Bill Hersey’s Partyline February 1st, 2002

Ambassador Howard Baker Princess Takamado

PEOPLE

It was a sold-out event when Warner Brothers Japan let the Street Children’s Committee hold a special showing of the film, “Hearts in Atlantis,” at the WB screening room. I dropped by to congratulate dedicated and hard­working Karen Lewis and snap some photos of some of the good people who support this very worthwhile cause.

It was great when the late, eccen­tric, generous and fun philanthropist Masako Ohya brought the Egyptian Ballet to Japan for a series of performances years back. There was a lot of criticism, but Masako was independent enough to do what she thought was right.

I first met Courtney Love coming down the stairways of the Lex. She was in Japan with the band Hole, doing concerts at live houses in and around Tokyo. Her blonde hair was straggly and, frankly, she looked as if she needed to spend some time in an ofuro (Japanese bath). “Is Stephen Dorf here?” she asked loudly. “He’s back in the VlP corner,” I told her. She rushed back, brought him out, kicked the girl driving the van she came in out into the cold – and it was cold – and got into the van with Stephen. The van’s windows were tinted, and she had turned up the volume on the cassette player but, even so, it was pretty obvious they were rockin’ and rollin’ in the back of the van. Oh well, to each his own.

PARTIES

The presentation of Jun Ashida’s 2002 Spring and Summer Collection in the Akasaka Prince Hotel’s Crystal Palace was, as always, a social as well as fashion event. The SRO crowd included members of the lmperial Family (Princess Mikasa wears Ashida fashions), diplomats and their wives and the cream of Japanese and foreign society. Jun’s creations, always chic, always wearable, were presented in a fast-paced, well-choreographed program. Our congratulations.

There was a buffet of nouvelle sushi donated by Dai Sushi (talk about delicious!), dim sum from Hau-Hau Tei (also very good) and, thanks to Bela Nemeth of the Hungarian Embassy, scrumptious Hungarian chicken crepes. Pernod Ricard Japan and Mark O’Friel donated an assort­ment of wines, and Coca-Cola Japan a variety of soft drinks. Kudos to all concerned. Tonight (Feb. 1), Hungarian Ambassador Istvan Szerdahelyi and his wife Reiko are hosting an evening of Hungarian dance and music. Guests will also have the opportunity to hear Reiko, an accomplished pianist, play. The program will be followed by a buffet of traditional Hungarian dishes. All proceeds go to the Street Children’s Committee projects in Asia.

Padraig Millphy for the first time at an evening of gypsy music at the Hungarian Embassy recently. I appreciate the invita­tion to the reception at his home for the organizers and friends of the Ireland Festi­val 2002 (St. Patrick’s Day parade). I was traveling at the time, but plan to be in Tokyo for the always colorful, always festive and bigger and better-than-ever Irish event.

With the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on New York’s World Trade Center and the aftermath of the cowardly mass murder, the first few months of the posting to Japan of U.S. Ambassador Howard Baker Jr. and his wife, Nancy Kassebaum Baker, has not been easy. It was really nice to see the personable, outgoing couple take a break and host an enjoyable, relaxed evening in their home to introduce American Landscapers from the U.S. “Arts in the Embassy” collection. The State Department’s “Art in the Embassy” program introduces all kinds of American art to people around the world, and the Bakers chose a very interesting selection from Tennessee and Kansas, their home states.

Special guests that evening included Prince and Princess Takamado. I enjoyed meeting and talking with John C. Tuck, minister-counselor and senior adviser to the ambassador, and Michael G. Harper, executive assistant to the ambassador. It was a truly enjoyable and laid-back evening with two exceptional people, Ambassador and Mrs. Baker, and I’m happy to hear Mrs. Baker has agreed to be a member of the International Ladies Benevolent Society (ILBS). This is a top­class, hard-working women’s group that does so much for so many.

PLACES

First, I’d like to congratulate all our Chinese friends who celebrate their Lunar New Year from Feb. 12. Be warned: unless you have good Chinese friends who can get you included in the traditional activities of the holiday, it really is not the best time to visit China, Taiwan, Hong Kong or Singapore.

Thailand and the Philippines are both good destinations during the Lunar New Year. You get the color and excitement of the Chinese communities celebrating as well as malls, shops and restaurants in the major cities open for business. Hawaii, too. If you’re planning to travel to Egypt, check with the embassy (tel. 3770-8022/3) on what festivals or cultural events are scheduled for when you are there. I just read the Cairo Opera Ballet Company was dancing in a special ballet, “Zorba.” I saw Anthony Quinn in the musical in San Francisco years ago, and it was great.

*First published at the Tokyo Weekender