Middlefork Savannah



July 15, 2013

O Frabjous Day! Calloo Callay! Summertime and a long walk on July 4th in the Middle Fork Savannah grasslands of Lake County, the weather glorious, the livin’ easy. Unlike forests, savannahs have no dark tree canopies and speckled light shines on the prairie flowers.

Our joy was marred however by a jailed bird at a ramshackle zoo at Elawa Farms where the spectacular redwing hawk perched alone behind bars, so forlorn so forlorn. Remember the redwing hawks Pale Male and Lola who flew free from Mary Tyler Moore’s apartment building across from Central Park?

Met an old friend from the 60s, Barry Schutz, Visiting Scholar of African Studies at Stanford, at The James on Ontario. We laughed about old times in England, at the University of Lancaster, and the blowhard blogger Glenn Greenwald, the puppet master in the Snowden fiasco, obviously trying hard to make a BIG NAME for himself.

The James

The James has hazardous looking garbage littering the lobby but a bellboy said that it was ART. Maybe the MCA should take a look.

Friends and family of Fred Gohl bid adieu at a mass at Holy Name and a celebration of his life at The Arts Club in a touching tribute to a swell fellow organized by his wife Susan.

Louis XIV’s chef Francois Vatel killed himself when the seafood arrived late for a banquet at the Chateau de Chantilly. Today we have sadsack television cooks like Paula Deen or Martha Stewart who refuse to disappear.

“What I want for dinner is a bass fished in Lake Huron in 1920.” William Burroughs.

Self-styled Citizen of the World Orson Welles, a Kenosha, Wisconsin lad, gave hilarious interviews, just published, roasting old chestnuts like the libidinous Grace Kelly on the prowl in H’wood. He found Bette Davis and Woody Allen too ugly to look at, called Wolfgang Puck “a terrible little man” and refused to meet Richard Burton after he married the cosmic joke Taylor. ”The Godfather was the glorification of a bunch of bums who never existed”.

Renoir by Tissot

In Chicago for the unfortunate production of Private Lives Burton called his ex-wife “as coy as a fat owl”. Worth repeating it is so comical.

Speaking of owls the funniest book review we have ever read could just be Dwight Garner’s in the NYT of Terry Eagleton’s Across the Pond which “hauls out that taxidermied owl Alexis de Tocqueville” (will the guilty please rise). Eagleton gives Garner “that most queasy of literary sensations: that of encountering a writer who isn’t as charming as he thinks he is.” (remind you of someone you know?) as he runs the gamut of Brit vs. Yank clichés.

Cynthia Olson, The Best Brit in Town, invited us to the Sustaining Fellows of the Art Institute lecture by curator Gloria Grooms who described the exhibition we all were to see, Passion for Fashion, a real crowd pleaser combining actual 19th century dresses with contemporary Impressionist paintings. Over 800 guests retired to the Piano garden’s Versailles- length great hall for an extravagant buffet but most fun was dinner with Cynthia and Tom Gorman, the real estate guru. At RL we spotted Jocelyn Stoller and Mike Segal with Steve Lombardo and beaucoup d’autres.

Fashion as fashion strictly a middle class urban phenome, depending on advertising to sell shmatte. We prefer the comfortable “rural” Empire style as in Jane Austen or David’s Mme. Recamier. Shopkeeper’s wives submitted to wasp waisted, slope shouldered, tight bodiced, voluminous skirts that kept them in inside the house with all that mass produced Biedermeier furniture (the IKEA of the time).


Did you happen to catch Peregrine Cavendish’s tour of Chatsworth? Nice but no Castle Howard. The duke said that there is no more English aristocracy but gave his son the estate in the last gasp of primogeniture, only providing something or other for his daughters. The next Duke of Devonshire title is a photographer who goes by the name Bill Burlington.

Jolly Posh the English food shop on Montrose sells the usual Heinz beans and Branston Pickle but could spiff the place up a bit. You don’t have to be that English after all.

Oxford donnish sex symbol 49 year old Niall Ferguson has a new book The Great Degeneration , how over regulation is ruining the West along with the education system which perpetuates a mandarin class. He apparently wants socialism and capitalism at the same time. Niall, darling, don’t let the fool’s gold of popular publishing waste any more of your time.

Tom' O' Gorman's Plein Air exhibit

Aren’t these Big Concept books always a bore anyway — and off the mark? We recently read David Halberstam’s  American Century published in 1991 where he tapped Japan as the next super power with no mention of China.

Best Boring Rag that Used to be Somewhat Readable: The Chicago Reader.

Women should never ever be photographed standing next to Gwyneth Paltrow—they invariably look dumpy and short not to mention ungroomed. The ubiquitous actress was recently bestowed a “Renaissance” Award at the Siskel Theatre.

A previously beautiful TV “anchor” as seen in a recent online column is now a candidate for the Meg Ryan Funny Face award. And no the 86 year old Queen of England should not lose 20 pounds and get all dolled up as has been suggested by some in Chicago, Illinois.

Renaud Hendricks’ Belgian Bakery on Walton charges a few extra pence for buttery croissants but they are worth it.


You are invited to join Lydia De Chakov and Symposia on the First Thursdays of the month at noon at the Shanghai in the Peninsula. This week we were joined by dress designer and fine artist Yolanda Lorente and Tom O’Gorman who will be exhibiting his paintings at O’Brien’s in August with Adam Umbach.

We chatted with Tom and Joan Cusack, unforgettable as “Cyn” in Working Girl, at Judy Maxwell’s, her shoppe that is an artwork in itself, with Edwardian jewelry, antique nightgowns, paintings by Dorian Allsworthy. Unfortunately they have to vacate the premises on State by August 31s. This little strip of street has been a mess for years.

Golfer Sharon MacGregor visiting from Chandler AZ met old friends like Diane Angstrom, Ron Luccicione, and Jack Reynolds at the East Bank Club. Joey remained at home in the west but we drank to the health of this most psychically brilliant African grey who roams uncaged.

Middlefork Savannah

We counted four policeman on every corner of Michigan Avenue one recent Saturday night, presumably so Dubuquers can feel assured they won’t be assaulted by packs of teenagers. Some have blamed the paucity of shoppers in Bloomies as well as Water Tower on fear but it has more to do with monotony of goods offered in a Coachified World.

Sur La Table is now at 900 Michigan but is no Williams Sonoma, so cluttered, and let’s face it you don’t need 97.5% of these kitchen gadgets. Anyway the Kitchen, Cooking, Chef Craze is OVER! Finito! Kaput!

In 1972 Angela Davis was found not guilty by 12 white jurors on charges of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in the death of Judge Haley killed by guns registered in her name.

Go rent Gosford Park written by Julian Fellowes a bracing antidote to the saccharine Downton Abbey .

Peggy Noonan versus Maureen Dowd. Both are annoyingly predictable. Column writers a thing of the past anyway. Shake up the mix a bit.

Pauvre Ami

The UK offshore tax shelters are Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, the British Virgin Island, Cayman (you knew that) and Bermuda.

Bill Ayers memoir Fugitive Days came across our desk recently – what a naïve dumbbell this guy was – and he’s a university teacher?

” I let out a ghastly laugh when I thought of anyone saying over my battered corpse, He died doing what he loved.” Paul Theroux




One Response to Middlefork Savannah

  1. Joyce Heitler July 17, 2013 at 7:36 am #

    Ciao Bella, I always enjoy reading your column with a cappuccino in the piazza in Pisciotta. Going to Rome on Saturday where Riccardo Muti is directing Nabucco. Am reading “The Art Forger” and think you’d enjoy it too. Best , Joyce

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