Thursday, October 26, 2006


Clean Kitchen Sink Oct 26, 2006

Is there anything more beautiful in the world than a freshly cleansed kitchen sink? A replenishing of the heart’s optimism! Lean into it. The fumes and films of old food, coffee and grease from the skillet are gone. No need to fear grime upon close inspection. And, just touch that porcelain!

In the pantheon of what I love, C reigns. If I wore a locket, his image would be sequestered within, but that pendant would be best shaped like our double basin Kohler, folded over, latched and lightly borne over my heart.

Yes, first it’s C. Then those chocolate chip cookies from Levain. Then, a certain appendage I encountered in Chicago a few years back. Then Laura Nyro, and after that, I do loves me a clean kitchen sink!

Pardon the product placement, but when one is ready to clean the kitchen sink, Comet is required and no substitute will do.

No need for instruction, save for this absolute: get your hands well involved in the rinse. One hand directs the spray while the other strokes all residue from the surface until both the dirt and cleanser have spun themselves down the drain. I repeat: sponges or cloth are fine for the scrubbing, but the rinse must be accomplished by skin only in direct contact with every inch of the lips and depths of your sink. Warm water will have warmed the finish and it will feel almost flexible against the flat of your palm.

When you are done, your hands will have been stripped of all moisture and almost unbearably dry. Counter this by swiping up the little jewels of beaded water that remain, and as you leave the kitchen with your hands pressed up against your nostrils, savor the scent of your efforts. Smell your fingertips again on your way to work, again at your desk and again in the privacy of a restroom stall.

Think about returning home, flipping on the lights and rushing into your kitchen and up to the sun-downed gleam of it, urging you to reach for the faucet to wet it down, to soothe another workday, to receive your reflection and to drain from it all distraction.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Whearst

Here, for those among us who have forgotten or dismissed or come to admire the Hearst Building as amended by Norman Foster, is an earlier weigh-in that presents a variety of feelings about it in the comments section.

I respect C's opinion that its top is too blunt and might be improved by the addition of ten or twenty more floors before its occurrence.

Here is a sidewalk photo I took Saturday afternoon that attempts to demonstrate the welding of new to old. It probably won’t change the opinions of those who are irritated by it, but if you are as enamoured of it as am I, it will give you a measure of pleasure.


We were delighted to find the lobby open at last, and hurried in, expecting to be told by security that no photos would be allowed. Quite the contrary, we were allowed to gawk and snap to our hearts’ content.

For several months we’ve pressed our faces to the doors, intrigued by a glimpse of a many-tiered Mayanesque glass fountain cut diagonally by an escalator that leads up to a mezzanine level and to the foot of a gigantic beige painting of some sort. Now we are in, and able to see the entire composition.

I am sad to report that the space is an uncomfortable, clumsy, sterile, disjointed, gloomy, inarticulate and static collection of shapes and surfaces. The warehousing of a bland collection of bad ideas.

I imagine a meeting of the “Lobby Design Committee”. They are all distracted by cell phones as Norman Foster says, “I’d like you to picture the jamming of a large cellophane wrapped wedge of wedding cake into a freezer full of Tupperware.” They respond, “Sure. Whatever. Mind the budget and finish it by Christmas.”

The stepped glass pyramid fountain, which should have glowed, seems gluey and in need of Windex. The escalator, which should have soared, seems depressed and in need of Zoloft. The painting, which should have been inspired, is a shroud in need of an image. The entire lobby, which should have been playful, is autistic.

I was rather disappointed.

Here’s the video I made. I defy anyone to watch it from start to stop without falling fast asleep.

If Norman Foster’s goal was to create a restful public space, well bravo and welcome to his sepulcher. (Requiscat in aeternum, Sir Norman. I kept looking for the wall niche that will eventually hold your ashes.)

Finally, since it is my nature to be helpful, I suggest that the giant beige painting at the top of the escalator be replaced with this enduring image of the machine gun toting Patty Hearst as Tanya.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Long Weekend

It’s taken me two days to feel somewhat recovered from a long and winding weekend in the city. I really can’t imagine how people who do serious weekend partying manage their recuperation when I can barely tolerate a few sips of weak brew and a passing whiff of smoke.

On Saturday, we dove into the deep end of “Open House New York” accompanied by our house guests, Dieter and Rog of Boston, Tug of Jersey and the unsinkable Joe (whose birthday we tried to celebrate with the success of someone in a wheelchair pursuing a robust housefly with a rolled newspaper. By 4AM Monday morning, as he jumped up on a bench on the rooftop of the Eagle for his 103rd proclamation, everyone screamed “We know! We know! You’re forty-seventeen!” I do not know how he does it.) Upon my request, he sat still for a moment in front of the New York Public Library for what I think is a decent picture of his flinty, suspicious and faux-grumpy self.

That reminds me of the best moment of this edition of the annual “Open House New York” (an opportunity to don sensible shoes and run about the city inspecting rooms that are otherwise closed to the public). We had entered that library to take in some obscure feature when I was entirely derailed by the sight of the lady presiding over the information booth in the main lobby. I could not look away from her and waited awestruck while she assisted those at her desk. When only Joe and I remained before her, she happily accepted our gushing admiration for a creation that has finally done justice to the word “coiffure”.

“Where did you get that done?”

“Oh, you need to go to Queens for this”, she laughed.

“What do you ask for?”

She laughed again. “You don’t ask. My hairdresser knows. She’s known for years. I don’t ask. I trust.”

I leaned in and whispered, “The other ladies here. Are they jealous?”

Big laugh. “Oh no, dear. I’m jealous of them with their short easy hair.”

We had come to the library right after the Chrysler building, and had now seen the one New York architectural achievement that could rival it.

library lady 2

library lady

Our tour ended at the repulsive Grand Lodge of the Masons, the best part of which was the wait on line to get in. At one point, the line stalled in front of this well-appointed window. Ladies averted their eyes while passing.

We were still a half hour from the door to Masonic secrets when an armada of motorcycles roared by uninterrupted for more than ten minutes. I learned that this swarming is a regular event. The sight of so many insecure men straddling black and chromed hogs prompted Joe to run into the street shouting through cupped hands “Small penises! Small penises!” He cannot be taken places.

On Sunday afternoon, C and I were momentarily disoriented at a downtown intersection after a nip of sherry at The Dugout.

Other events of the weekend merit a separate post, but I would conclude this memento with a picture of the Pope of Great Jones whose brow, glistening with the fire of a potent brunch and several amazing Bloody Marys while the juke box pumped out “First I look at the Purse”, is crowned with a “mitre simplex”*.

pope of great jones

*There are three levels of mitres: The “Preziosa” which is encrusted with jewels. The “Aurefrigiata” which is gold thread, and the “Simplex” which is white silk. I seriously doubt there is any other priest alive today who knows that fact, and knows when a bishop ought to wear one or the other. (Joe was granted a post-Labor Day dispensation because of his birthday.)