Sunday, July 19, 2009

Rich & Silly

"The very rich are different from you and me," wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Not in the least: the very rich are just as silly as we are.  Asked about Robert Isabell, the event designer, who had recently died, Anne Bass, one of the very rich, said, "People think of Robert being so extravagant" . . . but "he could always find something appropriate for the occasion."  The occasion was Bass's birthday; she said, "Six weeks after 9-11, we were debating whether we should go ahead . . . Robert created the most beautiful, simple party for me with a Shaker theme.  It was so restrained, plain and perfect, with fall leaves, wicker baskets and reproduction Shaker Candlesticks" (New York Times, July 19, 2009).

Was Mr. Isabell thinking of the Shaker hymn?  Probably not.

'Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
and when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained
to bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
to turn, turn, will be our delight
till by turning, turning we come round right,

Shakers danced to invoke God.

The talented Mr. Isabell arranged Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's funeral.

He was also responsible for the design of this Marc Jacobs fashion-show after-party.

Tina Brown "praised the movable casbah of cushions that Mr. Isabell arranged beneath the Statue of Liberty for revelers to witness a fireworks display."  "Wealth is well known to be a great comforter," wrote Plato.    


  1. Interesting post. I remember singing that song when I went to the Waldorf school in first and second grade. Maybe I had heard but didn't remember it came form the shakers....

  2. I also dance to invoke god.

    The first time I heard that Shaker hymn was inside of Aaron Copeland's Appalachian Spring which I played with the Spokane Jr. Symphony. (I think I was 12.) There is nothing simple about that mesmerizing tune. It has bee joyfully stuck in my head my entire life.

    Lovely post.

  3. ps. Been not bee though bees are good under any circumstance.


  4. Bee in my bonnet, too, Radish.

  5. I love that song...thanks for giving us the words...