“Heaven on a stick!” This is how the writer Joan Juliet Buck of Vogue magazine described the writing of Oswald Spengler, whom, of course, I have never read — not being a deep thinker of Joan’s stripe. (His famous book is The Decline of the West.)

This was just one of a series of amusing comments that came out of a leisurely lunch at La Grenouille, the last of the great French restaurants on New York’s east side. We were in Charles Masson’s lair, where the famous of Women’s Wear Daily, the glamour magazines and what’s left of society have lunched for eons. In this setting, with bouquets of spring blossoms reaching almost to the ceiling, I had  some kind of enhanced fois gras and Dover sole, plus an amazing chocolate soufflé.

My companions were the aforesaid Joan, the writer Marie Brenner and the archaeologist Iris Love, who had departed the Abruzzi area right before the earthquake. (Iris opined that the authorities had been warning everyone for a year that a great quake was imminent and they had been experiencing frequent pre-shocks. I asked if the antiquities Iris had been cataloging there were lost in the rubble. She said, “Fortunately, no. They had been moved.”)

Marie was all excited about the paperback advent of her much-praised book, Apples and Oranges, which was a critical sensation last year. It made eight “ten best” lists, including The New York Times, even though her publisher had few books ready for the public to buy. Here’s hoping the paperback will fare better and, after Marie reads from it at the Literacy Partners event in Lincoln Center on May 11, this wonderful book should really take off. (It concerns sibling rivalry and dysfunctional emotional confusion at its best. Ms. Brenner, who also toils for Vanity Fair, is a masterful journalist as well as a creative writer.)

Joan Buck is redoing her West Side loft getting ready to offer a dinner celebrating another writer, Allegra Huston, who has a new autobiography – Love Child — telling of her life as the almost-lost offspring of the late famous movie director, John Huston.

I have lived in New York since 1949 but never before have I heard anyone extol or rave about or recommend her contractor! Joan even gave me Neal Asanaj’s card for D.D. Interiors, Inc. So give Neal a call at (212) 685-8989 if you are building or rebuilding something in the New York area.

After a lifetime of shifting between Texas roadkill, fast-food palaces and the great cuisine restaurants, I have decided – yes, La Grenouille (the frog) beats all the others. Believe me, there was no recession going on at 3 East 52 Street.


Some months back, the distaff side of the infamous Page Six (Paula Froelich) showed me a mockup of her coming “chick lit” book titled Mercury in Retrograde. At that time, it featured Paula herself bending over in an extended backflip.

Now, Paula says all that has changed and her novel has a more “Sex and the City”-type apartment building on the cover, with sexy broads looking out of the windows.

Paula created MySpace accounts for two of her fiction’s characters – “Penelope Mercury” and “Lena Lippencrass.”

The artist Marisa Marchetto drew likenesses of “Penelope” and “Lena” and they are on MySpace and Twitter feeds. But for “Lena,” the author used a picture from her own 30th birthday party and added the hair of true-life glamour girl Cornelia Guest.

This character is a readymade hit. “Lena” has already had two marriage proposals on MySpace and Paula says she is feeling schizophrenic handling the real and unreal personalities in her life.

Get the hot-books list ready for Mercury in Retrograde.