Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Miscellany

This week, instead of creating, I'm curating. 
Below, ten random things I'm loving.

1. The übercool Edith Sitwell on meeting Marilyn Monroe, surviving Hollywood and why she dresses the way she does (feathered hats, massive jewelry, brocade robes).
(Here if video doesn't work.)

2. Martin Margiela for H&M. First come, first serve on November 15th. I'm stressing already. More from the look book HERE.

3. The Richard Burton Diaries. HERE. Wonder if Gwyneth knows Liz and Dick had a private cocktail called "Goop"?

(New York Times review HERE.)

4. The Gunton Arms in Norfolk. Really really really want to stay here someday.
(All photographs by Ivan Terestchenko. Rita Konig's wonderful article HERE.)

5. Ever wonder why TED speeches are so consistently brilliant? That's because every single speaker is handed these ten tips. 
(via HERE.)

6. The Karl Lagerfeld Diet book (complete with foldout diet poster!). Sure to be a future cult collector's item. I can't stop reading nuggets like this out loud in a German accent:

"I like the smell of chocolate and coffee. That is why there is chocolate in my home. Not for me to eat but because it fits in well with the color of my house in Biarritz."
"I wonder if I really need to exercise because when I dance I feel like I'm made of rubber."

"The height of luxury for me is to have an extra slice of toast. It's the most delicious thing in the world."

7. Because there's no such thing as too much Tavi. Excellent interview HERE.

8.  Somewhere, Jean-Paul Sartre is laughing. I think.
(HERE if video doesn't work.)

9. Just bought this. Am considering knitting Prince Harry (back row, third from right) au naturel. HERE.

10. Still miss Christopher Hitchens. HERE, his wife remembers.

(Photo by Dafydd Jones.)

A special shout-out to all my friends on the East Coast: Stay safe and brace.


Monday, October 22, 2012

How Do You See Your Life?

Do not underestimate the power of a rose-colored perspective. I bought these glasses back when I was a New Yorker and recently started wearing them again.

Below, a before-and-after story.

1. Before rose-colored glasses:

Piero: It's 7:30. Shouldn't you be waking Luca up for school?
Me: (dawning horror) Huh? Whuh? Whaaaa?!!!!

After rose-colored glasses:

Piero: It's 7:30. Shouldn't you be waking Luca up for school?
Me: (blissfully stretching) All in good time, my man. Sleep is doubly delicious when it's stolen.

2. Before rose-colored glasses:

Me: Traffic. Ugh.

After rose-colored glasses:

Me: Luca, my dearest, it's time to set out on our daily trek through the quaint old Woods of Holly. 
(Yes. It's real. Here.)

3. Before rose-colored glasses:

Me: Please coffee kick in kick in kick in kick in kick in. 

After rose-colored glasses:

Me: The best ideas come to those who wait. I shall now meditate on the fact that time is my friend, not my enemy. 

4. Before rose-colored glasses:

Me: I haven't gotten any emails in over five minutes. Wonder what everybody's doin'?

After rose-colored glasses:

Me: My writing time is sacred. Please leave a message after the beep. 

5. Before rose-colored glasses:

Me: I'm exhausted. That coffee did zilch for me.  Gather. Breathe. Focus. We're out of milk, eggs and white wine vinegar. Whoa--and why-- am I hungry? Gather. Breathe. Focus. Is that a police helicopter buzzing overhead? Do I have time to run to the grocery store before I pick Luca up from school?  Still need to mail those bills.  I want motorcycle boots. Ooh look a squirrel. GATHER BREATHE FOCUS!!

After rose-colored glasses:

Me: Every day in every way I am getting better and better. 
(The uber cool Daisy Garnett by Simon Brown. Here and here.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mid-October Thoughts

So I've been reading a lot of books lately.

(I highly recommend the translation by John E. Woods.)

Last week I devoured Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family by Thomas Mann. So freakin' good. It's The Magnificent Ambersons meets The Moon and Sixpence  -- generations of a prosperous bourgeois family who become weaker and weaker until (gasp!) one of them wants to pursue (oh, the horror!) a life dedicated to art.

The novel is loaded with details about trendy 19th century German homes. Like this one:

"...a stuffed brown bear, standing on its hind legs, its jaws gaping wide…stands in the vestibule downstairs, a bowl for calling cards between its paws."
 ~Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks

So when I stumbled on this photograph the other day, it made quite an impression. 

The photo led me to the book it's featured in: The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing by Rachel Poliquin. Check out the cover -- isn't it heartbreakingly poetic?
(Available here.)

know. But you have to agree it's difficult to tear your eyes away from it.

(Walter Potter, The Rabbits' Village School. Photo by Mark Hill.)

This next piece makes my brain cells short-circuit.
It's disturbingly beautiful.
And beautifully disturbing.
And--zzzzzzzzzzzzt. (Back in a moment.)
("Idiots, Ophelia", 2005. Taxidermy lion, ceramics and glass. Photo by Karin Nussbaumer.)

This one's called "Nice."
(From "Life Can Be So Nice" by Iris Schieferstein, 2001. Photo by Stephan Rabold.)

This picture of the Bird Department at the Smithsonian made me start thinking about why we collect things. According to Rachel Poliquin, the desire to collect is stronger than ever in today's digital world.  
(From "The Breathless Zoo." Photo by Chip Clark.)

Objects have talismanic power. Owning something and being able to touch it actually sends a whizz! of oxytocin to our brains.
(Photo from Max Rollit's 1 Fournier Street. Here.)

I definitely like to collect ideas. But a person's memory bank is only so big. And when your brain gets really crowded (or...ahem... isn't as absorbent as it used to be), I think you need to start saving your ideas outside your body. 

(Writer Clive Murphy's flat in London is packed with ideas. Via Spitalfields Life.)

Isn't that the point of a mood board? I would never be able to keep track of all the stuff I love unless I wrote it down or pinned it up.
(Photo by Ivan Terestchenko.)

I put this picture up in my office because I get a rush of blood to the head just looking at it. Dickens was a rock star. When he did his reading tour in America in 1868, people camped out for tickets, swarmed his hotels and grabbed fistfuls of fur from his coat. It was craaaazytime and the stress ended up killing him two years later.
(From here.)

I was going to put this pretty girl up as well because I thought she looked particularly kind and gentle. 

Not so much.
(Read all about it. Here.)

To recap. In this post, we've covered a family's slow disintegration into decadence, the lingering fascination with dead animals, Dicken's demise and beautiful female poisoners.


Damn you, Halloween spirit. You got me again.


P.S. Oh! Someone from the East Coast emailed me yesterday that the November issue of Martha Stewart (with MY NEW ARTICLE IN IT) is out. It's not at my grocery store yet, but maybe it's at yours. Let me know what you think!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Have Words, Will Travel

There are some words so rich in personality and atmosphere they don't need pictures to accompany them. Here are a few.

Blotting paper.
Cap d’Antibes.

Just reading them causes my brain to flood with dendrites on a frantic quest to hook up and make high-speed connections. 

Country manors.

It doesn't matter that one minute ago I was consumed by carpools and deadlines and grocery lists and parking tickets and needing more cat food. 

Fete champetres.

Now I'm outside Cecil Beaton's house in the English countryside drinking champagne in a velvet suit. Now I'm running barefoot across a bank of purple heather in the middle of the Scottish moors. Now I'm at an alfresco dinner party in East Egg surrounded by thousands of twinkling lights.


Now I'm wrapped in lavender-scented sheets at an exotic European sanatarium high in the mountains. Now I'm on camelback, following a long line of dusty travelers across the North African desert. Now I'm sitting in a café near Biarritz in front of a small plate of golden madeleines.


Buddha said, "All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world." I find that enormously inspiring. If we are what we choose to think, then all of us can travel farther than any passport can ever take us.


I have a fantasy that if I lost all my worldly possessions in a fire, as long as I had my list of words, my life would still have beauty and meaning.

Vivienne Westwood.
By the way, do these words sound at all familiar? They should -- many of them came from you. In a blog post last year, I offered up my own small collection and asked you to add to it. I am forever indebted to you because of that. Some of your contributions (scrimshaw, turbans, caravansary, moué, scaramouche, brocade, muscat and more)  have woven themselves into the fabric of my being.

Okay now quick without thinking too much.

A word, please.

Monday, October 1, 2012

On The Road: New Age Gypsies

I recently stumbled upon a fascinating book by Iain McKell that documents a tribe of modern gypsies living out their dreams in the heart of the English countryside.
(All photographs by Iain McKell from "The New Gypsies.")

They're the vestiges of a post-punk group of anti-Thatcherites who abandoned London in the 1980's in a quest to exist on their own terms.

Their lives are an eccentric mash-up of New Age beliefs, 19th century Romanticism and 21st century practicality. 

On one hand, they reject gasoline-fuelled vehicles in favor of horse-drawn caravans. 

On the other hand, they embrace solar power, laptops, cell phones and -- yes -- even Facebook.

McKell's photos are incredibly affecting. For me, much of the poeticism lies in the precariousness of their lifestyle.

They live with only what is necessary and not an ounce more. The richness of their lives comes from within.

But I can't help but worry about them a little. (Okay, maybe a lot.)

They're meta-conceptual pagans...

...Dickensian punk rocker-ruralists...

...and Vivienne Westwood-y tartaned nomads.

They've found the open road, all right, but it's a long and difficult and bumpy one.

So here's the question: Is that what makes it all the sweeter?


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