Who: Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New York
Why: NYC’s top finance and real estate leaders were there to benefit BBBS, the nation’s first — and New York’s largest — mentoring organization. This year the real estate community joined the organization in honoring Jody Durst, president of the Durst Organization, for his leadership and contributions to the community. Apparently it is a Durst-fest this week: On Monday we covered the chashama.org event run by Jody’s niece, Anita Durst. We attended the BBBS event because, hey, who doesn’t like boozing and gambling… and supporting a good cause, of course. As always, we eat, drink and gamble so you don’t have to.
Theme: Casino Jazz
Length: 6 – 10pm
Where: Cipriani, 120 East 42nd Street
What we did: To start, we feasted on boatloads of food, including smoked salmon, roast beef, pasta and an array of salads and sides supplied by Cipriani. We also took full advantage of the well-stocked bar. The event space at Cipriani is huge, and the event was thoroughly populated. So though we tried to circle, mingle and see everyone attending, it was quite overwhelming. But, it was also heartwarming to see how many are interested in our youth. We checked out all the silent auction items, many of which appeared to be sports-related (they had us at “Win a Night with Derek Jeter!”).
And then we watched as people threw down chips at the blackjack, roulette and craps tables.
Throughout, a great jazz band played and singers performed popular cover songs. Again, they had us at “The Cure!”
Later, we gathered closer to the stage to hear Paul Glickman, vice chairman of Jones Lang LaSalle and a BBBS trustee, discuss how many youngsters’ lives have been changed by the power of mentoring. Never underestimate the power of the mentor/mentee relationship.
He ended his speech with a rousing, “Let’s Go Rangers!” Then we heard NY Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara and NBA legend Earl “the Pearl” Monroe speak about the organization. Then it was on to the musical portion of the evening.
The night morphed into an “American Idol” snippet when 15-year-old A.J. Lehrman — his family have been supporters of BBBS of NYC for nearly a decade — took the stage to perform as the opening act.
We were all pumped up to hear the musical stylings of Alexa Ray Joel, Billy Joel’s daughter. But we were shocked when she took to the stage and began to make us feel like we were trapped in Vegas — the old Vegas. As the set progressed and the bustier-clad Joel talked to the audience in an odd, affected manner, we were reminded of an old, un-medicated Liza — only younger and more sober. Prior to her set, the crowd converged around the stage. But after the first song, the area emptied out and people walked to the far corners of the space. Hoping our ears and eyes were playing tricks on us, we asked around only to have our initial thoughts confirmed. One attendee said he initially thought it was some sort of parody and another said he felt the opening numbers were an homage to the Chipmunks. The set culminated with a cover of her father’s “[I Love You] Just The Way You Are.” Sadly, we didn’t.
High points: The organization reports they raised $1.4 million, which exceeded their expectations.
Everyone seemed to love indulging their gambling demons, and we were no exception. Each guest was given a $50 voucher to play with. You could add your own donations to that initial stake to increase your playing power. We got swept away in blackjack and increased our $50 very quickly to $500. As the night began to wind down we were anxious to leave and got increasingly reckless with bets. Despite trying to lose our chips, however, we kept doubling them, hitting 21s left and right. And through this experience we came to a powerful epiphany that we will carry with us for life: when you care the least, you gain the most. Success happens when you throw caution to the win(d)!
Still on a winner’s high, we heard a guest talk about what an amazing Scotch selection the event provided. Bartenders were doling out more than ample pours, he was conducting his own private tasting of Glen Livet 12-year and Glenmorangie, as well as a Laphroaig.
And the best part of all: cute kids!