Fotos: Banhez Mezcal Artesanal

23/03/2020 § Leave a comment

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Photos from my recent trip to Oaxaca with Banhez Mezcal Artesanal.

Dear Hip-Hop: we’re breaking up. And it’s definitely Drake’s fault.

16/11/2015 § 1 Comment

No Drake, you can't have my number.
image via.

**Disclaimer: I’m about to liberally exercise the f-word and talk about sex, which is somewhat out of character for me on here.  If that’s not your thing, I would encourage you to skip to my next post.  No hard feelings.**

Dear Hip-Hop,

What’s good?  I admit it’s been a bit since we’ve spent quality time together, and I’m sorry about that.  There’s just so much music out there and TBH, I’ve been feeling like maybe we’ve drifted apart recently.  And that maybe (PROBABLY) this time its for good.

How did we get to this point?  This new song by Drake, honestly.  You know, “Hotline Bling?”

Yeah, I’m not sure why his phone blings instead of rings either, but that’s not my main concern here.  Neither are the old man dance moves.  First, I want to ask for a bit of clarification as to what Drake is actually upset about in the song.

You used to call me on my cell phone
Late night when you need my love
Call me on my cell phone
Late night when you need my love
And I know when that hotline bling
That can only mean one thing
I know when that hotline bling
That can only mean one thing

Ever since I left the city,
You got a reputation for yourself now
Everybody knows and I feel left out
Girl you got me down, you got me stressed out
‘Cause ever since I left the city,
you started wearing less and goin’ out more
Glasses of champagne out on the dance floor
Hangin’ with some girls I’ve never seen before

Ok, there’s a lot here I want to unpack, but first, is Drake essentially upset because a girl he used to only talk to in the middle of the night — only talk to in order to coordinate sex, mind you, (only mean “one thing”) — is now out on the prowl herself?  Okay.  Okay, great.  So, it’s totally okay for him to only talk to her for sex (in a purely transactional matter), but it’s not okay for her to go out and get in the mix on her own.  And its especially not okay for her to hang out with girls he’s unfamiliar with.  Have I got that straight?

These days, all I do is
Wonder if you bendin’ over backwards for someone else
Wonder if you’re rollin’ up a backwoods for someone else
Doing things I taught you, gettin’ nasty for someone else
You don’t need no one else
You don’t need nobody else, no
Why you never alone
Why you always touching road
Used to always stay at home, be a good girl
You was in a zone, yeah
You should just be yourself
Right now, you’re someone else

And this person she’s “become” – it’s not really herself, because if she was being herself, she would sit at home and wait for Drake to return to town and then be available only to him, right?  Wait, sorry — only available to him in the middle of the night. Because that’s what good girls do?

Ok, glad that’s clear.  My next question is, where does a barney like Drake, who looks like the guy who would offer to do your Algebra 2 homework JUST to get your phone number, exactly get off?  I’m supposed to believe he has so much swag he’s owed this girl’s sexual freedom?  Or even receive a vote on how she should live her life?  GTFOH.  For real.

Hip-hop, this is why we are breaking up.  You used to be exciting.  You used to be soulful.  You used to be angry.  Now, you’re just….Drake-ified.  And the sexist tropes you continue to trot out make it really hard to even casually listen to you.

It’s because your words have power, even if the mouthpieces are whack as hell.  Hip-hop, think of all the people listening to you on the subway, in the car, at home.  Think of a generation of men repeating over and over to themselves that a girl isn’t a good girl unless she stays home and waits to service me sexually, on my terms.  Think of a generation of women, singing along, quasi-endorsing that this is an okay way for men to think about their sexuality.  Because when you say things, either out loud or in your mind, they affect you — your thoughts, your mood, your state of well being.  It’s not a blatant indoctrination, but it just keeps creeping in and I really think it’s affecting the way that we relate to each other, as human beings.

Now, I hear your protestations, hip-hop.  Drake isn’t all that bad!  He was on Degrassi Jr High!  He had a cute Bar Mitzvah video!  And his song isn’t that sexist!  Maybe he also realizes he is really REALLY lame and maybe there was more to the relationship than we are hearing in the song!

Okay, well, as a bookend, let’s take the other hip-hop/r&b artist in the top 5 this week on the Billboard Hot 100: The Weeknd, and his song The Hills.

I only call you when it’s half past five
The only time that I’ll be by your side
I only love it when you touch me, not feel me
When I’m fucked up, that’s the real me
When I’m fucked up, that’s the real me, yeah
I only fuck you when it’s half past five
The only time I’d ever call you mine
I only love it when you touch me, not feel me
When I’m fucked up, that’s the real me
When I’m fucked up, that’s the real me, babe

I’mma let you know and keep it simple
Tryna keep it up don’t seem so simple
I just fucked two bitches ‘fore I saw you
And you gon’ have to do it at my tempo
Always tryna send me off to rehab
Drugs started feelin’ like it’s decaf
I’m just tryna live life for the moment
And all these motherfuckers want a relapse

Full confession: yes hip-hop, I love the music the Weeknd makes — THE MUSIC.  It’s dramatic and interesting and it makes me feel like I either want to punch someone in the face or rip all their clothes off.  I fully appreciate the novel quality of his art.  It really does makes me feel something.

But these lyrics?  I can’t.  I’ve seen concert footage of Abel (The Weeknd’s government name) leading hundreds of people screaming about how they will only be calling at 5:30am, and it makes me sad.  It makes me sad to think about people walking around humming the hook — which is catchy as hell, I admit — and what that might be doing to the way they feel about their relationships.  And I’m a reasonably confident, self-assured adult — can you imagine what these words are doing to younger, more malleable minds?  Are you surprised there are sexting rings in high schools?  You shouldn’t be.  You’re only supposed to touch me, not feel me.

But wait, I hear you complaining hip-hop: isn’t this what the modern age of relationships is?  Isn’t it actually so evolved of us to liberate sex from commitment and empower everyone to do whatever we want and hook up with people at all hours of the night?  Sorry, I’m really skeptical.  While it’s a modern notion to treat sex and relationships more casually, I’d argue it’s probably less evolved.  A lot of people are unhappy, unsure and lonely — even if they are having A LOT of sex.  We haven’t figured out how to feel about these arrangements — much less how to feel GOOD about them, and so we get songs from Drake about being upset some girl isn’t willing to exclusively give him…casual sex? What?

Hip-hop, I am tired of you using sex as a commodity.  A commodity that men own and women spitefully keep from them.  A commodity that men are owed and should receive whenever they decide they want it, however they want it.  A commodity that when spent by women is magically transformed into something slutty.  How are we supposed to teach our little girls to feel good about sex — when sex is the safest and most accessible it’s ever been in human history — when Future is writing bars like “I just fucked your bitch in some Gucci flip flops”? (Side note: Which is a 10-word masterpiece of materialistic, emasculating, slut-shaming misogyny, when you think about it.) (Side note to the side note: Future, do you need a hug?)  The point is, if we keep treating sex like it’s nothing, how equipped are we to handle it when it is something?

You’ve let me down, hip-hop.  You’ve grown fat and lazy and you make me feel rotten.  Where are your songs about actually connecting with someone?  About love?  About respect?  About ANYTHING remotely happy?  Why, hip-hop, have you allowed yourself to become so one-dimensional?  And where the hell did Common go?  And while the circumstances I just described aren’t entirely your fault, hip-hop, this is a boundary I can easily draw for myself.

So, it is with regret (?) that I inform you that we are breaking up, hip-hop.  It’s not me, it’s you.

Well, it’s you and Drake.

Field Notes: Joshua Tree, California

12/11/2015 § Leave a comment

Quite Continental: Joshua Tree

Currently, New York is turning to fall, complete with fiery foliage, dipping temperatures and rain showers.  If I’m completely honest, it’s my third favorite season here — firmly ranked only slightly above winter (and spring only gets the slightest of advantages because it means summer is next).  You can definitely blame my formative years, spent in the terminal sunshine of Los Angeles.  So while I am coping with this seasonal shift, my mind has been traveling back in time to a trip I recently took to the High Desert of California, and Joshua Tree in particular.

Less than a three hour drive from LA, Joshua Tree and its Low Desert sibling, Palm Springs, have become something of a destination with the popularity of concerts like Coachella and interest in what I’m going to loosely call as “desert vibes.”  While Palm Springs has always been the more built up of the two destinations, and is now home to some really great resorts, I’d recommend passing on all that for a quieter experience a bit to the north.

I wanted heat, quiet, stars and colors.  I got all that AND dinosaurs.  AND a ghost town.  Who could ask for more?

Quite Continental: Joshua Tree Quite Continental: Joshua Tree

You’re going to need sustenance.

Fun fact: I’ve never actually had an In-N-Out burger.  What you see above is my grilled cheese on the right.  I suppose I’m some sort of bad Californian, but I’ll definitely still defend it against all challengers to the “best burger in the universe” crown.

Quite Continental: Joshua Tree

This is the “cracked iPhone screen” filter.
Kinda like those glamour shots at the mall, no?

Quite Continental: Joshua Tree Quite Continental: Joshua Tree

Recognize these two?  No?  Are you sure?
(Skip to 4:50…or watch the whole thing like I just did. Again. TEQUILA!)

The Cabazon Dinosaurs are a famous roadside attraction on your way into the desert on Interstate 10, and worth a brief stop.  Dinny, the Brontosaurus, was built over a period of eleven years, beginning in 1964; and Mr. Rex followed in 1981.  Funnily enough, since the passing of the original owner and sculptor Claude K. Bell, the property has fallen into the hands of a bunch of creationist supporters, so inside Dinny — a larger-than-life dinosaur containing original Bell frescoes of the Cro-Magnon Man  — you can find a museum and gift shop dedicated to the idea that dinosaurs appeared the same day Adam and Eve did.  Hilars.

Sidenote: I was going to link you to the dinosaurs’ site until I noticed the current feature article is on Ben Carson, the “The Pediatric Neurosurgeon with Gifted Hands.”  So, yeah.  No.  I’d still recommend checking them out for kitsch value, though!  Just avoid the nonsense museum and take pictures sitting on the huge dino feet.

Cabazon Dinosaurs
50800 Seminole Drive
(immediately north of Interstate 10)
Cabazon, CA 92230

Quite Continental: Joshua Tree

Your best bet for lodgings in Joshua Tree is Airbnb.  I found this darling cabin for a song.  With cozy spaces to relax and a remarkable outdoor soaking tub, it’s heaven on deserty-earth.

Quite Continental: Joshua Tree Quite Continental: Joshua Tree Quite Continental: Joshua Tree

Soaking. Tub.

Quite Continental: Joshua Tree Quite Continental: Joshua Tree Quite Continental: Joshua Tree Quite Continental: Joshua Tree Quite Continental: Joshua Tree Quite Continental: Joshua Tree Quite Continental: Joshua Tree Quite Continental: Joshua Tree Quite Continental: Joshua Tree

Ok, so you’re all settled in to your cozy desert home.  What next?

Go to the Joshua Tree Saloon for beers, burgers and live music.

Take a sound bath at the Integratron in nearby Landers.

Go to Pioneertown in Yucca Valley, an Old West set that was created in the 1940s as a place for actors and crew to live while filming television shows like The Cisco Kid.  It’s still somewhat lived in and super weird – a ghost town with living ghosts.  While you’re there, hit up Pappy + Harriet’s for…okay, also for beers, burgers and live music, but the live music here is a ticketed sort of thing.

Hike, camp or drive through Joshua Tree National Park, a unique ecosystem where the Mojave and the Colorado deserts meet.  It looks a little like space to me…like if Dr. Seuss designed space.

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On the way home, bask in the chill desert vibes and listen to a lot of Fleetwood Mac.

At least, that’s what I did.

Tell me, did I miss anything??

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Denim, the Latest Fad

15/09/2015 § Leave a comment

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“Wellesley freshmen students gathered outside the Hathaway House Bookshop (note girls wearing denim, the latest fad).”

Photo by Lisa Larsen, for Life Magazine, 1953.

Dude, serious girlcrush on the girl in front.
I want those mom jeans and her hat, like right. now.

The Art of the Home Bar (or, Low Grade Hoarding of the Spirited Kind)

01/07/2015 § Leave a comment

Quite Continental: The Art of the Home Bar

While I have yet to use the oven in the apartment I’ve lived in for over two years, one area of my kitchen that gets a fair amount of attention is my home bar.  What started out as a few bottles of my favorite spirits — no obscure liqueurs, no tools, no doo-dads — has gradually evolved into one of my favorite places in my apartment.  Its remarkable growth can be explained partially by the fact that I currently work in the spirits industry, but it’s also true that few things bring me more pleasure than collecting.

For spirits, my first look is Astor Wines.  They’re humongous.  But it’s definitely worth exploring your neighborhood to find a local shop you like.  They’ll be able to order you pretty much anything — as long as you ask them nicely.

For tools and glassware, check out Cocktail Kingdom.

For how to bring it all together, refer to the Death & Company Book.  Written by the folks behind one of New York’s preeminent cocktail bars, this tome is no joke.  Be prepared for indulgent discussions about the bar itself and the folks who work and drink there, and on how to make over 500 cocktails.  Mind you, “indulgent” in the best possible sort of way.

And if history is more your thing, David Wondrich just re-released his classic IMBIBE!, which traces the beginnings of the great American invention: the cocktail as we know it today.

Where to keep it all?  If you’re like me and have no space (hello teensy Soho apartment life), make due with the best surface available.  In my case, as shown above on Instagram, the bar is perched atop my midcentury modern dresser…which is technically in the kitchen.  I told you my apartment was small!  If you’ve got a little room to work with, I love bar carts like this one, this one and ESPECIALLY this one.

Lastly, I’m personally a big fan of straws and vintage swizzle sticks.  Add something personal or original to the mix to truly make it your bar.

Did I miss anything??

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Start ’em Young

22/06/2015 § 2 Comments

Quite Continental: Start 'em Young Quite Continental: Start 'em Young c0b065d3b665bf4f_large Quite Continental: Start 'em Young Quite Continental: Start 'em Young Quite Continental: Start 'em YoungI hope everyone had a lovely Father’s Day!  I spent it a bit far from my dear old Dad, since he lives out west and I’m in New York, but at least we had the chance to talk on the phone.  I’ve been sitting on these photos, of Arizona rancher James A. Shugart and his children, for some time — but perhaps I was actually waiting for Father’s Day.  Taken in 1954 by Allan Grant for Life Magazine, my favorite image is probably the one of James Jr., pouring his morning coffee.

These photos are similar to an older post of mine, The Youngest Cowgirl, also featuring Allan Grant’s work for Life.

Rabbit Hole || Dinner de Luxe at The World Famous Cotton Club, 1938

04/04/2015 § 5 Comments

Cotton Club 1 - 1938 Cotton Club 2 Cotton Club 3 Cotton Club 4 Cotton Club 5

I’ve recently been spending quite a bit of time in the NewYork Public Library’s digital collection of menus.  An incredible collection of documents from around the world, dating from the 1850s through the 2000s, it is fascinating to observe trends in cuisine and cocktails – and prices!

I am always the most excited to find menus from storied New York establishments, those still standing like the New York Athletic Club and Tavern on the Green, and others that have since shuttered, like this one, from The Cotton Club in 1938, when it occupied its theatre district location at 48th Street and Broadway.  The Cotton Club was a nightclub that featured and launched the careers of some of the most notable black musicians and entertainers of the era, but served an all-white clientele.  At the time of the menu, Cab Calloway and his band headlined a twice nightly musical review that frequently included overtly racist themes similar to the images on the menu cover — as you can readily observe from the show program. **Be sure to click to enlarge the images.

Also interesting is the expansive cocktail menu.  Most other menus in the archive from this era mention only a few classic drinks and possibly a wine list, but because its primary function was as a nightclub and not merely a restaurant, The Cotton Club’s menu features all sorts of cocktails — separated from “Fancy Mixed Drinks,” mind you.  Nestled among the classics I already recognize, I was happy to find more obscure cocktails like the “Horse’s Neck,” the “Bronx,” the “Pink Lady,” and the “Jack Rose.”  All of which prompted a quick search and mental note to try out in the near future.  You’ll also notice a drink called the “Tall, Tan, & Terrific.”  A signature cocktail if ever there was one, the phrase is a nod to the Club’s chorus girls, all of whom were required to be taller than 5’6,” light-skinned and under twenty-one years of age.

To get a sense of the sort of performance patrons viewed on the nights this menu was in use, I’ve found a great short film made by Paramount in 1934 of Cab Calloway, featuring some of his most famous hits.  Nicknamed the “Hi-De-Ho Man” after his success with his song “Minnie the Moocher,” you get to view a bit of Calloway’s distinctive singing style, his call and response technique with the orchestra, his inspired dance moves.  Love it.  I mean, his hair alone!

As an added bonus, a very famous clip from Stormy Weather (1943), featuring Cab Calloway and his orchestra as well as an amazing routine by the Nicholas Brothers, another act that called the Cotton Club home.

Images via NYPL.

A Liquid Lunch at the 21 Club

28/03/2015 § 1 Comment

21 Club. 21 Club. 21 Club. 21 Club. In honor of the upcoming final (!) season of AMC’s Mad Men, a select group of New York restaurants — the sort of joints that Madison Avenue ad men probably would have favored — featured special lunch menus last week.  Priced at $19.69 — the year of the final season — patrons could treat themselves to the hallowed “liquid lunch” or opt for a prix fixe menu.  It wasn’t something I was prepared to miss, so I corralled a compatriot and made my way directly to the 21 Club.

The 21 Club, formerly a prohibition-era speakeasy, has been in operation since the 1920s and has occupied its current, jockey-decorated location since 1929.  Since its inception 21 has been a favored spot of presidents, celebrities, socialites, politicians, and titans of industry.  A four-story townhouse with multiple private rooms, its famed secret wine cellar has housed the private collections of folks like Ernest Hemingway, John F. Kennedy, and Frank Sinatra.  Today, 21 retains a sense of old-fashioned formality that has become somewhat unique – gentlemen are required to wear jackets to gain entrance to the dining room, servers are dressed in tuxedos.  The Bar Room, where we lunched, sports a ceiling decorated with antique toys, suspended in air.

If you know me at all, you already know I went for the cocktails: Manhattans made with Canadian Club, while my dining partner opted for gin martinis.  Feeling very Roger Sterling and Don Draper, we also ordered for a dozen oysters, and a fabulous, mid-century time was had by all.

21 Club
21 W. 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019

Charming Spaces || Coastal Vibes

10/08/2014 § 3 Comments

Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes

Lovely bit of inspiration by way of Robert McKinley’s apartment in Chelsea, as captured by Nicole Franzen for T Magazine/NY Times.  Unfamiliar with McKinley?  He’s the interior designer and creative director behind places such as the Surf Lodge and Ruschmeyer’s in Montauk and the downtown outposts of Sant Ambroeus.  I’m feeling inspired by the relaxed, well-worn and faintly beachy style of his space, especially the palm frond curtains and that amazing rocking chair.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be stepping out shortly to track down one of those hurricane plants  Please hold my calls.

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Disappearing Acts

08/08/2014 § 1 Comment

Porto RicoEvery morning on my way to the train at the West 4th Street station, I pass the Porto Rico Importing Co. at 201 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village.  More of a coffee and tea store than a true coffee bar, it’s where I buy the coffee I use at home (try it out: Monsoon Malabar is my favorite).  It’s usually full of bench sitters and the usual bunch of parked cars, but today I happened upon a rare moment of quiet and a break in the traffic so that I could take the shot above.

As I took the picture, an eccentric-looking older gentleman ambled by and gruffly offered his two cents: “You know, places like that are disappearing around here.”  He then proceeded to point out the growing vacancies around Porto Rico, both new and old. I readily agreed with him and he eventually set off on his way down Bleecker, satisfied.

Vaguely familiar that Porto Rico has been around for some time — it does mention something about 1907 on the awning, at least — I did a bit of research and discovered that the ground floor of 201 Bleecker has been operated by the Longo family since the early 1900s, initially as a bakery and then later as the coffee and tea store we know today.  The current owner-operator, Peter Longo, is the third generation to run the store, the building having been bought by his grandfather in 1905 for $5,000.  Peter was born in the building, as well as his father before him.

For someone who’s only lived in the neighborhood for just over a year, it’s always exciting to learn more about longtime residents and businesses, but also to hear how the streets have changed.  The next time you find yourself on Bleecker, I definitely recommend that you stop by for a pound of coffee or perhaps a new tea — because it’s true, places like this are rapidly disappearing these days.

For a fuller story on Porto Rico, Alex Witchel at the NY Times wrote a great article on Peter and the store that you should also read.

Have a lovely (caffeinated) weekend!
M. xx

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