Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Today’s weather back in 2004

Looking east from the seventh-floor Soho House deck for a benefit for Best Buddies in 2004. 11:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017.  Steady rains came to the city yesterday, cooling temperatures to the mid-60s and cooler.

The rain here mainly serves to remind of the catastrophe in Houston.
The rain is cooling and washes the trees and the streets of the City, but at this moment it mainly serves to remind of the catastrophe in Houston. You can see that when all of this subsides, what lies ahead will be unimaginably demanding and challenging for everyone.

Local relief groups, progressive organizations, unions, and immigrant rights groups are already mobilizing grassroots relief efforts. Here is a list of groups and efforts you can plug into to help:

The American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast Region
provides life-saving services to more than 9 million people in cities such as Corpus Christi, Beaumont, Galveston and Houston.

The Texas Workers Relief Fund. A union-relief effort by the Texas AFL-CIO, donations are tax-deductible. The state fed has been closely coordinating with the Houston and Corpus-area central labor councils to provide material aid.

Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group Fund. If you want to donate directly for relief in the Coastal Bend towns hit directly by the hurricane.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Houston's mayor has set up this fund to assist with victims of Houston's ongoing and increasingly dangerous flooding. Donations are tax-deductible.

Today’s weather back in 2004. I’ve been enjoying myself going through old Diaries this week. It’s like going through old family photo albums, dredging up memories and  suddenly aware of something for the first time years later. Today we’re running a Diary from this day, August 30, 2004. For me it was like reading it for the first time. The Republican National Convention was about to start up in New York. The weather was torrid and there was a party downtown that looked like some people were having a good time. It’s also interesting to see what we looked like thirteen years ago ...
August 30, 2004. It was very hot and muggy in the city over the weekend with intermittently threatening rainclouds. But no rain. By last Friday late afternoon the city streets had pretty much emptied of the usual weekday and oncoming weekend traffic. Many had left already, wanting to get out to begin their Labor Day Holiday (still a week away) earlier and to avoid any of the presumed, and in some corners, frantically anticipated tumult brought on by people protesting the visiting Republicans and their oncoming Convention. By Saturday, except for the incoming conventioneers and the congregating protesters, along with a few of us stalwart New Yorkers, the place was really quiet. Beautifully quiet (except for the roaring choppers over midtown).
Demonstrators at the 2004 Republican National Convention.
A man from one of the local papers called me to ask what I thought of the Republicans coming to town. Aside from the great inconvenience (street closures and what seems like overly beefed up security) which the city always experiences when a President comes to town (even for a day), I did not anticipate problems. Protesters are as American as apple pie, and god love ‘em for they continue to remind us how lucky we are. It was the protesters who got the politicians to end the American military involvement in Viet Nam after almost fifteen years and thousands and thousands of deaths. Politicians are historically way behind the needs and wishes of the people, and we certainly can’t depend on the corporate owned media as any kind of bellweather.
Protesters against the Vietnam War marching in Washington DC in November 1969.
I’ve never been called by a pollster in my life, until this past week when I was called not by one but two, both wanting to know what I thought about the Republicans coming to town. and whom was I going to vote for.

I’m always amazed at that latter question because I was brought up to believe that our votes were our private business. So the answer was the same to both: none of your business. As far as the Republicans coming to New York for their convention: New York is a city that has, since its inception by the Dutch in the 17th century, ultimately had a place for everybody, for every opinion and religious and political point of view.

There have been some terrible clashes with the powers-that-be (or were) in its history, always over a specific issue when those with the economic (and therefore political) power were lording it egregiously over or disregarding the needs of those who were powerless economically. But that is the way of the world. Otherwise, New Yorkers are exemplary in demonstrating that We, the People, us humans, can live together, despite our diversities and disagreements, now more than ever, and often not only on the same block but in the same building and even on the same corridor. This is why New York is the City of the World and blesses us all.

Richard Ziegelasch and Anthony Shriver.
Last Thursday night before all of this sturm und drang was about to set upon our day-to-days, I went down to what used to be the Meatpacking District, to Soho House on Ninth Avenue and 13th Street where Richard Ziegelasch and Anthony Shriver, along with Campion Platt, Tom Quick, Tatiana Gau, Lionel Geneste, Alex and Nick Acquavella, Keat Crown, Ralph Destino Jr., Camille Duval-Hero and Byron Hero, Anne Hearst, William Goodman, Christine Schott, Gene Scott, Lesley Thompson, and Alexis Zoullas were hosting a benefit for Anthony Shriver’s Best Buddies organization.

Soho House is a private club although it is at times a venue for private benefits and screenings. Everyone, member or no, likes to go there because it is considered the hip spot in town in New York. It is also in the neighborhood that after the sun goes down and the lights go up, feels like the center of the city, full of the energy of young New Yorkers on the pavement, in the bars, the cafes and restaurants; the cobblestone streets jammed with cars, mainly the yellow cabs.

Soho House is the social center of this neighborhood whether or not it is accessible to the crowds on the streets. There is a pool on the roof and a dining room adjacent a bar and lounge which is the place to see and be seen. As the Best Buddies party guests were arriving (about nine-thirty – the party was called from 9 to midnight), there were a number of the world’s top tennis players dining in the club’s restaurants, along with scads of models of Elite.
Looking northwest from the roof deck of the Soho House.
Among the players expected for Mr. Shriver’s fundraiser (tickets were $200 per) were Roger Federer, Mirka Vavrinec, Marat Safin, Rainer Schuettler, Monica Seles, Tommy Haas, Lleyton Hewitt, Kim Clijsters, Jim Courier and Ivo Heuberger. Add to that the mix of Elite’s roster such as Alessandra Ambrosio, Fabian Basabe, Robert “Boyd” Holbrook, Lara Flynn Boyle, Shaun de Wet, Anh Duong, Susan Eldridge, Laura Harring, Amanda Hearst, Penny Lancaster, Nathalie Lyon, Paulina Porizkova, Yfke Sturm, and Linda Vojtova, and you kind of get the picture.

The party was held in the fifth floor reception room and the crowd on this hot night made it hotter. Literally. So that there were quite a few of us who stayed close to the large fans assisting. Lots of good-looking people, more than usual it seemed to me. Lots of very tall and willowy beautiful young women – quite a few blondes – no doubt quite a few of them models. There was an open bar although if you wanted something other than the “house” booze, you had to pay. Lots of milling around and lounging on sofas, chairs and ottomans. Lots of familiar (to me) faces although I didn’t see Mrs. Hearst and her beautiful daughter Amanda.
Looking southeast from the Soho deck with the Gansevoort Hotel in the background.
Mr. Shriver is very tall – I’d guess six-four or close – a big strapping guy with those Kennedy cheek and jawlines and piercing blue eyes – and as handsome as his lamented late cousin John Kennedy Jr. who was a close friend of his. Also like his cousin he’s very gracious to one and all.

His father, Sargent Shriver, some of you might know, started the Peace Corps during the Administration of his late uncle John F. Kennedy and was also the American Ambassador to France during the Lyndon Johnson Administration. His mother Eunice Kennedy Shriver started the Special Olympics, and he has followed in their footsteps brilliantly.
Wedding Bells for Sarge and Eunice in 1953.
Bobby, Eunice, Anthony, Timothy, Maria, Mark, and Sarge.
Best Buddies, which Mr. Shriver started in 1989 (when he was only twenty-four), is a non-profit dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities (people who are mentally retarded, for example).

The program assists by finding opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment. From its one original chapter there are now more than ONE THOUSAND middle school, high school, and college campuses across the country, in all 50 states, and across the world participating in Best Buddies. This year there are 50,000 volunteers serving. Within the next six years, they’d like to see that number increase to a half million volunteers. They also help people connect with others through their online friendship program e-Buddies.

There are 7.5 million people in the US and 250 million worldwide who have intellectual disabilities that inhibit and limited their participation in their communities. Shriver looks at it this way: with 14 million college students in the US and 77 million college students worldwide, there is an opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of not only those in needs but in the lives of the volunteers. You can find out more about it by visiting their web site

Meanwhile, back at the party:
by ten-thirty, the place was jammed. I saw Vogue’s famous editor Anna Wintour as well as Connie Spahn, the force behind the great American Museum of Natural History’s annual Environmental Luncheons, as well as artist Hunt Slonem who looks wonderful, having lost 60 pounds on a diet of mainly fruits, vegetables and no carbs; Felicia Taylor, who told me she was on a yacht in the Mediterranean at just about the same time I was. JH and the Digital was there and he saw, as you will see, even more than I did.
Claudia Mason
Georgia and Charles Kaufmann
Tom Quick, Hunt Slonem, and Chris Phillips
Ashton Hawkins
Anna Wintour
Gustav Demarchelier and Christine Schott
William Goodman IV Christine Schott
Dr. Cap Lesesne and Melanie McJannet
Gillian Hearst
Christian McPherson and Shawna
Anh Duong
Lionel Geneste and Richard Ziegelasch
Carlton DeWoody, Sessa von Richthofen, and Jason Hirsch
Richard Ziegelasch, Mirka Vavrinec, and Roger Federer
Annalise Peterson, Jim Courier, and Holly Lemkau
Andrew Black, Alexandra Bogen, and Peter Washkowitz
A Vogue photographer
L. to r.: Felicia Taylor and Alexis Zoullas; Tommy Haas with Connie and Kirk Spahn.
Benjamin Doller
Victoria Silvstedt ...
... and Victoria Silvstedt

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