Monday, November 29, 2010

Elizabeth Hardwick's 'Sleepless Nights'

As someone who spends most of his days drifting in and out of a memory-consciousness, 'Sleepless Nights' by Elizabeth Hardwick was a wonderful novel with which I could relate to entirely.  As I've searched around for other's opinions, Hardwick, who was a founder of the New York Review of Books, seems to get a mixed bag.  Many find it hard to follow and although it is short in size (151 pages) it reads like something that is 300.  You need to read it slow to drink up all the stories weaved into the memories of the author.  "J.," Louisa, the old rich lady who befriends a young man late in life, all have rich things to bring to memories just like our own.  Which to me takes a talent most do not possess.

Joan Didion reviewed it perfectly for the New York Times back in 1979.  She states: "'Sleepless Nights' is a novel, but it is a novel in which the subject is memory and to which the 'I' whose memories are in question is entirely and deliberately the author."

One of my favorite samples, and the reason I chose the images for this post, involves a scene of a changing New York, beautiful and sad:

Part Seven.  Last year a large new office building began to go up on my small, narrow street in New York.  It is an odd street, filled with old apartment houses of modest size which were built just after the turn of the century for the accommodation of artists. "Des Artistes," as one of the buildings is named, were to work and live in the same quarters, to paint in their ateliers like Frenchmen with little pointed beards, and to eat in their dining rooms off the kitchen like Americans.

The large windows of the studio room were then covered with opaque glass, according with the theoretical belief of the time.  The light was dimmed--to free the mind for the light of the imagination?  A northern smoothness and easels upon which stood the half-finished portraits waiting for the sitter or the model, a colorful old man or a loosely draped girl, or still lifes from the fruit bin...

...The thick glass is gone from most of the windows, but now a new building roars up across the street, arriving with a hideous grinding.  Exquisite machinery stands about all day, and the steel skeleton with its artful modernity is more fit to decorate the city scene than the building itself.  The noise of construction will one day die down, and yet the light will never return to the artist-building.  It is in its glass opacity.  Perhaps some sort of preservation is taking place.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Diary of a Wandering Eye

Now you all know that mommy loves you all equally, but there's a chick in this coop that I hold near and dear to my breast.

When I turn on my ordinateur every morning, there is a place I turn to like clockwork to laugh and be amazed.  It's none other than the blog of The Diary of a Wandering Eye.

He seems to find everything I'm interested in: Weiner Werkstatte, Rudolf Nureyev, gothic interiors, Paul Cadmus, and curate it into one mind-blowing thing of beauty. With a wit.  Sometimes he will come out with something so uproariously funny, I'll be shrieking with laughter.

So if you're like me and like a little humor with your aesthetically pleasing bits, get your arse over there post haste!  But make a stop at the ladies first, we don't want any accidents.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

London Daily News, 3 March 1926

Mr. Chatterbox reporting Stateside, where the Nation is still under the evil grips of Prohibition.  All's well when Lady La, of the Redding Blairs, sent out lovely invites welcoming us to her little 'pharmacy.'  The press was to be kept secret of all goings on, whilst prescriptions healing our seasonal ailments were promised.   A flurry of telegrams were delivered in eager response, plans were made, as well as calls to tailors, drivers and furriers.

The Honorable Daniel of Halifax, fresh off the set of Rudolph Valentino's latest, Son of the Sheik, arrived just in time to meet Latin scholar Michus Saccomannochus and stable boy, "Jordan," for a trial on the new color film camera straight from the World Fair. 

Soon after, Saint Katherine and Lulu Lockwood unveiled themselves, each clad in Molyneux and Chanel respectively.  With Veuve on their breath, the gang jumped in the Essex Six and whisked off to Town.   Hunger was suppressed at Henry Public, a neighborhood joint serving simple fare and potent juice.  The Automat was closed but all were contented.

 Inside the grand 12 foot ceiling, parquet floored (rent-controlled) apartment, a party was under way. Prescriptions were made by Russian pharmacist, Svetlana who was easy on the herbs and heavy on the spirits.  After one or two cocktails, made with gin and chartreuse, the crowd was swelling and having a difficult time keeping the "easy" in "speak." 

GM heiress and cabaret star, Lulu Lockwood was thrilled to gab with her sister, Saint Katherine.  St. Katherine has lately heard rumour that Paris doyenne, Alice B. Toklas, was thief to her book of recipes and is in works to be using them to publish her own!  St. Katherine, ever humble ever pure, has decided to write her own, focusing on recipes to detox waste and people  from our bodies.  Lulu, an overnight star was so inspired by "Metropolis" she wrote a song for her act called "Spaceship Lover," and her fans beg for more.

Hon. Daniel of Halifax joined in the conversation between Norvegienne, Ingrid Skjold and young Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciaga.  Balenciaga was kind enough to take Halifax aside and fix the neck wear that had gone askew after Halifax's Brandy Alexander.

C.C. Blair the Younger filled in all on his plans of wooment to the Danish Countess, Mie.  As a man true to his word, he left the party and made for Pier 14 where a liner heading toward Copenhagen awaited him.

Hungarian film starlet, April Olenska, discussed with Argentine Tango star, Paloma Degli Sposati, steps for the double lady act they had in the works.  They are sure to set ballrooms ablaze on all six continents!

As the cock crowed the patients realized it was time for their beauty sleep.  One needs adequate sleep lest we wake with puffness of the visage.  "Jordan" waited outside the flat to catch one last shot of Saint Katherine, Halifax, Lockwood, Saccomannochus and toy designer/tycoon, Mr. Schwartz.

The press was kept at bay indoors but out on the mean streets another story awaited poor Honorable Daniel of Halifax and Lulu Lockwood.  A swarm of bulbs and lights cornered them, with nothing but an heirloom sheleighly for defense.  When the local papers and glossies finished having their way with them, off they sauntered not feeling a little bit undefiled.

(A special thanks to Katie, Micah, Jordan and Michael for the photographs!)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

But I'm afraid of you...

 Louis Muhlstock, 1937

I find myself a bit run down from this past weekend's soiree.  Time travel can do that to you.  I'll be sure to fill you in on the salacious gossip as soon as I have some visual, a necessity. 

Turn on the clever Whispering Jack Smith song below. Let's go to the gallery.  Today we're going to have a viewing of the little-known Montreal artist, Lilias Torrance Newton.  Don't you love her brooding use of color and shadowing.  Can't you almost see that she's from Montreal in her paintings?  There's something about her that reminds me of George Tooker, who we visited last week.

Anna, 1923

Self-Portrait, 1929

Friday, November 12, 2010

N.M. to H.H.


"The bright hot sunshine comes mainly from my new servant Hassan (shades of James Elroy [Flecker]) who is literally first class cook & adorable man; & who, instead of standing over me & boring as the Belgian lady did, does his work and thinks silently about the desert..."

Nancy Mitford to Heywood Hill

Still from 'Julnar of the Sea,' a vaudeville production from 1919 starring Lillian Powell and Miles Smith, based on one of the tales from 'Arabian Nights.'  Found at the New York Public Library.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Like Iceland, Bhutan, and Yap, New Zealand is one of those places I've always wanted to go to.  So imagine my surprise when I checked my Google Analytics (exciting and scary) and found that I have a following coming from New Zealand!  What an honor.  I dedicate this to you my faithful Kiwi folk.  Thanks for pissin' on my lemon tree!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Del Cinema Muto

Pina Menichelli, Italian cinema star of the silent era, and inspiration for this weekends gala, where one knows not the location nor what to wear.  She will be my starting point.  Will I Cecil Beaton my eyes? 

ho trovato allo Stanza di Elena Muti

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hameau de la Reine

Somedays in the imaginary palace, villa, hut of our dreams, life can become very monotonous and tiresome.  The regalia, the gentry, the civility.  THE TEDIUM!

On days like these, I retire to my little hamlet, where "the chicken's are out," the milk's always fresh and life's always bucolic.  Now don your plebeian frock and join me.

photographs by pearled

Friday, November 5, 2010

Letters Between Six Sisters

"I had a letter from you & the Lady* & Henderson** today, wouldn't it be a dread if one had a) no sisters b) sisters who didn't write."

Deborah to Diana, 21 July 1965

The other day I checked out from the library, the tome, The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters, and this lovely quote is on the opening page.  I've also been reading on and off Nancy Mitford and Heywood Hill's letters, so the thought of letter-writing has been really percolating in my coffee pot of a brain.  Why don't we write proper letters anymore?  A few of us send bits and bobbles of wit and curiosity to each other, but I think I'm going to start making time to write.  If you'd like a letter from the Hibernian Homme, do send me your address via email (the last time we'll interchange that way) and I will most assuredly send you a post!  For those of you already near and dear, ask your servants if you've recieved anything - you have.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

George Tooker

Self Portrait

George Tooker, a painter in the Magical Realism style, a friend and contemporary to Jared French, Paul Cadmus and George Platt Lynes (my favorite) among others, and one of those people I wish I had the chance to meet and become friends with. 



George Tooker photographed by George Platt Lynes

If you get a chance, take a look at the gallery HERE for more of his spectral work.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Can't get this song by White Hinterland out of my head!  I think I found my November anthem.

photographer: Chad Pitman
model: Behati Prinsloo

(Thanks to the investigative mastery of Christina at Fashion's Most Wanted in helping me give credit where it was do! :) )