Photo by Chris Davis
The top of the world is a complicated place to be. Everyone longs to be here, because top means top, right? It means you know the right people, or are the right people. The right people for the top.
The top of a heap of steel and glass, reflecting the sunlight and your image back. You can see the wide expanse from up here. The structures around you, but mainly below you glint and gleam. Your glass castle lets you see everything, even yourself.
Photo by Miriam Miles
These revelations got their start over a balmy night in a very old, enchanting place in the Malaysia. It was a perfect setting to consider other ways to view the world, and given a little time, and an inspiring setting to let your mind go, you never know what will bubble up. You might just discover the secrets of the universe — or at the very least, think about amphibians and aliens.
1. Everyone Should Be Given a TurtleTurtles live in captivity anywhere between 20–60years, depending on the turtle type and care. This very well could mean that your turtle will outlive you. You know what this means, right? You will have to have an extended care plan for your turtle. In other words, what is the cost over its lifetime? Will your turtle need to be hibernated every year, or need other specific care at times? Who will inherit the turtle when you die? In this era of ephemerality, turtles represent commitment. They also force a person to undergo long-term thinking and planning. This is definitely something we all need to be better about. One could argue that children provide a much more complete lesson in this, but just think, by the age of 20 years old, children are often on their own. They don’t need you to feed them everyday — for another 40 years.
Sound like a big commitment? Uh, yes, it is. That’s the point. If everyone thought about their lives more in terms of planning and preparedness, looking forward sometimes, our views towards our own worlds might be altered for the better and perspectives changed.
Rizzoli Bookstore, 1133 Broadway, New York, NY
Wine, Cookbooks, Gardens, Performing Arts, Literature, Music, Fashion, Artists, Art, Art History, Film, Interiors, Furniture, Children, Photography, Architecture, Design, New Fiction, New Nonfiction, Nonfiction, Newspapers, Magazines, New York
Does this list sound like an artist’s wet dream? Or, perhaps the favorite things of the most interesting person in the world – of which they are experts in all of it?
These are actually the sections in Rizzoli bookstore. Known as a literary landmark. The foremost independent bookseller in North America. Nearly fifty years in New York.
Apparently, it’s famous to the book-loving in-crowd. And it’s the place I just happened to stumble into yesterday. Needing a couple of reads while I travel, the beautiful townhouse beckoned me inside. I ended up blowing two months of book budget in one fell swoop, literally in about seven minutes. Yes, I have a book budget. All the cool people do. Leave me alone.
Is this store beautiful? Yes, immensely so. Does it have a nice selection of beautiful, interesting wares on sale? Yes, one of the best I’ve ever seen. Was it the hippest store I’ve been in for a while? Yes, my meter rose just be being there. Was it warm, and smelling of coffee, a place you want to sit and read for a while? No, not at all. This is the one downside; its impeccable taste comes at a price. You are not meant to crash down and enjoy the offerings there, but appreciate them and move on.
So is this my absolute ideal book venue? No, but it came pretty damn close. Throw in a few couches and an espresso machine, and I might never leave.
Unknown Artist, French, 19th Century
Dorian Grey. The man that Oscar Wilde brought to life with his hedonistic machinations in 1890 – or so the general public thought. The man that has lived in legend, fable, and table talk for centuries. The man that embodies sensuality and indulgence to the extreme. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have found him.
Wilde wrote that Dorian’s original portrait was a full-length painting, finally destroyed as the debaucherous man came to his senses and took his own life. This made a fitting ending for the Victorian sensibilities of that time, allowing the writer to retain some semblance of not being too disastrously corrupting to the public. The ultimate playboy had to meet a just end. But – what if he didn’t? What if he is still around? Or, another person came along to pick up his mantel and let go of his soul?
Cinderella knows that one shoe can change your life. Marilyn Monroe claimed the right pair of shoes could help someone conquer the world. Dr. Suess throws his wit at us, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go.”
Our feet move us forward, our shoes keep them safe. They are a reflection of our style, make us feel a certain way - a purposeful adornment that almost all of us use. Funnily enough, they can also tell us a lot about ourselves, where we are going, where we’ve been. “It’s only in the world of objects that we have time and space,” reminds the great T.S. Eliot.
Shoes are a good metaphor for, at the risk of sounding deliciously cheesy, moving through the journey of our lives. I challenge everyone to go through the exercise of choosing three shoes from their important moments. It’s a silly exercise, something that could even be a fun topic for a dinner party, or drinking night out. Though, you might be surprised at what comes out and up . . .
First published in the Arts' magazine, Pyragraph
Or, should I say Igor Levit’s Goldberg? Entering the Park Avenue Armory, New York’s most epic performance space, the crowds were glowing with an air of palpable excitement, and slight haughtiness. They clearly knew art, especially the kind of groundbreaking, innovative performance art babushka Marina Abramovic presents to the enlightened, adventurous hoard who have been following her for the over three decades.
One wonders before the show if she has now turned into a hands-off guru? Has she become content to simply direct and marionette others through her fantasies, rather than perform herself? Ms. Abramovic simply lends her “method for listening to music”, i.e., being in a soundless, head-phoned, beach chair-sitting environment and witnessing the conceptualization of a classical music performance.
At least this is what cynical me has running through my head as I come into the grand hall. Yes, I am a performance art curmudgeon in the midst of the enthusiasts—an excited curmudgeon, but one nonetheless. My partner and I sit amongst the low hum of chatter as the hall fills, people tripping over the aforementioned white lounge chairs in their tizzy to find a good spot. The lighting genius of Urs Schonebaum presents us with a dimly lit space, squared by four “doors” of light on each wall. A gong sounds. Yes, a mythical Asian gong. I resist rolling my eyes. Read More…
I want to live at the library. I have decided this fact. Probably not for forever – well, maybe just a week. I think the food options might get a little undesirable after that. Oh, and not just any library. There are a few specific ones in the world that might be desirable. This week it is none other than the New York Public Library. Only the location near Bryant Park, because it’s really beautiful… and historical… and magical and lots of other words ending in ‘l’.
Segmented Glass Sculpture by Jiyong Lee
A handsome man recently contacted me, referring me to a “world of special artists” to explore. ArtPeople. This person has no special reason to promote this site, other than a love of discovery and art himself, and I found myself jumping onto the website many times over the past couple of weeks to just sniff around. Hey, I’m an ‘ArtPerson'! And I own very little art. He’s an ‘ArtPerson'! And he has everything from Salvador Dali works, to a couple of drool worthy Olivier Strebelle bronze sculptures (that Strebelle gave to him personally). Anyone can be or become an ‘ArtPerson’! Even the person who is drawn to street graffiti. Even the person who doesn’t know or think they care about art. It’s a part of our expression of today’s world, and the future.
I was happily watching some Jeopardy (American quiz show institution for all the non-Yanks) last night, when one of the rare commercials I allow onto my screen came blasting out. It was for Snicker’s Halloween candy, with a Horseless Headsman. Then, there was the Headless Horseman. I started to yell at the screen, “I’ve seen where you live!” That’s me, the legendary ghost stalker.
Yes, Sirs, Young Sirs, Madams, and Misses, I have been to Sleepy Hollow. Where the wind rustles, the leaves blow, and there is just that little bit of dangerous mystery floatin’ about. Honestly, who knew it was in upstate New York, barely an hour’s train ride from Manhattan? I had a venerable horror legend out my back doorstep, and until recently, didn’t even realize it. Sleepy Hollow is a small little bit of Americana, right next door to another little village of lovliness, Tarrytown. These are the small, out of the way places that materialize as both a delight to explore and might just have some local lore that peaks your interest and quakes your boots.
Cusco, the Sun Festival, and the Inca Trail
Yep, so to keep this one short. . . well, as short as I get for this type of thing. Don’t blame me; I’m wordy. Loquacious even. Descriptive, one could say:
1. Cu-sco! Boom Baby!Go around June/July. It is filled with heritage, surrounded by incredible ruins and has really great shopping for art and alpaca-y things. Hello, it’s a world heritage site!!! Yep, the whole, entire town.
a. Check out the Sacred Valley. You can book tours from your hotel/hostel/AirB&B when there.
b. If you go around this time (or any other), it is bloody freezing (or much colder than the rest of Peru), being very high in the mountains. Plan to buy alpaca gloves, hats, scarves from locals the first day. We had matching ones and looked cool beyond words!
c. If you need a distinctly European food change for a night (we just had to have pasta/pizza when we got back from the Inca Trail), go to La Cantina Vino Italiano.
The place is small, the food is superb and actually run by an Italian.
d. You best be eating some of the street food. It is verrry tasty.
e. If you want to go finer dining one night, visit: Cicciolina. Worth the cost, great atmosphere.
f. We did an Air B&B there, and it was fantastic - Homestay Carlos y Jackie. Remember though, most local houses don’t seem to have a concept of central heating.
g. Buy some decently priced art.
There is always a place that feels like home. It might not be where you grew up, but we all have places that are familiar, that we feel a sense of happiness returning to. These are the type of places where you have your favorite restaurants, your favorite shops, and your favorite views. Good things happened there, sometimes not so good things too, but it is your place.
New Mexico is like that for me. No matter where I happen to be in the world, I think I will always have to return there for a deep breath of fresh, piñon-scented air. I crave the desert and the inspiration it gives me. I crave the chile and the very special New Mexican food. I crave the influence of art, culture, and space from our local Native American and Mexican population.
Most everyone has a place like this. The amazing things about these types of places is that while they stay exactly the same in your memories, they are changing in reality. While these changes might freak us out a little bit (or a lot!), they provide amazing opportunities to also try new things in your familiar space. Nostalgia 2.0 - Same same, but different. Create new memories and enhance your old ones. So go visit YOUR place and try both old and new. Come on, you know you want to.
It is a wonderful thing to be close to water of any sort. Where there is water, there are usually piers and waterside places to enjoy one’s self. Pier A Harbor House is one of such places. Parked in Lower Manhattan, you are treated to a sweeping view of many sites, including our lovely Lady Liberty. You know, that little mystery where you are always wondering what’s under that tunic. If you want to mingle with the after-workers, flirting, laughing and flitting, stay downstairs. Head upstairs to the whiskey bar and balcony for more quiet – and one of the best martini and old fashioned makers in the city. You’ll know him when you see him. He has a two-letter name, as most bartenders should. Go around sunset and enjoy the glow.
For something a bit more chilled out, head Uptown to Pier i Café. It can be a bit tricky to get to, but it’s so worth the effort. A cute place to lounge with nosh and have inexpensive drinkies with a view, it is perfect for a friendly meet-up, or to cap off a wander in the nearby Riverside Park. This is a perfect place to go to for artists, leave the city behind, or get inspired.
As you can imagine, there were absolutely incredible animals all over Peru. It was like a biologist’s wet dream. It was a writer’s orgasm. It was a person who likes animals heavenly song. There were a couple of creatures, however, that probably shouldn’t exist – unless you are in like the 5th circle of hell. This doesn’t mean that they weren’t super cool. It just means, hello, evolution – what happened there?
Soul music is having a revival – Halleluiah! Finally, finally we are starting to hear more of the tunes that make us shiver, that tear at our hearts and souls. New ones, so we don’t have to always rely on our old school playlists. The late night talk crews have gotten on board; most recently with Stephen Colbert’s opening of The Late Show featuring the likes of Paul Janeway of St. Paul & The Broken Bones, and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, to name a few. His house band is Jon Batiste and Stay Human. Enough said.
This past weekend, I went over to Forest Hills Stadium to see Alabama Shakes live, and along with craft beer, delicious wine, and lobster rolls, was treated to goose bump inducing, tear jearking tunes that make one oh so happy.
Getting up Early, and The Amazon
I don’t like to get up early. Normally, anything before 7am fills me with a dread that keeps me up half the night worrying. I also usually need breakfast when I get up, followed by a green tea, then a double espresso coffee. Peru was the first holiday I’ve ever had in which we got up before 7am almost every single day. I am still filled with wonder how I even agreed to this trip ideology in the first place.
Why? There was just too damn much to do. At least the breakfasts were really good (amazing cheese, flatbread, ham, porridge, freshly blended fruit juice, special Peruvian coffee syrup you add to hot water), though my green tea was replaced by Coca Tea – which actually tastes a lot like it.
Now, everyone’s been making a bit of a fuss about The NoMad Hotel. This is entirely justified. I think the Nomad bar is one of my fav places in NYC to go for drinks and food. Their restaurant is fairly divine, but if you want something cheaper, and a bit less of a commitment, try the bar. This is a great general rule for restaurants you want to try - go to lunch or the bar for a less expensive experience. The food here is fantabulous, the cocktails swoon worthy, and they have a hotdog to rival the Crif-masters. I would live on those and the scallop ceviche dish if I could. Plus, the hostesses are sweethearts and always try to find you a table – a rare thing in this city.
I must admit, I might be a little bit biased. I grew up in New Mexico – where the land actually bleeds art. Seriously, if you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about. Blood flows from the sand and mountains, from our Navajos and other tribes, from our Mexican heritage and influence, from our crazy hippies. Literally, you walk down the road, and it’s like Giorgia O’Keefe just coughed up a painting.
So, as once the destination of errant geniuses like Ansel Adams and D.H. Lawrence, modern vivants like Tom Ford, and still birthing art on the streets, it seems no surprise that the film industry is booming, Canyon Road in Santa Fe is humming and Vince Gilligan strode through with his television wonders. Despite all this, local art and artists need to be supported. It is only through the dedication of people like those of the Humbird NM team, Immastar Productions and the delicious brews of ‘Burque local, Tractor Brewery that things like the 24 HOURS OF ART festival on (Sept 18th – 20th) can happen.
When I think of Peru, a couple of things now come to mind. Well, tons, but I’ll limit it down to the first pops. Ready! Set! Go –
Seeing the top of the canopy of the Amazon, documentary-style, the colors of the sun festival, throwing up in front of 80 people on top of a very high mountain, being alone on a trail with a donkey and a llama, a very pleasurable 17-hour bus ride, exceptional rum on a sand dune, lots of bird poo, a tie for the best food experience of my life, and dogs. Yes, dogs.