Monday, December 19, 2016

A Rivington Street Memoir

Music All Night, Drug-dealing All Day &
Law and Order All the Time:
Rivington Street Memories 

Susan Chrysler White. She was the catalyst. Richard and I had been living in Philadelphia for over 20 years. Each day I would do my reverse train commute from center city Philly to the Main Line suburb of Radnor. That's where the company I worked for, Fidelity Life, had moved from center city.

Reading my New York Times on the train, the urge to be in New York City would get in my head and make me crazy. One day Richard told me that Susan Chrysler White was moving to Red Hook, Brooklyn. Susan taught painting and drawing at Tyler School of Art where Richard also taught.

That was it. The time bomb went off in my head. If Susan was moving to New York, so would we. Within a week I had the plan in motion. It was 1985, and we were moving to New York City too!

Our building at 159 Rivington Street in New York City.
 Lindemann's Pharmacy was on the first floor. 
Our 1,000 square foot loft was the third floor.
I am standing with Richard. Richard's daughter,
Dianna Cramer, is on the right.

Barry Blinderman, who ran the Semaphore Gallery in the East Village, lived on the second floor. Mr. LaFortune, a Haitian man, lived on the fourth floor. He had divided his apartment into a warren of rooms where other families lived. When we were fixing up our space, Richard had to install drip pans in the kitchen because of leaks coming from Mr. LaFortune's kitchen. Later we learned that when Mr. LaFortune defrosted his refrigerator, he simply pulled the plug, letting the ice melt on the floor and leak through to our ceiling.

MaryAnn, a filmmaker, and David Sipress an artist, occupied the back half of the fourth floor. MaryAnn had installed a huge editing machine in her tiny cubicle of a space, and David made quirky wood sculptures. David now draws ironic cartoons for the New Yorker Magazine.
Richard shopping at the Korean greengrocer
on the corner of Clinton and Rivington.

The first week that we spent in New York, I was astounded that loud music played all night. Drug-dealing was constant on the street, and Law and Order, the television show, was always shooting episodes in our neighborhood. One morning I stepped out of our front door and found a filmmaker, in his director's chair, perched on our doorstep. "Excuse me, sir," I said, as I passed daintily in my Armani suit, "may I continue on to the real world?"
Hanging with Dianna Cramer and Richard
in front of ABC NO RIO, an alternative, and I
mean alternative, art-performance space across the
street from our building. I am wearing a
Streit's Matzos cap. Streits was on the corner of 
Rivington and Suffolk Streets. 
The mural at ABC NO RIO changed every so often.
That kept things interesting.
On weekends, kid from the suburbs dressed up
in kilts and spiky purple hair and drank beer on the sidewalk.
Dianna Cramer, and her husband, Michael
Miller on Rivington.
It was a Dominican neighborhood, and
fruit ices were sold from carts in warm weather.
 Stopping by an abandoned car on Delancey Street
on a summer morning.
Me in my corporate look walking to work.
Me with a fixer-upper.
Me posing for a brochure for
 Guardian Investor Services,
my New York job.

If this post has made you yearn for more,
listen to this interview I did with Tobi Elkin,
for the Lower East Oral History Project of the
New York Public Library.

Listen here:

À Bientôt!

P.S. Susan Chrysler White lives in Iowa now.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Shoe Biz

The Ballet Flat That Fits
A ballet flat can never be a ten. (Wink, wink, get it?)

Recently I purchased the most dreamy ballet flats. I bought the shoes in three colors: black, ultramarine blue and poppy red. They are from a company called Margaux, and they are custom-made to fit my feet, bunions and all.

When I worked in business, I wore only black flats of the Armani brand. These I usually paired with black tights. Very bohemian, Greenwich Village in a corporate world. Really, I had to have flats because I was running around all day -- to the print shop, to meetings and up and down the staircase so I didn't have to wait for an elevator. Besides, I view a shoe with heels as an instrument of torture.
Classic Margaux suede flats
displayed in their West 20th Street showroom.
The color palette will augment
any wardrobe.
 You can order this darling fit kit
from Margaux to measure
your own feet, in case you happen to
live far from New York City,
in a red state, for instance.
The contents of the fit kit.
 Margaux was founded in 2015.
Left: Alexa Buckley, a co-founder,
 right: Gavriella Wolf, production manager.
If you go to the showroom,
Augusta Winthrop will fit you for
your new flats.
Margaux wants to redefine how shoes
 are sized and sold.
Pointy Toes.
The shoes are hand-crafted in family-owned
factories in Spain and New York.
A custom shoe with a satin bow
made for a designer's runway show.
Careful thought and design expertise has gone 
into the packaging and presentation of the shoes.
The shipping box.
The shoe box.
 Each pair comes with a
soft, felt bag.
I use these when I travel.
 My poppy red ballet flats
nestled in their tissue bed.
 The poppy reds and ultramarines.
My new Margaux flats in my
shoe closet.
I put the little red and blue
pieces of felt on the tabs for
quick identification of the shoe color.

À Bientôt!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Autumn Picture Op

Creative Friends
We got together with some stylish, creative people at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in the West Village. There's also an East Village and a Greenwich Village, which actually may encompass parts of the West Village, in New York City. It takes a village for 14 creative, lively and colorful people to have lunch at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.

The occasion was the visit to New York of two California ladies, Suzi Click and Gretchen Schields. Now that Ari Seth Cohen, Advanced Style blogger, movie maker and author of two Advanced Style books, has moved to Los Angeles, we New York style mavens are getting to meet our west coast friends, through the style auspices of Ari.
 Gretchen Schields, jewelry maker.
Gretchen lives in Laguna, California.
She is wearing one of her own creations.
More on Gretchen here.
Suzi Click, creator of artisan apparel
and accessories.
Suzi is from Los Angeles.
She is wearing a hat, jacket and jewelry
of her own design.
More on Suzi here.
After our lunch we walked to the Greenwich Village
home of Alice Carey. 
L to R: Suzi Click, Gretchen Shields and Elke Kuhn.
Elke is wearing a fabulous necklace of her own design.
She really got into the cowgirl spirit with her boots,
hat and saddle-shaped bag.
There was a flurry of picture taking in Alice's
courtyard. Me wearing La Cerise sur Le Chapeau hat adorned
with a Dulken and Derrick orange rose, beads of my own creation,
Agnès b. blouse and my new Margaux custom
ultramarine ballet flats.
Photo courtesy of Diana Gabriel.
 Arlinda and Alice Carey.
 Joyce Carpati
 Diana Gabriel wearing
earrings of her own design.
 Couple-about-town, Eva Kobus-Webb and
Bill Webb.
 Debra Rapoport, milliner 
and creatrice extraordinaire.
Ari Seth Cohen, Richard Cramer and moi.
Other friends,
other times.
 Sue Kreitzman, artist and jewelry maker,
was in New York in August.
We got together at The Crosby Hotel for tea.
 We attended the opening of a show of drawings by
Joana Avillez at The Picture Room.
Joana, wearing a spectacular citron-hued coat,
is on the right.
With her is Valerie of The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas.
 At The Picture Room.
Valerie and Jean, The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas, and me.
Photo by Joana Avillez
Jean is wearing one of my
bead necklaces.

À Bientôt!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Nantucket Idle, Part I

A Wedding on the
Island of Nantucket
The Thursday before Labor Day, the Delancey car service driver picked me up for a trip to JFK. I was heading to a tiny island in the Atlantic, 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I was meeting girl friends, and we were attending a posh wedding.

As I waited in the Jet Blue lounge for the 45-minute flight, I noticed people in their white pants and navy blazers, or khaki shorts and pink, polo shirts. These travelers were no doubt familiar with the native costumes of Nantucket. This was my first trip. I was dressed in black, save for a bright yellow scarf and a blue and white striped St. James tee.

How happy I was to be off for the weekend. I would be sharing a B&B with my Elmira College roommate, Tobi. There would be lots of dressing up for parties, plenty of time to shop, and luncheons of lobster rolls and rosé wine.

Happy Camper-dom.
Let loose in a town full of shops, I found these tassels
normally meant to adorn camels.
When hippie met preppy....

The folkloric looks is very big this year.
 The sitting room of the suite I shared with my friend, Tobi.
 There were good paintings in the inn, done
by the mother of the current owner, Jeannette.

 Jeannette's father made this hooked rug.
Our inn -- The Chestnut House.
 A florist next-door to our inn had loaded
his van with gorgeous hydrangea bouquets.
 If the shops were on the conservative side,
they were still charming.
And who knows when a crisp, cotton shirt
will be just the thing?
 So New England.
Toggery is attire. The word was first used in 1810.
 My days were spent wandering about.
 What lovely accessories lie within?

 A red MG laden with hat boxes
led to a search for a shop.
 Breakfast at Black-eyed Susan's.
 Classic bags discovered at Dokkim.
Reader, I purchased a Dokkim bag.
This was my outfit for party at the Sankaty Head
Golf Club on night two of the festivities.
Night one was the rehearsal dinner.
Tobi and I displayed our accessories 
on the mantel in our room.
 A funny bag.
 He of the red MG.
Mr. Peter Beaton's shop.
 Choose your trims.

Tobi got these chic shoes at the
Charleston Shoe Company.

 A beautiful evening at the Sankaty Head Golf Club.
 Picture perfect.
The sea is beyond.
 Guests enjoy the cool breeze.
 This lovely lady wore the best colors.
 Playing taps at sunset.
 The bride and groom had such lovely friends.
 A bright-blue blazer bucks the navy tradition.
 Delightful young people ending
the summer.

A vintage flag in a shop reminds me
of Richard Cramer, living the high life in NYC.

Or it could stand for Richard and Carol.

À Bientôt!