Sunday, May 31, 2009

monfils le magnifique

on the list of "dream assignments" or things i'd like to do before i die: to spend some weeks photographing atp tennis players--specifically nadal and monfils--during the european clay court season.

however mercurial or frustrating his game and attitude can be to someone who roots for him, monfils is soaring inspiration for a photographer. the clay brings out the best in him and it shows in the shots...all the "flights of fancy" and falling to earth:

this was the point of the match, if not the tournament. it went something like: backhand-pirouette-belly flop-backhand-recover-rush the net-forehand volley-forehand volley winner. monfils secured the break... even melzer gave him a high-five. tho if memory serves...monfils lost the set?
may 30, 2009. photo via

monfils won in 4: 6-2, 4-6,6-4,6-1. photo via

i love this one, also taken during the melzer match, by award-winning getty photographer, ryan pierse. may 30, 2009.

more of pierse's award-winning photos

Saturday, May 30, 2009

in the pink: round 3 a speedy thrid round win over lleyton hewitt (6-1, 6-3, 6-1). may 29, 2009. via

i wish the fédération française de tennis had given the photographer credit for this one. it's one of the best photos i've seen all week.

though i like this one, too:

monfils reached the third round with a straight set win over victor crivoi, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. may 28, 2009. via

Monday, May 25, 2009

in the pink: round 1

nadal at roland garros. may 25, 2009. photo by jacques demarthon/afp/getty images.

nadal photographed during his first round match against marcos daniel of brazil. nadal won, 7-5 6-4 6-3. may 25, 2009.
photo: jacques demarthon/afp/getty images.

it took me a few minutes to adjust to nadal's look for the french: all that mardi gras color is a lot to take in at 7am on the monday of a long weekend. but the more i see it, the more i like it. it's bold against the burnt orange terre battue, and it photographs beautifully.

and it is actually very "paree"--think fauchon...

nadal's pink nike shirt will be the talk of the town for this fortnight, and it will be noted in virtually every feature article written at the tournament's conclusion, and again at year's end. fashion faux pas or not, nadal's sartorial decisions--cuts and color combinations that most players wouldn't attempt (or couldn't pull off), the precise fit of his garments and how he puts them all together--mirror his style of play and his approach to the game: audacious, studied, and unlike anyone else on the tour.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

madonna, marion, and mondino...

i've been on a little madonna kick for a couple of weeks, ever since nikki, an instructor at my gym, threw a little "express yourself" into the mix for our ballet barre class. (one thing about nikki--she's about 4 inches shorter than me--and i am right around 5 feet--but her legs? oh, about 6 inches longer than mine. amazing.)

the "don't tell me" video, directed by jean baptiste mondino, with alex barber as dp, is an all-time favorite. a deceptively simple idea, the video deconstructed, but so stylishly executed: her on the automated walkway and dancing on the set; the second location, with beautiful big blue sky and way out west imagery; the third, with the fellas dancing in the desert; and then everyone on set at the end.

aaaand, i can't get enough of alex magno's choreography. i've dreamed about learning that dance, but so far, i've only got the last bit, the hip-shaking. ah well, it's a start.


i do love mr. mondino's photography; if i could figure out how to get indoor light to look like it does here (marion cotillard in the kitchen!), it would be an achievement worthy of the thesaurus: significant, magnificent, miraculous, monumental...and those words would still not be enough.

marion cotillard, photographed by jean baptiste mondino, for french elle's special "green issue" (feb 2009). via mondino's official site.

i adore this, too:

marion cotillard, photographed by jean baptiste mondino, for french elle's special "green issue" (feb 2009). via mondino's official site.

i've been picking up some interesting lighting tips via twitter, but if you can de-code the lighting scenario here, i'd love to hear what you think...

in any case, more of mondino here at the official site. they've curated the images nicely, so it won't take long to scroll through all the pages. unless you want it to...

some ultra-enthusiastic fan has created this site, if you want more, more, more. it's quite a catalog!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

aiga: everybody dance now...

on the avenue, 164 fifth avenue... nyc. april 2009.

last month while running errands on fifth avenue, i was teased by a huge storefront sign: EVERYBODY DANCE NOW. i stopped outside just long enough to see that it was an AIGA exhibit, which was even more curious: what was the premier design association's interest in dance?

i was in too much of a hurry on that day to stop in--i hit the road again with only the tune stuck in my head...

i returned another day to investigate further: the exhibit is actually called "everybody dance now: 20 years of dancing in print" and is a retrospective of two publications, dance ink (1989-1996) and 2wice (1997-ongoing), published by patsy tarr and designed and art directed by abbott miller, a partner at pentagram.

there is, on pentagram's site, a tidy overview that puts both the exhibit and the publications into context to those of us who are not (yet) familiar with the work, and they have posted some beautiful photos from the magazines.

rob besserer, of the erstwile white oak dance project, photographed by duane michals for a 1996 issue. via pentagram.

flamenco star pilar rioja. via pentagram.

the picnic issue, summer 2002. via pentagram.

the merce cunningham dance company photographed by christian witkin for the summer 2002 issue. via pentagram.

if you are able to get to the AIGA national design center, you will see these and many more: there are 40 issues presented in succession, on accordion-style metal displays.

the 2008 issue, false start, featuring jonah bokaer. installation photo by harry zernike. via pentagram.

opening night party photo by federico rodriguez-caldentey. via pentagram.

i don't know if the displays were created specifically for this installation, but it is a wonderful way to experience and celebrate movement--there's symmetry and energy to the exhibit. there are also intact issues of 2wice for folks to peruse, but the ladies that were there when i was were too engaged with them to let me have a look. ah well, i wanted to go back again anyway.

if you would like to check it out, get there soon! it closes may 22. here are the deets:

164 fifth avenue (between 21st and 22nd Streets), nyc

gallery hours: monday through thursday: 11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m; friday: 11:00 a.m–5:00 p.m.


there is a wonderful quote from merce cunningham that adorns the walls of the gallery, and i've been thinking about it often since my first visit:

"you have to love dancing to stick to it. it gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive. it is not for unsteady souls."

of course, one could happily argue that ms. tarr, mr. miller and all the contributors to dance ink and 2wice, have managed to defy this on some level, because they have preserved dance in another form for us to appreciate...

but the essence of his statement is striking...

i recently took a dance/stretch class at my gym with an instructor who encouraged me to take formal lessons. this felt like the scariest, greatest idea in the universe. i'm not sure there is anything that makes me happier or feel most like myself as when i can listen to music and dance around--not in any formal way, at all. i just do it. for hours. and i have taken classes here and there, but never really studied it. i wondered, for me, at this point in my life, what would be the point?

but the cunningham quote reminded me that "dancers" (and maybe this is truer for those who are not now and will never be professionals?) dance precisely for how it makes them feel.

the point need not be grander than that.

Friday, May 8, 2009

my lament: brooklyn designs

art by palo samko. IMG_5297 by ata08.

art by palo samko. IMG_5290 by ata08.

art by palo samko. IMG_5291 by ata08.

art by palo samko. IMG_5294 by ata08.

art by palo samko. IMG_5299 by ata08.

i had so much fun at brooklyn designs last year (see photos!) and i've been looking forward to attending the 2009 show...but unless something changes at the last minute, i'm going to miss it.

those who are able to make it will surely enjoy seeing the work of UM (oh how i love colgate searle and other cool geniuses at UM) and palo samko. at least i was able to see palo samko's exhibit at the ad home design show in march...

the photos above are "just some art pieces" palo created, which are not part of his official collection. but the spray painted zeppelin is striking. i love the bike theme--and i wasn't the only one. he said he received enough inquiries about his art pieces during the ad show that he may considering creating more, for sale.

anyway, UM will be at the icff at the javits center next week...otherwise, there is always the option for a field trip to their studio in dumbo...

if you are lucky enough to make it to bk designs, send news please...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

read a good poem: us together (and see fine pictures)

todd hido, landscape, 2653. via and

nude, 1927, 61n, by edward weston. edward weston negative, cole weston print available at

us together

i do not like anything the way i
like you in your underwear i like you
and in your party clothes o my in your
party clothes and with nothing on at all
you do not need to wear a thing at all
for me to like you and you may talk or
not talk I like you either way nothing
makes me feel so nearly at home on earth
as just to be with you and say nothing.

george johnston. from the essential george johnson, selected by robyn sarah. copyright the porcupine's quill, 2007.
via the writer's almanac.

i love the playfulness and simplicity of this, and the rhythm too.

last month was "poetry month" and there was hardly one that i read of the offerings by the poetry foundation, the ny review of books, or the writer's almanac that really grabbed me. i suppose it had something to do with my own frame of mind (distracted, impatient).

but what i am always open to, stopped and stilled in my tracks by, is a "love" poem. sweet or lusty. clever or plain. celebratory or crushing. truthful...

"us together" is the first george johnston poem i read. of johnston's work and the "essential" collection, the canadian book review annual said:

he is preoccupied with rhythms, with diction, with tones and nuances, and the creative challenge of complex metres and stanza forms. ...this verse celebrates ordinary life in tones that vary between the ironic and the sombre, and the tender and the stoic, but its technique is impeccable, and its chief pleasure lies in the display of an unostentatious but formidable artistry...'

anyway, it is a favorite. hope you like it, too.


as to the photos:

the directness and clarity of the verse made me think that a straight-up nude be too obvious. these seem dreamy, sensual, rightly suggestive.

think they work here? i'm still deciding. but i like them on their own.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

beyond the regular: artichoke pizza

the spinach and artichoke slice...

from artichoke basille's pizza, 14th street, nyc. may 2, 2009

there are many moods and occasions when a mere slice or two of pizza will do:
when you've been out all night carousing.
when you need a quick lunch, on the cheap.
or any good morning, cold, right out of the fridge.

but there are times, when pizza is more than a mere slice. it's the whole magilla: it's rhyme and reason, and some great reward.

i went to artichoke pizza for the first time today, and ordered the spinach and artichoke slice. it is a fat and juicy-looking affair, and i was slightly intimidated. but to paraphrase jonathan richman, ate it with gusto, damn! you bet.

it is an untraditional slice. and it an evocative experience--you may forget for a moment or two that it's pizza you're enjoying. buttery, creamy sauce, coyly hiding under a blanket of chewy mozzarella, on a crust that is hearty but light, and with a proper crunch: you can imagine you're picnicking on the left bank, enjoying oozy brie on french bread (but without the brie funk)...
or you're dining in a courtyard in italy, un-shyly taking whatever slices are left in the bread basket to sop up a creamy white sauce...
or you're in new england, tearing a roll into bite-size pieces and soaking it in your clam chowder...

but then you realize you're on a bench, under the trees in union square park, on sunny and cool may day, with a big slice from the little pizza shop down the block...

that's a damn fine place to be.

artichoke pizza
328 e 14th st
new york, ny 10003

celebrate: bewitched, bothered, and bewildered

today is the birthday of lorenz hart-- new yorker, columbia alum, romantic, lovely and lonely lyricist, and lifelong collaborator with richard rodgers. hughson mooney wrote a brief, but interesting bio on hart in which he suggest that hart's lyrics, perhaps even better than cole porter's, reflected the voice of the urban, upper-middle class generation between the first and second world wars. porter was saucier, racier, more urbane--and i favor, on the whole, his work. but boy, can hart ever do love, melancholy, clever yearning:

bewitched, bothered, and bewildered

after one whole quart of brandy
like a daisy i'm awake
with no bromo seltzer handy,
i don't even shake

men are not a new sensation;
i've done pretty well, i think.
but this half-pint imitation
put me on the blink

i'm wild again
beguiled again
a simpering, whimpering child again
bewitched, bothered and bewildered am i

couldn't sleep
and wouldn't sleep
until i could sleep where i shouldn't sleep
bewitched, bothered and bewildered am i

lost my heart but what of it?
my mistake i agree.
he's a laugh, but i love it
because the laugh's on me.

a pill he is
but still he is
all mine and i'll keep him until he is
bewitched, bothered and bewildered
like me.

seen a lot
i mean i lot
but now i'm like sweet seventeen a lot
bewitched, bothered and bewildered am i

i'll sing to him
each spring to him
and worship the trousers that cling to him
bewitched, bothered and bewildered am i

when he talks he is seeking
words to get off his chest.
horizontally speaking
he's at his very best.

vexed again
perplexed again
thank god i can't be over-sexed again
bewitched, bothered and bewildered am i

wise at last
my eyes at last
are cutting you down to your size at last
bewitched, bothered and bewildered no more

burned a lot
but learned a lot
and now you are broke, though you earned a lot
bewitched, bothered and bewildered no more

couldn't eat
was dyspeptic
life was so hard to bear;
now my heart's antiseptic
since you moved out of there

your chance-finis
those ants that invaded my pants-finis
bewitched, bothered and bewildered no more.

when ella sings them, these lyrics that can at first read bluesy or bitter (or maybe even a bit looney), are sweeter and dreamier.

she, like many who have recorded it, made some lyrical changes:

until i could sleep where i shouldn't sleep became when love came and told me i shouldn't sleep

my mistake i agree becomes he is cold I agree

he's a laugh but i love it becomes he can laugh but i love it

he's a pill...becomes he's a fool...

worship the trousers that cling to him becomes and long for the day when i'll cling to him in the first verse (but she brings back the original lyrics for the second)

seen a lot is i've sinned a lot...

and i think she thanks god she can get over-sexed again...

anyway, you get the idea. i hear her version and think she gets the guy in the end. or at least, she gets what she wants. i like that.


bewitched, bothered, and bewildered is one of the best known tunes from the musical pal joey. i was surprised to learn that the musical version was based on a series of short stories, written as letters (it can be properly called an epistolary novel, my new favorite term), by john o'hara, which appeared in the new yorker. this bit of news got me very excited, until i read a little more about john o'hara. he sounds awful.


blue moon (elvis)

blue moon,
you saw me standing alone
without a dream in my heart
without a love on my own.
blue moon,
you knew just what I was there for
you heard me saying a prayer for
somebody I really could care for.
and then there suddenly appeared before me,
the only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper, "please adore me."
and when I looked,
the moon had turned to gold.
blue moon,
now I'm lo longer alone
without a dream in my heart
without a love on my own.

elvis' version of blue moon was the first cross-over/rock and roll hit for rodgers and hart--and it actually was the 4th iteration of the song. the first 3 lyric versions were all written while the duo was under contract to MGM. the first version was to be sung by jean harlow in the film "hollywood party," but ultimately neither jean harlow, nor the song appeared in the film. the second and third versions were written for manhattan melodrama (one of my favorite flicks, starring myrna loy and clark gable).

image via

image via

my funny valentine (chet baker)

be hold the way our fine feathered-friend
his virtue doth parade.
thou knowest not my dim witted friend,
the picture thou hast made.
thy vacant brow and thy tousled hair
conceal thy good intent.
thou noble upright, truthful, sincere
and slightly dopey gent- you are..

my funny valentine
sweet comic valentine
you make me smile with my heart
you looks are laughable, unphotographable
yet you're my favorite work of art
is your figure less than greek
is your mouth a little bit weak
when you open it to speak, are you smart?
don't change a hair for me
not if you care for me
stay little valentine stay
each day is valentine's day