By Liz Smith, Tribune Media Services
5:30 AM EDT, April 12, 2013
"I KINDA like Caroline Kennedy. Not that she would care if I do or don't.
"In any case I haven't seen her for a dozen years -- and before that only fleetingly. We first met when she was an undergraduate at Harvard in the late '70s. She was the belle (or maybe not...) of my brilliant student and future colleague Eric Breindel whose accomplished life working as Sen. Moynihan's top intellectual aide and as chief New York Post editorialist was plagued by tempest and torments that ended tragically in 1998. (He'd had other belles before and after: Benazir 'Pinky' Bhutto, for one, and then a gifted writer wife and a devoted girlfriend, and finally his longtime love, Lally Weymouth.)"
This is writer Marty Peretz in The New York Observer -- and whatta sentence! Too much, or not enough, information.
It all came about when the pink real estate newspaper decided they wanted a piece on Caroline Kennedy as our next likely U.S. ambassador to Japan. But never mind that.
What interested the New York gossip crowd was the Peretz suggestion that Caroline was once romantically involved with Mr. Breindel, a champion of far-right ideology.
At Michael's on Wednesday, it was all anybody could think about, ponder, pontificate on and try to remember.
Was Mr. Peretz right or was he just guessing? (There has never been much romantic information regarding Caroline Kennedy, who minds her own business and doesn't let us know too much about herself.)
Well, nothing would surprise me! I personally adored Mr. Breindel, although he and I were worlds apart on ideology. We were good friends even though we seldom agreed. I wasn't surprised at the time that the heir to and writer of Newsweek magazine (Lally Weymouth) was in love with Eric. Half the single women I knew were crazy about him. The New York Post even founded a charity in his name after his untimely death.
And I'll never forget a 1997 dinner party at Lally's Southampton house, just before Eric died. We were Lally, Joan Ganz Cooney of "Sesame Street" fame, her husband, billionaire financier Pete Peterson, "Little Me" and the far-to-the-right neo-conservative pundits Midge Decter and John Podhoretz.
At this dinner party we actually discussed ad infinitum, "The Pumpkin Papers," Alger Hiss and the threat of communism circa late '40s and '50s U.S. history that had already passed into oblivion -- but not for Eric and Mr. and Mrs. Podhoretz. They were as aroused then against communism, socialism and any kind of leftish "ism" as when it all first happened back in 1948 and '49.
Joan and I fought back conversationally with limp leftist arguments. They just laughed at us, dubbing us "Limousine Liberals," which we certainly seemed to be as we were accompanied by Mr. Peterson, a former cabinet member for Richard Nixon. (I wondered if this fact had gotten us invited. No, Eric Breindel was friendly with all sorts of people who he knew held "weirdo liberal views" and this made it all the more fun for arguing.)
Reporter Peretz, in his Observer article, says that Caroline sought out various kinds of studies while at Harvard and that her cousin, Bobby Kennedy the younger, was a roommate of Eric Breindel. This sounds right to me. But Mr. Peretz is emphatic in his interesting piece that Caroline Kennedy is not such a good choice for ambassador and that she will never come up to "former Ambassador Edwin O. Reischauer ... a great scholar of Japan ... perhaps the greatest American in the field..."
It is uncommonly rare these days to have so much fun, pro and con, as Mr. Peretz offers this week. It seems uncommonly civilized when "politics and ideology" have grown so mean-spirited.
Who says I don't write about any Young Turks in the Internet world? Why, here is my lovely fresh-faced Lucy Baird who I've known since she was a pup growing up in Massachusetts.
She came charging to New York from Colgate and opted for a career in fashion. She'd already served internships at Bazaar, Women's Wear and with Tim Gunn, while supporting herself through thin and thin serving up fresh lobster sandwiches at night.
Now, Lucy works for http://www.birchbox.com or simply Birchbox! Founded in 2010 by Harvard Business School classmates Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna -- Birchbox gives a way for consumers to discover and buy high-end lifestyle and beauty products. For $10 a month, subscribers receive a box of four or five deluxe beauty samples tailored to their beauty profile, demographics and preferences. On the website, users can learn how to use the products through engaging editorial and video, as well as being able to buy full-size versions of the samples. To date the company has secured $11.9 million in venture-capital investment.
I joined Birchbox myself, although "beauty" is not my goal. (I've given up on that.) But I can't wait every month to see what they send me. It's always a neat surprise and worth a lot more than the $10 it costs.
My dear dedicated friend Lucy joined me when a gang of us went over recently to see Taylor Swift in Newark on her "Red" tour. Lucy shares an Upper West Side apartment with her brother, Bruce, who works for the district attorney's office. And there is their older sister, Emily, who toils in Washington, D.C., and recently met the Obamas at the White House.
Lucy has been lording it over Bruce and Emily about meeting Taylor Swift instead. These kids are the generation that is making us proud of their all-American ingenuity.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)
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