Monday, August 23, 2010

The Conference, Part 2

Friday evening there was a large scale gala honoring blogging Voices of the Year, ninety bloggers honored for excellence in their writing. There is so much good stuff out there it just awes me. Here is a link to the list of these outstanding writers: Voices of the Year. They are worth reading.

Saturday was another full day of sessions. I still focused on the Writing track, but there were easily dozens of other things I could have done. There were hundreds of sponsors, some of whom had suites reserved where you could sample their products and/or services. ECCO shoes had a suite where they provided free foot massages and pedicures. K-Mart sponsored a day care room. Most of the sponsors were offering samples and I came home with more Playdough than I would have thought humanly possible. Because this was a women’s blogging conference, the primary focus of the sponsors was traditional ‘female’ stuff, i.e., products for children, babies, pets and the home.

Prize for most, um, unusual? "At Home With Your Digestive System" sponsored by the makers of Metamucil and Align. We all received an invitation to visit their suite for complimentary products and “services”. I shudder to think what services they might have been offering. I gave this a miss, as I am already at home with my digestive system, thank you very much, and if I wasn’t I certainly would not be discussing it with strangers in a hotel suite.

That last sentence definitely sounds kinky.

I met some other fellow bloggers I have followed online, SO exciting. The writers of Nanny Goats in Panties and Sparkle Cat were my companions for more than one meal. Absolutely delightful, as I knew they would be from their blogs. I felt like a groupie.

I caught a glimpse of Marinka from Motherhood in NYC (consistently funny AND raising young children at the same time!), but I was disappointed not to meet her. “Wow, she looks taller in person.” I thought. Which was rich, considering I’d never seen her at all. Ever. I guess she writes short.

Hurricane Danielle had wrangled us a free dinner Saturday night. Including transportation! We were picked up right at the hotel door and whisked (almost literally) all the way downtown to TriBeca. The taxi ride was even more adventurous than usual when, while hemmed in by traffic, the van in front of us began to back up towards us at top speed. All of us in the cab involuntarily leaned back and shrieked, including the driver. Fortunately, the van halted in the nick of time.

We all met downtown at F. Illi Ponte on Desbrosses Street. As an aside, because I am a New York City history freak, Desbrosses Street is still cobblestoned. So cool. It is named for Elias Desbrosses, a wealthy merchant who lived in the eighteenth century. He was a senior warden at Trinity Church and in 1777, at the height of the Revolutionary War, was obliged to administer the oath of office to the new Rector, an Englishman and an avowed Royalist. I could not find any information about his political leanings but his brother was a British supporter. Desbrosses died in 1778, apparently of natural causes and is buried in a vault in Trinity Church.

Ok, history lesson over. Back to dinner.

We were guests that evening of Lou Bivona, who is a Managing Partner of Tavern Direct and a Founding Member of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Tavern Direct is a charity founded specifically to support the NCMEC. Besides traditional fundraising, they offer products such as flavored oils, sauces, marinades and vinegars under the Tavern on the Green label. (Another historic aside: Tavern on the Green, which operated from 1934 until 1999 at the southern end of Central Park, was the venue of choice for my family’s celebrations for years, such a wonderful place.) With every purchase, 50 cents is donated to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. While we enjoyed a marvelous dinner, with samplings of the products for sale, Lou, an senior executive by trade, spoke movingly of his passion for this cause and his commitment to protecting children. There are other ways to help as well, so check out the website here. The products we sampled were superb, available on line or at Wegman’s.

Lou is a down to earth, handsome, funny guy who demonstrated a strong dedication to doing good in this world, something that has been confirmed for me in subsequent e-mail exchanges with him. A really good guy. The food was awesome, the service was flawless, the company was great, the cause is admirable. Not a bad deal for a Saturday night in the city.

F. Illi Ponte is at 39 DesBrosses Street in Manhattan. They serve Italian American cuisine, rating rave reviews, and have been in business for decades, a rarity for a New York restaurant.

Thanks, Lou, for a great dinner and introducing us to a great cause!

Next: Sunday and Goodbye to BlogHer 2010

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brokenteepee said...

Just read both posts. Don't know how I missed the first one.
Perhaps you can effect change for wheelchair bound bloggers.

I really wish I could go to one of these.

Marie said...

I wish you could too. :( I can only imagine what it takes to get away from a farm. Such a huge responsibility! But maybe someday? In the meantime, I will bring you along virtually. {{hugs}}

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

How totally awesome that you got to dine in Tribeca on a faboo (and free) Italian meal. What a treat! And I totally cracked up when you described the guy nearly backing into you and everybody shrieked and leaned back including the driver. I mean I'm glad nobody was hurt of course, so it's only funny AFTER the fact.

Also? Thank you for the history lesson.

And thanks for the shout out!

And thanks for telling Nellie Elliot about NGIP.

Marie said...

Hey Margaret!!

It actually was pretty funny after the fact, but at the time I was certain we were going to be creamed. And I was sitting in the front seat!

It was a faboo dinner and I made a faboo friend in Lou Bivona. He is doing great things.

I am always happy to tell people about you! :) I am glad Nellie found you.