Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Year in Review / We'll Have These (12 Other) Moments to Remember*

Happy Winter Solstice! May we suggest that you will ring it in by watching us on cable TV or the internet on Tuesday, December 22 at 8:30pm or Monday, December 28 at 9 PM? Treat yourself! See the Babes in TVland notice in our December 9 posting.

Jean's picks for the Year in Review include:

St. John the Divine:
At the very end of 2008, Valerie and I and our two co-conspirators, Judy and Tziporah, journeyed uptown to St. John the Divine.

All dolled up in our winter finery, we posed in front of the rather intimidating statue in the churchyard. Not only did we visit the Craft Show in the Chancery, but we also attended the holiday festival in the Cathedral itself, to celebrate its reopening after 5 years' renovation following a devastating fire. An in-church tightrope-walking performance by Philippe Petit (star of the Oscar-winning documentary "Man on Wire") was the highlight. Philippe is the French high wire artist who rose to fame when he took an illegal stroll between the twin towers of the then unfinished World Trade Center on August 7, 1974. Here he is (below), just arriving with his bag of tricks.

Among the stout hearted, broad shouldered men pulled from the crowd to hold the rope was none other than David Duchovny (currently starring in Showtime's "Californication" and indelibly etched in memory as "X Files" Agent Fox Mulder). After fifteen minutes of positively spellbinding entertainment, Phillipe hopped down to the marble floor, gathered the rope into a bag, balanced his bowler hat on his nose, placed it on his head, mounted his unicycle and rode straight out the door, blasting a whistle to clear his way through the crowd. Every man, woman and child was positively mesmerized.

In the photo above, Jean's wearing a vintage black felt and velvet cloche hat, and Italian pleated leather men's samurai coat. Valerie wears an Ignatius fake feather hat, black and white felt coat by Tiiti Tolonen, black and white cotton boa by Junichi Arai. Tziporah's wearing a vintage top hat and genuine hand embroidered paisley shawl.

Ladies Who Brunch:
A cross between breakfast and lunch, brunch is the most wonderful of meals! And late Sunday mornings provide both a chance to get together to assess the past week's events and plan future escapades. Here are a few of our memorable brunch-related moments captured for posterity:

Brunch on July 26 was followed by a stroll in the East Village, where we tarried in front of what we were told is photographer Robert Frank's building, a few doors down from the Yippie Cafe. (Fans of Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, take note!) Channeling her inner Nancy Cunard, Jean is wearing rows of vintage bakelite bangles, her Tibetan hat, black Tahari T-shirt, Brigitte harem pants, Dansko clogs and a Nordic House Designs leopard tote. Valerie is wearing an Issey Miyake blue denim collapsible men's hat, a white linen dress from Sym's underneath a blue pleated transparent apron dress (no label) and a necklace of blue and white porcelain discs on waxed linen cord. She's leaning, English style, on her plastic Frank Lloyd Wright brolly from the Metropolitan Museum.

August 15:

Kirsten and Judy joined us for a late summer brunch. Jean's true confessions: Although in some circles, my knickname is "Princess of Darkness", I could never really pull off the complete Goth look season to season because I just can't acquire the pale and ghostly pallor they so favor. As you can see from the photo, I am a self-confessed tanorexic. Nothing recharges my batteries (physical and psychic) better than a day at the beach. I'm wearing my Tibetan hat, Only Hearts cotton empire dress over a Banana Republic camisole, vintage white plastic link necklace and earrings. Valerie wears an early Chisato Tsumori saffron colored straw hat (which some call a pagoda shape and others an orange juice squeezer shape), saffron Eileen Fisher suit in silk and linen, black tank top, and vintage Issey Miyake leather and elastic belt in brick red.

After an All Saint's Day brunch on November 1 (in a prelude to the Day of the Dead, featuring my favorite - skulls and skeletons!), we paused on the steps of Lafayette House, amazed at the balmy weather (shirtsleeves in November in Manhattan?). Jean is wearing a vintage '40s black felt Minnie Mouse-style hat, black Kyodan jacket, skull scarf, Urban Outfitters harem pants charm necklace and Lounge Fly bag. Valerie is wearing a vintage red and yellow velvet turban, yellow and black wool Norma Kamali knock-off (the label says Norma Winter), and a wool and acrylic plaid scarf from Co-op (a Japanese version of K Mart).

November 22:

After reconnoitering here in the garden of the Cooper Square Hotel, Valerie (looking somewhat surly, as if she hadn't yet had her coffee) and I hit our favorite East Village brunch spot for our blueberry pancake and fresh fruit salad fixes respectively, and to critique the NY Times' Style Section.

We were stopped in our tracks on our afternoon stroll by the ribbon of dots on the wall on East 11th St. (Note to file: Valerie loves polka dots!) Jean's wearing a Stetson bowler, Moschino motorcross jacket, Issey Miyake Pleats Please black with beige floral inset skirt, black Maurizioni Taiuti embossed croc bag and Tokyo Boy flying crowned heart black patent change purse (from ENZ on 2nd Avenue at East 6th Street). Valerie is wearing a green Nafi De Luca shibori'd fulled wool beret, vintage black Elizabeth Arden silk coat, green Mina Poe hand-painted reversible mongolian lamb vest (erroneously marked "vintage" at a resale shop), metal bracelet with verdigris patina, black Ilaria Nastri linen trouser-skirt (from Century 21), and Aerosole shoes.

For holiday brunch on December 3, Judy Berkowitz joined us to celebrate Kirsten's return from Colorado.
Serendipitously, we're all wearing something red. Jean is wearing a vintage Norma Kamali grey sweatshirt swing top, two "Made Her Think" skull rosaries (one black and one clear plexiglass) and a black fleece hat from East Village milliner Maria D. Del Greco, accented with a vintage coral bakelite pin. Valerie is wearing a Tib Design fulled wool jacket from the recent One-of-a-Kind show at the West Side Piers and a carved wooden Yantar pin from the Philadelphia Craft Show. (Yantar also makes wonderful edgy vests out of industrial felt.)

Flea Markets:

One of our favorites is the Upper West Side Flea Market in the school and schoolyard near West 77th Street. It was on a visit this summer that I purchased my grey, black and white Turkish felt hat that was prominently featured in our "Timeless Girls in Hats" TV appearance and in last week's Twelve Hats of Christmas posting. Valerie is wearing a light blue Eric Javits straw hat, cotton and lycra jacket with action art sprays of paint by Alberto Makali, imitation warring states bead on blue paper cord, pale blue dress with draw string hem by Spiritious ("made in Los Angeles"), and light blue wide flat leather shoes with, unfortunately, an unidentifiable label.

Jean is wearing her Titan skull cap and deco bakelite pin, Donna Karan jacket, Tahari shirt, charm necklace, black and white bakelite bangles, Ice Pirates skull watch and Alexander McQeen for Puma black patent high-tops. Positively "Mad Men": Beside Jean, one of the ladies from Off Broadway boutique struts her stuff, wearing a fabulous yellow cocktail print '60s dress with coordinating glasses, shoes, and rose handbag.

We ventured into DUMBO for the new Brooklyn Flea Market held on summer Sundays under the Brooklyn Bridge. Afterward, on our way back to the subway, we had to stop in front of the yellow building with the great pre-Columbian references. Jean's wearing her Tibetan hat, See by Chloe black 3/4 sleeve T-shirt, H&M harem pants, black vintage bakelite cuff, black Angela Caputi crocodile cuff, Kirsten Hawthorne black coral, brass earrings AND the find of the day: a white square-link bakelite necklace (for $5!). Valerie is wearing a vintage green straw hat with feathers and cut-away back, Issey Miyake dress and H&M black poufy underskirt.

Meeting the Mayor:
The honorable Michael Bloomberg dropped into the Stephen Petronio Dance Company's 25th Anniversary Gala last April, held in a prominent art collector's East Village loft. Valerie and I and my husband and our friends interrupted our partying to greet the biggest celebrity in the place. Kirsten and my husband thanked him for all the new Manhattan bike lanes! I took the opportunity to thank him for supporting the arts (most especially dance) and chide him for shaking hands and kissing people, since I'd just seen his H1N1 public service announcements. His response was priceless: "My wife and I took all kinds of precautions when our first child was born, sterilizing everything. Things had relaxed by the time the youngest came along who would eat off the floor with the dog. And do you know what? The dog never got sick!" Ba da bum! Valerie, dumb-struck, forgot all about asking how the city could promote the greenification of city roofs and terraces to combat CO2 emissions, and contented herself with just taking the pictures of hizzoner. Kirsten, Valerie and Jean are on the settee (right, above), checking out the crowd, the art, the food and the atmosphere. Joining us in the group photo (below) are Frank, JR and Jeff. Jean's wearing a vintage Italian straw pancake hat, Rick Owens black T-shirt, DKNY rusched cotton and lycra jacket, Issey Miyake skirt, charm necklace and Kirsten Hawthorne black coral and brass earrings. Valerie is wearing a gray and black Issey Miyake dress, feather hat, black lacquered metal cuffs from Matsuya Ginza, black and gunmetal silk shawl, and plastic red watch from the Museum of Modern Art.

Cocktails (aka The Wee Drinkie):
After many of our outings, we end up having a cup of tea or a latte or a glass of bubbly and a nosh. Grand Central is one of our haunts (in part because the shuttle buses from the Pier antique shows all stop there and in part because of the incredible vibe and the amazingly warm golden glow of the marble and lighting in the great rotunda [note our golden faces in these pics]). Both Metrazur and Cipriani Dolci atop opposite ends of the great hall afford birds' eye views of the main hall where commuters and tourists mix. Here we are last spring at Metrazur solving the problems of the world with the help of a little truth serum, aka Prosecco.

Valerie is wearing a polyester men's XXL size cycling shirt with hilarious cartoon face designs, an industrial felt and velcro bracelet from O-Matic, and vintage red plastic earrings.

Jean is wearing her war horse, go-to wardrobe staples - Titan skull cap with bakelite domino pin, Kyodan black peplum jacket, Issey Miyake Pleats Please skirt, charm necklace, Dankso clogs and Lounge Fly bag.

You heard it here first! "60 is the new black!" Yes, it's official. I am a sexagenarian now. I rang it in in high style surrounded by girlfriends and lots of food and drink. In deference to the solemnity of the occasion, I wore my Minnie Mouse ears with my white bakelite chain necklace, thrift shop white rosette gum ball bracelet, '60s vintage dice earrings, Angela Caputi crocodile cuff, 14 gold or bakelite rings, Marithe & Francoise Girbaud black "fin" dress, Trippen boots and my heart on my sleeve.

Valerie is wearing a black (in my honor) Issey Miyake spiky turtleneck top and skirt, black felt '40s porkpie hat with leaves, and Jean's mother's earrings. Judy Berkowitz and the sailfish joined in the celebration along with (below, clockwise from left) Tziporah (doing her caravan of dreams look), Jodi Head (showing off her tats and her constant canine companion, RJ Cash), the Dumpling Diva (in plaid splendor) and Ginny (who eschewed her own anniversary and son's birthday celebrations to attend my birthday bash and whose homemade cookies blew us away). Space and local fire laws prohibit us from showing all the revelry.

Among the things Jean and Valerie have in common is that both had a birthday this year. Numerically, Valerie had a fun number, but Jean trumps with the milestone number. Here are just two photos from Valerie's Very Inconvenient Birthday party, in which she looks very much the harried hostess. You just can't get good help these days! Tziporah, shown below with her parasol at the ready, is a wonderful story teller, and had a story prepared for the occasion.

Valerie's Picks:

Tribal Arts Show
On May 19 we had the great good fortune of attending the wondrous 2009 New York International Tribal and Textile Arts Show at the Armory. This is always a rare feast for the eye, exhibiting as it does everything from Wiener Werkstatte curtains to Japanese fingernail weaving to Incan feather ponchos, to Rothko-like ceremonial handspun wool veils from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, to pleated Miao tribal skirts (stiffened and polished with animal blood and egg whites) to Hawaiian bark cloth. As hat lovers, we particularly enjoyed the Gail Martin Gallery, as Gail was showing a variety of African hats, including one made of pangolin scales.

The show is also great for people watching.

Here we are with a woman doing a very creditable Betty Page. (If you know her name, please contact us so we can credit her appropriately.)

Jean is wearing her deco bakelite pin and cap, Issey Miyake long jacket and skirt, faux ponyskin White Moutain clogs, charm necklace, and armloads of black and white bakelite bangles.

Valerie is wearing a hand painted kimono (1970s?) with Japanese hairpins (1870s?), a small suede backpack to which she attached a giant Hut Up felt leaf from the recent Cooper Hewitt felt show (labeled in the gift shop as a trivet), Rocket Dog flip flops decorated with vintage green buttons, and lustrous green toe nail polish.

Later in the evening, as we sought out the perfect spot for a wee drinkie, Jean posed by one of the iconic, graphic images embedded in asphalt that have been popping up on the steets of Manhattan, which seemed totally in keeping with the spirit of the Tribal Arts show.

A.I.R. Gallery Opening
Every year A.I.R. Gallery, a non-profit art gallery which recently moved from Chelsea to Front Street in Brooklyn, raises funds at its Wish You Were Here exhibition, in which it invites artists to submit art work on a 4x6 inch postcard. The gallery receives a dazzling array of entries in a variety of media, all of which are sold for $40 each, with all proceeds going to the gallery. Yoko Ono, Tom Otterness and other well known artists often contribute. This year tiles, watercolors, photographs, graphite drawings, wire structures, wood constructions, oil on masonite, and feathers were among the media of the donated artworks. Because there are no other criteria (such as an art school background or previous exhibition participation) Valerie contributed a piece of her own – a portrait of Andy Warhol constructed of straight pins. The original idea was to cover the iconic photo with pins, but after hours of highly detailed labor, eyes a-crossing, Valerie rethought the concept, and went for highlights only.

For the June 24 opening, Valerie wore a 1940s red straw hat with red polka dot ribbon from M&J Trimmings, reading glasses in a red polka dot frame, a 1950s red polka dot nylon dress from the DUMBO flea market, and a vintage red leather Coach belt.

Jean wore a black and grey striped Strawberry jacket, Issey Miyake Pleats Please skirt, black cap and deco bakelite domino pin, charm necklace. With us is our friend Rosa. There were countless great buys, and we all wound up buying something. Besides Andy, Jean's favorite was a pen and ink of a dog entitled: "50% Lover, 50% Warrior, 100% Chihuahua."

Spice Market / High Line

Like all good New Yorkers, we had to go see the High Line after it opened, and so had brunch at Spice Market on July 12, in the hot and happening Meatpacking District, where the food is spicy (meaning no berry pancakes for Valerie), and so are the interiors. We had to take a picture of ourselves against the papaya-colored walls downstairs, but you can see we still have lots to learn about photo styling. That's Valerie's digital camera nestled in her lap.

Jean wore a Tibetan woven straw hat from the Rubin Museum of Art, a Hanes T-shirt inherited from her dad and an Imaginary Journey grey cotton tunic, accented by the ubiquitous charm necklace, black Angela Caputi crocodile bracelet and vintage bakelite rings.

Valerie wore a vintage Kokin hat, vintage Issey Miyake jumpsuit, and Jean’s mother’s vintage polka dot earrings. Our friend Judy Berkowitz wore her beloved Ray Bans.

As luck would have it, just steps away was a street fair, where we were entertained by spice-colored stilt walkers and fantastic giant sea creatures crafted out of balloons. (We also stopped to admire one of the local shops, where Jean tried on a fabulou$$ hat.)

When we finally made our way up to the High Line, we were treated to a breathtaking panorama of our marvelous city.

9 (and 1) on 09-09-09, 9:09pm

Valerie has a fascination with numbers, even though she’s lousy at math. Some numbers simply attract one's attention. Phone numbers can be interesting, but they might not change for forty years.

The number of miles between here and the moon might be interesting (what if it were, say, 1,234,567 miles?), but that number is unlikely to change in anyone’s lifetime, so there’s only so much time one can spend contemplating numbers like that.

Dates, on the other hand, change daily, and can present all sorts of amusement for the idle mind. This year, for example, we had 07-08-09. And if you were paying attention, you could have commemorated 4:56am on that date, for a wonderful series of numbers.

The past decade has been replete with great numeric combinations because we’re still in the oughts. Once we pass 2012, the frequency of really cool numbers will fall precipitously (since the year won’t be able to match up to December or 12am or 12pm), so we have to enjoy them now.

With that in mind, Valerie contacted some friends and suggested that everyone meet at Tabla (where they have wonderful cocktails) to celebrate 09-09-09.

As luck would have it, nine women showed up, and one man (what man doesn’t dream of finding himself alone with nine women?).

At 9:09pm, we raised our glasses to a very special day and a very special alignment of numbers. (If you missed it, don’t despair! Next year you can celebrate 10-10-10 at 10:10pm.)

Jean is wearing an aubergine Armani jacket, black Calvin Klein T-shirt, vintage black bakelite necklace, cuff and ring. Valerie is wearing a gray and black Issey Miyake dress.

The 9 (and 1) at the party were:

Judy Berkowitz, scarf designer (
Dorothy Black, potter and painter
Katherine Crone, book artist and fiber artist
Theresa Ellerbrock, weaver
John Lamparski, fashion photographer
Becky, dealer in ethnographic art and seashells
Charlotte Thorp, basket maker
Rosa Valentin Content, fine jewelry consultant
Jean, trouble maker
Valerie, ringmaster and trouble maker


Valerie says: Ernesto Neto's Anthropodino, at the 67th Street Armory from May 14 to June 14, was like nothing I’d ever seen in that space before. I was used to seeing dignified people showing vetted antiques in orderly rows of booths. Anthropodino was wonderful chaos and anarchy, a treat for all the senses. Lots of spaces to explore; the scent of herbs and spices (chamomile, lavender, and cloves among them) everywhere – on the floor, in eye covers, in bags hanging from the rafters (see photo). There were events for little children that I was able to horn in on. It was great to fall into the all-enveloping bean bags, and fabulous to alternately nearly float and nearly drown in a sea of small plastic balls. The photo is very staid – as if I were still among the rows of dignified booths – and doesn’t at all reflect the fun of the experience. I’m wearing a zip up knit cotton/lycra shirt from Strawberry, matte black fingerprint beads from Peter Lane, Huge Apple pants with velcro closures and Land’s End mary jane shoes (which I happily took off for many of the Anthropodino festivities).

* With apologies to The Four Lads.

No comments:

Post a Comment