As a creative professional, I often come up against the notion that a client knows someone who can do the job cheaper. It may be a different agency, but sometimes it is someone's aunt or cousin that just got Photoshop. And they can always do it cheaper. Because they aren't as good. There is a huge disparity between good and bad design, and in this industry you get what you pay for.
Cue Paula Scher's design templates. The idea is that you download a design template and hey presto! you have a brand identity. To me, what she is saying is that you don't need a design professional to create an identity – you just need a template and a computer. Yes, perhaps some designers aren't very good, and what you end up with is something like the templates shown. But a good designer does custom, crafted work. A logotype is not about the typeface, it's about what is appropriate and right for the client. If you slap a typeface on a page, that is not a logo. It doesn't replace a designer. Yes, you can choose a letterhead like a card at Hallmark but it isn't going to brand you like a considered and proprietary logo. If you're the same as everyone else, get a template. If you have something particular to offer, get a professional.
Sometimes there are those things that you don't want to tell anyone about (let along blog) because you want to keep it a secret, you don't want anyone else to know about it. If you tell people, soon the press would have their hands on it and it will be ruined forever. I felt that way about this but it was outed anyway.
Sweetu, Karen and I felt this way about Labour and Wait for a long time. Labour and Wait is the kind of shop that you feel only you know about, even though it is just a stone's throw from London's famous Brick Lane, the environs for the likes of Gilbert and George. Why did we think that we were the only ones that fell in love with their bristle brushes and enamel milk pots?
Because we weren't. What did Timeout London vote as the best shop in London last year? Not DSM, or Smythson, nor Steinberg and Tolkien. No, their favorite shop was our favorite shop. Shock that a) we actually agreed with the press and b) our beloved shop was also beloved to many, many others led to confusion. On the one hand, we were so pleased that the little shop that could, did, but on the other...well, people would go to it! The tiny shop would be inundated with not passersby, but destinationists that read about it in a magazine. That's success for you.
I have a few things from Labour and Wait (which I will dutifully post in good time) and have been prevented by Michael from bringing back a broom from there from London to New York. But what I am lusting after right now is this folio bag. It looks like it would perfectly enclose a MacBook Pro and seem like you were going fishing at the same time. A better choice than the Jack Spade that Michael keeps toting around, mainly because you won't see 10 other people carrying it down Mercer Street when you're going for a meeting. Sigh, I wish London's favorite shop were over here...
I'm not really one for signing up for the myriad services that have popped up with the wonder that is the internet. I don't need Facebook to keep me in touch with my loved ones (although that's how my now-nomadic brother chooses to let people know where he is currently. Everest Base Camp next week) and I refuse to have a myspace page.
Sarit invited me to join Good Reads and I was a little dubious. I mean, I don't pay any attention to my Netflix queue and don't watch the subsequently bad films that keep filling my mailbox. Perhaps if their new service worked on a Mac I would actually watch the films. But no, that's only for pasty PC people. I am hoping my friend Melissa is going to take over my queue for me and choose less ambitious films, or certainly ones without subtitles.
But Good Reads is actually good! It catalogs what you have read, what you rate, what you're going to read and the same for your friends. I used to keep a reading diary, something my A level English Literature teacher recommended it (remember her Laura – Miss Frasier?) and although it sounds like something only sad geeks do, it's a really useful exercise. Not only do you choose books differently depending on what's going on in your life, remembering what you read and when is almost like re-reading a diary, well for me anyway. So join Good Reads and geek out with your friends. It'll either make you realize how shallow you are or how damned cultured. I think so far, I'm somewhere in between.
It's commonly thought that carrots are orange and that ones of other colors – white, yellow, purple – are rarer varieties, special ones that are more difficult to find. Have you ever asked yourself this question? Why are carrots orange? I'm sure it keeps you up at night.
At the beginning of its cultivation, carrots were normally yellow or purple. It was the Netherlands that championed the orange carrot, as a symbol of the House of Orange and of Dutch Independence, the pointy orange root vegetable became its mascot.
Blinded by our orange-carrot-eating-ways, we were excited to see purple carrots again at the Farmers' Market this year, alongside a bevvy of other purple foods. MIssing were the purple corn, peppers and scallions, but we made do with potatoes, carrots and radish sprouts. Apparently purple food gives you more anti-cancer anthocyanin-rich benefits, but as the daughter of an oncologist and the sister of a radiologist, I say just eat lots of fresh foods and stay out of the sun...
While most people will remember the Summer of 2007 by the insipid, soulless and electronically enhanced song "Umbrella" by Rihanna, mine will be replayed by the sites and sounds of Conjunto Guantanamo. I really don't know where to begin, or end for that matter, because Conjunto Guantanamo lives and moves within a fluid world between the past, present and future, bringing together people, sounds and memories within our neighborhood of DUMBO, Brooklyn. Anchored by conga player Ulises Beato and emancipated by lead singer and percussionist "Chino" Bernardo Ponz, their effortless and heartfelt forays are supported by an ever changing line up of musicians-musicians that can play that tune in two notes.
As we are bombarded by images of overproduced, over sponsored and over hyped musical acts and idols, it couldn't have been more refreshing to have experience Conjunto Guantanamo on an improvised stage with simple, traditional instruments and an innate, classic style of days gone by. My journey to their discovery was a wonderful path that lead to the making of new friends and reconnection with old ones through luck, happenstance or the grace of some unnamed god. But then again, Cuban music is the music of relationships with friends and community. It is the recognition of the beauty in simplicity or even the mundane. It is about embracing your circumstance and celebrating the good and difficult while recognizing that it is all life.
I discovered classic Cuban music through Cristina Garcia's 1992 novel "Dreaming in Cuban" where she made numerous reference to Beny Moré's music as being the soundtrack of the main character's life. It was only natural that I had to hear for myself what she was so moved by. Although I don't speak Spanish (many of the songs have since been translated for me), the song's beauty and meaning reached out and struck that universal chord that all artists strive to play. Therefore when Conjunto Guantanamo plays a Moré favorite, or something more obscure, I am moved and drawn into their world to experience a moment and place that is timeless and nameless.
You can catch Conjunto Guantanamo at Superfine, 5 Front and ReBar in DUMBO. Then you can watch Chino's ageless face and gold laced smile as his wire frame moves under his cheap suit and straw hat. You can hold your sweating glass and drink in the joy of musicians playing music out of love for music. And you can protect your summer memories from the downpour of "Umbrella".
Right or wrong? Right, yes, yes, yes! No, wrong. I don't know, I'm confused. I shouldn't be attracted to this, but I am. A woman with a moustache, a woman with a moustache tattooed on her finger no less.
No, no, no, this is not a new thing, it has been happening since the age of 13 or so when I started to discover girls and women with those ever so lovely and slight moustaches. Oh yes, there is of course my grandmother's. That prickly tickle that I felt when we greeted each other with that quick little stiff-lipped smack. But that is not what I'm talking about really.
I'm talking about that lovely little growth of light silky hair, a velvet shadow if you will, on the upper lip, labia in Latin, of those lovely ethnic girls that I seemed to be attracted to ever since thumbing through the Polynesian issue of National Geographic as a youth. But as girls will do, they turn into women, women with access to women's magazines that tell them that hair must go! These same women then have access to waxing, threading and lasers that will remove what they now believe to be a masculine trait that is unattractive to the other sex. Rubbish I say, rubbish!
Until today, all I had to titillate this ungodly attraction would be shopping trips in Manhattan with Natasha where I would become overwhelmed as we walked past the shop girls sporting their field of silky wisps lip hair as they shouted "next"! Now there is our friend J.T. (formerly J.W.) with her freshly tattooed on again, off again finger-stache to tease and confuse me further. Just look at that slight upturn of the finely groomed Zapata, it's killing me. All I can say is that it takes big balls to be a real woman like J.T. Her man T.T. couldn't be luckier. Natasha, are you reading this, is there an Errol Flynn, Chaplin or Selleck in our future?
When Thérèse saw our beautifully strange crop of Mexican cilantro growing on our deck (see above) she insisted on cooking us Mexican food to celebrate it. Who were we to deny her? We hadn't used the shiny, spiky leaves for anything yet and were still amazed that the tiny leaf we bought then was such a huge prickly bush of a plant now.
Her beau made the most amazing margheritas I have ever had, with freshly squeezed grapefruit, lime and lemon juice. On the table was homemade everything, down to the tortillas, starting with red tomato salsa, salsa verde, corn with lime, chilis and avocado, sofrito-enhanced red and black beans, and swordfish tacos. We rounded off with some tequila, grapegruit and lime sorbet I made. Thankfully I kept the dessert light this time because we needed the acidity of the sorbet to cut through all the food we ate.
Inspired after that dinner on Sunday night and Brian's mom's homemade tamales on Tuesday, we just had to keep within the Mexican theme for the rest of the week. So for lunch we made our own tortillas with some masa harina and a press borrowed from Thérèse. Michael made a filling with some cannelini beans, fresh chorizo and chicken and we ate them sprinkled with some minced Mexican cilantro, shredded lettuce and a squeeze of lime. As Stefan would say, de-lish!
There are some things that people never, ever make themselves at home. Things like peanut butter, marshmallows, even pastry. I'm one of those really annoying people that likes to make everything herself, the more laborious the better. I'm an A-type workaholic, and one of the few ways I can switch my brain off is to cook. And I like process, it's more interesting to me sometimes than outcome.
But I had never made my own crackers. I mean, who makes crackers? You buy crackers from the store. There are so many kinds available now (I really like those black ones) that you really needn't make them, right?
Well, I had a go. Mainly because I saw a recipe and it looked easy enough. And it was. Very much like making a pastry dough, you just roll out dough and cut it into slices. The most exciting part was flattening the cracked pepper into the dough with a rolling pin to make sure it stayed put. Brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Maldon, they are just popped in the oven and left to turn into crackers. I think the only thing I would do differently would be to cook them for a little longer and to try a few variations with herbs. But they went really well with this and I ended up eating a lot of them just on their own.
Maybe I will try making crumpets tomorrow.
This gingham shirt has been keeping me looking smart and cool all summer long. I've been a big fan of Margaret Howell for some time now and own quite a
few pieces. The MHL collection is her diffusion line, which is priced pretty reasonably compared to her name line. The fit of this line comes up a little bigger than regular sizing as the collection leans towards a work-wear inspired aesthetic. I got this shirt in an XS, however it is a very relaxed fit.
You can read about Margaret Howell here as I don't really feel worthy enough to say any more.