The Crush Letter No 127: U.S. Open & Late Summer Dinner Parties

. 15 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about life, love, and culture for those 50+.  Because midlife and beyond is so much hotter than they said it would be.  Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.


Hello Crush,

Welcome to my favorite sports week end of the year, the U.S. Open finals week end.

The first week in September I always overestimate how much I am going to get done. I spend the summer pushing nonessential work-like items to September,  because who wants to treat any minute in July and August as anything other than precious? All that shit, I'll do it right after Labor Day, I think.

But then I get sucked in by the U.S. Open. Every.Single.September. I forget just how exciting the run-up to the finals is. It ends up becoming a one+-week doorway into autumn, easing me back into the real life of autumn.

This is me, yesterday afternoon, watching the match between Ben Shelton and Novak Djokovic. Except, of course, I was at home with my dog, not in the very good, very expensive seats that Ben Stiller snags.

This year has been a high octane fracas on the men's side, in particular. I felt crushed (crushed!) to see Chris Eubanks, who I only got hooked on two months ago watching Wimbledon, fall in the second round. And then elation (elation!) watching another brash new American player, Ben Shelton, whose existence I wasn't even aware of until two days earlier, beat a guy I had wanted to see get to the finals (Bye, Big Foe).

Coco Gauff, my favorite player on the women's side, is playing Aryna Sabalenka today. I will be surprised if Coco doesn't have this.

The upsets, the unruly crowds, the heat, the injuries, the attempted comebacks, the late (late) nights – I love, love, love it.

Having said that, there have been a couple low points this year. Some of the player's outfits, for one thing. Goodness gracious. I haven't seen this much bad, garish taste since the last year I trick-or-treated with my neighbor Tommy dressed as Ronald McDonald. That was fourth grade. First there was Caroline Wozniacki's unfortunate unitard. Yes, of course she has the figure to pull it off, but she looked like she was headed to a way serious weight lifting gym to hoist a round of barbells.

And then there were all the confetti outfits. Frances Tiafoe, Carlos Alcaraz and Madison Keys all selected attire from Nike's Slam line. I guess they were going after the high energy vibe that the U.S. Open is so famous for. It looked like the worst example of my talentless finger paintings from kindergarten. And as much as I appreciate their desire to show off their bulging muscles, I was also not into the guy's muscle shirts. I would have preferred that their respective rackets did the talking, to crib one of John McEnroe's famous lines.

To be clear, I don't think all the bad taste was inappropriate. That's how we roll here at the U.S. Open. We are unabashed in owning our contrast with, say Wimbledon, and its all-white elegance and courtliness. The U.S. Open is a decidedly American, New York and democratic (small d) experience, and becoming more so each year. The players who love the U.S. Open, which is reportedly most of them (though not Danil Medvedev, who has never been a crowd favorite here), love it for its exuberant unruliness and its uncontained energy, as well as its more lax dress code that allows them to express themselves. The U.S. Open is a quintessentially American stage for a global set of top players, a stage on which the world sees us as we truly are in all of our untamed, often imperfect, undoubtedly powerful glory.

Which is to say, I feel about all this bad taste the same way I feel about another fundamentally American thing, free speech. I may or may not like what you're expressing, but I robustly celebrate your right to express it.

Another let down was that I missed John McEnroe, who didn't show up until this past Wednesday night because he got Covid-19.  His opinionated banter and pointed insights provide incomparable entertainment without disrupting the main show. Which is a talent in and of itself. His commentating is inextricably linked to the U.S. Open experience for me, so thank god he's back for finals week end.

Of course, the absolute most John McEnroe of all John McEnroe moments didn't occur at the U.S. Open. (Something that causes me great pain.) His "You cannot be serious" outburst is from Wimbledon 1981.

"Chalk flew up!" Watch it here.

It's the contrast between McEnroe's very New York and expressive throwing up of his hands when he says "chalk flew up" with the very proper response of Wimbledon chair umpire here, Edward James, that makes this moment so McEnroe-esqe. I love it.


We have more John McEnroe for you below, as it turns out. He and his wife, singer Patty Smyth, talked about how they have kept it together for 24+ years with Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue on their podcast called Double Dates. It's a couple of years ago, but one of my favorite episodes from that podcast, so I wrote a re-cap of the inside look they give us on their long relationship.

Also, I did a lot of dinner and cocktail partying this summer. If you're still at it, I am sharing some quick notes on what to serve, what not to serve and what to read to be the most interesting person there.

R.I.P. Jimmy Buffet, who knows a lot about long lasting love. Our Song of the Week is one of his first hits, a love song, Come Monday. The video below opens with Buffet giving us the background on it, which featured his girlfriend at the time, Jane, who later became his wife of 40+ years. Sweet to watch.


If you're new here (welcome!), I'm Dish, the Master of Ceremonies. For more about me and why we're here go here.



In This Letter. +Notes on Throwing A Late Summer Dinner Party By Dish Stanley If you don't read the recipes in the WSJ (and why would you?), or aren't serving Texas Ranch Water, you'll want to read this.  +This Must Be the Place: A Native New Yorker Shares His Spot In Nantucket That's "Not Stupid Expensive" By Jonathan Nantucket is at its best starting Labor Day to the third week of October. Avoid it in July and August at all costs.   +Amplify. Best Lines from the Double Dates Podcast Hosted By Marlo Thomas & Phil Donahue Thomas & Donahue Chat with Patty Smyth & John McEnroe about how they keep it together.  +Social Media I Loved This Week By Dish Stanley    +Our Song of the Week I spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. hace / and I just want you back by my side


Still Throwing Late Summer Cocktail Parties? Dish's Notes.

If you don’t have children in school, you are likely spending your September in whatever beautiful place you spent your August. Which means you are still “summering.” So you’ll want to read this, particularly if you haven’t tried the lemon-basil granitas recipe from the WSJ or aren’t serving Texas Ranch Water cocktails.

In early July I was dead set on settling in for a dormant summer of reading, wellness and gearing up for a very full fall. The summer of 2022 was supposed to be “hot girl/hot guy” summer but was soooo not sizzling. (Or was it just me? Anyway.) Turns out, all that turned around this summer.

It has been a flurry of travel or socializing or sex (or all of the foregoing, if you were lucky) for almost everybody I know. Every time I opened my text there was another cheeky Hi Note inviting me to something I couldn't turn down (I am, afterall, throwing myself into the dating mix).

By the end of August, my energy was more “partied out” than “party on.” But then I got word that widely-beloved friends who now live in Paris would be in town. Nobody else appeared to be stepping up, so I reluctantly took the wheel. Cocktails at my humble little summer cottage, followed by dinner for anyone not attending the “Major Charitable GALA of that Particular Night” (whatever it was I can’t recall, but there always is one and people always go).

It was a lively, joy-filled night. A success! I had had the benefit of having attended a number of lovely events of various sizes thrown by other gracious hosts by that point in the summer and had made a lot of observations. I offer them up humbly, in case you’ve got any energy left.

They are exquisite displays, but ditch the cheeseboard. Nobody is eating cheese right now. At one cocktail party, as I headed out toward the end of the evening I walked by a glorious, intricately-created exhibit of fromage straight out of a still life. Only it wasn’t a painting. It just hadn’t been touched in the over two hours it had been out. I sliced some off in a rare departure from my own strictly enforced summer diet out of sympathy for the host. But nobody wants to be guilt-eating your aromatic Robiola. Is this the moment where hosts need to just admit that Peter Attia and all the longevity influencers have won? I think perhaps, yes.

The cocktail that you won’t keep in stock. I noticed in 2021 that my healthiest friends had sworn off wine (and all its sugar) for a tequila reposado on ice with a squeeze of lime (no carbs, way less calories). But this summer, its next-of-kin, Texas Ranch Water ran wild. I made pitcher after pitcher. It’s a simple three-ingredient cocktail of two parts tequila blanco to one part freshly squeezed lime juice, topped with sparkling water. Over ice. But it’s very forgiving, so take those measurements in stride. Cool, crisp, refreshing, enjoyed by everyone eager to take an edge off without putting calories on. (I like using Topo Chico’s hint of lime or grapefruit variations for the extra citrus.)

I have a friend with unerring style and class who entertains the way he decorates his home: not to impress, but to put you at ease and encourage fun and comfort. He told me that he serves a really good vanilla ice cream with an excellent chocolate sauce for dessert at his dinner parties. Simple, well-executed, familiar, well-loved. The Texas Ranch Water is like the cocktail equivalent to his simple sundae. Not fancy, but wholly appreciated. Tequila-based drinks are what everyone (who still drinks) actually wants to drink right now. So get over your craft cocktail instincts and just give it to them.

Continue reading here

Photo: Shutterstock - Getty Images

This Must Be The Place: A Native New Yorker Shares His Spot in Nantucket That's "Not Stupid Expensive" By Jonathan

‘This Must Be The Place’ is a  feature where PrimeCrush-ers share the one special place they love to go.

A little bit about me…

I am in my 70’s. Native New Yorker. Never really lived anywhere else. I currently have the kind of job that requires me to be on the road a lot — I spent the last fourteen months in Europe. I have two grown kids - great kids, thank god. Both work in the film industry (as do I) - one in L.A. and one in NYC. As it relates to this specific endeavor, though, you might be interested to know that I am also an Ex of Dish's. We dated for a tumultuous, fun couple of years a few years ago ... occasionally we catch up.

In the past, I’d go out…

My favorite restaurant - where I regularly took my kids and met up with friends - was Orsay, on the Upper East Side. It’s near where we lived as a family, before and after my divorce from their Mother.

When things changed…

When my kids grew up. That changed everything. Their Mother and I were divorced long before the kids flew off. I had taken a job in the city in the wake of the divorce that didn’t require travel in order to be a major part of their lives. So I flew off shortly after they did; started traveling for work again.

I (we) landed…

I have places in L.A. and NYC, mostly because of my kids, but I am never at either for any length of time. Long enough to celebrate a birthday or mark some occasion.

The place I love most…

This isn’t the place I love the most, not by a lot. The place I love the most is New York City. But I am writing about Nantucket because it is a world unto itself (and I like a well-developed story), I have good memories there (time with kids, and with Dish …) and it relaxes me. Also, I just returned and it's top-of-mind.

The reason I go back…

To get away. See friends. Relax. The latest trip was initially driven by work - someone I am trying to do a project with was spending the summer there so I thought, why not.

In one word, I’d describe the atmosphere as…

The way I do it, it’s relaxing. And a mix of people and things. You can be pretty low-key most days, but then you also have the option of throwing a smart jacket over a collared shirt and jeans and going out somewhere swish. When I used to date Dish she liked to put on a sexy summer dress and go out a couple nights a week. That was delicious, but as I said, that's now over.

If you go there, I’d recommend…

If you appreciate something that's more comfortable than trendy or chic, try 29 India House. There are much fancier places on the island, like Greydon House, but 29 India House has a very loyal clientele for a reason. And personally, I don’t need to bump into a lot of hyped-up people I do (or don’t) already know doing hyped-up people things. 29 India House has great beds and these quite fancy Toto toilets that do every imaginable thing for you. It is in a great location on a quiet street in town at a reasonable price (for Nantucket). The best thing about the place is that it is lovingly run (and owned) by the wonderfully charming Forrest Smith. Spring for The Garden Room (an extra $50/night) because you’ll have your own separate entrance. It’s $400-500 in season.

Anything else..?

Go to Black-Eyed Susan’s for dinner. It was an island institution, closed for a bit, then the long-time chef Todd Edwards evidently bought it out. I loved it. I love sitting at the counter and watching Tom and his sous-chef prepare all the meals. It is a tiny, inviting, unpretentious place and not stupidly expensive. It’s BYOB and more about the food and simple, honest ambience. I like the lemon ricotta pancake and chicken paillard, but they have more creative items for those who are more daring eaters than I. Besides the two cooking in the kitchen, there are two waitresses for eight tables inside (there are an additional four outside and eight-to-ten seats at the bar).

One more thing. If you want to experience Nantucket at its best go during the period starting on Labor Day to the third week of October. Avoid it in July and the first couple of weeks in August if you can.

CRUSH Readers, got an inside scoop or a special place to share? We'd love to know it.

Amplify. Best Lines from the Double Dates Podcast Hosted By Marlo Thomas & Phil Donahue

Double Dates Podcast. Marlo Thomas & Phil Donahue Chat with Patty Smyth & John McEnroe.  April 5th, 2021 (28 Minutes)

This series highlights the best episodes from our favorite podcasts. One of them is Double Dates, hosted by Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue.  It features conversations on enduring love and all its challenges with couples who, like Thomas and Donahue, have been married a long time.

You don’t get to be a long-term power couple without having some power struggles. Patty Smyth and John McEnroe may not agree on much, but they do agree that they are lucky to have found each other.

Who Marlo & Phil's Guests Are.

Patty Smyth: Singer/Songwriter behind the 80’s group Scandal, famous for singing about how love doesn’t always last. Watch her live here.

John McEnroe: A renowned tennis player in the 80’s whose dazzling shot-making and volleying was nearly equaled by his confrontational verbal style. Famously quoted as saying “you cannot be serious,” he is very serious about his long-time wife.

Married for: 24 years

How they met: at a Christmas party. They didn’t know they were being set up. But don’t ask them about it, because they have very different memories. About everything. John remembers encouraging Patty to pursue music more; she remembers him sticking her at home with the kids and putting her career on pause.

Best lines:

8:55 Patty: “I still didn’t believe in love, in monogamy, in marriage, but I had some kind of faith in him.”

19:19 John: “Obviously the key to success in any marriage is, you have to compromise, you have to trust each other, and also hopefully have a lot of sex.”

21:14 Patty: “Our whole life together is: ‘don’t give up on me. I’m a work in progress.’”

25:34 Patty: “Maybe that is one of the most important ingredients in a good marriage. Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be happy?”

Patty talks about how, initially, she didn’t stand up to John. It took her a while to hold her own with the man who was famous for his temper. Hearing them now, though, you wouldn’t know it. She doesn’t let him off the hook.

Clearly, sex is an important part of their relationship. And, for these two, sex may have helped to balance out a multitude of sins, including perpetual arguments.

Listen to this episode if: you’re wondering how one big personality plus another even bigger personality equals a happy marriage.

Read more of the best lines from this podcast here

Social Media I Loved This Week

@edenpondswim

Jennifer Love Hewitt knows how to dress for playing tennis in the heat.

@airmailweekly

@thesnobette

Song Of The Week

Come Monday By Jimmy Buffet

Buffet's sweetest hit was this 1974 song, written for his then-girlfriend Jane, who he wnet on to have a 45 year marriage with.

Listen / watch here.

Have a wonderful week, CRUSHes. Thanks so much for being here.

Dish Stanley XO,
Dish

Amplify. Best Lines from the Double Dates Podcast Hosted By Marlo Thomas & Phil Donahue
This series highlights the best episodes from our favorite podcasts. One of themis Double Dates, hosted by Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue. It featuresconversations on enduring love and all its challenges with couples who, likeThomas and Donahue, have been married a long time. The Best of the
AMPLIFY! The 12 Sex With Emily Podcast Episodes CRUSH Readers Should Get On Top Of. By Dish Stanley
This series highlights the best episodes from our favorite podcasts. One of them is Sex With Emily hosted by Sex Expert Dr. Emily Morse. We’ve listened to her exciting repertoire and have picked out the episodes we think CRUSH Readers shouldn’t miss.
Extended Encounters: A Series on Long-Term Love. By Lisa Ellex
Columnist Lisa Ellex launches a new series on long-term relationships by looking inward at her own need for connection…

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend!  And I'd love to have you join us on instagram.


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