Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Just One of Those Nights

   ...Cole Porter might have sung, for those who remember Cole Porter, and who ran in his circles: Hal Prince and #MikeNichols exchanging anecdotes in the Rose's entryway, as elegant, just this side of liveried butlers passed hors d'oeuevres, and good-looking women with deep-pocketed men gathered to dine with and honor #Tony Walton, and his long-ago ex but still close friend and mother of their daughter, Emma, Julie Andrews.  Tony's amazing-- a word the young use all the time about everything, but in this case it obtains-- stage designs on careful exhibition in the side rooms, while representatives of the Library of Congress which hopes to raise the 3.1 million to make them part of a permanent collection, hovered proudly, pointing out original leadsheets from Frederic Loewe and, oh yes, a student of Bach's.
    Quietly dazzling, but basically breath-stopping, the kind of evening that people dream constitutes a high evening in New York.  I, myself, imagined such things existed, but never before experienced on such a charmed and charming level.  Our hostess, Joanna Semel Rose, is the smartest woman to have gone to Bryn Mawr, where I knew and was awed by her from a distance.  That was an appraisal seconded by Joe Mankiewicz, in my only slightly prejudiced opinion, the best film director of his era, which lasted a good long while.  Joanna had worked for Joe after graduate forays into the best English universities, and he, like me, was surprised that she had not kept up her writing, but turned instead to interesting collections and various causes, besides raising a remarkable family with Daniel Rose, who hosted and toasted the evening, raising an eloquent glass to welcome the distinguished company.  
     Julie Andrews came with the dessert, as lovely as ever, exactly as one always hoped Julie Andrews would be, giving a delightful speech which did not for a moment betray the nervousness our hostess said Julie, if I may call her that, was feeling. All in all, the dreamed of evening that makes you move back to New York, which I did in September. Having had it makes it even harder to go back to California, as I am doing in May, though a wise friend says I should not think of it as a move so much as becoming bi-coastal, since I am keeping my studio here that overlooks the ever-ascending garbage-y building on 57th Street the crane fell off in the Sandy storms.  It is my intention to do a creative retreat within walking distance (I will not get a car) of Neiman-Marcus where I will never go, as I am not yet rich enough to help the Library of Congress make the Tony Walton collection permanent.  Taking time there to work quietly(the only way you can, in California, in between earthquakes) on a couple of projects, most especially my musical comedy, SYLVIA WHO?, while I try to make it more perfect(a wrong joining of words, even when Jefferson, the best of American eloquenters, a word I just invented, incorrectly, said "in order to make a more perfect union," as you can't make perfection more perfect, but who is there to argue that, now that Gore Vidal is gone?)
    I had a rare bout of patriotism the other day coming back to my building when one of the cleaning men was lowering the American flag, which for some reason was strung on the pole outside, which I had never noticed, as people in New York, always on their way to something, rarely see what is in front of them.  Whimsically, I was moved to stand at attention and sing "The Star Spangled Banner," not the best song ever, but Francis Scott Keyes was an ancestor of F. Scott Fitzgerald, so matters.  A car pulled up just as I was finishing, and two sharp young guys got out, and as I sang "O'er the land of the free, and the home of the..." both put their feet on the sidewalk and joined in on "brave."  A nice moment, as funny as it was unexpectedly enchanting.
   All the more so as the Boston bombing was taking place at that very time.
   What a world! What a World! Margaret Hamilton would have said, her Wicked Witch now more lovable than scary in view of what the world has become.  God help us all, if She's there.