An absolutely perfect New York Times Style section piece walks the line between wide-eyed earnestness and subtle passive aggression. These instances are few and far between; that’s why this froth about rich-ass, post-Gossip Girl youth hosting séances in their apartments in the Dakota is such a refreshing mid-summer treat.
Here’s a very brief summary: there are some rich young people in New York City who live in the Dakota, an old building with a rich history that, if you were to believe in ghosts, is probably haunted. They gather in an apartment once owned by Leonard Bernstein and attempt to summon his spirit.
To set the séance mood, a grapefruit-and-cucumber Tocca candle scented the air, as a candelabrum flickered dramatically on the piano. Crystal ice buckets chilled mini-Champagne splits alongside a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and an arrangement of pastel macarons.
The hosts of this blessed event in question are Toby and Larry Milstein, the former who is described as a “social justice warrior princess” and the latter simply as a “well-curated man.” Guests at their séance have included a daughter of Iran’s exiled prince Reza Pahlavi, the great-granddaughter of Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro, and a smattering of other extremely wealthy individuals.
Really, it’s a cocktail party disguised as a “séance.” Everyone knows the best part about a cocktail party is listening to what other people say while trying to eat as much Gouda as you can before leaving. That’s what this is like.
“Have you guys seen ‘Hollywood Medium’?” asked Princess Noor, referring to the E! network show featuring Tyler Henry, a purportedly psychic 20-year-old. “I believe in this stuff.”
“Not to be, like, really a downer, but there’s a lot of tragic death in my family, after the revolution,” she said, referring to Iran’s revolution of 1979, which dethroned her grandfather. “So I have creepy stories like that, too.”
The group nodded thoughtfully. And with the mood established, they took their places around a Steinway piano and prepared to summon the spirit of Mr. Bernstein.
Because Leonard Bernstein is the ghost being summoned and because the Milstein soeur, Toby, is a social justice warrior princess, we also have this tidbit:
“He was also an activist; he brought a lot of activist figures in here,” she said. “Right here, the pink — oh my God, the pink panthers, LOL — the Black Panthers,” she corrected herself. “Like, he’s organized a lot of major activist groups here.”
(The composer’s son, Alexander Bernstein, later clarified that no Black Panthers ever visited the Dakota apartment, although an infamous fund-raiser had been held at his family’s previous apartment on Park Avenue.)
I love it!! I love all of it! There’s also a woman who describes her current look as “Lindsay Lohan pre-drugs” and brief but relatively credible speculation that the “rumbling” felt throughout the apartment is not the work of spirits, but the subway.
I love ghosts, Ouija boards, and the ultra-rich. I love the classic combination Jack Daniel’s and macarons. I’ve been to Cape Cod. I can sort of ski. Please invite me to the next rich-person séance.