I am a lucky New Yorker - I'm blessed with good health, steady income, solid friends, a neverending sense of adventure, cheap rent, and close family. That last one qualifies in both the emotional, tangible sense; IE I get along with practically every member, both near and far, of my local & extended family; but also in the geographical sense IE not only do my father and two brothers live in Brooklyn but my paternal Grandparents live on the Upper West Side; my second cousin Neal lives in Hells Kitchen; and my other cousins and nephews live in Larchmont, Riverdale and other suburban enclaves close enough to the pulsing heart of NYC.
The added benefit of all this local family is the invitation to lots of great parties. You got your basic holiday shindigs like Thanksgiving and Yom Kippur (held at Casa Levy in Flatbush), semi-regular dinners at Gramma's on Columbus and 95th, and the occasional blow-out shindig celebrating large-scale celebrations, such as the mutual birthdays of my second cousin Lee, who just turned 50, and his daughter (my second niece) Shauna, who turned 21. So, in classic Levy fashion (although Lee & Shauna go by the surname Perlman, we know there's a little Levy in their blood) they threw one hell of a party.
They called it PERLFEST 08, thrown a sliver over a month ago on June 20th, and let me tell you . . . it was the cultural / familial event of the season. The event was held in an industrial partyspace on the Far West Side - 31st street between 10th avenue and the Lincoln Tunnel city-bound lane (Dyer Ave!) The only way up to the rooftop soiree was via a massive freight elevator which gave off an idea of dilapidated industry & therefore no hint of the extravagance that was to follow. As the freight creaked and shuddered its way up flight after flight, the other elevator-trapped guests looked slightly frightened for what was to come; I knew better than to believe this tromp l'oeil of rusty mechanics. The party was going to be stunning.
Of course it was. Once the massive steel doors opened, we found ourselves on an outdoor patio 8 stories up, with equally jaw-dropping views of the Hudson River, coastal New Jersey, midtown industry and the skyscrapers of the financial district. Everyone looked fabulous - Shauna was bedecked in a glittering gorgeous silky violet number and Lee (always business even when he enjoys himself) was dressed in a fine jacket and unbuttoned shirt (proof of party - the tie-less uniform.) The remainder of the Perlman family - wife Linda and son Jake were dressed sharp as can be, while still relinquishing premier spotlight position for the birthday duo. The guests were split down the middle from corporate 40 year old couples from Brooklyn, Jersey and CT, as well as Shauna's gal pal crew fresh from college and probably living in Williamsburg, the LES or Park Slope.
Everyone was having a great time. There was an ice luge serving chilled currant vodka shots that us Levy boys had a special moment.
There were waiters serving the indoor / outdoor space, stocked with trays of delectable delights. We plied the fully stocked bar; Jonah and I surreptiously ascended up a ladder in order to snap some shots against the night skyline (note the New Yorker Hotel sign in the back;)
at some point Lee made the call and announced that the whole party was moving one flight down. So off and down the narrow staircase which led to . . . A DANCE PARTY!!! This was the part of the shindig that most closely resembled a Sweet 16, but substantially amped up on booze.
Notice the pictures of aby Lee and little Shauna everywhere.
Another wonderful part of my family is the intergenerational, multi-talented familyness of it all. We all work so well together that not only is there dancing with Gramma,
but there's also dancing with hot 22 year olds. (picture deleted.) At one point Jake jumped onto a table to sing a special Broadway showtune for his sister. At another point Linda presented Shauna with a massive fake Driver's Licence for her to symbolically chop-up.
The whole night was such a wonderful evening with beautiful people in a truly New York setting, and the fact that I not only know the individuals who hosted (and paid for!!) the party, but I am related to them by blood, as well as spirit and soul. That makes it particularly special. Thanks for the great night Perlmans one and all!