Posts Tagged ‘new york city’
Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah
Today I had brunch on the Upper West Side with my new love Ian Kroll, where I stuffed myself with pancakes and scrambled eggs and almost offensively delicious bacon. We walked back to his apartment and then I decided instead of taking the subway home, and since I had nothing else to do with my Sunday except laundry, that I’d just walk home. I ended up walking the full 120 blocks, past Morningside Park, past my old apartment, along Central Park West, through Columbus Circle, and eventually down 7th Avenue to stop in at the Chelsea Hotel, and then on to Greenwich Village. It was my favorite kind of day – rainy and green – when everything around you suddenly seems to take on so much meaning.
Sometimes on days like this I feel weirdly conscious of what it will feel like to look back on this part of my life and see it as dated. Maybe it’s because the lighting looks like an old photograph. It’s like I’m suddenly able to see all the things about myself the way we do when we remember our younger selves: for our sweet ingenuousness, our ability to find joy in things and be surprised, the way our hearts lit up for people and were crossed with fiery thrill at things that scared or shocked us, and most of all, those moments when as young people we were for a moment able to see straight to the pearly center of something and feel that stab of awareness to our own context in the world. On days like this I feel like I’m walking backwards away from myself. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be able to see myself as a grownup, since I’m so easily able to look back on where I am at any given moment.
“I do not know where it comes from but many people carry this legendary concept that somebody on a high wire should not and cannot look down, because then they will instantly lose balance. …As I discovered the wire and as I practiced it, I discovered that it is beautiful to look down. …by looking down, you savor the taste of the void. It gives you terror, but it also gives you strength. It gives you the knowledge that you are mastering the void you imposed on yourself by walking in thin air. Thus, plunging your eyes into the abyss, looking down, is the wire walker’s affirmation.” -Philippe Petit
Erik Satie – Gnossienne n°1
The other day I came across an article about the release of the upcoming biopic Man On Wire, documenting Philippe Petit’s incredible 1974 walk across the wire he had “illegally rigged between the Twin Towers. With only a balancing pole and no form of security he spent forty-five minutes dancing gracefully across the immense void, 1,350 feet above the earth. (Acne Paper)” I remembered then that I’d sleepily encountered a lengthy interview with the same man in Acne Paper‘s issue on elegance, and I went back to read it. “I became a theatrical wire-walker, somebody looking for elegance,” Petit says in the interview. “There is nothing more simple and elegant than a beautiful walk on a high wire.” The whole issue covers elegance in different forms, from Alber Elbaz‘s new romanticism for Lanvin to sculpture by Terence Koh. It got me to thinking about how to define elegance, discretely: while Paper picked out a good number of things I would call elegant for one reason or another, I still came away from it wondering how to tie all of them together to pinpoint what lies at the heart of elegance itself.
To help answer my question I first took my usual approach and looked up the word, finding that “elegance” originated in the late 15th century, was used to describe a person “dressing tastefully,” and has its roots in the Latin elegans, elegant-, related to eligere – choose, select (also related: “elect”). I thought this was curious because of the frequency with which we pair the word “elegance” with “innate,” to imply that it cannot be learned, but is instead so attractive for its air of deep-rooted naturalness. Next I consulted one of the most elegant people I know, my piano teacher Christophe Buren. He answered in his usual sincere way, standing very straight in the foyer of his house with his head slightly forward, eyes concentrated and with fingers pressed together at the tips that left each other only to make illustrative arcs in the air from time to time, at the level of his waist. He said that he thought elegance could not be learned, and took care to distinguish a qualitative difference between politeness and truly elegant graciousness. He concluded that it was something one knew and understood with all of one’s being; that the true meaning of elegance lay in harmony and in a unity between interior and exterior. Elegance as lack of veneer.
It seems that when one senses that one is looking at something truly elegant, it is because one is seeing a consonance between the inner and the outer – a melodiousness of being indicating that what lies within and without have tuned themselves perfectly to each other. Elegance in any form is a tunefulness of intention and realization, of impulse and action, that embodies a certain courageous honesty of the soul that cannot be learned or practiced. There is elegance of gesture, of writing, of speech, of curve and of line; of design, of hospitality, of ambition and of intent, and of execution. There is elegance in childhood and in the best of old age. In language, elegance can be a certain precision – a streamlined style in which no words are wasted and each one chosen rich with meaning and satisfying for its accuracy. With this definition, understanding elegance suddenly reminded me of gazing into the Mediterranean Sea on a calm day: even at depths of fifty feet or more, you can see straight down to the stones at the bottom, which seem to lie only a few yards below. The soul of an elegant thing is almost alarmingly close to the surface, but not two-dimensional for its honesty: one senses its great depth and, as one often does around such things, feels almost blinded by its candor.
There is elegance in anything that can view itself clearly and move deliberately towards this horizon; our pleasure in viewing it comes from being in the presence of a realized desire; of the mastery of the void between the inner and the outer.
“All the soarings of my mind begin in my blood.” -RMR
Jean Yu Eden brief | silk-chiffon blend, cutout back
These are so beautiful I think I’d be tempted to mat and frame them if I ever decided to spend two weeks’ pay to call them mine. Jean Yu is a Manhattan-based designer whose handmade lingerie is a modern combination of gauzy materials and strong lines, all free of underwire and padding and available made-to-measure, delivery 4-8 weeks from fitting. I love the contrast of geometric seams and cutouts with breathlike fabric – her work reminds me of Jil Sander‘s stark-but-delicate aesthetic.
Ken Burns Jazz: Miles Davis – I Wants To Stay Here (AKA I Loves You Porgy)
Here is a photo from the window of the apartment I’ll be renting in NYC this summer, on Washington Square Park. Right now it is raining in Paris and reminds me of a grey day last summer, when I went to the Natural History museum with my best friend, and then walked along the street after in a light rain getting my flats soaked, heading up to her apartment in Washington Heights to make macaroni and cheese and maté. I love the way the city looks in the rain – everything is green and grey, with flashes of yellow cabs.
Even after living in Paris for seven months, I still think New York is the most romantic place in the world.
Lismore Hosiery Co., open sometimes, at 334 Grand St., NYC.
The Dirty Projectors at their best, I think – if you’re going to change time signatures and keys four or five times in a song, or beg a whale to do something for you, this is how to do it.
Dirty Projectors – Useful Chamber
from their most recent album Bitte Orca