Monday, 30 November 2009

Boys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses.

Well, so said Dorothy Parker, but they didn't have Prism or Oliver Peoples in those days, did they?

Does anything other than this style of glasses just look horribly dated now? I think maybe. But I'm a bit scared to make the jump! I think top left are Prism glasses (click to enlarge). They are gorgeous, but maybe a hipster hop too far. Oliver Peoples, on the other hand, are slightly more classic but up to date. Glasses by Adam has a good selection, and lets you try a few pairs, and you send back the ones you reject. I like the Emerson style. And it is two years since my last eye test...

[Photographs by Garance Doré and The Sartorialist]

Mos Def at The Forum, London.

I wasn't going to bother blogging about the Mos Def show at The Forum last night, so I didn't take my camera. I thought it would be pretty run of the mill, and was only really going because it was free (a perk of J's job) and ten minutes walk away.

But he was brilliant! The place was absolutely packed with NyLon hipsters (big patterned hair wraps, geek glasses, cool hats) and the velvet booths near us had name tags like Amy Winehouse and Mr Hudson. The atmosphere was amazing. Dressed like a ska kid, in braces and peg trousers with loafers, he came on and sat at a drumkit at the side of the stage. Played most of his recent album The Ecstatic and then went into a revue of Mos Def brilliance; a note perfect Billie Jean with MOONWALKING, Holding Back The Years by Simply Red (out of the hat, sounded amazing), a little ragtime dance to some Aretha and Ray Charles, and singalong to Eddie Murphy performing The Greatest Love of All. It was as if he'd sat down before the show with his mates and performed whatever they'd been listening to. Awesome.

He totally overran, and finished with a triumphant Umi Says. And he really did shine his light: no expectations jaded old me, he blew my mind.

[Photo by @rereality]

Friday, 27 November 2009

Serenity now!

I'm feeling most serene today. I can't work out whether it's because I'm super-tired or super-refreshed. I slept so heavily last night (after a turkey blow-out at Bodeans) that I slept through James getting up and leaving, and the kittens woke me up. Which is a very good way to wake up. And James had left a pot of fresh coffee. Score.

So a windy walk to the tube, with magpies swooping in the thermals, the milkman clattering along the street, an easy tube journey reading about Hedi Lamarr, a fresh orange juice from the fruit man at Old Street station, a new billowy blouse and my new favourite shoes (I did it. The brown Wallabees. Sorry.) and I am ready for my day. How long will the serenity last?

Weekend plans? Moi: supper tonight at The Drapers Arms, then drinks at the Albert and Pearl, to celebrate the birthday of two gorgeous twin girls. Then pottering until Sunday night when we go to see Mos Def. (Yeah, it wasn't last week, as I thought.)

Have a serene weekend, the dudes. What are you up to? C xx.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Am I losing it...? (Shoe related.)

...or are these top suede Wallabee boots awesome? I'm battering up my favourite Frye shoes on my bike and in the rain. If, which I will take your advice on, I'm actually losing it - are either of the bottom row pairs acceptable?

I should point out the boots are from Clarks. So I'm a bit wary of going middle of the road, here. (My friend tweeted some awesome Clarks boots at the weekend, but clearly I can't get those.)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Oranges and Lemons: a very good yarn.

Good morning the dudes! The sun is finally out again here in London. And the rays in my retinas have brought me back from my travel across space and time (it was fun in 1980s NYC by the way) and firmly back to the present, in good old London town.

Despite being in the advanced state of tiredness that we modern women appear to be required to be in to operate, these pictures are bringing a giant smile to my face. Yarnstorming grafitti knitters Knit The City, knitting the nursery rhymes back to life across London town. Please look at their site to read the whole story: it's hilarious. What celestial fun.

[Thanks to KTC for the permission to use their pics.]

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Earth calling awesome?

Downtown 81 with Kid Creole and the Coconuts.

I'm totally channeling early 1980s New York at the moment. I saw Downtown 81 at the weekend, a film that follows Jean Michel Basquiat at the beginning of his career, scraping a living as an artist and living on the streets in the lower east side. For a city fancier, it's heaven. Almost a documentary of that time, it shows the derelict streets of the LES – it looks like a bomb site! – the clubs and for me, best of all, some awesome footage of Kid Creole and the Coconuts playing a live gig. Watch the clip here. Look out for Disco Donuts.

Kid Creole, aka August Darnell, has been a favourite musician / producer of mine for years. I love his sound. I love this picture of the Coconuts, above. In fact, I'm touching the screen. My people. This was taken in May 1980 outside their rehearsal studio. I am LOVING their look.

As well as this, the gods rained down an Arthur Russell mix today. Courtesy of Feel Up and mixed by Yam Who? to coincide with the release of Tribute To Arthur Russell on Electric Minds, this is an amazing mix that basically IS late seventies, early eighties New York. This music is truly ethereal.

[Photo by John Rynski]

Monday, 23 November 2009

Ooga Booga.

I'm really pleased to have rediscovered Ooga Booga in my links. They're an LA boutique – that ship to the UK – who stock desirable bits that would make great Christmas presents – necklaces, sweatshirts, scarves, brooches – but they have lots of nice things for boys too. I love this colour wheel sweatshirt and this duffel bag, made from recycled money bags.

And I really love these wallscapes of Berlin apartments by Bless. I'm totally imagining being Stevie Nicks in this room with the grand piano.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Slowly, Sunday.

Living and working in a crazy city can be frazzling. I'm always searching for new ways to relax. I especially try to wind down on Fridays, so do yoga or have a massage. This past Friday evening we went to an exhibition, which also worked: staring in silence at a canvas that an artist has quietly laboured over for hours was most tranquil after a busy week.

Today, to soothe my soul, I'm reading The Cloudspotter's Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney. Then I might sweep the steps. And play with Hoops. And a storm has just started: all the better for staring out of the window.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

To tie a scarf: how do you wear yours?

In The Guardian's Weekend magazine this morning there is a great article about how to wear an Hermès scarf. Which doesn't fully resolve the issue: in my opinion the silk scarf is a tricky thing to get right, and can leave you erring dangerously on the side of Middle England housewife if you get it wrong.

Take Giovanna here: she edges up the scarf with those snakeskin boots (to die for) and that leopard clutch. And the scarf, knotted irreverently in the way you seem to need to be either French or Italian to achieve.

These looks are a little more within my grasp. (As are the scarves - I have several similar to both, that I pick up in the Indian shops down Brick Lane.) The current Head of Chic herself, Garance Doré. (I love how she's wearing these shoes, too!)

And how pretty does this girl look?

So, how do you wear yours?

[All photographs from The Sartorialist.]

Friday, 20 November 2009

As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset, I am in paradise.

I'm currently having my toe nibbled by Hoops, sipping coffee and contemplating the weather outside. It's still dark and is throwing it down with rain. So, no cycling for me today, hello the tube, I'll treat myself to a posh cappuccino on the way in to make it all better. And to prepare myself for coming out of party girl retirement this weekend.

We're finally going to see the Ed Ruscha exhibition at the Southhbank tonight. On Fridays they open late, so quick dinner and glass of wine and in we go. I love going to the Southbank at night, as you get to walk home along the river. (Although I think I am actually physically programmed to have Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks come into my head whenever I'm by the river. It's getting annoying.)

Tomorrow we're going to Blacktronica, one of my all-time favourite parties in London, who are having an 8th birthday party at The Albany in Deptford. Blacktronica has always been held in awesome arts spaces (originally at the Institute of Contemporary Art, then at the National Film Theatre), so it will be interesting to safari to South London to check out the Albany. Speech Debelle is doing a set.

On Sunday, we're going to see Mos Def. Who I actually saw once at Blacktronica. I remember because I didn't recognise him until somebody pointed him out. I was just thinking, 'Who is that singularly attractive young man?', and doing my best thriller dance. Always with the best way to impress, CJW.

What are you all doing? Have a flippin' good one. Here's Waterloo Sunset, so you can get it stuck in your heads too.

Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks 

[Ok, my friend – and arbiter of extreme good taste – Gypsy Rose put awesome pictures of Marilyn on her blog, so I'm going to as well. Can't remember where I got it from, though! Sorry, photographer.]

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Properly life-changing cushions.

I'm loving these cushions. Not only are they brilliantly designed and super well-made (click onto their shop to see the close up views), but they're embroidered by prisoners in their cells, organised by a charity called Fine Cell Work. You can sponsor a prisoner to be trained to embroider for just £50 in return for a cushion. Another awesome Christmas present alert. If you're going to invest in cushions, best to do it here, I'd say.

If you're in London, they're having a sale and exhibition today at Leathersellers’ Hall, 5 St Helen’s Place, EC3A 6DQ, between 1.00 – 6.00 pm.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Cheese Club.

What could be more fun that sitting on a London rooftop in the winter sun, eating cheese? Well, quite a lot of things I suppose, but it was fun yesterday lunchtime at Cheese Club.

We were testing cheeses from a Cheese Map of Great Britain, all bought from La Fromagerie. The clear winner of six cheeses with over half of the votes was Durrus, an Irish artisanal, rind washed, semi-soft farmhouse cheese made from raw cow's milk. Seriously good ish.

If you're not in a cheese club, start one or join one. It's a mega excuse to eat loads of cheese! For the Christmas Cheese Club it's a cheese-off of all the year's winners, with accompanying wine. Awesome! Thanks Alex, Zoe and Heather.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

My Parents Were Awesome.

I'm loving these old-school pictures of their parents that people are uploading onto My Parents Were Awesome. There are some serious crackers up there.

[Found via A Cup of Jo]

A modernist home you'd die to live in.

After wandering around Highgate Cemetery at the weekend, we stumbled out of the gates and onto Swains Lane and, just as the sun was setting, saw this house, glowing. It sits right on the edge of the cemetery, almost completely glazed along the adjoining sides.

If you're a regular reader you'll know that I'm all about modernist architecture and jones for the indoor/outdoor lifestyle of our Californian friends. Unfortunately, this lifestyle is out of the reach of the average Londoner.

We oohed and ahhed at it but, fresh from a slightly eerie tour of the graveyard, decided that we wouldn't want to live there. The old West Cemetery is largely unvisited and overgrown. It just seemed a bit too...spooky. Would you want to live there?

Read an interview with the owner here.

[Photography: Lyndon Douglas / SMC/SMC]
[Credit for the bad pun in this post's title goes to Des' dad.] 

Monday, 16 November 2009

Peaceful, kind, just, most sympathetic and unselfish.

I could be describing myself, but I'm not. That was old Harry Maple, of Tottenham Court Road. He also won the hearts of young and old, rich and poor, you know.

The planned weekend activities were rained off, so yesterday we arranged a last minute girls' day out to Highgate Cemetery.

My favourite grave was that of George Wombwell, menagerist, his grave guarded by his sleepy lion Nero. There was a champion prizefighter, guarded by his dog Lion, a world record holding carriage driver with a horn and bugle on his headstone, sleeping angels, tiny horses, real life foxes and a Russian dissident.

Egyptian Avenue, Victorian London's take on an Egyptian tomb, was completely spooky. The Victorians didn't like it – it's basically a wardrobe of coffins, down a dark, damp stone corridor – and because it was so unpopular  there are still 80 spaces left. So, if you fancy the creepiest burial place in London...

In its heyday the Cemetery was the fashionable place to be buried and a popular spot to promenade. Now, it receives no public money for upkeep and so is slightly unkempt. It's maintained by volunteers and relies on donations. There are tours on the hour during daylight at the weekend.

And how sweet is this plaque?

Saturday, 14 November 2009

It's raining, it's pouring...

...and I'm so glad I don't have to leave the house today.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Siftin' and thriftin'.

Siftin' and thriftin' is what we're doing this weekend. I have bags and bags of clothes, shoes, hats, you name it. And James has thousands of records. (He's seen here sorting the ones he has TWO of. Well, it's a start.) Saturday we will sort through it all. Sunday we are setting up stall at the Holloway car boot sale. I've never done this before, have you? Will we actually make any money or is this a total waste of time? (Like, my Sunday is worth more than £50, so if that's all I'm going to make it can go to the charity shop.)

Have a good one dudes! What are you up to?

[Apologies for the manfoot picture. And apologies for the crap quality photo too. I need to instigate a 'no iPhone pics' rule from now on.]

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Once upon a time in Los Angeles.

To finish off my Los Angeles theme this week, here's a little story about what once happened to me in LA. We'd just arrived to stay for a week after driving up from San Diego. It was late in the evening. I nagged James to walk with me to the local 7-11, which was a steep walk down a hill in Silver Lake, on Sunset Blvd. (You can take the Brit out of Britain but you can't take the Brit out of... er, whatever. James wanted to drive but I wanted to walk.)

Next morning I realised I'd lost my passport. Cue crying, hysteria, annoyance, and an afternoon spent in the copshop reporting it. I was really pissed off that I was going to have to spend a day queueing in the Embassy and pay serious $ to get it replaced. But that evening we went to Fred 62 for burgers to forget about it.

Driving home, I saw the above sign stuck to a tree. And screamed. James nearly crashed the car. But I couldn't believe it: someone had found my passport and posted up signs with their number! In LA! Supposedly big scary city!

Next morning we walked down the sunny hill to a house a few streets away, where the guy who found it lived. It was a gorgeous nabe but his house was a bit shack-like – I offered him some money to say thanks and he was like, 'Yeah, thanks, I'm a popper'. Er, what? 'A popper. I'm poor.' Ahh, pauper. Well, thanks popper. You saved my trip!

[I find that there's much more of a community spirit in the states than in the UK. People make signs, run food co-ops, leave food out for the homeless, leave books out to share. Craigslisting and freecycling is much more widespread over there. We really need to get on this over here.]

[Hanging out in the copshop was a hilarious and eye-opening experience. The officers were super polite and efficient. But they were BUSY so a bit stressed out. There must have been at least five people coming in to kick off about their ex picking up their child from school and breaking their custody order. But the best bit was when a young rookie came to ask the officer on the desk a question. He was all like, 'What? I'm busy!' The youngster said, 'Sorry, I was just wondering where to get the best pizza around here and they said you were the best person to ask', and the Sarge was all like, 'Oh! You should've said! So, you can go here, they have the best crust, or go here, they make the biggest pies...'. Classic.]

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

I'd quite like to move to: Silver Lake, LA.

So, I've found the house I'd like to move to in LA. (Pictured top.) It's only $1.7m. It's in Silver Lake, on the hills opposite the Hollywood Hills and built around a reservoir (which acts as the nabe's very own alpine lake but with hills covered in modernist homes instead of cows). There are lots of Neutras (he built his own crib in this hood) and John Lautner's Silvertop, which I posted about yesterday and which is the crowning glory of the nabe, in my opinion. (Shown in the tiled pictures above. Bottom left is the master bedroom wall that opens up. Sigh.)

When we stayed in Silver Lake we stayed at Edgecliffe House. And I really fell in love with the area. As a Londoner, the inside-out living notion blew my mind. There were bedrooms that opened up to the sky! Bohemian Modern, by Barbara Bestor, gives a peek into many of the homes in the neighbourhood, including the house I'm going to buy. Right, just off to buy a lottery ticket...

[Silvertop images with thanks to Andy Jelmert & Michael Locke]

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Los Angeles modernist architecture and lifestyle envy. (Continued.)

I got interested in modernist architecture a couple of years ago, on a trip to LA. We were driving through the Hollywood Hills, when I looked up and saw the house pictured above. (These are the pictures I took after scaring the life out of James by screaming and making him stop the car.) Honestly, I had a bit of a moment. The sun was setting and the house was glowing in the dusk light. And everything about it – the colours, the shape, the glass, the VIBE – fitted so perfectly into the hill that it was quite honestly breathtaking.

Later, I found out it was the Garcia House (also known as the Rainbow House) by John Lautner. On Mulholland Drive, it was built for jazz composer and arranger Russ Garcia in 1958. It has been used in films (it was blown up in Lethal Weapon II) and as a romantic bolthole for PJ Harvey and Vincent Gallo. Lautner is also responsible for another house I drool over, Silvertop, on a street high in the hills of one of my favourite LA nabes, Silver Lake. (Check out the 'View of pool through living room' pic. Argh!)

You can see the interiors of the Garcia House here. Apparently it is getting a pool put in, too. And this is a really interesting article about the people who live in the house now and how they deal with all the people gawking at it. It also interviews the current tenant of Pierre Koenig's Stahl House that I've been banging on about.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Julius Shulman.

After writing yesterday's post about the Stahl House and Julius Shulman, I noticed he'd died in July this year. Here is his New York Times obituary. Above is his photograph of the Stahl House by Pierre Koenig that I wrote about yesterday. And check out his photographs below: the Frey Residence in Palm Springs. Apparently when Albert Frey took his engineer to see the site he was going to build on, he was like, 'Right, we need to dynamite those rocks out of the way'. But Frey wanted to build around them. Result: awesome.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Rosson Crow and Koenig House – Case Study House #22.

I was just idly googling Rosson Crow and cursing the fact I'd missed her show at the White Cube earlier this year when I saw this painting of hers, Koenig House. My tongue lolled out a little bit and I mentally stamped my foot in an 'it's not fair' kind of way. I love this house. If you follow me on twitter you might notice that I have the famous Julius Shulman photograph of it as my background picture. Pierre Koenig's Case Study House #22  'Stahl House', is a thing of immense beauty, my soulhome, I can't understand why I am not sitting in that front room overlooking Los Angeles right now.

At the very least, I think Rosson Crow should send me that painting. I love her work and her attitude; a rock n roll Texan living in LA and painting brash n proud. And she is gorgeous, too. I love it!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Want/need: Emma Cook for Topshop jumper.

I need this jumper! (From today's Weekend magazine in The Guardian. Oh yes I did photograph the magazine.) Credited as Emma Cook for Topshop, but I can't find it anywhere on the internet and I called Topshop and they couldn't tell me when it was coming in or confirm if it does, indeed, exist. It's neither stylish nor particularly practical but I want it anyway!

[In case you can't tell due to my remedial photography skills, it has names printed all over it: Billy, Chuck, Frank, Peter, Awesome.]

Friday, 6 November 2009

Not a lot going on, weekend-wise.

Well, there is a lot going on, obviously: I'm in London. But I've been feeling under the weather all week, so I'm mainly going to be reading – I'm reading What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, where he makes running marathons and writing bestselling novels seem like a snap, with his usual weightless style of writing – and watching films. I'll be starting with The Apartment. Jack Lemmon's silly face always cheers me up.

What are you healthy folks up to? Have a good one, whatever you do!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Hoops is hidin'.

I hate things that go bang, and I'm not the only one around here. It's bonfire night, and we're staying in. (Although I probably won't get under the wardrobe with Hoops and Fred.)

Awesome nails.

Whoa – totally awesome nails! Click to enlarge the pics. The salon is right next to my work, on Kingsland Road. I'm gonna! Scroll through their blog to get super-inspired. (If you like freaky nail art, which I have just realised I do!) A ladies night is required!

[Spotted via @topshop_tweets]

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Ed Ruscha at the Hayward.

I'm looking forward to seeing this exhibition at the Hayward. Will it be dead busy on Friday night?

The first major UK retrospective to focus exclusively on the paintings of one of the most influential and pioneering American artists of the past half-century. Spanning Ed Ruscha’s entire career, the exhibition features 78 paintings, many on public display for the first time, and reveals the depth and breadth of Ruscha’s achievement as a painter whose interests in printed matter, graphic design, cinema, photography and the cultural landscape of the American West make his elegant and provocative work both playful and subversive.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Food in Berlin.

The first time I visited Berlin, I was really surprised at how amazing the food was. We're spending the New Year in Berlin with some pals and, always thinking about my belly, I've just called to book us a table for New Year's Eve. My first choice was Schwarzwaldstuben, shown above in a picture I took to make sure I'd never forget where it was. It's a restaurant that does food from the Alsace, which seems to be meat, cheese, pickles and potato in some form, i.e. amazing. We spotted it when we walked past – it's in a gorgeous neighbourhood of galleries and cosy restaurants and alehouses – and people were eating huge stacks of shredded cheese and fine looking ham. Unfortunately they are closed for NYE. So I booked Gugelhof, another Alsatian restaurant. (Those two words don't look good together do they?) Happily, they are open. I had a great raclette experience at this place which I'm looking forward to repeating. (Actual cheese that went down my gullet pictured below).

God, I'm absolutely starving now. Are there any other Berlin restaurants that need to be visited?

Sunday, 1 November 2009

José Feliciano at the Jazz Café.

An old paramour and I once decided that buying tickets to a gig doesn't mean you actually have to go. You are buying the option, not the obligation. (OK, he is a very lazy person, and we'd had a few glasses of wine and were comfortable on the sofa, and the gig in question was free jazz.) Anyway, tonight I very nearly didn't go to see José Feliciano, as I was cosily ensconced in my flat (see post below). But I went, as I also decided you have to go and see these people while you have the chance.

You don't need me to tell you that the man is a legend. And he was great tonight. Major moments were when he opened with Ain't No Sunshine, and covers of Billie Jean (RIP MJ) and The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. His voice was really powerful although he looked a bit frail. And he played some really lovely unaccompanied accoustic guitar. His banter was brilliant too; he was on well chirpy form. (Maybe I misremembered about last time I saw him.) He was going on about drinking guinness and smoking reefers, and referring to himself as Funky José. And why not, eh?

[I love this clip. Some good tootly scatting half way through. José playing Ain't No Sunshine on The Englebert Humperdinck Show in 1972.]