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The New York City skyline from LaGuardia Airport. Photo: JH.

Monday, July 12, 2021. 76 degrees as I write this at 8 p.m. on Sunday night. It’s still light out after a sunny, warm but-not-too weekend. With some heavy rains passing through. Although late afternoon at the end of the day, the outdoor pubs were busy with everyone enjoying the good weather.

I’m at that age where I am curious about outcomes. It comes with the territory; I’ve learned. For example, I am a regular reader of certain financial columns. Always have been, since I was a teenager. I had a rich uncle who read the Wall Street Journal everyday. I picked up the habit imitating him. I was hoping his smarts would rub off. My results are entirely different from his — which were his investments, etc. However, before starting this I had just read “The Monster Rally and Its Deceptions” on a site called Rick’s Picks. Rick Ackerman writes about the heartbeat side of it all. The pulse.

I am not an investor (I was very briefly in my early 20s when I also worked as a Registered Rep – stockbroker in the days of  yore).  I was not cut out to be an RR although the interest in the markets has remained steadfast with me all my life. It is part of my own self-education which for me happens to be ongoing even at this later stage (I was going to write “late age”). I also read certain political/journalist sites. I’m always watching, looking for clues as to where our Fate is taking us in this fast moving era of ours.

Not everyone agrees.

And it’s always about the money which of course leads to power. In these decades with my following the lives and lifestyles of people with social power — as well as financial — I’ve seen it change, and come and go. Right now we are in a “go” part.  At this time the Very Rich are even richer to the point of the ridiculous. And so be it. But what interests me about that is how much “simpler” people of means are making their own lives. It’s spelled out in fashion which has a more informal almost proletarian look that is popular with all ages.

Nevertheless, the beat goes on. On Friday I went to a small dinner at Susan Gutfreund’s. Susan is a famous New York hostess. There were eight of us at table, some whom I knew and some whom I’d never met before. The dress was casual and comfortable. The men wore jackets.

Susan has an excellent chef and an excellent maid. Table was simple and elegant, and entirely candlelit. And the conversation was with both dinner partners and with the table. For more than thirty years Susan and her late husband John Gutfreund regularly hosted large dinners, as well as cocktail parties at their palatial Fifth Avenue apartment overlooking Central Park. She’s used to the value of guests sharing an evening together.

A view of the Winter Garden room in Susan’s former apartment. Henri Samuel planned the décor of the Winter Garden room around a set of painted panels now hanging on the walls of the room.
In Susan’s former dining room, Henri Samuel created the design of the curtains from an 18th century document. The pink under-curtain fabric was a gift from Karl Lagerfeld.
A view of Susan’s former living room.
The living room looking south.
Susan’s former sitting room where she spent much of her time.

During those years they also maintained a large duplex in a hotel particulier on the Left Bank in Paris where they entertained the French, Italian, British and Greek worlds of society. John died several years ago and that enormous apartment and its memories were more than enough for the now single woman. She needed to find something more livable.

The grand staircase of John and Susan Gutfreund’s hotel particulier in Paris.

The first thing she did was to get a dog.  She either knew or learned quickly that “a dog” (or dogs) can enhance your single life. Not because of the way they feel about you but because of the way you feel about them. It’s love, fresh and private and welcomed. Susan then had to remove that part of her life from that vast duplex apartment, sending much off to auction and even more off to storage while she looks/waits for another. In the meantime, she’s now just a few blocks up the avenue in a smaller, more manageable space.

Susan’s loyal companion.

It was a beautiful night. From her terrace she has a view of Central Park South. It was perfect night for a photo of the view.  Those two towers remain a “wonder” for me, not a particularly alluring one. To the far right you can see the tops of the Time Warner towers to give you an idea of how “tall” the new buildings are.

The conversation during cocktails and on to the dinner table was relaxed and much about the neighborhood and all the construction going on. One of the guests lives across from the Frick which is undergoing a huge construction project that’s caused some complaints and bad feelings. Part of the language of “construction.”

The view from Susan’s new apartment.

The table, however, was unanimously in agreement about the spectacular Frick Collection on exhibit at the Frick Madison. You’ve read about it here, perhaps. For everyone, including this writer, the paintings in an actual museum of blank, unadorned walls, are spectacular. More than one of the guests voiced my experience of seeing them there: paintings we were all very familiar with at the Frick itself were like new, like something we’d never seen before … standing (hanging) alone and commanding the space.

Three of the Frick’s eight portraits by Van Dyck.

Susan’s dinner was called for 7. The conversation moved to the table about 8:30, and continued through the dinner and dessert.

An excellent way to greet the weekend in New York.

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