Burton Gintell speech at September Swell-egant Elegant Party

We have come together tonight in this miraculous corner of the Mediterranean for a Swell’egant, Elegant Party. – yes, I shamelessly borrowed that from Cole Porter’s score for “High Society” as sung in the film by Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.

Are you enjoying it so far?

In the 1930’s, an American wrote of this place “On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, about half way between Marseilles and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-colored hotel. Deferential palms cool its flushed façade, and before it stretches a short dazzling beach.” F. Scott Fitzgerald – Tender is the Night. And in a letter to Ernest Hemingway, Fitzgerald wrote:

“With our being back in a nice villa on my beloved Riviera (between Nice and Cannes) I’m happier than I’ve been for years. It’s one of those strange, precious and all too transitory moments when everything in one’s life seems to be going well

You will already have noted that our tables named after those who had a close association with this magical place in the past. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gerald and Sara Murphy, Cole Porter, Josephine Baker, and Coco Chanel (whose table will be filled with seven beautiful women –bien sûr!

(Those who know me well will admire my restraint in not naming a table for Woody Allen, who filmed “Magic in the Moonlight” here in the summer of 2013)

Some of the illustrious creative Americans came from the Midwest to Cap d’Antibes, so let’s raise a glass to them with their 21ST Century heirs who are with us tonight:

Scott Fitzgerald was from St. Paul Minnesota – and John di Rico is from Minneapolis

Cole Porter was born in Peru, Indiana, the Hoosier State also gave us Roy Kirkdorffer

Josephine Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri, as was Gini Jallad.

And virtually all of us here tonight have enriched our lives by living elsewhere from our birthplaces, to which some of our families migrated to seek a better life. We can perhaps pause for a moment to reflect upon those who do not have our choices.
Tonight – at this “American” event – our guests are from

Norway, Denmark, Latvia and Finland

Iran, Syria and Kurdistan

France, Germany and Italy

England, Scotland, Canada and Dominica

… a few from the United States.

Isn’t that remarkable?!
Before we begin our dinner, just a few words about forthcoming events of The American Club of the Riviera: 17 /10 in Biot, 29/10 Association of American Clubs in Geneva, 26/11 Thanksgiving in Monaco (see the Club website for further information)

Finally, a brief snippet from a song / poem by one of our honorees tonight – Cole Porter –

“I’m with you once more under the stars, and down by the shore, an orchestra’s playing, and even the palms seem to be swaying”


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