May 15th


May 15, 2012

On the eve of NATO summit grist for the protestor mill.

Astor and Banks

Here we are looking down on Jamie Dimon’s previous home on Astor and Banks. He always threw a huge Halloween Party and festooned the windows with so many lights for assorted holidays that neighbors had to complain. Anyway now we have to listen to the pros and cons of the regulation debate ad nauseam because of that 2 billion cash loss blunder. The good news is that it only affects Morgan Stanley stockholders who OK’d the CEO’s 23 MILLION a year paycheck. Something obscene about this.

Regulation pros say that institutions playing a key role in the financial system have absolutely no business investing in hedges and derivatives when backed by taxpayer guarantee. On the Meet the Press Dimon stated the other point of view:  “Hey, everybody makes mistakes — sure, we lost $2 billion, but we’ve still got billions more, and we’ll figure out this one ourselves without the need for any further regulations, thank you.”  The pending Volcker Rule, a federal proposal under review which makes it illegal for banks to take positions in securities for their own gain will get tougher.

Speaking of regulation frenzy many are relieved Sarkozy out and hope Merkel will be next; their punishing austerity measures were gigantic flops.

Passing through the lugubrious subterranean Illinois Center en route to the dentist  stopped at the Hyatt and happened upon a brochure from recent SEC Reporting Specialist Workshop held there. Don’t fall afoul of those who study Advanced Reporting such as Form 10-K in Depth, Sox 404-the ICFR evaluation process, Accounting for Derivatives and Hedging Activities. They mean business.


Bernard Berenson believed that the main criterion for judging a work of is that it must be life-enhancing. Do you really find Roy Lichtenstein’s huge pixilated cartoons of comic books life – enhancing? Ahem. In any event they are large and cover the walls in familiar images in bright 1-2-3 primary colors we love so much in a post-literate society. Prepare yourself for local ooohing, aaaaaahing and pontificating about Pop Art which was originally a Warholian joke.

We hear the Prada/Schiaparelli Impossible Conversation exhibit at the Met is a real stunner. Both designers were as much merchandisers and marketers as clothing designers and both had the right connections from day one and knew how to exploit them. Love Schiap’s sleek elegant dresses from another era but you can keep the nerdy convent girl Prada outfits. They look so Milanese.

Beyonce Knowles, “the most beautiful woman in the world” (who’s world is that?) a stoned rapper Rihanna and crazzzeeee Cameron Diaz got to wear “formals” at the Met’s Costume Institute Gala which used to be a tad swank in the Barbarians at the Gate/Henry and Josee Kravis era. Amazed Anna Wintour didn’t beg off with 1918 influenza that night. Worse than the louche crew at the White House Correspondents dinner.

Now at the Newberry

No it ain’t flashy but you simply must toddle over to the Newberry to see The American West, an exhibit of books, maps, artifacts of U.S.IANA that are breath of fresh air from the time when America was new. The collector Everett Graff and Wright Howes, the antiquarian book dealer from Chicago, were great friends and collaborators; this collection includes gems like Prince Maximilian of Wied’s Travels in the Interior of North America 1843-44 or Meriwether’s 1814 history or maps and …well just go see it in the Dunlap Library on the ground floor. And no charge.

Alex Shoumatoff – not only is he an animal conservationist reporting on the Agony and Ivory of elephant slaughter in Africa (poaching must carry a HUGE price, a huge fine and mandatory jail sentences) but he is also a rank sentimentalist about the end of civilization. In Positively 44th Street in Vanity Fair he laments the dumbing down of popular taste, television’s displacement of reading, the vanishing of the blue blood haunts on the street of the Algonquin and the Harvard Club

Bad Form!!!!

Maybe WASP civility and erudition was always a myth but it was a charming myth based on clubby Porcellian and Bones insider mind set. Did you notice some people never get over going to Harvard or Yale? (far less so in genteel Princeton).



Peregrine Cavendish the 12th Duke of Devonshire has a new BBC series on his Derbyshire domicile Chatsworth; estate taxes nearly destroyed it decades ago so they had to resort of commercial ventures, not quite Disney but distasteful to many. Still all in all better than losing these great homes.

The Duke proclaims the aristocracy is dead and would be pleased to renounce the silly title when and if they eliminate lifetime peerages. They unelected remnants of aristocratic life have zero power in Parliament but they are distracting all with all their arrogant slouching.

The flic Iron Lady chose to concentrate on Dame Margaret Thatcher’s dementia not her formidable accomplishments. How morbid. We love sickness today because the fear factor always sells. Used to be sex. Now it’s disease. Shame on the Weinsteins. Besides the lady is still alive. Streep was luminous and convincing as always but she could not rescue the abysmal script.


On the subject of flics, Dangerous Method not a totally bad effort to illuminate the relationship between Freud and Jung though Kiera Knightly’s spastic movements got in the way of believability.

Freud is a hot ticket today when no one is really reading him anymore. And Jung’s Shadow World is so irrelevant when everyone trying to get a job and survive. Freud must be seen in context of the 19th century bourgeois physical and emotional abuse of children in the effort to make them conform to middle class norms. There were many casualties along the way and Freud tried to help the victims.

As we are sure you agree striking a child is not only pusillanimous but an offense unthinkable in primitive societies. Sweden as usual leads the way. You go to the slammer if you hit a child. Period.

Freud's Last Session

Sigmund Freud is in London  having just escaped Vienna; he is dying of cancer after a lifetime of thousands of cigars, and he starts to think about God. It’s Freud’s Last Session at the Mercury and the thoroughly wonderful actor Mike Nussbaum is the atheist doctor who hates music and loves ancient artifacts.

Nice conceit –the imaginary meeting with the young C.S.Lewis (grandfather of Daniel Day and author of Chronicles of Narnia and  assorted Christiana) and the talk for an hour and a half about the divine. Congrats to Mercury for an elegant restrained production but, well, the play itself was too much for our powers of concentration. We zoned out after 20 minutes of the lectures and felt like a college kid trying to sneak out of class. Haha. Recalled the phrase of critic Christopher Isherwood on Frank Galati’s The March at Steppenwolf : “a hazy scrim of words.”


Well at least Freud and Jung were doctors and real pros. See that news reader Great van Susteren is a scientologist as are the other entertainers Travolta and Cruise and heaven knows how many more “celebs”. Recognized as a religion only in the USA it has its roots in lovely downtown Camden, New Jersey, believes in reincarnation, not just from a previous life on earth but from other PLANETS, and espouses trauma therapy (relive your past an clear up all the neuroses–Good Luck).

Remember Cruise attacking Brooke Shields and her attempt to deal with post partum depression?


Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and her decorator and “evening friend” Bryan Huffman have emerged into the unwanted spotlight thanks to dopey fool John Edwards. According to Frank Langella’s autobio Dropped Names (and the vampire actor should know) she had an aversion to exposure and a “brand of modesty only great wealth can engender.” Speak about swooooooony love da rich writing. Hey Frankie get real pal. Beware Social Climbers….they are dangerous

Ms. Mellon gave Johnny Boy 7 million since 2004 while Mistress Rielle Hunter was dating novelist about town (it just takes ONE book –ask Erica Jong!) Jay McInerney and appearing in a couple of D movies always with an eye on the main chance. Perhaps she’s not as stupid a she looks


Love Hillary’s Who Cares or So What attitude about hair, hats and heels. Do you think Maureen Dowd would wear a “fascinator?” Kate Middleton’s gotta get off the fashion wagon or she will become as ridiculous as Diana.

Jack and Soozie Welch tell us women who are “in the economy” have to over deliver and amp up their performance. How sexist. We were never fooled – now men want us to do all the laborious tedious work like being bankers, lawyers or doctors.

Teen in the 50s

This is what a 15 year old looked like in the 50s. No Miley Cyrus look here.


 Stud’s 100th birthday , may he rest in pace. We were lunch buddies at the old Arts Club on Ontario and martini mates at the House of Hunan. He was a thoroughly good fellow with a sincere love of mankind, circa 1942, and it was always his  show for a willing and loving audience.

Old News but interesting. One reads that David Axelrod got a great deal on his a Michigan Avenue condo for 1.7 million and in the same building Maria Pappas some same unit for 2.8 to go into a trust.

Upper Crust

Upper Crust on Grand a new shop with floury friends galore.

Try the meatloaf before the theatre at Cullen’s on Southport. Frank McCourt was there years ago when Angela’s Ashes was just published and Estelle Shanley threw a book party. When we reminded him in New York he had become such a huge literary draw that it was impossible to approach him.


Verizon charges you for text messages they send you.

Nice travel articles in CS magazine by one Heidi Mitchell about her 12 day tip trips to Burma, China and other far afield places. Must have cost a pretty penny and hard to imagine came out of pocket so to speak. We recently made a survey of travel magazines and 50% permit press comps and the other half do not.


The Mexican chain from Dallas, Laredo on State has the standard fare in a large cold loftish space that is so popular these days. Only Rick Bayless can elevate this beans and guac cuisine into something special however.








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