Liz Smith: “Resilience” Amongst Manhattan’s Finest

Author and wit Christopher Buckley

And more from our Gossip Girl: Peter Bart’s “Infamous Players” feted … Literacy lauded at Lincoln Center on May 16th

“’WORLD ENDS!’ would be the headline that runs should Donald Trump be elected President,” opined the witty and brilliant writer Christopher Buckley.

The audience at the symposium put on by the Maria Droste psychiatric services exploded with hysterical laughter. The question had been posed by Ambassador Alan Blinken in the front row. This handsome diplomat, who had served in Belgium during the Clinton administration, asked the panel what would be our headline in that eventuality? (Chris Buckley and op ed Times columnist Gail Collins were our guests that evening, and I was their host questioner.)

Elegant New Yorkers turned out to give us a “full house” at a club that insists on being nameless and we were all under the sway of the charity’s activist, Elizabeth Peabody, who comes from the distinguished Massachusetts family. (Marietta Tree was her aunt, her late mother, Judy, was an AIDS pioneer, and her father, Sam, a former teacher at St. Bernard’s School.) Miss Peabody is the organizer of all time — and she has put her association’s services for psychiatric help, provided for people who can’t afford same, on the map in only two years.

Many of those in the audience knew and were familiar with hot novelist and memoirist Chris Buckley. But everyone seemed eager to get to know and get a look at the first woman ever to “man” the Times editorial pages – Gail Collins. I had worked with Gail at New York Newsday and she is now the gem at the Times. What’s more, she is as funny as all get out and had just come in from Texas, (a state she may write about in book form).

I am so grateful to Gail and Chris for joining us in this fundraiser  – and although we did not add much to the M.D. Services’ ideas of how to be “resilient” in this old world, everybody seemed to have a very good time.

* * *

There may be an economic disaster on the horizon and we may all the dancing on the lip of the volcano — but a small dinner after at the flower-filled La Grenouille seemed to indicate otherwise. The restaurant was crammed to the gills with such as David Rockefeller, Pete Peterson, Joan Ganz Cooney, Happy Rockefeller, Annette and Oscar de la Renta and others of this style.

Whatever our station in life, all of us awoke yesterday morning to see President Obama’s full birth certificate. Will this just enflame conspiracy theorists further — or will it give Donald Trump, who seems to have backed the administration into a showdown, an “out” so he can concentrate on other ways to try to gain the White House?

You think these times are rife with bitterness, stalemate, intrigue and do-nothingness? I advise that you buy the brand new Adam Goodheart history, “1861: The Civil War Awakening.”

This story of the worst thing that ever happened to the United States will stun you with its details of the tragedy that took 600,000 lives and almost ended the union. If Americans survived that, surely they can survive almost anything.

* * *

SPEAKING of books, I managed to jam my way into Desmond, the little 60th Street café in New York City where Hollywood’s Peter Bart was being greeted on publication of his “Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, The Mob and Sex.”

About a month ago I had read this work by the best editor Variety ever had and raved about it — and so Weinstein Books saw fit to add my quote in the place of prominence. I said – and still say – “perhaps the only truthful account of moviemaking in the sixties … and it is so frank and full of detail and history-as-gossip, I just couldn’t resist it.”

Peter Bart, being clapped on the back by such as Harvey Weinstein, Bill Maher, Jeff Greenfield and Steve Kroft, told me frankly he is sorry he ever left New York to go west. But this doesn’t mean he is coming back. He’s such an honest and great executive, I wish he would.

Such names as Michael Douglas, Matthew “Mad Men” Weiner, Larry McMurtry, Al “The Godfather” Ruddy, Universal’s Ron Meyer and Jerry “CSI” Bruckheimer have recommended this work.

* * *

I am always on the case for the U.S. improving its literacy rate — and especially in New York, where we are trying to teach one million adults who can’t read or write at the fifth grade level.

So on May 16 we are having our annual Author’s Readings at Lincoln Center’s Koch Theater. Our celebrity readers are none other than Katie Couric, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Connelly, Stacy “Cleopatra” Schiff and David Seidler. Our honorees are publishing’s Louise and Leonard Riggio and Barnes & Noble.

This will be the 27th time we’ve raised money in a good cause. If you want to attend, call 212-573-6933. But even if you can’t be here with us, you might enjoy the interesting online auction at Charity Buzz, which began April 19th and goes through May 11th. For more information, visit charitybuzz.com

We have two fabulous offerings, one from the very generous and talented Yoko Ono, which is a walk with her through “Strawberry Fields” in Central Park, the memorial to her late husband, John Lennon. Yoko is a fabulous artist in her own right and she is making herself known more and more.

Our other good-hearted donor is none other than one of the world’s most famous women – Barbara Walters – who offers to lunch with the highest bidder. She will bring along our Literacy sparkplug, Peter Brown, who once worked as a very young man for the newly formed Beatles. He has had a distinguished career since then in public relations and fund-raising and he knows everyone worth knowing. I will be bidding on this lunch if I find I can afford it.

I want to hear every word that drops from Barbara’s lips because I thought she might retire after her heart surgery. But she is back bigger than ever with her specials and “The View” — and, for example, her super coverage of the nuptials in Great Britain.

Join us in the fight against illiteracy.

 

 

 

7 comments so far.

  1. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    There may be an economic disaster on the horizon and we may all the dancing on the lip of the volcano — but a small dinner after at the flower-filled La Grenouille seemed to indicate otherwise. The restaurant was crammed to the gills with such as David Rockefeller, Pete Peterson, Joan Ganz Cooney, Happy Rockefeller, Annette and Oscar de la Renta and others of this style.

    ___________________________________________________________

    One can never be too thin. Or too rich I suppose.

    • avatar Count Snarkula says:

      If you are dining at La Grenouille you must be rich. And you will be thin based on the portion size.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Having observed, and avoided as much as possible, the “social scene” here and there and everywhere I learend early on that there are three types of “social  people” who fall into three groups.  The socially conscious, the sociall unconscious, and the socially comatose.  There are the Old Guard, the New Guard, and the In-Need-Of-Right-Guard.  La Grenouille obviously caters to a diverse crowd.

    • avatar phyllis Doyle Pepe says:

      Well–––for the well-heeled and well-pleased (“and others of this style”) dancing on the tip of a volcano is just one of those treks they take for excitement. For the millions of down under folks the economic disaster has already occurred and is still with them. And so it goes~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        For some the economic disaster was anything but and in fact many made billions off their bets that it would happen. Some might say their bets made it happen, 

  2. avatar Richard Bassett says:


    Liz Smith,

    It is so satisfying to believe in a cause and lending your services by recruiting others to join with you. I know that your literacy philanthropic efforts have gone above and beyond its vision. You deserve such recognition in bringing this issue into the light. I support you in this, along, with “”The National Institute for Literacy” and the great strides that they are making. Such an important, and overlooked, situation that doesn’t reveal itself until well into adulthood, at times, and it is almost always is a source of great embarrassment. But more than that, a good deal of life information is lost…along with ones quality of life. Keep with the cause. I do, as well.

  3. avatar phyllis Doyle Pepe says:

    “You think these times are rife with bitterness, stalemate, intrigue and do-nothingness? I advise that you buy the brand new Adam Goodheart history, “1861: The Civil War Awakening.”

    This story of the worst thing that ever happened to the United States will stun you with its details of the tragedy that took 600,000 lives and almost ended the union. If Americans survived that, surely they can survive almost anything.”

    Those of us who know our history know very well the tragedy of the Civil War. For those who don’t like to read they can watch Ken Burn’s superb Civil War series. The question is why in this 21st century are certain states playing around with secession as though it’s a cool thing to speculate about? And why in this 21st century do we still have people that cannot accept the fact that a black man became president of the United States? Obviously being stunned by history’s atrocities does not prevent malevolent actions to continue.