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SAN FRANCISCO DINING – Fleur de Lys – Oldest operating French restaurant in the City

FLEUR DE LYS

Nob Hill/Russian Hill
777 Sutter St. – Google Map
(btwn. Taylor and Jones Sts.)
San Francisco, CA
Phone: 415-673-7779
Fax:415-673-4619
fleurdelyssf.com

The Facts

Cuisine: French

Price: Three course prix-fixe, $70; four course prix-fixe menu, $79; five course prix-fixe menu, $92.

Hours: Monday through Thursday, from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, from 5:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Reservations: Required, except for seats at the bar. Call two days in advance to confirm reservations made on OpenTable – OpenTable.

Payment Options: American Express, Visa, Mastercard, Diner’s Club

Parking: Valet parking is available

Owners: Hubert Keller, Maurice Rouas, Chantal Keller

Opened: 1970

Food and Drink

Specialties: Vegetarian menu, grand marnier souffle

Wine List: Wine pairings available for prix-fixe menus from a largely French list

Executive Chef: Hubert Keller

Chef de Cuisine: Rick Richardson

Sommelier/Dining Room Manager: Marcus Garcia

Other Features: Full bar

Online Menu: Fleur de Lys web site

Atmosphere

Dress: Business casual

Noise: Low to moderate

Designer: Chantal Keller

Other Details: Private dining, bar dining

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY FREEDOM TRAIN – January 21 – Traffic and transit impacts

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San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has announced that the 2nd annual San Francisco Freedom Train on the T-Third line will join with the other regional rides on Monday, January 21, 2008, to commemorate the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

San Francisco Freedom Train

At 10:30 a.m., the San Francisco Freedom Train will depart from Sunnydale Station at Bayshore Boulevard and Sunnydale Avenue.

The train will follow the T-Third route from Visitacion Valley beginning at the Bayshore/Sunnydale platform, down Third Street stopping at each of route stops and proceed to the Montgomery Station.

SFMTA commemorative Freedom Train Tickets can be used by Freedom Train customers for return trips aboard any SFMTA rail or bus line until 7:00 p.m.

Caltrain Freedom Train

The Caltrain Freedom Train will arrive at the 4th Street and King Street Station at 11:16 a.m.

Muni bus shuttles will be standing by to transport those Caltrain “Freedom Train” riders unable to participate in the MLK March and to carry Caltrain riders back to the San Francisco station at 4th and King Streets after the Rally.

MLK Freedom March and Rally

At 11:30 a.m., the Freedom March will start from the Caltrain Station at 4th and King Streets and proceed east on Townsend to 3rd Street, north to Market Street and west through UN Plaza to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium at Larkin and Grove Streets in Civic Center. The march is expected to conclude at approximately 1:30 p.m.

The MLK Rally will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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Traffic and Transit Impacts

Street closures will be required beginning at 10:00 a.m. along the MLK March route. Cross traffic will be allowed through except when the march is passing.

The following Muni lines will be directly affected by this event:

F-MARKET 12-FOLSOM 31-BALBOA

5-FULTON 14-MISSION 38/38L-GEARY

6-PARNASSUS 19-POLK 47-VAN NESS

7-HAIGHT 21-HAYES 71-NORIEGA

9-SAN BRUNO 27-BRYANT

10-TOWNSEND 30-STOCKTON/45 UNION

Muni Holiday Service

Muni will operate on a Saturday schedule on Monday, January 21, 2008.

For more information on Muni service, please call the San Francisco Customer Service Center at 311 or visit sfmta.com.

For additional information on Muni’s Accessible Services Program, please call (415) 701-4485 or TTY (415) 701-4730.

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TWO DEAD IN KABUL LUXURY HOTEL ASSAULT

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U.S. soldier chats with Afghan security man near Serena Hotel

In a coordinated assault rarely seen in Kabul, militants with suicide vests, grenades and AK-47s attacked the Afghan capital’s most popular luxury hotel Monday, killing at least two people and wounding several, witnesses and a Taliban spokesman said.

The 6:12 p.m. attack came on a night the Norwegian embassy was holding a meeting at the Serena Hotel. An American inside said she saw a body she believed to be dead and pools of blood in the lobby, and hotel employees reported two dead. She said three foreigners were wounded.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, told The Associated Press that four militants with suicide vests attacked the hotel — one bomber who detonated his explosives and three militants who threw grenades and fired guns and then fled. The claim could not be verified but came very soon after the attack.

Five ambulances and U.S. troops in Humvees rushed to the hotel. Police kept journalists and onlookers far from the building.

Stian L. Solum, a photographer from the Norwegian photo agency Scanpix, said a Norwegian journalist from the Oslo newspaper Dagbladet and a Norwegian diplomatic staff member were injured in the explosion. He said Norway’s Foreign Minster Jonas Gahr Stoere, currently visiting Kabul, was not injured and was safe in the hotel basement.

“There were two or three bombs, and there was complete chaos,” Solum said on the state radio network NRK.

“When I started to walk out (of the elevator) a bomb went off, a little way from me. There were shot fired by what I think was an ANA (Afghan National Army) soldier. A Dagbladet journalist was shot and wounded and an American medical team was here and helped him.”

He said the injured did not appeal to be life-threatening.

The 177-room Serena is a newly built luxury hotel frequently used by foreign embassies for meetings, parties and dinners. The nicest hotel in the city, visiting Westerners often stay or eat dinner there. Located in downtown Kabul, it is near the presidential palace though separated by fences, blast walls and checkpoints. It is also near several government ministries and district police station.

On its Web site, the hotel claims it is an “oasis of luxury in a war-ravaged city.”

Aftenpostens journalist Tor Arne Andreassen told the paper’s Internet edition that he heard a grenade explode.

“Out the window I could see shots being fired at the guardpost by the gate,” Andreassen said. He said he saw a female hotel employee so badly wounded that he did not believe she could have survived.

“The plaster flew around our room and the whole building shook,” Andreassen said.

An American who was exercising in the hotel’s gym said she heard gunfire after the explosion, and saw a body she believed to be dead and pools of blood in the lobby area, and bullet marks in the gym area. She said three foreigners had been wounded. She asked not to be identified for her safety.

Vanessa Valentino, an American working in the Afghan capital, was at a meeting at the central bank around the corner when she heard a series of explosions and gunfire.

Valentino described an explosion faraway, then gunfire, another distant explosion followed by a large explosion very close — all within a couple of minutes.

“I think it shook the building,” Valentino said. “We’re just not leaving the building, and we can’t figure out what’s happened, so we decided to stay inside.”

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VISITING COSTA RICA – PART I – A land of splendor

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A branch with life chipping away underneath, high above the Pacific in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Photo: JH.

BY JH

I spent my first week of 2008 in the Republic of Costa Rica. One of my oldest friends from New York got married in San Jose, and I was honored to serve as a groomsman.

No, it was not a destination wedding; he married a native Costa Rican, otherwise known as a Tica (the male version being a Tico). The wedding was a beautiful and respectful mix of two cultures and was a great way to kick off the new year.

After three days of the wedding festivities my family and I decided to take in the countryside of Costa Rica having heard many wonderful things about it.

We first traveled south to Manuel Antonio, the country’s second most visited conservation area.

The drive turned out to be a challenging one as roads are in very poor shape (according the the country’s Vice President, the condition of the roads and high crime rate are Costa Rica’s two biggest issues).

Also contributing to the long drive were a bevy of one-way bridges, random acts of roadwork that closed off one lane (or both), not to mention a pit stop along crocodile bridge.

We arrived just in time to drop off our bags at the charming La Mansion Hotel and catch a mangrove tour to Damas Island.

The island has mangrove swamps filled with crocodiles (although we only saw the eyes of one) and hundreds of species of wildlife, including white-face monkeys, caymans, boas, many migrant and resident birds, and in our case, a rare glimpse of the silky anteater.

I’ll be reporting more on this little Costa Rican adventure over the next couple of days which will include a tour of Manuel Antonio National Park and a day trip to Arenal, one of the world’s 10 most active volcanos. So stay tuned …

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Cows, crocodiles, exotic birds, and the local scenery on our drive from San Jose to Manuel Antonio

After a four-hour ride of one-way bridges, haphazard street repairs, and of course, beautiful countryside views, we arrived at our charming little hotel, La Mansion, perched atop a steep hill.

After no more than two minutes of rest, we begin our Mangrove tour and soak in the view which includes a Great Egret, a man and his best friend, and a famly of three, all fishing for dinner, in this case, Red Snapper.

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A Rainbow Boa

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A Tiger-Face Crab

We spot a family of White-Face Monkeys who are just as curious of us as we are of them. They inch closer and closer until they make the jump from the leaves of the Coconut Palm to the roof of our boat. We soon discover their motive; a tasty snack of African Palm Fruit that our guide tempted them with.

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A female Black Iguana

We scare off an Egret and come across a Tican family fishing for dinner as our mangrove tour comes to a close.

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REMEMBERING PARIS and the love of Art Deco

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Looking southwest across the park to the Boulevard des Invalides. June 21, 2007. Photo: JH

My relationship to Paris has never been quite like a Cole Porter song – “Paris when it drizzles, sizzles, loves lovers, etc.” I first visited only ten years ago and even though I was not unimpressed, neither was I impressed. It was as if: okay, so …?

That was ten years ago. I’ve been back more than a half dozen times since. I had to learn for myself that Paris grows on you. And grows and grows. It tugs, and nudges, then nuzzles, then … pow! So now the songs are about enchantment and fascination, about beauty and wonder.

In my travels there I’ve stayed in one of those tiny little hotels that Paris is famous for. I’ve stayed in the very grand Plaza Athenee that Paris is famous for; and I’ve stayed in one of those sprawling 19th century apartments that I didn’t know about until I was a guest. All of it was charming and all of it made me wish I could visit more often and even maybe … live there … for at least just a moment …?

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Gonzaques Feltz of Paris 1930

Now I keep on my computer screen this lead photograph that JH took on our last visit (for the American Friends of Versailles week) of the buildings that run along the Rue Fabert, across the park from Les Invalides. It’s a beautiful day with huge rain clouds threatening. The apartment houses, eight and nine storeys are stately and elegant. The lawn of the park and the shrubs and the trees are green and elegant.

I often look at those buildings, which are clearly residential, and imagine what it must be like to live there, to look across the park, across the city, the river, to gaze at the City of Light.

I now know quite a few people for whom Paris has settled into their psyches – Americans who make it their second home, their home away from home. I’m always surprised by the mix, age-wise – young, not-so young, middle-aged and not so-middle aged.

Now it so happens quite coincidentally that we have an advertiser on the NYSD – PARIS 1930 is the ad. The firm is a Paris realtor, one Gonzaques Feltz – Zack to his friends and associates – who specializes in Art Deco style apartment buildings and houses. The last time he was in New York we went to lunch and I asked him about his business, and why Art Deco?

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ARTIST STUDIO, RUE DU BELVEDERE IN BOULOGNE

Zack, who was born in Paris but brought up in Bordeaux, is a thirty-something fellow who after under-graduate and London School of Economics, started out professional life working in Equity Sales – in London, for Merrill Lynch.

It was there that he found himself intrigued by three different people who were crazy about the architecture of the 1930s. They emphasized the advantages of the quality of the work. It had a natural appeal to a man who liked the beautiful and the well done – be they shoes, clothing, or collecting.

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AV HENRI MARTIN, 16TH ARRONDISSEMENT. ARCHITECT, MICHEL ROUX SPITZ

After a few years he found himself getting bored at M-L, and being an entrepreneurial personality, and a man of his time, he was drawn to the business of real estate. His research took him back to Paris, a city “with a great collection of hidden architectural treasures, gems of buildings.”

He discovered that the 1930s was, in his judgment, “the last period of that level of craftsmanship,” that Paris is famous for – the crossroads between the old – the Hausmann buildings of the 19th century, and the modern, most notably Art Deco.

The 1930s was a period of architectural innovation, of the use of concrete. Compared to the old, the Art Deco buildings, although made of the same materials, had better floor plans, with more light and fewer load-bearing walls, and were more spacious. The first apartment he chose for himself, unbeknownst to him at the time, was in an Art Deco building. He had chosen it for the light and space.

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THE WALTER BUILDING BY THE BOIS DE BOULOGNE, PARIS 16TH ARRONDISSEMENT. ARCHITECT, JEAN WALTER

In his research of the business, Zack discovered that there were only two brokers in all of Paris who dealt in Art Deco residential buildings, and neither specialized. He also found when asking people which buildings they liked the most, that the response was often a 1930s building.

The entrepreneur saw opportunity, a niche that could be filled. His first inquiries came from Americans living in Qatar, looking for a place in the Art Deco style in Paris. These were wealthy clients and so a great opportunity for a first time out broker. He did his research, writing to the owners of all the important Art Deco residential buildings in Paris. After furnishing his clients with his findings, six months went by without a word from them. Then came the call, and soon after the purchase.

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QUAI D ORSAY (BY THE SEINE RIVER), 7TH ARRONDISSEMENT (LEFT BANK). ARCHITECT, MICHEL ROUX SPITZ

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ARTIST STUDIOS, AVENUE VICTOR HUGO, 16TH ARRONDISSEMENT

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RUE DU CONSEILLER COLLIGNON, OECD AREA, 16TH ARRONDISSEMENT

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ARTIST STUDIO, AVENUE FOCH, 16TH ARRONDISSEMENT

Americans, Zack points out, love the historical. Zack and Paris 1930 are well prepared for (and well respecting of) that. The interest has grown with Zack’s business. Last year, (although not a client) former US Treasury secretary Robert Rubin purchased one of the top five Art Deco properties in Paris, the magnificent Maison de Verre of architect and designer Pierre Chareau.

To this American ear, it was fascinating to hear this man, aesthetically, artistically impassioned by his business, speak of his product the way a collector embraces his collection, or a curator might discuss an exhibition or a designer might regard his lifework; or the way some of my American friends rhapsodize about their treasured getaways. Paris 1930.

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ARTIST STUDIOS BY THE PARC MONTSOURIS, 14TH ARRONDISSEMENT (LEFT BANK). ARCHITECT, MICHEL ROUX SPITZ

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MALLET STEVENS TOWNHOUSE, RUE MALLET STEVENS, 16TH ARRONDISSEMENT

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CURTAIN COMES DOWN ON LONDON’S SAVOY – Intermission for $250 million facelift

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Savoy Sale – John Wayne playing with a Savoy pageboy, c.1951

BY PETER EVANS

Nostalgia is an effective selling tool and Bonhams’ Robert Brooks wielded it with great élan and sly wit as thousands of items of beds – many of them slept in by the famous, notorious, and simply exhausted – butlers’ trays, muffin dishes, table lamps, giltwood mirrors, fauteuils, tables de nuit, chandeliers, paintings, umbrella stands, teapots, card tables and mahogany washstands, went under the hammer in December as the curtain came down on London’s Savoy Hotel’s first 118 years.

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A rosewood serving counter at the Fitness Gallery

The intermission is in preparation for a $250 million, eighteen-month facelift on the grandest dame of grand hotels.

The sale understandably drew more fanfare than any event in its long lifetime. The thousands of bidders who gathered from across the world for the three-day sale in the River Room had the keen and expectant look of people attending the reading of an old friend’s will.

Even when the come-and-get-me estimates put on many items quickly proved to be too good to be true – in the first minutes of the sale, a set of ten stained beech frame fauteuils in the Louis XV style, estimated to fetch between 500 and 700 sterling, went for 3000 sterling –the sense of respect that might attend the last earthly hours of a dying monarch was undiminished. Asked about the 3000 pound tag, a German bidder said he was neither surprised nor discouraged. ‘He who hopes to inherit a penny must sometimes spend a dollar,” he said enigmatically.

The surroundings might have encouraged such philosophy. For even in its early state of demolition and abandonment, one was still startled by the Savoy’s haute and splendour – which is surely what its founder, the theatrical impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte, wanted us to feel when he opened its doors in 1889.

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Savoy Strand Entrance with staff, 1904

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Room 412

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Concierge area

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A pair of Art Deco circular birch and satinwood wall mirrors

Although he had no previous experience of the hotel business, Mr. Carte understood the celebrity game very well and had the casting instincts of a successful producer (he had made his fortune producing comic operettas written by his friends, William Schwenck Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan). He hired Cesar Ritz to take over the running of the hotel (before Ritz had opened his own legendary establishment in Paris), and engaged Auguste Escoffier to run the kitchens. The best combination since bacon and eggs wowed London society, and plenty of visiting New Yorkers, from the start.

Oscar Wilde stayed there with his reckless, unmanageable and spendthrift lover Lord Alfred Douglas. Sarah Bernhardt took a regular suite, along with Dame Nellie Melba, for whom Escoffier created Melba toast for when she was on a diet, and Peach Melba, for when she was not. Claude Monet, before he was Claude Monet, painted the Thames from his room, which, following his fame, became the Monet Suite and was variously occupied by Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, Peter Sellers, Sophia Loren and Cary Grant. Aristotle Onassis stayed in one of the hotel’s cheapest rooms, often struggling to pay his bill, when he was carving his shipping fortune in the 1930s.

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Elizabeth Taylor unpacking at The Savoy, 1951

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Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier in a press conference at The Savoy prior to the beginning of filming “The Prince and the Showgirl”, 1956

Elizabeth Taylor liked it so much she spent three or four of her honeymoons there. Tallulah Bankhead, Katharine Hepburn, Babe Ruth, Al Jolson stayed there. And if you wished, you could have bid for the oak parquet dance floor (estimate: 400 to 600 pounds) from the Lancaster Ballroom, pitted with the heel marks of the famous, and on which, according to legend, Marlene Dietrich made love – five times! Don’t ask!

The Savoy reached its peak in the 1950s and ‘60s. Humphrey Bogart and Hitchcock stayed there; Errol Flynn and John Huston, the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Richard Burton and Liza Minnelli were all regular guests. In 1956, Marilyn Monroe gave a press conference in the room in which the sale was taking place to announce that she would star with Sir Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl. ‘Do you think these are the same bergeres in which Monroe and Olivier sat then?’ asked an excited matron at the sale.

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Two views of the Monet suite

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Fred Astaire was so little-known when he first stayed at the Savoy in the twenties, together with his sister Adele, they were appearing at the Strand theatre across the street, that his registry card has the note ‘dancer’ helpfully scribbled in the margin. This gem was not in the sale, alas. Nor is the stretcher on which a dying Richard Harris, a resident, was carried through the foyer advising guests not to eat the food!

A Grottrian-Steinmeg grand piano, one of the hotel’s many famous white pianos was, alas, not the piano Carroll Gibbons was playing when he was blown off the bandstand during the Blitz and Noel Coward emerged from the audience to play a rousing selection of his hits. But even without that pedigree, it fetched 9,500 pounds – 6,500 pounds above the estimate.

In 2005, the hotel was sold to a company associated with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Abdulaziz and Bank of Scotland, part of the HBOS group, and is managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

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JACKIE KENNEDY doesn’t live here any more

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The Georgetown house where Jack and Jackie Kennedy lived when he was elected President
Photos by Carol Joynt

By Carol Joynt

Memo: Maureen Orth’s recent obituary of Washington society that appears in the current Vanity Fair has people here in a minor boil.

The critics of the piece – and they are vocal – believe it comes across as the desperate grab of a writer trying to hold on to her gig with Graydon Carter, feeding up a manufactured story on the backs of friends and acquaintances. Some believe many of the “observers” she quotes are playing a tired game of living in the Camelot past, an era that for most people is way over. There are others who believe Orth took advantage of her friends and got them to say things that, on reflection, they probably did not like seeing splashed in glossy black and white.

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It’s time to put a stop to the social séance of bringing Jacqueline Kennedy back from the grave. She’s not a poltergeist. Besides, if Jackie were alive and 35 and walking Georgetown’s streets today I doubt she’d be wearing white gloves, having tea parties and fussing over handwritten RSVPs. She was modern in her time and would be modern now. The people who hold on to her Washington moment hold on to a past that is gone gone gone.

Orth pulls from her own posse in her text but those who come across as the meanest of the mean are Buffy Cafritz, Lady Catherine Meyer, Lea Berman and, to a lesser extent, Deeda Blair. They chew on the bones of the dead and the flesh of the few women who actually attempt to be hostesses in the Washington of right now. Are the new hostesses too ambitious? Are they likable people? Well, gosh. Was Evangeline Bruce a genuinely likable person? Was Perle Mesta ambitious? Or Gwen Cafritz? People grumbled about them, too.

Tried and convicted in the Orth piece are Bill Clinton BFF Beth Dozoretz, “philanthropist” Catherine Reynolds, and the Kuwaiti ambassador’s wife, Rima Al-Sabah. Their crimes? Too many to mention here but they include inviting lobbyists and sending out invitations months in advance of the party date. Conspicuously absent from the piece (and likely very grateful) are: one very active hostess, Juleanna Glover, and some of the significant male players such as Dr. William Haseltine (he of the human genome, and ex of Gale Hayman), a busy host with a big Georgetown house and plenty of $$$. AOL’s Jim Kimsey, too, has his own pile of millions, a McLean mansion and a generous disposition. Also Rick Rickertson, managing partner of a multi-million dollar private equity fund. These men have parties and their parties are popular. They all are bachelors, too. Are they Ivy league tweedies blooded in an old-boy spy network, as in the days of yore? Nah. But, again, hasn’t that era gone by the wayside, too?

The mention of Sally Quinn is a flashpoint for the kinds of people who will read Orth’s words as obsessively as they dissect a Tom Friedman Op-Ed piece. For whatever reasons, Sally’s neighbors get their short hairs up when she’s quoted on the in’s and out’s of Washington in general, and Georgetown in particular. She’s as controversial here as Hillary Clinton is everywhere. (“You know, Sally will take that as a compliment,” a mutual acquaintance said.)

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Maureen Orth (left) when she was interviewed by Carol Joynt at The Q&A Cafe in May 2006 before a sold out audience

Not that Sally is vicious in her quotes this time around, but she has become a person who is pre-emptively condemned simply for having an opinion. The other women, and men, who are fawningly quoted are from all parts of the Washington social map, but collectively they come across as condescending, cruel or sadly stuck in the misty and mythy past. It’s so much doom and gloom. Was that their agenda or Orth’s? Nonetheless, never has there been such mourning for the silly pretense of finger bowls.

What everyone forgets is that Jackie was a rather typical Georgetown matron of her time. There are plenty of others like her inhabiting Georgetown today: attractive young women with style, means, children under age 10 and busy and ambitious husbands.

Perhaps the men aren’t running the CIA, but the CIA now isn’t what the CIA was back then. Parties, large and small, go on. There are women here who have significant social muscle but keep it on the media downlow. The Orth piece puts the RIP on cozy dinners at tables of eight, but they do still happen. And yes, the guest lists sometimes include those diabolical lobbyists, but anyone who believes lobbyists haven’t been around this town forever are in denial.

What made Jackie Kennedy’s influence different was that her husband got the White House job and she was able to move her dinner parties from N Street to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue while friends came with her and got the reflected glow. That would happen today to any woman who moved from Georgetown to the White House. (Yes, even Theresa Heinz Kerry, had fate gone her way). In the last 40 years, with the exception of Betty Ford and Barbara Bush, the First Ladies moved into the White House from somewhere else — outside the Beltway. Nancy Reagan’s social Mecca, for example, was New York and Beverly Hills. Hillary Clinton just plain didn’t have one. Laura Bush keeps utterly off the social radar.

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The White House on November 25, 2007, where Jack and Jackie Kennedy lived after he was elected President. She and her children moved out 44 years ago, fewer than two weeks after Jack was assassinated in Dallas. Soon enough Jackie left Washington for New York.

Orth and crew spanked the Bush White House for coming up short on star power and distinction with the guest list for the state dinner honoring Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip last spring. She singles out one of the “mediocre” invitees, “pretty blonde” Elizabeth Hasselbeck, for a special hazing. Hasselbeck may not be the brightest bulb, but targeting her comes across like getting rough with a mentally-challenged kitten.

Yes, the Kennedys had some glittering dinners that set the bar high. However, very few here feel that social life stopped with the Kennedys, or for that matter, Pamela Harriman and Katharine Graham. Nor do they believe that 9/11 killed the city’s social spirit. We have moved on. The focus, fortunately for many of us, has become broader. The city is bigger, the social matrix is more complex. It doesn’t matter anymore whether the President and First Lady are on the circuit.

It’s been years since people seriously scanned the published list of who dined at the White House. With the exception of a mall store proliferation in the village’s once quaint commercial area, Georgetown is as cool as ever, and Washington has hosts and hostesses whose parties match the times.

Just as it is with Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee, Maureen Orth and her husband, Tim Russert fairly walk on water among a certain segment of the capital’s population. (Although Quinn has been known to be a sort of sour presence when mixed in with any but those she considers her own kind – when a new arrival in Georgetown had her first Christmas party a few years ago, Ms. Quinn showed up but was heard to mutter: ”I came only to see the house.”) Nevertheless, there is a lot of head-scratching over why some of Orth’s friends spilled to her so viciously. She had to know people would get hurt, and since they aren’t people who pass legislation or push buttons on bombs they are essentially innocents on the sidelines.

However, be they the maligned ones or not, the hosts and hostesses will still have parties and, at least in the spirit of peace, maybe they will invite Orth and Russert, Catherine Meyer, Quinn and Bradlee, Buffy Cafritz et al, and possibly they will graciously attend.

That would be one swell Washington party.

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CHARMING, FASHIONABLE NEW YORK HOTELS – At moderate price

charming.jpg
Colorful, mod-print linens brighten the Pod Hotel’s 360 sleek rooms

New York City hotels charge nearly $300 a night on average. But with some persistence, it’s possible to book a far more affordable place that’s central, comfortable, and — sometimes — even charming.

Be sure to plan well in advance. Most hotels recommend you make reservations at least one month before your arrival. Others encourage you to book months ahead. Some hotels require a certain minimum-night stay.

Some booking strategies

While not new, the blind-booking Web sites Priceline and Hotwire are terrific sources for discounted rooms in Manhattan (and elsewhere). These sites won’t name the hotel (or airline or car-rental company) you’re working with until your bid has been accepted and your credit card has been charged. But rest assured, these sites work with respected hotels, so you should receive a quality room in Manhattan if you bid on three- and four-star hotels.

For help with your bidding, check out biddingfortravel.com and betterbidding.com, which are user’s guides to Priceline and Hotwire.

Be sure to consider mid-market national chains such as Hampton Inn and Courtyard by Marriott, which have been moving into New York City. These hotels offer newly constructed buildings and often provide substantial breakfasts, unlimited local calls and free Internet access in their lobbies. Best of all, these mid-market chains charge up to 30 percent less than comparable local independents.

Still, there’s the obvious trade-off: try as they might, hotel chains lack local character. If independently owned lodging with some personality is what you want, consider Budget Travel’s picks for affordable New York City hotels.

ABINGDON GUEST HOUSE

‘Hood: The West Village, a downtown area with tree-lined streets and no skyscrapers. Landmarks include the Village Vanguard jazz club and chef Mario Batali’s Babbo.

First impression: The English countryside meets the city in these two dainty, 19th-century town houses.

The rooms: Each of the nine rooms has tasteful features; the Garden Room, for example, has green walls, exposed brick and an adjoining outdoor garden. Bathrooms are private, whether en suite or adjacent to a room.

Plus: Quiet and discreet, with no lobby or front desk, the Abingdon feels more like your own pad than a temporary stopover.

Minus: The Abingdon has a strict check-in policy; you must arrive by your appointed time. There’s a two-night minimum stay on weeknights, and a four-night minimum stay on weekends.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in all rooms. (There’s no public lounge.)

Credit cards accepted: AmEx, MC, Visa.

Details: 21 Eighth Ave., 212/243-5384, abingdonguesthouse.com, doubles from $189.

THE CHELSEA LODGE

‘Hood: Chelsea is a midtown, semi-residential district best known for its galleries that showcase contemporary visual art.

First impression: This picturesque, 22-room town house charms with its quirky decor, including large wooden geese mounted to lobby walls.

The rooms: The immaculate rooms feel like country-chic escapes because of their rustic furniture and polished wood floors.

Plus: Large windows, high ceilings and soothing colors open up the small rooms.

Minus: While there is a shower and a sink in every room, toilets are shared.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in guest rooms and public spaces.

Credit cards accepted: AmEx, MC, Visa.

Details: 318 W. 20th St., 800/373-1116, chelsealodge.com, doubles from $129.

THE COSMOPOLITAN HOTEL

‘Hood: Tribeca, the Triangle Below Canal Street, is an area defined by residential lofts. It lures fewer tourists than nearby, better-known SoHo.

First impression: This hotel works well for travelers who care more about their accommodations’ address than the ambience. The hotel feels generic and suburban, despite its name.

The rooms: The 125 small rooms have basic furnishings and just enough space to be comfortable without feeling puny.

Plus: The rooms’ high ceiling fans add a homey touch to otherwise ordinary digs.

Minus: Chambers Street can be noisy. Ask for a room in the back of the hotel.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in guest rooms and public spaces.

Credit cards accepted: AmEx, MC, Visa.

Details: 95 W. Broadway, 888/895-9400, cosmohotel.com, doubles from $175.

HOTEL QT

‘Hood: Midtown, just down the block from the flash and frenzy of Times Square.

First impression: Hotel impresario André Balazs’ magic touch is evident from the moment you step into the lobby of his hotel. You check in at a funky, Euro-style kiosk stocked with fashion mags — a glimpse of the lobby pool and swim-up bar beckons through a glass pane.

The rooms: The 139 rooms come in several configurations (“Platform bed or bunk beds?”). Heavy windows block out the sounds from 45th Street.

Plus: A DJ spins five nights a week by the small pool and swim-up bar. A sauna, steam room, and tiny fitness room are open all day and night.

Minus: The rooms will feel cramped, so Hotel QT is a good bet only for travelers who plan to max out their time in the common areas or elsewhere in the city.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in guest rooms. Expected to debut in public spaces this winter.

Credit cards accepted: AmEx, MC, Visa.

Details: 125 W. 45th St., 212/354-2323, hotelqt.com, doubles from $265.

HOTEL 17

‘Hood: Gramercy, whose leafy and quiet streets are bounded by 14th Street, Third Avenue, 23rd Street, and Park Avenue South.

First impression: It’s not hard to see why Woody Allen filmed Manhattan Murder Mystery here, given the glamour of the hotel’s old-fashioned, wood-paneled lobby and its narrow, winding corridors.

The rooms: The decor varies, but most of the 122 rooms maintain a stately, old-world feel, thanks to the muted color palette, dark wood trim and mahogany beds and armoires.

Plus: The staff is exceptionally friendly and happy to volunteer travel info, such as where to find the best local restaurant for a late-night bite.

Minus: Not all rooms have private bathrooms. Be sure to specify your preference when booking.

No free Wi-Fi

Credit cards accepted: MC, Visa.

Details: 225 E. 17th St., 212/475-2845, hotel17ny.com, doubles from about $120.

THE LARCHMONT HOTEL

‘Hood: Greenwich Village, but five blocks away from Union Square, a busy shopping district that’s home to artisans, street performers, and the Greenmarket, a famous farmer’s market.

First impression: The Larchmont strives to be a classy throwback by offering a lobby with dark furniture and windowed counters. But its cheapish roots show through during check-in and checkout times, when the lobby typically gets crammed with luggage.

The rooms: No-frills rooms are outfitted with basic bedspreads, light pink walls and rattan furniture that carries a faint whiff of the Caribbean. Rooms have sinks, but bathrooms are shared. One exception: There is a family room that sleeps a family of four and that has a private bathroom.

Plus: The Larchmont feels safe and secure. New guests have to be buzzed into the lobby; once they’ve checked in, lodgers receive their own set of keys and can enter through a separate hall.

Minus: The modest rooms and shared bathrooms are reminiscent of dormitories.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in the lobby, café, and some of the rooms.

Credit cards accepted: AmEx, MC, Visa.

Details: 27 W. 11th St., 212/989-9333, larchmonthotel.com, doubles from $109.

THE POD HOTEL

‘Hood: This part of Midtown is brimming with restaurants and bars and is not far from Bloomingdale’s, Central Park, and the Museum of Modern Art.

First impression: The spacious lobby establishes the Pod’s rep as a haven for the young and hip, with its funky murals, asymmetrical couches and retro light fixtures.

The rooms: Colorful, mod-print linens brighten up the 360 sleek rooms. The tiny work spaces, brushed-metal sinks and minuscule bathrooms (in most rooms) are marvels of efficiency.

Plus: The common areas make the place — travelers can relax on the hotel’s chic, outdoor patio and take in the bird’s-eye view from the roof deck.

Minus: The hotel has its name for a reason — the rooms are tiny. Note: Single and bunk-bed rooms have shared bathrooms.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in guest rooms and public spaces.

Credit cards accepted: AmEx, MC, Visa.

Details: 230 E. 51st St., 800/742-5945, thepodhotel.com, singles with shared baths from $89.

SECOND HOME ON SECOND AVENUE

‘Hood: The East Village, a gritty zone that’s home to many lively bars, cheap eats and NYU students.

First impression: Peaceful and private, with no lobby or front desk, Second Home feels like its name. A skylight spills natural light into the airy duplex with wood floors. (The owner hates carpet.)

The rooms: New York properties are notorious for their small spaces, and that’s why Second Home’s five large rooms — and high ceilings — are such a refreshing surprise. Plus, no two rooms are the same; each has distinct flavor, such as Peruvian or Caribbean.

Plus: Soundproof windows block out noise from busy Second Avenue outside.

Minus: Two of the rooms share a bathroom. And there’s only a tiny sign outside the guesthouse. Look for the Body Evolution studio, which shares the building. Enter through the red door. Also, there is a two-night minimum stay on weeknights, and a three-night minimum stay on weekends.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in guest rooms.

Credit cards accepted: AmEx, MC, Visa.

Details: 221 Second Ave., 212/677-3161, secondhomesecondavenue.com, doubles from $132, includes taxes, coffee, and tea.

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CHEF DOMINIQUE CRENN opens casual-elegant Californian-Italian brasserie at InterContinental San Francisco in February

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Chef Dominique Crenn

The second half of February will see the new InterContinental San Francisco opening at 888 Howard Street; with its arrival will come a new restaurant within called Luce.

luce.jpg
888 Howard Street

Headed by chef Dominique Crenn (most recently of Abode in Los Angeles), Luce will be a “casual-elegant Californian-Italian brasserie.”

The dining room will seat 130, plus a private dining room, bar and lounge.

As required by San Francisco law, the fare will emphasize the farm-to-table connection, and she’s already gotten friendly with several local farmers.

Wine will also be a concentration at Luce.

Elsewhere in the InterContinental will be a bar called Bar 888, where Crenn says there will be a focus on grappa, a full cocktail menu, among others.

Raised in Versailles, France, Executive Chef Dominique Crenn developed a keen interest for cooking as a young girl surrounded by a family that celebrated fine dining.

While she credits her mother for her early introduction to the culinary arts, Crenn also attributes her passion for fine fare to her politician father from whom she, “learned to appreciate the subtle nuances and unique flavors of great cuisine,” during their numerous sojourns to the regions best restaurants with his best friend, a well-respected French food critic.

Before attending college, Crenn traveled extensively through Europe to learn the endless styles of cooking and possibilities of using ingredients from each culture.

Following her travels, Crenn graduated from Cours Charlemagne in Paris in 1985 with a Baccalaureate in Economics and earned her bachelor’s degree in International Business from the Academy of International Commerce of Paris.

Crenn moved to San Francisco in 1988, where she began her formal training as a chef, fell madly in love with the city, and remained there for the next nine years.

During this time, she built an impressive resume, working under the tutelage of San Francisco luminaries, Jeremiah Tower and Mark Franz for over two years at the celebrated Stars.

She later heated up the kitchens of lauded restaurants such as Campton Place, 2223 Market and the Park Hyatt Grill.

Crenn was subsequently hired as executive chef of the Yoyo Bistro at the Miyako Hotel where she obtained an impressive 3-star review in the Access San Francisco 96/97 during her one-year stint there.

Following her tenure in Northern California, Crenn moved to Indonesia in 1997, where she made history as the first female executive chef in the country when she took the helm at the Intercontinental Hotel, in Jakarta.

Crenn’s work in Jakarta was abbreviated due to the political turmoil in South East Asia and she returned to California in 1998 to accept the position of executive chef at the Manhattan Country Club, in Manhattan Beach. Club members, celebrities and dignitaries alike recognized her culinary prowess and soon Crenn was catering private events for personalities such as Vice-President Al Gore, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Juliette Binoche, Sidney Poitier, Sharon Stone, Cindy Lauper and the Japanese and Egyptian Ambassadors to France.

The executive chef firmly stands by her belief that imagination and originality are the most important aspects of cooking.

“Having had the opportunity to observe and learn from some of the most beautiful cultures in the world throughout my life, I reflect these experiences in my cuisine by marrying diverse flavors and natural ingredients together to please the palate,” asserts Crenn.

With her distinctive French-Moroccan heritage, gastronomic flair and enigmatic personality, Crenn is destined to make her mark on San Francisco’s culinary scene.

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CHARMING, FASHIONABLE NEW YORK HOTELS – At moderate price

charming.jpg
Colorful, mod-print linens brighten the Pod Hotel’s 360 sleek rooms

New York City hotels charge nearly $300 a night on average. But with some persistence, it’s possible to book a far more affordable place that’s central, comfortable, and — sometimes — even charming.

Be sure to plan well in advance. Most hotels recommend you make reservations at least one month before your arrival. Others encourage you to book months ahead. Some hotels require a certain minimum-night stay.

Some booking strategies

While not new, the blind-booking Web sites Priceline and Hotwire are terrific sources for discounted rooms in Manhattan (and elsewhere). These sites won’t name the hotel (or airline or car-rental company) you’re working with until your bid has been accepted and your credit card has been charged. But rest assured, these sites work with respected hotels, so you should receive a quality room in Manhattan if you bid on three- and four-star hotels.

For help with your bidding, check out biddingfortravel.com and betterbidding.com, which are user’s guides to Priceline and Hotwire.

Be sure to consider mid-market national chains such as Hampton Inn and Courtyard by Marriott, which have been moving into New York City. These hotels offer newly constructed buildings and often provide substantial breakfasts, unlimited local calls and free Internet access in their lobbies. Best of all, these mid-market chains charge up to 30 percent less than comparable local independents.

Still, there’s the obvious trade-off: try as they might, hotel chains lack local character. If independently owned lodging with some personality is what you want, consider Budget Travel’s picks for affordable New York City hotels.

ABINGDON GUEST HOUSE

‘Hood: The West Village, a downtown area with tree-lined streets and no skyscrapers. Landmarks include the Village Vanguard jazz club and chef Mario Batali’s Babbo.

First impression: The English countryside meets the city in these two dainty, 19th-century town houses.

The rooms: Each of the nine rooms has tasteful features; the Garden Room, for example, has green walls, exposed brick and an adjoining outdoor garden. Bathrooms are private, whether en suite or adjacent to a room.

Plus: Quiet and discreet, with no lobby or front desk, the Abingdon feels more like your own pad than a temporary stopover.

Minus: The Abingdon has a strict check-in policy; you must arrive by your appointed time. There’s a two-night minimum stay on weeknights, and a four-night minimum stay on weekends.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in all rooms. (There’s no public lounge.)

Credit cards accepted: AmEx, MC, Visa.

Details: 21 Eighth Ave., 212/243-5384, abingdonguesthouse.com, doubles from $189.

THE CHELSEA LODGE

‘Hood: Chelsea is a midtown, semi-residential district best known for its galleries that showcase contemporary visual art.

First impression: This picturesque, 22-room town house charms with its quirky decor, including large wooden geese mounted to lobby walls.

The rooms: The immaculate rooms feel like country-chic escapes because of their rustic furniture and polished wood floors.

Plus: Large windows, high ceilings and soothing colors open up the small rooms.

Minus: While there is a shower and a sink in every room, toilets are shared.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in guest rooms and public spaces.

Credit cards accepted: AmEx, MC, Visa.

Details: 318 W. 20th St., 800/373-1116, chelsealodge.com, doubles from $129.

THE COSMOPOLITAN HOTEL

‘Hood: Tribeca, the Triangle Below Canal Street, is an area defined by residential lofts. It lures fewer tourists than nearby, better-known SoHo.

First impression: This hotel works well for travelers who care more about their accommodations’ address than the ambience. The hotel feels generic and suburban, despite its name.

The rooms: The 125 small rooms have basic furnishings and just enough space to be comfortable without feeling puny.

Plus: The rooms’ high ceiling fans add a homey touch to otherwise ordinary digs.

Minus: Chambers Street can be noisy. Ask for a room in the back of the hotel.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in guest rooms and public spaces.

Credit cards accepted: AmEx, MC, Visa.

Details: 95 W. Broadway, 888/895-9400, cosmohotel.com, doubles from $175.

HOTEL QT

‘Hood: Midtown, just down the block from the flash and frenzy of Times Square.

First impression: Hotel impresario André Balazs’ magic touch is evident from the moment you step into the lobby of his hotel. You check in at a funky, Euro-style kiosk stocked with fashion mags — a glimpse of the lobby pool and swim-up bar beckons through a glass pane.

The rooms: The 139 rooms come in several configurations (“Platform bed or bunk beds?”). Heavy windows block out the sounds from 45th Street.

Plus: A DJ spins five nights a week by the small pool and swim-up bar. A sauna, steam room, and tiny fitness room are open all day and night.

Minus: The rooms will feel cramped, so Hotel QT is a good bet only for travelers who plan to max out their time in the common areas or elsewhere in the city.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in guest rooms. Expected to debut in public spaces this winter.

Credit cards accepted: AmEx, MC, Visa.

Details: 125 W. 45th St., 212/354-2323, hotelqt.com, doubles from $265.

HOTEL 17

‘Hood: Gramercy, whose leafy and quiet streets are bounded by 14th Street, Third Avenue, 23rd Street, and Park Avenue South.

First impression: It’s not hard to see why Woody Allen filmed Manhattan Murder Mystery here, given the glamour of the hotel’s old-fashioned, wood-paneled lobby and its narrow, winding corridors.

The rooms: The decor varies, but most of the 122 rooms maintain a stately, old-world feel, thanks to the muted color palette, dark wood trim and mahogany beds and armoires.

Plus: The staff is exceptionally friendly and happy to volunteer travel info, such as where to find the best local restaurant for a late-night bite.

Minus: Not all rooms have private bathrooms. Be sure to specify your preference when booking.

No free Wi-Fi

Credit cards accepted: MC, Visa.

Details: 225 E. 17th St., 212/475-2845, hotel17ny.com, doubles from about $120.

THE LARCHMONT HOTEL

‘Hood: Greenwich Village, but five blocks away from Union Square, a busy shopping district that’s home to artisans, street performers, and the Greenmarket, a famous farmer’s market.

First impression: The Larchmont strives to be a classy throwback by offering a lobby with dark furniture and windowed counters. But its cheapish roots show through during check-in and checkout times, when the lobby typically gets crammed with luggage.

The rooms: No-frills rooms are outfitted with basic bedspreads, light pink walls and rattan furniture that carries a faint whiff of the Caribbean. Rooms have sinks, but bathrooms are shared. One exception: There is a family room that sleeps a family of four and that has a private bathroom.

Plus: The Larchmont feels safe and secure. New guests have to be buzzed into the lobby; once they’ve checked in, lodgers receive their own set of keys and can enter through a separate hall.

Minus: The modest rooms and shared bathrooms are reminiscent of dormitories.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in the lobby, café, and some of the rooms.

Credit cards accepted: AmEx, MC, Visa.

Details: 27 W. 11th St., 212/989-9333, larchmonthotel.com, doubles from $109.

THE POD HOTEL

‘Hood: This part of Midtown is brimming with restaurants and bars and is not far from Bloomingdale’s, Central Park, and the Museum of Modern Art.

First impression: The spacious lobby establishes the Pod’s rep as a haven for the young and hip, with its funky murals, asymmetrical couches and retro light fixtures.

The rooms: Colorful, mod-print linens brighten up the 360 sleek rooms. The tiny work spaces, brushed-metal sinks and minuscule bathrooms (in most rooms) are marvels of efficiency.

Plus: The common areas make the place — travelers can relax on the hotel’s chic, outdoor patio and take in the bird’s-eye view from the roof deck.

Minus: The hotel has its name for a reason — the rooms are tiny. Note: Single and bunk-bed rooms have shared bathrooms.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in guest rooms and public spaces.

Credit cards accepted: AmEx, MC, Visa.

Details: 230 E. 51st St., 800/742-5945, thepodhotel.com, singles with shared baths from $89.

SECOND HOME ON SECOND AVENUE

‘Hood: The East Village, a gritty zone that’s home to many lively bars, cheap eats and NYU students.

First impression: Peaceful and private, with no lobby or front desk, Second Home feels like its name. A skylight spills natural light into the airy duplex with wood floors. (The owner hates carpet.)

The rooms: New York properties are notorious for their small spaces, and that’s why Second Home’s five large rooms — and high ceilings — are such a refreshing surprise. Plus, no two rooms are the same; each has distinct flavor, such as Peruvian or Caribbean.

Plus: Soundproof windows block out noise from busy Second Avenue outside.

Minus: Two of the rooms share a bathroom. And there’s only a tiny sign outside the guesthouse. Look for the Body Evolution studio, which shares the building. Enter through the red door. Also, there is a two-night minimum stay on weeknights, and a three-night minimum stay on weekends.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in guest rooms.

Credit cards accepted: AmEx, MC, Visa.

Details: 221 Second Ave., 212/677-3161, secondhomesecondavenue.com, doubles from $132, includes taxes, coffee, and tea.

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AMERICAN AIRLINES California-New York flights will equip missile defense system

In first-ever tests for commercial airplanes carrying passengers, as many as three American Airlines jets will be equipped with a shoulder-fired missile defense system.

The Department of Homeland Security signed a $29 million contract with BAE Systems on December 21.

BAE said Thursday it is working with American Airlines to put laser systems on the planes, which will be flying between California and New York.

Since the contract calls for the planes to log about 7,000 flight hours, the tests will probably last from early spring, starting in March or April, until the end of the year, DHS spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said.

The systems have already been tested on cargo aircraft and out-of-service passenger planes. The new contract calls for the systems to be tested for the first time on aircraft carrying passengers.

DHS, American Airlines and BAE Systems were all careful to assure there will be no test firing — through simulators or otherwise. The tests primarily will check the systems’ worthiness in air and their maintenance reliability.

The system works by detecting the heat-seeking missiles and then emitting a laser that diverts the missile.

Homeland Security officials say there is no specific threat of these weapons — also known as MANPADS, for Man-Portable Air Defense Systems — being fired at planes.

Taliban forces, however, successfully used MANPADS against Soviet helicopters in Afghanistan. Terrorists tried, unsuccessfully, in 2002 to shoot down an Israeli passenger jet in Kenya with them. Insurgents hit a DHL cargo plane in Baghdad the following year, but the plane landed safely.

Experts say about 500,000 to 700,000 MANPADS have been produced worldwide, and some have been purchased in Middle Eastern and Central Asian arms markets for as little as $5,000.

Since 2003, Congress has pressured DHS to adapt military anti-MANPADS technology to commercial aviation. Commercial airlines have opposed efforts to install defense systems, which are costly, add weight, and can weaken the plane’s aerodynamics.

A chief goal of the testing program is to discover how to increase the systems’ endurance. Military systems require frequent maintenance — not practical for commercial airplanes that fly for extended periods between maintenance checks.

American Airlines on Thursday said it is participating in the program, but added it is “not in favor of installing counter-MANPADS on commercial aircraft.”

The airline believes protection is best accomplished by preventing terrorists from getting shoulder-fired missiles, or by using ground-based systems, spokesman John Hotard said.

But the airline said it is willing to participate because it “wants to understand the development” of these technologies that might be available in the future.

Last year, American and BAE installed and test flew BAE’s hardware on a Boeing 767 that was not in commercial service, Hotard said.

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GLOBAL GREEN USA’s Third Annual Gorgeous and Green Party Proves that Eco-Friendly is Eco-Fabulous

Global Green USA celebrated their 3rd Annual San Francisco Benefit Party on Tuesday, December 18, 2007. Held at San Francisco’s LEED certified Bently Reserve, the event focused on green design solutions to combat climate change and other environmental issues. Proceeds from this fabulous eco friendly event benefited Global Green’s projects, including their Green Schools Initiative and the Holy Cross project, the first sustainable low-income housing community in New Orleans’s Lower 9th Ward.

“Whether it is parts of San Francisco or New Orleans, our American cities are at increasing risk from climate change. These cities are leading the way in fighting global warming through sustainable design, green building and other climate action,” said Matt Petersen, President and CEO of Global Green USA. “The question is, will we let rising sea levels and increasing weather severity destroy our cities and neighborhoods, or will we act in time?”

The event, entitled “Gorgeous and Green”, included a VIP dinner catered by one of San Francisco’s premiere chefs, Joseph Humprey. Jason Lewis, Josie Maran, Jason Behr, and Mayor Gavin Newsom enjoyed a live performance in the intimate setting of the VIP Patron Dinner before the main event.

Gorgeous and Green, though a lovely title, had more of an impact as a theory than anything else. The entire party was a living and breathing example of how sustainability has never been more fresh and sexy from décor, to the eco-friendly fashion show to the food. It was a wonderful chance to show San Francisco and the rest of the word how convenient sustainability can be and with the help of San Francisco’s top PR firm, Cross Marketing, they really did an effortless job spreading the word with both local and national headlines.

Global Green chose Sillapere for the second year as head of event design. Sillapere is a green focused international design lab with offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles that has been recognized by many as the leader for innovative green design concepts. Nicole Sillapere, the company’s creative leader, used a wide variety of eco savvy design techniques for Global Green’s event, proving that green can truly be powerful and sustainability can truly leave an impression.

The eco-chic fashion show was the highlight for the Gorgeous and Green crowd. Models stomped down the runway in innovative designs by Pierre Andre Senizergues, Bahar Shahpar, Kelly B., Lara Miller, Margaret O’Leary, Del Forte Denim, William Good, Cari Borja, Linda Loudermilk and Eco Citizen, an eco-chic boutique in San Francisco showing CIEL, Turk+Taylor, and Sara Shepherd. Their modern fabrics and beautiful designs were the perfect opening to the evening, showing the world that eco-friendly has never been more glamorous.

In a city synonymous with “love child”, it would make sense that a party of this caliber would be held in San Francisco where charities hold more precedence than celebrities and giving seems to be the word of the day. All proceeds Gorgeous and Green will allow Global Green USA to continue and expand important work, such as: California Green Schools Initiative and The Green Rebuilding of New Orleans.

Funds for the California Green Schools Initiative will help keep in place the $100 million in incentives for green schools. Global Green single handedly secured and created additional incentives and requirements in the ‘08 school bond measure, advanced our “Climate Solutions for Communities” initiative in the AB 32 implementation (empowering affordable housing, schools, etc. to be part of solving global warming and strengthen our inner cities), AND prepared for our Carbon Neutral Buildings bill we introduced in the state legislature.

The Green Rebuilding of New Orleans will allow for green, high performance schools. Global Green has already completed 2 of the 5 green seed energy efficient schools, and begun work on 2 additional showcase schools. It will also allow Global Green to complete their Holy Cross project, the first sustainable low-income housing community in the Lower 9th Ward. In addition, proceeds will help Global Green pioneer the use of river turbines on the Mississippi River, and launch the “Sustainable Design and Climate Action center” to not only help rebuild New Orleans but to ‘draw a line in the sand’ with global warming – the Crescent City will be the first victim to sea level rise in the US if we don’t cut GHGs significantly.

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ROAST CHICKEN AND OTHER STORIES

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Parker House rolls in The Parker House Hotel in Boston.

“Bits and Morsels” is an ongoing collection of information from the world of the foodies and foodblogs

BY JORDANA Z.

I am really enjoying the new cookbook Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson. The book is designed to look more like a novel than a cookbook and is filled with very sweet illustrations.

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It originally was published in Britain in 1994 and only recently released in America to rave reviews. The tone of the book is interesting, genuine and comfortable (it’s also printed on paper that is thicker than most books).

A lot of cookbooks are cold and impersonal when they are just filled with bare recipes. English Chef Hopkinson fills each page not just with recipes but also with fun anecdotes and useful cooking tips.

Parker house rolls.

The Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston is one of the oldest operating hotels in America. It opened in 1855 so has many stories to tell. Ho Chi Minh worked there as a baker; and it was there that JFK proposed to Jackie. Many Culinary delights were invented at the hotel such as Boston Cream Pie and Parker House Rolls. I stopped by the hotel to try the legendary rolls and while the hotel was a bit … spooky … the rolls were flaky, buttery, and divine. They’re so good that even First Lady Laura Bush served them on Christmas.

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“If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t Legal.” For a traditional Boston fish dinner you can’t go wrong with Legal Sea Foods. The quality of the food and the service is consistently good.

I like to keep it simple and usually order the wild salmon or the fish and chips. The Boston based chain has been in business for over 60 years and their reputation for fresh fish is untouchable.

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Legal Sea Foods on State Street.

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The Wild Salmon.

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Fish and chips.

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Harpoon Root Beer, perfect with fish and chips.

One of my favorite areas of Boston is the North End, which is the little Italy of Boston. The neighborhood is filled with old-fashioned mom and pop stores and restaurants. I love the Neptune Oyster for whipped baccala and salmon tartar. The restaurant only seats about 20 people so there is a lot of turnover and everything is super fresh. I especially like that they sensibly serve the salmon tartar over ice. For dessert you can’t beat a cannoli from Modern Pastry. Unlike most cannolis, which are dense and soggy, the Modern Pastry version is light and crispy. There are many bakeries in the North End but Modern Pastry is my favorite, although not so modern, having been in business for over 70 years.

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Whipped baccala.

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Salmon tartar over ice.

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Modern Pastry on Hanover Street.

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A cannoli from Modern Pastry.

If you are already one of the addicted, and are looking for a healthy snack during the day, head over to Starbucks. The coffee chain just unveiled a plan to offer healthier latte drinks made with sugar free syrup. The new latte drinks made with nonfat milk and sugar free syrup will only have about 90 calories. If you swap out your daily regular vanilla latte with a skinny vanilla latte you will end up saving 700 calories and 35 grams of fat per week.

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THE SOCIAL REGISTER – History of The Association

History of the Social Register Association

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A DELIGHT TO KNOW

Specific to the United States, the Social Register is a directory of names and addresses of the powerful and wealthy individuals who form the social elite, though until recently not necessarily the political or corporate elite; inclusion in the Social Register was formerly a guide to the members of ‘polite society’ — those with ‘old money’.

Social Register cities include San Francisco, New York, Boston, Buffalo, Cleveland, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and St. Louis.

The origins of the Association are to be found in 19th-century visiting lists.

These were the names and addresses of the preferred social contacts of prominent families, alphabetically arranged. In 1886, Louis Keller, described in his obituary as “known to more persons here and abroad than any other one resident of New York,” had the idea of consolidating the most important of these lists. His compilation was composed primarily of descendants of the early Dutch and English settlers of his city as well as others intrinsic to the Association’s definition of Society.

Mr. Keller’s formula met with great success and by 1918 there were 18 annual volumes representing 26 cities.

Individual books were published annually until 1976, when they were consolidated into a single definitive book listing the nation’s foremost families.

Today, almost 25,000 entries are included in the winter edition of the Social Register, published by the Association every November.

These listings, which are primarily domestic but include international references as well, record the following:

Family names and addresses of the Association’s members

Membership in clubs and societies

Academic affiliations

Notices of the births, marriages and deaths of those listed as they occur

The summer edition of the Social Register is published in May and contains seasonal information as well as “Dilatory Domiciles” and a list of yachts and their owners.

In May 1994 the Social Register Association introduced the Social Register Observer.

This periodical offers coverage of material, such as obituaries, debuts and engagements, which may no longer be readily available from other sources.

It is published twice a year, concurrently with the winter and summer editions of the Social Register.

THEY CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME

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GREAT DEPRESSION THE MOST GLAMOROUS PARTY ERA

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A nightclub scene as captured by fashion illustrator Rene Bouet-Willamauz in 1936. New York in the 1930s, the decade of the Great Depression, was also, ironically, the most glamorous decade of the American century. It was the zenith of an era of unbridled, unapologetic and authentic luxury that began with the Gilded Age and ended with the Second World War

New York was the most exciting city in the world, the cradle of Modern Times, where milk was still delivered daily in horse-drawn wagons to every doorstep while at the same hour socialites and showgirls were being delivered to their doors in shiny new limousines called motor cars or automobiles or machines with names like Pierce-Arrow, Packard, Cadillac and Lincoln. There was no television for the masses. Radio and the movies were the rage as popular entertainment.

But the high life and the nightlife in New York meant theatre, nightclubs and parties, parties, parties. The rich had no embarrassment about being rich, despite the ubiquitous presence of soup kitchens and men selling apples on street corners.

Except for the occasional sensational scandal that hit the tabloids, like the custody case of poor little Gloria Vanderbilt, the public knew very little about the private lives (or lifestyles) of the very privileged although Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt still lived in the mansion her husband’s grandfather built 50 years before, occupying the entire block at 640 Fifth Avenue. In that way, wealth was more than obvious to those who passed by the many mansions that still lined Fifth Avenue, or to those relatively few who were employed to wait on the well-heeled.

There were jottings in the society columns, like Maury Paul’s “Cholly Knickerbocker” and Walter Winchell’s staccato pronouncements about “Café Society,” (a term invented by Mr. Paul) in the Hearst papers. There were sleek photographic spreads by Louise Dahl Wolfe, Hoyningen-Huene, Horst, and Baron de Meyer in the fashion magazines.

The child-saga of the decade was the world famous custody trial over little Gloria Vanderbilt whose care was wrested from her mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, by her paternal aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.

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Gloria with her mother

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Gloria and her aunt Gertrude after the child’s custody had been awarded to her

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Gloria, now sixteen, reconciled with her mother, in Beverly Hills, 1940

But there were no mass audience programs like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” no tell-all biographies or confessions of a wronged wife or jilted mistress (although there were always plenty of those). Life for the privileged many was still, in the words of the quintessential sophisticate and wit of his age, Cole Porter: “delightful, delicious and de-lovely.” At least on the face of it.

IT’S DE-LOVELY

The social season began in October, which is when the Broadway openings were in full force (shows opened all year round). Everyone dressed in evening clothes, which meant long dresses, jewels and furs for the women and black tie or often white tie for the men. Suits and skirts were for the hoi polloi in the balcony and never, ever was there a sweatshirt to be seen in any public place of any kind (except, possibly, by an actor on-stage or in a film).

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The original “Cholly Knickerbocker,” Maury Paul who coined the term “Cafe Society,” being served his breakfast in bed

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Society scribe Lucius Beebe and Maury Paul clubbing

Theatre had a more distinct and stronger connection to society and in cultural life than it does today. Broadway stars were famous in both the city and the country, and they were sought-after. There were openings every week right up through March. There were parties after the openings.

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“Swope of the World,” the most famous newspaper editor of his day, Herbert Bayard Swope of the New York World, in front of his famous house on Long Island

Maggie and Herbert Bayard Swope (the editor of the New York World, later the World Telegram & Sun) employed two shifts of servants, one for day and one for night, so that guests could drop by anytime, especially after the theatre.

The Swopes’ weekend house parties at their mansion at King’s Point was thought to be the model for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (it probably wasn’t). International theatrical producer Gilbert Miller and his wife Kitty often filled the Fifth Avenue of Mrs. Miller’s father, investment banker Jules Bache, (the man who created the business deal that became the Chrysler Corporation), with stars of stage and screen mingling with tycoons, dowagers and debutantes.

Mrs. Frances Wellman, now long forgotten, was another hostess famous in New York for her opening night parties in her Park Avenue apartment. Conde Nast, the man, kept two floors at 1040 Park Avenue (northwest corner of 86th Street).

Mr. Nast threw lavish parties, often for hundreds of guests of different stripes, talents and ages all together, in the penthouse. His daughter Natica (who later married Gerald Warburg) occupied the floor below. Lady Mendl (nee Elsie de Wolfe), decorated the penthouse’s enormous reception room, the smaller library and the dining room. Buffets were set up on the terraces, which were covered for use during the winter months. Live orchestras were the standard entertainment fare there and everywhere else. Everybody danced, danced, danced.

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The Terrace of Conde Nast’s Park Avenue penthouse, scene of some of the most celebrated parties of the decade, as decorated by Elsie de Wolfe, Lady Mendl. Inset: Lady Mendl with her adored pooch

The Nast parties usually began about ten or ten-thirty and ran until two or later. Broadway met Hollywood, European royalty, Social Registerites, artists, and other denizens of the Conde Nast publications. Both Cole Porter and George Gershwin were frequently present at these affairs where the orchestra filled the rooms with their music.

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George Gershwin, the darling of the society hostesses who could get him to accept their invitations

GERSHWIN PLAYS GERSHWIN

Porter, who was somewhat shy, was not wont to play or perform for large groups, but Gershwin, in the words of one old friend, “would play at the drop of a piano.”

A MUSICAL PRODIGY WHO LED THE LIFE

Porter had great admiration for himself. He could play his music for hours, which was fair enough as far as everyone else was concerned.

LET’S DO MISBEHAVE

The women had great admiration for him too, and a few other thoughts to go along with it. A great egotist but never obnoxious, he was always very nice with people. Manners were very much intrinsic to the style of the time.

Ballet barely existed. Monday night was the big night at the Opera at the old Met on 39th and Seventh Avenue, where the private boxes in the “Diamond Horseshoe” still saw its share of Vanderbilts, Astors, Whitneys, Goelets resplendent with their ancient lorgnettes, glittering tiaras and ermine capes. Thursdays night were for the Symphony, which was also broadcast on Sundays (although the Smart Set was still away for the weekend).

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Mrs. Harrison McKown Twombly, the last surviving granddaughter of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (who died in 1877), arriving in her maroon Rolls with her chauffeur in maroon livery, at the Opera on a Monday night. Florence Twombly kept up the style of her Gilded Age youth right to the time of her death at 98 in 1952. The staff at her Florham, New Jersey estate numbered 126 including 30 gardeners, 4 footmen, and 8 housemaids

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Grace, the last Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt arriving at the opera in November 1939, wearing her famous three trademarks: the bandeau, on her forehead, her diamond stomacher and her silver fox wrap. Grace Wilson Vanderbilt’s husband was disinherited by his father because of the marriage to her whose family was regarded as “arriviste” although her siblings married Astors and Goelets as well

Nightclubs, such as the Embassy on 57th Street and El Morocco (then on 54th) got started about eleven and were jammed until four. The Casino in the Park, decorated by set designer Joseph Urban (Ziegfeld Follies) got going at five in the afternoon with tea dancing.

After eight, many gave dinner parties at the Casino for 12 or 14 or 20 or 40 under the vaulted dark blue celing painted with flowers that ran continguously down the walls and across the dance floor. Leo Reisman’s orchestra played with Eddie Duchin at the piano.

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The interior of the original El Morocco with its famous blue zebra stripe banquettes

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The Stork Club at 3 East 53rd Street (where Paley Park is today), circa 1935

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A bachelor party held at “21″ in 1935 for George Vanderbilt with guests including William Randolph Hearst Jr., and songwriter (“Stardust”), Hoagy Carmichael (bottom right)

Over at the Waldorf (newly opened in 1931), the be-jowled and bovine and very unbeautiful Elsa Maxwell was making a stellar name for herself and the hotel by giving parties for one hundred or two hundred and fifty people. The hostess, who lived high on the cuff, was in the business of showing the swells a good time and she did it famously and brilliantly. The Waldorf put her up, and very well, thank you; on the house, in one of its Towers apartments whose residents included the Cole Porters and later the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Wealthy pals would supply infinite cases of champagne and tins of caviar with the hotel kicking in the service and the rest of the food and the liquor.

Elsa Maxwell promoted entertainers and musicians by getting them to perform gratis and the day after a party (and for years afterwards), the hotel was awash in publicity in the newspapers and magazines. One of Maxwell’s friends and supporters, Mrs. Millicent Hearst, the left-alone wife of the legendary newspaper publisher who by then had taken up full time residence in California with his mistress Marion Davies, gave dinner dances for sixty or a hundred in her enormous triplex on Riverside Drive overlooking the Hudson, and then later at a suitably sprawling apartment on Park Avenue.

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Elsa Maxwell and one of boosters, and neighbors at the Waldorf Towers, Cole Porter, who celebrated her party-giving and entertainments in the lyrics of his songs

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Elsa Maxwell in costume for a party skit with actor Reginald Gardener (to her immediate left), comedian Bert Lahr (on the right), and stripper Della Carroll (far left)

Having a good butler was very important in those days and no great hostess would be without one. Mona, Mrs. Harrison Williams (later Countess Bismarck), had one of the great butlers, a man named Philip who was not only goodlooking, charming with guests and ran things beautifully, but in the words of one frequent visitor, “knew everything about everything including the guests.”

A good butler set the tone of the household. Jules Bache’s butler was well known for robbing his employer blind but also for running the banker’s house beautifully and supervising the wonderful service at the table. Guests never sat and lingered over an empty plate at a Bache dinner or worried where their sable was after the party was over.

American’s original “rich-bitch,” dime store heiress Barbara Hutton made her debut at the Ritz in 1933 at beautiful party that set her trustees back $50,000 which was like $5 million those hard-up times. “Sweet, pleasant, and nothing,” in the words of one who knew her well (and liked her). Miss Hutton endured severe public criticism.

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Dime store heiress Barbara Hutton at her 1931 debutante party at the Ritz Carlton

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Left: Debutante Mimi Baker with her mother, Bromo–Seltzer heiress Margaret Emerson (also the mother of Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt Jr.) at her debut

The extravagance of Barbara Hutton’s party (cost: $50,000, the equivalent of a million today) caused such public outrage that she was openly referred to as the “rich-bitch” and she fled to Europe. But rich she was: approximately three quarters of a billion in today’s dollars. None of it added up to happiness, however. After decades of drugs, husbands (eight) and legendary extravagant spending, she died in her suite at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills with less than $3,000 in her bank account.

A chubbette with an absolutely beautiful face and a mother who committed suicide when the girl was 12, Hutton was devoid of personality yet stunning just sitting around in her spectacular jewelry (which she knew a great deal about), such as her earrings of three marquise diamonds each.

Much of Hutton’s jewelry was bought from Jules Glaenzer, the supersalesman of Cartier and another party giver of the first order. Hutton’s aunt Jessie Donahue was his biggest customer.

Tiffany was in the business of course, but Cartier was the outstanding jeweler when it came to the big stuff. Harry Winston was in the business of selling stones and Fulco, the duc di Verdura, enchanted the chic young women with his colorful and witty creations, which today are collector’s items. Women had lots of jewelry – the real thing – and wore it all the time, day and night – and wore it without any fear of being accosted and maybe killed on the street for it.

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The most famous debutante of the 1930s, Brenda Frazier at her coming-oiut party at the Waldorf in 1938, Frazier’s life was at its peak at this time

Fashion designers had NO social status whatsoever. Zero. Nobody paid any attention to them except for what they had to say about the way a dress fit. Women got their clothes from Europe, mainly Paris. Hattie Carnegie imported clothes, as did Bergdorf’s and Saks. Women such as Mona Williams, Barbara Hutton, Dorothy (Mrs. William) Paley, Millicent Rogers, Thelma (Chrysler) Foy, Janet (Mrs. William Rhinelander) Stewart and Linda Porter, went to them to have their clothes made. Sophie Gimbel also designed under her own label, Sophie of Saks. Hattie Carnegie employed designers as well, including Norman Norell at the beginning of his career, and Jean Louis, who later made his name in Hollywood; and much later, at the suggestion of Dorothy Paley, Hattie Carnegie hired Pauline Potter who later married Baron Philippe de Rothschild. The brilliant but wildly eccentric Charles James was on the scene but on a very small scale.

Museums were also for the rich. They had very little influence in the art world and were never used for dinner dances or wedding receptions. Pictures were for the rich to enjoy in the privacy of their own palaces, although they did support the museums. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s museum down on Eighth Street was considered very Greenwich Village, although it was very important because the Met wasn’t paying any attention to the American painters. Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s Museum of Modern Art caused much excitement but was just getting started. The big, highly respected dealers were Knoedler’s and Duveen Brothers who had supplied Frick, Hearst, Bache, Morgan, Huntington and Mellon with pictures, mainly Old Masters.

Lord Duveen, a dark haired, moustachioed man, was another with a supersalesman personality. He very persuasively played the role of the expert but was so deferential to the customers’ taste that the skeptics often mistrusted his authority.

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Two fashionable hostesses of the decade: Dorothy (Mrs. William) Paley in her Beekman Place townhouse, above, and Mona (Mrs. Harrison) Williams, below

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The Harrison Williams house at 94th and Fifth Avenue, designed and built by Delano and Aldrich for the Willard Straights (Mrs. Straight was Dorothy Whitney) in 1904; now owned by investor Bruce Kovner

The big collections were still in private hands. Utitlities tycoon George Blumenthal, for example, lived in an enormous house on the corner of 70th and Park that had a pool and a famous indoor courtyard that now resides at the Met. Chester and Maude Dale had a huge collection of 20th century paintings in their house. Art Deco, after the 1920s, dominated the art of the modern world. By the 30s, it appealed to the young and the daring who were also rich enough to adpat it to their daily lives.

Taste had begun to change in 1913 with the Armory Show where Marcel Duchamp shocked the world and the so-called Impressionists gained acceptance with forward-thinking moneyed collectors. But Mr. Havemeyer was still buying Old Masters through Duveen, while his wife, under the guidance of Mary Cassatt was buying Impressionists.

The ladies who lunched went to Voisin or the Colony and everybody saw everybody they knew. Clara, who ran the ladies room at the Colony, kept everybody’s dog while they lunched. The dogs were very happy which made customers happy because women in those days took their dogs everywhere.

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Jewelry designer Fulco Verdura and Scottie poolside at Kiluna Farm, the Manhasset estate of Dorothy and William Paley

Men and women also smoked their heads off throughout their meals with nary a complaint in the house. They also drank a cocktail or three … or four.

Men who didn’t lunch often kept bankers’ hours and visited their clubs by mid-afternoon for camaraderie as well as exercise that frequently consisted solely of elbow bending. Some never bothered even with the bankers’ hours. William Rhinelander Stewart rarely rose before noon. When friend called before rousing time, his butler was instructed to tell them that master was busy having a run around the Park. Others, such as Vincent Astor and Willie K. Vanderbilt Jr., deserted New York as much as possible for long voyages on their huge oceangoing yachts (the Nourmahal and the Alva).

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Grace (Mrs. Cornelius) Vanderbilt in the drawing room of her 640 Fifth Avenue mansion at 52nd Street, where she entertained en masse (one year she had 30,000 guests)

It was the age of the hostess. Mona Williams held forth at the Williams mansion, the former Willard Straight house on 94th and Fifth (now the residence of hedge fund owner Bruce Kovner). Mrs. Williams, husband number three, 23 years his wife’s senior was known as the “utilities king” and was said to be one of the world’s richest men with an estimated $800 million fortune (many billions in today’s currency).

He was a man of many prejudices, particularly towards those who fell into his category of “useless.” Blind people, for example, seemed “useless” to Mr. Williams, as were the disabled. All considerations were shunted aside in considering the value of his wife, who managed to make herself useful by being absolutely beautiful, always on the best-dressed list, as well as sweet and warm and friendly.

Another great hostess was Thelma Foy whose father, Walter P. Chrysler, gave Ford and General Motors a run for their money. A woman devoted to fashion, Mrs. Foy lived in a large apartment with English furniture. Then when Birdie (the first Mrs. William K.) Vanderbilt died, Mrs. Foy bought her mansion on East 91 Street. English had ceased to be fashionable and so Mrs. Foy went to French and Company and installed all French furniture (18th century, that is). Best dressed with beautiful clothes and beautiful jewels, Thelma Foy entertained big.

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In the 1940s, the big house at 640 was sold and Mrs. Vanderbilt moved to what she referred to as “the gardener’s cottage,” a 28-room mansion at 1048 Fifth at 86th Street (now the Neue Galerie). With a staff of 18 she continued to entertain in large numbers. Interesting and attractive men were, in her opinion, the key to a successful party. She kept a list of 138 eligible men broken up into categories like: “men who will dance,” “men who can lunch,” and “men who will go to the theatre but not the opera.”

Her dining room table was always decorated with long stemmed roses in flat bowls that caused guests to complain (among themselves) that they couldn’t see the person across the table. Although could see their hostess who was always quite stunning to look at.

For the most part, the platinum privileged class hated Roosevelt (whom they often referred to as Rosen-velt or “that man”), whom they considered a class traitor.

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Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in her studio. Although she was famous in the 1930s for her pressing the custody battle of her niece Gloria, Mrs. Whitney’s passion was her art and she is remembered for founding the Whitney Museum of American Art which flourishes almost a century later

His wife was beyond that, something even worse in the consensus of these people, for she consorted with blacks and was a communist as far as they were concerned. All the Roosevelts meant to them was taxes, taxes and more taxes, which of course could put a strain on the monthly bill from Cartier.

Then Hitler turned out to be no joke and the War came. Men went off to Europe. No more Paris frocks. The decade ended. Mrs. Vanderbilt sold the big house at 640 and moved up the avenue to 86th Street (now the Neue Galerie), little Gloria Vanderbilt “Happy at Last” moved to Hollywood and in with her mother until she married her first husband (she was sixteen he was 31). Vincent Astor gave his yacht to the U.S. Navy.

American women went to work in the wartime factories, as did the former butlers and scullery maids. When the War was over, television came into the mainstream and nightlife died, marriages ended, manners went out the window, they raced into the space age and it’s never been the same since.

UP AND DOWN PARK AVENUE

WITH MY BABY

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CHANEL REDESIGNS flagship in Beverly Hills

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Rodeo Drive and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel
Photographs by Getty Images and Jeanne Lawrence

CHANEL SPRING & SUMMER 2008

BY JEANNE LAWRENCE

Chanel unveiled its newly redesigned flagship store in Beverly Hills, and for the opening partnered with P.S. Arts, the Los Angeles-based organization that raises funds for arts education in public schools.

The evening’s chairs were: Maria Bell (who chaired The National Arts Awards in NYC in October), Rachel Bilson, Susan Casden, Kristin Davis, Zooey Deschanel, Ginnifer Goodwin, Kelly Fisher Katz, Kate Mara, Robin McMonigle, Carolyn Powers, Carla Sands, Elizabeth Stewart, Kerry Washington, and Candie Weitz.

Internationally acclaimed New York-based architect, Peter Marino, designed this smashing Chanel Boutique, the new focus on Rodeo Drive, dubbed the Madison Avenue of Beverly Hills by some.

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Architect Peter Marino and LED creation

Using the classic Chanel No. 5 perfume box as inspiration, Marino transformed the boutique’s façade with milky white micro glass outlined in blackened steel, recreating the trademark packaging perfectly.

The interior, especially the grand staircase, was built with the same impeccable detail, reminiscent of Gabrielle Chanel’s (aka Coco) Paris Boutique, the orphan girl who reigned as fashion’s most formidable force. Still the décor features modern twists like the LED luminary wall and custom carpets patterned after Chanel’s classic tweeds. Nick Markowitz

My good friend Gay Gassmann, Marino’s European associate, invited me to meet the internationally renowned artists who were commissioned to create the site-specific works “inspired by Mademoiselle Chanel’s emblems.”

Artists like Belgian ceramic sculpture Johan Creten, American painter Peter Dayton, French Francois-Xavier Lalanne, French sculpture Jean-Michel Othoniel, Italian Paola Pivi, American photographer Alec Soth, and Iranian émigré Y.Z. Kami –were all there to mix, mingle and meet the fortunate party guests.

My Los Angeles friends mentioned that unlike New York, LA society doesn’t get much press since Hollywood usually hogs the spotlight. Tonight was different, however, since the host committee was filled with society leaders, celebrities, and the movers and shakers of the city.

The guests were beautiful, chic and soignée, and classically clad in vintage and contemporary Chanel designs, while carrying those signature handbags.

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P.S. ARTS HOST committee members Maria Bell, Kelly Fisher Katz, Carolyn Powers, and Robin McMonigle

Other lovelies in the crowd were: Hillary Duff, Lisa Kudrow (of the TV’s Friends), Kristen Bell, Kate Beckinsale, Colleen Bell, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Angie Harmon – whose new TV hit, James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club, Amanda Peet, Shiva Rose, Suzanne Saperstein (who hosted a ladies luncheon the next day at her French inspired chateaux), and Karen Winnick.

Other VIP clients showed up too: Cornelia Guest, daughter of the late CZ Guest, the Dupont twins, diet guru Nikki Haskell, Annette O’Malley, who was “off to Tuscany to shop and eat”, Stephanie Ejabat, Board member of P.S. Arts and San Francisco Ballet along with her mother Virginia Barrage of Santa Barbara. Style icon Liz Goldwyn, granddaughter of MGM’S Samuel Goldwyn, lent a touch of Hollywood royalty.

Teryn Davis, of Santa Barbara and Aspen, arrived wearing a white couture Chanel from Paris, mentioning that Karl Lagerfeld shot her portrait at his Paris home, which she described as “magnificent.”

Out-of-towners included Napa Valley vintner Michael Polenske, who donated his BlackBird wine for the night. Knowing he was a founding member of the Napa Valley Reserve, an elite wine club, I introduced him to Mary and Reese Milner, who are also members.

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Boutique concept mimics iconic Chanel No. 5 packaging

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Beverly Hills Boutique on Rodeo Drive

As the conversation turned from fashion to wine, Carrie and Bill Powers joined in. By the way, in November the Powers Field in Princeton Stadium was dedicated to the family after they made the largest ever donation to Princeton’s athletics. Paul MacCaskill joined the conversation and talked of his wife, Laurie MacCaskill, a pancreatic cancer survivor who recently received the Spirit ofHope Award at the Evening with the Stars, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

The entire New York Chanel corporate office must have flown to LA for the occasion: President and COO John Galantic, Barbara Cirkva, Susan Clatworthy, Rebekah McCabe, Gretchen Fenton, and Arianne Gold.

Mary said, “We all love Matthew Amendolaro, the new Chanel GM by way of Neiman Marcus. “I think ‘Chanel’ was surprised he knew everyone who walked through the door -they’re fortunate to have him.”

Fashionable San Franciscan, Samantha Traina, displayed the fashion sense she developed from years of tagging along with her mother, Danielle Steel, to those couture fashion shows. With such a well-trained eye and that literary background, she’s now Associate Fashion Editor for ‘C’ magazine.

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Paparazzi and locals ogle crowd

Bay area couture collector Tatiana Sorokko chatted with LA designer Monique Lhuillier, famous for her wedding dresses and evening wear so popular with the stars. “I look up to Chanel and I love her sense of style,” said Lhuillier. “Karl Lagerfeld has infused modernity which is so desirable. It’s magical, the epitome of style.”

Those ‘in the know’ headed to the exclusive fourth floor VIP penthouse with it’s lacquered walls, white banquettes and wraparound rooftop terrace, crammed with clusters of white flowers and the ubiquitous double-C logo.

“Chanel is my basic black dress,” added Lauren King. “If I don’t know what to do, I wear a Chanel and I feel right …it’s classic and timeless.”

Smartly dressed Ina Hocutta in head to toe Chanel added, “I’ve been shopping Chanel for 30 years and wear it exclusively. I keep all the old and new together – the shoes are 8 years old, but they work with this year’s clothes. It keeps my life simple.”

Perhaps Bill Davis had the best line of the night. He retold how he dared ask the great Lagerfeld, “How come you designers make so much money by getting us to pay for all those clothes when all we want to do is take them off.”

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CEO of Chanel Barbara Cirkva, John Galantic, President of Coty Beauty, U.S., and Susan Clatworthy, Senior VP of Retail Division

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Rachel Bilson

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Kate Beckinsale and director Len Wiseman

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Ginnifer Goodwin

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Kate Mara

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Lisa Kudrow

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Kerry Washington

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Jennifer Morrison

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Amanda Peet

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Kelly Carlson

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Hilary Duff

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Sarah Michelle Gellar

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Barbara Cirkva

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Jeanne Lawrence and Teryn Davis

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Decked out in Chanel Gay Gassmann, Paris associate of Peter Marino

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Pure white flowers

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Artist Johan Creten

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Artist Peter Dayton

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Artist Francois-Xavier Lalanne and his wife

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Artist Jean-Michel Othoniel

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Artist Paola Pivi

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Artist Alec Soth

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Chanel Signature

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Chris Klein and architect Peter Marino

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Producers Robert and Richard Dupont with Cornelia Guest

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Lauren Pronger and Joanne Maleyd of Newport Beach

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Kathy and Rick Hilton

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Reese Milner, Bill Powers, Carolyn Powers, Paul McCatskill, Mary Milner, and Michael Polenske

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Stephanie Ejabat, Beverly Barlage, and Maria Bell

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C Magazine’s Nathan Cooper, Jennifer Hale, and Gina Tolleson

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Walking down Rodeo toward Beverley Wilshire

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Hot cars, of course

VIP Dinner at Cut, Wolfgang Puck’s Newest

After a lively cocktail party, those who were lucky snagged the invitation to the private dinner at the CUT, the new restaurant at the ritzy Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire, a few blocks away.

Wolfgang Puck, the chef with a food empire, created CUT – a contemporary version on the classic steakhouse – and worked with architect Richard Meier (designed the Getty Center) who designed this trademark all-white space with Lucite tables and chairs.

Guests raved about the LA food scene and the exquisite dinner of Angus “Kobe Style” Beef from Mishima Ranch, and line-caught salmon as well as vegetarian options; after all this is a body-conscious city.

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Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck and his fiancee Gelila Assefa

But Christine Wellner commented to me, knowing I live in NYC too, “But my 7-year old son loves NY because there’s a hot dog stand on every corner…that’s what makes him happy.”

A group from Newport Beach in Orange County drove up and included P.S. Arts board member and mother of four, Robin McMonigle, “This is a star studded evening and it’s so very nice to see actor Chris Klein on the board and involved…it really helps.” she said.

These gals were all wearing the white J12 watch. “We love it and we often buy the same pieces as we have the same taste,” said Joanne Maleyd. “We could save a lot of money if we shared our Chanel jewelry.”

“Any Chanel is timeless…who can disagree with that,” added her friend Lauren Pronger.

The surprise entertainment for the night was the special performance by Cat Power who sang her soulful songs in this private sexy cabaret setting. As I left after midnight, I noticed the “Chanel Team” was finally able to relax and enjoy themselves, and were recapping the success of the evening. Even Peter Marino stayed until the very end.

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A general view is seen during the CHANEL and P.S. ARTS Party held at CUT inside the Beverly Wilshire

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Cat Power entertains

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Chanel team, there to the end

Taking advantage of Beverly Hills’s Rodeo Drive the following day…

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Barneys New York-LA

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Armani

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D&G, of course

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Bijan

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Brooks Brothers

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Fashion fun at Juicy Couture

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NY style deli down the street

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Ralph Lauren

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Hermes

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Gucci

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Lana Marks the spot

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Open air Prada

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Louis Vuitton

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NEWSOM LAUNCHES STRICTER CONTROL OF CARBON EMISSIONS – New building construction and renovation of existing buildings – Commerical and residential

BY PAT MURPHY
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

San Francisco will tighten control of carbon emissions under legislation proposed today by Mayor Gavin Newsom, requiring stricter regulation of new building construction and renovation of existing buildings.

New commerical buildings, residential buildings more than 75 feet in height, and renovation of structures with more than 25,000 square feet will be affected by the ordiance, Newsom detailed in a morning press conference at the 555 Market Street highrise construction site.

Buildings — highrises and homes — cause half the problem of global warming, the mayor pointed out.

“It is estimated nationally that about one-third of all of the CO2 footprint in the United States comes from the operation and construction of buildings,” Newsom related within the Tishman Speyer construction area.

“In cities that percentage is much higher.

“Some cities, like Chicago, it’s in excess of 60%

“In most big cities its about 50%.

“We internally have a number set at 49% here in the City and County of San Francisco.

MANY SURPRISED HALF OF GLOBAL WARMING COMES FROM BUILDINGS

“So half of your CO2 emissions do not come from the sources that most people would otherwise expect.

“They come from the construction, and the operation, and the demolition of buildings like these.

“So if you’re going to get serious about the environment, get serious CO2 emissions, you’ve got to get serious the operation of these buildings and the construction and the design elements.

“That’s why San Francisco 2004 established one of the first requirements for all our municipal construction that would elevate that construction to LEED certified standards.

STRICTER REGULATION MOVES TO PRIVATE SECTOR

“That was in all municipal buildings. Which was great. And it has worked.

“So when you see a new library being constructed, it is with LEED Silver Standards.

“When you see the new Academy of Science, we actually went further — it’s LEED Platinum.

“But you have all these buildings go up in San Francisco and they don’t have similar requirements.”

INCENTIVIED STRATEGY BY FAST-TRACKING PERMIT ISSUANCE

“In an effort to incentivize that same strategy, a couple of years ago we actually said to developers like Tishman Speyers, ‘Look, we’ll make you a deal. If you do the right thing, from our perspective the right thing with the environment, we’ll try to fast-track your permits through the Department of Building Inspection (DBI).’

“And actually created a new line at DBI so that folks can get their permits much sooner.

STRATEGY WORKED

“The value of money is such that a lot of these developers have taken advantage of that.

“Eight large buildings have taken advantage of that.

“Six are now in queue.

“That program has worked quite well and you’ve seen similar programs across the rest of the country.

NEXT PHASE

“Now it’s time for the next phase.

“We said, ‘While that’s great, 14 or so buildings in the queue, we’ve got about 3 million square feet of new development that we’re projecting on an annual basis in the next few years.

“Eight hundred-plus thousand commerical office, about 1.2 million square feet of highrise, residential space, and about a million square feet of other residential construction.

“How can we capture that, so that we’re now just dealing with a percentage of that construction with the highest level of green building standards?

GREEN BUILDING TASK FORCE

“That’s really the mandate that brought this Green Building Task Force together in March of last year.

“They came together for a number months to put forth recommendations that now we have organized into a legislative forum.

PHASE IN

Beginning in 2008, through GreenPoint and LEED certification, all new construction in San Francisco would be required to follow these green standards.

“Phased in of 2008 to 2008 is LEED Gold Certification.

“Highrises would meet a certain criteria. Low-rises and commerical residential something different.

“But you start with a high bar relative to any city in the United States and that bar would increase each and every year.

“The phased-in approach is respectful to the realities of the market but at the same time consistent with the values of our City.”

See Related: GLOBAL WARMING

See Related: WORLD POLITICS

See Related: ALLIANCE FOR CLIMATE PROTECTION

See Related: SAN FRANCISCO ENVIRONMENT

See Related: PG&E CLIMATE SMART

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PAT MURPHY
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
In his youth, Pat Murphy worked as a General Assignment reporter for the Richmond Independent, the Berkeley Daily Gazette, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He served as Managing Editor of the St. Albans (Vermont) Daily Messenger at age 21. Murphy also launched ValPak couponing in San Francisco, as the company’s first San Francisco franchise owner. He walked the bricks, developing ad strategy for a broad range of restaurants and merchants. Pat knows what works and what doesn’t work. His writing skill has been employed by marketing agencies, including Don Solem & Associates. He has covered San Francisco governance for the past ten years. Pat scribes an offbeat view of the human family through Believe It or What. Email Pat Murphy at SanFranciscoSentinel@yahoo.com.

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SAN FRANCISCO CAB DRIVERS HONORED by City Taxi Commission

Twelve San Francisco cab drivers were honored today during the San Francisco Taxi Commission second annual Taxi Appreciation Luncheon.

Certificates of Appreciation were awarded during the noon event held at Park Chalet.

The Taxi Commission has received an overwhelming response of donations which exceed $1000 and were raffled off to the drivers in attendance.

Generous contributions from our local business community include a champagne brunch for two at the Cliff House, dinner for two at the Four Seasons, and four tickets to Beach Blanket Babylon.

Other contributors included Clear Channel Outdoor, Westfield Mall and a number of local independent restaurants including Mangarosa, First Crush, the Stinking Rose and more.

“We are thrilled to see this outpouring of support from the local business community,” said Commissioner Paul Gillespie, President of the Taxi Commission.

According to the San Francisco Visitors Bureau, in 2006 there were over 15 million visitors in San Francisco.

The generous donations provided by the local community are evidence that the taxi industry and drivers are important means of transportation to hotels, restaurants, and San Francisco’s diverse neighborhoods.

Approximately sixty people attended, including company owners, drivers, Taxi Commissioners and Commission staff.

“The Commission is very pleased to honor these hard-working drivers for their hard work and dedication,” said Heidi Machen, Executive Director of the Taxi Commission.

“This is just a small sampling of the many talented taxi drivers who navigate our streets and transport thousands of people on a daily basis.”

The San Francisco Taxi Commission is the City’s regulatory agency which oversees 7,000 licensed taxi drivers, 1,431 permits to operate a vehicle as a taxi, 34 taxi companies and 11 dispatch companies.

The Taxi Commission comprises seven Mayoral appointees that serve two-year terms, that represent taxi drivers, taxi companies, the public, seniors and disabled, the hospitality industry and the neighborhoods.

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JETBLUE DONATES $80,000 to Alameda and San Francisco Food Banks

An $80,000 donation to be split between two Bay Area food banks was made Monday by JetBlue Airways , company spokesman Bryan Baldwin said.

The Alameda County Community Food Bank and the San Francisco Food Bank will each receive about $40,000 to buy food for community members in need of help, according to officials.

The San Francisco Food Bank, located at 900 Pennsylvania Ave., will purchase food to be used after holiday donations have slowed down, spokesman Jeff Gillenkirk said.

“Our message is that hunger is year round,” he said.

Each $1 donated to the food bank amounts to $9 worth of food, Gillenkirk said, so the $40,000 donation will allow the food bank to purchase a large amount of food to be used all year.

Officials at the Alameda County Community Food Bank, located at 7900 Edgewater Drive in Oakland, estimate that the donation will be used to provide 240,000 meals for low-income individuals in the Bay Area.

“This is a critical time of the year when people may have to choose between heating their home or putting food on the table,” said Suzan Bateson, executive director of the Alameda County Food Bank.

“JetBlue’s generous donation will help feed the thousands of residents who find themselves in need of our services during the holiday season.”

JetBlue collected the money from May 3 to June 3, the first month that the airline began service at San Francisco International Airport, Baldwin said.

Money from ticket bookings for flights into and out of SFO was collected and used to make the donations.

JetBlue officials made the commitment to give back to the Bay Area community when service to SFO started, and a community relations team designated the two food banks as recipients, according to Baldwin.

The company typically becomes involved in communities around airports that offer JetBlue service by contributing to groups involving children, education, the community and the environment, Baldwin said.

“Now that we serve three airports in the Bay Area, it’s a really important market to us, and we continue to look for ways to get involved in the community,” Baldwin said.

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TRAVEL: Mysterious Shopping in New York Chinatown

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Doggy Kimona. $18-$25 from PEARL OF THE ORIENT.

BY ANITA SARKO

Between the generally awful food, the toxic shock of Chinese-produced toys and wretched memories of jury duty, it’s rare that the typical Manhattanite would consider Chinatown to be destination shopping. In addition, when fave Chinese one-stop shopping emporium, Pearl River, moved further north on Broadway, it seemed TOTALLY unnecessary to take that slow train or walk.

Alas: We were wrong. (Slap slap)

During my latest jury duty torture session, I found that I actually enjoyed my lunchtime strolls through the area. Therefore, I returned a few more times to REALLY peruse the offerings.

It was a gift shop, PINK COLLECTION INC. (75 Baxter St., 212.608.5666), that first caught my eye. Actually, it was the massive lit piggybank in the window. Once inside, I was mesmerized by not only all the porcine-themed merchandise, but the quality and uniqueness of their Hello Kitty items. For some odd reason, the owner banned me from shooting pictures of one wall. Even odder, he later changed his mind … with much fanfare.

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Baseball Pig nightlife. $35 from PINK COLLECTION INC.; atop Hello Kitty seat/playchest ($18).

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Stuffed pig. $35 from PINK COLLECTION INC.

There was NOTHING inflammatory on the forbidden wall, nothing obscene, nothing embarrassing. There were just bedazzled tschostkes, as far as I could tell. “Why wouldn’t he let me photograph that wall before?” I asked the adorable salesgirl who was interpreting his directives. “I have no idea.” She laughed.

I stupidly wondered to myself (thankfully) why there were so many pigs … until I remembered that this was the year of, according to the Chinese calendar. (Duh) Luckily, I asked the salesgirl her name before I left. “Kitty.” She replied. How perfect. “Goodbye Kitty.” (Bet she hasn’t heard THAT one before …)

Cat grass was about the only thing missing from the exotic array of plants displayed at MANHATTAN FLORIST & GIFTS, LTD (878 Bayard St., 212.385.0003). Shoved into the cramped space were everything from Money Trees (“Those are for good luck”) to Buddha’s Hand (the weird fingered citrus fruits that have started to appear in posh groceries) to festive Holly adorned with berries in red or pink. If a vase of Holly is too mundane a hostess gift during the holidays, there’s always the Wow Factor attained by carting in a prehistoric looking Pitcher Plant.

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Pitcher Plant. $32 from MANHATTAN FLORIST & GIFTS, LTD.

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Money Tree. $20-$225 from MANHATTAN FLORIST & GIFTS, LTD.

These carnivorous oddities are part of the Venus Flytrap family and can grow to be large enough to not only solve insect problems, but actually ingest rodents. “Magazines and TV programs come in here all the time. So do movies.” The proprietress boasted. “They love to use our plants as props.” However, when I asked her to tell me which magazines, programs and movies, she looked at me like I was insane. “I CAN’T reveal their names!” She said firmly.

First the wall, now this: What ARE these people hiding?

The only thing kept hush-hush at the next interesting shop was the NAME. It had none. However, if you’re looking for really interesting and well-crafted Chinese shoes and slippers, go to the corner of Mott and Pell Streets. While on Pell, you might as well attend to the other end of your body since Pell is obviously Japanese hair-straightening central. There’s salon after salon after salon …

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Pink silk jacket with Velvet Centipedes and Heavy Embroidery. $85 from WHOLE WORLD FASHION BOUTIQUE, INC.

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Shoe display. $28-$38 from Corner of Mott and Pell Streets.

I was so knocked out by the gorgeous fabrics and unique designs of the made-to-order clothing at MADAM DESIGN INC. (38 Mott St., 212.349.0818), I literally begged the owner, Susan Din, to let me take photos. She responded to my pleas with a look of extreme alarm. “Must paint a picture of computer so I can see!” She responded ominously. “PRINT a picture?” I asked.

“Paint! Paint! No picture! No picture!” She yelled. “Please?” I piteously nagged. “No!” She answered firmly, then pointed to a dress I had chosen. “No more of that material!” I gave up. Just so you know, this place is really worth checking out. Frockcoats are around $180 and custom silk Cheongsams go from approximately $280 (no piping) to $400 (single piping). Naturally, prices depend on the materials used.

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Rose cut-velvet chiffon Cheongsam. $268 from WHOLE WORLD FASHION BOUTIQUE, INC.

“These are people from old country who think they’re still there.” Explained Carol Tsao, owner of the neighboring PEARL OF THE ORIENT GALLERY (36 Mott St., 212.267.5765). “They are afraid.”

“Don’t listen to them” said the man eating takeout next to her. “It’s legal HERE to take pictures!” “Outside.” Corrected Ms. Tsao. “But, if I’ve already asked and have been denied, I would show disrespect.” I suggested. They agreed. I guess the solution is just not to ask.

Anyway …

If you need a gift for someone with a dog, PEARL OF THE ORIENT is the place to go. You will DIE when you see the Chinese and Japanese robes, jackets and kimonos in red, blue and green satin for Fido. The prices range from $5.99 to $40, depending on the clothing choice and the weight of the pooch.

Another great shop for humans is just down the block. And they let me take photos! WHOLE WORLD FASHION BOUTIQUE, INC. (17 A Mott St., 212.267.4210) is very big on velvet, cut velvet chiffons, embroidery and beading. “This is NOT Pearl River.” Owner Joy Chan explained. “Everything here is handmade. We have LOTS of beautiful things.” I absolutely agree.

Finally, I happened upon a clothing store with contemporary fashions that didn’t look cheap or feature Hello Kitty emblems. Both the knitwear and the coats were standouts at M.ZEN (8 Pell St., 212.227.1907) … especially the coats. Italian-made and generally black, they are priced between $199 and $299. Helpful hints: Larger sizes go quickly and paying in cash will garner a discount of 10-20%.

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“Doggie” models Chinese Robe. $30-$40 from PEARL OF THE ORIENT.

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Black Coat. $199 from M.ZEN.

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Jemy Dong models a sweater. $100 from M.ZEN.

When you need a breather from the perplexing inscrutableness of most of Chinatown’s shops and its shopkeepers, take yourself to TENREN TEATIME (79 Mott St., 212.732.7178) where you can sip or takeout the BEST bubble tea you’ve ever had.

The life-changing Vanilla Chai sells out early, but the melon milk shouldn’t be ignored. Make sure to get a VIP card to get a freebee small size after you purchase 10.

Psst! You can tell anyone you want about everything I’ve just told you. I am NOT afraid.

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THE KINDLE READING DEVICE

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The Kindle has storage capacity for around 200 books, and doesn’t need to hook up to a PC thanks to a built-in EVDO radio connection to Amazon’s new Whispernet service, which over 90,000 books already online.

The e-book reader can download books in less than a minute, with new releases and New York Times bestsellers setting punters back $9.99. There’s no charge to use the wireless service, with all download fees included included in the cost of books. Thanks to the EVDO connectivity they won’t have to run about looking for an open Wi-Fi connection either.

A large selection of US-based newspapers and magazines are available including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly, Time, and Fortune, as well as some European newspapers like Le Monde, Frankfurter Allgemeine and the Irish Times.

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SAN FRANCISCO PHILANTHROPIC TRAVEL means doing good works while still enjoying plush hotel suites and fine restaurants

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Doing charity work while on vacation no longer has to mean backbreaking labor and dorm-like accommodations. A new kind of philanthropic travel lets wealthy vacationers do good works while still enjoying plush hotel suites and fine restaurants.

More luxury tour operators now offer philanthropic-minded trips to places like Kenya, Cambodia and Vietnam that incorporate visits to local schools, hospitals or wildlife centers.

Travelers also go on traditional sightseeing tours and safaris that may cost $300 to $1,000 a day, not including airfare.

Even in remote African plains, tour operators pamper guests, who may stay in deluxe cottages with all the amenities. Travelers may leave those accommodations for part of their stay to visit charitable operations and get a first-hand look at how financial donations can be put to work.

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David Chamberlain

“Just one person can make a world of difference for a community,” said David Chamberlain, owner of Exquisite Safaris, a tour operator based in San Francisco that offers top-of-the-line services while incorporating visits to schools, health clinics and neighborhoods with hopes that clients will make a donation or become more involved.

The idea is that travelers who meet the people and see how they live can become long-term, passionate donors and proponents for change.

Not surprisingly, nonprofits are lining up to become part of such tours, with the hope that wealthy vacationers may be more willing to make long-term financial commitments long after the trip is over.

For many years, international aid groups organized their own tours for big supporters.

“Those people who have actually been in the field are our biggest donors,” said Lisa Giaretto, managing director of the Village Enterprise Fund, a group based in San Carlos, Calif., that offers entrepreneurship training to people in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Next July, the Village Enterprise Fund will be part of Exquisite Safaris tours of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Guests will visit farmers, tailors and bike-repair workers who have benefited from training by Village Enterprise.

Chuck Ebeling, a retired vice president of the McDonald’s Corporation, had a similar goal when he took a nine-day tour of Tanzania in the spring of 2006. He paid $500 a day to stay in a tented camp where a chef prepared dinners and staff members delivered coffee at dawn.

His trip inspired him to become involved in the country’s wildlife conservation efforts and led him to pay $500 to help a conservation group raise a bongo, a rare mountain antelope, with the goal of reintroducing it into the wild.

Some travelers who work charity into their trips prefer to rough it alongside the people they are helping. However, “I don’t just travel to help others,” said Mr. Ebeling, 64. “I enjoy some of the comforts and luxuries. I enjoy seeing the world. And the experience in east Africa was eye-opening.”

John Kay, the lead singer of the band Steppenwolf, came home from a luxury 2003 vacation to Cambodia so inspired that he started his own charity, the Maue Kay Foundation. Mr. Kay, who lives in West Vancouver, British Columbia, was struck by the lingering devastation from Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime, which left 1.7 million people dead in the late 1970s.

He donated $50,000 to build a primary school there with its own water well and vegetable garden, and he also paid for teacher salaries, books and computers with satellite e-mail access.

Later, Mr. Kay and his wife, Jutta Maue Kay, gave thousands of dollars more to support the Gijedabung school, to protect African wildlife and to support food banks in Puerto Rico.

“The old cliche that travel broadens the mind is very true,” Mr. Kay said. “We were able to have a glimpse of certain things that go beyond staying in a hotel and a day excursion.”

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THE KINDLE READING DEVICE

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The Kindle has storage capacity for around 200 books, and doesn’t need to hook up to a PC thanks to a built-in EVDO radio connection to Amazon’s new Whispernet service, which over 90,000 books already online.

The e-book reader can download books in less than a minute, with new releases and New York Times bestsellers setting punters back $9.99. There’s no charge to use the wireless service, with all download fees included included in the cost of books. Thanks to the EVDO connectivity they won’t have to run about looking for an open Wi-Fi connection either.

A large selection of US-based newspapers and magazines are available including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly, Time, and Fortune, as well as some European newspapers like Le Monde, Frankfurter Allgemeine and the Irish Times.

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RIOTS FLARE SECOND NIGHT in Paris following Sunday deaths of two teenagers on motorbike

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French police beefed up security Tuesday after a second night of riots in flashpoint suburbs north of Paris despite the launch of a judicial probe into the deaths of two teens that sparked the violence.

A helicopter hovered early Tuesday over the town of Villiers-le-Bel, 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the French capital “to locate people stirring up trouble,” a police officer reported.

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Riots intensified on Monday in the town and in neighbouring areas, police said. Violence erupted in Villiers-le-Bel on Sunday just after two teenagers died when their motorbike crashed into a police car sparking six hours of clashes.

Late Monday, some 100 angry youths crouching behind trash cans in Villiers-le-Bel hurled objects at 160 riot police who responded with rubber bullets and teargas.

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Young rioters in other towns were armed with petrol bombs, bottles filled with acid and baseball bats, police said.

After Sunday’s first night of unrest, President Nicolas Sarkozy had appealed for calm with France fearful of a repeat of nationwide violence that gripped the country in 2005 following the deaths of two youths fleeing the police.

But this was to no avail as police Monday said up to 30 personnel were injured and 63 vehicles and five buildings had been set ablaze in six towns in the wider Val d’Oise area.

“One policeman was wounded in the shoulder after being hit by a high calibre bullet,” a security official said, adding that “however, no vital organ was affected.”

On Monday, a bus, which had no passengers on board at the time, and a lorry were set alight respectively in nearby Longjumeau and Grigby, police sources said.

In Villiers-le-Bel, a pre-school, a driving school and a beauty salon were also set ablaze, witnesses said, while youths stoned a police car and a fire engine as well as looting another vehicle and causing further damage.

Speaking earlier on a trip to Beijing, Sarkozy called for “all sides to calm down and for the judiciary to decide who bears responsibility”.

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State prosecutor Marie-Therese Givry ordered an internal police investigation for “involuntary manslaughter and failure to assist persons in danger” following the deaths of the two teenagers.

But speaking later to reporters, she said witnesses had confirmed the police officers’ version according to which the bike smashed into the side of their car during a routine patrol. Neither youth was wearing a helmet.

But Omar Sehhouli, brother of one of the victims, accused police of ramming the motorbike and of failing to assist the teens.

“This is a failure to assist a person in danger… it is 100-percent a (police) blunder. They know it, and that’s why they did not stay at the scene,” he told France Info radio.

Sehhouli told AFP the rioting “was not violence but an expression of rage.”

Police made nine arrests Sunday as rioters torched a police station, two garages, a petrol pump and two shops, and pillaged the railway station in neighbouring Arnouville. Some 40 police were reported injured.

The police union Alliance offered its condolences to the victims’ families, but said it was “unacceptable for a gang of delinquents to use this tragedy as an excuse to set the town on fire.”

Police and politicians warn the French suburbs remain a “tinderbox” two years after the 2005 riots, which exposed France’s failure to integrate its large black and Arab population, the children and grandchildren of immigrants from its African colonies.

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TRAVEL AND DINING: New York City declared The Big Truffle

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The James Beard Foundation’s Annual Holiday Auction and Dinner celebrates the World’s Most Expensive Ingredient Funds supporting the non-profit’s mission and programs

BY LOURDES CASTRO

In a city obsessed with the biggest and the best, it’s fitting that the world’s most expensive ingredient, the truffle, was celebrated in New York City at a multi-course dinner for 250 guests on November 14 at Guastavino’s. The regional cuisine of Italy’s truffle region, Piemonte, was showcased, while funds were raised for the James Beard Foundation.

Twenty pounds of truffles were imported by Appennino Funghi e Tartufi for the dinner aptly titled Le Citta del Tartufo (The Truffle Towns of Italy). Chefs from three of Italy’s most celebrated truffle towns — Alberto Bettini and Denis Lenzi from Amerigo 1934 in Savigno, Bruno Cingolani from Dulcis Vitis Ristorante in Alba, and Flavio Faedi from Granaro del Monte in Norcia — prepared a menu highlighting the intensity, complexity, and diversity of truffles.

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The scene at Guastavino’s

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“The Truffle”

Three chefs from the New York-based B&B Hospitality Group — William Gallagher from Becco, Fortunato Nicotra from Felidia, and David Pasternack from Esca — prepared truffle-themed hors d’oeuvres for the cocktail and silent auction reception.

Notable guests included Stanley Tucci, Christine Baranski, Drew Nieporent and VIP table hosts Lorraine Bracco, Steve Schirripa, Joe Bastianich, Bill Buford, the Pellegrino family of Rao’s, Sirio Maccioni, and Julian Niccolini.

Guests enjoyed themselves by bidding on once in a lifetime auction packages such as dinner for 20 by Chef Eric Ripert in Le Bernardin’s private dining room, 1 kilogram of osetra caviar, and an Akoya cultured pearl necklace with loops of graduated-color blue sapphires set in 18K white gold from Mikimoto’s Elements of Life: Ocean Collection which sold for $28,000.

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Steve Schirippa, James Beard Foundation President Susan Ungaro, and Joe Bastianich

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Drew Nieporent, Steve Schirippa, and Stanley Tucci

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Lorraine Bracco and Stanley Tucci

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Joe Bastianich and Julian Niccolini

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Chef Bruno Cingolani

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Chef Bruno Cingolani of Dulcis Vitis Ristorante in Alba, Italy, Susan Ungaro, and chef Alberto Bettini of Amerigo 1934 in Savigno, Italy

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Christine Baranski and French Culinary Institute Founder Dorothy Cann Hamilton

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TRAVEL – Five top safety tips for international Holiday travel

Whether you are beating the crowds in early December on your way to London or traveling to Rio for New Years, International holiday travel can be exciting and wonderful.

To avoid the pitfalls that might make a trip painful or terrible, expect the best but prepare for the worst and follow five simple international travel tips this holiday season:

Sign your passport, and fill in emergency information

Update and sign your valid passport, and a visa, if required. Don’t forget to also fill in the emergency information page of your passport.

Qipit itinerary, passport and other important documents

Make sure you are protected in case of theft, loss or other emergency by making easy to access digital backup copies of important documents. Qipit, a free service, turns any camera phone into a mobile scanner so you can convert important documents (travelers checks, driver’s license, passport or itinerary), into enhanced easy-to-read digital copies that can be saved online, emailed or faxed right from your phone to anywhere in the world.

Review your insurance coverage

Confirm with your medical insurance provider that your policy applies overseas and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If your coverage does not cover you abroad, consider supplemental insurance.

Familiarize yourself with local conditions and laws

While visiting a foreign country, you are subject to its laws.

The State Department website has useful safety and other information about the countries you will visit.

Don’t make yourself a target

To avoid being a target of crime, do not wear flashy clothing or jewelry. Further, do not carry excessive amounts of cash.

Lastly, do not leave your luggage in public areas and do not accept packages from strangers.

By following the five tips above this little bit of preparation will ensure that this holiday travel season is the best yet for you and your family.

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SUCCESS OF WASHINGTON PARTIES often depends on how many Supreme Court Justices attend

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BY CAROL JOYNT

The Washington Performing Arts Society Fall Celebration. Yes, Supreme Court justices do sometimes go out at night and the success of a Washington party can often be measured by how many show up.

For their annual “Fall Celebration,” the Washington Performing Arts Society on last Monday night scored three of the “Supremes,” and they of course pulled rank over two ambassadors, one United States Senator and one full-fledged movie star.

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In town for the night from his home in nearby Middleburg, Va., actor Robert Duvall

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, and Sam Alito were among the many happy supporters of the WPAS who came together in the Kennedy Center’s rooftop atrium for cocktails and dinner, followed by a concert by Yo-Yo Ma, who was accompanied by British pianist Kathryn Stott.

Due to the federal holiday – which means a very quiet day in the capital – the evening started early at 5:30.

Champagne and wine were served to a relaxed crowd of men in business suits and women in cocktail dresses, including Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, Afghanistan Ambassador Said T. Jawad, Sen. John Sununu (R-NH), American Red Cross chairman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter and Academy Award-winning actor Robert Duvall and wife Luciana Pedraza. Toyota underwrote the evening, and Hermes provided a swag bag that gets a solid B, because it included the ingredients for a perfect encore: bubble bath and music, Yo-Yo Ma’s “Paris, La Belle Epoque.”

Music lovers abound in Washington, probably because a good sonata is one way to soothe the savage beast that is government and its associated interests.

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Dr. Sidney L. Werkman

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Lysbeth and Michael Sherman

Those who showed up for the performance, as well as dinner of Afghani Spiced Lamb Loin, Sauteed Spinach and Butternut Squash, were former CIA director William Webster and wife Lynda, lawyer Robert Bennett, Corcoran Gallery of Art director Paul Greenhalgh, auto executive Daniel Korengold, Sam and Ellen Schreiber, Sydney “Nini” Ferguson, political fundraising consultant Rachel Tinsley Pearson (also one of the evening’s co-chairs), Bitsey Folger and Sidney Werkman, Carl Colby and Dorothy Browning, Burton and Anne Fishman, Paula Goldman, Leonard and Frances Burka, Susan and William Soza, and Izette Folger.

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Sisters-in-law Marjory and Paula Goldman

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Meranda and Yong K. Kim of Great Falls, Va. with the evening’s co-chair, Rachel Tinsley Pearson

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Jim McCarrick, Nan Whalen, Pat McCarrick, and Baby Rae Evans

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Susan and William Soza of McLean, Va. He took an accounting degree and built a multi-million dollar technology consulting firm.

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James Baring with Winslow Moore and her mother, Dorothy Browning, all of Washington DC

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It’s not a Washington party without these three: Nini Ferguson with Tandy and Wyatt Dickerson

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John McGarry of Boston, Hank Schlosberg, and Leonard Burka of Chevy Chase, Md

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David A. Metzner, vice chairman of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Sen. John Sununu, R-NH

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Izette Folger, Corcoran Gallery of Art director Paul Greenhalgh, and Rachel Tinsley Pearson

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Paul Greenhalgh with Amb. Said T. Jawad of Afghanistan

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Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito with Burton Fishman, the WPAS’ general counsel

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Maureen and Antonin Scalia with Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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One of Washington’s most generous fundraisers and donors, automobile executive Daniel L. Korengold, who is also a former chairman of the WPAS board

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The pre-dinner cocktail party

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Trina Sams-Manning of Hermes

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Well known and popular social photographers Hector Emanuel and dean of the field, Jim Brantley

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Washington Examiner columnist Patrick Gavin

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Antonin Scalia and Robert DuVall talk what? Law, acting or horses?

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Shamim Jawad, American Red Cross chairman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, and Nini Ferguson

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Sam and Ellen Schreiber

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Martha Ann Alito and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

It won’t last long, but Washington’s autumn is at its peak. Like spring, autumn is a season we do well, thanks to the many trees and gardens and lots of greenspace. As the last days of the November roll toward Thanksgiving, the city sidewalks and parks turn to gold. The calendar that has the most impact here, though, is the one that’s followed by Congress. A two-week recess begins Monday. Don’t believe for an instant any malarkey about the time off being for family and turkey. These are precious days on the campaign trail for all House members and the more than 30 senators whose seats are up, not to mention the pack of presidential candidates. When Congress is out the city’s pace slows. So many people here are not from here and they all seem to head home.

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Autumn in Georgetown, where the sidewalks are paved in brick and gold.

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We have a new arrival of note. The king of high end franchising, Wolfgang Puck, has come to town with The Source, a highly contemporary but still serene restaurant with a downstairs bar and upstairs dining room. It adjoins the past-due but almost finished Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue. I predict it’s location in the shadow of the Capitol dome and across from the National Gallery of Art, along with its celebrity, good food and polished service, will make it the new top dog in town, with a menu that highlights everything Wolfgang – a little bit of Spago, mixed with a little bit of Chinois, and wrapped in a flourish of Califrancais. The only impediment to skyrocket success might be the Vegas prices. We’ll need New Yorkers – who, I don’t think, have a Puck eatery – to come south to take us to The Source.

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The $58 roasted lobster is a delicious budget buster

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Beautiful plating is a signature at Wolfgang Puck’s, “The Source.” This is the lacquered duck

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Dining at The Source

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The dessert menu with a cookie plate and multiple ice creams and sorbets

Photographs by Carol Joynt

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