Friday, September 30, 2011

Rostam Does Tabla

{A Subcontinental Sound for Fall}

One of the ways the diaspora of Stockman sisters stays in touch is through subjectless emails with links to outstanding if obscure music, followed by articulate, insightful, sisterly notes like OMG LISTEN NOW SOOO GOOD. Sometimes they include punctuation, like DOWNLOAD NOW, WENCHES. What with one sister studying in London, one working in Salvador, Brazil, and one firmly planted in San Francisco, we are all devouring music of completely different cultural terroir, if you will, which makes the music emails that much more exciting. And the latest one from the San Fran sis knocked it out of the park. Like that chain-smoking preppy kid in your Modern American Poetry seminar who was vaguely dismissive, stunningly precocious and annoyingly brilliant, Vampire Weekend irks. But this little tabla-infused wonder from Rostam Batmanglij is, sigh, gorgeous. Makes me smile as soon as the tabla beat starts up; oh India, you crazy beast, do I miss you already? Anyway, consider this your panmusical song for fall, courtesy of bigBANG's little sister.

Have a great weekend. Images from our trip to visit a friend in Benares/Varanasi, holy city on the Ganges. Still have lots of India posts ahead, if anyone is game. Game?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Brooklyn General Store

{For All Your Knitting Needs}

Let's make a list of items integral to the essence of a great small town general store:

- baling twine
- tinctures
- surly postmistress
- pickled eggs
- live baby animals on a seasonal basis
- fishing lures

So the magical Brooklyn General Store doesn't have any of that stuff, but they do have an outstanding selection of sewing and knitting materials, vintage ribbon on wooden spools, natural pigment dying kits and an unbelievable assortment of sumptuous yarn. And all at more reasonable prices than most of the yarn shops I've visited in Manhattan. Totally worth the bike ride over there for all your knitting needs. Totes magotes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Park Slope Shuffle

{In Which The Neighborhood Gets Explored + Save Landreth Seed!}

Spent Saturday afternoon walking alone, camera in hand, throughout greater Park Slope. Just to see what I could see, finally explore my new neighborhood. And maybe conduct a little benign trespassing in an effort to admire front-stoop pots of sweet potato vine, fire escape herb gardens and one particularly lovely abandoned lot featuring variegated ivy, chamomile and cardboard (which would be the *perfect* urban home for a certain Scamp, which, by the way, you all have vehemently convinced us not to sell for the time being). I also figured out that if one goes to the green market at the very end, when everyone's packing up the last bruised apples and picked-over fennel bulbs before heading upstate, one might just come home with a bag of free produce if one isn't fussy about mold/rot/wormholes. Which, in this case, one is not.

Hope you had a fine weekend. And thanks to several of you whip-smart, fact-checking, follow-upping readers, it's come to my attention that the beloved D. Landreth Seed Company, America's oldest seed house, is about this close to shutting down. Read here. I'll go ahead and put in a little plug for purchasing their gorgeous $5 catalogue, if not an entire crate of dahlia tubers, or anything from their incredible African American Heritage Collection of heirloom vegetable seeds (the Cherokee purple tomats are our FLAVORITE). Here's hoping you hang on, Landreth!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Free Fings

{Catching Up and Three Things Worth Sharing}

Tonight was the first night I left the studio before 11pm all week, and I can't wait to take tomorrow (or at least tomorrow morning) off to catch up on fundamental things like, oh, laundry, grocery shopping and maybe even making a meal that involves the use of a heating element. Thinking back to our nights out at Pappy's and community feasts in Joshua Tree is enough to usher forth a melodramatic sigh of despair and longing from yours truly; will P. and I ever have that kind of life again? (Damn straight she said as she went to her tiny Brooklyn cupboard for the big bottle of Tennessee bourbon.) But that's a post for another time. Now, here, in the very present tense, I've been sucked down a vortex called grad school, which is a great luxury, really, but hot damn am I excited to spelunk my way out of the studio and catch up on real life this weekend. The highlight of the week, by the way, was a studio visit with Anoka Faruqee on Thursday; I was beyond thrilled to learn that our homeboy Ernst Haeckel (see last post) is a major source of inspiration behind her work, too, which I never would have intuited, but which made me understand and appreciate her paintings all the more.

In other news:
Cannot *wait* until Feist's new album is out. Been listening to this preview on repeat.
Came across this portrait of Luc Tuymans in his studio. Perfection, all around.
Giggled out loud reading this, um, "essay" on fall/decorative gourd season (courtesy of the amazing Maggie Shipstead).

Have a great weekend. Above, a simplified dresser top: Ganesh and bangles from our travels in India; necklace from my sister, antique mirror from Russia, painting by Tina Bluefield, which P. gave me as a Christmas present our first winter in the desert. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ryan & Ernst

{Or, I Saw Drive and It Was Amazing + Some Sicknasty 19th Century Zoological Prints}

1. P. came down to New York this past weekend, and we tried to maximize every last ounce of time together via one cousin's post-elopement party, meeting another cousin's new baby girl, kitchen-muddled Old Fashions at 3am with yet another cousin, and going to the talkies just the twozuvuss, where we saw Drive. And my gawd, it was so unbelievably cool. I can't believe I'm saying an off-beat car chase movie might be the best film I'm seen all year, but, really. Think John Ford classic western re-imagined as Miami Vice but set in contemporary downtown LA with a pitch-perfect cast and a few staggering moments of Tarantinoesque gore. If that sounds like your cup of tea then I'd say don't read the reviews and don't watch the trailer, just go see it in a packed theater late at night with a film geek friend/lover and an open mind (and it *is* the kind of movie you want to see in a packed theater- the energy and ocasional input from the crowd totally made the experience). It's a slick, gorgeous and unexpectedly satisfying little film, and the music is perfection; try this and this. And report back; I'm eager to hear if other peeps loved it as much as I did. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for old cars and 80s soundtracks.

2. I spent the better part of Sunday working in the studio, where I got all fired up poring through Ernst Haeckel's incredible prints from Art Forms in Nature. For those of you new to the strange and wondrous world of Haeckel, let's go over the facts: German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor, artist, mountain climber and the greatest proponent of evolutionary theory in late-19th century mainland Europe. He also discovered and described thousands of new species in his vast travels, mapped a genealogical tree connecting all forms of life and had a soft spot for sponges. I'm totally adding him to my all-time greatest dinner party guest list of dead people. He can sit right next to Gertrude Bell. And we'll all watch Drive after digestifs and discuss.

Hope you had a good weekend. Real life is getting in the way of blog life it seems, so bear with me with these sporadic posts until I get the swing of things.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sunday Morning, Cambridge

{Ten Years Later}

Sunday morning woke us up with dappled sunshine on our eyelids, full of promise, full of September Sundayness. Belying the awful reality of the date, the memory, the old ache a fresh wound of sorrow as we turned on the television. We watched, tears streaming (who couldn't? who didn't?), and held our heads. Still, a decade later, such unintelligible loss, but also, also this: so much hope, resilience, pride and love. We made our way outside into the sunshine, and found ourselves driving past my old apartment above the laundromat on Kirkland Street. Next to the butcher's. Where I lived with three beloved roommates and Mac the corgi, where I cooked my first and last Christmas goose, where I fell in love with P. Seems like so long ago, I said as we rumbled by. It was after 9/11, but before P's first tour in Iraq. Long and not-long.

We made our way to The Biscuit for lattes, warm baked things and the company of strangers. We're so lucky, you and I, he said. We counted our blessings, lingered, and finally it was time to board my bus back to Brooklyn, back to New York. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


{Ostriches, Aliens and the Comfort of Pasta}

Summer ended in the Catskills. We left the city behind and drove north through the rolling hills to a farmhouse-turned-artists-space for a night of camping and "arting," as P. calls it. We tromped around the goldenrod looking at installations, met some lovely people, enjoyed a group exhibition and marveled at a field of grazing ostriches (also, dromedaries, llamas and sheep). Things turned Kubrickian later that night when we walked up a dark country road to what can only be described as a pagan variety show hosted in a church-turned-performance space called -wait for it- Church of the Little Green Man. Which made a night out in Joshua Tree look like an Amish quilting bee. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

P. left Sunday to make his way back north to Boston. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and listening to Emmylou Harris I went for a run. And then promptly came home, put on Chopin's cure-all nocturnes* and comforted myself the best way I know how, in the form of a bowl of fresh butternut squash ravioli. Which was, as anticipated, utterly, perfectly, devastatingly delicious. And just like that, it was fall.

*Listen to my favorite Rubinstein recording here.  Happy fall everyone.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Brook Land

{In Which This Blogger Finally Really Moves to Brooklyn}

Two items for class today:

1. I finally actually really moved into our Brooklyn apartment for good. And I'm showing you pictures from our first day in the place, before we'd unfurled the rug, organized the bookcases and properly hung the paintings. The place still isn't exactly photo-ready, but I'm crazy-happy here and thought I'd show the pictures anyway, because aren't we all a little bored with the perfectly executed, expertly styled, industrial-desert-minimalist je ne sais quoi you always see in Dwell? No? Yeah, me neither, but here's my new place and I love it and I'm showing it to you because we're pals.

2. There's a great aside in Patti Smith's exquisite Just Kids (which is exceedingly beautiful, if heartbreaking and mildly frustrating- call me old-fashioned, but Patti, o Patti, WHY YOU GOTTA KEEP SLEEPING WITH A DRUG-ADDLED TRENCH-MOUTHED HUSTLER? There, I said it. Someone had to say it.) in which she returns to her New York apartment after a trip to Paris to find that her landlord has pawned off or stolen most of her belongings. To which she unsentimentally replies: there's always new stuff, that's for sure.

2a. I read and re-read that line when we were living out of a suitcase in Jaipur and announced to P. that I was getting rid of all non-essential, surface-cluttering, unused and unproductive stuff when we moved back to the States. Now, almost six months later in Brooklyn, I can happily say we purged about a third of all our belongings. I gave away all the clothes I haven't worn in two years. We sold or donated a lot of our Joshua Tree furniture to people who could really use, say, a pair of killer mid-century patio chairs in sea-foam green. We sold our old Jeep. We *might* even sell the Scamp (insert long complicated sigh here). We still have more books than we can shake a stick at and I couldn't stand to part with my illustrious collection of found raptor feathers, but we're making progress on the stuff front. Slow but real progress. And it feels pretty cathartic to start a new chapter of our lives with less *stuff.* Happy fall, urbody.

Hope you have a great long weekend. Would love to hear how other people manage the shedding of collected, sometimes beloved, but always, ultimately, non-essential stuff.