Thursday, August 10, 2017

Peace of mind

Looking towards Central Park South and Columbus Circle from high above Fifth Avenue. 4:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, August 10, 2017. A beautiful sunny August day in New York from the high 70s to low 80s.

I went down to lunch at Michael’s (it was Wednesday, why not?) with Kevin and Delia von Neuschatz. Delia is a frequent contributor to NYSD and writes frequently about travel — she and her husband Kevin travel frequently for business — and beauty.
The clouds passing over the river, looking east to Roosevelt Island at sunset yesterday.
Michael’s was very busy for an August Wednesday when so many are away taking their vacations. A lot of conversations veer to the political situations in the world and the fear that arises in people when the talk is about war (from whomever wherever) and bombs.

What is notable in these frightening times, and apparently not in the thoughts of the world’s leadership, or the media commentators or politicians, is the word: PEACE. It’s as if it has disappeared from our vocabulary entirely. When I say “our,” I mean everywhere in the world including right here in our country. It is odd, and with little imagination you could think it ominous also.

The guest list on this summer Wednesday: Charles Koppelman, Michael Steinhardt, John Hart, Neil Lasher, Donny Deutsch, Dena Schechter, Alan Wurtzel, Diane Tausner, Gary Zarr, Christine Taylor, Jennifer Gould Keil, Andrew Stein, James Taranto, Susan Silver, Leana Schwartz, Phillipe Salomon, Shelly Palmer, Kara Miley, Leslie Stevens, Carl McCall, Cindy Lewis, Barry Frey, Jonathan Estreich, Kevin von Neushatz, Delia von Neuschatz, Jonathan Cohen, Pat Cloherty, Vincent Andrew, Donna Weavere, Nick Rubinstein, Micah Goodman, Dan Abrams, Ruth Shapiro, Jon Miller, Steve Mayer, Arie Belidegrun.
DPC with Delia and Kevin von Neuschatz.
Barbara Cook died this past Tuesday as the world now knows. I was surprised at her age (89), although I knew she was probably in her 80s. I knew that not because of the way she looked when I saw her perform, but because of the math: she first appeared on Broadway in a show long forgotten called “Flahooley” in 1951.

A girl from Atlanta, she came to New York with her mother and decided to stay and look for work on the stage. She made her debut at the Blue Angel, a very famous supper club on East 55th Street. Named for the Marlene Dietrich film, red carpet classy, some of the greatest American performers of mid-20th Century made their debuts there. Barbra Streisand’s performance caught the eye of Arthur Laurents, Harold Rome and Jerome Weidman (writer, composer of “I Can Get It For You Wholesale”) saw her there for the first time and cast her in the role that caught everybody’s eye and launched a spectacular career in the show. 
Barbara Cook with the Bil Baird Marionettes in Flahooley, 1951, her first Broadway show.
Barbara Cook — who came a decade before Streisand went from The Blue Angel to Broadway, and to stardom in several musicals including “Plain and Fancy,” “She Loves Me,” “The Music Man,” “Candide” and several others. More than sixty years later, she was still providing a rich and glamorous performance on the concert stage and in cabaret.

I didn’t know her although I saw her perform several times at the Café Carlyle where she made an annual appearance. When you watch a performer of her skill (besides the beautiful voice), and you see her physical vulnerability, and she gets to you emotionally, you could feel as if you knew her well. That’s the genius of talent.

The Carlyle is a great way to see such a star because it’s up close and personal, and the voice, although miked, is intimate. I loved her lusciously plaintive soprano. As she grew older, she only got better. It all came from the heart, and it was thrilling. I was surprised to learn from the New York Times obituary  that this “young” woman (well, middle-aged) was about to turn 90 this autumn.
On another note of endingsthe Times yesterday also carried the announcement that Eleanora Kennedy was selling Kilkare, her house on the beach in Bridgehampton. For $55 million! That’ll get your attention. It’s a beautiful house, built in the 1870s and built to appreciate the plot on which it sits overlooking the beach and the Atlantic, along with swimming pool and gardens. Eleanora’s beloved husband Michael died last year. They shared this house every summer for more than thirty years and were always together. I don’t know for a fact but I have a feeling that the great memories of her wonderful marriage (devoted) and their wonderful summers needs no more reminders.
Kilkare is on the market for only the second time in its 140-year history.
As I was finishing this Diary at midnight, I was emialed this photograph of the moonrise over the ocean in Maine from a longtime NYSD reader Leslie Fitch, who wrote: "A la yours in New York City."

Contact DPC here.