Luncheonette x Sartorialist

1980s bittersweet boots in the warmth of the studio, luncheonettevintage

same boots photographed freezing outside on the feet of this adorable girl, thesartorialist

Dog photo of the month

1940s kodacolor, vintagewarehouseny

What do I love about this photo? Who is this man paying attention to, trying to twist to smile for the camera and hold his beloved shepherd at the same time? And does that trio behind him care? Not a whit. They're in their Sunday best. Gloves and hats. And proudly so, with a little turn of the ankle, the better to show a tiny bit of leg. They know what matters.

The photographer snapped the shutter a bit too early, they probably said later, over coffee and cake. I'd disagree. And look at the shadow on the ground, that perfect shepherd profile, the tongue. The clearest face in the whole photo.

And I am a dog person. So here it is, the resplendent intersection of dog, vintage, and story. In its kodacolor glory.
And then the girlie flash 

reno tart earrings by katinkapinka
1950s cocoa gem clutch, small earth vintage
anchor hocking jar, sarahanntiques
becasine vintage clogs with faux fur, bOmode
1950s seamprufe slip, studio1950
And then there's the punk roots, riffled deep into the ground



Going overboard on Fishing with Dynamite by the ACL guy

Michael over at ACL wrote a post about trying to find masculine (ahem) vintage on etsy. And got a whole flop-dead school of responses. But in comparing it to the assumedly masculine pasttime of fishing with dynamite, he got a lot of people kind of -- rolling over on their bellies and flashing silver. To push the metaphor right into the hook, I like ACL, but got steamed — so unlike a masculine preparation for fish. How girlish of me. So my comment became a letter became an essay. And while I wait for it to be moderated, I get to put it here. How ballsy.

your comment is awaiting moderation.

[Herewith, a most likely unecessary long comment that I nevertheless feel inclined to complete. Maybe it's the girl in me, crying to be heard... how feminine of me. Or maybe it's my response, after reading ACL for so long, to the utter (and at times blessed) long windedness of your concept with my own longwinded retort.]

I read ACL fannishly and had continued to do so with great respect until this post of a faux pas fell from the sky like a chunk of late-1950s male-attitude scrap metal and fell smack dab on my enthusiasm. I don’t think anyone would deign, or stoop, to accuse you of being too masculine, despite your penchant for glorifying the American Obvious and contributing to the New Heritage movement, in more of its maleness than its, let’s just call it non male-ness. Fine. It’s your blog. But you also are part of the grand mission to influence a new appetite for the same stuff. Aka the Plaid For Its Glorious Plaidness Should Cost a Lot of Money movement. A more obsessive AL fan may be able to point to comments #47 or #52 on a particular Sunday and show that someone has, however. And I mostly like your taste regardless, having grown up in Brooks Brothers, silly girl that I am.

All sites have their ethos and it is a nice practice, in the 21st century — for crying out loud — to accept their leanings (hello), and yet try and avoid those old retro-vintage tropes of snap-judgement and establishment sneer-age that make the flip side of vintage so sad. That would be the ‘isms. The ‘isms, as in racism, let’s just say, or sexism, let’s just say, are what smear that heritage veneer just a giant bit. Those lovely hunting shots you keep posting with such reverence for the scent of Kodachrome: scratch a fellow in a perfectly worn and faded old duck hunting jacket and ask him just what he thinks of that new family moved in down the road? Noting against the guy, but there’s a whole package to be considered here.

So the trick, as I see it, would be to avoid any leanings toward that rather unpleasant, American’s-worst-vernacular direction. Unfortunately you seem to be willing to not avoid. Are you so swayed by the beauty of a well-cut boot that you’re willing to vote the whole ticket? Which way, in fact, do you lean?
What you say about etsy (ew, girls….), you don’t even say that well. You whine about it, and then your finds are completely domestic (ew, women’s work). Perhaps what makes them masculine is that they are well photographed? Or they lack flowers? But a flour sifter? Mr. Canvas Duck wouldn’t be caught near that back in the day. And you, mr. pitch-perfect quiet marketing guy, don’t even credit the shops you found them in (unless in my fervor I have missed something, in which case I apologize). You certainly don’t offer up any information about them.

Is that for fear, possibly, of allowing the impurity of their more girlish (ew) wares of filtering into and polluting the boy’s club aesthetic of your stalwart blog? So you’re also not telling the entire truth here. How, sorry, but really — How incredibly and sadly and wrongly American heritage of you.
You should be celebrating etsy. You should salute it.


Visually functional

There is a euphemism going around the kitchen this morning as I sort through padlocks and hinges and combination locks and things that look like tools. Visually functional. It's not a contradiction to a writer. Is it.

Functional visually

1920s combination lock, luncheonettevintage

That's the other euphemism. It means it works too. Old string, manila tag with industrial reinforced punchhole, ancient, now defunct but venerable maker of locks, handwritten — in fountain pen ink and a careful hand — combination and name. Tidy. Analog. You could call this one a heritage lock.


Black and white and etsy all over

I love this treasury. Hard to explain to non-believer's, I guess, but treasuries are the ritual of the etsy observer: assemble lovely items in a group based on a theme, contact everyone. Like throwing confetti to the skies, sometimes. Sometimes it's better, like filling a pontiac with Christmas presents and driving to Ohio, where fruitcake and peppermints await.

But this time, which is best of all, it made etsy's front page this afternoon, setting off a flurry of graphic, elegant happiness worldwide.


Search & rescue  & recovery
Katie and Scout, human remains detection K-9 team on Eagle Valley Search Dogs.
Out of line
Catalog cover: Carin Riley, Belinda (2010), Out of Line. Slag Gallery, NYC
Writing the catalog essay for the spring drawings show at Slag Gallery in NYC was a blast. These are anything but prosaic works on paper and the artists are tremendous. I grabbed the bit and ran with it.  An excerpt, or read the whole essay.
Before we are taught to perceive a line in terms of letters and words, we respond to line as pure line: scrambles, curves, loops, straights. Each shape has a different hum, a different vibration, character. Molly Stevens’s giant ink drawings on paper (Ink Mountain, 2009) have that primal quality, have palpable personas. In an elemental motion, the line surges from the bottom to the top, hovers up there, then plunges down to the baseline. Tall as humans, a pair of lines double each other, one awkwardly spooning the other. These are giants entreating, murmuring, humming. Stevens draws them with a brush attached to a stick in one continuous motion from beginning to end, placing herself at a distance from the page, a distance that allows for accidents, for change. There are countless attempts, but only occasionally does it resonate. There’s one in a heap of them in which the lines make the right sound.



Gravy time at the luncheonette 

•*• •*• 
The shop is having
vintage harvest sale.
20% off e v e r y item
 (speedy insta-refunds via paypal )
•*• •*•


Containing a tangible sense of history 

that seems woven right into the wool. A memory of a horse's flanks steaming on a winter's night. The creak of the carriage traces as the horse waits, the snow melting into the wool.

Antique horse blanket, luncheonettevintage
In a flickr stream of the NY fire department museum, a similar blanket. Same berry red stripes, same goldenrod yellow, same woven, slightly coarse by soft wool.

NYC fire dept. horse blanket, Mitchell Klein
Another horse blanket at the Orange County fire museum, from the 1880s.

Parade blanket for fire horse, Orange County Fire Museum
And then, jumping around, found an entry on the triangle shirtwaist factory fire: that firemen tried to catch the falling women with a horse blanket. With vintage comes the past.


Not all twee 
Silent movie treasury by coolranchstudio
The treasury that was on etsy's front page from 9 to 10 am had nary a blossom or a teacup or a whimsical fairy digi-card to be found. Nothing against blossoms or teacups. And here's the row that got left out of the FP. It includes more essentials: old photo, brush, fantastic collar, great ring. Worth clocking on for the terrific sellers represented, too. And confirms my endless affection for grey and midtone neutrals.

Curator: coolranchstudio. I'll say. Big piece of pie coming your way.


Nearly 4 weeks old.

Oak leaves and tupperware tumblers through the viewfinder of the Duaflex, Tuesday morning.


Vintage weekend afterburn

Timber wolves by Frederick Remington, vintagesuburbia
 There was a lot going on this weekend that had nothing to do with vintage. It was supposed to be that way. There was grocery shopping. There was writing. The landscape in my novel suddenly had to change. Or so I thought it should. I wanted to turn the bowl-shaped valley that the wolves live in into a hollow, or a clove, something that seemed more jagged and less tyrolean. That set off all sorts of revision-hell alarm bells. Consistency rebricked across all those pages could be the death knell, so after toying with it, I temporarily gave up.

1960s rat pack tuxedo, fabgabs
There was work. I interviewed a haberdasher for an upcoming article. I love interviewing haberdashers. He said, "Men no longer want a big silhouette. They want that slender, throwback, lean and mean fit." He said, "Black is the new black."

Colette in a suit, being brilliant back then
And I had to finish editing a kind of magnificent, far-reaching text by someone who is clearly, and I say this with no irony, brilliant. And clearly, in a slightly wild-haired way that somehow reminds me of Colette, of his own mind. And I had to query him, in English, through a few intermediaries, and hope the answers would somehow sieve out of German and back into English in a way that I could then blend them, a la Smitten Kitchen, deftly back into the batter, so to speak. And it worked, in the end, into a smooth, kind of peppery mix.

1970s-1980s pumps, and not the ones that smell that I talk about below. These ones don't smell at all. The ones that smell I wouldn't photograph. Somehow it might show up in the image, like a yellowish haze. These pumps are an unscented size 7.
As I write this I am sitting with a pair of old pumps on my lap that smell like stinky old shoes. I have been inhaling shoe stink somewhat unconsciously, until the last few moments, when it got — profound.

Just 5 of the pulp stack, a small fraction of the lurid cache. Coming soon to the luncheonette.
And just to the left of the laptop, towering behind the screen in a kind of tawdry jumble of type and color, is a stack of pulp mysteries and crime novels from the 1950s with names like Night at the Mocking Widow and Dardenelles Derelict. I'm going to sell them in the luncheonette for a friend. We had a blast going through the titles, the covers, the luridness of it all. And next to them is a stack of vintage cookbooks I am obsessed with, which have instructions like, place in a quick oven and bake, and be sure to save the drippings in a can for later: a thrifty kitchen is a practical kitchen!

Not from the back of a cookbook, no. You're right.
The point is that a weekend that was supposed to be very much not about vintage became a weekend in which vintage held me in thrall, in all its enigmatic impossibility, its time warp, its fragility, its other-time-ness. It called to me as I worked, cooked, ran. It created conundrums and commotion. It busted a little hole through the real-time sky.

At a barn sale one town over, I found an old 1950s lace cocktail gown, strapless, with peach-colored lace so delicate it threatens to fall apart at a lady's exhale, and dove grey trim around the bodice that has an unsettlingly mottled look over one side. It is, of course, tiny, and yet the chest is made for someone on the Jane Russell side. And on Beulah it does nothing, just hangs there limp like it's about to play bass at a Hole show in 1996. 

This is a beautiful dress, but it's beautiful more like bleached out Edward Gorey than like the hell-cat curvaliciousness of a thriving retro frock. In other words, it looks anemic. It makes Beulah look like a Greek statue in drag.

I have to figure out what to feed it to bring back its bloom. How to treat it. How to write about it. How to photograph it so it doesn't look like a dress stuck on doll parts, because on Beulah it looks, just, sad. So this is perhaps the crossroads dress that will finally make me forsake Beulah, in all her flea-bitten rickety wonder, for a more sleek, vanilla-linen-covered dress form that doesn't maw apart at the ribs or crack open at one rear hip panel. A Wolf? A Baumann? Would that I were so lucky.

Beulah was built about a hundred years ago and does not entirely resemble so much as confound the contours of a woman's body. She is probably more like the Victorian, bustled, chest-forward, corseted ideal of a body. With a hole in its skin and that smell, like pie. Better, I suppose, than the shoes, which I'm about to de-scent using my secret recipe, gleaned from an old cookbook, actually, written for clueless young brides.

Happy Sunday.


My wholesome vintage sisters

Somehow, reading a little piece that asks why Betty has to be so bad (and getting worse) inspired this little assembly, soon as I got in from feeding the chickens. There's something about the way each, ahem,
Sulphuric acid bottle, domestikat
object is centered in the frame (that necklace, that there bauble, it's centered left to right, ok?) that kicks it up a notch. I'm all for artful off-centering, and props like lace and doilies and moss. Etsy has
1950s picnic spoons, ameelia bedelia
so much moss. It's pretty mossy if you think about it. Etsy has as much moss as the church basement sale has extra large turtlenecks. But that's just it. Sometimes fussing up a picture makes it kind of —
Antique baby dolls, zinniacottage
mossy. Like unbrushed teeth. Not very Betty at all. But the wholesome thing is not really a priority here, right? We're not being nostalgic. We're being — centered.
1950s leopard necklace, carmenandginger
Ashtray by dale chemical, retroburgh



Full name: Xavier vom Schutzberg, Son of Lee. Short name: X. Nicknames: X-box. Knuckle-ex. Dingbex. New skill: sitting still. For a full two minutes. Old skill: barking like Enrico Caruso.


New writing, old church

Today is another delicious writer's marathon, the COTA readings at the Walloon Church in New Paltz. Twenty minute meals of poets and fiction writers and writers of other ilks, boom boom boom, part of a whole art-filled day: dance, installations, sculpture, music. I'm reading at 1:40, one of the eager jets taking off from this literary runway.  Planning on reading Galletas, just because I hardly ever do, and it does that 20 minute thing with room to spare — possibly for a scene from the new book. Always look forward, someone once told me. And keep it neat.

What really gets me going is reading in this old church, on this very very old street, I mean back to the 1680s kind of street. Old French Huguenot and Dutch gravestones tilt and hunker and shrug at each other in the graveyard right outside. New Paltz was founded by the French Huguenots, and Huguenot Street has some kind of honor as the oldest continuously settled neighborhood in the country. That's hundreds and hundreds of years of tricycles, bread, money, old cabbage leaves, cars and horses and worn down boots, winters, falls, rain, heat.

Graveyard, Walloon Church, New Paltz
Ulster county has lots of traces of old Dutch around. The buffet at Eng's Chinese Restaurant in Kingston is called the Smorgasbord, and everyone, including three year old tow headed boys, knows how to say it. The Pine Hill Bakery has Dutch shoes decorating the corners, and one nailed to a tree, higher up than anyone could reach. The old French culture, les Walloons, the protestants — is right here too, but often overlooked. But New Paltz is named for a village in Germany that sheltered the Huguenots. It's not Dutch. The name DuBois, not the Blanche kind but the Louis kind — traces right back to one of the first French families. New Rochelle, down south a good ways, is Huguenot. Staten Island's south shore. History is a 9,000 layer cake, baked during endless arguments, conflicts, migrations — so often about the divine. Divine providence as persecution, as run away and settle, as make a deal with the Esopus and build a hut, build another. Hate to ship to water to shore and logs to stones to arts festivals. My mother hated organized religion, bless her atheist modernist soul. But without it, we wouldn't necessarily be here.


Sublime inhabitants of the world we just visit

while we place what we can where we can

pretending to hope it will stay there

when we'd rather it took to the air