August 28th, 2014

Summer Getaway – Camp Wandawega

From Prohibition-era brothel to 1950s lake resort to 1970s summer camp for the children of Latvian Catholics, Camp Wandawega’s been working its woodsy magic on all kinds of folk for almost ninety years now.

WandawegaWagon

In its current incarnation, Wandawega’s the semi-private playground of two Chicago-area advertising execs who open up their Moonrise-y Kingdom for wedding parties, clothing catalog shoots, and corporate retreats. Lower-key kids like me just looking for some outdoorsy fun in a Pinterest-worthy paradise can book left-over nights/cabins/beds through AirBnB.

FirePit

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

WandawegaBadminton

Hurly and I and our niece/honorary daughter Kaya booked a Wednesday through Friday stay in the three bedroom “Raccoon” cabin.

CabinSittingRoom

WandawegaWall

But we were the only guests at the camp the first night, so our host Joe took us on a lengthy historical tour of every cabin, every guest room, every tree house, every pup tent and every tepee on the site and said we were welcome to sleep wherever we wanted.

TreehouseSofa

TepeeDuo

WandawegaDiningArea

We ended up sleeping in our assigned cabin both nights, but we napped indulgently one afternoon in the American Indian tepee, and Kaya helped herself to what we goofily called a “hooker’s bath” in the women’s restroom at the old brothel, and we wandered all around Wandawega freely, wowed by the wall-to-wall antiques which were just begging to become the backdrops for photoshoot after faux-catalog-style photoshoot.

WandawegaFireplaceSmaller

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

We enjoyed plenty of un-posed fun too, scout’s honor. From shuffleboard to board games, hatchet throwing to canoe rides, we did everything the spirits in Lake Wandawega could’ve wanted us to.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Everyone’s favorite activity was swooping over the lake on the two rope swings. One had a wooden plank on which you could sit and sorta relax. The other was Tarzan-style, set-up for shooting yourself out and into the sorta scarily shallow waters.

KayaSwingSmaller

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

From the fonts on the front gate, to the travel-sized soaps set atop your beach towels, every aspect of Camp Wandawega resurrects the retro charm and hospitality honed during the golden age of American road-tripping and long since lost.

WandawegaFaribault

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

SpaceShuttleCurtain

There’s even an old-school souvenir vending machine from which I picked out a Wandawega motor-lodgey keychain and Hurly and Kaya selected an Indian arrowhead necklace.

WandawegaSouvenirShop

Souvenirs

By artfully assembling in one place all the Kodachrome-y, memory-building traditions that family vacations should be made of, as Camp counselor/curators David and Tereasa have, my little troop’s settled on making summer trips to Wandawega a tradition of our own.

TheFoxDenSmaller

Next time I hopefully won’t travel three hours back toward Minneapolis before realizing I’ve left my military duffel bag full of Teva’s and T’s from Hickorees back on the bunk beds at our Wisconsin summer home-away-from-home. (D’oh!)

    August 25th, 2014

    Gimme Som

    Being that I don’t drink alcohol and I rarely wanna waste my sugar intake on a bottle of soda pop, my life, beverage-wise, is admittedly pretty dry.

    SomDrinkingVinegar

    While shopping for birthday gifts earlier this summer I spotted Pok Pok’s Som drinking vinegar, which sounded like just the sort of offbeat and antiquated refreshment I’d be into.

    DrinkingVinegarRecipe

    Mixed into water, sparkling water, or liquor-centric cocktails, drinking vinegar has been enjoyed worldwide for centuries as a refreshing, health-boosting tonic.

    DrinkingVinegar

    At the shop where I came upon Som they stocked the Ginger, Thai Basil, and Tamarind flavors, and wanting the most exotic experience possible, I went for Tamarind. Unscrewing the vacation-colored bottle, the scent was incredibly sour. But once I’d mixed it with sparkling mineral water the taste was much closer to a sweet soda, with just a hint of astringence.

    TamarindDrinkingVinegar

    I especially like being able to control the amount of sweet ‘n sour I splash into my glass. It’s summer, so it’s nice keeping things on the light side.

    Som is offered in six additional flavors including Pineapple, Honey, and Blackberry. I’m wondering if they’d be weird or weirdly wonderful poured over ice cream…

      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.