Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Most of my generation has grown up watching the Olsen twins on television. I must admit that I have always been drawn to their sense of style and interpretation of creativness. Mary Kate and Ashley have many projects under their wings including a clothing line named, Elizabeth and James but more recently, they have delved into writing a book entitled, Influence. The funny thing is that they bend the focus of their collection into a vignette of raw interviews of fascinating people who have shaped them, not the other way around. Their book fixates on people such as Jack Pierson, David Collins, and Robert Lee Morris who have influence their journey into developing their unique spirit. Eventually they reveal their ideas on creative distinction between feeders of the public such as Andy Worhol and more reclusive artists who don’t pay attention to the visions of the outside world. I can’t wait to get my copy of this book!

Influence by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen

Influence by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.

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After spending the weekend surrounded by the gorges and driving through the castskills, I realized how much I missed the skyline of the city. Tonight I was looking out the window at work after everyone had left and couldn’t stop enjoying the beauty of the art deco Chrysler Building and its luminous symmetrical lights. Here are some of the places I want to visit this winter sipping negronis and reading.

Shaken and Stirred

A Deep Sip for Deep Thinkers

Published: October 3, 2008

A Negroni demands your full, upright attention. It will not tolerate mindless swigging, the way all those sweet summertime drinks do, which is just one reason no one has ever ordered one at a swim-up bar at a resort pool. Each sip telegraphs a terse forget-me-not message to the tongue, a pinprick of bitterness demanding respect and contemplation.

There is cheer in it, but grown-up, melancholy cheer, which makes the Negroni an ideal drink for end times — the end of summer, for instance, or the end of American prosperity. The perfect drink when the sky is falling — or merely the leaves.Last week I visited I Sodi, a Tuscan restaurant tucked into a skinny minimalist space on Christopher Street in the West Village that Rita Sodi (a former Calvin Klein executive) and a partner, Josh Dworkis, opened in March.

Negronis are the specialty at I Sodi: there are four on the cocktail menu, three of them subtle variations on the classically fixed theme — that being equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, as in the restaurant’s Negroni Classico.

“In my old job, bartending at Union Square Cafe, I would always play around with Negronis,” said Hakan Westergren, I Sodi’s manager and chief Negroni officer. “There are so many kinds of vermouth, so many kinds of gin.”

Mr. Westergren understands that a proper Negroni is as perfectly and tripodically balanced as, say, a water molecule. Add another atom of oxygen to that H2O formula, and the result is hydrogen peroxide — hardly as refreshing. So it goes with the Negroni. To mess with it is to risk messing it up altogether. Caution signs should be posted behind the bar.

I Sodi’s Carousel Negroni veers the furthest from the traditional formula credited to Count Camillo Negroni, who allegedly invented the drink, in 1919, by asking a bartender to beef up an Americano cocktail by adding a shot of gin.

The Carousel Negroni is a jammy, ginless mixture of three Italian liqueurs and sweet vermouth — more bitter-orange, as in marmalade, than bitter.

Two variations hew closer to the purist line, one by substituting an artichoke-based liqueur, Cynar, for the Campari, which gives the drink a boskier flavor, the other by injecting a bit more perfuminess into the formula via Hendrick’s gin, a Scottish gin infused with rose petals and cucumber, and Punt e Mes, a dry, woodsy vermouth.

The latter, which Mr. Westergren calls the Punt-e-groni, is so gorgeously bitter that it almost stings the tongue. Drinking it is like being slapped by an ex-lover. It is such a deep ruby red that vampires would be drawn to it.

Is it possible that, simply by tweaking the spirits, adding a little more herbiness here and a touch less sweetness there, Mr. Westergren has actually improved upon the original formula?

It’s worth contemplating. Not that this drink will let you do otherwise.

Punt-e-groni Adapted from I Sodi

1 3/4 ounces Hendrick’s gin

1 1/4 ounces Carpano Punt e Mes vermouth

1 ounce Campari

1 orange slice, for garnish

Combine the ingredients with ice in a rocks glass and stir. Garnish with the orange slice and serve.

Yield: 1 serving


Manhattan: Idlewild Books

Published October 5, 2008

A guidebook will certainly tell you where to visit, stay and eat in another country, giving you tips on the hottest new restaurants and hotels. But what if you want to know what that place might have appeared like to, say, a 19th-century novelist visiting for the first time?

That’s where Idlewild Books, a three-month-old store just off Union Square, comes in. There, in a cozy mezzanine-level space, the classic travel texts of guidebooks, maps and phrasebooks are grouped with literary fiction, memoirs, romance novels, spy thrillers — books that, at first glance, might not be what the average traveler would think about packing in her suitcase.

But as you thumb your way through the shelves, a certain logic begins to emerge. In the India section, “A Suitable Boy” by Vikram Seth shares shelf space with “A Passage to India” by E. M. Forster, “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert and “The Complete Illustrated Kama Sutra.”

In the Colombia section, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez sits next to Piers Paul Read’s “Alive,” about the survivors of a plane crash in the Andes. The China section features Qiu Xiaolong’s “Death of a Red Heroine,” based in 1990s Shanghai.

“Every time I was preparing for a trip, I just didn’t understand why a travel book store wasn’t put together this way,” says the owner, David Del Vecchio, who was inspired to create Idlewild while working as a press officer for the United Nations. (The store is named for the previous incarnation of what is now Kennedy International Airport.) Throughout the store, contemporary works from around the world like Yan Lianke’s “Serve the People!” (a book currently banned in China about a love affair during the Cultural Revolution) are readily available in translation, or in some cases, their original languages.

Mr. Del Vecchio says that mysteries and thrillers are also good at conveying a sense of a city’s culture and street life. “They have a really strong sense of place,” he says. “The characters might not be as three-dimensional as they are in literary fiction, but you learn so much about the streets, the neighborhoods and the culture of a place.”

Idlewild Books , 12 West 19th Street, New York; (212) 414-8888; www.idlewildbooks.com.

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One of my favorite emails I get each morning is from Daily Candy which contains the latest news about fashion, food, and books from major cities in the US. As I was laying out this afternoon in Central Park (oh did I mention it was 96 degrees and I was sweating like a wet dog?), I read the latest issue of Vanity Fair and found a clip of Daily Candy’s newest venture into books. The book entitled, “The DailyCandy Lexicon: Words That Don’t Exist but Should” is filled with made up words to describe everyday instances. For example one of my favorite lexicon is, “Dressed to Spill: adj. Used to describe a woman’s precarious and flirtatious state of dress, wherein a great deal more than cleavage will likely be revealed.” Why not spice up your conversation with a Daily Candy Lexicon?

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As my job doesn’t allow much room for creative interpretation, I resorted to exerting my fashion forward sense into my own clothing. Creating outfits that scream indie rocker one day and boho chic the next. Then on a manic Monday as soon as I was ready to call it a day, I was informed that my clothes needed to reflect a more conservative image, only to be backed by the fact that our department sets the standard for the rest of the talent we dress (this made me chortle). As my mood was totally tainted, the only thing I could look forward to was attending “The Inaugural Supima Fashion Show” for fall/winter ’09-’10. The show was held at Gotham Hall and showcased new designers who created outfits out of Supima Cotton, a natural fabric, as we are all banking on the trends of going green. Not only did we walk in without standing in line, I had a lovely conversation about the cover of “The New Yorker” with Jonathan Harr who was sitting next to me and took a picture with the guys from Project Runway. Here are a few of my favorite looks from the show. ENJOY!!!

Designer Aira

Designer Karen Sabag

Designer Aira

Designer Karen Sabag

Designer Jose M Valdivia

Designer Erna Leon

Designer Jose M Valdivia

Designer Jose M Valdivia

Designer Antonio Ortega

Designer Antonio Ortega

Designer Antonio Ortega

Designer Antonio Ortega

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“The mind does its perceiving in terms of intensity of existence, profundity of significance, relationships within a pattern.” ~Huxley

I admire the ability to translate ordain instances into perceptive interpretations. The ability to recreate a feeling into art or to capture an experience into words. We are constantly surrounded by all things spontaneous to remind us that life is filled with beautiful images. Without these reassurances the monotonous tones would drain us from individuality and expression. These are the things I find beauty in, to exist, to interpret, to see.

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Gonzo Journalism

While on the train from D.C. back to the city, I was reading Marie Claire magazine and came across a review for the documentary entitled, “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thomas.” A pure genius with words was all I could think of after reading, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Here is the trailer to the film by Alex Gibney. Enjoy!

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