Making it our business

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The scene outside the Carlyle at 7:15 PM where many of the Met Gala guests were coming and going. Photo: DPC.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022. On the chilly side yesterday in New York, after a night of rain (and a thunderstorm around 5 a.m.) that was so loud is sounded like it was in the street outside my window. April showers, however, definitely have brought the bowers of flowers that bloom in May. And the city has begun to warm up with lots of activity.

Last night, as you must know, was the annual Met Gala. I haven’t seen it this year at this moment of writing. I don’t know what time it was supposed to start but I had a dinner date at Leila Heller’s gallery on 17 East 76th Street. Leila was giving a dinner for client’s present show, Nan Swid.

Nan Swid last night at a dinner to celebrate her new show at the Leila Heller gallery on 17 East 76th Street.

I had been forewarned to stay out of Fifth and Madison Avenues because of the traffic jam created by the show, er … gala. I took a cab to 76th and Park and walked over to Leila’s gallery which is just off Fifth. Passing by the entrance to the Carlyle, there was a mob filling 76th Street almost surrounding the entrance. Obviously waiting for some celebrities.

There were security lines also awaiting the celebrities going to the ball. It was a generally very young crowd from late teens on up. Another indication of what seems like a radical change (over a lifetime).

The last time I attended that event was in the late ’90s when the guest of honor was Princess Diana. I wanted just to see her up close. And, as it happened, I did, quite accidentally. I even had a word with her as she was moving along. I was left with an almost instant impression of a very nice woman.

When she’d entered the museum entrance gallery, she was ushered to a spot on the side of the massive hall which had been darkened. I happened to be standing next to it, not knowing why it had been darkened.

Diana wearing Dior at the 1996 Met Gala. Photo: Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images.

Moments later, she appeared. I was standing where the Princess would stand for the bank of photographers who suddenly appeared when she did. Just as suddenly they took their places at a distance of 15’ from her. Standing alone in the shadows, her countenance was serious. Otherwise she was working.

But then, the lights came up for the shoot — and her face transformed with her warm and generous smile. It might have been 60 or 90 seconds. And the lights went off. And so too, did the countenance returned to the serious. You could see that she was/felt very much on her own, alone in her world.

Last night’s gala at the Met, more than twenty years later is in a different world with a different set of circumstances. It has been commercialized and brought to the public on a silver platter of 21st century celebrity. And its director Anna Wintour has turned it into a financial bonanza for the Costume Institute (which they named after her), raising millions as well as millions of new visitors to the museum. Such is life these days, on certain sides of the track.

Another side of the track, such is life as it can confound, to put it gently. Last week I went to the Spring Luncheon for the New York Society for Prevent of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC). It was at the Tavern on the Green in Central Park, and outside on a sheltered terrace surrounded by the green and flowers and vistas of the Park.

The subject at a luncheon like this  is never a beautiful one. The environment we sat in is the beautiful one. And the luncheon they served was very good too. There were more than 100 attending.

The majority were women, many of whom are involved as volunteers and fund-raisers for the organization (it’s a non-profit). Cruelty to children is ugly. Personally it makes me very angry just at the thought of it. Cruelty is ugly to anyone.

Starting there, this luncheon always has an interesting subject to educate us a little more about what’s going on in the world of children and the rest of us. The subject at this luncheon was Sexual Abuse and more specifically.

Audry Nafziger and Judy Woodruff speak onstage.

Sometimes it seems like it’s epidemic. It was Judy Woodruff of PBS NewsHour interviewing Audry Nafziger who is a California Sex Crimes Prosecutor and Sexual Assault Survivor. Ms. Nafziger is a Calfornia girl who grew up in Huntington Beach and now lives in Montecito. To this boy’s imagination she reminded me of a younger version of Lizabeth Scott. I imagined she could have been an actress. She has that kind of Southern California beauty. She is also very smart, and quite serious.

She was a law student at USC in 1990. It turned out that she was also one of thousands of women sexually abused by the sole campus gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall. After Ms. Nafziger’s experience with him, she learned that he’d been getting away with it for years (1989 – 2016). She made it her business to do something about it.

Elizabeth Mayhew, Audry Nafziger, Judy Woodruff, and Dan Healy.
Holly Kelly, Judy Woodruff, Audry Nafziger, and Elizabeth Mayhew.
Ngan Nguyen, Vivian Lee, Judy Woodruff, Lucia Corral, and Amy Sung.
Commissioner Jess Dannhauser.
Auctioneer Lucas Hunt.
Guests enjoy the charity auction.

I’m enclosing the interview between Woodruff and Nafziger that was on PBS to get the whole story. USC recently paid $1 billion to the doctor’s victims … as you will read. There’s an enormous lesson in this. It doesn’t solve the problem.

That begins with children’s protection.

Photographs by Michael Ostuni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images (NYSPCC).

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