Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Witch-Hazel and the Weather

Lounging in Central Park. 2:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, February 22, 2018. It was 78 degrees yesterday afternoon in New York. And sunny too. I also noticed the witch-hazel is sprouting in Carl Schurz Park. People were walking around in short sleeve shirts and sweaters. It’s odd but very comfortable although there was a brief, soft rain mid-evening and it dropped into the mid-40s by late night.

Today JH and I got to Palm Beach where we are are giving a talk for the Coudert Institute on Friday at a luncheon at the Sailfish Club. The subject is: “Palm Beach Society through  the Years.” Those were some years.

Meanwhile, Hirsch Does February. Who Needs Snow?
JH took a quick stroll along Fifth Avenue and inside Central Park to record the reaction to the 75-degree temps ...
Last night here in New York Jeanne and Herb Siegel hosted a booksigning party for their friend Joe Califano at Michael’s. They took over the whole restaurant from six to eight and in typical Siegel style, there was an enormous Michael’s buffet  from their menu. There was also a big crowd, and Joe gave a speech about his book “Our Damaged Democracy; We The People Must Act.”

Joseph A. Califano Jr. spent 30 years in our nation’s capital serving in Pentagon and White House staffs. He was an assistant to the President Lyndon Johnson, and Secetarey of Health, Education and Welfare under Jimmy Carter. He was also a major attorney on Wall Street and in Washington with clients as varied as the Black Panthers and Coca-Cola. He is also the founder of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. And he has been married for quite a few years now to a friend of mine, Hilary Paley.
Joe Califano telling the guests about his book and how and why it came about. The author and his book. Click to order.
He has a jolly smile as you can see and although I wouldn’t describe him as jolly, he is one of those people who likes people and likes conversation. So it’s always an interesting dinner table when he’s around. He wrote a memoir some years ago about growing up in an Italian family in Brooklyn which was surprisingly compelling. An American-Italian family nearly immigrants in Brooklyn (and New York) in the first half of what was becoming the American Century. After that, after college, he went out and met the world.

And now he’s talking about the matters that we’re all thinking about today, mainly subconsciously because consciously it can be hard going.  This book is about that.

Among the praise for it on the back cover is a few wise and experienced words from Jeb Bush about it: “Regardless of your political philosophy, we can all agree Washington is not just dysfunctional, but broken. Drawing on both his significant experience in public service and important historical lessons, Joe Califano addresses the serious challenges facing our nation and why it is incumbent on our citizenry to repair America’s damaged democracy.”
Muffie Potter Aston and Grace Hightower questioning the author about the situation we are all facing.
This past Sunday was a terrific night at the Lorcan Otway’s Historic Theatre 80 St. Marks. It was one of those only-in-New-York nights when actor, artist, gardener, and voice-over king Joe Sirola joined the likes of Gloria Swanson, Myrna Loy, Ruby Keeler, Alan Cumming and others who have been immortalized in cement with his signature and handprints for “New York’s Sidewalk of the Stars.”

The show opened with emcee Maximilion St. James introducing a video presentation complete with Clint Eastwood shooting him dead in “Hang Em High,” to Joe in “Get Smart,” “Quincy,” “Man From U.N.C.L.E,” “Wolf,” “Club Med” commercials and with Jimmy Cagney in his final film “Terrible Joe Moran,” among other gems.
Singer Shana Farr cuddles up to Emcee Maximilion St. James.
The rapt audience.
There were performances from the fabulous Shana Farr, Steve Ross, Leslie Middlebrook, Brian Drutman, Karin Oberlin, Jon Weber, N’Kenge, Joy Brown, and the incomparable KT Sullivan. Lee Pfeiffer conducted an on-stage interview with the man of the hour with Joe regaling the audience with stories of Richard Burton, “Molly Brown” his entry into show business, and other wonderful stories that only this brilliant raconteur can deliver.
Steve Ross sings 'Cheek to Cheek'.
KT Sullivan sings 29 songs (abridged) from 1929 — the Year of Joe Sirola's birth.
N'Kenge belts it out with Jon Weber on piano.
Pianist Jon Weber introduces Karin Oberlin.
Lorcan Otway & Gary Springer watch Joe Sirola's hand go into the cement.
Immortalized in cement.
Among the guests in the audience were Jack Scalia (Sirola’s co-star in theTV series “Wolf,” Jamie De Roy, Riki Kane Larimer (The producer of ‘Cagney The Musical’ with De Roy and Sirola). It was a wonderful evening celebrating a great good generous man and friend.
Gary Springer, KT Sullivan, Joe Sirola, and Claire Gozzo.
Jack Scalia, who starred with Joe as father and son in the WOLF. In background, Joe's Korean War buddy Pat Cooke.
Joe cuts the cake.

Mark Ashe Photography (Sirola)

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