Clubbing Downtown

Monday, August 31, 2009 7 comments
On Saturday, our sweet, dear friends Joanna "Cup of Joe" Goddard and Alex "Sunday Styles" Williams tied the knot in one of New York's most spectacular venues - the Downtown Association building at 60 Pine Street.  Joanna, a mere slip of a gal, wore an off-white J.Crew halter, which looked wildly perfect with her ballerina body and side bun.  Alex wore a navy double-vented suit with his now trademark beard and glasses.  Her English uncle Hamish officiated the ceremony, which included a great '60s soundtrack, making it all seem like a scene plucked from a Working Title Films romantic comedy.  We spent the cocktail hour in the incredible Reading Room, which makes me want wood paneling in my apartment so badly I could cry (and don't even get me started on that ceiling!)

Porter has assisted photographers at a bazillion New York weddings; this is her favorite venue, hands down.

Porter befriended this guy who guards the fourth floor game room.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009 6 comments

While the Germans are paying film homage to Fräulein Stinnes and her car, we Americans get to watch Hillary Swank fatefully try to circumnavigate in a plane.  The Mira Nair-directed Amelia also stars Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor and opens in the U.S. on October 23.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009 4 comments

It was 1927 and Clärenore Stinnes, daughter of politician and WWI-era industrialist, Hugo (and, bless her, a bit of a dead ringer for Prince Charles), jumped in a mass production Adler, grabbed a couple mechanics and cameraman/future lover/husband Carl-Axel Söderström and set off to drive around the world and capture the world's first auto circumnavigation on film.  You can see real footage of the feat here -- or pop to Germany to catch this new flick, "Fräulein Stinnes fährt um die Welt" which started this week.  Very good costumes!

Well Hung (Or in This Case, Parked) | Bike Rides at the Aldrich

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 4 comments

Bicycle lover David Byrne (yeah, the David Byrne) has helped the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT pull together a slew of bikes - artsy ones, fast ones (Lance Armstrong's), tricked out ones and even rattan ones - for its Bike Rides exhibit which opens Sept. 26 and runs through Jan. 3.

Above: One bike from Brazilian artist Jarbas Lopes' AERIALBIKEWAY (Cicolviaerea) series, 2001-07

Day Trippin': Kent, CT (and Surrounding Environs)

Monday, August 24, 2009 14 comments
Porter and I spent the weekend in the lovely Kent, Connecticut where we saw lots of covered bridges...

laughed wildly in front of waterfalls...

befriended cows along the Appalachian Trail...

got very muddy at the fair...

risked life and limb for blog photos...

...and saw the world's most perfect tree.
Czech Mate

Friday, August 21, 2009 23 comments
I've always wanted to embark on an autumn adventure, but it usually takes us 'til March to make a plan.  Until now.  This November, Porter and I are heading to...Prague!!!  We're still deciding whether we should explore the Czech countryside or just pop to Berlin.  Suggestions for shops, restaurants and day trips would be so welcome! It's gonna be tough to top Istanbul, but if nothing else, the photo opps will be great and we'll have plenty of pilsner to fuel our antics.
Porter's Possessions | SEE Specs

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 24 comments
Porter finally got glasses - and bucked the black trend in favor of bone. They're from the incredible line of Italian and French-made high contrast tortoise shell (and black) options offered in the in-house line at SEE Eyewear, the adorable little shop on Bleecker Street (but they have locations all over). 
Causes | Save La Ronda before Wrecking Balls Fly to Make Room for McMansion on Sept. 1

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 6 comments
Addison Minzer's spectacular Romanesque, Venetian, Spanish and Italian-influenced masterwork on Philadelphia's Main Line will be razed to make room for a more modest 10,000 square foot, easier-to-air-condition McMansion if a new buyer doesn't step in by the end of the month.  Minzer helped shape the aesthetic of Palm Beach and other parts of Florida during the Gilded Age; La Ronda was his only commission north of the Mason Dixon -- and it's supposedly fully in tact.  No crumbling, no decay - it's just 4,000 square feet too big for a family that considers 10,000 square feet just right.

Check out Save La Ronda to ponder a major impulse purchase -- or just sign a petition to stop the wrecking balls.
Acquisitions | Peal & Co. Riding Boots

Monday, August 17, 2009 12 comments
One very kind New Yorker is moving South and needed to sell this beautiful pair of riding boots from Peal & Co. She found me - and I desperately bit.  The original owner, Captain H.W. Serig, must have also liked the look of them sitting in his home, because they've barely been worn. Or maybe it was just too hot for tall boots in Hawaii.  Old records show that in 1936, a Captain H.W. Serig was appointed Officer-in-Charge of the just formed Radio Repair Section at the Hawaiian Air Depot (see page 11 of this memo), where military planes - and radios - were fully dismantled, repaired and reassembled.

Blogs | Wallflower Dispatches from Southern France

Friday, August 14, 2009 7 comments

Kerstin Vosshans lives in and writes about the South of France -- and has absolutely wonderful taste in jodhpurs.  Check out her Wallflower Dispatches and take note of the other 20 amazing examples of elephant-eared riding pants she has on display.  (Above: Jodhpurs Photograph Nr. 17 by Miss Louise Ireland & Miss Helen Marye, April 18th, 1925, via shorpy)

Jodhpurs Photograph Nr. 21 by Maharaja of Kotah and Maharaja Ishwari Singh

Jodphurs Nr. 23 by Edward VIII (later The Duke of Windsor) in the uniform of a Scottish Highlander while at Quebec, Canada, on his last visit to the dominion.

Writin' About Cowboy Songs: Roosevelt to Lomax

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 3 comments
John A. Lomax always loved the cowboy songs, but down in Texas, his professors rebuffed this folklore as "cheap and unworthy." It wasn't until he headed to Harvard that he found support for his ballad hunting from scholars Barrett Wendell and George Lyman Kittredge, who "heartily joined in encouraging the work, as a real contribution both to literature and to learning."  As Lomax jumped between teaching jobs in Texas, Wendell encouraged him to apply for the aptly themed Sheldon Fellowship for the Investigation of American Ballads. He got it.  The resulting 1910 collection of Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads helped immortalize these old tunes and caught the eye of another ballad fan.  The following letter from former President Teddy Roosevelt opens the book.  The following are scans of my 1930 copy:

(Above, Lomax ca. 1930s, from the Library of Congress)

August 28th, 1910

Dear Mr. Lomax,

You have done a work emphatically worth doing and one which should appeal to the people of all our country, but particularly to the people of the west and southwest. Your subject is not only exceedingly interesting to the student of literature, but also to the student of the general history of the west. There is something very curious in the reproduction here on this new continent of essentially the ballad-growth which obtained in medieval England; including, by the way, sympathy for the outlaw, Jesse James taking the place of Robin Hood. Under modern conditions, however, the native ballad is speedily killed by competition with the music hall songs; the cowboys becoming ashamed to sing the crude homespun ballads in view of what Owen Wister calls the "ill-smelling saloon cleverness" of the far less interesting compositions of the music hall singers. It is therefore a work of real importance to preserve permanently this unwritten ballad literature of the back country and the frontier.

With all good wishes,

I am
very truly yours
Theodore Roosevelt

* * *

Some thoughts on toning down the cowboy lyrics for polite society from Lomax's intro to the book: Obviously, a number of the most characteristic cannot be printed for general circulation. To paraphrase slightly what Sidney Lanier said of Walt Whitman's poetry, they are raw collops slashed from the rump of Nature, and never mind the gristle...There is, however, a Homeric quality about the cowboy's profanity and vulgarity that pleases rather than repulses. The broad sky under which he slept, the limitless plains over which he rode, the big, open, free life he lived near to Nature's breast, taught him simplicity, calm, directness. He spoke out plainly the impulses of his heart. But as yet so-called polite society is not quite willing to hear. - John A. Lomax, Deming, New Mexico, Aug. 8, 1910
UPDATE: A More Exotic iPhone Skin

Friday, August 07, 2009 23 comments
UPDATE (8/11/09): Joseph will take orders! Choices will include real gator, imitation gator/croc (which looks almost exactly like the real thing), shagreen and various saddle leathers used by these guys. He'll probably need you to pay upfront (lots of supply costs for these) and it may take a few weeks.  Email him at for prices, choices, etc.

* * *

Nothing's cooler than when you see something amazing, tell its owner that you love it and the response is, "Oh, thanks! I made it!"  We ran into the extremely nice and extremely well dressed Englishman, Joseph Pollard, last night at Fette Sau and our jaws practically dropped into the pork belly when he took out his alligator-covered iPhone.  With the craftsmanship of a fine cobbler, he soaked, stretched and cut that skin to fit perfectly over an iPhone case -- and then he made one for his girlfriend in shagreen, below (which is like cutting through rubberized chain mail, he said). Pretty freakin' incredible.

HHH Shopping Guide | Back to School

Thursday, August 06, 2009 12 comments
{1} Nothing inspires detailed note taking more than a lab notebook.  You have the green tint, excellent space for titles and a grid for illustrative charts and insanely anal architect-like penmanship.  Rediform National Lab Computation Notebook, Discount Office Items, $10

{2} Yellow pencils, buy 'em anywhere.  

{3} Dux Precision Pencil Sharpener, Manufactum, EUR 12

{4} One of my best friends in college came to W&L with a Swiss Army (military, not brand) backpack.  She ran into a guy from L.A. with an identical one (the only other person on campus with such a bag) at the poster sale the first week of school.  Now they're married with two kids.  So, military backpacks can be very powerful things.  This used French Bergam Rucksack from RDD USA is $34.90.

{5} You will need a place to put your yellow pencils and Dux precision pencil sharpener: Soldier's Writing Kit, Dixie Leather Works, $27

{6} College football is fun, but there's nothing quite like Friday nights in high school, walking along those hormone-filled bleachers.  You might need a blanket.  Civil war blankets, Regimental Quartermaster, $64.50

{7} My favorite memories of high school actually occurred during grade school when I was a foot taller than all my classmates and I spent my time ogling the high school boys on the bleachers at football games.  They all looked like complete preppy bastards, had hairy legs and all wore nearly destroyed Eastlands with Eastland knots.  I feel pangs of nostalgia every time I see a boat shoe or chukka boot (which means lots of pangs these days).  The Falmouth, Eastland, $80
Sustenance | The Williamsburg Eating Guide

Monday, August 03, 2009 10 comments
Of course Manhattan has incredible restaurants, but I'd rather sink my teeth into Brooklyn any day.  With all the choices "the city" offers, I think people tend to go with what's comfortable and choose a few favorites over and over and over again.  My parents talked of two: "21" (not the 21 Club, mind you, but Hop Kee, a basement den with fluorescent lights at 21 Mott Street in Chinatown) and Viand, the pint sized diner where they ate amazing bagels with cream cheese and jelly near their apartment on East 63rd Street.  

I lived on the Upper East Side when I first moved to New York in 2000. I go up there now and all culinary memories of my two years there disappear.  There was a dirt cheap dumpling shop (don't remember the name) and a few chains, but everything else is a blur.  Next came the East Village and all that comes to mind is the meaty borsht from Veselka, pizza from Two Boots and goat cheese salad from 7A (all of which have very good food and very limited ambiance).  There are thousands of cute places in that neighborhood - many relatively new - but somehow I never bothered to pop in.  

But then I moved to Williamsburg, the neighborhood where everyone's a waif and you can eat yourself into a local food coma. Porter and I rotate ourselves through these joints and love them all dearly. Click on the eating/drinking sidebar for more info about these places. They're really so, so good.  (And I pray that someone can read that itty bitty map - it took ages to create). Note, I have omitted Egg (on purpose). It's delicious and cute, but all the great reviews have made the lines ridiculous. You don't come to Brooklyn to stand around.
Sustenance | Rations from Brooklyn Larder

Monday, August 03, 2009 15 comments
Porter and I pedaled to Prospect Heights on Saturday, came upon the beautiful six-week old gourmet food shop Brooklyn Larder and stocked up on assorted rations - completely unnecessary rations, but absurdly well-packaged ones, nonetheless.  The grainy texture of the all-organic and highly addictive Taza stoneground chocolate compliments the cinnamon and guajillo chili flavors perfectly and the Amarena Fabbri wild cherries would be perfect on top of ice cream or deep at the bottom of a Manhattan.  All would look great on a well-curated kitchen shelf.

228 Flatbush Ave.
Brooklyn, NY