Thursday, December 31, 2009


I've coveted his amazing Veuve Clicquot scarf, that has hung in the window of our local liquor store, for years. Thanks to eBay, I now own one! It's going to be a great decade. I just know it ...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


If you haven't yet seen David Hockney's iPhone paintings ...

Read/hear/see more at the New York Review of Books in the article by Lawrence Weschler.

Monday, December 28, 2009


How does it go now, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me?”

About a month ago, Michaele and Tareq Salahi sauntered, in plain sight, past gatekeepers at the White House. They had no invitation and were not on the guest list, yet they managed to attend the State Dinner hosted by the Obamas. It was shocking, but provided good juicy headlines, with great visuals. And everyone was relieved that it was just a party crash.

Now, we have a terrorist with a bomb, successfully boarding a plane headed to the U.S., without a passport. Hello? Security "gap", they say. I'd say it's more like a security Grand Canyon.

Let’s see …
—His father informs the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria that his son has become radicalized, might have traveled to Yemen, and could be a possible security risk
—He pays for his ticket in cash
—He checks no luggage
—Witnesses at the gate for the flight from Amsterdam, reported that he did not have a passport.

And if all of that did not raise a red flag, then just what, pray tell, does?

Janet Napolitano says they are looking into new technology. Experts talk about algorithms.

Do you really need an algorithm to identify this man as suspicious? How much technology do you need to connect the dots in this case? Searching for hidden liquids is great, but it seems to have prevented the recognition of obvious signs. How about something low tech--LIKE A CHECKLIST!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Color of Luxury

Some say it's purple, the color historically associated with royalty. Some say jewel tones. Others swear by black and still others go with gold.

When it comes to an instantaneous communication of affluence however, the colors of these boxes speak their message loud and clear. What's inside? It hardly matters. As for the outside, no need to wrap, a ribbon is just fine.

Didn't they look smashing piled up together under your tree this morning?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Do You See What I See?

Some random images of the season.

From top: 57th St. and Fifth Ave.; needlepoint nativity found on eBay; Apple store; polar bear(two views of same bear) in the window of Bergdorf Goodman. I love this guy, you can tell that he's a real people-bear. He looks like he's running for office and greeting folks on the campaign trail; Lladro figure and vintage gift box; Toys-R-Us--what's the opposite of uplifting?; snow covered statues at Columbus Circle.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Days of Burgundy and Dusty Rose

A friend snapped this lovely palette of vintage containers (Tupperware?). I was inspired to indulge in some chromatic free association.

Top to bottom
Vintage covered containers; Bobbi Brown Makeup; Pink Lincoln 6-cent stamp (1879-1882); brick wall; vintage book on Window Display; anatomical model, cross section of head; Balthus, 'Girl and Cat', 1937; Porsche color chart, Florence Broadhurst fabric, Aubrey; scene from Anchorman, old painted Borden factory door in Wassaic; anatomic diagram of 'A Woman and Her Foetus', by Mansour b eliyas Chirazi, circa 1425-50.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Who Moved My Cookbooks?

I wasn’t looking for cookbooks. As a resident of one of the great prepared-food capitals of the world, Manhattan’s Upper West Side, I rarely cook. And yet, when the escalator deposited me on the second floor of B&N last week, I was disoriented. Where was the mouthwatering pasta, the glistening sashimi, the veggies perfectly braised and drizzled? And where were the friendly celebrity chefs that have greeted me at the top of that escalator for so many years? What happened to the cookbooks, and why move them during the holiday season?

It was hard to tell exactly what was in their place. A pinwheel of multicolored ribbons graced the cover of one oversized tome, and an abstract photo of a textured mound graced another. Were these art books? Design compendia? Coffee-table gift books? Then what were these smaller books, with stylishly designed soft covers and trendy printing? I made my way over for a closer look and to my surprise, these were, in fact, the cookbooks. There just wasn’t any food on them anymore.

What happened--did cookbook designers rebel en masse against putting food on the covers? Were lavish photo shoots too expensive? Perhaps they had enough of uncooperative ramps refusing to stay perky for the camera. Were the foodies to blame? The vegans?

Cookbooks are certainly doing well as a category. Laura Miller writes in the Wall Street Journal that “according to Nielsen BookScan, sales of books in the cooking/entertaining category were up 4% in the first four months of 2009 over the same period last year, while the sales of adult nonfiction overall sank 9%.” Okay, so people are cooking more at home instead of going to restaurants in this economy, but since when were good sales figures a green light for ditching a tried and true design formula?

“Many people confess to reading cookbooks 'like novels', " Miller continues, "that is, cover-to-cover, usually in bed and often with no real intention of preparing the dishes the author describes.” And then it hit me, it's form following function. Those cookbooks that haven't gone the way of the art book, are employing the very same design conventions as contemporary fiction—satin finishes, spot varnish, minimalism, art photography, retro illustration. If these books will be read as “novels”, then why not just design them that way.

Now the movie 'Julie and Julia' may be responsible for renewed interest in Julia Child, but how many of the thousands who will be unwrapping the two-volume set of her cookbooks this Christmas, are actually going to try recipes. It's way more likely that these cooking classics will reside in the bedroom, something comforting to cozy up with and nod off to. In that case, why go with an ugly spiral binding, They may as well look like a set of Jane Austen--and coordinate with the sheets.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Inspiration From Above

I know there has to be a light bulb joke in here somewhere, but in the meantime, I will say in all seriousness how much I dig 'The 9th Annual Year in Ideas' cover of the New York Times Magazine. I think I have never seen light bulbs shot from above like this and how often do you get to say the words “I have never seen…?” The bulbs form a thought cloud. What a great uh—idea!

In the name of thoroughness, I checked to see if, in fact, there are any appropriate light bulb jokes. I just visited--you guessed and sure enough there is one for art directors.

Q: How many art directors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Does it have to be a lightbulb?

Well, no it doesn’t have to be a light bulb. Last year they put Einstein on the cover of the 'Ideas' issue, and a few years ago they used a blackboard covered in equations √† la A Beautiful Mind. But the truth is, if you want to communicate ‘idea’, the clearest, handiest, image really is a light bulb. So the answer to the art director’s question (which was an answer to a question) is ...

A: No, but I’ll be darned impressed if you can pull off using one in a non-clich√© image.

I am darned impressed.

Photo illustration by Reinhard Hunger. Set design by Sarah Illenberger.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bodies in Motion

Just a handful of the over 3,000 images of dance in the digital collection of the New York Public Library.

Top row: Ruth St. Denis in Siamese Ballet, 1918
Rows 2 & 3: Ted Shawn in Death of Adonis, 1923
Row 4: Merce Cunningham at Black Mountain College, 1948
Row 5: Male students of Ted Shawn, 1919
Row 6: Ted Shawn in Krishna and Radha, 1917
Row 7: Marmein Dancers, 1924?
Row 8: Jitterbug, 1939-40
Row 9: Split, 1939-40
Rows 10 & 11: La Sylphe
Bottom row: Ted Shawn in Sunrise, 1914
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