Friday, November 22, 2019. Yesterday was warmer in New York with lots of sunshine and temps in the low 50s at the house of this writing (9:45 pm).
Jack Kennedy. He was murdered on this day, 11/22, 56 years ago in Dallas. Everything changed instantly after that, as it did in this young man’s ill-fated life (he was 46). The following three days America watched (then black and white) television. Stunned. We watched and watched. There was a sense among many of us (and the opposite among many others) of witnessing a personal tragedy. His presence represented hope to many, and not accidentally. He was brilliant as well as charming, as well as rich. An ideal if there ever was one for the American male in that age.
His polls weren’t so high at the time of his trip to Dallas, and it was only a month away from the ’64 election year. The press by then had got beyond the first days of his exciting and glamorous Presidency when Jack and Jackie had ushered in a New Generation of Americans. They personified the changes that came with the first half of the 20th century. They were younger than what we were used to as a President and First Lady. On a cover of Esquire — then a hot, must-read magazine, they were referred to as our first President and First Lady “who look like movie star.” As, indeed, they did.
To a whole (younger) generation, they were relatable. And in a good way. Handsome, beautiful, smart, kind; an ideal before our eyes. (And rich too; i.e. the lottery). By late November, two years into his Presidency, however, the trip to Dallas was a potential solution or demonstration for improving his ratings.
This was an era of an enormous even raucous change. The “liberation” movements were growing, and the old ways were going to be replaced whether we liked it or not. The Women’s Liberation, the Gay Liberation, the Civil Rights Movement, all got started quite naturally with that man and his wife in the White House.
The Second World War had ended in victory, the new liberation movements were simply reflecting the evolution of the beast (us). And Jack Kennedy, a very rich man’s son, an Irish-Catholic, a witty, even self-effacing man in public press conferences, good looking, naturally curious, seriously smart, he represented that victory for many who voted for him as President.
That’s how it looked up until the months before November 22, 1963. The romance of newness of the First Family had passed and troubles were brewing, like Vietnam. We knew nothing about his sex life although there were always stories of his “fervor” but they were bits of amusement. I was told once by a close associate of the President (long after his death) that the inside name for him among friends was “Jack the Zipper.”
They had a good laugh over it. Everybody did. Or, almost everybody. Privately that would have amused him too. There were always rumors about his “affairs” but they were the stuff of gossip that titillated, and ultimately awed and amused a good many of us. He was our Man.
If you ever get a chance to see him in a press conference (YouTube) and you’ve never seen him live, treat yourself to his presence. Yes he was a professional with his persona, and witty and clever with words. But in watching you see that he’s one of us, ideally speaking, a man of a life that was always complex, even psychologically stressful for the child. It was one of material abundance and an often physically absent father and mother.
The father was absent physically much of the time when the children were growing up, but he kept in constant close communication by mail or phone with each of his children. He was always parenting. From that came the light of a man whose presence — with his movie star looking wife Jacqueline — directed the younger generation of American people to look forward, to look up, and work to make the best of it for not only yourself but for your neighbors.
Then they shot him. They had their reasons. I’ll never know what they were I’m not referring to Lee Harvey Oswald who, as he was being escorted from his holding jail and exiting the police station and shouting “I’ve been framed! I’ve been framed!” — a man named Jack Ruby suddenly ran out of the crowd, and pointing a gun, shot and killed Oswald — before the shocked eyes of the nation in mourning.
The world that came in with this intelligent young man and his wife is still with us, nevertheless.
Speaking of Service to the Nation. In celebration of its 100th anniversary, Leanne Caret, President & CEO, Boeing Defense Space & Security was honored at the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard & Airmen’s Club with the “Service to the Nation Award.” Leanne Caret was joined by guest Speakers Colonel Jack H. Jacobs, USA (Ret) Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient and Tony Lo Bianco.
Among those attending included Margo and John Catsimatidis, Julia Irene Kauffman, Dr. Gregory and Mrs. Margaret Hedberg and Mrs. Ryland E. D. Chase. Proceeds from the evening went to benefit SSMAC, a non-profit organization that for one hundred years has provided warm, friendly and safe accommodations for more than five million men and women in the Armed Forces as well as those of our allies.
In the case you (hope you didn’t) missed it department. On Thursday, October 31, 2019, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) hosted its 4th Annual Opening Night of TEFAF New York Fall at the Park Avenue Armory. The Opening Night of TEFAF New York Fall was generously underwritten by Fiona & Stanley Druckenmiller and sponsored by Etro.
The Opening Night offered The Society’s members and New York’s most notable collectors, philanthropists and leaders in fashion and design an exclusive preview of the fair’s sensational, museum-quality pieces before opening to the public the next day. TEFAF New York Fall, which focuses on decorative art and jewelry from antiquity through the early 20th century, is recognized for championing the finest art dealers and experts from around the world, as well as providing the highest quality art fair experience.
More goodies gone by. Hundreds of guests gathered at the Guggenheim Museum to celebrate the debut of Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman 50+, a monograph published by Rizzoli, written by authors Bob Siegel and Gene Kaufman.
Known for an architecture of distinctive modernism that is well crafted, refined, and often luxurious, Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman has been the “go-to” firm for decades for some of the nation’s, and ever more so the world’s, most discerning clientele. This landmark volume is a comprehensive look at the legendary firm and a celebration of its more than 50 years in existence as an architectural tastemaker.
Photographs by Angela Pham & Mike Vitelli/BFA.com (TEFAF); Annie Watt (SSMCA); Marc Basch & Fred Aquilino (Gwathmey)