Featured Column

C. Paul Luongo's Published Columns

Friday, September 08, 2006



Throughout the year, I attend many social events in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. and Toronto. This year, in addition, I also attended a special event given by Prince Charles in London.

I will be writing this monthly column to enlighten you about these social events so that you can attend vicariously through these columns, without charge, and know the best from the worst. Use them as a future social guide and for helpful hints on how to deal with various social situations that may occur.

The best party by far was given by The Prince of Wales Foundation in London this June to benefit the Prince’s charities. Everyone was there. The King of Greece, Sting, Joan Rivers, Lauren Bacall, Valentino, Donatella Versace, Camilla Parker Bowles (her coming out party), Marylou Whitney, Suzy (New York W Social Scribe), the Forbes Family, Brian Mulroney, former Prime Minister of Canada, Robert Trump and a dozen or more Park Avenue and California socialites among others.

All the food came from Prince Charles’s Highgrove farm, and the setting was in an old tramshed in the East End. The music and entertainment was also wonderful. Although it
was a mere trailer, the men’s room even had chandeliers and fresh cut flowers….a royal flush, indeed!

Back in Boston, we’ve had several disasters. The first was a few weeks ago at The Seaport Hotel when World Boston decided to honor Pat Moscaritolo, the widely over-publicized head of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.

I am a very active supporter of World Boston activities and entertain their foreign visitors on a regular basis. Therefore, I was shocked when told that my table assignment had been changed from number 21 to 42, way at the back of the room because “a board member needed my seats.”

At table 42, a rude guest told my client (who was with me) that he had reserved the whole table and that we had to leave. We did. In addition to my chagrin, I was doubly embarrassed because I had a client in tow. Nonetheless, we left promptly, registered our complaint with a World Boston representative, demanded and got a quick refund and instead had a more civilized and I’m sure delectable, if not less expensive, dinner at Aura, the hotel’s main dining room.

Later, I was told that there was some dreadful mistake and that our two original assigned seats at table 21 were vacant all night. Go figure. However, we did miss seeing Pat Moscaritolo lionized for the umpteenth time.

Another disaster occurred recently when I attended the black-tie Pan Mass Challenge (aptly named). Indeed it was a challenge for me in several ways.

The dinner benefits The Dana Farber Cancer Clinic. I had never been before. Being that it was in the ‘hood’ at the Copley Marriott cost only $75, and was for a good cause, I decided to try it.

About 800 guests were packed into the hotel during the cocktail hour, it was difficult to get a sense of this affair. I didn’t recognize a soul, which after living in Copley Square since 1962, is almost impossible to have happen to the Mayor of Copley Square. But it did.

By the time I got to my dinner table, some 350 pound football player had already eaten my salad--he even admitted the fact! And others at the table were questioning why I was there! Indeed! Speeches were going on at this time and without waiting to sample the Chilean Sea Bass listed on the menu, I decided to abruptly end my debut at the Pan Mass Challenge and repair to a nearby seafood restaurant and familiar watering hole.

A much more pleasant experience was at The Eye Ball at the Copley Plaza where Rosalie Cohen, who has a fine sense of style, arranged for crispy Peking duck served with oriental pancakes and hoisin sauce with scallions and Baby Lamb Chops as hors d’oeuvres (I’m a sucker for lamb chops). The beef entrĂ©e was returned upon request well done. The gracious waiter even got a 7UP when asked….imagine that!

We also received gifts of chocolate truffles and an attractive sterling silver covered photo album. After dinner, we were entertained by a vocalist imported from New York who sang Gershwin songs, and while no Lena Horne, she evoked memories of when the Oval
Room (where the dinner was held) was a supper club in the 40’s and 50’s with the likes of Vic Damone, Hildegarde and Lena on stage! (though it’s before my time).

The guest list was “uninspired” except for Betty & Frank Avruch (the voice of Channel 5) and being seated near the door (hint?), I took my leave at 9:45PM without notice before the dancing began.

The American Ireland Fund Dinner, held every year at The Copley Marriott, is unwieldy; 1600 fat cats, mainly Irish, pay a minimum of $750 a person for the privilege of eating awful food (the lamb chops this year were an exception). It was much too crowded for either social or business networking. A suggestion: Why not have a series of three dinners in one week with about 500 guests at each event? A much more enjoyable and comfortable setting in which you could actually hear conversations.

Another bit of advice (and this pertains to many other events as well) is to have the dinner speeches, films, entertainment begin when the dessert is being served. The message will be sweeter and the guests will not be held hostage for a serving of overpriced food.

My next report will be later this year, at which time I’ll report my social peregrinations in the New Year!

No comments: