I was born in the wrong era

Recently, Josh and I read a book together. It was fun having our own little book club and sharing ideas about the characters and themes as we went. But mostly it was enjoyable because the book was set in the late 1960’s, a time that feels very close to my soul. Patti Smith’s “Just Kids” is the story of her special friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, following them through back alleys at grimy-chic hotel rooms of Manhattan in 1967 and beyond. As Patti and Robert work on their respective crafts, smoke cigarettes, and explore New York, stars like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Jimi Hendrix weave their way into the cloth of this rare story. I could not put the book down, filled with a glittering nostalgia that doesn’t really belong to me. I know Josh felt it too.

Patti Smith, shot by Robert Mapplethorpe

Growing up, my mom held onto her favorites from a bygone era; it was the late ’80’s but her loyalty was with Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and their cronies. Though it had moved from records to cassette tapes (and later, to CD’s), this became the music of my childhood. I remember vividly the draping silks and velvets, the strands of beads and pearls, and the dotted cotton voiles that comprised my dress-up duds. Mom’s most treasured outfits from her college days and the years that followed in New York became the stuff of my childhood, and I loved it all dearly.

Warhol gives Debbie Harry a touch-up, 1970's.

My first college course was an intensive workshop on Andy Warhol, taught by a contemporary of and expert on the artist (who had also taught my dad, back in ’72). Of course we learned about Warhol’s beginnings and every step that took him from corporate commissions in the 1950’s to artistic actualization and the complications therein. But it was the stuff of the late 1960’s through the mid-70’s that really struck me and fired me up for a string of some of the best papers I believe I’ve ever written. The Warhol seminar was an enriching class and a perfect way to set the tone for the next four years of my life, making my own choices out in the world. I also would feel continuously connected to my parents over that period of time, as I started my days, sat through classes, and sipped cheap wine in the same buildings they had, and as I explored the same rivers, small towns, and mountains of Vermont that had been their backdrop during college in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s.

The easy, organic beauty routines of this time are part of what I love most. Ali McGraw, 1970

The stories that have always moved me the most are set in the time between 1968 and the mid-70’s where I picture a blur of long, wavy hair, the crooning of some uber-talented twenty-something paired with the strumming on a guitar, dark rooms, bright summer days, and love. I reference much of my personal fashion and beauty choices off of this period as well; whenever I get close to looking like Mom did in ’74, I feel a surge of cool wash over me. I almost feel like I remember this time, though of course I do not. But today, cueing up my iPod, it’s almost always the stuff I turn to first. Joni’s Blue, Joan’s Diamonds & Rust, Simon & Garfunkel, Lennon, and more. They may not be my own memories, but they sure have impacted more than just their own generation. If you were born in the wrong era too, I suggest you pick up “Just Kids” today, and catapult yourself back to where you belong.

What’s a lonely girl to do?

Josh left for a two-week vacation in Asia–much deserved! He works harder than anyone I know, and hasn’t had a long, luxurious trip in so long. However, Jensy remained in New York, with work commitments piling up and not enough dough to travel. Two weeks is a long time for me! I love having him around, and I get bored without my best bud. In summer months, I would be camped out on the roof of my apartment building with an ice cold can of Diet Coke and a pile of fashion magazines by my side and I would be content there for hours. But in the harsh and whipping cold, where no coat seems warm enough and a two-block walk to the drug store makes my eyes tear and the hem of my pants muddy, I need an indoor itinerary to keep me busy and entertained, yet warm.
Books
My favorite way to pass the time is reading. I love to go for classics but recently have been on a kick with newly released fiction. Something about reading things written in and about the decades and places that are familiar to me just makes me feel at ease. I picked up “Life in Miniature” by Linda Schlossberg the other night. It’s her debut novel, and I see great things from her in the future. I am very into her unique style–this novel is written from the perspective of a pre-adolescent whose mother suffers from mental illness, giving an interesting view of this complicated topic. I’m only about halfway through, but obsessed! Check it out.
Museums
I totally play favorites with museums. It seems that no matter how many times I go to the Met, the Modern, or the Guggenheim, I am never bored, and I always find something new and exciting to enjoy. But I really am looking to head outside of my comfort zone and check out something new. I haven’t been to the Frick since I was eleven or twelve, and I remember it feeling a bit stodgy and too, well, museum-y, but maybe with new eyes and several years distance it will be a different experience? My mom adores the Frick. Adding it to the list! I am also chomping at the bit to see the Hopper exhibit at the Whitney, so that might be the first stop. Also thinking of finally heading to the Jewish museum; it seems high time.
Movies
The two movies I am absolutely dying to see are so indicative of the two sides of my personality. Black Swan and Country Strong. I know what you’re thinking. Dark psychological thriller vs. fluffy romance set against the backdrop of the corniest music genre out there. I know I am going to love both. There’s been so much press on Black Swan but I still feel like everyone I’ve spoken to has had a totally different and reaction to, and experience with, the film. I know its impact will probably earn another blog entry once I’ve seen it.
Country Strong I haven’t actually read anything about yet; I’ve only seen the trailers. I’m a total sucker for love and I know it’s going to make me cry. Pookie and I have always loved country music. I remember so vividly driving around the mountains of Vermont with the local country station blasting through the speakers of her Ford Explorer or my VW Bug and singing along to every sad, silly, and true word. I feel like seeing this movie will bring me right back.
Girl Time
Admittedly, aside from reading half a book, the only thing I’ve really done on my hit list is grab some wine with a girl friend. Monique and I have a new office in midtown and we set out on foot Monday night to check out the ‘hood. We googled “wine bar” in the west 40’s and found Gallo Nero, an absolutely lovely little tapas place with a wine list from here to heaven. We tucked ourselves into a corner table in the dark and intimate spot and stayed for hours, sharing the prosciutto and mozzerella plate, the roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, and a few glasses of wine–hers red, mine white. I have a feeling many more of these nights lie ahead. I am looking for sweet little spots to try where the wine flows and the food is yummy yet I don’t leave feeling so broke I could cry.
Mom Time
Mom is heading into the city at some point to help me organize the apartment–which has grown quite scary with heaps of clothes that don’t fit into closets and bags of Christmas presents searching for a home. I will post photos and tips on the reorganization once it is finished. Nothing like having Mom around to help keep you busy!