Category: GripeBox

It’s the Unreal Thing

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Owlwood, one of the most famous properties in Holmby Hills, has recently been price chopped to $115 million from an original asking price of of $170 million. First occupied by the estranged wife of the founder of the ritzy real estate development, it was later owned in turn by a partner of Conrad Hilton, movie pioneer Joe Schenk, who is alleged to have made love to a young starlet named Marilyn Monroe there, a wealthy oilman, actor Tony Curtis (in the photo), first Sonny and Cher and then Cher and Gregg Allman, a carpet manufacturer, a sleazy, sex-crazed Syrian, and … Continue reading

My Night With Bob Dylan

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In honor of this week’s release of Martin Scorsese‘s stirring mock-doc on Bob Dylan‘s 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue, click the continue link below to read an excerpt of my report on that tour, focused on the night that November I–briefly–attended the after-concert party in Niagara Falls, mid-way through the tour. I’d befriended Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, who got me through the door, saved me the first time I was tossed out, but couldn’t when I then made the mistake of speaking to Dylan himself. Next morning, in the hotel lobby, as the troupe gathered for a trip to the nearby Tuscarora … Continue reading

Acidic Flashback to Trump’s Vietnam: A Dumb Deal Made by Morons

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In 1999, in an interview for the book My Generation, I asked Donald Trump his reaction to protests against the Vietnam War when he was finishing his education at The Wharton School and winning draft deferments for alleged bone spurs. On this 75th anniversary of D-Day, his reply deserves another airing. He said in his inimitable fashion (lightly edited only to add emphasis and eliminate repetition): “I always thought that the [anti-war] riots [of the late 1960s], as bad as they were and everything else, the tremendous conflict at home, gave the other side an incentive to go forward. Because … Continue reading

Two Jewish Boys, One Honeypot

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Tomorrow’s New York Times Book Review includes a sketch of a book published last month about the war over the web domain sex.com, pitting an internet entrepreneur named Gary Kremen against the conman who stole it from him, Steven Michael Cohen (shown as I confront him in Tijuana, Mexico). The reviewer calls the book “reductive,” but the story is, please pardon the expression, a sexy one. Should you want to read a lively reduction of its essence, I covered it for Playboy some fifteen years ago in a story titled “The Taking of Sex.com,” and you can read it here.

Dining with the Disgraceful

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I’m quoted in an essay on creepy society comebacks in the new issue of Town & Country. Read Horacio Silva‘s article here. Thge illustration is reminiscent of the cover I commissioned for last fall’s Avenue magazine Power issue.

Tattered Trump Tales

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Last night, in a commentary on Donald Trump‘s tax-dodging, Samantha Bee resurrected a clip from a 2003 doc in which Ivanka Trump recalled encountering a beggar with her father in the early 1990s. Apparently, this is a Trump family schtick, because her father told me the same story about four years earlier, only then, he was walking down the street (a dubious notion by itself) not with Ivanka but with his second wife, Marla. Compare and contrast Ivanka’s story with an unedited section of the transcript of that interview after the jump. IVANKA (2003): “I remember once my father and … Continue reading

“The Avenue’s Most Exclusive Address” –New York Times

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Looks like Park Avenue is the focus of the New York Times Real Estate section’s weekly “Living In” feature this weekend. And 740 Park gets the requisite name check. Thanks for that, C.J. Hughes.

Rogues’ Gallery: A Decade of Delinquency

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Rogues’ Gallery was published ten years ago today and remains both banned in the bookstore of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, its focus, and pointedly relevant, as last month’s death of longtime museum trustee Jayne Wrightsman, and this week’s frenzy over the Costume Institute’s annual gala, aka the Party of the Year, demonstrate. I think of the book as my favorite child, the one that caused the most trouble, was deemed a delinquent, and thus, merits extra love–my little James Dean, you might say, only this rebel had a cause: Highlighting how the wealthy use culture and philanthropy to launder … Continue reading

Never Mind Irma, Here’s St. Barth

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St. Barthelemy’s recovery from Hurricane Irma is almost complete, and it’s a moment of reckoning for the island. Will it return to its haute BoHo roots, or continue down the road to St. Bling? My cover story on St. Barth for the March/April issue of Departures is now online for all to read.

Self-invention to the Max: Jayne Wrightsman, 99

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Tomorrow’s New York Post features an obit/excerpt from Rogues’ Gallery on the extraordinary Jayne Wrightsman, who died this week. It’s really about more than one museum.

Jayne Wrightsman, RIP

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One of my best and most knowing sources from Rogues’ Gallery, my book on the Metropolitan Museum of Art, tells me that Jayne Wrightsman, arguably the last living society lioness, has died after a long decline at age 99. She was born Jane Larkin in Flint, Michigan, in 1920. The daughter of an architect who mysteriously disappeared from her life, but went on to build American embassies and consulates for the U.S. State Department during and after the Great Depression, and, as described in that book, “a whisky-voiced southern-accented nightclub habitue nicknamed Chuggy,” she became an icon of American reinvention. … Continue reading

Walking the Walk

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I’m quoted in the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter in Beth Landman‘s story on walkers…the men who once (and sometimes still do) escort women, married or otherwise, with whom they are not intimate, to social events.  In it, one-time walker Boaz Mazor says women “don’t care about society anymore — they are happy to go out with their iPhones!” Men, too, are not as eager to attend galas, adds Christopher Mason: “A lot of walkers are happily married to each other now and have satisfying home lives.” Beth didn’t include my praise of Anne Bass (with me, above), so I’ll add that … Continue reading

Sacking the Sacklers: Too Little Too Late?

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Today’s New York Times details a backlash against the philanthropy of the drug-dealing Sackler clan, best known here in New York as the donors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur (above), Sackler Wing and Sackler Galleries. The back story of the current controversy is told in Rogues’ Gallery, my book on how the super-rich have used that museum–and other causes–to launder their reputations and in the words of the book’s epigraph from Bernard Mandeville, turn “Private Vices…into Publick Benefits.”  The story begins in 1963, and includes the family’s invention of modern drug marketing (Sackler made Valium the first … Continue reading

And for my next act….

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Expect Gripepad to come alive again, as I’ve left Avenue Magazine after just under two-and-a-half years as its Editor-in-Chief. It was fun while it lasted. Next!

St. Barth Bounces Back

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Holders of American Express Platinum cards can read my cover story on the rebirth of St. Barth post Hurricane Irma in the new issue of Departures.  Less privileged folk (like me, for instance) will have to wait until it is unlocked.

Calvin Klein Collection, R.I.P.

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And now comes the news that the owners of Calvin Klein, the brand, are closing its high-end collection business following the departure of designer Raf Simons, who failed to be its savior.  Calvin Klein, the man, lives on, both in the world and in my archives, thanks to my second-ever cover story for New York Magazine. It appeared in summer 1988, shortly after Calvin reappeared in New York to launch his scent Eternity following a much-publicized stint in drug rehab. Fun fact:  When I started reporting the story, the company pulled its advertising from New York, and didn’t return to … Continue reading

Patrick McCarthy, R.I.P.

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It’s been a bad season for fashion and today comes the news that Patrick McCarthy, former editor of W and WWD, has died at age 67, after a long period out of the public eye, and, reportedly, a short illness.  I profiled McCarthy at the height of his power and influence in 1997.  You can read that story, “The McCarthy Era,” here.  One caveat:  McCarthy, who never married, nor had any long-term significant other, and never made his sexuality a matter for public discussion or commerce, as many of my subjects did, agreed to cooperate on the condition that I … Continue reading

Isaac, Reconsidered

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In his new memoir, out today, fashion-designer-turned multi-media-performer Isaac Mizrahi cites my 1990 profile of him in New York Magazine as a “career-making story …with a long expose-style interview.”  At the time, I was told Mizrahi hated it because Harry Benson’s portrait of him on the cover was less than flattering.  I’m glad he’s changed his mind. Mizrahi writes that at the time, Calvin Klein‘s in-house flack Paul Wilmot commiserated with him over the fact that the story “made clear that I was gay,” something Mizrahi never denied.  “I was right,” Mizrahi writes.  Read the profile here.

Lee Radziwill, R.I.P.

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I first met Lee Radziwill, who died Friday at her home in Manhattan, more than thirty years ago when she handled public relations for the Milanese designer Giorgio Armani.  Years later, when I wrote about her childhood at 740 Park in my book on the storied apartment house,  she told me of the time her sister Jacqueline Bouvier (later Kennedy Onassis), saved her life after she tried to crawl out one of its sixth floor windows to escape the stifling atmosphere caused by her dissolute father, Black Jack Bouvier’s profligacy, and their parents’ failing marriage.  Window guards were subsequently installed … Continue reading

Mnuchin Asking $32.5 Million at 740 Park

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The news that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has listed his sprawling A-Line duplex at 740 Park Avenue made headlines this week.  Besides the Wall Street Journal’s scoop by Katherine Clarke (shown), Forbes also featured the listing, citing the book that remains the primary source on the world’s richest apartment building.

Genuine Authentic e-book Released

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The e-book of Genuine Authentic, available for the first time and released yesterday, is the #1 new fashion book in Amazon’s Kindle Store.  The book, first published in 2003, has also been re-released in a new paperback edition to note Polo Ralph Lauren’s 50th birthday, with a new Afterword.

Genuine Authentic Returns

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Today, the Daily Mail Online revealed that Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren, my “sizzling” 2003 unauthorized biography of the American fashion legend, is being re-released on July 24 as both a re-packaged paperback and a first-ever e-book by William Morrow Paperbacks. It’s the same book that a New York Times reviewer called “sharp-clawed [yet...] honestly admiring,” but it’s been updated with a new Afterword.  In the original, “Gross summed up Lauren by saying that the things which made him a success like obsessiveness and control were ‘negative when viewed on the human level,’” the Mail reports.  “In … Continue reading

740 Park a “genre-buster,” says Architectural Digest

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  Writing on architect Rosario Candela in Architectural Digest, David Netto calls 740 Park “riveting social history…a biography of an apartment building.”

740 Park Grows on the New York Times

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The most notable residence in the most notable apartment house on the Upper East Side, 740 Park, has lately been much in the news. A few weeks back, the New York Times’ T Magazine referred to the former residence there of Saul and Gayfryd Steinberg, Apartment 15-16B.  In tomorrow’s Styles of the Times, in a profile of its current occupants, Steve and Christine Schwarzman, the apartment also figures prominently. Though it’s really unnecessary, both articles inflate the apartment’s many virtues.  T called it a triplex.  The writer of the Styles profile referred to it as a “17,000-square-foot, three-floor penthouse.” In fact, … Continue reading

“Quality will win out”

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Walt Disney said that, and yesterday’s real estate news shows it’s still true. On both the east and west coasts, trophy properties with remarkable histories have gone on the market and attracted attention for their inherent quality–as well as their sky-high asking prices. In Bel Air, California, Variety’s brilliant Realestalker Mark David reports, soap opera mogul Bill Bell and his wife Maria, an arts philanthropist have listed a mansion prominently featured in my book on West Los Angeles, Unreal Estate (which is currently out of print). Designed by Wallace Neff for film producer and studio mogul Sol Wurtzel, it was later home to a celebrity … Continue reading

Orphaned Estate and Book Seek New Patrons

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Unreal Estate, my 2011 romp through the luxury property market in the West Los Angeles neighborhoods of Bel Air, Holmby Hills and Beverly Hills, has been out of print for several years but still attracts attention. The same is true of the great estates it covers, like 141 South Carolwood Drive, former home of Tony Curtis, Cher, and movie mogul Joe Schenck, who famously bedded Marilyn Monroe there. It’s now on the market for $180 million, and has renewed interest in the book, too. A local bestseller at the time, it needs TLC (not to mention a committed publisher). But … Continue reading

A Warming Trend is Forecast

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The February Palm Beach issue of AVENUE “drops” this weekend and its four features, including our definitive Palm Beach A-List are already available online. If you’re somewhere warm, it will reflect your good fortune. If you’re in New York, it might transport you somewhere warm. I’m particularly proud of “Tattoo Me,” an essay by Nina Griscom about losing her ink virginity, which introduces her as one of the magazine’s two new Contributing Editors. The other is Anthony Haden-Guest, who will contribute a weekly cartoon to the web site beginning on Tuesday January 30. That’s 8-goal polo player Nic Roldan on … Continue reading

Bradford Dillman, widower of supermodel Suzy Parker, RIP

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Actor Bradford Dillman has died, says The Hollywood Reporter. Dillman was the long-time husband of the late supermodel Suzy Parker, a central character in both Focus and Model, along with her older sister and fellow model Dorien Leigh. Parker became Richard Avedon’s muse and unofficial studio manager during his heyday as a fashion photographer in the Fifties and Sixties, even assisting when he photographed America’s Mercury astronauts (in the photo, which is from my collection). While she continued to work with Avedon after meeting Dillman on a movie set, Parker eventually settled into life as a wife and mother in … Continue reading

Dinner and A Show

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Departures Magazine has unlocked my recent story about dining at The Grill in the Seagram Building, the much-touted restaurant that replaced The Grill Room of The Four Seasons in that location earlier this year. The new restaurant was created at the behest of developer Aby Rosen, the New York character I’d previously profiled in “The Rise, Fall and Rose of Aby Rosen” in Centurion, the Departures offshoot for American Express Black Card holders. Meantime, the restaurateurs behind The Four Seasons, Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder, say they expect to re-open in their new location at 280 Park Avenue in … Continue reading

Focus: The truth about Terry Richardson

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Exposing Terry Richardson and the sexual harassment of fashion models Continue reading

RIP S.I. Newhouse, Jr.

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The rarely interviewed Si Newhouse, who died at age 89 after a long long illness early this morning, “hardly followed the pattern of the self-promoting modern tycoon, and seldom gave interviews to the press,” David Remnick writes in his appreciation of his former boss. I was lucky enough to interview Newhouse several times. The most extensive conversation took place at the height of his influence, for a New York Magazine story called “War of the Poses” (click the title to see a pdf) about the decades-long rivalry between Newhouse’s Conde Nast and the Hearst family’s Hearst Magazines.

Join me tomorrow at The Writing Center at Hunter College

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Tomorrow night, September 19th, I’m giving the Jack Burstyn Memorial Lecture in the Fall 2017 Guest Speaker series at The Writing Center at Hunter College, and will be talking about my peculiar career and surviving as a writer in a post-print age. The event is free and open to the public. It begins at 7PM at Hunter West’s 3rd Floor Glass Cafe (68th and Lexington). Click here for RSVP information.

Some Hocus-Focus on WCBS-FM

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Here’s Deb Gordon’s interview with me about Focus, which aired September 7th, just after the book was released in a new paperback edition.

Models: Seen, but sometimes also heard

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“For decades, modeling was a silent profession, where women were supposed to be seen and never heard.” –From yesterday’s Thursday Styles cover story in the New York Times “There are few accidental literary forms as rewarding as quotations from models. Mr. Gross provides them in an amount that is truly mindless and highly enjoyable, and perhaps unprecedented.” –From “Fashion Victims,” a review of Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women, in The New York Times Book Review, April 30, 1995

Focus is in paperback August 29th

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Focus: The Secret, Sexy, Sometimes Sordid World of Fashion Photographers, returns in trade paperback with a new, hot pink jacket on August 29th. Reviewers and readers raved: Focus is “smart, well researched and written with an insider’s eye… engaging and on point….canny,” (Kim France, New York Times Book Review), “delicious, sweeping, thoughtful,” (The Daily Beast), “thoroughly absorbing…enthralling and riveting,” (Tim Gunn, Project Runway), “amazing… big, intelligent, exhaustively researched, lovingly written,” (Liz Smith, Chicago Tribune Syndicate), “deep-diving …groundbreaking,” (DuJour), “sizzling…relentless,” (Hamptons Magazine), “juicy. . . fascinating,” (Booklist), “often-shocking,” (Daily News), “simply unrivaled…a sensation,” (craveonline), “astonishing and unprecedented,” (The Daily Mail), “exciting…a … Continue reading

La Serenissima Under Seige

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Venice is under attack by invading hordes…again. Here’s a guide to seeing it, not them. Continue reading

Plutocrat Podcast

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Last week, William D. Cohan interviewed me on covering the world of wealth in New York at a 92Y Talk. Here’s the podcast.

21st Century Rockefellers

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The Rockefeller family’s enduring legacy, the subject of a feature story by Michael Kaplan in today’s New York Post, is also a prominent theme in 740 Park and Rogues’ Gallery, two of my books. News-hooked on the recent death of David, the last surviving son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the only one to live in 740 Park, the story addresses how great fortunes are dispersed and thus dissipated in large families, and asks if this wealthy family’s name still matters. I say it does, and others agree. In large part, that’s because, as Kaplan writes, “the family never … Continue reading

The elusive Alaia speaks, too

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In today’s New York Times, Guy Trebay reports on a short film about the designer Azzedine Alaia by fashion stylist Joe McKenna. “The one person not heard from is the designer himself,” Trebay writes. Says McKenna, “the minute it seems like you’re interviewing him, he clams up.” In 1989, I had the privilege of profiling Alaia for the long defunct European Travel & Life magazine. The story includes cameos by Naomi Campbell, Janice Dickinson, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, and Yasmine Parveneh, among others. You can read our lengthy conversation here. The photograph of Alaia, Lisa Marie and me was taken … Continue reading

Avenue: Repaved

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Today marks the dawn of a new era at AVENUE magazine. The New York Post’s Keith Kelly reports on the new design and new website. And there’s more to come. Thanks, Julia Restoin Roitfeld for posing for our first redesigned cover!

Secrets of the City, Revealed

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“One of our most provocative journalists, Michael Gross has cornered the market for insiders’ stories of the most bewitching and private worlds of the privileged, very rich, talented and beautiful,” says the 92nd Street Y, announcing my forthcoming appearance there on the night of June 12th, when I’ll engage in conversation with William D. Cohan, the former M&A investment banker for Lazard Frères and bestselling author of books about Wall Street. Speaking of insider stories, on Friday, Bloomberg “revealed” details of financier and Trump administration advisor Stephen Schwarzman‘s 70th birthday party in Palm Beach this weekend. But readers of AVENUE … Continue reading

Viva Mexico!

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Today seems as good a day as any to repost my celebration of the culture and cosmopolitanism of Mexico City from Departures Magazine. Click this link to read it.

You read it here first: Dish served cold

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A posthumous profile of Aileen Mehle, aka Suzy, by Bob Colacello in the January Vanity Fair quotes my first-ever cover story for New York Magazine in 1988, “Inside Gossip,” on a catfight among what was then a passel of New York gossip columnists. Colacello confirms something I printed in the very same piece from which he quotes me, which featured Mehle and a certain wealthy New Yorker who had not yet found his signature coif on the cover. It was 1988 and when my editor insisted I print Mehle’s age, I asked her, she replied, “Oh hahahaha,” and so I … Continue reading

15CPW: Still the Champ

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Real Estate Weekly reports that the highest price per square foot achieved in New York last year was nearly $10,000 paid for a sky high apartment at Fifteen Central Park West.  That’s more  money (by a significant measure) than any of the wannabes on the Billionaire’s Belt attracted.  Toldja so.

Avenue’s January issue has dropped…

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…and the New York Post and PageSix.com have taken notice. “The old guard won’t like the Avenue magazine’s new Palm Beach A-list,” which is featured in the issue, Richard Johnson writes, due to its inclusion of pop-culture Palm Beachers like Donald and Melania Trump, Howard and Beth Stern and Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster. And the A-list is just the beginning. Our cover star is Kara Ross, and the issue delves into both Trump’s Coconut Cabinet of Palm Beach potentates and the town’s new Royal Poinciana shopping center. If you aren’t fortunate enough to live in a building where Avenue … Continue reading

Pink Sand Paradise: Bermuda Reborn

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My report on the rebirth of Bermuda, spurred by the upcoming America’s Cup races, is in the new issue of Departures, but for now you can only read it if you have an American Express Platinum card (I don’t). I’ll post it again here once it’s been unlocked online.

Carrie Fisher, RIP

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Half a lifetime ago, I profiled a thirty-year-old Carrie Fisher. The story is as good a celebration of her life force as I can share. Click the link to read my profile, the photo to see how it appeared in the paper.

RIP China Machado

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China Machado, the pioneering multiracial model, fashion editor and muse to photographer Richard Avedon, has died at age 87. Ivan Bart, her agent at IMG Models confirmed the news. Machado plays roles in both Model and Focus, though to my great regret, I never interviewed her at length. But I was happy to call her a friend.

740 Park: The Comeback Begins

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After an annus horribilus full of troubles, is 740 Park, subject of my 2005 book, once again New York’s Tower of Power? Consider this: Though his primary residence is California, Secretary of the Treasure-designate Steven Mnuchin remains the owner of a duplex there. And ten floors above him in a triplex penthouse lives the cooperative’s president, George David, former chairman and CEO of defense contractor United Technologies, which owns Carrier, the air-conditioning giant that yesterday agreed to keep jobs in the United States. Might the neighbors have facilitated that deal in a little chat in the elevator or the basement … Continue reading

On the Avenue, off the blog shift

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Posts to Gripepad have slowed to a crawl since I started a new job last month as Editor-in-Chief of Avenue Magazine. Things will pick up here again eventually but for the moment, please visit avenuemagazine.com.