Tuesday, May 19, 2009

trend or treat

are nonagenarians the new trend? or is the trend to spend your life working on something that means something, has value, to you? this weekend i went to two dance performances featuring the work of two choreographers in their 90's: merce cunningham at dia:beacon and the spring 2009 performances at the studio of mary anthony in the west village. why do i love to see dance? it's a great way to really hear music, and at dia:beacon (and all the dia art foundation venues) , to see the best in contemporary art. drive or take the hour long ride on the train from grand central to beacon, ny, to the restored nabisco factory site; the work is so strong that you need not be an expert in anything to enjoy the experience. i love the "string" art. the cafe and bookstore are also great; you can also walk into town to grab a bite at one of the little cafes.

the cunningham performance (with the music of john cage) was inspired by, and set inside, the cavernous exhibition of imi knoebel’s 24 Colors—for blinky. this stunning (and delicious--go see, the paintings look like giant sugar cookies with bright-colored, flooded icing) work and exhibition was supported by gucci. once you're in the neighborhood and if you love gucci, bottega veneta, ferregamo, thomas pink, tods, elli tahari, calvin klein and the like, stop by the woodbury commons premium outlets. unlike most outlets, the merchandise is current, not made for outlets and shockingly well-priced (50% off of half-price). the saks outlet has all the top jeans--seven, rock and republic and the elli tahari store offers the same things bloomingdales is showing now. if you're more into housewares, visit le creuset, crate and barrel, and william-sonoma. other gems are puma, adidas, and american apparel.

i got started thinking about trends and trend spotting because i have a friend who has a preternatural ability to see the next hot thing before it hits any scene. the nyt is always at least a month late in reporting on news i already know. it happens at least once a week--it's our running joke. he rode the l train before it was hip and identified detroit as a go to spot before artists headed there for $100 houses. another example: this week i read an elle magazine article about weightlifting for women about 3 months after he predicted the death of pilates and yoga. months ago, he was all about old keys--and there they are in music videos (keith urban), kate spade ads and tiffany's just launched an awesome collection of keys (yes, i do look at their website and, sometimes, don't just look at the huge diamonds). he also predicted the return of the cassette tape (now popping up all over the place as cuff links, silkcreened onto t-shirts, and faux cassette tape cards concealing memory sticks to fill with digital music for gifting like the traditional mixtape. the nyt style section proposed this item for valentine's day). what will he come up with next?

other new things i need to know: what's going to be my hot flea find at the upcoming big flea in chantilly, va on june 6-7? will this year's peaches be mealy or succulent? will the plums be sweet, tart and juicy?

peace out, flatsie

Monday, May 4, 2009

away at home: chapter one: manhattan

i'm dying go to london for memorial day. this is to remind myself of all the excellent nyc fun to be had. (if you go to london, stay in covent garden for the excellent thrift stores, door to door tube service from the airport; neon cupcakes and amazing croissants from candy cakes; moroccan & lebanese food at maison touaregue at 23-24 greek street in the theater district, and visit the tate modern (don't miss the chance to contemplate what you've seen in the enchanting restaurant with an amazing bird's eye, city-view that serves many excellent dishes, including ayummy side of sauted brussel sprout leaves--the outer leaves, less astringent and more delicate than the sprouts themselves).

everyone has morning rituals. i love great coffee, but haven't been able to pull off the delicious, crema-capped cups casually served at every cafe in paris or the syrupy, smooth goodness of the tiny cups of sugary, pitch-black espresso my zia caterina made (zia was my great-aunt who came to nyc with my grandmother, her sister, in the 1930's from a farm in the cinqua terra region of italy). now i start the day with english breakfast tea, but a chance encounter with a nespresso machine at bloomingdales and friend's success in greatly improving his morning brew by hard-packing the coffee makes me hope that coffee greatness is within my reach. knowing my weakness for high-tech, shiny objects (cars, kindles, blackberries, ipods, flat screens, even if i can't work the features) and kitchen equipment, i decided to look into who says what about great coffee before becoming a (nespresso) pod person. vogue columist, jeffrey steingarten, who has a scientific, but highly personal, approach to food and food writing offers three espresso essentials: the amount of the coffee (7 grams); hard-packing the coffee and water pressure. major advantages of the pod-based machines are that the packing, the coffee volume and water pressure are controlled (although according to him, nespresso's pods fall short of the 7 gram ideal). if it applies to your device, try hard packing the coffee; i'm hearing rave reviews about that tip alone eliminating any bitterness. if this is all too much (before coffee), pop over to the nespresso boutique and cafe on madison and have a coffee in the cafe (pricey) or free it you're looking at how the machines work in the boutique.

once you're awake, take a gondola ride to roosevelt island, see some art or have some thrifting fun. grab the roosevelt island tramway at east 59th and 1st avenue. it's the bright red, sky-gondola (i ride these boxes on a string every chance i get--try the one in barcelona or vail, co, if you get the chance) that links roosevelt island and manhattan ($4 roundtrip or use your monthly subway pass); the ride includes a breathtaking view of manhattan and takes 4.5 minutes. many folks take their bikes to ride on this island, or you can sit in the grass with the paper or a great book. bring a drink and a snack--maybe a giant, homemade $3 dollar slice of excellent and not too sweet, coconut cake or a piece of the fresh peach cobbler from wimps southern bakery at 29 west 125th street; t212.410.2296. snacks from wimps may require some planning (it's further uptown), but you won't regret the trip.

back in manhattan, if you're looking for very high quality supplies to make jewelry, hair accessories or to customize your clothes, head over to m and j trimming across from macy's in herald square. it's chock full of buttons, trimmings, ribbons, beads and handmade silk flowers formed from ribbon that's a favorite with stylists. they'll pick up things like yards of single strands of rhinestones that can be tossed around the neck as a necklace. i first went there in the 1980's to pick up a boatload of tiny, irridescent beads to slip onto large safety pins which i strung together with silver elastic thread into stretchy bracelets; my defense, it was the 80's.

i have a "one art-thing" a week rule. albeit, this rule is not as good as a friend's "one new major international city a year" mandatory travel rule, but i can pull mine off for $1. visit the metropolitan museum of art and take advantage of your tax-dollars by virtue of the "suggested contribution" admission policy; hand over $1 and you're in. check out the rooftop sculpture garden and cafe (last year, it had the work of jeff koons) for the great view and an off-beat place to have a drink. if you're lucky the costume institute will have an exhibition which they do on occasion (a show just opened) and, of course, there's are always plenty of other wonderful things to see, including the temple of dendur and the 1950's cyclorama painting that puts you in the grounds at versailles (which had a phenomenal koons show last year, btw). after the met and depending on the exhibitions, i love to visit one of the auction houses, doyle's auction house, sotheby's or christie's. even if youre not buying, it's interesting to see pieces similar to those you've just seen at the met with a price tag next to them. those houses also have a fun dimension of allowing you to try on "important" jewels and sometimes to see someone's complete collection. spring and summer brings contemporary art to the bigger houses; doyle's has a fun show with vintage louis vuitton trunks and luggage as well as other handbags now.

last stop: thrift stores and flea markets. i love roundabout consignment at 31 east 72nd for mostly new clothes and bags, including marc jacobs and valentino. it's organized and can be well-priced. the sales-staff is friendly and helpful (i had the best conversation about the ins and outs of dulce de leche cake with a cia-trained chef and artist who works there). another good choice is michael's consignment for chanel, burburry, red-soled (a la louis xiv) laboutin and other high-end classics (which can be surprisingly well-priced). i also love the little antiques, flea, & farmer's markets at 1st avenue and east 67th street in p.s. 183. the farmer's market has great produce and some wonderful vendors whose booths are fun to brouse because they are so beautifully organized. there's also a super-nice vendor with piles of mostly silver (and some gold) jewlery that ranges from inexpensive to very well priced (cash-only). he has gorgeous, excellent quality mexican silver that he weighs to begin to set the price. he also considers how many pieces you're taking and gives extra special deals for regulars of which there are many. i got a very heavy, flat 16-inch chain, an inch-wide, intricately woven bracelet and he tossed in a cool bevel-edged, deco-looking sterling collar pin because i asked. there's also another dealer i love who has wonderful monogrammed, silver cigarette cases from the 1930's and 40's. (it's my idea to use these as a business card holder, but you have to make sure to check that your cards fit, mine are a little big).

new need to know: why's the texture and mouth-feel of farmed-raised salmon so odd?

peace out, flatsie