Saturday, January 31, 2009

Poking Around

I'm fairly addicted to vintage stores. A little shop on MacDougal Street recently lured me in. I poked around and thought it was a little overpriced. On my way out the door I stopped at the scarf rack where a narrow rectangular wool paisley scarf caught my eye. I said to myself, I said, "These look like hand-rolled edges. I wonder if this is an Etro." And sure enough, there it was, the familiar black and beige Etro label from Milano. The scarf was marked at $20 (not overpriced) and I got it for $15.

I love the apple green color in the depth of winter -- it reminds me of spring. I suppose I could sell in on EBay for more than $100, but I like it!

I also recently found this candle holder. It would be great in a garden, but for now I like it on the table illuminating the lilies. (That sounds like the title of a John Singer Sargent painting.)

It's made of bronze-color metal and panes of light green frosted glass.

Good, no? I found it at the Salvation Army on Eighth Avenue. $2.99.

Friday, January 30, 2009

India Calling

Valley of Flowers
In the magazine biz, editors say: If they're three, it's a trend. What has come to my attention is: India.
1. There is a fascinating series on PBS now called The Story of India. British journalist Michael Wood stresses that this is a spiritual country.
2. At the end of Auntie Mame, she is taking her grandnephew on a trip to India. Hmmmm, wouldn't a trip to India be fantastic?
3. I just saw on HBO and now have recorded on the dvr The Darjeeling Limited directed by Wes Anderson in 2007 and set in India. Have you seen it? I've watched it two and a half times.

This is why I like it:
-it's about traveling on a train called The Darjeeling Limited. I love a train movie. Some Like it Hot is one of my favorite movies ever.
-it's about three brothers, duh.
-the brothers are on a spiritual journey.
-they travel through India in beautiful grey suits, the kind with button holes at the cuff that work.
-they travel with their father's fantastic hard luggage, actually designed by Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton
-their mother runs a convent in the foothills of the Himalayas.
-the music sounds like the music in Harold and Maude (1971), another favorite movie. I once saw Ruth Gordon on Main Street in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard, but that's another story. All of The Darjeeling Limited has a kind of Seventies style to it, which speaks to me.
-India. It looks fantastic and strange and beautiful.

This movie was made by Wes Anderson, who is known for his eye and sense of style, and every frame of this colorful movie is gorgeous to look at. He is an "auteur," involved in all aspects of the film making, including writing, cinematography, design and music.

One year ago, the father of these brothers was hit by a cab and died in New York City. They have not seen each other since. The oldest, played by Owen Wilson, summons his two brothers, played by Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman, for a train trip through India.

His head is all bandaged up. He says, late in the movie, that he "smashed into the side of a hill, on purpose, on my motorcycle." Heart out to Owen Wilson, with the pale, pale eyes, who did actually attempt suicide after this movie was made.

After some adventures

they decide to visit their mother who disappeared and did not attend their father's funeral.

At last they arrive at a convent in the Himalayas to find their mother played by the transcendent Angelica Huston, she of the amazing voice.

They question her: "Why did you leave us? Why didn't you come to dad's funeral?" She says, "Maybe we could express ourselves more fully if we say it without words." (That doesn't make any sense!)

She says good night and, "To be continued."

Then during the night she disappears and leaves them again.

The brothers depart to catch a train. Running to the train, they cast aside their father's hard luggage.

Get it? They leave the family baggage behind. This is not my family and this is not my story, but it is a touching tale about growing up. It's cleverly told, and it's wonderful to look at.

This movie makes me want to wear Indian beads and go out and buy brightly colored flowers. And travel.

Here is the movie trailer:

Director Wes Anderson talks about making movies:

Wes Anderson directed himself in this commercial for American Express which is a riot.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Birds of a Feather

Over on his blog, Mr. Peacock posted an interview with me today. Thanks Mr. Peacock! It was fun for me to answer your style questions.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Trip to the I.C.P.

Photograph from The New York Times
On Saturday morning I thought, "I want to see some Beautiful Things today," so after my yoga class at the Chelsea Piers, TD met me uptown at the International Center for Photography where several fashion photography exhibitions are currently mounted.

On the street level you walk into "Weird Beauty," a show of avant garde fashion magazine stories from publications like Vogue Paris, V, and Numero Homme. The fashion photography stories are mounted from the floor to the ceiling for a graphic exhibition. The creativity on display is very inspiring. It's fun to see what you like, and what you don't like. There were a lot of cool looking kids at this show; it was kind of a scene. I think anyone who works in the fashion business would enjoy viewing it.

I was particularly taken by a fashion spread from Vogue Italia by a photographer, new to me, named Tim Walker. It's a beautiful story -- pale pastel colors, very Romantic, very imaginative, really a dream.

Turns out he is British, and I found a podcast interview with him that you can listen to here; ain't the internet neat?

In the next room is an exhibition called "This Is Not a Fashion Photograph," which is made up of pictures from the Center's permanent collection which feature clothes and style. This joyful dance reminded me, in a way, of Barack and Michelle at the Inauguration Balls. Who would ever think that that would come to mind? I love it.

Downstairs is a big exhibition of photos by the great Edward Steichen. The show is composed of pictures he took for Vogue and Vanity Fair from 1923-1937. Love Steichen. I have a great big book of Steichen photographs and his widow signed it for me. And guess which picture is in this show? The one I wrote about here on January 10th. Steichen ushered in the modern age of photography with simple, graphic pictures. There is not a lot of frou frou, like you see in the work of Cecil Beaton. Still, Steichen's pictures evoke a poetic past. These classic black and white photos offer a clean, quiet contrast to the raucous, colorful conversation upstairs.

Here is Steichen at work:

Steichen's picture of Gary Cooper from 1933. Was there ever a more handsome movie star?

Afterwards we were parched so TD and I went to have a drink in the lobby of the Algonguin Hotel on West 44th Street. The Algonguin, of course, was the home away from home for many writers in the Twenties, and the location of the Dorothy Parker's renowned Round Table. It was a freezing cold night and the lobby was warm and cozy -- big soft chairs, dimly light wall sconces, Frank Sinatra crooning -- a pleasant place to be at cocktail hour.

I love a good hotel lobby bar, with travelers from all over passing through and having a drink before moving on. It reminded me a little of the Hotel Costes in Paris, where we alighted in October, and the Bowery Hotel, downtown.

Then TD and I went home and had a steak. We watched on channel 13 Auntie Mame starring Rosalind Russell from 1958.

Such a fun movie. The eccentric Mame Dennis instills in her nephew Patrick an appreciation for charm, culture, beauty, travel, and open-mindedness. "Live! Live! Live!" she exclaims, "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I'm happy to say that I am busy working on writing projects: now I am writing a big luxury car campaign for CondeNet, and jobs for fashion designer Elie Tahari and fashion PR firm LaForce + Stevens. Yay.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Caroline Kennedy

I had mixed feelings about Caroline Kennedy being the next senator from New York, but I was also sorry to see her withdraw. I think the Kennedy name could have opened a lot of doors, and she is close to Obama; she could have helped New York State which now faces a $12.5 billion deficit.

Caroline Kennedy and I were born two days apart so she has always interested me. In New York City I once wished her a happy birthday and her response to me was not exactly polite. I will say this: she guards her privacy and any one who crosses it does so at his own peril. Not a great quality for a senator.

But what I am getting to is this photo from The New York Times. I was surprised by it -- I didn't know she had three grown children; I thought maybe she had two daughters. This is, left to right, Rose, 20, Caroline, Tatiana, 18, and John, 15. Aren't they stunning kids?

I think Rose, who attends Harvard, has the broad, beautiful face of her grandmother Jackie Bouvier. Caroline Kennedy has really kept these kids under wraps and protected them with her renowned guarded privacy, a better trait in a mother than it is in a senator.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I am trying to think about why I, like so many people, am enthralled by the Obamas. For me, they offer a combination of intelligence, heart and beauty that I have never seen in American politics in my lifetime. I get the feeling that he is a very spiritual person.

The New York Times got some great photographs of the Inauguration. You can see them here. I include them here because...I want to look at them!

Yes, we can!

In Houston, Trennie Amusan, right, and Craig Oettinger, left, react as they watch the Inauguration. Yes we can.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Day America!

You can't take a bad picture of these two. I'm loving it all.

Loved Aretha Franklin singing My Country 'Tis of Thee. You get to see her so rarely and she is so spectacular.

Loved Michelle's Inaugural outfit by Cuban-American fashion designer Isabel Toledo, a super-talented unsung New York City fashion designer. Michelle's green gloves finished the look with a touch of polish. The little girls wore colorful coats closed with velvet ribbons by Crewcuts from J. Crew; you can't buy that kind of endorsement.

Loved the Inaugural poem written and read by Elizabeth Arnold called Praise Song for the Day:

"Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky. A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; we walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign, the figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self." Others by "First do no harm," or "Take no more than you need."

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light."

Many beautiful phrases here. And what if the mightiest word is love? I think that is Barack's message of tolerance, diplomacy, unity. I feel relief, I feel hope, I feel there is someone living in the White House I know and that knows me. We celebrate a new day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's been very cold in New York City. How best to comfort myself? Ruth Reichl, the editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, wrote a memoir called Comfort Me With Apples.

My memoir would be called Comfort Me with Cupcakes. And Roses.

The roses came from the florist on Greenwich Avenue, and I made the cupcakes. TD requested they be red, white and blue for the Inaugural Week. He made a lasagna, and we poured a glass of red wine. It's almost enough to make me like winter.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thanks HBO

Did you see the Inaugural Concert on tv today? It was great. HBO broadcast it free to everyone, not just subscribers like us. As Barack and Michelle Obama walked down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to take their seats for the concert, huge feelings of relief washed over me. We are back from the brink. We are back to civilization.

When you combine the Obamas plus Bruce Springsteen

plus a choir

plus the Lincoln Memorial

you have tears spurting out of my eyes. Sorry.

James Taylor: "Shower the people you love with love"

"things are going to turn out better if you only will."

Bono, an "Irish boy from the north side of Dublin," sang "In the Name of Love."

"I get that."

There was also Denzel Washington, Laura Linney, Tom Hanks, Stevie Wonder, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Pete Seeger, John Cougar Mellencamp, and more.

Beautiful Beyonce sang "America the Beautiful."

Addendum: After the concert was over, I and other people were thinking, "Where was Bishop Gene Robinson?" It had been widely publicized that the openly gay bishop from New Hampshire was to begin the event with a prayer. It turns out that the Presidential Inauguration Committee decided not to include the prayer in the HBO broadcast. Grrrrrr.

Someone videotaped the Bishop delivering his prayer at the concert, and it is now on YouTube. I have been asked to read Gene Robinson's prayer next Sunday in church. You can see him deliver his eloquent prayer here:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Obama in Baltimore

We just watched on tv Obama's speech in Baltimore at a stop on his train route from Philadelphia to Washington for the Inauguration. It's just so exciting, and hard to believe. I wrote below about Hairspray. In that musical set in Baltimore in the Sixties blacks and whites could not dance together. Now, forty years later, a black man gives a speech in Baltimore on his way to become President. I mean, wow!

It was ironic that on Thursday night the farewell address from the lame and incompetent current president was bumped on the news by the story of the pilot who safely landed in the Hudson River an airplane with one hundred and fifty-five people on board. That pilot is a true hero, and the contrast with Bush was so striking.

That dark nightmare is over. Everyone is so excited about Obama. At the little antique store I frequent they were having a sale today to celebrate the Inauguration and are serving Champagne on Tuesday. We look forward to hearing tomorrow gay Bishop Gene Robinson lead prayers at the opening celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. Our friend Macky Alston is filming a documentary about Gene Robinson, and we heard and met the Bishop a few weeks ago -- he is a good storyteller and very charming. As a fashion-watcher I am fascinated by Michelle Obama who I think is great looking. She possesses the most important quality of style, which Jackie Kennedy had too, which is making it all look very easy and natural. She knows what she's doing but it looks unstudied and that's a talent. On Tuesday we're attending a brunch to watch the Inauguration. These are thrilling days.

Photo from AP