eat. shop. love. nyc.

Uh-Oh, I feel fat
March 4, 2011, 6:21 pm
Filed under: Laugh, Read | Tags: , , , , ,

From David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim’s Ugly Guide #4 Eating Out and Keeping it Down. AKA How I Am Feeling This Week After Eating Course Meals Daily.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


Best-dressed literary characters

Boldtype is my absolute favorite literature-related website/newsletter. I get a huge kick out of their real life celebs vs. literary figure comparisons, and this week’s best-dressed list from the world of fiction is no exception. Inspired by the recent movie adaptation of author Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat Love Pray, designer Sue Wong came up with this gaudy, over the top collection. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s defense, the book was a memoir, not a true work of fiction.

Boldtype decided to explore characters from literature that they felt better deserved to be on a best-dressed list, thought they certainly weren’t the first to consider the idea. Linda Grant of More Intelligent Life wrote a similar article entitled “Paper Dolls” in April 2010 and gave ups to Truman Capote for Holly Golightly’s slim black dress, black sandals, and pearls from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and also a nod to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando‘s genderbending garb.

In addition to the characters listed in the Boldtype and More Intelligent Life articles above, I’d add:

  • Daisy Gatsby – duh – hand in hand with Jay
  • Nabokov’s Lolita and her little polka dotted scarf (a little creepy, but Lolita has inspired an entire subculture of dress and is quite alive in the sartorial imagination of today)
  • Francois Choderlos de Laclos’ 1782 novel Les Liasons Dangeureuses (Dangerous Liaisons), later made into a movie with Glenn Close and Michelle Pfeiffer
  • The three geishas from Arthur Gulden’s Memoirs of a Geisha. Mameha’s is the prized kimono destroyed by Sayuri at Hatsumomo’s demand, but Hatsumomo and Sayuri were beautifully clothed, as well – an occupational requirement, I suppose

I love FT features – The language of food
August 3, 2010, 10:52 am
Filed under: Eat, Read | Tags: , , ,

I have the Financial Times’ Arts & Leisure RSS feed on my iGoogle because they often have some stellar features, “The language of food” by Simon Schama is certainly one. In this feature article, he explores the relationship between language and eating, and the collective compulsion to talk about, write about, and share one’s experience with food and the act of eating or dining. He says the best food writing is all about remembered sensuality, and it’s true: the smells, the tastes, the textures, and that feeling.

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

I am not Dominican. I did not grow up in Jersey. I don’t think/speak/act/live like Oscar, Beli, Lola, Yunior, or La Inca. Yet somehow the characters in this book resonate with me deeply, despite all of our apparent differences. I am not who they are, and yet I find something so familiar about each of them, see in them someone perhaps I know. My self-sacrificing mother, my gamer brother, my sassy inner Latina, the poor decisions of my youth and how I once terrorized my misunderstood mother… all of this flitted in and out of my consciousness as Díaz wove the tragic history of the Trujillo-era Dominican Republic seamlessly with hilarious references to Mordor and comic books and obscure sci-fi. I found myself engrossed in their stories, and by the time I got off the plane coming back from Memorial Day Weekend, I was almost done. I hadn’t been able to put it down.

Author Junot Díaz was named one of the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 fiction writers to watch back in 1999. Later, he would win rave reviews and a Pulitzer in 2008 for this, his first novel. Just a couple weeks ago, the now-professor at MIT was asked to join the Pulitzer Board.

You get a big picture feel for the DR across the generations, and somehow you also find yourself intimately engaged in the dysfunctions and triumphs of this family. His prose is punchy and slangy and raw and heartbreaking, peppered with spicy bits of Spanglish that even non-Hispanophones like myself can figure out, though I did find myself wishing I spoke a little Spanish. You just know a culture better when you understand its linguistics.

I know I’m a little behind (the book was published in 2007), but I highly recommend it to anyone interested in hearing a unique narrative voice. If you’re from an immigrant family, you’ll especially enjoy this book. The pulsing energy reminds me of John Okada’s No-No Boy, though less angry and less Japanese. Díaz is funny, poignant, and buzzing with an electrifying nerdiness. There are no slow moments in this book, not even when nothing is actually happening; such is the prose.

Read: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao(2007) by Junot Díaz

Brontë sisters action figures
May 10, 2010, 12:32 pm
Filed under: Laugh, Read | Tags: , , , , , ,

I came across this Youtube video of the Brontë sisters power dolls on the Rumpus and had to share with my fellow lit geeks. Watch through to the end where you’ll have a special surprise from bygone years, nay, eras.

Celebrating the American Woman

Catherine Malandrino Flag Dress. Photo credit: Pascale Richard

As a nation founded on fantasy, busy dreaming and reinventing… we like the idea of the American Woman; we traffic in fantasies, build archetypes, are seduced by precisely these national stereotypes, oddly stirred by them.

Flying British Airways from Nice to London to NYC, I picked up an exceptionally interesting Financial Times weekend paper. Breezing past the news of the Greek financial meltdown and other such heavy and unhappy matters, I headed straight for the Life & Arts section to read about Rothko’s return to Russia.

I was happily sidetracked by the headlining article American ideal by NYU professor Katie Roiphe explores and celebrates the American-Girl-turned-American-Woman, delving into the stereotypes and varying definitions of said woman and girl. This was an article that made my little heart swell with pride as it resonated deeply with me, as I’m sure it will with many other American women and those who love them.

Roiphe (halfheartedly) wonders whether the upcoming Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute exhibition American Woman: Fashioning National Identity will amount to more than a collection of worn-out, overplayed stereotypes. Is there even such a thing as the American Woman; is she anything more than a figment of our collective imaginations?

The thinking person has to acknowledge that the whole idea of the American Woman is silly. There is no American Woman, only millions of American women: the huddled masses, the poor, the sick, the hungry and the very, very rich, the bluebloods, the Chinese immigrants, and the daughters of Pakistani taxi drivers, trying to go about their lives as best they can.

The author revisits our childhood adoration of tomboys from Little House on the Prairie and Little Women. From a young age, Americans are taught to admire girls who “get dirty, run fast, scrape their knees, break rules, and harbor secretly unfeminine ambitions.” These American girls grow up to become American women, and their rebelliousness and strength are deeply valued.

Ultimately, Roiphe concludes that the American Woman does, indeed, exist, albeit as a fantasy or a glorified ideal that is part and parcel of our own national identity, and that she is brought to life by literature, glossies, and the silver screen.

We secretly love our suffragettes, our flappers, our screen sirens, our bohemians, even if they never quite existed… we secretly cherish the incorrigible tomboy, that vulgar flirt, that stubborn, independent pioneer girl, that infinitely romantic notion of American womanhood, that freedom and grit and spirit.

The article is available for viewing online via the Financial Times website. Also worth reading is the shorter article at the bottom, ‘Gossip Girl’ as American Woman by executive producer Stephanie Savage (what a great name, huh?).

Go: American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity. May 5, 2010–August 15, 2010. Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, 2nd floor. Opening Gala to take place on April 3, 2010.

American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity will explore developing perceptions of the modern American woman from 1890 to 1940 and how they have affected the way American women are seen today. Focusing on archetypes of American femininity through dress, the exhibition will reveal how the American woman initiated style revolutions that mirrored her social, political, and sexual emancipation. “Gibson Girls,” “Bohemians,” and “Screen Sirens,” among others, helped lay the foundation for today’s American woman.

The exhibition is made possible by Gap.
Additional support is provided by Condé Nast (Vogue)

A related exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection (May 7–August 1), will highlight masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection.

People like taking pictures of food
April 7, 2010, 11:35 am
Filed under: Read | Tags: , , , ,

Surprise! (Not.)

I’ve been on the food photographing boat for several years now for precisely the same reason as Tucker Shaw of the Denver Post:

Moreover, the pictures set off memories and emotions in a way a written journal could not. “I remember every single day, who I was with, what I was feeling,” he said.

When I am old and gray and full of sleep and nodding by the fire, pick up my laptop and slowly browse my pictures, I’ll dream of the soft look my eyes had once while eating. I’ll think how many loved my moments of gratuitous food porn, and loved my food porn with hunger false or true. (Thank you, William Butler Yeats – When You Are Old)

I don’t photograph food exclusively; I’m pretty much obsessed with capturing as many experiences as possible now so that if such a time should come where my memory fails me, I’ll be ready. When I am wrinkly, immobile, and a little forgetful, I will have tangible reminders of the fulfilling and blessed life I have led: the people I have met, the places I have been, the things that I have done, the food that I have eaten.

This reflection seems especially apropo on my birthday. La vie est belle.