy, Jane Gill, Grace Gill, and Susan Penzner.
Pietro Cicognani and Katherine Bryan.
Ellen and Chuck Scarborough.
Jewel and Bob Morris.
Juan Carlos Menendez, Peter Marino, Lisa McCarthy, and Alex Papachristidis.
Barbara Ostrom and Beverly Camhe.
Tina Flaherty and friend.
Brian McCarthy and Mike Franzino.
Cathy Shraga, Pat Kyle, Ralph Gibson, and Bobby Traphagen.
Carolyn Reiner, Sabine Riglos, Holger Hendrichs, and Isabelle Greiner.
Lee Fryd and Gregory D'Elia.
Barbara Slifka and Robert Wilson.
Kevin and Delia von Neuschatz with Danielle and Jeffrey Hirsch.
Katherine Bryan and Peter Marino.
Alex Papachristidis and David Monn with friends.
Peter Duchin.
Roberta Fabiano.

Photographs by Patrick McMullan (ARF)

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