DEBATE | Baldwin and Buckley, 1965

Waiting for Mrs. F. to get home last night, I had a drink and watched Martin Scorsese’s “Public Speaking,” a documentary on noted New York wit Fran Lebowitz.

Another Morris County native, Lebowitz shares her introduction to the American intellectual conversation with Scorcese — speeches by the author James Baldwin. Scorsese then cuts to the seminal 1965 debate between Baldwin and William F. Buckley Jr. at Cambridge.

Baldwin and Buckley undertake the question, “Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro?”

Baldwin’s answer to the question, which he described as hideously loaded, is one of the great speeches of the civil rights era. And Buckley, of course, is Buckley in all his erudite glory.

It is, naturally, a remarkable debate. Baldwin and Buckley are simply joys to listen to. It’s also a bit sad, as such a debate would probably not be possible in today’s America.

Here’s a clip of Baldwin’s performance:

The library at Berkeley has digitized the entire debate.

STYLE | Chipp, Fall 1965

ChippFall1965A selection of outerwear from Chipp’s Fall 1965 catalog.

Just before the holidays, I snatched up a copy of Chipp’s 1965 fall catalog.

The venerable tailor, which survives today as Chipp 2/Winston Tailors, occupied a building between Madison and Fifth on 44th Street in 1965. As you can see below, the space had been renovated that year and departments had been expanded. Sidney Winston founded Chipp in 1947 after starting his career with J. Press. His son, Paul, joined the firm in 1961 and carries on today. Paul was the subject of a charming Times story in May 2008 and gave an excellent interview to Ivy Style in April 2009. You’ll also want to give this 1980s catalog, available over at Prepidemic Magazine, a gander.

At its peak, Chipp employed 30 tailors and a sales staff of 10. The Kennedys were among its customers. Today, as Paul noted in a blog post earlier this month, Chipp 2/Winston Tailors is in search of a new home as its midtown lease was not renewed.

But back to 1965.

Naturally, these pages prompt a good deal of nostalgia — not simply for much better prices ($18 for tassel loafers!) but also for elements of style that have faded away. The hat, which most believe died with the advent of the Kennedy administration, appears alive in the Chipp world of 1965. There’s lots to chew on here, so I hope you enjoy. These pages display fairly well in the gallery, but if you’d like to dowload full-sized versions, visit the Flickr set I’ve created.

COCKTAILS | Drop into the Stork Club

StorkClubCocktailThe Stork Club cocktail, a liquid relic of Old New York.

Stork Club barA couple of evenings ago, deterred from going out to dinner by the arctic cold, we turned to Dale DeGroff. No, we didn’t ring him up; we opened up his “Essential Cocktail.” From the extensive menu, we selected the Stork Club cocktail, a relic of one of New York’s greatest old night clubs.

The Stork, opened in 1929 by Sherman Billingsley, was among the most exclusive night spots in Old New York. A seat in the club’s storied Cub Room signaled your arrival. Among the cocktails sipped at the Stork Club, was its siganture, a gin, Cointreau and citrus and Angostura. It was one of countless cocktails mixed every night at the bar, left.

We were pleased — particularly because DeGroff’s recipe called for a flamed orange peel, which is accomplished by lightly seering a small peel of orange.

Billingsley’s daughter, Shermane, maintains a charming online archive of the place, which includes an adequate history, radio and TV clips and other electronic ephemera that document the famous 53rd Street haunt. Here’s a particularly entertaining video from the dawn of television:

Here’s the recipe for the cocktail:

• 1 1/2 ounces gin
• 3/4 ounce Cointreau
• 1 ounce orange juice
• 1/2 ounce lime juice
• Dashes Angostura
• Flamed orange peel

Combine your gin, Cointreau, orange juice, lime juice, Angostura in a shaker over ice. Shake over ice and serve up in a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange peel.

SCENE | The University Glee Club’s 233rd Members’ Concert

UGCThe University Glee Club performs last Saturday evening at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

We spent last Saturday night in town, attending the University Glee Club’s 233rd Members’ Concert at Lincoln Center. The show, which featured our own Will Briganti in the bass section, was held at the Starr Theatre in Alice Tully Hall.

It was a terrific taste of Old New York — indeed, the UGC was founded in 1894. Its repertoire was pleasantly varred — from “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” to “Ain’a That Good News.” College songs are an important part of UGC tradition, too. The Whiffenpoofs of Yale were on hand for a portion of the show, and at the concert’s conclusion, “Bright College Years” was delivered. Old Yalies in the audience all stood.

Before the show, we dined at Shun Lee West, the West Side institution. Surprisingly good cocktails and better-than-average Chinese fare. Afterward, we decamped to P.J. Clarke’s western satellite.

Looking forward to the next show in May.

Shun Lee West
43 West 65th Street
New York
(212) 595-8895

CLIP | ‘I wish I knew,’ 1980s

CLIP | Billy Taylor, ‘Three Blind Mice,’ 1958

CLIP | Billy Taylor, ‘Groovin’,’ 1958

CLIP | ‘Metropolitan,’ 1990

SCENE | The New York Junior League’s 39th annual Golden Tree

Mrs. F. and Cara Brugnoli, co-chairs of the New York Junior League’s 39th annual Golden Tree holiday shopping fair.

The better part of my weekend was spent at the East 80th Street headquarters of the venerable New York Junior League. Mrs. F., her co-chair, Cara Brugnoli, and a crack corps of other Junior Leaguers were hosting the 39th annual Golden Tree holiday shopping fair.

The event, which ran from Thursday, Dec. 2 through Saturday, Dec. 4, was expected to raise nearly $80,000 for the League’s host of outreach efforts across the city. Nearly 70 restaurants, retailers and individuals contirbuted silent auction items, wine, gift certificates, holiday wreaths and door prizes. Among the 56 vendors who participated were J. McLaughlin, Lilly Pulitzer, Magaschoni, The Linen Shop of New Canaan, Jack Rogers and C.K. Bradley, which delivered one of its final trunk shows. Owner Camilla Bradley is in the process of setting up a line of skiwear.

Crowds packed the League’s headquarters on Thursday and Friday night. Live music filtered through the four floors of The Astor House and Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Zyr Vodka and Harpoon beers were all available for tastings.

Mrs. F. released this statement:

“The 39th annual New York Junior Leauge Golden Tree Holiday Shopping event was a huge success as always! We had a wonderful mix of old and new vendors from which to purchase your holiday gifts. The evening events were full of holiday cheer, and on Friday, we were thrilled to honor the League’s anniversary volunteers and community partners for their dedication to improving the New York City community. Saturday, the League was filled with lots children enjoying a visit with Santa, participating in various craft projects, being entertained by Little Maestros and Rockin’ with Andy, and helping their parents shop! Twenty designers and vendors created masterful wreaths which were auctioned off in a Silent Auction throughout the event. We are so thankful to everyone who helped plan the event, volunteered throughout the three days, and came to shop with the NYJL. Next year, we will be celebrating 40 years of Golden Tree — it is sure to be even more fantastic than this year!”

Here’s a little gallery of passable Droid photos from the event:

LIVES | Elaine Kaufman, Old New York institution, 1929-2010

ElaineRobin Leach and Elaine Kaufman, 1980s. Image courtesy of the LIFE archive.

Last night, the place to be was Elaine’s.

My in-laws were in town and they were good sports — they agreed to wander down to the famous Upper East Side watering hole after a late, light supper. We were among the hundreds who descended on the place to mourn Elaine Kaufman, who died yesterday at 81.

Born in the Bronx in 1929 and raised in Queens and Washington Heights, Kaufman opened her restaurant in 1963. The former Austro-Hungarian restaurant became the salon and clubhouse of the city’s media and literary elites. John Lindsay, Jackie Kennedy, Woody Allen, George Plimpton, Bill Buckley, Gay Talese and scores of other Old New York players were all regulars.

PostToday’s New York Post.

Predictably, the city’s media are in a dither about Elaine’s passing. This morning’s Post is chock full of tribute coverage, though that’s hardly a surprise as editor Col Allan is a regular. New York magazine has a piece online — and the Times is on the case as well.

Another Old New York institution we’ll never forget.

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