12/11/2015 § Leave a comment
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?
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.
This is the “cracked iPhone screen” filter.
Kinda like those glamour shots at the mall, no?
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.
50800 Seminole Drive
(immediately north of Interstate 10)
Cabazon, CA 92230
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.
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.
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??
19/06/2013 § 2 Comments
As I mentioned a few weeks back, I had the pleasure of hopping into a car and making the drive from New York City to Nashville — all 737 miles of it — with my lovely friend (and talented Art Director) Amelia Tubb. Mainly because we both were itching to get out on the road and I was already dying to get out to Nashville — but when we realized it just so happened to be the same weekend that Northern Grade would descend on Music City, the decision really seemed to make itself. The photopalooza that follows is a combination of Amelia’s gorgeous photographs and a few of my Instagrams.
While still in the planning stages, we decided it made the most sense to make a stop on each leg, so that we didn’t go too crazy. On the trip south, I figured the midway point in Virginia was near Roanoke and dropped a pin on an AirBnB map. From there, I poked around the available places until I found an amazing little guest cottage near a town called Floyd. Located off the Blue Ridge Highway — which at night was completely spooky and dark and Amelia kept making Blair Witch references — we eventually pulled up slightly (entirely) later than expected to a tiny, twinkly cottage to the rear of our host’s large home, both built c. 1880. Comfortably furnished and completely adorable, we had little time to appreciate its charm before heading off to a peaceful sleep.
It was in the morning light that the cottage really showed its potential for a longer stay. No wifi, homemade granola, a lake a short hike away and the promise of an exceptionally relaxing solitude, all made for a bittersweet good-bye — especially after meeting our lovely host Susan, her husband, and their three-legged dogs.
I was first introduced to Kletterwerks by Lizzie late last year and was immediately intrigued. After getting to know some of the great folks on the team I continue to be impressed! A climbing equipment company originally founded by designer Dana Gleason in 1975, Kletterwerks is based in Bozeman, Montana and is currently headed up by Dana’s son. By examining the packs his father designed in the late 70s — honoring their vintage sensibility while introducing subtle updates: similar fabrics, heritage colors, laptop sleeves, etc. — Dana3 has successfully created some great stuff that will serve you equally well on an overnight hike or a hike uptown. And when you take into account the fact that Kletterwerks is made in Montana — right in Bozeman — the value increases exponentially. Design updates and value notwithstanding, I haven’t stopped using the Konker Tote (above) since I came home from Nashville. Equipped with handy compartments and adjustable straps, it’s pretty much the best tote ever.
The guest cottage.
The main house.
We then took a drive into the center of town for a proper visit. In the daylight, the Blue Ridge Parkway was gorgeous countryside and Floyd was a lively little town with an artistic and musical feel.
We picked up a friend on our walk.
Roasted in Floyd by Red Rooster Coffee Roaster. Try their 4 & 20 French Roast if you like a darker roast — I’ve already managed to drink all that I brought home with me and am badly in need of a reorder! We picked ours up at the Black Water Loft, a great coffee shop attached to a bookshop below.
Once we hit Tennessee, it seemed the logical thing
to go to the Willie Nelson General Store and Museum…
…and get hats. Here I will mention that with the purchase of these hats, it brought the trip’s overall hat tally to five. Evidently we are ladies who need options. At least when it comes to what is on our heads.
Hats secured, we made an immediate beeline for Mas Tacos in East Nashville– because really, the only thing I want more than a hat is some amazing tacos. After hearing about Mas Tacos from practically everyone we spoke to before, during and after the trip, you should know that the hype is definitely warranted. Don’t miss them.
Kletter Day pack — really great side-loading zipper and a padded laptop sleeve.
We then meandered across the street for some adult beverages at The Pharmacy, a rather classy beer garden and burger joint. Now, before I go representing like I knew everything about everything, I should divulge that we received a considerable amount of guidance, help and hosting from a Mr. Cooper Samuels, of I Took the Train. Cooper is one of Nashville’s best bloggers and someone who’s been a friend of mine for a bit, albeit of the internet variety. So I was very happy to finally get to meet up in person on this trip. A few of his other excellent recommendations included:
City House, where you should get the egg on your pizza.
Rolf and Daughters, where I happily made a meal of veggies, foie gras and rosé.
And The Patterson House, a serious cocktail den where there’s no milling about the bar — you’re seated and attended with finesse. I had a amazing Bacon Old Fashioned and managed a partial picture of Cooper’s hand. No mean feat, if you know Cooper.
Up next on the docket: Northern Grade Nashville, a men’s pop-up shop that offers apparel, accessories and gear, all made in America. You might recall I worked the Los Angeles one, yes? Well as Northern Grade travels around the country, one of the best features is seeing how each city has a slightly different take, as well as a slightly different audience. It was awesome to see how an event like Northern Grade can strengthen a community of like-minded individuals interested in well-made goods and domestic production and simultaneously have a great time.
Sanborn Canoe Co, beautiful canoeing paddles made in Winona, Minn.
Amelia making a belt with Billy Moore of Cause and Effect
And of course, we dropped by Imogene and Willie.
The Leo Sawtooth in black selvedge denim.
Please say hello to my new favorite shirt. Please also don’t be alarmed if I seem to be wearing it every single time you see me.
On the way back, we drove threw a horrible thunderstorm at night and stayed with my Aunt in West Virginia for what felt like exactly seven minutes. We did, however, make time to stop at the Waffle House. Surprised it was my first visit? Well, we don’t have them on the west coast — we do have an International House of Pancakes, but that appears to be unrelated. In any event, it became one of our favorite places while on the road, where locals would mix in with the transient folk like us, rubbing elbows over hash brown concoctions and yelled orders.
20/05/2013 § Leave a comment
During my recent trip to Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of visiting with Whitney Bickers, the proprietress of Myrtle, a delightful boutique snuggled on a corner of Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. Featuring independent female designers and an excellent selection of vintage clothing, as well as accessories, books and other assorted gifty items, this adorable little shop feels more like a clubhouse than mere retail experience, completely due to the amount of personal attention Whitney provides her customers. Shopping at Myrtle is akin to spending a leisurely time with a trusted friend, trying out all sorts of interesting designers and original pieces you may have never heard of before — almost like your personal, inside track to style.
Whitney and Myrtle first appeared on my radar via mutual friends Samantha Pleet and Lizzie Garrett Mettler, and while it may have taken awhile for us to connect in the non-internet world, I’m so glad we did. Aside from being one of the loveliest people ever (ever!), her path to opening Myrtle is certainly an inspiration. While working in the entertainment industry on the production side, Whitney came to the realization that what she was really dreaming of was having a store of her own. With no formal background in retail, but armed with some good advice, a tiny bit of luck and a whole lot of hard work, Whitney took a leap and opened in 2011. In the years since, this one-woman show has continued to evolve, expanding to e-commerce and one of my very favorite Instagram feeds, where Whitney tries on new store arrivals in the massive mirror you can see above, giving internet fans of Myrtle an early head’s up at stock that hasn’t made it to the webstore just yet — but the best part is that you can tell how much fun she’s having. And of course, when she wanted to turn the camera on me during our visit, I immediately insisted on a double mirror portrait of our own…
2213 Sunset Boulevard || Los Angeles, CA 90026 || (213) 413-0004
13/05/2012 § 1 Comment
Had a lovely time visiting the Brimfield Antique Show on Friday with Lani! Luckily, we had lovely weather to match. Unluckily, the week’s rain had kept away a lot of the other antique hunters for the better part of the week, resulting in a very crowded and lengthy drive in, but we didn’t let that get us down!
As to be expected of the Northeast’s (and perhaps the country’s?) largest antique show, Brimfield doesn’t really offer many deals. The Brimfield dealer is savvy, picky even. They know that somewhere, someone is wandering around in the fields that would be willing to pay their inflated prices, either because they don’t know any better or because they just don’t care about the cost. And for good reason, as the creative services and design teams of some of the biggest mainstream Americana brands (Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie and Fitch) regularly sweep through Brimfield looking for inspiration (and pay top dollar for it).
That said, going to Brimfield is still a lot of fun — there’s great food and even better people watching. There’s also some truly weird stuff out there. It’s definitely my favorite Brimfield pastime to play “Didn’t you tell me you needed _______?” In which the blank is filled in with the weirdest thing within sight, e.g, a Liberace pillow, a 5 foot-tall tea kettle, and the like.
Lani is excited for…
30/04/2012 § 1 Comment
New York is a vertical city, and its skyscrapers are climbing ever higher (case in point, just today my next-door neighbor One World Trade claimed the title of tallest building in New York). All that height, especially in the canyons of the Financial District or parts of Midtown, can feel a bit oppressive at times to someone like me, who grew up in one of the most horizontal cities in the world. For comparison’s sake I could give you some facts and figures about square mileage and population — essentially: LA is larger, while NYC is more populous — but nowhere is this “horizontal-ness” illustrated better than from the observation pavilions of the Getty Center.
Known for its impressive views from the Pacific to Downtown, the Getty Center is one of the best places to take in the urban sprawl that is Los Angeles (if it happens to be a clear day). Designed by Richard Meier, the Center also houses a large portion of the Getty art collection and has been the setting for a marriage proposal or two…thousand.
Familiar vistas aside, I also made the trip to the Center to catch the Herb Ritts retrospective, L.A. Style. Best known for his black and white portraits of celebrities and fashion editorials, equally impressive are Ritts’ nudes and his exploration of the concept of gender. A compact exhibition, complete with large-scale prints, vintage magazines and a screening of his music videos (e.g., Janet Jackson’s Love Will Never Do (Without You), Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game), L.A. Style is an excellent collection of some Ritts’ most iconic images, taken in the 1980s and 90s.
Herb Ritts: L.A. Style at the Getty Center
April 3 – August 26, 2012
The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Open Tuesday – Sunday
29/04/2012 § 3 Comments
As I mentioned last week, I scooted off to Los Angeles to surprise my family and enjoy a long weekend in my hometown. Armed with an exceptionally affordable rental car that I had to fill with exceptionally expensive gas, I bopped around from Manhattan Beach to Porter Ranch, and from Santa Monica to Downtown. And while I will admit that while I am on the East Coast I frequently have moments when I miss driving, a few minutes of sitting on the 405 definitely cured me of that for awhile…but it didn’t keep me from visiting some great places.
Breakfast at the counter at John O’Groats, a westside institution.
Don’t miss their biscuits.
Drinks at the Beverly Wilshire.
Cole’s, originators of the French Dip sandwich.
Bourbon drinks at Cole’s with Nick.
Breakfast at the Fountain Coffee Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
An excellent travel companion: Bag by The San Fernando Mercantile Company
27/03/2012 § 3 Comments
13/12/2011 § 5 Comments
Weekly on Sundays, the street Defensa in the neighborhood of San Telmo in Buenos Aires becomes a bustling marketplace where one can purchase almost anything. Automobiles are prohibited, vendors set their stalls in the streets and enterprising young people rove the crowds carrying boxes of homemade empanadas for sale. However, the most impressive attractions of the San Telmo market are the amazing antique shops and there are two in particular I wanted to share with you.
Gabriel del Campo was a rather surreal experience. There were so many interesting and immaculate items — from dolls to furniture to fur rugs to an extensive collection of luggage and trunks — and they were staged so beautifully, it felt almost like a museum. Albeit the kind of museum I wanted to live in. And while the exchange rate is currently quite favorable, the shop is well aware of the high quality and value of their items.
For example, a diminutive woman with an accent that sounded like she was from Hong Kong was noisily admiring a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk that was almost as tall as she was. When she asked the price, “18,000” was the answer. “Pesos?” she asked, which would have been a little over $4,000. “No, no. American dollars.”
For those of us who are not on Ralph Lauren’s scouting team and find ourselves without their unlimited funds, rest assured that Gabriel del Campo is an inherently satisfying exercise in antique inspiration and it is definitely worth a look around. Who knows, you might get lucky...
On the other hand, the tiny and adorable shop Antigüo Balcón, was a completely different — but much more lovely — experience. Run by owner Abel Neira for over 20 years, the shop is a dizzying jumble of all sorts of odds and ends and hidden treasures. Mr. Neira seems to somewhat specialize in a few types of items — namely cameras, musical instruments, fans and telephones — but truly, there is a little bit of everything crammed into this tiny space.
Mr. Neira was a delight to speak with. As he pointed out small treasures my untrained eye might have missed, we chatted about my trip and the best places to go in the city — quite like visiting an old friend with an amazing collection. At Antigüo Balcón, unlike at Gabriel del Campo, you can find amazing things that won’t require a second mortgage — or a first one for that matter — and you will consider your time with Mr. Neira as an added bonus.
Related: Field Notes: Buenos Aires, Argentina
12/12/2011 § 7 Comments
Field Notes: Buenos Aires
As you may recall, I recently returned from a trip to Buenos Aires and I have been raving about the city to anyone who will listen. The word amazing has definitely been bandied about quite a bit. Simultaneously cosmopolitan and relaxing, the city makes for a perfect destination when the northern hemisphere turns to winter. With the exchange rate currently in my favor (~4.6 pesos to the dollar), it was an affordable escape as well. Of course, I am plotting my return trip as we speak…
I recommend staying in one of the Palermo neighborhoods: Hollywood or Soho. The neighborhoods are named for their resemblance to the American cities with the same name: Soho with its bustling shopping and dining, Hollywood with its concentration of the city’s media companies. I stayed in Palermo Soho and found it to be well located and felt exceptionally safe after dark. It is, however, a bit of a walk to the Subte (subway), but taxis are plentiful and quite affordable. Instead of staying in a hotel, I rented a flat, which is definitely the most cost-effective option. Through Buenos Aires Rents, I found a sparkling clean studio in a brand new building with 24-hour doorman service, laundry, gym and roof deck with a pool, for a little over $60 per night. While renting a flat means you don’t have a concierge on hand at all times, the folks at Buenos Aires Rents were always immediately available for my questions and also offer car service for airport transfers. If you are the type that requires daily room service, take a look at Esplendor Palermo Soho, which was darling and directly around the corner from where I stayed.
Next time, I will definitely stay at the Hotel del Casco, which is actually in San Isidro, a bit north of Buenos Aires proper. An exceptionally beautiful, 1890s neoclassical palazzo that was formerly the summer home of an aristocratic family, the Hotel del Casco has been converted into a gorgeous 20 room hotel that retains much of its original 19th century aesthetic.
Buenos Aires is a city that easily lends itself to cafe lingering and meandering. I spent many lovely, lazy mornings people-watching over coffee and toast topped with dulce de leche in corner cafes. Afternoons were for siestas. Evenings were for late and lengthy dinners of steak and malbec. But should you be more itinerary-minded, there is plenty to do. Visit one of the many art museums, go to the Plaza de Mayo and see the Casa Rosada, shop for antiques in the San Telmo market on Sundays, board the museum ships of Puerto Madero, and visit the massive Recoleta Cemetary (where you can find the tomb of Eva Peron). I especially recommend Graffitimundo, a great tour of Buenos Aires street art and graffiti, for an inside look at a burgeoning art scene and neighborhoods a bit off the normal tourist route. If you go in mid-November as I did, you can catch the Argentine Polo Open, which I quite enjoyed.
As for cuisine, Buenos Aires is widely known for their red meat and red wine. I had fantastic meals at Don Julio (Guatemala 4691 in Palermo Soho) and El Trapiche (Paraguay 5099 in El Centro). I also dined at what is widely considered the best restaurant in town, Cabaña Las Lilas (A.M. de Justo 516 in Puerto Madero). While Cabaña Las Lilas was quite good and takes full advantage of their picturesque setting, I definitely preferred the atmosphere of Don Julio and El Trapiche, both of which felt more locally authentic and less touristy. It is also worth noting that most of my dinners — with multiple courses and wine — tended to run between $25 and $40 per person. Also, make sure not to miss Cafe Tortoni (Avenida De Mayo 825), the oldest coffee shop in all of Argentina, founded in 1858.
Parting notes: WiFi is plentiful in the city so no need to run up massive roaming data charges. // Bring the plug adapter for Australia and not the one marked “South America.” For some reason, Argentina uses slanted prongs unlike the rest of the continent. // You won’t need a visa, but upon arrival you will have to pay a fee equal to the amount the US charges Argentines for US visas. Currently that amount is $140, but it will also cover any other entries over the next ten years.
You can see the rest of my photos from Buenos Aires here.
27/10/2011 § 2 Comments
Now, when I say that I am originally from Los Angeles, it’s kind of like the geographic equivalent of rounding up to 10 from 7. How so? It’s because I actually spent the majority of my formative years in little place slightly to the north and west of Los Angeles proper, known to some of you simply as “The Valley.” Yes, the location of the party where Tai took a shoe to the head and went on to roll with the homies. Yes, the place that you have to thank for the “like” that permeates the vernacular. Yes, the San Fernando Valley. Like, oh my God.
Granted, The Valley is kind of like the red-headed stepchild of the Southern California family. It’s not regarded as especially cool or interesting, but rather, frankly, as being kind of lame. My mother, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, can’t even remember going there once as a child because, as she put it, “Why would you?” Perhaps I wear my pride somewhat internally, but when it gets down to it, I have so much love for my Valley and the years I spent there. I totally embrace my inner Valley Girl.
So you can imagine how happy I was a few months ago to discover The San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co., purveyors of fine vintage American-made workwear from 1930-1970 and handmade, utility-inspired dry goods/accessories. And when I realized they had their own take on the classic tool bag, very much like those I had been admiring by a few other designers, but automatically and infinitely so much better because of its Valley origins, I might have geeked out a bit. So of course, I shot off a note to learn more about their bags and the operation at large.
In short order, I received a lovely reply from Warren Schummer, the man behind San Fernando Mercantile Co., as well as Vintage Workwear, a blog focusing on vintage workwear from the 1940s through the 1970s. It turned out Warren’s Valley roots were a bit more established than mine, as his go back three generations, and helped shape his addiction to workwear:
I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, particularly Sylmar in my youth, then left and spent a few years spent in Huntington Beach. Came back to Studio City for my teens and 20s, Sherman Oaks for the 30s and then to Tarzana in the west valley for the past 10 odd years, give or take. My pops owned an auto body repair shop on Ventura Blvd in Studio City where he specialized in German cars including Porsche and Mercedes Benz cars in particular. That environment in addition to my Grandfather working at the now defunct Chevrolet plant in Van Nuys helped shape my love of work clothing.
Warren began collecting — actually, he called it “hoarding” — workwear and soon came to realize that the best way to support his collecting habit was by parting with some of his pieces. This led to a stall at the Rose Bowl Flea Market (#3282), where he has been in residence for more than 18 months now, on the second Sunday of every month. Warren also owns All Valley Handyman Service, which provides him with the opportunity to wear his vintage on the job.
Wanting to apply the inspiration he found in vintage to the creation of new merchandise, Warren began with a small run of work caps made from vintage fabrics, selvedge denim and brown duck, which did well. With the success of the caps, bags were the obvious next step and a tote and tool bag-inspired bag soon followed. Warren is intensely involved in the design and construction process, seemingly coming just short of sewing everything himself — which I think he probably would try to do, if he could. All of San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co.’s merchandise is made in the USA, with most of it made in Southern California.
After hearing and loving all of this, I knew that I desperately wanted one of Warren’s bags and that I would definitely be stopping by stall #3282 on my upcoming (at the time) visit to the Rose Bowl Flea. A few short weeks flew by and I found myself in the sweltering Pasadena sun at the Flea. I dragged along Nick — of the rather awesome Tumblr No Secrets Between Sailors (and also Instagram: nosecretsbetweensailors) — and made him show me the ropes.
The San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co. was our first stop. Nick and I had a good long visit with Warren and his lovely lady Michele, while taking shelter in the shade of the tent and slowly perusing an amazing selection of workwear merchandise. We also discussed the specifics for one of his glorious 16″ bags that will be making its way to me in New York in the near future. Of course you’ll receive the full rundown when it arrives. Such a great afternoon.
If you are at the Rose Bowl Flea, be sure not to miss the The San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co. If you can’t make it out to Pasadena, check the shop out online, as well as the store blog, and the Vintage Workwear blog.