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Thursday, September 29, 2011

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISIONS OF BEAUTY (INSPIRED BY FALL) / DAY 3 -- PI...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISIONS OF BEAUTY (INSPIRED BY FALL) / DAY 3 -- PI...: plateimagecourtesyhellotradecom Peeps, Sometimes, not being decisive, costs one much more than money. I had always wanted a Piero...



I wish you all a wonderful Thursday.  This weekend I will be away from the blogging station, and visiting friends and family in Williamsburg (VA), Charlotte (NC), and Savannah (GA).  Upon my return, I will be sure to update you on my travels through this charming part of the country, as well as to continue sharing visions of beauty (inspired by fall). 


Wednesday, September 28, 2011




Sometimes, not being decisive, costs one much more than money.  I had always wanted a Piero Fornasetti plate, and discovering a collection of six at one of my favorite antique shops (The Scarlet Fox in Old Towne, Alexandria) should have been a celebration in itself.   Sadly, when faced with the object(s) of my long-held desire, I hem'd and haw'd; they were reasonably priced, I could afford to get them there and then, space was not an issue since they could be creatively hung anywhere.  Yet I did not act, but instead promised to come back the following week.  Of course, they were gone by then; snapped up by some decisive design-addict or smart decorator who realized that a bird (or plate) in hand, is worth much more than thumbing through auction catalogues, or trolling the wasteland known as Ebay/Fleabay.  

Truth be told, I have seen the Fornasetti plates offered on Ebay, however I prefer to purchase an object which I can clearly see and touch.  I also enjoy the chit-chat with the shop proprietor regarding his wares and vision, as well as enjoying the mood of each individual establishment.  Shopping online does not allow this, and the few purchases I have made still seem somehow flat and unfulfilling.  Much more pleasing is the experience of purchasing from the African lady down at the Courthouse Flea Market on Saturdays who smiles benignly at my apparent lust for anything (and everything) Maasai.  

Fornasetti's creations remain high of my list of wanted objects, and if I ever receive any monies back from lowered taxes, dealers between here and Chelsea and the 26th street Flea Market should trot out their choicest bits.

Please enjoy today's visual treat, and thanks for being a dedicated blog reader.


PS:  Design tip from me:  Bold colors in the bedroom does not keep one from sleeping peacefully at night; indecision (or regret) does that singlehandedly....

Monday, September 26, 2011

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISIONS OF BEAUTY (INSPIRED BY FALL) / Day 2 -- BE...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISIONS OF BEAUTY (INSPIRED BY FALL) / Day 2 -- BE...: bethwebbinterior photocourtesybethwebb Peeps, In the weeks preceding Thanksgiving dinner, and the numerous gatherings for Christmas ...




In the weeks preceding Thanksgiving dinner, and the numerous gatherings for Christmas and New Year's Day, I wanted to remind fellow peeps of the need to plan logically and logistically for holiday entertaining.  Why, you may ask?  And the answer is a need for sophisticated civility, as well as a celebration of time's passage through ceremony and circumstance (if not pomp and circumstance).   For last month's dinner party could well have been avoided by me; to be greeted by a flustered co-host at the front door who quickly ushered us into the kitchen where the lady of the house was running between checking the temperature of racks of lamb in the oven, slicing veges for the starter salad, and stirring a saucepan of mango-and-fig chutney did not make for good entertainment.  Neither did wrestling with a wine-cork key, searching for red-wine glasses through numerous cabinets, and avoiding Snoopy and Buttons' food bowls which could not be moved from in-front of the freezer door (for fear of canine retribution).  Shouting across the vast expanse of black granite (known as the island) above the dim of Michael Buble's crooning, food preparation, and the excited barks of the dogs did not make for easy conversation between the guests.  The last nail in the coffin was the exclusion of a separate dining room in favor of a great room (in truth, an ill-lit, cavernous space for the purposes of billiards/snacking/lounging/watching TV); sports statistics and the appearances of former athlete-stars hawking beer, deodorant, and power-tools killed whatever intimacy one may have enjoyed as we all clung anxiously to oversized hall chairs surrounding a pool-table converted to impromptu dining table.  Suffice to say, dinner ended quickly and any offers of cognac paled in comparison to the thought of a long shower at home and 2 Advil caplets.

Party hosts and hostesses can make the whole experience of entertaining much more pleasant by being smart and realistic:  stick to simple and tasty menus which can be prepared before and then warmed; or purchase food already prepared from your gourmet grocery-store or favorite restaurant which can be dropped off at a designated time; any catering company can provide staff (for the positions of bartender/coat-check person/party chef/door-greeter)  thereby keeping the host/hostess out of the kitchen, and instead allowing them to spend quality time with guests.  A few hours should be spent before in laying the table and setting up the bar; pre-loading favorite CD's or Ipod (sure beats digging through the entire 1000 CD collection in search of mood music).  Purchasing well-made table linens, silver-ware, glasses, and so forth are worth every penny and can be  reused for many other occasions.  Flowers and unscented candles add the final touch.  A beautiful room make guests feel special and everyone then wants to linger...

After much delay, Beth Webb has launched her updated Web site ( and it is a visual feast.  The colors used throughout her interiors are bold and rich; textures practically leap from the page; the mood created in each room is inviting and oh so right.  Everyone who has had a chance to purview Beth's impressive portfolio of homes, unanimously agree that Beth Webb is 'the new queen of Atlanta's designers.'  I love her style and can't wait to see more of her work show-cased in the upcoming months in my favorite shelter magazines.  

Please enjoy today's visual treat courtesy of Beth Webb, whose Holiday House pics are to die for (or at least copy)!!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Reinventing Beauty, Chapter 2 / Day 2 -- Myth + Sc...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Reinventing Beauty, Chapter 2 / Day 2 -- Myth + Sc...: Peeps, Growing up, I remember the myths that surrounded the Easter Island statues. They seemed quite mena...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Reinventing Beauty, Chapter 2 / Day 4 -- At First...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Reinventing Beauty, Chapter 2 / Day 4 -- At First...: imagecourtesyjjjjoundblog Peeps, At first sight, it seems that this school of young monks are all queued for a shopping spree at Za...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Reinventing Beauty, Chapter 2 / Day 5 -- Dancing W...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Reinventing Beauty, Chapter 2 / Day 5 -- Dancing W...: photographersarahmoon Peeps, A sense of unease seems to be present tonight (Thursday). The expected showers t...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISIONS OF BEAUTY (INSPIRED BY FALL) / DAY 1 -- JO...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISIONS OF BEAUTY (INSPIRED BY FALL) / DAY 1 -- JO...: photocourtesytalkingmakeupcom Peeps, Its the beginning of the work week and some may groan, while others continue their search for emp...




Its the beginning of the work week and some may groan, while others continue their search for employment.  In the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, we are somewhat buffered from the rising job crisis faced by the remainder of the country, because of the federal government which is located here, as well as numerous associations, lobbying groups, defense and military contractors, hi-tech firms, and tourism.  Yet, we remain acutely aware of what is happening beyond the beltway.  President Obama's Job plan has been rebuffed by many who will not, and cannot, accept any increased taxation on the rich--and I wonder why!!  The shenanigans on the Hill, Europe's debt crisis and the Euro dollar's questionable viability, as well as the global market's decreased demand for our goods and services, should have made passing the job bill something of a no-brainer.  Yet, fat and fatter cats on the Hill still plan to spend the time between now and the holiday break in November, doing the following:  back-room politicking; fund-raising for re-election campaigns; photo-ops and sound-bites whenever possible; sucking up to whomever may be able to provide a lucrative job if (and once) they lose their current seat(s); derailing efforts by Mr. Obama to make positive CHANGE for the majority of the country; and finally, dining out at The Palm where the fare does nothing for already-expanding waistlines.  

On a lighter note, Joan Smalls has emerged as the face of the year.  This beautiful model from Puerto Rico signed a contract with Estee Lauder to appear in makeup ads as a 'global beauty,' and can also be spotted in ads for Ports 1661, David Yurman, and Givenchy.  Joan Smalls (Rodriguez) bewitches everyone with her intelligence, beauty, and easy charm.  All the reasons why editors, designers, photographers, stylists and runway-watchers extol her virtues--as well as physical attributes enjoyed by the average man--can be viewed at's 99 Most Desirable Women list.  Love you Joan..

Please enjoy today's visual treat of Latina beauty Joan Smalls, and have a wonderful day.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Reinventing Beauty, Chapter 2 / Day 5 -- Dancing With Ghosts



A sense of unease seems to be present tonight (Thursday).  The expected showers that were predicted for yesterday and today seem to have moved slightly north-east and north-west; if heavy clouds hang overhead they cannot be seen in the ink-black sky.  Earlier this evening I was compelled to run the hose to the base of a droopy viburnum which showed signs of duress after I had been negligent in my gardening duties.  Should we have lots of rain this weekend, I know that everything will beam again with renewed vigor.  It is sometimes easy to forget that many plants, shrubs, trees and fall bulbs still continue through their life cycle and watering must still be part of the gardening schedule.  It is so annoying to visit the garden center in mid September when one sees only huge stacks of pumpkins, bales of hay, over-fertilized mums, and sun-burnt flats of pansies; if history repeats itself, this meagre selection will be replaced in early November with Christmas trees that seem spent by Christmas Eve.

Amy Goodman and Democracy Now's coverage of Troy Davis' execution was balanced, comprehensive and exemplary.  Despite overwhelming evidence that cast doubt on the case, in the form of recantations of the part of numerous eyewitnesses, as well as troubling irregularities regarding the prosecution's procedure and the judge's sentence of the death penalty, the state of Georgia proceeded with the execution through lethal injection.  Amnesty International reports that millions of petitions worldwide were not enough to persuade the judicial system to grant a stay of execution.  The Innocence Project speculates that many other prisoners who are on death row or serving life sentences without parole are innocent, with very little chance of getting their individual cases reopened; of interest is that a large percentage of these are minorities who have had very little access to legal representation but instead live out their lives behind bars.  Outside the prison in Georgia, groups of protesters peacefully continued their vigil against the backdrop of numerous police cars with screaming sirens and packs of police-dogs meant to intimidate.  Noticeably absent were right-to-lifers who prefer to stalk clinics in search of easy prey.

I found it difficult to settle down last night while thinking of Troy Davis.  Unlike others, who aided by faith have no misgivings about the moral dilemma posed by capital punishment, the deaths of the innocent caused by war, and the nation's growing poor, I slept fretfully--dreams of falling, circus props, and dancing with ghosts.

Please enjoy today's visual treat courtesy of photographer Sarah Moon.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Reinventing Beauty, Chapter 2 / Day 4 -- At First Sight



At first sight, it seems that this school of young monks are all queued for a shopping spree at Zara.  Seemingly contradictory for those who purport to eschew all things of this world.  Still, let's not jump to easy judgement or faulty conclusion.

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama states that, " According to Buddhist psychology, most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities. The pursuit of the objects of our desire and attachment involves the use of aggression and competitiveness as supposedly efficacious instruments. These mental processes easily translate into actions, breeding belligerence as an obvious effect. Such processes have been going on in the human mind since time immemorial, but their execution has become more effective under modern conditions. What can we do to control and regulate these 'poisons' - delusion, greed, and aggression? For it is these poisons that are behind almost every trouble in the world. "

Yet nothing is black or white, and as Buddhist teachings repeatedly advise, before that other world (or nirvana) is experienced upon enlightenment, we live on this earth, and really this is all we know or are able to experience at this present time.  Meeting basic needs such as shelter, food, and clothing properly addresses the requirements of the physical body; and after this had been completed, who among us can argue that inner piece is certainly much easier to attain upon a full stomach.   Perhaps this group of monks are lined up to get into a temple located next to the department store, or waiting to board the next bus for transport back to the monastery.  Or, perhaps the anticipation of comfortable cotton underwear available at deeply discounted prices is enough to elicit smiles of happiness at the thought of being aptly cosseted for the journey ahead.  

Please enjoy today's visual treat, and practice compassion for all earthly beings.


(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Reinventing Beauty, Chapter 2 / Day 3 -- Out of t...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Reinventing Beauty, Chapter 2 / Day 3 -- Out of t...: moviestillarmyofshadows Peeps, To the dismay of (some) fundamentalists, bigots and hypocrites, the mighty a...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reinventing Beauty, Chapter 2 / Day 3 -- Out of the Shadows



To the dismay of (some) fundamentalists, bigots and hypocrites, the mighty and powerful right-wing faction of the Republican party, and a collective group of traditionalists who fear that things are not they way they have been since the beginning of time (or this country as they imagine it to be, or should be), Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) was repealed effective this morning at 12:01 am.  ONN internet boards and chat rooms have been abuzz with postings which range from the absurd to ludicrous, such as, 'what will happen on the battlefield if men decline arm-to-arm blood transfusions once they realize that the donor is a homosexual and probably a carrier of the AIDS virus,' to 'I don't want to see guys swapping spit in the shower,' and, 'what if I get propositioned while we are in the foxhole together?'  Statements like these reflect the ignorance, bigotry, and prejudice that created a hostile working environment for closeted homosexuals within our armed forces, a decades-long era where professional, patriotic service-members were subjected to harassment, verbal abuse, physical violence, death, court-martial, and a dishonorable discharge without any means of redress.  Quite ironic how others still cling to Old Testament, and cite passages where an angry g/God preaches of a fiery end to those who dare break laws of nature; slavery, the subservience of w/Woman, battle for issues of faith and so forth all seemed perfectly in keeping with the coda, and remain unquestioned.

20 or more other countries around the world have long abolished prohibitions against homosexual troops, and truth be told, their armies have not disintegrated into a free-for-all libidinous bacchanal/back-room orgy/endless f*uck fest.  Instead, today, equality and dignity has been upheld for segments of our society once regulated to places of disguise, deception, and shame.  With the repeal of DADT, American joins ranks with the more enlightened countries of the world in perpetuating equality and human dignity.  As well as honesty and transparency, in acknowledging that to die for one's country necessarily entails living in one's country, a facet of a person's existence previously withheld under the tenets of DADT.  Bravo to President Obama, HRC, thousands of advocacy groups, millions of voters and activists, brave service-members, bloggers, and everyone else who helped to make this historic moment a reality for ourselves and future generations.  Indeed for millions, coming out of the shadows and into the light makes today almost metaphysical in scope, and certainly a positive marker in mankind's quest for a more balanced and comprehensive understanding of our shared humanity.

Shane (proud American and former service-member)

PS:  Soundtrack for today is Sylvester's You Make Me Feel (So Real)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reinventing Beauty, Chapter 2 / Day 2 -- Myth + Science


Growing up, I remember the myths that surrounded the Easter Island statues.  They seemed quite menacing and almost grotesque to my sheltered sensibilities.  The figures were 14-33 feet tall, and weighed about 80 tons each.  Stories varied from their placement being the work of aliens or giants and so forth.  No one at that time, meaning the early 1970's, was able to satisfactorily explain how the figures could have been placed in their upright positions without the use of winches, cables, or cranes.  Everyone was mystified, and remained so for quite some time.  Much later, perhaps in the last decade of the last century, radiocarbon dating of the island's geological strata(s) revealed that the now barren island was once heavily forested; all evidence suggests that palm trees were cut and used to make rollers (rolling logs to transport the figures over long distances), and leaves of hauhau trees were harvested in the making of hemp rope which were used in transporting the figures from the location of manufacture (all evidence suggests that they were carved near the only source of stone, an area of volcanic rock on the eastern side of the island) to positions along the island's perimeter.  

It seems fairly reasonable to accept that the scientific evidence has produced facts which support the assertion that native tribes moved the giant figures to their positions using ancient technology.  UFO's, aliens, and a long-vanished tribe of giants now seem quite irrational and certainly the stuff of dime-store novels placed near the check-out counter, alongside glossy fan magazines, steamy romance serials, and tawdry confessionals by D-list celebrities.  

How I wish that some of our politicians--recently viewed on nationally televised debates--would acknowledge that global warming is no longer a myth, and is instead upon our doorsteps.  If we continue to subscribe to the Drill, Baby, Drill ideology, it means that like the early inhabitants of the Easter Islands, we will continue to mismanage our natural resources until thorough extinction and the eventual demise of the earth's inhabitants.  What will future generations think of our present day society as they examine the tattered artifacts and barren environment that we leave behind if our actions continue unchecked.  It is a pretty sobering thought, and one which should concern T-baggers/red and blue candidates.

The story continues........

Hope you enjoy today's visual treat, and please remember to recycle (as well as to vote)!!


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reinventing Beauty, Chapter 2 / Day 1 -- Rustic Simplicity



First of all I would like to thank all of my (old-school) peeps and FB peeps who were kind enough to send Happy Birthday greetings.  I am deeply touched by your kindness, and will share the love with my twin brother Kurt who also loves chocolate birthday-cake and rum-raisin ice-cream.  Mr. Sports had a small push-cart from which he sold home-made, hand-churned ice-cream.  I can't remember if he passed our house everyday, or only on weekend afternoons; the ring of his bell could turn even the stoniest of hearts into bright-eyed anticipation at the seasonal offerings of fruit-flavored cold, rich ice-cream with bits of mango, crabu, pine-apple, and other tropical fruits.  Whether it was the small amount of alcohol--or the mere thought of--in the rum-raisin ice-cream that caused my mother to sit dreamy-like on the porch swing for an hour or so after lunch, this infrequent freedom was also delicious.  In this time of relaxed vigilance, my brother could wander the neighborhood unchecked, and I would rifle through her wardrobe in search of hidden secrets.  

Today's visual treat shows an old, abandoned farmhouse with wonderfully aged brick walls and a high ceiling which would have made it perfect for staying cool during the summer.  The style reminds me a lot of the style of homes found in many parts of Mexico, and it is one which was a source of inspiration for architect Luis Barragan (as well as many others).  I also had this model in my mind while I worked on preliminary sketches for my friend E's dream home to be built back in Oaxaca.  He and I talked in length about the front facade of the house which was largely based on the architecture of houses that I had seen along city streets in Merida.  Numerous factors were discussed:  type and size of windows, a tile roof, a open central patio, and covered upper-level back porch for viewing the distant mountain range.  We both agreed that a sturdy front door and metal grilles covering the lower-level windows was absolute necessary given the increase of break-ins and armed robbery. 

 It was certainly quite exciting to chat about this creative endeavor and all the possibilities, marred only by the reality that E lives in a state of limbo.  Sending money home to build a house which he may never enjoy until he is much older is a common custom among many 'uninvited' laborers, yet not entirely satisfactory; extended periods of work here in America without the necessary documents puts one at the risk of exploitation by greedy landlords and bosses, harassment by the police in some counties or districts, as well as the risk of a lengthy internment in an immigrant-detention center makes the idea of the American dream almost a fallacy.  As is sending back 12 or 13 million workers who clean/cook/construct, produce/pick/pack our food-crops, wash/wipe/tend babies for working parents, work fast-food/family/chain/white table-cloth restaurants for low wages and tips.  Equally a fallacy is a cyber/virtual/physical fence that stretches across our borders for the purpose of security or control.  Or profit?

Muebete Obama.  (We) are growing tired, yet we remember your promise.  Muebete, Obama.  AHORA!!!

Thanks for reading our little blog, and hope you enjoy Monday's visual treat.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Visual Treats / Design Tips from Wise(r) Voices -- Day 5/ Jamie Drake


This evening there was no mistaking the fact that fall is upon us.  Grey skies and swollen clouds hovered above, and a cool morning of 40 or 50 is predicted which should make a very pleasant soup-and-sandwich day tomorrow.  I splurged this evening and bought a beautiful orchid to sit next to my bed.  The bedroom is painted chalky white, with a dark mahogany chest of drawers and glass-front display cabinet filled with carved animal figures/lacquer boxes/Burmese water bottles; for some time now I've used accents of blue and orange, and today while out grocery shopping without much thought I selected a small phalaenopsis from which tall spires of magenta blossoms seemed to delicately hover, almost like butterflies.  I am so pleased with the effect that I almost expect an editor or designer from Elle Decor or House Beautiful to spring from behind the wall-screen and pin a gold star on me.  Also proud that it only took this little plant (bought for 13 dollars at Trader Joe's), switching out bed pillows, re-arranging some framed prints, and a little tidying up to give my tiny, walk-down apartment such a cosmopolitan feel. With numerous lamps providing soft illumination, the mood is inviting and sensuous.  Oh, la, la!!

Speaking of an Elle Decor designer, the incomparable Jamie Drake comes immediately to mind.  Superb at color, and a true master at mixing periods and styles, he is the featured designer for the last day of this week's peep-show devoted to design tips from wise(r) voices.  On the matter of color, he states, "My take on color is painterly.  I find unusual shades and juxtapositions intriguing. Each room and each project offer different opportunities--sometimes I employ colorful accents in a more neutral space and other times a room will be slathered with color in a variety of tones and shades.  Every surface is absolutely considered even if its one that's off-white or gray--it's all part of an overall vision."  

Please enjoy today's visual treat, and have a wonderful weekend.


PS:  On yesterday's drive home, Primitive Radio Gods' Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth  (courtesy of WRNR 103.1 FM) was still magical after all these years....


(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Visual Treats / Design Tips from Wise(r) Voices -...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Visual Treats / Design Tips from Wise(r) Voices -...: Designer Stan Topol photocourtesyhousebeautiful Peeps, The democratization of media, especially on-line, now allows everyone (and an...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Visual Treats / Design Tips from Wise(r) Voices --...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Visual Treats / Design Tips from Wise(r) Voices --...: Peeps, It's day 2 of the series devoted to design tips from wise(r) voices. The dean of American dec...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Visual Treats / Design Tips from Wise(r) Voices --...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Visual Treats / Design Tips from Wise(r) Voices --...: imagecourtesyfinderskeepermarketinc.blogspot Peeps, Never has the moon seem so full as it did tonight. It hung low over the east, and ...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Visual Treats/Design Tips from Wise(r) Voice -- Da...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: Visual Treats/Design Tips from Wise(r) Voice -- Da...: imagecourtesysheilabridgesdesign Peeps, The peep-show devoted to design tips from wise(r) voices continues today with th...

Visual Treats/Design Tips from Wise(r) Voice -- Day 4/Sheila Bridges



The peep-show devoted to design tips from wise(r) voices continues today with the amazing Sheila Bridges, one of my favorite designers who consistently creates interiors that are colorful, layered, textured, and always intimate.  Love her style, love her look, and love her!!


On style, Sheila Bridges states that, “I enjoy mixing different styles and periods of furniture as well as combining different textures and patterns.  Drawing from a diverse range of styles is inherently interesting in decorating - it brings the space to life. I think it is also one way that you can make a space authentically yours.".

On color: "I am especially fond of blues and greens. I like to experiment with different color combinations. On one project, it may be greens and grays, the next it may be pinks, yellows, and blacks, or blues and browns."

And, on inspiration:  “I’ve always been greatly inspired by the beauty of nature—things as simple as the texture or color of moss on a rock or the stripes of a bird’s feather. I always try to incorporate these elements into my work. I’m also greatly inspired by my travels. Some of my favorite design inspirations have come from Morocco, Southern Italy and parts of Asia—but I can also find inspiration in local destinations like South Beach in Miami or in New Orleans. I am like a sponge - soaking up all the visual cues and color combinations."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Visual Treats / Design Tips from Wise(r) Voices -- Day 3/Stephen Sills & James Huniford



Never has the moon seem so full as it did tonight.  It hung low over the east, and almost grazed the surface of the river.  Looking up at its brilliant surface, I imagined that I could see mountains and valleys, sometimes partially obscured beneath layers of pale grey and white clouds.  Later in the night, I had another opportunity to view the moon which appeared even closer and larger.  What if moon burst into 100 million sharp jagged parts and a shard pierced by beating heart?  I surprise myself when I recall such thoughts, and I am amused by the erratic ways in which my mind races.  Sometimes surprises are fun and sweet like raspberry jam hidden under layers of creamy chocolate cake, or touching like an unexpected kiss from a loved one--or the one who is the object of our secret desire(s).  And at other times, some surprises remind us of other realities perhaps in opposition to ours.  Like the initial surprise upon hearing the chants (or shouts) of the tea-baggers upon the issue of uninsured persons in this country.  Surprise gave way to unease and then alarm upon hearing the words to the effect of--let the uninsured die!  What could have pierced the hearts of that particular audience to cause such disregard for the dignity of human life, I wonder??

Please enjoy tomorrow's visual treat, and thanks for being wonderful (and kind) readers.


On the subject of color, Stephen Sills and James Huniford write that the first rule is:  There is no such thing as an ugly color.  Any color can come alive and be made to work wonderfully when it is put with compatible colors.  Even the muddiest brown can be glorious when paired with the right blues and white.  Some of the most chic schemes involve shades of brown, gray, or dark green, paired with wonderful complimentary colors.  If you truly love a color, you can make it work. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Visual Treats / Design Tips from Wise(r) Voices -- Day 2/Albert Hadley


It's day 2 of the series devoted to design tips from wise(r) voices.  The dean of American decorating--Albert Hadley says that, "Ceilings must always be considered. They are the most neglected surface in a room." I subscribe wholeheartedly to this dictum; ceilings are the perfect location for paper, a stencilled treatment, or a color other than blah-blah flat decorator's white, or that mess of pigment commonly called 'eggshell.'  For the bold-hearted, this expanse of surface is ideal to play with a complimentary color to that which has been applied on walls and trim.  Nothing is worse than looking up at a ceiling which seems timid, uninspired, or an afterthought.  In Hadley's NY apartment (pictured above), metallic (leaf) tea-paper has been skillfully applied, and the reflection is quite stunning.  If your painting contractor insists on an application of flat paint for masking imperfections, instruct him to instead reach for joint compound/Spackle/sanding pads/primer, and to forget about a quick and easy exit.  The finished product is well worth the extra time and expense.

Have a wonderful day tomorrow, and keep looking up!!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Visual Treats / Design Tips from Wise(r) Voices -- Day 1/Stan Topol

Designer Stan Topol


The democratization of media, especially on-line, now allows everyone (and anyone) to share their thoughts on almost anything (and everything).  While it is generally agreed that this new state of affairs has loosened the vice-like grip of editorial control long exercised by magazines and newspapers as they now must vigorously compete for the general public's readership and subscription revenue, something else has occurred.  Besides the opportunity for neglected and new talent to publicize their services and achievements, a development which works undoubtedly to the advantage of a silent majority who have long and patiently toiled in the shadows without any sort of recognition, the atmosphere of interior design--and here we speak solely of the way in which home decor presents itself--seems at times something akin to that of a carnival.  The many 'looks' which proliferate countless blogs speak more to the photographer's frame or the page layout than the way in which people actually live; could it be that the stylist's savvy outweighs the designer's vision?

A look quite popular in recent years is the use of the 'natural.'  Taxidermy and horns abound in interiors varying from Annapolis (MD) to Manhattan (NY) to Zinnia (OH).  Feathers, shells, and butterflies follow next in popularity, and can be seen propped in book-cases, adorning fireplace-mantels, and displayed across any bare surface not filled by art-books, vases of branches or white orchids, and massed groups of candle-sticks.  For the sure indicator of contemporary chic, get out the zebra-skin rug, darling!!  With a demand so high, it's a wonder that any of these four-footed beauties remain to gallop across the plains.  Lastly, pets (usually cats and dogs) figure prominently and face us unapologetic from atop beds, armchairs, and ottomans.  In every article, the owners state that slipcovers, corduroy/wool/cotton, and routine brushing make hair-free living a breeze.  I beg to differ!!

This week's series is devoted to 'Design Tips From Wise(r) Voices,' and shares notes of experience and sources of inspiration from a number of extremely talented designers who have 'walked the walk.'  I hope that these little nuggets of wisdom will guide us all in the next few weeks as many of us contemplate the transition from our summer look to one which suits the advent of cooler evenings, the changes in the garden, and seasonal festivities.

On the matter of a room's color, designer Stan Topol says, " I don't like painted Sheet-rock, and white walls are sterile.  This black patent wall-paper is glamorous and makes the walls disappear.  I like light floors with dark walls.  The floor reflects the light shining down on it and pops it back up."


PS:  Tonight's soundtrack is provided by SSRADIO Deep & Soulful.  (I love you DJ Shep)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Weekend Visual Treat (for all of my Design-obsessed and FB Peeps)

CHAC/Mayan God of Rain


I have always been drawn to them; they seem to pull me in, and then hold me captive as my mind and imagination runs endlessly through vast areas of unchecked possibilities--some sensual and some not, perhaps heart pumping erotic but I will never tell--and then back again to the image upon which I dare not lay my head for fear of nirvana.

It may have been an earlier copy of National Geographic, or the mid-day Sunday bouts held on Bird's Isle where shirt-less pugilists performed in front of a rowdy, blood-thirsty crowd of sport-fans and gamblers.  Dare say it could have been a younger Henry Rollins, taunting, sweaty, fierce; he is forever locked in my memory, an image of an alpha, the face and voice of a past persistently present.  Yes, yes, I remember him now, that easily conjured image--alone in the spotlight, he (is) with arms akimbo.  In the French quarter, they appeared like ghosts, or dreams, from out of dimly lit bars, disappearing around corners and against brick walls, calling down from balconies or dragging speaker boxes and sinister guitars. They, almost all, had them and I had wanted one, like forever.

Catalogues and tear sheets of Maori/Celtic/Japanese (designs) were dismissed, for I am neither.  Nor sailor, construction-worker, biker, or sand-pirate.  CHAC appeals to my love of rain, provides a link to my father's father's father, and pays homage to gods and monster, beasts and men, celestial bodies and concepts sometimes best left unsaid.  Now permanently incised on my neck, it is part of me, something and somewhere beyond surface ornament and mere artifice. Skin as canvas, mark of the warrior, through the end of time--mine.  

Please enjoy tonight's visual treat -- Lord CHAC (Mayan God of Rain).


PS:  Tonight's tune is We Was So Close by Track N Field, courtesy of

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rainy Night Visual Treat for all my design-obsessed Peeps + FB Peeps




I can't remember what came first:  seeing her (on an album cover) or hearing her (at a late-night club).  Suffice to say, what came after is memorable.  That is, pure unadulterated groove rhythms for on and off the dance floor.  This Jamaican-American model/singer/actress wowed listeners, club and and concert-goers in the US and Europe with her hypnotic beat and sultry vocals, strong visual presence, and Surrealist, New Wave and Pop-inspired stage sets and costumes.  In the 1970's Jones adopted a severe, androgynous look  that was much copied, and admired by other artists such as Annie Lenox and Lady Gaga.  Muse to Andy Warhol, close friend of Keith Haring, and inspiration to millions of fans, her music still resonates.  She remains the fierce, undisputed Queen of Club (Music) and makes present day divas look like little girls playing dress-up.


Enjoy today's visual treat.



Wednesday, September 7, 2011



It seems only natural to contemplate the movie Blade Runner at this time.  It's been raining all day, with the forecast calling for rain tomorrow and parts of Friday.  As devotees of the movie will recall, for most of the movie, with the possible exception of interior shots and the original ending, rains falls and falls and falls.  No kidding, but when I went to see the movie in 1982 or 1983 at the small movie theatre at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, it was also raining.  There were about four or five viewers other than myself, and after the movie ended, I stood outside under the small canopy watching the rain fall. I remember thinking thought that never before had I been so blown away by a movie, with the possible exception of The Man Who Fell to Earth, and that had been perhaps three years earlier.

Blade Runner effortlessly blends elements of film noir and science fiction.  The main character--Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter of sorts, is weary, and wants out of the system; he is forced to accept just one last job-assignment, and in completing this he subsequently destroys the world he knows and his previously held convictions regarding life and love .  Against the backdrop of futuristic Los Angeles, good and evil become interchangeable; memory--the marker of one's 'humanity' can be genetically engineered; and questions of mortality and morality float weightlessly throughout the movie's plot and dialogue.

The movie eerily mirrors what contemporary society now faces:  omnipresent multinational corporations who influence governments for purposes of profit; security forces, both internal and external, ceaselessly monitor perceived threats with little regard for issues of privacy, and without oversight; the environment is brutally mined for its resources and then discarded as technology demands even more fodder; nature (in the form of animals) is absent, and life-like simulations fill this void; the rich barricade themselves in secluded enclaves while the poor subsist on the barest necessities amongst urban waste and decay.

Dark, brooding, and mysterious (with a terrific soundtrack and wonderful acting), Blade Runner remains a cult favorite, and is definitely on my list of top 10 favorite movies.


PS:  The original release, the Directors Cut, and the Final Cut versions are available through Netflix and your local video-store.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011



John Pawson's interiors are just as mysterious, austere, and elegant as when I first saw them 20 years  ago.  While enrolled in NOVA's Interior Design course of studies, I stumbled across photos of Pawson's work published in one of the shelter magazines; something clicked in place and I realized that the excesses of Architectural Digest and the floral prettiness of House & Garden had been surpassed by this--the quiet authority and sincerity of Pawson's vision.  Minimalism was a term which I had seen in the context of art, when discussing artists such as Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Richard Serra, and the incomparable Agnes Martin.  To see the term minimalism applied to the area of interior design and architecture was almost revolutionary to me, and certainly to many others who were also tired of seeing ill-designed homes with rooms smothered by yards of window-dressing, tables overloaded by objects, and bad lighting.

Rowan Moore in an article for The Observer wrote that Pawson, now 61, is the architect both blessed and cursed by the label "minimalist." He emerged in the 80's, in a time of postmodern gaudiness, classical revivalism, and collapsed faith in the ideas of modernist architecture.  He was a breath of fresh air, removing superfluity from interiors so that you could better appreciate their qualities of light, proportion and material.  Lines were almost always straight, corners right-angled, finishes white, black, grey or natural.  Amid the restraint and austerity there would be the luxury of stuff, such as the veins of marble or the grain of wood.  Projects would often include and adventure in procurement such as a wonderful piece of stone found on an Italian mountain, hewn into a bath and craned into a west London terrace, the sweat and drama of which would be belied by the calm of the finished space.

Moore notes that,  Pawson arrived from outside the usual channels of architectural apprenticeship.  He never completed his studies, and never worked for another architectural practice, but only for the designer Shiro Kuramata, whom Pawson discovered in his 20s when drifting through Japan.  His inspirations included the art of Donald Judd and his early fans included the writer Bruce Chatwin.  "It seemed to me the notes were almost perfect," he {Chatwin} wrote.  "I walked around the walls, watching its planes, shadows and proportions in a state of near elation."

That elation still continues today for a legion of followers and admirers.  Erika Stahlman of aestheteblog posts that,  'Pawson has been  a constant inspiration for artists and designers all around the world.  His spaces are bold and clean.  He loves plaster walls, sleek and monolithic wood forms and shapes, and seems to always engage with natural landscapes through observatory-like windows, which maximize the exposition to sun-light, while at the same time connecting interior and exterior spaces.' 

Pawson, as well as Luis Barragan and Tadao Ando all transcend mere architecture.  Indeed, I regard them as magicians of space and creators of beauty.  They are alchemists who transform base materials into sanctuaries where poetic solitude enriches the soul.

Please enjoy today's visual treat.


PS:  John Pawson's essays can be found on-line, and his numerous books are available through The Strand Bookstore.

Monday, September 5, 2011



The city of Stuttgart, Germany was my home for a number of years.  More precisely, the Army base on which I lived was located in the suburban hamlet of Moehringen, an easy train ride away from downtown.
The city center was located deeper in the valley surrounded by hills dotted with small modern apartment-buildings, vineyards, and open parks.  For a kid who had left Belize one morning on TACA’s 11am flight to Miami, and then five months later (after training courses in Kentucky and Indiana) landed in Stuttgart via Franfurt, everything seemed foreign, wondrous, and dreamlike.  I quickly learned to love pommes frites with mayo, grilled sausages with sharp, tangy mustard, and dark German beer. On my base, the troops were encouraged to get out and see the best of the continent.  Within a couple hours drive, inexpensive bus tours took the adventurous to Amsterdam, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg.  3 and 4 day passes allowed for longer trips to Italy and Spain.  Everyone shipped Belgian lace table-cloths, cuckoo-clocks, and blown Murano glass trinkets back home to Mom and Grand-ma.

 I especially enjoyed the experience of working alone from 4-12 midnight; night after night, I processed personnel paperwork on a now-obsolete 1st or 2nd generation WANG computer, my only companion was the radio on which RADIO LONDON could be heard crystal clear.  Bands such as Crowded House, Bronski Beat, and Soft Cell shared the limelight with A Flock Of Seagulls, Human League, and Madness.  Down at King’s Club, weekend revelers grooved to the sounds of Evelyn ’Champagne’ King, Eartha Kitt, Falco, and Nina Hagen.  Punk and Goth hairstyles and clothing was particularly favored by many of Stuttgart’s urban youth, and this was easily evidenced by any train ride through the city where mohawked and pierced teens sat carefully next to uneasy grandmothers smartly attired in tweed overcoats, scarves, and sensible pumps—they proudly wearing a style representative of the time(s) just before the war. 

Some things haven’t changed:  I still stay up way too late at night listening to music, now more easily accessed through Internet Radio and ITUNES.  Boiled cabbage, rye-bread, and wiener/jager/zigeuner schnitzel makes me nostalgic for the time spent in Germany and the friends I made there.  For staying in touch with my European experience, NETFLIX helps with a nice selection of foreign movies and off-beat indies, as does the Young Concert Series at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., and viewing contemporary art by Keifer, Baselitz, Penck and other neo-expressionist painters at the Hirshhorn Museum.  As well as the sly humor of Heidi Klum who keeps Project Runway from succumbing to bland niceness, or an even more false ‘reality.’ 

Please enjoy today’s visual treat, and have a cold lager on me!!