Friday, December 5, 2008

The "Shrimp"

Now that I've been thinking about Mary Quant and the 60s fashion icons I remembered the model Jean Shrimpton who was the first supermodel to command the amazing fee of $56 an hour!
She was everywhere in fashion magazines with her long blonde hair, big blue eyes, fabulous pout and legs for days. Shrimpton became the face for Yardley cosmetics and was with Twiggy and Veruschka in the 60s what Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell were in the 90s.

Jean was romantically linked with the photographer David Bailey who would go on to marry Catherine Deneuve and the actor Terrence Stamp who was evidently more in love with himself at the time.

As elegant and poised as she was in ballgowns and miniskirts it's reported that she actually like to wear her own comfortable clothes when not working and only owned about five dresses.

She wrote an autobiography and made one movie, but left the limelight decades ago. Today she is married with a son who was born in 1979 and she evidently runs the 300 year old Abbey Hotel in Penzance, England.

"It was fun becoming famous, but I got tired of it"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mini Madness

In the 1960s it's said that Mary Quant named her miniskirt after the Mini automobile because they were both "only as long as they had to be"

Last week my 20 year old Toyota Corolla was replaced by a new 2009 Mini Cooper and they are fun! I parked in one of those spots in SF this weekend where I used to pass by in my old car saying "If I had a Mini I could park there." - 37 miles to the gallon on the freeway and one tank of gas to LA are only some of the perks.

Thinking about minis brought back fond memories of mini skirts and maxi coats and my Mary Quant eyeshadow paintbox - some trends do go full circle!

There's even a designer Mini that was customized by Mary Quant - love to see "colour" spelled the way I grew up with it being spelled. Now if I could only "mini-mize" my car payment...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Don't Forget to Vote!!!

My friend's son in Southern California wrote the song and sings the song these Southern California actresses supporting Barack Obama lip-sync in the above video!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Mill Valley Film Festival

Thursday night was the opening night of the Mill Valley Film Festival which turns 30 this year!

On Saturday I'm going to see Wendy & Lucy with Michelle Williams.

On Monday it's time for Cherry Blossoms by German director Doris Dorrie who entered How to Cook Your Life in last year's festival.

On Tuesday it's a double-header with Adam Resurrected and then 57,000 KM Between Us

Last, but not least, comes Good Night Irene on Saturday afternoon - I can smell the popcorn from here...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Piazolla and life on the pampas

I've been thinking a lot about Argentina and all the wonderful influences Astor Piazolla and the tango have had on us.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to fly to Buenos Aires and spend the evening in a tango bar?
If nature calls then you must travel to Iguazu Falls where the sheer spectacle of so much water evidently makes Niagara pale in comparison.
For the bohemians we can hang out in caffes where the likes of Borges sipped strong espresso and wrote The Labrynth or Cortazar wrote Blow-Up and we got one of Antonioni's gems.
Argentinian beef is supposed to be some of the best because of the pampas and the cows grass-fed diet. If you can't get to Argentina try El Raigon restaurant in San Francisco. If you're vegetarian try the wild mushroom and leek risotto - if not, the epinadas.
What is it about the tango that makes it so dammed sexy? Once again I think of Wong Kar Wai's Happy Together.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Brooklyn Modern

Wandering through the San Francisco MOMA bookstore today I happened by accident to pick up a copy of the book Brooklyn Modern and, after wondering what rock I've been sleeping under this spring and summer, promptly bought a copy to bring home and read the wonderful essays by Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge and Jonathan Butler of Brownstoner while enjoying the point of view photographs from talented photographer Yoko Inoue.

Seeing a second renaissance in the "hood" where I did a lot of my growing up fills me with a mixture of emotions. My stepmother Elizabeth and my father (and my Aunt Nancy) raised me and my three younger brothers in Boerum Hill in the seventies while holding down demanding jobs and remodelling their 150 year old brownstone. In those days you couldn't get a cab in Manhattan to cross the Brooklyn Bridge - today a talented actress I just watched in the movie Transsiberian is our neighbor.

These photos do a remarkable job of transmitting the light that pours in the long narrow windows, wide floorboards and high ceilings. On summer evenings neighbors gathered on their stoops or walked their dogs and stopped to talk about the next block party or Boerum Hill House Tour . My parents were among the first wave of young professionals who were perhaps priced out of Manhattan and saw the inherit beauty of these brownstones. They planted trees forty years ago that now provide shade to the neighborhoods off Atlantic Avenue or Smith Street.

Neighbors opened the first shops like Nancy Cogen's Melting Pot where I used to batik t-shirts when I was in college and lease empty lots from the city where small vest-pocket parks were planted and department stores donated benches for residents to sit - there were storybook readings for the smaller kids and I think I knew almost everyone who lived in the next block or two around me - pretty rare considering this was New York City in 1976!

I think I most loved sitting in the backyard after the chain link fence had been pulled down and the concrete replaced by rose bushes and grape arbors where the world's tallest pear tree grew in the back. We would barbecue and sit at the picnic table hearing our neighbors in their yards too. The Williamsburg Bank building was really the only skyscraper in the distance silhouetted by the setting sun. My brothers would catch fireflies in a jar and they'd glow luminous in the twilight - on and off like stars in the gallaxy; it really doesn't get much better than that!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Lost Coast

Last weekend we drove north up Highway 101 past Garberville to Humboldt Redwoods State Park to camp in the old growth forest at the Albee Creek campsite; after the luxury of coin-operated showers and a good strong cup of espresso heated up on our camp stove we headed out the Mattole Road over bridges like this past the occasional vineyard or meadow with grazing goats and the friendly folks at the Honeydew General Store where we bought $20 gas and key lime flavored soda pop to Mattole Beach and California's "Lost Coast".

The wind was coming in off the ocean and bringing a fresh bank of fog with it by noon and the campers in only a handful of the fourteen campsites were already hunkering down for what promised to be a blustery evening. At low tide the beach trail leads you on a half day hike to a lighthouse that can only be approached from the waterline, but after an hour hiking into the wind we decided the county campground we'd passed along the Mattole Creek was looking pretty darned inviting.

Looking for firewood we stopped in Petrolia where these dolls greeted us by the roadside and we left the rugged coast behind us. Stopping at a little organic farm stand a lovely woman in wellies watering her garden picked a bunch of red beets out of the ground for two dollars. We added three little cucumbers with Dino kale to our purchases before taking our leave. An hour later we were setting up camp at site #9 and lying on our own private creek side beach in the sunshine. Little kids riding their bikes and dogs digging in the sand made for a very peaceful evening while we cooked vegetarian chili to have with our cornbread muffins and turn in for the evening while the folks at the next site played a guitar and sang softly under the stars for a few minutes more.

Sunday morning we broke camp and headed inland for a hike in the old grove redwood forest. One fellow we met said he wasn't a churchgoer, but these trees standing so magnificently for hundreds of years were pretty darn close to a religious experience for him.

Taking our leave we drove south to exit the park by way of the Avenue of the Giants and were indeed humbled again by these trees that have been there before the Magna Carta was signed and just hitting adolescence with the Declaration of Independence. We ran into a couple who had been out to the ocean and filled their pockets with fresh mussels pulled from the rocks that they cooked for their dinner that night - it doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ed Freeman

Browsing through books at The Depot in Mill Valley I had to pick up and bring home a book with a series of photos by Ed Freeman called Desert Realty.
Some were shot on the edge of Death Valley and this Airstream is one of my favorites. Some days I want to cash in my chips, buy the DWR's model and head for the desert myself!
He takes the photos and then plays with them before arriving at the final "edited" image. Ed cites Bernd & Hilla Becker as his influences These also remind me of The Salton Sea documentary I saw not long ago - another one of those wonderful quirky places on the edge of the desert. Ed also is working on a book of surfer photos taken in Hawaii - stay tuned.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Death Valley

Tecope Hot Springs is one of the best places to visit in Death Valley (that's the Paiute Chief Tecope pictured above). One always thinks of endless sand and desert when you hear about Death Valley, but there are hot springs and pools there too. At night you can find springs under the moonlight surrounded by bullrushes and sit in the warm, sandy water being serenaded by bullfrogs.

During the day you can go to the pool!

Another magical place in Death valley is:
The Amargosa Hotel and Opera House

It's a little bit David Lynch (think Wild at Heart) meets vaudeville and it works!

There's even an award winning documentary about Marta Beckett who painted the amazing frescoes inside the theater and for decades has performed to desert audiences. She truly embodies the creative spirit .
Cafe C'est Si Bon - better known as the Internet Cafe is in Shoshone, CA (the gateway to Death Valley) and is the best place to stop for a lovely meal - order crepes filled with savory cheeses or sweet concoctions created by David (pictured below with my girlfriend Taura) - the vibe is friendly and his son Oliver has a lemonade stand for thirst-quenching refreshment as well - if you are lucky, you might meet his potbellied pig named Pizza.

Then it's time to sleep in the back of the VW bus with a few of my friends...