THE SPINE OCTOBER 2, 2006
I hope you haven't yet thrown out Sunday's papers. At least not the "Sunday Styles" section of the Times. There on page 8 is the "Evening Hours" feature organized by Bill Cunningham, what long ago my friend Margo Howard immortalized in an article she called "Dancing for Disease." The celebrants this past week weren't doing anything quite so depressing, and the big story (with 15 small society photographs out of 33) was the Metropolitan Opera's opening night with a new production, the much heralded new production, of Madame Butterfly. Actually, there were three venues where the opera was seen. Three thousand, Cunningham tells us, saw the performance on screen while seated at Lincoln Center plaza. Another 1,500--I don't know whether seated or not--saw it in Times Square. The rest--that is, the first--viewed and heard it at the Met itself, according to an uplifted price scale. Nothing wrong with that.
Who was there? Or, at least, who was there that the Times found important to photograph? Well, Sid and Mercedes Bass--Texas oil people, I think--who had just given $25 million, to replace the unfinished pledge (I think but I'm not certain) of that Cuban-American operaphile, who, having lost lots of his money, left many of his charities a bit short. There are pictures of other notables, talented or very rich, and one of the bonzai tree on the grand stairway to the grand tier for which the Basses had shelled out so much cash. Then, there is a smiling David Rockefeller and an almost giggling Kofi Annan. I am sure that Rockefeller has done far more to better the world than Annan has ever tried to. In any case, what in heavens is Kofi giggling about? Darfur? Perhaps he's thinking about his own role in Rwanda and Bosnia, this self-satisfied and corrupt ruler of the universe.
Then, there's another man, actually a man and his wife, pictured in the Times opera splash. Prince Zeid Raad Al-Hussein and Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan. They are not giggling. Prince Zeid was a candidate to replace Annan who--thank God--is leaving at year's end. He won't be chosen. One reason is that he wants to reform the whole U.N. bureaucracy, an inefficient, partisan on the side of the wicked, and profligate apparatus. That's also one reason why he won't make it in the tallies tomorrow. Thoughtful, serious, determined, he is also an Arab, an Arab patriot, who realizes that the U.N. has been an incendiary in the Middle East, and he wants to change that. Qatar was his most striking opponent in the Security Council which tells you a lot. And, of course, China, Russia, France. No one really knows yet whom the the U.S. and the U.K. either backed or didn't kick.