Sunday, June 6, 2010

We Get Around

Valerie says: Jean is having second thoughts after rashly proclaiming herself shallow two weeks ago. To save our reputation (hers, really, and mine by association), she suggested that we post some absolutely marvelous photos we've taken over the past few months that show us doing things that appear cultured and sophisticated. Here, a portrait of our happy feet.

To start (in no particular order), one night we found ourselves in the 8th Avenue Line 14th Street Station, where we came across this compelling message:

You can see I'm rather perplexed by it.

At first, Jean is deep in thought, but moments later has a dangerous gleam in her eye.

We proceed to follow instructions.

Here, Jean tries out exposing herself, and, miraculously, gets two feet taller! (Jean says: "I came, I saw, I flashed.")

I giggle like a school girl. (Hilarious brass sculptures in these photos by Tom Otterness. They're all over the station.)

Before we part ways for the evening, Jean tries exposing herself one more time. She still hasn't got the naked part right, but she gets an A for effort, and for looking far more stylish than the average flasher.

Valerie is wearing: a fulled wool Parkhurst hat which came with a tag (now lost) showing how it can be worn five different ways; a fabulous silver pin by a Croatian artist (I have to find his card!) I met at the Bryant Park Christmas market; white DKNY blouse, Japanese red paper made into a tie, and held by two lipstick cases from Isabella Rosselini's late great Manifesto line of make-up; Final Home coat over a Tamotsu coat; Hiroko Koshino jacket; Huge Apple pants; Junichi Arai ties at the ankle (from MOMA); very comfortable sueded leather shoes by Cole Haan.

Jean is wearing: a Yeohlee coat (her Urban Nomad look), Maria D. Del Greco felt hat, Joan Rivers pearl Maltese cross hat pin, Kirsten Hawthorne pearl and metal cross pendant, Gucci glasses, black Italian leather tote bag and Dansko clogs.

Valerie says: In April, we went to see Andre Leon Talley at FIT. There was an AMAZING line to get in, not to mention a metal detector at the door, as ALT has apparently received threats due to his unabashed penchant for ostentatious furs. We made our entrance through the metal detectors (see Jean above - the big taupe-y rectangle on the left is the metal detector); ALT made an entrance no one could top, wearing a red silk robe with a train nearly as long as the one on Princess Di's wedding gown way back in 1981. It's hard to tell here, but he matched it with a splendiferously sequined black tee shirt.

(Jean says: The New York Times' Style section that day ran a picture of ALT and Whoopee Goldberg, deeming them both to be "Eminences." Both were dressed in long, full Ralph Rucci tunics and were seated at a tiny table at the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute's gala. It was not a flattering photograph for either, so comparing them to cardinals and bishops was an exercise in deflection.)

Here we are that night on the FIT grounds. Like ALT, you'll note that I'm also wearing black and red.
(Jean says: It was enjoyable and amusing. ALT is a very entertaining speaker. While the audience at most FIT lectures is filled with students and young aspiring designers, ALT attracted a large number of older women quite knowledgeable about American and European fashion and Vogue magazine's current and previous editors. ALT was in a very chatty mood and was clearly enjoying himself, unilaterally extending his remarks beyond the allotted timeframe. He talked a great deal about his grandmother's influence on his life and his taste and one could sense the great affection he felt for her.)

Valerie is wearing: 1960s black and white straw hat with red and black feathers and a red velvet ribbon, labeled Leslie James and Whitsitt's La Jolla (Metropolitan Vintage Show); Mexican sterling and onyx necklace from a second hand store; red Anne Klein jacket (with a Bergdorf's label, but from the flea market many years ago); white sleeveless Express shirt; black Caravicci pants with white contrasting stitching; Chinese Laundry sneakers with small spike heels.

Jean is wearing: Ignatius hat, Michael Stars tee shirt, Ensemble sleeveless wrap top, Michiko Koshino skirt, charm necklace, vintage bakelite cuffs and rings.

After attending the Nic Rad opening that we so lovingly wrote about in a previous posting, Jean and I - and Jean's POSSLQ, who kindly took this photograph - walked the High Line.
And to prove that we're cultured, and not just pretty faces, below is a picture we took of the Frank Gehry building that lights up the High Line at night. Opinions on this building apparently run to the love/hate extremes. We love it.

Valerie is wearing: Jean's Mom's earrings; Strawberry black cotton knit and lycra shirt; Jones New York Country black wool pants; silver bracelet with trilobite fossils from Evolution; black plastic bracelet with polka dots from a second hand shop; gray leather 'gladiator' open toed ankle boots by Blowfish, also second hand.

Jean is wearing a vintage 1940's felt Hershey's kiss hat by Bellini Originals, Atrium black turtle neck, Zara black and white striped shawl top, Ronen Chen skirt, rows of black and white bakelite vintage bracelets, black and white striped socks and Dansko clogs.

Valerie says: I'm a VERY fussy eater. (Usually that just means I don't like processed foods. Thirty years ago, that would not have presented many problems; in 2010 it's a nearly insurmountable challenge.) So we mostly brunch at the same lovely restaurant, but on very rare occasions we scout out other locations. This day, we had an impromptu brunch at Barolo (nice, but alas no pancakes). It was one of the first nice days of the year, and we dressed accordingly.

Jean pointed out supportively that this is a nice photo of me because it shows my cleavage. I responded that in my youth I had little or no cleavage, and do not particularly welcome its sudden appearance now. I'm always amused by women who get breast implants. I am more pragmatic. If a magic genie offered me my choice of implant (which, being magical, would involve no cost, no risk, no pain and no recovery time), I'd opt for broader shoulders. It drives me nuts when my bra straps slip off these little shoulders. (And I could take all the pads out of my '80s jackets, updating them in seconds, and silencing the fashion police.) Despite my advanced age, in this photo I also have an unsightly acne breakout. (Does acne keep you youthful?) More on this bane in a later posting. (Emma Thompson appears rounded in the recent movie An Education. If it's her own natural padding on her once boyish frame I'll be thrilled; if it's padding added by a thoughtful costumer to add credibility to Thompson's role as a schoolmarm, I'll be crestfallen.) (Jean says: Valerie simply cannot take a compliment. I rest my case.)

Valerie is wearing: a red and white straw hat labeled Chapeau Creations by Ruth Kropveld and a white linen suit by Calvin Klein, Champion racer's back athletic (ha!) top (same stuff she wore to the Easter Parade); anonymous black polka dot sunglasses and vintage earrings (red plastic and tiny zebra mussel shells) from a long ago Metropolitan Vintage Show.

Jean is wearing: an Ignatius hat, Costume National jacket, vintage bakelite earrings and mah jong tile bracelet and vintage Southwestern wooden rosary necklace.

Jean says:
As good New Yorkers, we often take buses and subways to get to and from various events, openings and outings. Often, subway stations are just a means to an end. Sometimes, however, they can be a subterranean destination in themselves. On April 17th, we found ourselves at the Essex St. stop on the J and M lines. I couldn't resist creating my own version of the circus trick of placing one's head in the tiger's mouth. (And we all know how well that went for Siegfried and Roy, don't we kiddies?)

The Essex Street stop on the J and M lines in the Lower East Side is located at the corner of Essex and Rivington Streets. Art work on the walls of the downtown station reflects the Essex Street Market located directly above. A local landmark, the market has been known for generations for its selection of fresh fish. The tiles capture the colors and textures of the scales of great fresh water fish. Each corner of the station holds a different scenic acquatic view. Although Valerie was strangely reticent on this particular afternoon to have her own photo taken, she did indulge my reverie. (Valerie explains: I was having a Bad Outfit Day, I think...)

Jean is wearing a black motorcycle jacket purchased in a West Village leather store circa 1993, Marithe and Francoise Girbaud cargo pants, Smart Wool zip-neck sweater, Classic Hardware for Tokyo Boy patent change purse, vintage bakelite black rings and red bracelet, Calvin Klein black plastic eyeglass chain.

Jean says:
On April 22, Valerie accompanied me to an art opening at Michael Mut Gallery on Avenue C in the East Village featuring three of Helene Bergson's fanciful collages. Helene, pictured on the left, and her partner Lorraine, are friends and fellow members of my block association. Here we are in pro forma East Village mufti -- solid black. Helene has accessorized her look with a Mexican skull (my personal favorite) necklace while Lorraine sported her new skunk-striped hair coloring.

Since it was one of the first warm nights of spring, the gallery was jammed. Here's Valerie navigating the crowd to survey the art work.

Jean is wearing a black Costume National zip front jacket, DKNY turtle neck, and vintage black bakelite claw-shaped earrings.

Valerie is wearing an old standard favorite. Spitalnick black and purple checked jacket; multicolored felt pins by Maria Boggiano (at MOMA); H&M purple camisole; Issey Miyake purple pants and Land's End blue mary janes.

Jean says:

On May 2nd, we fortified ourselves with breakfast at BBar before heading to Soho - Valerie in search of a baby present and I in search of a wedding present. Valerie is wearing my all-time favorite Ignatius hat. The coil actually moves and when it does, I hear an imaginary "sproing" in my head. Here I am, enjoying my latte and eyeing the tasty banana bread.

Here's Valerie as we make our way from the East Village into Soho. Do not try to adjust your reception, ladies and gentlemen. Valerie's Devo-esque glasses' lenses are purposely askew. Caution. Do not try this at home. She is a trained professional on a test track.

Later in the day, we stopped in Alessi to refuel at its cafe. (Yo. Word up. Their lattes are killer.) While waiting for our orders, we wandered around the shop. While I hopelessly looked for just the right wedding present, Valerie was most taken with one of the sales rep's v-shaped haircut, which he most generously allowed us to photograph. He confessed that his sister clips his hair into this geometric configuration. He uses masking tape for a guaranteed straight line.

Although Valerie successfully found and purchased an adorable baby gift, I was not so lucky and went home empty handed. Just before departing, we noticed the most fabulous trash bags ever. Who knew garbage could be so gorgeous? Valerie adds: The trash bags were from CITE, on Greene Street, designed by Adrian Kondratowicz. Can't TELL you how disappointed I was NOT to be able to buy the pink and black bags. All they had were pink with gold dots, which were not nearly as smashing. Pink and gold will look perfect in India; pink and black are right for New York (and Tokyo, and probably Paris and London).

Jean is wearing an Ignatius hat, black Ensemble sleeveless shawl top over an Ellen Tracy 3/4 sleeve poly tee shirt, Ronen Chen skirt, charm necklace, black bakelite cuff and rings, black resin alligator cuff by Angela Caputti, Calvin Klein black plastic glasses' chain and Moss Lipow glasses.

Valerie is also wearing an Ignatius hat with free-moving spiral; anonymous sunglasses; Calvin Klein white linen suit; white short sleeved linen shirt from Sym's; white nubuck shoes by Arche.

Valerie concludes: So you see - we're not so shallow after all. Jean was just having a Bad Hair Day when she wrote that. That day is over, and her hair is once again fabulous.

On a side note, I did an interview with Jessie Askinazi, who does a blog called Morning Passages. Jessie's out of our age demographic (that is, young enough to be our child), but we'd like to recommend that you look at her cool and edgy blog. The link below will take you directly to her e mail interview with me. Jessie asked some very thought-provoking questions. If you take off all the code at the end, and just go to, that will take you to her home page. Jean is also supposed to interview with Jessie, and we'll let you know when that happens.

Stay tuned, dear readers, for a future posting on the wonders of bakelite and the Hudson River Museum's erudite bakelite show, which closed today.

And finally, we had our first visitor from New Caledonia! Welcome, and do come back!


  1. I just wanted to let you know how much I'm enjoying your blog posts. The two of you look like you have such fun in everything you do (and with such style!!!) So glad that you're living your lives with "verve" and letting me share in that with you.

  2. It was such a pleasure meeting you both at the dinner at Alias, you made quite the impression on my wife, especially the hat, the wonderful hair stylings and just the whole effect. If you're wondering my wife was the young women wearing the red hat and I was her shleppy guy in jeans.






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