Friday, May 28, 2010

underground color

maybe i'm amazed at his inventiveness, or his clean expression and observation.
maybe i'm amazed by his voice, all its modulations and moods.

maximum favorite writer, still sending blog post(cards) from paris, wrote a particularly charming one today about riding the metro. i really don't know how he does it. i'm just glad he does.
i love this one in part because it reminds me of the last time i saw paris, which was also my first time to take the metro. (my metro experience was nothing like his--shepherding 5 non-french speaking women through the underground meant that we mostly had eyes on each other--but it's true that public transportation in a foreign city can give you a sense of belonging. or you can pretend you belong. i remember feeling that there.)

mostly i remember liking the
subway art. even the movie posters were elegant. and the stations themselves seemed, like so many things in paris, to me, dreamily dim and cinematic.

but his "metro" also reminded me of the "subte" in buenos aires.

their system is easy, with efficient color-coded lines, A through E -- on a map the lines run mostly straight, they're not an arterial mess like new york's.

during the rush hours, cars are jammed as well (or as badly) as the worst new york train, except that when the the doors open, the crowd will shimmy--impossibly, unbelievably-- closer together to try to get at least one more soul on. and they will do it without grimacing, or rolling their eyes, pushing or threatening. it's actually nice, but also sort of nuts.

there's no air-conditioning. one mercilessly hot night, z and i took the train to puerto madero, and within minutes perspiration was pooling, marring our makeup, making our dresses damp. i came to the ghastly suspicion that my ankles were sweating. i didn't want to know that that was even possible.

but there were nice moments for me--the sunday day i got drenched in a storm, shivered onto the train (in the wrong direction), and was set right by a sweet middle-aged lady, who had just recently visited new york...watching and listening to a young but very big boy, unselfconsciously and energetically (loudly) laughing and cuddling and telling stories about his school day to his mom, and her adoring eyes...

and there were photos...mfw's post reminded me of this one--a favorite--which i barely got before the train left the station. i remember telling z, i am "generally opposed" to graffiti, but really liked how it looks there.

perhaps it's even prettier in paris?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

read a good poem: things i didn’t know i loved: after nazim hikmet

metronorth...winter 2010

I always knew I loved the sky,
the way it seems solid and insubstantial at the same time;
the way it disappears above us
even as we pursue it in a climbing plane,
like wishes or answers to certain questions—always out of reach;
the way it embodies blue,
even when it is gray.

But I didn't know I loved the clouds,
those shaggy eyebrows glowering
over the face of the sun.
Perhaps I only love the strange shapes clouds can take,
as if they are sketches by an artist
who keeps changing her mind.
Perhaps I love their deceptive softness,
like a bosom I'd like to rest my head against
but never can.

And I know I love the grass, even as I am cutting it as short
as the hair on my grandson's newly barbered head.
I love the way the smell of grass can fill my nostrils
with intimations of youth and lust;
the way it stains my handkerchief with meanings
that never wash out.

Sometimes I love the rain, staccato on the roof,
and always the snow when I am inside looking out
at the blurring around the edges of parked cars
and trees. And I love trees,
in winter when their austere shapes
are like the cutout silhouettes artists sell at fairs
and in May when their branches
are fuzzy with growth, the leaves poking out
like new green horns on a young deer.

But how about the sound of trains,
those drawn-out whistles of longing in the night,
like coyotes made of steam and steel, no color at all,
reminding me of prisoners on chain gangs I've only seen
in movies, defeated men hammering spikes into rails,
the burly guards watching over them?

Those whistles give loneliness and departure a voice.
It is the kind of loneliness I can take in my arms, tasting
of tears that comfort even as they burn, dampening the pillows
and all the feathers of all the geese who were plucked to fill

Perhaps I embrace the music of departure—song without lyrics,
so I can learn to love it, though I don't love it now.
For at the end of the story, when sky and clouds and grass,
and even you my love of so many years,
have almost disappeared,
it will be all there is left to love.

--Linda Pastan
via the writer's almanac, may 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

sadly beautiful images from the gulf...

Michael B. Watkins/U.S. Navy via Getty Images


AP Photo/Eric Gay

see the full set of photos on

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

inspiration: sky and summer

via a desert rat:

Local Natives "World News" from Monte Lomax on Vimeo.

oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
the sky...

red camera at its brightest.
the cameramen i know don't love this cam for "talkies" or documentaries, but it's looking pretty good for music videos...

(between you and me, i would change what the boys are wearing. but it's what the cool kids dig these days...)

inspiration: paris notes

one morning in paris, years ago...

the truth of it is i'm mostly happy
but there are moments
(maybe especially when i first wake)
i wonder about
what on earth will be
(or just the day)
and need/want/hope for
a little

this was the first thing i read today, and it was exactly it
(and it's something else)

cheers to maximum favorite writer, blogging from paris.

read all his paris posts here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

a fair look

if you've been to one new york street fair, you've basically been to them all. the vendors and the vibe don't vary much from neighborhood to neighborhood, or even year to year-- you can count on finding cheap sunglasses and costume jewelry, socks and refrigerator magnets, grills with corn on the cob and sausage coils and piles of peppers and onions hissing and spitting stinky smoke. and needing a good long shower and shampoo immediately afterwards. i'm sort of fascinated that these fairs seem to be just as solidly attended now as twenty years ago. who keeps going to these things?

well...earlier in the week, i saw signs promoting today's "murray hill fair." i was interested--murray hill is such a funny little neighborhood, with embassies, hotels, small museums and galleries scattered along park and madison avenues; lots of irish bars and cheap grub closer to second and third avenues. but for some reason, i thought a murray hill fair would tend toward the refined, that it would be like a garden party with vendors in straw hats, lining the up and downtown sides of park avenue, selling fragrant pink peonies and fresh pink lemonade...and art.

i was mostly wrong.

i left the apartment at around noon today, with a dull ache in my head and a mood to match, and had really forgotten about the festivities until the moment i made it to my lobby. that heavy, stinky street fair smoke had invaded the space. i was forced to wade through it and the scene--kebob and fruit stands right on my corner-- to get to the store (needed milk for the coffee).but already it was much too much for me to bear. that was gonna be it for me.

an hour or so later, i started to feel, i don't know, guilty that i wasn't giving my neighborhood's fair a fair shot. so i decided to walk--all the way through. those of you who know the neighborhood won't be surprised that this was overall a pretty staid affair. not too crowded or mirthful, skewing a bit senior, but there were a few highlights and things i was glad to have seen for myself.

there were no sausages, but there were other street fair standbys like funnel cake and crepes and kettle corn. a few local restaurants, like librettos pizza, smorgaschef and the new italian culinary center (alta cucina) had small footprints, though i was underwhelmed by their efforts (light on food, heavy on promotional junk). there were indeed pink flowers--but oddly, they were made of wood. there was pink lemonade, and there was agua fresca. there was a bit of art, too--pencil drawings, original photography, and "actual" new yorker covers (framed). the best surprise of all, though, was the used books table--a fund-raising effort. they saw the most action. i enjoyed poking through a few of the piles but it was a real battle for elbow room and that was more than i wanted to bear today.

i left the fair empty-handed save for these:

aww. i could almost pretend i was in paris, watching the french open.
i don't recall crepes being this huge and heavy in france?

even after he folded into quarters, it was as big as my face. and i don't exactly have a small face.

this was my favorite food vendor, for obvious reasons.

he was really hard-selling the gigantic turkey leg. he scared me off.

another vendor had something different--beautiful spices and teas...i was impressed.

i really wanted to get this for my sister...

this interested me, too.

this is plain gorgeous.

and this is "special."
but i was so frustrated with the vendor (i won't name him because i don't want to promote him)--who just kept blathering on and on with everyone about how he's from cannes; "try the smoky paprika, you've never had anything like this"; "i just made this new lemon pepper, smell it, it is THE best, rub it on chicken, it is ah-maay-zing"; follow me on twitter, blah blah blah. i couldn't get him to clam up long enough to take my order. i got tired of waiting. probably saved me about $30 for 3 small square tins--each about half the size of an altoid box--so in the end, it was probably for the best.

this spice guy is more my speed. a bottle 3x the size, for half the price.

from how to draw the head to el greco

hipsters in murray hill.
i think i had a pair of baggy pants with an awfully similar black and white print in high school. whoops.

all photos © anita aguilar

Saturday, May 22, 2010

arriba! caracas arepa!

z invited me to meet for lunch today, and when i proposed that we meet at caracas arepa bar, she wrote (and i quote) OMG, YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! (arepas are one of her favorite foods on earth). she said she didn't think i'd ever want to go there since i didn't love the arepas in columbia.

and it's true, i didn't love it. but it was one arepa. and i had it at a cafe. in the airport. i wasn't about to judge (or disparage) a staple of an entire country's culinary heritage based on that. and in any case, caracas arepa bar is venezuelan. i had a feeling there might be a difference, if only slight.

caracas arepa bar is a place that i would happily return to. and i can already think of at least 6 ladies that i'm related to that would want to go (one sister + two cousins + three aunts). the food is satisfying and wonderfully kind to the budget. it's a happy room full of curios and color, and today, SUNLIGHT.

hooray! i mean, arriba!

tostones mochimeros are fried green plantains, topped with mojito mayo, white cheese and lemon. these might be my favorite way to enjoy tostones--rich and creamy, without the severe garlic breath. don't get me wrong, i LOVE garlic, but that dip that so many restaurants serve with the tostones makes me want to flee face-to-face contact for days...

the la silvestre salad. arugula (which i love but find a bit unwieldy with its long stems), orange, a bit of radish, sunflower seeds, and roasted corn. looks healthy and delicious, yes? it's proof that with the proper combination of really fresh ingredients, you don't need to dress a salad with more than a bit of olive oil and lemon. it was generous enough for us to share.

bits of white cheese, like you see here, on this arepa "de pabellon," are never really photogenic, but this is good food. shredded beef, black beans, cheese--with the first bite i thought, this is a chili sandwich. but then your palate discovers the slice of plantain. it is a combination that veers toward sweet--so it's not for everyone. but i enjoyed it.

and this was the "swing arepa" that z and i decided to split. "la del gato." (of the cat?) anyway, there is guayanes cheese, avocado, and ...even though it may look like pork belly or fried fatty bacon, don't be fooled, those are slices of plantain. this arepa is also sweet, very mild and creamy. some might argue this doesn't have enough zing. you can try adding the fruity sauce (mango?) that's on the table. but what i liked is it still managed to feel light. and it allowed me to really taste the arepa itself. it turns out i like the arepa--this venezuelan kind--very much. the sourness that i discerned in the columbian one was absent here. this was crisp on the outside, with a soft, white corn interior seeming on the verge of underbaked, it was so nicely moist and smooth.

i had my eye on a yummy and rummy looking cocktail--i'll definitely have one or two of those next time. and i will save room for dessert. it looks like they serve a variation of the alfajores that i swooned for in argentina.

all photos © anita aguilar

handsome town is...almost here

handsome town is coming to...your computer on tuesday, may 25...
here's the trailer:

looks fun, right?
i can't wait...

you'll be able to watch the show on the handsome town page on
if you head over there now you can read about the show and these amazing, gorgeous souls, who i had the pleasure of photographing:

mike upped the contrast and added graphics...i really love what he did...
i think they look really sharp.

and here are the candids of the actors...

this one is different from the photo that appears on the site, only because those were taken on a different day, and those files are...well, a little harder for me to get to right now. but--bonus for you! more of ms. rebekkah's lovely smile...

Friday, May 21, 2010

design now (timeless pieces)

my sister invited me to the cooper-hewitt on wednesday night for a book event with natalie chanin (of alabama chanin), whose work is featured in this year's "why design now?" show. it was a surprising and inspiring night; particularly when it comes to art and designers, i trust that if my sister tells me i'll be interested in something, it will be so, but i think even she left the event with a deeper appreciation of the artist, the woman. she is just...a force.

a separate post on ms. chanin to come-- to offer a crisp but proper portrayal will require just a bit more time and thought.


of course, there are so many interesting projects and innovations in this year's triennial, but the why angle is key, especially for a non-designer like me. like, what exactly is the importance of the
samarth bicycle trailer? why create a vietnamese urban farm in new orleans? and, a soil lamp? really?

the museum has done a nice job in featuring them all online, so if you're not able to get to the cooper-hewitt between now and...january 9, 2011, you can read and interact online at the
museum site.

and there is a companion book by who else, but pentagram.


last summer, at a family reunion, my cousin christian said, "anita, you're so girly..."
i almost spit up my coca-cola. me? girly? i'm pretty sure no one ever called me that before. but i kinda liked it. it was new. and i think i understood what he meant.

i don't think he was talking about my wardrobe, but judging by these pictures (the few that i took from the show), i do seem to have some kind of eye/yen for girly things...

(i played with the contrast in all of these shots...)

shoestring dress, from maison martin margiela artisanal line.
made of 400 nylon or cotton shoelaces, and metallic tips...
elegant. hot.

from the fin spring/summer 2010 collection. fin is recognized as one of the the first fashion houses--from its inception--to use organic textiles and incorporate fair trade practices.
here: liu shirt, made of organic cotton voile; tasha skirt, of wild handspun silk.

and from painted (a dutch fashion collective), these delicious delicacies:

flower volant shirt. silk organza. needlepoint lace. cotton thread.

jacket, with detachable fur collar (detail).

treasure top: cotton batiste, silk, cotton thread, sterling silver necklace. patchwork, embroidery, crochet, needlepoint lace.
(do you know what batiste is? i had to look it up--it's the softest of the lightweight opaque fabrics, and made of cotton, wool, polyester, or a blend.)
cocktail dress: silk, cotton, linen, beads. needlepoint lace, embroidery, patchwork.

treasure top, a treasure, indeed.
it would be nice to figure out a scenario where i could actually wear something like this. but i believe it's called fantasy island...