Monday, January 31, 2011

Una Settimana!

Once upon a time I was a star Italian student.  I could carry on conversations over imaginary cigarettes in the cafeteria, and I translated Vogue Italia to those less fortunate then I.  Not anymore.  Having to talk with people over the phone makes me jittery, but in Italian even worse.  "You English speak?" I resort to. Shame on me!  Then I remembered, in the depths of my wardrobe is a notebook I used for the years I spent studying Italian.  Wouldn't it be a scream to unearth it?

And a scream it was.  Amongst the scratchy handwriting, pages and columns filled with sketches of women with Louise Brooks bobs and finger waves (some things never change), recipes photocopied from Martha Stewart and a gushing letter of recommendation from my Italian teacher that actually made me tear up, was proof of my proficiency.

I'm hoping that as soon as I get there I have some sort of "awakening" that has happened in times past, but I think I'll be studying this notebook before bed this week, trying to ignore the embarassing reminders of times past.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ritratto di Signora

Ritratto di Signora. Marcello Dudovich, 1935

I really hope when I'm over in Italy, I bump into this lady.  She'll of course: hire me as her assistant/servant which I will gladly do, then after years of servitude, leave me her fortune and Art Deco villa.  And the ski chalet in Courmayeur. And the apartment in Venice. Or something like that.

Marcello Dudovich is famous for the posters synomynous with TJ Maxx or Marshalls, found in every mother-in-law's kitchen.  This portrait, though, is amazing, and should be used for a book cover soon!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Japanese Years, Continued

I've posted about the formative years my father spent with his family in Japan.  Of all the places he lived, Japan was by far his favorite.  As a kid I would look at the three lacquered albums in absolute awe and daydream about what life would have been like for them and wonder why weren't still there.  Here are a few of the black and whites:

My favorite picture of my Grandmama (she wanted us to call her that...we didn't) ever.  I'm impressed with my grandpa's eye for composition!

Grandpa with his best friend, Fuji and others.  The picture was labled "fakku."  I'm guessing that's where he learned it's meaning.

Fuji and a maiko.  Don't you just love Fuji?

On a sightseeing trip through the countryside with the boys.

The last photo in the albums and my favorite.  Fuji working the dancefloor with Grandma and Grandpa dancing in the background.  They were quite the dancers and even in old age Grandma looked like her feet were never touching the ground.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Big Blunder

I feel that it is my duty to tell you that in my posts a few weeks ago I mentioned how James Lees-Milne did great things for the Landmark Trust; this is false.  Thanks to an anonymous comment I received, I now know it was, in fact, the National Trust.  I should have picked up my error when editing, but obviously missed it.  I blame the fact that the Landmark Trust is one of my bookmarks, and I check it regularly fantasizing about a trip spent in one of their properties.  Nevertheless, I apologize profusely.

James Lees-Milne. Switzerland, 1935.

Will you forgive me?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Camera Obscura

I have made my way into present times, ten years late:  I'm now a proud owner of a digital camera!  I've had a trusty 70's Pentax since I was 15 and really have had no need to get something modern.  But with the move (TWO WEEKS!) coming up, it's become a necessity.  I bought a Panasonic Lumix, and although I haven't figured it out completely I think I'm starting to get the hang of it.  The depth of field is greatly lacking, but I really can't afford an SLR camera at the moment.

This is the first shot I'm actually content with.  An icy shot for this sub zero day.  Now excuse me, I have to treat the frost bite I got when taking this.

(If any of you have any pointers -especially about achieving a better depth of field- I'm all ears.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Brigitte Helm

You may recognize her from a viewing of Metropolis.  Brigitte Helm, German actress with an unfortunately short career.  Even without the garb, her Classical look could any sculpture make.  She would have fit right in at the Chaos to Classicism exhibit at the Guggenheim.

Stills found hither

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A bit of Balthus

The King of Cats, 1935

Found by way of Duncan Hannah...

which triggered a memory...

...provided by the always intelligently, gorgeous blog, Nick Haus. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

James Lees-Milne, Continued

Because I'm not over my James Lees-Milne phase I'll share a few more from his collections at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library:

James Lees-Milne, Pamela Mitford, and Nancy Mitford. 1926.

Richard Stewart-Jones and James Lees-Milne at Curragh Chase. 1938

Richard Stewart-Jones was one of the many who passed on his property to the Landmark Trust after his death.

James Lees-Milne and Helen Lees-Milne, his mother.

From what he writes she sounds absolutely hysterical and someone you want to be around at all times.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Another Self - James Lees-Milne

My ongoing obsession with Tom Mitford, the little-known brother of the famed Mitfords, has led me to James Lees-Milne.  Mitford and Lees-Milne were great chums at Eton and Lees-Milne's tales of visiting the family's home, adds to their history.  What he is most known for, though, is basically saving a great part of England's history and architecture with his work for the National Trust.  During his years there, he convinced many who owned these great homes but couldn't afford to keep them up, to donate them to the Landmark Trust so they wouldn't fall to ruin.

Ralph Jarvis, Randolph Spencer Churchill, Diana Mitford, Tom Mitford, Diana Spencer Churchill, and James Lees-Milne, 1927

Which lead me to read Another Self, the memoir of his early years.  Looking to just find some more information on Tom Mitford, I have instead found a book and a new author I absolutely adore.  On the same vein as Beverley Nichols, he writes as a close friend would, telling you the personal, witty stories that make it impossible not to admire him. 

James Lees-Milne at Posillipo

One comical story regals his time when working as secretary for the future Prime Minister, Lord Lloyd. He took a holiday (paid by Lloyd) to Corsica where he spent weeks dashing about the island with a Corsican bandit named Dominique, who threatened death upon himself with a machete to the neck at a moment's notice.  They spent nights travelling and days sleeping in caves all in the quest to find the corrupt Spada, Lord over all the bandits.   After this tempestuous trip his return to reality was not a simple as one would think:

"On leaving Corsica I took a boat from Bastia to Spezia to stay with the Lloyds in an isolated villa which they had rented from Percy Lubbocks near Lerici.  My disillusion with the ferocious Spada was not so absolute that I did not still identify myself with the Corsican bandits.  I could think of little else, and my recent experiences were magnified into fears of dare-devilry that were scarcely justified.  Moreover I arrived at the the Lloyds' respectable house-party dressed in my bandit outfit, that is to say in a 'costume de chasse en velours bleu.' Round my waist I wore a wide scarlet sash with tasselled fringe, and attached to it the sheathed knife which Dominque had pressed upon me at parting in return for money to buy himself the revolver...I quickly realized that I was making an ass of myself and conformed to the clothing expected of a private secretary in 1933 even on the Mediterranean."

Who of us hasn't been there?

My personal favorite was the night when he was 17 and dirt poor in London, but decided to splurge on a gift from his mother and go to the Opera.  There he met, in the standing section, the seraphic Theo and the two quickly became fast friends.  At the night's end after walking around London, the two parted and exchanged their contact information on pieces of paper.  Elated he walks home and just before he turns in, checks the paper. "James Lees-Milne.  14 Onslow Gardens."  He spent the rest of his life searching for that Theodore or Theophilus at the opera, in the cafe, but to no avail.

James Lees-Milne, in Lerici, working as Lloyd's secretary

There are so many more I'd love to share but fear I shall ruin your own personal discovery.  In fact, I had a difficult time narrowing down the entries!  Friends with so many we esteem (Vita Sackville-West, Harold Nicholson, Rupert Hart-Davis, Robert Byron) he writes with such wit, even over the tragedy, of a man who has lived the world.  Unfortunately Another Self is out of print in the States, but it is still available here.

(Side Note:  How amazing are these pictures?  I found them in my frantic search at Yale's Beinecke Rare Book Library...supposedly they are in possession 30 boxes of Lees-Milne's correspondences, records and photographs.  If this interest intensifies I may have to make a pilgrimage!)

Editor's Note:  Thanks to an anonymous comment for pointing out to me that Lees-Milne worked for NATIONAL Trust, not LANDMARK Trust.  Such a silly mistake on my part.  Apologies!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Moon

Although we're not quite there yet -my waters tell me we're in waxing crescent?- this painting seemed fitting for our 14 inches of snow forecast for tomorrow.

Moon Madness
Andrew Wyeth

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Downton Abbey

Unless you're like me, and whilst breathing your last breath last week watched the entire season of Downton Abbey illegally online, I'd tell you to stay in and watch the premier episode on PBS tonight. 

Cancel all plans (unless they're with me), tell Cook to prepare you a sandwich then let her retire early, and put on your dressing gown. You don't know how your life is going to change after tonight.

Friday, January 7, 2011

First Flight at a Rook

Among other things I'll endeavor at my future English manor home, falconry is top on the list.  Why, when I see a red-tailed hawk in flight Stateside, my heart gets a flutter with anticipation!

From My Country Book by C.F. Tunnicliffe

found at the stunning Once was England...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A study in Vanity?

Is it vanity to list my favorite posts on my own blog for 2010?  I hope not!  All I'd like is to share some things I enjoyed writing or putting together this past year.

I hope you enjoy them, deerlings!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A perfect day

Yesterday was one of those days where traffic didn't exist and everything seemed euphoric.  From meeting Leigh, one of this blog's first commenters, to seeing Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy and Germany, 1918-1936 at the Guggenheim, it was all a dream.  For those of you who like what I feature on this blog, you will love that exhibit.  All the interwar Neoclassicism bliss that I can't seem to get enough of.  Good to know a sampling of the history in the city that will shortly be my home.

 These photographs of dancer Isadora Duncan by Edward Steichen were the absolute highlight.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mi recherò a Milano

I'm sure all of you have been tossing and turning, desperate to know what the future holds for Hibernian Homme.  Many of you (cough cough..Thomas) were very close in your guesses! Well I'm pleased to announce that as of February 8, our headquarters will be moved to Milan!  I've wanted to live in Europe, oh forever, so for the chance to finally arise has me jumping like a cow over the moon.  Everything has been going very smooth and if things work out (visas etc) I'll be staying for a while.

I hope you are all as pleased as I am, and will follow my progress in Italy on this blog -which I promise to keep up ever faithfully.  If any of you are from the Old World get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.  

The picture from the previous post was a staircase in the wonderful 10 Corso Como.  Oddly enough, in the gallery was a photo collection featuring a photograph of a train station four minutes from where I grew up.  Anywho, here's a photo of my Belgian friend, Lydia, and I enjoying an apertivo at the 10 Corso Como Cafe: