Friday, August 28, 2009

Weekend Docket

We've been obsessing over Grizzly Bear ever since we heard the song The Knife off their 2006 LP Yellow House. If you have yet to fall under their spell, test the waters for yourself this Sunday afternoon at the Williamsburg waterfront and pool party. Oh, how we've missed you infamous dodgeball regulars from ye olde McCarren pool days- you inspired us to cut off our faded denim into shorts and wear the soles out of our Sperrys...

East River Park between North Eighth and North Ninth Streets. Show is Free, gates open at 2pm.

Before the summer was out we had to take half a day and head over to Rockaway Beach just to watch the surfers then grab a bite to eat at Rockaway Taco. It's a little laid-back haven, serving up tacos from fish to carne asada to [veggie-approved] tofu. For maybe half a second we felt like we were in Bonny Doon.

They grow their own vegetables up top.

Weekend afternoons are also best spent over good conversation and a cool drink, especially when it's served up in a sweaty copper mug. Our favorite drink this summer: the Penny Drop at the Standard Grill, which usually comes with candied ginger pieces if you're lucky.
The Standard Grill, under the High Line, corner of Washington and West 13th Streets.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dominick Dunne 1925-2009

He started writing at age 50, sobering up in the Oregon wilderness after a career of producing such features as Ash Wednesday and Panic in Needle Park. After several best-selling novels he went on to join Vanity Fair as a contributing writer in 1984 then special correspondent in 1993, which is how The Landless Farmer was first introduced to him, through his shockingly lurid accounts of high society's inner domain. As exemplified by his journalistic pen he was a strong advocate of victims' rights, having reported on the murder of his own daughter Dominique in his debut VF article. He died in his home in Manhattan on August 26 after battling cancer, and is survived by his two sons, Griffin and Alex, and granddaughter Hannah. His last novel, Too Much Money, publishes this December.

On location in Italy with Elizabeth Taylor during the filming of Ash Wednesday, 1973. (Photo by Gianni Bozzacchi)

In a taxi in London on his way to the inquest of the death of Princess Diana, 2008. (Photo by Jason Bell)

Marfa, Texas: Population 2,121

The American West continues to be a largely desolate frontier. A visit will yield seemingly uncharted territory dotted with dying - and honest-to-goodness "ghost" - towns. It is rustic. It is challenging. It is made for mavericks (and vice versa).
Historically, artists have been drawn to the remote majesty of the landscape. One town peopled by aesthetically aware hipsters is Marfa, Texas.
"Giant" (1956), starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean, put Marfa on the map for outsiders. Shortly thereafter a legend was printed, supposedly dating back to the 1800s, about the "Marfa lights": mysterious chromatic illuminations observed in the night sky. In the past three years, two Oscar winning films have utilized the location -- Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" and the Coen Brothers' "No Country For Old Men."
Today, the Marfa Ballroom boasts art, music, and film on the cutting edge of offerings that one might find in Williamsburg or Greenpoint. The Thunderbird Hotel provides lodging for discerning travelers. The Chinati Foundation is a magnet for aficionados from all locales, exhibiting Donald Judd's installation pieces in interior and exterior galleries conceived for specific presentation. The Prada storefront on the road from El Paso is a sore-thumb beacon of highbrow commerce in the stark wilds of the West Texas desert.
Like a William Eggleston photograph come to life, Marfa is something to see. Check it out before too many Brooklynites flock and settle. Dispatched by L. Jaeger (Above photo: Drew Tewksbury)

Art by Donald Judd © Judd Foundation 2007 licensed by VAGA, NY,NY.

"A locally run hotel since 1959, Bob Harris of Lake/Flato Architects reinvigorated the Thunderbird’s classic ‘50s horseshoe shape and interior courtyard for its 2005 reopening." Thunderbird © 2009 All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mad About the Men: Weekly Review

Today we pull the trigger on a weekly review of one of the most compelling, provocative (not to mention stylish) shows currently capturing our undivided attention every Sunday night. Sharing in our weekly habit is E. Nolan, whose careful examinations on the Mad Men series we'll begin posting shortly.
Disclaimer: the postings contain spoilers so if you're savoring these episodes for a later date or still haven't embarked on Season 1 let alone 3, then you may want to skip and return tomorrow.

Photo by Frank Ockenfels 3

Mad About the Men: Love Among the Ruins

Spoiler Alert. Season 3, Episode 2:

Let's start with the themes at play in last night's episode, clearly this one was all about family and patriarchy. We had Roger Sterling (the ultimate Silver Fox) getting told by his daughter she doesn't want him and his new dollybird wife at her wedding. Then there was the patriarchal theme as played out by the Drapers and Betty's father who is clearly in the grip of Alzheimer's or something similar.

Ah Don.... just as I think I've gathered the strength to leave you, you pull me back in, like the beaten wife I am. Last week I screamed at the TV as he once again cheated on Betty with that dopey Air Stewardess. This week I cheered for him as he put Betty's weasel of a brother in his place.

Don was the king of the lion pack this week, stronger than Sterling and so much better than Betty's brother - the ultimate man of the house.

Underpinning all of this was the impending demolition of Penn Station, the metaphorical "father figure" of old New York. There were a lot of sidelines about public transport last night - Joan's flirtatious subway joke, Peggy emerging from the filthy subway in Brooklyn, Draper telling his brother-in-law which train to bugger off on out of his house (that too was leaving from Penn Station). These were glimpses of a grimy city we don't often see outside the gleaming offices of Sterling Cooper. I also enjoyed Embeth Davidtz's cameo as the wife of new Brit boss (his name escapes me) when she made that snipe about the insects. This is New York pre-gentrification.

This all brings me back to the title of the episode 'Love Among the Ruins' Love among the ruins of a family, among the literal ruins of a soon-to-be brutalised landmark, among the ruins of a city. This is a show full of ruins after all... ruined people and now ruined places.

The secondary story was Peggy's sexual re-awakening. Her little parody of Bye Bye Birdie was thoroughly creepy but by God! It worked!! We saw Peggy go to a bar alone, simper, get bought a drink by a burger-eating cretin and then, get laid (kinda - she's not making that mistake twice).

Most telling was the fact she lied about her job and let her new beau believe she was "just a secretary".... women of New York sighed a knowing sigh of understanding at this point. Penn Station may be gone, but some things haven't changed so much after all.

Peggy's sexual re-awakening was thematically tied-together with the "Patio" pitch and it brought us the most enigmatic moment of the episode. Peggy complained to Don that simply parodying Bye Bye Birdie in a diet soda commercial was making an ad for women from a man's point of view.

Don shot her down with a line that cut to the quick of any of us who have worked in advertising: "You're not an artist Peggy, you solve problems. Leave some tools in your toolbox."

DAMN! that hurt.

BUT. Then he went to that May Dance and became transfixed by the female teacher (?) dancing around the maypole, so joyful, so pure, so energetic. He leaned over and let his fingers run through the grass.......

Cut to Don returning to the office and staring at Peggy through her office door. he sees her, we wanted him to go in, but he didn't. In that moment by the maypole, Don realised Peggy was right, Bye Bye Birdie was wrong. Pretty soon we're going to see a pitch for a diet soda brand with a woman dancing barefoot on the grass around a maypole.. you mark my words.

Also I do want to give a brief mention to the vitriolic wonder of Betty this week, from the missing melba toasts to her shouting at the kids and sulking about the soot-covered coat (more city grime there), she was great.

LINE OF THE WEEK: "You're not fat anymore." - Paul Kinsey to Peggy.
Closely followed by Sterling asking the Brit guy if he ever got drunk and wore his suit of armour.
NEXT WEEK: The preview suggests we will finally see a bit more of Joan and her horrid husband. Hurrah!

Diligently construed by E. Nolan
Photo by Carin Baer

Mad About the Men: Out of Town

Spoiler Alert. Season 3, Episode 1:

The doors of Sterling Cooper are open for business once again, and oh Aunty ‘Em how good it felt to be back, nestled in the ample warmth of Joan’s bosom once more.
Unlike the two year leap from Season 1 to 2, here a matter of six or seven months have gone by (essentially real time) and Betty is now 8 months pregnant.

Appropriately for the first episode of a new season, images were abound of birth and motherhood. Our first sight of Don was of him warming milk for Betty late at night, intercut with flashbacks, in which we learned the genealogy of the name "Dick" Whitman. These were actually a little disappointingly handled to me, reminiscent of slightly dubious amateur dramatics but also evocative of the final scenes of Our Town.

However, we did finally learn the full story about Don’s/Dick’s less than auspicious beginnings. He is quite literally the son of a whore, named "Dick" as an angry testament to his father’s appendage. Was this Don’s own paranoia at work? A story created from his imagination? Or was it true? Perhaps the overt theatricality of it all was a clue that we were meant to read this as Don’s own internal fiction? Time, I’m sure, will tell.

This maternal theme was fully rounded-out in the closing moments when scary Sally Draper (who is going to be such an effed-up adult thanks to Betty’s Valley of the Dolls routine), discovered the Air Stewardesses wings then asked about the night she was born. Don was unable to get the story out, drifting off into a dark reverie.

The other big storyline was the outing of Sal. To me, the strength of Mad Men has always been the way they weave the metaphors of advertising together with the broader emotional and social issues of the show – The Kodak Carousel moment is one of the most memorable from Season 1. This was once again done superbly in this episode with the London Fog business.

London Fog became the presence of the Brits in the office, it became a metaphor for Sal’s closeted existence and ultimately a "fog" was what Don encouraged Sal to bring down around himself. His "Limit your exposure" speech to Sal was so absolutely pitch perfect as to cause me to catch my breath. Here he is, a man who knows ALL about what it means to lead a double life, telling Sal to keep the proverbial raincoat on. Limit your exposure. Protect yourself. Once again we caught a glimpse of Don’s humanity, the thing that keeps us hanging on when we’re screaming at the TV after he once again bangs some dumb girl. Oh Rachel Menken, how I yearn for you! You were his only equal.

It would be rude to ignore Pete Campbell in this episode, his creepy Mr. Burns-esque post-promotion victory dance was so macabre, so ghoulish! I loved it. His subsequent descent into foot-stamping and brattiness was equally enjoyable. He remains my favourite character on the show.

LINE OF THE WEEK: "Limit your exposure" – Don to Sal.
NEXT WEEK: Is Peggy going to get laid?

Diligently construed by E. Nolan
Photo by Carin Baer

Monday, August 24, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Here's a little taste of what to look forward to in October. Learn more.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Weekend Docket

Frank Lloyd Wright was gone six months before the grand opening of his landmark creation. Now is the last chance to truly celebrate the Guggenheim Museum's 50th birthday by checking out the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit, which includes many of his drawings being showcased for the first time in public. We've always been lured into his architectural nuances from time spent in Chicago to Scottsdale's Taliesin West.We've procrastinated long enough. The exhibit runs only through this Sunday, August 23. Photo: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York, 1943–59, perspective (detail). Ink and watercolor on art paper, 20 1/8 x 24 1/8 inches (51.1 x 61.3 cm). FLLW FDN #4305.745. © 2009 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
Visit Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward.
Time to pack up our favorite Rogue's Gallery tote and head out to Long Island. There's a 40% chance of rain on Saturday but Sunday is looking clear (for now at least). For those not heading out to the Hamptons, Jones Beach is one of those special spots with fine, white sands and void of silly things like beach passes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Linda Linda Linda

This film was one of those sleepers we discovered during our 16 hour plane ride to Bangkok, in between our somnambulistic ramen and congee snacking. It also brought to our attention Japanese punk rebels The Blue Hearts, the band who actually wrote the song Linda Linda Linda for which the movie's named. Upon deeper comparison the version performed by four uniformed school girls, including one shy Korean exchange student, became our favorite. There are hidden rewards to painfully long flights.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Look from Maine

Our favorite maker of boat shoes and mocs has just launched a new website, truly showcasing their master craftsmanship and the beautiful materials they use.

Visit Quoddy Trail to purchase your own custom pair.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Weekend Reminder: Mad Men

Season 3 premiers this Sunday, August 16 on AMC 10pm/9C.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Anytime: Fresh Ricotta

All day long I dream about... fresh ricotta. Morning. Noon. And night.
Morning: Homemade breakfast of egg-in-the-hole toasts with ricotta (Martha Stewart Living, September 2009). See recipe below.
4 slices rustic bread (1 inch thick)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil for brushing, plus more for drizzling
8 ounces (1 cup) fresh ricotta cheese
Course salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 ounces (1/4 cup) shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Tear out middle of each bread slice to form a 1 1/2-inch hole, reserving torn pieces. arrange in a baking dish. Tear bread from middles into smaller pieces. Brush slices on both sides and pieces all over with oil, and sprinkle pieces around slices.
Bake until toasted and golden, about 12 minutes. Leave oven on.

2. Mix ricotta with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Season with pepper, and fold in thyme.
Spread mixture onto silces, avoiding the hole in each slice, and drizzle with oil.

3. Break 1 egg into each hole, and season with salt. Bake until egg whites are set, about 12 minutes. Top each slice with Parmesan, and garnish with toasted bread pieces.

Noon: Appetizer of sheep’s’ milk ricotta with sea salt and herbs, Locanda Verde, New York City
(photo by Nick Solares)

Night: Dessert of ricotta with honey, Lupa, New York City (photo by Eating in Translation)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Wind Down: The Beach Tote

We're already in the last month of summer, so  there's still time to pack a tote (handmade from vintage sail-cloth) and head to the beach. Hopefully the rain won't salt our game.

RG Marine Bag by Rogues Gallery

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Speakeasy: The Raines Law Room

Ring the bell at the bottom of the stairs, announce your party, and step into another time. Hope to be seated by the fireplace in one of the velvety tufted club chairs while listening to Dinah or Billie. Or patiently wait in the vintage tiled back room and spy on the bartender, who mans a countertop filled with market fresh ingredients. Once seated, requests can be made at the silent pull of a chain. Meant for absorbing intimate conversations or lingering over a tete-a-tete. photo from

Notable: homemade ginger soda
We recommend: South Side Rickey, Lorelei and the Suffering Bastard

48 West 17th Street, New York, NY

Saturday Night Fever: Manhattan Mayhem v. Bronx Gridlock

Walking into the Hunter College Sportplex on Saturday night brought back the scent and energy of a high school gym. But with a definitive twist. Namely the endearing Bonnie Thunders, who slipped each and every time through mere inches of dead space between the bodily curves of her Mayhem opponents, trading off with co-star among jammers, Beatrix Slaughter. My head was rooting for beloved Manhattan, but my heart was won by Thunders and Co. Of course it was further helped along with a name that pays homage to one of punk's more tragic legends.

Weekend Watching: Straw Dogs

There's nothing like seeing Dustin Hoffman lose his cool. After popping in our copy of The Graduate as white noise for putzing around the apartment we were once again riveted to the screen for the full hour and forty-six, thanks to the charisma of early Dustin and not one scene wasted. Reminds us of another of our favorites, Straw Dogs. Inspiring seventies style juxtaposed with the timelessness of the English countryside.