Tuesday, July 23, 2019. The last three days, as most of America knows from experience, have been about the weather. The HOT! weather.
Right after I wrote that last sentence, there was a huge thunderclap that made me jump in my seat, and then came the downpour!!
The weather, or rather, the heat has pretty much preoccupied most of us for the past several days. There’s nothing newsy or exciting about it. It provides very little to write about.
Except on late Sunday afternoon/early evening as the Sun was nearing the horizon, and the bluer than blue skies were accommodating pink clouds streaming by, the sunset suddenly cast a pink glow over everything – the streets, the sidewalks, the facades of the buildings, no matter their color.
It was otherworldly, as if it were a movie set dyed for a special effect. I tried to get it on camera, and although these two photos don’t quite show its intensity, the sidewalks and roadways are the closest example. Although to the eye (not the camera’s) they were a stronger hue.
Meanwhile. Gigi Benson sent us a couple of portraits that Harry did of Marylou Whitney, who died over the weekend in her 94th year; and of Robert Morgenthau, who died on Sunday, ten days before his centennial, July 31st. We are always grateful to be graced with Harry Benson’s work under any circumstances. Although he’s a much younger man than these subjects, his archive is vast and reflects honestly the last several decades in this ever changing world of ours.
I never knew Marylou Whitney. I’m not sure I even met her. If I did it was in passing — at a public event. Therefore I have no impression of her other than her photographs. I think of that warm smile that looked like she was celebrating her life. I’m sure there was another side to her, but mainly she made it clear that she was enjoying the best foot forward.
I also never met or knew Mr. Morgenthau. But I respected him. That was a long life at his game. You saw distinction in his persona. We have every reason to believe that’s what it was. He too was granted a century, so he saw it all unfold into … This!
Meanwhile, JH and his wife Danielle have been “holed up” (jokes JH) for the past few days at the Villa d’Este on Lake Como. He reported yesterday that George and Amal Clooney dined that evening (they’re six hours ahead) at the hotel’s restaurant (before the Daily Mail reported it). The Clooneys, as the world knows, have a villa on Lake Como.
Did he catch a glimpse of them? Nope. He and Danielle had a hankering for some of that real Italian pizza. Alas. He sent this message along with a series of his camera work of the Villa:
“If you didn’t know, the Villa has an interesting history. Commissioned in 1550 by the governor of Tivoli, Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio, as a summer residence for him and his family — it was designed by architect, sculptor, and painter Pellegrino Tibaldi. Surrounded by a private park with incredibly beautiful gardens, during the cardinal’s lifetime it became a resort of politicians, intellectuals and power brokers.
“It stayed in the family for a few decades before passing from hand to hand over many years. In 1784, a prominent Milanese family (Calderari) undertook a major restoration project and created a new Italian garden. After the death of Marquis Calderari, his wife Vittoria Peluso, a former ballerina at La Scala, married Count Domenico Pino (a Napoleonic general) and erected a mock fortress in his honor.
“In 1815, it became the residence of Caroline of Brunswick, the estranged wife of future King George IV of England. She gave it the name Nuova Villa d’Este and had the park landscaped in the English style.
“Flash forward to 1873, when the villa was transformed into a luxury hotel and has been attracting the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Mark Twain, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, King Albert of Belgium, Queen Beatrix of Holland, Queen Sonia of Norway; Woody Allen, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones; Bruce Springsteen and Madonna; Sir Paul Smith, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Oscar De La Renta; Kenneth Branagh, Robert De Niro and of course, Villa d’Este’s neighbor, GC, ever since.”