Liz Smith: Power Lunching at New York’s Grill Room

Anna Wintour

And, our Gossip Girl parks her opinions on parked cars

“Baby, it’s cold outside!”  So goes the song.

People sang this in almost every single state in the union. Even Florida and Hawaii haven’t been their warmer selves recently. But, hey, the winter in New York especially wasn’t really so bad. If you bundled up in lightweight puffy jackets, gloves, scarves, hats and boots, you were better equipped than the denizens of the last Ice Age.

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I HAD little patience over the winter with people who continued to use their cars and take trips when they were warned not to — the ensuing result being trapped without heat, unable to move and having to be rescued by economically strapped public servants from the police, ambulance and helicopter services. This “entitled” immature behavior is so irritating.

And I am personally disgusted that our big cities provide public parking space on narrow streets where everybody knows a snow will just leave automobiles trapped, covered and the street impassable. I use public transportation and I don’t  keep a car in New York City. I resent these big blocks of covered cars that keep snow plows and ambulances from coming through. I haven’t the foggiest idea why we subsidize people who own cars and want to park them for free on the streets. In fact, I don’t understand why we subsidize private cars in big cities even in good weather, providing them with parking that clogs streets down to one lane.

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Enough of this bitching! Let me say that the popular millionaires’ Grill Room of the famous Four Seasons restaurant is booming these days. As Wall Street bankers, finance wizards and other people who aren’t being overly taxed go on with the amazing rise of the economy for the wealthy, there isn’t an empty table in this place.

The other day I was sitting as a guest on one of the sidelined tables with the perspicacious Billy Norwich of Town & Country magazine. (He is a pet of mine since I discovered him fresh out of Columbia University when he used to complain: “I will never be able to pay my college loans.”) Evidently, he was able to, since he has written several divine books and went to T&C directly from a lofty perch on Anna Wintour’s unparalleled Vogue magazine. (Billy has also worked as a columnist for The New York Times, The New York Daily News and The New York Observer. I am very proud of his progress.)

Sitting to our left was the divinely lovely Chloe Malle who was covering the Grill scene that day for The New York Times. She is a fixture of The Observer, but that now anemic publication isn’t enough for the ambitious reporter. Chloe has excellent genes out of the late gifted French director Louis Malle and her mother, the famous, famous Candice Bergen. I just adore this kid.

We were all watching Pete Peterson’s table with sheer amazement. The founder and former brain of Blackstone finance was hosting a little roundtable that consisted of President Bill Clinton and Pete’s longtime friend, the distinguished David Rockefeller. There were three other people that even Julian Niccolini, head of the Grill Room, could not bother to name. Clinton, Rockefeller and Peterson were enough for any namedrop! (And each one of these well-known men has turned his hand to philanthropy, raising money for good causes and no longer feathering their own nests. This trio is in a class by themselves!)

I didn’t tease my pal, Mr. Peterson, the Greek boy from Nebraska who made good, because I observed that before his guests arrived, he was already wearing a clip-on dental type napkin around his neck to guard his tie and shirt front. Only Pete can get away with such a thing. I just saluted his good taste in lunch companions and how practical he really is.

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BECAUSE MY personal philosophy is to “Vote with the Whigs, eat with the Tories!” I am always pleased to be in such high cotton. I had been in the Grill Room earlier in the week lunching with Joan Ganz Cooney, the Sesame Street genius. We were seated that day next to Vogue’s Anna Wintour and fashion’s Ralph Lauren. Anna looked splendidly gorgeous that particular day, and Ralph resembled an advertisement for his own Polo wares. I showed off to Ralph a magenta sweater I was wearing with his logo and said, “Ralph, you made this and I’ll bet you don’t even remember doing it.” He just laughed.

I was glad to see the two of these fashion icons although I didn’t bother to tell them that, in spite of the inroads of the Internet, glamour advertising for magazines, is making a big comeback. Probably they already know this. No Blackberry, IPod  or anything else can compete with sitting down with Vogue and leisurely thumbing through at least half of the magazine while you look at the unbelievable high style advertisements.

On the other hand, people seem to loathe advertising on the Internet. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s just me who loathes it. But I do everything I can to get rid of it, erase or delete it and wonder why it is cluttering up the copy I want to read. But with Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Elle, Town & Country, Architectural Digest, Vanity Fair, Quest, Avenue and the rest of the high-style publications on slick paper, I think there is nothing to compare with sleek beautiful or even mysterious advertising, held in your hand or on your lap.

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AS I’VE said earlier, I am against parking on city streets and ignoring snow and weather warnings. If you ignore such, you just cost fellow taxpayers a lot of money.

I don’t really see how the public in general can blame the mayors and governors of our U.S.A. for what happens when the weather turns bad. Make the best of it, you sissies!

But it sure will be swell when spring peeps over our windowsills.

2 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Sheila says:

    Here in Ottawa, Canada, during the winter the city has posted signs indicating no overstreet parking when their is snow.  Signs are posted when there are snow plows.  Cars are ticketed and towed.  People get smart quickly as fines are high.

  2. avatar Lila says:

    I am WITH you on the people who venture out in the teeth of a storm widely forecast to be among the worst in decades.  Maybe we should let Darwin have his way with them.
    On a related note, “death by GPS’ is a growing problem.  So few people these days consult a paper map, plan their routes, or – most importantly – use common sense in assessing what they are looking at through their windshields.  “There MUST be a road here, the GPS says so.”  Just Google “death by GPS” and see all the hits that come up.