28 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" Elliott Erwitt (1988)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I'm staying in the city this year and am looking forward to spending the next few days checking out some galleries, taking some long walks, and enjoying everything pumpkin. I hope wherever you are, you have a wonderful holiday and fun with family and friends.

22 November 2013

Remembering JFK

President John F. Kennedy and John John in the Oval Office, October 1963. Photo: Stanley Tretick.

Today is the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. Instead of dwelling on the horrible events of that day and thoughts of what might have been, let's remember the happy times that came before. And with that in mind, here are some images of President Kennedy with his children, Caroline and John John, who undoubtedly brought him much joy.

21 November 2013

Happy Birthday, Björk!

Today is Björk's birthday. Born on November 21, 1965 in Reykjavik, Iceland, she continues to be one of the most interesting and innovative musicians around. In addition to being a big fan of her music, I love her videos, so many of which could pass as short films. Bachelorette, from 1997 and directed by Michel Gondry, is one of the best. Enjoy!

18 November 2013

Fall Roundup

The fall so far has been filled with events of all sorts and as a result I haven’t had time to post about everything. So I thought I’d share some brief recaps of a few of them here.

A modern actress who I love is Juliette Binoche. She always imbues a rawness in her performances that results in more realistic characters. Her latest film is Bruno Dumont's Camille Claudel 1915, which tells the story of the first year of the great artist’s incarceration by her family in a mental institution where she stayed, even though doctors encouraged the family to bring her home, for the last 30 years of her life. Filmed on site at a real institution with actual patients, it was emotionally draining to watch. Yet Binoche was mesmerizing as usual and her portrayal stayed with me long after I left the cinema.

To celebrate the release of the Criterion Collection’s new Rossellini/Bergman box set, Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò at NYU hosted a special screening of the one of the films—Journey to Italy (1954)—along with a panel discussion with some scholars, and Isabella and Ingrid Rossellini. Isabella had to cancel at the last moment (she broke her hand that morning) but Ingrid was there, telling stories about when they were children including the time their father, a big animal lover, brought home a kangaroo. The film about a troubled marriage was strong and gave an up close look at life in post-war Italy.

One of the best concerts I’ve seen in a long time was a performance by Mariza, the Portuguese Fado singer, at Carnegie Hall last weekend. She was, in a word, amazing. For two hours she poured her heart out, singing traditional Fado songs as well as some new ones. Dressed in a long gown, the striking 6-foot tall singer spoke with the audience between songs, explaining the origin of the music and thanking her talented band. The audience was enthralled and was up on their feet by the end, cheering her on. She announced that she’s coming back to New York next year, and I for one can’t wait.

Under the Table: A Dorothy Parker Cocktail Guide is a new book by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, the president of the Dorothy Parker Society, which tells the story of Mrs. Parker and her circle and the cocktails that they enjoyed. The book is great fun, and I'm looking forward to trying out some of the recipes. At the launch party for the release at the Algonquin Hotel, my friend and I sampled one of the drinks from the book, an Algonquin Cocktail (rye, vermouth, and pineapple juice), before turning to my classic go-to, the Manhattan. I think Mrs. Parker would approve.

And speaking of books, Elliott Erwitt’s Kolor is the latest from the incomparable photographer, gathering together his colour work for the first time. The International Center for Photography (ICP) held a book signing for the new publication, and I was thrilled to get to meet a man whose work I so admire. I wanted to tell him how much I loved his work and how one of the most popular posts on this blog was the one about his ICP exhibit from a few years ago but I thought that would be silly and just thanked him instead while I grinned like an idiot.

14 November 2013

Happy Birthday, Lulu!

Louise Brooks by Eugene Richee (1927)

Louise Brooks was born on November 14, 1906 in Cherryvale, Kansas, and became one of the most iconic images of the Jazz Age. She dazzled theatregoers in New York when she performed with the Ziegfeld Follies and the George White Scandals and was the first person to dance the Charleston in London. When she turned to motion pictures, she stole every scene she was in. Her two films that she made in Germany in 1929 with G. W. Pabst, Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, are considered masterpieces of the silent era. And her hairstyle, a black bob that Kenneth Tynan referred to as a "black helmet," is one of the most famous hairstyles of the 20th century, copied by women everywhere, including myself. I've long looked up to her as a role model, someone whose "I don't give a damn attitude" I wish I could adopt more often. So Happy Birthday, Lulu! You're the cat's pajamas.  

13 November 2013

I Say a Little Prayer

"Every time I'm in New York I say a little prayer when passing the Empire State Building. A good friend of mine died up there."—Fay Wray, who played Ann Darrow in the original King Kong (1933)

How stylish is Fay in this photo? Favourite outfit of the week. Photo from here.

12 November 2013

Men With Cats

While it's perfectly acceptable for a man to own a dog, the idea of him having a cat, let alone admitting to liking them, appears to be a foreign concept to many. Aren't cats for women, the misinformed ask? The answer is, no. Don't believe me? Take a look at these images, evidence that some men do like cats. And we're not just talking any men; these are some pretty cool guys.

Sean Connery

Clark Gable

Bob Dylan

Steve McQueen. Love this photo.

To see images of stars with dogs, check out my post here.

11 November 2013

Veterans Day

"An American Parachutist preparing to board the plane for the jump across the Rhine River." Robert Capa (1945)

Today is Veterans Day, a national holiday on which we honour those who served in the armed forces. I’m at work (television must go on) but am thinking about the many brave men and women (including my parents) who have donned the uniform for their country.

And because I’ve been thinking about Robert Capa lately forever, I give you this image he took for Life Magazine on March 24, 1945 of paratrooper James “Jim” P. Conboy Jr. of HQ Company, 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division. Capa jumped into Germany with him and the rest of the Regiment that day in an assault called Operation Varsity. The 19-year old Conboy was wounded afterwards and lost his right leg. He received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star and lived to be 78. 

08 November 2013

Catching Up

This weekend is all about catching up—on emails, writing, chores, movies, errands, shopping, everything. I’m a big maker of lists and get a kick out of crossing things off (yes, I'm a dork) and have a long list already drawn up. So let's bring out the pens (I'm partial to Le Pen markers in blue); I’m ready. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

06 November 2013


Ava Gardner in The Killers (1946)It's time again for another edition of bookshelf, where I round-up the books that I've recently read (confession: one of these is a picture book but it is a book). I will confess to a bit too much television watching of late but I still managed to finish some good reads.

The Invention of Morel—Adolfo Bioy Casares
Louise Brooks was the inspiration for one of the characters in this strange and intriguing novella. A fugitive hiding out on a deserted island is soon joined by a group of vacationers who come and go, often repeating their actions and never acknowledging his presence. He finds himself falling in love with one of the women and decides that he will do anything to be with her. If you like magic realism, you’ll love this work.

Lady Diana Wynham, a great Scottish beauty, is almost destitute when she discovers some Russian holdings of her late husband’s that could save her. She enlists the help of her secretary, the French-born Prince Gerard Seliman, to secure her fortune and from there it’s a rollicking ride filled with spies and danger. One of the best-selling novels of the 1920s, it’s a wonderfully fun read with witty phrasing and great characters.

After Marian "Clover" Hooper married historian Henry Adams in 1872, she became a popular confidant and hostess in Washington, DC. She also took up photography, taking portraits (including those of her dogs) and keeping meticulous notes about her art. Reproductions of some of her surviving images are included, which the author uses to analyse why Adams committed suicide by drinking potassium cyanide, which was used to develop film.

Mortal Arts—Anna Lee Huber
Talented artist Lady Kiera Darby is back and once again trouble follows in her path. When she discovers that her deceased childhood art tutor is actually alive and accused of murder, it’s up to her to prove his innocence. Joined by Sebastian Gage, the private inquiry agent with whom she shares a mutual attraction, Lady Kiera must delve into the effects of war on soldiers and the treatment of the mentally ill to save her friend. One of my favourite new historical mystery series.

Ginger: My Story—Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers tells the story of her rise from little Virginia Katherine McMath to movie star Ginger Rogers. She recalls her childhood (which involved a kidnapping by her estranged father), her films and co-stars (she is insistent that she and Fred Astaire liked each other), five husbands, beloved mother, and her political and religious beliefs. It’s a bit too long and Rogers can come off as preachy and naïve in certain passages but the parts about Hollywood are worth reading.

Flo & Wendell—William Wegman
This time round Wegman merges his famed photos with his paintings with delightful results. Featuring two of Wegman’s beloved Weimaraners, this is the tale of an older sister and little brother who don’t always get along but try to make an effort. I recently went to a book signing for Flo & Wendell and got to meet Wegman and Topper, the model for Wendell. Needless to say, Topper stole the show.

05 November 2013

Happy Birthday, Vivien!

Vivien Leigh was born 100 years ago today on November 5, 1913 in Darjeeling, India. Indisputably one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the silver screen, she starred in a select group of films, earning Academy Awards for playing two of the most iconic characters of the 20th century: Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind (1939) and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). When she married Laurence Olivier, she became part of one of Hollywood’s greatest couples. Yet all of her beauty and talent couldn’t overcome the demons that eventually possessed her. I’ve just ordered Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait (more here) and am looking forward to perusing images of one of my favourites. So Happy Birthday, Vivien.

04 November 2013

Green-Wood Cemetery

The Sunday before Halloween I spent the afternoon with a few friends visiting the dead at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Those who know me are aware of my fondness for a good cemetery and this one did not disappoint. It was my first visit, and I was happy to find well-maintained grounds filled with beautiful 19th-century design. 

Founded in 1838, the 478–acre cemetery soon became a popular spot with tourists who picnicked there and prominent New Yorkers who chose it for their final resting place. New graves are added every year but the place retains its distinct Victorian feel.

A Gothic-styled main entrance greets y
ou when you arrive as do the noisy monk parakeets who nest in the spires and make their presence known. Scattered throughout the grounds are various works of art from statues and memorials to intricately designed headstones and mausoleums.

 “Minerva and the Altar to Liberty”

The cemetery is filled with hills including Battle Hill, the highest point in Brooklyn and an important location during the Battle of Brooklyn, which was fought on August 27, 1776, and saw the Americans suffer a major defeat.

“Minerva and the Altar to Liberty” is a monument erected nearby to commemorate the event. With her arm raised as if in salute, she gazes across the city to her sister, Lady Liberty.

Everywhere you look you will find the rich and famous. Just on our outing we ran across Leonard Bernstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Boss Tweed, Lola Montez, Elias Howe, Laura Keene, and silent screen cowboy William S. Hart (look at his modest stone above).

Speaking of which, silent screen actress Florence La Badie was buried at Green-Wood in an unmarked grave in 1917. Fortunately, a recent campaign raised enough money for a proper headstone, which will be installed on the anniversary of her birthday, April 27, 2014 (more here).

The variety of headstones in the cemetery are staggering. I was especially drawn to the ones bearing statues, mainly women, often angels. They were all lovely in their own unique way from intricate details to gentle rounded edges from years of being pummelled by the elements. The most poignant ones were for the graves of children, which often included accounts of how they had passed.

We were only able to see a section of the grounds but plan to return another day for more exploring. Hopefully, it won't have to wait until next Halloween. 

For more information, visit herePhotos by Michele.

01 November 2013


October just flew by and now it's November, which so far is so warm that I didn't need a jacket today. The month promises to be just as busy as the last with loads of exhibits, events, and performances to attend along with the added bonus of a couple of holidays thrown in (and, hopefully, catching up on some sleep on the weekends). So hello, November. Looking forward to spending some time together.

Image from the Library of Congress.


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