Spring is in the air. I got the first whiff of it a couple of days ago when the sun broke through the clouds. The wintry winds were just a tad bit warmer as the Earth revolved closer to the sun.
We welcome the spring equinox with open arms and, hopefully, we’ll soon welcome it with open coats as we ease into sweaters, sans winter hats and gloves. It’s not too early to pull out your spring attire and get prepared for warmer weather; it’s coming.
Voza Rivers was honored in style—as he very well should be—by the New Heritage Theatre at the 44th anniversary gala. Gathering at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center were honorary chairs former Mayor David N. Dinkins and the legendary performer and activist Harry Belafonte.
Rivers, with his visionary eye for talent and love of the theater, has dedicated so much of his time and energy to keeping good theater production alive and well.
Daniel Beaty, Dr. Roscoe Brown, Ruby Dee, Cliff Frazier, Natsu Ifill, Sylvia Hamlin, Bryon Lewis, state Sen. Bill Perkins, Shauneille Perry, Rep. Charles Rangel, Marcia Sells and Lloyd Williams were thrilled to serve on the Honorary Benefit Committee. Lending even further support were Jeff Burns Jr., Imhotep Gary Byrd, Stephen Davis, Irene Gandy, Geoffrey Eaton, Barbara Horowitz, Jamal Joseph, Lonette McKee, Blue Decasseres Michel, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Michael Unthank, Linda Walton, George Williams Jr. and Karen Witherspoon.
The audience was treated to performances by Beaty, Impact Repertory Theatre, Chuck Jackson, Debbi Morgan and Valerie Simpson. Morgan and Robert Townsend also joined Danny Glover as the evening’s hosts. Directed by Andre Robinson and produced by Valerie Graves, the tribute was all done in the true Rivers fashion, which is fabulous.
Michael Dutton, senior communications manager for the Executive Leadership Council and Foundation, was present to greet attendees like documentary filmmakers Marcia and Stanley Nelson to the networking reception held at the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP.
As you know, the Nelsons have quite a repertoire of well-made, intriguing and informative documentaries chronicling Black history in the United States. Their presence added a new dimension to the evening’s panel discussion, entitled, “Demystifying Dodd-Frank.”
Dodd-Frank is the abbreviated name for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. It is named after Sen. Christopher J. Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank because of their significant involvement in the act’s creation and passage. Basically, the act established new government agencies, such as the Financial Stability Oversight Council and Orderly Liquidation Authority, to monitor the performance of companies deemed “too big to fail.”
The agencies were created in order to prevent a widespread economic collapse much like what the country experienced during the collapse of the housing market. Under the auspices of the act, the council can dismantle or restructure financial institutions that because of their size may systematically be too financially weak to provide the consumer with proper financial services.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was also born of the Dodd-Frank Act. This agency was created to prevent mortgage companies from predatory lending, and to oversee credit card companies and other consumer lenders and prevent them from misleading the public by requiring loan terms to be clear, concise and easy-to-read.
Have you noticed the difference in any of your financial statements and dealings? If so, it’s because of the Dodd-Frank Act. Thank you, Dodd-Frank.
Happy birthday to the DeWees, as in Jean and Donald; Michele Palmer Wright; and LeAnna Wong Wright. No condolences this week to anyone I know. Thank you.
Curtis Young was on hand at the 15th annual Young Fellow Celestial Ball, held at the Frick Collection. The special exhibition “Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes,” which incorporates celestial and mythological themes, made the evening enchanting, as over 600 guests donned in celestial gowns and dashing tuxedos boogied across the celestial tapestry.
Luxury accessories designer Elaine Turner hosted a spring kickoff shopping party at her new boutique, located on Madison Avenue at 82nd Street, with 10 percent of the evening’s proceeds going to benefit the Madison Avenue Boys and Girls Club. Everyone knows that the Madison Avenue Boys and Girls Club serves thousands of children throughout the five boroughs, providing a safe and positive environment for children to live and grow. Thanks, Elaine.
Meanwhile, crosstown and a little further west, the Randall’s Island Park Alliance held the Fielding Dreams Gala at the American Museum of Natural History, and among its honorees was Karen Cohen. The story with Cohen is, one day she had a vision concerning the development of Randall’s Island and all of its possibilities. Hence, her mission to turn the vision into a reality began. Starting at the top, she went to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wasn’t mayor at the time, and once he was on board, well, the rest is history.
Today, Randall’s Island boasts a golf center with 82 indoor and outdoor driving ranges, a 36-hole mini-golf course, PGA instructors, batting cages, a tennis center with 20 courts—and what would it all be without the café pro shop?
Once Carl Icahn became interested, the stadium bearing his name was built. Today, the stadium hosts local, regional and national sporting events. In 2008, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt broke the world record for the men’s 100-meter dash with a time of 9.72 seconds there. It wasn’t long before the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation came onboard, approving a $1 million contract for further development using renewable energy. A dream come true.
Randall’s Island, however, wasn’t always an isle of the great outdoors. The small section of land now known as Randall’s Island, separated from Manhattan by the Harlem River, from Queens by the East River and the Bronx by the Bronx Kill, was originally called Tenkenas (“wild lands”) by the Native Americans. In the late 18th century, the name was changed to Randall after Jonathan Randall, who purchased the land. The accompanying Wards Island was purchased and named after two brothers, named Ward. They put up a cotton mill and built the first bridge connecting Wards Island to Manhattan.
The islands soon became home to several social institutions, including an orphanage, a poorhouse, a burial ground known as Potter’s Field, a rest home for Civil War veterans and a reform school for juvenile delinquents. Wards Island was also the home of the New York City Asylum of the Insane.
Who can recall that during the Reagan era, funding for mental institutions was withdrawn and the hospital was downsized considerably? The mentally unstable came marching across the bridge and onto 125th Street in droves, and that was the beginning of homelessness.
Until next week … kisses