November 22, 2014
At the Union League Club, with its fine art collection including a first -rate Monet, was a book signing luncheon promoting Anjelica Huston’s latest autobiography Watch Me. A nervous local actor Kevin O’Connor asked her pre-approved questions warding off any soupcon of spontaneity and posing the inevitable question about being Hollywood Royalty. The 62 –year- old actress (intelligently free of plastic surgery) said her family was more rag tag gypsy than regal. Even that seemed scripted.
No slave to fashion on this freezing Midwestern day (for the New York book party she wore a black dress and diamond brooch) the actress-producer was coolly cordial and of course very much aware of being Hollywood Royalty. Estranged from her father as a girl she said he and Jack Nicholson were “two big rocks” in her life; she shared the loony actor’s advice “Never give brown presents” whatever that means and never mentioned her late husband sculptor Robert Graham.
Her mother, killed in a car crash when Angelica was 17, was an Italian restaurateur’s daughter from Brooklyn (way to go!) and they lived in the Little House on Huston’s estate in Western Ireland while he and his girlfriend lived in the Big House. She lamented that opportunities for women in film in Hollywood are few, worse than they were 40 years ago, “the boys should be more magnanimous when it comes to sharing.” Sensitive and a bit wounded by life (who isn’t?) she loves animals more then homo sapiens and offered universal advice: Never panic on a horse. Horses feel your heart. Breathe and let go.
A propos of horses we see The Daughters of the Famous, Spielberg, Bloomberg, Gates, Springsteen are now ubiquitously, conspicuously and ineluctably On Horseback.
Our friend Mary Daniels, a true horsewoman, and the Tribune’s art and design writer for many years died this month. If anyone has spotted an obituary in the newspaper please inform. Mary was pursued and lionized by PR hounds for a generation then poof !
Drove over to Fulton Street to visit art galleries and turned back due to absolutely no parking spaces. None. Not one. How do businesses survive there? Speaking of the art world have you been following the Perelman-Gagosian lawsuit revealing the dirty side of a huge tradeable asset these days when the Mugrabi family of the Caymans offered more for a rather dull Twombly than Perelman and Gagosian broke his promise to sell it to him.
We enjoyed the Royal Oak presentation at the Casino of Clarissa Clifford, Baroness Clifford of Chudleigh, interior designer, second wife of the 14th Baron Thomas Hugh, stepmother to Alexander who appeared with a Kardashian on Filthy Rich, chatelaine of Robert Adam’s Ugbrooke House in Devonshire. She showed many slides of her impressive renovation always with elaborate thanks, with a wee hint of condescension to her “heroes” (Let’s scrap that word for awhile) carpenters and other workmen and so forth.
Today this 17th century cadet branch of an 11th century family runs the stately home as a series of businesses, sand, gravel, waste, special events venue for weddings and conferences. This financial model appeared half a century ago with Longleat and has proven successful even without lions and circus tents
Alastair Bruce the historical advisor for Downton Abbey has had rather a time of it with anachronism checks, such as reminding actors NOT to go around hugging one another or stuffing their hands in pockets like the always poorly behaved rebellious Duke of Windsor invariably did.
At the invitation of a friend Monroe Trout, investor wizard and Ayn Rander, Randolph Churchill and his sister Jennie gave a lecture in Knoxville, Tennessee reading some correspondence of their namesakes Jennie Jerome and Lord Randolph. This was all on a new find, www.Anglotopia.net which we enjoy.
WSJ Magazine writes that Joss Kent son of Geoffrey was fired from A&K, returned, then resigned again in 2011 when the former family company was bought by a large investment group. He joined andBeyond a more au courant safari company with its community oriented Africa Foundation.
The Chicago History Museum, sigh! that name change, with relatively low admission rates, $14 and seniors $12, has a recommended memento mori of an exhibition currently on view (anyone who was even near Grant Park has been on a trip down memory lane recently). The 1968 Exhibit is a rather cramped assortment of posters and soundtracks of this tumultuous year with the most evocative item being a Huey helicopter actually flown in Vietnam. After August and the DNC Maire Daley the First was crowned as Beelzebub.
A bête noir these days (no this is not an old person’s rant, a la Jerry Seinfeld) is the “Cultural Appropriation of Intellectual Property.” We have a Watchlist of Offenders including Town and Country with its articles on Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare & Co. and those ghastly Hemingway women. Basically it is a cynical commercial enterprise exploiting unique and valid cultural phenomena to sell magazine ads.
A petit rant. All is lost when the New York Times reviews the sounds produced by Brittany Spears and Taylor Swift with the same seriousness it once reserved for Renata Tebaldi or Joan Sutherland.
Raine Countess Spencer attended the luncheon of the Foreign Sisters recently in London. Remember when her Upset Stepdaughter Diana threw her down the stairs, or claimed to.
Someone or other said “We must select the illusion which appeals to our temperament, and embrace it with passion, if we want to be happy.” What is your illusion? Our’s is a High Bohemia of the educated and irreverent as in D. J. Taylor’s Bright Young People which cites Anthony Powell, Graham Green, Nancy Mitford and Ronald Firbank, and Evelyn Waugh literary chroniclers of “a society, cosmopolitan, sympathetic to the arts, well-mannered, above all ornamental even in rather bizarre ways”.
At LUX bar Upstairs Adam Umbach and Tom O’Gorman impressed the large crowd with their latest paintings in as good or better a show than you find in many galleries in the West Loop or River North. Nice chat with art lovers Mark Schimmelpfennig, Nora Gainer, Layne Jackson (also of alice gallery), Diane OConnell, Rosie O’Neill, Stanley, Mamie and Cynthia.
Local Restaurant notes:
We dined at Gibson’s several times this month for huge manly portions, great quality control and still the best hamburgers in Chicago. La Luce has undergone a seismic shift from a good red sauce joint to chain restaurant quality food with designer prices. We were not impressed with Dove Luncheonette with Mexican fare a little too porcinely authentic. The James bar is lively but and like drinking in a railway station waiting room.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo tells all the world his girlfriend, a TV cook, tall blond doll and Wisconsinite Sandra Lee is “an extraordinary lady”. Hmmmm. Is that so? Hey da man’s in love!
Malcolm Muggeridge’s papers are rather oddly in Wheaton, Illinois. Notre pere’s photographs have been added to the extraordinary archives of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin.
On Wisconsin the alumni mag says that non-resident tuition per semester is now 26 thousand such an insane leap from the 600 when we labored there to pass endless examinations.
Anthony Bourdain’s Paraguay episode is truly compelling history of a sad country decimated by one family’s greed and home to Nazis after the war. It is however improving with oil blabla. Over 9000 Nazis took refuge in South America, and 2000 in Paraguay and Uruguay and thousands more north of the borders.
Encore sorry for the clunky placement of photos with stubborn WordPress