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Summer birthdays

Late Sunday morning relaxing. 11:30 AM. Photo: JH.
Monday, July 28, 2014.  A very warm, sunny weekend in New York with the humidity levels adding more to the picture than in the previous week. Nevertheless, a beautiful day in New York.

Summer birthdays. Mine was this past Saturday.  I’m not sentimental about birthdays although I remember when I was six or seven asking my mother if I could have a birthday party. I don’t know where I got the idea; birthday parties were not numerous in the neighborhood or the family.

Mother acquiesced and somehow members of the family with cousins gathered for the meal (must have been a lunch) and then the tour de force – the cake with candles, wishes and PRESENTS! Somewhere in a photo album – most likely in one of my eldest sister’s photo albums, I’ve seen a picture of little David deadly serious surveying the table. I know it was the presents, and the ice cream and cake that I was checking. Back in those days, cake and ice cream were like Beluga and Cristal to the boy grown up. Now I’m not so sure about the Beluga (although I probably couldn’t resist).
The birthday gang around the table, starting left: Steve Harrison, Marianne Harrison, Jeff Hirsch, Pax Quigley, DPC, Danielle Hirsch, Philip Carlson, Barbara Preminger. We began at 8 and here we are about to close the place after 11.
After that I gave a birthday party for myself when I was thirty-five, and invited about thirty friends. I still don’t know what I was thinking because I’m not a “party” person (ironically, considering my business), but I staged it – also on a weekend – on the terrace of my house in Connecticut. Friends came up from the City and even from Boston. It was 1976 (the year JH was born) and I recall after the meal – the cake and ice cream (and there must have been champagne) – we talked about the Bicentennial of the United States of America, which was being celebrated all over the nation.
The scene of Bday 35 of the terrace at the house in North Stamford (notice the TV aerial) in early Spring of that year where the buds had just begun to appear. It must have been a very warm Saturday. The photo was taken by another long time friend Beth Rudin (DeWoody).
That was the interesting part. I was moderator and asked various guests to talk about what America meant to them. We were the generation that had been through the Liberation movements, the War in Viet Nam, and Richard Nixon’s resignation from the Presidency two years before on August 9, 1974. (ed. note: Carol Joynt, NYSD’s Washington Social Diary correspondent who at that time was one of Walter Cronkite’s three personal writers for the CBS Evening News, recalls that moment in our history on today’s NYSD).

After experiencing all of the aforementioned enormous matters in our nation’s history, it was interesting that my guests – mainly my contemporaries – expressed hopeful and patriotic opinions of our nation and the state we were in. It wasn’t naivete on our parts but more the sense that Change had really occurred in so many ways. The summer had become a respite from its challenges: Gerald Ford, a mild-mannered middle-American from Michigan had become our President and – still unbeknownst to us – a man from Georgia, its former governor named Jimmy Carter would become our President.

Another longtime friend, illustrator Bob Schulenberg, whom I met through Philip Carlson about the same time, took this photo when I was 25 (you can find his pages on the NYSD archives). This was a "theatrical" shot made to look like I was some very cool guy which I was not at that tender age (or anytime after), having a smoke standing under some Park Avenue apartment building canopy. I'm amazed at how thin I am.
This past Saturday night I invited only old friends to join me, along with JH and his wife Danielle. Philip Carlson and I met in the mid-60s when I was briefly pursuing an acting career in New York and we were in an off-Off-Broadway show together. We became good friends instantly. A year later I realized this “career” was not a good idea – I sorely lacked the dedication that is required.

Philip, however, had landed the lead in an off-Broadway show called “Until the Monkey Comes,” which was a hit. Universal signed him to a contract and he and his new wife moved to Hollywood. The year after that he introduced me and my then-wife Sheila to Barbara Preminger and her then husband Erik Preminger and another friendship sprang for us, which has lasted ever since.

That same year another friend introduced me and my wife to Marianne and Steve Harrison who coincidentally lived around the corner from us on East 89th Street. We too became immediate friends and have remained very close ever since. A decade later, I was then in Los Angeles at the very beginning of a new career as a writer when in 1980, another friend who worked with Pax Quigley at Playboy introduced us. The meeting was a phone call. She called me one midafternoon in summer and we talked for about an hour and became instant friends. These friendships have remained strong ever since – despite all the changes and moves in our individual lives. So everyone at table Saturday night, has known each other for as long also.

JH and I met when he came to work as my assistant when I was editor-in-chief for Judy Price, founder and publisher of Avenue Magazine, in 1998. Jeff was a year out of college and interested in working in magazines. He was an excellent, orderly and good natured assistant who took every assignment and responsibility seriously, often more seriously than I did. Two years later, we both resigned from Avenue on August 15th to start the NYSD, an idea I’d been harboring for years (it was the dotcom boom). He and I have never worked in the same space together and almost seventeen years later we have now a longtime working friendship.
I'd just blown out the candle, having my wish. Danielle Hirsch looks on.
So there was a strong element of family around the table at  Swifty’s this past Saturday night. There were no silences about. The natural familiarity we share with each other is a great gift and comfort to all of us. It was rife with conversation (no reserved personalities present) with our table partners, and across the table.

It was a lovely warm night in Manhattan. Swifty’s Robert Caravaggi had seated us at a large round table by the open four-panel window doors that let onto Lexington Avenue. The city was quiet and there was no memorable traffic racket on the avenue, with only a few strollers and dog-walking neighbors passing by. The Swifty’s summer menu hit the spot (among the favorites was a “Cod Taco” and the Cold Poached Salmon), along with the Proseco and Rose wine. It was a great night to “celebrate” a birthday and share the love of friendship which for me is the best present of all. Always.

Which, speaking of birthdays,
the Saturday before JH and Danielle were celebrating another birthday, that of JH’s mother Rochelle Hirsch.
The site of JH's mother's birthday din: Le Penguin on Lewis Street in Greenwich, just off Greenwich Avenue.
The namesake at the entrance.
David (JH's pa) and Rochelle Hirsch pre-dinner.
And during dessert, which came with a "Happy Birthday" number (Stevie Wonder's version) performed by the entire waitstaff.
John W. Mazzola, the man who led Lincoln Center for The Performing Arts for twenty years, passed away on Thursday, July 24th here in New York City. He was 86. A lawyer with the firm of Millbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy, John joined Lincoln Center in 1962. He became its chief executive officer in 1968. In his long tenure he skillfully steered the expansion of Lincoln Center and its programs, providing access to high quality performing arts to a city depressed by financial hardship.

John Mazzola photographed By Jill Krementz at the Laura Pels Theater on March 24, 2010 on opening night of "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams.

Mr. Mazzola, was the former President and Chief Executive of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Ms. Krementz first met the Mazzola family in 1975 when she photographed his daughter Amy who appeared in her book, A Very Young Dancer. Amy was performing in The Nutcracker as a Polichinelle (who comes out from under Mother Ginger's 40-pound skirt). She also danced, in a pink tutu, in Coppélia ("The Waltz of the Golden Hours").

Amy Mazzola Flynn was tragically hit and killed by an automobile while out for a walk after Thanksgiving dinner with her family on November 24, 2011. She was 48, married and the mother of two young children — James and Christina.
He also increased accessibility to the arts through public and televised concerts. Above all, his family was his overriding theme and connection. As noted in an article written by George Sturm for the Music Associates of America, “[i]t is as if the communion with his wife Sylvia and daughters Alison and Amy…[was] constantly recharging his battery, making it possible for him to make vital, productive and imaginative connections among the countless details of his daily labors.” He was decorated Cavaliere Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana and Officer Ordre des Arts et des Lettres France. He was a member of The Misquamicut Club (RI).

He helped develop the Mostly Mozart Festival, the ''Live From Lincoln Center'' series, the acoustic renovation of Avery Fisher Hall and the Concerned Citizens for the Arts program. He also was a notably successful fund-raiser and lobbyist.

John was born and raised in Bayonne, New Jersey and was a graduate of Tufts University (1949) and the Fordham Law School (1952). Mr. Mazzola is survived by his wife Sylvia, a former theatrical producer, daughter Alison Mazzola, sister Jane Sharkey, son-in- law Terence “Tad” Flynn, and beloved grandchildren James Davis Flynn and Christina Pleasant Flynn. He was predeceased by his daughter Amy Mazzola Flynn. He will be remembered for his wry wit, storytelling, his love of cooking and entertaining.  He loved sailing and the East Beach.

Visitation will be held today, Monday, July 28 from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm at Frank E. Campbell at 1076 Madison Avenue. A Funeral Service will be held on Tuesday, July 29 at 10:30 am at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Fifth Avenue at 53rd Street, where he served as an usher for many years.

Contact DPC here.

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© 2013 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/