Friday, June 29, 2007

All roads lead to Rome. As a follow-up to yesterday's Roman dress, I just had to post these fabric photos. File this under: one that got away. This fabric was available on ebay about 6 months ago. I forget now what kept me from posting it when it was live.
It looks like upholstery fabric, or curtains, but wouldn't it make a splendid trapeze dress? I'd be tempted to wear it with gladiator sandals, and coif myself like a Roman matron. Yeah, I know, this print is more Greco than Roman, but indulge me, okay?
I'd wear it to the race track. Not that I've played the ponies since I was in pigtails.
The sport of kings has gotten quite seedy since my youth in the clubhouse. Not by a Longshot by T.D. Thornton, documents a year at the run-down Suffolk Downs track in East Boston. Known as "Sufferin' Downs" to both hard-luck career gamblers and the underpaid jockeys, trainers and track workers, this portrait of the gritty East Boston oval is reviewed here.
I spend an inordinate amount of time reading reviews of books and movies that I have no intention of pursuing further. This, is one of them. Andrew Keen's Cult of the Amateur, reviewed by Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times. True, I've never really trusted the Times after that whole weapons of mass destruction inaccuracy (remember that?), but I figure the style Section (already a bastion of nepotism, and self congratulation) can't trigger any crimes against humanity, right? But from there I generally stumble into Books and Arts and then who knows what can happen.
Ms. Kakutani is a Pulitzer Prize winning book critic. I also really like her hair. Her review of Mr. Keen's book is nicely restrained and informative. Plus she has saved me from reading the book. From the gist of it, Mr. Keen is arguing that the Internet is the downfall of Western Civilization since the articles that get the most readership are simply those that are the most popular. In this way, traditional media is being erroded, and factual errors are being promulgated. And in this I absolutely agree with Mr. Keen.
However, though I just have this blog that no one reads, I do hold myself to standards of journalistic integrity. I cite my sources, and do my darndest to spell everyone's name right for starters. I don't defame anyone (because that's bad karma), and it don't pass on rumors. I have debated whether or not to post photos with people in them modeling novelty prints. In the end, I decided to post the photos for 2 reasons. I am offering free advertising for the item, and I generally compliment the model. After all, I only post images I like, right?
Of course not everyone plays nice. Anonmymity provides for nasty ad hominem attacks and even death threats. And a lot of spurious content. But then, the NYTimes has had some spurious content too. I think Mr. Keen makes an excellent point that if all our news is coming from amateur bloggers, not only are we using internet research to support our partisan opinions, but also newspapers themselves are losing advertising revenue and many are lacking the resources for more in-depth reporting. I feel that I have witnessed the Village Voice decline over the years.
But Mr. Keen sounds, as Ms. Kakutani puts it, "elitist and churlish" when describing the outlets now available to artists and musicians. She quotes him as describing publish on demand services as “just cheaper, more accessible versions of vanity presses where the untalented go to purchase the veneer of publication”. Ouch.
When he laments that in the end we'll only listen to amateur garage bands. I don't know that that's so terrible. I prefer to get my entertainment to come from people I know. Since most of my friends are dancers, magicians, and singer-songwriters this happens naturally. It's obvious that technology has broken the stranglehold that book publishers, record and theater producers have had over whose content is viewed.
My issue is with Youtube and other sites based on the premise of humiliating unwitting participants. Why can't we all play nice?
Have a great weekend, goslings.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Morituri Te Salutamus. We who are about to die salute you. (Can you hear me out there, Spartacus?)

Roman-themed novelty print dress. Early 60s most likely, cotton, printed with coins, shields, sandals and centurion's helmets. I can't really make out the Latin, except "Augustus". I can only hope that it says somewhere: Vendi, Vidi, Vici.

I have long desired a Roman frock. I've even written about it somewhere on this blog. I used to know some Latin. Actually, I only knew the parts of Ceasar's Gallic Wars that I thought would be on the final exam. And yes, it ended up being that hideous passage about building a bridge that I ended up translating. I'd love to find a dress with that printed on it. Though I sure couldn't translate it now. But I do remember the doggerel that a previous student has etched into the textbook: Latin is a dead language/as dead as it can be./It killed the ancient Romans,/and now it's killing me.

All my dreams come true eventually. Though never quite as I had hoped. I've performed in many of the places I've always wanted to, it's just that my roles were much smaller than I'd hoped. (Not to mention the tepid reviews, those are almost worse than the bad ones.) The desired event (or object) eventually appears, but always with a sardonic twist. My great lost love, The Boy From Ipanema, did contact me nearly a decade after his ill-timed disappearance. But rather than offering me his heart and bemoaning the years we'd spent apart, he was proposing to act as my attorney in an intellectual property suit he'd read about in the paper. See what I mean: close, but no cigar. (Perhaps I should now refer to my lost Brazilian as "The Ambulance Chaser", nu?)

And so, the Roman dress has been found, but it's too small for me. Way too small, B32, W24. But you, little slip of a thing, get out there and carpe diem.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Summer in the city indeed. This one, goslings, is a class act. Fine art quality textile design. Excellent use of fabric enables the print to wrap around this frock. Deep V in the back keeps it from feeling staid. Neutral colors keep it subdued. I love the way the grey wash adds light and depth to this print.

Normally I avoid neutrals, being the woman in red when everyone else is wearing tan. (Yes, Spartacus, I put that allusion in there for you). But here they are done right. And it's a wearable B39, W32.

You'd look like a million bucks in this one. You could even wear this one on a job interview, though you'd probably want to cover your shoulders with some kind of jacket.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cute alert.

Are you desperate for a hedgehog? Long to hold a prickly little being and feed it crickets? Hedgehogs are alarmingly adorable, but they are illegal in the 5 boroughs of NYC, and the entire state of California. But that probably won't stop you, will it? They are nocturnal, so you'd be tempted to stay up all night playing with your hedgie and get to your day job even more exhausted than you are now.

About 6 months ago, I got it in my fool head that I needed a hedgehog. Desperately. No matter that I share about 300 square feet of Colliers Brothers style clutter with a comedian and a pit bull. I'd seen them on cuteoverload and became obsessed. I began to strategize about names for my future hedgehog during boring meetings at work. I decided that a hedgehog should have a name that is either Britishy or Russiany. I toyed with names like Basil, Cromwell, Krushev, or Vlad (the impaler). No matter that my actual contact with hedgehogs was confined to looking at photos of other people's pets on the internet.

Reading more about their care and feeding, the Dickensian squalor of my converted tenement is entirely inappropriate for a hedgehog, even without factoring in the pit bull. Since they are insectavores, a hedgehog would be inclined to snack on the various creepy crawlies that infest the place. While it would better my ecosystem to lower the roach population, a hedgie can die from eating bugs that have been exposed to insecticide. True, a hedgehog can be confined to a cage, but it has to run around at somepoint, at least to snuggle on the sofa. They are great escape artists, and once little Cromwell darts behind the stove, I fear it would all end badly.

My hedgehog desires reached a crescendo about a month ago. Toward the tail end of almost total hedgehog fixation, I went to the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn, where I met Emily Martin, an artist living in Athens, Georgia, who created the adorable hedgie in a beret. You can see more of her work here at her esty shop called The Black Apple. I indulged my hedgehog mania by buying t-shirts and prints of her hedgehog-themed artwork.

Ms. Martin was super nice and we chatted a bit about hedgehogs. She said that she did not have one as a pet, but that over the past year or so they had taken over her work. Please check out her esty shop: she's got tons of original paintings and prints featuring hedghogs (along with other cute animals, and big-eyed children in retro attire). Some wearing headphones, some taking tea. All cute yet tinged with a Buster Keaton type of melancholy and 70s retro sensibility that keeps them contemplative and never saccharine.

Ms. Martin was not the only Renegade crafter with hedgehogs on the brain. Many crafters had a headgehog or two. But I liked hers best.

At this point I imagine you goslings out there are thinking: hedgehog blah blah blah, what has this got to do with novelty prints? Well, that very day I also saw a teatowel, printed with mushrooms and hedgehogs. What's the lead time on a mass produced item from China? About 6 months, sometime less. Mark my words, goslings, hedgehogs are gonna be the new owls. Within a year or a year and a half we will reach hedgehog saturation. They will be staring at you from every portal of Urban Outfitters, on bags and shirts.

My mother believes that I am a trendsetter. This is not true. I am what marketing and advertizing folks call an early adopter. I am more susceptible to market trends, the same way I get every cold or flu that wafts through cubicle city. My hedgehog dreams began around the same time the teatowel was in the works. My desire for something usually peaks before it is actually available in stores, so I end up wearing a vintage equivalent (or some self-made simlacrum) until it hits the stores. At that point, I usually don't want it anymore. In short, my desires have been co-opted by the consumerist agenda, and I serve as a walking billboard (or a viral marketer) until the big merchandise putsch (and yes, I do mean that in a military sense).

You could say that hedgehog imagery is the logical progression from the deer and owls of contemporary novelty prints, sure. You could also say that our imaginations are in thrall to the systems that oppress us. (I am paraphrasing Kate Bornstein with that one.) Or you could look at the movement of a trend from a subculture to the mainstream.

Ms. Martin, was of course, way ahead of me (and the design team for the teatowels). She is the real trendsetter here. It is my ardent hope that all the hedgehoggery to come will be designed by her. Do you hear me out there, powers-that-be? Hire this woman. Give her a well-appointed studio, a couple of assistants and watch the magic happen.

The photo is someone's pet, named Crunchie. How could anyone resist those beady eyes?

Eat it up, yum. 50's cotton frock printed with menus, espresso cups, and are those bottles of champagne? I'd love a close-up of one of those menus. Ebayer, Ms. Hillbilly-Filly, says the menus are in French. Mon dieu. Go get this. Bidding ends in a mere 6 hours. It's not too aggressively small (B36, W27). But it's too small for me, but would probably fit you. You'd look irresistible in it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

This late 40s (or perhaps early 50s) rayon frock printed with lanterns and tendril-like scroll work currently has a bid of a mere $16.05. It is rather petite at 36-26-36. I have seen dresses like this go for serious big wampum. Go get it, for crying out loud. It's got swags over the straight skirt, one of my absolute favorite dressmaking embellishments. I am plotzing.

Upon reflection, I've posted a number of novelty prints of lanterns. I even have a faux vintage pajamas printed with East Asian lanterns. There's something expansive about a lantern print that just does it for me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I would call this love at first sight, except that I needed multiple photos to take in all this beauty. I am all for anything that promotes quince jelly. And get this, goslings, this gourmandine is a wrap dress, medium-sized. Another lovely from Ms. Jumbleaya.
Wear this dress and feast.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Merrily we roll along. Go get this adorable alternative-transportation-themed frock. I love the red sihouettes and the old time bicycles with huge front wheels. I also love the lady in her hat pedalling along (though I think that skirt is gonna get caught in the chain).
Though cycling remains a sexist sport (women are still barred from the Tour de France), I nonethless associate bikes with bloomers and suffragettes. After all, it was the popularity of the bicycle that caused women's clothing to lighten up, raise the hemline and ban the dreaded bustle.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Cute or disturbing? Maybe both? You tell me. It's on ebay and the current bid is $9.95. (If you adopt this catphone, would you please send me a photo?)

I rarely dive into the fetid world of novelty objects for the simple reason that that branch on the novelty tree contains far more vulgarity than I can tolerate. To paraphrase Blanche Dubois, I cannot stand a naked lightbulb or a vulgar novelty item.

For some reason or other, I could not resist this catphone. Perhaps it's because I was looking through House & Garden today and was horrified to see large ceramic dogs and zebras perched on lucite occasional tables in rich people's homes.

I remember these ceramics from the 70s. One of my aunts had had a pair of tall white ceramic whippets guarding her fireplace. And even as a little kid I thought they were tacky, but kinda funny. Of course I love tchotchkes as much as the next person, but if they are too big to fit in a curio cabinet, they better serve another function as well. The dogs' heads should open up so you can use them for ice buckets or something.

If you are a young little gosling who has no idea what I'm talking about, click here and scroll along a bit to see what I mean. I do like Jonathan Adler's verve (and manifesto--especially where he says: Minimalism is a Bummer), and I do appreciate his needlepoint yarmulkes. I don't mean to single him out. Every designer who is doing something interesting has resurrected these big dustcatchers.

This catphone is the same kinda tacky, but at least it is functional. Doesn't this kitty have a concerned expression on it's face? It's just worried you might miss a call. If it were truly functional it would have an outlet to charge your cell phone too.

Be still my heart.

1950s novelty, New Look silhouette with a billowing full skirt and trim waist. Just look at those seahorses amidst starfish and bubbles. Apparently the photo is not a true representation of color. Ebayer, SecondHandRose, describes this dress as muted brown, plum and mauve, though it reads here like mostly pink. You out there who can get into a 26 inch waist, go get this.

The seahorse is a motif I return to again and again. I just can’t get enough. Not only is there something magical about the seahorse, but with the males gestating and birthing, they are downright revolutionary.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Stop the presses.

Black and white and read (and red) all over. All the news that's fit for a novelty print. I love the splashes of 80s new wave color and the faux patent belt. Exceptionally wearable for an 80s piece, though those might be shoulder pads in there somewhere. Go get it. It would look so cute on you.

So inquiring minds want to know what's going on with Rudolpho. Are we truly kaput? Or are we just Richard-Burton-and-Elizabeth-Tayloring again?

Spritz me with White Diamonds, darlings, the Rudolpho Years are not over yet. That man is determined to be more than a bit player in this picture. There is something about that kind of tenacity that can get to an old dame like me.

This one's for you, Uncle Monty.
Isn't this a healthy, toothsome frock? Just look at that lettuce, those stout carrots and peas in a pod. Yummy.
I'd love to wear this one to brunch with my Uncle Monty, who is not only an enthusiastic vegetarian, he positively venerates all things vegetable. Perhaps the sole practicioner of vegetarian ikebana, Uncle Monty frequently pops over to Kyoto to create his edible sculptures.
I own two vegetarian dresses. Both circa late 1970's. Both cotton. One shows brightly colored veggies on a navy background. It sports yellow piping and a full skirt. The second is a recent acquisition, and not yet on display. White raw cotton with a thick burlap sack style weave is printed with asparagus, eggplants and corn--absolutely my favorite noshes.
People generally presume I am a vegetarian. I suppose I dress like one. A few years ago I cut out meat. At least, that's the official story. But despite my love of the Vegetable Kingdom, I have not been able to give up sushi. Wilbur, Bambi and Elsie the moo cow are all safe with me. But if you are a nice juicy salmon, tuna, or a cute little shrimp scuttling along, we can't be friends. No, don't even tell me your name, little shrimpie, because I will probably eat you anyway. Oy, there goes my good karma.
Don't worry, lobsters, you are not in danger. I won't eat you ever. But in all honesty, it's just because you kinda freak me out.
So should I abandon this sham? This bogus vegetarianism. Do I get enough protein? Probably not. Do I eat way too many carbs? You betcha. Do I frequently face menus without a viable option for meatlessness? Sigh. And then there is cheese, which I end up eating despite being somewhat lactose intolerant. And then there are the tofu scares and the murmurings that it mimics estrogen and all the rumors of health risks. And I've put on 10 pounds.
There are smart vegetarians out there. People who can tell you about the chemical and mineral content of food. Who know how to combine things. Who have explored the benefits of spirulina. I, however, am opening a bag of potato chips.
I don't want to support the industrial horrors of the meat industry. Or the dairy industry for that matter. And I feel lighter not eating that stuff. But maybe that's just the spacey feeling of malnutrition. If you are a smart vegetarian, please save me from myself. Tell me what to eat. Uncle Monty could do well to cut down on the dairy too. Help us!
I wish I could tell you to go get this dress. But I can't have it and neither can you. It's already gone, so say good night, Gracie. It sold for a whopping $140. 49. Dear Winning Bidder, I imagine you as a smart vegetarian, eating locally grown organic produce, and making it work.

Friday, June 01, 2007

There’s no business like show business. Wear this one to see Grey Gardens or to perform a karaoke medley of your favorite show tunes.

It’s hard to pick a favorite musical. Cabaret, always tops my list, what with Berlin and Liza and Nazis (oh, my!). All That Jazz has wormed its way into my very marrow, along with Camelot, Chicago and Sunday in the Park With George.

I dined with Uncle Monty at his club last night. Stuffed eggplant, plenty of pinot grigio and Uncle Monty’s one-liners. If you don’t have an Uncle Monty, I suggest you find one right away. It is rejuvenating to spend time with someone who whole-heartedly endorses your sartorial quirks and knows when you’re quoting a Preston Sturges film. And oh the wit, the wisdom, the charming turn of phrase from that Uncle of mine. I mean, what else is there, really?

Alas and alack, I fear that the days of Rudolpho’s reign are coming to an end. Rudolpho ( for those who have turned in late) is my part-time paramour. Since our relationship is long distance, we’re just phoning it in these days. That's right, giving it the old matinee soft sell. He doesn’t read my blog (or listen to a word I say for that matter), so I have not the slightest worry of him reading this. The question is: why have I stayed with Rudolpho so long? Perhaps because he is an arrogant workaholic. Perhaps because we have almost nothing in common, and can barely cross the street together without an argument. Perhaps because he is as bull-headed and handsome as they come. That is to say, totally my type.

But goslings, I haven’t gotten so much as a laugh or a side order of fries out of this relationship for the past 6 months.

Uncle Monty always has a great perspective on things. And one day, when I have weathered a few more storms, I too can face my heartbreaks with equanimity. “The Steven Years,” says Uncle Monty, “I knew better but I didn’t want to.” Sounds like a trailer for a film. Or the tag line to a movie poster.

Well chickadees, as they say on Broadway: Every show closes eventually. I’m just afraid I’ll never eat lunch in this town again.

Yes, this post has been amended, because sometimes mermaids are self-indulgent.