I've never been an Anna Sui type, but these brilliant kilt-front shorts converted me for Spring 2013.
I've never been an Anna Sui type, but these brilliant kilt-front shorts converted me for Spring 2013.
Zelda Kaplan exited this world much as she had lived in it for the last four decades or so of her 95 years — as an inimitable fixture on fashion’s front lines and an inveterate clubgoer in Manhattan.
Zelda Kaplan at a Fashion Week show on Wednesday, shortly before she collapsed and died.
In June, she danced the night away ather 95th-birthday party at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Last month she was photographed at the reopening of the XL club, surrounded by people a third her age. And only Wednesday she took her customary front-row seat at the fashion show of her friend, the designer Joanna Mastroianni, at Lincoln Center, part ofNew York Fashion Week.
As the show was under way, she collapsed and was carried from the room by security guards. She was pronounced dead at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center shortly afterward.
Ms. Kaplan held a colorful place in a layer of New York society made up of flamboyant, surprising and self-invented people — she had been a suburban housewife in another life — who are largely known for being seen. Well into her 90s she was a strikingly dressed regular at nightclubs, fashion shows and parties in Manhattan while living there in a rent-controlled studio apartment.
“When Zelda was in the room, you knew it was an occasion,” said Patrick McDonald, a fellow style-world habitué. “Her lust for life was unbelievable.”
Ms. Kaplan could be readily picked out in a roomful of glitterati. She was the one wearing a giddy composite of oversize glasses, bold African prints and a toque that matched her outfit.
Still, she might have remained largely unknown, a footnote in the story of New York nightlife, but for the release of “Her Name Is Zelda,” a 2003 documentary that introduced her to a national audience on HBO, generated a raft of profiles in newspapers and magazines, and elevated her to a celebrity, if a minor one.
The film, by Nicole Sampogna and Mona Eldaief, charted her transformation from homemaker to social gadabout flitting from party to party, sometimes alone, sometimes with art and fashion world friends like Grace Edwards, a designer who once asked Ms. Kaplan to model in a runway show. The artist Andres Serrano captured her seductively in a photograph.
She almost invariably designed her own wardrobe, buying cloth from local weavers during her frequent humanitarian trips to Africa and Southeast Asia and having it cut to her frame by a New York dressmaker.
“So many Americans want to look like everybody else,” she once said. “I don’t think people should be happy to be a clone.”
On Wednesday, for Ms. Mastroianni’s fashion show, she wore a red-and-black banded version of her habitual toque matched to a dress cut and stitched from a rhythmically striped length of tribal cloth.
“Her life was like an ongoing photo shoot,” the fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone said.
Zelda Berkowitz was born on June 20, 1916, in Flemington, N.J., where her mother had a horse farm. Little more is known about her early years. “I don’t like to talk about my past,” she once said, “because I was so conventional and middle-class. It was boring.”
She married three times, once for 11 months. Her second husband, Samuel Kaplan, a doctor, persuaded her to move to Miami, which she grew to disdain as a cultural desert. Though she had attended (but did not graduate from) South Jersey Law School (now part of Rutgers University), she did not work outside the home, in deference to her husband, she said.
Her survivors include two sisters, Shirley Dworkin and Ruth Berkowitz.
It was not until she and Mr. Kaplan divorced in the late 1960s that Ms. Kaplan moved to New York, finding work as a ballroom dance instructor and as a framer in an art gallery. At parties she would demonstrate the fox trot and other dance standards. “To me the dancing that young people do in the clubs is exercise,” Ms. Kaplan said.
Living largely off her inheritance from the sale of the family horse farm and the proceeds from investments, she developed a passion for indigenous cultures and began traveling to countries like Mali, Ghana and Ethiopia in search of the woodcarvings and fabrics from which she made her designs. She made many trips on behalf of the World Culture Society, an organization she founded and financed.
On her foreign jaunts she would hire a driver to take her from village to village to speak to tribes about the perils of female genital cutting and to lobby for a woman’s right of inheritance. Like her tireless partying, her humanitarian efforts attested in part to an appetite for novelty and adventure.
“I’m a curious person,” she once said. “I want to keep learning until it’s over. And when it’s over, it’s over.”
“The Show Off” (1926) starring Louise Brooks.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) starring Audrey Hepburn.
“Cleopatra” (1963) starring Elizabeth Taylor.
“Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) starring Mia Farrow.
“Marie Antoinette” (2006) starring Kirsten Dunst.
“When I’m acting, I prefer to play characters where I get to transform, and I do a lot of that through hair,” Ms. Chastain said. She wore wigs for“The Help” and “The Debt,” and said that most people don’t realize how hard hairdressers work to get wigs to look good. “There’s a lot of skill required to work with a wig.”
So, if the award had been in place throughout the history of the Oscars, which films does Mr. Gibson think would have deserved the gold statuette?
“The Show Off” (1926), starring Louise Brooks (it actually predates the first Oscars in 1929). “Women then weren’t wearing haircuts — they wore sets, waved hair,” he said, but her straight haircut with bangs to her cheekbones “changed the course of how women wear their hair, it introduced women to a new way of thinking.”
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), starring Audrey Hepburn. “That little black dress would be nothing without that hair,” Mr. Gibson said. “It was a French twist. She was the first to have a streak — reminiscent of the ’60s — a big streak of blond in the brown hair.”
“Cleopatra” (1963), starring Elizabeth Taylor. “There were so many hair moments, tons,” he said, adding that this movie’s virtue was its variety. “This is where Bo Derek in ‘10’ got her braids from. She has a band ornate with gold. You really got who this woman of the Nile is, by basically her hair.”
“Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), starring Mia Farrow. “WhenVidal Sassoon cut her hair off, it changed how women look at their hair. There have always been movies with women making a transition — whether she had a breakup like when Angela Bassett cut off her hair in ‘Waiting to Exhale’ — but at the same time with ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ it was a transformative moment. And it’s the pixie that Michelle Williams wears now.”
“Marie Antoinette” (2006), starring Kirsten Dunst. “The movie was terrible, but the costume, hair and makeup were so beautiful. But it was done by different people.” Costume design won an Oscar. However, all those edgy powdered wigs (and the visionary stylist behind them) deserved accolades too, he said, adding, “This isn’t special effects; this is down-and-dirty beauty that’s thought-provoking and emotional.
Lillian Bassman, who moved from fashion to fine art, at her home in Manhattan in 2009. More Photos »
Lillian Bassman's “Dovima, New York” (1954, reinterpreted in 1994), from “Lillian Bassman: Women” (Abrams).More Photos »
Her son, Eric Himmel, confirmed the death.
Ms. Bassman entered the world of magazine editing and fashion photography as a protégé of Alexey Brodovitch, the renowned art director of Harper’s Bazaar. In late 1945, when the magazine generated a spinoff called Junior Bazaar, aimed at teenage girls, she was asked to be its art director, a title she shared with Mr. Brodovitch, at his insistence.
In addition to providing innovative graphic design, Ms. Bassman gave prominent display to future photographic stars like Richard Avedon, Robert Frank and Louis Faurer, whose work whetted her appetite to become a photographer herself.
Already, at Harper’s Bazaar, she had begun frequenting the darkroom on her lunch hours to develop images by the great fashion photographer George Hoyningen-Huene, using tissues and gauzes to bring selected areas of a picture into focus and applying bleach to manipulate tone.
“I was interested in developing a method of printing on my own, even before I took photographs,” Ms. Bassman told B&W magazine in 1994. “I wanted everything soft edges and cropped.” She was interested, she said, in “creating a new kind of vision aside from what the camera saw.”
When Avedon went off to photograph fashion collections in Paris in 1947, he lent her his studio and an assistant. She continued her self-education and in short order landed an important account with a lingerie company. In its last issue, in May 1948, Junior Bazaar ran a seven-page portfolio of wedding photographs she had taken, titled “Happily Ever After.”
Ms. Bassman became highly sought after for her expressive portraits of slender, long-necked models advertising lingerie, cosmetics and fabrics. Her lingerie work in particular brought lightness and glamour to an arena previously known for heavy, middle-aged women posing in industrial-strength corsets.
“I had a terrific commercial life,” Ms. Bassman told The New York Times in 1997. “I did everything that could be photographed: children, food, liquor, cigarettes, lingerie, beauty products.”
Lillian Violet Bassman was born on June 15, 1917, in Brooklyn and grew up in the Bronx. Her parents, Jewish émigrés from Russia, allowed her a bohemian style of life, even letting her move in, at 15, with the man she would later marry, the documentary photographer Paul Himmel.
Ms. Bassman studied fabric design at Textile High School, a vocational school in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. After modeling for artists employed by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project and working as a muralist’s assistant, she took a night course in fashion illustration at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
She soon showed her work to Brodovitch, who was impressed. Waiving tuition, he accepted her into his Design Laboratory at the New School for Social Research, where she changed her emphasis from fashion illustration to graphic design.
Brodovitch took her on as his unpaid apprentice at Harper’s Bazaar in 1941, but desperate to earn money she left to become an assistant to the art director at Elizabeth Arden, whereupon Brodovitch anointed her his first paid assistant. Like her mentor, she was artistically daring. At Junior Bazaar, she experimented with abandon, treating fashion in a bold, graphic style and floating images in space.
“One week we decided that we were going to do all green vegetables, so we had the designers make all green clothing, green lipstick, green hair, green everything,” she told Print magazine in 2006.
Her nonadvertising work appeared frequently in Harper’s Bazaar, and she developed close relationships with a long list of the era’s top models, including Barbara Mullen (her muse), Dovima and Suzy Parker.
The stylistic changes of the 1960s, however, left her cold. The models, too. “I got sick of them,” she told The Times in 2009. “They were becoming superstars. They were not my kind of models. They were dictating rather than taking direction.”
In 1969, disappointed with the photographic profession and her prospects, she destroyed most of her commercial negatives. She put more than 100 editorial negatives in trash bags, putting them aside in her converted carriage house on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She soon forgot all about them.
By the mid-1970s, she was out of the fashion world entirely and had begun focusing on her own work, taking large-format Cibachrome photographs of glistening fruits, vegetables and flowers, pictures of cracks in the city streets and distorted male torsos based on photographs in bodybuilding magazines.
It was not until the early 1990s that Martin Harrison, a fashion curator and historian who was staying at her house, found the long-forgotten negatives. He encouraged her to revisit them.
Ms. Bassman took a fresh look at the earlier work. She began reprinting the negatives, applying some of the bleaching techniques and other toning agents with which she had first experimented in the 1940s, creating more abstract, mysterious prints.
“In looking at them I got a little intrigued, and I took them into the darkroom, and I started to do my own thing on them,” she told The Times. “I was able to make my own choices, other than what Brodovitch or the editors had made.”
Her reinterpretations, as she called them, found a new generation of admirers. A full-fledged revival of her career ensued, with gallery shows and international exhibitions, including a joint retrospective at the Deichtorhallen museum in Hamburg with her husband and a series of monographs devoted to her photography.
A one-woman show at the Hamiltons Gallery in London, organized by Mr. Harrison in 1993, was followed by exhibitions at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris and an assignment from The New York Times Magazine to cover the haute couture collections in Paris in 1996. She completed her last fashion assignment for German Vogue in 2004.
Mr. Himmel died in 2009, having abandoned photography in his late 50s to become a psychiatric caregiver in the city’s hospitals and later a psychiatrist in private practice. Besides her son, the editor in chief of Abrams Books, she is survived by a daughter, Liza Himmel, known as Lizzie; two grandchildren; and a step-grandchild.
Ms. Bassman’s work has been published in “Lillian Bassman” (1997) and “Lillian Bassman: Women” (2009). A new book, “Lillian Bassman: Lingerie,” is to be published by Abrams on April 1.
When you work at a fashion magazine, proffering shopping advice to friends is expected. Of all the inquiries — “Where can I find swim trunks that aren’t baggy?” or “Who makes a good belt?” (Orlebar Brown and Billykirk, respectively) — there’s one item that it seems everyone’s looking for: pants “that fit.” Which is to say, one that’s slim, but not too skinny; that can be worn to work and on the weekends. It’s a tall order but Levi’s just introduced a new style, the Sta-Prest chinos, that meets all the criteria. Available in four colors (khaki, grey, red and moss green), they’re cut like your favorite jeans with a tapered leg, and a sharp, permanent front crease. After seasons of the ubiquitous distressed chinos (sometimes tea-stained, paint-splattered, ripped and shredded), the Levi’s Sta-Prest is a welcome alternative. Take my word for it.
Levi’s Sta-Prest chinos, $68. Go to levi.com. Marni shirt, $440, shoes, $690, and socks, $60. For shirt, go to mrporter.com. For shoes and socks, go to marni.com. Cutler & Gross sunglasses, $475. Go to cutlerandgross.com.
January 20, 2012, 12:58 PM
The movies often keep fashion designers in duds, as we saw at Miuccia Prada’s fall men’s show in Milan and a few days later at Rick Owens in Paris. But these designers approach the imagery very differently.
Ms. Prada cast a bespoke formality over her suits and fur-collared coats, and to complete the total illusion of individuality (and royalty), she put some leading character actors in her show: Willem Dafoe, Gary Oldman, Tim Roth. But before her audience got to see those great mugs, she included models with mustaches and more bulk than the usual runway tadpoles. Afterward she told journalists that the show was a parody of male power.
Well, power is the magic word these days. It surprises me, though, that no one made a connection to British movies made in the late 1950s and ’60s and their gritty realism, and to actors like Alan Bates, Oliver Reed and Richard Harris, who in my mind’s eye are wearing a belted double-breasted coat with an ugly bit of fur on the lapels. Somehow I see “Georgy Girl” or a crowd scene in “This Sporting Life.” And I suspect that with a little research, the kind that fashion houses like to do to prepare a collection and dazzle us, I could find photographs of hoods, gypsies and con men who were rocking this look long before the Prada show.
Of course, men and women of all classes have long used clothing to project their idea of power and glamour. Today we have a fancy term for it: aspiration dressing. But that’s a reason to distrust this show. Although I sense a murderer lurking in Ms. Prada’s gentlemen’s clothes (to borrow Manny Farber’s comment about John Huston’s feckless villains), I am not at all sure that’s what she intends. She has left things murky, conveniently.
What’s interesting to me is that a young fashion customer might actually prefer the leaner visual drama of a gentleman who is at heart a murderer. I got that sense from the super-polished black leather in Raf Simons’s Jil Sander show. Obviously no old-school gentleman would wear head-to-toe leather, but that’s my point: What if there’s a new class of gentlemen out there? It’s up to designers to imagine how such a person might interpret things like impeccable tailoring and good taste. You don’t have to stay in the same Savile Row rut or, for that matter, in the costume shop at Pinewood Studios.
I was also intrigued by Rick Owens’s comment that he was inspired by Fred Astaire to make small-waist trousers with a bit of fullness in the hips and slim legs. When I was watching the show, I thought of Astaire, with his magical long legs — well, not so long in reality. A lot of designers over the years have been influenced by Astaire and other style icons, but usually their stuff is embarrassingly literal. Mr. Owens made sure his trousers, as well as his jackets and coats, would look sane on the streets.
He accomplishes a lot here. There’s a note of formality (without the dust) and that elongated silhouette that designers like at the moment. Above all, you can imagine a young man wearing those pants, with sneakers, and being stopped by strangers who want the look for themselves. That’s aspiration.
Louche Luxe. Rumpled, textured velvet sees the light as the smoking jacket shows off its daytime look. Tom Ford, Comme des Garçons and Roberto Cavalli all take this holiday classic for a walk on the wild side.
The guitarist Richard Thompson, founder of the seminal folk rock band Fairport Convention, just finished his 23rd — yes, 23 — solo record, “Cabaret of Souls,” a folk oratorio set in the underworld.
A Jack Victor blazer gets rough and ready with a double shot of denim.
Below, a performance of “Haul Me Up,” by the Richard Thompson Band, part of a DVD called “Live at Celtic Connections,” due out in January.
November 18, 2011, 11:13 am
It has been described as a heist, the fashion crime of the season: the announcement, Thursday afternoon, that the Marc Jacobs spring/summer 2012 collection had been stolen on the way from Paris to London, where it was to be paraded in front of the press.
Reports in the British and American news media immediately conjectured that counterfeiters, seeking a head start, might have mounted “a daring raid” as the 46-look collection, which is not yet in stores, zipped between France and Britain by train.
The truth, according to British police, and a person familiar with their investigation, is slightly less “Mission: Impossible.” Scotland Yard confirmed Thursday that it was investigating the theft of “a quantity of clothing, bags and shoes” valued at almost $65,000. The collection was stolen, it said, at 8 a.m. on a sunlit Wednesday morning on Mount Street, in the heart of the upscale Mayfair neighborhood in London, home to a large Marc Jacobs store.
A person familiar with the situation, who did not want to be named discussing a continuing investigation, said late Wednesday that the collection that was stolen was comprised of “duplicate samples, in Europe for press days.”
“The collection as shown in New York is safe, and the red carpets won’t be missing Marc Jacobs this season.”
The person declined to discuss the nature of the robbery, but said no one had been hurt. There was speculation the collection had been lifted from a courier van delivering it to the store.
This is not the first time a large quantity of designer clothing has gone missing. Seventy-five dresses from Victoria Beckham’s spring/summer 2010 collection were taken from a delivery van on its way to Neiman Marcus in New York in 2009. In 2007, the London designer Christopher Kane’s studio was broken into and 23 pieces from that year’s spring/summer collection were stolen.
Keen-eyed fashion detectives should be on the lookout for thieves dressed, according to Suzy Menkes’s description of the collection in The International Herald Tribune, in a manner that gives a “sense of the Deep South, dance hall spirit,” including “see-through cellophane draped as cocktail dresses; or gingham printed on translucent plastic.”
Bob Gruen at his studio, with his portraits of John Lennon.
Bob Gruen's work includes Sid Vicious in 1978.
“He was ringing doorbells,” Mr. Gruen recalled. “Four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. Everyone in the building is an artist, so they were opening the door saying: ‘Oh, my God, John Lennon! Let me show you my painting. Let me read you my poem.’ ” When he finally found the apartment, Mr. Gruen said, he told him, “ ‘Man, you’ve got some weird neighbors.’ ”
“I always figured if he could find it in that condition,” Mr. Gruen added, “anyone could.”
And everyone seemingly has. Since his days as a personal photographer for Mr. Lennon and Yoko Ono in the 1970s, Mr. Gruen has seen his cluttered loft serve as a clubhouse for countless rock legends: Joe Strummer of the Clash, David Johansen of the New York Dolls, and members of Blondie, to name a few. This unassuming behind-the-lens figure embedded himself with rock bands so deeply that in some cases he was regarded as a virtual member.
Along the way, Mr. Gruen, a self-taught photographer who spent much of his career as a freelancer hustling shots to Rock Scene and Creem magazines for as little as $5 each, snapped some of rock’s most iconic images. Perhaps most famous is that of Mr. Lennon, arms folded, standing in front of the skyline in his “New York City” T-shirt. That shot has become something of a rock ’n’ roll Mona Lisa, knocked off on postcards and T-shirts around the world (sometimes with Popeye or Curly of the Three Stooges superimposed on Mr. Lennon’s face — a true measure of its impact as a pop-culture totem).
“It’s bootlegged as much as Marilyn and Elvis,” Mr. Gruen said. “I would love someday to get a percentage — they’re selling a lot of them.” But he’s not exactly talking to a lawyer. “People who bootleg and steal can steal anything,” he added. “The fact that they steal mine over and over again I take as a compliment.”
But lately, Mr. Gruen is getting his due in other ways. At 65, he finds himself the one in focus, for a change. Last month, Abrams published “Rock Seen,” a retrospective art book featuring 500 of his photographs. He is the subject of a British television film, “Rock ’N’ Roll Exposed,” directed by Don Letts, the filmmaker and a member of Big Audio Dynamite. And, on a neighborly level, Marc Jacobs, an old friend, recently devoted the front of his Bleecker Street boutique to an elaborate installation celebrating Mr. Gruen’s work (a teenager’s mock bedroom, it featured a bed and television and walls covered floor-to-ceiling in Gruen photos).
“Bob Gruen was a part of the entire rock scene, as much as any band, really, because he was one of those guys that everybody really liked,” Alice Cooper says in the Letts movie. “And he always seemed to get the money shot.”
With his friendly manner, neatly cropped shock of silver hair and rubbery grin, Mr. Gruen seems like an unlikely figure to have growled with rock’s lions. But his apartment tells a different story.
Scattered inside are 28 file cabinets filled with negatives and contact sheets, and on nearby shelves, a museum’s worth of rock memorabilia. There are signed photos from Keith Richards and members of Led Zeppelin. One shelf holds a bugle that Mr. Gruen used to blow a cavalry charge to open shows in the Clash’s famous 17-night run at Bonds International Casino in Times Square in 1981. (“People ask me what’s the best show I’ve ever seen, and I include every show the Clash ever did.”)
From the beginning, Mr. Gruen showed a knack for stumbling into music history. In the summer of 1965, he used his camera to wrangle a press pass into the Newport Folk Festival. That happened to be the Dylan-goes-electric show, one of the most dissected gigs in rock history. “It was chaos,” he said, of the moment when Mr. Dylan shocked the folkies by plugging in a Stratocaster. “They didn’t quite get it. Over the years thinking about it, what he was doing was making a statement that rock ’n’ roll was the folk music of America.”
The first gig he got paid for was less glamorous: Tommy James and the Shondells opening for Hubert Humphrey in a parking lot in Yonkers. But Mr. Gruen managed to hitch a ride back to the city with the band, and they became friends.
His knack for making friends came in handy in 1972, when he met Mr. Lennon and Ms. Ono at an Apollo Theater benefit. He talked his way backstage, and found himself in a scrum of fans snapping shots of the couple with Instamatics. Mr. Lennon remarked that so many fans took pictures, but he never saw any. “I said, ‘I live around the corner,’ ” said Mr. Gruen. “Well, slip them under the door,” said Mr. Lennon, who was living in an apartment on Bank Street at the time.
“Years later when we were friends, Yoko mentioned that I was one of the few people who didn’t try to get something,” Mr. Gruen said. “I just gave them something.”
Before long, he became the go-to photographer whenever the couple wanted unguarded shots of them messing around at the piano with Mick Jagger, or nuzzling in bed with their new baby, Sean. “Bob understood what we were doing,” Ms. Ono said in an e-mail message. “He was interested in photographing John as he was, whether the photos would one day sell or not.
“The magazines and newspapers wanted the Beatle John’s photo,” she added. “Not photos of John living and working with me, his wife. That was embarrassing and boring to them.”
The T-shirt photo shoot didn’t seem particularly portentous, Mr. Gruen said. It was August 1974, and Mr. Lennon phoned while recording the “Walls and Bridges” album to say he needed some shots for the cover package. Mr. Gruen showed up at Mr. Lennon’s East 52nd Street apartment — this was during the couple’s separation — and started snapping the musician on the penthouse’s terrace. Then he noticed the skyline.
“Do you still have that T-shirt I gave you?” he asked Mr. Lennon. (Mr. Gruen had at least seven of the shirts, which he considered part of his uniform. He used to buy them in Times Square and cut off the sleeves with his Buck knife.) Mr. Lennon retrieved it from his bedroom, they shot a few rolls and the session was over.
The photo became famous only in 1980 when Mr. Gruen selected it to be displayed in the Central Park band shell for Mr. Lennon’s public memorial. Mr. Gruen thought it was the perfect image to reinforce Ms. Ono’s point that Mr. Lennon loved the city and that it bore no responsibility for his death. “Yoko always said, don’t blame New York for John’s death,” Mr. Gruen said. “John died in New York because he lived in New York.”
Mr. Gruen was devastated by Mr. Lennon’s death. Still, his career was flourishing on another front. He had become the rare holdover from the hippie era to be embraced by the emerging punk bands of the time. He became a fixture at CBGB, followed the Sex Pistols on their chaotic 1978 tour of the American South, and rode shotgun with the Clash through England and North America.
Despite the generation gap, punk didn’t seem all that different to him. “I like music that’s saying something,” he said. His camera focused on the intimate moments away from the stage: the sweat, the laughter, the tedium of life in a dressing room or on a tour bus.
Three decades later, not much has changed. Mr. Gruen still slips on his Beatle boots and hits rock clubs four or five nights a week, often with his wife, Elizabeth Gregory-Gruen, an artist and coat designer for Michael Kors.
“People ask me how do I get to be friends with musicians,” Mr. Gruen said. “How do you get to be friends with anybody?” He thinks about it for a moment. “Joe Franklin used to say, ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.’ ”