August 19th, 2014

Topo Designs Fleece Jacket

About April or so, though I can’t explain exactly why, I decided I should own a sorta norm-core-ish fleece piece. I wanted it tan or teddy-bear colored and tried (and tried and tried) to find an end-of-season Patagonia zip-up that I quite liked. But that just never panned out so I set my eyes on Topo Designs.

TopoDesignsJacket

Based out of Colorado, Topo’s Made in America mountain-wear treks through the natural-high vibe of 1970s camping gear but with surfy splashes of late 80s and early 90s shades.

FleeceJacketCoyote

Their Coyote-colored fleece pullover was out of stock for most of the spring, and too thick to slip into during the peak of summer. But you can already feel fall in the air round where I live, so this weekend I was finally able to layer up in my Topo. The way it feels in the cool morning wind when the sun shines right on it is sublime – like getting snuggled by cinnamon toast or something.

TopoDesignsJacket

I don’t think I’ve wanted to wear fleece since 1997, but right now it’s feeling really, really right.

    August 7th, 2014

    This “Making of Contra” video makes life worth it.

    As you will soon see in this new documentary about the creation of a not-that-new-anymore album, Rostam, the band’s smirky keyboard player, blacked out the white letters “YAM” on his favorite little keyboard so that it just reads “AHA” instead.

    AHA, for sure!

    The lives of these musical brainiacs are one brilliant lightbulb moment after another and I’m locked in the ultra-bright glow.

      August 5th, 2014

      Warby Parker – Waterway Collection

      I’ve been to the eye doctor no less than seven times in the past eight months. Something’s off with one of my eyelids and so after twenty-five years of wearing contact lenses almost constantly, I’m supposed to stick to a four-eyed life for the foreseeable future and only wear eyeglasses.

      WeltyWarbyParkerUnderwater

      It’s never been easy finding frames I’m a fan of, for myself or for my hubby Hurly. But there’s a bunch I’ve found at Warby Parker recently, and today they’re launching a summer-stretching update of some of their popular frames called the Waterway Collection.

      WP14010_PERCEY_500_SUN_TOPDOWN

      Inspired by splashy getaways both near and far, there’s optical and sunwear options ranging in shades as light as sea spray to dark as the ocean floor.

      PiperWarbyParkerUnderwater

      I ordered some stellar Warby Parker x Into The Gloss aviator optical glasses last week that are totally Trigonometry Tutor circa 1982. But I don’t want to squint through what’s left of summer’s shining so some prescription sunglasses are definitely in order.

      WP14010_GRIFFIN_200_SUN_TOPDOWN

      The Crystal Percey (second image from top) and the Whiskey Tortoise Griffin (above) are the new styles I’m seriously eyeing. Era-less and effortless, I could wear whatever I’d want with either of them.

      WarbyParkerWaterwayCollection

      Obviously I wouldn’t have opted for the eight months of eyelid irritation that’s led to my recent adventures in all-day/all-night eyewear, but the opportunity it’s now provided me to dive into a whole new segment of shopping and accessorizing is just fine and quite fun – allowing and inspiring me to refresh my entire aesthetic through the breezy ease of Warby Parker’s take on eyewear.

        July 28th, 2014

        Old Factory Soap Company

        Imagine the waves of the ocean being frozen mid-crest and that’s the ruggedly beautiful look of Old Factory Soap Company’s bars of organic soaps.

        OrganicSoaps

        For men, the Texas based skincare line batches together three Adventurously Scented bars into one brick-y little blue box.

        EventHorizonSoap

        Event Horizon combines olive, activated charcoal, and black iron oxide into a black mossy, moody little two oz. bar.

        WoodeSoap

        Flaxseed and French red clay combine for the pack’s color-blocked Woode bar, spicy if not camp-fiery in its cinnamon-y scent.

        OldFactorySoap
        Peppermint leaves, raw goat’s milk, and Virginian tobacco anoint the Herb & Soil slab as the most dawn-breaking of the bunch, cool and invigorating on mornings that feel everything but.

        Stacked atop one another like topographic tablets on my dresser, I found them almost too strikingly sculptural to pick a piece up and put to good use. But getting clean without black iron and such seemed suddenly super boring, so I got over it real quick.

         

          July 23rd, 2014

          Cinematic – The Terrace Theater

          Places speak to us, I can hear them saying things.

          TerraceTheaterMinneapolis

          In older spaces, like the Terrace Movie Theater right outside of Minneapolis, when I look at photos of its heyday I hear an excited voice saying, “This will be a great space, designed with care, making the people inside it feel important and the time they spend inside it feel important. This attention to design, this feeling, will bring people here and bring people back which will make the space a success and the business behind it profitable.”

          TerraceMovieTheater

          TerraceTheater

          Most commercial spaces (or schools or churches) built after 1979 or so have less inspiring things to say. Something more like, “America is fading and making a profit in it is so hard today. This bland, builder’s-grade structure will do well enough. It’ll keep investment costs and overhead low, and through this approach the space will have an easier time being a success and it won’t be so hard for the business behind it to become profitable.”

          Both these stories that spaces can tell you make sense, logical sense. But one story makes life better, and America better, and industry and craftsmanship and so much more so so much better.

          TerraceTheaterRobbinsdale

          The Terrace theater is like seven minutes from where I live, and one minute from the hospital my sister was born in. I don’t recall having ever been there before it closed in the late 1990s. But it still stands there today, tired and tattered within a parking lot growing so much wild, weedy greenery it looks like those “Earth After Mankind” Discovery Channel specials.

          Sigh.

          Apparently at The Terrace there was a TV Lounge for macho husbands to sit and watch sports games and such while their wives watched the latest chick-flick weepies in the theater proper on the big screen.

          What a place. What a time…

            July 16th, 2014

            Northwest Passage – The Road to Twin Peaks

            Northwest Passage, if you didn’t know, was the working title for what would eventually become the very best anything ever: Twin Peaks.

            TwinPeaksMural

            I was an impressionable and not fully-formed fourteen year-old when the series washed onto the shores of television, wrapping a dead girl in plastic and possessing my mind and spirit ever since like a supernatural demon. My bucket list isn’t terribly long, but touring the series’ shooting locations near Seattle has definitely sat toward the top of it for at least a decade now. Thanks to a Washington state wedding Hurly and I were invited to, my bucket list is now one entry shorter.

            Come see what I saw.

            GreatNorthernLodgeText

            The night before the wedding we stayed at the Salish Lodge and Spa in Snoqualmie, used as the exterior of the hotel where Special Agent Dale Cooper stays while investigating Laura Palmer’s murder.

            SalishRestaurant

            SalishWaterfall

            The interior scenes in the pilot were shot elsewhere, which made it all the more difficult for the lodge owner’s daughter Audrey to walk in on my breakfast and ask if my palms ever itched. But right below me and my (not) damn fine cup of coffee (cause I can’t really stand coffee) was perhaps Peaks’ most iconic location…

            SnoqualmieWaterfall

            …The falls outside the Great Northern! Just steps from the spa, the Snoqualmie Falls looked exactly how they do in the series’ opening credits, though perhaps less sepia-tinged. The stunning spray splashed up to my face as the show’s theme song flowed over my ever-humming lips. In this moment Twin Peaks wasn’t just a show, it was real a place after all, and I was in it, at last.

            TwinPeaksSchoolText

            On the far side of Snoqualmie’s historical district sat the high school where Laura’s classmates learn of her death. I couldn’t get inside since it was summer and shut up tight.

            TwinPeaksHighSchool

            But I could, and of course did, faithfully re-enact the scene of the un-named Twin Peaks Senior High School teacher running from this door, shrieking with her hands on her face right before the Principal tells the student body to go home and grieve with their families.

            TwinPeaksRoadSignText

            Not five minutes further down the road was the location of the Welcome To Twin Peaks road sign. Right behind Hurly, right where our ruby red rental car parked, that’s where the sign once stood. The summer foliage and mid-morning mist shroud the twinned mountain peaks in the distance compared to the image used in the first shot of the opening credits and on the show’s soundtrack album cover. I might’ve missed the spot altogether, honestly, if it wasn’t for the assistance of the otherwise useless Siri.

            PackardSawMillText

            Most of what was used as The Packard Saw Mill closed and collapsed years before, aside from this one building.

            TwinPeaksSheriffsOfficeText

            The office for the actual mill was used as the Sheriff’s Office. In the pilot, if you look past Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman you can see the mill right outside the interrogation room windows. The Sheriff’s Department structure, thankfully, hasn’t been torn down yet, although now it houses some sort of outdoor adventure company.

            TwinPeaksDinerText

            Next stop was Twede’s Cafe AKA The Double R Diner. The cafe’s interior is now decorated tragically with Tweedy Bird stuffed animals so I refused to sit and order a slice of cherry pie purely on principal.

            DoubleRDiner

            Instead I alternated cell phone selfies with D-SLR shots snapped courtesy of Hurly and recited my favorite Double R line of Donna Hayward dialogue. “Why don’t you sit here and hold hands and try and figure it out.”

            RoadhouseInteriorText

            Bar-brawly juke joint The Roadhouse was actually filmed using two locations. The interior was a Seattle performing arts center only my iPhone’s eye was able to enjoy.

            RoadhouseExterior

            The exterior was located outside Snoqualmie and no matter how hard I listened I couldn’t hear Julee Cruise crooning from inside.

            LauraPalmerHouseText

            Way out in Washington, far from anyone who might hear Cousin Maddy scream, was the Palmer Family home. Completely blocked from the street by towering bushes and thick brush it was eerie, sneaking through all that green to get a good glimpse, and thinking about all that had gone on inside that house. On the television show they never shot it from an angle that demonstrates  just how hidden the house really is from view, but seeing the truth of it, there was a sinister, symbolic sense to it.

            SnoqualmieFalls

            As our tour wound down, a dreariness came over me. I’d made it as far into a make believe place as is possible and there was an emptiness to that. I couldn’t ever get any deeper into Twin Peaks, or any closer to Cooper, or ever actually ask Audrey if she needed extra help with her amateur investigation into One Eyed Jack’s.

            The complete un-realness of something that has always been and felt so real to me was brought to light. And yet, even if the ugly emptiness of the modern world insists on tearing down every last saw mill structure or slapping Tweedy Birds all over its restaurant walls to remind me TV shows are just shows and they live for a while and then they die - Twin Peaks has always felt real to me and amazingly, it still essentially does.

             

              July 8th, 2014

              Wide-Brimmed & Banded

              Separately (totally separately, I swear) I bought a giant Sunbody brand straw hat from Ranchlands Mercantile

              RanchlandsHat

              And a banded collar indigo shirt that’s got a little bit of linen in it.

              JCrewBandedCollarShirt

              If I wear these separate purchases together I am suddenly an Amish extra from the movie Witness, or possibly a hip hemp farmer in Ojai.

              AmishWill

              Allusion to either such character isn’t totally unwelcome, I suppose.

                June 19th, 2014

                Black on Black

                It was January when they first caught my eye.

                February or so before I decided I for sure needed them…

                BirkenstockShoes

                Late (and still snowy) April before I thought it made any sense for a soul to be buying sandals in Minnesota…

                BirkenstockSandals

                And then suddenly everywhere/shop that I looked, the austere all-black Birkenstocks they call The Monterey (not Arizona) were sold out, a subversive style from a season or three ago. Seemingly never to be revived or replenished.

                BirkenstockMonterey

                Then June came, just about the earliest it makes sense to manual-up in Minneapolis, and I found a pair in Germany that only took a week to work their way to me.

                BirkenstockMontereyBlack

                A happy ending as summer finally gets around to beginning!

                They’re my third pair of Birkenstocks in as many years, but the way they bridge hippie-chic with Helmut Lang I thought them wonderfully wearable and insanely un-ignorable.

                  February 25th, 2014

                  Touring Tinseltown

                  The Ace hotel was our main excuse to return to L.A., but Hurly and I spent plenty of time out and about.

                  CaliforniaSurplusMart

                  SunburnCream

                  One of the stores we hadn’t checked out during last year’s visit was the California Surplus Mart which is where U.S. military goods go to live/die once they’re honorably discharged.

                  TheLastBookstore

                  TheNowhereCity

                  Downtown at The Last Bookstore I picked up a small stash of trashy old B-movie worthy paperbacks I’ll wait to crack open ’til summer sizzles on in.

                  JamesDean

                  Most mornings while we’re vacationing I excitedly rustled Hurly up out of bed hours before shops are even open. We try and kill time best we can, but often times we’ll just sightsee the outside of closed tourist spots, like the cold, misty exterior of the Griffith Observatory, three full hours before doors unlock for the public.

                  Fonuts

                  Other than the CW stars we saw on the Ace’s rooftop, our only other real celebrity sighting was technically just a Bravolebrity. We went to Fonuts as featured on Eat, Drink, Love and the lovely Waylynn herself filled our box with half a dozen of the yummiest and most moist non-donuts we’ve ever had.

                  It was an amusingly unscripted little scene for Hurly and I, and though he isn’t much into donuts at all, he was way into the donuts, fo’sure. Those things stayed un-dry for days.

                  HeathCeramicsCopperBowl

                  Last year it was some candlesticks at Lawson Fenning I most regretted not bringing back to Minneapolis from L.A. This year it was this heavy handled copper bowl at Heath Ceramics. It weighed a ton and cost even more…

                  IMG_7371

                  Whether it’s early in the morning, or too early to head to our dinner reservations, Hurly and I have found that another good way to kill time and see swanky sights is to wander through other guests’  hotels.

                  BeverlyHillsHotelCabana

                  We looked at the famous palm-wallpapered coffee shop and hand-stenciled signage at The Beverly Hills Hotel one night.

                  AvalonHotel

                  AvalonHotelPool

                  And enjoyed a quiet breakfast at the Kelly Wearstler-designed Avalon Hotel our final morning.

                  HotelAvalonKellyWearstler

                  WillReesAvalonHotel

                  I’ll skip pretty much any museum visit if it means I can scope out and pose in yet another handsome hotel.

                    February 18th, 2014

                    Ace Hotel Los Angeles

                    Our last three getaways were to California. And we’d just visited Los Angeles less than a year ago. But I had such a transcendently sublime time at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs this fall for our non-honeymoon that I really wanted to check out the newest Ace location in L.A. basically A.S.A.P.

                    And so Hurly kindly jetted us off to the Golden State for the fourth time in under 12 months so I could scope out the just-opened awesomeness.

                    AceHotelUnitedArtists

                    The L.A. Ace is located, notably, downtown – helping shift the area’s once shady status from down-and-out to up-and-coming. A majestic movie theater/office tower Charlie Chaplin and his colleagues built in 1927 to showcase their United Artists’ films is the Ace’s set of bones.

                    AceLosAngelesTheater

                    The grandiose theater lobby I thought would act as the lobby/public space of the hotel – but the theater is solely/separately dedicated to Ace-curated public concerts/shows and unfortunately closed off otherwise from the hotel and its guests.

                    LAChapterRestaurant

                    The hotel proper is carefully crammed into the theater’s adjacent thirteen-story office tower. There isn’t even barely a proper lobby, just the front desk/gift shop and then the hotel’s coffee shop/bar/restaurant called LA Chapter.

                    AceLosAngeles

                    But Ace’s strength is creating striking visual moments at every scale, and assembling beauty from mixing the old and the new with the high and the low.

                    AceHotelPendleton

                    In the rooms, the little things bring big rewards. Southern California was crudely cool when we were there and the color-blocked Pendleton co-branded wool blanket on our bed was a soothing, snuggly comfort that I keep thinking a ton about, back here in the blizzards of Minneapolis.

                    HelloMrMagazine

                    The in-room reads aren’t just generic city-centric publications, but indie zines about girl drummers and man-dating men. 

                    AceLosAngelesRoom

                    AceHotelSheetMusic

                    HurlyGuitar

                    Ace locations are famous for their in-room turntables, which our 12th-floor suite indeed offered – as well as our very own guitar and a stack of blank sheet music we used to effortlessly transform Hurly from a simple tourist into a soulful little troubadour!

                    AceHotelLosAngeles

                    Nodding to its Hollywoody past, signage at Ace DTLA is stenciled atop schlocky old screenplay pages.

                    AceLosAngelesLAChapter

                    And the walls of its restaurant are professionally doodled in images of tinseltown’s richest and most famous.

                    LAChapterFood

                    Diners can sit around and order ricotta pancakes or avocado toast while subtly trying to celeb spot (pencil sketchings of) Keaton and Dern and Schwarzenegger.

                    LAChapterBar

                    AceLAChapterRestaurant

                    Or do as I incessantly did and gawk at all the ivy leather and tricky tilework and beautiful brass tabletops that makes LA Chapter so aesthetically delicious.

                    AceLosAngelesUpstairs

                    If you ride the elevator up to the roof the sign for the sorta Less Than Zero-seeming Upstairs bar beams bluely at you.

                    AceLosAngelesRoofBar

                    WilliamRooftop

                    AceDTLARoof

                    But once you step into the sun the scene gets a little less Less Than-ish. There’s countless kilim pillows, cement knick-knacks, a shrimpy swimming pool and, on our last day there, a chic from the last three seasons of Gossip Girl and a dude from the only season of Ringer.

                    WilliamReesAce

                    Other places, two semi-celebs from old CW shows might be the coolest and most beautiful things around you – but at an Ace, they just fade blandly into background players since its the hip-chic scenery that really shines.

                      February 13th, 2014

                      Homemaking Granola

                      I was never very into fancy granola. And neither GQ nor Gwyneth Paltrow nor any Tumblr-ing styled blog has recently told me I should start getting into grandiose granolas. But in the past few weeks those expensive bakery bags of granola I never would’ve bothered paying for before suddenly started seeming crazily cravey to me. Still not enough so to pay like $9.75 a bag for though, and so I thriftily and swiftly made my own.

                      And it tastes totally like Christmas cookies!

                      HomemadeGranola

                      Barely sweet and loaded with pebbles of pecans, it reminds me of butter cookies or sugar cookies or something like that, but its obviously way better for you – me.

                      I based my base recipe off this one - just cause it popped up first on Pinterest. For the fat I used coconut oil, for the sweetener I used some agave syrup I’ve been trying to get rid of for years, for the nuts I did sunflower and pepita seeds plus chopped pecans, and for the spices I used just a whisper’s worth of cinnamon.

                      I wanted my granola a little on the dark side so I kept baking mine for four or maybe more minutes. Next time I may add some dried fruit – but this time all my body and mind cared about was over-toasted oats and uber-roasted nuts.

                        January 16th, 2014

                        Cherry On Top

                        To you she’s maybe just the chick that sang “Buffalo Stance”.

                        But I had the time and the mind to pay better attention when the 80s were turning into the 90s, and so “Kisses On The Wind” might’ve been a less buzz-worthy follow-up to her name-making smash, but not an unworthy one. And then came the dark “Heart” video which freed Neneh from her green-screen cell and placed her in the brilliant spotlight of David Fincher. And then came the rap clip about AIDS, insidiously infecting the old, cold format of the PSA with the youthful sizzle of MTV so that worrying about HIV became less a matter of Life Or Death but of Hot Or Not.

                        Neneh-Cherry-Blank-Project-608x602

                        Neneh always had too much to worry about, too much to school us all on, to waste her time getting us to majorly like her by cuddling mer-boys or tapping with animated skat cats like her pop diva contemporaries did. She’s been lying pretty low for the past twenty years, but she’ll be rising back up in February with her album Blank Project and she sounds like she’s still got pages of personal and social woes to alert us on.

                        She might’ve stomped into our world via the dance floor but she’s too urgent and acid-jazzy to bop around in such feelin’-good grooves these days.

                        However she needs to sound now, whatever she wants to say, I’m listening. Old friends will tell you things no one else can.