My friend’s book party was in a wonderful venue — a Park Avenue apartment. Luxury accommodations have sprouted up all over the city in the Bloomberg years, from Wall Street to Loisaida, but only on Park Avenue do they have the solidity that comes with oldth. The elevator opened into the foyer; not much chance of Chinese menus being slipped under this door. The lid of the baby grand was a parade ground of silver-framed photographs, the household gods of the urban bourgeoisie.
The owner was a gracious hostess, inviting her guests to circulate through the apartment, asking only, if they picked anything up, to put it back down. I saw all the people I always see at holiday functions: my fellow members of the city’s tiny caste of winger writers. I had a thoroughly modern conversation with a colleague about her recent appearance on C-SPAN/YouTube; 200 years ago she would have appeared at the Pump Room at Bath. There was a well-filled holiday bar with what looked like champagne; in an access of scrupulosity the bartender told me it was sparkling wine from some other sunny place, California or Italy; I told him if it was chilled and bubbling I would have it. Other staff circulated with hors d’oeuvres of the modern mashup variety: chickadees in sticky rice, caviar-covered bananas, if not those precisely then that kind of thing; it’s not your father’s pig-in-a-blanket.