Saturday, May 30, 2009

My Corner of the World


I had fun in the neighborhood today. First I went over the Farmer's Market at Union Square. Still crowded due to the construction, but you know that. I got peonies, roses and arugula.

Picking out peonies at Durr's.

Strawberries and phlox.

Containers of allium.

The Farmer's Market with the city beyond.

Then I went over the the Chelsea Piers for my yoga class with the fantastic teacher Joan Klynn. After yoga I lay for a few minutes on the sundeck, one of the greatest spots in Manhattan, perched out over the Hudson River.

I stopped in the cool store Jeffrey on 14th Steet in the Meatpacking District. I'm happy to report that it was very busy, very lively, lots of people in there. Jeffrey is fun because the merchandise is very chic, and the shoppers are very chic too -- glamorous women trying on towering high heels, store as theater. The store is not huge and everything in it is great and well-edited -- lots of Beautiful Things, including from Prada a woman's black cotton blouse, its collar embellished with rhinestones, jewels, and matte silver discs. If you visit New York, don't miss the store. Jeffrey Kalinsky knows what he's doing.

They had the Dries Van Noten shoes that I wrote about last July. You know I am a Dries Van Noten fan, and I love these shoes which are a combination of wing tip plus monk strap. But they were $775. With tax, $840 shoes. Oy.

Then I stopped by the Jane Street Sale, the most charming yard sale in New York.

We used to sell stuff at it when we lived on Jane Street, and I always find some treasures there. Today I got a little jade tree, $7. I reminds me of 611 because my great aunt Milly brought back Asian objects from the Phillipines, and when I see something that reminds me of 611, I grab it. The woman selling it said it probably used to have a wooden base. She said, "You can put it in a little pot with stones." I said, "I think I'll put it in a little vase." She said, "You have more class than I do."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A World Premier

Our apartment and garden on Jane Street

Three years ago when we moved out of the apartment we'd lived in for fifteen years on Jane Street in the Village, our young friend Josh who is a filmmaker followed us around with his camera filming the proceedings including a neighborhood going away party and a street sale where we unloaded a lot of possessions. Last Tuesday night he showed us the finished work, an 18 minute movie about our move on a dvd. Josh did a great job interviewing us and our neighbors and capturing the moment. It was quite a thing for us to watch, and it brought back the whole experience.

When I met Ted, he lived on Jane Street and was already part of quite an extraordinary group of neighbors who were close friends. I’ve never seen anything like it in New York; these neighbors had parties, took trips, went through life’s ups and downs together. It was largely centered around a gay couple, Gerard Mutsaers and Richard Chandler, now both deceased. After a while I became part of the group too. In fact, we took a trip together in October to Amsterdam to visit Gerard’s sister Ton.

Ted and I moved together into one apartment on Jane Street, and then into the one which we left three years ago. It was an amazing apartment in an 1847 brownstone house with two floors plus a basement and a garden in the back. It had two non-working marble fireplaces, wood floors, and on the parlor floor extremely high ceilings with original plaster decoration and floor-to-ceiling windows. We loved the quiet, verdant garden. In the summertime we slept with the back door to the garden open and it was like we lived in the country. It was an amazing place and we loved it dearly for fifteen years.

Then abruptly and with no warning at the height of the West Village real estate feeding frenzy the owners who lived in California decided to sell the brownstone house and gave us four months to move. It was challenging, not only to find a new apartment but to leave our neighbors who really were like family.

And Josh made a film about it.

We viewed it on Tuesday, and on Thursday there was a party on Jane Street, and I tucked the dvd into my messenger bag. This is classic Jane Street: though Richard Chandler died four years ago, each year we get together to celebrate his May birthday. This year Gerard’s sister Ton came for the party from Amsterdam and his nephew Matthijs flew in from Minneapolis. We all met in the garden apartment where Richard and Gerard lived, now the most charming B and B in New York.

After dinner I said, “We have a movie and some of you are in it.”

We all trundled up to the B and B’s parlor floor where the dvd player purred. We turned down the lights and I popped it in. It was such a pleasure to watch the film again in the dark surrounded by our great, great friends. They loved it. When it was over since I had invited everyone upstairs I thought I should dismiss everyone back downstairs but I didn’t say anything. And what happened was people started telling stories about the old days, way before I arrived on the scene. In the glow of the blue tv screen light there were stories about first meeting each other, Christmas pageants in the street and birthday parties with bagpipe players. It was spontaneous, magical, priceless -- a New York moment to remember forever.
I’ve said this before (I say it in the movie!) – thanks to Ted for bringing me to Jane Street. And thanks to Josh for the gift of the movie.

Here is short clip. I’m not looking very happy, with my knee in a bandage from a meniscus tear, but then moving is never the most attractive moment, is it?

The good ending to the story is we found a nice apartment on 15th Street.
Josh is going to try to place this movie somewhere like Logo; any thoughts?

Monday, May 25, 2009

My Brother's New Book

Now on sale at Barnes & Noble

I'm reading my brother Eric's new book and am enjoying it so much. As I hold it in my hands, all 280 pages, I can't believe he wrote it. But this is Eric's second book; his first, Lapdogs, How the Press Rolled Over for Bush was published in 2006, so I should be accustomed. You can watch Eric on CNN here.

His latest book is titled Bloggers on the Bus in a take-off on the seminal book about political journalists by Timothy Crouse called The Boys on the Bus. Eric's book is about how liberal bloggers affected and shaped the 2008 presidential election. It's published by Free Press, and division of Simon & Schuster, and you can buy it here, or at your local Barnes & Noble, as I did. TD designed the book cover -- didn't he do a good job?

What I find so interesting about it, and I think my blogging friends would too, is that it's the first account I've read of what it feels like to be a blogger. Eric writes about bloggers who started doing it because they wanted to say something, and then get fairly obsessed with it. They blog outside of their jobs, at home, into the wee hours, happy that they have found on outlet for their views and passions. And Eric is right, you read very little about blogging in the press, I guess because the press is afraid of the rising competition. Anyone interested in the changing landscape of the media would like this book.

The bloggers that Eric writes about are trying to use the internet to make a difference, make the world better or more beautiful in their own way. I certainly think that applies to my blogging friends who focus on style and art. As one blogger in Eric's book says, "Am I going to use this for good, or evil?"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Profusion of Flowers

Peonies at the Farmer's Market

The roses that I got on Friday have opened up gloriously.

At a street fair on Sixth Avenue, TD bought two orchids, a pink one

and a darker red one which looks to me like 611.

He got some peonies at the Farmer's Market.

For the container garden outside, we picked up some impatiens, and TD put them in the windowsill in the hall until we plant them tomorrow.

I love having a lot of flowers around; I feel like I'm in an Edwardian greenhouse, I feel like I'm in an Edith Wharton novel.

Friday, May 22, 2009


On Fridays I hear people at work say "T G I F" and I feel like saying "T G I Have a Job." This Friday I rode my bike down to my new job at the advertising agency. This Hudson River Park used to be a deserted parking lot. People were opposed to this park. Why? Because it ceded power over the land to the Port Authority which can do what it wants. So far I haven't seen any bad developments, and this park is a spectacular improvement over a deserted parking lot. These trees get bigger every year; that's the beauty of trees!

This is one of the views from the offices where I work, with the Hudson River and New Jersey beyond. I walk around all day amazed by the views.

After a week of work and a trip to the gym I decided to treat myself/us.

To cupcakes and roses. I won't tell you how much four cupcakes cost, you'll think I'm insane. But that's the point of a treat isn't it? Extravagance. Soon there will be a cold glass of pinot grigio, and sushi, delivered, and we'll be on our way to a happy holiday weekend.

Treat yourself too, and have a happy Memorial Day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Poor Bell

Bell is saying, "What happened?"

We took her to get spayed on Tuesday, and she came home with this cone on her head which deters her from scratching the incision for ten days. But the poor thing! She's walking into furniture, and dragging the cone through her food. We're just following doctor's orders.

The vet calls it an Elizabethan collar, so it least it sounds nice.

Readers are asking, how is your other cat Rose? She's good; she has become accustomed to the kitten and I think even enjoys her company at times. But we have noticed that when Bell is in duress, like now, Rose hisses and growls, and generally gives her a hard time.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Chanel Resort 2010 reports that the new Chanel Resort collection was shown last week in Venice. Three hundred guests sat in wooden deck chairs on the Lido as waves lapped the shore. Karl Lagerfeld's collection was inspired by Venice in the earlier part of the last century. says that beginning in 1919, Coco Chanel visited Venice for almost ten years and there met Diaghilev, the creator of the brilliant Ballet Russe dance company. The clothes in the collection are a poetic rendering of the period but are modern too. I love clothes that don't really have a specific era -- that go back in time and can be worn in any period, and that's what Lagerfeld accomplished beautifully here. Navy blue and white has always been a favorite; once I had a great navy blue striped long-sleeved French sailor's shirt with a boat neck that I bought on Nantucket. I don't see them any more; back in the day you could get them at L.L. Bean and Army/Navy stores.
The Chanel collection started with a group portraying the mother and children in Death in Venice by novelist Thomas Mann, and then went on to a procession of timeless outfits creating a romantic Venetian dream that evokes Henry James and John Singer Sargent. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Trip to the Farmer's Market

I went over to the Farmer's Market at Union Square on Saturday. The construction going on there still has the popular and crowded market squished into a small and uncomfortable space. I asked a woman in the market information booth when the construction will be done, and she replied, "Last week." It's supposed to be completed already... Hopefully it will be finished soon.

I took a canvas tote to the market for shopping because I don't like coming home with seven plastic bags that could possibly be floating around in the ocean for the next three million years. Here is my tote, with Bell inspecting.

This is what came out of the bag:
Phlox, which smells wonderful and is such a pretty light lavender color. To me it's a Swedish color.

English ivy for the container garden out front. The leaves are edged with white. I think I have said before that I like plants with variegated leaves because the white edging gives the leaf definition so you can see the shape better.

A bunch of arugula. I love the bitter, earthy taste of arugula.

Two bags of mixed lettuces. This is the first week that I saw lettuce at the market, and I have been waiting for it patiently. You really do learn about seasonal crops when you shop at the farmer's market.

Asparagus. Yum. I got our vegetables for the week, all from local farms.

A successful trip to the market.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Picasso in Chelsea

Gagosian Gallery
I went to see the Picasso show now up at the Gagosian Gallery. Wow. What a treat.

The show was curated by John Richardson, the Picasso biographer and Vanity Fair writer, and it features 50 paintings and 49 prints from the last decade of Picasso's life, from 1962 to 1972; Picasso died at 91 in 1973. So this is the work of an artist in his eighties. You might think that paintings by an artist towards the end of his life would be dark and gloomy and morose as he contemplated the great unknown but this work is the opposite of that. I personally am not a huge fan of all of Picasso's paintings; some of them are a little pointy and sharp and almost violent for me, but these paintings are colorful and round and full of great joy. I really was astonished.

The show is called Mosqueteros, or Musketeers, because it includes paintings of matadors and circus performers and entertaining characters like that.

The colors are light and bright -- pale green, yellow, beige, not tones that I associate with Picasso. Thick brush strokes celebrate the glorious qualities of paint.

There is a happy sense of playfulness. Here is a woman teasing a cat. The cat looks like it was rendered in about eight brush strokes -- quick, light, fun.

Femme Nue Couchee Jouant avec un Chat
There also is a short movie to watch of Picasso in his studio. He is wearing a yellow v-neck sweater, red pants and a brown and white scarf at the neck. (I had a yellow v-neck sweater like that once from Brooks Brothers -- it was a gift from my friend Abby. I wonder if they still make them.) You get the sense with the paintings and the movie that the artist is really enjoying himself and revelling in his mastery. Picasso was creating these pleasures up until he died; what a great way to go out. This show is at Gagosian until June 6th, and it's on 21st Street so don't go the 24th Street Gagosian Gallery like I did. And of course its free. Only a few of the works are for sale so this show is a labor of love for the gallerist. Thank you Larry Gagosian!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Mother's Day Moment

During the middle of the service at our great church Judson Memorial on Sunday there came a point when assistant minister Michael Ellick introduced soloist John Cormier who would sing a song – Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” The minister invited people in the congregation to get out their cell phones and call their mothers and we would all sing with the soloist. Unfortunately I left my phone at home (who needs a cell phone in church?) but people all around snapped out their phones and called their mothers: “Hi Mom, I am in church and am supposed to call you so now hold on and listen to this.” People ran up to the altar table with an arm out-stretched holding up their phone to the soloist. We all sang and the singing got louder and louder so that all the mothers on the other ends could hear. Up at the altar table were young and old, men and women, gay and straight singing out to their mom with the congregation behind. Little silver cell phones twinkled in the light, reaching out love to mothers across the land. Ain’t technology great? It was moving to watch as it unfolded – an unexpected, unrehearsed moment of pure joy.
And next year I’m bringing my phone.  

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Life on the River

Today was a beautiful day to run along the Hudson River. It was cool and white clouds skittered past the bright sun. People were talking on their cell phones making Mother's Day calls: "Are you having a nice day?"

The ad agency where I am working is on the 36th floor of the silver building on the left with the flat top downtown. A plain exterior but fantastic glass offices inside and amazing views.

The white building in the center here on the West Side Highway across the street from the Hudson River was featured in an interesting story this week in The New York Times. The couple who lives there have seven children and have renovated eleven properties! And now the whole family is signed up with the Ford Modeling Agency. Energetic New Yorkers! The building was once the site of a bicycle shop.

When TD and I moved, we looked at an apartment one block south on the West Side Highway. We thought it would be neat to live on the river, but the highway was noisy; you don't think of that part. Maybe this family has soundproof windows. You can read the The New York Times story here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Trip to Elizabeth Street

My cousin Erin invited us to a wine bar on Elizabeth Street last night to celebrate her birthday. You remember Erin; she is my god daughter, and organized our family Christmas party in a restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn, this year. When Erin was born in Albany, New York, I was going to law school there. I ran over to the hospital to see the infant, and I was her first visitor. And twenty-seven years later, here we are, celebrating on Elizabeth Street in New York City.

Before the get together, TD and I wandered along Elizabeth Street which is in Nolita, "north of Little Italy." It's really east Soho. Erin lived on Elizabeth Street before she moved to Park Slope, and the street has lots of great charming shops.
Eleven is a cool vintage store with clothes for men and women.

Billy's Antiques and Props on Houston had horror masks and dummies inside.

The yard of the Elizabeth Street Gallery was full of architectural remnants.

We had a little something to eat at a restaurant on Spring Street called Bread. I love eating outdoors. Mobs of people passed by on the narrow sidewalk; kids, tourists, people walking home from work. A man sat at the next table with a big dog named Maggie. I had a salad and a pasta with pesto and asparagus.

It felt like being in Europe. As dusk fell the cornices on Spring Street stood out against the darkening sky like sculptural setpieces.

We toddled on to Xicala Wine Bar to have a drink or two with Erin. She was already ensconced with her beau Andrew and some friends. More of her friends came in, from childhood, high school, college and work. We were introduced to her friend Lauren DeJulio. When I was growing up my uncle Brian, Erin's father and a lawyer in Albany, had a posse of cool friends, and one of the sweetest and nicest was John DeJulio. When my grandfather died in Albany, John offered that my siblings and cousins and I could all sleep in his big house. Lauren is John's daughter, and although she was six or eight at the time, she remembers us all camping out. Lauren's mother now lives on Martha's Vineyard, and Lauren lived for some time in Paris, so I got to talk with her about two of my favorite places on earth. Here are Lauren and Erin:

We left three hours later. It was fun. Erin is out and about, enjoying life in the city, making her godfather proud. Happy birthday Erin.