Monday, June 24, 2013

Culture Potato

Is it possible to increase the amount of adventure, exoticism and sophistication in your life while barely stirring from a supine position?

Why yes it is.

On June 7th, I handed in my manuscript to my editor at Random House and lay down to rest my eyes. When I sat back up, it was two weeks later. 

Below, five culture-enhancing things I discovered during my experiment with sloth that require little or no energy expenditure whatsoever:

1. Bellocq tea (HERE).

 You can buy it online (unless you live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn or Los Angeles - they just opened a tea atelier at the Restoration Hardware in West Hollywood).  For me, the real cult appeal lies in their exotic blended teas, so fragrant and steeped in history and meaning. If you are a fan of French teahouse Mariage Frères, then you are in for a treat with Bellocq.

Just listen to these descriptions:

No. 12, Le Hammeau -- in their words, "Manon of the Spring meets Marie Antoinette after a stroll through l'Orangerie." 
Lemongrass, verbena, rose petals, lavender, mint, sage.

No. 40, Charleston -- created for "the cultivated yet bohemian spirit of the magnificent gardens at Charleston, the country residence of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant."
Ceylon black tea, red poppy petals, chamomile, lavender, blue cornflower petals, natural floral essence. 

No., 52, L'Etoile de l'Inde -- inspired by "barefoot late afternoon monsoon showers."
Dragonwell, jasmine silver needles, petals of passionfruit, rose, marigold.

And how can anyone resist No. 42, Little Dickens, a chocolate-kissed Rooibos blend with soothing mint and cinnamon for children (and adults too)?

2. André Leon Talley on Youtube (HERE).

I love Vogue fashion editor André Leon Talley. His swiftness with a bon mot, his predilection for wearing capes and robes that require the yardage of curtains, and his unapologetic eccentricity make him a near-mythical figure to me, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Well, did you know that last month he spoke to a roomful of Oxford undergraduates about his life and legendary adventures with Diana Vreeland, Andy Warhol, Halston and all those crazy nights at Studio 54?

Oh yes he did.

3. Trader Joe's Beurre Meunière Popcorn (HERE).
(Okay, this one's a stretch, but here I go.) 

It's the popcorn of Gertrude Stein, Jean Cocteau and Ernest Hemingway -- or so I like to tell myself. With its distinctive Gallic taste of brown butter, lemon, parsley and thyme, it's la belle France in a bag. Try to restrain yourself to one serving. D'accord?

(Trader Joe's Popcorn Beurre Meuniére HERE.)

4. Brasil '65 with Wanda de Sah and the Sergio Mendes Trio (HERE).

Because the sultry jazz-funk beats of the Sergio Mendes Trio will lessen the pain of summer humidity. Because even though you probably don't speak Portuguese, Wanda de Sah's emphatic croonings tell you all you need to know about life and love. Because music is sonic architecture and listening to it makes your brain cells dance.

Yes, the entire magazine is fantastic, but it's the countless person-to-person interviews with writers like Ernest Hemingway, Rebecca West, P. G. Wodehouse and countless others that are really the precious gift. 

Read them to get for style inspiration on getting old:

"Her hair was white and short; she wore beautiful rings. She was wearing a bright and patterned caftan when we first met, a loose blouse over trousers the second time." (From Rebecca West's 1981 interview)

Read them for tips on decorating:

"At the far end of the room is an armoire with a leopard skin draped across the top. The other walls are lined with white-painted bookcases from which books overflow to the floor." (From Ernest Hemingway's 1958 interview)

"A spacious and high-ceilinged room, furnished in the Edwardian taste. One’s attention is caught by a massive carved wooden mantelpiece of elaborate structure holding blue china in its niches." (From E. M. Forster's 1953 interview)

Heck, read them for sheer joy:

Interviewer: Do you have any definite projects or ideas for the future?
Truman Capote: Controlled extravagance.



Hi Lisa,

Love this post. I do believe in the wonders of having some down time on the sofa. I wrote a post about it called 'The Occasional Couch Potato' where I talked about how my creativity is ignited when I occasionally spend the night on my sofa rather than my bed.

I'll be checking out that Sergio Mendes record. Love the music!

Have a lovely week.


pve design said...

congrats to you and your reward of culture potato.
we all need that.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Why did you tell me about the Paris R. Interviews??!! I've lost an entire hour! A blissful hour, but still.

Thought of you as I was wandering through Charleston House...(a private tour.. also blissful). Your painting style so very similar to Vanessa's.


24 Corners said...

Lisa, it seems that there was also a paintbrush in hand during your lovely and well deserved 'sloth-ing' time...your illustrations are just them!
Congratulations on handing in your manuscript...that's something to be very proud of and worthy of all the wonderful tea & popcorn that you could ever possibly happy for you!
xo J~

Grace said...

I absolutely love the term "culture potato"! I wonder if it would be alright to use it? I have been racking my brain for a good blog name. I don't want to use it without asking!

Lisa Thomson said...

Thanks for the culture! I love the music and I'm just going to wait until later to check out the interviews so I have enough time to enjoy them fully. Congratulations on getting your manuscript in!

Lisa Thomson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Thomson said...

Thanks for the culture! I love the music and I'm just going to wait until later to check out the interviews so I have enough time to enjoy them fully. Congratulations on getting your manuscript in!

Emily said...

What an accomplishment---
Congrats on finally completing your manuscript.
I love how you always pick up on all the details when describing your favorite things.
You are a one stop shop blog for all things cool!

noreen said...

You spent your two weeks in a beautiful way! Congratulations on your book. That magazine looks very interesting, and the popcorn. I'm better off not trying it... Joy!

quintessence said...

Congrats on handing in your manuscript - so exciting. ADORE your charming illustrations. And the post resonates with me on every touch point. Love Bellocq - Juliska sells it in their little in-store cafe near me. I met Andrew Leon Talley (and heard him reminisce about his time at Brown & RISD) a couple months ago at the opening of the fantastic Artist/ Rebel/ Dandy: Men of Fashion exhibit at RISD. Popcorn counts as a major food group in my book so can't wait to try the Beurre Meuniere. That album (along with the Gilberto/Getz one) is a fave. And as an ex-publshing person, can't wait to read that issue of Paris Review. So sorry for the interminable comment! Happy 4th and thanks!


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