New York’s coming back!

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Looking south along Fifth Avenue towards the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo: JH.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020. It was a weekend of mainly sunny Spring weather, mostly minus rain and in the upper 70s on Saturday and mid-60s on Sunday. Yesterday temps reached 70,  with some sunshine. Although those mild to very chilly breezes are still about to remind us that it ain’t summertime yet.

New Yorkers are noticeably getting out more. A lot more exercising in walks, runs, cycling, skateboarding, scootering along my usually weekend-quiet, cozy lane. Monday afternoon on my voyage to the market, the activity on both road and sidewalk were definitely on the increase. Early last Saturday afternoon was the perfect time to do my Zabar’s run because no one is going to waste those moments midday waiting in line when they would rather be out exercising and taking in the great weather.

Coming back from the West Side on Saturday, When I stopped for the light Second Avenue and 84th Street, I was surprised to see a crowd (non-social distancing) gathered on the southwest corner, in front of and around Dorrian’s Red Hand bar and restaurant. It looked like a party. Dorrian’s staff were serving drinks and snacks to a very happy (and mask-less) crowd on the surrounding sidewalk surrounding, enjoying their camaraderie. I could only think “New York’s coming back!”

Dorrian’s has been a go-to bar and restaurant  (big bar crowd) since it opened 60 years ago by James (“Red Dog”) Dorrian, an Irish immigrant who had his son Jack  running the place for him. All these years later it’s still in the family and today is managed by Jack’s son Jim Dorrian.

The scene outside Dorrian’s.

Since the ’60s, it’s been a standard go-to hangout for the neighborhood singles including the preppies, as well as teenagers from the nabe (drinking age was 18 back then); a stopping off place for the younger set (under 60) coming out of a movie or even a black tie party, and a regular destination for New York Yankees teammates.

It’s been a film location for Gossip Girl and Gallery Girls, U.S. Marshals, The Deli and other shows, and six decades later it’s still got the draw. There’s no pretense about the place; it’s got a neighborhood feel  about it no matter the customer. There’s no dress code (although no tanktops, thank you); and although black tie is welcomed, it’s casual.

After seeing the happy (and jubilant) crowd, I decided to drive around the area to see if there were other places opening for business. Yes, there were. All outside right now, with customers being served from windows or entryways.

JH has been out and about with his camera taking in some of the gatherings that so many millions of us are looking forward to safely.

Friday night Sette Mezzo (from late afternoon until 9 p.m.) was open for take-out business, and so I ordered my dinner: broccoli soup, prosciutto and melon, and pasta primavera, sort of an old-home week meal. Again, many restaurants have opened for take-out, waiting for the go-ahead for dining. The town’s coming back!

Tomorrow the Breast Cancer Research Foundation is holding its annual fund-raising benefit, the Hot Pink Evening. This hugely successful foundation, founded in 1993 by the late Evelyn Lauder, has over the past quarter-century raised hundreds of millions to fund research on the disease. That research has been a major factor in the increasing success of not only curing the condition but also educating the public about it, and helping women deal with and often overcoming it. That support BCRF has always been evident in the huge attendance for its annual gala as well as its annual luncheon, attended by hundreds.

Evelyn and Leonard Lauder at the 2007 BCRF Hot Pink Party.

This year, of course, is different, for the event has to be “virtual.” This year’s gala is BCRF’s inaugural Virtual Hot Pink Evening! It promises to be an inspiring program. This is a challenge in meeting the expectation of its loyal supporters because “the sold-out event” — often with as many as 1,000 attending — is an exciting moment. In order to make this a truly unforgettable evening,  they’ve prepared a Virtual Home Experience Kit, which can be downloaded here.

Inside you will find a suggested menu for the evening, with recipes from our founder Evelyn Lauder’s cookbook, In Great Taste. Make sure you safely get your grocery shopping done ahead of tomorrow night!

The Kit also includes an “I’m with BCRF because” sign that you can print and write in your personal “why” to use in photos. They’re urging supporter not to forget to dress up in their  favorite pink — dress, tie, (or fuzzy slippers) — and submit their photos to which will be featured in the live photo stream during the event.

Those who have signed up and contributed to the evening will receive an email on Tuesday evening with login details. In the meantime, if you would like to bookmark the event livestream site in advance, it is: Breast cancer continues despite COVID-19, and so BCRF too will continue their efforts to move research forward — together.

The Covid virus has put the lives of millions of people on hold, as we all know too well. There are those who tend to believe the change it has wrought on our social activities is permanent. I personally doubt it. We humans were made for each other, made to stand together; we are Mother Nature’s social animals.

A page from the Virtual Home Experience Kit.

I know if Evelyn Lauder were with us today she would have used her remarkable energy and initiative to see that tomorrow night succeeded. It is not for the event itself but for the millions of lives that are affected by breast cancer, either victims or family or friends and associates. That is why it has been so successful in its fund-raising but especially in the progress that has been made medically and psychologically. That’s the banner we’re carrying now.

Although it is virtual and there will be none of the fun and interest in seeing friends and supporters face-to-face gathering together, it is our duty to make the most of this unique event. The Spring Season is a major fundraising event in New York for scores of organizations that enhance our lives as well as those of friends, neighbors and families, and often our whole world. The Covid hit has changed everything for the moment, but only temporarily separating us individually from those who share our interests, obligations, and dreams. If you’re interested, or inclined, lend your support and maybe enjoy the evening in the comfort of your own home! I always think of Evelyn and what she did for so many, and what difference that has made. Now it’s our turn.

And in the meantime we’re running this short musical video of Bob Hardwick at the piano, playing a couple of tunes to get you in the mood for the festivities we will be seeing and imagining with pleasure.

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