College Application: FIT, 1997.

My wacky uncle helped me with my winning application to the Fashion Institute of Technology. This poster was part one. I should note that it was mostly written by my uncle, he has limited knowledge of the fashion world. Uncle B. worked for the public access television station in Bennington, Vermont (CAT-TV), so we put together a glamorous video of me modeling my odd collection, complete with mixtape music and carefully selected images projected as my background. Part two of the application, VHS in the mail. I also remember writing a very cerebral, stream of consciousness essay about mascara and the creative effects of the sun filtering through heavy velvet drapes. Art school!

$100,000.00 Reward

for the holder of this photo:

Shown here is one of the earliest known photographs of Jamie C'menlio, who is perhaps today's most hip and eloquent designer. The picture, which shows the acclaimed Ms. C'menlio modeling a vintage Jean Paul Gaultier ensemble is all the more rare because it was snapped by the late Gianni Versace during one of his summer residencies in the Soho section of Watertown, New York, the world-renowned art community.
Money for the photo--which, if found, will be donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art's Fashion archive--has been raised by many luminaries including Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, Issac Mizrahi, Todd Oldham, Anna Sui, and Vera Wang...
To be sure, there has been much controversy surrounding this case. There have been several reported hoaxes involving the famed "Girl by the Chair", as the picture has become known, including one of a man claiming to be the designer's uncle, Bob Comenole, now serving federal time in Leavenworth Prison for the fraud.

To contact Mr. Comenole {who remains defiant, insisting that the celebrity is in fact his niece} in his prison cell, you may e-mail directly: Inmate RJC111157

To see more of Ms. C'menlio's work, see:
La nouvelle collection COUTURE

I remember the day I got my acceptance letter. My mother had gone out of town and so I threw the most fun house party in history. Legendary I say. We danced so much that frozen windows shattered. The neighborhood death metal band, Pagan Holiday, attended. Costumed photo shoots took place in the snow banks out front. Someone slipped on a banana peel. That resulted in an seemingly infinte round of laughter. It was unforgettable. Early the following morning a friend, who had arrived very late to the party, surprised us with a box full of breakfast treats. When I opened the door to greet him, I also brought in the mail. There it was. And it was equally nerve wracking and amazing, opening it with all of my best friends around me, wearing remnants of my costumes, in a dreamy post-party afterglow.


Sedmikrásky, Véra Chytilová, 1966

I absolutely loved this piece of dance theater.

Some of my favorite clips.

Butterfly montage.

As they travel in a service elevator they view each passing floor through a 
small window, as if they were looking through a film strip.

Fun with scissors.

Cleaning up the table: wearing newspaper and whispering in loops 


Sofra Is The New Cookies and Couscous (or I'm Hungry!)

The only picture I could find! Cookies and Couscous
Vegetarian, small town, 1990's: I lived on couscous because it was available at the local market, inexpensive, exotic, and most importantly, easy to cook in five minutes.

So it would make sense that one of my favorite places, once I moved to New York City, would be Cookies and Couscous (read a nice NYT review here), in the West Village.  I went to this magical place every single chance I could get, which is saying a lot because I rarely ate at restaurants during the first few years as a student in New York. Mostly I ate bagels and pizza like any sane college student paying $600 a month in rent would do.

But Cookies and Couscous was an enigma. I HAD to take every one I knew there. Every celebration was had there. Dates and birthdays. I even took the parents of friends. The food was just delicious. It felt good in there too; warm, inviting, transporting. An oasis, oh yes, if you'll allow me to get Orientalist. The chef, from Morocco, was always around, mingling with the crowd, making everyone feel right at home. There are few places in New York that have this feeling, even back then. I can only think of one other, a delightful (and closet sized) Egyptian restaurant on Astoria Blvd. in Queens directly across the street from my first apartment. There is no menu, the chef chats with you for a minute and then custom makes your meal.

Mombar Restaurant, Queens, NY.
After tasting the venerable Bertillon sorbet on a romantic trip to Paris (try the cassis), I tried the sorbet at Cookies and Couscous. The taste inspired physical, sensory memories of France. I suppose the French-ness of this Moroccan place is evidence of days of colonialism or it's just because the French sorbet is the best in the world.

Bertillon in Paris.

These are the things I live for, a taste or scent that puts you back in time and space with such an uncanny feeling it's supernatural. I have little containers that still hold key scents from high school, though I'm reluctant to open them because each time some escapes. I wish I had Maude's olfactory machine.

And then, one sad day, without warning Cookies and Couscous was gone. Clearly I still dream of the many past adventures.

Nothing had really ever come close to that experience, until I moved to Cambridge. My absolute favorite place in the world right now is thankfully in my own neighborhood and it is Sofra. Although it's not the place to celebrate birthdays or drink lots of wine after a major bonding session (there is no alcohol and thy close around 6), it is the place that I excitedly take everyone I know. It is a reminder of all the friends and family that have visited, of sweet adventures like the Lilac Festival and apres-ski feasting, and quiet moments spent enjoying good things.

Middle Eastern textiles and copper tables inside.
Some of my favorites: 
shakshuka: a Tunisian/Israeli dish of poached eggs in a curried tomato sauce with pita, chocolate hazelnut baklava, parsnip skordalia with toasted almonds, Turkish breakfast: soft-boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, olives, feta, thick yogurt with spoon sweets, Persian doughnuts with tahini inside, everything pistachio, etc. etc. Also, it lies on the border of Cambridge and Watertown, aka Little Armenia (for more treats!). Alex and I went yesterday to try the outstanding Watermelon Gazpacho, specifically. Tasting it, I had a full body memory of Cookies and Couscous, after all they had a similar gazpacho with watermelon and lavender that we have, for years, been trying to recreate.

People in Cambridge, Boston, and beyond: go to Sofra! Every single thing is delightful.


Çatal Hüyük, Werner Herzog, and Wall Painting.

This reproduction depicts the prehistoric village of Çatal Hüyük in Turkey (7500-5700 BCE) from an aerial perspective. All of the buildings were linked together and entrance was through the roof, so instead of streets on the ground, they were on top of domestic dwellings. According to some archaeologists, the brightly colored triangular form may represent an erupting volcano, Hasan Dağ, located just beyond the village. There is also some speculation that the yellow form is an apotropaic leopard pelt. This may be the oldest known map, but since the original Neolithic painting was found in a house shrine, it may also have some kind of religious significance. 

In Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Herzog points out proto-cinematic drawings in Chauvet Cave, France (32,000 BCE). No ordinary person will ever see these very important Paleolithic paintings, some of the earliest works of art, in person. Thankfully we have this film, which provides something close to the experience


Illustration of Elephants, Persian, 1295.

This image seems to be generating a lot of interest on my other blog, weirdolovesyou, which got me excited about it all over again. 

From the Manafi’ al-Hayawan (Usefulness of Animals), by Ibn Bakhtishu', 1295.
 The Morgan Library and Museum, NY.

I found this special painting while researching something completely different (medieval Hispanic liturgy).  The colors and patterning are just spectacular. I love the gold disc jewelry and the sort of cozy feeling created by the curvilinear forms that fit into one another. The foliage and birds are pretty fantastic as well. This is an illumination from a bestiary, a medieval compendium of beasts that describes the functional, symbolic, often religious meaning of animals and plants.

In the 11th century a Persian known as Ibn Bakhtishu was a physician to the Abbassid Caliph in Baghdad. Bakhtishu compiled information about various animals, mainly featuring any healing qualities that they might possess. Two centuries after he wrote it, the work was translated from Arabic into Persian and illustrated with 94 charming miniatures (Great Ages of Man: Early Islam1968, by Desmond Stewart).

According to Stewart's translation of Ibn Bakhtishu, "An elephant lives three or four hundred years; the animals with the longer tusks have a longer life. The elephant is afraid of a young pig and a horned ram but he is annoyed most of all by the gnat and the mouse. One dram of his ivory is good for leprosy; his fat relieves headaches when it is burned and the patient sits on the fumes."

The incredibly detailed look at The Morgan Library & Museum gives me goosebumps.

Shroud of St. Josse, 961, Musée du Louvre

I'm still attracted to medieval images of elephants ever since the Shroud of St. Josse project from my first semester at Tufts.

Oof, the roughest semester, but so long ago now!

There are still many mysteries surrounding this Persian shroud from the tenth century, and the only two articles written on it, as of 2010, are old, in French, and mostly technical. It is a silk textile, embroidered with Kufic script, Bactrian camels, and caparisoned elephants. The textile itself may have been the very same decorative cover that the embroidered elephants are wearing. We don't know for sure what the function of this textile was since there are only two small scraps left. It was brought to France after the Crusades and used to wrap the relics of St. Josse in his monastery. Since the textile was made in proximity to the Holy Land and considered a souvenir from the Holy War, (reclaiming Jerusalem from Muslims) it empowered the relics and church in France.