"the" Mrs. Astor

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Art Deco Weekend

I have had enough of this low-brow bro-ha-ha about sequins and focus now on tomorrow's opening of Art Deco Weekend. Ocean Drive is closed for four days and booths selling everything from Erte' prints to Fiesta teapots spring up for the thousands of visitors.

It is not a natural setting to be able to stroll down an avenue and feel that you are in a Hercule Poirot, deco-inspired drama, but every day I do. Yes--of course--I invent most of the drama myself, but it would be for nothing if it were not for the setting. At any moment I can stop, look at my watch, and expect Hastings to say, "Quite right; there's a race forthwith." The deco portals of sleek-faced buildings might even produce the smug face of a Miss Lemon, if the sun was in the right angle.

All this would never have been the case if it were not for a fiesty grandmother named Barbara Capitman.

In 1976, with South Beach and it's deco-era hotels (then old aged homes) in decay, an insidious group naming itself the Miami Beach Redevelopement Agency and headed by two schmucks named Abe Resnick and Dov Dunevsky, proposed to level everything from South Point to Lincoln Road and build a condo complex that "mirrored" the canals of Venice. Hmmm; 1976 style mixed with the classical styles of Venice: A success story in the making for a few New York weasels out to demolish history for profit.

Barbara was no match for The Agency and its paid-off cronies in City government. She immediately enlisted the gay Dade County design community and convinced them of her vision to preserve every building from the Deco period from destruction. She sought the Carter administration's interest in historic preservation and--to the horror of the City powers-that-be and The Agency--got the entire district named a National Register of Historical Places. Still, the jackal, Abe Resnick, blatantly tore down the striking New Yorker Hotel and was quoted in The New York Times as saying, "If I owned the Mona Lisa, wouldn't it be mine to destroy?"

The national outrage that followed this heinous remark was all that Barbara needed to convince the city residents, the State, and the nation that the preservation of a piece of world, long-forgotten and caught in a time warp, was in the interest of humanity.

Tomorrow we all celebrate Barbara Capitman and--maybe more--the notion that a good idea, adhered to and promoted tirelessly, can take hold, change the landscape, and alter history.


At 8:54 PM, Blogger Mr. Brian said...

Mrs. A,

I didn't even see you two posing for that picture as I was too busy playing the piano in the downstairs lobby. (for the wedding rehearsal) I would love to be there this weekend. I need to start planning my visits around these weekend events. It can get tiresome just drinking and grab assing and passing at at 5PM. Let me know if you see any nice candleabras for my Steinway ;)


At 9:23 PM, Blogger Black and Tan Mark said...

Mrs. Astor,

Nicely done :-) FDR would be proud.


At 12:48 AM, Blogger Jesse said...

Uncle Alexis,

I have never seen you more smashing than in that artistic recreation - and not a sequin to be found on you! What a handsome couple Ian and yourself make! :-) I wish I was there for Art Deco weekend. That sounds simply divine. Tell me all about the artwork, I really do wish I were there!

Love Always,
Jesse :-)

At 9:11 AM, Blogger Ian-Ivy du Bois said...

oh my goodness!
look how thin I am!
amn u r good with Photoshot!!

I´m so proud of u!

At 9:27 PM, Blogger Ed Grow said...

Big Daddy Alexis-

I'm back, I'm back, I'm back! I *loved* the intro to Hercule Poirot. It was fucking fabulous. And I'm drunk. Love.


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