Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Neighbors and elected officials

The last of the fall foliage in Central Park. 3:15 PM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, December 5, 2017. A partly cloudy, sometimes sunny, sometimes grey day in the first week of the last month of the year.
It was a noisy one too, from 8 am until 3. That’s when the construction workers are putting up the new building on the corner across the avenue. The noise is annoying but New York is noise, so what’s the problem. There is another building going up two blocks south where the old Gristedes stood for years. This will be a multi-story condo no doubt. Now we will have no supermarket on the avenue. Alas, alack and all that. Now we have Fresh Direct as well as bicycle delivery or even your own two feet to walk you over to York Avenue.
On October 11th (below), the second story was reached. By yesterday we were about to see the eighth claim the space.
This one abuilding across from me, however, is fascinating to watch: a massive behemoth of a structure going up like a giant erector set. It’s quite a complex structure which will carry a gym, an assembly/lecture room and other amenities that come with a child’s education at fifty grand a year. And frankly, I’m a sucker for the creative process and the wonder of all that goes into its development and completion. That’s the neighborhood.

Nan and Pamela Talese, Chritstmas Eve 2013.
The news is officially out: Nan and Gay Talese and daughters Pamela and Catherine will not be hosting their annual Christmas Eve party at the family house on the Upper East Side. The news has been and/or will be received with regret among the many who loved that party for all the warmth and joy that New Yorkers would like to muster on that particular religious American eve.

I think they’ve been giving this evening for more than thirty years. I’ve been a guest for about twenty. The world came to their door on that night, an Open House (you could bring a friend – I brought a couple) in a fashion or style that was like family visiting family. The Taleses all have that charm of welcoming. Besides the bars and great buffet set up in a special entertainment room with tables, the atmosphere was relaxed, informal and highly conversational. There were always many writers, well-known and not; along with political and media personalities as well as next door and cross-the-street neighbors.

It started at 7 and went until the last to leave, whenever that was. Theirs were rooms where even if you didn’t know anyone, including the famous characters present, it was nevertheless easy to get into conversation and enjoy. It was a wonderful way to spend Christmas Eve in Manhattan; a great gift to us all.

More neighbors. Yesterday afternoon, I received an email from Fred Nicolaus, an interior design writer who works on the Upper East Side. He told us that last year on his lunch breaks he took to noticing the "the incredible variety of typography on awnings in the neighborhood." This led to the notion of over the course of a year, making a video of his discovery. He edited it with some Shostakovich and sent it on for a look ...
Late arrival. The Seventy-Second Annual Alfred Emanuel Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner took place on Thursday, October 19th in the Grand Ballroom of the New York Hilton. The Foundation is named for the admired and beloved Alfred E. (Al) Smith, governor of New York who was the first Roman Catholic to be nominated the Democratic candidate for the Presidency in 1928 (against Herbert Hoover). The dinner raises money for needy children and this year it raised more than $3.5 million. 

It is a white tie evening, a legendary evening in American political lore, and evening to celebrate the great political victories of the time. Cardinal Francis Spellman founded the dinner in 1945, the year after Smith’s death. It was held at the Waldorf in the Grand Ballroom.
Alfred E. Smith.
Cardinal Spellman held immense political power in New York, and wore it concealed behind a sunny countenance yet serious personality. He was highly popular with parishioners as well as a wide variety of individuals from Broadway and Hollywood, to Wall Street and industry, corporate titans and real estate moguls, and the big political world. There is no individual today in public life who possesses the kind of influence that the Cardinal held. The demographics have changed that forever in the succeeding two generations. Spellman thrived on the social activities and political influence. He loved a good party too, if you knew him well enough.
JFK speaking at the Al Smith Dinner in 1962, with Richard Nixon and Cardinal Spellman at the Waldorf.
When he died at age 78, in 1967, fifty years ago this past Sunday, his funeral Mass was attended by President Johnson, Vice President Humphrey, Robert Kennedy, Jacob Javits, Nelson Rockefeller, John Lindsay, Arthur Goldberg among many others of that ilk and stature.

72 years later, the Cardinal’s touch continues.
Award-Winning Actress Patricia Heaton served as the Mistress of Ceremonies on this Seventy-Second installment. Speaker of the House, the Honorable Paul D. Ryan, was the Keynote Speaker to the crowd of 800 guests for the evening. 

Among the guests who attended that evening were His Eminence Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Dr. Henry Kissinger, Vice Chair of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation and CEO of J.P. Morgan Asset & Wealth Management Mary Callahan Erdoes; and many prominent government and city elected officials. 
The Seventy-Second Annual Alfred Emanuel Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner at The New York Hilton Midtown.
John K. Castle, Chairman and CEO of Castle Harlan, Inc, was awarded The Happy Warrior Award. Ms. Erdoes presented the award to Mr. Castle. Mr. Castle’s wife, Marianne, was there along with their sons William, Dr. James, and John Sherman Castle and wife, Rosie; Dr. and Mrs. James Orsini; and Dr. and Mrs. John J. Connolly.

The Al Smith Dinner (as it was popularly known for decades) has honored many notable politicians over the years. Last year’s event honored both Hillary Clinton and President Donald J. Trump.  Historic honorees include Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson
John K. Castle, David Hunt, Patricia Heaton, The Honorable Paul D. Ryan, Janna Ryan, His Eminence Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, and Mary Callahan Erdoes
His Eminence Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Mayor Bill De Blasio, and Governor Andrew Cuomo
William S. Castle, Rosanna Zimbaro Castle, John K. Castle, Marianne S. Castle, His Eminence Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, John S. Castle, and James S. Castle

Contact DPC here.