Thursday, November 16, 2017

Needs of neighbors

Hanging on. 4:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, November 16, 2017. Another mild, sunny November day, yesterday in New York, with temperatures in the mid-to-sorta high 40s moving up into the low 50s after dark. Rain is predicted by my weatherman.

First thing in the am,
I checked out the banging-bonging-wonging hammering steel across the avenue where the Brearley’s new building is being erected. It’s an enormous nuisance especially in the morning when people come down East End Avenue from the north to get on to the FDR at 79th Street and these enormous flatbed tractor-trailers laden with 40 ft steel beams, are double parked, backed up for three blocks, leaving only one lane, if that, for the people going to work elsewhere (while the horns are blowing — as if it matters).

But this sort of thing is going on all over town, and I mean all over. So you live with it. We will lament the lack of sky of course, but what else is new; it's New York.

However, I’m fascinated, like a kid (an old kid) just watching it go up; just watching the crane moving the pieces with the men (in orange and yellow jackets) putting them into place with ropes and then sealing them. It does remind me of when I was a kid and loved to play with building blocks in the same way. And it will be interesting to see how the architect’s drawing looks when it’s finished and life goes on, oobla-dee-oobla-dah, if you’ll pardon my McCartney.
I started out the night on the Q. This is new because I usually travel by wheels when I’m going around town. But the Q station is just three city wide blocks from my apartment and it goes right to 57th and Seventh (same route I now take to Michael’s). In approximately 8 minutes. By car, no matter, and at rush hour, the time required is anybody’s guess.

Arriving at my general destination, I walked up two blocks and one over to the Museum of Arts and Design on Columbus Circle. Barbara Tober, one of the museum’s directors (and founders), was having a book party for Steven Aronson and Norma Stevens who have written “Avedon; Something Personal” about the great fashion photographer of the last half of the 20th century.

There was a big crowd at the Museum, and all there for this book party. I was there to get a few pictures and move on. Barbara told me she was giving it because she worked with Avedon in her 30 years as an editor and always admired his work.
Authoresses, Jeannette Watson Sanger and Jackie Weld Drake (also lifelong friends).
Co-author Steven M.L. Aronson holding a copy of his book. I'd handed it to him telling him I needed it in the picture and I was clear about my intention (which was to show you the cover so you could click on it and order). I don't know his co-author but Steven is a long time observer and writer of the New York scene and I am certain his story about Avedon is precisely fascinating and perceptive (in other words you'll learn something). The lady with hims was his friend Diana Mellon
From there, I moved across the Circle to the Time Warner building on my way to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. It’s an enormous shopping area as you may know although I rarely go there and only for events at Jazz @ Lincoln Center which is located there. It’s a beautiful mall. I caught the photo of the girl in white only because it looked like a costume but of what I wasn’t sure. Snow White? She was busy looking at her phone as was the guy standing in front of her.
Walking over to the Mandarin Oriental on Columbus Circle.
What do you think? I don't know.
As was Duane Hampton when I arrived in the ballroom on the 36th floor of the Mandarin Oriental for the Carter Burden Network dinner. I don’t know what she was looking at but she asked to take a photo of her without her glasses and with her dinner partner Alfie. Which as you can see, I did.
Duane's on the phone, too.
Duane and her dinner partner Alfie Germain.
The evening was to celebrate the 46th Anniversary of the Carter Burden Network (CBN), founded by the late Carter Burden when he was Councilman for the Silk Stocking District, as it was called in the early 1970s.

He first ran for office in 1969. A Vanderbilt descendent who grew up in Beverly Hills (in a house built for the actors Frederic March and Florence Eldridge and later owned by Brad and Jennifer), He came East for prep school (Portsmouth Priory) and later Harvard, and became a New Yorker.

It was the late '60s, the age of Bobby Kennedy’s exciting presumed ascendency as his late brother’s political heir when Carter Burden decided to run for office.
Coincidentally I was a volunteer in that campaign as its headquarters were just around the corner from where I was living. We went door-to-door, every late afternoon and early evening, knocking on doors. The neighborhood east of Third Avenue in those days was predominantly old working class neighborhoods with lots of four and five story tenements and still occupied by people who’d raised their families and been there all their lives.

We were an assiduous group of campaigners. It was the era of the War in Vietnam and there was a great sense of urgency among the younger adults to get involved in the political process in some way. Carter Burden, despite his blue-blood background, was ambitious to learn and inspired us, partly because he was young like most of us (mid- to late 20s). He won the election handily and soon became involved in the affairs of the city.

In his district he soon learned a lot about the needs of all of those people whose doors we knocked on. Many in his constituency were older, often retired, often widowed or single and often alone. And they often had no one to turn to when they had problems to solve, like legal matters, matters of health or financial needs.
Executive Director of the Carter Burden Network Bill Dionne. Susan Burden applauding the honoree.
James Dinen, a business partner and friend of the honoree, making the presentation.
In 1971, he opened the Carter Burden Center for the Aging in a storefront in the East 80s. 46 years later, there are now four centers in the area where more than 125,000 meals were served last year to neighbors as well as twice as many delivered to their homes. It is a mecca for neighbors of a certain age who need something to do – a hobby or interest to pursue, a place to share with others, classes to learn. His wife Susan became involved in the organization early on, and it’s been under her support that it has grown into an important community institution.

Last night they honored Jeffrey A. Weber, who is the Chairman of the Board of the CBN (my dinner partner Duane Hampton has been on the board since the beginning). Mr. Weber, who is a hedge fund director, has been giving his time and attention to the Center for the past 20 years. He’s one of those men who you can tell by his words and observations is a total and enthusiastic volunteer, bringing his talents to enrich and enhance the organization.
Susan L. Burden, Founding Board Member, Carter Burden Network; Jeffrey A. Weber, Board Chair, Carter Burden Network, 2017 Humanitarian Honoree, President & COO, York Capital Management; William J. Dionne, Executive Director, Carter Burden Network; James G. Dinan, Founder, Chairman and Co-CEO, York Capital Management, Dinner Co-Chair.
After the presentation of the Award and the honoree’s speech, the Center Chorale (another activity of the center) of men and women sang Rodgers and Hammerstein’s“Climb Every Mountain” followed by a standing ovation and a brief fund-raising moment where they raised a little more than $200,000, making a total of $1 million for their projects and programs and their lunches and food deliveries.

It’s an amazing story of how one man’s sensitivity to the needs of neighbors can affect and enhance thousands of lives for 46 years and counting.

To learn more:

Contact DPC here.