Had a nice surprise when Geraldine Twilley of Tokyo International Players baked a really delicious pumpkin pie for me for the holidays, and I haven’t had anything that good since my mom and grandma (God bless their souls) baked up a storm (pies, cinnamon rolls, bread) for Thanksgiving and Christmas when I was a kid back in Perrysburg, Ohio.
I told Geraldine I’d set up a couple of ovens, she can bake and, like Mildred Pierce (the novel, the movie), we’ll become millionaires selling them to restaurants and shops. Guess she’s just been too busy to accept my offer.
Former Tokyoite Philippe Charriol and his super chic wife Anick are busy players on the world’s social scene. Philippe headed Cartier’s operations here for several years before he moved to Hong Kong where he established his own line of Swiss watches and jewelry.
Today Philippe Charriol has become one of the most prestigious brand names in the world. Even with his busy business schedule and hobbies that include car racing, Philippe and Anick take time to help others.
Happy to see young magician David Blaine made it through his ordeal in a six-ton ice block on Times Square. A couple of years back, David had himself buried alive. I got to know Houdini-idol David when he came to Japan with Leonardo di Caprio on Leo’s promo trip for the movie “Titanic.” He sat in the back corner of the Lex for three nights, entertaining a group of international models with his magic tricks. The man is amazing.
INT’L LADIES BENEVOLENT SOCIETY CHRISTMAS BAZAAR
Happy to report the International Ladies Benevolent Society (ILBS) Christmas Fair at the Top of the TAC, Tokyo American Club, was, as usual, a big success.
Ercilia Chiaradia, wife of the Argentine Ambassador, was chairperson this year and she, along with many hardworking ILBS members, set it up early in the a.m., sold into mid-afternoon and packed up the few remaining items late in the afternoon. It was a busy day for those good people, with proceeds going to several good causes. Omedeto!
It was another grand night for singing at che beautiful home of Italian Ambassador Gabrile Menegatti and his wife Brigitte. The evening was in honor of the Italy-Japan Association and the sister cities of the two countries. The mini-concert was excellent, the buffet delicious and guests interesting.
The year 2001 is going to be a special year for Italy here in Japan with the “biggest ever manifestation abroad” starting Mar. 19 and continuing through spring of 2002. The program will feature the best in Italian art, technology, industrial production, fashion design, crafts, food and agriculture, theater, music, art, cinema and tourism. Watch for lots of bella Italia.
ALL BLACKS AT NZ EMBASSY
New Zealand Ambassador Phillip Gibson, his wife Chansuda (she’s Thai) and the embassy staff went all out to make the welcome parry a very special evening for the country’s world-famous national rugby team, the All-Blacks. Slides of New Zealand’s world-renown scenery were projected on the outside walls at the entrance to the residence and guests passed through a jungle-like corridor of beautiful green New Zealand plants to the reception hall.
Once guests greeted the host and hostess, they moved into the main reception area. In addition to the All-Blacks, the Gibbons had invited members of the rival team, the Australian Pacific Barbarians. Now I understand how Gulliver must have felt. Those guys are big. A huge screen had been set up in the garden, and they were running films of some of the highlights of All-Blacks games. A popular musical group from New Zealand, the Barry Sander Trio, provided entertainment.
EGYPTIAN NATIONAL DAY
It was a very special event also at the Egyptian Embassy when Ambassador Mahmoud Karem and his wife Yasmina hosted a people-packed party to celebrate Egypt’s National Day. Former Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu was just leaving as I arrived, and I appreciate him stopping, allowing me to snap his photo with the host and chatting a bit.
Yasmina and her staff had artistically set up a superb buffer of Egyptian food, and a visiting and very good folkloric group from Cairo put on a show. The Karems have not slowed down since they arrived here in late September of 1999. In addition to their regular diplomatic duties, they’ve had many political and business delegations visit Tokyo, and they were at the helm of many cultural events and other activities for 2000, the Year of Egypt in Japan.
Hungary National Day
The home of Hungarian Ambassador Istvan Szerahelyi and his wife Reiko was full of friends for the reception they hosted on the occasion of Hungary’s National Day. Unfortunately, I could not stay long, but am glad I dropped by co congratulate the hose and hostess and their staff. They were very busy in 2000 with all the special events commemorating the 1,000th anniversary of the first King’s Coronation. Happy to report the Hungary Festival in Japan, by all accounts, was an overwhelming success. I planned a few days in Hungary’s beautiful city, Budapest, over the holidays and will be talking about chat lacer.
Over Roppongi way, Porsche held a holiday party at Club Luner’s. Martin Esser, the man who made it possible for me to get my BMW about eight years ago, now works with Porsche. That’s one beautiful car. Martin just sent me Porsche’s new calendar, and it looks great.
I also regretted not getting out to Nakano Sun Plaza for the performance of the Seoul Art Song/Dance Group on Dec. 15. Min-On Concert Association which has some really interesting cultural programs coming up this year, brought the group here. More on this later.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender