Daily Archives: March 14, 2010

The Luncheon Society/Gov. Mario Cuomo/Blue Fin (Dinner) /February 19, 2010

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We started the evening where we began lunch; The Blue Fin Restaurant in Manhattan’s Times Square.  Unlike lunch, our private room was no match for the dinner rush outside, but things quieted as people left for Broadway plays and musicals, which began promptly at 8 PM.

Regardless, the exterior din was well worth the wonderful crowd we had inside that room that evening; a number of folks came from Los Angeles to see both Cavett and Cuomo. As for me, I found myself sitting between one of my favorite writers, Gay Talese, and former supermodel Carmen Dell’Orefice, who could (and should) run a finishing school on how people are supposed to behave. It just does not get any better than that.

I think we will put something together in New York so we can gather for a nightcap (or two) after experiences like these.

Rather than describe the dinner in great detail, I will let Governor Cuomo’s gracious words speak for themselves. 


We were invited by Bob McBarton to respond to the question: “Has political bi-partisanship completely broken down in the nation’s Capitol because ideological purity too often replaces intelligent collaboration?”

It is a vital question that every day becomes more serious.  Most recently it was focused upon by Evan Bayh. I believe I have had some experience with that kind of troublesome rigidity ─ Bayh ─ and many others are talking about.

In my early years as a lawyer I enjoyed the struggle called “litigation” immensely. Don’t give an inch!  The competitiveness, the court as coliseum… “The thrill of victory; the agony of defeat”. 

That muscular intellectual kind of combat had a primal attraction for me.  I thought things like mediation and arbitration that displaced litigation were a concession of weakness that should be carefully avoided.

Over time however, I’ve been able to overcome a number of different primal instincts… an obsession with the virtues of rigidity and litigation is one of them. 

After years of experience I concluded that relentless insistence on vigorous litigation reflects a human failure to be able to arrive at a wiser consensus, compromise, and peaceful coexistence.

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The Luncheon Society/Dick Cavett/Blue Fin/New York/February 19, 2010

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Dick Cavett can tell a great story. The best ones center on his long friendship with Groucho Marx, who he met after the funeral of playwright George S. Kaufman.  In one, Groucho was about to introduce his brother Chico to Tallulah Bankhead, the reigning Queen of Broadway and daughter of then-Speaker of the House William Bankhead. To understand Chico Marx (which is pronounced Chick-o), he was a profligate skirt chaser, vaudevillian, gambler, and orchestra leader whose wife knew that he slept with anything that moved.

Tallulah Bankhead, who was at the start of her career, was no slouch herself in that department, but few knew it yet. She was an attractive and wild force of nature, the kind of tornado that took out farms, mobile home parks, and marriages of all shapes and sizes. To describe Bankhead to a modern audience, she was the “Mother of all Train Wrecks,” equal parts Paris Hilton, Amy Winehouse and Lindsay Lohan but also had a tremendous talent that spanned four decades on stage and screen. Even after death she lives on, being played by Kathleen Turner and others in various stage productions of her life.

That night, Groucho pleaded with his brother not to sully the reputation of Miss Bankhead and he promised to behave. According to Cavett’s book, the conversation began innocently enough with a simple introduction.

“Miss Bankhead,” Chico said. “Mr. Marx,” Tallulah replied.

Grateful the storm had passed, everybody relaxed until Chico said, “You know, I really want to sleep with you (which was the PG version).” Without missing a beat, she replied, “And so you shall, you old-fashioned boy.”

Now, that’s a story.

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