Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.
"The enduring fascination of this 1938 screwball comedy is due to much more than its uproarious gags. Having already helped to launch the genre, the director Howard Hawks here establishes archetypes of theme and character that still hold sway. He turned Cary Grant into an extension of his own intellectual irony, an absent-minded professor who awaits the chance to unleash his inner leopard. He refashioned Katharine Hepburn as a sexually determined woman who hides her aggression under intricate schemes that force the deep thinker to deploy his untapped virility. And Hawks brought to fruition his own universe of symbols that conjure the force that rules the world: she tears his coat, he tears her dress, she steals his clothes, she names him “Bone,” and the mating cries of wild animals disturb the decorum of the dinner table, even as a Freudian psychiatrist in a swanky bar gives viewers an answer key in advance."
"Yesterday. Phone rings. I set my lovely chicken salad down to check on information. I return. Juicy, my Yorkie, has eaten it. Juicy’s 3¹/₂ pounds. Being a large chicken salad, she’s now 4¹/₂ pounds. And, as I write important news in an important column about important people, I am right now starving.
Today’s goofy story in the Times on the new power lunch—a sort helmed and driven and chewed up and digested by and for women—made me think, slyly, of one of my favorite Dorothy Parker stories, “The Standard of Living,” about two coworkers (lunching ladies) who run around Midtown pretending they have a big barrel of money to spend. It begins,
"Annabel and Midge came out of the tea room with the arrogant slow gait of the leisured, for their Saturday afternoon stretched ahead of them. They had lunched, as was their wont, on sugar, starches, oils, and butter-fats. Usually they ate sandwiches of spongy new white bread greased with butter and mayonnaise; they ate thick wedges of cake lying wet beneath ice cream and whipped cream and melted chocolate gritty with nuts. As alternates, they ate patties, sweating beads of inferior oil, containing bits of bland meat bogged in pale, stiffening sauce; they ate pastries, limber under rigid icing, filled wiwth an indeterminate yellow sweet stuff, not still solid, not yet liquid, like salve that has been left in the sun. They chose no other sort of food, nor did they consider it. And their skin was like the petals of wood anemones, and their bellies were as flat and their flanks as lean as those of young Indian braves."
Whenever I think of Nan Kempner I remember she was famous for hosting Sunday spaghetti dinners at her Park Avenue apartment and want to curl up and cry with sheer joy that something that wonderful went on.
She came by on that Monday and played me that demo. It wasn’t amazing. But this girl sitting in my office was just radiating star power. I asked her, “What are you looking for in this?” I always ask that, and the wrong answer is “I want to get my art out,” because this is a business. And Madonna’s answer was, “I want to rule the world.”
Of course, some people–the ones with real moxie–don’t even bother. A publicist in her early 20′s described what she does when she wakes up in a college boy’s bed. “You go into his closet and get the college T-shirt,” she said. “You wear black pants, his college shirt, high heels and stride around the office proudly.” Does it matter which college? “If he went to a shitty college, why would I sleep with him?” she said. She wasn’t kidding.
An intimate glance at a certain magazine, by today’s birthday gal.
I hate the office; It cuts in on my social life.
There is the Art Department; The Cover Hounds. They are always explaining how the photographing machine works. And they stand around the green light And look as if they had been found drowned. They are forever discovering Great Geniuses; They never fail to find exceptional talents In any feminine artist under twenty-five. Whenever the illustrations are late The fault invariably lies with the editorial department. They are always rushing around looking for sketches, And writing mysterious numbers on the backs of photographs, And cutting out pictures and pasting them into scrapbooks, And then they say nobody can realize how hard they are worked— They said something.
Then there is the Editorial Department; The Literary Lights. They are just a little holier than other people Because they can write classics about “‘Brevity is the soul of lingerie’, said this little chemise to itself”; And “Here are five reasons for the success of the Broadway plays”. They are all full of soul; Someone is forever stepping on their temperaments. They are constantly having nervous breakdowns And going away for a few weeks. And they only come in on Saturday mornings To hold the franchise. They tell you what good training editorial work is. But they don’t mean to stay in it— Some day they will be Free Lances And write the Great Thoughts that Surge within them. They say they only wish they could get away from the office,— That makes it unanimous.
Then there is the Fashion Department; First Aids to Baron de Meyer. If any garment costs less than $485 They think you ought to give it to the Belgians. They look at everything you have on, And then smile tolerantly And say, “Sears, Roebuck certainly do a wonderful business, don’t they?” They are forever taking pictures of prominent Wild Women Dressed as brides and kneeling at Property Altars. And they write essays on Smart Fashions for Limited Incomes,— The sky’s the limit.
There is the Boss; The Great White Chief. He made us what we are to-day,— I hope he’s satisfied. He has some bizarre ideas About his employees’ getting to work At nine o’clock in the morning,— As if they were a lot of milkmen. He has never been known to see you When you arrive at 8:45, But try to come in at a quarter past ten And he will always go up in the elevator with you. He goes to Paris on the slightest provocation And nobody knows why he has to stay there so long. Oh, well— You can’t expect to keep him down on the farm.
A few weeks ago, I caught the Hopper Drawing show at the Whitney, which is really marvelous, and will illuminate all sorts of wonderful things for you like how he played with and labored over gesture and positioning and angles to give the positively pedestrian an eerie ambiguity, and show you a few pictures you perhaps hadn’t seen before. For me, that was “New York Movie”—
I don’t love movies, but I love going to them. I find movie palaces fascinating (there’s a wild one in Journal Square in Jersey City, where I once saw Yo La Tengo beneath this gold Rococo absurdity), and I am enchanted by the bygone luxury of seeing movie after movie. At $20 a ticket, we can no longer really afford to do that, but when I went to the Cannes Film Festival a few years ago, I spent 10 days wandering in and out of theatres, and that remains probably my most joyous college memory. You could live and die by something flickering before you for 90 minutes, then the lights went up and you moved on to live and die by something else. To me, the ’30s and ’40s have always meant unending consumption of cheap culture while sitting in the lap of gold leaf papier-mâché luxury: endless movies, endless pulpy paperbacks, like Eudora Welty tearing through trash books in “A Sweet Devouring.”
“New York Movie” so completely conjures that experience: the usher with her Lauren Bacall-ish swoop of hair, who is not permitted to watch the movie but probably knows every single bit of dialog by heart, and the shoulders of the audience members barely visible in the dark, their faces obscured. You went to the movies to hide in the glow of someone else’s overexposure.
It’s sort of like an architectural bibelot that fell off the wall of the Chrysler Building lobby. But then, it also looks like a big, glamorous movie marquee, Hollywood searchlights blazing, a banner for a place in which all these extravagances—elaborately scrolled walls covered in gold paint (however cheap the materials), mile-a-minute scripts for movies with garish budgets and carefully crafted movie stars, and alluring ushers in freshly pressed military uniforms—were created for people to spend 35 cents.
See if there is any bacon, and if there is, ask the cook which pan to fry it in. Then ask if there are any eggs, and if so try and persuade the cook to poach two of them. It is better not to attempt toast, as it burns very easily. Also in the case of bacon, do not turn the fire too high, or you will have to get out of the house for the week.
Serve preferably on china plates, though gold or wood will do if handy.
Submitted to Favorite Recipes of Famous Women, 1925.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that this is the worst way to begin a piece of writing.
Fall is nigh, and its little tendrils even seem to be in the air for once. I’m sure it will be a thousand degrees at the end of August, but for now it actually feels reasonable to look at a sweater or a pair of leggings or even a coat.
On the weekend, I would have worn said sweater with these J. Crew Leather Pants (sorry, Pant. Pant singular, but with two legs, as in “J. Crew Two-Legged Leather Pant”) ($850). I tried these on recently, and they fit so incredibly that I fell off my horse, and it was only at that point that I realized I had been riding on a horse. And I would have worn these items with Jenni Kayne Wing Tip flats ($595), because who doesn’t want to look like J.D. Salinger in drag? To complete the J.D. Salinger in drag look, I’d add this Le Chameau Pheasant scarf (about $30), this hat (about $30), and this Dries Van Noten Faux Fur Varsity Coat ($1400). It’s the color of Honey Almonds, which sounds like Sherwin-Williams’s number one seller in Carnegie Hill, but more importantly, it’s got the shape and feel and swing of a raccoon coat, which was a must-have accessory for all the slickest Ancient Eight attendees in the ’20s and ’30s. (I’m not kidding: this is what Yalies wore to football games. I think The Saturday Evening Post was like the Complex of its time, or something.) Put a Medieval Unicorn Pin ($35) on that collar and there you are: J.D. Salinger in drag. I guess you need a bag, also (they really are the best).
Dispatch from WASP Heaven: Covey & Nye and Rocio's Wooden Delights
I spent the past several days in Vermont. Billboards are illegal there.
My decidedly un-lame parents took me to Manchester Village, where they introduced me to Covey & Nye. A “Purveyor of Fine Guns,” Covey & Nye just opened their new gun room:
…which has guns by Luciano Bosis and Zoli as well as incredibly made antique guns that cost upwards of $100,000.
The store is also filled with a superb array of “Attire for Field & Town”:
Between antique furniture, oriental rugs, and ikat benches—the oriental rug/ikat bench combination is like, the Damon and Pythias of WASP interior design—there are coats and riding boots and plaid hunting jackets and ties printed with dogs carrying pheasants. All of which one can never have enough. The men’s section is really something to write home about or blog about or whatever it is we do:
And has these totes rad bow ties by Brackish made of turkey and pheasant feathers and other goodies plucked from fowl. They have a gorgeous shine to them and would look great with a shawl-collar tuxedo.
As for the women’s stuff, I was particularly drawn to a tweed and velvet T.ba short coat, and nearly left with it, until the proprietor showed me this:
[Kindly ignore the junk of my apartment, thanks, including the poor Nantucket lightship basket looking on jealously from my desk.]
—at which point I nearly lost my mind. A sleek, super deco circular handbag made entirely of absurdly varnished wood. It was like a new car. From the woods. As I’ve said many times before, I detest it-bags, I think they are like an odd and uncomfortable way to buy taste, so I always go in for the odd and unusual when it comes to handbag shapes and materials. If it has a blingin-blangin label on it and is the shape of every shape we’ve seen before=NAY. If it is a piece of fringe with no room for a cellphone inspired by an ear of corn=YAY.
After researching more bags by the designer, Rocio, I think I may have found a new bag favorite. Because wood rules, especially combined with ostrich or pearls or stingray or shells.
And they are also pretty reasonable in the money department.
There are a few clutches at Covey & Nye, which is at 3556 Main St., in Manchester Village, Vermont. If you give them a call, I’m sure they’d be most helpful in your search to get the Most Wood Bag of This or Any Era.
Land's End School Uniform Boys' Long Sleeve Oxford Shirt
I don’t recall where I read this, but recently I was scanning an interview with some glamourpoof who claimed that the Vogue editors’ uniform in the early ’90s was a pair of black leggings with a boy’s Land’s End shirt. The women’s shirts at Brooks always feel too fitted to me, and J. Crew is made for gangle peoples (a tribe to which I do not belong), so I looked into said shirts and decided to order a few. At $25, they’re absurdly reasonable, and I realized when checking out that you can get them monogrammed on the chest or cuff for just a few buckaroos more ($6). For full Wasp fx, go block letters, natch:
Do you think he takes his salad chopped and screwed? Does he like his dressing on the side? Does he go there a lot? Does he have a regular order? When he walks in, do they say, “The usual, Luda?” And he hands over one of those reusable little plastic construction cone-colored bowls you can buy to get 50 cents off? And says, “Yes, the Asian Sesame Grain, with extra wheatberries”? Does he ever order soup, just to sort of perk himself up midday, when things aren’t so great, because, you know, “Just Salad”?
While nothing looks sharper with a pair of cigarette pants than (duh) smoking slippers, too many have gotten too precious or irreverent to be witty. Rare is the visual pun that is sophisticated rather than dimly crass, and there’s nothing clever about the pseudo-ironiccartoons that often pass for motifs—yet these tricks continue to be the stock and trade of the smoking slipper.
More gentle (and genteel) is this Isaac Mizrahi Smoking Flat, dappled with proud poodles like a Park Avenue Sunday. The sort of thing a batty Carnegie Hill blue blood might slip on to take Chilton out for a walk. And at $130, a drop in the bucket compared to its arriviste cousins.
I stopped this morning on a curve of the Lenox Road, just where East Road branches off (you won’t know where this is, I realize), because of a—a feeling of accomplished peace, I guess I’d call it, though such a phrase can’t be trusted. What I mean to say is that often before I had been tempted, driving past, to stop at that grove of three oak trees, where a barred gate and some fence posts’ staggered silvers contained a hillside pasture still unmowed even in mid-July: and this time I did stop. That’s it, really. Nothing at all changed, in the deep shadows of those trees or the several boulders left to wait in that field by the last glaciers; and the silence relied on no answer from anything human. So I got back in my car and I drove on. —Karl Kirchwey