The Value of Talk

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Photo: JH.

Monday, November 9, 2020. It was a sunny weekend in New York, with the temps rising up into the low 70s by midday. It wasn’t warm weather, but it was. The air is cooler without the humidity. And as it was all weekend, people were out walking, running, bicycling, taking in the fresh autumn air at a nice temperature. 

Friday afternoon I was at my desk but had the terrace door open and could hear voices in the street — whistles, applause, yaying and shouting. I went outside to see what was, because it reminded of the early days of the COVID when the neighbors would applaud the hospital workers every evening. It was a community moment — not the sort of thing you ever see much of in the Big Town (because it’s so big!).

The nabe at lunch …

I knew it couldn’t be for the hospital workers, obviously, but it grew in volume of the voices and the sounds and the horns beeping continued for a few minutes. So it was a celebration of some kind that brought out the neighbors in their open windows applauding and shouting. 

I still had no idea “why” this was going on, but moments such as these are a phenomenon, albeit pleasantly so too — here in New York. So it was back to my desk and to a news site for starters. And enders: the mainstream media had just announced the election of Joe Biden. Aha!!

I had dinner Saturday night with Tobie Roosevelt at Sette. It was warm enough to sit outside. It is true that dining outside has been a hit with a lot of people. Some are reminded of Paris. Not quite, but good idea anyway.  Conversations with Tobie cover a  lot of territory on a map and in life. It’s a similar curiosity we share where one is always learning.

And by dinner.

What we do more than anything else now is look at ourselves. It’s a national phenomenon, if you think of it. You see it all around you, everyday. Here in New York where there are always people on the sidewalks and in the passing vehicles. Nowadays you see people looking down — not quite to the sidewalk — at their cellphones. And many of them are looking at photos of people, especially photos of themselves. It’s very funny to consider but very serious to the viewer (I often try to check out the subject and the face, because the attention is intense).

Liz is saying: “Woohoo, can you hear me David?” Photo: Patrick McMullan

All is vanity, you’re not kidding. Vanity or no vanity, these have been challenging times for ole Dave who is used to having too much activity to cover and record in these pre-holiday weeks. It’s been library-quiet mainly.  Although, last week I was interviewed on camera for a documentary that Ron Howard’s docu-making firm is doing on the History of Gossip Columns. I think that’s what it’s about. 

I was interviewed specifically about our late great columnist Liz Smith. Liz was a friend but firstly and forever, a great columnist. She came into this world during the glory of them all, Walter Winchell. And she left defining the métier he started. Even I was influenced by Walter Winchell when I was a kid.

Liz was the ultimate example of the history of the gossip column (meaning: Broadway, Hollywood, Literary, social activities). It began as a man’s trade. Winchell was a model New Yawk macho. Liz lived almost all of her adult life in New York and the northeast but she was always a Texas girl who came to the Big Town to fulfill a dream or two. And that she did. She was also a great friend to many. And loved her work.

Back to business. Those What-to-Wear girls Hilary and Karen are running a column today about attending Wednesday’s 14th Annual Hope for Depression Luncheon Seminar The Value of Talk Therapy. Especially Now. I don’t know what Hilary and Karen are going to do about what you’re going to wear to a “virtual” luncheon, but I do know that all of it is a major project and Audrey Gruss has created, built and run it for as many years. 

I don’t know as a matter of fact, but I would imagine these times right now are very taxing for many of us everywhere. It’s almost like being in a mass mystery. However, the What-to-Wear Girls have got some good ideas to pass on as we move forward.

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