Tuesday, October 21, 2014

BEAUTY: Interiors--Villard Michel Richard by Jeffrey Beers International

Interior design firm Jeffrey Beers International have created a fantastic new restaurant, Villard Michel Richard at the New York Palace Hotel in New York City. I adore how the firm have played up the 1880's Beaux-Arts interiors with modern elements. As an interior designer, one of my design mantras is "Contrast brings interest" and this illustrates my point exactly. Look how the sleek furnishings, tables lighted from below (!), over-sized portraits of glamorous iconic actresses of yesteryear lit by purple LEDs, and a glass cube wine cellar in the middle of one of the dining rooms both stand out from and compliment the ornate architecture. Stunning.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sankai Juku

Sankai Juku are a Japanese dance troupe working exclusively in the Butoh tradition. Developed in Japan after the second world war, Butoh, or "Ankoku Butō" (meaning "Dance of Darkness") as it was originally called, features dancers in white body make-up performing hyper-slow physical movements and gestures, along with the signature "silent scream." But over the years, Butoh has evolved, and movements and motions may vary.

Sankai Juku have been performing Butoh since 1975 when the troupe was founded by Amagatsu Ushio. Considered by many to be the preeminent Butoh troupe in the world today, Sankai Juku's shows incorporate the stillness and minimalism found in many aspects of Japanese arts into the form of Butoh. Along with Butoh's traditional propensity for grotesque and shocking imagery, Sankai Juku weave in what Ushio calls "a dialogue with the gravity,"...that is a type of meditative, almost tableau-like choreography. Their costumes are alien, spartan, and architectural...or barely there. And the otherworldly sets, lighting, and music support the essence of Sankai Juku's sensibility which is dedicated to oblique narratives of psychological and spiritual states told through physical signifiers. The result is that we feel we are witness to arcane rituals and secret ceremonies on a micro- or macro-level that ordinary humans should not see...

Here are two short clips from their 2000 show "KAGEMI - Beyond the Metaphors of Mirrors" which I saw in 2006. It was a breathtaking, spellbinding evening, unlike any I had ever seen.

I also saw their stunning show "Hibiki" in 2010. For me, they have definitely become a "do not miss" event when they are in Northern California.

Sankai Juku are currently touring their latest show "Umusuna" this fall and winter in Europe and Israel. Click on their website below for a schedule and to find out more.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Happy Cherokee New Year, 2014!

Happy Cherokee New Year!

The Cherokee people ended their year and started the new year in autumn. It’s interesting—and makes sense—that they chose the harvest to mark the end of the year. The earth had gone through a cycle: the food had grown from spring, through summer, and then was harvested in the fall. The cycle was finished; time to start anew. The New Year was celebrated with a festival that featured purifications, dancing, prayers and offerings, and food such as corn, beans, squash, and meat.

Since the Cherokee calendar was and still is extremely tied to the phases of the moon, the timing of the New Year observation is somewhat up for debate. Some sources say that it was observed on the first full moon after the start of autumn. Other sources report that the New Year was observed ten days after the first full moon (which is today, October 18th, 2014), the ten days probably being a period of fasting and preparation for the festival. Still other sources cite the first full moon in the Cherokee month of Nvdadequa or Nvwatitequa—which happens during our month of November—as the true Cherokee New Year.

Whenever it was celebrated, it was surely around this time... when the earth turns, the days grow shorter, the nights grow longer, and the weather turns cold. We prepare for the introspection that comes with winter, when the ground sleeps under the snow. That is the beginning of the year, the beginning of time: from darkness and cold springs life, new growth.

I wish you all "alihelisdi itse udetiyvsadisvi" or Happy New Year!


Congratulations, Arizona!

Congratulations, Arizona! You are the 31st state in the United States to legalize marriage equality! Good for you! There's no stopping it now, and no good argument for continuing to deny humans a right that so many others have.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Otters gotta play...

River otters at the Zoological & Botanical Garden in Ichikawa, Japan.
That is all.
As you were...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

BEAUTY: Painting--Conor Walton

I love dairy products--my nickname among certain friends of mine is Saint Jeff du Lait, patron saint of dairy products--and I love Conor Walton's still life imagery featuring the goodness of milk and butter, along with eggs and honey and bread. What more could you ask for?

Top to bottom: Butter; Honey; Bread; Milk; Milk and Honey; Milk, Butter, and Honey; Butter


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

BEAUTY: Men--Dressed for cooler weather...

Winter is coming...

I love the look of a down vest over a sport coat and I wear this combination a lot in the colder months, but you just don't see many men wearing this in the States... seems to be a European thing...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pyotr, Walt, and Lana

When I was a child, I had a vinyl record made by Tale Spinners (released through United Artists) of the story of Sleeping Beauty. It featured the voices of talented English actors Denise Bryer, Tony Church, and John Wood, who added a weight and often a sober sense of reality. But most importantly, it featured Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty" score for the ballet of the same name, played by a pick-up group called The Hollywood Studio Orchestra. The orchestral music was a beautiful, atmospheric addition to the spoken word story, and served to further introduce me to a historical and cultural landscape that helped shape my young mind and soul. (Incidentally, I still have this record!)

Listen to the grand, dramatic "Sleeping Beauty" waltz from Tchaikovsky's suite. By turns lush, romantic, and stately, the piece wove its way throughout my story...

For the 1959 animated film "Sleeping Beauty" by Walt Disney for Disney Studios, the Tchaikovsky waltz was transformed into a song called "Once Upon A Dream," sung by Mary Costa as Princess Aurora and Bill Shirley as Prince Philip. Listen for the same melody...

And now, we come to my point: when I saw this year's Disney live action film "Maleficent" in which we see the Sleeping Beauty story told from the point of view of the "evil fairy" Maleficent, as beautifully and subtly played by Angelina Jolie (who could have chewed scenery since it is based on a cartoon), I heard during the closing credits, a chilling, haunting version of "Once Upon A Dream" by Lana Del Rey which gives a whole new sense to the story; I got goosebumps when I recognized what it was. It brings a wonderful darkness that speaks to the darkness inherent in every fairy tale. And it brings some import to a very grey story, as opposed to the black and white/good and evil approach to the 1959 film.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Halloween Chocolate by The Frosted Petticoat

I am posting this so you have time to order for Halloween: everyone would love to take a bite of each of these marvelous skull and skeleton treats from The Frosted Petticoat.

This one pound white chocolate skull is flavored with Irish Cream (but is alcohol free) and dusted with an edible glimmer.

And the white chocolate skull naturally has a dark or milk chocolate companion... it is also a full pound of chocolate and can be ordered with the following additional flavors: Amaretto Roma, Bavarian Raspberry, Irish Cream, Kilauea Coffee, Mayan Chili, Mediterranean Mint, Orange Blossom, and Versailles Lavender.

And check out these delightful skeleton cameos. They are so reminiscent of the Día de los Muertos calacas and other representations of skeleton figures. They also come in the previously listed flavors.

Order them here:
White chocolate skull http://thefrostedpetticoat.com/1-irish-cream-chocolate-3d-skull-au-naturale/
Dark or milk chocolate skull http://thefrostedpetticoat.com/1-chocolate-3d-fossilized-skull/
Skeleton Cameos http://thefrostedpetticoat.com/10-chocolate-skeleton-cameos-kaleidoscope-bones/

Sunday, October 12, 2014

BEAUTY: Photography--Alexander Harding

So beautiful, lonely, lyrical...the photographic series "Visible Light" by Alexander Harding brings me a certain sense of nostalgia as well. It reminds me of the gorgeous center section of Viriginia Woolf's novel TO THE LIGHTHOUSE in which we follow the story through a family summer house over a decade, watching time pass... light comes and goes, dust accumulates, and the echoes of lives fade away.

Top to bottom: 9:24AM 2010; 11:23AM 2010; 1:40PM 2010; 3:42PM 2010; 8:28AM 2010; 9:06AM 2010


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Happy International Coming Out Day 2014

Today is the 26th annual International Coming Out Day. This celebration started in 1988 as a way to raise awareness of the GLBT community and civil rights movement.

If you haven't yet, join us. We need you.

Sculpture by Lazar-G

Dear Gay Teen...

Dear gay teen contemplating suicide:

You are not wrong. You are not “bad.” You are not sick, defective, or evil.
You are perfect and beautiful just the way you are.
You have done nothing wrong and you have done nothing to deserve being humiliated, punished, or hurt, either physically or emotionally.
Bullying and discrimination are never ever innocent: the bullies are the ones who are wrong, bad, and sick for hurting you.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you are any less of a human being than they are. Don’t let them tell you it is a choice or that being gay is about behavior; you are who you are. Embrace yourself and be proud of being alive.

You have value. You have as much right to be here on this planet as anyone else.
It may seem like the world is against you, but there are people for you out there, there are places for you out there. You will be happy, you will get to live YOUR life the way YOU want to, without having to pay any attention to the bullies or whatever “bible” nonsense some people might throw at you… you are not "impure," "immoral," "unnatural," or "against nature." Those are just ridiculous lies they tell to hide their hatred, fear and prejudice.

You will survive and thrive, which will just annoy those who bullied you or discriminated against you! You get to live here. That is your RIGHT.
You might turn out to be an important author, a famous designer, someone who invents a new type of metal, an inspiring performer… or you might end up working with kids who need to hear that they have value and are perfect the way they are.
Please stick around.
We need you.