Eats and Beats

Missives From the Jet Set

In Vino Veritas

(Left: Kathy Pacia and Kevin Fitzpatrick; Middle: Kenan Alev and Sarah Appleby; Right: Billy Costa, Daniel Bruce and Jenny Johnson)

Just in time to ruin everyone’s New Year’s resolutions, the 26th annual Boston Wine Festival kicked off with a Champagne reception hosted by chef Daniel Bruce at the Boston Harbor Hotel.

Seen sipping bubbly: trendsetting yummy mummy Cheryl Fenton, super-suave technocrat Elio
, blond smoke show Jenny Johnson and her sidekick, Billy Costa, reporter Mike Macklin, Boston’s answer to Grace Coddington, Jill Radsken, radio hottie Lauren Beckham Falcone, the debonair Ken Tutunjian, country squire David Jacobs and his shiksa wife, Gen Tracy, the smolderingly sexy Jan Saragoni, lovable film publicist Phyllis Mercurio, banking babe Stephanie Carrigg, the ever affable William Grote, pint-sized pistol Janet Wu (looking fabulous in a jacket she bought at a Hong Kong street market), and so on and so forth.

In addition to Champagne, waiters passed apps paired with superb wines, and the witty persiflage flowed to the point that it’s hard to pinpoint the evening’s most amusing remark. The contenders:

“We’re all just one flu away from our goal weight.”

“I think there should be a regift option on dating sites.”

And finally, “Drink up! There are sober teenagers in Utah!”

There’s No Time Like the Present

(Top Left: Lynne Smith; Top Middle: Celena and Jonathan Fine with Jayme Parker; Top Right: Cory Braunstein and Theo Epstein; Bottom Left: Jim Solomon; Bottom Middle: Theo Epstein and Craig Bouchard; Bottom Right: Tarra Marino and Gary Greenberg)

Baseball and rock ’n’ roll consummated their relationship yet again with the 15th annual Hot Stove Cool Music benefit for The Foundation to Be Named Later, held at the Paradise Rock Club.

The Improper was a proud sponsor of the evening, which began with a VIP reception and continued with a concert that raised the roof. Present and accounted for: baseball scribe and event founder Peter Gammons, TV stars Mike O’Malley and David Cross, Dot-bred rocker chick Kay Hanley, her ex-hottie Michael Eisenstein, music legend Al Kooper, chart buster Robin Lane, indie chick Juliana Hatfield, Buffalo Tom frontman Bill Janovitz, guitar god Will Dailey, the multi-talented Eli Paperboy Reed, pixieish singer-songwriter Jen Trynin, ubiquitous do-gooders Lynne and Gary Smith, affable restaurateur Jim Solomon, the devilishly handsome Geoff Pardo, marketing guru Rob Sisti, blond balabusta Jen Schneider Ziskin, foundation head Allyce Najimy, its co-founders, former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and his educator twin, Paul, and a set of life-sized light-up Santas signed by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, which were part of the live auction.

All in all, it was a stellar evening, with great food, excellent music, plenty of laughs and beaucoup dinero raised for a worthwhile cause. The evening’s funniest exchange, overheard by the bar: “I thought of a name for the foundation!” To which his friend replied, “Save it for later.”

In Memoriam

I first encountered the artistry of Sidewalk Sam in the 1970s, outside places like the New England Aquarium, Faneuil Hall and the Museum of Fine Arts. His masterful and elaborate work— original designs and superb recreations of masterpieces—were rendered in chalk on the sidewalk. I found them all the more astonishing after I watched one deteriorate in the rain, ribbons of what looked like multicolored pollen running down a storm drain.

By the time I met him in the ’90s, he was confined to a wheelchair because of a grisly accident in which he fell off the roof of his house. I’d never met someone who so personified the adage to always look on the bright side of life.

When I went to his house to interview him, it was a hot summer evening, and we sat on his porch, drinking more white wine than we should have. He told me that he’d seriously considered becoming a priest but that art was his true calling, as well as his salvation, his solace and his pulpit. We had a very deep conversation about our core beliefs, but I’m pretty sure I did all the talking, while he nodded enthusiastically and affirmed everything I said with a generosity of spirit reminiscent of Santa Claus.

His unswerving positivity seemed almost weird, but then again, recreating the Mona Lisa out of chalk, on a busy sidewalk, is somewhat odd. His art was unexpected, beautifully executed, often political and potent. But the real point was that, like life, it was ephemeral.

Rest in peace, Sidewalk, and thank you for teaching me that lesson as eloquently as anyone ever has.

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