Friday, May 4, 2012

New York A GO-GO

Let's go to Rissin's!

A few months ago I purchased a beautiful, multi-strand blue-glass bead necklace at The Family Jewels, a vintage store in Chelsea. But when I wore it, the clasp broke. What to do? We go to Rissin's!
Rissin's is located on 47th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, the area known as the Diamond District of New York City. It's a one-room office on the 9th floor of a big jewelry building where you have to show your driver's license to get in just in case you are planning to rob the joint.

Joe Rissin, the guy who fixes the jewelry, is a character, to put it mildly. There always seems to be some blond dame in his tiny office although I haven't the faintest idea what the attraction is. When I showed Joe the necklace, he said it was impossible to fix the clasp. The problem was the necklace was strung on monofilament -- fishing line -- and the strands would break if he tried anything. I got an earful on how bad monofilament is for stringing necklaces. Then he kept talking, and finally came up with a solution. Fine and dandy. I leave the necklace with Joe.
Joe looking over a job.
Joe's work table.
Next thing I know, I get home to find a message on my answering machine from Joe. He's hysterical because the beads broke and went all over the floor. He says he thinks he found all of them. Now the necklace has to be restrung (his wife Tobi can do it) and not on the damn monofilament. What do I want to do? Well, I can't get back to Joe immediately, because his daughter just had a baby, and Joe is in North Carolina at the Bris.

When Joe returns, I telephone him and tell him to go ahead and restring the necklace. A couple of weeks pass -- the necklace is ready. I go up to Joe's place to pick it up. When I walk in, Joe is ecstatic. The necklace looks beautiful. Then he tells me a story about how he worked on an emerald necklace that Donald Trump was buying for Ivana. And how a Brink truck delivered the emeralds out to his house on Long Island and his wife strung the necklace on the kitchen table. And when The Donald and Ivana got a divorce, the necklace got sold.
So I try on the necklace for Joe. He opines that maybe it would look better on a solid color. I say no, it looks great on this floral print blouse from Zara. It helps that I am wearing an Amy Downs hat from the old days on the Lower East Side when she had her store next to Mary Adams' The Dress on Stanton and Ludlow.

Where to Park Your Apple
Walking up West 11th Street, I saw this place where you can park your MAC, iPhone or iPad.

Let's Go for an Italian Lunch, Part One: DiPalo's
Last week I had to get new lenses for my sunglasses at Optical 88 on the corner of Hester and Mott Streets in Chinatown. Psst --- une bonne adresse -- for very reasonable lenses. Après, I walked up to Grand and Mott to DiPalo's, the legendary Italian grocery store. My goal: provisions for lunch.

On the Way...
This glistening building is a new Wyndham hotel, smack dab
 in the middle of Chinatown at Bowery and Hester. 
Note to self: finally -- a place to put out-of-town guests.
You can have a good laugh at this florist.
 The prepared food case at DiPalo's.
A giant Easter candy.
Lou (Luigi) DiPalo, one of three siblings -- Marie and Sal are the other two -- who now run the store. DiPalo's grandparents began doing business in Little Italy in 1925. He's offering us a taste of the Prosciutto di Parma that we got for lunch.
We bought a hunk of this incredible Parmigiano Reggiano.

The DiPalo family back in the day.
The breads. I don't touch these.

The finest virgin olive oils from Italy.
Lunch is ready!

Let's Go for an Italian Lunch, Part Two: Mezzogiorno's
100 artists were commissioned to interpret the restaurant's theme
 of warm summer days in these Cornell-like boxes.

We've been going to Mezzogiorno, an Italian restaurant on the corner of Sullivan and Spring Streets in Soho for years. Carla Margulies D'Acierno, one of my college roommates who had lived in Rome, introduced us to the restaurant.

Mezzogirono used to be an artist's hangout in the heyday of art-gallery Soho in the 70s and 80s.  Maybe you can recognize some of the art-world luminaries in this Vanity Fair piece. For instance, Ileana Sonnabend, the gallery dealer and former wife of Leo Castelli, is sitting in the right corner with John Chamberlain, the sculptor who used smashed automobiles to make his art. Chamberlain died last year, and there is a retrospective of his work on view now at the Guggenheim Museum.
A John Chamberlain sculpture.
Leo Castelli, arguably the most well-known gallerist of his day, had his own table in a corner in the back of the restaurant. Artists still frequent the place. We saw Alex Katz and his wife, Ada, there one night. And we go there.
The food is very good at Mezzogiorno, which means noon in Italian.
 This is their wood-burning pizza oven.
The waiters are friendly.
 We had a delicious lunch and were on our way. Destination: Tucker on West Broadway.

Danger! Danger! Tucker Spring 2012 is Available Now
Enter at your Own Risk
I had a hidden agenda for lunch at Mezzogiorno. With me, there is almost always a hidden agenda, and it usually involves shopping. Thank you Gaby Basora for opening your charming, brick and mortar outpost at Broome and West Broadway.

My collage "C'est Aujourd'hui: I am Jolie Laide," hanging on the Tucker shop wall. Jolie Laide means pretty ugly in French, which was what Dianna Vreeland was often described as.

Shall I digress?
"Then there was the most terrible scene between my mother and me. One day she said to me, "It's too bad that you have such a beautiful sister and that you are so extremely ugly and so terribly jealous of her. This, of course, is why you are so impossible to deal with."
It didn't offend me that much. I simply walked out of the room. I never bothered to explain that I loved my sister and was more proud of her than of anything in the world, that I absolutely adored her....Parents, you know, can be terrible." DV by Dianna Vreeland
This is the proper way to display clothes -- with plenty of air between the hangers.
The most Spring-like print.

An Iris-print skirt. Lovely. J'adore long skirts. So Edwardian, feminine and modest.

Two of the charming and wonderfully mannered young ladies who work in the shop.
 I purchased this black and white rose-print ensemble.
 The rose is reminiscent of the designs of Paul Poiret.
The man with the Amex card is sitting in the foreground.

Dresses by Paul Poiret. More on Poiret another time. He deserves a post all to himself.
A Raoul Dufy design for Poiret's Martine line.
A Poiret Parasol.
The vendeuse wraps my purchases.

Frivolities in the window of the shop, Dear:Rivington.

Les décorations de Martine, Paul Poiret's home decor workshop.
À bientôt mes amis.


  1. Carol, you are an amazing story teller. I find myself smiling as I read this post as you provide a tour with photos of some of your favorite places. Love you Amy Downs hat - I have several in my collection!

  2. Wonderful post, full of humor and charming photos. I miss NYC, I have to visit there again soon. Thank you!