PLUS, WHAT CHICAGOANS DID FOR NYE; WHERE CELEBS PARTIED; KICK-ASS EVENTS LIST; RIP BERNICE; JIM GOES TO THE GOLDEN GLOBES; "A DIFFERENT LIFE"; THE BLURRED LINES OF JACK PERNO; BROOKE IN CRAIN'S; SERVICE CLUB'S NEW PRESIDENT; HOT SPOTS IN MIAMI AND WPB; CUTE VIDEO AND SOOOO MUCH MORE!
I was bitten by the Florida bug when I was knee high to a grasshopper. I remember my first trip there with my dad and stepmom. We drove from East St. Louis and, along the way, we made some lasting memories, at least I sure did. Our first stop was Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, the longest cave system on EARTH! This is where I learned the difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite and dreamed of becoming a spelunker.
Next stop, Tarpon Springs where sponge divers thrilled me with their underwater antics (and I received a wet sponge fresh from Sponge Docks on Dodecanese Boulevard). We also stopped at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, about an hour away from Tampa
and home of the live mermaid show. Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, now replaced by Legoland, was
home of the daring pyramid ski shows and Southern Belles dressed in antebellum garb who posed in the exquisite gardens for photos. Lastly, we ended up at Busch Gardens, a huge theme park in Tampa. My next trip as a youngster was with my mom and stepdad and we went straight to the source,
Miami Beach, swimming pools and movie stars. At least this was how I saw it and still do. This year, our New Year's Eve trip was memory-making too, especially with friends Leslie Hindman, Gayle Anthony,
Julie Geier, Paul Iacono, Ken Norgan and Pepe Conforme. We drove down with the dogs, a true Griswold roadtrip, and took our time to stop and smell the roses. There's such beautiful scenery along the route--even in the
long, desolate stretches of highway. Our first stop was West Palm Beach where we met up with Leslie. Her auction house on Worth
Avenue is doing incredible business and her beautiful home, that is in an historic district, belongs in Architectural Digest. Our first dinner there was at the Palm Beach Grill, a chic haunt for regulars and celebs, that reminded me of our Gibson's. We
were curious about the real estate market there, so looked at some condos and houses. A few of them had great promise. We love Chicago but one never knows what the future holds especially with the direction our city seems to be moving towards. I don't know how much more crime and taxes one can stand! Anyway, during
the afternoon, we shopped (mostly window-shopped) and admired the beautiful holiday decor on the streets and in the windows. Saks was a standout as well as Tiffany & Co. that had tiny windows with exquisite holiday vignettes. That night, Chuck, Leslie and I met up with friends
Gayle and Jim Anthony. We stopped by her sister and brother-in-law's (Julie and Phil Geier) stunning Worth Avenue home for cocktails. Champagne on a balcony overlooking the ocean at sunset with friends can't be beat.
That night, we dined at Bricktop's, a buzzing spot with great food at 375 S. County Road. We left the following day for Miami Beach. We stayed at the Loew's on Collins which might be one of the most pet-friendly hotels ever. They provide you with
doggie bowls, a special mat with paws on it and a full dog menu available from room service. Dogs were even allowed at the pool which was something I'd never seen before. Mickey and Rooney had a blast on the beach, in a cabana, by the pool--EVERYWHERE! We loved having them with us and, if you go, I
highly recommend this hotel for pet lovers. We met up with Paul, Ken and Pepe for lunch at one of our fav spots on Lincoln Road, Nexxt Cafe (great food and people watching!) The next day we rested up by the pool for our big night. NYE was at Villa Azur, a hot spot at 309 23rd St., that
reminds me of St. Tropez. (Before this, it was La Piaggia, owned by Robert Pascal (a co-founder of one of the first beach clubs in St. Tropez, La Voile Rouge--both now closed, sadly). Greeters at the door were dressed in wild fantasy costumes and it
continued from there. The room, without decor, is beautiful with a garden in the center but, on this night, it was magical. A mermaid posed for pics in a white tub and guests could pose for their own pics in an elaborate photo setting with cute props. The menu was FABULOUS! It began with a bottle of Cristal and then lobster tarts, homemade
foie gras, langostino carpaccio and your choice of Mediterranean sea bass with winter black truffles or Kobe Beef Wellington with white truffles and unlimited wine. It was a delicious, decadent feast. At midnight, the room went wild with stilt walkers, sparklers, dancing, hugging and resolutions that will never be met. This was one of our best holidays EVER thanks to our great friends. I hope your NYE was memorable too and I hope 2017 is your best year yet! (Besides the spots mentioned
above, here's a list of more of our favs: Floral Emporium (West Palm Beach), Palm Beach Produce Resortwear (overlook the wild patterns for some cool capri pants and chic tops), Nick & Johnnies (Palm Beach), Renato's in Palm Beach, Los Fuegos (Faena Hotel for dinner in Miami Beach--sit inside, not on terrace), What Goes Around, Comes Around, a luxury vintage store in SoBe and, lastly, Monty's Sunset in South Beach (the views, raw bar and prices are the BEST)!
And now, this is how a few notable Chicagoans spent their New Year's Eve! Gorgeous Monika Dixon (Monika Dixon PR) spent her holiday in Poland at the Hotel Golebiewski in the charming mountain town of Karpacz. She visited with her childhood friend, Izabela Golebiewski,
who she has known since she was 6! They attended a spectacular ball with huge Polish entertainers and a grand fireworks show. Now that's what I call a fabulous NYE for these two beauties!
Beloved comedian Tom Dreesen has performed on NYE for 35 years in a row, 14 of those were with Frank Sinatra and almost always in Las Vegas. Since then, he has turned down every offer for NYE because, he says, "The truth is no gig could compare with sharing the New Year with those wonderful audiences and, after the show, staying up till dawn with Frank." Now he goes to a neighborhood Italian restaurant around 7 PM and he's home by 9 PM, just in time to watch the ball drop in NY at midnight. When that's done, he hits the sack for an early tee time in the morning. "Ain't life grand living here in Southern California?" I'll
say Tom, I''ll say.....:-)
Michelle Durpetti (Michelle Durpetti Events) spent NYE in South Beach too with her love Collin Pierson. They celebrated with cocktails at the Delano, dinner at Dolce and then rang in the New Year watching fireworks on South Beach. Sounded like the perfect plan Michelle, but then, she IS an expert party planner!
Whitney Reynolds, (host of The Whitney Reynolds Show) spent NYE with her family--husband Dave Heiner and her darling twins. For their first NYE as a family, they dined at Fig and Olive. During the day they went to a kids' "Noon Years Eve" party where balloons dropped at noon and then enjoyed the sights and stores on Oak Street.
Kisses were shared all around at 10 pm to celebrate!
Star designer Nate Berkus and his husband Jeremiah Brent celebrated NYE at the private
Tower Club in L.A., known as Ventura County's upscale playground. Still miss him in Chicago though.
Handsome Jim Karas, personal trainer and health and wellness guru, celebrated, but his big night was at the Golden Globes, where he rubbed shoulders with Viola Davis, Annette Bening, Angela Bassett, Steve Levitan (creator of "Modern Family"), Regina King, Sophia Vergara, Connie Britton and so many
others! He said Bening remembered him from their workout days together at Martin Henry! He said, "EVERYONE drank. No one sits in their seats as there is a bar and more food right to the side
of the main room. That’s how I got to meet so many people. Everyone mingles and there's no attitude at all. People were incredibly approachable and nice. I’ve been to the Academy Awards. It’s stiff. This is WAY more fun and all the after-parties are
right at the hotel, so it’s very easy to navigate." Jim's advice for approaching a celeb is "don't just do the 'pretty dress' or 'loved in X film', make it more personal, they really appreciate a conversation that is less superficial and almost unexpected." I suspect it doesn't hurt if you look like Jim Karas too. :-)
Some other high profiler's decided on a quiet night for NYE. My Eye Dr.'s marketing director, Michael Caputo, stayed in, prepared shrimp cocktail and a juicy filet and popped an icy bottle of Veuve. (Sounds good to me!) Film critic Bill Zwecker and partner Tom Gorman took the
quiet route too in Palm Desert with neighbors and friends. Beth Heller and her family kept a low profile ordering
steaks from Harry Caray's and debuting this sleek new look (right). Debi Lilly (A Perfect Event) and her husband Mike Springer spent NYE at SoHo House Manhattan with a resolution to "fill the year with amazing family adventures, create more beauty and more precious memories."
Event designer, Derrick Taylor (Taylor & Co.) attended a wedding a the Union League Club with his dear friend Karen Ernst. At midnight the confetti drop "was perfect." Chicago
International Film Festival founder Michael Kutza celebrated NYE in Bangkok and Graham Kostic and his husband Fran Taglia spent NYE in Milwaukee touring the Art Museum.
And now for some celeb sightings. Mary J. Blige celebrated NYE with Diddy and
his mom, Janice Combs, at the Five Star New Year's Eve Party in Miami; Justin Bieber was the headliner at the Fontainebleau's NYE party in Miami Beach. After he partied at LIV nightclub
where Khloe Kardashian, her boyfriend Tristan Thompson and Jamie Foxx were also celebrating; Billionaire Roman Abramovich celebrated in St. Bart's again with Sir Paul McCartney, who sang "Auld Lang Syne"
in a surprise duet with Jimmy Buffett; John Legend (along with wife Chrissy Teigen) performed for NYE at Nikki Beach in St. Bart's; Kate Hudson celebrated in Aspen with friend Chelsea
Handler and British race car driver Lewis Hamilton; And we all know President-elect Trump celebrated NYE at Mar-a-Lago with Chicagoan Rosemary Fanti, Sly Stallone and romance novel cover-boy Fabio.
The world lost one of its shining lights when Bernice Pink passed away recently. She was one of a kind with a unique, flawless sense of style, a charming wit and a love for animals that knew no limits. Her son John Pink and daughter-in-law Karen Schmidt Pink wrote beautiful tributes to her here. A lot of people posted lovely comments like longtime friend Paula Fassseas. "Bernice was a role model for so many of us on how to grow up
gracefully and fully enjoy life. She was kind and elegant with a great sense of dry humor. Always ahead of her time in every aspect of living, whether it was the arts, fashion, gardening or animals, she always advocated and made a difference." Bernice expressly requested no funeral and no memorial. In honor of her memory, the family
I'm so thrilled to introduce a wonderful book written by a longtime friend of mine, Rhonda
Gayle Nelson! In her debut book, "A Different Life," Rhonda pulls back the curtain on celebrity life (her husband Wayne Nelson is lead singer/bass
player of famed Little River Band) while offering readers the chance to experience stories and photos not shared before. She also dishes up lots of delicious (comfort food) recipes that she, her husband and some of the band members enjoy. This in-depth glimpse of life on the road and all things in between is a must-read. Love and
More congrats go out to another friend, the uber-accomplished Brooke Skinner Ricketts, who was recently profiled in Crain's Chicago Magazine. She talks about her new position as chief marketing officer at Cars.com, is the wife of Laura Ricketts (Cubs co-owner) and, when the time comes, hopes to have a late 60s, pearl-colored Corvette Stingray with a T-top for her midlife crisis roadtrips. Read the entire article here and congrats BSR!
Friends of Conservation's Reute Butler has been taking photographs since she was 11 years old with her grandfather Paul's Brownie camera. Well, all that practice is paying off as she will soon have a gallery showing of her work at the famed Wally Findlay Gallery in Palm Beach! The exhibition begins February 16 with a private cocktail reception on the 15th. It will run throughout the season, traveling then to NY and possibly California. (A portion of the proceeds will benefit FOC).
And now, for some upcoming events: Another Door Opens (Chicago House), Wednesday, Jan. 18, at Architectural Artifacts; Eisonopoly, Friday, Jan. 20, at Revel Fulton Market; Eat.Drink.Give Celebrity Chef's Gala, Thurs., Jan. 19, Morgan Manufacturing (chaired by Wendy Friedman); Urban Initiatives' Soccer Ball, Friday, Jan. 27, at Morgan Manufacturing; Black Creativity Gala, Sat., Jan. 28, at Field Museum; Snowball (Lurie Children's Hosp), Sat., Jan. 28, Field Museum; Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation's "Be My Valentine Family Event", Sun., Jan. 29, The Drake; Grand Chefs Gala, Friday, Feb. 3, Navy Pier (honoring Rich Melman); Thodos Dance Company's 25th Anniversary Gala, Sat., Feb. 4, Chicago History Museum; Little Co. of Mary Crystal Heart Ball, Sat., Feb. 4, Field Museum; Steppenwolf's "Women in the Arts" luncheon (honoring Phylicia Rashad), Monday, Feb. 6; Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra's 70th Anniversary Celebration (guest soloist Rachel Barton Pine), Sat., Feb. 11, at Four Seasons Hotel; St. Patrick's High School "Green & Gold" Gala (honoring president Joe Schmidt), Sat., Mar. 4, at Local 29 Banquets; Bear Necessities' Bear Tie Ball, Sat., Mar. 11, at Aragon Ballroom; PAWS Animal Magnetism Party, Friday, Mar. 24, Morgan Manufacturing; Face the Future Foundation's Disco Ball, Sat., Mar. 25, at Four Seasons Hotel; RMHC 40th Anniversary Gala, Sat., April 22, The Geraghty; Brookfield Zoo Ball, Sat., April 29; UNICEF's 10th Hope Gala, Sat., April 29, The Geraghty; Chicago Children's Advocacy Luminary Awards, Thursday, May 4, Union League Club; Alexian Brothers Bal de Fleur, Sat., May 6, Morgan Manufacturing; Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation's 11th annual luncheon, Wed. May 10, Drake Hotel; Steppenwolf Theatre Gala, Saturday, May 13.
Congrats to new Service Club of Chicago president Simona Garcia! She was born and raised in Romania and moved to the U.S. not knowing any English. She said, "What makes this appointment even more meaningful to me is that The Service Club appointed a first generation immigrant to lead our organization’s mission. As many of you may already know our organization was originally founded to assist immigrant families that came here back in the 1890s and had no one to turn to for support. I could easily have been someone who received assistance from The Service Club of Chicago when I immigrated to United States 16 years ago." Great choice SC! Congrats Simona! I know your husband Dennis and
little Sebastian are so proud of you!
On the creative front, photographer/artist Jack Perno was recognized in a BIG way in Art+Design Magazine. They published a COVER story feature, "The Blurred Lines of Jack Perno," about his cool Polaroid work. I've known Jack a long time and he's always been on the cutting edge of fashion and design. I'm thrilled to
see this Chicago boy is continuing his great success! To see/read article, click here!
I was pretty disappointed in this year's Golden Globes. No one got drunk and embarrassed themselves. Ricky Gervais wasn't there to insult everyone and the fashions weren't so hot either. Read my full critique here!
I hope your NYE was all you had hoped it to be and I hope your resolutions for 2017 will all be realized. For my 2017 resolution, I'm going to follow (and believe) the advice that Glenda the Good Witch gave Dorothy..... "You had the power all along, my dear." Amen.
Love, as always,
P.S. And, of course, something to make you smile!