Last night in Manhattan
Last night in front of the GM Building plaza and FAO Schwarz. 8:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Another beautiful September day in New York. Showers predicted, but no show. Only sunshine and high flying clouds. Tonight there was a very important event, the New Yorkers for Children 2003 Fall Gala at which Senator Hillary Clinton was presented, by Mayor Bloomberg, the Nicholas Scoppetta Award for Service to Children. This was at Cipriani 42nd Street.

It was a very high profile event with co-chairs Amy Astley, Oscar de la Renta and Hugh Jackman, and vice-chairs Mona Ackerman, Susan Burden, Debbie Bancroft, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Susan Fales-Hill, Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, Peggy Penn, Renee Rockefeller, Tim Schifter, Oma Shulman, Kelly Behun Sugarman and Anna Wintour.

This was a fund-raiser and I don’t have the final figures but I’ll bet they did well with this crowd of chairs and co-chairs who really know how to go out there and bring in the cash. Tables started at $50,000 per and Cipriani 42nd is a big hall. After dinner there was dancing with music provided by DJ Tom Finn.

New Yorkers for Children was started as an organization to assist foster children in the city. It was the brainchild of Nicholas Scoppetta, the New York City Commissioner who was himself a foster child. This was created just a few years ago but with a core group of movers and shakers, led by Mr. Scoppetta, along with Mr. de la Renta, Mrs. DeWoody, Mrs. Burden and a few other civic/community minded individuals, they turned it into a must-do major charity benefit.
Outside The Sherry-Netherland. 8:20 PM.
I was farther up the avenue at the Sherry-Netherland at Doubles where Chris Meigher, publisher of Quest, of which I am editor-in-chief, and Jan-Patrick Schmitz of Mont Blanc were holding a small private dinner honoring seven such like-minded “New Yorkers Who Make A Difference.” They were: Blaine Trump, Nancy Stahl, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Liz Smith, Cynthia Lufkin, Louis Auchincloss and Dominick Dunne.

It was an intimate dinner – at least compared to the goings-on down at Cipriani 42nd Street. Six of the honorees were present (Princess Yasmin was out of town.) There were four tables of ten – mainly the honorees, friends and partners, wives, husbands, etc. The group are also part of the Mont Blanc advertising campaign in the magazine. It is a noble concept as well as a Warholian method for drawing attention to people, for all of the aforementioned have made major contributions to this enormous community called New York.

Portrait of PYAK drawn with a Mont Blanc pen by Julia Sverchuk for the Mont Blanc advertising campaign in Quest magazine.
Nancy Stahl has for years been head of the Boy’s Club whose charter is to help the kids. Blaine Trump has been steering the great God’s Love We Deliver organization started at the outset of the AIDS crisis for feeding the needy and the infirm. It has grown into a major organization, delivering daily meals to thousands of New Yorkers.

Yasmin Khan started the Rita Hayworth Gala (in honor of her mother, the great movie musical star) for the Alzheimer’s Association which has raised almost $30 million for research into the dread affliction.

Cynthia Lufkin as a volunteer for Safe Horizon, has raised the public consciousness about this great organization which assists the hundreds of thousands of victims (mainly women and children) of domestic abuse and other crimes in the City.

The great Liz Smith, syndicated columnist without peer, major contributor of indefatigable energy and influence to so many many civic causes – Literacy Partners is most prominent among them, was only one of three writers honored, the other two being Louis Auchincloss and Dominick Dunne.

Chris Meigher, my remarkably silver-tongued publisher (I’m always tongue twisted to the point of uncharacteristic silence at these affairs; as I was tonight), paid tribute to each thoroughly. Listening, I could only think of how amazing it is in this great big town with all its push and shove and relentless ambition and drive, that there are these people who participate Big Time in the Process and also give so much in a wide variety of ways to the community itself.
Inside Doubles for dinner
I was also thinking, as I often do, about myself in the process, sitting here sharing these tables and these moments with such distinguished people, especially those writers, all of whom I have long admired. This is never a small matter for me.

Years ago when I lived in Los Angeles, an editor friend of mine, Larry Ashmead (who just retired two months ago after more than forty years at HarperCollins); Larry used to send me copies of Quest magazine. It was a tiny little slip of a magazine, with almost exclusively high end real estate ads. It was known to many as “a real estate magazine.” However, founded by the inimitable Heather Cohane, a diminutive Englishwoman with a highly refined imagination as well as a strong taste for American Can-do, the editorial content of Quest was mainly social history – something that was always up my alley. I was therefore always intrigued and many times would read through an issue thinking, indeed saying aloud to myself: “I can do this.”

Dominick Dunne
Well can’t we all?

I was still in the process of making a professional career and most of my experience was in my imagination. Cut to: fifteen or ten years later, now the editor of that magazine, now the property of Mr. Meigher, Quest has grown into a solid publishing entity in New York. The first eighteen pages of edit each month includes eighteen accompanying pages of national advertising – always an achievement in the magazine business.

So there I was sitting there in the posh Doubles Club on this night, in this distinguished company – all the aforementioned – and I was thinking about myself. About how I would never have dared imagine all those years ago that dreams and pathways would have actualized this.

I was also thinking, as it often passes through my thoughts under such circumstances, how the city draws amongst its infinite characters and personalities, those people we’ve known all our lives, no matter where we come from; those people who are always thinking about and looking after the rest of us, like those among us tonight including the great numbers down at Cipriani 42nd Street. God bless us all.

Meanwhile, PS and all that, even farther up the avenue, earlier in the evening was a book party toasting Ann Richards and Dr. Richard Levine and their book (already covered here in NSYD) I’m Not Slowing Down. Two more remarkable people and New Yorkers (no matter where she’s come from). It was at the Levines’ house. Mrs. Levine, Ellen, is the editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping and a very visible and prominent member of the publishing community in New York. Mrs. Richards is, as practically everybody knows, the former Governor of Texas and the woman NO ONE WOULD MIND being President. Although she said she’ll never never .. ever ... run for any office again. So New York’s got her. All this and heaven too.

Last night at Doubles to honor seven "New Yorkers Who Make A Difference"
Louis Auchincloss
Liz Smith and Jamee Gregory
Nancy Stahl and Cynthia Lufkin
Robert Trump, Emilia Fanjul, Blaine Trump, and Mai and Ridgely Harrison
Dan Lufkin and Jan-Patrick Schmitz



Photographs by Jeff Hirsch /NYSD.com

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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/NewYorkSocialDiary.com