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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Dancing Queens: Armstrong Kendall & The Soul of EDA

September 7th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena

Nothing is forever in life, most things are fleeting.
And such is certainly the case for the giddy, glory days of EDA at the end of the last millennium when the likes of Abbie Kendall and Jean Armstrong ran the show — the PR show, that is, for Cadence at the height of the Ray Bingham Era.

The DAC of 1999 has already been memorialized here, in and around an homage to the late, great Marie Pistilli – but the DAC of 2000, at least the Cadence version, was even grander.

The night Cadence took their Press & Analyst constituency out on the town in June of 2000 was almost beyond belief. Remember that something like 11,000 hearty souls were on board in Los Angeles for DAC that year, the conference ramping up for the week at Staples Center just as the previous week’s Exotic Erotica Show was winding down. How appropriate.

Big money was flowing everywhere within the EDA ecosystem and the Big Players needed to demonstrate in the showiest way possible that theirs was the one that was going to dominate the next decade, theirs was the enterprise that was going to win the war.

Cadence’s turn at bat was Tuesday night. Their lucky guests started out the evening at the exotic, and possibly erotic, home of some mysterious bloke called Dr. No, whose madly mid-century modern (practically) all-glass house overlooked the entire expanse of Los Angeles from its wind-swept perch atop the Hollywood Hills.

There, press yeehaws and analyst geegaws were treated to mysteriously beautiful cocktails and platter after platter of tiny (ergo obscenely expensive) entremeses as we wandered through the succulent-rich garden, and up and down an indoor spiral staircase that looked out two stories of glass, across the garden, and out to the sparkling mysteries of LA Confidential below.

As the sun finally set over Mulholland Drive, the whole, slightly-buzzed gang made their way via limousines through winding canyons all the way down into central Hollywood for a culinary orgy that would have made Louis XVI proud, served up in a multi-cavern dining space at the heart of the The Beverly Wilshire Hotel – a venue made famous by the leggy Julie Roberts in 1990.

The dinner alone would have probably bankrupted poor Louis, but not posh Cadence in 2000 – awash in cash, hubris, and rainmakers. And that Beverly Wilshire dinner tab was heaped atop costs associated with the tony happy hour up in the hills.

Costs that certainly cut into Cadence’s bottom line in 2000, but costs that were deemed appropriate, no doubt, in the heady days of EDA on Fire.

Finally, saving the best for last, after a dinner of endless courses we all walked (what, no limos?) across the street to a special one-off version of Rodeo Drive. Not the Rodeo Drive of the poor, rags-to-riches Pretty Woman, but a Rodeo Drive reinvented for the evening by Armstrong Kendall into the ultimate Versailles-themed fête that proved, once and for all, that Cadence was truly King of the Hill.

As Bingham and his courtiers held forth there on a pedestrianized Rodeo Drive, amidst shuttered shops full of pricey accouterments for the well-heeled, a completely madding crowd of journalists, analysts, and human catalysts were served yet more bites and booze.

Armstrong KendallLegions of Bourbon-themed servants in powdered wigs, baby-blue livery or 18th-century wench-ware, passed trays of teeny morsels in and around the crowd – chocolates and eclairs, petit fours and miniature flans, among other dizzying delights – all washed down with yet more liquor, liqueur, champagne and/or espresso.

Gosh. A sheer explosion of sensory overload served up over the course of one single evening at DAC 2000. Executive Producers Armstrong Kendall created the look and feel of the event, the mise-en-scène, and played their creation to the hilt.

All evening long. Never flagging. Never missing a detail. Making every single person in attendance feel important, welcomed and needed.

No matter how shabby or hipster the fashion-challenged editor, we were all Thought Leaders and Abbie Kendall and Jean Armstrong were there to drive that idea home. We were thought leaders and Cadence deferred to our wisdom, thanks to the Really Big Show that Armstrong Kendall put together for the night.

Ah, those were the days when the soul of EDA was wild and wonderful. It was 2000 and Armstrong Kendall ruled the waves.


But now it’s 2016 and the days grow short,
EDA is in the autumn of its years.
We think back on these things as vintage wine from fine old kegs.
From the brim to the dregs, it pours sweet and clear.
Though Jean Armstrong is gone, we will always have 2000.
Because that was a very good year.


Editor’s Note: Sincerest condolences to the family and many friends of Jean Armstrong, a consummate PR professional with a marvelous zest for life.


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