Saturday, May 4, 2013
First of all, raise your right hand and tell me you'll promise to get this whole documentary somewhere--amazon prime, hulu, Netflix--just get it. It is indescribable. You have never met anyone like Bill Cunningham.
Had I not stayed in my pajamas until well after 6 P.M. (I only threw on something else--actually just a top because the alpacas were loping down the road and I had to assist), I would never have been lounging in front of the computer. Had I not finished all of Grey's Anatomy humanly possible to watch without paying money, I would never have been scrolling for something else to see. Had I not declared today a holiday after I studied for an exam for nearly 6 hours, I would have been cleaning out a cellar or toting this or that here or there. The planets aligned. I randomly found Bill.
Bill Cunningham dropped out of Harvard and ended up making ladies' hats in NYC. From there he was drafted. Then he picked up a camera and has been documenting fashion for nearly 60 years since. He lived in an apartment in Carnegie Hall sans kitchen, bathroom, and closets--it was wall to wall filing cabinets of negatives with a make-shift bed laid out over what look to be a couple of cans. Then Carnegie decided to oust all their artsy-fartsie 40 year residents for some reason. Just recently Carnegie Hall relocated him to the 9th floor of a ritzy apartment building overlooking Central Park. Bill had them remove all the kitchen cabinets and appliances in his new digs to create space for his filing cabinets. He dines on the cheapest sandwiches and refuses food at the hundreds and hundreds of fashion events he attends. Food means absolutely nothing to him. Nor does his own fashion. He wears simple khakis, a neutral sweater, and a blue pocketed smock thing everywhere he goes (including affairs in HIS honor!) because his camera tears his clothing. He goes to mass weekly (he teared up and put his head down when the interviewer asked him about his religious life) and has never had a romantic interest. Claims he never had time for it and just didn't think about it. He rides a bike everywhere he goes and commented he was on #29--the previous 28 having been stolen.
Lest you've brushed him off as an eccentric, let me hasten to add that Bill is a regular columnist for the New York Times and has received prestigious awards for his photographic excellence from the masters all over the world--most notably Paris. He is a true egalitarian--his friends include the likes of Brooke Astor as well as Who's Who in the fashion industry and on down. If he passed you pedaling around in Manhattan, you might think, "Sheesh. Be careful, old guy."
Watch this. Let me know if you fell in love with him like I did. He's a treasure indeed. Who knew I could have a thing for an octagenarian?
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
of, relating to, or occurring in the spring
fresh or new like the spring; also : youthful
I get a word a day from Webster's in my email. I mean to print them on index cards and place them around my world in hopes of expanding my vocabulary. So far all I've done is mentally file them away, but today's word demanded some attention. As I write this, I'm gazing out the office window to the west where dark clouds seem to be gathering. I detect a rim of fog, and if I squint I can see what very well could be snow in the mountains above Paris. New snow. May Day.
Bona fide Brrrrrrrrrr Lakers don't put much stock in spring as a season. We'd much prefer to acknowledge 3 seasons and be off about our business--bundled up in polar fleece. Some "Springs" here come and go in a matter of hours--beginning and ending in the time it takes to shake a rug or two. "Oh no! I slept through spring!" "Blasted! Spring came while I was in the shower??" "I used my Spring this year to sweep off the deck!" We can sink our teeth into winter and lollygag us some autumn days away ad nauseum, and summer...now, summer--it brings out the pagan in us all. We worship it unabashedly.
I've made my peace with Spring. I promise not to torment it if it promises not to torment me. I don't expect much out of it. Ever. If it gives me a day here or an hour there, I'll take it. BUT, I also refuse to be Spring's Fool. I won't be surprised by its antics--snow right up to (and sometimes ON) the 4th of July, freezing winds to bring in May, buds on the trees a full month after the rest of the planet, ice on windshields, and any and all nasty little black clouds coming out of nowhere anytime anyplace.
Back to vernal. I'm double checking that definition. A closer look reveals no guarantee of warmth or green anything. Picking out "fresh, new and youthful" as the key words. I'll get back to you on this, but at first glance I'm suspecting YET AGAIN, that it's all a matter of attitude. Drat. I keep coming back to that. I shall go my merry vernal way today, then, and carry spring in my heart. I guess.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
All of this aside, I have made my peace with moon-induced sleeplessness over the years. Once I determined that tossing and turning resulted in...well, more tossing and turning, I learned to get up and embrace my inner insomniac. So far tonight/this morning I've progressed on a shawl I'm knitting, watched a couple of youtube tutorials, ordered some fabric with my birthday money, sent out a couple of emails, breezed briefly over to etsy.com, snacked up a biscotti, put my phone on the charger, and now I'm wowing the world with this heart-stopping blogpost. I've done a bit of thinking too, but experience has shown that too much of that in the wee hours is detrimental. Thinking be gone!!!!
- Paco has a $25 reward posted for the discovery of his van and truck keys. He has lost them in a grand way--somewhere in the farmyard. Needle in a haystack you say? Exactly. I imported one of my 7th graders (I have a limitless supply) after school. Zac's methodical search yielded no keys, but he did join in some jolly dung raking and feasted at our dinner table as well.
- We're on skeleton crew at school between fieldtrips and track meets. Those of us left behind do our best to cerebrum on, but today was a parade of drama queens and squirrels (my "pet" name for restless mischievous 7th graders). Spring, post standardized-test trauma, and May in the air. Doesn't leave us much to work with.
- Have you met Pudsey yet? Google/youtube him. A snappy little dancing canine who won the hearts of Britain's Got Talent. Mugsy hmmmphed when I showed him the youtube. He doesn't cotton to show-off types apparently.
- I received some priceless 6 year old art in the mail today. Thanks, Charlie! You rock my world!
- We've picked up a boat. It's a bit of a relic, but then, so are we.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
I hosted not one, but TWO seder dinners today in my 7th grade reading classes. Passover is certainly passed and over, but we had to wait to import some matzos. Passover foods are scarce in these parts. For the past month my reading classes have been studying and discussing some age-appropriate aspects of the Holocaust as introduced in The Devil's Arithmetic. Interest is high. I've done my best (because I ever strive to be a full service literature teacher...yeah right) to stumble over the Yiddish and bring some small understanding of Jewish history and customs to light. I can guarantee my charades and explanation of a bris would have brought the house down in the right setting. Being the goy that I am, I modified the meal today. After a youtube briefing on the seder plate ingredients and their symbolism, a sincere explanation of the why of Passover by Virtual Rabbi Axelrod, AND a vivid step back into a review of the plagues and the flight from Egypt (yeah howdy!) on another youtube, we peeled and chopped apples, poured grape juice, broke matzos and even sampled some horseradish. We also opened a can of sardines that my "Passover Connection" had sent along as well as some grand macaroons. I gave a smashing explanation of kosher, threw in what I know about some other Jewish holidays gleaned from books and a tight friendship with Margie in NJ whose husband was a rabbi, and tied it all up with a back reference to the seder dinner as depicted in our novel. I was delighted when one of the kids offered to hide the matzo (they DO listen!!). We covered our eyes and counted to 20. Then Houston enthusiastically volunteered to open the door for Elijah (yet AGAIN they listened!!). I said sure, and then the next thing I heard was a chorus of, "Elijah kidnapped Houston!!" What 7th grade boy could resist disappearing once any door is opened, let alone one from which an ancient Old Testament prophet might appear? I don't know any. Not to worry. Houston has an identical twin, Hayden, so we had a spare. Will update on Houston when we get the note. Anybody out there read, "The Ransom of Red Chief"...?
Monday, April 15, 2013
The sum total of this madcap self-imposed marathon of events has been mostly private in nature. Not that I haven't been vocal about it. I have indeed! To complete strangers and to my friends who are probably like, "Enough already!" I read 60 books, blogged 60 posts, walked 60 miles, gave up sugar for 60 days, passed out 60 homemade cookies to 60 strangers today, read 60 children's books outloud, and gave away 60 of my possessions. That's what it may have appeared I was thinking about this past year. That's what it LOOKED like. What it FELT like has been completely different. I'm way too tired to wax eloquent here, and besides, that wasn't my point. When I started thinking about what another decade would mean to me, I was running scared. So there you have it. My experiment has been nothing more than a distraction to keep me safe from addressing the real demon--my own mortality. It's all been a smoke screen--something to keep my hands occupied while my mind was busy wrapping itself around aging. Conclusions? I don't think there's a book in it for me, but perhaps a chapter in a book. Maybe that's all we can hope for--life gives us enough material for a really smashing chapter.