Tuesday, November 30


Hi. A quick note: I'll post Kansas pics soon! I have pesky tendonitis in my hand/arm, and I'm trying not to use my computer as much as I'd like, which is all the time, of course. I'm also finishing up my third semester of school and have been focusing on a few very consuming papers... Anyway, I wanted to drop in and say hello, and thanks for your patience. :)

Also, I'm launching a very cool new Tumblr site this week. If only, to spare my hands, I could tumble with my toes.

Saturday, November 20

Homebodies in The Guardian

Remember Homebodies subject Wayman Robertson? Today the architect and designer (and my former King Street neighbor) is featured in his small but space-maximized apartment in The Guardian's newspaper and online site. The photography by Mark Lund is gorgeous.

Check out "Interiors special: New York state of mind," and thank you, Hannah Booth at The Guardian (and of the blog Lives Less Ordinary), for reading Homebodies!
P.S. The first of my series on Wayman is here.

Tuesday, November 16

Views from the roof

I love Red Hook. We went up the rooftop where Andrew and Jami live: views for miles. And groceries just below, on the ground level. It's a great location, if you don't mind the trek/bus/bike ride to the subway. Below, Jami and Interior Design's Annie Block, and the rising moon. 
 I went back inside to leave my empty beer bottle somewhere respectable before I took off. With no one inside, I could see more clearly the lines of this new table Andrew designed. He used to work only in right angles--big emphasis on only. Proof: sometimes people change. 
And then, as I was heading out, I saw this installation of chairs on the wall, just inside the front door. How did I not notice when I came inside? Right, I was heading straight for the lobster rolls.

Monday, November 15

Andrew Raible & Jami Saunders, Red Hook

Before I start on homes I recently visited in Kansas, I wanted to post these pics I took a few weeks ago at the home of furniture designer Andrew Raible and his wife, Jami Saunders, a photographer. They live in a gorgeous loft in Red Hook above Fairway, overlooking the bay. You can see the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

Andrew's furniture company is called Standard 41, and after I met him at a Red Hook barbecue a few years ago, I wrote about his furniture for The New York Times. The pieces in the above pic are from that collection. This recent event was to celebrate the launch of Taible, a new division of tables and seating. Lobster rolls and cold beer, said the invite (!), so off I went, with dozens of other design journalists, to get a peek, and to eat. Lobster rolls and great design sure does pull a crowd. A few pics from around the loft...

Below, the view from a main window, and young Alex, my friend Philip's adorable son, taking it in. After I took this picture he darted off to run timed laps in the hallway. I asked Philip to stand in front of the tiny stool so I could have a reference for scale. His twee foot.
Lovely Jami is an awesome photographer. These cute couple photos are tacked above the computer.
Below: a view of the room away from the window, turned slightly away but not out of reach from the bowl of olives. I also ate the very last lobster roll while admiring the new dining table pictured here.
Andrew introduced the new collection, while Jami, in the black dress, looked on with a huge smile. Andrew is a sixth-generation woodworker! He's quite the master--and it shows.

Thursday, November 11

Gilded Mortar: Frank Lloyd Wright's Allen-Lambe house

I'm going through my many photos of Kansas and trying to figure out a few things: how many homes I shot (four!), how to organize those stories, and how to post the info so it's better--and faster for me to get to you. Too much to ask?

As I work on those questions, check out the exterior of Frank Lloyd Wright's Allen-Lambe house in Wichita. Backstory here. We weren't allowed to take photos of the inside (er, except below: that's in the entry, mortar was dyed "ochre," said the guide), but I took a few of the outside and the grounds. What I learned: FLW liked strong horizontal lines, as we know, and to accentuate that on the exterior, he had the mortar along the horizontal plane scraped out so the absence would create strong shadows. The vertical mortar was extra-packed so it's flush with the bricks--no shadows.

Tuesday, November 9

Child's chairs and cats: the living room and kitchen

We're leaving the Lopates for a while, though I realize I forgot, when I was writing about Phillip's library, to mention his regal campaign desk and excerpt more of that great essay. But now we're downstairs in the living room! I suppose I'll save those photos and do a few more posts in the future. 

Also, keep an eye out for Phillip Lopate coming soon to a silver screen near you: The new documentary "Chekhov for Children" tells the story of his 1979 staging on Broadway a production of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" with a cast of fifth- and sixth-grade public school students. It's pretty amazing. Watch the trailer

Above, Phillip and a cat in the living room, transmitting wisdom.

Below, the kitchen, featuring a painting (center, blue and green) by his wife, Cheryl. A cat lounges on the table, a prime spot for sunning or for daughter Lily to finish homework.
Below, in the living room: Maybe it's hard to see the scale, but that's a child's chair for reading. I don't think I've seen many upholstered child's chairs. Even child's chairs made of wood (I think they're more common?) are surprising to me for some reason, like stumbling upon any odd miniature, or a cross-bred dog of perplexing proportions. Come to think of it, I've never actually seen a child in a child's chair. Have you? I wanted to try out the chair but thought it didn't seem appropriate. Edith Ann but opposite.
At the Lopates', decorations stay up way past season. These Christmas-y stickers have been kicking around the fireplace--the "fire surround," as we say in design--for years. (The colorful paper lanterns hanging in the kitchen are from a recent birthday.)
Below, the front door. A family of boots. Until next time...

Monday, November 8

Kansas sunrise

Good morning from rainy New York. I'm back from Kansas and looking out the window at the grey building about ten feet away. A green electric cord hangs down the side. This cord runs down the center of my "view." I'm trying to figure out if that's hail or rain I hear outside and can detect nothing on the windowsills.

I'll finish up with Mr. Lopate later by posting a few photos of his living room, where his artist wife won wall space to display artwork over his books. It's a very cozy room. But first, a few pics of expansive Kansas from the home of travel writer Rolf Potts. I can do without the dust from the dry plains, but the sunrise more than makes up for it... 

Saturday, November 6

The Lopate library, part II

I'm writing from Kansas this morning, where I'm on a farm visiting travel writer Rolf Potts, who's also a Bennington classmate. A few of us from the June 2011 class came out to Salina to celebrate his 40th birthday. We're hanging out in his modular home, drinking coffee with cinnamon. The wind is roaring across the plains.

Above, the author closing a deal. Below, Phillip's workspace. Good god. Files of current assignments, including some pieces for Harper's. Phillip wrote to me in an email: "I love it! You're turning me into a Collyer Brothers type." Carroll Gardens from a window.
 Below, more books. These are all by dead Americans. Phillip's wife was a book designer who sometimes posed her handsome husband for covers. On Jim Cirn's The Big Squeeze, he's a gangster. In the Polaroid, that's him as a bloody corpse--another dead American. "Now I can say I've fulfilled my true dreams in life: to be an actor and a model."
 And now from his sweeter side, and more prominently displayed, is a collection of essays, memoirs, and poems from his daughter. Lookout world, Lily's coming up
 This is the bookcase in the hall filled with English literature. Books he's written are on the top shelf, and passages are marked so he can grab one when he's heading out to do a reading. "It's not purely vanity. It's also practical." DVDs find a home in the only place that seems to fit, in the corner between the library and the bathroom.

Thursday, November 4

Phillip Lopate's world of books

In his office and library, surrounded by thousands of books organized mostly geographically by author, the writer and teacher Phillip Lopate sits at his desk at the center of a literary universe

Phillip is the author of 15 books and seven anthologies, by our rough count, and a contributor to dozens more. These books are filed in a massive bookcase containing mostly English literature, in the nearby galaxy known as the hall. This room, on the third floor of a brownstone where he lives with his wife and daughter, is filled with Europeans, Asians, his sub-genre specialties like New York City, film, and poetry, and dead Americans. "Updike is upstairs now," he says. "He used to be downstairs with the living."

In the below photo, the shelves on the left from near to far are fanatically ordered: Russians, Germans, French, Italians. The Spanish and Portuguese are along the bottom. Around the fireplace are journals in which he's published. (They lived in the fireplace until a recent visit from the sweeper.) On the right side of the photo, film books take up half the case and he needs more room... Japanese and Chinese authors are on the other side. Poetry is filed in the last four shelves.

Below, a reading nook near the Japanese and Chinese, and the film books, and the poetry. The side table.
I'm skipping over a number of sub-genres organized to keep at hand. The tower of DVDs below, for example, are references for the essay film course he's teaching at Columbia.
As I said in a recent post, Phillip was my instructor last semester at Bennington. During the winter writers' residency, he read his very entertaining essay, "The Life of the Mind," about rearranging his bookshelves, "a soothing seasonal ritual" that happens in the fall. What a perfect subject for Homebodies, I thought! I just had to invite myself over. He writes:

"I started to hunt for a book to read, I noticed my Japanese literature section was overflowing, with excess paperbacks stacked horizontally above the tops of upright hard-covers, and others in danger of slipping behind the front ranks and disappearing from sight for years. The Italian section, I noticed had a little extra room. I could consolidate the two--but what connection did Japanese and Italian literature have, other than both countries having been Axis powers that fought against us in World War II? No, it would make more sense to move the Portuguese writers in with the Brazilians, and pair the Japanese shelves with the Chinese... 
     Before I knew it, I was cradling armfuls of books like a wobbly accordion. I tried to keep them in the same order, but whenever a book or two fell from my hands the whole alphabetical system was endangered, and I would end up having to file every one separately, which was what I secretly wanted to do..." 

He continues (this is great fun, hacking away at my instructor's essay; the tables have turned):

"In a throwback to my childhood play with toy soldiers, I now control the movements of nations by dictatorially dispersing their literatures. Having rearranged the globe, hitched Spain to Greece and returned India to England, I am ready to tackle subtler diasporas. My books are distributed not only by nationality but by subject matter and genre, including categories such as movies, poetry, architecture, social science. Delicate decisions must be made."

On a related dictatorial note, on his office door, below a Valentine from his daughter featuring the name of one of his books, hangs a gift from his poet friend Ron Padgett, who took the liberty of sketching Phillip Stalin, Phillip Hitler, Phillip Castro...
More pics in the next post...

Wednesday, November 3

Mr. Lucky, king of the kitchen

I've only just finished my work for school, three days overdue--yikes, so while I work on the library post, I thought I'd make a quick introduction. So, before we head up three flights of stairs to Mr. Lopate's library, meet Mr. Lucky, the great old goldfish who presides over the kitchen. Phillip and Cheryl's daughter won him years ago at a fair when he was small and golden, and to everyone's surprise, he's still around, now big and white. The knife in the previous post sits on the table in headband form.