Sunday, November 29, 2009

Julian Plenti is Skyscraper...

I was incredibly fortunate to check out Julian Plenti at the Bowery Ballroom this week. Julian Plenti is the alter ego of Paul Banks, lead singer of another favourite band Interpol. The last few times I have visited New York I have managed to miss Interpol gigs by days, never managing to get my travel arrangements sorted to see them. This time it all worked out and I got to see this great gig in one of the famous/infamous venues in NYC.

The Bowery Ballroom
is a beautiful and intimate space, reminiscent of the old Metro in Melbourne with it's viewing levels but is about the size of the Corner Hotel!

The support band was a local group called I am You (not to be confused with the Aussie group You am I). Julian Plenti played as a five piece including an amazing young man on cello! I have to admit that I did find the other guitarist pretty annoying, anyone would of thought it was his group not Paul Banks, and his over the top antics were quite distracting alongside the serenity of Paul Banks.

The group played a few covers as well, including a beautiful version of A Horse with No Name. Thank you Julian/Paul! I feel incredibly lucky to have seen the gig!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

More Marimekko goodness!

Thank you to the Marimekko website which is where I got these images from! Here are some goodies that I picked up at the shop. I was really happy to visit the store in New York which is small but has loads of stock. I was also really pleased that they had lots of items in my size!

The new 'rabbit print' is one of my favourites! I bought this long sleeve t-shirt and I love the fact that it has a front and back!

I also got the rabbit print dress, however mine is in black and white print. I love the overlapping of the rabbits which is essential Marimekko design.

I also got this gorgeous little dress. It's much shorter than what I would normally wear but with tights it looks great! I love the little flare on the side and it is lined in yellow! It also has pockets which I am a big fan of! I will definitely be visiting again before I leave NYC!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

New York, New York it's a hell of a town...

Yes, I've arrived back in Manhattan for what will be the remainder of my trip... except for a few days in Maine again. I took the limoliner from Boston to NYC which was pretty comfortable and cruisey. I love that most of the transportation around here has wifi on it!

After arriving I headed to my hotel in midtown, changed and then met my friend Evan at Vynl for dinner and drinks before making our way to Posh bar for bingo night! I was pretty unlucky for the night with most of my boards not coming close to winning, though Evan won a round as did some people around us. Our host Ginger Snaps was incredibly amusing and the free pizza was also good!

It felt like I had come home again, catching up with old friends and making my way around the city without too much of a thought. Was a great night and looking forward to bingo night next week too.

The Gathering of Books

notes from russia inside book

One of the things I love about travelling is buying new and different books that I can’t get back home. Here is a list of kinds of some of the books that I’ve picked up while away:

  • Sarah Lucas Au Naturel by Amna Malik published by Afterall Books. A great little book that looks at the works by British artist Sarah Lucas.
  • The Sewing Bible: a modern manual of practical and decorative sewing techniques by Ruth Singer published by Potter Craft. This is a newly released book and covers things such as French seams, how to insert zips in a variety of ways and all of that kind of thing. I bought it as it’s always good to have ‘how to books’ with sewing and knitting and this one is pretty with some cute projects as well.
  • The Eastern and Central European Kitchen: contemporary and classic recipes by Silvena Rowe. I got this book at the awesome book shop Rabelais in Portland Maine. it’s got some great recipes but I think needs it’s own post!
  • My Name is Charles Saatchi and I am an Artoholic by Phaidon books. This is a cute little book that is like a very extended interview with art collector Charles Saatchi. It’s pretty funny and a lovely insight into the man.
  • Pints and Purls: portable projects for the social knitter by Karinda Collins and libby Bruce. Covers projects that you can knit in pubs while drinking… my kind of book.
  • The Curator’s Egg by Karsten Schubert looks at the evolution of the museum concept from the French Revolution to the present day.
  • Notes from Russia by Alexei Plutser-Sarno is a portrait of the Russian street told through public notices. A beautiful look at the everyday idea of Russia, I love the typography of the notes also.
  • Art Now volume 2 by Taschen. I have the first volume of this book and I got this copy for $5! It’s a great reference for myself and other young artists as well.
  • Vans “Off the Wall” Stories of Sole from Vans Originals by Doug Palladini. A great historical and personal look at people who wear vans shoes (I’m a fan!)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Babushka... matryoska...

As a child I was a little obsessed with the Kate Bush song and film clip for Babooska. I don't know if this had any kind of influence on my love for matryoska dolls (or Babushka dolls) but I do remember watching the film clip on Saturday morning television and being mesmerized by the dance moves and switch from black leotard to the above foxy/warrior woman outfit in the chorus.

My new friend Silje who is a native Norwegian did the gorgeous matryoska design above. I love it so much, it is a modern take on the doll but the body is still very traditional. I also think that her face is very expressive. You can check out Silje's flickr page here and her wonderful etsy store here! Stay tuned for another matryoska surprise soon!

Matryoska bag

While I've been in Portland Maine, I found this really cute store called Eli-phant which is on Congress Street up near the excellent Squid and Whale Tattoo. I spyed this cute matryoska bag in the window and had to buy it! Check them out, they stock beautiful artist made prints and other goodies, so support artists who make cool stuff! The girl in the store was lovely and we had lots of chats about comics, tapestry and printmaking.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cat woman...

Cat balaclava

Oh my! I had to buy this balaclava. Partially as it's a little ridiculous, a little creepy but also because of my love for weird and ugly cat things (not my awesome engagement ring though!)

I have to say...

...and emerged! It's pretty warm in there

It's pretty bloody warm in that thing!!! Breathe, breathe!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Harvard Travellers Club...

Harvard travellers club dinner

Menu from the evening and the nifty 'Harvard Travellers Club' notebook too!

I had the fortune to go with my Boston host Anita to the 800th meeting of the Harvard Travellers Group. It was a big dinner group of about 150 visitors and the guest speaker was Conrad Anker. Conrad was the man who discovered George Mallory’s body on Mount Everest (please excuse any details that I may be getting mixed up or wrong here - I’m not an expert on any of these matters!).

His talk and presentation was amazing!!! It was inspiring, funny and very entertaining. He talked about a recent expedition to climb a mountain in India. Amongst some tough times, they fell 100 metres short of the summit! So close yet so far away.

The Boston Harvard Club itself is pretty amazing. I think I have some research to do on the origins of their tapestries that hang in the main hall… really beautiful stuff.

Dinner was pretty special too. My favourite part was the dessert which reminded me of my mum’s ice-cream Christmas puddings (I think there was a good dose of rum in there!) The menu was a re-creation of the menu served at a dinner given to Theodore Roosevelt at the Exchange Blub boston, on December 12, 1911, at which the former President told of his then recent East African safari… bit of a history lesson for us all!

Here's a bit more info on Conrad's talk from my host Anita:

In September of 2008 Conrad Anker and his partners attempted to climb Mount Meru, a 6,310-meter peak in the Garwhal Himalaya of India. Their goal was the Shark’s Fin, a massive high altitude wall that had yet to be climbed despite attempts by many climbers. A week-long storm pinned the team at 5,300 meters. In perhaps the toughest climb of their lives, Conrad and his teammates delved deep into their souls to find the will to continue. The team spent 19 days on the route, including 17 days on the wall, despite having just 10 days of rations with them. Low on endurance and faced with the prospect of negotiating a large granite block that would have meant a night exposed to the elements, they turned back. While they did not make the summit, they cherish the climb for the lessons learned along the way – particularly the role that teamwork and trust plays in surviving difficult times.

Conrad Anker has made a specialty of climbing the most technically challenging terrain he can find. This search has taken him from the mountains of Alaska and Antarctica, to the big walls of Patagonia and Baffin, as well as the massive peaks of the Himalaya. His climbing resume includes first ascents in three regions of Antarctica, all three towers of the Cerro Torre group in Patagonia, including new routes on two of them, and climbs of Latok II and Spansar Peak in Pakistan's Karakorum. Among rock climbers at Yosemite and Zion he is well respected for his numerous speed ascents on El Capitan and difficult new lines that have yet to see second ascents. In addition to all of this, Conrad has reached the summit of Everest on two occasions, the first time as a member of the Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition of 1999. On that occasion Conrad discovered the body of George Mallory, the preeminent Everest explorer of the 1920s.

Conrad is active in numerous charitable causes, including serving on the board of the Conservation Alliance, the Rowell Fund for Tibet and the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation."

Marimekko and Design Research...

Boston has one of the limited Marimekko concept stores in the USA so I was pretty excited to go and check it out. Anita one of my hosts in Boston, took me to the store. Anita is a long time lover and wearer of Marimekko so it was no surprise that when you added us two girls together that it was slight chaos in the store. It felt like we tried on almost everything! We would put something on, come out and show the other, go back in and try something else. There was also a lot of running around the store in our outfits without shoes on, looking for another special piece.

There was so much to choose from! I ended up not going too insane and purchased a series of gorgeous linen printed tea towels for our very retro looking kitchen in Melbourne. I also got 2 long sleeve t-shirts, one in the classic Marimekko stripes, another with a lovely rabbit print on it. I also managed to finally buy one of the cute rain ponchos. I have been looking at these for ages and there were 2 left in the store, black with a lining of black and white polka dots. The great thing about these rain ponchos is they pack away into their own carry bag and are light and little for travelling. When I had my rain poncho on, Anita squealed with “where did you find that?!” and ended up buying the remaining poncho also. We are now officially Marimekko rain poncho twins!

Marimekko tea towels

Luckily during my time in Boston, there has been on display a series of vintage Marimekko pieces as well as other vintage items that you would of found at a store that was a bit of an institution called ‘Design Research’. Unfortunately the store is no more but it was great to go and view from the outside the 3 levels of dresses, fabrics, furnishing and homewares, all set up. It was a little difficult to take photos but I tried and they are here on flickr. There are several articles on the former store and this display which you can also find on the internet. I took quite a few photos from outside which you can find on my flickr site.

Boston design research 024

Oh Boston, how I love your Marimekko store and your beautiful fabrics!

Yay for Mittens...

So with the change from the west coast of the USA to the east coast, came the cooler weather. I actually love the cooler weather, jackets, boots and scarfs. I don’t think that I was actually quite prepared for the change from about 26 degrees to about 10 degrees and it has taken me about a week to acclimatise to the change.

The cooler weather, joined with having spare time on my holidays meant that I thought I should pick up some knitting needles! I had been looking at mittens and knitted hats but hadn’t been able to find anything that appealed or that fitted my giant hands appropriately. Luckily there is a great little yarn store in Brookline called a good yarn, close to where I am staying so I have made several trips to purchase some patterns and yarns that I can’t get in Australia. I have picked up all the necessary equipment to start knitting away on some mittens.

One mitten complete!

I have knitted all sorts of things over the years but never attempted mittens before. My first attempt in a gorgeous variegated Noro yarn wasn’t too bad. However I think I got carried away on my second mitten and it is slightly longer than the other - my friend Jess said I should of made lobster mittens, being in Boston. Yes, one claw bigger than the other! Well after this first attempt I have gone mitten crazy! I am working on a pair for my host Bud Collins, who described my mittens as ‘Hall of Fame mittens’, which inspired me to keep on the mitten madness.

It’s quite fun to be knitting away on some small projects that I can take away with me but also wear in this cooler weather. The great thing about mittens also is that my giant engagement ring fits inside!

Yay for knitting, yay for mittens and yay for friends who are happy to be the recipients of the mittens also!

Urban Burp Fabrics San Francisco

During one of our crazy walks around San Francisco, we stumbled upon this store purely by chance. It looked really interesting and like it had some great fabrics, though it was closed. (Even though the sign said open!)

We made the trip back after I checked the opening hours on the internet, only to find a “Back in 15 minutes” sign on the door!!! Was I destined not to buy anything from this store?! We waited on the steps only to be told by a security guard that we couldn’t sit there as it was loitering!! They ended up letting us stay as we said that we were just waiting for the store to reopen.

It was definitely worth the wait. Urban Burp is a treasure trove of authentic vintage goodies. The owner is a wealth of knowledge. I could of gone absolutely nuts buying up stuff but ended up with 2 lengths of fabric to make dresses out of. I must email them to get the exact years of them but they are mighty cute! Stay tuned for photos of them made up when I get back to Melbourne!

Fabric from urban burp in SF abstract martinisAlign Center

I love this 60s number with it's abstracted designs... I see abstracted martini glasses and power lines! Love it!
fabric from urban burp in SF

This one I saw immediately when I walked into the store and had to have it. I love the contrasts between the graphic background with the beautiful 'etched' images of ships almost collaged on. I think that both will become dresses!

Leaving San Francisco...

A painted wall we saw in SF

I thought I'd share one of the last weird images that we saw in San Francisco... Is your dog bulimic?

I’m feeling quite bad that I haven’t done any blogging for about a week but I haven’t had my internet connected to my lap top only my phone, apologies if you have been dying to hear what I have been doing.

Mark and I spent our last few days in San Francisco lapping up the sunshine. It had been beautiful weather pretty much the whole time we had been there and barely any fog, which I hear is quite rare. We did spend a drunken evening at a tiny cool bar called The Owl Tree, we were lured in for the $3 pints and ended up staying from 4pm in the afternoon until midnight. Needless to say we had quite the hangovers the next day and ended up at the Burger Bar for some much needed sodas, fries and burgers.

Mark left San Francisco to head back to Melbourne, leaving me to catch my flight to Boston. The good news is the coat that Mark lost at Sydney airport on his way to SF was handed in and he got it back during his stop over! Amazing really. We had a bit of a laugh about his coat holidaying in Sydney while we were overseas. It was a bit of a blessing as he never needed it during our holiday as it was so warm.

I flew to Boston with Virgin America which I would highly recommend to fly with. Very comfortable seats and great staff. After off loading a whole heap of my luggage to Mark to take back with him, my suitcase was under the domestic weight range so I didn’t have to pay a huge amount to check it!

Just for a some photos, here are the cute vans that I got on sale at Urban Outfitters for $29, yep, happy bargain!

Vans deconstructed in checked cool

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dia de los muertos - Day of the Dead

Dia de los muertos in San Jose 1 November 2009 034 cropAlign Center

We managed to take part in two Day of the Dead festivities this year, one in San Jose and the other in San Francisco. The one in San Jose was held during the day on Sunday 1 November and was a lovely community based festival. It began in the park near the San Jose Museum of Modern Art and then they handed our marigold flowers and sticks of incense to the audience and we all 'paraded' behind the main group to a shrine. Everyone who had the marigold flowers then added them to a alter for the prayers.

I don't know too much about the formalities of the festival but I did feel that I learnt a bit from the San Jose festival. It was very family based and it was quite moving seeing people bring photos of loved ones who had passed away.

The parade in San Francisco was held on the evening of Monday 2 November in the Mission district. There was alot of people and had a very different feel to the other procession. I didn't take any photos as it was packed and the lighting was very dark. Many local San Francisconians seem to get involved and dress up and take part. However it seems to be a bit of a drunken party for many. For more photos from the San Jose event go to my flickr page!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Some Tasty, Tasty Treats...

So we have been eating ALOT while we are away and I thought that I should share some of the good eating experiences that we have had so far...

Iguanas is in San Jose and is the home of the burritozilla. It's this great little Mexican fast food place that is open until 3am on the weekends and turns out yummy nachos, tacos and burritos very quickly to the hungry and drunk masses. I love their nachos with the jack cheese, pinto beans and beef as well as the tiny taco... love the tiny taco!

We have also eaten at a fantastic Southern Mexican food place Mezcal in San Jose. Really authentic food that is fresh and delicious. The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable as well and when we looked unsure about what things were, they came and gave us little samples to help us out. They also look like they do some mean tequila cocktails so we may need to go back!

While in San Francisco we went to a tiny Italian place that felt like it was in the middle of nowhere but had some great food and wine! It's called Barbambino and they have taken on the multi plate, sharing food thing, like many of us are used to in Melbourne. The place was packed and we were lucky to get a table without making a reservation. We had a plate of hand cut prosciutto (yum, but we expected bread with it!), Mark had pasta with rabbit, I had pumpkin ravioli with an amaretto biscuit dressing, weird but delicious and we finished with a beautiful cheese platter which entailed having their cheese expert come and talk to us. The food was excellent, service a little on the pretentious side, however in a country where we thought that 'share plates' would be bigger than Texas, it certainly was not! I got 6 ravioli!!! Yum but still a little hungry if you get what I mean. Definitely recommend to visit, just order a little more.

An Aussie getting into a little Halloween spirit

The MaMas decided to try and get into some Halloween spirit in San Jose by seeing a zombie film, on Halloween eve. There is a huge cinema complex opposite our hotel so it seemed like something fun to do. We had a choice between Where the Wild Things Are and Zombieland, the latter seemed to get us into the Halloween spirit. I even wore my 'In Case of zombies' hoodie from Threadless so I felt very prepared.

We didn't count on some weird Christian people in the plaza ranting about God and Satan, at first I wasn't sure if they were just joking around. They looked a little too punk rock in their leather jackets with I heart God on the back of them. It was a little confrontational and bizarre but did put us in the mood for some violent zombie killing action.

The film was great! Very entertaining, enough gore and guts but also very funny. Woody Harrelson was hilarious and so was Bill Murray's cameo, though I am unsure of this 'Ghostbusters 3'?!!! All in all a great night that ended with our favourite Mexican fast food, Iguanas! Yum!
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