Born and Bred

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The majestic Christmas Tree at the University Club on Fifth Avenue.

Thursday, 12_22_22. Cold and grey, on the first full day of Winter 2022-23. There was a warm orangey pink sunset that I could see from my terrace looking directly. It also reflects on the facades of the apartment buildings facing the river. There’s something kind and hopeful in these sunsets.

With just two more shopping days till Christmas, the boxes are piling up in the lobby besieged everyday by more. I will spend Christmas Eve at dinner with friends and lunch on Christmas Day as a guest of my neighbors.


Christmas decor in the nabe.

I loved Christmas for the first 20 years of my life, with each year providing a new adventure in growing up. It’s a holiday for growing up. I’ve spent lots of Christmases at home with family and friends and dinner parties. In these years of my life, I don’t mind the idea of being alone; I rather like it. I do also appreciate all the pleasures that the company of others, particularly close friends and families, bring to people, especially at this time of the year. And I love to watch small children first learning about “Christmas.”

Otherwise if I have time, I have my books. I love my books. My collection is constantly expanding, even though I try to control the numbers. Several have come my way at this holiday time. I prefer non-fiction and history-related books. Or an occasional return to John O’Hara and his short stories.

Click to order Pieces of the Past.

A couple of weeks ago a friend sent me Pieces of the Past; A Recollection by David W. Beer. I happen to know David Beer, because in my line of work covering the social waterfront, I’ve seen him around, been in the same room with him … usually having to do with some cultural event. New York has lots of relationships like that because there are so many of us packed into this and sharing the greater interests.

Pieces … is a small book; thin, doesn’t look long. That’s a plus. And with a classically classic big-city cover, with a simple title. I could only think whatever it’s like, it’s not that long … so.

I knew he was a professional man, maybe a lawyer or a banker. I knew he was a culturally sophisticated man — the arts, opera, the ballet, museums.

And I knew he was a New York kid, born and bred, an Upper East Side life, private schools, grad schools. I found myself envisioning what that life was like here; so New York, so different to us out-of-town natives of New York.

Growing up, the man became more and more involved in the community and its culture and its architecture and its business. His life changes along with everything we’ve been witnessing these days. You see how characters like David Beer are part of what keeps us moving forward. It’s like learning about your next door neighbor. In New York. Fascinating lives, and good ones even. It’s good news actually; and insightful.

And while we’re on the subject of New York boys, born and bred and active in the community, someone sent me a photograph of a table at the birthday dinner of Alex Papachristidis a couple weeks ago. It was a spectacular evening and the interiors were like a spectacular stage set — but real life. The interiors of the private club in which it was held were dressed for the occasion, as this single table alludes. Alex also has a new book out and although it is larger and longer and full of interiors it reflects the same sensibility.


The spectacular decor at Alex’s birthday dinner. Photograph by Luis Zepeda.

But before we finish, I find myself returning to Mary Hilliard’s amazing collection of who said what to whom at which fancy New York affair …

The interesting image is that of the woman in the middle — Barbra Streisand. That’s Giorgio Armani on her right undoubtedly talking Business. Although Streisand looks like she’s listening, as a business, as a performer, she’s been around far longer than both of these  guys. And then there’s the lady on the far left. Couldn’t be less interested by it all. Lee Radziwill.


Next up: The famous sister talks to the popular movie star (Jeremy Irons) at an event at Table 45. She looks like she’s explaining the situation and he looks like, if you look a little more closely, he’s going to get to know her better before the night’s out. And yes, why not?


That’s Gianni Versace and JFK Jr. informing Paul Wilmot that he was given their coatchecks and now that they want to leave, he’s saying he knows nothing about the matter.


Later on in the day JFK Jr. explains the situation to his wife. At a black tie gala that night.


This is it. Now or never! (implies Daphne Guinness to Kenneth Jay Lane) …


Pat Buckley: “Did I hear that right?” Glenn Birnbaum: “Just enjoy your champagne.”


“You know,” says Carolyne Roehm, “you’re missing all my meridian points …”


Jerzy Kosiński: “How does that sound to you?” Elaine: “Sounds perfect.”


“Do they actually think I can’t hear what they’re saying …?”


You had to be there. Donald Trump, Anna Wintour, and James Truman.


Princess Diana gets advice (from Larry King) and gives it back!

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