Jun 10

Al Vareau, Bon Vivant

Al Vareau in Paris. © Tony Gale

Al Vareau in Paris. © Tony Gale

Al Vareau

Bon Vivant is the term that come to my mind to describe Al Alda and here are a few reasons why.

Al is a connoisseur of fine food and drink.  One year for his birthday, he asked his friends to take him out for a fine meal in the best restaurant in Paris instead of getting him gifts.  His knowledge and appreciation of fine food and drink is unparalleled.

Speaking of Paris, Brooklyn Boy Al has been living his childhood dream of living in the City of Light for the past 13 years.  He has even managed to secure a 10 year residency card, which is no easy feat and the French love him.

Language is Al’s passion and he is trilingual, fluent in English, Spanish and French and is now learning Arabic.   He opened up the Franco American School of Language when he was 27, specializing in teaching English to business people and companies.  Some of his clients are John Galliano and TOTAL.  John Galliano was so impressed with the quality of his language instruction that he hired the Franco American School of Language to teach Arabic to the sales staff in Galliano’s boutiques, allowing him to expand his staff and to bring on new teachers.

Al is charming and you can’t help but like him. He has friends from all walks of life, from TV celebrities, to bohemians, to yuppies and students.  Al once wrote a letter to Sharon Stone asking her to make an appearance at an event in Paris he helped coordinate and the letter was so persuasive that she came.

Al also has an incredible knowledge of movie stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age.  He and I once drove around the Cypress Hills Cemetery in Queens to find Mae West’s grave so he could pay his respects to her.

Al is a man of the world – he has set foot on 5 continents.  He has been to nearly every country in Western Europe, Africa, North America, South America, and his most recent trip has taken him to Asia, specifically Sri Lanka.  He also has the type of looks where he can pass as European, South American, Arab, Iranian, Tahitian or Turkish.

Al is a sweet, caring and dynamic man and I am proud to call him my friend.

Nominated and described by Michelle Kawka

Jun 09

Christopher Stribley, creative

Christopher Stribley in NYC. © Tony Gale

Christopher Stribley in NYC. © Tony Gale

Christopher Stribley

Very tall.  Pale.  Lean.  Creative and constantly working.  Chris has many layers.  He’s like an onion – layers and layers and stories that will bring tears to your eyes.

Nominated and described by Deidre Schoo

Feb 09

Rebecca Shahmoon Shanok, Psychologist, School Founder, and much more…

Rebecca Shanok, photographed in her home. © Tony Gale

Rebecca Shahmoon Shanok, photographed in her home. © Tony Gale

Rebecca Shahmoon Shanok

She is the mother of two happy and successful children (one of whom is my best friend from college).
She completed her PhD while raising her kids.She is a successful psychotherapist and works with both children and adults.
She travels all over the world giving talks and learning from others.
She is a captivating speaker.She’s the Founding Director of the Institute for Infants, Children & Families at JBFCS, a NYC not-for-profit organization.  The mission of the Institute is to reach underserved, troubled kids ages 6 and younger before they begin to fail in learning and life.
She founded the New York Zero-to-Three Network.
She is the Founding President of the Abraham J. Heschel School on the Upper West Side so that her kids and others could learn that social responsibility is the center of a Jewish life.
She has accomplished so much, and yet she is as effervescent as a young school girl.
She has a wonderful, rich laugh, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, she will let out a snort mid-laugh.
She finds the humor in nearly everything.
She can occasionally be found in Korean restaurants with a bra on her head.
She is free-spirited and loves to dance and sing.
She loves adventures and doing things that are new and challenging to her, including camping and kayaking in Alaska.
She is an iPhone genius!
She is in awe at the world and grateful to be alive, and when you’re with her, you can’t help but feel happy to be alive.
She inspires me and is the kind of woman I want to be when I grow up.

Nominated and described by Tali Shmulovich

Feb 09

Prof. John Bové

Prof. John Bové

Prof. John Bové in his office of 48 years. © Tony Gale

Prof. John Bové came to The Cooper Union just 2 years after the Chrysler building (which Cooper now owns) was constructed in 1951.  He’s been present for a lot of changes to Cooper, its East Village home, and to NYC in general. Now, with Cooper constructing a new building and demolishing another of its older buildings in the fall of 2009, there’s talk in the hallways of Cooper of the department of chemistry’s chairman’s retirement to spend more time in NJ with his wife and family (and avoid the chaotic move to a new building which has LESS teaching and lab space than the current one!). The end of an era indeed.

Nominated and described by Kevin Kolack