Record heat propelled us east, faster and with more gratitude than usual. Before I left the city, and before I literally didn’t want to venture outside, I tried a new, highly touted local restaurant, Il Divo, on 70th and 2nd Avenue of all places.
No less than foodie and oenophile Jay McInerney had highly recommended it. He was right. Inspired by the ultimate Divo, Rudolph Valentino. With a sister spot in Milan, Il Divo has ’20’s Hollywood glam décor, professional, attentive service and, most importantly, fantastic food – perhaps the best Bolognese I’ve ever had. Need I say more?
Out east was only marginally cooler. Hair ballooned, skin glistened (a nice word for…) and energy waned. Fern Mallis offered me a fan when I met her at her fairy tale cottage on Big Fresh Pond. I regretted passing on one, when we spilled out of her car at LongHouse Reserve and viewed the steamy, but compelling 16 acres of gardens and sculptures ahead, and this night, their Annual Summer Benefit.
We lucked into a lift in a golf cart, and disembarked, only to be lifted again, by none other than LongHouse Founder and Artistic Director, Jack Lenor Larsen. Jack, a scholar, textile designer, author, collector and authority on traditional and contemporary crafts, created LongHouse, his home, “as a case study to exemplify a creative approach to contemporary life.”
The ethos of the eve was eclectic, artistic, with a wide range of ages, and almost no posing – an unusually authentic eve for this season and this burg. The extraordinary gardens, filled with deKoonings, Nivolas, Chilhulys and so much more, beckoned, but understood we would be back when the temps drop under 90.
As the theme was la vie en rose, we were offered rose-colored glasses, which were almost unnecessary, as most were decked in some shade of pink. The art world was out in force for Jack: Ross Bleckner, Robert Wilson, Bryan Hunt, Ralph Gibson, Arnie Glimcher and of course, Longhouse Award winner, artist and film maker, Julian Schnabel.
Laurie Anderson introduced Julian, who modestly took a seat and let us enjoy a music set by pianist/singer, Benjamin Saint-Clementine. Afterwards, Julian said, “I have four white sons and one black one – Benjamin. Nothing I can say tonight will be as profound as his music, so why don’t we ask him to play again.” Modest generosity abounding – are we really in the Hamptons? Pinch me.
Ross Bleckner gave a knowing, loving intro to his high school pal, Donna Karan, “You are tireless and focused in your elliptical way and searching for the divinity of all of us.” She received the Leadership Award for all that, plus her Urban Zen Foundation, which ‘preserves culture (past), offers integrative health care and well-being (present), and education (future).’ She’s got us covered.
Laurie Anderson, who is way above my cultural pay grade, took the stage again and gave her first performance (another would happen later for the younger set, after I was already under the percales). She split the audience in two and asked the right to chant ‘Griffin in a Fez’ and the left, on cue, ‘What is Ecstasy,’ in a sort of avant-garde “round.”
I’m not sure I knew what was happening, but I liked it, felt part of this warm, loving, creative community, and will be back — to prowl this majestic, inspiring place — when it’s cooler.
Photographs by Debbie Bancroft & Patrick McMullan