Going Bananas

How much fun is a barrel of monkeys? Whatever the amount, the Monkey Helpers’ Food Festivale to benefit Helping Hands, held at the WGBH studios, matched it.

The evening, for which The Improper was a sponsor, featured a feast courtesy of restaurants like Mistral, Basho, Eastern Standard, Trade, Market and Masa, while the beer, wine and vodka flowed like Champagne is supposed to. 

The soignée crowd included the likes of event chair Lisa Flores, celebrity chef Jamie Mammano, latter-day Lucille Ball Julia Owens, the couture-crazed Laura Baldini, brunette bombshell Amy Nel Jacobs, the dog-mad Dietrich Falkenthal, special guest star Jenny Johnson, and one woman whose comments about the men included, “He’s cute, in a John Boy Walton kind of way,” and “He’s too short. I’m short. I can’t have midget kids.” Meanwhile, a woman who received a compliment on her necklace said, “Guilt presents are always the best.”

There was a killer band, they screened a film that didn’t leave a dry eye in the house, and most amazing of all: For an incredible evening out in Boston, the parking was free.

Check Under the Hood…

The crème de la crème of the tote bag set turned out in full force for WBUR’s gala to honor 35 years of Car Talk, the automotive equivalent of Amos ’n’ Andy (minus the racism), and its hosts, Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Held at the Boston Sheraton, the evening began with cocktails and one of the best silent auctions on the charity circuit. The smell from the slider bar had some guests salivating, while others drooled over the $15,000 diamond ring being raffled. Although there was one woman who said, “How many diamond rings do I need? All my husbands
gave me one.”

Rubbing elbows with the NPR types were hotel magnate Roger Saunders and the lovely Norma, doting parents Tedd and Ella Saunders, iconoclastic blueblood Linda Cabot Black and her daughter, Sophie, travel titan Andy Levine and the über-chic Beth Rosenberg, activist and all-around-mensch John Rosenthal with the flawless Maureen, the dapper David Shepperd, tech exec Edward Boesel, and one son of a prominent philanthropist who said, “My father has a strange fondness for endowing elevators. I said to him, ‘Is our last name Otis or something?’”

On hand to toast Click and Clack were on-air personalities like NPR’s Nina Totenberg, Here & Now host Robin Young, On Point’s Tom Ashbrook and All Things Considered’s Sacha Pfeiffer.

The evening’s funniest exchange: One guest bragged about winning a $2,500 gift certificate for $1,200 in the silent auction, two years in a row. “I actually made money off of WBUR!” he said, to which another guest replied, “You’re the only person in the room who can say that.” 

In Memoriam

If good deeds leave ripples like a pebble tossed into a pond, Ruth Gordon Shapiro’s legacy will be more like waves crashing on a beach. The great philanthropist and matriarch was both elegant and down-to-earth, idealistic but practical, and generous beyond reckoning. Although she lived primarily in Palm Beach later in life, she and her husband of 73 years, Carl (who was by her side when she died), have been so civic-minded that their names seem to be carved into every wall, plaque and building in Boston.

A Chelsea native and graduate of Wellesley College, she was a concert-level pianist who gave lessons to underprivileged youth. Not content to merely donate money, she poured her time and passion into the charities she supported, which included Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Palm Beach Opera, the Norton Museum of Art and the Kravis Center (both in Palm Beach), Wellesley College and Brandeis University, and that’s merely the tip of her charitable iceberg. May her memory be a blessing. And the next time you set foot in one of the places mentioned above, you might want to thank whatever higher power you believe in that she lived among us.