Scenes of New York

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Hanging out in Central Park. 7:00 PM. Photo: JH.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022. Yesterday was a beautiful day in New York with temps ranging from the high 70s to low 80s and much lower humidity, so that is was very pleasant.

The birthday boy on the first day of his 81st year.

As some of you know, yesterday was my birthday and I always begin that annual day by telling myself that I’m not going to work as my “reward” for having been a good boy, etc., and doing my work.

However, I actually love my work. It is a constant challenge and as I get older I find I’m motivated to challenge myself more. At least that’s what I tell myself. Besides I’m grateful for the opportunity and you dear reader, for giving it your attention however briefly.

However, bday and no work, etc., I was back in my archive for references to stir my curiosity and imagination. Going through my archives, I came across a lunch at Michael’s that I had written about nine years ago.  Who cares about what happened nine years ago? Well, history does and many times the matter of people is a fun anecdote out of the life of the NYSD.

Monday, September 9, 2013. Went to lunch at Michael’s. I go there mainly to watch the world. It’s a kind of rambling curiosity, wondering what you’ll see, if you’ll see; maybe learn some detail or maybe even gain an insight. It doesn’t make me a better writer and many times I don’t know what kind of writer I am except that I am compelled to put words to paper.

Daphne Guinness with Bernard-Henri Lévy. Photo: ©Patrick

At this lunch, eyes were on the corner table, Charlie Rose was sitting with Daphne Guinness and her French philosopher boyfriend Bernard-Henri Levy. She is extraordinary looking. She’s always gussied up, overdressed as if on display, ready for her closeup. I don’t doubt it’s a creative preference for her. An art.

She’s an entertainer, of sorts, a street-version of a Performance Artist. What else can you call it? She wore those crazy shoes on which she’s practically walking on her toes, the lifts are so high. They probably added a couple of inches to her height. I once asked her if walking in them were uncomfortable as it looks. (They were created by Alexander McQueen for her.)

She said, no, she was very comfortable.

I watched her walk to her table. The gait is graceless and clumpy, as if her feet are carrying weights, like an ungainly elephant that has lost a lot of weight (Mrs Guinness is Scarlett O’Hara-thin).And she is otherwise not even slightly graceless.

Daphne’s  (“comfy”) shoes.

Still it is a pleasure to see her because she looks like no other and in that category she is really beautiful. Plus she’s got that boyfriend who is evidently a French philosopher of some note, as well as very rich thanks to his late papa. So at least he is not after her money.

Charlie Rose left the table first, and Levy and Guinness remained for another few minutes and then they left. I’ve seen them in Michael’s several times over the last few years. It’s like watching the film version of a life.

Daphne still 🔥  nine years later.

I also came across this one from March 2011, inspired by an obituary in the London Times of Sam Green, a well known New Yorker in the ’60s through the ’90s (or rather until he died at age 70).

Sam Green with Christine Biddle and Heather Cohane, January 2007.

Sam had a very creative life. I use the word “creative” because he had a public relations man’s sense of things. His preferences were art and personalities, specifically social personalities, as you will learn in this obituary that we are re-running.

Among his social conquests was the famously elusive Greta Garbo. To those under forty, or maybe sixty, her name is, at most, vaguely familiar. But to more than two generations before, she was legendary as a movie star, and later as a movie star who quit at her zenith and consciously stayed out of the limelight. “I vant to be alone,” whether she said it or not, was the famous quote attributed to her.

In real life Garbo lived mainly here in New York in a grand apartment on East 52nd Street and the River, and loved to walk around the city. I’ve known many who actually knew her, but I never saw her. Many people I know did see her – on the sidewalk, or waiting for the elevator at Bergdorf’s or dining rarely in public.

Garbo in New York 1970.

The image she created for herself had a quality of hostility about it. In other words, you might see her standing next to you, waiting for the light to change to WALK, but her “mystery” was intimidating enough that you wouldn’t utter a word to her (“oh, Miss Garbo, I …) Garbo ignoring, cold staring ahead). Forget it.

However, Sam Green befriended her and, as you will learn in the following, even went on walks with her. He even had her phone number and could call her. And she even would call him and if he weren’t home, she’d leave a message on his answering machine.

Green and Garbo on Corsica, 1973.

A stickler for privacy, it never occurred to her, evidently, that her messages were “recorded”. Duh; you’re excused Miss Garbo, after all, you’re only human.

Nor did it occur to her that those recorded messages which were brief but with an economy that was part of her “legend” might be heard by somebody she didn’t know. And, as it happened they were. Sam Green was a very pleasant fellow but he also liked people to know who he knew, and Greta Garbo was a highly prized get in the know department.

However, with a capital “H”, Miss Garbo got wind of this little detail from someone whom Sam played the messages to and who went on to tell someone else until word got around to the Legend herself. And that was that. Sam never went for walks, or even entered a room where she was present, ever again. I don’t know what happened to the message tape. Some lawyer might …

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