Debbie’s Week at a Glance Out East

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The ultimate modern family: Benjamin Clementine, Julian Sainte-Clementine, Florence Clementine, Larry Warsh, Laurie Anderson, Julian Schnabel, Louise Kugelberg and Vito Schnabel.

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?


New(ish) NYC restaurant, Il Divo, inspired by Rudolph Valentino, Minor divos may apply.
L. to r.: Unusually chic for 2nd Avenue; The Divo himself, Rudolph. Timeless.

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.


Fern Mallis at home on Big Fresh Pond, en route to LongHouse. And there’s her cat, Dimples. Can’t you see them?
The long path to LongHouse preserve, happily from the vantage point of a golf cart.
Bernar Venet’s Three Determined Lines, in front of Fuller inspired 33′ sculpture, Fly’s Eye Dome by John Kuhtik.
Orly Lenger’s woven sculpture.

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.”


L. to r.: Dianne Benson, President LongHouse, nailing the theme, la vie en rose; Jack Lenor Larson, creator, keeper of Longhouse, and the Mario Andretti of golf carts.
Clockwise from above: Sotheby’s Lisa Dennison, in her element; Ross Bleckner, my summer crush; Andrew Saffir and honoree Donna Karan, chilling before speech time.
Happy fella’s, one Blue Steel — Cy Schnabel, Vito Schnabel, Zac Posen, and Olmo Schnabel.
L. to r.: Robert Wilson, happy to be, happy to be seen; Andrew Saffir and Daniel Benedict, cool and crisp in spite of their power outage.

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.


L. to r.: Rose colored glasses, anyone?; Dinner bell?
Cool, jazz dudes, of course.
They got the dress code memo.

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.


Laurie Anderson, larger than life.
Julian lets his 5th son, Benjamin Clementine, ’speak’ for him.
Blue Boy hasn’t lost his touch. Partner Louise hasn’t lost her smile.

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.


L. to r.: Donna Karan and Ross Bleckner — best buds since high school. She flunked typing. Good thing; Nicole Fuller with her light-up cell phone, for better selfies, of course.

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.”


Icon to icon love fest.

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

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