If You Have One Week in New York

Bright lights, big city, and a small hotel in the neighborhood…

Bright lights, big city, and a small hotel in the neighborhood…

Hello Guys and Gals!

It was a dazzling week in which Desperately Seeking Paris found bits of beauty everywhere —be it on the town, in the ‘hood or at home.

The setting: An American Legion Hall

The setting: An American Legion Hall

The week began downtown at the Greenwich House Theater where the playwright, actor, and TV writer Heidi Schreck came bounding onto the stage to beguile the audience with the backstory of her latest play: “What the Constitution Means to Me.” In high school, the multi-talented Ms. Schreck, earned money to pay her college expenses by giving speeches about the Constitution, crisscrossing the country and going from one American Legion Hall to another for the American Legion’s financially-rewarding annual competition.

In “What the Constitution Means to Me,” two teenage girls (one the young Heidi Schreck, the other a scrappy champion debater from New York City) debate whether the Constitution needs to be improved or scrapped. What was great fun was that we, the audience, got to applaud, boo, and stamp our feet, according to whether or not we agreed or disagreed with a proposition or an argument.

At the theater

Unbelievably, there were those who wanted to scrap the Constitution, including the man seated next to me! Contrariwise, I came away more convinced than ever that as we continue to build ‘a more perfect union,’ we need to hold fast to the Constitution that has anchored this great nation since 1788.

So, what does the Constitution mean to you? To help you answer that, if only for yourself, I highly recommend The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789, by the prize-winning historian Joseph Ellis. Forget about powdered wigs, in this riveting narrative Ellis depicts four brilliant men—George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison—trying to forge a nation out of thirteen independent colonies.That it ever happened might qualify as a genuine miracle. Reading The Quartet last week, I was captivated, couldn’t put it down. But you need not take my word, here’s what the other critics say:

“It should play in every city in America.” —The New Yorker

“Strikingly and Unnervingly Relevant.” —Rolling Stone

At Home

Moving along in the week there was our annual house party—the guests chatty, the catering excellent, and the setting absolutely lovely thanks to our in-house designer, my friend Jeanette Hubley-Lasher. Thanks go also to Barksdale Gardens, the landscape firm that designs and maintains our street and terrace plantings year-round, and who created the beautiful wreath for the lobby. Take a peek!

Along Madison Avenue

Undeniably, there’s magic in the air when walking the streets of New York during the holidays, and no street offers more enchantments than Madison Avenue. A few sights below for your pleasure: From the left: an Hermes throw; Jaeger-LeCoultre watches under a starry night in a Swiss village; Ovando— more than a florist, an eye-opening destination; and dîner chez moi, dinner at my place. What? You didn’t receive your invitation? The mails are terrible.

At Le Bilboquet, waiting for friends to arrive…

At Le Bilboquet, waiting for friends to arrive…

Une table pour quatre s'il-vous-plaît

Lastly, to make the week even merrier, my cousin, Aileen, came to town with two charming Southern Ladies from South Carolina, to take in a few Broadway plays. By the way, they loved “Pretty Woman!”, said the cast is excellent, and they agreed with the New York critics who called the annual “Christmas Spectacular” at Radio City Music Hall more “spectacular” than ever.

We met for a festive lunch at Le Bilboquet, of which Zagat says: One does not go for the meal alone at this see-and-be-seen UES French bistro. Of course not! We went for the good times and the laughter.

For those of you who read Veronica’s Grave (or Missing Mother), you might remember meeting my cousin, Aileen, the ten-year old truth-teller who felt it her duty to let me in on the biggest mystery of my young life. To think that after all these years, we’re still the best of friends. Let’s drink to that!

And drink we did, ordering an elegant bottle of Sancerre from the Loire. As the bottle was arriving at the table, there was an ear-splitting crash—broken glass on the floor, the waiter checking his hand for blood. Fortunately, it was not the wine, but only a glass that shattered. And the waiter? He didn’t need so much as a Band-Aid.

A Street Like no other

And as of this week, the Memorial Trees on Park Avenue have been brightening the street, bringing joy to all who see them. It is probably no accident that all the great religions have a festival of lights during the darkest time of the year. The tradition of lighting trees on Park Avenue began years ago as a way to honor the men and women who died in World War II. Today the illuminated trees—which appear on the Park Avenue Malls between 54th and 97th Streets—remain a symbol of peace and a reminder of the sacrifices made to attain it. I remain thankful every day.

12/7/2018 at Six O'clock in the morning…

12/7/2018 at Six O'clock in the morning…

Well, that’s all for this week mes amis. At this time of year, when we have a tendency to look back—or at least I do!—I hope 2018 was a good year for you.

In these the darkest days of winter, let your light shine brightly. Bring hope where there is none; bring joy to those who could use some.

But before I leave you let me ask: What does the Constitution mean to you? Would you vote to improve it or scrap it? Why?

Hope to see you back next week, when I’ll have the coffee ready. But right now, it’s early morning, so come walk with me down Park Avenue…au revoir pour le moment. Where’s my cafe au lait?