Lord Chesterfield’s Letters



April 21, 2013


We delayed writing because we had nothing to write about. Think Waugh in Abyssinia or Greene in Macau. Well in the absence of some thing new or some place new we’ll have to settle for more opinions.

F. Scott Fitzgerald lamented 75 years ago that the radio had the power to clutter the mind of his daughter Scotty, creating a bird’s nest of confusion. He also foresaw the future of a child who  “may live in a communist state or marry a girl from Mars or sit under an electric fan in the North Pole.”1926.

A Daughter’s Tale is the new memoir of Mary Soames the youngest child of Winston Churchill and the only one to escape the curse of a busy, famous father. Why were his children such a disaster? Diana committed suicide, Randolph and Sarah both died young of alcoholism. The common thread was the almost total absence of their mother Clementine; throughout the book Winston’s wife never seems to have been around her children in their formative years, preferring five month cruises or accompanying her husband on the world stage. A mother is usually the measure of the family as we all know.

This book could be a prequel to Downton Abbey revealing how glorious a privileged Edwardian childhood was –at least on the surface. Birth advantages are as you know 90% of our lives. Oh dear! So much for all the claptrap promoted about dreaming your way to the top even if you’re poor and illiterate. Inane.

The Company You Keep showing at the eerie time warp Century Landmark is the usual slowww ponderous Redford offering but lacking the visual beauty of his other films. What happened to his eye?  The story about Weathermen Underground radicals in old age is evocative enough but the script is a real clunker and RR looks so old. Julie Christie   has The Mask and Puffy Lips Look.

Cliff Dwellers

Margaret Thatcher is still stirring up controversy in death. We left England just when she became PM but think she had many right ideas like taking on the unions that had become potentates. They did their job after the grotesque excesses of the Industrial Revolution and bravo to their memory; we do wish that demeaning movie of her last years portraying her dementia had never been made. Ghoulish Hollywood. Simon Schama wrote a fine encomium in the FT and notes her inadvertent ecologism by forcing coal mining to move out of Britain to wreck the earth in foreign lands.

There is little doubt she was treated a tad differently because she was a woman, which must gall Hillary since America still hasn’t stepped up to the gender plate for the Big Job.

Who (ill) advised FLOTUS to do another cover of Vogue? She looks pretty enough but remember the Desiree Rogers flap? Her fashionable posing in MAGS was not  help her career. We know the fashion industry is big biz but it never ultimately helps women — only financial independence does. And why bother to be even more attractive to men? They only want us to look like putains

Spotlight Days

Roger Ebert was heavily promoted by the Sun Times as having a Pulitzer. Well so have many of our friends and acquaintances but they were never so lionized. Brilliant Thea Flaum started the juggernaut with that public TV show with Gene Siskel.

Advertising affects every word that appears in print, actual print, these days. At least the quid pro quo is out on the table, honestly, in the open. When we were at Spotlight in the 90s it was all a hidden agenda, a pretense of objectivity.

We saw Maria Tallchief dance Swan Lake many times in our youth and what a thrill to meet her years later in Chicago. Here is a photo of the board of the School of Chicago Ballet when we were involved with fundraising. We once introduced Maria to actor Tom Selleck (Magnum PI) – she thought he was delightful and handsome and he had never heard of her.


Bob Irsay's Wedding

Crain’s reports it costs 16K to obtain a seat on the comme il faut Joffrey Board. In olden days there was no upfront ante for boards as there is today just a willingness to work hard and perhaps co-chair an event.

Madewell is a new clothing store on Rush where the old Starbucks was once far more happily situated. Unfortunately all the clothing sizes are for preteens. So over to Brooks Brothers for some ladies’ shirts –you would think buyers would know that women who can afford the prices just might be a bit larger than the Wallisites. No Sale!

In 1950 the population of the United States was 127 million; in 2013 it is 315 million. Along with automation one doesn’t have to look far to see why there are no jobs. A radical paradigm shift in thinking is necessary to address this problem.

Cannot believe Argo won the top prize, rather more like a made- for- TV movie with so many of the plot items were borrowed from better flics like No Way Out.

Beautiful Augusta

What did you think of Hilary Mantel’s comments on Kate Middleton as a plastic clothes hanger with a personality formed by a committee? Classic bitchy academic barbs.

Maureen Dowd must have an army of stringers to churn out all those columns each week. She is always always politically correct and predictable and tres verbose; we prefer plain writing that gets to the point without too much overt cleverness, which is considered so middle class in England.

It was always good sport to decide what was U (as in upper) and non-U in Old Blimey, obsessed with class which you can never ever escape because an indelible accent tells the whole story. Even Brits in America are branded by the Tyranny of Voice and Vowels. No Way Out.

After lunch at the Cliff Dwellers which was jumping and still lively with the best views in the city, we popped across the street to the Art Institute. It was almost empty. Picasso in Chicago a yawn. Where are the blockbusters of years past? The museum scene so moribund these days. They have priced themselves out of the market.

Mary and Jonathon

We are however most anxious to see the Lascaux caves at the Field Museum but rue the hassle not to mention the cost of parking on the “campus” (speak about ill-advised ideas) which with the entrance fee and the cost of lunch makes it a C-note day.

We were at RL twice in one week, for lunch which is still a crowded people – watching carnival and at dinner which was –ahem- decidedly not. Prices high, “Amish” chicken tiny, excellent wine, salad drowning in dressing, and service swell enough. New York Noise.

Remember Hans Williman the GM of the old Four Seasons who created the number one hotel in the entire world? Well ain’t no more.—waiting for friends in the lobby we noted crumb filled tables and inordinately loud RAP music; when we suggested Debussy might be more the ticket no action took place so off to the Peninsula.

RIP to Pat Derby (a descendant of Percy B. Shelley) who said “I was born in love with all elephants”. Her book The Lady and the Tiger is a plea against keeping animals in captivity. Next time you’re at a zoo think about the fact they should be converted into managed game parks.

Did you read Lean In the pseudo-feminist opinions of an unconscionably privileged woman (whose family friend was the president of Harvard, not bad for a jump start!). We prefer Camille Paglia or Germaine Greer to burnish our consciousness every now and then. A propos of which we agree with Helen Schubert that Diane Sawyer did the best round the clock reporting of the Boston Marathon disaster. But alas she’s getting older and there are reports the network wants her out! Ladies get out your placards.



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