Roughing It.

05/07/2012 § 4 Comments

Fact: I have never been camping.

Corollary: My mom will probably dispute this.

Who’s right?  I suppose it depends on how broadly you construe the term “camping” — because if to you, camping means you’re in a sleeping bag in a tent in the woods somewhere, then I most definitely have never been camping.  However, if you are like my mother, and think camping includes driving some sort of van or trailer to a “campground” and parking for a few days near some nature, then maybe you’ve got me there.

My parents did own a sweet Minnie Winnie in the late 90s.  It was sort of an odd purchase for a completely non-camping family that was spurred by the experience of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.  We did use it a few times, mainly for soccer tournament weekends, but also for camping at Lake Cachuma and the Kern River.  We actually did Thanksgiving one year, turkey and all, entirely on wheels!

So while I don’t really count those experiences as camping, I do have plenty of great memories of those weekends, which were jogged when I came across this set of photos in the Life Archive, taken at various points around the country by Ralph Crane in 1970.  Capturing different kinds of motor homes and trailers, and the folks who used them, they are a slice of Americana that seems perfectly apropos for the day after Independence Day.

Some of these images originally appeared as part of a special group of articles in the August 14, 1970 issue of LIFE entitled “Home, Home on the Road,” which details “Caravans on the open road.  Houseboats on the busy waters.  Youth in its frustrated festivals.  Venturers abroad in trains.”  If you’d like to read the article — and I definitely recommend it, mainly for some great pictures of a convoy of pretty aluminum Airstream trailers — you can find it here.  Enjoy!

Bob Newcomb with his 12-member family in Hershey, PA.

Sidenote: Can I just say that I have NO idea how 12 people could coexist for any extended amount of time in a trailer.  My family only numbered 5 and speaking for the kids, I know we regularly contemplated pulverizing each other when we “camped.”  Newcombs, hat’s off to the lot of you, indeed.

Baby Newcomb in her bathtub bed!

The Wally Byam Caravan Club converging upon Hershey, PA.  The club, named for the founder of the Airstream Trailer Company, still exists — and caravans — to this day.

Airstream owners and Caravan Club members, saluting the flag.

All images via the Life Archive.

Movin’ On Up.

04/06/2012 § 10 Comments

I don’t frequently talk about my day job, I realize (I work for a political risk consulting firm), but today is a very special day because we open our doors in a new location.  As I packed up in preparation for the move, I came to realize that in the five years I have been in New York, I have only worked in one very small slice of Manhattan.  Namely, the patch of midtown between 40th and 45th Streets and 7th and Madison Avenues.  Every morning I said hello to Grand Central, Bryant Park, Times Square, and the New York Public Library.  The not so distant pinnacles of the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center, grandly scraping the sky as I skipped off to grab coffee.  And while I am excited to settle in to a new area — our shiny new office will be in the Flatiron District now — I couldn’t help but already be a bit nostalgic for my former digs.  And so, in honor of the move, I wanted to share a few of the many pictures I’ve taken over the years.

Onward, upward (and 20 blocks downtown) I go!

(clockwise, from top left) The Morgan Library,
Bryant Park in spring, Lord and Taylor, our former office’s front entrance.

The New York Public Library, in fog, spring, and snow,
and the grand reading room with its paneled ceiling.

The Bank of America tower, northbound on Madison Avenue,
the constellations inside Grand Central Terminal,
the bar at the Campbell Apartment.

Bryant Park: the carousel, the Bryant Park Hotel,
summer movies on the lawn, ice skating in winter.

The Library Walk tiles, the steps to the library at night,
the counter at the Grand Central Oyster Bar,
and a very curious lion (?) I passed every day on E. 41st.

The Knox Hat Building, Times Square at night,
Grand Central in the morning, Fifth Avenue parades.

My morning coffee pit stop, the amazing fashion newsstand Around the World,
and two views from our office terrace.

One thing I will definitely miss: our amazing terrace overlooking Fifth Ave.
A few pictures from the last hurrah.

Field Notes || Brimfield Antique Show

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.

Canadian yacht club plaques from the 1930s.

My Brimfield kit included:
wellies
, a waxed cotton parka, and a Boat and Tote bag

The fonts! So good!

Butter dishes and Somersize. Best product placement ever.

Lani is excited for…

…some amazing lobster rolls.

Love my new leopard and zebra!
They join a thrifted elephant in my burgeoning apartment menagerie.

Field Notes || Herb Ritts: L.A. Style at the Getty Center

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

Field Notes || A Long Los Angeles Weekend

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.

Manhattan Beach.

Where the car is king, you can’t help having so many good sightings…

A very foggy Sepulveda Pass.

An evening in Beachwood Canyon with Lizzie: dinner at Franklin & Company,
browsing at Counterpoint Records, peeking in the doors of the Villa Carlotta.

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.

A very stylish makeover, courtesy of my nieces.

An excellent travel companion: Bag by The San Fernando Mercantile Company

Field Notes || Argentine Polo Open

27/03/2012 § 3 Comments

Taken at the 2011 Argentine Open Polo Tournament on my trip to Buenos Aires.  The fifth-oldest polo competition in the world, the tournament was first played in 1893.  For more information, visit Asociación Argentina de Polo.

Ghosts of Train Stations Past: New York Pennsylvania Station

07/02/2012 § 5 Comments

I promise a train and train station moratorium after this post. 

Maaaaaaaaaybe.

Images of the old New York Penn Station (1910 – 1963), designed by the architectural powerhouse McKim, Mead & White.  Every time I have to pass through the wretch that is the new Penn Station — dark, subterranean and horribly bland — I catch myself wishing earnestly that it had survived the 1960s.  Wishing that what is now the busiest train station in North America was something beautiful to look at.  Wishing that it rivaled the glory that is my beloved Grand Central.  But alas, it is not…

Henry Crane had the right idea.
(Sidenote: Mad Men! March 24! Finally!)

For more pictures of Penn, be sure to check out my earlier post Farewell at Penn Station, poignant moments captured by LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt of WWII soldiers shipping out.

Images via the Library of Congress and the NYPL

Rabbit Hole: Vintage Travel Posters

28/01/2012 § 1 Comment

In love!

A beautiful collection of vintage travel posters is currently available at Vintage Seekers.  To view and purchase these and more, head here.

Desired Destination: Siena

24/01/2012 § 3 Comments

Church of San Domenico, Siena.

With all the dispatches a few weeks back from Florence for Pitti Immagine Uomo, my thoughts couldn’t help but turn to the time I spent studying abroad in the same city.  I loved living in Firenze, just off of Piazza Savonarola, in a tiny and charming apartment that originally served as servant’s quarters for a massive home owned by an old and aristocratic family.  As I looked at the countless photographs of the peacocking at the trade shows, I couldn’t help but look past the — well-dressed, of course — men, to the city that was peeking around the edges, and remember what living in Tuscany felt like.

My latest Desired Destination is one of my favorite places in Tuscany: the tiny, medieval town of Siena.  Approximately one hour south of Florence by car, Siena is noted for its sport, its fierce neighborhood loyalties, and its ancient history.  The town is divided into seventeen contrade, or wards, each with distinct boundaries and identifiable symbols and animal mascots.  While originally instated to provide military support and initially organized by trade, the contrade have evolved into extremely patriotic neighborhood associations: a resident of Siena will be baptized, married and eulogized, all within his or her contrade, and as you walk through the town, you’ll find the symbols prominently featured everywhere — as almost all contrade have declared rivals and allies, boundaries are very important.  These rivalries reach a fever pitch during the Palio, a biannual horse race that has been run in Siena since the 14th century.

The symbol of Siena: Romulus and Remus with the she-wolf
Actually, this is Senius and Aschius, sons of Remus. (Thanks to Simon for the correction!)
“Legend has it that the city was founded by Remus’ sons Senius and Aschius who stole the statue of the she-wolf from Apollo’s temple. Senius rode a black horse, Aschius a white steed. Those colours form the city’s heraldic colour scheme black and white while the city emblem is the same as Rome – the she-wolf and breast-feeding twins.” Via.
Palazzo Salimbeni, piazza Salimbeni.
Headquarters of the oldest bank in the world, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena,
which has been in operation since 1472.
Piazza del Campo.

The Palio is run in Siena’s historic center, the Piazza del Campo.  Spectators fill the Piazza to the brim, with wealthier spectators enjoying the view from balconies above.  With layers of dirt packed over the stone, the horses and riders must complete three loops around the Piazza as fast as possible.  Complicating matters are the Piazza’s sharp turns and the fact that the jockeys must ride bareback —  injuries are frequent and it is not uncommon for horses to compete and win the race after discarding their graceless riders.  At each race, ten contrade are represented, alliances are tested and rampant bribery is rumored, in this ultimate competition for bragging rights and glory that is much unchanged since it was first run in the 14th century.

Spectators in the Piazza del Campo, 1947.  Photos by Walter Sanders for LIFE.

Each contrade brings their horse into their church for a pre-race blessing.

Horse racing not your thing?  Fear not.  Siena’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site assures that there is something for almost everyone, especially if you like art and churches.  There are the beautiful secular frescoes in the Palazzo Pubblico and the amazingly elaborate Duomo di Siena to see.  However, if you prefer to simply wander about the old winding streets, I wouldn’t argue.  And definitely bring home some of the beautiful and brightly painted ceramics Siena is known for — contrade specific, of course.

For accommodations, turn to Hotel Certosa di Maggiano.  Originally a Carthusian monastery built in 1394, the property changed hands and fell into disrepair until it was purchased in 1969 and eventually converted by Anna Grossi Recordati into the luxury hotel it is today.  Surrounded by six acres of countryside and boasting one of the best restaurants in the world, chef Paolo Lopriore’s Il Canto, the Hotel Certosa di Maggiano is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Siena, conveniently located only one kilometer from the town.

Images via Hotel Certosa di Maggiano.

Currently closed for the winter, this darling hotel is set to reopen on March 16.

Perhaps I should book a room for when Pitti rolls around again in June…

Hotel Certosa di Maggiano
Strada di Certosa, 82
53100 Sienna Siena, Italy
0577 288 180
~*~

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”

04/01/2012 § 2 Comments

The University of Coimbra General Library
Coimbra, Portugal

The Trinity College Library
Dublin, Ireland

Duke Humfrey’s Library, Bodleian Library, Oxford University
Oxford, UK

George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

Queen’s College Library, Oxford University
Oxford, UK

University of Salamanca Library
Salamanca, Spain

University of Salamanca Library
Salamanca, Spain

For more beautiful college libraries from around the world, head here.

Quote by Jorge Luis Borges.

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