look: hello Columbus

If you’re in New York, you still have a few days left to visit Signor Columbus at home. It’s a bit of a climb, but worth it for the wallpaper.

The Public Art Fund is behind Tatzu Nishi’s whimsical, perspective-upending “Discovering Columbus,” in which the artist has enclosed the weathered old statue in a reasonably ritzy apartment in the sky. Usually exposed to the weather, the old sea dog, hand on his tiller, is temporarily aloft on his own coffee table, while visitors admire his bookshelves, furniture, and enviable view. You’re not allowed to touch him (or borrow his copy of the Steve Jobs biography) but you can get pretty comfortable, and forget you’re standing on a platform wrapped around a 75ft-high column.

Before long Columbus’s real-estate-obsessed guests settle into the same conversations they adopt in any stranger’s apartment: where did he score that vintage leather chair? What’s his taste in books? Is that wallpaper custom? And most importantly – how much do you think he pays for a place like this?

Go speculate before December 2nd, by reserving your tickets here.

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look: after the superstorm

I sincerely hope these don’t become annual posts.

Hurricane/Superstorm/Frankenstorm Sandy pounded the east coast yesterday, and much of the city is underwater, without power, or otherwise struggling, so we are extremely grateful for our high ground in Astoria and the large local contingent of dedicated small businesses, most of which are up and running, if they ever closed. There was a line outside Bareburger this afternoon (Tuesday) waiting for tables. We’re not going to go hungry, and save for a little light-flickering anxiety, we were able to eat, drink, and watch weather-disaster-porn in safety and comfort. The best collection of pictures of the storm’s impact in NYC and surrounding areas is here, via the inimitable Alan Taylor.

Here are a few pictures of the aftermath in the neighborhood. It’s cold and blustery out, but dry, and things are getting back to normal. I have a new camera lens, too, a manual-focus 50mm/1.8 which I LOVE and am trying to master. Here goes:

Worst downed-tree damage I saw – 31st Avenue
More common sight: leaf litter & general mess. 31st Avenue
Skies clearing over 30th Avenue
The Apple House still open for business
Sandbags and tarp outside the Academy for New Americans
Tree down across the street from us, 30th Drive

love: saltwater sandals

These are kids’ sandals, really, but I started noticing them on various stylish grown-up ladies in the city, and they have proved to be a great little summer investment. They’re designed to be worn in & around water (hence the name) but they’re surprisingly comfortable for running around town in the summer, a season that, after all, kids have figured out best. They’re less than $40, and you can get them here.

love: lunch hour at the nypl

“Lunch Hour” is one of the most inventively curated, gorgeous, surprising, and witty exhibitions I’ve had the pleasure of exploring. It covers a huge amount of material lightheartedly and is a great exercise in cultural history, something I’m thinking a great deal about at the moment – what it is, exactly, and how to write or tell it well. The exhibition’s theme tracks major cultural changes throughout the twentieth century, in New York and beyond, as the rhythm of the workday changed, along with the place and nature of food within it.  Continue reading

look: a grown-up film for grown-up people

We went to see “The Artist” last night at the Paris Theatre, the beautiful old single-screen cinema on 58th Street at the southeastern corner of Central Park, opposite the Plaza and the glass-cube Apple store, a corner that smells of horse dung and money. As Joe Queenan put it in this 2008 Times article about its 60th anniversary, ‘The Paris also has an understatedly elegant décor and does not cater to Irony Vixens who think that watching Icelandic films makes them morally superior to truck drivers.’ Indeed. Plus, it has a balcony!

For all these reasons it was the perfect venue to watch the film that’s going to get Oscar nominations, tons of press and a backlash, but for now let’s just enjoy. Since words like “whimsical” and “charming” usually make me run a mile, I’ll try to avoid them – and besides, the film is so inventive and elegant and grown-up it deserves more respect. It’s also proof that it’s possible to make a film that you could take your grandmother or your eight-year-old son to see and be pretty sure that they’d both love it. Here’s the trailer. But see the film:

love: fitz & the tantrums


We braved an overcast sky to head to Central Park on Saturday for a fantastic free show by the LA retro-soul band Fitz & the Tantrums. The sun won out, it was baking hot and they played a killer show. This is their ridiculously catchy single, ‘MoneyGrabber’:

love: not-so-royal wedding

Two of my best friends in the world got hitched on Wednesday at City Hall, in glorious sunshine and fine style. They have renovated the building so there’s a separate wedding area, and you no longer have to wait along with all the people paying parking tickets. Here are a few of my favourite pictures. Check out that cherry blossom.

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explore: counter space at moma and ‘objectified’

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I have been meaning to go to this exhibition, MoMA’s ‘Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen’ since it opened in September (it’s at the museum until May 2nd) and it proved totally fascinating for anyone like me whose itch lies at the intersection of design, food, architecture and interiors. The centerpiece is a full size reconstruction of Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky’s “Frankfurt Kitchen” from the Höhenblick Housing Estate in Frankfurt, Germany, created in 1926-27. The rest of the exhibition, organized into chronological sections from the turn of the twentieth century to the 1960s and beyond, is focused on products, posters, photographs and designs exploring kitchens themselves and enticingly hinting at their larger sociological significance, and their importance for understanding what constitutes modern living. Continue reading