Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The realm of ordinary

The Met Roof Garden. 7:45 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017. Very warm yesterday in New York, in the high 80s even in mid-evening; but not terrible humidity. I turned on my AC for about three hours in mid-afternoon. After that I opened my terrace door and left a fan on. Very pleasant. The dogs were happy too.

This is possibly the quietest  time on the calendar of the city. Many who are able, leave town. It’s rather pleasant. The midtown sidewalks are still crowded midday but the parking spaces up in the residential areas where I live are often available. Midday during the week all over Manhattan there are traffic disruptions for all kinds of road work going on. Pipes being replaced. Wires being replaced and pavement being replaced. You get used to it if you’re confronted with it daily, but it means it is never really quiet. Although as I write this close to midnight, with my terrace door open, there is no sound on the avenue except an occasional whoosh of a car moving by. Otherwise it's just the neutral hum of the thousands of ACs in the neighborhood.
Art for sale alongside the Park on Fifth Avenue.
I went to lunch with Judy Price at Michael’s. I first went to Michael’s as her guest when I was working for her as editor of Avenue magazine. Judy started it in the mid-'70s and built it into a great success. She sold it 25 years later. Coincidentally, I left her employ at the same time, along with JH who was then my assistant (he was a kid out of college), and we started the New York Social Diary web site.

Judy is indefatigable. Multiply what you think that means by 100 and you get Judy.  She seems unaware of this quality, although she is well aware of what she can do and what she’d like to do. She’s an entrepreneur by nature. I think she might have contracted it from her husband of umpty-ump years, Peter Price, who is an actual definable entrepreneur. Both are very imaginative with what interests them.
Judy with antiquaire Jacques Perrin.
After selling Avenue around the turn of the century, she started the National Jewelry Institute. Somewhere in her ambitions was to start a museum for jewelry. She’s worked assiduously and successfully at it and it has expanded. It has taken on a larger objective. This coming September 13th, for example, she is holding a seminar on “The Science & Sustainability of Beauty” at the New York Academy of Medicine.

The speakers in this all day seminar include Dr. Josh Ghaim, Chief Technology Officer of Johnson & Johnson; Dr. Bruno Bavouzet, Exec VP, Research and Development (LVMH Perfumes and Cosmetics (“New frontiers of Natural Cosmetics”); Achim Daub, Global President, Scent & Care (Symrise AG); Dr. Michele Verschooree, Medical Director, L’Oreal (“Sharing Beauty with all..”); Sumit Bhasin, Sr. VP, Research and Development, Coty Luxury (“The Future of Luxury Beauty”); and finally Dr. Kurt Schilling, Sr. VP, Estee Luder Companies (“Frontiers of Innovation”).

My only personal interest in this is the indefatigability of Mrs. Price and her industrious projects. She’s having a spectacular Second Act in her business life.  If you know her, you know it’s not a surprise.
A field of begonias shining on Park Avenue.
Last night, I went to dinner with Michael McCarty and Steve Millington and Leslie Stevens at Sette Mezzo, which was like Michael’s yesterday at lunch. There was a very electric vibe in both rooms, very New York, the energy. The joints were jumpin’. It’s an event to dine out with Michael. He loves menus and he chooses generously, wanting a taste of this a taste of that, plus the courses. Four desserts at the end including the Italian cheesecake, the Tiramasu, and the Tartufo (choc. and vanilla, whipped cream and chocolate sauce — it’s very shareable and no one feels guilty).

Peter Marino was holding forth at a table of five. At another table Serena Boardman and Johnny Theodoracopulos with Charlie Ayres, next to them Francesca Stanfill and Dick Ney, and beyond them, Dixon Boardman et al. The place was packed, and the conversation at out table was about restaurants, the business, the food, and the experience of eating out.
Michael McCarty, Steve Millington, DPC, Leslie Stevens, and Nino, one of the three partners in Sette Mezzo (and Vico).
Michael grew up in a family in Westchester where there  was a group of neighbors who socialized and entertained each other regularly. In summer they’d all go up to houses they had at Misquamicut Beach in Rhode Island and continue their neighborly festivities. A lot of feasts, and fun and family. You can see it’s his heritage. One has a sense of it when dining with him. It’s always a feast, a celebration.

It was something he learned as a child.

Sette is a great restaurant for such celebrations because the staff, the waiters, the chefs have an enthusiasm about the food they’re serving the customer. It’s the same pleasure experienced at Michael McCarty’s table. Steve Millington, his GM is into it too. I’m not a gourmand by any stretch but around it, there’s a sense of spiritual elevation. We had a couple or more bottles of Whispering Angel Rose; and with the desserts they brought a bottle of Grappa and Michael gave us a little history of Grappa. A wonderful evening, and we were out by 9:30.
My birthday dinner at Sette last Wednesday. Seated left to right: Danielle Hirsch, Sassy Johnson, Me, Pax Quigley; standing: Sette staff, Andy, Tony, Oriente and Koseila. The best.
My birthday cake was a giant tartufo. A big hit.
A respite from the news. I found these paragraphs in an analysis I was reading about technology and its effect on our society, our culture, and our environment.  The writer in making his point, called on The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, specifically the first two of that quartet of spiritual guidelines about human reality.

“To paraphrase, the First Noble Truth holds that all life is suffering, while the Second Noble Truth claims that the cause of this suffering is three-fold: greed and craving (which have no limits), ignorance (attachment to delusion), and hatred (destructive urges).

The Third and Fourth Noble Truths describe the cessation of suffering (through enlightenment) and a way to achieve it (the Eightfold Path).

Technology has no relation to the Third and Fourth Truths (solutions to suffering) and is firmly centered in the Second Truth (causes of suffering).

Technology is all about imagined possibilities and greater power. And that is entirely within the realm of ordinary (and fallible) human nature.”

Contact DPC here.