Friday, November 28, 2008

...she said, smugly.

Moss - must be the most uber cool store on the planet. In SoHo on an equally uber cool street called Greene with cobbley bricks for the street and old 19th Century storefronts that make you think you are in Amsterdam or something because it is all just so darn cool with art galleries, Italian furniture stores, Jack Spade's shop (Kate's brother) and great little coffee shops. Now I think I live in the stuffy part of Manhattan on the upper east side, but it is QUIET. Maybe quiet and stuffy go together.

This just rocks. Leather with some amazing native weaving.

oh, its another cool Italian thing or two.

So it's Black Friday (that really sounds depressing to me; could they call something a little peppier?) I am proud - actually, I feel smug - to say that I did not spend one single cent today. Now, that is a miracle. There is just no other way to say it. You simply cannot go a day in NY without spending something for something. A bottle of wine, a cup of coffee, a little something for dinner, picking up the is just crazy. So, I am thrilled that my larder was filled and there was wine in the apartment and I made my own coffee and didn't need a thing.

And all the more miraculous, because Lee and I went downtown and went to a shop called Moss that is just about the most amazing design store I have ever seen. Of course, the one thing I wanted turned out to be a set of 4 dining chairs and, darn it, they were $4900 EACH! So I passed.

I just heard about the poor man trampled to death at a Long Island Walmart when the shop opened at 5 a.m. to a crowd that literally broke down the doors and crushed him. Another woman missed Thanksgiving dinner last night with her family (who were upset about it) to camp out at a store. God help us.

This makes me want to throw up my leftover turkey dinner.

As I am about to click "Publish Post"......

oh, my god....i just realized I bought tickets to Billy Elliot online this morning.

" that smug smile right off your face, honey. You probably spent more on those tickets than the average person spent in eight hours of shopping at walmart even after stampeding someone to death."

Oh, fiddle. Just when you think you are superior, it comes back to bite you in the ass.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Joseph Campbell is not surprised.

The glorious Metropolitan Museum of Art - a cathedral to the imagination.

The stunning Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright, designed in the late 1940's, completed 1959 - a cathedral to the future.

I'll tell you what this is at the end.

I love architecture and what it tells us about ourselves and what we value. It is the primary reason I love Charleston, South Carolina and Florence, Italy and Brussels, Belgium. And New York. Unfortunately, Minneapolis gets a sad face :-( for its insensitivity to local architecture. It's all just "tits and glass" I say. Lots of new flashy stuff. I am a fan of old mixed with new.

I've been scooting around New York with my iphone on high alert to capture the architecture that calls to me - something that actually says something to me about how the form defines a value. So last night (during a hormone-induced sleepless night supercharged by 2 Extra Strength Excedrin at 8:00 p.m. to juice me up on caffeine) I played some of these images over in my head and here are three:

Once or twice a week, Lee wanders the collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. One week he meditates on a Dali, the next, he studies a small statue of Isis nursing her son Horus from the Egyptian collection, an image from 3000 years ago, then noodles his way like a homing pigeon to the Italian collection to find a Fra Angelico painting of the Madonna and Child in the same pose, only this time it is Mary and Jesus and it was painted in the 15th Century. I join him whenever I am able.

Joseph Campbell, during his time at Columbia studying Mythology, must have found a muse or two living in that museum. It was Campbell who first introduced me to the idea that architecture tells the story of a culture.

"You can tell what's informing a society by what the tallest building is. When you approach a medieval town, the cathedral is the tallest thing in the place. (FYI - my own note - The churches are still the tallest buildings in Charleston, SC.) When you approach an 18th Century town, it is the political palace....And when you approach a modern city, the tallest places are the office buildings, the centers of economic life." - Joseph Campbell, Power of Myth

So, after spending an evening at the Met, i snapped a photo of it on my way out, then walked up 5th Avenue just 6 short blocks to show Lee the Guggenheim, which he had never seen, and is particularly spectacular at night. It looks like a spaceship wedged alongside Central Park, a completely unlikely form landed among the highbrow Upper East side limestone mansions.

I shot a photo of that too.  I loved the diversity of form, but am moved that both of these buildings, one built at the turn of the 20th Century and another built on the cusp of modernism in the middle of the century, still call us to its doors because of the transformative experience that is possible when communing with art.  For me, it is not unlike a religious experience - there are the place, the rules and the rituals (don't touch, be quiet, step aside when you are done.) And in the end, the ritual may touch or change us. 

The final building is one I saw yesterday while walking home up 3rd Avenue. The timing was exquisite because only a day before, the government had swept in to save the bones of this business from breaking apart - it was the Citibank Center. For the next few blocks, every building bore the Citibank name. I snapped the shot - aware of the drama and the height, but not of beauty or thoughtfulness. It was a kind of phallic expression of power. IF it was built in the 1980's , which is my guess, it makes perfect sense when, under the spell of excess (whether it was the size of our shoulder pads or balance on our credit cards) we built our cathedrals to the gods of greed. 

Not to be too puritanical, but hey, you know the old saying, " You shall not make for yourself an idol..." Well, I think we all had a little money idolotry going on, don't you? I did my part. I bought a bigger house, a big old SUV, a Mercedes, and ran up those credit cards. In the end, we learned how shockingly UN-satisfying it all really is. 

So, are we surprised, really, that the cathedral to wealth would tumble while the cathedrals to the imagination stand?  Maybe the point is to have the intention in the building and to respect the power of our architecture and know that false gods will always disappoint. It is also no surprise that the terrorists hit us there - they fully understood our myth.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Top Ten Things for Which I Am Grateful This Thanksgiving

Well, Happy Turkey Day, first - gobble. Really, I have a few random Thanksgiving thoughts which for fun, I will put into a list and invite you to send me yours. What am i thankful for this Thanksgiving? What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? I personally love this holiday the MOST of all holidays because:  

1. There are no gifts required. I hate the requirement of gifts. I have come to hate the requirement of gifts at Christmas. I hate getting gifts sometimes. Especially dumb gifts. Even at Easter, children now expect a gift. Valentine's, a gift. May Day, a gift. YUK! Just let me hang out with people I love, drink wine and eat good food where it is cozy and warm. No gifts, thank you.

2. It is always a four-day weekend.

So here I sit in my tiny little New York apartment, feeling utterly grateful for a few things. Drum roll......

Top Ten Things for which I am Grateful this Thanksgiving

1. That I feel rather normal again because of the changing economy. That people will be judged for being interesting rather than being rich. Both are fine. But interesting is ALWAYS better.

2. That we can say Hasta Manana to gaudy, bad taste because those with it won't be able to afford it anymore.

3. That I have an apartment in New York to share with people I love - like my son, my daughter, my brother and his partner (husband) and my step-brother and his wife (we're trading places at Christmas!)

4. That I still love my work and Lee loves his work.

5. That we have a new president and that I get to listen to someone who is way smarter than me for the next few years.

6. That we eat really well. Even if I am only having juevos rancheros in front of the TV. It's still organic and delicious. And in NY, I have to get out and walk it off every single day.

7. That my family is healthy. 

8. That I am allowed the privilege of discovering the magic of New York with Lee - a gift which, to this day, we cannot quite figure out how it happened. It is romantic, exhilerating, and humbling. It is a spring for the imagination. That museums exist. That artists survive and create and put their work in the museums for me to see on a Friday night. 

9. That I don't have to see Sarah Palin's face or hairdo on TV ten times a day. That she is back to cooking caribou, having burnt her bridges to nowhere.

10. That we can now maybe hope for world peace. Or at least being more friendly and not wanting to kill each other.

Friday, November 14, 2008

When the economy is bad, go shopping.

An antique brass cricket cage. Loved the texture it would add to a room.

Does anyone else think these are kind of cool? Onyx flowers? Kitsch? or Cool?

One of a pair - the other is a woman - only $108 for the pair!

Just some things I entertained myself with today as I was shopping our local haunts for antiques for clients. You never know what you 'll find...what do you think? It looks like an Asian theme to me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Cool Factor

I'm going to admit something now that I am not really proud of.

The only thing that has ever mattered to me is to be cool and hang out with cool people in cool places.

Now, according to my "rules of cool," there are multiple and specific qualities to being cool. You can't be a liar. You can't be an asshole. You can't be unkind. But you do need attitude.

For eight years, I have been craving cool. George and Laura, and even their daughters, aren't cool. And, worse, they made America NOT COOL. For eight years, I have felt like Sysiphus, pushing that boulder up the mountain of cool, only to have it roll down again and again and again.

The Clintons are cool in a certain way. But, Obama is the man. And, even in Europe, in the British press, they headlines are saying, "
Joe Cool Arrives at the White House" only to go on to say,

"Whether or not he lives up to the hype (and, frankly, who could?), Barack Obama looks set to become the coolest president America has ever had.

Here's the link to the whole article:

All over the world, it is cool to be an American again. Personally, I'm loving it.

I was the one who had to have go-go boots when I was 13. I threw a tantrum of sorts outside the shoe store until my parents (who had three OTHER children to feed and clothe) counted their spare change and hoped it would add up to the $48.00 the boots cost in 1966. Ka-ching, Ka-ching. Why did I have to have white go-go boots? Because I saw them on Shindig on television and they were definitely cool.

I've hunted down cool boyfriends, cool cars (BMW 2002s), cool apartments, cool friends, cool restaurants, cool music, cool ideas and I hope some cool clothes. I even went for cool schools for my kids (Waldorf, although that isn't cool to everyone, it is super cool to me.) In reality, I probably just exist in the thick of mediocrity, but it doesn't matter as long as you feel like you are cool. It's all about that. And I feel cool again.

One thing I definitely want to say. Cool is NOT about money. Maybe that is why I am excited again. Everything has been about money and status for about 15 years. And cool is NOT that! Some cool people have money, but cool people don't have to have money. Some of the very coolest people I ever knew were musicians, artists, therapists / wise women, priests, writers, and teachers. Just off the charts cool. So I am very happy to get back to what is really cool - which is very different from status. Status always deteriorates into boring. Cool never does. You can stay up all night with a cool person. With a person of status? Well, you never know. If they aren't cool, they are interesting for about 5 minutes.

So, there you have it. I rearranged my Minneapolis apartment today because it was so not cool. Like, I didn't even want anyone to see it now that most of my furniture has been shipped to my really cool apartment in NY. It really bugs me when my apartments aren't cool, because I have good apartment karma and usually get cool ones.

So I shoved things around I made it moderately cooler today. I'm likin' my clothes, I'm doin' hats this year. I've got rockin' clients who really are way cooler than me, but they help me stay cool. And I've got an uber cool husband, and very cool kids and extended family and all (but one, who is going to have to work on being cool now) voted for the man - the "kid" as my 97-year old grandmother calls him.

My mojo's back.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Falling in Love

Matisse's gouache cutouts at the Met.

The classical and regal Metropolitan Museum of Art

The soaring and inspired Guggenheim Museum - by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1959

A Hallo-weeny on the streets of New York.

Fred Leighton. Ya' gotta' love a city where they feature tiaras in the windows!

I'm afraid I'm falling in love. I've told my husband about it. He's okay with it. He may be falling in love, too. It's not another man - and he's not falling for another woman. We are falling in love with New York City.

Last night it was a spur-of-the-moment date at the Met. Lee swept me off to the European Modernists and I spent the evening hanging out with Picasso, Matisse, Giacommetti, Rodin, and Dali. It was just crazy good. And it cost all of $10.

Then we walked to the Guggenheim. Lee had never seen it and I love that building. Walking up 5th from the Met at 82nd to the Guggenheim at 88th - it is a short walk on a balmy night. In the dark, the white plaster inverted spiral leans toward the park - looking like a space ship wedged among the elegant early 20th Century homes of the Upper East Side.

Today, we went to Central Park to watch the last of the 40,000 runners in the New York City Marathon. I found out I was one of 2 million spectators. All around me, families milled around, no less than 1/3 of them speaking a language other than English. We could have been in Europe. It was inspiring, moving, and the leaves were still orange and golden and falling gently from the trees. The sun was bright and the air was crisp.

I am constantly surprised by how so many people come together daily on subways, on buses, in small, local groceries, on the paths of the park, and on the sometimes crowded sidewalks. Given the diversity of the faces, the languages and the culture, there is a magnificently civil spirit in this city. And a creative one - like nothing I have ever seen.

I just love falling in love.