Sunday, June 28, 2009

Happy Gay Pride Day

It's Gay Pride Day today in New York City and the 40th anniversary, to the day exactly, of the Greenwich Village Stonewall Bar riots that started the gay rights movement.
Gay Pride Day is always a lot of fun in New York.

Last year we went to the closing night festivities at Florent Restaurant in the Meatpacking District for one of the most memorable New York nights ever. I wrote about it, and my friend David Patrick Columbia published it on

This year TD marched in the parade with our great church Judson Memorial but I was not feeling so hot; I have this weekend what TD had last weekend. I walked over to Fifth Avenue for a visit.

There is a constant thunderous roar as the gay groups and floats pass and the crowd cheers. It's a joyous event. One of the most popular groups is PFLAG, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. One year, both of my parents and my brother Thom marched in the parade with TD and I in the PFLAG group. That was when the parade started up at Columbus Circle. We five all held hands in a line and when we rounded the corner at 59th Street onto wide Fifth Avenue, the crowd roared and I felt like the luckiest boy in that parade, I'll tell you.

Today the float passed by for Bailey House, which houses homeless people with AIDS. TD sits on the board of directors – I'm proud of him.

Here is Frontrunners, the gay running group. This is how Ted and I actually met. We were both members of Frontrunners, and ran at the annual Pride race in Central Park. That night we were introduced at a celebratory party. Ted went off to have dinner with friends, and we were introduced again two months later over Labor Day weekend on Fire Island. That time it stuck. This was in 1985, 24 years ago, glory be.

When I moved to New York in 1983 I didn't know anybody and went by myself to see the Gay Pride parade up in midtown in the 50's. As I stood on the curb, I wanted to march in the parade but I was nervous about it. What if someone saw me? What is there was someone from work watching? But, gee, I wanted to join in the fun and also make my own personal statement. I was torn. Then I saw a guy walk by in the parade I knew. I had met him on Martha's Vineyard. Danny Feder was his name, very handsome charming guy who died, as many did. I said to myself, "If Danny Feder can do it, I can do it." I remember looking down at my sneakered feet as they left the curb to join the parade. There are moments in life when you take a leap of faith that everything will be fine.
And everything was fine.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Poor Michael

His album Thriller reminds me so much of moving to New York City in 1983, living in a loft on Chambers Street in Tribeca with no air conditioning. We screamed when he did the backwards moon walk on tv, one of those moments you remember because you had never seen anything like it before. "Human Nature" -- the sweetest song: "If this town is just an apple then let me take a bite." And I did.
Here he is with a gospel choir from the 1988 Grammys which I remember watching on tv as well. By then I was living on Jane Street with TD. He was a fantastic entertainer, Fred Astaire combined with a powerful voice, and a great songwriter.
"If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change."
A genius in his time.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Downtown Dandies

BB and Matt Fox

I have been so busy at work I have not had a chance to report on my outing from Sunday night.

I was invited to a Dandy event, dear reader. I was rubbing elbows with dandies.

I commented previously about The New York Times piece about bloggers who start blogs and then nothing happens, and how far off base that account seemed to me. Because in fact I have made several friends through my blog who I am in touch with regularly. And one I have met in the flesh: Matt Fox from Fine and Dandy.

Matt and I became friends through our blogs, and then friends on Facebook where I perused photos of he and his partner Enrique. When TD and I were visiting the Fort Green flea, I recognized Matt from Facebook and said hello! Matt and Enrique have a blog and an online store where they sell accessories for dapper guys. On Sunday night they had a launch party for their site. Dress attire: Dandy.

I wore khaki shorts, a bow tie and loafers. Because when you wear khaki shorts, a bow tie and loafers, you are automatically in dandy territory. TD was home sick so off I ventured, solo. The event has held at 5 Ninth, a swanky restaurant in the Meatpacking District.

The party was supposed to be in the garden but it was raining (what else is new) so I climbed up to the third floor. Cool restaurant -- exposed brick walls, wood floors, a bar at the top.

When I got up there I immediately met Matt and Enrique. They had a raffle drawing and I won a beautiful striped silk tie. Matt told me he works for a company that manages Broadway theaters, and that he and Enrique run their online store out of their Hell's Kitchen apartment at night. They got the idea last summer and attended trade shows where they stocked up on cuff lines, ties, scarves and pocket squares.

Matt is originally from Cortland, New York, near Utica, where I grew up. I really liked his big eyeglasses. "I got them in the Lost and Found at the theater," said Matt, "But I waited a good long time to claim them."

I had a glass of white wine and met some other fellows and then was on my way with a little gift bag and my tie. The rain had stopped. It was a fun outing, thanks to the blogosphere.

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's rained almost every day in New York City for what seems like months now. Sometimes the only thing to do is sit in the window and watch the rain.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Random Acts

I was riding my bicycle home from work on Friday night at 7:00 up the Hudson River Park bike path thinking, "I don't have anything to write about for my blog."
Suddenly I was flying through the air.
With my hands out I hit the ground.
And was lying on my back on the bike path.
What happened was a girl in front of me towards the right suddenly swerved toward the left to run along the river. She never looked and had on ear phones. "Look out!" I yelled as I slammed on the brakes trying not to crash into her. Then I went flying and was on my back.
In twenty years riding a bike in New York I have been in two other accidents, also both on the Hudson River bike path. Though I don't ride fast, it is a dangerous place, with walkers, runners, roller bladers, bikers. As I was lying on the ground I was thinking, "Oh great," because both other times, I fractured my arm. This time though nothing hurt right away. The girl said, "Gosh that was totally my fault!" I said, "You have to be more careful." Another woman was bending over me, "Are you OK?" She had on a black tank top and black pants. "I think I'm OK," I said with relief. I didn't get hurt. I was really lucky. "Are you sure?" she said. She helped me get up. "That can be a really traumatic thing. Take a few breaths." She was rubbing my arm. I looked in her face – her eyes sparkled. "I think I'm mostly tired," I said. "Well take it easy because that can be a shock." She stopped and attended to me and really helped me. "Thank you very much," I said to her as I got on my bike and rather wobbily rode away. Though she was a stranger I was very grateful to have someone there with me, this angel in black.
Acts of kindness often mean more than we know.
It reminds me of another story. The day that Ted and I moved off of Jane Street has a long and hard day. Everything went fine, but still it was difficult, not the kind of day you look forward to. At 9:00 in the morning we were sitting amidst piles of boxes waiting for the movers to arrive when the door bell ring. Delivery. It was a gift from our friends Vanity Fair editor Aimee Bell and writer David Kamp – a bottle of champagne and a thoughtful note. We were both moved by it. It lifted the day and we definitely felt better knowing that friends were thinking of us.
Acts of kindness often mean more than we know.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Trip to the Met

I had the chance to pop up to the Metropolitan Museum to see the Costume Institute show called "The Model as Muse." Its theme is iconic models of the twentieth century and their roles in projecting and sometimes inspiring the fashion of their times. The exhibit started with the Charles James dresses pictured above, pieces of sculpture in their own right. Their rich, saturated colors and heavy, lustrous fabrics created a delicious tableaux. These dresses reminded me of Millicent Rogers, the Standard oil heiress who wore the most subtly colored Charles James gowns. She was also a very creative jewelry designer and lived in a house in Taos, New Mexico, now a museum out in the desert which TD and I have visited. Charles James was a sad story: though he created the most beautiful clothes, the eccentric designer died penniless in the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street.

In "The Model as Muse" show I was delighted to see one of my favorite fashion photographs of all time. Here is model Lisa Taylor wearing Calvin Klein photographed by Arthur Elgort in Vogue from October, 1976:

I think it captured American fashion so well: simple, clean, healthy, strong. Legendary fashion editor Polly Mellen worked on this shoot, and when I met Polly, we talked about this picture. Polly said, "She is the epitome of the modern woman, deep in thought, not just looking beautiful."

Here is another famous, iconic fashion photo in the show, also Lisa Taylor, also wearing Calvin Klein, this time shot by Helmut Newton for Vogue, May 1975. Polly worked on this shoot too: Polly really is one of the greats, isn't she? Someone should do a show on her.
This picture expressed the then new feminism movement; the woman in a sheer dress with her legs spread was clearly ogling the man passing by. Again, the picture is simple, strong, chic, just like the clothes. And Lisa Taylor was a knockout, the perfect embodiment of American beauty.

After that I went up to the Sculpture Roof Garden where currently installed is this crazy stainless steel sculpture called Maelstrom by Roxy Paine.

It's meant to make the viewer feel as if he is "immersed in the midst of a catalysmic force of nature" but honestly I was just afraid I was going to trip.

Or poke an eye out.

Then I went to the New American Wing. They cleaned things up and simplified there, taking out a gift shop and adding a little cafe; it would be a nice place to eat lunch.

On the way home I saw this guy on the subway; I think he was a model. Slim white shirt, narrow dark denim jeans, brown suede wing-tip tie-ups, cotton canvas bag with leather trim, wooden skate board. Very cool. Don't you love New York?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Richard Avedon

Roger Vivier Evening Slipper for Christian Dior, 1963

A little while ago TD and I popped up to midtown and saw the Richard Avedon exhibit at the International Center of Photography -- an evocative show that recalled for me an elegant time gone by.

Richard Avedon changed the shape of fashion history with photography that moved with great energy. Previously fashion photography was carefully posed, but he encouraged young models to be active. I once interviewed model Lauren Hutton for Architectural Digest over sandwiches in the East Village. She told me that when she arrived in New York from Florida, she was a fashion novice and really didn’t know what she was doing at fashion shoots. Avedon said to her, “Well, what did you do in Florida?” Hutton said, “I ran through the swamps and jumped off the trees,” and Avedon said. “So run and jump here.” And there you had it.

Veruscka, 1972

Avedon really captured an era in fashion history – the sixties and seventies and eighties when American fashion was coming to the fore. His energetic pictures expressed the free, easy spirit and clean, simple lines of American sportswear being created by Anne Klein, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. And of course he photographed most Vogue covers during editor-in-chief Grace Mirabella’s reign from 1971 to 1988. Avedon and lively, sexy American fashion were a perfect match for each other at the time.

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t all angels and light with Avedon, who died at age 81 in 2004. When I interviewed legendary fashion editor Polly Mellen who worked closely with Avedon over her long career, we talked in her second floor sitting room with verdant views of the garden and pool and hills of Connecticut beyond. She pointed to the bed and remarked, “This is where Dick Avedon said, ‘Now I know where I’m going to have my nervous breakdown!”

Chanel with Suzy Parker

But the pictures in the show, from 1944 to 2000, are beautiful. Moving from the forties to 2000, they document the evolution of his style as a photographer, from the posed pictures of the French couture in Paris in the fifties to the great energy and dynamism of the sixties.

Veruscka, 1963

I think all of the photographs in the show are black and white; I would like to have seen some of his color photography. Also, when I think of Avedon I think of Lauren Hutton and the doomed Margaux Hemingway galloping across pages, and I did not see that in this show. But, over all it is a poetic distillation of an era, quiet and elegant, and a welcome relief from the cacophony of modern life that awaits outside the door.

Afterwards, TD and I had a glass of wine and a little cheese plate at the bar at Gottino on Greenwich Avenue.

Chic spot – I recommend it. I bought my Schwinn bicycle on the sidewalk here last summer. If you order some cheese, get the gorgonzola mixed with marscopone or ricotta.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Working Weekend

At work in the office with my friend Dan

I'm working all weekend at the ad agency on a big presentation which is going out to the West Coast on Monday so there won't be any blogging this weekend from far flung garden tours but please stay with me!

Views from the offices

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hoboken Garden Tour

(click on photos to enlarge)
TD was on a business trip this weekend and Sunday was a beautiful sunny day so I decided take myself on the Hoboken Garden Tour. Hoboken, New Jersey, is located across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Several friends have moved there, but I had never been and was curious to check it out. I'm a big fan of house tours and garden tours because they really give you a good sense of a new neighborhood; I've been on tours in Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill and Fort Greene, all in Brooklyn. And on garden tours, you often walk through the house to get to the garden so you get to see the house as well. 

Before I struck off in the morning I took some snaps of a few of our pots out front which now have pansies, impatiens and ivy. Soon the pansies will fade away when it gets hotter but now I like the colors. 

I jumped on my trusty blue bike and bicycled up to the ferry boat terminal at 38th Street for the boat ride across the river. I was the only one on the boat! 

I love a boat ride on the Hudson. Several years ago we took a boat ride with friends up the Hudson to tour Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate, and then took the boat home. This is looking north to the George Washington Bridge.

Looking south, I can see the building where I work.

Good bye Manhattan for now.

Arriving in Hoboken, a pretty water front.

I bought a garden tour ticket at the Hoboken Museum, and had to cool my heels waiting for the next guided tour.

Off we went, about twenty people with a Hoboken resident who knew a lot about the architectural history of the city. We saw ten gardens and walked for more than two hours which was quite a schlep and a good work out. Streets were lined with brownstone houses and then gave way to newer buildings. In this garden fat pale peonies bloomed under a really beautiful pink birch tree; I have never seen a pink birch tree -- I have to remember that. 

This garden had a living room feel with indoor/outdoor furniture.

The homeowner built this ruin and put yogurt on the stone to make it look aged.

Several homes opened on to this community garden -- very Tales of the City.

Pink roses climbed up a black iron porch.

After the tour I got back on the boat home.

Heading toward Manhattan. 

Good bye New Jersey.

It was a fun to see a new place, and for me, flowers plus water is a nice day. The garden tour made me realize how much I would like to have a garden again. After the tour I saw flowers in my mind -- visions of roses danced in my head.