Thursday, April 30, 2009

read a good poem, and see a fine picture: todd hido, #6242

todd hido, #6242. via

today is "poem in your pocket" day--the academy of american poets is trying to spread the poetic love by offering a little template, with 25 selections that can be printed out for folks to either carry around for themselves, or share. of these, i like lost by sara teasdale...

there is a poem that i carry around, it was sent to me by my aunt several years ago. she knows too well my dreamy, broody side and during a particularly difficult period, i received in the mail a handwritten note from her, on hotel stationery:

be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.

do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.

and the point is to live everything.

live the questions now. perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it live along some distant days into the answers.

she came across that passage in "a year by the sea" by joan anderson, which she'd been reading during her vacation. it was written by rainer maria rilke ('letters to a young poet").

i read it from time to time, encouraged by the words, still amazed by the timeliness and thoughtfulness of her sending it. but that is just how she is...

i've linked to todd hido's work before--he is a newly discovered favorite photographer of mine, and i really love the shots through a wet, dirty windshield in "a road divided."

here is david m. roth's brief review of his recent show at the stephen wirtz gallery and many more shots from "a road divided" here, via


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

pizza pizza

pizza tasting party at the white house roosevelt room, april 10, 2009. photographed by pete souza, via the official white house photostream.

ok, i can't stop looking at the official white house photos. a terrific peek into events both official and ordinary.

like this pizza tasting party.
how much do i love the newspapers lining the table?
let me count the ways.
so hysterical. so down home. and a terrific re-use of the daily rags...

short stuff

photographed by pete souza, via the official white house photostream. march 3, 2009.

anyone wanna teach a girl some shorthand? so old school cool...

the coolest ever...

the president and first lady, in 3-d glasses while watching superbowl 43. photographed by pete souza.

i was feeling bluesy, until i saw this...


here's a link to the announcement of pete souza as the official white house photographer, and his site. i'll be spending the day admiring his work.


mad square adventure

in recent weeks, i have walked through madison square park nearly every day, sometimes twice a day, and i've marvelled that the shake shack has managed to sustain such a devoted and patient patronage. the line that snakes long around the seating area on the south side of the park has been a deterrent for me, yet it makes me smile quietly--it's a sign of spring, joyous congregation around...meat and milkshakes. i think it's sweet that people are still so enthusiastic about it. but i also wonder if they aren't the biggest suckers in town. friends have offered mixed reviews, from "meh" to "awesome" --it just hasn't been enough to inspire me to endure the wait.

but yesterday, my friend stephen proposed it as our "lunch adventure." he too has never wanted or had time to wait out the line, but it was a gorgeous day, since we haven't hung out since i was laid off, we could fuel our anticipation with some good catching up. and in that hour, we shared all kinds of good gossip (i mean, news) from the office. i think i even got a bit of color...

and then there was the food.

the shackburger is a bit more modest then i anticipated--it's small, but the single is probably a smart size for a mid-day meal. it's a handsomely assembled little burger (pretty tomatoes). the meat was tender, but a bit too done and lacking flavor. i am a ketchup fiend--fiend, i say--and my burger test is "how long can i go before i need some ketchup?" i have been to a few places recently--fatty crab, resto, 5 napkin burger--where the meat was so savory that ketchup would have only been a distraction. not so here. three bites into it, and it felt like the shackburger needed something to elevate it. the shack sauce was runny and indistinguishable. and american cheese is wonderful for adding smoothness, but something sharper could have helped here.

it seemed to be the overriding theme, as the fries were handsome and crisp, but missing flavor and salt.

but the shake redeemed everything. not that any of the food was bad, it was fine and good. one wonders, though, if it's enough payoff for the wait?

the shake makes it so.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

come to the cabaret: maude maggart

maude maggart will be song-styling at the oak room, through may 23. i have been wanting to see and hear her perform but have managed, for the last two years, to miss her. not this time.

it would be nice to have a friend or two to accompany me, but i don't think too many of mine are down for the cabaret. perhaps it would help if i told them she is fiona apple's sister? but perhaps not...

perhaps if they heard her rendition of the carpenter's superstar? i think it is haunting and lovely.


loneliness is a such a sad affair

and i can hardly wait to be with you again

what to say to make you come again

come back to me again

and play your sad guitar


need a bit more convincing?

here is stephen holden's review in the nytimes (ms. maggart acts a song with a fluid body language that lends everything she sings an added dramatic intensity...she wields old-time hollywood glamor to cast her seductive spell);

and will friedwald's in the voice (there are plenty of singers in new york clubs who can out-sing her, but none who can out-think her... singing the subtext as much as the notes or the lyrics, she creates a kind of jukebox musical of the gods).

and here is a link to the oak room site.

maybe not a dream match-up, but a dreamy one

i woke up in time to catch a few games of the battle of the handsomes: safin v robredo.
and then, with robredo serving at deuce, down 2-4, the rains came.

marat safin, during his match vs. tommy robredo at the internazionali bnl d'italia. photographed by julian finney for getty images. april 28, 2009.

to be continued...


in the meanwhile, here's a favorite photo of safin from last year's australian open:

marat safin, at the australian open 2008. photographed by greg wood for getty. january 18, 2008.

and to keep the "handsome guy with racket" theme going, one of robredo:
tommy robredo at the 2004 french open. photographed by clive mason for getty. may 30, 2004.

Monday, April 27, 2009

see a fine actor: richard short, on fringe

who's on the fringe?

i tried watching it when it first premiered, and it was a bit too spy/sci-fi convoluted for me to stay invested in, but...i've got my dvr set and i'm going to watch tomorrow night's episode live, to see my friend, the fine actor (and co-blogger of film snobs), richard short.

he's going to get his
spine ripped out, apparently.

gory good fun!
it airs at 9pm on FOX....

Sunday, April 26, 2009

hot child in the city

i do look forward to the few times of the year when i can sport something of a savage tan, but i've only ever been interested in acquiring a tan in the course of pursuing some kind of activity: tennis, the very least, i'd have to be at the beach, with the prospect of running or flopping around in the water. but lounging outside on a towel, just to get a bit of color seemed boring. and it seemed somehow sad to have to do it on the roof or on a fire escape or in a city park. but i must be getting old and lazy, because when my friend andy suggested whiling away an afternoon in central park on this the first of surely many scorching ny sundays, i didn't have to think twice about it. and i didn't even think twice about stripping down to my bikini. it was too hot for much modesty, too hot for much just beyond lying there, with lots of water. and cherry popsicles.

all that doing nothing in the sunshine really did wonders for our appetite though. after winding our way all through the west side of the park, we hit up the new uptown outpost of fatty crab, and feasted on fatty sliders (mini pork and beef burgers, served on soft square rolls, with luscious sambal aioli--maybe my favorite dish on their menu), green mango salad, fatty duck, the near- perfect mess known as the chili crab, coconut rice, and...the fatty dog...

our table was quite a scene, especially when we were done.

this new restaurant is a smart extension and a good fit for the neighborhood: it doesn't sport the elbow-to-elbow, knee-to-knee intimacy and down home charm (and the lighting is less amorous), but the trade-off is great service, and a shorter wait for a table (more tables!). the tweaks to the menu (no quail egg shooters! and a curry sauce for the chili crab, rather than luscious, piquant tamarind sauce) might be a minor disappointment for the downtown regulars who fiend for those particular delights, but it at least ensures the original location won't be forgotten.

our meal was a nice, if super-indulgent coda, elevating an afternoon of simple pleasure to a summer holiday.

i love "hot child in the city" but had forgotten it was sung by nick gilder. or maybe i never really knew that. he doesn't do much to sell this song, but it's catchy anyway...

if you check out the wikipedia link, you'll see a connection to john mcenroe's wife, patty smyth...

(hint, hint: "bang, bang")

Thursday, April 23, 2009

iced coffee and tequila

vietnamese iced coffee. april 23, 2009.

i have a couple of friends who are yearning for "iced coffee" weather. and while i, too, am wondering where the hell spring is (but steadfastly refusing to pull out my winter coat again), i almost never drink iced coffee, certainly not in the morning. oh, i like it fine enough, but it's too easy to drink. and really, it has to be consumed pretty quickly lest it get depressingly watered down, like a yoo-hoo.

but vietnamese iced coffee stands apart from this phenomenon. the first few sips are shocking--it is so wonderfully, toxically thick with sweet condensed milk and that too-roasted coffee bean flavor--try to drink it too quickly, and it will send you reeling. at the very least, it could ruin your interest the meal that awaits you. you have to sip it throughout the meal, let the ice mellow it out. it seems never to get too sadly diluted.

and it knows no season. yesterday, my friend/boss for a freelance project took us out for a sort of celebratory lunch, and even though i was under-dressed for the weather (cold, cold hands!) and (probably) over-caffeinated, i ordered a vietnamese iced coffee without a second thought. i knew every leisurely sip would hit the spot.

do we think it wise to agree to have one's hair cut by a woman named tequila?

i'm about to find out.

enjoy the afternoon.

Monday, April 20, 2009

damon winter and "s.o.n.!"

shadrick johnson, 6, photographed by damon winter for the ny times, outside the columbia convention center in south carolina, as he waited to hear then-senator obama speak. via and

i came home late from a job today, and felt completely out of touch with the world (i hadn't been online all day) and the first piece of news i read thrilled me: damon winter was awarded the 2009 pulitzer prize for feature photography. hooray!!

i posted a link to some of his slideshows a while back, and think about his work often. (i invested in a new camera a couple of days ago and my mind is aflood--even more than usual--with the work of photographers who i admire. i actually fell asleep last night thinking of damon winter's obama images...)

here are links to the "a vision of history" slideshow which can be viewed on the ny times site and the pulitzer site. also on the pulitzer site is mr. winter's bio, and of course, a full list of winners and finalists.


i love the look and smell of the newspaper. and the sound of it being lightly smacked and folded at its center. i love carrying it under my arm or stuffing into my bag on my way out the door--after all these years, it still feels cool, somehow (especially if you've got more than one on you). and i really like the crossword puzzle, in pencil or pen. but i am currently taking a break from receiving the new york times at home, a small change that is meant to benefit my wallet (working!), but is doing greater harm to my mind (and maybe my soul).

on the one hand, all that content--the slideshows, especially--is a feast for the curious, the infohounds. i've got a good bit of that in me. but one article can so easily lead me astray-- those slideshows (again!) and related links are so tempting, sometimes i don't finish an article, let alone think about it long enough before moving on to the next thing. i'm all over the place! with the actual newspaper, i can settle in... note-taking during or after required a bit more effort and time. even if only for the few minutes it took to find a piece of paper and pen, that time actually felt a bit thoughtful. and then there came a time when you were "done." whether you finished one article, or your favorite section, or the whole darn thing (you intrepid reader you), there was a satisfying end. i miss all that now, and don't want to imagine not having the option to have all that again.

and every time i hear about newspapers laying off staff, shrinking sections, going online only, or shutting operations for good, which is practically daily, i want to call and "un-suspend" my deliveries, as if my dollars will make an impact.

i found this video the other day: can design save the newspaper? jacek utko, a polish newspaper designer, whose redesigns of newspapers in eastern europe has increased their circulation 100%, presents an interesting case. is it too dreamy for our newspaper industry's deep-dish problems? perhaps. but it's a good dream.

save our newspapers!

here's 6 minutes of inspiration, anyway (i love the cirque du soleil bit).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

in celebration of the elements of style...

which was first published 50 years ago today, a celebration of the clever, whimsical work of maira kalman, whose illustrated version of the book was published in 2005.

i've attended a couple of book events featuring ms. kalman. unguarded and humble, she left a surprising impression as a soul with a deep sad streak. yet her stories and her work inspire a thoughtful dreaminess, a reminder that beautiful, interesting work can come from the observation and appreciation of everyday things.

"his first thought on getting out of bed—if he had any thought at all–was to get back in again." via

"be obscure clearly! be wild of tongue in a way we can understand!" via

my favorite illustrated "rule"from this volume: "the approach to style is by way of plainness, simplicity, orderliness, sincerity."

i seem to be having a bit of trouble with this lately. but it's good to remember.

among ms. kalman's recent projects is a mural for the newly renovated library at ps 47 in the bronx, as part of the library initiative of the robin hood foundation. the library initiative, a public-private partnership, seeks to reverse low literacy rates and underachievement in nyc schools by building state of the art libraries that serve as a hub for learning and inspiration.

here's a link to an article about the program from the nytimes last month, and a slideshow of the murals by maira kalman, christoph niemann, stefan sagmeister and yuko shimizu.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

what i think about when i think about monaco...

cary grant and grace kelly. 1955. unknown photographer.

prince albert, prince rainier, princesses stephanie and caroline, and princess grace. on holiday, 1960. photographed by alain nogues. via alain nogues/sygma/corbis at

when i was a young teen, the royal family of monaco held court, likely against their will, over seemingly all the magazines and tabloids. they would make regular appearances in news weeklies, fashion books, lifestyle mags and the gossip rags--the ladies in my family became pretty fluent in who they were cavorting with and what they were wearing. it seems strange now that i came to know grace kelly as a mom before i saw any of her films.

maybe this is less strange, but what i knew of "european style" also evolved from photos of taken of the royal family at that time. as someone who'd spent little time thinking about clothes to that point (except in the form a "lucky leotard" or tennis togs), the younger princess' style--reflective of her interest in sports--appealed to me. she was always traipsing around the alps, or hanging out at the races, in gear that seemed pretty cool.

(i tried to rock this bandanna look for waaaay too long...)princesses stephanie and grace in gstaad, switzerland. 1980. photographed by laszlo veres. via b.d.v./corbis

princess stephanie, 1983. photographed by laszlo veres. via b.d.v./corbis at

but everything about that continental, cosmopolitan principality and the royal family was steeped so long in sadness after princess grace's death. it was hard to look at photos and see past that.

stephanie at val d'Isere, france. january 10, 1983. photographed by stephane tavoularis. via bettmann/corbis at

prince albert and princess stephanie. december 12, 1982. photographed by richard melloul, via richard melloul/sygma/corbis at

but in the last few years that i've been tuning into the tennis at the monte carlo rolex open, i've loved the stunning view of and from the courts, and the tennis has been just as spectacular. it is my second favorite clay court tournament, and pretty near the top of the list of tournaments i'd like to attend. the stadium seems only as big as a high school football stadium. and then there's the sea...

but i won't lie: to see prince albert ii making appearances at matches and presiding over various ceremonies, looking older and settled and happy, gives the tournament a special allure.

monaco, a locale perhaps not ever as idyllic as the "playground for the rich" moniker would imply, does seem quite glamorous again.

rafael nadal at the 2007 monte carlo open. photographed by michael steele, april 21, 2007. via getty images, at

andy murray, prince albert II, and rafael nadal in monte carlo, monaco. april 12, 2009. photographed by michael steele, getty images. via

Saturday, April 11, 2009

easter with elvis

elvis and yvonne lime, easter weekend. april 19, 1957. ap photo via

i took walk to and from my yoga class this morning, in the cold rain.

is it possible that park avenue and all the side streets around here look prettier in the rain? the shine of the big, modern buildings runs off. everything, from the bark on the magnolia trees to the heavy, stone buildings, is soaked, saturated. it all seems somehow deeper, more interesting.

this grey, wet city weather came with a soundtrack: elvis, the complete 50s masters ..."ain't that lovin you baby." when i got home, i popped disc 5 (my favorite) into the cd player. i always start with track 20--"loving you" (slow version) and then play the disc through to the end, and go then back to track 7--the unreleased version of "blue moon." dreamy.

then i pulled "last train to memphis" from my bookshelf, to brush up a little. i turned to p 383 of my edition, the chapter on the film "loving you." there is a photo on the facing page of elvis and yvonne lime snapped in front of graceland...on easter weekend, 1957.

the coincidence was just too much.

so, i'll spend the rest of the day and on into tomorrow, listening to elvis, and re-reading parts of this great guralnick book.


the photo of elvis and yvonne lime that i posted is from the cbs site. the better version that appears in "last train to memphis" was photographed by robert williams, who also snapped this one of elvis and one of my favorite actresses:

elvis and natalie wood. october 31, 1956. by robert williams, via the commercial appeal.

you can view (and purchase from) terrific elvis gallery here. the gallery also features another of my favorite elvis photos:

elvis, march 24, 1958. photo by barney sellers via the commercial appeal.

and: happy easter...

Friday, April 10, 2009

good friday

nadal and federer. 2006 monte carlo open final. april 23, 2006.
photo by pascal guyot, for getty. via

i am in a special kind of heaven this morning: tennis channel is gearing up for the 2009 monte carlo rolex masters event (which kicks on this sunday, april 12) by airing the "classic finals" from the last few years. it's a friday fed v. nadal fest.

i don't have the kind of memory that will make this anything but suspenseful from point to point (obviously i know the final outcome)--when i tuned in at 9am, i had no idea if the match was going 3 sets or 5. it's becoming clearer.

i am wishing i had the time to sit and really take this in, but there is stuff to be done on this good friday.

i like it as a soundtrack, though.
if you're interested in "playing" it too, here's the day's tv schedule.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

sunday night: this is how it's meant to be

i've been here at home, having a very typical sunday night--catching up on emails and the newspaper and "facebooking" a bit, with the tv on (sunday night baseball--muted), music playing...this song came on for the hundredth-plus time, but it somehow conveys exactly how i feel tonight.

and it reminded me of the first time i heard it: last june when my friend z and i went to see sondre lerche at joe's pub. i didn't even know the name of it at the time; everyone else in the room knew the song by heart - that sing-along remains one of my all-time favorite live music memories.

that, and "sleep anita..."

hope you enjoy it too.


link to full "modern nature" track (with the "tap dancing" bit) via last fm here, and sondre lerche's website here.

and: sorry for the loud woo-hooing at the end of the videos.