THE FORWARD INDUCTED INTO THE 100 YEAR ASSOCIATION
A L’chaim! — To life! to the Jewish Daily Forward (established in 1897), which was admitted to membership in The 100 Year Association of New York at its September 19 dinner. Also admitted this year were St. Patrick’s Cathedral (established in 1807) and the 92nd Street Y (established in 1874). Among the 300 guests at T he Waldorf-Astoria were the Forward’s associate publisher, David Drimer, and Jeff Klein, head of the Isaac Lieberman Foundation, and his wife, Michele Gerber Klein. In 1927, Isaac Lieberman, Klein’s grandfather — who came here at age 13 from Lithuania and later became president of Arnold Constable (once one of New York’s premier department stores) — helped found the association. Klein told me, “My grandfather was civic minded and believed that companies [that] existed a long time should [return something] to the city.” Bruce Mosler, president of global property-management giant Cushman & Wakefield (founded in 1917), introduced honoree John Cushman III, the company’s chairman of the board, noting: “John embodies all the values… of giving back… leading by example.”
Cushman touted his global company’s school mentoring programs and scholarships initiative. In 2005, the firm announced corporate sponsorship of Project REAP — a program that trains talented and dedicated minority professionals and places them with leading commercial real estate firms. C&W’s historic property-managing coups include the 1946 land assemblage for what became the United Nations complex, and a central role in Chicago’s Sears Tower. Cushman also lauded C&W’s recent $1.8 billion (!) sale of New York City’s prime “666 building.” He declared: “In finance and real estate, New York is the world’s hometown [and] center. It [would not be] possible without the ethics of public service.”
ARTIST JOSEPH SOLMAN REVISITED
After reading Albert Fayngold’s “The Last of The Ten,” a retrospective piece on artist Joseph Solman, in the September 14 arts and culture section of the Forward, I called the artist. I had not seen Solman since 1995, when he presented me with his book “Joseph Solman” (Da Capo), inscribed, “To Masha and Family, affectionately, Joe Solman.” Fayngold notes that Solman was approaching 98, but his son Paul Solman — business and economics correspondent for Channel 13/PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer — happily told me, “Dad is looking forward to his 99th birthday in January.” When my daughter, Karen, and I arrived, I found that not much in the apartment seemed to have changed from when I first when I was first there in 1967. The amazing collection of Solman’s and other artists’ works was hung exactly as I remembered. Solman sat in a lounge chair, a sketch pad in hand, a walker nearby. His memory sharp, he remembered my first visit to his studio as part of an artists’ tour organized by [my friend] Elaine Cooper, at the end of which Solman said, “Masha, I’d like to do a portrait of you.” Name me a woman who would turn down such an offer! But he insisted that when I return, I wear the Russian-style black fur hat I was wearing that day. A few weeks later, hat in hand, I arrived for a series of conversation-rich sittings. The portrait now hangs in my dining room. Over the years, when I stopped by the now gone Second Avenue Deli, I would ring his bell and, if he was in, pop up for a quick hello and a cup of tea served by his late wife, Ruth, who had been the subject of a number of his portraits. This time the conversation ran the gamut from the art of Paul Klee to Japanese films, which Solman adores. His favorites are “The Seven Samurai” and “Yojimbo,” both starring Japanese heartthrob Toshiro Mifune. Karen told Solman that she had seen both films and that during Mifune’s last visit to New York to receive an award, she presented him with a copy of her prize-winning film poster of Mifune in “Samurai,” which he autographed in both English and Japanese. Solman also asked for a copy.
EXHIBIT-SALE OF ARTIST LeROY NEIMAN’S PRIVATE STASH OF “FEMLINS”
It was a crush at Soho’s Franklin Bowles Galleries for the September 15 “Femlin” exhibition of LeRoy Neiman’s sexy miniature sprites sporting suggestive black stockings, heels and gloves that have appeared in Playboy magazine since the mid 1950s. On the photo-op-autograph line I spotted Jewish Week correspondent Stewart Ain and his wife, Meryl. Ain admitted to owning an original Neiman. Did not ask if it was of a Femlin or one of his sports figure/portrait canvases for which he is noted. In 1980, Neiman presented to President Jimmy Carter a painting commemorating the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Neiman’s portrait roster includes Leonard Bernstein; in 2004 he was commissioned to do a portrait of New England Patriots team owner Robert Kraft, a benefactor of the center that bears his name, the Kraft Center of Columbia-Barnard Hillel.
In the early 1950s Neiman worked as an illustrator for Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co., a Chicago department store alongside a copyrighter named Hugh Hefner. In 1955 when Hefner, by then publisher/editor of Playboy, was looking for edgy illustrations he began to run Neiman’s “Femlins.” In 1952 I worked at the American Society of Magazine Photographers. Among the ASMP members were such photographer icons as Berenice Abbott, Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, Margaret Bourke-White, Cornell Capa, Andreas Feininger, Arnold Newman and Inge Morath. Returning from lunch one day, I was told that a guy from Chicago had approached some ASMPers for funding and/or as photographers for a novel magazine he envisioned that would feature photographs of fully nude female. Hefner, I was told, was turned down flat. The photographers were wary of the postal and decency laws of the day. The rest is history. The premiere 1953 issue featuring the then infamous Marilyn Monroe centerfold now commands zillions on eBay — providing you can find one in mint condition.
PHILIP ROTH’S SOUND BYTE ON CHINESE FOOD
Here’s a switch on that old saw that if you want to find a Jewish neighborhood, look for a Chinese restaurant. In New York, I have discovered, if you want to find a Jewish celebrity, go to a Chinese restaurant. Several months ago I ran into Neil Simon at Tang’s Pavilion (where, by the way “Tumbalalaika,” performed on a Chinese stringed instrument, was playing!). A few weeks ago, at Shun Lee West, I spotted Philip Roth across the room. Went over, introduced myself. Happened to have a copy of the Forward. Yes, he knows the paper. Posited my theory about Jews, Jewish celebrities and Chinese restaurants, but did not comment on his most recent opus, “Exit Ghost” (Houghton Mifflin). If I remember correctly, Roth’s controlled parting comment was, “Jews just seem to like Chinese food.”