Sunday, October 27, 2013

Reggie Out & About: Cocktail Preview Party at Cove Landing

Well, Dear Reader, it has been rather a long time since I've posted an "Out & About" story here on Reggie Darling.  While I've most decidedly been running around Manhattan and its environs these last several months attending this and that, nothing has excited me to actually sit down and (so to speak) take pen to paper to report on it.  That is, until now. . .

The other evening Boy and I attended a cocktail party hosted by Mr. Angus Wilkie, the celebrated antiquarian and proprietor of Cove Landing, formerly of Upper Lexington Avenue.  The party was held to preview Mr. Wilkie's autumn exhibition sale of precious agate, marble, and hardstone objects, cleverly titled "Stoned."

The invitation to Cove Landing's cocktail party,
featuring an image of 19th-century Austrian

hallmarked silver-mounted agate cutlery

The exhibition sale was held in the galleries at W. M. Brady & Co., in a smart townhouse on a smart street on New York's Upper East Side, just steps off Fifth Avenue.

The party was attended by a swell, well-dressed set of New Yorkers drawn from the museum, auction house, and decorating worlds.  That, along with a smattering of investment bankers and assorted collectors, including yours truly.

I lusted after this delicious English nineteenth-century
Blue John and porphyry obelisk

The objects on display were all made of semi-precious or rare stone (hence the name "Stoned") and were mouth-wateringly covetable.

Mr. Angus Wilkie

The exhibition was assembled by Mr. Angus Wilkie, the debonair owner of Cove Landing, who is known for his exceptional eye, honed by a lifetime spent in the loftiest levels of the antiques and auction house worlds.  He wrote one of the earliest—and most definitive—books on Biedermeier when he was but a tow-headed youth in his twenties.

There was lots to see and admire at the Cove Landing cocktail party, including both objets and those attending the party.

These Blue John urns were the stars of the exhibition

I was particularly enamored with the pair of early-nineteenth-century English Blue John urns shown in the preceding photograph.  They excited a lot of admiration among the assembled guests.  I think they would look perfect on the mantel in our drawing room at Darlington House.  Alas, this will not come to be as their purchase price, while exceedingly fair given their rarity, was a tad high for Reggie's pocketbook.

The Emperor Tiberius

I also admired this nineteenth-century Italian carved marble wall placque of the Emperor Tiberius, formerly in the collection of Bill Blass.  I learned from one of the other guests, Michael Baldridge, during the party that Tiberius was a nasty piece of work, indeed.  However, such knowledge did not detract from my pleasure in seeing the piece, which I thought very handsome.

As I wrote above, the party was attended by guests drawn from the arts (both decorative and fine) and museum worlds.  The decorator Todd Gribben can be seen on the left in the above photograph, and Sarah Coffin of the Cooper-Hewitt can be seen on the far right.  Both Todd and Sarah have houses near us in the country.  Boy and I spent a week in a farmhouse in Tuscany with Sarah and her husband, Tom (seen on the extreme right of the photograph), a number of years ago.  Sarah's uncle, the Reverend William Sloane Coffin, wrote my prep-school letters of recommendation.

I admired this little late-nineteenth-century Russian gilt-bronze bear sprawled on a malachite base.  He was most appealing.

In addition to the main gallery room at W. M. Brady & Co., Cove Landing's exhibition extends into a smaller adjoining room that was set up as a cabinet of curiosities . . . of sorts.

I particularly liked this little nineteenth-century Italian Siena marble Roman tub, raised on carved paw feet.  I liked it so much, in fact, that I bought it.  It can be seen in the photograph at the outset of this essay, Dear Reader, sitting on a pier table in our Snuggery at Darlington House.  I'm very happy to have it.

In addition to offering decorative stone objets, Cove Landing is also selling a selection of handsome furniture and framed works of art.

The South German Biedermeier cherrywood center table shown in the preceding photograph has its original dished variegated gray marble top.  It's the perfect setting for the stone objets displayed upon it, don't you think?

Ms. Laura Bennett, of W. M. Brady & Co.

While at the Cove Landing party I was pleased to meet and speak with Ms. Laura Bennett, Director of W. M. Brady & Co.  She was very nice, and good-naturedly put up with me asking if she was related to the Bennets of Pride and Prejudice.  She said that she isn't, with a smile.

A stone-inlaid table, holding a collection of polished stone desirables.

Here's a photograph of Boy standing with the decorators Robert Lindgren and Tom Gibb.  I first met the charming Mr. Gibb around thirty years ago, when we were both just starting out in New York.

I thought this framed collection of nineteenth-century Italian sliced marble samples mounted on board was very attractive.

Guests at the Cove Landing party did not want for cocktails.  That's Mr. Phillippe de Montebello, the former head of the Metropolitan Museum, that you see standing in front of the table, wearing the light gray suit.

What desk wouldn't benefit from this elegant and severe English desk stand made of Siena marble and bronze mounts, circa 1810?

"Why, yes, I will have another cocktail, thank you!"

Boy and I briefly considered buying this George III alabaster and Blue John lidded urn mounted on a black marble base.  We opted not to, though, given that we had already committed to buying the little Siena marble tub.

While at the party we met and spoke with the decorator Tom Scheerer and his partner Michael Balding. Mr. Balding and I had a particularly amusing conversation, and he was the one who told me just how nasty the Emperor Tiberius (supposedly) was.  It was only after leaving the party that I realized Mr. Scheerer is the decorator who redid the public rooms at the Lyford Cay Club, which he did to perfection, in my view.

In addition to stone objets, Cove Landing also has a selection of beautiful rock crystals on display.  They, too, can be yours.

Realizing that we were—once again—among the remaining few guests at a party, Boy and I gathered ourselves together and bid our adieus and exited down the townhouse's somewhat treacherous (well, at least it was after several drinks) staircase and headed out into the late October night . . .

. . . where we hailed a taxi on Madison Avenue . . .

. . . and sped over to Swifty's for dinner.  As I have reported here on Reggie, Swifty's is one of our favorite "go-to" restaurants on the UES.  Mr. Robert Caravaggi, the restaurant's co-owner, kindly gave us the sole remaining table, even though we arrived there on a busy night without a reservation.  Swifty's was the perfect place to wind up after our very pleasant evening at the Cove Landing cocktail preview party.

For those of you who are fortunate to be in New York City this week, Reggie highly encourages you to visit Cove Landing's autumn sale.  But you'd better hurry, though, as it closes on Friday, November 1, and I expect that it will sell out soon (if it hasn't already).  Oh, and please tell them that Reggie sent you!

Cove Landing at W. M. Brady & Co.
22 East 80th Street, Third Floor
(212) 288-7597

23 October through 1 November
11 o'clock to 6 o'clock

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Count Your Blessings

One of the lessons that Reggie has learned while bumbling about on this planet is that it is useful to pause every once in a while and take stock of one's life.  He believes spending a portion of such time doing so focusing on the positive aspects of one's existence is time well spent.

It certainly helps him put it all in perspective when he does so . . .

Too often Reggie comes across people, some of whom he knows and some of whom he overhears in public, who spend an inordinate amount of their time complaining.  And these are people who appear to be financially stable, in reasonable health, and speaking with what appear to be friends or loved ones.  It's all too much for them, or its just not good enough for them—it's such a trial, or such a disappointment.

Poor things.

Reggie believes they'd be much happier and more content if they stopped moaning and think for a moment about what the alternatives might be.  The less-appealing ones, that is . . .
  • So the waiter forgot that you ordered your spinach steamed and not sautéed.  Send the offending vegetable back to the kitchen to be replaced, but don't make a federal case out of it, please.  Be grateful that you are being waited on and can afford to eat a meal in a restaurant.  
  • So your maid didn't show up today, and you have been inconvenienced by it.  Did you ever stop to think that she may have problems of her own that just might need tending to unexpectedly every now and then?  Be grateful you're not the one cleaning your own house, and that you have someone to help you.
  • So you had to fly in coach on the overnight flight to London instead of in business or first class.  Don't spend the flight endlessly pushing the call button and demanding special service from the flight attendant, acting like you're too good for coach (even though that's all you've paid for).  Be grateful that you are able to visit one of the most magnificent cities on the planet.
Reggie understands that there are circumstances when it is appropriate to be disappointed in something or by someone—life doesn't always work out the way one hopes or expects it to.  And yes, he appreciates that there are many people who truly struggle to make it through the day in one piece, keeping it all together.  He isn't writing about such situations or such people, Dear Reader.  No, he is writing this post about those of us (and note he say "us" and not "you") who sometimes find ourselves complaining or being frustrated by something or someone when it isn't really merited, and where it doesn't reflect all that well on those of us who are doing the complaining.

I acknowledge there are times when rendering a complaint is justified, and I've certainly relished the pleasure of joining in a good "bitch-fest" like the best of them.  However, I make a concerted effort not to be a gratuitous complainer, which—I admit—sometimes takes more willpower than I wish were the case.  That doesn't mean Reggie is a saccharine Pollyanna who has nothing but nice things to say (for those of you who know me, you'll agree that I'm not afraid to state my contrarian views on controversial subjects).  I do strive, however, to choose what I complain about carefully, and to do so sparingly.

Now, some of you may be wondering, "Reggie, are you saying that because there are people in the world who are worse off than I am that my disappointments aren't legitimate?" No, Dear Reader, Reggie is not saying that at all.  He believes that no one's feelings are either more or less legitimate than anothers' of differing circumstances.  Reggie is saying, though, that one should stop and think before opening one's mouth to complain and ponder whether such a complaint is either merited or whether the manner in which it is delivered reflects well upon one's self.  He believes that most often it isn't, and most often it doesn't.

On the other hand, Dear Reader, all of us respond well to appreciation and gratitude.  I know I do.  I think we'd all be better off—and a lot happier—if we made a concerted effort to spend less time complaining and more time being grateful, and counting our blessings instead of our disappointments.

And that, Dear Reader, is a Reggie Rule.
If you're worried and you can't sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings
                                          -- Irving Berlin
Image courtesy of eBay 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Reggie Roadtrip: Atlanta, Part I

It's been some time, Dear Reader, since I've done a "Reggie Roadtrip" post, and—as a number of you have noted recently—it has been some time since I've posted anything.  Today's essay (the first of a two part series) remedies that deficiency with my reportage on a whirlwind trip that Boy and I took several weekends ago to Atlanta, a city that I hadn't visited in more than twenty years.  Our agenda there included meeting a number of the area's noteworthy bloggers, reconnecting with old friends, shopping, eating out, and visiting a smattering of sights in what is indisputably the South's biggest, boomingest city.

We began our journey in the Delta Sky Lounge at LaGuardia Airport where we fortified ourselves with several rounds of pre-flight cocktails and handfulls of Chex Mix.  Reggie is fortunate to have access to most of the airlines' members lounges when he travels.  It is one of the few remaining perquisites of being an Investment Banker, and a soothing antidote to the horrors of airport security lines—even for those of us with priority privileges.

"On second thought, Miss, please make that a double!"

Upon our arrival at Atlanta's mindboggle-ingly enormous Jackson-Hartsfield Airport I upgraded our rental car to a new Cadillac ATS, the brand's recent entry into the sporty, entry-level luxury car market dominated by Audi, Mercedes Benz, and BMW.  It had been some time since I'd driven a Cadillac, and I was curious to check it out.  Our ATS drove like a dream and had a lot of pep to it, but it was a bit cramped for those of us—such as Reggie—who stand at over six feet tall and carry a BMI that could use (ahem) some improvement.  Such minor complaint notwithstanding, I enjoyed test-driving the Cadillac ATS during our visit to Atlanta.

There's really nothing quite like a Cadillac, is there?

Our first destination in Atlanta was the city's Four Seasons Hotel, where we checked in and had a quick bite before heading out to see what the town had to offer.  As I have written many times before here on this blog, Reggie is a big fan of the Four Seasons chain, and he usually stays in one of their hotels whenever he has the good fortune to find himself in a city that has one.  I was interested to check out the Four Seasons' Atlanta outpost, as I had never stayed in it before.

The Atlanta Four Seasons Hotel in all its magnificence

The Atlanta Four Seasons is a monumental limestone tower, and its lobby is exhilaratingly, uh, garish.

Trump Tower red marble for miles and a
Phantom of the Opera crystal chandelier!

Not that it bothered Reggie one bit, mind you.  Reggie enjoys a bit of questionable taste every now and then.  The Atlanta Four Seasons' grand staircase reminded him of the one in Rhett and Scarlett's Atlanta mansion, the one that Rhett carries her up, kicking and screaming, and then ravishes her.

"This is one night you're not turning me out, Scarlett!"
Image courtesy of Selznick International Pictures/MGM

Just as Mrs. Butler apparently enjoyed herself that night, we had a lovely time at the Atlanta Four Seasons.  The service was superb, and the staff couldn't have been more accommodating, or nicer.

"I just love the beds at the Four Seasons.  They're so comfortable!"
Image courtesy of Selznick International Pictures/MGM

Our spacious and well-appointed room at the hotel was on a high floor, and had a terrific view out over Midtown Atlanta.

The view of Atlanta from our hotel room

Atlanta has come a long way since it was burned to the ground in 1864, Dear Reader, during what some in the South still refer to as the "War of Northern Aggression." Visiting Atlanta 150 years after the war's end it is (almost) unfathomable to me that our nation came to such blows then and that so many died for "the Cause."  It certainly seems very remote to this writer today.  But that was not the case as recently as my own parent's generation, many of whom knew people who remembered the Civil War, and some of whom experienced it first hand.  One of my mother MD's grandfathers, for instance, was a drummer boy in the Union Army.  I and my brother Frecky own swords that were carried by ancestors of ours who fought in the war, on both sides.

A view of downtown Atlanta in 1865, after Sherman had finished with it
Image courtesy of Cornell University Library

With but a few hours on our hands before our first commitment, Boy and I headed over to Sid Mashburn, an Atlanta-based men's clothing store that I first learned about from reading Maximinimus, one of my favorite blogs.  Dusty Grainger, who writes said blog, is a great appreciator of all things sartorial (among many other appealing attributes) and sang the praises of Sid Mashburn's emporium in one of his recent posts.  After reading Dusty's enthusiastic endorsement, I knew that Boy and I simply had to visit the store during our trip to Atlanta

The eponymously-named Sid Mashburn is, in this writer's humble opinion, worth a trip to Atlanta alone (and for you ladies, there's an equally-lovely store for the fairer sex right next door, named Ann Mashburn, after Sid's wife).

"Warning!  Danger Will Robinson!"
Image courtesy of Fox Television Studios

But be forewarned, Dear Reader!  Should you be so fortunate (or foolish) to darken (either) store's doors I assure you that you will be seduced by a powerful siren song, and will find yourself helplessly stumbling away with armloads of expensive, beautifully-made clothes and accessories and a decidedly emptier bank account.

At least that's what happened to Boy during our not-one-but-two visits to Sid Mashburn during our all-too-brief stay in Atlanta.  Reggie knew that we were in serious trouble when the very helpful and accommodating Brad, who assisted Boy during our visits at Sid Mashburn, greeted us with "What are you drinking?" and then obligingly (and repeatedly) supplied it to us to imbibe while we examined the store's delectable offerings.  As I watched Boy succumb to the heady charms of Sid Marshburn's inventory I couldn't help but recall the clothes shopping scene in one of my favorite movies, Sunset Boulevard:

"As long as the lady is paying for it, why not take the vicuna?"
Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures

But, unfortunately for dear Boy, I wasn't about to play the Norma Desmond character in Sunset Boulevard and pick up the tab for his shopping spree at Sid Mashburn—Boy was there on his own.

I must say, though, that our vist visits to Sid Mashburn were one of the highlights of our trip to Atlanta, and well-worth the financial damage done to Boy's bank account, as he came away with a splendid replenishment of his wardrobe.  There is a reason, Dear Reader, that the expressions "You only go around once" and "You must strike when the iron is hot" are clichés.  Because they are true!  Boy simply had to "bite the bullet" and "take the plunge" at Sid Mashburn—for when would we pass this way again?

On the other hand, I can just hear MD snorting if she were still alive and reading this, "Yes, and the same applies to 'A fool and his money,' too, young man!"  Ah, well . . .

Stuck in stalled traffic on Fourteenth Street

Realizing that we were in danger of running behind for our first commitment in Atlanta—a cocktail party that we were hosting at our hotel—we quickly wrapped up our visit at Sid Mashburn and jumped into the Cadillac ATS for (what we thought would be) a quick trip back to the Four Seasons.  But it didn't turn out that way, Dear Reader.  Traffic in Atlanta can be horrendous, particularly on the city's main thoroughfares.  What we assumed would be a five minute drive turned into a forty minute one, and we were late for our own party.  Fortunately everyone else was, too, given the congestion in the streets leading up to the hotel.

Reggie's Bloggers & Bankers Party, getting under way

So why did Reggie throw a party when he visited Atlanta, you might ask?  Because he could, that's why!  As I have explained elsewhere in this blog, Reggie is a party person, and he enjoys not only going to other people's parties, but throwing them, too.  As I was preparing for our trip to Atlanta, I realized that we knew enough people in the area that it would be fun to plan a party while we were there.  I invited a number of Atlanta's noteworthy lifestyle bloggers to it—some of whom I've met before and some of whom I hadn't—and also a handfull of my non-blogger friends.  Each were invited to bring "significant others" or a friend, and all-in we had around fifteen convivial souls assemble for the festivity.

Settling in for conversation, hooch, and tasty vittles

Because most of my non-blogging friends in Atlanta (coincidentally) work at Sun Trust (which is not all that surprising, since I got to know them when we overlapped at various financial firms in New York), I decided to call our cocktail party "Reggie's Bloggers & Bankers Party."  Needless to say, it was a super fun evening!  Liquor flowed, food was plentiful (and delicious), and talk (and laughter) was nonstop.

The Atlanta Four Seasons did a marvelous job at
making sure all of Reggie's guests were "well-served"
at his Bloggers & Bankers Party
Image courtesy of Super Stock

From the blogging world I was honored to have as my guests Jennifer Boles of The Peak of Chic, Julieta Cadenas of Lindaraxa, Barry Leach of The Blue Remembered Hills, and Terry Kearns of Architecture Tourist.  During the party I learned that Allin Tallmadge, the husband of a dear friend of mine from the banking world, has recently started a blog of his own focused on cheese (but I can't remember the name of it or I'd provide a link to it here).  Not surprisingly, Allin is passionate about his subject, and he owned the now much-missed Tallmadge Cheese Market in Montclair, New Jersey (the subject of a "Hot from the Kettle" YouTube video) before relocating to Atlanta with his wife several years ago.

By this point in the evening no one was feeling any pain . . .

Although the invitation for the cocktail party said it was from six to eight p.m., there was enough fuel, food, and fun being had by all (beautifully and deliciously supplied by the very solicitous staff at the Four Seasons' Park 75 Lounge) to keep Reggie's Bloggers & Bankers Party going well beyond eight pm, with the last guests not departing until after ten—despite our pleas for them to please, please stay for "just one more" before heading out into the night.

While I'm not exactly sure, I think Boy and I may have consoled ourselves with one last drink at the bar before heading upstairs, but I admit that by that point in the evening it all gets a wee bit blurry. . .

Next:  Rain, the Swan House, more rain, the High Museum, even more rain, a return visit to Sid Mashburn, pouring rain, and dinner at the Iberian Pig

All photographs, unless noted, by Reggie Darling 

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