COMING SOON — THE FLORIDA ISSUE, GULF COAST THAT IS, FROM ST.PETE TO THE EVERGLADES.
The Chicago Auto Show in the stunning West Building of McCormick Place had the usual acres of new cars (they all look alike) polished by an army of car dusters and festooned with ectomorphic models. A few electric cars, however homely, caught our eye as we looked back wistfully to Bucky Fuller’s 1933 Dymaxion electric car. We all know we have had the technology for 80 years but then again we’ve also had the oil behemoths.
The car dealers decided the dress code had to be tuxedos and fancy dresses at First Look for Charity so we forewent the plaisir. FYI – Most black ties in 2012 permit dark suits and ties or black turtle necks and blue blazers. Even at the press luncheon there was a dress code; we were among a group of journalists unceremoniously turned away by a zoot – suited Economics Club ticket collector who apparently didn’t like Hermes scarves or Faconnable sweaters. Donna Falcone has replaced Grace Barry as the new president of the club.
Jacqueline Novogratz, who was on the cover on December’s Forbes. received the annual Humanitarian Award from Women of Concern at a luncheon at the Fairmont to benefit their worldwide education programs. She is the financial wizard and founder of the Acumen Fund that invests in East Africa and South Asia; her book Blue Sweater is an inspiring memoir that will brighten your March day. Over 600 supporters of Concern Chicago bid on schools, teachers, uniforms and pencils in a live auction by Christie’s exec the entertaining Steve Zick. Energetic TV newsreader Kathy Brock was the MC.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is a bargain considering the cost of admission to the other Big 5 or is it Big 6 museums–($10 entry and $7 for seniors and Free Tuesdays). We admire the proportions and Bauhausian style of the Koolhaas structure but the cladding is too dark and somber, very Weimar, for a cavernous urban setting. A soupcon of color would have been nice.
Chicago art at the time was very vibrant especially in sculpture but you wouldn’t know it from Boston curator Ms.Molesworth. Paschke beat the poseur Schnabel hands down but we didn’t have circus masters Mary Booth and Leo Castelli to promote local art! Hoim Steinbach’s 1986 Untitled from the permanent collection of the MCA is in the exhibition which was an unfortunate choice it is so Old Town Art Fair.
An art critic in the New York Times opined that 85% of art is bad art. Today Art is Anything Goes; there are no standards because no credible critics, no Goncourt’s. Damien Hirst who glued diamonds on a skull thinks that “anything done super well is art.” Dumb as he is,
Christo will have to wait until 2015 to put up schmatte on the Arkansas River. The orange banners in Central Park brought tourist dollars to the city but came and went. Poof! Ephemera has no place after the seismic, tectonic, paradigm and every other kind of shift in life after 2008. Ars longa vita brevis not here.
Pablo Eisenberg in The Nation takes issue with the globally minded Gates and the Walton foundations, mega funds ruled by individual families that are not publicly accountable as if they are forces outside of government. Well guys we may have licked malaria in these 50 States but we still have the Arapaho and the Shoshone, 14,000 strong, on Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming who need our help and not just the casino panacea. It’s a less exciting trip to the western US than Africa or Asia but the need as great right here. Period.
Chillllllllling quote from Charles Grant the Director of the Center for European Reform, “Germany is the unquestioned leader of Europe.” France is subordinate; England has “no influence at all”. Oh well, dear old Prince Charles helped save a Scottish manse Dumfries Castle in Ayrshire which is featured on the cover of AD. If you wonder who has the means to buy these properties think invisible inherited wealth, those grandees who think that “publicity is invariably demeaning and worthless” because “they don’t see the need to stand out in a crowd.” (Baron Kitchener-Fellowes)
Is it just us or is it a tad dispiriting to read about a conference called Women of the World; like Women in Molecular Biology, Women in Business, Women in Anything Else it sounds like Dogs of the Yukon or NatGeo’s Animal of the Year, reminding us we’re still in the “them” category. Why not a Men of the World Conference! Or the 50 Most Influential MEN in the World?
Did you know there is a gal right here in Inverness, Illinois, Suzanne Nance, who has conquered the Seven Summits of the world? And she did so quietly without all the espresso machines and Out of Thin Air tragedy of Sandy Pitt on the mountain that refused to become fashionable.
Fashion tapping encore into the imaginary country house P.G. Wodehouse look. (The 1066 blokes call it the Instant Horsewomen Syndrome– as in when the greengrocer’s daughter (0r Carolyn Roehm) mounts a steed and proclaims herself an equestrian.) For those of us who have actually stayed at these houses we know there is cold water, rusty bathtubs, stodgy food and pervasive Duke for a Day attitude.
Finished with what Simon Schama calls the “cultural necrophilia” of Downton Abbey now that that ghastly Shirley MacLaine will be in the cast.
A new offering from the publishing world is That Woman rehash of known facts about the Baltimore boarding house owner’s daughter and her “Oriental” sex secrets and Super Bowl Satanist Madonna drops yet another movie bomb about Wallis in WE. Eh bien at least gossip never dies! A recent offering in the genre is Mimi “The Mouth” Alford’s extremely distasteful book about her escapades a half century ago with our 35th.president.
As an antidote we tuned in to Caroline’s autumn lecture at the JFK Presidential Library announcing the release of the 1964 tapes of the conversation between Arthur Schlesinger and her mother. Jackie was a regular gal with strong opinions (she absolutely hated Wisconsin!!!!) but she also possessed an implacable moral sense of what was right and what was wrong. We shared her love of the memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon.
Sally Bedell Smith the social historian was in town. We loved her catty book about man eater Pamela Harriman and her audacious one about Princess Diana, one source for our play Savage Power. Smith has now tackled the Queen (yawn) for the Diamond Jubilee and lectured after dinner at the WAC, retelling numerous anecdotes about how Elizabeth Regina is a regular Joe (how could she possibly be!!) and how her husband calls her cabbage. Nothing new the movie didn’t tell us. She gamely undertook book signing but coolly kept Chicago women at bay.
Jim O’Connor of O’Connor Communications keeps on reinventing himself, a true literary entrepreneur. His latest foray is as a mystery/romance writer in Another Man’s Treasure about a professional home organizer who discovers family secrets in a treasure trunk. Highly recommended.
Our friend Carolyn Armenta Davis entertained the audience at the Alliance Francaise with a lecture Creativity Released: Designs from Black Architects in Paris, Dakar, and Beyond, about five ateliers lead by Françoise N’Thépé from Paris, Pierre Goudiaby and AndréeDiop Depret from Dakar, Guillaume Koffi & IssaDiabeté and Francis Sossah from CôteD’Ivoire. Carolyn has traveled on seven continents with this mission to bring their achievements to light.
Chicago Mag anoints the 100 most clouty locals, few surprises but 20% are women; we calculated that half of those got where they were because of powerful families, husband, fathers. Cheers to those who made it on their own steam. By the by, we note that women who don’t work used to be called housewives; now they’re called philanthropists.
The top three Democratic campaign “bundlers” in Illinois are Fred Eychaner, Attorney Lee Miller and Bruce Heyman of Goldman Sachs who purportedly has three energy projects approved by the administration. Eychaner is the media mogul, the chairman of Newsweb Corporation and the fifth largest lifetime national donor to the DNC. In January he hosted the $38,500 per couple dinner for Obama who appointed him and Penny Pritzker trustees of the JFK Center for Performing Arts. He is also President of the Alphawood Foundation. Next-tier bundlers (such a clumsy word, sounds like bunglers) include Neil Bluhm, Mellody Hobson, John Rogers Jr., James Crown and so forth. We should probably ban all campaign contributions over a thousand dollars and give everyone a chance to run.
Did you know the average nonprofit gala generates a decibel count of 90, with 65 being normal. In any event the Pump Room’s count must be way up there; it is louder than LuxBar and almost impossible to have an intelligent conversation in. We still miss the white banquettes and golden light. Old Byfield’s with the fireplace and gorgeous drapes is very inviting but is mobbed after 5 o’clock.
Why all the renovations in recent years? The lobby of the Fairmont has devolved from cheery bright pink marble to brown gloom without enough light to read a newspaper. But old Lawry’s still has the 1960s country club décor and the food to match – spinach a la bacon fat, heavily blanketed dressed Caesar, slabs of meat, waitresses in French maid costumes.
Bobby Hull sightings recall a tipsy evening spent with the soccer star and George Plimpton at a live radio show with the great Milt Rosenberg. Futilely trying to find an open kitchen after ten, Carson’s on Wells finally obliged. George was often in Chicago to visit family, to attend polo at Oak Brook or speak at Friends of Conservation events. We miss him as all the clever world does.
David Goodman turned the big 7-Oh and his wife Shari threw a surprise birthday party for him. He’s a stalwart at the East Bank Club and workout buddies bought him a Green Bay Packers jersey.