Saturday, March 27, 2010

DREAM 3.26.10: Cephalopod Control

A friend has an octopus in her home--I see the word “cephalopod” actually spelled out across this scene—that lives in a glass cube. It controls everything in the house remotely: lights, TV, faucets, heat, etc. She is somehow psychically linked to the octopus; all she has to do is think something, "turn the family room lights on" for instance, and the octopus will do it for her. She takes it out of its cube to play too. Apparently it does not need water all the time. While she holds it, I get a sense from the octopus that it is very wise but also, at times, dangerous.

Just finished reading...


Maira Kalman is a treasure. She has written and illustrated children's books (including the delightful Max Stravinsky series about a dog who is also a poet), painted covers for the venerable New Yorker magazine, and even published an illustrated version of ELEMENTS OF STYLE by Strunk and White! Whimsical, odd, peculiar, funny, corny, touching, poignant, charming; her books are all of this and more. Her painting style is loose, child-like, painterly and passionate.

Although sprinkled with references to grief and death, her 2007 illustrated book THE PRINCIPLES OF UNCERTAINTY is not a somber or heavy affair. It is full of non-sequiturs, funny hats, and the magical, fleeting moments of lives--all of our lives--that make us grin or sigh with satisfaction, knowing that it will be gone soon. It is the story of a woman reaching through confusion toward buoyancy. In fact, Kalman seems to come to the conclusion that we continue to find beauty in the things all round us--we must continue to do so--despite the fact that loved ones disappear from our lives, despite not knowing if we are going to wake up tomorrow, despite the principles of uncertainty.

This book is a history lesson, diary, travelogue, cook book, catalogue of collections, and a chronicle of eccentric and fascinating folks from around the world. Kalman displays a genuine interest in the facts and ephemera of people's lives, and a tender respect for the fragility and preciousness of it all. Her paintings are filled with people whose feet, Chagall-like, do not touch the ground, rooms whose perspectives are skewed, and images of desserts and abandoned sofas!

Recommend? Yes yes yes.

BEAUTY: Interior--Brown Design

L.A.'s Brown Design, comprised of brothers Ryan and Joshua Brown, are my new favorite designers. Versatile, imaginative, creative, and fearless, with a sense of drama and place. The element that stands out the most to me is scale: Ryan uses it to his advantage to create spaces that are infused with a kind of serene excitement and a sense of intimate vastness.
A few of these pictures are of Ryan Brown's own home which he shares with his partner, chef Dale Monchamp and their adopted daughter.

BEAUTY: Tableaux--Brown Design

Ryan Brown, of Brown Design, creates stunning tableaux for his interiors. I love the antique wooden airplane propeller in the first picture, the monochromatic scheme and wallpaper in the second (it takes design nerve to do something like that), and the copious flowers in the last. Lovely.


Dashing. Stylish.
It's the gorgeous Sartorialist. Here is a link to his website:

Friday, March 26, 2010

BEAUTY: Interior--Superb Stairs

More than architectural elements, these stairs are sculpture.
(Thanks Odette!)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Currently listening to...

...the amazing 2010 Brit Award winner for Best British Album, Florence + the Machine in a new video for a re-recorded version of "Dog Days Are Over." WOW!

BEAUTY: Shoes--Miscellaneous Women's Footwear

I have never posted about women's fashion; only men's. But I must make an exception to post about the advancements--in engineering as well as style and imagination--of women's shoes. It seems that more and more designers are creating shoes that are not simply something pretty to go on feet. These are sculptures. These are statements of balance, geometry and craftsmanship.

We start with these incredible shoes from Balenciaga's current F/W '10-'11 collection. Designer for Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquière, says they were inspired by "Cosmonauts and seventies Formica. Packaging and food boxes. Synthetic foam and plywood. And a kind of rigidity." I think the cube heel, the color palette, the semi-precious minerals and the startling random shapes on the heel and sole make these shoes a work of art. They look like something Matthew Barney would make.

Next up are some shoes by the late--and very much missed--Alexander McQueen. Top left: his "Armadillo" or "hoof" shoe. Top right: his "Alien" shoe. Bottom left: a steam-punk shoe. Bottom right: inspired by traditional Japanese geta sandals.

John Galliano, who designs for Dior as well as his own house, made these amazing creations. The metallic raspberry "squiggle" shoe from S/S '09 is on the left and his "sleigh" shoe is on the right.

Now we come to an absolute feat of engineering: the cantilevered, heel-less platform boot by Olivier Theyskens for Nina Ricci.
And to celebrate it all, here is a humorous, Euro-retro-futuristic video for the sleek, electronic, funky song "Shoes" by Tiga.

"What's that sound?
I like that sound.
I love that sound."

"It's the sound of my shoes."

Happy Vernal Equinox 2010!

Happy first day of Spring!

Friday, March 19, 2010


As of this date, March 19, 2010, there is a controversy going around the web regarding a mysterious, unknown artist/ musician/ songwriter/ band calling herself/ himself/ themselves simply iamamiwhoami. Theories abound about the identity of iamamiwhoami, the most prominent being that it is Swedish singer/songwriter Jonna Lee. The most preposterous theory is that it is Christina Aguilera.

The visuals are quite stunning--woozy, undulating, bulging, wet, visceral, organic, hallucinatory--and the music is electronic, atmospheric and fascinating. iamamiwhoami has posted a series of videos to Youtube puzzlingly identified only by numbers. Take a look... and watch the trees closely in the first one!

Whoever it is, the sounds and visions are beautiful and imaginative. I look forward to finding out the identity of iamamiwhoami... and purchasing their work!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

New Religion

"A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge."
--Carl Sagan

“The more unintelligent a man is, the less mysterious existence seems to him”
--Arthur Schopenhauer

BEAUTY: Painting--Beth Shields

With primal strokes, scratches, and gashes of graphite, wax and oil on bottomless colorfields, Beth Shields paints the amorphousness and shifting nature of pure emotion and thought. Her work is enigmatic, contemplative and luminous; most pieces seem to glow with some kind of inner light.

From the Artist's Statement on her website:
"Emotionally, the abstract nature of the work is about my sense of sorrow and joy and the fact that for me, emotions seem to exist outside any object or concept. Conceptually, I want the work to express my sense of the ephemeral, ever-changing, and undefinable nature of our lives and this world. The unknown and the unknowable..."

Friday, March 12, 2010


“Competition brings out the best in products and the worst in men.”
--David Sarnoff, father of TV broadcasting

The New Romantics

New Romanticism was a music and fashion movement in the early 1980s. Grown out of a reaction to the hardness and anger of punk, the New Romantics, male and female, were eager to wear make-up, dress up in exotic clothing, look glamorous, and dance. The movement expressed itself in many ways. The look was inspired by many different eras and cultures such as the Victorians, the Goths, the “Noble Savage” (which is how Native Americans were thought of in England in the early 1800s, when engravings and accounts of Native cultures were making their way back to the UK), Pirates, the Edwardians, 1920s-30s glamour, film noir of the 1940s, and a touch of space-agey science fiction. Musically, the sound was the opposite of punk: taking the opulent sound of electronic/ synth-pop as a base, some bands added elements such as horn or string sections. The music was richer than punk, more ornate…and certainly dance oriented. Some groups chose to emulate a somewhat tribal sound to accompany the “Noble Savage” look.

Adam and the Ants had two drummers to recreate a sonorous, thrumming African percussion sound. Here, in “Stand and Deliver,” Adam is seen in his Levantine Pirate/ Highwayman/ Fierce Indian Warrior incarnation, hence the tri-corner hat, braided vest, cape and adorned braids in his hair. The white stripe under his eyes is a mark used by Apache warriors going into battle.

“Prince Charming” featured a dandified version of Adam’s previous incarnation, only this time with brocade, satin, velvet and gold lamé. The Native American war paint is still there, but is now “prettified” with the more feminine eye make-up. The sound is still inspired by tribal music and the legendary British bombshell Diana Dors makes a cameo appearance as his Fairy Godmother.

Ultravox, fronted by the amazing tenor Midge Ure, featured a cold, rich, mysterious dance sound. In this highly cinematic video for their nearly-operatic song “The Thin Wall,” the New Romantic interest in the 1930s and 40s can clearly be seen.

The puppet master and creator of Bow Wow Wow was Malcolm McLaren, the musicality came from Leigh Gorman the bass player, and the charm came from lead singer Anabella Lwin (born Mayant-Mayant Aye in Burma) who was only 14 when the band started. The look was conceived by fashion genius and McLaren’s partner, Vivienne Westwood, who exclusively used pieces from her tribal, swashbuckling, heroic collection “Pirate.” Musically, they share a lot with Adam and the Ants (Bow Wow Wow was once Adam’s band) in terms of a percussion-heavy sound based in Native/ African cultures.

Duran Duran were merely one of the biggest musical acts of the 1980s but their roots are firmly in New Romance. Donned in pirate shirts, ruffles and sashes, they were the house band for the Rum Runner nightclub in Birmingham. With a slick and sleek synthesizer sound and Nick Rhodes’ heavily mascara-ed eyes, they were an exciting phenomenon. First up is the original video for “Planet Earth” which has a great example of a couple performing a particular New Romantic dance style that was immensely popular. Next is an alternate video for "Planet Earth" featuring footage of Duran playing their first gig at the Rum Runner back in 1980!

Visage and its clothes-horse front man Steve Strange, with his penchant for drawing hieroglyphs and unusual symbols on his heavily made up face, were at the epicenter of it all. He ran Blitz, a London nightclub—seen here in this video for the eponymous song “Visage”—where all the fashionable New Romantics gathered, and were therefore known as Blitz Kids. A sweeping, Romantically lush dance sound, bolero hats and white gloves… ah, glamorous...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Currently listening to...

"Backwards/Forwards," a DJ Earworm mash-up of some of Annie Lennox' greatest solo songs!
One of the best mash-ups I have ever heard--or seen. The video editing is superb and it is a delight to see all of Annie's many looks.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

DREAM 3.2.10: Attack

I'm with my father in a house at dusk. We hear an odd noise outside and step onto the front porch. The sky looks wrong. Is it a nearby fire? Has something blown up? I see tracers in the sky and missiles. My heart sinks as I realize we are under attack. An actual attack. Missiles streak overhead. My adrenalin rushes as I prepare for one to hit us. I think "The terrorists have finally done it." Then we see some low flying aircraft, MANY of them, in tight formation over us. But the planes are very unusual: large cubes with lots of glass. The wings are very bizarre too: long but quite narrow, folded against the cube, doing nothing to help the plane fly. They are moving very slowly, around 60 MPH, like a car. How do they stay in the air?
They are terrorists but not from here. They want to destroy us. Whoever is left alive is going to have to “join” them, think like them, believe what they believe and follow their religion.