Monday, January 23, 2017

The tide moving in

A lazy Sunday morning on the reservior. Photo: JH.
Monday, January 23, 2016.  Unseasonably warm over the weekend in New York, with a light fog setting in on Saturday night. The skies overhead are that dull grey that comes with winter and covers the city the city with an invisible blanket.

At the time of this writing late Sunday afternoon, there is a light rain falling (temperature 48), and the weatherman is forecasting a Nor’easter-type storm into the morning. A perfect cinematic and dramatic climax to an intense, and for many, exciting weekend in this country. Heavy winds; potentially flooding rains. Mother Nature’s reminder that she’s still at the controls, folks.
Back to normal: A lazy Sunday morning at the 79th Street Greenmarket on the Upper West Side.
Grey Sundays in late January in New York are as ordinary as an empty calendar. Maybe feel like a nap. The river yesterday morning when I was walking the dogs was as still as a pond in mid-summer. It looked like that: flat, still. Except you could see the tide was moving in but the surface was flat. And brown to go with the grey overhead.

Saturday night I had dinner at Sette Mezzo with Gillian and Sylvester Miniter, and Jeff and Danielle Hirsch. Sette was buzzing. Joe and Hilary Califano were at the next table with Jeanne and Herb Siegel. Across the way Steve Martin was dining with friends and his beautiful wife Anne; at another table, Caroline Kennedy and Ed Schlossberg and family; and across from them were Karen and Richard LeFrak, just back from Washington and the Inaugural festivities.
Flowers for the girls after dinner.
I keep forgetting to mention that last week at Sette, Woody Allen and Soon-Yi were there dining with Diane Keaton. Of course I have no idea what they were talking about but it was an animated conversation where everyone was enjoying their party.

Ms. Keaton — whom I don’t know and have never met — looks like one of the nicest people you could ever know. I can’t explain it beyond that, but she does. She was wearing rose tinted glasses and a haircut that reminded me of Garbo, and most of all, of Hollywood.
Woody and Diane on the set of "Play It Again, Sam," 1972.
At the end of the evening, when the check came she grabbed it although the man at the table would have preferred taking it. She insisted. She checked out the bill first, and then added her signature of ok. It was a pleasure to see and one of the great things about New York that never changes. Right out of a Woody Allen film too. Thankfully.
Last Friday, I watched the Inauguration. I’ve watched every Inaugural since Eisenhower was sworn in by Chief Justice Vinson in January 1953. It was the first nationally televised Inauguration ceremony, an iconic moment to the viewers. We were let out of school early that day so that those of us who had the opportunity (not everyone had television yet), could watch.

I watched it at Johnny Earle’s house. He was a friend and classmate who lived across the street from me. His father was into “electronics” and boasted that they had the first TV with High Fidelity sound. This was a big deal although none of it really meant anything to me since I couldn’t tell the difference audio-wise and didn’t want to expose my severe ignorance.
In my mind’s eye, I can still see the black and white visual of Ike with his hand on the Bible making his Promise to the nation. That is all I remember sixty-five years later about my first Inauguration ceremony. (A little more than ten years later, Johnny Earle died, shot down on a mission over Viet Nam).

I recall John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural most distinctly. I had come of age to vote. It was a new world, my world now (at least in my still quivering maturity). He was smart. He was Presidential-handsome. He was witty, and even self-deprecating — at times to the point of hilarity — with the press, And he talked about and became for those of us in his thrall, the embodiment of participating in a better world, a better society, a kinder place for all of us. To my young man’s eyes, he was a successful man, and he was young; he was forty-three.
Chief Justice Earl Warren swearing in John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961. Chief Justice Warren, former governor of California whom Eisenhower had appointed to the Supreme Court, turned out to be one of the most influential Chief Justices of the 20th century.
Then there was Jacqueline Kennedy. She was thirty-one years old and beautiful in a classy, all-American way. By his side. With beautiful children that despite her chic looked like her charges. Jack and Jackie looked like the future, our dream future  – something possibly wonderful.
Two and a half years later he was taken by gunshot, destroying that future — at least for him — and maybe for us.

None of this was in mind when watching the Trump Inauguration ceremony.  The drama of the moment was all encompassing. There were hundreds of marches and protests going on across town, and in towns and cities all over the country. And there on Capitol Hill, hundreds of thousands of Americans et al as the man is being sworn into office.
The inauguration in DC.
The Women's March on NYC.
Watching at home, my eye was on everyone entering to be seated, trying to identify them, wondering who they are in the context of the moment. Then there are the more familiar faces and the stories they carry – the Trump family; the Clintons, the Obamas, the Carters, the Senators, as well as all those faces that are unfamiliar, but somehow important enough to be attending.

Observing the Donald Trump become this man who is President is compelling. Because whatever one may think of him, surrounded by all this drama, this swearing-in was an enormous moment in his life, and we were witnessing it. However anyone who wishes to evaluate his personal business and marketing success, it has been notable in a variety of ways, bringing him great celebrity as well as great financial fortune. This is good old American ambition. From this we can deduce that he is shrewdly cognizant of his surroundings and his achievements. That is the first rule for anyone becoming (or seeking to becoming) the President.
This is true of every man who has come to the office of the Presidency, including the man who has just completed his term. But to my eyes, Donald Trump, despite his fame and fortune also has a quality of Everyman Now to his persona.

The Presidency has been an aspiration of his since he was a young man. Those who knew him then, knew this about him. Young men’s aspirations have great ballast in terms of imagination. Often much of it is lost by one’s mid-thirties, while working to survive. Or it simply diminishes with the rigors of time. It appears that President Trump is one of those men who has had the steadfastness and the imagination to keep those aspirations active within. What will become of it? As it has been with all who came before him: We Shall See.
Teasing a President bid during a 1988 Oprah Show.
Meanwhile back at the ceremony. Melania Trump looked sensational in her first official role as First Lady. I’ve seen her, and chatted with her a number of times at Michael’s since she is coincidentally seated at the table next to mine. She’s a lovely woman and very easy to talk to. She wears her beauty with a natural stature, and dresses the part with chic.
Melania with Andre Leon Talley at Michael's in 2009.
But to these eyes, she looked especially smart at the ceremony and then later – I saw a photo of her – at the Inaugural Ball.

I asked Blair Sabol, who was also impressed with what she saw on the First Lady, what she thought of Melania Trump’s style. This was Blair’s take:

“I think that Ralph Lauren is THE winner of the day, since he did Hillary's white pantsuit and Melania's blue dress for the inaugural. And, I’ll bet HE really did design both. 
Ralph Lauren was the winner of the day, according to Blair, dressing both Melania and Hillary.
“Melania was the biggest surprise of the inaugural for me. Imagine, in one day she became the new Jackie.  She wore a terrific long gold sheath gown the first night  — she had the sleek body and great posture and grace to pull it off, and for the Inaugural ceremony she wore that unusual Ralph Lauren "Tiffany blue" high collar suit with matching  blue  leather gloves. (Immediately I could feel formal colored leather gloves return as a trend). It looked more like Karl Lagerfeld who recently admitted he wanted to dress her.

She also walked down all the steep White House steps in platform highs without a falter, naturally looking calm and sultry, yet straight ahead!  She matched and surpassed Michelle Obama, Kate Middleton and even George Clooney’s wife as the instant fashion Icon. She owns it! A new take for a First Lady … and Ivanka ain't bad either …”
The First Lady wearing Reem Acra on Thursday night and a white Herve Pierre gown to the Liberty Ball on Friday.
 

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