Capturing the spirit in us all

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The holiday traffic on Fifth Avenue.

12/18/22. Cold and overcast yesterday in New York, after a couple days of rain and five more days til Christmas. Although I don’t share the excitement, this old goat loved it to heaven the first 20 years of my life, from childhood to so-called maturity. There are many well along in years who continue to make it a day with a special gladness. I completely understand. I have been lucky, I have those friends in my life.

Saturday night I was driving up Madison Avenue in the East Sixties on my way home. There was almost no traffic and the area is particularly bright with display lights of whites and reds. I drove more slowly just to take in (not look!) the atmosphere of the facades of the stores along the way. All I could think of was all the men and women who put thousands of hours into creating these sensational images (and selling their product) — all of which light however briefly the spirits of those of us passing by. I felt it. It remains an important holiday for the spirit for all of us.


Looking west across 57th Street from Madison Avenue.

Our friend, the distinguished social photographer (I’m laying it on but I can’t help it; she is special) Mary Hilliard put together a fascinating little picture book called “People Will Talk” (won’t they now?). It’s 26 pages, each with a photograph that Mary’s eye caught as she covered the event or party she was hired for.

There’s a lot of verbal action in these shots, and accompanying expressions of various emotions. Everyone “looks good” but that’s only an aside because Mary’s eye catches the emotions and even makes you laugh. It’s a little treasure, all soft-cover and intriguing.

We’re running several images on today’s Diary, and several more over the next few days. The following images are from the very beginning of the book. Like most of us, I can’t resist thinking about what’s going on with those subjects of Mary’s photographic eye – and what’re they saying?! Since we don’t know, I can guess anything that comes to mind on the sight of them.


That’s Casey Ribicoff on the left. The lady on the right is Liz Rohatyn. They are at a gala dinner at the New York Public Library in 1997. Casey is listening intently while keeping a sharp eye on the camera. That’s not a smile on the ole girl’s face.

What is Liz saying to Casey? My take: “ … so when she mentioned your dress and how short it was, and how you chain smoked, and she told everyone … pssst, pssst, pssst … And I told them …”

Here’s this writer. When I first saw this photo I didn’t (and still don’t) recall when it was taken. From the looks of me I’d say it was quite awhile ago. Whatever is going on, that’s Wendy Carduner in the background, the Director of Doubles, so that must be the locale. I look a little like I had too much vodka (or something) and maybe all these girls are trying to get me to stop (notice my hand’s firmly on the glass).

From left to right: Nancy Missett, Karen LeFrak, Mai Hallingby, DPC, Joan Schnitzer, and Jonathan Farkas. And Wendy Carduner in yellow, looking on.

The man in profile is David Mortimer and the man looking on is, of course, Dominick Dunne. I don’t recognize the lady but she’s explaining something to Mortimer as if she’s reasoning. Dominick’s looking like he’s agreeing with her and thinks maybe Mortimer should, too.


That’s Bob Collacello explaining that he’s been waiting ten minutes already for his drink leading Pat Buckley to sympathize but wonder if he’d mind if she just finished hers.


Here’s Claudia Cohen — a NY Post columnist and one-time wife of Ron Perelman getting the full story …


Here’s our town’s much missed heartthrob JFK, Jr., of course, telling Mr. Armani that he’d like to try on (one of) Pat Riley’s Championship rings …


Bruce Weber has just offered CZ Guest a job as a model and she’s aghast she’s so flattered. “Would you like to use one of my horses for the shoot, she asks?” CZ kept her eye on the budget at all times.


And here she is again with Kenny Lane. They are not alone. And neither is the belle of the ball.


That’s Nan Kempner talking to her husband or vice versa. “Now you listen to me. I am your mother!”

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